Breathtaking

Early this morning we drove over to Conyers, Georgia to visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit for a Sweetwater Camera Club field trip.

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The grounds were so quiet and serene, I felt at peace almost immediately. What happened next amazed me.

As you can see in the photograph above, the Abbey is quite beautiful. When you walk through the doors and see the stained glass windows against the concrete, the simplicity of the design stuns you, but there is something there the eye cannot see. While we stood there looking at the beautiful colors in the stained glass against the bare gray concrete, the camera saw something completely different.

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This photograph is not altered. While the naked eye sees an immense church built with gray concrete, the camera picks up a beautiful abbey with blue toned supports and an alter that seemed to be be glowing, and growing warmer each minute of our stay.

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We strolled down by the lake. We visited the Bonsai shop. We browsed at the book store. All in all it was a wonderful day with my wonderful family, and an enriching experience for all of us.

The “moment” of my day was making the following photograph.

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When I saw the simple wooden cross against the bare, concrete wall, I was reminded of the lyrics to “The Eagle Song” by The Imperials.

What human intellect can’t sway
Must be explained this way
Earth wisdom, religions of men
Searched without end to find the spirit house within
Simplicity of God somehow escapes man

Absolutely breathtaking.

All Grown Up With No Place To Go

Our baby bluebirds fledged today, but it wasn’t all fun and games for one of the babies.

Each summer, since putting up our bluebird house, we have had a nesting pair of Eastern Bluebirds on our back deck. Each summer, they have at least two broods, and one time three. We have only had one bad egg out of all the broods hatched in our bluebird house, which is 10 feet from our back door.

The bluebirds that spend time in our yard get very accustomed to our comings and goings. They don’t seem to have any problem when we decide we want to use our back deck either. In fact, they sit on the feeder poles 10-15 feet away from the nest when we check it.

Bluebird Babies

 

Last year, the mother bluebird flew up to our back door in what seemed to be a panic. She was making quite a ruckus, and it was obvious she was trying to get our attention. We quickly noticed that one of the the babies from their first brood had fallen from the deck before it was ready to fly.

Based on her reaction, I did not hesitate to go outside to pick it up and bring it back up to the deck to place it back in the nest. Ever since that day, we have seemed to enjoy a special bond with the bluebirds on our back deck.

This afternoon, we noticed both the male and female bluebirds hovering over the same spot in the yard. I checked their nest and sure enough, the babies had fledged from the nest, right on schedule. I grabbed my shoes and walked out into the yard to find one of the babies hiding behind a blade of grass (it wasn’t camouflaged too well).

After a brief observation it was clear that the baby couldn’t fly, but I couldn’t tell if it was due to the tall grass in that section of the yard, or if it just wasn’t developed enough yet. The parents flew to the bushes nearby and waited patiently.

I picked up the baby to examine it. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t injured. I tried to place it on a low branch of one of our snowball bushes, but it wouldn’t let go of my fingers, so I snapped the following photo with my iPhone.

Baby Bluebird

 

After a brief rest, the baby was ready to try flying again. As I placed it gently back where I found it, the mom and dad started hovering over it again, trying to persuade the little tyke to take flight. It’s brothers and sisters were flying in and out too, in an obvious sign of support.

As the sun set tonight, after an afternoon of numerous flight attempts, that baby was still sitting in the tall grass by the old swing set, and its parents were still perched on the top of the swing set keeping an eye out for predators. Maybe tomorrow the little bird will find just the lift it needs to spread its wings and fly.

They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Apparently you can lead a bluebird to the open field, but you can’t make it fly either.

One Night Off. Rinse. Repeat.

I am taking one more night to relax before I get back into the swing of things. Enjoy this photo of the Great Egret we saw on June 29th.

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I can hardly wait for fall migration to begin.

A Roller Coaster Day

Have you ever had one of those days that was a roller coaster from the moment it started? Today was one of those days.

It started with the high also known as ‘Friday’. Friday’s are good days. Most of the people I know look forward to Friday all week long. Some people thank God for Friday’s. Like most Friday’s before it, today started out great!

I had an appointment at 10 with someone who could help solve a lot of the monetary issues around here. Being un-employed/under-employed for 18 months really takes a toll on a person and his family. Hopefully this meeting will be the beginning of the end where the money crunch is concerned.

After my appointment, and several phone calls to and from bill collectors and other “interested parties”, I had to run to Carrollton for a couple of errands. Although I think that first meeting today went well, the rest of my morning and afternoon just tanked. It all sucked.

I found out that one source of income is being held up due to the economic idiocy of our current administration, and another source is “under review” because of the client’s financial situation. If the economy doesn’t pick up soon, things could get real ugly, real quick, for a lot of people.

Before I continue, I need to point out something that is otherwise unrelated to the items mentioned thus far. The case I use on my iPhone cracked the other day. I was bummed because I don’t want to spend the extra money on a new case right now, but the crack made it impossible to use the case at all. Now back to today…

In one of my calls this morning, I found out that my phone case is still under warranty. It turns out that I had a one-year warranty on manufacturing defects, and well, the crack was definitely caused by a defect because it otherwise wouldn’t have (and couldn’t have) cracked otherwise. The warranty expires sometime next month.

Since I was having an otherwise “off” day, I decided to stop by the AT&T store to get the case replaced. I figured I could drool over the new iPhone 4 and look at other iPhone accessories, while I was waiting. I walked in, told them my problem, and they asked to see my phone. As they were taking the phone out of the case, they dropped it. Well… They didn’t just drop it, they propelled it across the counter, into the wall, back onto the counter and then eventually (after a rather slow slide on the counter) onto the floor.

The guy picked up my phone and checked it. There was a nice long crack on the back of my phone. Truth be told, there was a crack on the back before they threw it across the room. I told them so. Of course, the crack was nowhere as long as it is now, but it was cracked previous to it’s flight through the store.

They checked the front of the phone and there were three definite scratches on the front too, which sucked, but I figured I could live with them… (If you know me and my OCD about everything computer related you know that wasn’t going to be possible). But before I could even say “It will be alright”, they told me they were replacing my phone.

They insisted on replacing it right there and then. They insisted because the flight through the air onto the counter which resulted in the fall and caused the crack on the back to expand as well as the scratches on the front, was their fault. They also said there was no way to know if they damaged something inside the phone, so they would not take no for an answer. They didn’t want me walking out the door only to find out my phone was more damaged than I thought it was.

My old phone was an iPhone 3G and I was happy with it. My new phone is an iPhone 3Gs and I am in heaven. My day was going to hell in a hand basket, but tonight I have a brand new phone that makes me wonder how I survived with the old one. The old one wasn’t bad at all until I used the new one. Holy cow!

I told them, again, that they didn’t have to do that, but they wanted to make sure they did right by me, and I appreciated it. After a day filled with people who could care less about me or the situation I could soon be in, it was nice to see complete strangers step up and do something like this.

Hebrews 13:2 states, “Don’t forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.” I memorized that verse while attending college in Hilo, Hawaii back in the fall of 1982. I think of it often, usually after I have had to deal with someone who wasn’t pleasant, or was a bit too rude for no reason. It was refreshing to think of that verse as I walked out of the store.

I was still in shock as I walked across the parking lot to my truck, but I was quickly brought back to reality as lightning flashed, thunder clapped, and it began to pour rain. If there’s one thing I have learned in life, it’s to always expect the unexpected.

As I climbed into the truck, soaking wet, I paused for a moment and closed my eyes. No matter how much rain falls, no matter how many storms we face ahead, the roller coaster day was almost over and it didn’t turn out as bad as it could have.

Thank God it’s Friday!