Torture from Old Wives’ Tales

As a kid, when you were burned by a sparkler mishap or a hot Pop Tart, did your mom (or grandma) put butter on the burn site? Didn’t you just feel like a piece of burnt toast? You were still … Continue reading

Take Two of These and Call Me in the Morning

What can we do to feel better when the troubles of this world are weighing heavily upon us? Is there such a thing as “healthy addictions,” that we can turn to for peace and relaxation when the Daily Bad News & … Continue reading

Encumbered With Cucumbers

It’s that time of year again – the annual “Run for your lives, she’s got cucumbers to get rid of!” phase of my summer. Over the past six days, I have harvested about thirty cucumbers, and have managed to give … Continue reading

Eating Healthy is No Picnic

Childhood – it was the best of times; it was the “wurst” of times. It was a time of (generally speaking) complete indifference to the nutritional value of foods. Easy-fix “meals” and junk food had infiltrated our grocery stores in … Continue reading

Ruby Rides Again


The hummingbird season got off to a rough start for me this spring. I was heading out of town in early April, and the feeders are supposed to be in place by then, but I couldn’t find mine. I have two nice feeders, one that was a gift from a daughter, and one with perches, that I bought for myself. My funny little Ruby likes both of them. She will flit from one to the other, and then scurry off to a nearby wire or tree to lie in wait for any prospective competition. She is a skilled player, protecting her feeders with a diligent offensive – any sighting of another hummingbird, and Ruby is on the move, swooping, diving, rising high on the wing, in quick and dogged pursuit of any who would dare to threaten her territory.


At any rate, I searched high and low and everywhere in between, and those feeders were nowhere to be found. My youngest daughter heaved a sigh of relief, realizing that she was now off-the-hook for brewing up the nectar and refilling the feeders every three days (for SIX weeks!). I had to fly north knowing that my fine-feathered little missy was in the midst of her own northward flight, and would arrive to find her summer chalet unprepared for her arrival.

While in Minnesota, I happened to stop at a dollar store and saw some little hummingbird feeders, what great luck! I bought two to pack in my luggage, and got them up and running immediately upon my return home in mid-May. I was afraid that Ruby had moved on, but no, she soon showed up, displaying her usual aerial antics to protect the makeshift feeders. (One of which sprung a mysterious leak within a month…. I always quip that I’m going to make a little sign for those dollar stores, and slyly stick it on the door, right below where it says, “Everything’s a Dollar.” My sarcastic addendum would be, “Whether it’s worth it or not!”)


But I was happy. My Ruby, who gives me great joy, was back in residence. I’m fairly certain it’s been the same girl for three summers, now. Always the same behavior and “personality,” and hummingbirds live 3-5 years. Or maybe I’m already meeting a little junior of my funny girl, with birds-of-a-feather characteristics handed down from her mom. I see other little rubies and rubios attempting to dine on some of my fine, homemade nectar, but it’s always a quick visit, before Ruby runs them off. I don’t mind. I’ve grown quite attached to my special girl, and religiously refresh the feeders every three days, just for her!


Then, a couple of weeks ago, an “alarm” sounded – Ruby ran into the living room window. It was the first time that had ever happened, and I was sitting right there to witness it. Luckily, she hit it lightly enough that she bounced right off and flew into the neighbor’s tree, unharmed. I thought nothing more of it, until this past Sunday. I was in the kitchen, and heard a sound of something hitting the window. We’ve had a lot of mourning doves hit the window, and they’re always fine, but it didn’t sound loud enough for one of them. I ran into the living room and looked outside, and there was Ruby, on her back in the shrubbery. I went out to her. She was not moving. I gently flipped her over so that she could breath easier, but she looked bad. Her eyes went closed and she just laid there completely still, her wings still spread for flight. For nearly 15 minutes my daughter and I watched her. The only hint of movement we saw was a slight flicking of the tail feathers, almost like a heartbeat. I was crying, so certain was I that we were losing her. I called on St. Francis. “I know this is just a little bird, so small in the scheme of our world’s sufferings, but if you could intercede for this sweet girl, and bring about a tiny miracle, I would be so grateful.”


Unbeknownst to me, my daughter, who had silently observed the fallen Ruby for quite some time, had gone into her bedroom to pray. She also called upon St. Francis, and envisioned him taking the bird into his hands and healing her. About a minute after she had asked for this favor, I went outside to say good-bye to my pint-sized pal. Her eyes were still closed, there was no discernible movement. I leaned in closer to her, and suddenly, her little eye popped open, bright and clear. She was looking right at me, and without warning, she took flight, nearly bumping into my head. Within two seconds, she was perched on her favorite guard post, the electric lines to our house. I was frozen and speechless for a minute, and then I started to yell, “She’s okay! My little Ruby is okay. She flew up to the wire!” My heavy heart was catapulted into rejoicing, and happy tears flowed from my eyes. Was it miracle? We may never know, but it definitely felt like one to us. I immediately went to work on a makeshift window display aimed at protecting my girl from further window collisions. Since then, I’ve been keeping my eyes open at thrift stores to find some sparkly window decor to make a more pleasing arrangement. I found a few perfect items the other day, at a store I visit sometimes when visiting my daughter in Dayton, OH. I told the checkout ladies my Ruby story, and what I was using the items for. They looked at me for a few seconds, then said, “You do know what the name of this thrift store is, don’t you?” I looked up at the wall behind the counter – “St. Francis Thrift Store,” it said. What can I say, except that my favorite hummingbird is obviously in good hands, because St. Francis has his eye on her now! The lesson to learn here is that the little things are the source of our greatest joy, and God truly is in the little things!

Forgetfulness Is My Fitness Plan

I’ve entered the age of forgetfulness. I walk from the living room to my bedroom, which takes me all of about three seconds, and I have no idea what I came for. I have to walk back into the living … Continue reading

North to Alaska…?

I have been threatening, for several years now, to head north for the summer. You know those senior citizens who zip down to Florida at the first hint of a frost? They call them “snowbirds,” flying south each winter. I … Continue reading

A Brisk Bout of Boxing

I’ve never enjoyed the sport of boxing – guys punching the daylights out of each other, with side orders of blood, sweat, and swollen eyes. And it goes on for far too long, until one of them hits the floor … Continue reading

A Barn-Raising Reception

You’ve all heard of an Amish barn-raising. (If you haven’t, watch the old Harrison Ford movie, Witness.) It’s when an Amish family needs a new barn, and the whole community plans a day for everyone to gather for a giant … Continue reading

Pittsburgh Pigeons and Paco Poop

My mom loved to tell me, time and time again, how spoiled I was…so spoiled I stunk, as she liked to say (and seemed to think she was incredibly funny when saying it). I was the  youngest of three children, … Continue reading