Thursday Re-View — In Love Again at My Age???

I’m in love again.

That’s right. Who knew? At my age. A married woman. With her own family.

I can’t believe I’m broadcasting this on a blog read by millions (okay – maybe not millions, but hundreds).

I’m in love with the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Hays Bald Eagle Family, and I’m addicted to watching the live feed – the Pittsburgh Eagle Cam – sponsored by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

pittsburgh hays eagle

The live feed:

After an absence of more than 150 years, this bald eagle pair – the national bird of the United States – is nesting for the second year in the steel city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They’re in Pittsburgh because there’s food there. In fact, the near-by Monongahela River holds 76 species of fish. Much of an eagle’s diet consists of fish, although they also eat rabbits, squirrels, snakes, frogs and other small creatures, as well as scavenge dead animals.

The current nest is their second, as last year’s nest collapsed from a near-by smaller tree. The Hays female is believed to be 5 1/2 years old. The Hays male is smaller (normally by about 25%) and for those of you watching the live feed, has a small white spot on his right side, near the tail.

The eagle pair’s first egg was laid on Feb. 19th, followed by a second on Feb. 22nd and a third on Feb.25th. The Mom fended off attacks on the incubating eggs by a raccoon, a marauding raptor and a flying squirrel. The eggs hatched successfully on March 28th, 30th and April 3rd.

Pittsburgh eaglets

Three surviving eaglets is unusual, and it is not uncommon for the oldest, especially if she’s a female, to kill the youngest, something with which the parents do not interfere. Because of the difference in size of the 3 eaglets, I find myself squirming whenever they are being fed as I watch the smallest get pushed out of the way by the ravenous older and bigger siblings.

“Feed the little one. There – feed the little one!”

I’m on my desk chair, leaning back and forth, trying to help the tiniest eaglet position itself for maximum feeding. The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania needs to install a live feed in my office; I’d be (almost) more entertaining than the eagle cam!

Sometimes during the feedings, I actually have to turn the live feed off (not for long), because I am that invested in the outcome of the tiniest eaglet’s welfare. Worrying that I will actually see it killed, or pushed out of the nest, or waste away to skeletal proportions is far too stressful for this human who gets a neck and shoulder massage every 2 weeks with little relief.

Plus, whenever the Dad brings the latest hard-won food offering to his family – a gleaming trout, a chubby squab, a cute (unidentified) furry mammal – I have to keep singing Disney’s “The Circle of Life” in order to not dwell too much on the fact that something gave up its life so that the adorable eaglets might live.

pittsburgh eaglets II

Just when I calm down, I see on one of my many bookmarked eagle websites that approximately 40% of young eagles do not survive their first flight, and I am back to being the worried, over-protective mother.

Whew – watching this eagle cam is hard work!

A week ago – and this is not a joke – I woke up from a bad dream where I was trying to save the eaglets from a rabid dog that kept climbing the tree to attack the babies. In the dream, I put together some kind of animal trap to catch the predator, but he kept outsmarting me as I perched precariously on a tree limb near the huge, foul-smelling nest. (Yes, I not only dream in color, but have the added benefit of smell-o-vision as well). I woke up before the rabid dog reached the eaglets.

I think I have too much free time on my hands…

So, dear readers, I’m in love again.

That’s right. Who knew? At my age. A married woman. With her own family.

I’m in love with the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Hays Bald Eagle Family, and I’m addicted to watching the live feed – the Pittsburgh Eagle Cam – sponsored by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

It could be worse. I could be addicted to watching reality TV shows or soap operas or the Weather Channel.

And just because I no longer cook or clean for my own family because I’m keeping watch over my second family doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

I’m just a woman in love.

Who knew?????

pittsburgh eaglets III

Monday Meeting — Brotherly Love

A film by Rob Gaut. More at Five Story Pictures.

Video from KarmaTube

Trenton and Lindsay Cochran are best friends, brother and sister, support and inspiration. 10-year old Lindsay, who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, has been in a wheelchair since she was 2. Trenton understands deeply that his life would have been very different if he didn’t have a disabled younger sister. Not only is this mature 12-year old a helper and protector, he is an advocate and ambassador for kids with disabilities. “I would take a bullet for her,” he says, as his grateful sister looks on.



Thursday Re-View — Cefalu, Sicily

In an instant, what started as a simple walking tour of Cefalu, Sicily on my recent vacation turned into a profoundly moving experience.

Let me explain.

Cefalu is a city in the province of Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily. Its narrow streets house numerous churches, a fisherman’s quarter, small shops and a long beach covered with fine sand. The town’s medieval appearance is especially noticeable in its Norman cathedral, built by Roger II in the 12th century.

When I entered the huge wooden doors of the Cathedral, I was met with dim gray flooring and dark, misshapen wooden pews. As my eyes adjusted to the interior, I noticed white flower arrangements on the end of each pew and thin white ribbon tied across the end of the aisle, preventing anyone from walking directly up the center.

It looked like there would be a wedding sometime today.

But for now, there were perhaps a hundred tourists milling around inside, snapping pictures. When I looked toward the far end of the cathedral, suddenly each section was lit up one by one, until I could see nothing but beautiful golds and blues and greens and reds along the walls and upon the ceiling. Tens of thousands of tesserae illuminated the church like priceless jewels with a breathtaking result.

It was magical.

Mosaics dripped from the walls: saints and prophets reposed on the choir walls, Seraphim and Cherubs decorated the vault, while the majestic figure of Christ Pantocrator loomed high in the apse, along with the Virgin Mary, Archangels and apostles.

Suddenly I heard voices start to sing a few stanzas, which then stopped. Near the altar stood 4 members of what must be the choir, readying themselves for the wedding that would soon take place. With some rustling of sheet music and cleared throats, they began to sing again.

I stopped walking, the opening chords of one of my favorite hymns – Ave Maria – resonated in my heart. Their voices echoed off the cathedral walls, then soared to the ceiling and back around, enveloping me. Their voices lifted me until I felt goosebumps (“God-bumps”).

The sound – the feeling – the place – were all so profoundly sacred that the tears flowed as I leaned against the marble wall.

At that moment, in a small town of winding cobblestone streets and a Norman cathedral built with love and care by craftsmen long since departed, there was nothing else but angels singing Ave Maria.

Just then, something caught my attention and I looked toward the massive door that was open to the square outside. The sky darkened and the trees stirred in what had been still, humid air. Tourists scurried inside to escape the abrupt change in weather, their scarves whipped around their faces from the sudden gusts. As the wind pressed through the church, I knew the Holy Spirit had just sanctified all those present.

Mysterious, unseen, refreshing. Gale force outside, a gentle whisper upon my cheek inside.

A blessing received upon on all those who gathered here on this day.

The tourists in their shorts and baseball caps, seated in the far rear of the church. The choir members in their black robes, arranged to one side of the altar. The wedding guests in all of their finery, anxiously awaiting the start of the ceremony. The priest at the altar, the groom at the head of the aisle, and the bride standing quietly next to her father, waiting for her new life to begin.

All were blessed.

The bride’s veil stirred in the now-gentle breeze as she worked to tear the ribbon blocking the aisle, a tradition unknown to some of us, but obviously important to her. I stood in the shadows, on holy ground, watching as the bride, with a triumphant smile, tore apart the ribbon to a crescendo of clapping and shouts of joy from the self-appointed tourist guests.

At last, she made her way up the aisle. Toward the Christ Pantocrator, her friends and family, and her love. Toward her future.

May the bride and groom who were joined together on that day know only a life together filled with happiness. And love.

For the greatest of these is love.

My thanks for allowing me the privilege of baring witness to Your Spirit.

And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
  ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 ~


Monday Meeting — A Father’s Love

Let’s all agree to extend an early Happy Father’s Day to this Chinese dad who will do just about anything to give his son with disabilities every opportunity in the world.

Yu Xukang, 40, a single dad from the Sichuan Province in China, walks 9 miles every day with his son, Xiao Qiang, strapped to his back so that the boy can get an education. The 12-year-old has a disorder that has caused his arms and legs to become twisted and his back to be hunched over, and there is no public transportation available to take him to class, Central European News (CEN) told The Huffington Post in an email.

To support himself and his young son, Yu works as a farmer, according to China Daily. Since last September, Yu has woken up every day at 5 a.m., prepared a lunch for his son and then secured Xiao Qiang — who is about 3 feet tall — in a basket that he attaches to his own back.

The pair makes the 4.5-mile trek to school across the rugged terrain, then Yu walks back home so that he can work. The devoted dad then returns to pick his boy up from school and carries him all the way home –- an 18-mile round trip, according to CEN.

father's love

The single dad estimates that he’s walked about 1,600 miles since he started taking his son to school.

“I know that my son is physically disabled but there is nothing wrong with his mind,” he told CEN. “However, I couldn’t find any school here with the facilities to accept him and was constantly rejected.”

Once Xiao Qiang was accepted to the Fengxi Primary School, Yu vowed to do everything in his power to make sure his son would get there every day.

His dream is for Xiao Qiang to one day go to college.

After word of the father and son’s daily journey got out, authorities decided to step in to help the two. They agreed to provide a small room near the school for them, according to CEN.

Xiao Qiang has already climbed to the top of his class.

“I know that he will achieve great things,” his father told CEN.


Eleanor Goldberg, The Huffington Post