I’m extremely busy this week so here is a Bud commercial as a fill in.
Monthly Archive: October 2009
This is a short story I wrote for my children.
The Bird Lady
by John Dadlez
“Good morning Sophie,” said the policeman to the old lady feeding the birds and small animals in the park. He did this every day as he walked his beat, meeting her for so many mornings that he had lost count.
“And how are your little friends today?”
“Oh, very good,” she replied, “except maybe for Squeezel.” She pointed to a particular squirrel. “He looks a little bit under the weather today.” Pulling from her goody bag a large nut, she motioned to the squirrel who came right up and took it from her fingers.
“Well, I’m sure he’ll be fine. You take very good care of him. I’ll be back a little later to check up on you.”
“Thank you,” she said as she waved good-bye and went back to feeding the birds.
Every day, rain or shine, she visited the city park, came to the same bench by the lake, and all her friends waited patiently for her arrival. The pigeons and doves, finches and robins, ducks and swans all knew that she was their friend. She always showed up with a tasty morsel of day old pastry or good sourdough bread for them to start their day. Even the squirrels and chipmunks came to say hello and gather up a few crumbs for breakfast, and the fish in the lake would gather closer to the shore and poke their heads up above the surface to see what she had brought for them that day.
Sometimes as the children in the park played and flew their kites, a group of them would gather around the bench and watch as she tossed crumbs to the birds and animals, talking to them as if they were her own little children, even addressing several by name. And would you believe that the birds and animals knew their names and came right away when she called?
This went on all day, until the late afternoon, when she finally gathered her things and said good-bye to her friends to start the long walk back to her home. Sometimes, the birds and animals would follow her to the edge of the park and beyond, just to make sure that she made it out of the park safely. One day Squeezel even followed her all the way home, dodging traffic and the feet of hurried people, just because he was curious.
“Surely,” he thought, “such a kind and wonderful person must live in a grand house with many friends and family to take care of her.” But he was mistaken. He followed her to a broken down apartment building in an old neighborhood, and watched as she slowly climbed the stairs to her building, one step at a time, until she finally reached the door. He waited as she went inside and watched for many minutes until a light went on in a window many floors up. Quickly he scampered up the gutter of the building and across the ledge until he came to the window.
Inside he saw the Bird Lady taking off her plain cloth coat and gently lay it over the back of a chair. It was a small apartment with one main room. There was a kitchen area and a table for eating. A couch and chair sat up against the far wall and by his window was her bed. The room was filled with the things that humans hold so dear that, when judged all together, tell the story of their lives. Many pictures decorated the walls, pictures of a younger Bird Lady with other people. They were very old and browned at the edges. On top of the little side tables and chests were knick-knacks she had collected over the years. Some he recognized from other windows he’d peeped into. Others were strange and must have come from far, far away.
He watched the Bird Lady go about her business, tidying up here and there, and putting on a kettle for tea. As she drank, she went about the kitchen pulling out bags of seeds and nuts, preparing the food for her next day in the park. Finally, she was ready for bed. Squeezel found himself a nice hole in a nearby tree and curled up for the night.
In the morning the Bird Lady dressed, had a light breakfast and gathered her belongings to start her day. Squeezel followed her as she left the building and watched as she entered bakeries, and markets, always asking the proprietors the same question. “Anything for my friends today?”
The owners would smile and reach under a counter for a large paper bag full of day old breads and pastries to give her.
“You have a good heart, “she would say. “My friends thank you.”
When she finished, off she went to the park.
Squeezel told all of his companions in the park what he had seen and it made them all love the Bird Lady even more. As time passed their numbers grew. When spring came, new mothers would bring their young ones and introduce them to her. When it was the dead of winter and ice and snow covered the ground, they didn’t worry about hunger or the cold; she always brought food to feed them and cloth scraps and shredded paper to use for lining their nests.
As time passed she continued to come, but gradually, it took longer for her to arrive. She had always had two legs until one day she showed up with three; a long stiff one that she held in her hand and leaned on to help her walk. On one particular cold autumn morning she didn’t show at all.
The birds and animals were worried, what could have happened. Was she OK? They approached Squeezel to take them to where the Bird Lady lived. He tried hard to remember the way, but squirrels don’t have the best of memories. When he thought he remembered well enough, he led them out of the park.
People stopped and stared in amazement as the parade of squirrels, chipmunks, and birds bounced, waddled and flew down the city streets, all in the same direction and all with the same purpose until they stopped outside the old apartment building in the old neighborhood where the Bird Lady lived. The squirrels and chipmunks scurried up pipes, light poles and branches while the birds flew, all of them, up to the window that Squeezel had pointed out. Neighbors peered out windows, people on the street below stopped and stared as the birds and animals swarmed the side of the building, all trying to get a glimpse inside to see their missing friend.
In her bed by the window Sophie, their Bird Lady lay. Her chest barely moved as she breathed. The eyes that had once beamed with warm love now seemed cloudy, tired, and moist with tears. One of the birds gently pecked the glass hoping to get her attention. Sophie rolled her eyes toward the window and with what strength she had left, slowly turned her head.
Softly the words, “My goodness,” left her lips as she gazed at the sight of her friends peering in to say hello. A gentle smile came to her face. Squeezel knew, as all creatures know, it was that time for their friend to say good-bye forever. Somehow, as small creatures can, they let her know how much they loved her. Her smile got bigger as she understood, closed her eyes, and went to sleep.
As her eyes closed the birds through out the city took to the air. Moving in unison, like a great whirlwind, up through the sky, higher and higher, carrying Sophie’s spirit to heaven and into the hall of the Great Creator of All Things.
There, Sophie stood, unafraid, in the presence of the warm eternal love that created the universe. It was a mighty cathedral made with pillars and walls of light. All around her were the souls of creatures great and small and people that she recognized from the pictures that hung for many years on her apartment walls. Everyone rejoiced to see her and through the love they radiated, she knew that she was in a miraculous place.
Suddenly, a light shone down upon her. It was a light brighter than a thousand blazing suns. But it had a warmth and gentleness that made her know she was in the presence of the Almighty.
“Good woman,” said the light, “you have been kind and taken care of my little creatures for many years. When they were hungry, you went hungry so they would have food. When they were sick, you nursed them back to health even though your health was failing. When they were in danger, you brought them to safety, providing protection and warmth. Now it is your time to be taken care of, for I know your hearts desire.”
The Bird Lady felt a warmth rush through her body and a miraculous change sweep through her. She looked at her hands. Beams of light shot from her fingers and her skin glowed in all the colors of the rainbow. Her arms and legs started to shrivel and change. Suddenly she felt a gentle lift and flapped her arms to discover that they were now wings. They were beautiful white wings that matched the rest of the beautiful white feathers that covered her entire body. She was a snow-white dove! A feeling of joy filled her as she flapped and glided over the heads of everyone present.
“Thank-you! Oh thank-you,” she said as she soared away, high into the sky, above clouds, and past rainbows.
Below her stretched the world. She saw countryside, great rivers and lakes, towns and eventually a great city. She flew in for a closer look. Down she glided, over roof tops and city streets until she came to a park. Resting for a moment on top of a very distinguished looking statue, she caught sight of a nearby lake and flew toward it. There, seated on a bench, surrounded by birds and animals, sat a little old man. He talked as he tossed out breadcrumbs, nuts and seeds to his waiting companions. Sophie joined her new friends.
copyright 2009 John Dadlez. All rights reserved.
Technology and Where We Are Headed
Every once in a while I’ll talk to someone about what it’s like being a web programmer or designer. They will eventually say something like.
“Man, I really missed the boat on that one. I wish I got into it a long time ago.”
To which I reply, “Stick around, everything will change in about 6 months.”
And to a large extent that has been a pretty accurate statement. The number one rule of the internet for my entire career has been that it changes all of the time. Whatever was in a year ago could very easily be on it’s way out today. It is the most fluid environment to work in that I have ever seen in any industry.
Technology isn’t like accounting, or carpentry or plumbing. You can learn those fields and build on them over the lifetime of your career. With technology you make a bet that whatever you are studying or whatever area you choose to focus on will be around in five years. There is so much road kill littering the Information Super Highway that it isn’t hard to begin to list the names of once high flying, promising tech apps, philosophies, businesses, and technologies.
Look at Apple as a prime example of change. They started as a PC maker, almost went the way of the dinosaur, came back and now they make the majority of their money with consumer electronics melding computers into everyday devices. Microsoft, the once unbeatable Goliath is now struggling to keep its position because of the new Goliath, Google. Google is trying to stay on top by buying every hot upstart it can get it’s hands on that could possibly circumvent it’s strangle hold on the internet. Twitter and other social networking sites like FaceBook can drive traffic to websites without users having to kiss Google ass for search engine positioning. Twitter is the hottest thing on the net, has millions of users but has yet to make a dime for its investors.
This has been the past and is the present. It is total insanity. Technology was supposed to make life better. Is it? And this question is coming from a technology person!
Usually the same person that said he missed the boat will also ask me where I think we’re going in the future. My reply is always, “I don’t want to know.”
Latest Bumper Stickers I’ve Seen
Here are some of the latest bumper stickers I’ve seen:
“Jesus Loves You. Everyone else thinks you’re an asshole!”
“Jesus loves you, but he’s not in love with you. You know that, right?
“My kid poops rainbows at Middleton Elementary School”
“What would Jesus do for a Klondike Bar?”
“No, I’m pretty sure GUNS kill people.”
“What would Obama do?”
More to come…
Discipline and Children
Disciplining children these days is like traversing a minefield. Doing it to your own children is tough enough, try being a teacher. My wife has to do this minefield tap dance on a daily basis. She has my undying respect. I deal with it on an occasional basis when I volunteer to do something in her classroom. It’s an education for me every time I do it.
The first time I had a run in with her students was about ten years ago. She was teaching third grade. Even back then budget cuts were severe and one of the first things to go was the art program. Having been a commercial artist for a while, I came in to teach basic drawing and how geometry relates to art.
My wife gave me the basic rundown on how to handle the crowd and she said she would be available if I needed any help. I told her I could handle it. Even if I couldn’t I wasn’t gonna let her know it. I was an officer in the Army Reserve for God’s sake. I wasn’t going to let a bunch of third graders get the best of me. Besides, I had a few tricks up my sleeve.
Most of the kids in her classroom were good but there are always a few trouble makers and they bring the whole group down with them. This class had one in particular.
Yup, you got the name right. And he was named after the kid in the Omen too, one of his parent’s favorite movies. He was a troublemaker with a capital “T”. This kid looked like an angel and he’d snow you with his angelic face, and smooth lines, he had a really good act. Until he realized that I didn’t buy it. Then his look changed to something that to this day I can honestly say gave me a shiver and lead me to believe that I’ll be watching the news on TV someday and a story about him will pop up.
He disrupted the class to the point where I couldn’t get anything done. My wife was just about ready to intervene but I signaled her not to. This kid sat smugly knowing every right he had and I didn’t have and would feel triumphant if I broke down and sent him to the principal for some lame talking to that didn’t mean squat. I could see the other kid’s frustration with him so I stopped and addressed the class.
I told them that I really enjoyed coming to teach them art and asked if they wanted me to come back. They enthusiastically said yes. I said that it was a shame because Dr. D (my wife has a PhD) has a policy that if even one student acts badly in the classroom they all suffered and I couldn’t come back.
There was a silence throughout the classroom.
Then I suggested that maybe the class should have a talk with Damien at recess and see if they could solve the problem.
All the little heads turned and glared at Damien who was shrinking down into his seat trying to become as small as possible. My wife slapped her hands on the top of her head in disbelief at what I had just done and glared at me from the back of the room.
I started teaching again. Damien behaved perfectly but continually glanced over his shoulder.
I got an ear full later from my wife. My reply to her was and still is…
Peer pressure is good.