I have a few retired friends who are always off to someplace fun. A resort in the Caribbean. A vacation in the south of France. A little trip to Micronesia with a quick stop in Hawaii.
Me? I’m on my way to get blood taken because I really know how to have a good time.
We were up early enough this morning for me to prove what I knew by inference: early in the day, a furry four-legged bird hits that flat feeder with a vengeance.
I would have taken this picture — pretty little thing all fluffy and red — but Bonnie thought it was a good time to bark furiously because I had bypassed the treat container and gone, instead, for my camera.
The birds scattered, the squirrel fled.
I put the camera back down, glared at Bonnie who was still barking and adjourned for coffee.
Before you think me cruel, recognize this was not her first hit on the treats this morning. She had already barked me out of bed twice earlier for a quick treat. Bonnie weighs like two big cinder blocks and is not wasting away for lack of goodies. Just saying.
So indeed, there is an early morning squirrel. I just usually miss him or her due to differing sleep patterns.
First off, this isn’t a blog about “Senior Moments”. You know, like when you get up and go into another room and the second you enter the other room you can’t for the life of you remember why you’re there.
The annoying part is that the only way to remember why you went in there is to go back to the room you started in. As soon as you do, you immediately remember why you got up in the first place.
“Oh right. I really have to pee.”
No, this blog is about memory and memories. Why does my brain work the way it does? Why do I remember some things and not others?
Let me explain.
I went to college. I was a biology major and pre-med. I took lots and lots of science courses; biology, physics, math, and chemistry. I got good grades. All A’s or B’s.
I learned lots of stuff. I knew calculus. I knew what a derivative was. No, not the financial thingies that caused the global crash of 2008. But equations that started with dy/dx, or something like that.
Notice the past tense in these last sentences? I “knew” all these things. Today, all that information is gone! Vanished, like I never took any of those courses. Actually, I do remember that there was something called the “Krebs Cycle.” It had to do with respiration or metabolism. I know it’s something we all do that’s very important. If we don’t do it, we die. But that’s all I remember.
Yet, with no effort at all, I can recite all the words to the theme song to the 1960’s TV show Mr. Ed!!!
“A horse is a horse of course of course, and nobody can talk to a horse of course. That is of course, unless the horse, is the famous Mr. Ed.” I could go on to the second verse.
But I won’t.
Hell, I can even recite the words to “Car 54 Where Are You?” And I didn’t really watch the show that often!
“There’s a hold up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights. There’s a scout troop short a child. Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild. Car 54 where are you?”
I swear I wrote those from memory. They flowed effortlessly from my brain, like crap through a goose. I didn’t Google them.
Which brings me to my next point.
We live in an amazing age. We have all the knowledge of the world literally at our fingertips. Any question you could possibly think of can be googled. It’s gotten so easy that you can type the most rambling of questions and still get the right answer.
For example, a while ago I got into a conversation about time travel and it reminded me of a movie I’d seen a long time ago. It was about an aircraft carrier that went back in time to just before Pearl Harbor. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name so I typed the following sentence into Google:
“There was this movie a long time ago about an aircraft carrier that goes back in time to just before Pearl Harbor and ….”
At this point, Google popped up “The Final Countdown.” It listed the cast, the plot, and where I could buy it. All before I could finish typing a full sentence! Wow!
It made me realize something. I could use the internet to bring back all that science knowledge I once had!
But I don’t.
I use it for far more important stuff. Mostly, finding out the name of the actor my wife and I are currently watching on TV. We know we’ve seen him or her on some other show. But we can’t for the life of us remember either his/her name or the show’s name. Google it! Go to IMDB!
“Oh, right! She was the head doctor on that show we used to watch back in the ’90s!”
“Right! She was married to … what’s his name? He was on … what was the name of that show?”
Back to Google.
So in the end, I still don’t know why my brain works the way it does. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Kreb’s Cycle.
When I started reading it, I actually remembered most of it. Although I gotta admit. It was pretty dull. Mr. Ed was a lot more fun.
Hmm. Maybe I do know why my brain works the way it does.
There are some strange professions. Many of them are with the British Royal Household, like Keeper of the Queen’s Stamps, Grand Carver, and Royal Clock Winder. However, the one that caught my eye was written about on October 21, 2018, in the Washington Post: Ravenmaster.
The Ravenmaster takes care of the seven ravens who reside at the Tower of London, the 11th-century fortress that is one of Britain’s most popular tourist sites. It was a prison and an execution site for many, like Anne Boleyn. It has numerous lurid stories from it’s long and brutal history.
Ravens seem to have started living at the Tower in the Victorian era when the Gothic Revival was in full swing. Charles Dickens kept a raven as a pet.
The Tower birds are now celebrities in their own right and they receive loving and meticulous care from the current Ravenmaster, Christopher Skaife. He gives them treats of dog biscuits soaked in blood and he has had to climb parts of the Tower to retrieve rogue ravens.
Mr. Skaife was a machine gunner in the British Army for 24 years and then became a Yeoman Warder, one of 37 élite guards who are keepers of tradition and tour guides. He now lives at the Tower with his family. It must be fun for his kids to bring friends ‘home’ for playdates!
The Tower ravens come from bird breeders. They are wild, though acclimated to humans. They roam free during the day. At night, Skaife has to round them up and put them in airy enclosures to protect them from foxes, who ate two ravens in 2013.
In the morning, Skaife releases the birds in careful order, from least dominant to the most dominant. The birds apparently have a very strict hierarchy which the Ravenmaster must respect. They have also divided the tower into individual territories according to that hierarchy.
The birds are scavengers and like to rummage through the trash cans. They are particularly fond of potato chips but they don’t like the flavored kind, like cheddar or onion. So they wash the flavored chips in puddles to get rid of the extra flavoring, which I think is very clever! They are also known to steal sandwiches from children.
Ravens can fly but not too far or too often. They can fly to the roof or the ramparts, but that’s about it. Previous caregivers would trim their feathers so they couldn’t fly at all. But one bird, on Skaife’s watch, climbed up some scaffolding and leaped off it. He died in Skaife’s arms so Skaife will no longer limit the ravens’ flight.
Once one raven did manage to escape the Tower and flew down the Thames River. She was captured by a local birdwatcher who recognized the bracelet on her leg as belonging to the Tower flock. The Good Samaritan put the raven in her gym bag and returned her to her home.
I love all animals so this job caught my imagination. While not the cutest or friendliest of birds, it must be gratifying to preserve a long-held tradition at an historically famous site. Caring for a ‘conspiracy’ or an ‘unkindness’ of ravens, the words for a group of ravens is clearly not a job for everyone.
After eleven years, Christopher Skaife is still going strong at his job. He’s even written an autobiography. Who knew that being a Ravenmaster could be the route to becoming a published author!
I don’t have any flowers blooming right now, but I miss flowers and decided to go back into my archives and remember how very much I loved my fuchsia.
I’ve been reprocessing them since I now have a lot more filters than I had when I first got these pictures. As a bonus, there were pictures in there I’d never really looked at before. Actually, there are a lot of pictures in these folders I’ve never used at all.
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