Saturday, September 7, 2013


Lilee-Jean Frances Putt
It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you sweet Lilee-Jean passed away yesterday at 5:25 p.m.  She spent the past eleven days at Canuck Place Children's Hospice.   The staff there did an incredible job of keeping her pain-free and comfortable.  Above, she sleeps peacefully.  I am so grateful that we have this very, very important hospice in Vancouver.  Lilee's parents, Chelsea and Andrew, left this message on her Love for Lilee facebook page:
It is With broken hearts we make this post.. As of 5:25pm, our princess Lilee-Jean Frances Putt, our angel here on earth, is now looking down on us from heaven. She had a rough day today, and is no longer in any distress. She passed away curled up in Mommy's arms, listening to daddy play his guitar. -Chels & Andrew.
On Thursday evening, as Bill and I left for our evening walk, a rainbow appeared.  It seemed to explode over the treetops.  Bill said it was the first sunset rainbow he had ever seen and I can tell you that it brought a beautiful excitement to our day.  Lilee-Jean has touched so many hearts, it seems entirely reasonable to me to believe that her spirit was sending light ahead of her departure from earth.  Edited to add: Bill has done some research on sunset rainbows, and we now understand how very rare they are and how incredibly fortunate we were to see that one at the exact moment we walked out of the house.  My sister's comment that Lilee-Jean is "now free to slide on that extraordinary rainbow" brings me great comfort. Here is a link Bill found to a small article on sunset rainbows
As we walked home a short time later, these colours danced behind the trees.  Lilee-Jean's parents drew up a "Dancing in the Rain" list when they knew that her days were numbered.
They soaked up every beautiful memory of their precious child that they could.  People from all over, but most especially from their hometown pulled together to help complete many of the items on the list.  Lilee spent a day in school, she celebrated her 21/2 years old birthday, she and her parents spent a week in Hawaii, they went to Whistler, they went on a boat ride, and in August, they celebrated Halloween and Christmas.  People in the area dressed up, decorated their homes and gave her and her parents a lifetime of beautiful memories in just a few weeks.  Below, she and Chelsea, her mom, dance through the snowflakes on their Christmas morning.  Thank you to Kim of KLM Photography for capturing that moment so beautifully!  
I am quoting these words from Chelsea's blog.  They are from her most recent post.  I can't recommend any blog more highly.  Her words are printed on my heart forever.

The air is crisp and calm, the sky clear and endless, like
it always is after a storm. I am thankful Lilee is asleep, not in
any pain. I am thankful she wakes up from time to time, to eat her
favourite things or to tell us she loves us. I’m thankful for the
“dancing in the rain” photos, comments and videos our communities
have sent us. And I’m so very thankful for this House and the
amazing people in it. But I am sad. I am exhausted. My heart is
aching with an indescribable pain. Each night we have been here, I
have fallen asleep with my bed pushed up against Lilee’s as close
as it will go, holding her hand. Any movement, any sound, my eyes
fly open and my hand is on her heart. Up. And down. Up. And down. I
feel her chest move. Thump thump. Thump thump. I feel her heart
beat. The panic subsides, I place her hand back in my hand and I
try to get some sleep. Each night is increasingly worse, knowing
its one day closer, but never knowing how close. Thursday night,
after a day FULL of dancing in the rain by all the people sending
their love to us, thunder and lightening filled our room. Sheets of
rain came steadily down from the open sky and I couldn’t breath.
How poetic, I thought, if she passed tonight. How true to our
story, if the rain storm took her away with it. My brother and
sister in law were the last of the immediate family to see Lilee,
and they were en route from Edmonton as this end of summer storm
raged on. Since we have been here, well.. Since we have noticed
Lilee declining, I have made sure Lilee knew that I was okay. I
have made sure she knew that when SHE wanted to go, when she was
ready, that I would be there and that I would be okay. It was
important for me to make sure that she never held on because she
felt like I needed her to. But last night, through thunder and
lightening I asked Lilee to hold on. I asked her to wait for her
uncle and Aunty to come give her a kiss. I was so afraid and so
panicked that it was her night to go, and they hadn’t gotten to say
goodbye that I sat up in my bed and waited. My heart beating out of
my chest. My breaths short and shallow. 12:30am, The minute her
Aunty and uncle left after giving her a kiss, I laid my head on my
pillow, my eyes began to close as my heart beat softened and my
mind calmed. I finally fell asleep. I am not ready to say goodbye
to my daughter. To my world. But I never will be. I am in the
process of accepting that I don’t have a say, and that in not
accepting it I will rob both Lilee and myself of time I could spend
soaking her up. Taking her into every cell in my body. I am calm.
And I am at peace. She has no pain, and we have had our time. I
have given her the peace of mind to go when she needs to, that she
will never be alone and that Mommy and Daddy will be fine. I am
holding on to every moment, as tightly as I hold onto every tear
behind my eyes. I am taking in every syllable of every word, and
staring into her eyes for as long as they are open. Piece by piece
I am absorbing her essence deep into my soul where it can not
escape, where I can keep it safe until the end of time. We are in
the house that will transition Lilee from earth to heaven. That
will transition me from being a mother of a toddler to a woman with
a broken heart and soul.
I am the calm before the storm.

Below, Lilee-Jean and her Dad have an "eye-to-eye" moment on their Christmas morning.  Andrew wrote these words on their return from Hawaii.  They touched me deeply and I reprint them here because they say so much about family and about love and about the power of an innocent child.

This is my family. (Written after Hawaii trip in may)

August 28, 2013 at 6:17pm
How Ironic does it seem that I am so sad after having one of the best weeks of my life.
Why would I be upset, after enjoying the most magical vacation ever and creating so many life long lasting memories with two people I love?

Of course the simple answer is, it's over.

But it is so much more in depth then just that simple phrase. We have to leave behind a facade of being a happy, healthy, normal family....Maybe even more sad is that we needed to put on the facade in the first place.
And those simple words, "it's over" seem to be all to common in our lives. It seems we have been told in one way or another that "it's over" so many times and It just gets harder and harder no matter what the circumstance. I don't want ANYTHING to be over these days. Story time, singing songs goodnight, jumping on the trampoline, or a good relaxing game of golf! I wish it could all go on for ever, and nothing needed to change.

Now we are heading home again, with another dreaded MRI date lurking In the near future. This test will most likely tell us again that "it's over."

Chelsey put it best in a tweet that I can't think of without completely breaking down. A quote out of a Disney movie by a kind of cute, freaky looking blue thing. Oddly enough, this was LJ's favorite Disney chAracter. Im certain he is her favorite because she understands the importance of this exact quote. (I'm saving it until the end incase you too can't fight back the tears enough to continue).

The way LJ treats us is so heart warming. Its the things she does for only mommy and daddy that show us how much she cares about our little family, no matter how small it is. Like when we are eating meals and she cuddles my arm, and then mommys arm, and then both our arms at the same time. Covering us in ketchup. Or the way she would ask, with her head tilting slightly in a slightly higher then normal pitched voice "you wanna go to hawaii mommy? And yooouuu wanna go to hawaii daddy?" She knows that sometimes we need to be reminded that we are in this together. No matter how broken we may be we are still family. And she shows us that because she loves us so much, and there is nothing I am more thankful for in the world.

I've made a lot of mistakes in life. Everyone does. But some of my selfish mistakes have aided in the brokenness of our little family. I will never regret anything more then that in my life. I have a daughter who loves me unconditionally, whom I love unconditionally. And a "baby momma" who allows this broken family to keep working through our hardships. I am a very VERY lucky dad. And I think I have the strongest, most beautiful, loving family in the world.
So here it is, the simplest, most meaningful quote an intergalactic being has ever uttered.
"This is my family. It may be small, and broken, but it's my family and it's good. Yeah, it's good." - Stitch (Lilo and Stitch) 

Two trucks full of snow arrived, courtesy of the Chilliwack Hockey Team (I hope I have that right) and here, her dad and a few members of the team unload it.  
I took the photo below at the picnic that Chelsea and Andrew organized so that some of Lilee-Jean's friends and fans could have the opportunity to meet her and feel something of her incredible spirit and energy.  The teenager in the photo was, I know, forever touched by Lilee.  I didn't get her name, but her mom told me she had come to the picnic to gain a glimmer of understanding of that relationship that her daughter had been talking about.  I know that young girl and her mom are grieving this morning, but they will find comfort in time in the fact that they brought one more touch of happiness to a child's life that was the epitome of joy.  Again, "eye-to-eye" contact.  Lilee had extraordinary abilities and knowing how to connect is one of them..  she seemed to look right into the heart of those she loved.
There was more.  Much more.  But in the end, the day after their Christmas celebration, Lilee took a sudden turn for the worse.  She and her parents moved into the hospice where they continued to soak up as much of her beautiful light as they could.  Last evening, after learning that she had passed away, I walked down the hill to Jericho Beach.  
There are often beautiful sunsets by the beach, but it's hard not to feel the extraordinary light, with its range of pinks and chorals and mauves was coming straight from Lilee-Jean.
As Chris Weir, the principal of the school that Lilee attended for just one day, posted this morning: 
"Goodbye to our beautiful kindergarten angel, Lilee-Jean Putt. In your short time here, you touched people in such a way that leaves a legacy that makes this world closer, stronger and filled with more love. You have forever changed me and your story will live on through so many of us. All our love... Sweet dreams, beautiful girl."  
My response to him is an attempt to convey the depth of the impact Lilee-Jean made on me, and I believe, on the world.
Beautifully put, Chris. Your words have spoken for me, and I know, for so many of us. We are changed. Bless your dear little heart, Lilee-Jean!

Friday, September 6, 2013

For "Wild Bird Wednesday" (on Friday)

Here are some of the birds spotted in my small corner of the world (Point Grey, Vancouver, BC) between August 13th and September 4th.  Thank you to Stewart for the excellent work he puts into maintaining  Wild Bird Wednesday, giving bird lovers around the world a chance to share their sightings.

August 13th
A seagull took off in the evening light over the ocean by Jericho Beach
 Light shone through fragile yet powerful wings.
 Seagulls are, for me, the inveterate flyers.
Imagine the stories they could tell, with access to just about anywhere they choose, even perhaps looking in apartment windows and ship portholes.

August 20th
The nuthatches seemed especially busy in the lane behind Bill's house.
They fed mostly from telephone poles and then took their loot to the nearby trees. 
Blue skies and lots of light brought out their complex colours and bright eyes.

August 21st
There are three ponds at Jericho, each connected by marsh-like areas of tall reeds that in the hotter weather become almost mud flats.  I liked the muted colours behind these ducks (of questionable identity) in the pond to the west. 
This feather was along the path to the second pond.
The easiest viewing spot.. from the little bridge that spans the third pond.
In that pond were some ducks with interesting changes of colour under their wings.  Young mallards?  American Wigeons?  In this shot, the predominate shades were white and grey.
The same duck with further wing extension..
..showed off some gorgeous blues.
And, a second later..  a quick flash of olive green replaced the blue.
As for flexibility..  quite impressive I thought.
Sometimes, there seemed to be just the brown tones with no hint of blues or greens.  They were most enjoyable to watch, whatever their identity.

August 22nd
Thanks to Henry Wong of Broadway Camera, I enjoyed some time with a Green Heron pair a few weeks ago. (A side note: Henry is a passionate birdwatcher, a most knowledgeable camera salesman and a wonderful person as well.  I have had my camera for close to six years and he continues to help me out with cleaning issues that I should be taking care of myself.)  
He was the one who told me about the Green Herons and their six babies at McCleery Golf Course.  He even pinpointed the spot on my little map where I would have a good chance of seeing them.  It was quite an adventure getting there on my bike, as Henry didn't account for my poor directional skills and he also didn't warn me that there are three golf courses in that part of Vancouver, each bordering the other.  I still can't tell you exactly how I got there, but I had to climb through a grove of trees and some thickets.  I never did find the babies but I had an amazing day  watching the adults and the bike ride was a lot of fun too. 
Intensely focused when they hunt, I gained huge appreciation for their speed and patience.  
It made me smile to see this one casually place a left foot much higher than the right, and then hang out like a teenager people-watching on a street corner.
At times, he (I think all of my shots here are of the male) let me get quite close. 
 A luckless frog (or toad?) was not quick enough to escape the heron's very sharp eyes and reflexes, so you may want to skip the next two photos if this sort of thing bothers you.  
It does make me sad to see anything suffer but I have made my peace with the facts of survival for many birds.  My very great thanks, once more, to Henry Wong for inspiring a full day adventure on a golf course in Vancouver.  I do have to add that the people playing golf were mostly helpful and polite though I did hear just a couple of "get off the course" comments here and there :)  

August 23rd
The previous post showing some Western Sandpipers may have misled some readers.  A birdwatcher at Jericho told me that they were in fact, mostly Least Sandpipers, although there were a few Western Sandpipers in the flock.  I was inspired to look up the differences between them but even my "Field guide to Advanced Birding" by Kaufman (a much appreciated gift from my niece) leaves me unable to identify the ones in my photos.  
I was happy to get these two pictures, though, since sandpipers really do move quickly!
The same day and in the same pond, I took a moment to admire the detail in this gorgeous mallard.  I continue to feel that the beauty and talents of the more common birds/ducks are sometimes under- appreciated.
Also the same day, but earlier in the morning, during our walk in Trimble Park, the Stellar Jay that I've been seeing around for a couple of weeks took a moment to assess my camera.  I think the verdict was that the camera was not a threat to the business at hand (finding food.)

August 24
Bill and I eat at our kitchen table, strategically placed to look out over our backyard and lane.  There are many pleasures provided by the gardens of our neighbours on either side, but this Pileated Woodpecker has to rate right up there as one that inspired much excitement.  Neither Bill nor I had ever seen one in this area.  In fact, I've only seen three or possibly four in my six years of birdwatching.  And, there it was!  Right on the telephone pole in line with our view from the  breakfast table.  With Bill keeping an eye in case the woodpecker changed location, I ran for the camera and fumbled to get the lens changed.  Thank you, Mr. Pileated, for hanging in until I could capture the moment!
And thank you, Bill, for your encouragement, and for the fun we had keeping up with this beauty.

August 25th
A fledgling House Finch (I'm guessing) sat on the wire checking out his new territory.
*Warning: some may want to skip the picture after this one.  It shows a hapless duckling in the beak of a large crow.

August 27th
Again, a sad sight, but crows have to eat too.  I'm wondering if this duckling may have already perished and was just picked up by the crow.

August 30th
A female finch, I think, perched on my neighbour's shed, but in such perfect light!

September 3rd
The sandpipers again.
Still the confusion as to whether they are Western or Least.
I'm including all of my shots, just in case.. 
there is a knowledgeable birding person in blogging land who.. 
has the time..
to give me a Western vs. Least lesson.
Whatever their official title,
they were most entertaining to watch.
One last one on the hunt.

September 4th
The same Stellar Jay, I think, was in a tree along 8th Avenue.  It was trying to crack a hazelnut.
I saw, for the first time, the red mouth lining that indicates a young bird.  I'm sure all birders know this, but for other bloggers, perhaps it will be of interest to know that the red lining helps parent birds aim when they are making food deliveries.
As with all juveniles, there is a difficult transition to make when going from fed and housed to learning to fend for oneself.  This jay was making quite a racket and flying rather frantically from roof to roof and then into the tree.
Its efforts to crack that nut were to no avail and its indignant expression seemed to say, 
"Give me a hand here, will you?"  No adult appeared and it disappeared shortly after this photo.  This is the conclusion to my August and early September bird sightings.
Just one more photo..  this one of a Shrike taken several years ago at Iona Island.  I include it for TexWisGirl, one of the most committed bloggers I know.  Check out her blog and leave a comment if you have the time.  Though I have fallen away from my blogging activities, I appreciate her not only as a blogger, but as a friend.  And, one more reminder.  If you enjoy information about birds from around the world, you will love the Wild Bird Wednesday meme.