Even birds can have a lapse in judgement

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For the past two mornings, I have been brought back from my slumber into consciousness by an obnoxious sound.  Before I share my story, let me first paint a scene in your mind.

Picture a tiny white cottage nestled in the midst of three acres of extensive woodland.  The dense underbrush is stippled by towering century-old Maple and Oak trees that seem closer to the sun than to the ground.  Branches perpetually invite forest creatures to share their space and many birds use the strong limbs to begin their spring ritual of attracting a potential mate.  The songs of the frogs fill the night air as the barred owls call from one tree to another.  These soothing noises lull me into sleep.

Mornings are usually accompanied by the soundtrack of chirping birds.  The melodies of Chickadees and Red-winged Black Birds are the first strains I hear and they help me welcome the morning with a peaceful sigh…..until yesterday.

My rhythmic breathing was suddenly caught in my throat as I was rudely awakened by the simulated sound of a jack hammer.  The noise would stop long enough for me to hear the fading echo and then begin again.  In the middle of this wooded sanctuary, a Pileated Woodpecker was pounding his beak on the old TV antenna that is affixed to the house directly beside my bedroom window.  This beautiful, albeit destructive bird, truly could not see the forest for the trees.  Although surrounded by a plethora of massive trunks, it chose to continue to bang its beak on the metal tower and showed up again this morning to do it all over again.

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I caved to the will of the shortsighted bird and got up early to take my dog for a walk.  The familiar sounds of the usual morning creatures were there to walk with us and when we got close to home, I heard the familiar banging sound coming from my neighbors house.  Out of the myriad number of trees to select from, this bird had found the only two needles in nature’s haystack.  I can only wonder how long it will take this feather-brained bird to realize it’s barking up the wrong tree.

 

Mortar envy

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From the moment the sky scraper was built, it was jealous.  The small church paled in comparison to its size and newness, but somehow the recently built monstrosity knew it had none of the character and charm that this relic had.

A myriad number of people came and went each day through its newly built foyer and, although the monolith felt important, the new tower knew it could not compare to the importance of the little church that it shadowed.

Each day, the looming fortress would watch people enter and leave the hallowed sanctuary.  Their emotions were strong and were easily expressed.  Family and friends held hands, locked arms, shared their joy or comforted each other as they entered and left the century-old building, tears staining their cheeks after a funeral or smiles etched into their faces following a wedding or christening. The more the new fortress watched the feelings and sentiment shared by the patrons of the old building, the more its resentment grew.

“St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC” by Amy Light

The tower watched the expressionless faces of the people entering through its revolving door.  Most had digital devices in their hands and not one person acknowledged any of the other people in the building, lost in their sad world of technology.  The building paid attention to the people in each of its offices, noting their lack of enthusiasm and utter disdain for their existence.

The cafeteria was the same.  The only noise that was heard within the four walls of the dining hall were the sounds of the cash register and the din from the kitchen as the cooks continued to prepare the lunch items for the day.  Nobody smiled.  Nobody had even the smallest conversation.  Ear plugs were attached to mobile devices so each person could tune out the world around them.

The fire started in the furnace room long after everyone had left for the day.  The fortress could feel the heat from the fire and was satisfied that the slow burn would not be detected.  It had systematically dismantled all of its alarms and fire suppression systems so the alarm company and the fire department would not be alerted until it was too late.

The flames turned into an inferno and windows began to break as the heat became unbearable.  Smoke billowed through the shattered glass and the building breathed a sigh of relief knowing that it would no longer have to bear witness to the emotion the church was blessed to experience.

The final explosion was small in comparison to the fire.  Chunks of concrete were launched in all directions and a few small pieces came to rest at the back of the church.  The remainder of the structure fell to the ground leaving behind the metal carcass.

In the weeks that followed, those few small pieces watched as the clean up began.  The debris was taken away and the skeleton of the building was broken down and removed.  From their vantage point, the concrete remnants breathed a sigh of relief as they were left untouched to enjoy the rest of their existence as part of the church that they had admired for so many years.

Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge

 

 

 

Are you there, blog? It’s me, Susan.

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Frenetic pace aside, the last few weeks have been draining.  It’s a good problem to have when your resort is so busy that you cannot find the right moment to take a day off.  But it is a bad problem, personally, when you cannot find the right moment to take a day off.

For anyone in the seasonal hospitality business, the start of the school year is a dreaded reality.  The summer staff are solely focused on Frosh Week and moving into residence while I am busily focused on the treads of my new running shoes, hoping that they will carry me through until Thanksgiving.  And while I am intent on putting forth 100% to make everything at work a glowing success, my personal accomplishments become non-existent.

mower

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But the past two and a half days have been, thankfully, concentrated entirely on my needs.   I slowly morphed back into all of the roles I had been ignoring and gained some of my life back.  My lawnmower is fixed and the ridiculously long grass has been cut.  Order has been restored to my life and all of the menial jobs I had been unable to accomplish have been triumphantly completed.  I am currently sitting back with a glass of red wine, happy with the amount of tasks I have been able to complete over the last two days.

Now it is time to get some balance back in my life.  It’s time to allow the words to become more of a focus than the numbers – the number of people at the lodge, the number of meals I serve and the number of steps I complete in a day.  It’s time to get back to the things that feed my soul and not my punch card.

Are you there, blog?  I’m back….and I’ve missed you.

 

A part of life

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Death is selfish.  It lurks in the shadows.  It hides in a realm of certainty,  somewhere between acceptance and denial, and it feeds on our inability to process its inevitability.  It waits for nobody.  It heeds its own agenda and it gives no signs of compassion.  It simply reaps.

~~

Last week we had a senior’s bus tour at the lodge.  Unlike the previous tours, we had neither mildly concussed nor toppled our guests on top of one other.  The tour had been relatively trauma-free with the exception of a phone call a mere fifteen minutes after the bus arrived and our guests had been shown to their rooms.

Death had been hovering at the precipice and chose to include us in its folly with one phone call for the sister of its intended victim shortly after she arrived at the lodge.  What should have been a glorious adventure for Kathleen suddenly turned into a feeling of helplessness and isolation as she mourned the loss of her sister surrounded by a group of strangers.

But even in the face of sadness, there was no surprise in discovering that the group of strangers had chosen to embrace Kathleen and take on a part of her burden as their own.  As much as death wanted to be the headliner in this performance, the supporting cast was truly the star of the show.

Fellow travelers and staff made every effort to ease Kathleen’s suffering and reunited her with her family before the bus was due to leave the lodge.   It takes a village – and this village had a great deal of empathy and ingenuity.  Kathleen was able to reconnect with her family and attend her sister’s funeral.  And although she was missed on that last day of the bus tour, we knew she was where she needed to be and she knew we all held her in our thoughts and prayers.

heaven-pic

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Death is selfish.  And although it may be a part of life, so is love and compassion.

 

Rage against the dying of the light

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Swallowtail-Butterfly-on-Lilac-Blossom

The perfect evening sky

is painted by the swaying branches

that continue to brush blue into the waning day.

A cool breeze

carries the scent of the lilacs.

 Dusk approaches,

but day fights for its last moments

before the fireflies seize the night.

 Leaves dance in the wind,

laughing as they are tickled by the currents of spring.

A lone butterfly

floats on the updrafts,

silently raging against the dying of the light.

The sun pulls up the blanket of the horizon,

golds and yellows caress the trees one last time

and the day succumbs

to the sleep of night.

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Dirty little secrets

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Muted secrets,

poignantly apparent,

bereft of understanding.

Walls painted in silence,

ceiling fans churning the absence of dialogue.

Silence is not always golden.

The reticence can stain.

Neglect is a dirty color.

But silence breaks,

and whispers become a symphony of sound.

microstories263

Back in the saddle

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It happened.  Winter finally ended and the deluge of a new reality is seeping in the front door.  Today, the lodge officially opens for business and life, as I know it, will drastically change for the next six months.

No longer will I be able to hear my dog snoring from the corner of the office.  The dark days of winter, which seemed so cold and lonely, are a thing of the past and our first group arrives today, marking the beginning of a very busy season.

I am always torn this time of year.  Being busy is wonderful.  I enjoy interacting with a myriad number of personalities and I do enjoy engaging more in the active part of my job.  However, the increase in my hours at work means a decrease in my creative hours at home.  My reading suffers, my dog sees me far less than I would like and my blog always seems to take a bit of a back seat while I am perched high in that saddle, ready to ride into action.

back-in-the-saddle

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But I shall carry on, knowing that the sunset of my busy season is a mere six months away and the idle time, which can sometimes seem monotonous, will once again be waiting for me to bask in its splendor.