Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Baby....

Is no longer a baby.
But she will always be my baby.
And in the blink of an eye this little stinker...

became this lovely young lady...

And this lovely young lady, who just turned 19,  is extremely bright, talented, passionate, compassionate, and independent.

Happy birthday, Sweetie!
How wonderful life is while you're in the world! (Elton John)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sassy and Me on the MKT

or otherwise O.M.G! Perfect Day!
Or Doggy's Day Out.

Today was the perfect spring day. 75 degrees, sunshine, a light breeze, birdies singing in the trees, flowers and trees in bloom.

Sassy and I decided (well, actually, I decided and Sassy is always up for any adventure as long as she can ride shotgun and stick her head out of the car window) that today we were going to take a walk on the MKT or KATY Trail.

(Yes, I took this picture).

The KATY is a spurline of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railway, which was abandoned in 1978. I believe, and don't hold me to this, that Columbia was the first city in the state of Missouri to develop this trail into a hiking-biking-fitness trail. To date it spans the state from Sedalia in the west all the way to St. Charles in the east (200 miles). In Columbia, one can catch the trail in many locations throughout the city. The ten foot wide trail is enclosed in a canopy of trees and traverses water in many places.

(Yes, I took this one, too. And to reduce redundancy, let's get it over with and just say I took all of the pics in this post. And, SERIOUSLY, check out that sky!)

The thing about the KATY is that regardless of where you are on the trail, you get a sense of being engulfed in wilderness. However, it's more like a bubble of wilderness surrounded by metropolis. And if you think about it, how absolutely splendid is that?!!

I've picked up the KATY in downtown Columbia and been immediately transported from hot concrete jungle to cool, peaceful wilderness. I've seen snakes intertwined and sunning themselves on rocks beside the Flatbranch stream. There have been woodchucks warming their fat bellies. And huge, seriously HUGE, frogs singing in the cool mud. And I've dodged swallows guarding their nests in the underpasses of busy city streets.

Today, Sassy and I set out on a branch of the trail closest to our home, which is more rural. There were the usual suspects...Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice, Goldfinch and Wrens...all singing as if their lives depended on it (maybe they do). Woodpeckers of all sorts pounding away at the trees for the tastiest buggy morsels. We heard, but couldn't find, a couple of Barred Owls having a deep and serious conversation, which echoed along the stream bed. There was one nuthatch-like bird I couldn't identify, singing a song I've never heard, and I decided I needed either Mr. Eagle Eye or Mr. Bird Identifier Extraordinaire (you both know who you are) to assist in that regard. What we did not see, which we really, really wanted to see, were Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks.

The entire trail was adorned with these guys taking advantage of the filtered sunshine through the not-quite-fully-leaved trees:


We stopped, or rather Sassy stopped, and sniffed, and spritz on various locations along the way. We chatted with a rather lovely elderly pup and her human. We sniffed the cool green air, and listened to the cacophony of birds and frogs and rushing water, and soaked up the sun, and reveled in the lushness of nature left to its own devices.

And then, we were tired, and hungry and thirsty. So we went here:

(Okay, no, I didn't take this picture).

Sassy had a plain cheeseburger and a cup of water (an ENTIRE cup of water)...I had a wonderful slushy strawberry-lemonade concoction.

Then we went home and visited with the most wonderful creature....
I'll tell you about him later.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Precious Gift

I have been pondering this post for a long time, because, quite simply, I have been having a difficult time finding the correct words to convey how absolutely stunningly wonderful my birthday was for me. Even the words "stunningly wonderful" seem to be a gross understatement when compared to how I truly felt.

My actual birthday was spent as relatively quietly as my family would allow. I fielded calls and email from family and friends, worked at the bird store, and had a lovely dinner with my older sister that evening. The real excitement, though, was scheduled to begin the next day (Saturday).

As it turns out, that Saturday was the final bird walk for the store. My brother-in-law, Jeff (married to my younger sister), leads those bird walks. We had big plans for Jeff.  Now, it should be known that my older sister and Jeff have a long history of "acting up" when they are together. The plan was to surprise him on the bird walk with my sister dressed in a bluebird costume. The previous night she and I had a riotous time making signs for the blue bird to hold up for him to read through his binoculars, which included fun bluebird facts filled w/ various editorial comments.

After a few setbacks in that department, including having the bird walkers drive right past us, and our having to catch them (my fault, I'm a bozo), we managed to pull it off, and everyone was highly amused. Shenanigans complete.

Then Jeff informed me that there was a surprise for me in his car. As I walked toward the car holding the blue bird's signs, the side door of his van opened and a hooded person emerged. Turning slowly toward me I recognized the blue eyes and beautiful smile of the love of my life! (Who, I should add, I haven't seen since Thanksgiving.)

What happened after that seemed to occur in slow motion. My heart leaped into my throat and I somehow propelled myself into his arms. There were tears, and hugs, and, of course, kisses. I don't think many of the bird walkers managed to stay dry-eyed either. Later in the day, I wondered what I did with the afore-mentioned signs and was grudgingly informed by my sister that I tossed them on the ground.

Not one person knew he was going to be here. He drove 11 hours and walked into the store as the "walkers" were gathering and surprised them. Later, at a multi-birthday gathering at my mother's home, the rest of the family was caught off guard when he walked in the door. Our daughter, who arrived later, had a similar reaction to mine when he came around the corner.

A funny side-note to this story is that he was planning to come into the store from the bird walk dressed in an eagle costume to surprise me. Although we thwarted that plan, it still worked out wonderfully.

He had to leave bright and early the next day.

My husband drove a total of 22 hours to spend one day with me. It meant, and means, more to me than I can possibly convey.

Thank you, Honey, for the best birthday gift EVER!