Tag Archives: Family

Snapshots of the Now. Waiting.

I have finally reached the point on my journey to acceptance of what happened in July, where I would love to get back to blogging. But I am not ready to write my usual ‘light touch’ nature stories. Nor have I been able to engage in photography like I used to. Or to focus on reading.

I have realized, however, that life is a string of snapshots of the now. I will be attempting to post frequent snapshots of my life ‘now’ as it unfolds for the next few weeks. Maybe just an iPhone shot, a short poem or something similar. Simple. Often mobile. Comments closed.

To get started, I am sharing a few snapshots of my life in the past two weeks.

Waiting for some dolphins to appear on the Labor Day weekend, when Hurricane Irma was still churning far out on the Atlantic.

labor day 2 watching dolphins ud137.jpgAnd they did…playful as ever. Good times. Grief slowly fading into the background.

labor day 2 dolphin ud137And then there was the quiet before the storm. Calm seas. An eerily beautiful seascape on a perfect day. But nobody was enjoying it. The lonely lifeguard shack was waiting to be moved to safety. Like most of us.

beach view before Irma ud137This peaceful scene was in sharp contrast to my frantic search for a flight to get out of here with Dylan. Paradise in Zone A. Mandatory evacuation.

I have crisscrossed the globe, but seldom been happier to finally see a plane at the gate. One of the last planes to leave the airport before it would be closed. Our temporary home would be wherever that plane flew. A ticket to anywhere.AA plane ud137Flashback. The last plane out from Addis Ababa at war. 1990s. A week after husband and son had been evacuated. Essential personnel.

philly studio ud137_edited-1A small studio apartment at a hotel in Philly. Waiting with Dylan and Wolf Blitzer. Wanting to go home. Whatever that might mean. Waiting.

Snapshots of the Now Series (1)

An Amazing Bunch of Friends

When you experience unimaginable heartbreak and sorrow, you need the support of your family. But you also need the support of your friends. When I lost my dad and my husband in less than two weeks in July, both to a massive heart attack, I was grateful and privileged to have both ‘support groups’ close to me.

I was completely lost, but everyone was there to support me. Family came to stay with me, friends traveled huge distances, including from Sweden, to be here. Flowers, baskets, homemade food, cards and hugs arrived for weeks. Blogging friends reached out to me with private messages on email and messages here on my blog. Several of you are still ‘checking on’ me, which I greatly appreciate. Thank you, friends, from the bottom of my heart.

Our neighbors and friends, including those at the dog park were here to support me and Dylan when it mattered most. And that support has continued. What an amazing bunch of friends you all are!

dog park friends 1 ud135_edited-1
Some of our dog park friends

After everyone returned to their daily lives, and our home suddenly felt empty and huge, Dylan has provided a wonderful, comforting presence.

Dylan running ud135He has dragged me out for long walks daily, however bad I have felt, and snuggled next to me every night. He had many daily routines with ‘dad’ and is now training me to perform those tasks. He pulls me into the salt marsh and dog park most nights just before sunset. He enjoys the company of his friends as much I treasure the company of mine.

saki ud135
Saki
Bently and Dylan ud135
Bentley and Dylan
Eli and Deb ud135
Eli in Debbie’s lap when it thunders
Dylan and his friend Kaci ud135_edited-1
Kaci and Dylan
Priya ud135
Priya
Moose ud135
Moose
pepper ud135
Pepper

These guys are an amazing bunch too. While I have not yet gotten back to my usual photography routine, I snapped a picture of Papa Osprey at the Sailing Center late one evening when I happened to carry my camera. Just seeing him around warmed my heart.

papa osprey at sunset ud135And the Mayor was there too, greeting us from the low tide waters right below the sea wall.

great blue heron mayor ud134I do feel the call of my feathered friends and hope to be able to get back to observing them on a regular basis soon. At latest when I return from my family/work/’me-time’ trip in early October. I hope this upcoming trip to Europe will give me new perspectives and valuable experiences. And I intend to share some of them with you.

All, take care of you and your loved ones. Thank you for your encouragement and friendship. I want to end this post with a poem I wrote about a week ago.

ACCEPTANCE

Acceptance of what is

now has a completely new meaning.

When tidal waves of loss

wash over your head

you don’t philosophize

you just want to breathe

for one more minute.

Happy Father’s Day, Papa Stanley!

This great dad celebrated this Father’s Day close to his little family on the bay side. After the day’s fishing trips, Stanley perched at the sailing center just before sunset. Like on so many evenings these past two weeks.

papa osprey watches Arlene ud131That is an excellent location to keep an eye on his daughter, Arlene, who seems to have a long-term rental on Marriott’s roof nearby. She was sleeping there with full crop while drying her wings. All was good in Papa Stanley’s world. One chick had survived and now, exactly three weeks after fledging, she was a thriving young Osprey. That was the best gift he could get.

arlene sleeps at sunset ud131_edited-1Mama Sandy kept an eye on their chick from the other side of the same roof. She likes to perch on the antenna, a high vantage point allowing straight line of sight to Arlene’s comings and goings. And a welcome nap after a hot day.

mama osprey on the roof ud131_edited-1From their respective vantage points, the Osprey family could see the nest and the salt marsh colored by the setting sun. If they looked carefully, they will have noticed that the Mayor and little Miss Rosanna have stricken a new friendship.

Great blue heron and roseate spoonbill at sunset ud131

roseate spoonbill B ud131

great blue heron B ud131_edited-1And on this evening they were able to observe the lively bird life on the bay too, like the Snowy Egret patrolling the seawall in her yellow shoes…

snowy egret at the seawall ud131…and the Little Blue Heron foraging nearby utilizing the low tide.

little blue heron at sunset ud131And of course they saw the sun about to dive into the Gulf on the other side of the salt marsh.

todays sunset ud131_edited-1After this beautiful day, Papa Stanley is likely retire to his secret spot in the park. And maybe he’ll stop for a while close to his favorite roosting branch and reflect on his day.

papa osprey after sunset ud131Happy Father’s Day to all other fathers too!

In Focus: Incredible Arlene

On a stormy evening late last week, Arlene was perching on the boat lift at the sailing center. She was scanning for fish. Suddenly she flew up, hovered for a few seconds above the water and dove feet first into the water. She didn’t catch the fish. Not yet. But she had all the right moves, including shaking off water in mid-air like a pro. This was less than two weeks after she fledged. And that’s nothing short of incredible. I didn’t carry the camera so you just have to take my word for it. Dylan is my witness. After coming home, I caught this picture of her from my terrace. She was back up there staring into the water…and she would try again. I call that determination.

arlene learns to fish on her own ud130She is scanning for fish often now. And her parents, after seeing her early progress, have clearly taken the back seat. Mama Sandy is still around occasionally keeping watch for any dangers. Sometimes I have not seen her for a day or two, but she comes when Arlene calls her. Like last night when the skies suddenly darkened and the wind picked up before strong thunderstorms. I could not see Arlene, but I heard her. She was somewhere on the roof. Sandy was flying towards her pushing against the strong winds. Really struggling. She came from the north along the bay side and landed on the roof. I guess Arlene needed adult company in the storm and her mama was there for her. Dylan and I ran home and rushed into our garage just when the first fat raindrops started falling. And then pretty much everything went out of focus.

storm on the bay out-of-focus 2 ud130Sandy probably feeds Arlene only once a day now, if that. Her parenting is encouraging independence. But still providing protection. And Arlene is confident in her abilities, as she has been from the day she fledged. A strong female leader in the making, as I see it.

Mama osprey keeps watch ud130On Sunday morning, Arlene’s two-week fledging anniversary,  I saw her perched at the sailing center. Ten minutes later I went for a walk and saw her eating on Marriott’s roof, at her favorite spot. I wouldn’t rule out it was the first fish she’s caught by herself. No parents were in sight.

arlene eats fish ud130Young Arlene has not followed the conventional path to independence. You see, normally, Osprey chicks stay at the nest being fed by their parents at least 4 weeks after fledging. They start to follow their parents on fishing trips during the 3rd week and start to try to fish on their own at 4-6 weeks after fledging. Not Arlene. She left the nest the day she fledged and directly started to fly with her folks. She was diving for fish 12 days after fledging…and now, 16 days after her fledging, I think she might be able to provide for herself already. I am sure Sandy will not stay in the vicinity for long. And Arlene, too, is likely to move a bit further soon. But as long as she stays here you’ll have ‘full and impartial coverage’ on this brave and beautiful chick by this media outlet.

Arlene at sunset June 9 ud130On Sunday, I also briefly visited the salt marsh between heavy showers. After two weeks of rains, everything at the salt marsh was green and the water level was high. Consequently many of the waders were keeping away for now. I guess they don’t like their bellies getting wet while wading in high waters.

salt marsh after the rains ud130But that memo had not reached the juveniles. Or perhaps they are more adventurous simply because they are not looking at the world through the lens of conventional wisdom. Some of them were happily wading on previously dry mud flats or amongst the high grass. First I spotted the same juvenile Little Blue Heron I saw a couple of weeks ago. He had turned much more blue already, as you can see.

juvenile little blue heron ud130

juvenile little blue heron 2 ud130The second juvenile wading at the marsh was a very small, young Green Heron. He still had some of his white ‘baby hairs’ right on the top of his head, but was bravely doing it alone.

juvenile green heron 2 ud130

juvenile green heron 1 ud130_edited-1The third juvenile I spotted was a Boat-tailed Grackle. She was in the company of her mother…and although she had fledged, she was still asking to be fed. Quite unlike Arlene.

female boat-tailed grackle with a juvenile ud130_edited-1The fourth juvenile, the Roseate Spoonbill I had named Rosanna, was observing life from a tree at the deep water channel.

young roseate spoonbill ud130The only adult wader I encountered was the beautiful Snowy Egret. I thought she looked like a white flower in the midst of the green grass.

snowy egret ud130And that’s when they arrived, the two Black Skimmers. They flew at extremely high speeds while skimming the surface, water spraying all around them. They put on a wild show. I enjoyed trying to catch them in flight. But they did beat me time after time…resulting in many pictures of water, sky and grass – without a Skimmer. One has to learn one’s limitations the hard way.

black skimmer 1 ud130_edited-2.jpg

black skimmer skimming ud130 We all wish you a wonderful rest of the week. Thank you for visiting.

Enough Drama Already!

This Memorial Day weekend was like one long suspense novel. And I’m afraid this post is also novel-length compared to my usual posts.

It all started on Friday evening when Dylan and I passed the nest on our way from the dog park. I could see the Osprey chick was flapping her wings vigorously and actually getting up, a foot or so,  in the air. Finally the survivor would fledge!

osprey chick pepares to fly ud126_edited-1So on Saturday morning I took my camera and went to the nest to observe her flying exercises. She flew from one side of the nest to the other. Repeatedly.

ospery chick lifts off ud126

osprey chick in flight ud126_edited-1

osprey chick lands ud126Mama Sandy was watching her from the perch. I’m sure she was proud and relieved. And when a juvenile Bald Eagle flew by, she was sounding a sharp alarm.

mama osprey alarm ud126_edited-1

juvenile bald eagle 3 ud126The chick watched curiously, but didn’t say a peep. Maybe she didn’t know why this was such an alarming situation, or maybe she has yet to learn the alarm call.

osprey chick looks at the big bird ud126_edited-2It was wonderful to see her up in the air, but she didn’t leave the nest while I was there. At times she was looking at me as if saying look I can fly.

mama osprey and chick at the nest ud126_edited-1So on Saturday night when Dylan and I went to the dog park, I took my camera along. The chick was still busy practicing.

mama osprey and the chick sat evening May 27 ud126On Sunday morning I was full of anticipation. I would see the chick fledge! I looked out from my bedroom window – and saw Mama Sandy alone in the nest. The chick had already fledged!

Mama osprey waiting for chick ud126So after breakfast I hurried out to the nest to see her return. Sandy had flown away, but Papa Stanley was waiting for the chick on the perch.

Papa osprey waits for the chick ud126He was looking keenly toward the tall trees in the park. I didn’t know why. I waited at the nest. No chick. Finally I decided to walk around the marsh to greet the other residents. First I spotted a beautiful, young Roseate Spoonbill. She had not yet developed the characteristic dark band around the base of her head, had a few feathers on the top of her head and was much smaller than Miss Rosa. Perhaps a relative, or even an offspring. I named her Rosanna.

young roseate spoonbill ud126Next I spotted another juvenile. This was not a Snowy Egret, but a young Little Blue Heron. She was still almost white, but I could see the first light blue spots developing on her back and wings. This was a day of juveniles and the fledging day for the osprey chick. But she was nowhere to be seen.

juvenile little blue heron 2 ud126I continued to wait…and walk. I spotted both Mama and Papa Moorhen…

Mama moorhen 2 ud126

Papa moorhen ud126…and the Mayor. He was walking past his office inspecting the surroundings.

great blue heron ud126Suddenly I heard the Osprey chick. She was asking for fish and her call came from the park north of the salt marsh. I walked towards her call, but couldn’t find her. It was very hot so maybe she was seeking shade in the forest. Or perhaps she was resting on the ground just like her brother Lofty, who fledged exactly on the same day two years ago. I had spotted him on the ground the day he fledged.

lofty on the ground under the tree UD9When I came back to the nest, Stanley was still there. He was talking to Sandy. She was flying from the bay towards the forest carrying a newly caught fish. I assumed she was going to feed the chick.

female osprey with a fish 2 ud126_edited-1Finally I had to leave without seeing the newly fledged chick. Papa Stanley was still waiting for her at the nest.

Mama oprey is an empty nester ud126 on May 28In the afternoon I checked on the nest several times. Nobody at home. I checked again just before going out with Dylan in evening. Still an empty nest. I started to get really worried. Usually the newly fledged chicks fly short rounds over the park and return to the nest in minutes, or at latest by dinner time, just like Lofty had done. But not this chick.

We didn’t go to the dog park in the evening, but instead walked on the bay side. I was hoping I would spot the chick. But no. Until we were almost at home. I saw three Osprey flying together above the Marriott’s roof, a place favored by both Sandy and Stanley in summer time. I didn’t have my camera so there was no way to see who was who. But then I heard the familiar gimme fish. The chick was alive! And probably in the company of her parents.

osprey chick 2 at Marriott ud126Then on Monday I kept an eye on the nest throughout the day. The parents visited a few times, but not the chick. It is highly unusual, almost unheard of, that an Osprey chick would follow her parents from the day they fledge. But this girl was an exception to the rule. I would not spot her until Dylan and I went to the dog park at sunset time on Monday evening. I heard her right away. She was sitting on Marriott’s roof asking for fish and looking towards the bay.

osprey chick calls for mama ud126_edited-2A few seconds later, Sandy appeared next to her. But she had no fish.

osprey chick hangs out with Mama Osprey ud126_edited-4So there she was hanging out with Sandy. I was very happy she was alive and well. Soon Sandy flew away, probably on a fishing trip, and from far away I saw the chick flapping her wings.

osprey chick on Marriott's roof ud126_edited-1Soon we spotted Stanley too. He was perching at the sailing center about 150 yards away. I snapped a picture of him from the side-walk. Dylan was in a hurry to see his friends.

Papa osprey waits ud126_edited-1This was a unique scenario. Either this girl was truly exceptional and had started her fishing lessons right away, or she simply felt the nest was too small a landing strip for her at this time. When I looked towards the Marriott from the dog park, she was gone. Maybe she followed Sandy out to the ocean. Coming back much later, we found Stanley at the Marriott. On the ledge, one level below where the chick had been.

papa osprey watches the chick ud126And just when I was ‘shooting’ Stanley, I saw movement in the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw a tail of the chick. She was landing on the upper level. Soon she looked down, both on us and her papa.

Almost the same scenario was repeated last night. Stanley was at the sailing center, while Sandy and the chick were perching on the roof. This time she didn’t ask for fish so I assumed she had already eaten her supper.

osprey chick looks at papa ud126This adventurous girl deserves a great name! So today we did the ‘same procedure as last year’. Dylan picked a name from the hat – one among 16 names proposed by you, our friends. So how did we do it? I hope the pictures talk for themselves.

lottery hat ud126

Dylan and lottery hat ud126

Dylan does the drawing ud126It was difficult to ‘watch not touch’ the 16 treats in the hat, but Dylan waited patiently until I gave him a go ahead. And then, with lightning speed resulting in a blurred picture, he picked only one treat. The winner is…

the winner ud126I was very touched. And I want to tell you why. Pat proposed the name Arlene, I believe, because Arlene was a dear friend of many neighbors here on the island as well as many dog parents at our park. She had a wonderful little puppy, Hogan, who was friends with Dylan and other dogs frequenting the park. One morning in August last year, Arlene left us suddenly after being hit by a car while crossing the road right here in our neighborhood. She and Hogan were on their way home from the dog park. Tiny Hogan survived and was adopted to a good home. So now we have Arlene, this very special Osprey girl, flying the skies above all of us. And that feels just right.

Thank you all for participating in the lottery and congratulations to Pat!

Secrets from the Dog Park. And the Annual Chick Naming Lottery.

Hi! This is me, Dylan. I’m borrowing mom’s laptop. She is cooking in the kitchen and this is my chance to tell you about my recent adventures. But I have to be brief. I’ll need to go and help mom soon. You see, we have a well-developed division of labor. I have the floor level duty and mom has the stove level duty when we’re cooking together. That usually works very well. Provided she gives me enough to do. Oh, were was I?

Dylan at the computer ud125_edited-1Okay, I’ll get to the point. We have gone to the dog park a lot, usually in the evenings around sunset time. I get to meet my friends and mom hers. The latter includes both humans and the birds at the salt marsh. It’s been very hot lately and that is a slight problem. Lots of hanging around the water cooler. And that translates into late night bathroom breaks. Not particularly popular if mom has already changed to her pajamas. You see, I love running around with my friends and I get thirsty. We all do, all the time. Like Eli and Bently here.

bentley and Elai ud125.jpgI have to admit the water cooler gossip is always interesting. No, I’m not going into details. What happens at the dog park stays at the dog park. But I can tell you that we compare notes. And we share secrets. Like fail-safe tactics to establish a satisfactory treat schedule, how to train your human, and other important stuff like that.

dylan Elai and Bentley ud125Or how to stay at the park until dark. A skill perfected by my friend Saki.

Saki ud125And we speculate quite a bit. Particularly about our parents’ trips. What they might be doing when they leave us for a day or two. Sometimes we can smell that they have seen other dogs, but most often these trips seem to be fairly innocent. Although they are not fun. Not for us.

Dylan at the dog park ud125After running around at the dog park, I let mom run around in the park too. That usually means walking around the marsh. And making frequent stops.

Red-winged Blackbird ud125Oh, there’s a bird, she would say. What that actually means is ‘sit’. And I usually do.

Dylan 2 sits still ud125Although it gets a bit tough when there’s a duck couple swimming close to the shore. I could easily go fetch them. For better close-ups, of course.

florida mottled ducks ud125We always end up at the Osprey nest. And if feeding is going on, we’ll stay there for quite a while. What about my after-walk-snack?

Osprey family at sunset ud125

mama osprey feeds the chick ud125_edited-1And just when I think we’ll be heading for the bay side, mom discovers another bird. Oh, Miss Rosa is sleeping, she says, come, we need to get a picture. We? I don’t get it, we have already seen this pink bird one time too many.

Miss rosa at sunset ud125When we finally get to the bay side, there can be some surprises. Like when I discovered that daddy Osprey, whom I’d just seen at the nest, was suddenly sleeping at the sailing center. How did he get there faster than I can run? That’s a real mystery.

papa osprey at sunset napping ud125_edited-1But I actually like sitting on the seawall watching the pelicans. They sit, swim and fly. And then they sit again. What a circus.

brown pelican ud125

brown pelican 2 eats ud125

pelican in flight ud125

brown pelican ud125And sometimes we see other birds as well. They are looking for supper just before the restaurant is set to close. Hello, the sun is going down!

oystercatcher ud125Or they decide to fly away when they see me at the seawall. And then we’ll finally go home.

tri-colored heron flies away ud125Oh, I almost forgot! Mom told me the other day that I get to do the lottery again. The Osprey chick deserves a beautiful name. But you have to help me. You need to propose names for the Osprey girl – an evanescent opportunity to have an Osprey named by you flying the skies for years to come.

ospey chick 2 ud125Once we have your proposals, mom will write the names on small pieces of paper, wrap them around my biscuits and put them all in a hat.  And I get to pick the winner! Yummy! The winner can choose to get mom’s first photo book from 2015…

osprey book 2015 season…OR a beach towel of their choosing from mom’s art shop. I can tell you they are really soft. I’m not supposed to know, but I tried one the other day. I had wet paws after coming in from the rain. What’s a dog to do but dry his paws in a soft towel?

beach towel -solo-flight-a-h-kuuselaI hope you’ll come up with a great name proposal (one please) and include it in your comments. I’ll get my special biscuit next Wednesday, May 31. As you may have guessed, I’m hoping to eat all of them, eventually. I’m ready for this task of great importance.

dylan may 2017 ud125Take care now and be good. Love, Dylan.

Osprey Chick Boot Camp. And Other Life Lessons.

The Osprey chick is in boot camp. Mama Sandy is trying to get her ‘wingersizing’. It’s time to strengthen her wings by exercising them.  And to improve her self-confidence after the tragedy that killed her sibling two weeks ago. So now Mama Sandy is often retreating to her perch to give the little one room to move around in the nest and spread her wings. Why do I say her? It is because I snapped this picture the other night at sunset time when Dylan walked me through the marsh.

osprey chick at sunrise ud125Her ‘necklace’ is very much like Sandy’s. So it’s a girl. Again. In the last few years Sandy and Stanley have produced mostly girls: one girl in 2014, two girls and one boy in 2015 and one girl in 2016.

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Now this girl needs to learn to fly. But she is not yet exercising enough. At least in Sandy’s opinion. So yesterday when I sat on “my” bench watching the nest, I saw Sandy teaching her. By role modeling flight from start to end. She walked the talk, so to speak. She took off from the perch and just flew around for a minute. And landing back on the perch she demonstrated her well-practiced “come-from-below” approach.

mama osprey flies around the nest ud125

Mama osprey returns ud125She did this repeatedly. She did not go anywhere, just flew around the nest so the chick could see her. And the chick watched intently. Even flexed her wings a few times.

osprey chick watches mama flying ud125

osprey chick streches her wings ud125

Mama osprey lands on the perch ud125I was impressed by Sandy’s home schooling skills. Then my camera battery warning light began blinking. I started to change the battery. And…like so often previously, that’s when Stanley appeared. My camera’s bottom wide open, I watched him zoom in, leave the fish to Sandy and leave. Sandy divided it into two pieces and they started to eat.

mama osprey and chick are eating ud125_edited-1The chick was hungry and wanted more. Or maybe her piece was smaller.

mama osprey and the chick ud125_edited-1In any case, after Sandy had eaten enough, she started to feed the chick.

osprey female feeds the chick ud125_edited-1Perhaps Sandy made a point right there. If you’re a baby and don’t want to learn to fly, I’m going to feed you like a baby. Or maybe that’s just my speculation. In any case, the chick’s recovery seems to be going quite well. The intensive flight preparation classes should get her airborne shortly.

After spending quite a bit of time with the Osprey family, I only had time to walk quickly around the marsh. I spotted my friend, the beautiful Tri-colored Heron.

tri-colored Heron 2 UD125And a hybrid Mottled Duck, whose friend put up quite a show for me. Or maybe I should say gave me a free preening lesson. If you have the time to actually be at the salt marsh, and need a smile, please watch the short video below.

duck ud125

A White Ibis family was foraging close by, and among them was this beautiful juvenile. She was only partly white. I am guessing she was born last year.

juvenile white ibis ud125At the far end of the marsh, the Clown (Reddish Egret) sported his red, spiked up hair do. He was busy chasing a Great Egret away from his fishing camp. The latter obliged.

Reddish Egret chases a Great Egret ud125Just when I was leaving the marsh, I spotted a Blue Jay. He didn’t care to pose for a portrait, but showcased the gorgeous colors on his back.

blue jay 2 ud125When I arrived home, a tiny Mockingbird baby was practicing her songs on the garage roof. Her repertoire was not yet well developed, but her obvious joy of just being alive was enough to give me a big smile – and something to ponder.

baby northern Mockingbird ud125Thank you for being here. Please stay tuned…the now traditional chick naming lottery is starting next week. Dylan will take care of it, just like last year. Peace.