Cherish is my favorite word, and I cherish the ability of turning the routine into a beautiful moment.
Nature creates in me, a spiritual and meditative time to bring peace, harmony and balance, into an otherwise ordinary day~
Mary Howell Cromer

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Passing of My Twin Sister and 11th Blog Anniversary~

It's been a long 13 months since my twin sister got the diagnosis of cancer. The evening of June 8, 2020 at 9:07 along with her daughter Tina and son Roy and myself at her side, Haze passed peacefully from this life into life eternal with Jesus Christ. My heart is broken, and yet my hope is in my faith, that we will be together again.
While this very heart breaking event has taken place, this coming Tuesday will be the 11th anniversary for my blog.  This has been such a dry year for me, as I took care of my sister during this time 3 to 4 days a week and then Rona happened to make things even more interesting to say the least.  About that...I hope that each of you are doing well, and also your families and friends.  Stay safe, use a mask...they are not as bad as you first may think and wash your hands often.

Remember to double click on the first image, to view a larger slideshow presentation after  you have read the narratives~

I am joining in the fun with Eileen at:
Saturday's Critter

Anni at: 
I'd Rather Be Birdin'
Angie at:  
Mosaic Monday

Stewart for:

These photographs are some of my most favorite of Haze when she was younger.  I hesitate since I am an identical twin, but yet so different than she say that she was so beautiful~

Well where were those smiles ladies!?  Haze on left and I am on the right~

Too precious, not to share. My sister loved to sing and she had a beautiful voice! She sang in the folk mass at her church for over 12 years. She would call me up and sing a new song she had learned. I would visit her and she would get the kerioke machine turned on and we would sing usually off key and she right on it. One of her last songs she sang with limited air pushing through her lungs was Ava Maria in Italian. Her favorite song was Amazing Grace and we sang it together often.
This afternoon a friend sent me this sweet note.
"Hi, Mary. I was so sorry to hear of Haze's passing. Not being a twin, I cannot know what you're going through, and only recently did Haze share with me times each of you knew something that was going on with the other without being told. I can only offer my deepest sympathy, and profound thanks for letting me know of her passing.
I will miss her clear soprano notes and her excellent sense of pitch-she never in my experience went flat or sharp, a talent I believe to be rare.
Please know that my thoughts are very much with you and her family at this time."

These were taken of us when she had first been diagnosed.  We took her to a cabin in the woods, near the water.  She loved it as much as we did!

Written by her children Tina and Roy:

Haze was well known for her love of nature, wildflowers, painting, drawing and especially her love of singing. She sang devotedly with the St. Pius X folk group for over 12 years. Even when she could barely speak in her final days, she would randomly sing, her voice still beautiful. She loved to draw. Everywhere she went if someone showed her kindness she would draw them a picture to show her appreciation. She had the most beautiful smile, with a twinkle in her eye when you were lucky enough to share in those moments.

She was preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Tamara (Tammy) and her parents Robert and Virginia Howell.

This was one of my niece Tina's favorite pictures~

Haze's son Roy took her to Florida a year ago this week.  
We all love this picture he too of his Mom~

Do you believe in such things as certain birds showing up when a loved ones leave your side to journey to heaven? I know so many that think of American Cardinals as the main birds that show up more often than others. along with Bluebirds. That being said when my sister's youngest daughter passed away a few years ago the very first bird that I saw after I left the hospital was a Red-tailed hawk and I thought well, that is something different. I was not set on it though. Not until I saw two more on my way home from where she had passed over from. A year ago when I first brought my sister for her first round of DR appointments at the Cancer Center I had my back to the large window in DR office and she was sitting to my left and the DR across from me. All of a sudden Haze got very happy as she saw a beautiful large bird outside the window of the 5th floor office. She quickly said something about too bad that I didn't have my camera with me. A lovely Red-tailed Hawk was flying in low flyovers as we watched in awe. I told Haze, ought oh, Tammy knows you are here...she will watch over you and then we never have seen the bird since. Yesterday after receiving the word that Haze would be passing within a few hours, I walked to the very large window in her room and stood and looked when I noticed a Red-tailed Hawk hunting the parking lot from one of the higher levels. Not once, but three times it flew past her window and up on the garage to hunt for meals down below. Probably nothing, but my sister would have gotten a kick out of it and would probably have teased me about snapping too many pictures. She liked to take pictures of my pictures using her little camera for the job. Sometimes she would use them as subjects in her folk art paintings~ 

A pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks for which this blog is named after... male on left, female on right~

Red-Shouldered Hawk~

Two Red-Tailed Hawk eyas just days before they fledged~ 

American Kestrel had just caught brunch~

A pair of American Kestrels near the site of the Bald Eagles I have followed 5 years now~

This is my third year of being able to visit a Great Blue Heron Heronries near our home~

We worried a bit about this bird, because all of the birds were paired up but for this one.  It begged for one of the available birds to join it at it nest.  The nest was pretty pitiful compared to others, but finally one day...a match was made~

So why the Red-Tailed Hawk image here...because it had a nest among the herons~

Look how many nests just in a single huge Sycamore tree~

The single bird finally got a mate~

It's a beautiful place where these beauties have taken up a seasonal residence~

Ruby-throated Hummingbird taking a bath in the sprinkler~

Male Scarlet Tanager~

Warbler taking a bath in the sprinkler~

Cedar Waxwings eating holly berries~

A Rufous Hummingbird that was fondly named Anna by the owners of the property that she claimed for the Autumn, Winter and early Spring.  She flew from somewhere near Alaska and should have gone South for the Winter, but ended up just 5 miles from my home in Kentucky.  She was so well taken care of by the property owners~

This was another bird that ended up at a dear friends home in the next county over from me...A Western Tanager that they named Petey.  Petey was at their home for as long as Anna had been.  The people who cared for Petey really spoiled him too~

One of my favorite animals to visit is the baby elephant named Fitz at the Louisville Zoo.  He is really such a delight~

The quarry at the famed Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.  The Bamboo and the quarry are reflection images~

The Bald Eagles that I have followed for several years now had another tragic season and some of the information we have never quite figured out as to the different situations that arose~

The nest was just about perfect!

The pair that attended the nest didn't seem quite right as in I was never sure if they were the original pair that had worked this territory for so long, even before I came on scene.  The male partner would take off for long periods when brooding was going on.  The KY Fish and Wildlife had said there were two eggs when they had flown over the nest and so we watched and waited.  When the male would be gone for a long time, the female would also leave the nest for nearly an hour and then come back ahead of him and then he would finally arrive.  This went on the entire brooding time.  Once the weekend had finally arrived for first appeared that it had gone right...much looking down in nest, much caring of whatever was down in that well.  Two days later a second should have hatched.  Everything looked good until early afternoon when a 3 year old Bald Eagle arrived on the scene.  The pair took chase after it and a few feathers flew, with no apparent injuries.  A little while later the young bird flew around and approached the nest once again, this time with no chase from the nearby pair and this time it took care of whatever had either hatched in nest, or egg and newly hatched eaglet.  It was truly a terrible ending.  YET there is more to the story a little further down in this post~

It was a bit of a long walk to get to where one could view the nest, but worth the effort, even with pain in knees~

A Snowy Egret passes over the area at sunset last week~

Is it a dragon, an alligator...No...just me bored one afternoon after taking pictures of Red eared sliders resting on a long~

This was another Bald Eagle nest site a few miles down the river from the one I had observed for many years.  This one also failed, more than likely to a younger bird intrusion as well.  A juvenile had been seen in the area a couple of times and then the pair abandoned the nest at Towhead Island~

A Great Blue Heron flying past large rust red metal poles near the eagles nest~

Double Crested Cormorants and a Hooded Merganser near Towhead Island nest site~

A Pied-billed Grebe floated about for several days near the nest~

A Grass Carp that was quite interesting to observe~

Night Heron fishing at Putney Pond~

Okay back to the Bald Eagle story from above.  This is the female that I had been observing for going on 6 years now.  I took this picture a year ago June 3.  It was the last time that I know for sure I saw her.  So then comes months later and the new nest is being started by the pair in September and I know then that it had to have still been the pair from years past, because there had been no issues by anyone that anything was different.  One day after the disaster at nest I was talking with the landowner and he told me that on February 15 of this year he had found two injured eagles at the base of the nest tree...say what!?  Both were females, one with a brooding patch.  The one with the brooding patch...could that be the same one I had observed all of those years?  What happened to the male?  Where did the other female come from!?  I contacted the Raptor Rehab of Kentucky organization and found out more about the injuries and upcoming release for the larger female that had the patch. They would be releasing her right where she had been found injured, even though there was a working pair that continued to build on the nest.  She was released in May and after flying up into her favorite tree from before her injuries, I felt confidant that this was the original female.  How has she fared, what will become of her, the other pair has not been seen for a while.  A man that lives on the Indiana side of the river saw two days after her release a single very large eagle go after a catch that an Osprey had just made. Maybe that was her feeling her oats ;)  I only hope that next season will do better all the way around for the eagles I enjoy watching along with so many others~ 

Female Bald Eagle released back into the wild at site where she had been injured in February~

A first fawn for the season, born in early May on our property.  It's Mom is Star, one of the deer that has been coming for corn now several years~

A juvie Bald Eagle near the Great Blue Herons nest site~

Wee baby Carolina Wrens, the first small species of birds that I began watching nearly 40 years ago~

My sister's favorite birds were Mourning Doves.  I saw this one building a nest 4 days after she passed away.  She would have loved that...I know I did~

Great Horned Owls female and her two owlets at sunrise~

A first on my land, fondly called Tingsgrove..A juvenile Broad-winged Hawk~

Closing this year 11 with our 50th wedding anniversary that we were blessed and very fortunate to have a wonderful celebration before Covid 19 last December 22, 6 months ago tomorrow.  I pray each of you are well and that you remain safe during this ongoing pandemic.  Love and blessings~


  1. You have some very special photos. Your photos of the eagle are amazing! You have my sincerest sympathy in the loss of your beloved sister! May she rest in peace! God Bless you!!

    1. Thanking you so very much. It has been most difficult, but she is at peace and I am thankful she is no longer in pain~

  2. Heartbreaking to read ... a sad time afterwards, and lovely remembering to your both singing.

    Stay healthy and well.
    Happy MosaicMonday

    1. Thank you very much. It has been two weeks and it seems like forever since I last got to see her. She is no longer in pain and I am very thankful for that~

  3. Mary - I started crying as soon as I saw the title of your post. Oh my dear, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister, your twin. There are no words. Dare I say that I see you coping through the terrific observation and documentation (through photos) of the wildlife in your area? I hope that you can find peace in all these places that you explore and witness the beauty of God's creation. Thanks for sharing this deeply personal event with everyone at Mosaic Monday.

    1. Thanking you very much Angie. It was a very difficult 13 months. I always travel the back roads to get to her home which is about 32 miles from where I live. I had certain places to stop and check on wildlife and then I would stop and get us both some breakfast if she was hungry, or at least some good coffee to take her. Often times she wanted something for lunch hour and if she didn't have what she was hungry for at the house. I would go out and get something, always with my camera in the car. Then of course on the way back home, I took the same route, only making different stops on opposite side of the main road. It worked out to help Haze and also lighten my emotions seeing God's nature as I could. I am so very sad without her, but thankful she is now at rest and no longer suffering. It was really awful for her the past couple of months~

  4. Hello Mary, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister Haze. Sending my prayers for you and your family. The Red-tailed Hawk story is interesting, it would nice thinking the hawk is a sign of your niece and sister. Your bird photos are awesome, I love the eagles, owls, the elephants and turtles. So many gorgeous nature scenes and wildlife. Congrats on your 11th blog anniversary. Beautiful photos of you, your sister and your hubby! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy day and a great new week!

    1. Thank you was a very long illness, a very cruel ending and now she is finally at peace. I hated seeing her go through so much pain. She was already in such a miserable state when cancer hit and this was really such a bad way to have a life end. I appreciate always your very kind thoughts~

  5. My thoughts,and prayers are with you today Mary! (Thanks for sharing at IRBB)

    ~Anni @ IRBB

  6. Gorgeous images as always Mary. The baby elephant is delightful and the images of the bald eagle on its nest are amazing. I send you my sincere condolences on the passing of your sister. I am sure she left many precious memories for all of you. I am glad you were able to spend so much time with her, particularly in the last few months. This time is for you to treasure. Take care. Sending you hugs across the world.

  7. ps - congratulations on your 11 year blog anniversary. I loved seeing the images of you as your younger self! xxoo

    1. I appreciate your thoughts so much Jill. It was such a very long, cruel illness and she stayed as strong as she could for as long. Her final couple of months were just unbearable for her at times, but finally she is at peace, but I just really miss her very much. She could be sassy, but I would take sassy over silence any day. I know she is OK though and I will see her again one day, I pray. The younger pictures are of Haze and I am in only one with her I believe. She had the most beautiful colour of hair and mine was/is dishwater blond huge sigh ;) Hugs

  8. Wow just wow. I thoroughly enjoyed your photos and stories of the hawks, Eagles and other birds. I love to watch the birds in our backyard/woods.I'd love to know what camera you use and lens. Mine does nothing as wonderful as yours.
    Happy Anniversary for you and your husband and 11 years of blogging. June 18th was 8 years for myself.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your sister but rejoice in knowing that she was absent from the body and present with the Lord.
    Blessings to you
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

    1. Thanking you Dawn...she lived a very hard life that past several years before cancer and I am just thankful that she no longer is suffering, but I sure do miss her! I know she is with the Lord and that I shall see her again one day~
      I have a Nikon D7000 camera with a 400mm lens. I also have a Nikon P900, but only use it for very long distance shots and especially any Moon pictures that I take.
      Thank you so much for your kind words~

  9. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you had the time together before she passed. I know you will miss her dearly. Thanks for sharing the photos and of course the nature photos as well. Take care. I'm keeping your family in my prayers. Hugs, Diane

    1. Thanking you Diane and hugs back! She really had a horrible time of it, stayed strong for her two children, her cat Toby and me. I gave her the cat when he was 8 weeks old and he is just at 4 years now. My next door neighbor took him and I pray it will work out. It was my last promise to Haze to re-home him~

  10. Mary, I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your twin sister Haze. I am a twin and I can't even imagine the sorrow. I love your bird photos! Thanks so much for sharing. Be safe. Sylvia D.

    1. Thank you Sylvia...are you all identical? We were/are They say that when a twin dies the one that remains is called a "twinless twin" I hate that. I am still a twin I was born a twin and shall pass over one day having been one~

  11. Dear Mary,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story and beautiful photos.

  12. My condolences on the loss of your twin sister. Yes, faith will carry youn along. Thanks for your awesome share of photos
    I am #22 on the linky


  13. Oh my dear Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. I am late coming to your beautiful tribute post to Haze but I know it is never too late. I’ve outlived a younger sibling and I still miss him after over two decades. But your twin sister ... an even deeper sadness. ..... I am glad the special birds have been there for comfort and memories. And as always, your bird pictures are wonderful....awe-inspiring. Thank you for your strength in showing us that there is still joy in this world even after great sadness.
    (Also I loved the adorable baby elephant and the reminder of my ancestors who share the Zoo grounds .. or at least they still did when we visited...way too long ago now.)


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