I love my family

29 December, 2019            I love my family

My family 24 hours ago. The most joyful gathering imaginable

The names of the people in that picture – I’ll let you try to match up faces – are Katie, Sheila, Kevin, Shane, Jay, Jenny, Kristin, Evelyn, Jim, Aileen, Cappy, Clare, Phoebe, Wren, Wesson, Teagan, Dylan, Noah and Finn. We missed Greg! 

My two sisters and two brothers and I are warm, caring, close, and geographically scattered. Our brother Kevin hosted us yesterday evening at his home a few miles from Kings Dominion – and that picture shows the five of us. Plus spouses, partners, offspring, partners of offspring, a lot of permutations. Sheila’s husband Greg was unfortunately unable to join us; hopefully next year. It was fun! Nineteen people total, I was close to the oldest. Here’s a picture of the youngest, waiting for more people to arrive. Kevin took this picture: 

“Waiting for folks to arrive” – Kevin’s picture, his caption

Here’s a throwback picture from March of 2008 – almost twelve years ago. All four of these people are in the top picture. One is third year at UVA, one has a semester behind her at Virginia Tech and one is in high school. And one has black hair in that picture but it’s less black today: 

March, 2008 – Highland Maple Festival – Monterey, Virginia

Evelyn had to work yesterday late morning and early afternoon, so I took Mackey and Turner to the river. It’s good to take them for a hike before we go out for a long time. That way they sleep the whole time we’re gone. This was when we first got to the river: 

What a great, great way to start any day. Mackey & Turner, Saturday morning at Pony Pasture

We hiked for a really short time and got to see an owl perched on a branch. I suspect this owl grabs a bite to eat early in the morning then snoozes the midday away while it digests: 

Barred Owl while Evelyn and the dogs and I hiked on Christmas morning

The woods are thick back there; this owl – even with superior vision – couldn’t have seen this deer. Mackey and Turner and I saw the same owl (or an identical owl in the same spot) yesterday morning when we hiked. But it wasn’t even five minutes walk from taking the owl picture to taking this one. Her mouth is a little open because she was chewing her cud and her jaw moves constantly. There was another deer lying down about twenty feet behind her but I couldn’t get a satisfactory picture of the two together: 

She’s ruminating

Here’s a geeky and/or nerdy fact that I may have included in earlier posts. Deer, like cattle and horses (and many other hoofed animals) are called “ruminants” because they have a stomach with four parts. The first part is called the “rumen.” In the wikipedia entry about ruminants it says “The process of rechewing the cud to further break down plant matter and stimulate digestion is called rumination.[1][2] The word “ruminant” comes from the Latin ruminare, which means “to chew over again”.” If you look up the definition of “ruminate” you see the first definition is “think deeply about something.” So there you go.

I’ve taken a million hikes at Pony Pasture and seen zero except the river and the trees – all hikes are great hikes. But yesterday we loaded up in the car and pulled out of the parking lot (of Pony Pasture), turned right, looked up in a tree and saw this, our first of the season: 

Bald Eagle in a sycamore hanging over the James River. Taken out of my car window while I was pulled over with my flashers on. What’s not to love?

My bald eagle data is not organized enough to be certain, but it seems December and January are the two months I see them most often. I’ll keep my eye out. 

One more thing – a little different – not a lot. Just down from where we see the owls there’s a fallen log with puffballs helping it decompose. Here’s a picture I took yesterday. You can see a few spent puffballs, and the greenish haze on the wood where their spores have coated it: 

Puffballs and puffball spores on a rotting log

A week ago today (I just noticed), I was in that spot when the puffballs were filled with spores, ready to spread. I tapped them and the spores puffed out. I posted a nine second video on youtube. You can see it here:


This is true – I did it again – only in slo – mo. Here’s that one, should you be so inclined:


Also from Friday – what a great day – Evelyn and I had a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite restaurant, Fresca on Addison. If you’re driving or walking on Cary street, look for this color wall and walk in and and eat and drink and enjoy and you’ll be a customer for life like we are: 

Fresca wall. If you’re on Cary Street, you can’t miss it!

There are great plants growing along Cary street; it seems such an unlikely place. But in warm weather there is a wildly prolific gardenia bush growing practically out of the sidewalk; it is the oddest thing. I’ll post pictures the first time I get a whiff in 2020. Meanwhile, currently there are trees. Look at this gorgeous bark: 

It seems like I should be able to identify this gorgeous tree but so far I haven’t. I’ll let you know.

I got wool socks for Christmas from Evelyn’s mom. She gives me the best socks – you should feel how comfortable these are. They’re smartwool brand and it’s like walking on a warm, soft cushion. Evelyn was our able photographer: 

Showing off my smartwool socks Christmas present on Christmas morning – dogs too! Socks from Evie’s mom, photo by Evie:

Enough already! I hope your Christmas (or however you spent December 25) was wonderful, and I hope 2019’s been a great year. And I hope 2020 is even better! See you in January, 

Much love, 

Jay and all the people and dogs and cats who help me be Jay 

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 Bald eagles, Birds, Dogs, Fun, fungus, highland maple festival, James River, love, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I love my family

  1. Jackie says:

    I love you and your family!❤️

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