13 June 2008

Back To Their Roots

A few days ago Mandi pointed out a bird that she did not recognize. It was on top of the umbrella on our back porch, no more than 6 feet from the window where she stood. I came over to look and was delighted to find a juvenile Eastern Bluebird staring out into the yard. At first glance it appeared to be a female, judging by the relative lack of blue flight feathers. Before I could retrieve my camera she flew away, but I held out hope that she would return.

Well, yesterday was the day for the return. In addition to the pair of adults that recently raised a brood in my nestbox, a total of 3 juveniles were in the area at the same time. The brood had a total of 4 birds fledge, but only 3 were in attendance during yesterday's reunion. They spent some time on the fence, sat on the neighbor's gutters, and even pecked around a little in my sad excuse for a lawn.

I was happy to see the adults investigating the nestbox too, as I think there's still time for them to hatch another brood this season. They've investigated 3 or 4 days now, but still there's no nesting material in the box. I just wonder if they're trying to outwit the weather, biding their time until this current heat wave passes us by. Either way, I think it was awfully nice of them to bring their babies back up here to show them off. Who knows what the real motivation was, really. Perhaps they're showing the young an example of a suitable nestbox. Or maybe they just needed a known-safe hunting ground to let the fledglings get some practice finding meals on their own. Regardless, the feeling of satisfaction at seeing them return was akin to seeing a finished piece of artwork displayed in a gallery under perfect lighting and ambiance. It just feels right.

12 June 2008

Burnt Cookies

This post is not about cookies. But I just took a bite of a slightly burnt cookie, and it's a darned good thing I did. Sometimes in life you need a burnt cookie to make you stop eating the cookies. This is one such time.

Anyway, I wanted to just share some funny Lily-isms from the last few days. I've gone over and over them trying in some way to tie them together, but I just can't do it. So, they'll just be snippets of hilarity the likes of which only Lily can deliver.

I have been, for as long as I can remember, a movie-quoter. I throw lines from my favorite films into everyday conversations in ways most folks just don't appreciate. But that's OK, because I don't do it for their satisfaction, I do it for my own. What I've created, however, is a little Mini-Me monster in Lily. She, too, is a quoter, albeit with her it's Curious George and Dora The Explorer that are most often repeated. One of the first sayings she ever repeated was Swiper the Fox's catch phrase, "Awwww, man!" It was always funny to hear her say it, mostly because it was always in the right context. Recently though, she paired it with a quote from her Daddy. She asked Mandi a question, was given an answer she didn't like, and responded "Awwww, man!" Without pausing, she cruised right into "Awwww damn!", which of course drew hysterical laughter from Mandi and I. She must have thought it was really funny too, because she proceeded to burst into a really great belly-laugh.

Later, at dinner, Lily proved to me that she does in fact listen when I scold her. Well, sort of. We'd been eating for a few minutes, at which point about half of Lily's food had moved from her plate to her placemat. This is nothing new, but as I want to discourage table-time antics I told her to stop playing with her food. Without blinking, she shot back at me, "Daddy, don't talk with your mouth full!" At that point the etiquette lesson ground to a screeching halt.

The next day at the pool, I was blindsided with one I'm surprised hadn't come up before. Lily's very observant, and not very reserved (if at all). She thinks it, and then she says it. No pause, no decorum, no nonsense. We were swimming in the kids' pool as an African American dad walked by playing with his son. Completely unprovoked, except by her unrelenting motor, Lily pointed at the man and said to me "Daddy, look! His skin is black!" Thankfully, the man did not hear her over the noise of the waterfalls. I played it off and sent her on her merry way. Later, a group of black teenagers gathered near the corner of the same pool. Lily, still apparently in "Outwardly Observant" mode, pointed toward one who was wearing a skull-cap and this time shouted "Daddy, look, he's a pirate!" They too did not hear her outburst, as it came from a good distance away. I had to talk her out of going over there to "Ask them where their treasure is."

The icing on the cake came this morning, as we drove down to Charlotte for our OB appointment. While negotiating a notoriously difficult portion of the Interstate, Mandi and I got into a small tussle regarding her inability to suppress the urge to give driving advice from the passenger seat. Without over-killing the details, she essentially over-reacted, I told her "I've got it!", and she retorted with "You could have gotten screwed!" My response was "But I didn't get screwed, did I?" Her answer was cut short by none other than Ms. Peanut Gallery herself from the back seat, who interjected (at the top of her lungs), "I didn't get screwed!" I don't think Mandi or I stopped laughing for 5 blocks. I think there's a chance we might have a little potty-mouthed child on our hands here.

08 June 2008

Memory Lane

We took a little stroll yesterday down Memory Lane. Actually, it's on John Street in Matthews, NC. We were a few minutes early to a birthday party for the girls' cousin Peyton, and we decided to use those few minutes to take a quick look around The Reid House, where Mandi and I were married almost 4 years ago.

There were a few striking similarities to that July day in 2004. The most obvious was the searing heat. Temperatures rose above 97 degrees yesterday, just a degree or two shy of the 99 degree record we set on our wedding day. No person can attest to the heat of that afternoon better than Avery. The image of her crying uncontrollably in her flower girl dress because of the unrelenting heat (and mosquitoes) is indelibly etched in my mind. When I asked her if she remembered the moment, she replied "Yes, and I was trying to talk to Aunt Kristy and all she would say to me is Shhh!". The next day, she proclaimed her desire never to be a flower girl ever again, and I can't say that I blamed her.

When we pulled in to the driveway yesterday, another car pulled up right behind us. A woman got out and after the pleasantries we learned that she had hosted a party at the House the night before. We would have been content to just walk around the grounds and reminisce, but she offered to let us come inside as she did her final walk-through. We accepted happily, and the memories flooded back. It was fun to show Lily the room where mommy got into her wedding dress, the table where the wedding cake mommy and daddy made themselves was displayed, and the spot where her Aunt C gave her 2nd memorable speech in as many days. The Matthews' Historical Foundation, which operates the Reid House, has done a very nice job keeping the House in shape since our date . . it looks very much the same as it did.

As we left, I snapped one last photo of the house, this one of the door through which the wedding party left the house that hot, fateful day in July four years ago. I have long thought of that moment not as walking out, but rather walking through the door that led to the rest of my life.