Category Archives: About this byrd

5 Things


5 things I love about right now!

  1. The muggy hot weather at dawn. I’m cold by nature. I love being able to wonder through the house and outside without wrapping myself in layers. There is no better feeling than no sweater (which I usually sport until mid-summer around the time most people are frying here in Charleston).
  2. The Farmer’s market. I love buying food still sporting some of the earth it came from! I love the music and noises! I love people coming together to shop and smile and enjoy the age old practice of bartering.
  3. I love the rain. I love the smell of rain falling on hot pavement and dry earth! It’s my favorite smell in the whole wide world! I recently discovered there is a name for it! It is called petrichor constructed from Greek, petra, meaning “stone”, + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology . Surely it is from the gods!image
  4. Song birds. I’m not a morning person but it is very difficult to be in a bad mood when you are awakened in the morning by the beautiful songs of birds!image
  5. Vitamin D. Most people are just way more pleasant in the summer time. I chalk it up to more vitamin D. Soak it up!





All I Want For Christmas


The first Christmas I remember was while our family was still living near Chicago. I think I was 4 or 5. I was so excited I kept running downstairs only to be swatted back upstairs by mom and dad with the reminder that Santa would not come until I was in my bed. I remember looking down the hall as mom and dad closed their bedroom door just before I made a mad dash up the stairs to where my sister’s slept. I looked out the window just in time to see my very first shooting star! I don’t remember what I wished for or what gifts I got for Christmas that year but I remember the moment I saw that shooting star I thought….Christmas just landed?! I remember the butterflies in my stomach and how magical my mom and dad made the night before Christmas. Of course I was excited about opening  my gifts but it was more than that and it still is!

It was the crackle of the fire in our big wood burning stove. It was the conspiratorial whispering and sneaking around my parents did in the weeks leading up to the big day. It was the sweet hum of my mother’s alto voice singing Silent Night while baking us cookies and Dad reading the Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas morning. It was Christmas hayrides at the church and caroling to the shut-ins at the retirement homes. It was carefully hiking across the interstate to go sledding and squealing with excitement as my brother shoved me down a steep hill covered in soft thick snow! It was skating on our frozen pool and dripping honey all over bowls of snow. It was making Christmas presents and cards for each other and mom and dad.

Now we live in South Carolina and there isn’t much use for a wood burning stove or sleds. We have our own families and while we are occasionally sidetracked by what my dad would refer to as an overactive “Wanter”, I still remember that Christmas in Chicago when all the best gifts were free and the warmth of our love for each other put the wood burning stove to shame. A lot has changed in the thirty years since that Christmas but Christmas in my heart will always be that of a little girl watching a shooting star skid across a big blue night sky on a magical Christmas Eve. If I’m near I’ll be with my people. If I am far, I’ll be on the phone with mom and dad while my family is shouting MERRY CHRISTMAS, WE LOVE YOU, WE MISS YOU, and probably some wisecracks.

My “Wanter” came up with a lot of  fun gift ideas this year, but if I don’t get anything I’m pretty sure I’ll still have everything I could ever wish for.

Friends! Thank you for a great year! During this season I wish you the gift of  belonging wrapped in the warmth of love.

Merry Christmas!

Goodbye Charles Norman Agustus Caesar Samuel Macallie Atkinson


Yesterday one of my favorite people joined the angels in Heaven. I don’t know how to express my sorrow and the aching pain left by such a big loss. All I can say is the world is a little more beautiful because he was in it. I’m not a poet but these words came to me early this morning after the news that my Uncle Sammy (aka Charles Norman Agustus Caesar Samuel Macallie Atkinson!) had left us.  I’m lucky to have known such a sweet and wonderful person even a little.

I Need To Know You More

I never knew your favorite song

I never did implore

I only heard your heartstring’s hum

I need to know you more


I never knew your favorite color

I never asked before

I only knew your sparkling eyes

I need to know you more


I wish I’d asked what made you laugh

The causes you fought for

I only knew your warm embrace

I need to know you more


I should have asked about your dreams

The goals you had in store

I only knew your gentle smile

I need to know you more


I’d hoped to learn what brought you joy

What made your spirit soar?

I only knew the light you shined

I need to know you more


I bet God smiled when you returned

His masterpiece restored

I bet the seraphs danced with delight

To get to know you more


It’s clear to me, someone like you

So easy to adore

Will always leave someone like me

With the need to know you more


I love you Uncle Sammy. You will be missed.


My Girl


When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy –that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.

 -Mark Twain



On Tuesday I said goodbye to an old friend. For eleven years we rarely spent a day apart. She was an awesome weekend warrior and an irreplaceable sidekick. She was my warm fuzzy at the end of the day and my home sweet home when it was just the two of us girls up against the world.  She welcomed and shared all of our seasons in life with a brave smile that made her beautiful amber eyes glow like bubbling hot caramel. Regardless of how stressed she was she was never too busy to stop and just sit beside me.

Tuesday was quiet and simply spent with family. She was in her eighties and while her soul was young her body had recently become riddled with arthritis and cancer. She was happy but there were shadows in her eyes that seemed to silently say “I love you but I’m tired”. On Tuesday she silently said “Let me go home please. I promise it’s ok to let me go”.  It was time for her even though I wasn’t ready. It was the right thing to do but I didn’t know how I was going to get up every morning knowing she wasn’t there. Tuesday Beta was once again my strength as I told her goodbye. Even though it was she who was the brave one going on to the unknown; it was me who was scared and unwilling to accept the finality of her leaving but accept it or not my girl left me yesterday.

My heart will forever be grateful for the unwavering love my Beta girl showered me and everyone else in her life with. As to how I will get up every morning knowing she isn’t in my life anymore… well I’m going to take a lesson out of Beta’s book and smile because life is sweet and full of many bittersweet moments. The best choice we can make is to enjoy the bumpy ride and appreciate love given and returned.

Top twenty things that I’ll miss about our girl:

  1.  You had more hair on your body than I thought could possibly exist on one dog’s body. I could knit three sweaters from your coat. I could knit one sweater from fur balls floating around the house.
  2. How you would hang your paw on my arm when you wanted attention
  3. The frantic whining ball of slobbery fur you turned into when I pulled you leash out of the drawer
  4. You would hover in the kitchen when I cooked.
  5. You would lay right outside of the kitchen parameters when I told you to get out of my kitchen.
  6. How you hated your picture taken and the many ways you managed to avoid the camera
  7. How you sized up Dave for at least a month when he moved in with us.
  8. Your patience with the much younger dog [Chance] we brought home four years ago. He misses you so much.
  9. You always loved the song California by Joni Mitchel. It calmed you.
  10. Your ability to chew through just about anything (an entire tree stump, a rattan sofa, wall outlet covers, rugs…doors)
  11. Your snore could be heard from the opposite end of the house. It was amazing. I once yelled at Dave to be quiet only to find you sleeping on the other side of the bed.
  12. Whenever everything was crazy I could always look over and find you waiting to make eye contact for a few calming minutes.
  13. I miss your beautiful brown eyes.
  14. Having to trip over you in the mornings when I first get up
  15. Tripping over you when I’m cooking at the stove
  16. Tripping over you when I come in the front door
  17. Tripping over you when I get up off the couch
  18. Giving you baths. You hated them. You tried to climb up me every time.
  19. Your kisses. You didn’t lick everyone and thing in site. You only gave them to comfort or show affection
  20. Your smell. It was God awful when it rained and you were always hot in South Carolina weather…but I would give anything to burry my face in your fur.
  21. You wagged your tail even when we fussed at you. It was impossible to stay upset.
  22. How you would find a secret place to poop in the house so you wouldn’t get in trouble
  23. How you would growl angerly as you rolled on your back to scratch it
  24. How you forgave the twenty year old me though I know I failed you more than once.

Ok top twenty four things I guess!


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Love you Beta. We will never forget you.




It amazes me how quickly the world changes around us. It’s human nature to adjust and resituate our lives around what is different. If we didn’t we would be living in the equivalent of a big dark box. I remember having a computer when I was eleven or twelve but it came with games like Where In The World is Carmen San Diego and the Oregon Trail and they were on giant floppy disks. Moving objects in these games made bloop blip sounds across the screen and we spent hours fascinated by them. To be honest, I’m still fascinated by Oregon Trail and how not to die of dysentery. It’s as though these people ate contaminated food and played with deadly snakes to pass time.

Hashtagging, how shiny and novel you are! It occured to me hashtags are used to say what we really think. They are sarcasm or whatever it is we aren’t feeling bold enough to say on Social Media sites. For example. I would write “Have you seen Suzanna’s new hair cut”.  Then  I would hashtag my opinion. #holyhotmess. The other day I read an article which had a very serious tone “The Dark Side of Sugar?” until I read the hashtag #Donotlickyourbrother.

We have arrived. We have gone from bloop blips and cube shaped cartoons to inventing a symbol that represents our internal monologue! I’m madly impressed!

…but I don’t know if I completely buy in. I miss the ringing of a telephone. I’m still bitter with Napster and iTunes on a daily basis for trying to take away the complete earth transcending moment when I open a freshly purchased CD by my favorite artists. There was nothing wrong with TV before 3D, HD…Plasma…4k and all the other amazing upgrades quickly coming on the scene. I like the scratchy sound of a record player and the smell of vinyl. I like looking into people’s eyes instead of the top of their head as they search their phone for the meaning of life.  I miss not freaking out when I leave my cell phone somewhere!

Don’t throw rotten tomatos at me please! Technology totally has its place in our society and I love what it has done to the film industry. I mean I could practically touch Joseph Gordon Levitt and believe you me, that is a thing of beauty! This blog entry would be in a paperback diary somewhere without technology. Lucky you! I just notice things lose some of their luster when used to a point of saturation. Maybe everything in moderation is an old concept too but I would appreciate all the new technological bobbles if their consumption was  paced instead of taken in as though there is an expiration date.

I’m sure I’ll have this conversation with my son one day when it is much more age appropriate for me to say these things and I can make refence to him as a young whippersnapper. Who knows. Maybe by that time I will have mastered the Oregon Trail.


Chico Gospel


I grew up in a big family. There are six of us kids and two crazy funny parents strong enough to hold themselves and us together. Mom and dad fought plenty, but not against each other. They fought together for the life they wanted. Today when I look at the two of them together I see two people who have only loved each other more through years of moving around, financially scraping by, staying up all night to wait for rebellious teens to sneak back in the house, breaking up fights over God knows what and feeding a bunch of ravenous kids.

I grew up in a household that did things as a family like eat dinner at the table (elbows off the table, chew with your mouth closed, and don’t even think about eating before grace). I remember fighting over my brother cheating at Monopoly and laughing until I cried when my sister convinced him to eat an entire plate of “chocolate” cookies which were actually peanut butter cookies burnt to a crisp.  We all complained about family time at some point when we wanted to do something with friends. We all supposedly “hated” each other at some point too. I’m sure everyone has memories like this. They make us who we are. They make us smile if we remember to think about them.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned from my family is, though we may not always agree we always have each other’s back. We may feel envy, anger…bitterness. You name it! However, when someone falls apart or hits gravel we swoop in to protect our own.

I’ve had people tell me I expect too much of others. Maybe I do. Maybe I expect the type of loyalty and kinship I learned from my family.  But why shouldn’t we expect more from each other? Why shouldn’t we treat others how we want to be treated? So what is the family/friend code? Well in my book it covers at least a few basics!

  1. Face stuff together
  2. Give each other what you can
  3. Make time for each other
  4. Offer each other freedom and space to grow
  5. Accept each other as you grow!
  6. Communicate …arguing is still communicating! Don’t be afraid to shout a little in a good spirited disagreement!
  7. Keep it real an honest with each other. It’s too much work not to and whether you’d like to believe it or not most people see right through you even when you think they don’t.
  8. Cheer each other on! Come off it and just be happy for each other. We all have our own walk in life!
  9. Honor each other – Making someone smile may not change the world but it may change one person’s world. The world is harsh enough on its own right?!
  10. Stick around – I don’t often lose friends or family (yep family too). It’s more like life just gradually reveals who is real and who is but a wispy vapor. Remember that next time you decide to flake out on someone because it cramps your style. I’ve done it and I always regret it in the long run.

I’m thankful for my family and good friends. You know who you are. I’m grateful you continue to teach me how to be a better person.  I’m grateful when you stick around.  So here is to dysfunctional families and friends who earn their spot at the table! That’s my chico gospel! Happy Friday!

Chico Gospel by Mamuse


Happy Hallowienerschnitzel


Alas this is our final adult Halloween. Let me preface this by saying I am one of those people who absolutely hates horror movies. I hate being scared. I would much rather emotionally cleanse myself crying than pee myself screaming while I simultaneously have a heart attack. My husband is one of the lucky who gets a thrill from the suspense and dread created by horror movies. I feel terrible because there are some I will watch (or rather look through a blanket wrapped around my face) with him and others he is just on his own with.

Against my better judgment I have suggested Dave pick one scary movie to watch tonight since we will probably be watching The Great Pumpkin ad nauseam for the next few years. I am mentally preparing myself for this. I hope the baby doesn’t come early…

I will continue to tell myself I am fully equipped to survive whatever we end up torturing ourselves with tonight.

As for the weeks to come when I hear a bump in the night…

I have gathered the deadliest weapons and hidden them under my bed.