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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Eulogy to Bo


photo by Lucinda A Bryant

Today we buried Bo, oh my
Not so much sadness but a sigh
I think we’ve shed all our tears
It’s only been about 6 years
Since she died.

That is how long she has been around
On the shelf instead of in the ground
A small box in the linen closet.
There since the cremator did deposit
Her ashes inside

Walking last week I found a stone
Beside the road, I carried it home
Stained green granite and mostly square
Right for a garden we’ll put it there
To mark her grave

I brought it to the monument place
Engraved her name upon its face
We buried her bones near the orchard bench
Fuji blossoms falling over the trench
The stone beside

Never liked dogs, nor had one it’s true
But dogs a magnet to daughter Lu
They’d follow her home, wait at the door
Begging food eyes you couldn’t ignore.
I didn’t give in.

Often found others to take them instead
‘I don’t want a dog,’ I often said
Then I learned that Lu prayed every night
“God, bring me a dog if that’s alright,”
I changed my mind

We went to a breeder where we bought
A golden retriever, mellow we thought
Bo Brackenhollow hidden under the stair
The “pick of the litter” they called her there
We brought her home

She was the bad example at obedience school
Our fault not hers, she was no fool.
We tried to lead but she just didn’t follow
We shouted “Bohiski Brackenhollow
Come here!”

Dancing for food, learning to talk
Said, "I want out" to go for a walk
Not enough walks she'd bolt out the door
To neilghbor's garden tramping hellebore

If dogs go to heaven, if they could
She'll be there dancing, begging for food
She’ll learn more words then, “I want out”
There’ll be gardens galore to wander about
Thank God for Bo

We loved her well and miss her dearly
See our loved grand dogs now here-ly

Sunday, April 22, 2007


White Crowned Sparrow eggs .08" (21 mm)

On the day I posted the last blog, I went out to the front bank where the white crowned sparrows nest every year, where we last weekend rushed to get it cleared and planted before they nested once again and saw to my chagrin, that my husband had cut the ornamental grass on the bank with a chain saw. It exposed in the center crown of the plant 2 pale blue (as the Northwest overcast sky) eggs, mottled with red brown specks, White crowned sparrow eggs. It has disturbed me all week.

From the fall of man and resultant banishment from the first garden there have been boundary disputes. When man and woman decided that they wanted to test their independence from God, “I’ll do it do it myself, thank you, don’t need your rules” kind of attitude the original boundary was crossed, the curse was given - conflict between man and woman. My husband tests the boundaries forever; I try to hold them, and dispute and the curse reigns especially in the garden. I want wildflowers and meadow, he wants manicured lawn. I want wild, untamed, a place for birds to nest, he wants it to “look good.” Anything that looks dead, even though is it just resting for the winter needs to be ripped out. I like shovels, he likes backhoes, I like wheelbarrows not tractors; hand pruners and peace and quiet, not the roar of a chainsaw.

When we first bought our place in the islands, it already had the curse. From the front of the nothing-to-look-at house to the water was what you didn’t want to look at, eroded land, large gullies carved in the clay, no vegetation in its path, except to the side, two hills of top soil that the previous owner scraped off the land, presumably to get a better view. And when they got the view of eroded land, they moved on. The first thing we did was try to heal the ravaged land. We put down protective nets, bought from a specialist in erosion control. We moved some dirt in and seeded it and the damage stopped and a field started to grow. But then my husband wanted to be able to mow it and couldn’t easily because of the slope, so we consulted a friend to help us terrace the front with three flat terraces and sloping banks in between. On the topmost bank we planted deer resistant ceanothus, rosemary, lavender, nepeta, barberry and ornamental grasses which grew lovely. We came to an agreement on the lower banks and the meadow. He would mow a path along the terraces; the rest would continue to be tall grass where the deer could hide until mowed in late July.

As a result of the curse, even the land no longer stays where it is put. The field grass has raced into the former border bank of rosemary and lavender, nepeta and ceanothus which now looks again like a meadow but with some indistinguishable heads of plants sticking through. The bank has long been a successful nesting site for white crowned sparrows. Because they arrive to breed successfully every spring through early summer from Mexico or Arizona to the same spot, I let it alone. If I wait until late summer to clear it, the soil is too dry and we were not around for the fall months, or the ground, or I outside, too frozen in winter. Although I like the look of abandonment here and there, blending in with the weeded, this bank had been too abandoned for too many years. So last weekend with the WC Sparrow’s arrival, singing loudly in a nearby bush, I decide now is the time to reclaim boundaries between the grass and the border. Because of the urgency of nesting timing, I ask a friend to help me weed and my husband to help edge the lawn, cart off the pulled weeds and grass, and bring in some enriched dirt, compost, for planting. That may have been the mistake. I had been for years defending it for the birds sake being careful where I work and here in one swoop of a chain saw, gone. Unprotected when they thought they were safely hidden in the center of the miscanthus.

My first reaction was anger. I’ve spent my energy preserving habitat so I could help birds be fruitful and multiply as commanded by God and here in one swoop, my husband who knows my focus for the bank, cuts down the grass when I was not looking. Since he had left from town when I discovered it I had time to think about this. I thought of the effort for birds to long distance fly to and nest on our bank and defend the territory, mate and finding a readymade nest in the middle of the miscanthus, the head start on a brood, now is abandoned. I don’t know how I could have protected it more. What can I learn from this? Because I noticed the cut to the ground miscanthus and eggs just hours after posting my last blog, I believe you, God, have another message for me or for me to remember - again how much you God love people even more than birds. Perhaps you God, unbeknownst to my husband, had him do this for my benefit. By your grace, I forgive my husband.1 You taught me that you, God, are sovereign and nothing passes by you without your knowledge. You had me see this for another reason and I think it has to do with blogging.

Help me face my fears of being out there, exposed, feeling vulnerable when I do a “risky” blog. I put in a lot of work, just to be out there out in the sun for the “world” to see rather undercover, hidden in a drawer. It is a beginning, not hatched yet and maybe never hatched because the bird will not come back. Am I the bird who will not come back, quitting the blog because I feel exposed? Or will you, God, continue to help me write and hover over this beginning shell of a message and hatch it yourself in time?
1. Ephesians 4:32

Monday, April 16, 2007


Dead Spotted Tohwee (alias Rufous-sided Tohwee)
Pipilo maculatus L 7 ½ (19 cm)
Friday, April 06, 2007
"Fallen" 8x10 oil/linen J. Matt Miller

“Why would I want to buy a picture of a dead bird?” was the questioning look I got when I bought Matt’s oil painting titled “Fallen”. He painted and posted it on his daily life painting blog on Good Friday.

In the past I talked to Matt about painting birds, but he said they don’t sit still long enough for real life painting. I recall last summer when our grandson, Andrew, and I sat at our dining table drawing a bird. It was a window-crashed-dead pine siskin after which we buried it with ceremony, a cross as its marker. Easter Sunday, Matt told me that he did paint a bird on Good Friday, one that crashed into his living room window. I looked at his blog and woke up on Monday knowing I had to buy the painting. I spent the week pondering why.

Yes, I have a "thing" about injured or dying birds. Ask my kids. More than once I dragged them and various boxed birds with concussions through rush hour traffic for 20 miles to the Seattle Wild Bird Center, then the only state-licensed wildlife clinic in the area. I learned a lot about helping birds survive a crash. So now, in our island home closet sits an electric heating pad and a cardboard box with towels just for these occurrences.

The picture reminds me of two winters ago. Upon hearing the all too often terrible “thud” against the window of our island home, my heart and I race outside to find a spotted Tohwee, feet up, not a good sign. As only its red eyes move, I gather it in a soft towel and place it in the box, out of the way of noise and traffic, and set the heating pad to low. All the while softly muttering, “Please God let it live”. With many hours passing and several tries taking the box outside and lifting the cover to release it, it finally flew to safety. Often when I see what I think is “the” Tohwee scratching at the grass for seed and scurrying with its mate under the lavender bushes that line the flag patio, I thank God for its revival.

Perhaps I need to do more about the ignored problem of our window glass. The Bird Conservation Network gives some solutions mentioning window glass crash as the number one human caused bird mortality with an estimated 1 billion birds killed in the U.S. each year. I’ve hung metal birds from the door frame on a raffia chord and stuck an outdoor chair in front of the glass door, neither of which works well. I pull curtains when we are gone. So today I try “designer” vertical lines of soap every four inches down the window. We’ll see what my husband says when he gets in. “I still think a barn would be best for you,” was his response. Maybe so, at least there are not many windows to crash into.

But then, God, don't you know when a sparrow (or tohwee) falls?1 Don’t we all continue to exist by Your will? You, God, say how much more valuable we are than birds.2 Stuck in my head this week is the song that we sang on Easter Sunday, “Crucified, laid behind the stone, you lived to die, rejected and alone, like a rose (or a rose-sided Tohwee), trampled on the ground, you took the fall and thought of me, above all.”3

You found me fallen because I saw and worshiped a reflection of your image, not you. I've worshipped a reflection, a visual barrier, that is the form of religion, not you; my own independence, not your way, my sometimes greater interest in birds than people, especially vulnerable children . You picked me up, wrapped me warm, and put me in a safe place. You loved me so wondrously, God, that you took the fall and died yourself, your substitute sacrifice, not for birds who still obey your commands, but for my sake, so I can be revived and set free. Every time I look at Matt's picuture I am reminded.

What is the reflection you look at and head towards that does not lead to freedom or life?

1. Matthew 10:29
2. Luke 12:24b; Matthew 10:31; Luke 12:4-9
3. “Above All”, Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A Beginning

Easter, a perfect time for new beginnings,
so why not a firstime blog.
For courage to put my life here on a weekly basis
I'll just have to trust in our risen God.
Come follow us wherever we go.

until next week,
Check out our son Jeff's video blog.