Eagle Eye

 

One who sees or observes keenly. That’s the dictionary definition of eagle eye. It helps explain my experience being the subject of such observation. It also provided a reminder of the power of nature.

Our house outside of Eagle River was near Rice Lake on Highway G. The houses behind us had lake access and one of our neighbors let us use their pier. They were often not there since this was a vacation home; that provided a perfect vantage point for enjoying the beautiful north woods sunsets.

That’s how we first spotted the eagle’s nest in a large tree on the south end of the lake. The pair would arrive each spring and put on a show of flying around high and low and swooping for food then returning to the nest. Binoculars gave us an almost video-cam view of their domestic activities.

One year, we noticed babies in the nest. It was a pleasure to watch these eaglets being fed, along with all the other nest maintenance that was going on. The adult pair took turns heading out for food. That was their main job and it kept them pretty busy throughout the day.

We were entertained, seeing the eaglets many attempts to launch from the nest. On their first tries, they’d take off and then swoop so low we thought they’d land in the lake. But they soon got their footing, venturing out just a short distance before returning home; as time passed, their forays out into the world grew longer and longer.

One day as we were doing our usual watch, one of the adult eagles left the nest and made his rounds of the lake. I don’t know how to determine an eagle’s gender but for this story I’ve decided it’s a him. Much to our surprise, he made sweeps near us a couple of times and then perched in a tree about twenty feet directly above us.

We’re looking up. He’s glaring down. I suddenly fully understood the term, eagle eye. His eyes were piercing. We wondered what he was thinking and if he would attack us. Maybe we were the food source he was looking for. It was kind of scary. We sat quietly, maintained eye contact and waited him out. He then began to flap his wings, getting ready to take off. Luckily, he headed out instead of down.

The last year I lived in this house, the eagles didn’t return to the nest. We worried and weighed the possibilities. The fact that eagles usually return year after year to the same nest made their absence less than hopeful. We’ll never know.  Such is life.

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The Mall

I only met the boy once.  I don’t even remember his name. But his story, I will never forget. I was a supervisor in a big-city child protection unit, so didn’t often meet the children being overseen by my staff of case managers. That was, unless there were problems and a special staff meeting was needed. That’s how I met this boy who was ten and who’d been in foster care since he was five. He was about to mess up his third placement.

His behavior problems were understandable. At age five, his mother had abandoned him at a local shopping mall. It’s beyond imagining, picturing this child, frantic as he searched the hallways for that one familiar person. He was originally placed in a transitional foster home, considered temporary until the court process slowly trudges its way to resolution.

The system had done all it could to locate the mother, a chronic drug user already known to us. It had been, so far, a fruitless process of searching for her or other relatives. By law, each month the system was required to launch an all-out effort by searching public records, running newspaper ads, visiting the last known residence and neighborhood. This would go on for his entire time in care.

Family reunification was always the top priority. But as time passed, the reality of him being returned to his mother faded and his permanency plan was changed to long term foster care. The facts around his abandonment were being handled with velvet gloves by his therapist. All he would say when asked was: “I got lost.” For a child of this age it is imperative to not push the facts upon him until he is emotionally ready to handle it. He had a long road ahead of him.

With his history and age, he’d already been designated unadoptable. He was in a special-needs foster home and that was probably where he’d remain until he aged out at eighteen. Of course, if his current behaviors continued, the system would have to move him to more and more restrictive placements. A group home was probably in his future.

I often shop and go to movies at this same mall. As I look down from the ascending escalator at the activity in this busy and bustling place, I can only imagine that terrible day. I wonder where this boy is and how his life has turned out. He’s an adult by now and I’m hoping he came to terms with this awful and unfair event and has made sense of his life. I hope against hope he has beat the odds by overcoming the dismal statistics so common common to foster children.

Mystery Tour

April 3-4, 2019 – Hart Park Senior Center Mystery Tour
Cuneo Mansion and Gardens, Loyola University, Vernon Hills, Ill.
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Skokie, Ill.
Holiday Inn Skokie, Dinner, Bingo, overnight
Halim Glass and Clock Museum, Evanston, Ill.
Lunch at Trattoria, Evanston, Ill.
Tea and scones at Curt’s Café, Evanston, Ill.
Bahai Temple, Wilmette, Ill.

I’ve officially joined the ranks of senior citizen bus trip mavens. I. along with twenty-one (including tour guide) women and our token man, set out for a two-day, one overnight, mystery tour to parts unknown. Barb, the tour guide, kept things a secret throughout. She’d announce where we were as the bus was being parked.  Then give us a time estimate when we’d reach our next destination but didn’t announce where we were going until we’d arrived.

Docent tours had been arranged for each stop which meant we learned a lot. At the Cuneo Mansion I wondered how a family could live comfortably in such opulence. The many shelves of shoes stored in the bathroom made me wonder if Imelda Marcos had given lesson to the mistress of the house.

The Holocaust museum was sobering. The Glass and Clock Museum broadened my knowledge about Tiffany who I’d thought only made lamp shades.  Silly me. And now I know, after seeing one thousand clocks from many time periods and countries, how important the pendulum was to modern day time keeping. We all felt wonderful to contribute our business to Curt’s Café that provides job training and jobs for unemployable youth. The scones were to die for. The Bahai Temple was a mystery or a well-kept secret.

Barb says she’s learned to always have shopping time in the schedule.  So, for our noon time in Evanston, the option was shop or lunch, or both; most of us didn’t shop. Instead we had lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant that included some day drinking. Why not because we had a designated driver.

I’d signed on alone and was fine with the quiet on the bus and had brought my Kindle to fill the down time. I don’t remember the names of my fellow travelers though a few were familiar from earlier trips. There was a lot of talking and laughing going on.

Most memorable was our lengthy breakfast discussion of Oscar movies with our declaration that Bohemian Rhapsody should have won it all. The bar at the hotel had bingo night and we won a few shots and scratch-off tickets. No one won the $1000 for a full card. But we tried.

All in all, it was a great trip. Not too long. Just long enough. And plenty to do but not be rushed. What can be better than the comfort of a bus and a driver who knows just where to go and gets you there. Another was having someone else driving through these enchanting north shore cities and being able to take in the architecture. I’m checking the schedule for future travel opportunities.

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Weary

When poets critique,
there is no end to thoughts, theories or thinking.
Just the sound of the word,
that’s the poetry of poetry.
Once the poem is read out loud,
only a moment until the first comment.

I think the word weary should be changed to tired.
No, that sounds mundane.

I think the word weary should be changed to drowsy.
No, that doesn’t fit the rhyme.

A better choice is drained.
No, that seems severe.

The sound of the word exhausted fits better.
No, that has too many syllables.

Sleepy sends a better message.
No, that’s too vague.

Since the language is casual, the word beat is best.
No, that’s not poetic.

The rhythm of the word fatigued adds charm.
No, that seems harsh.

So much is gained from group think.
A new word never thought of or an idea
that takes the poem down another road.
But,
after much thought,
wistfully weighing the words,
and after all,
this is my poem
and I can do what I want,
though the process makes me weary,
weary is the word I choose.

 

The Men in my Life

Two of my most wonderful friends, Carolyn and Julie, think I should find a man. A male companion, or boyfriend, perhaps a husband is what they have in mind. I say, what are you thinking? Two divorces aren’t enough! But that got me thinking.

Actually, I have lots of men in my life. All right in the building where I live. Some live there and a few work there. The library is our central meeting place where we chat while waiting for the mail. And then I run into others by chance throughout the day.

There’s Dave (oops he likes to be called David) who does maintenance. When I had to put new license plates on my car, I went to his office and asked David for a screwdriver. He gave me a puzzled look, then asked what it was for. When I explained, he said he thought he should do it. We then spent a half hour in the parking garage talking cars while he worked his magic. We both agreed that Buicks are the best.

Tom lives in the building and also does housekeeping. At nine o-clock on Mondays I can hear the hum of his vacuum cleaner coming down the hall. He also manages the in-house grocery store and is open to suggestions on new items.  I think he knows everyone by name and offers a friendly greeting to everyone, all day.

John of John and Alice (I call him that to keep him separate from all the other John’s in the building) is part of our Rummikub game. John of John and Alice is meticulous, some would say obsessive, about how the tiles should be laid out on the table. John says he has nicknames for some of the more colorful characters in the building but only chuckles to himself, not telling me any of them. Or if he has a nickname for me.

Dave (he doesn’t mind being called Dave) is volunteer manager of the in-house library. I help him with the magazines. Dave does woodworking at one of the senior centers and just built a new bookcase for our library. He has a master plan for culling the old, tattered books that no one has read in years

Tom (a different Tom, this one wears a hat) never sits. He just hovers in the library doorway, drops a comment or two and then moves on. He always makes sure he gives me his latest copy of Harper’s and tells me what are the best articles. Some insist Tom with the hat is shy which he covers with a gruff exterior. I’m not so sure.

Sy who loves to tease and joke must have been feeling pensive one day when he joined me alone in the library. He’s eighty-six and seemed to be wondering how much time he has left. Quite different from his usual quick and pithy comments.

Dennis is quiet. We laugh that we can always tell when Dennis has been in the library because the daily newspapers are lined up in perfect order on the table. Dennis can tell which grandchild is calling for pick-up by their ring tone. And off he goes.

Jay works at the front desk. He helped me when the wi-fi connection in the coffee shop wasn’t working. He was pretty nervous, relating how some residents expect him to solve complicated software problems. He solved my very simple problem in a flash and I let him know how thankful I was.

I think I have the best situation with the company of some pretty nice guys. We laugh and joke. We talk about the latest news and generally philosophize about life and any other important issues. Then I go back to my apartment. I have men in my life but only as much as I want. This is the best place and best situation for me, for now.

 

 

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