Sunday, August 21, 2011

My mother's cookie jar

My dad's health had declined so suddenly early in 2004 that he couldn't live alone any longer and my brothers and I were left scrambling to make arrangements for his care. We also had to figure out what to do with his house and all the stuff in it.

The short story is that we shared dad and cared for him as best we could amongst us while we set about cleaning out and selling his house. I don't remember how many 20-yard dumpsters we'd paid for, but still... my attic ended up filled with dad's books, mom's dresses and lots of assorted "stuff" from numerous generations of our family.

I never really dealt with any of that stuff properly. I'm awful about purging my own things, let alone all this sentimental crap... my dad's high school ring, a letter he wrote from France to my mom while they were engaged, her wedding dress preserved in a fancy cardboard box...

What am I to do with any of this?

Life has found me in a place now that I'm sorting through the collections of a childhood and a marriage: my lifetime so far. Some things are easy to keep and others... pfft! It seems impossible to do anything other than cart them around with me until sometime when I can think more clearly about their meaning and real merit in my future.

I've been washing and boxing up my mother's china and sorting through ridiculous amounts of bird-related-kitsch the last couple weeks. I've no idea what to do with the perfectly-preserved wedding dresses worn for two failed marriages, but...

(sad sigh)

This cookie jar, as awful-looking as it is... I know I want to keep it!

: )

Of course it would be meaningless to anyone else, but I remember it there on the counter above the breadbox in the house I grew up in. It's one remnant of my childhood... innocent of any guilty feelings and sense of obligation... I see it and think of Scooter Pies and Pecan Sandies.

: )

In the last couple years I'd used this as a treat jar for my bunnies... appropriate, no? It broke at some point recently and my sweet DexH glued it back together for me.

- - - - - - - - - - -

"My mom" is just an empty title to most people in my life. I have just one friend who remembers her, in fact. It's 30 years since she passed away when I was 11. I can look at pictures of her and still smell her perfumed hug or remember days at the beach as a kid. There is little in my life, now, to make her a real person. This ugly cookie jar was probably meaningless to her... an empty household piece that once belonged to the most important person in my life.

Despite my inclinations to the contrary, I still hold on tightly sometimes. I still think her stuff is as sacred as my memory of her.

- - - - - - - - - - -

I wonder what it is that you all have been carting around with you to remember the people that once loved you? A pink trunk full of tattered love letters? A collection of tools? That set of crystal hi-ball glasses you can't bear to part with, tho you don't even really know what a hi-ball is?

: )

Do tell, please. Lend me some comfort in my state of overwhelmedness.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Plover party

We had a little potluck party this evening to celebrate a successful nesting season for "our" Piping Plovers at Seven President's Park... there was beer and pizza and homegrown tomatoes with basil and mozarella and homemade wine...

We plover monitors had logged better than 1500 volunteer hours (75~ of them myself) and babysat 4 healthy chicks throughout the beach season.


I didn't take very many people pix while out on the beach, but this random beach-goer typifies the amused sort of tolerance of our antics we've trained the public into...

Can't you just see him wondering what all the fuss is about?

Endangered birds... what birds? Where?

: )

Linda is a veteran at this... she and I spent many an evening together at opposite ends of the beach shepherding people away from the chicks.

Click and look closely for two tiny young chicks feeding at her feet!

Marie is another volunteer that I spent a lot of time with... study her posture... she was fierce with young surfers who didn't think they had to follow everyone else's rules on "their" beach...

I had to include this pic of a plover chick running across my beach towel, just because...

: )

Someone on FB linked to an article in just the last couple days that almost suggested that Piping Plovers might do better on very peopled beaches... I wonder if that might not be true...

Public education can be our greatest advantage if we leverage it properly...


The party tonight was fun, but I think we all left wondering what we'll do with ourselves all winter...

: )

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Going, going, gone

The photos I took on 30 July will likely be the last of the baby Piping Plovers...

; (

All 4 babies and their dad were still at the beach on 4 August, but my camera battery was dead...

; (

That evening, while we watched, 3 of them took a very serious-looking flight straight out over the ocean. It was the first prolonged flight I'd witnessed and it looked to me like they meant to head straight for the Bahamas.

; )

They came back, but I've heard since that dad and two of the babies have left for points south. 2 chicks were still around as of yesterday... I hope to get back for a couple last shots, but...

Seven President's Park is the only place in Monmouth County, besides Sandy Hook, that had Piping Plovers this season... and the season was a huge success for our pair!

; )

Monday, August 01, 2011

Bad bird photo of the week

Swallow song

Swallows are starting to gang up on the wires here in the mornings... I love to listen to their conversations while I wake up with coffee.

I haven't heard a Katydid yet, but I can feel the natural world turning towards Fall.

What about you in your part of the world? Can you see Fall despite the summer heat?

Tell me how you know it's coming...