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  • 11/23/2013

    15° F (-11° C). The three quarter moon is still visible to the west, the rising sun illuminating a thin, wispy layer of clouds to the south and east, but above us the sky is clear in gradient shades from the faded blue above the clouds to the darker blue around the moon. The activity around the bird feeder is sporadic, with a large female cardinal and a female downy woodpecker apparently controlling the smaller birds who occasionally flit in and out to the seed bar or the suet.

    Sitting in the corner of the dining area adjacent to the kitchen, I am suddenly aware of the dulcet, constant ticking of the clock on the wall behind me. If you look in any direction in Charlotte's kitchen, there is a clock. Above the sink, an old novelty clock set in a plastic representation of a house with the face where the windows would be. On another wall above the telephone (yes, she still has a land line), a round clock with the images of different birds where the numerals would normally be. On the hour, the clock plays the of the bird represented by the image. Behind me is a wooden cuckoo clock from Germany, a gift sent to Charlotte many years ago by a now deceased uncle who was stationed there. It is the old style clock with the two counter balance chains with representations of pine cones on the end and keep perfect time to this day.

    At times, I think this is a strange contradiction, since I have known Charlotte for over 30 years and she has never displayed an obsession with time. She is a devoted member of her church, an active member of her community of farmers and retirees, and a quiet and unassuming individual who lives an active witness to her faith.

    Just back from a trip to town, just a jaunt to walk around and get out of the house. We went to Altoona, a suburb of Des Moines, and walked about in a Target store and a consignment shop. After picking up a few items of clothing for me (a cable knit, European style turtleneck and a pair of jeans for under $20.00), we decided to have lunch at a local Pizza Ranch, a buffet style restaurant with exceptional chicken and pizza, as well as a very well appointed salad bar. As we were leaving, I encountered the local “mooch” squad, three white geese and two mallard ducks meandering toward the restaurant in search of a handout. They were honking and quacking to make their presence known, so I walked back inside and grabbed a couple of biscuits. As I began to break them up and toss them on the ground, I was immediately surrounded by the fowl. They voraciously gobbled up the biscuits and stood looking at me as if to ask, “No more?”. When I stood with both hands open in front of me, they wandered back into their huddle against the cold, but as I was leaving I heard the largest one give a great honk in my direction. I'm not sure if it was a thank you or a complaint.

    We returned to the house and the ladies settled in at the dining room table to chat while I went in to the sun room and spent about 25 minutes on the exercise bike, then relaxed in the recliner for a while with both Robbie and Olivia in my lap. Later, I picked up my guitar and strummed a bit while the ladies listened, and still later we all played the Wii again, laughing and joking and enjoying one another's company.

    All in all, a normal, peaceful day. The dogs busied themselves being dogs, the cats were semi-terrified, and the humans were content.

    To Be Continued.

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