World Photography Day

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I have always loved taking photos. It took me quite some time to switch from film to digital, and more recently have I forgone using an actual camera for my cell phone. As the online world is more interactive and visual I try to take photos to accompany my writings. I think it adds to the layers of my writing life as well as much of my spiritual life. In looking for photos to include on this day, I did some googling and research into photography. Living in New York, I’m partial to Kodak and the Eastman-Kodak company, not to mention their connection to Paul McCartney and his family.

In reading up on National Photography Day from the National Day website, I was reminded of a postcard that I carried with me for the longest time. It is one of the few pieces of artwork that I recognize immediately and draws me into the black and white mysteries of the art world as well as a bygone past and of course the romanticism of Paris.

The Kiss by Robert Doisneau

Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville, photographed by Robert Doisneau. Fair Use. (c)2022

There is so much going on that it inspired me throughout high school and college in creating characters, writing their stories, and including myself in the background of the photo, perhaps in the lobby of the Hotel de Ville.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes, and in many cases more than a thousand words in descriptions, feelings, dreams, and spirit. Although not all of them need a caption; the picture is often enough. Here are a few of my own:

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50-36 – Memorial Cardinal

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​My mother-in-law loved her backyard. She worked harder than anyone I know on her flowers. No special mixes or soil. Her fertilizer was some compost – egg shells and fruit peels. Every spring, bags and bags of dirt, but as I said, nothing special. 

The front of the house looked nice, and inside she had a Christmas cactus that was pretty for the one week it bloomed, but the backyard was her special place. Gorgeous giant sunflowers grew along the back fence. She couldn’t wait to get rid of the mulberry tree that ruined everything around it. There was a crabapple tree that she hung windchimes and the occasional birdhouse on. It looked like a fairy playland.

When we visited in the spring, usually around Easter, we drove her to Home Depot for dirt. Pounds and pounds of dirt, and before we knew it, it was gone and she needed more, so off we’d go for a second trip to Home Depot. She didn’t drive, and she couldn’t carry that much on the bus.

She grew herbs and tomatoes, and we were sent home with dozens of them every spring.

After a while, the full garden became too much, and she began container gardening. It was unbelievable how nice the containers flourished. I’ve never seen containers grow so well. She had a green thumb, and passed it on to my husband who’s really great in our garden. He grew two pumpkins or gourds and we were all excited when we brought them into the house.

When we were visiting in June, she asked about her garden, so I took some pictures on my cell phone and brought them into the hospital to show her. She still hadn’t gotten the hang of any kind of technology; she got an air conditioner for the first summer in 2014 or ’15, but she was excited to see the pictures of the bright yellows and purples of her perennials that never disappointed her.

She died unexpectedly a few days later.

We drove down the following weekend for the memorial service. We had planned to take a few of the roots to bring some of her garden home with us. We’ll have to wait for spring to see how they’re doing. We might have to go back and retrieve a few more roots in the spring.

While I was in the bathroom getting ready for the service I noticed a bright, red bird through the window, outside in the backyard. A cardinal. He sat there long enough for me to get my cell phone and take a bunch of pictures including one that was mid-flight when it took off.

it seemed like an odd time for a single bird to show up.

Cardinals were my mother-in-law’s favorite bird.

NY Birds with Outpost #4

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On Friday, I met a bird lady at a local event here in the Capital District. Actually, while she only brought birds for her demonstration, her husband describes their work as from mice to moose. And to be fair and less flip, she wasn’t a bird lady, she is a wildlife rehabilitation specialist.
Linda, and her husband take in almost any and all animals that need rehabilitation services. Their aim is to get whichever animals can, get back into the wild.
While my kids played at the Carnival going on, I spent my time with Linda learning about the birds and other animals that they care for.

I was fascinated by the birds.

They’re all predators, and in the wild, or at the rehab center, do not hang out together. Their being well fed keeps them from looking for food among each other at the demo. At home, they’re kept in separate cages, like birds together, etc. Of the five birds I met, all but one are New York State natives. Two of the birds are only here in the summer, so when the cold weather comes along, they’re moved indoors until the warm weather returns.

Only native birds are released locally.

I could get pretty close and take photos, even with a flash, but was warned not to go behind them. They don’t like that.

I was surprised at how much training and licensing goes into running a rehabilitation center and taking care of the animals. There’s state licensing and for the birds you also need federal. After taking coursework, there’s a test that must be passed. To teach and have the demos like the one I attended, you need additional training and licensing, even for a former teacher like Linda.

I called the smallest a grumpy cat owl. Look at his face, and you’ll see what I mean. She’s a Screech Owl named Maid Marian.

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Maid Marian. Screech Owl

The Kestrel Falcon is Mr. Piffles, and there’s a Mrs. Piffles back home. He’s one of the summer birds.

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Mr. Piffles. Kestrel Falcon.

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Mr. Piffles. Kestrel Falcon. Showing off. He did this for me several times so I could get a good picture.

Pygmalion, or Piggie is a Broadwing Hawk. He’s also a summer bird.

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Pygmalion or Piggie. Broadwing Hawk.

Shakespeare the Barn Owl was the most regal, the most uncaring, keep looking but don’t touch me aristocratic looking when he wasn’t turning his head regally or falling asleep.

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Shakespeare. Barn Owl.

Last but not least, we have the oldest of the group, twenty-year old Annabelle. She’s a Prairie Falcon from the desert. She was a breeder in Texas. When she passes, she has a home in a museum in western New York.

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Annabelle. Prairie Falcon.

Visit their Facebook or Website to learn more about what they do and how you can help them.

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50-3 – My Earliest Memory

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Several of my early childhood memories come from photos; things I think I remember but can’t possibly. Or I remember the distorted memory combination  of vagueness, photograph, and someone else’s recollection.

One thing that I distinctly remember happening was when we were living in a Queens apartment. It was a somewhat dark apartment with table lamps and heavy drapes. We lived on the second floor and there was a big picture window across the living room. I think I was wearing a yellow dress and my hair wasn’t a bob – it was too messy to make a proper bob, but it was neck length and all over the place with those baby curls that nearly everyone has in toddlerhood.

We had no screens on the windows and they opened with those crank handles. There was a bird sitting on the windowsill, chirping, and I wanted him to come in to play or to visit or whatever toddlers think they want when nature is so close and yet so far.

I cranked open the window and in he flew.

This was great for about a second and a half until the bird realized that he was inside and I also realized that he was inside. He didn’t bounce off walls or shriek. He left that to me. I ran around our living room and then into our kitchen – it was a combination kitchen/dining area and stood on the table, yelling at. my mother to get rid of it.

It swooped and hovered and never once tried to leave.

My mother with all the grace of a cackling scarecrow chased it around the apartment with a broom until he flew right back out of the window.

My mother cranked the window shut and that was the end of my bird watching days.

She may have given me a glare as reprimand.

This might be one of the reasons that my family never had any pets.