UPDATE!!! (or Day 27)

I’m freaking out about those bluebird eggs said my lifelong friend, Vickie, on the other end of the phone. Send me an update the moment you get home.

We both knew the danger that lurked, what with the snake and the hawk and the precarious location of the (unintended) nest. And so I headed straight down those stairs, held my breath, and looked out the big studio window.

No signs of bluebird house disturbance. (Whew.) And curiously, no Mama bird peaking out from the opening.

I stepped out onto the patio and waited. Still no sign of Mama.

She must not be on the nest I thought. I’d better go in for a look while she’s gone.

Snap snap snap went the iPhone’s camera. Then I quickly made my way back inside.

What did I find when I looked at those photos?

A miracle.


A precious, heart-filling miracle.


30 Days of Grace III

Day 25: Surprise, surprise.
(Surprise, surprise, surprise!)

I’ll be the first to admit it’s a little obsessive, my love for the birds that share our little corner of the world. I spend an inordinate amount of time standing at the big kitchen window watching them come and go. I find them remarkably beautiful, those creatures, their activity fascinating. The other day, for instance, I happened to be standing there when one of our two Kingfishers dropped straight down from the sky to catch a fish in Bickley’s Pond. And those Goldfinches! The pack has grown to 10 or 12 birds that arrive around 9 am and fuss and holler over the prime spots on the bird feeder like it’s a kindergarten playground. And heaven help me when I see a winged creature unfamiliar to me. I run for the zoom lens faster than…well, let’s just say the sighting of a new bird is quite an event in our household.

And so you can understand the magnitude of a realization I made just last month when talking with my friend, Katy. It seems she and her sweet girls, Eva and Helen, have been feeding mealworms to the bluebirds to encourage them to nest in their yard.

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a successful nest, much less a bluebird nest I said to Katy that morning, a little astounded at this new realization. There was that dove’s nest on our front porch two Springs ago. We kept our eyes on those parents, who attended to those eggs faithfully. But we left for vacation and when we got home, there were no babies. In fact, there was no nest at all.

I thought about that nest all day long. Then on my drive home, I stopped and bought my very first birdhouse.


We decided the birdhouse was meant to hang in a tree, based on its design. But try as we might, we simply couldn’t find a secure enough spot in our yard to attract any type of bird for long. We finally came to the conclusion that what I had bought was a decoration rather than a functional birdhouse. And so (rather sadly) I removed it from the tree and placed it on a porch table just outside my studio’s big window.


There it sat looking pretty for about three days. And then I noticed this.


A great deal of fretting commenced as I moved about in my studio, unusual bird fretting that piqued my interest. And so I went out for a closer look. That’s when I discovered this.


Right there in my decorative bird house, a nest and five—count ’em, five—blue eggs.

Every dream I have came true in that moment. A bluebird nest, with eggs, right there at my studio window. Just where I can watch every move.


I made a promise to that Mama right then and there that I’d help her keep an eye on those eggs, do my best to keep the snakes and sparrows and wrens and squirrels away. I feel it’s rather vulnerable in that spot, that nest, and I feel responsible. And yet I don’t dare move it.

And so we will wait. And watch. And we will hope against hope that in no time at all there will be five more little bluebirds making their home right here on Bickley’s Pond.

30 Days of Grace III

Day 23: Easter Morn


Descending Theology: The Resurrection

by Mary Karr
                             From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
                             cold inched in—black ice and squid ink—
                             till the hung flesh was empty.
                             Lonely in that void even for pain,
                             he missed his splintered feet,
                             the human stare buried in his face.
                             He ached for two hands made of meat
                             he could reach to the end of.
                             In the corpse’s core, the stone fist
                             of his heart began to bang
                             on the stiff chest’s door, and breath spilled
                             back into that battered shape. Now
                             it’s your limbs he comes to fill, as warm water
                             shatters at birth, rivering every way.

30 Days of Grace III

Day 20: Togetherness

I first saw those ducks from a distance and did I ever rejoice, hoping against hope it signaled the triumphant return of the Bickley’s Pond white duck from two winters ago. You may remember my endless fretting over that much maligned creature. Despite his nonstop efforts, he was never able to assimilate into the clan of web-footed cousins around our cove. The sweet mallards gave it their best, making room when he insisted on joining their cozy twosome. (It was short-lived.) The Canada Geese not only shunned him—they mocked him in a vociferous and hateful way. Eventually the entire duck B.P. population grew so weary of the misfit they abandoned him completely, flying on to other waters and leaving him here, all alone on Bickley’s Pond.

For weeks it stayed that way, that forlorn creature swimming solo, not a friend (or foe) in sight. And then one sad day when I looked out to the pond I noticed there was no duck at all. My heart broke a little more when later I heard a neighbor say (and I swear this is the truth) that the last time they saw that duck he had made his way up the hill from the water and was heading toward the gate, waddling right down the middle of our neighborhood’s main road.


And so you can see why my heart leapt at this Spring’s sighting of not just one white duck, but two. Two white ducks, mirror images, so attached to each other that whether they are on shore or pond, they are never separated by more than a few inches.


I’ve never, ever seen such love and commitment is what I thought as I watched the two from the big window over my kitchen sink. He is so protective! She is so devoted!


What a beautiful way to make your way in this world, knowing there is someone there, always there, who cherishes you, yes—but who also has your back.

I wanted a closer look, and thanks to my camera’s big zoom lens, I was eventually able to get a better view. It was not my misfit white duck, after all, but another kind of creature altogether—and one with such an odd appearance I laughed in spite of myself.


What. Is. That? I wondered, a bit in awe. I ran straight for Google.

The Crested Duck: This fancily-quoiffed duck is descended from the domestic mallard and sports a pouf of feathers growing out of the back of its head. This crest is actually caused by a genetic mutation that duck breeders have selected for. This mutation causes a duck to be born with a gap in its skull, which is filled with a growth of fatty tissue.  It’s from this growth that the pouf of feathers sprouts. (source: Animal Planet: Animal Oddities)


By now I have spent countless hours watching this beautiful couple make their home on Bickley’s Pond. In all that time, whether climbing the ledge beneath the trees that cover their nest, or waddling across the greening grass, or criss-crossing from one corner of the lake to the other, I have never seen them more than ten inches apart. How I adore them, this unusual Crested Duck couple. How grateful I am they are here, a constant reminder of the significance of family, the importance of devotion, and the overwhelming power of love.

how good it is to be together

30 Days of Grace III

Day 19: Expectation

something wonderful
© Ruffles and Stuff

This little gem got me to thinking about how different each day would be if lived in a state of “wonderful” expectation. A little proactive optimism, if you will, rather than our more natural human tendency to prep for disaster. Brace for the worst our gut tells us. The ax is about to fall. Be ready.


Something wonderful is about to happen.

I think I shall give this glorious new perspective a try.


*Thank you to Disney of Ruffles and Stuff for allowing me to share her gorgeous graphic (and thought) with you.

30 Days of Grace III