Baby boom at Council Point Park.

There are a few things you can count on every Spring … the appearance of allergies, dandelions and those pesky elm and maple seeds that land in your mulch and sprout into a gazillion tiny weeds in a day or two.

Spring is also the time for babies at all the parks and woodsy areas and Council Point Park is no exception.  I’ve never seen baby squirrels, but I am not alone in that regard, because, unlike the waterfowl who hatch, then head to the water within 24 hours of birth, baby squirrels stay in the nest, totally dependent on Mom for the first ten weeks of life.  After they have been weaned, squirrels are off to explore the world, forage and plead for peanuts, which I wonder if that is an innate trait, or something their folks taught them to do.

So, you’ll not see any squirrel photos in this post, but no worries, I’ve got a few cute pictures tucked away for later.

The Robin nursery is busy.

Since I wrote about Mama Robin sitting on the nest and incubating those pretty turquoise eggs, a trio of baby robins has hatched. 

The hatchlings are growing big and I am amused that their mouths seem to be large in proportion to their bodies.  They have an almost sinister grin, though they remind me a little of Daffy Duck with that oversized beak.  Most of the time, those beaks are open and pointed toward the sky as they await Mama to drop some grubs or worms in that gaping mouth.   

Mama Robin continues to sit on top of the chicks when she is not feeding them and sometimes her mate watches them nearby while she is off looking for toddler tidbits.

Harry the Heron has offspring too.

My favorite nature nook has been gifted with the presence of a baby Great Blue Heron.  Fellow walker Mike told me a few weeks ago that he saw a heron family on the cement landing.  I was sorry I missed that sight.  I had not seen Harry the Heron in ages, not that it does me any good, since he sees me and makes a horrible screeching noise and takes flight before I can take his picture.  Harry is either camera-shy, or just has incredibly bad manners to bolt like that, but I do not take it personally. 

So, whether or not this was Harry’s kin, I don’t know, but this small heron was standing on the cement landing and I was able to get quite close to him.  He was not uncomfortable, didn’t mind my intrusion and just continued his ramrod stance, peering into the water, studying it for movement of any fish for his breakfast, just like his folks taught him to do.

Then he bent down closer, studying the water, ignoring the rumbles in his stomach, while hoping for a little fish. 

He began to hunker down, ready to aim for the kill …

… but no luck so far. He did strike a beautiful pose while fishing though.

I was hoping he’d get that elusive fish, so I could get a picture of that shad that he’d gulp down whole, then it would wiggle all the way down that slender neck enroute to his stomache.  I kept the camera clapped up tight against my face.  But, either the fish weren’t around, or this heron must hone his hunting skills … there were no fish for his breakfast and ten minutes later I glanced at my watch and decided since it was a work day, I’d better hustle, so I said “see ya soon okay?”

There were lots of loosey-goosies.

There are now three Canada Geese families at Council Point Park and that is the same as in recent years.  Two families have rather large goslings, already shedding their downy yellow fuzz for a mottled, gray-and-yellow sleeker look.  Along with their advanced age, comes a whole lot of attitude as you’ll see below.  In one family, those goslings are still fairly small. 

I was dividing my time between the three families, trying to get some pictures where they weren’t in the shadows, or preening, or munching grass that was almost as tall as they were, especially when they laid down. 

I got some random photos of each family as you will see below.

Then, I was bending down to feed a squirrel and almost missed the kerfuffle between a few Canada Geese.  As you see below, one of them had his knickers in a twist about something and he started honking and hissing at Mama and Papa Goose who had their goslings gathered around them.  The pictures are a little fuzzy as I was in the shadow of a tree when all the action began and I didn’t want to step away from my place in the “cheap seats” to get a better view.

Well, Papa Goose was defending his family and thus he countered with a little hissing of his own, so the bully goose flapped his wings, then went airborne just a little and Papa Goose took off after him.  I had the camera handy and captured the fracas.  I was back a respectable distance and they were not mindful of my presence.  Look at the goslings scatter while flipping their tiny wings.

The funniest thing was that once there were no more wing-flapping shenanigans, the bully goose continued hissing and the goslings, quick learners, began hissing back at this interloper.  It’s kind of like when a Chihuahua barks at a Great Dane! 

And just like that (snapping fingers) the fracas was over and the family gathered together and moved on.

In the coming weeks I hope to capture more images of the babies as they grow by leaps and bounds!

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Steppin’ out at Heritage Park.

I had my ducks in a row Thursday morning when I left the house at 7:10 a.m.  My destination was Heritage Park because I was going duck hunting.  Oops … let me clarify that – I was going DUCKLING hunting and looking for photo ops of those tiny, feathered dumplings. 

I follow the City of Taylor’s Heritage Park “Photo of the Day” on Facebook.  About ten days ago, one of the regular photographers posted a photo of how high the water level was at Coan Lake, the park’s man-made lake and hubbub of activity in the historical village area.  Coan Lake is a mallard magnet and there are Canada Geese there as well, but mostly ducks.  You may recall my photos, not all that long ago, of mallards huddled and shivering on the ice, or paddling in the frigid water near the covered bridge that crosses Coan Lake.  The photographer remarked on how many ducks and ducklings were there that day.  So, I aimed to see those cute-and-fuzzy ducklings while they still were soft and downy and before they turned into teenagers. 

I had method in my madness for arriving there so early (and not just because it was a work day and it is about a 12-mile round trip during rush hour for me).  There is a gentleman that makes a daily trip to feed Coan Lake’s mallards in the early morning.  He takes a large bag of cracked corn for them, and, just like Parker comes running to meet me when I get to Council Point Park, these ducks paddle over and/or fly down to see him as he tosses the corn onto the ground near the lake.  So, I hoped to get to Heritage Park to hang out and wait for this guy and get some pictures.

When I arrived, the sun had just burst on the scene, but it was still a little shadowy at the park since the plentiful trees have leafed out.  The many flowering trees made a parade of frothy pink and delicate white blossoms and these Redbud trees were just exquisite.

Oh no!  The mallards were MIA!

Much to my surprise, not to mention disappointment, unbelievably, not a single mallard duck was in the water!  The water had receded from the level seen in the photos a fortnight ago, but amazingly there were no waterfowl at all.  Even the usual contingent of Canada Geese were at large, nor was there a single Cormorant, who always looks like a “flasher” the way he holds his wings outstretched.   Needless to say, if Mr. Corn Man showed up, he’d turn on his heel and head back to his vehicle … if he showed up at all. 

But, it’s such a picturesque venue, I knew I’d capture some images besides those pretty Redbud blooms, so I set off.

As many times as I visit Heritage Park, I usually come home with the usual photos of the Little Red Schoolhouse, covered bridge, gazebo, old log cabin, and the old mill.

Barn swallows were dive-bombing.

I did see barn swallows swooping and dive-bombing all around me.  They were not collecting flies or grubs, but hanging around near ground level grabbing nest materials.  They were pulling dried grass strands with their beak, then flying off to their destination, the rafters of the covered bridge. 

So that was my next destination as well.  Last year, I was able to get a few shots of the nests and young ones from the rafters of the covered bridge, but I saw no nests in the rafters and just a whole lotta swooping going on.

Dodging barn swallows was definitely not on the agenda and I may have been disappointed to have the duck families MIA, but I took it in stride and decided to get my steps in with a stroll around the village, then I planned to head to the track that encircles the park to get some serious steps in later. 

It was blissfully peaceful and quiet, just a few walkers, some walking their pooches.  I never carry peanuts when I visit here because I’ve never seen squirrels nor have I seen cardinals, blue jays or blackbirds, the usual peanut-scamming-and-enjoying suspects at Council Point Park.

Heritage Park Petting Farm.

I meandered over to the area in back of the petting farm.  Bathed in the early morning light, the ramshackle old buildings with their gaping holes, long since patched up with old signs, and a rickety fence looked inviting for taking a few pictures. 

Behind all the faded red paint and tired-looking fence was a gorgeous lilac bush.  It was huge and set against the blue sky up top and the old white fence to the left, it made a beautiful picture.  I knew I could not do it justice, even if I tried, but I told myself that an artist sitting here with easel and paints would enjoy trying to recreate that sight. 

Hmm – just like these two Robins, I was on the fence for a few seconds …

… so, should I go closer to check out the lilacs, or was this private property?  I didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs, no gates to unlatch and absolutely no sign of life anywhere, so I decided I must get a whiff of that large lilac bush.  I thought of my pitiful lilac tree and bushes at home, still sans leaves, let alone blossoms. 

The scent was intoxicating, like the finest potpourri.  Well, I wish I could make a scratch-and-sniff sample for you to enjoy.  I hurriedly snapped another photo, then scurried back onto the pathway again after a refreshing pause.

With a quack-quack here and a quack-quack there.

I returned to the path just as a pair of ducks decided to announce their presence by quacking before landing near the water.  They gazed at one another and at me as if to say “well this is what you came here for, so take our photo already!”  So I did. They posed, I clicked, then they plopped into Coan Lake for a quick swim.

They flew off and a seagull landed on the lookout point and I guess I took too many shots of him as he flew up to the covered bridge.

I saw a sparrow or two …

… and a Mourning Dove.

The Goose Family.

Before I finished one complete trip around the village, yonder, across Coan Lake, I saw them – the goose family which was recently featured on the “Photo of the Day” for Mother’s Day.

There they were, Mama Goose, with seven goslings toddling after her, and Papa Goose bringing up the rear.  I decided my trip to this venue was not in vain, and thankfully I would not just be posting photos of the gorgeous  trees and bushes that dot the grounds, the historical buildings and farm, but could include the Canada Geese and their offspring as well.

[Can there ever be too many baby animals or birds to ooh and aah over?  I don’t know … you tell me, because the day before at Council Point Park I came home with a slew of images of goslings, Robin hatchlings, a young Heron and the usual pals along the perimeter path.  I promise you some cute photos once I sort through them and work around this severe weather we are having tomorrow.]

The parents and their goslings were hanging around the Little Red Schoolhouse, more specifically underneath a small memorial tree.  At Heritage Park, the memorial trees are done differently – the plaque is larger, more raised up off the ground and has the info about the loved one plus the species of tree beneath that. 

The warm sun must’ve baked onto the memorial stone as several of the goslings sat there, sleepy-eyed or snoozing away.  

Mama and Papa Goose were never far from their offspring. 

I took dozens of photos, trying to get the goslings to look at me, but it was difficult as they were either on the move, grazing or napping.  These were my favorites.

I didn’t get too close so not to anger the gander, however a dog got a little too close to the goslings and the gander hissed then flapped his wings and the dog quickly retreated.

It was an enjoyable morning getting my steps done and goose-stepping with the goslings.  I’ll leave you with this quote:

Everything flourishes in the nourishment of our appreciation; plants, people, the Earth, moments. When we live with that appreciation, we flourish.  ~ Kristi Nelson

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The Rain, the Park and…

… Wild Wings, er … Other Things.

In between the intermittent bursts of sunshine and raindrops, I have managed to get my steps in, and take some photos as well.  Woo hoo, considering  how most mornings are about as gray and gloomy as it gets.

So, while my recent cute-and-fuzzy gosling shots are adorable, the rest of the feathered and furry clan of critters are clamoring for equal time in this forum.  Well okay, I guess I can’t blame them for that.

This Red Red Robin is not bobbin’,  but sittin’ on a nest. 

I wonder if it’s the same Robin as last year?  Last Spring she built a nest on a low branch.   While I didn’t have a bird’s eye view of the happenings inside the nest, on a daily basis I monitored Mama Robin first incubating the eggs and then attending to her hatchlings.  We, (Mama Robin and I) even fended off the Red-Winged Blackbird who tried to rob the nest twice while I was right there – once when there were eggs and Mama Robin was off hunting for her breakfast and the next time when Mama was off to get fast food (worms and grubs) for the hatchlings.  I raised my voice and waved my arms around to get that bully bird to leave and Mama returned to investigate what the commotion was all about.  I watched as she chattered and used her body to knock that large blackbird away from the nest.  It was incredible to watch Robin versus Red-Winged Blackbird.  The bully bird finally flew off, not successful in his robbery attempt, and Mama Robin was still shook up.  I swear I saw her heart pounding behind that bright-red breast.  My heart was thumping too Mama.

So, this is a more secluded spot for the Robin nursery, but not an ideal spot for me to monitor – maybe once the chicks poke their beaks into the air? 

I’ll keep waiting and watching for the hatchlings’ arrival.

I’ve got swagger and I’m struttin’ my stuff!

And, speak of the Devil, just look at this Red-Winged Blackbird.  He has been hanging around all the squirrels’ favorite feeding spots along the perimeter path.  He gets pretty animated, hopping from branch to branch when I come along with my bag of peanuts.  From his perch in the tree, he will strategize how best to land onto the path and snatch a treat from under the squirrels’ noses, if I don’t favor him with a peanut first. 

We usually trade glances, and then he’ll hop to a lower branch to ensure that I see him. 

Oh, I will see him alright, but … just in case, he’ll erupt into song.   I love the trill of the Red-Winged Blackbird. 

He knows he’s caught my eye, so down he goes to the path in a purposeful strut to retrieve the peanut that me, the sucker, just left for him.

The squirrels are still my favorite Park critters with their fun-loving antics.

As you may know the entire perimeter path is two miles long and shaped like a figure eight with the pavilion separating each one-mile loop.  There are certain spots that are woodsier than others and thus the squirrels congregate there. 

Of course, that doesn’t stop Parker from greeting me at the pavilion area to be first in line for peanuts.  My furry pals have got their meet-and-greet-and-pleading-eyes-ritual down pat and one day I fully expect one of them to point to their rumbling tummy … yes, it’s all about them sometimes. 

So what’s a few peanuts between friends anyway?

The sun was  so welcome and it was definitely a good shadow day – look at Parker checking out his shadow.

This squirrel was gnawing on peanuts from a prior benefactor – all of a sudden he was in awe of something.  Well … a peanut for your thoughts Sweetie.

I am sure this peanut pal wanted to ensure I didn’t miss him in case I sprinted over to see the goslings like last week when I bypassed all my furry friends in favor of my feathery friends.  I chuckled to myself when I saw this squirrel,  eager to impress me in an effort to glean extra peanuts by pretending he was a Meerkat.  Yup, I went right over to him and he got those desired peanuts and I told him “my, look how tall you are!”  He stood there like that for the longest time and I’m sure he’ll try this stunt over and over again.

And now the swan song for today’s post.

In this parade of “wild things” finally there is the elegant Mute Swan which graces this post’s header image and takes my breath away any time one silently glides down the center of the narrow Ecorse Creek.   I was ogling the gaggle of goslings, when suddenly I heard a hard thunk onto the surface of the Creek not far from me.  Startled, my head swiveled around as I wondered what in the world had swooped in with such a hard landing?  I knew it had to be a swan since Canada geese announce their arrival to their brethren, (or sometimes just to hear themselves honk … I’ve got them all figured out, believe me).  A Mute Swan is generally twice as large as a Canada Goose and a good 15 pounds heavier. 

This graceful Mute Swan flew down from the sky, making a rather clumsy splash down, but quickly composed itself upon hitting the surface. 

I was mesmerized by this swan’s glide down the center of the Creek.  What a treat to behold this lovely creature so close-up.  I  watched its slender neck dipping into the murky water of the Creek to nibble some aquatic plants, or simply enjoy a sip of water. 

That swan owned the Ecorse Creek as no other waterfowl were in the water at that time.   

Every so often it paused to preen.

It was the perfect end to this walk on the wild side.

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Mom -n- Me.

Sweet memories.

It has been ten long years since I threw my arms around Mom on Mother’s Day and gave her a hug and a kiss, then thanked her for being my mom, but, truth be told, I didn’t only do this on the day that we honor our mothers.  I think about her every day and not just because I see the many photos lined up on the fireplace mantel, or positioned just so on the dresser or bureau.  Mom imparted a lot of wisdom to me over the years and taught me right from wrong and for that I am blessed.

Above is the first photo of Mom and me, the day she brought me home from the hospital.  What was she thinking with the faraway look in her eyes and clutching onto me for dear life?

This is the last photo taken of the two of us.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

My mom had a tough life and endured many hardships.  I only wish I could be half the woman she ever was.  Growing up and to adulthood,  I looked exactly like my father – same straight and mousy-brown hair, eyeglasses … “mirror images” people would say.

But the similarities stopped there.

I got my mother’s disposition, virtues and her smile … I rejoice for that.

Although I recently joked about our housecleaning squabbles, (and sometimes our arguments weren’t nice, as I did my share of protesting about  the “unfairness” of  keeping the house immaculate and “white-glove perfect”), only now do I realize it was merely an exercise in asserting our respective viewpoints.  As you know, it is important in every relationship that each person is entitled to their own opinion.  Yes, life isn’t fair sometimes, but you have to learn not to sweat the small stuff.  That is easier said than done sometimes and I often struggle as I often sweat the small stuff.

Life was not fair for my mom from an early age.  In 1937, at age eleven, she was hit by a car, an accident that would plague her the rest of her days on earth.  She spent four years in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, some of that time in a body cast.   

Mom was just a schoolgirl …

… on her way home from school, when she was hit by a soldier on leave, after darting in between two parked cars.  He didn’t see her, but heard her scream, then rushed her to a nearby doctor’s office and my grandparents were called.  This car had headlights that rose out of the grille and were the same height as Mom’s chest, so several of her ribs were broken.  The doctor taped up the broken ribs and young Pauline received a scolding from her mother for tearing her leotards and her parents having to miss work.  The soldier offered to buy new stockings and he paid for the doctor’s visit.  His insurance company was in touch with my grandmother and asked her to sign a form that no serious medical mishap had happened, which she willingly signed. 

However, unfortunately the story doesn’t end there. 

At that time of the accident my mother had a minor ear infection.  She was not running a fever, had no other ailments associated with the ear infection, so, rather than take her to the doctor, my grandmother plugged up her ear with a wad of cotton batting.  Almost two months later, the ear infection that was present in her body, plus the broken ribs, became problematic when an infection set in on the still-healing bones.  This caused osteomyelitis (infection of the bone).  Mom woke up one morning with a high fever and weak and was rushed to the E.R. where they diagnosed her with osteomyelitis.  She was admitted to the hospital, operated on and spent the next four years at the Hospital for Sick Children.  

My grandparents had a huge hospital bill, which they paid off weekly, because, as you recall they signed off on any liability by the driver.  Many surgeries later, she was released from the hospital at age 15, then resumed any  schooling she had missed (the children on the wards had a tutor come into the hospital).  Mom would graduate from high school, then go on to business school. 

My grandfather was a tyrant who complained every day about how much money he spent as a result of her careless actions at age 11 and the vitriol he spewed became worse after his weekly trip to the Lansdowne Tavern after cashing his paycheck.  They hated one another, but she lived at home until she married in 1953.

Unfortunately, if her medical and parental woes were not bad enough, my mother married a man who would later decide he was unhappy with his little family (Mom and me) and thirty years into their marriage, he announced on Christmas Day he wanted a new life. But before this proclamation, he stopped at the bank and withdrew all their savings, and had already tapped into an annuity fund by forging her name by falsely pleading a “family hardship”.  He left the country in early 1984, never to be heard from again.  My mom was only 57 years old at the time.  We grew closer than ever before, and, not to toot my own horn, Mom often said I was the best thing that ever happened to her in her lifetime.  That sentiment touches my heart to this day and I confess a tear just rolled down my cheek as I typed it.

Mom  had 42 operations in the course of her lifetime, 41 were related to the car accident and one, a C-section, when I was born.  She had scars all over her body, but I heard about that &^%# C-section scar all the time … no worries, it was all said in jest, just like for years when she complained I had the measles for her birthday and the chicken pox on Mother’s Day the same year. 

I never saw my mother cry, except at my grandmother’s funeral and when our beloved parakeet, Joey, died in her hands. 

At the risk of getting too maudlin in this post, I want to share some fun and lighter moments … and pictures at this look back of Mom and me.

Mom and her “Momisms”.

Mom was actually the disciplinarian in the house when I was growing up because back then I was “Daddy’s Little Girl” but, it was my mom who swatted my bum if I “lipped back” at her (rarely) and I one time got a “lickin’” after I interrupted her on the phone one too many times.  I never did that again and yes I still grew up okay, despite the occasional spanking.

Most of the time Mom gave me ultimatums to ponder over, like “if you don’t do this, you will suffer the consequences.”  There was both fear and respect by me for those utterances.

Here’s a good example of an ultimatum.  When I was a little girl, Mom would sweep my hair into a high ponytail and I had grosgrain ribbons that matched each outfit.  I loved my ponytail and it was the style for all little girls my age at that time.  But Mom would pull and tug while fixing my hair and I’d wiggle around.  She threatened me that if continued to wiggle and squirm and yell “ouch” that the ponytail would be cut off.

Yes, sadly you see that I didn’t hold still and this was the result.  Later, while going through the album with Mom, I would ask if she just whacked it off at the ribbon as my next hairstyle looked pretty raggedy to me, especially those bangs.  She and my father would stand on either side of me to cut my bangs.  They had tape, a string and a pair of scissors.  They’d keep evening off the wet hair and when it dried, those bangs were up to my hairline. 

Perhaps it was easier when she just twisted what little bit of hair I had into a curly-Q with a dab of spit (ew).

All I know is that I should never have rebelled and been so vocal when she did my ponytail, because not only was a slew of wacky hairstyles to follow, but I had to endure pin curls every night.  I didn’t have dainty little ringlets either and when I got a “Toni” home perm, my hair frizzed out and I looked like I stuck my finger in a light socket.

There were “Momisms” like “you’ll never know when you’ll need these items.”

Some of Mom’s many words of wisdom live on and some resonate with me more today, than when she first uttered them.

Through the years I’ve written about Mom’s words of advice in a few blog posts, referring to them as “Momisms” and they were her practical suggestions for me to heed.  I know I wrote a post about the time I was walking at Council Point Park and the string on my sweatpants waistband broke and my pants started to go north.  I had to hike them up with one hand the rest of the perimeter path and all the way home.  Now see, if I had only remembered her suggestion that I have a few safety pins on hand because “you never know when you’ll need a safety pin”  and I would not have found myself in such a pants predicament. 

For years I heard “take a sweater with you, as it’s easier to take it off, than put it on if it’s at home.”  Maybe this is why I am still bundled up for my daily walk and it is nearly mid-May? 

Some “Momisms” have become obsolete like “always carry two dimes with you, in case you need to call home and you fumble and drop one of the dimes.”  Well cell phones have eliminated the need to tuck away those two dimes in your wallet  – besides, I can’t remember the last pay phone I saw and one thin dime would not go too far anyway.

Sometimes Mom’s “suggestions” were not even from word of mouth.  She would tear an article out of a magazine and put it where I’d see it, or she’d remove the teabag tag with its worldly advice and place the tag by my dinner plate.

And then there were more “Momisms” on what defines a “lady”.

As you might suspect by the length of this post, I have been thinking about and jotting down ideas for this special Mother’s Day blog post.  However, I decided to do a little twist on Mom’s words of wisdom, since these remembrances have been bubbling around in my brain for a few weeks.  I do realize so many of her suggestions, dispensed decades ago, smack of Emily Post and  are outdated and really archaic now.  But Mom’s aim was that her little girl should become the epitome of genteel.

Do you know when I was younger, that along with being told to respond with “thank you” or  “you’re welcome” in an almost-automatic manner, I was even taught to curtsy.  (It might have been being brought up in Canada and the British influence for that one.)

I could go on and on with Mom’s words of wisdom, but I do know that when I got a little older, the suggestions added the words “a lady doesn’t ___________”; for example “always carry a hanky or a couple of Kleenex because a lady doesn’t sniffle.” 

Today, these ideas are all so prim and proper, but I am glad I grew up knowing manners and how to act and dress appropriately without the benefit of a fancy-schmancy finishing school.  Here is a look demonstrating how “a lady should always look prim and proper.”  Oh my – the folded hands encased in white gloves … I looked three times my actual age.

She’d tell me “a lady always wears a hat to church.” So I did.

Mom would admonish me big-time today because she said “a lady always carries a purse”

… nowadays my purses are all packed away and I stuff my stuff into a polar fleece vest with zippered pockets in Winter, a fisherman’s vest in Summer and a fanny pack the rest of the time.

I was told early on that “a lady doesn’t slouch and always sits up straight in a chair and especially at the dinner table” but I guess that rule didn’t apply to babies.

When I began feeding myself, I got a Little Miss Muffet spoon and was told to pretend my dish was a clock and to “eat around the clock” and if I didn’t eat my first course, I got no dessert.  So, I always finished my food.  Oh yes, I was told “a lady never chews with her mouth open” though it was pretty difficult to finish off a corncob neatly, especially when you were likely  missing half your baby teeth.

I guess this was before Mom suggested “a lady always sits with her ankles crossed” but then she sat the same way, so perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Did your mom tell you to always make sure you looked in the mirror before you left the house because “a lady always should always look neat and polished” … this was years ago at a family friend’s cottage – I guess I threw caution to the wind here?

And speaking of looking good when you’re dressed up, Mom said “a lady smooths down her dress, so she doesn’t have wrinkles when she stands up” … hmm, how does one smooth down a frilly dress with a stiff and scratchy net crinoline that is all poofed out underneath the dress?

Or this dress where Mom threaded a gizmo that looked like an embroidery hoop at the hem?   I hope I wasn’t wearing patent leather shoes that day. Just thinking that it’s a wonder a stiff wind did not send me airborne  à la Mary Poppins!

I’m sure there are loads more fun remembrances to share … I know I carry a ton of them in my head … and in my heart.

Yesterday I passed a nearby church on my way to the 5K event.  That church has been there for decades and often has a sign with a message pertaining to a holiday or special event … I usually glance at it.  I saw the message as I drove past and when I got home, I walked over and took a picture of the sign as I knew it fit today’s post to a “T” and I’m sure you will agree.

I am sure if Mom would have made all her words of wisdom into a song, it would have been similar to Lee Ann Womack’s  “I Hope You Dance”.

This was a long post and if you’re still with me as I meandered through the memories and the years, I’ll say thank you and also will tell you “Happy Mother’s Day” if it applies.    

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Who let the dogs out?!

(I dunno – do you?)

This morning I participated in the Mutt Strut 5K Run and Walk, the 14th annual event for FAMD, the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit, an agency dedicated to caring for and finding homes for adoptable animals. 

There were actually two events held this morning:  the first, my event, was the 5K Run/Walk at 8:00 a.m. and the second was the Mutt Strut, a 2.2 mile stroll which began at 9:30 a.m.  For both events, participants were encouraged to bring their dogs and there were many vendors and activities which catered to the pooches.  You may recall I scoped out this venue a couple of weeks ago as the event had an 8:00 a.m. start and I didn’t want to get lost and/or be late.

I had registered awhile ago, so I picked up my gear and swag bag (which doubled as a back pack and contained a bracelet that said “We Care”, beef jerkey treat, leash, poop bag and a pen).  I’ll give all the doggy gear to my neighbor for “Woody” next time I see him.

The event started at 8:00 a.m. after we assembled near the start hoop and heard the national anthem.  The speakers were loud and a husky, with eyes as blue as the sky, howled at the high notes.  Everyone laughed at that.

We were told there would be no shotgun start as it would upset the dogs, so it was just “on your mark, get set, go” and this song blared on the speakers as the runners and walkers set off.

It was a gorgeous morning, but a bit on the chilly side (39 F/3.8 C), but that didn’t matter as it was so bright and sunny.  This event is always held the second Saturday in May and I wanted to do it last year and register the day of the event, but it was a torrential rain that morning.  The second event was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

The tee-shirts were bright yellow.  Usually in an event of this type, you’d look out into the crowd and see a sea of yellow, but most people donned their shirts under their jackets or hoodies.  The runners were a little braver and just sported the tee-shirt over their regular clothing.

I like walking in 5Ks and basically, I was there because it was a great fundraiser – last year the two events raised $100,000.00.  Like with prior 5K events, I was not out to win any speed category, but just there to stroll in the wooded area, enjoy the ambiance and take some photos.  Because I ambled along, I was the last one from the get-go, but that was okay, I enjoyed the scenery along the way and will return here to enjoy this trek again.  I had worried the walk might be in a swampy area like I encountered a few weeks ago, but it was all on paved pathways, mostly away from Ford Field Park.

The long and winding road.

We left Ford Field Park, and after a short trek through the ‘hood, we headed for a more natural area.  The path was woodsy and crossed a few wooden bridges.

A few of the runners were already on the return journey.

After arriving at the turnaround …

… I turned on my heel to head back.  I could now take my time and savor the trip a little more – before I didn’t want to stray too far from the rest of the crowd and not know how to get back.  This time I could enjoy the wooded path of the Rouge River Gateway Trail and I lingered at the Ford Estate grounds, admiring Fair Lane, the stately home of Henry Ford, (the founder of Ford Motor Company),  and his wife Clara.  The home and trees in blossom on the grounds were just exquisite.  I hated to take the picture through the chain link fence, but couldn’t resist doing so as I couldn’t find an access point to gain entry to the grounds.  The home is under restoration but the grounds are open.  I think I would like to return and take a closer look.

It was back to the wooded area, retracing my steps to the starting point and just about the time I arrived, the awards ceremony for the Run/Walk were beginning.  All of a sudden, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and it got downright dark – I was sure it was going to pour raining as we have rain in the forecast for later tonight and most of tomorrow and Monday.

The “stars” of this event.

Well, I guess the “stars” of the event could be perceived in many ways, i.e. kudos and awards were given to the first runners and walkers to return, as well as to fundraising groups and persons who had solicited donations for today’s walk.   Essentially, each of us who paid a registration fee to participate in the event were “stars” as well.  The mayor of Dearborn was there, as was Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.  The ambassadors of the event were local TV celebrities Taryn Asher and Jason Carr, accompanied by their daughter and two fur kids.

But the real “stars” of the event, in my opinion, were these two pooches.  

The first was this dog who was selling sloppy smooches for $1.00 a kiss.  There was a line-up to get your face licked by this happy pup at the Kissing Booth.  Your roving reporter passed because she wanted to remain “camera ready”. Unfortunately I caught her in a “smoochless” and rather disgruntled-looking pose.

And, there was this dog who seemed perpetually happy with everyone that stopped by to scratch an ear or pet him.  This poor pooch had front legs that did not function, yet he got around with two wheels which propelled him forward.  The tenacity of this fellow was amazing.  I’ve seen pictures of such devices for dogs who are lame in the front or rear legs, but I’ve never have seen a dog using such a device.  I tried to get over and speak with his owner/handler, but there was always a crowd around this pooch, so I had to settle for just a photo.

All shapes and sizes.

This is a 130-pound Bullmastiff.  It’s the first time I saw this breed of dog.  He was huge and drooling like crazy (and no he wasn’t near any of the food vendors).  I wasn’t the only person that tried to take his picture and camera shutters were clicking and all of a sudden he shook that massive head.  Drool went flying everywhere.  (It would be the likes of an alpaca spitting at you.)  Ew!  I stepped back swiftly and checked the camera lens – whew, it was dry.  All us would-be photographers just looked at one another and moved on to the next cute or unusual pooch. (Nice to see I captured the spittle dribbles in these photos.)

This pair of Giant Alaskan Malamutes looked like they were comfy and cozy with all that fur, especially when the sun dipped behind the clouds.  You’ll note the sign on their collar they are service dogs in training.  This was a good event to test their mettle when they see other dogs.

A few more pooches caught my attention and I noticed a lot of Pit Bull Terriers at this event today.

Considering all the dogs, of all breeds, as well as shapes and sizes, there was no fighting amongst them.  Each owner had to show proof that shots were up to date, before getting into the event.  I ended up with many photo bombs as the dogs’ heads were swiveling around to watch one another, or even to enjoy the savory smell of hot dogs cooking on a grill.  (There were plenty of dachshunds, long-haired and smooth, at the event, so I hope these doxies didn’t get too upset by that hot dog vendor!)

Free sniffs (no, it’s not what you think).

Speaking of sniffing, this part of the post is not about tired jokes of how dogs get acquainted with each other.  No, not at all.  There were about 25 vendors set up on the Ford Field Park grounds.  You could get a caricature of your dog or even a painting done of your fur kid.  There were many doggie treat booths, most of them featuring healthy treats for your pet.  Some treats were a little decadent like these:

As I approached this vendor, a hungry German Shepherd eyed a treat bag that balanced precariously on the end of a table.  Just one nudge of his big nose, would have set it flying off the table and landing at his feet.  The owner, holding her dog’s leash tightly, asked if there were samples and was told with a wink “sorry, no samples, but all sniffs are for free!”

So, I walked the 5K course which is 3.2 miles …

… but I still had some steps to rack up to get to six miles, which I try to achieve each weekend day.  I walked around the vendor area and then headed back toward the first wooded area to revisit it again.  The entire walk was lovely, but I never saw a single squirrel or bird and thought that was odd.  Maybe they stayed up in their nests in their jammies on this chilly morning.  

[Header image and logo from FAMD]

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Meet Mama and her brood.


I picked a header image featuring their feathery backsides, but … this was the only close-up photo of Mom with her entire brood and the one gosling flapping its wings just gives me a smile.
(“Hey Mom – how about some flying lessons too?”)

The first glimpses of goslings at the Park come Spring is always such a joy for me.  It’s not like the later families of Canada Geese, that share the perimeter path with us walkers over the next six weeks, will become old hat, but, believe me when I tell you I’m not the only one with a camera or phone snapping pictures while oohing and aahing over these fuzzy, feathered friends.

I got to the Park on Wednesday morning, happy that we did not get the anticipated rain, but instead had sunshine (yeah) and I was even happier when fellow walker Mike came over to tell me that he’d seen goslings along the path and gave me the family’s location.  I told Mike I’d been down to Dingell Park to visit Mama Duck and he said he’d been there the day before and she was off the nest and strolling around the pavilion and he went to see if the ducklings had hatched and saw eight eggs … so, it’s not soup yet folks, as that old Lipton commercial goes.

I thanked Mike and headed yonder to where the park bench is just a few yards from the entrance to the water … there is a big tree nearby and the parents like to bring their offspring to graze, then go for a dip.  I wanted a glimpse of the goslings to include their photos in a post close to Mother’s Day.  Would I make it to the other side of the Park before they disappeared into the bushes or swam away?  To get there timely, I cut across the grass, bypassing my usual steps on the perimeter path, and, of course completely forgetting two major things, i.e. 1)  the primary reason why I go to the Park (to walk); and 2)  the squirrels, who didn’t see me as I streaked past the usual “feeding spots” enroute to my destination.  That was a big faux pas because I arrived at this corner, saw the parents and their offspring and while pulling the camera out of my zippered vest underneath my coat (yup, another cold morning), out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a trio of squirrels had gathered at my feet and were looking up at me.  I was unable to tell if they wore a mystified look (as in “did you forget about us?), or an angry look (“wait a minute – the geese are more important than we are?”).  Yikes – what was I thinking?!  Quickly, I made my apologies, tossed down some peanuts and got ready to capture some cute shots.

I’m just going to caption the pictures below as there are so many, and admittedly,  they are not the best photos.  You never want to get too close to them, especially with the gander, ever-protective of his little family, and he will indeed hiss, flap his wings, or worse yet … charge at you if he deems you a threat to his goslings.  I always stay a respectful distance away whether they are newborns or almost ready to fledge and depart the Park. 

Good thing I arrived when I did because they did not graze long, then headed down to the water.  The water level in this area is so high, Mama Goose merely walked right into the Creek with their little ones in tow, and Papa bringing up the rear.  There were some hurried swimming lessons, and off they went, gliding down the middle of the Creek.  The family didn’t go far because they veered off to the left near a dock at a residence across the Creek and toddled off into the homeowner’s backyard.

Please enjoy this dose of cuteness.  

When I arrived, the five goslings surrounded Mom – she is the feathered sentinel who is standing on one leg, while the gander grazes in the foreground.
Aren’t they sweet?
They have been tucked away somewhere because they were not all that tiny.
Getting all the goslings to look my way was a difficult task.
I guess grazing wore them out.
Mom was willing to pose with a trio of her offspring.
Cuteness overload!
Breakfast is over, time for a swimming lesson.
Mom wants to go right, but some of the chicks prefer going the opposite way.
Eventually they followed her lead.
They clustered around Mom as Dad appears disinterested in swimming lessons.
And away we go …
Mom eyes me suspiciously as I stood between the reeds to get this shot of her and her baby.
Sippin’ AND swimmin’ … they are quick learners.
The goslings never stray too far from Mom.
Swimming lessons are done – time to eat!

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Dandelions are dande, er … dandy.

PARKER IS SITTIN’ PRETTY IN A FIELD OF DANDELIONS

Who has not clutched a “bouquet” of these sunny-looking “wildflowers” in a chubby fist, then presented them to Mom when you were a kid?  I think we’ve all done that at some point.  For me, it was dandelions in Springtime and buttercups later in the Summer. 

As I’ve mentioned in the past, when I was two years old, my parents and I moved from an apartment in Toronto to Sandmere Place, a cul-de-sac in a new subdivision in Oakville, Ontario.  The area around was still undeveloped and at the end of our street, there was a huge meadow where neighborhood children would play.  There was a creek where we’d scoop up tadpoles which became pets until they grew legs, then they were put back into the creek again.  We frolicked like young colts, thriving in nature, as we flew kites, played tag, sipped sweet clover blossom nectar and picked wildflowers.  To us, dandelions, buttercups and even Queen Anne’s Lace were flowers, not weeds.  My mom was ready to accommodate the “bouquet” with a wide, Red Rose sweet pickle jar, or a tall, skinny apple butter jar. 

Every year when dandelions dot the lawns and Park grounds, I have fond memories of presenting a dandelion gift to Mom all those decades ago.

We’re having a week of gray, gloomy and rainy weather again, although this morning was an unexpected treat as it was sunny when I headed out.  The wind has knocked the petals off many of the magnolias and flowering trees, and the pounding rain has left the daffodils and tulips less than perky.  I sure am glad I sauntered out the door without a care in the world last Saturday and Sunday.  The dust and disorderliness can wait … the older I am, the more I  understand the phrase “Carpe Diem” or seize the day. 

These are a few dandelion and fuzzy friends photos from Sunday.  Looking at them reminds me that sunny days do exist in Michigan amidst all these soggy Spring days … sigh.

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