Spring has sprung and Grackles have sung


Along with tender green leaves on recently bare deciduous trees, missing birds are returning to the neighborhood. Others that have been here are getting more vocal in celebration of spring and all it brings with it. Here in HOA condo-land, there are many mild-mannered feathered friends who keep it down and just sort of blend in as if attempting to follow association codes and CC&R’s. Mourning Doves, Sparrows, Western Mockingbirds, and even the Black Phoebes tend to blend in with the muted color palettes and hum of suburbia.

Hummingbirds with their giant bumble bee wing sound and high-pitched chirp that announces them before they are seen are a notable exception – as are the comedic and raucous ravens and crows.  Another notable exception is the Grackle. Not sure which of the over 1,000 varieties of Grackle the locals are, but I relish hearing their piercing whistle-y and staccato calls. The following is not exactly the typical call here but gives some idea of what it sounds like if you’re not familiar with the iridescent black males of the species:


Significantly more loud in person. The video doesn’t do the volume justice. The photo above was taken a year or two ago. So far this year, when I hear them singing they are doing it under cover in the higher branches of the trees. And, they seem to favor the largest trees alongside Carmelita’s Mexican restaurant and the back patio with its flamboyant music.

That combination takes me back to past missions trips to beloved Chiapas, Mexico. The place where we stayed had a courtyard that was loaded with a larger but definitely related cousin of the locals. Whenever I inquired of locals the best identification I could get was “black birds.” Nothing more exact but there are definitely in the Grackle clan. Not only were these birds the loudest I have ever heard in my life, they liked to start singing before the sun came up and did so en masse like an avian Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was crazy! And absolutely beautiful. Exponentially more loud, and exponentially more varied in the variety and duration of their songs and vocalizations than their California cousins. At various times during the day, there was also loud piped or live music accompanying them making hearing the Carmelita’s birds even more deja vu.

While the leaf-veiled Grackle was screeching his clucks and songs today, a brilliant gold Oriole flew into some nearby bushes to hide. A few days earlier, had the privilege of seeing a rather uncommon blue bird. I think I find bird sightings so exciting because they show the depth of God’s creativity in the seemingly limitless varieties. Not just in species, but in gender and seasonal plumage, nests, eggs, diets, habitats, behaviors, and last but not least: sounds and songs. Yes, the Grackles have sung. And they will continue to sing – and so will all the other birds.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”Matthew 10:29-31


personnel loss



Haven’t been posting much in the way of  writing lately. Couple of reasons. First physically tired. Got hit with the respiratory thing going around and still feeling occasionally exhausted by it. Second, wrestling with stuff between the ears and behind the eyes.

Written stuff I have been working on still needs kneading. It’s slow going. Right now, it’s more the physical than the mental and emotional, but they are undoubtedly related.

I’m in an interesting season of personnel loss. A few weeks ago, a much-loved grandfather figure in my life moved onward and upward into eternity. Not a sad occasion as he’d lived a long good life and his physical sufferings were finally over.

Last Saturday, a beloved co-worker was killed in a car accident. She was only twenty years old and very much the clichéd beautiful inside and out. Men would gravitate to her line when she was cashiering. She radiated life and energy. Physically active, intelligent, a fellow massage therapist and fan of hugs. Hardworking and fun. What a shock.

Three days ago, a relative I’d met only through facebook succumbed to an infection allopathic medicine couldn’t cure. He was a wood worker and loved making little wooden trains with wheeled cars shaped like letters to make up a name. He sent me one a few weeks ago. It’s still sitting on the mantle where I put it with his business card.

Lastly, my much-loved ninety-nine year old adopted grandma and neighbor is still “missing.” She was taken away by family members just shy of five weeks ago. They are extremely private people and will not give any info on where she is, her status, or if she is even still alive. My gut could be wrong, but it tells me she is. The county has no death registered in her name, but the way the system works, it’s not hard to keep a death from being discoverable. A best friend for fifteen years. Longer than most marriages in this state. No word.

No word. Maybe that’s why writing is such a challenge right now. I am so happy and grateful for all the blessings and progress God has graciously given me in 2013. This is an odd season for me. I have been fortunate where death is concerned. Honestly can’t recall a time in my life where there have been three people in such a short span of time- and maybe four. Another blessing to count.

This week of Passover and Good Friday is about personnel loss. Not personnel in the industrial, business, and governmental sense of the word. Personnel in the created in the image of God eternal beings sense of the word. First-born persons being taken or spared. The First-born of all creation letting Himself be lost so we could be found. Various people lost a public figure, teacher, potential Savior from political oppression, Son, friend, Rabbi, Master, friend. The circumstances, were shocking. Survivors were left in grief and disbelief.  How could this be?!?

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new week and Resurrection Sunday. The most exciting day in history- when Jesus Christ was resurrected conquering death, hell, and the grave so we can have eternal life and victory over sin.  This year, perhaps I have a little more insight than in years past what the LORD’s death has saved us from.


lone calla lily


Calla lilies strike such a deep note with me. They grew happily in the yard of the first house my parents owned. They appear around Easter and seem to be to be stronger, more statuesque, and less prissy and fussy than so many of the other lilies. A subject of some of Diego Rivera’s work which I saw come to life before my very eyes at various times in Chiapas, Mexico. Whether solo, or in small or large bouquets, they are elegant and sculptural in a way not matched by other blooms.