Thursday, January 29, 2015


Today is my father's 85th birthday.  Last weekend we met family members from four states for a lunch in Birmingham, AL.  Unfortunately - most of the pictures did not turn out.  And those that did, are on my sister's and her friend's equipment - and my sister has the flu.  So more of those pics may be on the way.

I had been working on a blanket for my niece's baby, for months.  It's not really a baby blanket - it's meant to be a "big-boy blanket" for a little boy whose family LOVES to hunt.  That's why the camo colors.  It's more for him to use when he's a little older.  But it was nice to get it done and delivered to his mother.  And here's a picture of Mike holding the little guy.  Mike hasn't lost his touch.  :-)

We also had a singing for Dad at his and Mom's church of 50 years.  Videos of that will appear later as well.

This morning some of the men of the church surprised Dad for breakfast at a local spot.  Sixteen came out to wish him a happy birthday.  Mike and Andrew were supposed to take him, thinking it was just the three of them - but Mike is recuperating from the flu.  (And I have what seems to be bronchitis.  The symptoms are identical to what is online - low fever, secretions, fatigue, trouble breathing {not acute trouble}.  And 90% of it is viral, so I am avoiding the doctor for a day or two, as if it's viral there's not much he can do.)  So Andrew took Dad without Mike going along, where Dad was surprised by the men of the church.  They really love and care about him.

So, happy birthday to my dad on his 85th!!


Now, there was one more thing about our trip to Alabama for Dad's birthday that made it an outstanding trip.  Outstanding.  We were driving into Decatur, AL, past the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.  We used to go to the refuge a lot in the early days of our marriage, to see the many ducks and geese varieties that overwinter there.  However, it's been years since that's been a destination.

So we're driving on the main highway, when I look over at one of the impoundments along the road, and realize - those aren't ducks, or geese, but SANDHILL CRANES!!  A bird we've never seen, which used to be uncommon in the east, but apparently is increasing in the area.  They have red streaks on their heads, which was the tip-off of what they were.

We pulled into a driveway and saw about 200 feeding in a field.  We saw all the common behaviors - the way they lift their wings to intimidate other birds, their awkward appearance at flying in and taking off, their calls and squawks.  Of course--we had neither bird books nor binoculars with them.  This is the best pic we could get with a phone, of a couple that wandered closer to us, but it in no way shows the sight we had of those magnificent birds.

I called the Refuge on Monday to ask about their presence.

Apparently, about seven or eight years ago, several hundred sandhill cranes came to the refuge, and their numbers have been increasing every year, until this winter, when the count is at 40,000!!  The geese are way down, but the cranes are increasing.

So that was a wonderful personal addition to the whirlwind weekend trip to celebrate Dad's birthday.


Barbara H. said...

Belated happy birthday to your dad! The experience with the cranes sounds wonderful.

rk2 said...

We saw those cranes too on Saturday morning. What a sight although we didn't stop.