A Quick Picture and Spring Poem

With the two day heatwave we’re having and thunderstorms to bring the sudden heat to an end tonight, I’m afraid my tulips will not last long. So here is a quick picture (and a quick spring poem). The world is a greening, unfurling, sweet urgent leafing thing today!
The tree trunks are drizzled black.
Raindrops reflect in tiny parabolic mirrors on the opening petals of tulips.
Under the earth thousands–millions–of secrets send tentative shoots towards the tomorrow sun.
This is a nativity, nature born in the cool wash of spring rain.


A Disease Diagnoses

I’m not sure what type of Throw Back Thursday post this is. Surely not uplifting or lighthearted. I’ve been hesitant to write about my husband’ disease. Perhaps because we live it everyday,  I have no energy to relive it in writing. Nevertheless this is what I remember of when we first learned my husband had Parkinson’s Disease.    I’m not even sure I’m remembering this all correctly. This will seem disjointed as I dig up small details from a time that already seems distant. A stiffness in one hand and arm. A slight limp. We attributed it all to sleeping in an awkward position and a fall on the ski-out at Sunshine in April of 2005. A chiropractor that finally admitted he couldn’t do anything to fix these problems, and suggests a visit to the GP. The doctor makes a referral to a local neurologist. July 2005 and My husband goes to the appointment alone. A mistake. The neurologist diagnoses Parkinsonisms.  I know what you have, he announces. He says it like my husband has just won a highly improbably lottery. My husband, at that first appointment hears only Parkinson’s. This is not news you should face alone.

If I could use one word to describe the weeks immediately following this news it would be blackness. 

I believe it was the second appointment when the neurologist prescribed medications. There is a chair for my husband and I  stand with my back to the wall in a corner of the office. I already dislike this doctor, who has made me feel like an inconvenient interloper. From where I stand, I read the computer screen. The diagnoses is actually Multiple Systems Atrophy. 

My husband takes two weeks off of work as he ramps up the medication. The medications however, quickly prove more troublesome than the symptoms they were  to alleviate. He is unable to drive, is paralyzingly fatigued and suffers from mental fog. He spends most of the day laying on lounge chair on the deck.

He still doesn’t know about the original diagnoses of MSA, a disease with a lifespan of less than ten years after diagnoses, and still doesn’t. And probably won’t unless he reads this blog. That’s okay.

The Summer Birds are Arriving

It’s been very un-May-like. Yesterday, I caught myself dating things April 9, 2017 several times. We’ve had torrential rain and it’s been cold. I have to remember this is Ontario, where we have seen snow on the Victoria Day weekend. But, hopefully, it’s a sign that warmer weather is coming when the summer birds start appearing. We feed year ’round, so we always have chirping and twittering in the backyard–not to mention squirrels and chipmunks who practically beat on the back door when the food runs out. The American Goldfinches are always here, and they have finally traded their drab winter khaki to bright yellow again.

The first spring birds back around here are Canada Geese and redwing blackbirds. Robins stayed all winter this year, so they almost don’t count as spring bird. As soon as the snow has melted the woodcocks start making their ‘pneet’ noise. And the killdeer return. The Northern Flickers soon follow. I’ve been counting mergansers, swans, kingfishers, cormorants and the other water birds and sending my counts to eBird since the ice melted.

But the birds that like the warmer weather hold back. Barn swallows returned about ten days ago. Yesterday while driving, I saw a Brown Thrasher. This morning, at the hummingbird feeder we put out about a week ago, a Baltimore Oriole was feeding. DH and I have a bet who will see the first hummer.

It’s a colourful backyard this morning. The brilliant yellow finches are dining on nyjer seed, a pair of Northern Cardinals are at the big feeder, and the Orioles are dining on orange slices. Meanwhile, the squirrels are battling, plotting how to pillage the feeders.

An Oriel. The squirrels trashed this feeder. What a troublesome bunch.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Whatever I buy I always try to buy “green”. I look for the environmentally friendly, not tested on animals, recyclable stuff. It’s part of my personal strategy to try to leave as small a foot print on this bedraggled old earth as I can.

Recently my strategy backfired a little. I went to an office supply store to buy pens. Now, if you are looking for environmentally friendly writing instruments pickings are slim.

Everything, including some pencils is made from plastic. Where else do those plastics end up but in the landfill? I’m not sure that plastic pens are a major contributor to overflowing landfill but, I figure every bit counts. And, I am a writer so I need pens

Imagine my joy when my eyes alighted on a shelf wobbler advertising “Green Pens”. Perfect. No doubt they were pens made of a recyclable plastic or something. And, they were on sale. I grabbed a box and went on my way.

Your brain probably works faster than mine does. You’ve figured it out. But, I had to get home and start writing to find out the pens I had bought were green pens-with green ink-a whole box of them. At least they were on sale.

Bird Brain

No one needs an excuse to walk, but I find I’m more motivated to do so if I have a reason to go out. My little dog hasn’t been well, so he can’t walk very far anymore. It’s been wintery and I find it hard to make myself go out and trudge around in the snow. Sometimes I put on snowshoes and head into the field and nearby trails. Often I just march down the sidewalks and roadsides listening to podcasts. .

But now that the summer birds have started to return, I’ve been walking down to the ‘pond’ and counting bird. I use the eBird app to record how many species I see, and how many of each there are. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the pond before I realized that it attracted some interesting birds and wildlife. Although my personal life list is a bit larger, my life list on eBird currently contains forty-five species. About a dozen different species I’ve recorded from my backyard. Others as I’ve walked through the nearby fields and forest. But most I’ve sighted at the pond.

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the pond before I realized that it attracted some interesting birds and wildlife. Although my personal life list is a bit larger, my life list on eBird currently contains forty-five species. Some I’ve recorded from my backyard. Others as I’ve walked through the nearby fields and forest. But most I’ve sighted at the pond. Recently, there have been several varieties of swans sighted in my area.

We often hear Canada Geese flying over. But the Trumpeter Swans have a deeper voice. When I hear them, it’s a scramble for my shoes, phone, camera and binoculars. I’ve yet to get a really good photo. But, I did get a picture on my phone of three fuzzy white lumps out in the water. I know where to drive to get really up close to these birds. But, having them hanging out in the neighbourhood is more exciting.

I first started recording my bird sightings in eBird in March of 2015. I don’t drive or fly very far to see a bird like in the movie The Big Year. I find it gratifying to know these creatures share space with me near my home.  I’ve marked these with an *.  Here is my not-very-impressive list to date:

Canada Goose*
Trumpeter Swan*
Wood Duck*
Northern Pintail*
Hooded Merganser*
Common Merganser*
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant*
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron*
Turkey Vulture*
Sandhill Crane
Greater Yellowlegs*
Bonaparte’s Gull
Little Gull
Ring-billed Gull*
Herring Gull*
Glaucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon*
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher*
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker*
Pileated Woodpecker*
Peregrine Falcon
Blue Jay*
American Crow*
Common Raven*
Black-capped Chickadee*
Red-breasted Nuthatch*
White-breasted Nuthatch*
American Robin*
Dark-eyed Junco*
Northern Cardinal*
Red-winged Blackbird*
Common Grackle*
American Goldfinch

Three swans, one of them an immature with grey-ish feathers. Dull day, bad camera, bird brain photographer.