Crowz Nest

Because it's time... as it was once before.

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Location: Port Murray, NJ

I'm a bit old to be starting out in life again, but that's where I am. Sadly. Or gladly. It's where I am. Come along. Watch the fun. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Swingin' on my birthday

It's my birthday. It's been my birthday all weekend. I went out to dinner with some good friends on Friday night - not because it was my birthday, but because they'd gathered in town enroute to their annual Martha's Vineyard week, and they invited me to come and have dinner with them. We gathered at Lisa's. Rhoda, Sandy, and Line were there, and Kathy came along, too. It was great to see them all. We had a great dinner, and they surprised me by treating me for my birthday. And I got more crow stuff! Thanks, ladies.

Joe came on Saturday, surprising me not only with his own lovely gifts, but with his role as (quite a bit more than) courier for my sister, Cathy. He arrived with her gift - a yard swing - which we then proceeded to put together. Well, he put it together. I served as little more than handy support for some of the parts, and delivered an occasional tool or nut or bolt to hand in a timely fashion.

Once assembled, Crow declared it good.

Today, I went and rode Buc, something which has always pleased me to do, but which has lately become deeply satisfying. It's not just that I've begun to put the basics together predictably; it's also that Buc and I have really begun to develop a deep friendship and a powerful bond. It's noticeable when I'm riding. Sometimes I feel as if I do no more than think about what I'm about to ask him to do and he gives it to me. But it's also present in all of our interactions, from the moment I go out to collect him, to the moment when I turn him out.
Today, as I fed him the last of the carrots I'd brought him, and stepped back from him so he could go find the rest of his herd, he took a moment to nuzzle me and hang his head over my shoulder before he left. Then he turned, and raised his head into the air, sniffing. He let out a call, and waited for the reply that came from the back field. And then he cantered off to join his mates. I stood at the gate, watching him go all the way until he disappeared through the distant wind break, struck not only by his beauty, but also humbled by the friendship he had shown me.

I have many gifts in my life everyday. Today, my birthday, was a good day to count them.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I guess I'm collecting crows...

In the last week, I've received packages from two friends. Now, my birthday does fall soon, but I think that only one of these was a birthday present. Even though the people who sent these packages have never met one another, there's a theme developing here at this house.

I was going to name the farm Black Feather Farm. I suppose this place has become Black Feather Farm, even if I lost 10 acres in the bargain. Maybe, when Buc is finally here, I'll think of this as Black Feather Farm. I certainly have the beginnings of quite of heap of totemic crow energy here now.

The laughing crow from Amy.

The crow treasure box from Bridget.

The matching candle box.

The Wall...

(with apologies to Pink Floyd...) the Wall is now the Wall Garden. It should be fun to see how this grows...

I also planted clematis on the arbor and on the lattice on the front porch. There's really not much to photograph yet, but tomorrow I'll go out and take a "the beginning" shot, just in case they really grow wild.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Crow Joke #999

This morning as I was getting ready to go to work there was an early morning thunderstorm, and the rain was coming down in buckets. Normally, after feeding the dogs, I grab a handful of grapes and baby carrots and come up from the kitchen. Crow and Hudson go out for one more "just in case" potty trip while I go up the winder staircase to feed the birds. When I opened the door for them today, they looked at the downpour, and for an instant Hudson leaned out and looked up at the sky. Then they both moved back and told me quite clearly it was a "no go." That was ok. They'd already been out earlier, and I didn't much feel like drying them off a second time.

So, Crow got to do one of her very favorite things with me - feed the parrots. All I have to do is say "let's do the birds," and she runs right to the staircase door. Somehow she knew what was next on the agenda, and she led me to the stairway and waited for me to open the door. Safety necessitates that she preceed me up or down the narrow stairs, so up she went as I reached for the light switch.

As soon as I flipped the switch, a lightbulb burned out, so when I got upstairs, my attention was immediately consumed by changing the lightbulb. Perhaps I missed something; or maybe not.

I fed the two Amazons and crossed the room to feed Dover, my cockatiel. As I was fumbling with the catch on his door, Crow came over and nudged my hand. Without thinking, I responded by turning my hand, cupped and palm up, to scratch her chin.

That's when she hit me with it- Crow Joke #999. As soon as my hand was turned over, Crow delivered the punch line, dropping a dead mouse (this was a Rodent of Impressive Size, with beautiful copper colored pelt, and it was very, very dead) into my palm.

All these years of playing at dog training paid off, as I held my new prize, thanked her profusely for her generosity, all the while ignoring the voice screaming in my brain that shrieked "drop it!!! drop it!!!," and looked desperately around the room for a plastic bag. Fortunately, I'd just brought new seed yesterday afternoon, and the bag was still there.

I have no idea if the mouse was just lying there dead when we went up or if Crow killed it. She snuffles around in corners, vacuuming up seed and other parrot rejects that the birds have thrown out of the cages anyway, so I might not have noticed if she was after a mouse instead of seeds. I was distracted when I first went up because I had to change that lightbulb. And quite frankly, if you were to ask me if it were still warm enough to have been recently killed, I was so shocked that part didn't register on my brain.

Crow was quite pleased with herself. It was a pretty good dog joke, and she was really quite satisfied with having executed the perfect delivery.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two strong backs, one amazing team, and a couple of hours...

Before ... (note collapsed, nearly non-existant retaining wall.)


Lest you think otherwise, granite blocks of that size are heavy. 40 lb. pry bars are, too. Man strong like bull. Woman strong like ox.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The passing of the baton

Must be puppy season. Lots of people I know have new puppies right now. Getting a puppy is always a personally momentous occasion, since it inalterably changes the patterns and rhythms of your life. And everyone who's had one knows how much work puppies are. They require changes in your schedule, in your focus, in your routines. They have high energy and high needs. And they are cute, so that you can tolerate all the rest of the package until they start to learn the rules and grow a brain, and become, not just less work, but your friend, and if you're lucky, your partner.

My friend Sally has a wonderful old German Shepherd girl, Abbey. Abbey's getting on in years, slowing down and showing her age. In her heyday, Abbey probably would not have been very receptive to the idea of Sally bringing a puppy into the picture. But things change; personalities mellow, and we learn different ways of taking care of one another as we go along. And so Sally and Abbey came to an agreement, and the search for and wait for the right puppy began.

Recently, Abbey joined Sally in welcoming Harry (since renamed Hawkeye) into their lives and home. I've been led to believe that it was a real "When Harry Met Sally" moment when Sally and this puppy found one another.

Sally and Abbey have always taken good care of one another. During their years together they have, as is true in all healthy relationships, been both teacher and student to one another. They have traveled together and grown together. It has always been a privilege to glimpse the caring they share. And now, in a new way of taking care of Sally, Abbey has, quite literally, passed the baton. She brought Hawkeye a stick.

Welcome, Hawkeye. You have no idea of what wonderful adventures await you.