Archives for the month of: March, 2015

We love to see eagles soar, but I love watching them nest even more.  I’ve watched eagle cams, cameras placed by eagles’ nests, before, sometimes with tragic storylines, and am always fascinated.  It’s reassuring to watch the parental instincts kick in and know that we share some of those traits with other species.  And baby eagles are cute, like all babies.

This year, I’ve been watching the eagle cam in Hanover, Pennsylvania.  All of my screen shots have this credit:

Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Game Commission, HDOnTap and Comcast Business)

The eagle cam website is:  http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1592549&mode=2

When I was in high school, our team mascot was the Eagle and our publication of student works was titled Eyrie, which is the name for an eagle (or other large bird of prey) nest.  So I’ve been watching this Pennsylvania eyrie from the comfort of my home office on my computer or iPad for the past few weeks.  It started with the eagle on the nest being covered up to her neck in snow as she sat patiently waiting for her two eggs to hatch.  This week they both hatched and today I started my day with the treat of both parents in the nest with the babies.

When I first tuned in, the mother (the larger of the two birds) was sitting there, looking around with her eagle eye, and watching snow start to fall again.  I’m sure her thoughts (because I’m relating her to my experiences as a mother) are “Snow!!! Again???  Dang!”  At one point, she peeked under herself like she was telling the babies to stay still.  Later she actually snapped at the snow, catching some for a drink, I suppose.  And the wind began to blow her feathers.  They’ve fixed the nest up pretty nicely, as I watched them rearrange the grasses before the eggs hatched.  And they’ve been stocking up on fish.  There’s a wing there, too, so I’m guessing they got a smaller bird.  Anyway, there’s plenty of food around.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.54.53 AMI didn’t have to watch long before the father showed up.  The expression on eagles’ faces is always stern, so it’s hard to tell if the mother was happy or not.  I have to go with their body language, I guess.  He hung around, looking like he didn’t know what to do and then picked up a stick, a large one.  And then he moved it to the other side, getting in the mother’s face to do it.  Not hard to interpret what she was thinking here…Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.55.26 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.55.42 AMShe got up at that point.  I mean what else is she going to do with wiggly eaglets underneath her and him rearranging her nest right in her face?Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.55.56 AMThe eaglets turned to the mother for food, of course.  I’m not up on my eagle parenting and I had a husband who helped me with babies, so I’m not sure if this father is the norm, but he stood around looking like he didn’t know what to do while the mother started feeding them.  He had picked up the fish and brought them home, to his credit.  Big fish!  Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.56.50 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-28 at 8.57.19 AMHe was walking around, watching the mother feed them when the camera stopped, which it does every once in awhile.  I just checked again and he’s gone and the mother is back on the nest.  I love to watch her settle down on the babies because she rocks side to side while she gets in position, appearing to be rocking them to sleep.  That’s my interpretation, again based on my own motherhood.

What a unique experience it is to be able to watch a live feed of these mighty birds as they raise their babies.  I know it can get seriously sad because there are so many things that can happen to babies before they leave the nest, but it is so very engaging to watch them go through it.  The eagles stare towards the camera sometimes and I wonder if they sense they are being watched.  Their expression is the same mine would be if I saw a camera there, but that’s always their expression.

Please take time to visit the website and watch this family – soon!!!  The babies are growing.  I guarantee it beats what’s on television most of the time!  Really!

As a little girl, I devoured books of all kinds, but I had a love affair with fairy tales and magic, advancing into the OZ books as I grew older.  I can remember checking out anthologies of fairy tales over and over from the library.  I don’t know if Cinderella was my favorite, but I loved the story.  The Disney animated version came out when I was about 4, so I may have seen it later in a re-release.

We had a set of books called My Book House at home.  I still have the well worn set, which I read and re-read through my childhood.  IMG_6663One volume had the story of Cinderella, so I may have read this one before I saw the movie.  Or at least around the same time.  This is adapted from the French version, which is the one we all know so well.  IMG_6660No matter how many versions I read or saw, I believed them all.  I was a little girl who got caught up in the magic and didn’t really care if it was plausible or not.  I loved these stories.

The Disney version of the story is definitely a classic because who doesn’t love seeing Gus Gus and Jacques outsmart the wicked cat, Lucifer?  Who doesn’t want a plump Godmother to appear and wave her magic wand and sing “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo?”  And a handsome prince to fall in love with.  Of course.  The vivid colors and wonderful songs and humorous characters are favorites around the world.  I met a young African American girl yesterday who said it was her favorite movie as a child.  We all seem to identify with Cinderella, even in her blonde-haired, blue-eyed version.

Several years ago, I was working with a curriculum called “Different and the Same,” developed by Mr. Rogers’ company for students in grades 1-3.  The programs are wonderful and I was privileged to be able to take this into some of our public schools to talk to the students about diversity.  One of the units was called “Cinderella and Me,” and my research while preparing for classes found that there are over 1,200 versions of the Cinderella story, which appears in every, yes every, culture.  There are even versions with boys in the lead role.  I know of a cowboy and an Irish male version, among others. Because many of the students I met were Hispanic and Native American, I took versions from those cultures with me to read to them.  You can’t imagine the joy on their faces seeing versions with heroes and heroines who looked like them.  I borrowed the Hispanic version, but I still have my copy of “The Rough Faced Girl,” an Algonquin Cinderella.  Look at this illustration of the cruel sisters off to try and marry the “Invisible Being.”

IMG_6662I also have a copy of the Thai version of the Disney classic, which a friend gave me to show the students.  It was an easy lesson to show them that children around the world enjoy the same things.IMG_6661My grandchildren have grown up mostly with the Disney version.  I hadn’t though much about it in the last years until I heard that Walt Disney Co. was bringing out a live version of Cinderella.  I was a little doubtful, thinking that it might be a bit silly, being a live movie from a cartoon.  Still, it looked interesting and I took my 5-year old granddaughter along with my friend and her 6-year old granddaughter.  They were both familiar with the animated version, being of a princess generation.  Like all little girls, these two have their own personalities, with my granddaughter liking dresses and frills and her friend liking monsters and sporty clothes.  Mine hadn’t been to a movie except animated ones, so this was a definite adventure.

Well, I have to tell you that the reason that we love Disney movies is still there.  This is a wonderful version, one that I keep thinking about.  The story is ages old, but there was magic and love and humor and some lessons to be learned, no matter how old you are.  I sat down in the theater next to a couple I know well, who laughed that they didn’t have their grandkids here as an excuse, so they came by themselves.

In this modern age with amazing computer generated images to take your breath away, the movie is lush and the characters are well developed.  In this one, we learn more about Cinderella’s parents and their life before the mother dies.  At one point, my friend’s granddaughter was frightened that everyone would die, since we had seen Cinderella lose both of her parents.  The evil step-mother is still evil, but we have more of her story and there is a chance you might even sympathize with her situation in life, although not her treatment of her stepdaughter.  I found that very brave of the movie makers to not make her just a black and while villainess.  At my age, you can have a second of pity for her.  A second.  There’s still no excuse for being mean, no matter what has happened to you.

Cinderella promised her mother to always “Have courage and be kind.”  How simple does that sound?  Those words get Cinderella through all the cruelty that her stepmother and comical stepsisters heap on her and win the heart of the Prince, who has his own issues with his father and his lot in life.  This is no wimpy Cinderella and mindless Prince.  They actually discuss what his marrying a non-princess will mean.  They make choices.  Very cool.

I was mesmerized with the scenes where the Fairy Godmother worked her magic, without uttering one single Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo that I detected, although the loudness of the sound track scared my granddaughter.  She was also frightened by the final scene with the Stepmother, although I reminded her that she should know that Cinderella will be ok and marry the prince.  Such is the way our minds suspend what we know in the throes of a story.  Who knows what goes on in the minds of our little ones?  I was more obsessed with the tiny waist Cinderella had, hoping they used computers for that and didn’t cinch up the lovely actress.  That’s where I am in life.

In the end, this will be another Disney classic, another version of the timeless story.  The final conclusion was that we all loved it.  My friend and I were actually blown away, in our grandmother ways.  I plan to return with my three daughters, daughter-in-law and 13-year old granddaugher, if she’ll go with us.  Me?  I recommend you read all the versions of Cinderella you can find, watch all the versions you can see.  We’re following a tradition that has found its way around the world again and again through centuries of telling the story.  This new one is definitely a keeper!  IMG_6628

 

 

A week ago I drove through the countryside which was accented by stark snow-covered branches against the sky.  A week later, just a week, I drove through the countryside on a cloudy, rainy day and noticed a difference.  The tree branches looked fuzzy on the ends.  I realized that the leaves were starting to bud.

IMG_6531And then the week brought more signs.  There were wildflowers in a patch by the road, a little color.  Suddenly, cows were standing on green patches.  When the sun came out, it was warmer.  I got a sunburn watching a grandson play baseball.

There may be more winter to come, but, for right now, Spring is definitely beginning to push Winter aside.  The cycles of nature are a continual source of hope for us all.

When I was a little girl, the worst thing I could do was to hurt someone’s feelings.  It was bad enough to have my own feelings hurt, but hurting someone else was even more painful.  Talk about feeling lower than low.  It was the Golden Rule ingrained in me from the very beginning.

I still feel that way.  Even in these days of empowerment, standing up for ourselves, and saying what you think rather than holding it back, there is something to be said for the childhood lesson we should have all learned.

How can you not hurt someone’s feelings by bullying, making racist remarks,  or not respecting each other’s religions, sexual orientation, nationality or other beliefs?  I’m speaking of adults now.  We can still hurt each other’s feelings, even though we use all kinds of adult terms to describe it.

These days I feel more and more like the little girl I was.  How cruel people can be.  And, I still wonder how they feel when they know they hurt someone’s feelings.  They can’t really feel good about themselves, can they?

Maybe we all need a little time out these days.

Uncle Woody with Zac - Version 2

 

The nice thing about Oklahoma is that you never know what the weather’s going to be, so we get to experience a little bit of everything, short of hurricanes.  We opt for tornadoes instead.  We’ve had a mild winter, especially compared to the east coast, so when we get a little snow, it’s mainly an annoyance.

What do you call it when you get a couple of inches of snow and it’s more than a dusting and less than a blanket?

I drove from Tulsa to Stillwater on Highway 51, the old highway I used when I was in college with a few improvements to make it a little safer.  I like the turnpike, but this road has so much nostalgia for me.  I like it.  The roads were clear, but the views were snowy.  I was taken with the tree limbs covered with snow early in the morning.

IMG_6429On the old two lane highway between the Arkansas River and Chandler Park, I drove through snow covered rocks and hills of snow covered trees on one side and an icy river on the other.  I didn’t have my camera, but I had my iPhone, so I would pull over and take pictures as I drove along.  So much for getting to my meeting on time.  I was mesmerized with the beauty of the winter landscape.

Eventually, I pulled into a drive, turned around and was struck by the sun trying to break through the icy sky…

IMG_6426I wish I were the kind of writer who could take you there with wonderful words, but I also believe in the power of photographs.  I’m a fan of both.  Here are some beautiful trees…

IMG_6437And that wonderful sun was still trying to break through…

IMG_6435I turned down a few country roads…just because…  Wonder what critter walked under the barbed wire gate?

IMG_6443The ghost town of Ingalls in the snow…

IMG_6454Something about the tiny general store gets me…

IMG_6455Some unexpected views from the road…IMG_6458IMG_6459A landmark ruin…IMG_6427And black cattle on the white snow.IMG_6467That sun never broke through so the drive back home was cold and frosty, with fog at the end.  I did stop on the bridge to get a shot of the beauty of the Cimarron River.  IMG_6469What can I say?  Sometimes the dreariest days have their own beauty to lift your spirits…