Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mom Takes Owl to Show and Tell Without a Permit

The most exciting thing that happened to us this week was finding a dead Great Horned Owl on the road. Well, we didn't actually find him, Alana did. She sent me a text message that said "I found a dead owl on the road, do you want it?" I sent her a message back: "Yeah!". So we met at Jerami's and I got the dead owl out of her trunk.

It was lying on it's back with it's wings spread out. It was such a beautiful specimen, if you didn't look at it's head. We think it might have been hit by a car. The neck appeared to be broken and the head was kind of smashed. One eye had been pecked out (probably by ravens) and the other looked like an ogre sucked the jelly out of it. There was some dried blood on the head and just a little on one of the wings. But if you ignored the head and just looked at the wings, it was an incredible creature.

I took it home and showed the boys when they got home from school. At first they were not very impressed. They barely gave it a second glance. The next day I took it to Chris' class and asked his teacher if she wanted to see it. She was absolutely thrilled and asked me to bring it into the library. I spread it out on the lid of my tote for the second graders to see. Most of them were duly impressed and there were only a few "ews". Some of the children touched it's leathery feet and long talons while Ms. Boone said "Can you imagine being a mouse being carried away inside that foot?" While the kids crowded around to admire the beautiful feathers, Chris gave me a hug and said "Thanks, Mom." Then I took it to Riley's school and showed his class. Riley's teacher from last year is really into science so I showed her class, too.

Next, I had to figure out what to do with the owl. I wanted to have it stuffed and mounted but Matt informed me there might be laws making it illegal to possess an owl. So I called every scientist in town that I know but kept getting voice mail. Finally, someone called back and told me I needed a permit to show him around and then I needed to turn him over to Fish and Wildlife. I had already taken him to show and tell without a permit. It was kind of exciting to think I had broken the law! I could just see the headlines: "Homer Mom Imprisoned for Illegally Showing Dead Owl to School Kids". I secretly hoped that I could served my sentence in the same prison condominium where Martha Stewart and Paris Hilton stayed, instead of getting thrown in with the hardened criminals.

I brought it to the wildlife refuge research center here in town and the bird expert took the owl from me. I confessed I had taken it to two schools and she said "That's okay. Thanks for turning it in." That was it. The anticlimactic ending. I didn't get so much as a slap on the hand or a fine. It was really cool to have been able to see such a magnificent animal up close like that. I do kind of miss it and wish that I could have had a skilled taxidermist restore it to a fraction of it's previous glory to keep in my home. After it gets tagged and registered, it will be turned over to our local museum. I forgot to take pictures of it so I uploaded some photos from the Internet for the blog. I wonder what manner of creature will wander into our yard next week, perhaps a porcupine?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Bear Visit

Trevor treed another bear in our yard the other day. Matt thinks he weighed about 300 pounds. This is not the cute young bear we had in our yard a couple of months ago, unless he gained 200 pounds over the summer!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School

The last two weeks have been a blur. All I remember is having a lot of anxiety about getting the kids back to school, and then putting my nose to the grind stone. The kids all have wonderful kind teachers with lots of experience and I am grateful for that. Maya started her second year at Paul Banks Preschool two hours per day, Mondays and Wednesdays, where she gets speech therapy. Her teacher says she has elected herself the class leader. She looks so confident going about her "duties" as a special helper. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 1pm she goes to the same preschool both the boys went to when they were little. It is run by a friend of ours who is wonderful with the children. I was hoping to get caught up on the mountains of work I have been neglecting for the two years. Not a chance.

First, we are still trying to finish up our rock project before the snow falls. At this point I think the rocks will be in but the rest of the landscaping may have to wait until next spring. Second, two of our co-workers are trekking in Bhutan for the month of September so I offered to work some extra shifts while they are gone. This is proving to be epic as we begin the cold and flu season with the additional threat of H1N1, the swine flu. After a 10 year old boy in Fairbanks with no known pre-existing conditions died last week, parents, school nurses and public health nurses are all in a panic. Now every child with a sniffle is suspected of having swine flu. We are rapidly running out of Tamiflu in the local pharmacies. I think I am suffering from the collective anxiety. I spent 3 hours at the office yesterday on my "day off" returning phone calls, calling in prescriptions, sending referrals and writing lab letters. I did not even get to my charting.

There seems to be no end to the amount of work. I have not been able to finish the book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" or put to use any of the information I was taught at the time management seminar I attended last winter. According to the 80/20 rule, 20% of what we do is the most valuable work. The other 80% is scut work that we do unconsciously. For the past year I have been frustrated with the 80% of my life that is scut work. I feel so bogged down by the repetitious chores that are so tedious and mundane, like housework and charting.

In my quest for higher consciousness I decided to start a writers' group. It started when I was reading a book Matt's cousin published with her writers' group, 5 emerging Brooklyn writers. Reading her work made me feel so alive, I wanted to feel that way more often. The first week only two of us could attend and we had a wonderful time, writing and sharing our work and getting to know one another better. But as a parent of 3 young children it is so difficult for me to make that kind of time for myself on a regular basis. First, you have to line up childcare, then you have to get there. That part was not so bad but the next day I was so tired from lack of sleep that I was essentially useless.

Back to the rock quarry. Last weekend my mom took the kids away for a few hours and I put 7 hours in at the rock quarry. I really enjoy physical labor that doesn't require much thinking. It allows my mind to wander and I am prone to day dreaming. Sometimes I get more clarity in my thinking. It's that old Zen principle, chop wood, carry water. In my case it was shovel rocks, wash rocks, push wheel barrow, dump rocks. I feel at peace with the world during my hours in the rock quarry. I am starting to think that maybe the key to happiness, for me, is not trying to maximize the 20%, but being more present in the moment and finding meaning in the other 80%.

Take picture of me, Mommy!

First day of school, toting supplies.

Vanessa liked my Pujols story so much, she got me my own Pujols shirt!

Eating out of the garden.