Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Signs of Spring: The Bird Family at Walmart

Disclaimer: This is not an advertisement for Walmart. I received no compensation for this post. It just happens to be the all-purpose superstore in the area and, as everyone knows, a haven for travelers who need a safe place to stay.

Like many other areas around the world, our local community has suffered the loss of trees and other types of natural habitat due to wild weather and fires. We've all gritted our teeth, cried a bit over the results, and burned a lot of energy cleaning up while minimizing the effect on wildlife.

I drove to Walmart earlier this month looking for chainsaw oil. It was a dark and stormy night cloudy, windy day that had the truckers pulled into their special area while they kept off the road. I parked nearer to the entrance than usual and got out of the car.

(Okay, use your imagination!) Flapping their wings to stay aloft in front of me were Mr & Mrs Bird. It was sort of hard to understand what they were saying because my grasp of birdese is limited. When Mr Bird finally hushed and let Mrs Bird have her say, I found out the tree a mile over in which they usually built their nest had been blown down. They followed the big rigs off the highway to Walmart and found one of the young trees planted along the walkway between parking sections had limbs strong enough to hold a nest!

Just like any young couple, they proudly showed off the home they were building. Leaves, straw, twigs, and twine formed a sturdy exterior wall, while soft down plucked from their own bodies lined the interior. 

Mr Bird pointed a wing towards the customers going in and out of the store. "They're nice," he chirped. "We've been here just a short time and we've had a potluck of fresh greens dropped off on the ground for us."

Mrs Bird agreed and added, "One lady even opened the wild bird seed she bought for her yard and left us some."

They mentioned how wonderful it would be when the leaves reached their full size. Mrs Bird commented on how nice it would be to hear the conversations of locals and tourists walking to and from the store. She mentioned how her mom had complained about being left out of things when her day and night was spent sitting on the eggs to keep them warm until the baby birds hatched out. "I won't have to face that!" she chuckled in a bird sort of fashion. "The people who come will stop to talk with me and admire our beautiful children."

I said goodbye and ventured into the store. When I walked back to my car, they both trilled "See you later" and watched to make sure I got into the car okay. I smiled as I drove home, feeling happy that all God's creatures are adaptable and thriving despite the hurdles life throws in the way.

What signs of spring have you encountered?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Learn From Stress Awareness Month This April

Meet SFC Boe, a therapeutic stress dog who served in Iraq

April has hosted Stress Awareness Month since 1992. Sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), its purpose is to educate citizens about causes and effects of stress as well as cures. Discussions, public forums and a variety of community events create a platform for people from all walks of life to share and learn.

Who Suffers from Stress?
Stress does not discriminate between age groups or social status. In the United States, it affects millions every year. Caregivers and senior citizens are candidates along with soldiers, students, and executives. 

How Caregivers can Spot Signs of Stress
Caregivers often have to read between the lines to detect problems with the ones they care for. Signs of stress exhibited by the elderly include:
·         Lack of concentration.
·         Listlessness.
·         Problems sleeping.
·         Mood swings (crankiness, sadness).
·         Sudden change in eating habits.

Stress Management Tips
Manage stress with exercise. It causes the brain to release endorphins that create a positive feeling. Caregivers can loosen stiff muscles by standing and stretching every hour or so and by swinging their legs when seated at a table or desk.
Keep upper and lower body muscles active with easy-to-do exercises for seniors confined to a chair or encountering difficulty with balance:
·         Tap the toes of the right foot twice. Then tap the toes on the left foot. Repeat five times.
·         Roll the shoulders backwards three or more times.
Focus on daily positive events like good weather and plans that go right. Encourage the person you care for to visit with friends. Even sharing a post or eCard on social media brings positive communication and happiness to relieve stress. 

Stress is a killer that finds easy victims when we fail to recognize the warning that we need a mental or physical break.

My blog is the best weapon I have for fighting stress. What are some of the things that help you, your family, and friends?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I Love a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Few activities draw crowds like parades. St. Patrick’s Day is has become a festivity around the world for the Irish and people who want to be Irish for the day. In observance of the patron saint of Ireland, it is celebrated on the day of his death, March 17.

Imagination runs wild for parade participants. Tis a fine day for a parade!

There are two common legends about St. Patrick. The first one is that the brilliant green 3-leaf shamrock was the method with which he taught the Irish about the Holy Trinity. There is no reason to doubt its credibility. Using familiar items to teach complicated lessons is a successful method that continues today.

The green hats of the crowd make a wonderful background for the parade.

The second is that he put a curse on Ireland’s venomous snakes and herded them into the sea to drown. Repelling dangerous snakes in the name of God is certainly an action designed to gain attention. Like all legends, a portion of the activity may have grown over time. Acceptance is a matter of faith.
All parades are better with horses and law enforcement, especially with friendly smiles like the ones shown here.

 I selected three pictures of parades in Dublin from years past in case weather or some other thing interferes with your opportunity to attend this year’s parade. Wear a bit of green, look for a pot of gold, try to catch a leprechaun, and have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!