Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Bountiful Spring in Central Park for New Goose Babies!


New arrival for Hansel and Greta taking a nap.
Three little balls of yellow fluff.
Almost two weeks old now, Hansel and Greta's goslings quickly growing!
Meanwhile, Mary with one of her babies.
John and Mary whose goslings are one week older than Hansel and Greta's.
Naptime!
Proud Mary and her babies.
It's nearly two weeks since Greta hatched her eggs at the Central Park Reservoir.
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But, not all of her five eggs hatched and so Greta continued to dutifully sit on her nest, presumably in hopes the last one finally would.
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She sat on the nest an additionally two days with her already hatched babies tucked neatly under her wings while her mate, Hansel, stayed devotedly by her side.
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But by Monday morning, it was clear that the last egg was unviable. Perhaps due to the delay in quickly moving from the nest or suddenly cooler weather, one of Greta's new hatchlings also didn't make it.
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But she and Hansel still had three little healthy balls of yellow fluff to attend to.
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There is little time in the animal world to mourn what was not meant to be. The family had to quickly recover from loss and move on. 
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Since that time, an interesting development has taken place.
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As previously noted, there was already another goose family at the Reservoir.
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John and Mary had hatched their three goslings a week before those of Hansel and Greta came into this world.
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Typically, John and Mary nest and stay to the north west part of the Reservoir while Hansel and Greta nest and claim the entire east side of it.
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But, since the arrival of Hansel and Greta's new bundles of joy, John and Mary brazenly  moved to the east side with their quickly growing goslings!
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When first observing this, I was both, surprised and concerned -- expecting a long, drawn out battle between the two ganders over territorial claim as what occurred last year.
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But, unlike last year when Mary's nest was destroyed along with the all eggs in it, this year she too, successfully nested and apparently the presence of goslings makes a huge difference in terms of acceptance by another goose family.
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Not only have Hansel and Great accepted the "older" family into their territory, but they actually appear to welcome them!  
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Both families are typically found along the east side of the Reservoir, peacefully getting along and often staying quite close to each other.
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While not certain, I am guessing such acceptance and cooperation is to add measure of security to their situations. As in humans, goose families apparently like to stay together and share in the raising of babies. Additionally, the ganders share in responsibility for defending the territory and chasing away interlopers.
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Speaking of "family," I had previously speculated in past years that Mary and Greta might actually be sisters.
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Since female geese choose the nesting sites and since geese typically return to the general areas they themselves hatched, such speculation was not particularly far out.
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I am now convinced the two geese are sisters. They might in fact be part of the offspring of "Mama and Papa" the original goose parents I observed at Turtle Pond in Central Park during the spring and summer of 2010.
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From the get-go, the goslings of Mama and Papa became very acclimated to people and there is no question that both, Mary and Greta are extremely social with and used to humans. Greta even chose for her nesting site, the most visible and human accessed point of the whole Reservoir -- close to the East 90th Street public entrance!
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Sadly, Mama and Papa have both passed on in recent years.
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But, at least two of their offspring apparently survive to raise their own babies and carry on the legacy.
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This spring in Central Park has been particularly bountiful for geese. Unlike past years, it appears that not all eggs were oiled and/or nests deliberately destroyed by either Geese Police or park personnel.
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There is also a new family of geese at the Boat Lake in Central Park -- a goose pair with seven goslings!
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It has indeed been a bountiful spring in Central Park this year with at least 13 new goslings.
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Compared to last year when there were only three goslings in the entire 843 acre park and the previous year when only two survived, this year is definitely "feast" rather than famine.
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Mama and Papa somewhere in goose heaven, are, I am confident, looking down and smiling.   -- PCA
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                                              **********

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Donald Trump Won the Presidency Last Night -- Nightmare or Prophecy?


An angry Bernie Sanders -- Trump's best surrogate?
 
Donald Trump won the Presidency last night.
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The good news is that it is only mid May and thus, possibility of the scenario above is still months away. 
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But, watching the chaos and destruction that has unfolded within the democratic party over the past few months (and especially days), could be the best predictor for what to millions of Americans, is nothing short of a nightmare: A Donald Trump Presidency.
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Mr. Trump was actively tweeting (and likely laughing) last night as Hillary Clinton struggled to a razor thin win in the Kentucky primary and lost the Oregon primary to democratic "insurgent," Bernie Sanders by nine points.
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Reality is, that Hillary Clinton has been taking hits from both, the extreme left and fanatical right for many months. That she is still standing and well on her way to the democratic nomination might actually be the surprise in all this. By contrast, Bernie Sanders basically gets a free pass from any criticism. Democrats don't want to alienate "passionate" Bernie supporters and Republicans would prefer a Sanders' candidacy over Hillary as easier to attack and defeat in November.
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(It should be pointed out that Bernie Sanders has never been a democrat and merely joined the party two years ago in order to run for President. He is a self-describe, "socialist" and as such, is really an interloper to the democratic party.)
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The late primaries of May and June don't matter much in terms of changing the actual math and inevitable outcome of the democratic race for Presidential nomination. Hillary essentially has the nomination sewn up with a 3 million popular vote lead and more than 700 delegate count lead. She only needs less than 100 delegates now to mathematically clinch -- something she is sure to achieve on June 7th when delegate-rich states like New Jersey and California finally vote in the primary.
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But, the primaries won't end with the spoken will of the voters and actual clinching of the nomination.
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Bernie Sanders is belligerently promising a contentious "fight" all the way to the convention floor in July. This despite the fact he has suffered a substantial and decisive loss.
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Many (especially media) are acting surprised at the Sanders-inspired violence that broke out at the Nevada Democratic State Convention last weekend which was charged with assigning delegates for the upcoming National Convention in July. (Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses by 6 points in February.) 
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Supporters of Bernie Sanders unhappy with the process, disrupted and hurled obscenities at long time progressive California Senator (and Hillary supporter), Barbara Boxer as well as they threw chairs on stage and issued death threats to democratic chair person, Roberta Lange. The convention had to be shut down early due to security concerns.
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The harassment and misogynistic threats towards Ms. Lange however, continued for days resulting in more than 1,000 vile phone calls, messages and tweets that included her family and grandchildren and forced a restaurant where she works during the week to temporarily close.
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But no one should be surprised at these ugly turns of events.
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The vitriolic, "writing on the wall"  has been visible and apparent since the beginning of the campaign.
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It was visible with Sanders' insistent demands for "political revolution" and tendencies to demonize certain segments of society as targets for hate, fear and distrust. It was visible in the hundreds of thousands of angry tweets, insults and charges of "voting with vagina" by Bernie supporters to Hillary backers on social media. It was visible in the hurling of dollar bills at Hillary Clinton (i.e. "corporate bought whore") when she recently traveled to a fund raising event in California. And it was evident in the vicious taunts and intimidation heaped on Clinton supporters leaving a campaign event a couple of weeks ago in California by Bernie fanatics. -- Taunts and obscenities even directed at children causing one small boy to cry and a little girl to experience her Hillary Clinton signed poster ripped up in front of her.
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Yes, the writing was on the wall for a long time but most, (especially a Trump-obsessed media) failed to see or acknowledge it.
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It seems however that the vile events at Las Vegas last weekend have finally garnered some attention from both, the (overly meek and accommodating)  democratic party and the media. Or, perhaps it is Sanders' refusal to publicly denounce such violence without a "but" attached, that has finally opened eyes.
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The question to ask now is, are such actions, "too little, too late?"
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Plans are well underway for fist-raised protests and marches against the July Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. https://www.facebook.com/groups/MarchOnTheDNC/
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Moreover, Sanders is promising a floor fight and "contested convention."
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The last times we had such division, protests and "contention" at democratic conventions, Republicans won the November elections. Such was true in 1968 and 1980.
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Then of course, there was the infamous election of 2000 when leftist "idealist" protesters abandoned the democratic Al Gore in order to vote for third party candidate, Ralph Nader.  
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That election gave us George W. Bush.
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Perhaps it was no small wonder that I awoke this morning thinking, Donald Trump just won the Presidency last night."  
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hansel and Greta -- New Goose Parents Once Again!


One of the new babies this spring. (From John and Mary)
The vanquished "children" from last spring. Kicked from the nest early in April when their parents, Hansel and Greta prepared to again nest.
Mary and two of her three goslings.
John and Mary swimming off in the sunset with their three goslings.
And yesterday, Greta hatched new babies into the world.
Her devoted mate, Hansel came to protect Greta and the new goslings.
One or two eggs still left to hatch.
 
They returned to the Central Park Reservoir in mid March with their three grown kids in tow.
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For about two weeks, a thoroughly blissful picture of family peace, unity and perfection emerged.
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And then suddenly, with the first buds of spring, Dad chillingly and forcefully turned on the children:
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"Begone with you now!  You're all grown up and need to be on your own! Your mother and I claim our space. You are not to cross this line from now until the end of summer! OFF with you now! Go, go!"
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No, it was not so pretty a picture.
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The three kids pleaded and attempted to return again and again.
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But each time, they were met with loud, raucous and sometimes even physically combative rejection from their father.
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There was no compromising, begging or allowance.
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The children were vanquished.
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I of course knew then that Hansel and Greta had every intention of nesting once again.
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"Kicking last year's kids from the nest" in preparation for this spring's new bundles of joys is standard practice in the goose world. There are no such things as "boomerang kids" or parental basements in which to hang out. When Dad says to "go," the kids have to pack up their wings and leave. -- Pronto!
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In the beginning of their banishment, Hansel and Greta's offspring spent most of their time staying towards the middle or west sides of the Reservoir as their parents claimed the entire east side.
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But that too, became a problem when John and Mary set up nesting quarters at the north west side of the Reservoir in early April. Presumably, John then chased the three yearlings from their comfortable quarters -- essentially causing them to leave the Reservoir entirely.
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Since that time however, the three siblings have returned sporadically to the Reservoir, but they are especially careful to keep mainly to the far south west side of it -- far from the two nesting goose hens.  
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When the rules are laid down, young geese have to respect and take them seriously.  Ganders don't fool around -- especially those on guard and patrol duty for their nesting mates.  
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Greta began to nest again on April 15th (tax day).
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But, she did not nest in the exact same (and well camouflaged) spot as last year.  
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On the contrary, Greta chose to nest in the most public and visible place of the entire watercourse -- Adjacent to the East 90th Street public entrance!
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How crazy is that? I thought. Everyone can see her there!  
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So, yes, I was surprised, but at the same time, not surprised.
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Hansel and Greta are very human-acclimated (having spent the last three springs and summers at the heavily trafficked Reservoir). It was therefore, not shocking that Greta might enjoy the constant flow of human attention and admirers. "Shy" is not a word that describes either the gregarious Greta or her devoted mate. 
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And so, yes, both Hansel and Greta have been the subjects of hundreds of photographs and even more "Oooos, ahhhhs" and conversations over the past month. Admiration and concerns for the pair has not been in short supply.
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And all the excited anticipation came to a climax yesterday as four of the tiny goslings hatched from their eggs. (Greta was still sitting on at least one unhatched egg when last I saw her).
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Hansel proudly rushed by her side as John had rushed to Mary and their three newly hatched goslings the week before.
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So, we now have two new goose families at the Central Park Reservoir. Perhaps the warm winter in which food was never scarce helped ensure a bountiful spring.
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As for the three cast off children from last year?
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They will have to be content to be admirers from a distance for the time being.
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All attention now focused on the tiny new bundles of joy. -- PCA
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

At Long Last, Mother's Day for John and Mary -- Two Determined Geese!




Mary dutifully sitting on her nest over the past month.
John joins his mate shortly after the eggs hatch for protection and vigilance. The babies safely tucked under Mary's breast.
Mama and babies proudly venturing out on Mother's Day.
One of the little treasures.
Peep, peep!
The happy family at long last.

"If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."
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Such might easily be the motto of John and Mary, a mated pair of Canada geese who, for the past five years attempted to hatch and raise goslings at the Central Park Reservoir.
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But, the first four years were met with loss and searing disappointment.
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Either the couple's eggs failed to hatch or last year, the nest and eggs were completely destroyed.
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It was sad each year to observe John and Mary go through all the rigors of nesting only to lose their offspring in the end.
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They would typically dwell at the site of the failed nesting for a day or two in what appeared to be a mourning ritual. But eventually John and Mary would move on as nature requires wild animals to do. There is neither time nor allowance in the natural world for self pity and perpetual grief. Resilience and courage are what ultimately determine who survives and procreates and who doesn't.
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So, it was with mixed, bittersweet feelings that I noted the return of John and Mary to the Reservoir two months ago (in March).
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It was of course reassuring and delightful to see the pair again and to know they had survived another winter together. For their part, John and Mary easily remembered and recognized me and came each night to greet.
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But, it was also disconcerting as I was sure the couple would once again attempt to nest.
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Unfortunately, Central Park has a long standing ritual of oiling goose eggs to prevent hatching ("addling") and/or destroying the eggs and nests. Sometimes the actions are conducted by Geese Police which contracts with the Central Park Conservancy for goose harassment and sometimes the egg/nest destruction is carried out by park maintenance personnel.
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Over the past few years, dozens of goose eggs have been rendered unviable at Central Park, several nests destroyed and on at least two occasions (at the Reservoir) nesting Canada goose hens also subsequently perished shortly after laying eggs.
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Despite the hostile and long destructive policies, three healthy goslings managed to hatch and survive in Central Park last year and two the year before -- but not without extraordinary and unusual efforts on the parts of the parent geese. (In one case, the nesting hen was extremely well hidden and in the second case, it was the pair's third nesting attempt in one spring.)
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But, what would happen this spring, I wondered?
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Becoming aware over the past year that an employee of Geese Police occasionally reads this blog, I made a conscious decision this year not to post photos or write anything about the nesting geese of Central Park. Although egg destruction policies were in place long before I started a blog or posting photos, I did not want to inadvertently make such "jobs" any easier by disclosing the locations of CP nesting geese. 
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Has such decision paid off?
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It's hard to know for sure.
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Although Napoleon and Josephine again returned to Harlem Meer this spring with the supposed intent of nesting, as of last week, there are no goslings at the Meer nor nesting geese. The same is true at the Boat Lake.
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However, at the Reservoir, an entirely different and happy story to report:
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Unlike the previous four years of failed goose nestings, this time, John and Mary were finally successful in hatching three healthy goslings this past weekend!
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I literally let out a shriek of pure delight when seeing the three tiny balls of yellow fluff safely tucked under their mother's wings this past Saturday night.
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Mary's mate, John had dutifully positioned himself very close to the family for vigilance and protection on that first night of the hatching. His head high and his chest out, it was easy to discern the sense of joy and relief in the proud gander. For the entire four weeks prior to the hatching, John had led a lonely and demanding life keeping constant vigilance on his nesting mate and chasing all intruders or possible threats away. But, the tireless devotion and steadfastness had finally paid off for John (and his mate, Mary) after a five year dry spell of loss and bereavement.  
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Words cannot describe how happy and relieved I was for this particular goose couple. I truly did not wish to witness another scene of mourning and what surely appears a "goose funeral" as I had witnessed the previous four years.  
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In the few days (including, Mother's Day!) that have followed the happy and successful hatching, the family has traveled all around the Reservoir and it's hard to know exactly where they will be on a particular evening.
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Last night, I got a bit of a scare when walking all around the Reservoir, I could not easily find John, Mary and their three babies.  
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But, then I saw the two adult geese swimming towards me from the distance.
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But, where are the babies? I wondered and for a moment, panicked.
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The three babies were swimming so close to their mama, they appeared to be part of her tail and were not discernable to the naked eye. (Perhaps when swimming in the evenings, the family has to be more wary of potential predators?)
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The family eventually settled on the rocks, where the babies nestled close to their mother and John stood dutifully on guard a few feet away. 
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I really don't think ganders get a wink of sleep either during the times their mates are nesting or during the months the couple raise their goslings together.
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Perhaps this helps explain why it is only the mature and established Canada goose pairs who actually nest and get to raise babies.
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Parenthood -- for both, animals and humans is the most rewarding, but also the most demanding of all enterprises in life.   -- PCA
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

If Your Toilet is Overflowing, Do You Call a Plumber or a Florist?



In these days of Presidential election gymnastics, I have a dream. 
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I am imagining a political commercial:
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Opening scene shows an overflowing toilet and flooded bathroom.
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A voice then asks, "When your toilet is overflowing, do you call a plumber?" (Picture of Hillary Clinton holding a wrench and plunger.)
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"Or, do you call a florist?" (Picture of Donald Trump holding a bouquet.)
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The idea came to me recently when watching businessman, Donald Trump give a foreign policy speech.
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Or, at least it was touted as "foreign policy."
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But, it was hard to discern any actual or cohesive policy as much as dramatic and flowery language.
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One lost count of how many times Trump used the term, "disaster" to describe a myriad of problems, while at the same time guaranteeing he could fix them and "make America strong again." But, Trump didn't say how he would accomplish any of this.
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He just said, "Believe me."
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I pictured a florist (in handsome suit) standing in a flooded bathroom telling the home owner, "It's a disaster. But I will fix it. Believe me!" 
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He then hands the home owner a flower.
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By contrast, Hillary Clinton shows up with dirty hands, wrench, snake and plunger. She says little and simply gets to work.
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Much has been said throughout the political campaigns that the electorate is fed up with "establishment" politics and is seeking an "outsider."
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But I am willing to bet that the same electorate doesn't look for "outsiders" when the house is burning down or the bathroom is flooded.
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No, bring us the insiders and the professionals. -- In fact, the more experienced, the better.
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Flowery words and promises won't put out the fires or stop the flooding or even pay the bills. -- PCA 
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