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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I've been bopping a few things around in my head these last couple of weeks. Some are pretty funny, and I've been wanting to share. I know there are people in my world who would welcome something lighthearted and upbeat from me, and ohhh how I long to provide that. Really, I do. But damn if it doesn't seem like crap just keeps getting in the way.

Luckily, though the majority of time seems to be spent putting out one fire after another (and I don't recall ever going to Firefighter Academy), there are these small moments of joy. I try hard to cling to them. For dear life. Because the other stuff comes hard and fast.

This past weekend, after a truly hellish week, I was beginning to feel a little relief. Mostly inside myself. I was feeling some emotional weight lifting a bit. Perhaps it is because I have finally given notice at the shop. As much as I love the people that I work with, I truly, truly, truly hate it there. For more reasons than I care to go into now. The point is, after getting through that, AND, the horror of nearly losing our precious Kiva last Monday when she ran into the street and got tagged by a car in front of our house (she's fine, thank DOG..another story for another time), and miscellaneous miscellany, I made it to the other side of the week with my sanity intact.

So, come the weekend, and a bit of much needed rest, I was ready to take on the world. Sunday was a lovely day with family. I enjoyed having all the kids together. There were laughs and sweet moments. By Monday, I was feeling pretty good. On Tuesday morning, I felt happy and ready for the week. Honestly, I was feeling peaceful. That doesn't happen much these days. So I was taking note and relishing it.

One of the small pleasures I've been partaking in, as everyone who lives with me knows, is watching the live nest cam of a pair of mated eagles in a little farm community in Decorah, Iowa. I've been watching them since February when the female laid three eggs. In early April, those eggs finally hatched and I've been joyfully watching the eaglets grow and the care the parents have been diligently providing for them. Not to mention, the care and concern the parents have for each other. It's been educational, thought-provoking, and truly an amazing honor.

I've also been getting a lot of teasing. Friends have given me good-hearted ribbing. Telling me that I need to "get a life". I take it, after all, what else can I do? Even my own family honestly thinks I've lost it. But I ask; is this any worse than spending hours and hours watching reality television? Is this any worse than spending hours and hours playing video/computer games? Is this any worse than spending hours and hours on Facebook? How much time can I possibly spend on this? I mean, I have a job. I can't watch for hours. I have to work. But yes, I do come home and check on the eagles first thing. And yes, I do check on them first thing in the morning. Oh, okay, I check on them last thing before I go to bed. But it's not like I'm sitting there in front of the computer for hours just staring at these eagles. Though it is quite fascinating, and I probably could. I don't see what's so bad about that.

I've found it a really beautiful thing. I've loved the way these two eagles have found each other. I've loved reading and learning about their lives together and their dedication to each other. I've loved knowing that eagles mate for life. I've loved watching these ugly little babies hatch and grow. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching their parents nurture them, protect them, shield them from the rain, snow, wind, and nighttime owl attacks. I take note of the parallels between the parenting skills of these beautiful, majestic creatures and our own. It has warmed my heart and touched my soul in so many ways. Charlie joked with me how watching these eagles have the same peaceful effect on me that his watching his aquarium fish has on him. I appreciate that observation. At least I appreciate it more than being teased about it.

As a result of being so "involved" in the daily lives of this eagle family, I've come to regard them as, well, family members, even beloved pets. No, I didn't name them. But I did come to worry about them. I worried when it snowed on them, I worried when it rained on them, I worried when the owl swooped on them in the night. I also laugh at how it was a natural instinct for the little guys to scoot their fluffy butts to the edge of the nest, point their ass ends out and shoot away from the nest. After all, you don't crap where you sleep and eat, right? Soon, there would be talk of "fledging". When Mom and Dad would begin to teach the kids to take that first leap of faith, spread their wings and fly. But I heard that wouldn't be coming for about another month and a half, maybe two.

Someone mentioned another nest cam to me. Situated on a mated pair of eagles who live at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Virginia. They had been together since 2002 and had successfully fledged 19 eaglets in their brooding career. Also, this seasons brood of three was a month older than my Decorah brood and would be fledging sooner. I really wanted to see that. So, a couple of weeks ago, I started watching that nest too. And yes, also every now and then, thanks to my friend Jess, I've been checking in on a litter of Shiba Inu pups. Though, its much different to watch well-cared for puppies than creatures in their natural habitat. They are a fun distraction every now and then.

Anyway, on Tuesday morning I left the house feeling happy, peaceful, joyous and free. Luckily, my boss and her husband have been enjoying Decorah eagle cam as well and they leave the computer on. Every now and then, we get a glimpse during the day. Everyone's been very excited and interested in the little eagles. During lunch, I went over to the computer and clicked on the Norfolk nest and saw a little news blurb. An adult female bald eagle had been hit by a plane and there was fear that it might be the Norfolk nest mother. Indeed a couple hours later the news was confirmed. It was she. We all watched the nest cam with the three chicks and waited. Soon, the male arrived with a fish. Dropped it, looked around, called out, looked around again. Then he began to slowly feed his children. Alone. He stayed with the babies about 30 minutes and he left again.

When I got home from work, I went to check on the Norfolk nest. The babies were still alone, but moderators had said he came back and tried to feed again. There was talk of how he might not be able to keep up with the demand of three hungry, growing chicks on his own. Indeed, he looked very confused. Biologists apparantly had been watching. This morning, they decided to remove the chicks from the nest. People on hand said that the father flew around or sat on a nearby branch watching. Once the chicks were removed to the Wildlife Center, the camera stayed on an empty nest. Another transition.

I have watched the father fly to the empty nest twice. He looks around, he roots his beak into some twigs, he brought a fish, he looks over the edge. It is probably one of the saddest things I've ever seen. The day before yesterday, he had a mate and three babies. Within 24 hours, he is without a family. All gone. The experts on hand say that they had another nest in 2008, this pair, and he went there and looked around. He's obviously quite confused for now.

While I know that this is the way of nature and things happen every single day in the wild that we would never be privvy to, I cannot help but hurt for him. I know the babies are well cared for, I know that decisions were made in the best interest of all of these creatures. I know that they do not experience emotions quite the same way as we do. All these things I know, but my human brain and my human heart struggles to reconcile the loss. I cannot imagine that since they mate for life that there is not a period of mourning. I know there is. I know he is confused and I know he misses his mate, his family. I know it and I grieve for him. Today, I couldn't look at that empty nest another second and I clicked out of the cam. An empty nest. Never have I felt the meaning of those words more than I do now.

I heard that as we get older, we feel tragedy more. I don't know that that's true. I've always been overly emotional. I'm empathic, compassionate, and sympathetic to a fault. Some people think that it is a weakness in me. Right now, I feel weak. I am sad. For now. As the days go by, I will move on. Like this male eagle will move on. And yeah, I know it's just an eagle family and in the grand scheme of things it's no big deal to anyone but me. But I feel the loss of something so supremely special that I've been privileged to share and to be a part of. It's been joyful, and poignant and I'm happy to have been a part of it. Next year, I hope he will come back to this nest with a new mate. I'll be here.

Right now, I just need a Shiba Inu puppy break. :)

Picture from Norfolk Botanical Garden Website

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh yes, they did!

The talented young writers, directors, and producers at Evil Media Empire present:

Thursday, April 14, 2011