every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope


¡Vaya con díos!

1 SunriseWhat did you do today?  The Daughter and I returned Atlantic green sea turtle hatchlings to the sea from the beach of our hotel in Cancún, México.  Known in Spanish as tortugas blancas, the adult females return to the same beach every year to lay their eggs in the soft, white sand.  Under the supervision of the Mexican government’s Ecology Department, trained members of the hotel staff remove and rebury the eggs in a fenced enclosure until they are ready to hatch.  They are then brought down to the water and volunteers, mostly hotel guests, are instructed on how to pick up the hatchlings and set them in the waves.

At sunrise this morning, I happened to see several sites on the beach that looked like turtles had made the trek onto the sand and laid eggs while I slept.  Indeed, the hotel staff came and excavated one right in front of our balcony.  The eggs appeared to be at a depth of about two feet.  Overhead, frigate birds circled, waiting for the chance to snatch the leathery-shelled eggs.


At sunset, we lined up to release approximately 500 hatchlings.  It was poignant to watch them hustle their way into the sea and disappear, knowing that the odds of their survival to adulthood is slim.  I released about half a dozen, ensuring that they swam strongly into the darkening water.  

  ¡Vaya con díos!


Empty Nester

Empty Nest

Empty Nest

My babies are gone.

On Thursday morning, I checked the nest, and only one little hummingbird looked back at me.  I looked around on the deck and in the shrubs to make certain that one of them wasn’t shuddering helplessly on the ground.  I climbed the ladder, and the remaining one flew away, landing on my patio.  The BFF approached it cautiously, and, when I realized that it wasn’t going to fly away, I carefully picked it up, as the Veterinarian taught me, and placed it back in the nest.

Holding the tiny bird in my hand and feeling its incredible heart rate (at 1,200 beats per minute, it’s more like a vibration than a pulse), it didn’t seem like it was ready to leave.  But when I came home from work, 12 hours later, it was gone.

I can live with it.  Through small miracles, a lot that wasn’t ok a month ago seems easier all of a sudden.

Tiny miracle

Tiny miracle

I touched the little nest.  It’s soft and spongy, like a thin wall of Nerf foam.  If you can enlarge the top photo, you’ll see the filaments of spider web used to attach the nest to the branch.  How amazing is that?  And it’s not even 1-1/2″ high.  How do they do that?  Fairy tales can come true.

I wonder if the mother will lay one last clutch of eggs before autumn.  There’s time.  It only took a month for these to hatch and leave.  I’ll watch all spring, too, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll return.

In one month, my vision of life has changed by reflecting on these birds.  I wonder what else I’m not seeing.  Of all the people on Earth, who am I to complain?  Life is more than good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Love Birds

In memory of Mr. Phil  

Ready to go

Ready to go

Love affairs are bittersweet.  There’s the shock and initial giddy rush of attraction that takes you someplace wonderful that you’ve never been or felt before.  You overlook your beloved’s peccadilloes, their appearance, their annoying parents.  Their beauty grows in your eyes.  You rush to their defense, to maintain the miracle of their presence at your own peril.

And then, it’s over.  They need their freedom.  They fly the nest.  Your sojourn together is too brief.  One day, they’re gazing upon you with their soulful eyes, tucked in a nest of love, and the next, stretching their wings and borne on the wind, they’re off to find the next fragrant blossom.

Yes, the hummingbirds are getting ready to go, and I am prematurely desolate.  Seduced and abandoned.  I knew their departure was imminent this morning when I climbed the stepladder in my nightgown to photograph them (blessedly, the Shrew was still asleep).  They just looked at me with their unblinking eyes, stuffed into their mother’s love nest with their beaks and tails hanging over the edges.  Their heads have grown significantly in the past few days, so that their eyes are no longer dominant.   The larger of the two is the size of its mother, so I know it’s time, and I’m just not ready.  She is just starting to let me watch her feed them, a miracle all by itself.  Too soon, it’s too soon, for me, if not for them.

“Oh, please, please, please don’t go yet!”  I begged. “You’re my miracle in the crappiness of my life.  You’re my heart.  You’re my hope.”

They were silent.  Not a peep out of them.

“I love you so!”  The nest swayed in the breeze, but they remained steadfast on their branch.

“Oh, for God’s sake!  What are you doing out here in our nightgown?”  The Shrew had roused herself.  “Are you conscious enough to be on that ladder?”

Stay, just a little bit longer

Stay, just a little bit longer

“They’re leaving.”

“Not yet, they aren’t.”

“But probably today or tomorrow.”

“I don’t know why you’re surprised,” she yawned.  “It’s August, you know.  They have to prepare to migrate before the weather gets cold.”

“Is summer over already?”

“Not quite.  We have another two months or so of decent weather.”  The Shrew was surprisingly gentle.  “You know better than most people how life works.”

Over the weekend, a dear friend lost one of the longest battles with cancer of anyone that I know.  Mr. Phil and I were the long-tolerant spouses of avian veterinarians, but he partnered his with much more grace and patience than I partnered mine.  My heart was broken from the loss of his smile and laughter and his cool ties and sharp hats.  It was also broken for his wife, whose plaintive tribute to him brought back memories of my own loss, brightened by her request that his friends have a Champagne toast in his memory.

Still here in the evening

Still here in the evening

“Let’s go in the house,” the Shrew whispered.  “The breeze is going up this nightgown, and we’re shivering.”

I fed the BFF and made my morning cup of strong black tea, sweetened and doused with milk (fat free, of course), put her meds in her marshmallow, and settled down to the morning news and my email, which held a delightful surprise for a woman who really doesn’t do mornings.

In the evening, after a frustrating day, I climbed the ladder to see if they were still there.  They were, and my breathing slowed for the first time in hours.  “All will be well and all will be well…”

Suddenly, I’ve been thinking about faith, hope, and love in a new light. God tirelessly redeems and redeems and redeems so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


Brave Little Hummingbird

IMG_5712Day 11, post-hatching, the largest of the hummers has opened its eyes, and its beak has turned black.  It did not exhibit a feeding response but also didn’t seem too concerned that I was taking photos.  The smaller sibling remained curled up but is breathing.  I’m hoping to see the color of its beak and whether or not its eye has opened.  Both babies peep.

Mom only buzzed by once to find out what was happening.  She now lets me observe her after dark, when she is sitting on the nest, but I don’t want to frighten her with a flash.

I read that hummingbirds use spider webs to hold their nests together and to anchor them to branches.  The fuzzy understructure of this nest looks suspiciously like the BFF’s golden fur.

By the way, the photo is slightly tilted, not the nest.

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Hummingbird Feeder

FullSizeRender (8)Today’s installment of the hatchlings shows both little beaks perked up and waiting for Mom.  I noticed yesterday that she has enlarged the nest since they were hatched and still diligently sits on them.  While I sat on the deck, she kept buzzing around but wouldn’t feed them, and they, hearing her buzzing wings, would bounce in the little nest (which is actually no bigger than a golf ball).  After 30 minutes, I took their photo and went indoors.  The larger one, on the right, almost has an opened eye, which seems early to me.  I’m used to seeing all those helpless baby African Greys, Cockatoos, and Macaws that are just pathetic for weeks and weeks.  These little hummingbirds are progressing quickly, having just been born 4-5 days ago.  Life is good (mostly)!  Soli Deo Gloria!


Simple Gifts for a Not-so-Simple Woman

A surprise in the leaves

A surprise in the leaves

So…I’m sitting on my deck on the first sunny day in a good long while, when I hear an occasional buzzing near my head.  I sit up and look for horseflies or wasps or bumblebees.  Nothing.  I sit back and return to my book.

Thirty seconds later, the buzzing returns.  Still, no flying insects.

“Hmmm,” I say to My BFF, “Sounds like a hummingbird.”  I’m perplexed, because I don’t have a hummingbird feeder, and there are no blooming plants.  Must be a large hornet of some kind.  I look up into the dogwood branch hanging over my head, and there it is, a small hive-shaped nest.

“Uh-oh.”  I put the BFF in the house and carefully examine the nest, when, suddenly, something rushes past my head.  A dull-colored hummingbird.

I am beside myself with happiness and rush into the house for a stepladder.  How incredible is it, that there could be a hummingbird nest on my deck?  The BFF watches as I drag the ladder outside.  I can tell by the look on her face that she thinks I’m losing it.  I set up the ladder and climb it with my cellphone, because I won’t be tall enough to see inside the nest — if it is a nest — but, with my arm extended, the cellphone will have a clear shot at it.  I take the first blurry shot, and there they are, two little hummingbird eggs.  My eyes tear up.  So serene.  So perfect.

And then The Shrew in my head pipes up,  “Are you crazy?  Do you know how you’re going to look to the EMTs when they find your lifeless body on the deck when you fall off this ladder?  Your lifeless, 63-year old body wearing a black bikini?  Have you no shame?”

Simple gifts

Simple gifts

“I need a shot that isn’t blurry,” is what I’m thinking.

I move the ladder to the other side and shoot again.  This time, the picture is in focus, as is my headless torso, the deck, the ladder, and my chair.  I get down and sit back on my chair.  The little hummingbird flits back and forth but doesn’t come back to the branch.  When it rests, it sits on a wire of my television antenna and looks down at me.  We are both a little dumbfounded.  The hummingbird by the scary woman.  The woman by life.  If I were an ordinary, sane, rational woman, I might be amused and check the little nest daily until the chicks hatch and fly away.

I, on the other hand, am plagued by “The Meaning of Life.”  What does it mean that a hummingbird nest has appeared to me?  Is that routine?  Does everyone have a hummingbird nest hanging over their decks?  Or, in the lunacy that is my life, does it just remind me that, as the medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich, said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well”?

It also begs the question, why would I be so stupid as to post a picture on the internet of my headless 63-year old torso wearing a bikini?  That one’s easy.  It’s a great shot of the nest, and the photo is taken at such an odd angle that my body is completely distorted.

What have I learned?  I’ve learned that the key to a good swimsuit photo is, apparently, to stand on a ladder with your arm extended three feet over your head, thereby elongating the torso, removing folds, wrinkles, and stretching the skin as good as a plastic surgeon would.

God made me smile today, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!