Beavers in the Gloaming

imageIt had been a slow day, neither good or bad, just there, rainy.

Moby, our little happy dog, loves to walk, so I buckled him in and there we went. Watching him makes me want to break out in song, Zippity do dah, Zippity day. He is so oblivious to his own might at 80 pounds and so enthusiastic, as measured my the speed and rhythm  of his tail.

Rain in spring is marvelous…the greens and white apple tree blooms scream life through the grey monochrome and as we reached the bottom of the trail, my friend and I, and turned north to go home, we veered off to visit the beaver pond.

In the drenched grey, the wood ducks heard us and flew off. I looked around for other signs of life…could it be? I thought, as I saw a head across the way…a beaver?

It was not one beaver but 4….4 heads swimming…I braced, would Moby see?
No, he continued sniffing and I continued watching, hoping they wouldn’t cross over to our side.

As they came around the curve of the pond I whistled, either my whistle or their directive turned them around. I watched as they approached the embankment that leads to a second pond below.

The beavers emerged up onto the land, one by one they paired up.Their long swimming tails appearing like magic from the dark water:two  beavers in front, two in back. They proceeded, their backs to me, over their beaver-made dike, like some soldiers on a mission.

Their reality so concrete in the same burst  of time as mine…
so unaware of some forces far greater that
could simply bulldoze their world down.


Macadew is a big powerful dog.  He weights 80 plus pounds and his spirit is stronger than the body that contains him.  We picked him and his brother Moby out at the SPCA four years ago.  The night we brought them home, two rambunctious pups with two middle-aged “parents,” my husband looked at each other and said, “What have we done?  Maybe they were right, those people at the SPCA, when they saw us leave with two pit bull mix puppies and said, really, both of them?”

My husband said, “the brindle’s ok, but that little black & white (Moby) one might have to go…he seems a bit high strung.”  The next day began a routine that my husband has really been in charge of…I’m good with the love part and the walk part, he is great with the training.  The first thing he taught them was  Sleepy Time treat…from their first month with us, as soon as he said Sleepy Time, they stopped what they were doing and marched into their little cages.  Here is a glimpse.

As time wore on, we realized that the little Moby, was the more docile creature of the two. He is also, like a little Buddha.  He watches things, he follows us around, he watches more things, he sighs, and his walk is a little zig zaggy.  We thought he was going to have hip problems.  But, as time has demonstrated, he zips along happy as can be and gets plenty of rest.

Its Macadew who is a handful.  Not in a bad sense, but in a, oh my gosh, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of his teeth when your playing with him; and he needs to run and jump a lot!  One day, as a pup, he ran away, like a gazelle leaping over bushes and small trees on a bright sunlit winter morning…he moved faster than my eyes could track.  Suddenly, he was across the pond…his bronzed shape running like a beam of light under the green pines and against the white snow.

We worry when we take him on long woods walks that he will pick up a scent and disappear forever.  It gives us pause when we look up and see no sign of the boy. Then with great relief, we hear him charging through the bramble and Radames says to me, “Look at him jump, here he comes.”

A strong dog, I did not expect at 4.5 months to look over at Macadew last Thursday night and see a creature shriveled up in pain.  His back was arching and he had a look of an old man on his face.  I panicked.  We thought maybe it was a bug and it would go away in an hour or two.  The next day, things weren’t getting better.  We took him to the vet and to the animal hospital.

Macadew has disc disease…apparently all the jumping caused it, or perhaps, it was one moment of play with Moby. At this point he is healing…completely in his crate with leash walks to eat and go outside and then back in the crate.  We see him making progress but the whole family is down.  Moby doesn’t understand when he is outside Mac’s cage, why Mac won’t engage in play.  My husband and I are worried that Macadew won’t get better and/or we will be faced with a 7000 surgery or wheel cart.  But mostly, we are in shock that our beautiful, robust creature is down.  We hope the next 7 weeks show healing and we hope that when he does get better, his little spirit can soar through the woods he loves.


My Aunt, her TV and Communication Theory

My Aunt lives in a nursing home where she is very content. Since getting her own room, I noticed she never had the TV on when I visited.

My aunt is 92, she spent her life watching soap operas, beauty pageants, the Late Show, Wheel of Fortune and cooking shows. How did she become so disinterested in TV? I wondered and I occasionally asked her, to which she replied, “There’s nothing on.”

“I read alot. ” Read, I thought. I never saw her read a book but I in her room there were many romance novels on her dresser.

Time went on, she complained of boredom but made sure to say how grateful she was to be where people were so kind to her.

Now and then, I said to my Mother or one of the care team, curious and clueless, “Its strange, Aunt Claire never watches TV.”
“Well, she says there is nothing on.” They replied. She never has her TV on.

Along about last September, after the upteenth boredom comment, I asked again “Why don’t you watch TV, you use to love the cooking shows.”

“There is nothing on. Cooking shows, what channel are they on?”

I looked over at the TV handed down to my Aunt from a resident…its old I thought, maybe she needs a new one.

I mentioned this to my brother who visits weekly and he replied, “I dont think her TV works.”

Next trip down, my husband checks it out in detail. The TV turned on but he could not coonect to the cable stations.There was nothing on but broadcast fuzz.

I decided it might be the TV so we arranged to get my aunt a television. I then told the staff and my mom I was getting  my aunt a TV. “Why,” they seemed surprised, “she never watches it. She says there is nothing on.”

At Christmas, we brought a new digital TV down and a lovely young man helped us connect it. We immediately found the cooking shows. Aunt Claire has been reportedly watching a lot more TV lately.

The problem is that we had all coordinated the meaning of my Aunt’s words, there is nothing on, to mean nothing that she wanted to watch.

This is a common complaint and common way to express that complaint.

But, in this case, all of the people involved with my aunt, including myself, missed her literal point. There was nothing on her TV.

When I inquired further, I learned that the switch from analog to digital, involved a conversion box, a second remote, and too much complexity in operation for a 92-year old gal.

In conclusion, the meaning of There’s nothing on was coordinated by most of the people involved in this piece to mean, the non-literal use of the term, There is nothing on worth watching. But the most important source of information, my aunt, was using the term literally, she told us There’s nothing on and meant what she  said.

Coordinated management of meaning…description from the source
Overview (7th Edition)
Persons-in-conversation co-construct their own social realities and are simultaneously shaped by the worlds they create. They can achieve coherence through common interpretation of their stories told. They can achieve coordination by meshing their stories lived. Dialogic communication, which is learnable, teachable, and contagious, improves the quality of life for everyone. (Socio-cultural and phenomenological traditions)
– See more at:


Pancake Moments … everybody has a pancake story

Wednesday night I attended a fund-raiser for the The History Center in Tompkins County called Encouraging Connections through Variations on Pancakes.The presenter, Paula Younger, gave us a glimpse into how one thing, pancakes, can spark a conversation across generations and cultures.  The event itself was a kick off for the The History Centers Generation to Generation series.

At the center of the talk was what the presenter called a pancake moment.  I don’t know how to define it except to say that it is a moment associated with a memory of pancakes in a historical/personal context that teaches you something, marks something, or leads to some type of transformation, even if just in your thinking.  (Click on Ms. Younger’s site, pancakemoments TM to find out more information.)

Here is my pancake moment.

In October 1995, my now husband invited me over for breakfast with his twin boys.  He routinely made the round trip to Syracuse every other weekend  and bring them to their home here, the home that he wanted to be their forever home.

I had tasted some of my husband’s cooking but was not prepared for his specialty, blueberry pancakes.  While the boys slept, he brought out the ingredients, mixed them finishing with a big handful of blueberries thrown into the batter.  The pancakes on the griddle fluffed up to the best  cakes I have ever tasted…not too high and airy, but high enough so that the pancake does not drop into your stomach like a round of lead.

Calling the fifteen year olds to breakfast, he prepared their plates and let them pour as much syrup as they wanted onto their pancakes.My husband then made sure they had a juice or something to drink, fussing over them as he does with people he holds dear…like a mother hen.

The boys gobbled up their pancakes as if it was the most routine thing in the world.

At that moment I could feel the love.  The contented feeling of soul food like delicious blueberry pancakes set in a scene  laced with its own brand of heart ache, transformed into that routine place that never leaves you…that place you carry in your heart forever, that place where you are unconditionally loved.

And I saw the soul of my husband, Radames: when life gives you cracked eggs put them in a rich mix and then throw in a lot of color and sweetness to make it whole and beautiful for yourself, and for those who must continue.

Fall home

©claire anne perez

Nuns on Keuka Lake, 1930 Blimp, & OLD AGE is HELL poem…artificats

I found the artifacts, photographed and uploaded here, among my aunts things years ago.  Its all we have left in the end, artifacts of those former generations.  That and wonder:  if the dead could speak, what would they tell us?

The blimp?  Goodyear, 1930s…who took that picture in Miami where my Uncle lived?Goodyear blimp Dec 1930

who are these nuns?  when was the photograph taken?  is that, as I suspect, Keuka Lake?  was it a hot day?  good Lord, who made up those costumes?


And this poem, OLD AGE IS HELL?  who typed this up?  it is found on the Internet, but did the typist make up the last two lines here?

Old Age is Hell
The body gets stiff, you get cramps in your legs Corns on your feet as big as hens eggs,
Gas in your stomach, elimination is poor, Take ex-lax at night, but then you’re not sure,
You soak in the tub, or the body will smell

The teeth start decaying, eyesight is poor,
Hair falling out, all over the floor,

Sex life is shot, its the thing of the past,
Don’t kid yourself friend, even that doesn’t last.

Can’t go to parties, don’t dance anymore,
just putting it mildly, you’re a hell of a bore.old age is hell 2
Liquor is out, can’t take a chance,
bladder is weak, might pee in your pants.

Nothing to plan for, nothing to expect,
Just the mailman, bringing your social security check!!!

Now be sure your affairs are in order and your will is just right,
or on the way to your grave there’ll be a hell of a fight.

So if this New Years Eve, if you feel fairly well,




Fifth Avenue to get Center-Line Rumble Strip

Just Kidding…but, it is a thought I have had many times since the installation of our center -line rumble strip in September 2014.  Imagine  a Center-Line Rumble Strip placed on Fifth Avenue in New York City by a government agency.  The citizens would not tolerate it and their voices would not be muffled by an administrator.

Here is an article, N.J. family’s rumble strip complaint falls on deaf ears, which sums up the response I received about the rumble strip 50 feet from the front of our house.  The family struggling with a noisy rumble strip on a curve , was told

“The installation of rumble strips on a portion of Route 29 is part of systematic attempt to increase road safety for motorists through the reduction of head to head and opposite direction side swipe collisions,” Department of Transportation spokesman Stephen Shapiro said Thursday.

I wonder:

How did our democracy, government for the people by the people, get to a point where authorities can just place a center-line rumble strip in front of your house without notifying you or considering the inconsistent, jarring  noise it makes when a vast number of drivers ignore it and drive right over it?

Stay tuned…


Meet the Center-Line Rumble Strip

In early September 2014, I drove out of my driveway to the ExtraMart, three miles up the road, to Skype with an online class: my Internet connection died at home.  That is when I saw a huge, yellow road repair machine  coming toward me.

I, thought, Wow, wonder what that is for? and went to the store parking lot to Skype.  A day later, I noticed a loud obnoxious noise coming from the road into my serene little world.  Unlike the calm swoosh of traffic that barrels down our road, this noise is a jagged saw that cuts randomly through the swoosh. 

It is over a year later, and the passing of vehicles over the rumble strip woke me three times last night.   I have decided to take up a short-term rumble strip investigation.  

I called the proper authorities last year and was told, something to the affect:  “The Governor put this in; you aren’t going to get it removed.”

I reflected on what would happen if the Governor decided to put one of these down Park Avenue, would he then not be questioned.  And why weren’t we consulted about the rumble strip?  And is it true, it can’t be removed?  

Ironically, before this menace arrived, I had read about a gas line being potentially installed on a road nearby.  I was relieved I didn’t have to worry about all the noise that construction would create and so glad I didn’t live on that road. Little did I know that the Center-Line Rumble Strip lay in wait for me, just a few months away?

Here is a link to a Rumble Strip complaint and noise that mimics my situation:

Video:  Rumble Strips Battle

Why I “hate” Stink Bugs

Stink Bug hiding under hair appliance

There I am, minding my own business, engaged in an activity, and one shows up. Yesterday this baby, above, fell out of the sweater I am wearing today. THAT is how they are these bugs: quiet, and with a face that any mother would find hard to love.

IMG_3701 (1)
Stink Bug on top of towel

I hate the way Stink Bugs, or in this case, the Western Conifer Seed Bug (note, this bug is not in the official Stink Bug family but is commonly labelled as such by many of us) sneak up on me. To my knowledge these sly bugs don’t bite: my husband, a former science teacher, confirmed this fact. They just roam around looking for a plant to juice with their needle-like mouthpart.

Stink Bugs appear out of the blue…usually as a harbinger of the change of seasons, or in the middle of winter with a global warming trend. The Stink Bug has disturbed me at the most inopportune times.

I’ll be typing away and one shows up, crawling along my keyboard, about to be smushed by my next word. Many a night, cozy in bed reading a book, one of these creatures dive bombs me from the ceiling with a buzz the intensity of  which is matched by a bumble bee.

The problem is, except for a bed and wall inspection, interception is futile as the Stink Bug slowly, stealthily, bursts into my life without warning in its other worldly costume.
My intervention is usually a shout to request that my husband guide the bugger out the window in hopes of avoiding its stinky smell when smushed.

One night, however, this did not work.

It was the fall of 2005. It was the middle of the night and I woke up parched. I reached for my glass of water and sipped it for that midnight refreshment.

It tasted funny, a slight sweetness. Gatorade comes to mind all these years later. I thought I better take a look. In order not to wake my husband, I took the glass through the darkness into the bathroom. That is when I saw it: a stink bug had drowned in my water and was off gassing.

I did wake my husband who said, “Don’t worry about it, it is just a little extra protein, go back to sleep.” I remained concerned and at 2 am called poison control.
The poison control guy talked me down and here I am more than 10 years later, alive and preparing for the next stealth bomber.



a first world problem in a suffering world

One Sunflower

This picture was originally taken in 2012, I think.  It was a sunflower that just grew and grew.  It may have been one that my husband let take root, even though it contrasted with his vision for that particular area of landscape.

Like many things in nature, it can be a metaphor for our lives.  We reach a peak of growth and then as we decline, whenever that moment begins, we are laden with the ripeness of our time.  When that seed spreads, it may flower, feed other life, or disappear.  It is the nature of things.

To see this sunflower in its moment, its fullness, on the brink of decline and then to revisit it nearly four years later, is a bit of magic.


sunflower copy
Sunflower circa Fall 2012

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