A Little Help from my Friends

Alice O'Leary:

This is a blog from Chris Condello, a young fellow I have been following for some time. He has reached out through his words and pictures but this blog reveals how hard his life can be. Please send good thoughts his way. He is a fragile thread in this weaving we call life but the tapestry is better with him in it.

Originally posted on chriscondello:

The following post was not easy to write… before the emails and comments start I have to say that I am alright… I won’t be accepting comments on this particular post… Read it for what it is… A deeply personal piece of art… Enjoy…
TulipSnowfall

“Snow on my Dreams of Spring” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Yesterday… Snow fell from the mid-April skies… Last night… The temperature fell to 21F… Snow is truly falling on my dreams of spring…

PlumChurch “Plum Blossom in a Neighborhoods Bottom” – Second Presbyterian Church of Wilkinsburg – Hay Street – Wilkinsburg, PA – Took a walk through one of the neighborhood food forests the other day… It had to be a quick walk because it decided to start raining the moment I walked out the door… This garden was a project done by a local artist/resident and a few non-profits… And I honestly don’t…

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Image #231 – The Small Stuff

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Spring is about cherry trees, glowing tulips, and forsythia … big, bright things.  But spring is also about very small things. Like this little yellow flower that has popped up all over my driveway. The Roosevelt dime gives you a good idea of just how small it is.  We pass these small things by without a thought. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” we say. But in the time that I was sitting, observing this flower it was visited by multiple flying insects, enjoying its sweet nectar. Those insects moved on to pollinate other, larger flowers and also become a morsel for the many birds that are back and very busy.  The small things feed the big things and make it all happen.  So, it’s okay to sweat the small stuff sometimes. . . .we couldn’t get along without it. ❧

Image #230 – Caesar, the family goose

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Meet Caesar, the large white goose standing between two of his harem members. Caesar is a Roman Tufted Goose and according to Wikipedia:

The Roman Tufted was developed for exhibition. Due to its small size it is not suitable for commercial meat production, but is well suited for weed control and as a table bird for small families making it good choice for a backyard flock.

“[A] table bird for small families. . .”!!?? Yikes!  Well, this particular Roman Tufted Goose does not need to worry about such a end. Caesar has landed among a harem of three Tolouse geese at Mary’s farm in Sarasota. His job is enviable. He is to provide companionship, protection and, perhaps, an heir. He is a replacement for the recently departed Doodle who was excellent in all three required areas. Mary wondered if any goose could fill Doodle’s . . . webbed feet.  Well, I am happy to say that Caesar has not only met the mark,  he has surpassed it.

When I arrived in Florida last February Mary had only just gotten Caesar and wasn’t quite sure how things would work out.  It’s the old Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria thing. Would Tolouse geese accept an, ahem, goose of a different color? Things were a little tense at the start but then Caesar led the gals to the pond and, well, let’s just say that geese like to do it in pond. Love ensued. Eggs were laid… 20+ eggs is the last count I heard.  Of course not all eggs breed chicks but Caesar and the girls are working on that … clearly.

But the best part is that Caesar is a modern dad. Mary discovered him sitting on the nest a couple nights ago. She was quite amazed but we all know that Romans are definite familia-oriented. He is also definitely into protection. He attacked poor Tango on a couple of occasions, nipping his back end and inflicting no pain except for surprise. Tango would run away and Caesar would puff up, extend his wings and, if he could, crow.  But geese can’t crow. They make the most awful noise and it would take one to love one. Thankfully nature, and Mary, has taken care of that.  ❧

 

Image #229 – Fawn Hill spring

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I’m back at Fawn Hill in western North Carolina where spring has arrived. You can almost feel the land exhale in a collective sigh of relief. Today it is cool and rainy but on Saturday we had a very nice day with sun and mild temperatures. Tango and I decided to take a walk in the neighborhood.

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Green grass is popping up and Potts Branch, the stream in the center of this picture, is swelling with plenty of spring rain.  The old shed up the street from our house seems warmer in the spring air but is still very foreboding to me. I half  expect Jud Fry to walk out. If you’ve never seen the 1955 movie Oklahoma you won’t know what I’m talking about but I can tell you that Rod Steiger made a lasting impression on an eight-year-old girl and smokehouses still give me the willies.

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But I digress. This is about spring! Nature celebrates spring in many ways and humans follow suit. There are some who make bold proclamations, like these magnificent blooming trees. They are, I think,  bradford pear trees.  I suspect their owners hold their breath every winter, praying that an ice storm won’t take them out. They seem vulnerable on the hill crest but they are beautiful.

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Lots of people enjoy the forsyth bush. And why not? Anything that screams “Yellow” with such exuberance is okay in my book.

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And daffodils are always in abundance. The previous owner of our land planted quite a few around the property but they are the miniature variety and most had faded by the time I got back. Down the road a bit, however, I found this great stand.  So many eager faces, they make me think of children vying to be on camera.

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So many beautiful flowers at this time of year.

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And a final blossom, just peaking out, was found on one of our apple trees. It holds such promise. Yum, I can already taste their fruit. ❧

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Image #228 – Cataloging Life

Anyone who has ever traveled for an extended period or has a second home knows the anxiety of return. You’ve made all the preparations and you hope that all will be okay when you walk back through that door. But this is life and things happen…things beyond our control.

So it was that I set out on Thursday to return to my home on Fawn Hill in Franklin, North Carolina.  It had been seven weeks since I locked the door and headed south to Florida.  My good friend and neighbor had looked out for things but, still, there was some anxiety. At first things seemed okay. Everything was here, the utilities were working and, most fundamental, the structure was still standing. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered my home had been invaded.

The invader was not human, mammal or insect.  It slipped into my home under the guise of commerce. It was … they were … catalogs!  OMG, there were stacks of them. Some were old familiar friends — L.L. Bean, Land’s End, Duluth Trading. But the majority, the hordes, were cheap, unfamiliar competitors with cute names like Soft Surroundings or Woman Within. The latter felt compelled to send me two identical catalogs with different covers. There was Viking Cruises with travel tours I will never be able to afford and Serengeti with cute, too cute, stuff I will NEVER need.  A dozen unwanted visitors in seven weeks time.  Here they are.

Seven weeks

 

I trashed them immediately. Like some unwanted insect that you grind under your heel I cast them into the recycle bin with disdain. I had never asked for them; I had never bought a thing at Maryland Square, Sahalie, Cabela’s or Footsmart (two catalogs!).  Why did they descend on me? Initially I blamed it on a gift received from a friend that was, undoubtedly, purchased from a catalog of this ilk.  Perhaps it was mail list companies that had been informed, courtesy of the U.S. Post Office, that Rita D. died years ago and Alice now lives in her place. The catalogs don’t care. If I’m not here they will happily be received by “Current Resident.”

What a scourge. I awoke in the night and actually found myself thinking about them!  OCD brought on by blind capitalism.  I realized, as the quiet mountain night surrounded me, that I was under attack. It wouldn’t stop with these twelve. They were hucksters and had already sold my name to others. Counter-attack was necessary. Like any invasion you MUST beat them back ASAP.

So this morning I tore off the back covers (one of which admonished me to “Please Recycle”!) and returned each one to the sender marked “Please remove me from your mailing list.”  Will it work?  Probably not at first. Catalogs are like roaches. Keep beating back. ❧

Images #224, 225, & 226 – Bunny’s 94th Birthday

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I’ve written many times about my cousin Bunny. Yesterday was her 94th birthday and her son John put together a small party. He served one of Bunny’s favorites–Maine lobster!  I can tell you that despite her age she still knows how to appreciate a Maine lobster. It brought back some wonderful memories of a long ago summer when my mother and I traveled to Vermont, where Bunny was living at the time, and we went out to a small restaurant with brown kraft paper for a table cloth and the best lobster I have ever eaten.  But what was more delicious was watching these two women, my mother and cousin Bunny, expertly dissect those lobsters to get every possible morsel. It was masterful.

Bunny has a kind of dementia that makes it hard for her to retain short-term memory but she still enjoys a good party. Her dementia made for a couple of interesting moments during the party. John presented the lobsters and Bunny asked what was the occasion?  When told it was her birthday she was completely surprised.

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It gave new meaning to “surprise party.”  :)

This was the first time I ever attended a party for a 94 year-old and how lovely that it was such a special lady. She’s got 94 years of memories in that head and she shared some of them last night. The present may not be that important anyway. There is a Simon & Garfunkel song called “Old Friends” with a lovely line:  Preserve your memories/they’re all that’s left you.  That’s something to think about.  Let’s hope we can all smile this warmly when we are 94. ❧

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Image #223 – Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Image #223

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

 

A Cattle Egret. One of my favorite birds. This one has his mating feathers and is very handsome indeed. The younger ones look very punish when their  beautiful crown feathers start to fill in. They are aptly named and can often be found in pastures among the cattle.  ❧