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Tuesday
May162017

Boston With The Boys

It's a rare event these days to get a sleep-over with the boys..They are so busy with their sports and school and the fact that their Mom doesn't want to give them up so easily anymore...can you imagine that, so when they had a Saturday free lately, after asking a million times for a sleep-over, we planned it.  One of our favorite things to do with the boys every spring has been to take them to Boston to the Public Gardens and the Common.  We factored that into our plan.  Also, a month of so back we had taken Liam out to dinner in town but Jaxson had not been there so after our adventures in the parks we would go to dinner at our special spot. Part of our strategy was that with all that walking and playing, they would be pretty tired when they got home...so off we went. 

If was a lovely day weather wise and we were grateful for that.  The boys were in shorts so we knew it was really a rare New Enland spring day...we parked the car.  Actually we got lucky on that because the walk to the Gardens was very close by.

Along the way I had to stop and take a few photo's...It's in my DNA and the boys are very good about waiting for me and if not, they just keep going and I catch up.  There is just to many things to see in the spring with flowers popping up and great reflections.  This was on Newbury St., a really lovely street for flower gardens and potted plants.

A Saturday in the Gardens or Commons creates the best people watching.  This was a wonderful day for taking a bike ride or just strolling along..no hurry.

Lots of trees were blooming and the kids were enjoying the view through the limbs...Such a happy feel here after a long muddy spring...

 Not to be outdone by the other boys, it wasn't long before mine decided to give a tree a try.  Liam was like a monkey going from branch to branch but Jaxson needed a lift every once in awhile...They sure had fun though.

I'm hoping his Mom doesn't read this blog post because she might have a heart attack...LOL.  Yes, Monkey Joe extended his trip up the tree.  I was right under him and when it was time to come down...I was there to help him guide his feet but he did perfectly well on his own...This one is full of adventure and not an ounce of fear...

Papa was rigth there keeping an eye on things...as the boys went from tree to tree, checking them all out. So many people spreading blankets and having Saturday afternoon picnic's, babies in carriages, happy to just be outside.  The grass was really thick and a nice shade of green..I guess the rain is good for some things.

Help Papa, I'm stuck.  He didn't give up though...he made it and he was so proud of himself.

Late afternoon, the sun is going down, and the clouds are starting to fill in.  It was time for us to start out. We had a long walk up Newbury St. to get to our dinner spot.  I just love looking at the Boston skyline though from wherever I am and then capture it with my camera..

As I came out of the Gardens, the duck boat was going by.  I thought it was great that this one was honoring Dublin.  All the boats are different in color and message.  

Back up Newbury St.  What little boy can resist walking on the wall and jumping off of each one.  Not this little guy...he is constant motion and so much fun to take anywhere...boys just being boys.  Liam was up ahead with Papa and I'm sure they were enjoying great converstation...

We ended our day in Boston at Trident Book Sellers and Cafe, but not before we stopped at Campers Shoes, where both of the boys picked out a new pair of snazzy shoes...If you look closely you can see Jaxson got new red ones...he is a bit flashy..So if you have never been to Trident and you love great comfort food and books, the next time your in Boston do give this a try.  The boys love sitting in the second floor window, reading books, yes, they let you read while you eat...and both declared the chicken fingers and fries were the best ever...along with a delicious mango smoothie...

Two things, the day with them was wonderful.  No running to games or swim lessons.  No agenda, no clock. It was a day we all needed.  To be out in the sunshine, all of us doing what we love...some climbing trees, me with my camera and Jim just loving being with the boys.. Number two, the day wasn't over, we got to take the boys home with us for the night.  Our first sleep over in a very long time.  Liam was in his own bed here for the first time and Jaxson and I were still snuggling in the big bed.  A busy day but one that i am so happy I have for my memory book...

Guess what:   they did not fall alseep on the way home...does that mean they are really growing up???

 

WHERE DID IT HAPPEN

When did it happen?  "It was a long time ago."

Where did it happen? "It was far away."

No, tell. Where did it happen?  "In my heart."

What is your heart doing now?  "Remembering. Remembering."

Mary Oliver

 

Tuesday
May022017

A Special Morning In The Pine Tree

Recently I spent the morning with my favorite little fuzz ball.  It was somewhat of a cloudy day but thankfully not a rainy day, well, right up until the end.  When I arrived there was my "girl" way up high in the pine tree, all alone.  When she saw me coming, she got behind the pine needle branch and there she kept her eye on me, hoping I couldn't see her.  You know, by this time though, I think both her and the Mom know me and the sound of my car. They still keep a sharp eye on me but after spending the morning with them this time, they are becoming more comfortable with my visits and the beeping of my camera.  I did tell you that they have very good eye sight and very good hearing.  They can actually hear their prey before they ever see it. So on this day, we just hung out and honestly, it was one of the best mornings I've had in a very long time. That baby is so cute and today she was in the mood to entertain, instead of just sitting...So there she is, up above, just waiting. Waiting for her Mom to come back, hopefully with a bit of lunch.

I wanted to give you more of a visual of where these two are living.  In order to get the owls with any magnification, I use a 150-500 lens.  I'm putting that on the Canon 7D MK11..with a crop factor.  I mostly shoot at 500 in order to get some nice close ups but for this photo, so that you could get some idea how big this pine tree is, I had the camera set at 150.  I wish I had gotten a shot of the entire tree so you could see how high up she is but I'm not even sure if my lens would take it all in...Maybe next time I'll bring a wide angle and get that shot.  For today though, you can see that the tree is wide, actually much wider than this, which I'll show you more of later.  Unfortunately I have never seen the baby come out or go into the nest. She is always on the branch when I arrive. Some days when I go, neither are there and because this is private property, I don't hang around.  So, this was her spot on this morning.  If you look above her and to the right you will see the nest.  It is quite large and when she is in it, I cannot see her at all.  It's the big brown blob sitting inside that circle of light, but it is also sheltered from the weather from above.  I'm pretty sure she is still walking the branches to get down to her limbs..but I don't really know for sure.  She could be practicing her flying a bit.

So there I am watching the baby, holding that big ass lens and across my right shoulder the Mom comes flying by...before I could move the lens and get to the 150 point on the lens, she had glided into that tree like a kid sliding into home base..It happened so fast, I never had a chance.  Look at her, all puffed out, thinking in her "owl way"..she can't catch me flying.  It's true, I have yet to get a photo of her flying..I did get the feathers all puffed out though.  I have never seen that before.  Now notice where she is standing on that branch.  It is quite a ways from where the baby is and she is right under the nest. Also she is very close to a bump in the branch which will become significant soon.  I wondered why she didn't go stand next to the baby but that became very clear later also.  I think she is so beautiful. 

This was the best part. This is the second year that I have watched and photographed a baby owlet.  Until this day, I had never seen the little one move.  She could stand on the branch for hours and just watch me. In the beginning she stays very close to the Mom, now the Mom is at the other end of the branch..My heart was in my mouth as I saw her slowly start to move towards her Mom..please little one, don't fall. Wings up a bit, I'm assuming for balance and off she went...

Lifting one little claw at a time, all the way over to her Mom..I was encouraging her the entire time...cheering her on like I do with the boys when they are learning something new...I was this little one's grandmother for a few moments in time..and I was so awe inspired by her bravery and courage.

Finally, she reaches her Mom...but notice where the Mom is now.  She has taken two steps to the right and lowered herself on the branch..she is now eye level with the little one. I was encouraging her but so was her Mom.  Standing so far away from the baby when she landed, forced the baby to walk, moving down on the branch now had a different meaning...

This is one of my favorite photo's of the two of them together..right after the baby reached the Mom..and the Mom knew she was safe, they both turned to me and posed, their very best pose so far.  Bright eyed and strong, standing side by side, saying "we are o.k."  thank you for being here to support us.  O.K. that is probably not what they were thinking, but this is my story and that's the version of it that I like...in some way though, they did acknowledge that fact that they were not afraid of my presence or the click of my camera anymore...and decided to do what they had to do without worry.

Now that the baby was safe, the Mom took a nap.  Not a long nap but I could tell she was exhausted..The baby was patient for awhile but not long enough...when at rest I noticed the Mom's ears fell down and rested with her.  When alert, her ears are always up.  These are the things I notice when I upload my photo's.  Such a joy to view these on the big screen after being with them.  I notice the little things once they are uploaded and I smile each time I discover something new about them.

The baby has been patient long enough...now she moves two steps to the right and starts to snuggle her Mom.  I swear she was giving kisses and the Mom ever so slowly, opened her eyes...who can really resist a baby snuggle and a little nip...

Fully awake now...I know why the Mom was so tired.  She had been hunting for the little ones lunch..there were photo's before this of course but I can't post them all.  The hunting process to my knowledge is, the Mom catches the prey, digest it and then regurgitates it to feed the baby.  This is what is happing here. When I enlarge this photo on my computer, I can clearly see the Mom's mouth open and the babies little beak inside the Mom's mouth.  It was fascinating to watch.  To me, this was the truth telling moment, that they were no longer afraid of my presence and did not have to keep a sharp eye on me every moment. This was the perfect Mothering Moment, that I have talked about so many times before in some of my other post. That Mom knew what she had to do for the little one and so she fed her.  Mothering moments in the wild are powerful. I am so full of gratitude for all the times I have been privileged to witness these tender moments. I add this one to my list now.  It explains so much how the bonds of Motherhood are so strange and instinctual and universal.  Nature is a testament to that.

Here's another thing that has no boundaries between the families in nature and our human families.  After spending a fair amount of time feeding the baby, once again the Mom is tired.  i swear that baby is so big now that she must have spent a good portion of the night hunting for her.  The Mom's tired, the baby is full and has lots of new energy...so what does she do...she harasses her Mom.  In this photo, she picking on the Mom's feathers and just being a brat...LOL...

Look at her pulling on her Mom's ear...I honestly had the best day with these two.  The baby was out to torture the Mom...but she was really just playing. I got the connection between the little one and little kids who just keep at their Mom's until the Mom gives in or moves on...poor Mom, one eye open, one eye closed...but who can sleep with someone biting on your ear...made my day..

So this Mom did what any self-respecting Mom would do and she moved away. Now the little one had to figure out how to get to her again...wings out..a first for this little one while I was there...Awesome, and she slowly moved down the branch to where her Mom was just standing..

Then this happened. Mom is deep in sleep.  The baby checks her out and maybe figures if she spreads her wings that will rattle the Mom...Well it didn't.  It did rattle me though.  Please baby don't attempt to fly while your Mom's asleep.  She wouldn't want to miss this great event if it were your first time...I didn't want to miss it either...but by now I had been there for many hours.  I have so many wonderful photo's from this day...more that I will share going forward.  More about this baby spreading her wings.  I did not get to see the baby fly.  That would have been the frosting on the cake. I do love that look on the babies face though..Like, wake up Mom.  I need to play or fly...

You know what I took away from this wonderful day with Mother Nature and all these Mothering Moments. Nature takes time.  Whether your going for a walk in the woods, or watching a family grow up in a pine tree. If we want to take it all in, we have to give it the time it deserves.  That's how we learn.  That's how we are amazed and that's how we know all is right with the world.  Not watching TV..not popping in for a few minutes.  It takes time.  I am so enriched by my time in the woods and in someone yards who shared her pine tree with me.  My friend gave me a gift by letting me take up space whenever I wanted to.  I took that time and I got lucky, because I stayed. I could have grabbed a couple of shots and left but then, look at what I would have missed. This was the highlight of my spring.  The flowers will come, the sun will shine, the ocean with it waves will be waiting for me..babies don't wait.  Babies are babies for such a short time. I knew I couldn't miss this...because who knows when I'll get another chance at seeing this little miracle of life happen again...many never get to see it at all.  So I say to you...take the time, be patient with your own little ones and with moments spent in nature.  You will always have the memories...but first, you have to make them...

I hope your enjoyed this little romp in the Pine Tree today.  I know it's a longer post than usual but what could I have left out....nothing my friends, absolutely nothing...

"The future will belong to the nature-smart-those individuals, businesses, and political leaders who develop understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need."  Richard Louv

Monday
Apr242017

Washington DC..Cherry Blossom Time

"How many, many things
They call to mind
These cherry-blossoms!"

"How many, many things the blossoms in this photo call to mind, too.

Like… just how many are there? Lots!

The Japanese sure do know how to make nice looking river scenery in spring."

 Basho

Recently him and I took a trip to Washington D.C.  to see the Cherry Blossom Festival.  It had been on our bucket list for a very long time.  In New England spring never comes early and sometimes it doesn't come at all, we just get mud season, which is not exciting at all.  I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun.  I wanted to walk outside without being cold and I wanted to see trees and flowers blooming.  I think it was more important this year than any other.  We've been a bit down with all the trouble going on in the world and listening to news is not really an option anymore.  I am not naive about the happenings going on but a break from it all just seemed right, so this trip made perfect sense to us.  We live in a beautiful world.  Not a perfect one, but a beautiful one.  So for that week, we choose the beauty that was out there..beautiful blossoms that took your breath away.  Cotton candy colors and other trees blooming also.  Flowers and blue sky most everyday...and also beautiful people wherever we went.  I felt the sun on my face, I wore a sweater instead of a coat and the wildlife and greens of the forest were a delight...I know not everyone can get away so I thought, one more time, that I would take you back to Washington D.C., the beautiful part of the city...and let the rest go...it's what I needed to do to restore myself.  Maybe after your visit here, you'll add it to your bucket list also. No hurry, the trees will be there for a very long time I hope, spreading their beauty every spring.

 

Now, just a few of the people and buildings of Washington right close to the reflection pool.

So this is just a snapshot really of all the beauty we found on this spring trip to our Nation's Capitol.  I hope you felt a bit of the beauty here and now will go find the beauty in your own backyard...C

Come back again next time when I'll take you to Virginia...which is an all together different kind of beauty...

 

Tuesday
Apr182017

Cherry Blossom Time

Washington D.C., April 1st, 2017, Cherry Blossom Time...I get to check another one off my bucket list.  I'm really going after the bucket list this year.  Cherry Blossom time has been on the list for many years and quite by accident we got to go this year.  There was some talk of the cherry trees not having as many blooms because of a late March snowstorm and that storm did damage some of the trees but not nearly as many as had been predicted.  Of course we did not know this until we got there, so can you imagine our surprise and joy, at seeing this most amazing extravaganza of pink when we finally got to the basin. It simply filled our senses. A beautiful photo everywhere you turned. Lovely and happy people. The sun was in and out but it was warm.  I survived the metro in, but that's for another day, and more than once, I gave thanks for the beauty that surrounded us.  Yes, folks, this was what was happening in Washington D.C.  It is such a lovely realization that some things are not touched by politics but simply by nature.  The gift given to us by the Japanese. The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.  I am thankful for this gift. So for all of you who won't be able to make it to Washington...I gift you the beauty that came to us that day.

I know, this last one is not from a cherry tree...but a magnolia tree.  It speaks so much of early spring that I had to include it..

 

It is spring time now! While the world looks for a new war to fight, you look for a cherry blossom to watch! Let the stupid seek the violence; you seek the elegance!

Mehmet Murat Ildan
I sat with the above quote for awhile, not sure if I wanted to post that on my beautiful page.  In the end, the world is what it is.  I can't change it but on any given day, I can change myself.  I choose to look for the beauty and elegance that cannot be taken away from us.  I choose spring and re-newed faith in myself. That I will continue to live in nature and light for as long as I can...and in doing so, I will continue to knock things off my bucket list, no matter where the bucket takes me.  Courage does not mean you aren't afriad, it just means you do it anyways...how else to get to the beauty.
Tuesday
Mar282017

My Date With A View

So there I was, standing on the other side of this glass...looking out over the city of Boston..This view, I have always wanted to see it and maybe I did a very long time ago, but tonight I stepped out of the box, for a very special reason.  You see, I don't do elevators, but even when I'm forced to, I never go 52 stories up. It's a major problem for me and has been for many years but sometimes, for the right reasons, you have to put your big girl pants on and step out of the box...one corner at a time. I've been doing just that more and more lately.  You all know I just had a big birthday and when I crossed that line I became very aware that it's now or never with a lot of things...at the end of the day I want to know that I didn't leave anything undone that I really wanted to do.  So, I did this.  Not easily, just ask those in the elevator with me..I was the door man, and the button pushers and I was in charge of how many got on that mechanical steel box. None of that matters though.  What matters is that I did it and how I felt after and when can i go again.

 

My motivation was strong...my friend/sister in law was celebrating a birthday.  I don't get to see her very often because she lives in New Hampshire and I live in Massachusetts and we have busy lives, both of us, with kids and grandkids.  I wanted this to be special for her and also special for me.  I did tell you about my birthday this year already...so going along with that theme..I took the plunge and told my heart to be still because I wanted to surprise her and that I did.

Her and I go back a long way.. she knows my history, I know hers.  Those are the best kind of friends because they love you anyways...She was married to my brother, who unfortunately is not with us any longer..but is still very much a part of our lives.  I am grateful that his passing never changed our relationship, in fact Wendy and I became stronger and almost more committed to keeping our families connected for these last 17 years.  So when Jim and I  found out that my nephew and niece were taking her to the Top of the Hub, we invited ourselves...LOL... and of course they thought that was a very good idea. That my friends is where the big girl panties come in.

To make a very long story short, I will tell you that for many years, more than I like to think about, I suffered from agoraphobia...and at one point I never left my house, other than for doctor's visits and emergencies, for 3 and a half years.  Not a time I like to look back on.  I did the work, and slowly I got better but like any other trama it never goes away, you just learn to manage it and I do that brilliantly for the most part, except for ELEVATORS...and 52 stories is more than I can walk. Poor Jim, I remember once I made him walk 16 flights up out of the underground in London.  It was amazing that I was underground but I could not take that small box back up to street level and so we walked slowly and deliberately and I was ever so happy to see the sun at the top.  So on this night...I knew as I walked towards that big nightmare that I was going to do it...for Wendy and for me.  Time to hang up the fears for as often as I can and to celebrate the good times with the best people.  What a night it was...we laughed as we always do when we are together...We told stories of long ago...I'm sure the kids were impressed with that.  We had wine, but only one for me,  I had to drive that elevator back down, then we had cake and the magic view.  I stood looking out for such a long time..going in it rained the entire way until we got to the parking garage and then it stopped.  A little miracle and a gift.  I had been lamenting about finally going up to the top and not being able to get a view...instead I got the most gorgeous view just as the sun started going down.  It doesn't matter that I had to shoot through the glass, it doesn't matter that I didn't get the sky completely lit up, I got the gift of a view and it felt so good.

So that my friends was a special night...I hope as much for Wendy as it was for me.  I had forgotten the lesson of the more you do something, the easier it gets.  I also won't say that the flight down those 52 floors was any easier than going up.  As head elevator girl, I kept the number of passengers  to a reasonable size getting on...no overloading and no one else working the panel.  I was the elevator operator. When those doors finally slid open, after a long 42 seconds, I felt myself let go and breath.  I also know that I could do it again if I wanted to.  

Wendy is special.  She always has been and I'm sure my brother was looking down and smiling, happy to know that we are still family and even more than that, we are friends.  She was my motivation to take the trip.  Yes it was her birthday and I was so happy to have spent it with her but it was me that got the gift...and hopefully during the night the joy was passed around to all that were at that little table spinning every so slowly above the sky line of Boston...I've got a few more corners to knock off that box...one I will do at the end of April with another special friend I will be meeting in Concord...that will be freeing also..

Happy Birthday Wendy...I love you more as each year passes.  I love the way we laugh more than anything else...Yes, I think this should be a yearly event...who knows maybe next year I'll give elevator tours..that could be fun..and thank you Doug and Lori for putting up with your crazy Aunt...you are both such good keepers of us elders. A really special time was had by all.

If any of my friends here need to step out of the box that is holding you in...don't wait until your 70 to put your best foot forward...start now, right where you stand..you'll be so glad you did and along the way, enjoy the view.

"One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others." Niccolo Machiavelli