Monday, November 19, 2018

A COOL THANKSGIVING


Thanksgiving is a family and friends time. Usually in my opinion it is better than Christmas for there is no holiday stress, just a great meal, family and being thankful.

One year was not such a good one for me. My Dad had died the year before and the thought of Thanksgiving with out him hurt. As he often did the cooking, his presence would be painfully felt.

I lived 100 miles from my family so that year, I decided to stay home but still celebrate the day.  I planned to help feed the homeless. It was something I had never done but had always wanted to. Besides, there would be nothing to remind me of my Dad not  being around

I showed up at the Church not sure what to expect but was put right to work setting up the serving table. We had everything, turkey and all the sides. It all looked wonderful and I was given a big spoon and a huge dish of green beans to serve when the doors opened.

My goodness what a mob came in. I had no idea we had so many homeless but then this was Florida with its mild climate.  Like the tourists, the homeless flocked to Florida seeking warmth.

We had them all served when a poor fellow in the table right before us could no longer hold it all in.  He  upchucked both liquor and food with some of it landing near my shoes.

Now I am someone who reacts to throw up by wanting to respond in a similar manner. I was struggling when a young homeless woman stepped up and said, "If you get me some rags and bucket, I will clean this up."

She saved all of us on the front lines a grisly task. When she left to wash her hands several of her friends couldn't wait to tell us she was a favorite. They came forward to brag that she was highly intelligent, a really good poet and they all thought highly of  her. She was their rock star and had their backs. 

Too often when we  pass someone on the street who needs help and perhaps toss some money their way, seldom do we look into their eyes and see them. That day we all got a glimpse into the depths of a classy yet homeless woman. Homelessness is a place where invisibility too often rules. That day we all saw her.

I will never forget that cool Thanksgiving day. It brought home in a big way to be thankful that not I nor anyone I know have never slipped into the abyss of homelessness. I have always had a safety net.

If you ever have the chance to serve the forgotten ones a holiday meal, I highly recommend it. It will leave you warm for a long time.

May you all have a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2018

OH TO BE A VULTURE


Sorry, another rerun. Re-worked from 2014. Maybe next week I'll be original. 

Oh to be a vulture. 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 shootings, disease, bad behavior and mayhem being dumped into our living rooms, but also those incessant political debacles had gotten me down. Politics really brings out the worst in our species.

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

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 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.

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 dead 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.

After re-reading this I am pretty sure my choice was based on my disgust with politics at this 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 appear to play or even chuckle--it will go right to first.

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