Random Acts of "Kindness"

Posts tagged ‘birds’


Naming a thought ramble is becoming harder and harder. I even contemplated numbering them starting with the new year. Then my daughter mentioned it would be harder to find once they were written and not having a title — possibly generating less interest. A gift — constructive help in making a decision. Didn’t help with the title though. Often I receive feedback or information that helps with a decision. Often it is a gift that I don’t acknowledge.

It is easy to recognize gifts that come wrapped in paper — harder to recognize gifts that arrive on the wind or unwrapped. We received an unexpected Christmas card from a friend. Seeing the card, seeing her name brought a smile to my face. Her husband passed a few years ago, they had moved out of our neighborhood and I lost track of them. I still had to write our Christmas letter. A gentle reminder that time is passing.

Often I recognize gifts that are found in the stores — I’m reminded of product I need to buy when I see it in another cart. If the item is on sale, I’m happy. I acquired an instant pot unexpectedly when I found it on sale at Aldi’s. We returned from out of town and we stopped to pick up milk, salad and bread. I noticed the item on their sales sheet. Lovely surprise.

Often I read something that is of benefit to me. Or I hear it on the radio or television. Maybe I meet someone walking down the street or in a store whom I hadn’t seen in a while. All of these are gifts. They bring a smile to my face or laughter.

Filling the car with Gas at Costco has been a challenge the past couple of weeks. The number of cars waiting overflow the lot and wind down the street. When I inquired as to the best time to fill up, I was told before 10:00 or after 6:00. They were getting three truckloads of gas a day. My husband dropped me at the store, and joined the crowd waiting to fill up. Finished shopping, I sat at a table while I waited. A young boy was enjoying his hot dog and we talked about Santa. They left and I invited an older oriental woman to join me. I must have commented on her age and learned we were the same age. I shook her hand and she replied “you look so young.” What a gift. I wasn’t feeling very young when she said that on a cold, dreary winter day. It brought a smile to my face. A gift — forgotten except I wrote myself a note.

Maybe that is the key — write down the unexpected gifts that arrive — beautiful weather or just sunshine after a dreary day, a birds song, a phone call, or meeting on the street, a sale, a compliment — the list goes on and on.


By know you know that I enjoy Chicago’s Botanic Garden for many reasons. I don’t have the space, time or energy to maintain a lovely garden myself but I LOVE flowers. I totally enjoy walking the paths, listening to the rushing water on the waterfalls or fountains, and watching as the seasons change.

I try to get to the garden in time for the daffodils. This year I didn’t make it. I ALWAYS try to visit when the crabapples are in bloom. My first visit this year, they were trees in waiting. I totally enjoyed a huge magnolia tree. The Japanese cherry trees were in full bloom as well as the rhododendron in the Japanese Garden. I totally enjoyed the day, took many photos and hoped to return when the crabapples were in bloom.

Just ONE week later, I received an invitation, the crabapples were in bloom. I didn’t hesitate. The next day, sunny but cool found me back in the Garden. This time I arrived earlier, before the bells chimed twelve. This time, once again I found a parking spot in the closest parking lot. THANK YOU!

It is my practice to check out the salads and other food on the menu before I wander the paths. I noticed a key lime tart. I knew it wouldn’t be available when I finished my walk. I decided it needed to accompany me. I wasn’t hungry, but I LOVE key lime pie. It became the second photo I took that day. It wandered with me until I reached the waterfalls. Sitting on a bench — in the sunshine — listening to the rushing water, I totally enjoyed the tart.

The magnolia tree had lost its flowers, the Japanese cherry trees were no longer in bloom, I debated walking the Japanese Garden. I was happy that I did — azalea’s were in bloom, the Japanese retreat house was open, as well as quite a few crabapple trees. I didn’t count the number of photos I took at the Garden. I’m sure it was well over 100. Besides the crabapple trees, I have a photo of two turtles sunning on a couple of rocks. (I overheard a father pointing them out to his son.) I also have a photo of a mother robin feeding her chicks in a nest.

This time I wandered to the island, enjoying the crabapples in bloom in the lanes. White and pink trees were laden with blooms. The red blossoms were still waiting. I noticed a white crabapple tree so full of blossoms that the branches were hidden. A tram passed as I admired the tree. The driver told her group it was a weeping white crabapple. Her favorite tree in the Garden.

Stopping for a salad before leaving, it was a perfect day!


I thought I remembered having a French easel. I thought I had stored it in the foyer. Lots of stuff is stored in the foyer. In order to find the easel, I had to remove a lot of stuff. The easiest place to start was with our coats. Now I’ll admit that most of our coats how hung out with us for more than a year or two. In fact, I found our youngest daughter’s high school jacket. She really liked that coat and wanted it back. No problem — I wasn’t going to donate it anyway.

I found winter gear from when I used to cross country ski. Lets not talk about how many years ago that was. Will I get my skies out again and go out and play in the snow? Doubtful but you never know. What I do know for sure is that it would be a minor miracle if I could get my body into the outfit. Donated!

I would love to say that I had a huge pile of coats to donate but I try not to lie. When I wear a coat that belonged to one of my daughters it is as they are giving me a hug. All the coats were hung up and I still have more stuff on the floor to investigate.

I found my French easel along with four bags of stuff and a box full of painting brushes and paints. One of the bags held books that contained photos of many of my paintings. A gentle reminder that once upon a time, I was able to paint. One of the bags held a lot of my beading supplies as well as 7 magazines. No wonder I couldn’t find my pliers. They were all together hanging out. I looked through the assortment of beads and stuff. At this point and time I have no idea what I had planned to do. I have no idea how long that bag lay hidden — waiting for me to find it. I looked inside the box. It contains many brushes and some oil paint. It would be a good box to travel with. It has a compartment for the board canvases. I still have 2 bags and the French easel to investigate.

I remembered a field easel that I had at the camper and wondered if I could get one for home. It is light weight and easy to move from one place to another. I don’t have a craft room at our house. My craft room and office is usually the dining room table. I didn’t want to have a painting camping out on it.

Saturday I went to an art show. A friend of ours was invited to show his wire sculpture. It was PACKED! I wandered through the room twice before I found our friend. And then, it was only because I asked for directions. I took advantage of the opportunity and spoke to many of the artists. I recognized some of the techniques that I have seen demonstrated on public television.

Yesterday we went shopping. As I stood in line at Wal-Mart, I noticed a natural red haired woman waiting ahead of me. I admired an Easter cross she was buying. “Its for the cemetery,” she said. I replied that my family’s bones might be there, but they weren’t. “Where are they?” she asked. “Right here” I replied. She shared that her brother in law was always around when she bakes. Her brother in law’s sign is a cardinal, her husband a robin. Both accompanied her when she had her cataracts removed. I think of aunt Connie when I see or hear a cardinal.


I had a most interesting week — in a weeks time I have revisited many of the talents and interests I had over the years. Many of them slipped by the wayside without my noticing it. Too busy, too many other things occupying my time. Years ago, I belonged to the Nature Club at our campground. This week, Sunday, I attended a presentation on a wetland area that is only a few miles from our campground. Even though it has been there for quite a few years, I was completely unaware of its existence. The person giving the presentation had interesting slides of the plants, animals and insects that inhabited the area.

Two days later, I saw a member I knew from the Nature Club at a restaurant. The very next day, I ran into another person who had helped me with the float on a parade. The back to back experiences reminded me of not only the fun I used to have, but also how much I have forgotten. Too many years have passed!

That same day, I attended a colored pencil drawing program hosted by the nature club. I haven’t drawn in years — not that I have ever been very skilled. I picked a flower to capture on a wood panel. All the supplies and pencils were provided. The experience reminded me of when I first started painting 30 years ago. It was an invitational program put on by the campground. Bring your body and talent and we will provide the rest. My rendition of that painting opened up a new world for me. I didn’t think I could paint — I was proved wrong. Thankfully the technique I learned this week was easy to adapt and the flower I colored surprised me. Instead of hiding in a drawer, it is occupying a space on our wall. My family thinks I should pick up my paint brushes again. They may be right.

While I was occupied with colored pencils, I learned of nature activities coming up on the weekend. A nature hike and later, a nature presentation of life in early America. Both sounded interesting — I planned to attend. Then I WORRIED. Would I be able to walk on a two mile hike? Would my knees allow me to do it? I decided that I would hike as far as I could then walk back and leave.

I didn’t need to worry. I arrived at the prearranged spot and saw the leader putting down a plastic ground cover. The plan was to DRAW, then hike. I WONDERED HOW not only would I get DOWN on the ground, HOW would I get back UP?

I needn’t have worried. The leader asked me to wait, he had something in the car for me. HE DID! He had his mother’s wooden folding chair. I WAS VERY COMFORTABLE. I still couldn’t draw — a bird, copied out of one of his books. (My grandson could have done better!) A tree — some resemblance but nothing to brag about. I think I will try to pick up his suggestion and DRAW every day.

The presentation — EXCELLENT! I convinced my husband to accompany me. He was glad that I did. Brian “Fox” Ellis became Prince Maximilian in 1832. I was reminded of the many hours I spent in storytelling.

The only thing missing was writing. OH! I GUESS I’M DOING IT NOW!

Years ago we had bird feeders hanging in our yard. A hummingbird visited a few weeks ago — reminding me. This weekend, we hung up hummingbird feeders. We had a visit from either one hummingbird twice or two separate hummingbirds. WELCOME. ( I have plants that are beneficial for hummingbirds in my garden. The feeder is more permanent.)


Rain finally ended, sun came out, temperature warmed enough to be pleasant — no reason to stay indoors. Our daughter suggested we take the family and go to Homer Lake. The men of the family had other things they wanted to do — just the girls were up for the adventure. We also took the two female DOGS.
Maggie, a golden retriever who is heavier, walked up the ramp to get into the SUV. Robin DID NOT want to walk up the ramp — neither did she want me to pick her up. I wanted to pick her up from her hind quarters, she kept turning her face to me. I thought we would have to leave her home. She is my husband’s dog. If he went there would be no problem. Finally she put her paws on the deck and I lifted her in for the short ride.

We went to a part of the park we hadn’t visited before. Robin was happy to jump out. She was happy to LEAD all of us on the walk — she had to be first. Birds were singing, some flowers were already blooming. I had my camera ready. Some of the path was still muddy from the rain so we had to be careful.

My granddaughter wanted to go to the play place. I didn’t want to try to get Robin into the car for the short ride so we walked EXCEPT Robin DIDN’T WANT to walk with me. Part of her family was going in a different direction and she wanted to lead them. Robin and I finally made it to a path that I thought would take us to the play place. It branched into two paths. I took the one to the right but after walking a bit decide to turn around and take the path to the left. Robin was VERY HAPPY to turn around, she thought we were going to join our family — she wasn’t happy when I took the path to the left.

I saw a small bird sitting on a branch. My camera has a good zoom so I zoomed in and took a photo. After I did the bird flew away. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, no binoculars so I hoped my photo would let me know whose picture I took. (It was a blue bird.) In the distance I heard a bird call peter, peter. I remembered hearing that call years ago but didn’t remember the name of the bird. (Back home GOOGLE helped — tufted tit mouse.)

We finally reached our group. Robin was HAPPY. In fact, when the back was let down of the car, she jumped right onto the bed, she didn’t want to be left behind again.

This ramble was written in May, scheduled to publish in June but the Tornado caused it to be rescheduled.


When I was writing STILL COUNTING I had no plans to include a thought on our house or how well it suited our family. I was noting current things I considered to be gifts. Somehow I got sidetracked to the bigger picture — our house and family. While I was on the subject I asked the question — Did my mother help us find the house? I followed that thought up with how thankful I am for our family. That is how some of my thought rambles progress. One thought leads to another. I’m sure the ideas are not necessarily mine alone. Then I uploaded the thought ramble and picked the date it would publish — Jan 17. I’m sure you didn’t hear my laughter! The publish date was very appropriate for this thought ramble. The anniversary of my mother’s and brother’s passing is January 19. I never knew the anniversary date until my father passed and I found an old newspaper clipping. Neither my father nor any of my relatives mentioned it.

This isn’t the first time that the subject of my ramble coincided with some important date. I understand the relevance at the time but don’t note the reason for future reference — EXCEPT this one was too noteworthy.

The temperature of the weather in December was above normal — snow wasn’t in the forecast either. A nice change from the year before. Then January arrived with winter temperatures — single digits with a noticeable wind chill. Before taking Robin for a predawn walk, I put on my thermals and found a long scarf to go with my hat and mittens. Robin was wrapped in one of her coats. Most people were sleeping in, recovering from the night before. We met an older woman walking Charlie, her chocolate lab. It is no secret that I miss Mabel, our chocolate lab. Charlie loves our meet and greet. Robin doesn’t get upset when I spend a few minutes scratching his body. Robin isn’t a people person but she did sniff the owner’s hand. I learned that Charlie came from Oklahoma. Supposedly that is were Robin was born. Happy New Year!

This morning the cold front had passed by. The temperature was in the high teens with barely a wind. Robin didn’t need her extra coat. I didn’t need my thermals. Opening the kitchen door, I heard a cardinal greet the day. He is early and I told him so. The temperature is heading for the single digits next week, wind chills below zero. Last year, my first note of hearing a cardinal sing was the second week of February. We celebrated blue sky, gentle breeze by taking Robin to the beach. Instead of waves, ice now borders the shore.


It dawned on me after I posted COUNTING that I left out a part that was of “help” to me this holiday season. I LOVE to cook — not gourmet — just plain, family style fare. After cooking almost daily for more years than I wish to count, I’m running out of ideas. Of course, the food would also have to be stuff my family would eat. Not as easy as it sounds.

I have more friends in high places this year who also liked to cook. Are they helping to enlighten me? Good question — no answer. Recently I received three recipes that are a hit. One is for chicken in a crockpot. That recipe was on Facebook. A cookie recipe was on the afternoon news. A third for apple pie bites was on a cooking show. All three — from various sources that I don’t always frequent — were a hit with my family. I didn’t plan to get together with a friend before Christmas but suddenly I had a free day and she did too. We stopped in a grocery store where I learned that ham with a $25 purchase for other food was only 79 cents a pound. Ham is a favorite of our family. The sell date was February. I couldn’t pass up the savings. Maybe I should mention that this wasn’t the first time that I have chanced on a deal for ham. Let me say “thank you” just in case I forgot.

Very quiet Christmas morning, walking to Mass behind a family of four. The father whistled a Christmas song as he walked. By now, if you have read many of my rambles, you know I enjoy music. I enjoyed tagging behind the family. Music was abundant at church as well. I attend an early morning Mass. The music director and the cantor where accompanied not only by an organ or piano but also TWO horns, and a violin. This was their first Mass of the day with three more to follow. There were three Masses on the Eve. I didn’t expect the extra accompaniment. The church with the manger and trees with lights was beautiful. On the way home a flock of large birds landed in a neighboring tree. As I wondered who they were, I heard a crow caw. Question answered.

My mother passed over when I was four. I’m confident she has been behind the scenes for all of my years. She was smart and kept her involvement hidden — or I was purposely blocked until my father passed over and let the cat out of the bag. The house we are living in, although in the city, is perfect for us. It was only a mile away from my husband’s job. He didn’t have a long commute every day. It was in an affordable German neighborhood. The neighborhood is no longer affordable — I never dreamed I would be living in a neighborhood that had million dollar houses. It is close to shopping, the lake and I can get downtown via public transportation. It is big enough to shelter my growing family when they come to town. Over a hundred years old, it would not compete with the more expensive houses. Was my mother involved in our search for a house? Many good questions. No answers. And do I really need the question answered?

Still counting my gifts, my family tops the list. I could keep counting my gifts but this ramble is long enough already. It would probably help if I kept a daily list of the many gifts that come my way. That way I might remember but if history repeats itself, I’ll get busy, think I will remember, and forget.

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