Category Archives: Just Life

Mama Osprey is Sad. On Mother’s Day.

Returning from our South Florida vacation last weekend, I looked out towards the Osprey nest from my terrace expecting to see two rowdy chicks. The nest was deadly quiet. And no Mama Sandy in sight. That in itself was not alarming because Osprey moms go fishing after the chicks are six weeks old. But there was no movement at all.

After a couple of hours, at sunset time, Dylan and I walked through the marsh. I could see Sandy had returned. Taking a picture from the far end of the marsh, I could see her next to two small ‘heaps’ that could have been chicks. But they did not move.

Mama osprey at sunset w two heaps ud124After a brief visit to the dog park, we walked closer to the nest as the sun was going down. Papa Stanley had arrived with a fish for supper.

papa osprey brought a fish at sunset ud124He had settled on the perch instead of giving the fish to Sandy like he always does. And I didn’t hear the typical frenzied song ‘gimme fish’. I didn’t hear anything. Something was terribly wrong. Sandy remained where she had been, next to the smaller ‘heap’. She was not interested in eating. I was wondering what could have happened to the two healthy chicks I had seen just a few days before we left on our trip early in the week. An attack by a large bird, like a Great Horned Owl, who also nests somewhere in the park or a Bald Eagle, who nests on the other side of the bay? Or the younger Great Blue Heron, who had attacked the nest previously? Or perhaps something large hitting the nest in the violent storm that had passed through on Friday night and left huge amounts of debris on the ground everywhere? Or an illness? I had thousand questions, but there were no answers.

mama osprey is grieving ud124Early in the week, when I checked on the nest, Sandy remained at about the same spot. It seemed as if she was grieving. I felt sad and was afraid she might have lost or was about to lose both her chicks to some tragic event or illness while I was away. I had not wanted (read: dared) to take any pictures from my terrace, but that night at sunset time, I finally did.grieving mama osprey ud124

I could see a chick with its head up. One was still alive! I could also see something right next to Sandy that could have been the remains of the other chick. It was difficult to tell. The next day I observed the nest often from my terrace worrying the other chick might also die because it didn’t move about. Finally I saw some wing movements. Not vigorous flapping, as could be expected of a chick of 6+ weeks, but a slow stretch of a wing. That was a sign I had been waiting for. One chick was alive, seemingly recovering. It was still not moving around the nest like they normally do, but stretching a wing was definitely a good sign. Then on Wednesday, I saw the chick was eating. Not fed by Sandy anymore, but eating directly from the fish. Another good sign. I went out to the marsh to try to spot the chick.

mama osprey and the remaining chick ud124The chick held a low profile while I was close by, but from the street, far away between the big trees, I captured it asking for more fish. It had not grown much while I was away, but it had recovered! I was grateful it was not the worst case scenario I had feared.

Yesterday I went out again. From afar I could see the little family of three at the nest.

osprey family ud124When I arrived at the marsh, Stanley had left.  Sandy flew up to the perch to give the chick plenty of room to exercise and preen. And it did.

mama osprey flies up to the perch 2 ud124.jpg

osprey chick flexes her wings ud124Then it started ‘working’, perhaps making the nest more comfortable to move around. I am hoping that the chick will now recover fully from whatever happened, grow and start flying lessons in the next two weeks.

Osprey chick works on the nest 124Knowing the chick was well on the mend, I walked around the marsh and this time paid attention to all the other residents too. The gorgeous Miss Rosa was there. First she foraged in the shallows, then sat down on a little islet to straighten up her hot pink dress – and finally flew away to the inner parts of the park.

Roseate spoonbill ud124

Roseate spoonbill 2 ud124

Roseate spoonbill in flight ud124What a delightful sight she was! The Mayor was there too, close to his ‘office’. He was keeping a keen eye on Harry, the younger Great Blue Heron.

the great blue heron mayor 2 ud124Harry, who was a really bad boy when he was younger, was hiding in the shadows close to the Osprey nest. I sincerely hoped the drama that had taken place was not caused by him.

young great blue heron ud124When he came out of hiding a bit later, I noticed his tail feathers had been ruffled… but I will not pronounce him guilty because I did not witness anything this time around.

harry the young great blue heron ud124The beautiful Tri-colored Heron was chasing small fish in the shallows.

tri-colored heron ud124And a Snowy Egret was calmly observing life from the edge of the water installation.

snowy egret ud124When I walked further towards the beach, I spotted the Clown, the Reddish Egret. He was fun to watch, as always. His red hair flew from side to side with his sudden movements. Gotcha!reddish egret fishing 1 ud124.jpg

reddish egret fishing 2 ud124The Little Blue Heron tried to imitate his dramatic foraging style. And successfully snapped a lunch bite.

little blue heron ud124Everything was back to normal at the marsh, minus one Osprey chick. But that is life. We will never know what happened, but we can root for the remaining chick. And hope it recovers fully, fledges, learns to fish and becomes a happy, productive member of the Osprey community. That is a wish that we mothers have for our young.

mama osprey and papa oprey mothers day ud124I wish Mama Sandy and all mothers in the readership a Happy Mother’s Day ❤

Breaking Now. Mama Osprey’s Secret.

The “dog stabilizer” on my birding camera works a little bit better now. When I activate the “sit” mode, the camera shake is not as bad as it is otherwise. Just a little softness in the images. One could be fooled to believe it’s the sunrise or sunset light, as that’s when me and my assistant have visited the salt marsh this past week.

mama osprey at the nest ud57The nest is a full fledged nursery right now, with all sides of the crib going high up towards the sky. To prevent premature flight lessons, I’m sure. But all you can see is the nest and mama Sandy. Unless you are lucky to witness fish delivery, which we did one evening, but the camera was sleeping at home. So we have gone to the dog park and after Dylan has played with his friends, I have – occasionally – played with my camera.

tricolored heron ud57And we have spotted a few friends even at these odd hours. Like this Tri-colored Heron. And the baby Snowy Egret who is growing up very nicely, although she’s still tiny.

snowy egret at sunrise ud57And we’ve seen the young Great Blue Heron. He was very close to the Osprey nest. Again.  And Sandy was watching him carefully. She doesn’t want any surprises.

young blue heron ud57And Papa Moorhen has been working late every evening. I’m guessing Mama is in the nest looking after two or three small hatchlings. I’m hoping to see them around soon.

papa moorhen ud57Then on Friday morning, I went to see the annual Surf and Sand Festival (next post) and after admiring the sand sculptures, I decided to stop at the nest on my way home. And I was in for a surprise – feeding time!

mama osprey and her first chick ud57The hatchling has grown a lot, should be about four weeks old now. Eating with great appetite. I watched and marveled about this little one. And was in for an even bigger surprise – another very tiny head was reaching up asking for food!

two osprey chicks ud57Sandy has kept this secret under wraps very successfully! Wow! The latecomer is still very small, I would guess it was born at least a week after the first one. Let’s hope it will be another Sindile (survivor) under Sandy’s and Stanley’s good care.

With these breaking news, I will wish you all a wonderful week ahead.

Nonstop You. In the Friendly Skies.

Seven flights in seven days. Without a hitch. The effective travel machine of “right-place-right-time-friendly” United and “nonstop-you” Lufthansa took me around North America, Middle East and Europe to all my 26 meetings. On time. What is the likelihood of that?

the intern ud51I traveled with celebrities like Meryl Streep (Get Ready for Ricki) and Robert de Niro (The Intern) among many others. And my feather-light laptop of course. I ate all kinds of meals at odd hours. Lured my body to believe it was dinner time when it was anticipating brunch. And slept a few hours here and there. You know, the kind of sleep where you are aware of most things around you. And wake up instantly when a whiff of coffee reaches your nose.

I have to say coffee was my faithful buddy on this trip. And I have many iPhone pictures (didn’t carry my camera gear) to prove it. Like this one in Frankfurt, where my friend kept me and my luggage company for hours. Four cappuccinos went down before it was time to board my flight to Amman, Jordan.

coffee in Frankfurt Germany UD51My arrival was greeted by a gorgeous sunset. And after our descent through the cloud cover, the ancient city revealed itself, sparkling like a diamond.

Arriving to Amman ud51My modern business hotel was situated in the newer part of Amman. From my window I could see a hillside condo building of beautiful limestone, typical for this area.

view from my window Amman ud51The highlight of this short visit came on my second night in Amman. A friend of mine, with whom I had worked in Egypt three years ago, invited me to her beautiful home for dinner. What an evening that was! Sumptuous dinner with delicious Jordanian dishes and wonderful company of my “Jordanian family” – an experience I will always treasure.

Jordanian Dinner ud51When I left her home late at night, I snapped a picture of this hilly neighborhood, very typical for Amman.

Amman at night ud51After two days full of meetings, I left Amman on a flight just after midnight. The rich history of this fascinating country made me want to return with proper time to explore all its famous sites, including visiting the ruins in Petra and floating in the Dead Sea. Just like the man in this photo by Pete.

1024px-Dead_sea_newspaperUpon landing for the second time the next morning, I found myself in West Indies. In the heart of Geneva, Switzerland. A charming small hotel with its Indies-inspired rooms decorated in warm saffron and pepper colors, offered an exotic interlude for this weary traveler.

hotel room in Geneva ud51By this time my body clock was very confused. It would put me to sleep or wake me up to do some work at any time I wasn’t with my clients. And it kept me updated on the primaries in Florida. Whether I liked it or not.

hotel TV ud51But it was nice to me too. Unlike at home, it allowed me to eat whatever my heart desired. Like rich croissants for breakfast. Two cups of coffee for lunch. And a huge pizza for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant. Life was good.

pizza ud51The days and nights melded into one long string of working, sleeping and eating. Until it was time to carry my luggage once again up the 16 steps to the aircraft.

alps ud51I learned (again) that traveling light, while it ensures your stuff goes where you go, is actually quite heavy.  I also discovered that with a dose of divine protection “killer trips” are indeed survivable.

I’m happy to be back home again. Hoping for a gorgeous sunset tonight. Just like this one the day before I left on my trip.

sunset ud50I wish you all a wonderful week ahead. Peace.

R.I.P. Bumble

I learned, again, that we can’t plan our lives. We are not at the wheel on everything. We just need to go with the flow. Accept. Adapt.

I have sad news. Our dear Bumble left us yesterday at 15 years and two months. I am heartbroken as I had to say goodbye to my faithful friend. He was my “shadow” for over 10 years, since his rescue at Christmas 2005. It is amazing how this small dog occupied such a huge space in the family. He was like one big heart, all love. He comforted me when I was sad, he forgave me when I was bad, made me smile as he jumped up and down when I came home, and he always inspired me.

I hope his story, Confessions of a Rescue Dog, will continue to bring some help for dogs and cats in the shelter here for some time to come. He “wrote” 18 humorous guest posts here on Tinylessonsblog. I am attaching one here in the honor of his memory. R.I.P. dear Bumble, and thank you for all the love you gave us. We will always love you.

RIP Bumble 2

GOOD MORNING FOLKS

It’s almost seven on Sunday morning and you guys are still sleeping. Sniff sniff.  That’s waste of time. Mom, I said good morning to you. I know you’re not working today cause your bag is not at the door. But you have lots and lots to do. You didn’t know that? Sniff.

First of all, you need to take me out now, and I mean nowff. Otherwise I’ll be forced to go on the plush area rug in the living room. I know you don’t like that option. We tried it once. That’s when I learned you can raise your voice…I raise my leg in the house, you raise your voice. Not pleasant, not for me not for you. Maybe you’ve forgotten…let’s go, get up! And put on your shorts and proper shoes. The old silk robe won’t do it, today we’ll go for a run in the park. I run you walk. And when I stop to read my morning paper, you can use your iPhone. That’s ok as long as you can juggle the phone and the bag.

Second, you can make your coffee when we come back. Provided you also give me my breakfast while your machine is making all those noises. No-no, don’t you think dry food will do, it’s Sunday. You better have some savory chicken stew of the right kind: small and toy, mature adult. You’ll need to change my water too, and drop a piece of cheese, will ya. You’re so clumsy anyway, so why not today? Just a little oh I dropped something, and I’ll clean it up for you. That’s a promise…even if it’s a piece of ham.

After breakfast we’d better get some exercise. Don’t think gym, please don’t! We can exercise right here, together is better. We’ll streeetch, run after my toys, jump up and down on the blue sofa in your office. You know the one with the Mexican blanket on it. When we’re done, we can make a daybed of the blanket. You can help me scratch until it feels right…and then you can take a shower. That’s if you absolutely need to.

And then…I’m sure someone will skype. I know the ring tone, you can’t fool me on that one. We’ll both sit down at the computer and talk. I hope it’ll be Amelia, she is a little diva but a pretty one! Haven’t seen her for a while, but it’s good to catch up on skype. Oh, I forgot, you really should upgrade to the sniff and smell version. I’m sure it won’t be that much. And you can always save somewhere else. I know, my next bath is an excellent option, no cost for shampoo. There you go.

See, there is so much to do. I have only one small worry. You may forget what Sundays are for around here, I can’t trust you on that. Bad memories. So I’ll say it again, Sundays are for rest and fun, not for work! I hope you heard that. Get up pronto, will ya! I told you I’m going nowff

RIP Bumble

 

 

Brain Scan.. Not as pretty as my artwork…

Friends, check this out. Beautiful art work and an artist who needs our support.

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

Dearest friends, fans, FAMILY!
Please reblog, share, tweet, FB, you name it!

Over the years it has been my freehand spray paint artwork that many of you are accustomed to seeing.  There will be more but for now, there is this.  My wife and I are working hard on keeping you up to date.  We are blown away by the more than 60K followers who show there support to us daily on the blog and other social media platforms!

So, here is a scan of my brain and the Tumor is circled. Its bigger than first thought.  On the 9th I have one more MRI w/ spectroscopy to determine the rate of growth and cell types.  Then it gets really hairy.

Ray Brain

I am doing the best I can to be in good spirits and will continue to strive! It really helps knowing I have touched so many people with my artwork…

View original post 139 more words

Changing Horizons. Literally.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. – Christopher McCandless

Last night was gorgeous, clear skies and calm waters all around us.  The lights from the beach establishments reflected beautifully on the strait between the ocean and the bay at the north end of the nature reserve.

clearwater beach at night
The strait beyond the nature reserve as seen from our terrace

And the bay side did not disappoint either. With the lights from the city dressing up its calm waters, the bay looked somewhat more grown-up and sophisticated than the laid back birds’ paradise I’ve often pictured.

Clearwater fl bay at night
The bay side at night as seen from our terrace

Approaching home in the cool night after a walk with Bumble, the lighted palm trees brought a warm feel of the approaching holidays.

xmas lights Sand key fl
Lighted palms bring holiday cheer

That was last night. This morning was a different story. We woke up to an eerie landscape.  Only a builder’s crane stuck up from the fog on the beach side of the strait.

crane in the fog
A crane sticks up from the fog

Then, gradually, we could see the tallest buildings, the nature reserve and the ocean emerge from the fog.

nature reserve  Sand key park in fog
The nature reserve emerges from the fog

I was on my second cup of coffee, when the fog finally drifted on to the ocean like a long snake on the water.

fog on the ocean gulf coast sand key clearwater
The “fog snake” swims out to the ocean

As the salt marsh was clearing from the fog, I had to check on Papa Osprey. He was in the nest, perched on his favorite spot enjoying the first rays coming though the fog. But he had no breakfast. I was happy the visibility was rapidly increasing, PO could finally go fishing.

osprey in the morning fog
Papa Osprey (as seen from our terrace) soaks up the first rays when the fog is lifting

I hope you enjoy your fishing today, wherever it might take you. May your horizons be pleasant and your suns bright.

 

Up Close and Personal. Going Home.

During my recent trip to Europe, I went to see my dear dad for a few days. At the respectable age of 91, he lives in his house at a beautiful lake in Finland.  He built it himself when I was about four years old. I grew up there until my educational pursuits and work brought me to the big city. And later to Sweden and around the world.

other end of the lake
Our lake around sunset time…

It’s good to go home. Apart from having some wonderful quality time with my dad, these visits are always relaxing and pleasant. With quiet time for reflection, nature walks, deep conversations and sauna baths. This time my visit was also a tad nostalgic. I saw many places I hadn’t seen for a long time. Like this church where we lived in the side wing when I was born.

the church my first home
My first home was in the “west wing” of this church…

My first memories are from here. I manage to climb out of my crib for the first time and surprise my mom by running into the church where she was preparing for a mass. A little later, I “paint” mom’s green kitchen chair with fresh apple sauce. And I’m very proud of my accomplishment.

Then my elementary school. It’s still standing and proudly providing education for the kids in the village. When I stood there in the school yard, I got another, not so pleasant, memory flash.

my first school
My elementary school…

I’m on my back on the gravel looking up to faces staring at me in a circle. I’ve been hit on the nose by a baseball bat swung by a fellow second grader. Sporting accident. Blood. And a very swollen nose. Most of my field of vision is filled by a huge nose. Luckily it didn’t stay that way.

My dad drove me around to see houses where I had played with friends, all of whom now lived elsewhere. And beautiful spots that I used to frequent. A full day of nostalgia. Everything changes.

partly frozen river
Lily pads frozen in the river….

Although it was still October, winter was clearly on its way. Some rivers were partly frozen, and one morning I saw a hint of snow on the ground too. Just a hint in a shady spot in the forest. It’s kind of treat for a Floridian. Provided one is appropriately attired. My pea coat was no match for the wind chill, but luckily my dear sister had left some warm clothes there for me to borrow.

hint of snow
A hint of snow!

We did many walks in the nature and although most of the colorful foliage was already gone, it was still beautiful.

fall colors
Some autumn colors were still there….
ice on the river 2
A frozen river…
Rowan-berries in the forest...
Rowan-berries in the forest…

Some of you may wonder if I saw any birds. Yes I did. Two different kinds. Although the migratory birds, like ospreys, swans and swallows, had left several weeks earlier, I found many Great Tits congregating around feeders or looking for rowan-berries.

The Great Tit 2
A Great Tit

And I saw a rooster 🙂 Mind you, it was not an ordinary rooster. But one that made a lasting impression. I was visiting my cousin’s house and snapped this picture with my phone. Just to have evidence.

the rooster 2
The handsome rooster…

He was impressive! And although he was not a bit scary, I’ve asked him to serve as my “Halloween bird”.

It was a wonderful visit, but it’s good to be back too. Happy Halloween everyone!