Thursday, January 17, 2013

Little Blue, the Parakeet

On Monday morning, our groomer arrived at the kennel as she does every day, with a smile, sometimes an egg biscuit, and always an enthusiasm for life that is contagious.  However, on this day, she was somewhat subdued. I didn’t understand why until she put her case down and pulled something out from underneath her sweatshirt.

She handed me a tiny blue bundle, and asked me to keep it warm for her.  Tucked inside of a fleecy slipper sock was a beautiful little blue parakeet.  Pennie told me that it was her mother’s bird, and that it had been fine earlier in the morning, but she found it laying in the floor of its cage as she prepared to get ready for work.   Pennie’s mom is bedridden and lives with Pennie and her family.  The little bird, Blue, was her mom’s companion in her bedroom where she spends her days and nights.
I took the tiny bundle, and stroked Blue’s little head, talking gently to him, while Pennie prepared some kind of concoction to feed him through a syringe.  She also took one of our large feeding bowls and placed some bird seed in it.  When she attempted to feed Blue through the syringe, there was no response from the little bird, and it dribbled down its chest and onto the sock.

Pennie and I decided to take Blue out of the sock and place him in the dish with the food.  We made a small nest out of the sock, and placed Blue in it.  He moved a little and flapped his little wings a time or two, and then was still.  I touched him to feel that he was still warm and breathing, said a quick prayer to the angel of little birds, and we gently placed him on a corner of Pennie’s grooming table. 

The next hour was busy for me, as I checked in dogs for grooming and for boarding.  As soon as it quieted down in the office, I slipped into the grooming room to check on Blue.  When I touched him, I knew he was gone.  Pennie was bathing a dog, and asked me about Blue.  I told her that he had died, and she came over to touch him, to confirm what I had told her.   As I looked at this tiny, fragile creature, I thought about Pennie’s mom, and how this little guy had brought her joy and happiness as she enjoyed his company.  I wondered if Pennie would get another bird to replace Blue.

I also pondered on the fragility of all life.  Like little Blue, we are all here on earth for a moment, we touch the hearts and lives of others, we flap our wings hoping to fly, and we chirp our songs of thankfulness to our creator.  A tear meandered its way down my cheek as I touched Blue one more time and said good-bye.  Pennie told me that she would take him home and bury him in her yard when she finished her day at the kennel. 

I can still feel the small bundle that Pennie placed in my hand on Monday morning, asking me to keep it warm.  I can still hear my words of encouragement to the tiniest of God’s creatures, as I whispered to Blue and stroked his little head. 

I believe that Blue is somewhere out in God’s Heaven joyfully flying and singing a happy song. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Palm Pavilion- Clearwater Beach, Florida

Recently on Facebook there have been some postings about memories of growing up in the Clearwater, Florida, area.  Although I did not grow up down there, but moved there when I was 16, I was familiar with the area all my life, since my dad was born in Palm Harbor, and he and my mom both graduated from Tarpon Springs High School. We used to go down to Clearwater every year to visit our relatives, and a trip to the Palm Pavillion was always on our list of things to do. The following is a childhood memory that I wrote about in my first book.

The Palm Pavilion

The brilliant April sun shone on the bleached white sand.  A rainbow array of blankets, quilts, and towels decorated the wide beach, adding color to the stark brightness of the hot spring day.   Rustling softly through the palm trees separating beach from parking lot, a gentle breeze lazily floated past.  Seagulls soared and dived in joy, screaming in high-pitched voices to one another, white flecks against the aquamarine sky.  Mama and Daddy sat relaxed on our patchwork quilt, while Molly and I decided how we would spend our day at the beach.

I stood enthralled at the blending of sky, sea, and sand.  Wiggling my barefoot toes in the powdery sand and feeling the sun’s warm touch on my winter-white shoulders, a tingle of excitement made chill bumps pop up on my arms, despite the heat of the day.  I stood rooted in the sand surveying the panorama before me, amazed at the beauty and wonder of my surroundings.  Where should I begin my day?

Standing nearby as a giant oasis between sunny beach and steamy asphalt, the Palm Pavilion silently beckoned me toward its cool sanctuary.  Its weathered red-and-green-striped roof spread across the low-slung rambling building like a giant faded beach umbrella.  A wide wrap-around porch lined with a row of wooden Adirondack chairs offered shady rest for sun-baked beachcombers.

I scuffled through the deep sand toward the pavilion.  Two creaky steps up, and I was standing on the cool, shady porch.  The splintery floor was made of wide, rough planks spaced unevenly side by side, allowing sand from my feet to filter through to the ground beneath.  A row of bronzed leather skinned grandparents lounged in the deck chairs discussing the latest gossip, reminding one of chirping birds perched along a telephone wire. 

Flung open were two wide doors, revealing a dimly lit cavernous interior.  I stepped through the doorway, temporarily blinded until my eyes adjusted to the absence of light.  Above, two ancient ceiling fans rotated wearily, stirring the humid air.  Whiffs of buttery popcorn, spicy hotdogs, and greasy fries drifted enticingly in the breeze.

As my eyesight got used to the change in light, I spotted a wide counter along a far wall sporting rows of straw hats in lopsided stacks.  I cautiously approached them, careful not to bump into anyone laden with popcorn boxes or overflowing fizzing sodas.  I carefully picked up a floppy hat, placing it lightly on my head.  The world became a checkerboard as I peered through the loosely woven brim toward the open doors.  Giggling, I carefully returned the hat to its place on the stack.

On another counter near the beach hats sat dozens of brightly colored buckets and shovels, all child-sized for collecting ocean treasures and constructing elaborate sand castles.  Spotting a shiny royal blue one, I picked it up, rubbing my fingers over its polished belly.  It had a pearly white handle twisted into a tight braid.  Inside rested a canary yellow shovel.  It was beautiful, and it was exactly what I needed!  I pulled two crumpled dollar bills that Daddy had given me from my pocket, and headed for the cash register with my purchase.

The pail and shovel mine, I glanced around quickly to see if there were any more discoveries to be made.  Satisfied that further adventures could wait until lunchtime when I would try a famous Palm Pavilion chili dog, I skipped across the cool, gritty floor toward the brightness of the morning.  Waiting for me outside was a magnificent sandcastle yet to be created, and a bucketful of seashells washing up on the shore, to be discovered by one little girl.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013- Off and Running

So, we are now almost a week into the new year.  I’m still not sure what to think about it or to be very excited about it.  But I am doing my best to be optimistic and hopeful.

The new year began for me with a case of laryngitis.  I’ve always heard that what you do on the New Year is what you’ll do all year long.  If this is true, then it will be a very quiet year for me!  I didn’t do much talking.  However, a phone call from a childhood friend was a surprise and a treat for the day, and if I have a year of reuniting with old friends, then that will be something pretty neat.   I also spent the day watching old movies, sipping on Irish cream, and taking cat naps.  A year of this wouldn’t be bad, either! 

On New Year’s night, I encountered one of my inner demons, as I awakened after a bad dream thinking about all of the uncertainties facing me this year.   I fought going into the dark tunnel of fear and terror with all my might, and with the help of a couple of good friends who are my sounding boards and listening ears, and a long walk in the mid-day sunshine, I was able to get off of the pity potty and shake off the depression before it could get its grip on me.   This morning I am baking bread, which is also helping me look forward with positive thoughts instead of negative ones.

On Thursday, I had a surprising experience that could have turned out badly, but it didn’t.  As I’ve told the story, it has brought on gales of laughter as I have related it to my co-workers.  I’ll share this with you, my reader.

I am chauffeuring a rather energetic and exuberant Golden Retriever to the kennel for day care every day for the next week or so while his owner recovers from quadruple bi-pass surgery.  Bailey is a strong, happy dog with very little discipline or manners.  While I am pretty strong and know how to handle most dogs, Bailey probably weighs almost as much as I do, and it can be a work-out to manage him.  What I didn’t know was how Bailey felt about cats.

On Thursday morning, when we arrived at the kennel, I got a good hold on Bailey’s leash before letting him get out of the car to enter the kennel.  It was early, and we were the first ones there.    All was going well.  We made it to the door, where I put him into a rare sit, and put my key into the door to open it.  What I didn’t realize was that Edmond, the kennel cat, was on the other side of the door, waiting for the door to open to go outside.  As I opened the door, Edmond darted out the only way he could, between Bailey’s front paws.  Bailey took chase, catching me off-balance and off-guard.  I went sprawling into the cedar shavings alongside the breezeway walkway.  Thankfully, the weight of my prone body slowed Bailey down, resulting in a short sleigh ride, minus the sleigh, leaving skid marks in the shavings.  Edmond escaped around the corner, and Bailey gave up chase.   I checked myself out, realizing that I wasn’t mortally injured, while Bailey looked at me with a “why did you stop me?” look in his eyes.  Brushing myself off, I escorted him into the kennel and into his run, promising him a come to Jesus talk later in the day.  I discovered that I was mostly uninjured, but had split the skin on my knee, underneath my jeans.  A band-aid did the trick, and I was ready for the day.  Since then, I have scoped out the territory before transporting Bailey through the kennel.  I’m a fast learner.  It only takes one time for me to learn that Bailey and Edmond should not be in the same proximity with each other! 

The highlights of my first week of 2013:  a little bit of the blues, a scary adventure that ended up being funny, and three loaves of cracked wheat bread baking in my oven.  Maybe it will be a pretty good year, after all!