Flippin’ The Bird

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My daughter, Jillian, adopted a conure last spring. A friend of ours was moving, and wanted to find a new home for her little parrot, and frankly I was afraid that if we didn’t take the thing, it might be set free.

Her name was Jennifer, which we changed to Bee. Her diet was mostly seeds, which we changed to healthy pellets, fresh fruits, brown rice, and vegetables.  I was a little leery of her, being a life-long dog lover, but that soon began to change as well.

When Bee met Jillian, the first thing she did was bite Jillian’s Continue reading

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Rainy Day Helicopter Parenting

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We’ve had an extraordinarily warm, sunny fall; so much so that it’s October 24th and I have not yet turned on the furnace. But the clouds rolled in last night, and when I flipped on the outdoor lights and opened the door to let the dogs out early this morning, our back porch was a puddle.  And the big drops were still dripping.

Scooter, our terrier mix, zipped out to run the perimeter. Millie, our big purebred, took one look at the wet and instantly decided Continue reading

Bigger than a Breadbox

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My mom grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It’s located in the Laurel Highlands of western PA, 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, and was a bustling city in the mid-20th century when the Bethlehem Steel mill provided lots of jobs and kept the local economy humming.

My mom lived in Johnstown her whole life, graduating from Ferndale High School and then Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital’s School of Nursing. She worked for a short time in town, and then decided, as young women tend to do, that she needed a new adventure. So she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

It would be hard to overstate the differences between Continue reading

Unexpected Flight

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The drive to my kids’ middle school can be absolutely magical. The road hugs the side of a meandering creek, and depending on the time of year, we see some spectacular wildlife. In spring and summer, we’ve looked down the creek to see five startlingly white Snowy Egrets gathered to fish. We see Great Blue Herons camouflaged in the shallows hunting their breakfast. Perhaps most striking to me are the plain old mallard ducks, still floating in the icy waters all winter long. I see them as I drive by, in my layers of clothes, still shivering though my seat heater is blazing, and I marvel at their ability to float all winter with a soggy bottom.

Right now, late fall, is miraculous for the variety of birds we see as they pass through on their way south. I can’t name any of them, but I enjoy their variety nonetheless. Large geese walking the bank. Tiny black and white bodies bobbing on the water’s surface in impressive numbers.

Last week, I was driving to the school at what was, for me, an unusual time. It was late morning, and I was returning my son, Richie, to classes after Continue reading

Dinner with Beyoncé

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Not long ago, Richie and I were in a waiting room together for an hour and a half. He was (semi-)watching the movie Brave on his tablet, and I was reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Or I was trying to. Because when Richie has a long stretch of quiet to think, the thoughts that come into his head are varied and humorous and telling. And luckily for me, he seldom sensors them before sharing. Continue reading