Tag Archives: birds

Lame Adventure 401: Regaining Track of Time

Even though the iPhone is the greatest invention this side of stretch fabric and its close second, indoor plumbing, one or two of you amongst my anemic swarm of followers, may have noticed that I loosened my death-grip on technology during my recent hiatus in California. While I was freeloading off my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), I entered sloth mode and completely lost track of time. It was one of those vacations where I barely knew what day of the week it was, but every day was Massive Eating Day. I liberally scarfed copious amounts of artery clogging foodstuffs I normally avoid.

Half this cookie platter is now sculpted onto my hips.

Half this cookie platter is now sculpted onto my hips.

I primarily perused my iPhone while parked in the living room. I checked email and fielded texts. But I limited my web searching only to matters of extreme urgency such as where James Brown is buried. My discussions with Herb were consistently deep as our thoughts strayed in the direction of Soul Brother No. 1 who, some of you may recall, bought his rainbow on Christmas Day 2006 (possibly from scarfing copious amounts of artery clogging foodstuffs). For almost seven years the Godfather of Soul has been temporarily buried in his daughter’s back yard providing a new twist to saying, “Dad lives with me.”

My flight west was just the way I like it: uneventful. A millennial of the female persuasion with a pelvis no wider than my wrist sat next to me. She was so svelte that whenever she got up, I barely noticed that she had slipped out of her seat and slithered past my knees. Inside my head I called her “Houdini”. According to my grand powers of perception inside her head she referred to me as “Immobile Obstacle My Mother’s Age”.

My flight east was the red eye. It was almost uneventful until someone cut a silent fart so lethal I thought I was succumbing to the effects of a poison gas attack. There’s been a longtime ban on smoking in planes. If any government official promotes a law prohibiting flatulence in a confined space, that candidate owns my vote. In fact, I might even do the unthinkable and give a campaign contribution.

I adopted Thurber, the family dog’s mantra, as my own.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

"Let's boycott bed making. Too  much exertion."

“Let’s boycott bed making. Too much exertion.”

"It's been a hard day's night and I've been sleeping like a dog."

“It’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been sleeping like a dog.”

"I'm Fred the fish; I'm 8 and a year older than Thurber. Show me some love!"

“I’m Fred the fish; I’m 8 and a year older than Thurber. Show me some love!”

"I'd like to show you my dinner dish, Fred."

“I’d like to show you my dinner dish, Fred.”

"What! More gifts to open? I thought we were Jewish!"

“What! More gifts to open? I thought we were Jewish!”

A few times I was motivated to rise and go to a place other than the kitchen. This included visiting the Napa Valley to quaff Pinot Noir with Bat Pat, my best friend from college. I highly recommend Etude vineyard’s 2010 private reserve. Unfortunately, this is a Pinot Noir that is not available on their web site. Consider it a good excuse to visit them. We also ventured over to Artesa Winery, a vineyard located high on a hilltop with lovely views, not necessarily apparent in these crummy images I took with my phone.

Artesa's peeing fountains when we arrived.

Artesa’s peeing fountains when we arrived.

Artesa's peed out fountains at dusk when we left.

Artesa’s peed out fountains at dusk when we left.

Bat Pat's office wild life, Cisco and Rosie with a message for Thurber and Fred: "We're pushing 35. Perch on that!"

Bat Pat’s office wild life, Cisco and Rosie with a message for Thurber and Fred: “We’re pushing 35. Perch on that!”

Dovima roused me out of my food coma to see a San Francisco institution: Beach Blanket Babylon.

Precious BBB front cabaret ducat.

Precious BBB front cabaret ducat.

This is a madcap cabaret show that has been running at Club Fugazi in Baghdad by the Bay’s North Beach district since 1974. The section of Green Street where this, the longest running musical revue in the country is staged, has been renamed Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard.

I am not making that up.

I am not making that up.

The line for BBB extending almost to a legendary eatery, Capp's Corner.

The line for BBB extending almost to a legendary eatery, Capp’s Corner.

The jokes are updated almost hourly to reflect the news of the day. Aside from the irreverent humor, its other trademark is the outrageous headwear the performers don with the assistance of a hydraulic lift and some strategically located stagehands. The grand finale includes a diva doffing a version of San Francisco atop her head; a chapeau outfitted with all the city’s landmarks that looks about half a football field wide and three stories tall give or take an inch.

The bar across the street from BBB calling out my name.

The bar across the street from BBB calling out my name.

BBB is utterly ridiculous, and the narrative makes little sense, but it is crowd-pleasing fun. I’m surprised that it took me nearly forty years to get around to seeing it. Even though I’ve been a New Yorker my entire adult life, this show is an energetic reminder that I was born and raised in a city that is a loud and proud anything goes type of place. As I reflect, San Francisco was the perfect training ground for a life lived in Gotham City. Even though New York owns (or has trampled) my mind, as the Tony Bennett song goes, especially when one is foggy on the schmaltzy lyrics, San Francisco forever owns a piece of my heart.

And possibly owning a piece of my future heart attack: looking up a typical San Francisco hill.

And possibly owning a piece of my heart attack: looking up a typical San Francisco hill.

Now I’m here on my East Coast home turf where I got a chilly and prickly Big Apple  welcome back.

Yeah, yeah, welcome back and watch your step: Christmas is kaput for 2013.

Yeah, yeah, welcome back and watch your step: Christmas is kaput for 2013. Get over it.

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Lame Adventure 291: Bird Brained

A few weeks ago, my buddy, Coco, complained to me about an owl cooing outside her apartment building in lower Manhattan.  Apparently, this bird’s late night/early morning warbling routine has been impairing her ability to get a restful night’s sleep.

Me:  I don’t think that’s an owl.  It’s probably a mourning dove.

Coco:  Whatever it is I wish it would shut the hell up.  It’s driving me crazy!

How I became such an authority on owls vs. mourning doves is that ten years ago I briefly dated a tree-hugger named Mindy.  Whenever I think of this lass I’m reminded of an orifice (not the ear canal).  Read on … She confided to me that she despised the corporate world so much she wanted to craft her own feminine hygiene products for personal use.  My usual witty repartee eluded me at that moment possibly because the vast majority of women I’ve dated have wanted to shoot films, write books, act in plays, etc.  Being in the presence of an aspiring tampon maker was a first (note: there has yet to be a second).  Our union ended with a thud during pillow talk when she revealed she’d rather see someone that works at the UN.

Me (wounded):  Oh.  So you’ve met someone that works at the UN?

Mindy:  No, but I’d like to.

During an earlier less spirit-deflating visit I complained to Mindy about what I thought was an owl cooing outside my window.

Me:  Do you hear that?

Mindy:  That’s a mourning dove.

Who knew?  Not me.

A decade later I’m at work, sitting at my desk, discussing a design project with my friend and colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore).  Eager to seize the reins on a new challenge, she suggests that she’ll make several mockups of this idea that we’ll present to our boss, Elsbeth.

Me:  Excellent!

Then, the neighborhood mourning dove flies onto our windowsill. Havoc ensues.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) knows that I have been obsessed with getting a good picture of this creature to share with Coco.  I have even suggested to my colleague:

Me:  For all we know this could be the actual bird that’s always waking Coco!

One of the many hats (not) Under Ling (anymore) wears is that she’s the company photographer.  She shoots pictures with this very intimidating digital Canon camera that is called something like the Behemoth.

Canon Behemoth.

It weighs about the same as the Liberty Bell.

We both spring into action.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) wielding the Behemoth, hops onto the counter as if her Converse sneaker soles have sprouted springs.  She patiently crouches at the window like a member of the paparazzi waiting to capture the perfect “gotcha!” shot of this critter.

"Gotcha!" shot of (not) Under Ling (anymore) perched at the window.

So close and yet so far "gotcha!" shot. "If only Elsbeth would have let me buy a zoom lens for this camera..."

Yet, our bird is fidgety.  It flies from sill to sill, and only perches momentarily.  I fire off a quick shot with my PowerShot.

Can birds get liver spots?

We follow it as best we can, narrowly avoiding colliding into each other when we are certain that it has moved onto the windowsill in Our Leader’s office.  Elsbeth is oblivious to the Two Stooges frantically scampering outside her office door.  After the bird disappears from our view we resume focusing our attention on our assignment.  Then, in an excited voice, (not) Under Ling (anymore) announces:

(not) Under Ling (anymore): The bird’s back!

My heart races.  She grabs the camera and is now perched at a window in the back of our office waiting to fire away.  I commend my friend for taking this interesting shot in white silhouette.

Cool shot!

(not) Under Ling (anymore) insists it reminds her more of this mythical (?) creature.

Loch Ness monster image from Wikipedia.

Later that evening, I email Coco a link to a 24 second video of a mourning dive cooing with the subject heading, “Does this sound like your owl?”

Coco’s response: Yes! Maybe my owl is really one of those bastards.

Maybe it’s even the one perched outside our window?

"This feels so good on the tail feathers, it makes me want to coo even louder!

7:32 am update email from Coco: That dick bird is still cooing…..argh!  It doesn’t quit!

Lame Adventure 282: Slight Heart Attack Time

Possibly I’m deluding myself, but I like to think that I’m not too squeamish nor am I a wimp.  I will admit that I don’t do well with the dead.  Residing anywhere for any length of time one will encounter road kill.  That’s a fact of life.  Here in New York, the unpleasant sight of a flattened pigeon or rodent is common.

Splat the pigeon.

Whenever I encounter the downside of nature, I make a mental note of where not to look and what street I will side step for the next few days.  Every time I do stumble upon some creature’s untimely demise, it is always a bit jarring to me.  I am never truly relaxed when I glimpse a mangled form of what was once very likely earlier that same day a living critter.  This does not imply that for the rest of that day that image will haunt me.  It is an isolated shock in the moment, but then I move on, forget about it and resume whatever it is I am doing.  I don’t dwell on the frozen lifeless cat put out with the trash.  Okay, that dead cat I saw nearly twenty years ago was exceptional.  It has remained stored in my memory bank  forever, but usually, I delete these images almost as quickly as I see them, unless, of course I photograph them.  Hey, you never know when you might need a picture of pigeon splat.

On a recent rainy afternoon I had to run an errand near my office in Tribeca.  Sheltered under my umbrella, I was moving at a brisk pace, focused on getting to where I was going when my eye caught that simultaneously familiar and shocking sight of a limp heap lying atop the corner of a tree planter.  I thought the usual:

Me:  Yuck.

Then, I did the usual.  I looked away and walked past.  I assumed it was a dead blackbird, similar to the kind of bird featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds.  As I raced away, I was uncharacteristically still thinking about that bird.  I felt disturbed.  Birds do not normally drop dead atop tree planters.  Some cruel creep had to have harmed that poor defenseless creature.  I felt outrage.  I wondered:

Me: Was it poisoned or shot?

Scene of the crime.

People, their inhumanity and their lack of respect for the living infuriate me.  I write a blog, I have a voice, and on a good day I have seven readers (if my friends and sister check in).  I am obligated to be a spokeswoman about this sort of mindless animal cruelty.  Therefore, I reversed course and marched back to that tree planter, if only to show my compassion for …

A glove with a soggy, furry cuff that a considerate soul in a random act of kindness placed here.

Maybe there is a shred of hope for the human race after all.  It might also behoove me to get my eyes examined.

Lame Adventure 263: Out of My Element and Into Nature

As my three faithful readers know, I am the consummate city slicker that thrives on soot, crowds and enclosed spaces. I view the outdoors as anything but great and a surefire way to activate my tree, grass, and fresh air allergies.  My best friend from college, BatPat, is my complete antithesis in this area.  The woman is a walking encyclopedia about birds, trees, flowers, the solar system, etc.  If it’s anti-concrete, glass or steel, BatPat is all over it.  She fishes, cleans it and cooks it.  I eat tuna straight out of the can feral-cat-style.  As opposite as we sound, there’s a glue or maybe it’s the super tankers of pinot noir that we’ve quaffed over thirty years that has kept us close for so long.  When we got together during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, she suggested we take a hike.

Me:  You want me to go on a hike?  Are there escalators?

BatPat:  It’s a flat trail.

I wince, squirm and make monosyllabic sounds in response.

BatPat: You can hear the freeway from the trail.

Me:  Really?  Okay, let’s do it.

BatPat drives us to Rush Creek in Novato (Marin County).

Rush Creek sign

It’s a general open space preserve with very specific dos and don’ts.

Rush Creek dos and don’ts sign.

For example bike riding, horseback riding, and dog walking (with leashed dogs) are all in the do column.  Shooting guns or as they call it, hunting, is in the don’t column along with smoking and lighting fires.  The idea of not getting my head blown off by a trigger-happy descendant of Elmer Fudd has great appeal to me.

As soon as we climb out of the car, a pile of horse crap the size of Delaware greets us.

A real pile of crap.

I suspect that the owner of the horse did not have a back hoe available to shovel the mess into a thirty gallon Hefty bag the way my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law Herb (with a silent h) are forever cleaning up after Thurber, the family dog, with sandwich bags.

“Leave it to you to compare my marble-sized droppings to Trigger’s.”

We proceed down the trail that lies ahead.

Looks flat from here.

I notice a tree that brings to mind the Six Feet Under Tree.

Six Feet Under tree.

Across from the Six Feet Under Tree is a tree that appears to be bending.  It reminds me of when I threw out my lower back something fierce in 2010.

Bad Back tree.

I walked at that angle for about a month.

We see a feather in a pile of oak tree leaves; one of the few feathers that has not found its way into an Alexander McQueen design.

Feather on oak leaves.

We look up into the branches of the tree.

Tree branches.

BatPat:  Wouldn’t you just love to climb that tree?

Me: No.  Not at all.  Never. I’d rather have a colonoscopy.

We see an egret.

Egret hanging out.

BatPat marvels at how it’s one with nature.  She has a bird, Buttafuoco, named by her son, Guinness.  Buttafuoco loves to eat mashed potatoes.  I suspect he’d be one with New York City.

Buttafuoco

As we walk past these branches we hear a bullfrog croaking.

Croaking branches.

We see a few ducks swimming.

Ducks enjoying a swim.

The next night I dine on duck; hopefully not anyone in this couple.

We see two more ducks hanging out on the creek’s bank.

A moment of calm in-between an hour of fidgeting

The duck on the left drove me crazy.  It was constantly fidgeting and scratching.  It took me forever to get this shot.  I hope I ate that one for dinner.

BatPat loved this red plane that flew over us.

Zoom!

It reminded her of a toy.  Between the combination of my snail slow reflexes and snail slow shutter speed this was the best shot I could take.

This crow had a set of pipes on it that were almost worthy of the Metropolitan Opera.

“Figaro!” Not quite.

I say “almost” because although it had power, the tune it was singing, “Caw, caw, caw,” was quite a cacophonous racket.  I think the phrase, “Shut the hell up,” might have been coined in response to its song.

BatPat decided we should climb this grade.

Where’s an escalator when you need one?

Me:  Hey!  That’s not flat!

BatPat:  C’mon, climb it!

Me:  No way!  That’s Mt. Kilimanjaro to me!

BatPat:  You’re taking a picture of this?  Do you want to look like an idiot to the entire Internet?

Me:  Of course I do!  I can’t let down my readership!  Do you think I can get an airlift from a low flying hawk?

I huff and puff my way up trying to not think about how one misplaced foot fall can surely lead to my death … of embarrassment.   Yet, I make it to the top.  Since I don’t have a flag to plant, I take another picture from the reverse angle.

Ugh.

We walk on.  I see another bird giving me another opportunity to get National Geographic.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

We continue down the trail.

More flat trail. Hallelujah!

We encounter a tree stump that irritates BatPat.

Where’a the rest of the tree?

When she last visited a few months earlier, the entire tree had been on the ground.  BatPat had planned on taking a family portrait with her husband, Mick, her son, Guinness and daughter, Hepburn.

BatPat:  Who moved the tree?

Me:  Tree poachers?

She’s relieved that the birdhouse is still in another tree.

Anyone home?

BatPat:  I wonder who lives there?

Me:  Why don’t you toss an acorn at the hole?

BatPat gives me the stink-eye.  We then return to civilization – her house where, appropriately, since we have birds on the brain, we eat turkey for dinner.