Dear Lauren


You and me, summer 2014.  Two happy birders
You and me, summer 2014. Two happy birders

March 26, 2015
Dear Lauren,

I think about calling you every day…the thought occurs to me that I would like to talk with you about how much I miss talking to you.

And, if you were here–in this silly world–I am sure we would be sharing things on Facebook. Just stupid stuff — art and birds and other things that make life worth living.

I could have told you about our women’s retreat and the blue yarn and the gorgeous canoe trip on the Alafia River. The river of fire. You would love the river of fire. My friend Mary and I saw a mama gator and her babies, and in four miles of canoeing on this winding  river, we saw only one beer bottle. No other trash. Isn’t that wonderful, you and I would say, marveling and assuring ourselves that life is good.

Alafia--The River of Fire
Alafia–The River of Fire

And then I would tell you about my money raising efforts for our church. About how uncomfortable I have always felt about asking people for money, and how I decided that someone had to step up, and the thing I like about being a Unitarian Universalist is that you get to explore new ways of thinking.  My comfort zone is pretty wide, but it doesn’t include asking for money. We would agree about the money, but I would know that you don’t see much use in belonging to any church, and I would change the subject. All the same, I hope your memorial service will be at May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Syracuse. The Art Fair they sponsored was one of your favorite shows.

And there was always the weather. I’d ask you how things are going in upstate New York and you could bitch about the snow and cold. I loved your asteriks –you called it not snow but S***. We really agreed on the stupidity of snow.

You’d share what was happening in your own studio, and preparations for Art Walk, which were always a pain, even though you had it well organized, with meetings and people and new artists on board. Every June, you and your garden made Art Walk rock. Even when it rained and someone took the street signs down.

One of your lanterns
One of your lanterns

And we would talk about Gallery 54 in Skaneatles and how things were going there–what was selling and how many sponge holders and lanterns went out the door. There must be a lot of your sponge holders by sinks in upstate New York. And I know the really lucky people have one of your lanterns. They are magic.

Next to birds, we loved to talk about gardens and plants. What about your gorgeous Japanese maple that snapped off this winter–any hope? I have bird houses in my front garden now, and the pottery head you gave me and my ruined pillar, My abandoned folly.

My front yard
My front yard

I hope someone will care for your garden this spring. And leave some of your ashes there. And put water in the birdbath.

Lauren's garden 2014
Your garden July 2014








I probably would have told you what I was reading, and then you’d have shared what you were reading, and we would compare notes on Antiques Roadshow finds, and Home and Garden TV. I know we would agree that Fixer Upper was the best show, even though it’s set in Waco. Both of us always liked old houses, especially fixed up old houses, and Chip and Joanna have done some good work, even if it is in Texas. We definitely would have liked Chip and Joanna.

We would have liked Fixer Upper
We would have liked Fixer Upper

Of course, we would talk birds. First a feeder report from you. Is the red-breasted nuthatch still there? I saw a brown-headed nuthatch here in Florida! Nuthatches rule! Only you would cheer. What else is coming in–any red-wing blackbirds yet? One is sitting outside my window now. I would tell you about Caloosa Bird Club trips and how fantastic Wakodahatchee is and that we must go there next time you come to Florida.

And then I would ask about a dessert for eight, and you’d suggest champagne sherbert and I would put it in the little blue glass bowls I inherited when we owned the house next door to you in Syracuse. I would use the recipe you wrote out by hand.

in your handwriting
in your handwriting

Then I would just cry a bit, because you are gone and I miss you. And all the silly trivial things in life that we shared. And all the big stuff too. I know this letter  will never be finished. I will close it the way I always have–
More later,



We had fun…friends and birds, always a winning combo.


For the second year, Elaine and I were pleased to offer a guided birding/photo tour of our favorite National Wildlife Refuge at our church auction. Four other members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Myers joined us for fun, fellowship and adventure. We saw 25 species of birds in a few hours, and had many photo opportunities.

Yellow crown night heron Yellow crown night heron

Reddish egret preening Reddish egret preening

One white pelican, many willets One white pelican, many willets

Little blue posing, no zoom required Little blue posing, no zoom required

Pileated woodpecker near exit Pileated woodpecker near exit

White pelican landing, cormorants ignoring White pelican landing, cormorants ignoring

Osprey taking off Osprey taking off

Yellow crown night heron watching the watchers Yellow crown night heron watching the watchers

Here are the 25 bird species we were lucky enough to see:

Reddish egret, great egret, little blue heron, tri-colored heron, white ibis, yellow-crowned night heron, pie-billed grebe, red breasted merganser, double crested cormorant, white pelican, brown pelican (on causeway), willet, spotted sandpiper, bald eagle, shortbilled dowitcher, dunlins, osprey, pileated woodpecker, roseat spoonbills (fly over), royal…

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Check the wires. Look it up.

This morning, early, it was foggy in Florida and I learned two new words that begin with the letter “P.”

Yesterday, while birding a weedy field beside a busy highway, three of us encountered a tiny but beautiful butterfly nectaring on a scrubby daisy.
We looked it up and it is called a Phaon Cresent.  Phaon it a Greek word and that sounds  like “Foun.” Even better, there is a Greek myth to go with it….Phaon was an ugly oarsman on the River Styx. Aphrodite needed a ride one day, and she came to the river disguised as an old crone.
Phaon gave her a ride and asked nothing in return. In payment, she gave him some cream which made him beautiful. Who wouldn’t love this myth? And this sweet little butterfly photographed by my friend, France Paulsen? I found Phaon to be a very worthy “P” word.

The Phaon Crescent has a wing span of 1.25 inches
The Phaon Crescent has a wing span of 1.25 inches
The Phainopedia is sometimes called the Black Cardinal

And then, I checked my email and found that a possible phainopepia had been spotted on a power wire on Sanibel. It’s a bird that has never been reported in Florida before, but there was no proof  –no photograph, in other words.
It’s an all black bird that looks like a cardinal or a cedar waxwing. Females are grey and so are juveniles. My husband, also a photographer, joked that the person who sighted it should have “thrown on the brakes and caused and accident to get that shot.” But then, he’s used to me calling out bird possibilities, and he knows to pull over.
Phainopepia is definitely a worthy “P” word. It means “shinning robe” in Greek.  Maybe sometime I’ll see one in a desert state where it eats mistletoe and never wanders out of its area.  Except once in a lifetime, and here’s hoping.

Always check the wires, and always look stuff up. That’s my motto, and I’m sticking with it.