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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gathering At The Feeder



I’ve always liked birds.

When I was single, I had a bird cage and had a male and a female finch. Eventually, they laid eggs and I had a little family on my hands. They would bounce and fly and flit around the cage. They were quite shy, so I couldn’t make any sudden moves or make a lot of noise, but we got along well.

Kim doesn’t like birds and doesn’t want me to have any in the house. With two dogs, I don’t think it would work very well, either.

A couple of years ago, I set up two bird feeders in the backyard. I placed them on either side of the yard, one next to a white flowering crape myrtle and the other next to a pink flowering crape myrtle. Between the two feeders are two small, young red maples, and between them, four knock out roses and a butterfly bush.

Build it, and they will come. They sure did!

At any time of day or early evening, we see any number of different colored finches and some canaries, the smallest of our visitors. The largest visitors we see are cardinals, blue jays, and mourning doves. Quite the variety, really.

We even had something much larger at some point during the night, probably a squirrel or raccoon because we found one of the feeders on the ground with the top open. Was kind of messy. I just picked it up, filled it, and placed it back on the stanchion.

The birds don’t seem to mind Bailey, our Golden Retriever, and she doesn’t seem to mind or notice them. They peaceably coexist. Stella, on the other hand, is a much different story. She shows up and they fly away and wait for her to come back into the house before they visit the feeders.

I either sit on the deck and watch them or watch them from a window in our family room. I find it peaceful and relaxing.

One of the things I notice is the level of cooperation amongst the birds. One day, one of the bigger birds, a blue jay, shook the feeder causing some of the seed to fall on the ground. He ate from the ground while the smaller birds ate from the feeder itself. At other times, the smaller birds will leave as the larger ones arrive and eat. Eventually they leave, and the smaller birds return.   

Everyone gets their fill and I keep them filled with seed.

Got me thinking . . .

I think people, all of us, can learn a lesson or two from birds.
Unlike birds who are unconcerned about the type of bird feeding next to it, humans seem overly concerned, especially now days. Yes, I understand current events. I do understand the worry about safety and well-being. I want my family safe when they travel to a different city or even go to a nightclub or a movie. So, yes, I get that.

But it seems to me that there is perhaps too much scrutiny over skin color, the type of dress and head covering. There are issues of who is or isn’t allowed to come to our country, even though we call ourselves, “The Land of the Free” and have a monument in a New York Harbor celebrating our immigrant heritage.

Perhaps I have a na├»ve, over-simplistic view of coexistence, a Pollyanna-ish view of how folks should get along, need to get along. So I understand if you want to give me a smile, a pat on the head and a sympathetic shake of the head. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could be similar in how we treat each other as birds treat each other? A level of cooperation? A peaceful coexistence? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Please feel free to connect with me at

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:
Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.
http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Humble And Kind



Humble And Kind

I sang this song to the seniors, the class of 2016, at our commencement. For those of you who don’t know, rather than give a speech or a principal’s address, I select a song that “fits” that particular class and I sing it to them. I use musicians who are graduates, but sometimes use former grads or grads to be. It’s something I’ve done for the last twelve or thirteen years. The song is kept a secret, which can be hard at times, especially this year, since my daughter, Emily, was one of the graduates. But I was able to keep it from her, too.

I picked the song, Humble And Kind, currently on the radio and sung by Tim McGraw, because more so than other graduates, they embody both qualities.

Our Valedictorian not only graduated from high school, but he also graduated with an Associate Degree from our local community college. He is an all-state golfer and an all-state jazz musician. By any measure, he is bright. But what I like most about him is that he is Humble. I’ve never heard him brag. I’ve never seen him lord it over anyone else. He goes about life with a smile on his face and a ready laugh.

Oh, and about a month ago, he and his family woke up in the middle of the night because their house caught on fire and burnt to the ground. They lost most everything. For several days, they were in a hotel. People rallied around them. Our school rallied around them. Clothes, keepsakes, family treasures, all gone. But he didn’t complain. He kept his smile and he kept his spirit. Humble!

A teacher told me a story about one of the seniors. She had come in to see him inquiring about her final grade for the course. The teacher had told her that she had earned a B+. She began to cry, but smiled through it. She told the teacher, “This is for my mom! She never graduated from high school.” Humble!

I rarely get political in my posts and this is on purpose. It’s not a lack of interest or concern, but only because that I see my opinion as only my opinion, not worth any more or less than yours.

I think there is too much arrogance in our world today. There is too much meanness as a result of that arrogance, and I haven’t decided whether or not that breeds ignorance or if ignorance breeds the meanness. But one just has to look at the current political campaign for president. A whole lot of arrogance, meanness and ignorance. ’Nuff said about that.

In my introduction to the song, I apologized to the grads because I felt our generation didn’t do enough to negate the arrogance, the meanness and the ignorance. I challenged them to make a difference, to bring about the change we failed to make.

I also told them to not mistake being Kind or being Humble as a sign of weakness. I believe it takes so much more strength to be Kind And Humble than it does to be arrogant, mean and ignorant. I see arrogance, meanness and ignorance as signs of weakness.

When I sang that song, I couldn’t make eye contact with the kids. From what I’m told, there were tears. From what I’m told, the thousands of parents and grandparents, family and friends were silent, eerily so. Guys, I’m no Tim McGraw- far from it. I did the best I could, honest! I’ve known some of these kids since they were in fifth grade. Many have been over at my house for sleepovers and movie nights. With my daughter, Emily, sitting in the front row, I dared not look in that direction. I only faltered once, towards the end, but I made it through.

I got into education way, way back because I like and enjoy kids. I learn so much more from them than I think I’ll ever teach them. Really! And I know that they know a thing or two about being Kind and being Humble. I think we can learn a lot from them. God help us if we don’t. And worse, God help us if we don’t walk with them down that path called Humble And Kind. God help us if none of us take that path. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
You can follow me:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:
Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.