Monday, October 20, 2014


Not just an ordinary buzzard mind you but a Turkey Vulture. I do have my standards. And yes, I do have a strange mind.

This unusual thought came to me as I was lying in my hammock on a beautiful day this week, de-stressing from all the garbage on TV. Not only all the depressing news about disease, bad behavior and mayhem being dumped into our living rooms, but also those incessant candidate commercials had gotten me down.

I just can't take one more political advertisement.  Politics really brings out the worst in our species. "He is lying-- no--- the other guy is the liar." Candidate A advocates cutting funding for victims of spouse abuse and medicare recipients.   B is considered an Obama puppet, insurance wrecker and Bible defiler. Good God Gertrude!!

I am embarrassed to be human. And these are supposed to be the best of us?? I am not unsure that all this bombardment isn't what is causing the increasingly bad behavior of those forced to listen.

So as I lay in the hammock, I began thinking about what animal I would like to come back as, if it is possible, and I hope it is. I realize I am winding down my years here. I have way fewer years ahead than behind, thus the strange thoughts.

Would I want to try again as another human? Forget it. Been there, done that. Humans are a declining species. Surely there are far better choices.

Otters use to rank high on my list.  They make a career out of playing and eating though often kill just for the fun of it. Then there is the possibility of being skinned and worn on the backs of the rich.  Being a serial killer or a garment accessory are strong negatives.

Dolphins have a lot of pluses. They also enjoy play, have tight family groups, are fearless fighters, very sharp minds but there is always the fear of being captured and having to do three shows a day at Sea World.  Sorry, I have no desire for the stage.  

I love the elephant's intelligence, family devotion, and long life but man is such an accomplished predator. Even enormous size can not defeat one well aimed bullet or worse, the chains of captivity.

A family pet?  Never in a million years. To be totally dependent on someone for my meals, potty breaks, exercise and entertainment is not my idea of fun. Yes, many pets live a charmed life of ease but having been in animal rescue work, I've seen a good portion who know only cruelty, hunger, neglect and disease. I can only guess my luck. I'd rather be wild and have only myself to blame.

A bear has always been at the top of my list. They over eat as part of intelligent design, not gluttony, sleep for three to five months at a time and give birth while hibernating. As much as all that sleep sounds cool, I'd rather not waste almost half of my life unconscious. Now if I learn bears have vivid dreams, I may reconsider.

As I lay comfortably in the hammock contemplating this, I was captivated by a gentle, graceful sight. Several Turkey Vultures, were putting on a wonderful show as they rode the air currents while in search of lunch.

The large birds rarely flapped their wings but just let the wind lift them gracefully as they rode the thermals. Up, down, veering off to the left only to circle back to the right. All without visible effort as they smoothly rode the wind.

I often dream of flying. My dream efforts at flying are not nearly so graceful but even my clumsy attempts are pure joy. Wow, to be able to fly with such ease and grace would be spectacular. None of this strenuous wing flapping stuff other birds employ, just gliding. Yep, Vulture zoomed up to the top of the list.

Turkey Vultures are not equipped to kill but are efficient at cleaning up what others have killed. They recycle.  Of course there is that eating of dead stuff thing but don't we do the same? Can't remember the last live thing I ate. Unless we are hunters, we also eat what others kill, it is just a bit fresher.

I learned Turkey Vultures have a keen sense of smell which is singular to their genus. Makes sense though on how they are able to find lunch.  Pretty sure day old opossum smells to a vulture the same as a steak on a grill smells to me, yummy.  I did learn that vultures have set expiration dates on carrion. They do not eat the really rotten stuff as most believe.

Turkey Vultures mate for life. That is another great plus for constant dating and breaking in a new mate annually could be wearing.

Unlike many raptors, vultures are relatively social and often feed, fly or roost in large flocks. A group of vultures is called a committee,venue or volt. In flight, a flock of vultures is a kettle and when a group are feeding, they are called a wake. I like their social aspect and cool group names.

One of the bigger killers of the vultures are automobiles but oddly, the car is also it's greatest benefactor, providing them with easy access road kill. Kind of a double edged sword

Except for that sense of smell thing which I am sure I would find delightful in that feathered body, I could find no negatives.

Not my photo. From the Audubon Society.
Ok, the face could use some work. Bald, wrinkled, severe Rosacea, no eyelashes and a serious over bite-- hum. Scary to think what an old Turkey Vulture would look like but I am assuming to another vulture, that is one hot looking bird.

Play has always been an important attribute for my next life. No, I have never seen a vulture play in the usual manner, but they must have a sense of humor to go through life with that face. I have the feeling their humor is VERY dry.

After re-reading this I am pretty sure my choice was based on my disgust with politics at the time and was seeking a little non-complicated escapism.   That peaceful soaring seemed to be just the answer.

Still it gave me a chance to really look at a creature often found repulsive to many and to find a LOT of admirable, appealing traits. Vulture still stands as a top three choice and if I ever see one chuckle--it will go right to first.

Have you ever given thought to such an off the wall fancy?   What creature would you chose?

Monday, October 13, 2014


I was pretty much zeroing in on the frozen brussel sprouts in Walmart when our carts almost collided.  Her face broke out into a huge grin as she said,"Hey Patti, how are you? It's been such a long time."  She then swooped in for an enthusiastic hug.

I know her--- I think. 

I mean, she looks really familiar and she obviously knows me well enough to appear pleased at the encounter and want a hug.  I did the usual "What have you been doing and how's the family?" --hoping feverishly there was a family.

The whole time my mind is racing. 'Who are you???'

"Hey don't be a stranger," we both eventually agreed after vague pleasantries and moved off in opposite directions.

Now I am terrier like when I hit the memory wall. I will not let it slide. So I put shopping on pause as I pushed my cart without a shopping purpose to circle the large store a couple of times with mind racing.

Garden club?? I search my mind for the faces in that club but am pretty sure that's not it. Writing club?? Naw, pretty sure not, that was a small group. Survivor group?? Not unless it was someone who only came a few times. Master Gardeners?  Ah ha, I am pretty sure that is it but I continue walking with no name yet to attach to her.

It has been several years since I was an active member of the group so I resort to the A--B--C's hoping to jog my memory. This is a very effective memory prodding tool by the way. Lock the image of the person in your brain then very slowly recite the ABCs and often a letter will expose the name.

When I got to the letter L, suddenly the name burst into my brain to match the face-- Liz!!! Yes, I do remember, in fact she was actually a favorite of mine in the Master Gardeners.  We had worked closely on a project several years ago.  She had gained maybe 10 pounds but I had gained twice as many wrinkles and sags so I wasn't going to be absolved that easily. She remembered, I didn't. Do you suppose her being 30 years younger helped?

I have adjusted to a some of those memory blank spots these days.  'What did  I come into this room for?'  Remembering something I need in a store that isn't on my list but by the time I get to the general area, I have forgotten what I remembered I needed. Grrr.

That last one really irritates me but I use Bill Cosby's rule. He advocates returning to your original starting point and it will come back to you. He went a bit further convinced that our brains are in our butt for he suggested not only returning but sitting back down to reboot the memory.  It does work Bill, even if you are in a store and can't sit.

I secretly am convinced that aging memory is Nature's way of making sure us old codgers get exercise. I know it makes me wander about a lot. I put in a lot of extra steps that day in the store hunting for Liz's name. And those of you who forget where you put your car in the parking lot, you really get some wonderful exercise.

I am quite good where I park my car, where my keys are,eye glasses (except that time I didn't recognize them) , appointments, etc.  It is people and their names that I am really weak on. Names were never my strong suit but lately----?

I am reminded of some dear friends of mine from years ago. They were in their late 60's and we were at a party together. Wally looked at his wife and said."See that lady over there with the purple scarf?  She sure looks familiar. Do we know her?"

Vesta got the giggles and said, "Don't you remember? That is Sara and she was in our memory class."   Think I am getting right up there with you Wally.

Then there is the elusive word, that one you have known all your life but leaves you in mid sentence with a blank mind and stare.  I got a bit tickled when my friend Sis from the second grade came to visit this summer. We are just weeks apart in age. During her visit, a couple of times each of us would  hit the wall searching for "the word" and oddly the other knew exactly the missing word.

I started to laugh after one episode and said, "You know between the two of us, we might have one brain."


I know, I posted this cartoon before in 2010 and I think Fishducky used it not too long ago also but to me it really brings home the consequences of a senior memory. There weren't many of you around when I first posted it, besides it fits this post and cracks me up :))

I guess if there is any consolation, it's that we are not alone. This condition is as common as wrinkles in those of us who hold an AARP card.  We just have to find new tools to combat it.

Have you hit the wall yet?  Do you have a handy tool to help?