Duck, duck, goose, goose and a blackbird, swallow or two

Red-winged blackbird at VOA park, West Chester, Ohio

Arthur’s been patiently waiting through rainy and stormy days for me to take him for exercise. Yesterday, under blue skies, we took at walk at the Voice of America county park where red-winged blackbirds are in abundance. They are in the trees,

Red-winged blackbird

on the ground,

Red-winged blackbird

and in the bushes. I might have had a better photo or two if not for the small, white, untrained dog

who was straining at the leash,

tromping through puddles,

and drinking from them.

Queen’s Lace

all the while I was trying to hold steady to catch a photograph of a field of Queen Anne’s lace, or a swallow in the distant—trying to use two hands on my cell phone camera while wearing the leash on my wrist, which continually jerked by said small animal attached to the other end.

Tree swallow

Of course I had my sunglasses on, and the cell phone camera’s screen was dim from the sunlight, so I was shooting blind in many cases. “Just aim in the right direction and hope to catch something. Cropping might help.”

Unidentified bird

I have no idea what this bird is. I saw it fly, then land on a bench and move to the ground. In the flurry of transferring Arthur’s leash from my hand to my wrist, unlocking the iPhone, starting the camera and zooming in, this was the best I could do. Anybody know what this is with so few clues? It’s relatively slim, not full-bodied like a duck.

American Coot

These black ducks made a striking picture on the small lake. I believe they are male American Coots, and that the brownish ones are the females. This is based on merely the color of their beak or bill. You can’t notice it from this professional photography, but they black ones actually had a lot of gray on their lower body if I’m recalling correctly. Feel free to set me straight.

American Coot

Here’s a better picture. Better is a relative word.

Canada Geese and goslings

I do not know how I managed to get this clear shot of the geese and goslings, but I’ll take it. Goslings always remind me of a song we used to sing when I was young called “Go Tell Aunt Nancy,” with the lyrics “Goslings are mourning (repeated three times) because their mother’s dead.” Actually, after some intensive researching online this morning to get to the bottom of this important issue, I discovered that the title is actually “Go Tell Aunt Rhody,” and that the line we always sang, “She died last Friday, (repeated three times) with a pitchfork in her head,” should actually be: “She died in the mill pond from standing on her head.” A little less violent, but gruesome just the same.

Anyway, the next time I want to take bird photos at VOA park, I am going to take my DSLR with my new zoom lens, and a dog-walker with me.

See the lyrics and more information on the American Folk Song, “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.”

Things that last a lifetime — and a book giveaway

I dreamed about Annie last night. We were in an old house, not old in a decrepit way necessarily, but old in a quaint way— the kind of house that has the wide dark woodwork, thick plaster walls and large doorways. Annie was lying on the floor. I noticed a long gray bug with wings crawling across the floor. Then I noticed another and another. Then seven and ten. I looked up and saw that one of the small square tiles in the ceiling was partially falling out exposing the empty space above.

All at once a swarm of these bugs poured out of that space the tile provided.

My first instinct was to flee, but then I remembered Annie. So I went back and picked her up and tried to barricade us in a room with a rug stuffed under the door.

Maybe some things last a lifetime.

If you haven’t already gotten a copy or read Dancing in Heaven, you might want to enter to win a free book at Goodreads on St. Patrick’s Day. Tell your friends.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dancing in Heaven by Christine M. Grote

Dancing in Heaven

by Christine M. Grote

Giveaway ends March 17, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

While we slumber— the messages in our dreams

Annie in the first chair our dad made for her - circa 1961 when she was three years old. The chair had small metal wheels so we could easily move her around, and neck support because she wasn't able to hold her head up well.

I had a dream last night where I was remembering the time when my disabled and now deceased sister Annie was kidnapped, but we weren’t alarmed because we didn’t realize it until she was returned a few hours later, wrapped in a blanket and lying on the porch. Pretty bizarre, but perfectly possible in a dream.

It reminded me of another vivid dream I had about her shortly after she died. We had all gone to a parade and Mom had pushed Annie there in one of the wooden chairs that Dad made for her. The chair had small metal wheels that vibrated voraciously as it was pushed across the rough concrete sidewalk.

I held Annie on my lap in a lawn chair. Mom and the others decided to leave, but I wanted to stay with Annie for a while. She was enjoying being someplace different, and I thought to myself, “I should take her out more often. It’s got to be boring staying home nearly every day looking at the same four walls.” Just this small change of scenery was a big entertainment for her.

When I wanted to go home, I looked around and didn’t see her chair at first. I thought, “Uh oh. I hope I am strong enough to carry her all the way back.” I cradled her close, stood up and thought, “I can do this. She’s not that heavy.” But I jostled her a little bit adjusting my hold on her and her head flopped around. I hoped I hadn’t hurt her. She was still smiling after an initial gasp and pucker that she does when she was surprised or  hurt.

I crossed at the crosswalk and turned to take a last look behind us. That’s when I saw her chair sitting under a store’s awning. I knew I had to go back for it.

Right when I turned around to cross the street and get the chair, my sister Carol showed up to help me. I debated on putting Annie through the vibration of the ride back in her chair, or just carrying her. I decided on the latter and Carol pushed the empty chair. She said, “It makes a lot of noise, too.”

I had no thoughts about Annie’s death until I woke up and even then it took me a minute.

There are several things wrong with this dream:

One, Mom would not likely take Annie out on the street in a crowd like that. For one thing, being in close quarters would make Annie nervous.

Two, Annie probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it and may have looked more like she was being tortured. The sun in her eyes bothered her.

Three, even if I wanted to take Annie out more often, I wouldn’t have done it. Annie had bad allergies and her eyes would itch if she was out for any period of time and her skin was extremely sensitive to the sun. Besides that, Mom would never let me.

Four and most importantly, Mom would never have left and gone home without taking Annie with her.

Here is another post I did in April about recurrent dreams.

What do you think about dreams? Do they tell us anything significant? Are they giving us messages we should heed? Or are they just our minds playing around while we sleep?