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Liam is 19!!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wait. I remember typing, "Liam is 6!" And now you're not. Now you're a college student. I can't believe I've been blogging that long, logging birthday after birthday. Think I'll ever type, "Liam is 30!" Arrgh.

 I am happy to say we've fixed the garbage bag suitcase issue. No matter. You wore it well. 

You got to see your sister one last time before she took off for the Canaries in early September. It was a good summer, with both of you home.  The best.

 Drawing your sister!

We had a seriously good Sasquatch sighting.

Because we're always Squatchin', eerwhere we go.

 We had crazy baby jays to play with for a little while. I absolutely love how you let Josie Jay whack away at your phone. You know how to move around wild birds, which is not much at all.

And you let Phoebe paint your toenail red. Not many about-to-be 19-year-old guys would do that. Nor could most people I know put up with the hammering of a curious young blue jay. You're something else, Liam!

Now Josie's off in the wild doing whatever jays do in the fall--stashing food everywhere, hammering acorns open. Thanks for letting her practice on you.

I thought for your birthday post I'd collect some of your favorite things. Pumpkins. The smell of a freshly opened pumpkin. I understand your poor son has gone downhill since this family portrait was taken. Well, mine hasn't! He's only gone uphill.

Speaking of favorite things, I promised I'd cook you a turkey for Thanksgiving. I found the world's smallest turkey (only 10 lb!) and, inspired by Canary Islands cuisine, I'm going to make a
Ter-What-the-**cken! Can't wait!

I'm so thrilled you're thriving at WVU. Making lookalike friends! Have you thought of doing a Liam and Finn podcast? You could speak in Irish accents. PS Finn thank you for taking Liam clothes shopping at the best places. A collegiate rite of passage.

Speaking of accents, I ran into someone near and dear at Warren's IGA yesterday. It's Ma and MOM!!

(Aileen works at what was once Liam and Phoebe's elementary school, and all the kids call her Mom.)

We took this picture for you. If she isn't the best I don't know who is.
She told me Sarah has qualified for Olympic trials!!!! Can't put enough exclamation points after that!

When I showed her my most recent photo of you (the one below), her knees literally buckled and she said, "Can that be the little boy who wore the cape around his neck?"


Hailey and Liam, all dressed up for Roomcoming!!

I assured Mom it was indeed that little boy, just stretched out a bit, with his imaaaaagination intact.

It wouldn't be a Mompost if there weren't something embarrassing in it. Just another service I offer.

Home's waiting for you. Just a week! It's not going to look like this any more; the leaves will be gone.

So I took some pictures so you could see Marietta in its best dress.

 This enormous gingko reminds me of you. All yellow hair, piled high.

 With the first really cold night, all those leaves will come tumbling down at once, like so many gold coins. Good thing that doesn't happen to your glorious coif after a cold night!

You love to kick through fallen leaves. Here you go.

When you come home we'll take a walk in town, see what we can see.

We'll kick through the leaves and go out for Indian food.

More favorite things: I found you a doggeh in Ecuador. His name is Mashi Amigo. His owner wanted to make sure I used his last name. But of course.

He had a very boopable nose.

I couldn't bring him home for you but I wanted to.

Also found a coatimundi. Probably a really bad bet to sneak into the suitcase, so I refrained. Besides he wasn't quite tame.

Photo by Kim Beard

Also found the world's smallest bat


which turned out to be a moth after all, but how do you like that??

You've always loved good-smelling things, ever since you were a chunky little monkey.

So yesterday I dug up a present for you--the last tuberose, still trying to put out a bloom spike in November. It's a pink one! I pulled it into the greenhouse. Let's hope for the best!

We'll sit down there and have a cup of tea under the twinkly lights and you can tell me all about WVU and what it's like to take four art courses at once.

I'm deliriously happy that you've found good friends to be with, to care for you at WVU.

 Hilda, Liam and Hailey
Hilda, Mikayla and Hailey, at their first (searing hot) WVU football game.

Juan/Buan, flautist extraordinaire! @the_magicflute on Insta.

"Hang with the cats who have soul." -Geepop

I'm ridiculously proud of the way you've honed your art chops. "Sticktoit-iveness" is my least favorite word, but you've got it, son.

It's good to keep an eye on your process. Thank you for posting your work on Instagram.

 I love to see those pictures develop right before my eyes!

The one on my studio wall is ever my favorite.

We did Parents' Weekend, just not like we were supposed to. We hiked Raven Rock and you told me the entire plot of The Nun, complete with scene framing, and I found myself thinking, "Is this kid going to be a filmmaker?"

We took a slefie with mountains.

And a complete stranger, Steven Ondash ( on Instagram), captured us looking at the slefie. Caught the love, he did. Thanks, Steven!!

 Hurry home, beautiful boy. We love you and miss you like crazy here! Keep shining like the comet you are.   Happy 19th Birthday, Liam!!



The Lady Vanishes

Sunday, November 4, 2018


I started this post before I left for Ecuador October 24. I wound up leaving only one day to pack and prep for the trip, so it has been orphaned for awhile, floating around in cyberspace, hoping to become a whole blogpost. I'll leave the first part as it is,  and finish it up. Heads up: It's going to be tough going for people who aren't used to looking at kills. Proceed with caution, and, I hope, with the same sense of wonder and curiosity that I have.

I've been working really hard lately to get Saving Jemima as done as I can get it before I go to Ecuador. I've barely looked up. One good thing about having no one around is I can work a 14 or 16-hour day and not offend a soul. So that's what I've been doing. I have loved every minute of it.

I glance up a lot, watching the blue jays at the feeder, watching the red and white- breasted nuthatches, the cardinals, the woodpeckers. I'd been seeing turkey vultures sailing over all day, which I found unusual for late October. I thought about it and wondered what was up.

Late afternoon came and it was spitting rain. I wanted to get out and see the sky, but I knew better than to start a run. So, uncharacteristically, instead of heading out on foot, I climbed in the car to drive out into the country. I took my big camera along. I just had a feeling.

And there they were, lots of them, circling over a big hayfield on the corner of my road and the county road. Glory rays streamed down. They looked so fine up there.

I parked the car to take some photos and wonder what they were up to.

I decided to head into the hayfield to see. I had a feeling I knew what it was. There were too many vultures for it to be something small. And bow season has just started here.

Yep. Knew it. In early November of 2016, they killed my crooked doe Ellen this way. Just a small, inconsequential doe, an animal nobody would miss, a little something for live target practice. Maybe the same person who killed Ellen had turned his truck into the approach to this field, just one over from ours, fixed this doe in the glare of his headlights, and taken her down. What sport, what fun. Just getting in shape for the season, sighting in the bow or gun.

I know the poachers are stalking when I find things like this, when the beer cans start to accumulate along my road.  They show the same disregard for beauty as they do for life.

I didn't know this animal, thank goodness. Though it would be hard to tell who she was now. Now, she was nothing but a carcass.

I made some images. How could I not? The grass was flattened all around her where the vultures had been tramping. I could see that no other animals had been there, because the carcass was opened only at the back and front, the way vultures do. 

They'd been working on her all day. I stood there, with the fermented contents of her rumen scenting the air, thinking that at least she'd go to feed a nice flock of vultures, to speed them on their way to Central America.

I left her then, and went on to see some old house friends on up the county road. It was that kind of day, glowering and gloomy, and old houses look good in this kind of light.

If there's a classic Ohio farmhouse, this is it. Although the beveled corner is atypical, the porch and foursquare design is not. There's a ramshackle addition off the back, which adds to its interest. Gosh, I'd love to go inside. But I have never tried the door.

 Across the street, two other dwellings are slowly deliquescing. 

I like the addition on the big house, like a sloping rump off the back. Sooner or later, people ran out of space, and then they'd tack something on the side or back of the house to give them a little breathing room, a place to hang some coats, stack some boots, keep the egg baskets.

I'm not sure what the little building is off to the side. A summer kitchen?

 Whatever it is, it's sweet, and it reminds me of North Dakota. 

The birds have been perching on what little furniture remains inside. 
I'm thinking that's an eastern phoebe's latrine there. 

 I love this little scene. The table isn't much good any more. But oh, the patina on the walls and floor.

Heck of a view out the window: cattle moving easily across the land. While I was shooting the scene, an osprey flew over. A late osprey! They usually like to be gone before it gets very cold, as they don't have down feathers.

It was getting so dark I figured I'd head back home. A pale spot in the woods border resolved into a young red-shouldered hawk. If you click on the photo you'll see it can't be anything else. Well, I could see that. So many things go into telling me that's a redshoulder and not a redtail or a Cooper's hawk. I'm not even considering broad-wing, because they're long gone, having migrated in September.

It's got big blobby markings on its belly, and no belly band--the blobs are just scattered across the white. It's got really small feet. Redtails have big feet. The tail is banded, but nondescript, as would be that of a young redtail. Overall it's small but chunky, not lean and long like a Cooper's hawk would be, or urn-shaped like a redtail. And it's just a-settin' there, redshoulder style. Yep. For whatever reason young redshoulders just pop up this time of year. Maybe that's where they get the old name, Winterhawk. 

I passed the carcass site again, and the vultures were still wheeling very low. I left them to their meal.

The next morning, I came out early to see what had happened to the carcass overnight. 
When I last saw her, she looked like this. Entire, but for some missing bits.

There was still a vulture coursing low, unusual for so early in the morning.

As I approached, a great flock of crows rose up cawing. It was such a beautiful ragged sight I had to make a video. One vulture was already up and feeding.


I walked up to where the doe, who had weighed more than 100 pounds, had been, and she was simply gone.

I hadn't expected that!

Nothing but the stain of her last meal remained. 

But there were plenty of clues. A stray bone:

One ear.

I could see the drag mark where she'd been pulled away toward a distant line of firs, originally planted as a windbreak for the farmhouse that no longer graces this field. I stood, stunned, thinking about the power of the coy-wolf or coy-wolves that must have done this.

A forelimb!

I continued to follow the trail. Here's the other ear.

  Finally I found all that was left of the doe. 
I was flabbergasted. 

How many coy-wolves would it take to reduce her to a ribcage and a head, overnight? 

A single turkey vulture feather, black with a surprising white base, reminded me that the coy-wolves had had help.

There she lay, in the dancer's point in which they'd left her, dragged by one hind hoof hundreds of yards down the haymeadow. And there they had finished her off.

I could only marvel at the efficiency of the operation; the day shift of vultures and crows starting the cleanup, and giving way after dark to a pack of coy-wolves. She was gone, overnight.

In the ditch, a brace of asters and the spent heads of Queen Anne's lace gave a shot of fresh beauty to my wondering eye.

Back home, the flowers bloomed as if there were no tomorrow

and the bonsais promised to peak while I was away. 
when I left October 24

I don't want to leave in late October, ever again. There is too much beauty, both harsh and soft, all around.

when I got back Nov. 3

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