Tag Archives: biology

Birdman gets his fix

My husband loves birds…all kinds of birds…except he has little respect for the sparrow. I’ve never understood this, but then I’m not much of a bird expert. I’ve always had a soft spot for sparrows so when the birdman gets on a rampage about the sparrows feasting on his finch food or whatever, I launch into a childhood favorite…”God sees the little sparrows fall, I know He loves me too…

Of course, this song usually just results in great groans and rolling of the eyes. Next to the brilliant yellow goldfinch and energetic, aerodynamic hummingbird, the lowly sparrow has little to offer in the way of beauty.

At any rate, the hubs loves his birds. When we’re traveling along an otherwise boring highway, he always manages to catch sight of every large bird — often a hawk — sitting on the fence posts in nearby fields.

So it came as no surprise when he sent me three photos today — two of a hawk and one of a small owl — all three of which he saw while making the daily rounds with the dog.

Here’s what he saw:

This is Xavier Hawk, named for one of our favorite little neighbors, on whose porch the hawk was perched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then just as the last of the afternoon sunlight was fading into dusk, he caught site of a small — perhaps baby — owl.

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Letter to Dad, part 2

Dear Dad,

Guess what. It’s fruit fly season again and you know what that means. We’re inundated and you know how happy that makes me. But I have to thank you for taking Fred under your wing and teaching him the fine art of fruit fly food production.

Last night I arrived home to find Fred preparing assorted berries for a pie he planned to bake. As soon as he had that in the oven, he admitted that we now had a “little fly problem”. Something in the back of my brain kicked in and I could see your grin light up your face and hear your gleeful, “Oh goody, time to make fruit fly food.”

I remember all too well those hot summer days, coming home from the pool to find you stirring something on the stove….it usually turned out to be that thick syrupy concoction. Standing on the counter nearby was a bottle with a paper cone taped to the mouth, just waiting for you to fill it with…yep…fruit fly food.

So anyway, there was Fred, pouring goop into a tall bottle with the all-too-familiar cone…with that RFP evil scientist grin down pat.

Lo and behold, this morning, the fruit flies had abandoned the countertop and windowsills for the syrup and there they were, trapped inside. Gorging, no doubt.

Dad, you taught us so many useful things, like how to trap a fruit fly, how to back a car into a tiny campsite, how to give a really good foot massage, how to watch tv and grade papers at the same time, how to make the perfect angel food cake, and how to remove the tiniest splinter from a screaming child. I still have your forceps.

I’m sure you knew, but I’m sure I never said it enough. Thanks.

Love you,

Mary

A letter to my dad

Note: My dad, Richard Pannabecker, died nearly 14 years ago. He was a biologist, a college professor for more than 30 years. Like most kids, I thought my dad had all the answers. Most of the time, he had a pretty good one and if not, he’d help me find a solution. A few weeks after he died, I went out for a run. I was just coming back from knee surgery so I was moving pretty slowly. I remember suddenly stopping mid-stride. I couldn’t take another step. I sat on the curb and cried, the reality of his death finally hitting me. Now, all these years later, not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. It occurred to me that I could write him some letters. It’s probably selfish, but if it serves no other purpose, it’ll make me feel better.

Dear Dad,

Do you remember when I was learning to drive? You insisted that I had to learn how to drive a manual and an automatic, so we took a trip to Lima in the VW. I was just beginning to get the rhythm of shifting gears smoothly. Idling in neutral and shifting into first was still a challenge. We were stopped at the light at the intersection of Bluelick and 65. My stomach was churning, because I was sure I couldn’t get the dang car to move forward up that slight slope.

My dad and me, circa early 1970s

Sure enough, it stalled the first time. I tried again, but the car began rolling backward and I rolled gently into the car behind us. You jumped out and checked to be sure there was no damage, then opened the driver’s door and told me to “Get over” in a less-than-gentle tone. I, of course, burst into tears as you eased us forward and drove to a flat clearing.

I think you actually apologized and then insisted that I start driving again. I begged you to drive the rest of the way home, but you refused. Something about getting back on the bike after falling off. Then I think you made a crack about the guy behind me being too close anyway, so he probably deserved it.

We switched seats again and had an uneventful trip home. Soon after that, I suddenly realized I’d mastered the whole starting on a hill thing, and I never had a problem with it again. I still prefer a manual, but haven’t had one since we ditched our Festiva.

But learning to drive didn’t end there. You also made sure I knew how to change a tire and check the oil. Of course, since I’ve never since had to change a tire….but that’s why we have AAA, right? You made sure I knew the value of that, too.

Did I ever thank you for all the things you taught me? Probably not, but I’ll bet you knew it. You were a pretty smart guy.

Thanks anyway.

Love,

Mary