“Used w/o permission” or “Happiest flies”

30 December, 2018            “Used w/o permission” or “Happiest flies”

“Used w/o permission” or “Happiest flies”






30 December, 2018 “Used w/o permission” or “Happiest flies”

We took that photo last night at our family holiday gathering at my brother Kevin’s house in Doswell.


This picture and blog post are called “Used w/o permission” because I didn’t ask any of those wonderful people if I could post their picture here. But they know how I roll. Seeing it on this blog will come as no surprise.

The subtitle is “Happiest flies” because if our Mom and Dad had been flies on the wall last night, they’d have been the happiest flies since the dawn of fly history. I’ll write a little more at the end of this post. Meanwhile, the stuff I usually put in blog posts, except I’m not flying.

Monday was Christmas Eve – it startles me to even type those four words – and Evelyn gave me excellent books for an early Christmas present. I worked early in the morning. Then came home and we sat in front of the fire and read all day! 

I saw lots of raptors this week – including pairs of Red-tails it seemed almost everywhere I turned. This pair was almost across the street from the house when we were coming home from dropping off Yuki after our hike at Bryan Park:

Pair of Red-tails on the cross at Grove Avenue Baptist Church


Speaking of raptors and our hike at Bryan Park, practically the moment we started hiking a Red-shouldered hawk flew from left to right across the lake and landed obligingly in a tree on the other side:

They watch, watch, watch. Red-shouldered hawk at Bryan Park today


This was Mackey and Turner and Yuki around that time:

My boys at Bryan Park today. I was standing on their leashes when I photographed that hawk.


Tuesday evening when the dogs and I went for a walk we saw a squirrel in the street that had gotten hit by a car. Wednesday when I was coming home a turkey vulture was cleaning it up. It must have gotten full and it hopped up on my neighbor’s roof and yawned. I’ll put a picture of that first. After that I’ll put a picture of the vulture cleaning the squirrel. Some people may be un-fond of that image so I’m giving you advance notice. But it’s not particularly gory. Oak leaves take energy from the sun and make acorns. Squirrels eat that energy and become a different form of energy. Then if the squirrel gets hit by a car, a vulture comes down and turns the squirrel into yet another form of energy. Sunlight > oak leaves > acorns > squirrel > vulture. Who knows where it will go next. “The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.

Vulture getting sleepy with a belly full of squirrel


Vulture filling its belly with the aforementioned squirrel. Energy is neither created or destroyed. Remember that. You’re energy too. 

Anyway, the holiday schedule has me less organized than normal, which may imply there’s such thing as negative organization but anyway I’m signing off. For 2018! But I’ll be back the first Sunday in 2019! I hope you will be too! Happy New Year!

Meanwhile, enjoy this little blurb about the world’s happiest flies. And have an excellent week!

All best,


= = = = =

“Used w/o permission” or “Happiest flies”

All five of mom and dad’s surviving children, 80% of the spouses, six of their seven grandchildren, many, many dogs, plus cats and horses not in the picture but nearby. Mom and dad met in the mid-1950’s (possibly even the 1940’s) and married on June 14, 1958. Dad was an only child and mom had one sister who was a Catholic nun. Their plan when they married – they were twenty-two years old, think about that for a minute – their plan was to have twelve children. I can assure you, and my siblings would say the same, they were entirely serious. But they decided the five of us were the right number, and IMO they were correct.

On June 14, 1958, if someone had said “Mike and Jude, if you stay married for half a century then die, what would it make you really happy to leave behind?” They would have stated it more elegantly than this, but their reply would have been “lots and lots of happy children and grandchildren.” If they’d been flies on the wall at Kev’s house last night, they’d have been the happiest flies ever.

Kevin’s house is clean – there are no flies, or anyway not in late December. But if they’d been in there, they would have landed on Wesson’s volleyball at the top of its arc as he passed it back and forth with his cousins. Or they would have perched on the edge of Teagan’s crib and watched her in real life while the rest of us watched her on the baby monitor. They were never big on TV anyway. If there really were flies around last night – if mom and dad had been around in fly form – they might have been up at the barn while Jenny went up and fed the horses. Mom and dad would have been happy to see Jenny and to see the horses too. I’ve never known a McLaughlin who was unhappy in a barn. Some of us spend more time in barns than others, but I believe the five of share the sense of safety that is palpable in every barn.  

I’ll write more about my family in 2019. More than likely, anyway. See you then! 

= = = = =



About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Bryan Park, Dogs, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Used w/o permission” or “Happiest flies”

  1. Sally says:

    Fabulous post, Jay. Enjoyed it so much!

    • Happy New Year Sally! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – as you can see, I had a fun week. Especially with your sister and nieces! Happy New Year again, have a great day, see you soon,


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