Sunday Confessional: I’m in a glass house

There’s a pair of Black-capped Chickadees nesting in the trunk of the neighbors’ crabapple tree right outside our front fence, and they are frequent visitors to our feeders and bath. One of them (for some reason, I’m thinking the male) keeps landing on the fence to peck at the top of the slat.

Backyard. April 25, 2020.

As far as I know, there aren’t any bugs in that wood. I never see the chickadee come up with anything in his beak. It’s possible it’s a territorial thing, making a drilling sound to warn off other males. Or, maybe this bird’s into pointless, repetitive behavior that may or may not give him a headache. What a silly bird, right?

Then I thought of how I return, over and over again, to Twitter where I’m confronted, over and over again, with example after example of humans being ignorant, hateful, selfish, greedy, thoughtless, hypocritical, and more.

Obviously, I’m in no position to judge this chickadee for knocking his head against the fence.

Saturday buzzing on by

I chose to spend much of the day in bed, reading an adult novel (thriller/suspense) that came highly recommended. It made me grumpy for various writing-related reasons (mainly characterization), but I kept reading because I’d already invested so much time in it (I know, I know) but also because I was curious how it would wrap up.

Right after finishing that unsatisfactory book, I got an email with a Subject line that was one of my account passwords. That was disconcerting to see. The email was a  threat to blackmail me with video of me pleasuring myself to a porn video unless I bought BitCoin from this Alex fellow. I wasn’t worried about the video, because, well, there isn’t one. I was, however, worried, because the blackmailer had correctly identified one of my passwords. So I then had to spend a whole bunch of time changing passwords on various accounts. I admit to feeling a bit stabby at that point.

And that’s pretty much it for this Saturday.

April 27, 2020.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thankful Thursday

Reality is a scary and anger-inducing thing these days, and today I am grateful for the middle-grade novel I’m writing. Last week, I completed the second draft (hooray!) and then had it printed and bound. I let it sit for a few days and then eagerly began working within those tidy pages. It makes me so very happy to have a compact, mobile version that I can work on anytime, anywhere. Bed? Yes! Patio? Absolutely? Kitchen table? Why not?

And when I wake in the middle of the night with anxious thoughts that prevent me falling back asleep, I focus on Geo and Sam, the two girls at the heart of my story. I aim to do them proud.

Exuberance

Three years ago today, I arrived in Amsterdam. I was jetlagged and foggy in the head, but still remember the lift I got from the mounds of tulips blooming in a nearby park.

Amsterdam. April 28, 2017.

Such exuberant flowers, unruly in their passionate display. We should all live so boldly.

Highly recommend

I spent the majority of this day offline. In the morning, I exercised and then spent the afternoon reading through the second draft of my middle-grade novel while jotting notes to myself. After that, as some kind of misguided reward for my discipline and productivity, I went online for a peek at reality. Oh, my.

Rage. Rage. Rage.

April 27, 2020.

I quickly logged out of Twitter and went outside to calm myself. That’s when I heard a whole lot of buzzing. I grabbed my camera and patio chair, and parked next to one of our shrubs that’s flowering. As the bees buzzed and flew around my head, I achieved my calm.

I highly recommend this remedy.

Story in 3 parts

This funny little tale unfolded as I sat on the patio with my camera. I was too tired to continue gardening and hoped that focusing on something beside the thoughts in my head would improve my physical and emotional state.

       

It did. Not a lot, but some.

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and I felt an array of not-so-pleasant emotions. Rage was high on the list. I’m doing a little better today, in part because I’m focusing more on what keeps me going during hard times.

Open space. April 1, 2020

Today I’m grateful for the many ways nature soothes my soul.

Twofer Tuesday

This photo is from earlier this month during a foray into the open space with my blanket and camera. It was taken from quite a distance and, at the time, I thought I was looking at two magpies. It wasn’t until  I downloaded my photos that I realized it was one Black-billed Magpie and one American Robin.

Open space. April 1, 2020.

In the majority of the pictures of these two, the birds face the same direction, as if their heads swiveled in unison. Magpies get a bad rap for aggression, so it’s nice seeing this peaceful coexistence.

Newsflash: we all need a haircut BUT

. . .bad hair days aren’t enough reason to accelerate the spread of COVID-19.

Wildebeest at Zebu’s graduation. May 11, 2018.

Yesterday, Denver nurses stood in intersections to remind the selfish flag-waving assholes in huge trucks that their demands to reopen the state so they could get their nails done were putting healthcare workers and others at risk.  Today, Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) announced he was lifting our stay-at-home order on April 27.

I’m so exhausted.

Making friends

Vinca. April 23, 2019.

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.  ~ Georgie O’Keefe

In these days of social distancing, it’s vital we make friends wherever and whenever possible.

Hello, Vinca Minor. My name is Tracy. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.

Pop a quarantine wheelie

Glanced out my kitchen window and saw this guy using his quarantine time to acquire (or maybe, improve upon) a skill. It was great fun watching him.

     

I never popped a wheelie, but did grow up riding a hand-me-down bike with pedal brakes (which involved rotating the pedals in reverse), and by the time it’d passed through three older siblings and gotten to me, the brake action was practically non-existent. Riding downhill was always an “exhilarating” experience.

While this guy did wobble a few times in the cul-de-sac, he never laid it out flat the way I did with my bike once when stomping on the “brakes” as I went around a sand-covered curve at the bottom of our hill. I can still feel the burn of that road rash.

Fortunately,  no gravel in this daredevil’s knees and palms.

We the People

Arizona, July 1972 (National Archives)

From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.
~ Cesar Chavez

Out my window

I can vouch for my Stay-At-Home household in Colorado: we are NOT amused by this snowstorm and the accompanying cold temperatures.

We need sunshine. We need warmth. We need dry streets and trails.

Waaaaaah.

Simple kindness

Blue Mist Spirea. August 31, 2017.

We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.
~ Marcus Aurelius

John Prine, rest in power

It feels particularly cruel to lose a man of such empathy and wit right now. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s people sensitive to the struggles of others. John Prine left us a catalog of songs that illustrate a deep understanding of people’s inner lives and the moments that often go unremarked. He was a treasure.

In the fall of 2002, President George W. Bush was beating the war drums (with the enthusiastic help of Democrats like Senator Joe Biden) in preparation for invading Iraq. During those months, I played “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” an awful lot. It was my way of maintaining equilibrium during those days of flag-based jingoism. Because, no exaggeration, flags and flag decals were EVERYWHERE. My family attended anti-war rallies in Denver during that fall and spring of 2003, and I helped the boys make signs that expressed their sentiments. Here’s Zebu in the middle, holding his sign.

Civic Center Park, Denver. October 28, 2002.

That sign was always a big hit at rallies because, once again, John Prine had nailed it.

While digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside, slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross I’d tell her how good I feel
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I went to the bank this morning and the cashier he said to me
“If you join the Christmas club we’ll give you ten of them flags for free”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit, I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car and one on my wife’s forehead
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I got my window shield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So, I ran the car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down I was already dead
And I’ll never understand why the man standing in the pearly gates said
“But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war”
“Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore” 

Well, the U.S. ignored the millions of us around the world who over and over took to the streets to say NO WAR ON IRAQ, and invaded in March 2003 (with Senator Bernie Sanders voting against invasion and occupation). John Prine died on April 7, 2020, and minutes after I’d finally dragged my sad self out of bed this morning, I learned Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign.

Today is an especially hard day on the planet. Think I’ll put “In Spite of Ourselves” on repeat and sit in the sun.

John Prine, rest in power.

Enter this wild wood

Chiricauhua Mountains. May 14, 2019.

Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature . . . .
~ William Cullen Bryant

(Note: After posting this, I realized it all felt very familiar. Probably because I’d posted the same words very recently.)

On the upswing

Gratitude!

Neighbor’s yard. April 1, 2020.

After 20 days of not feeling well, I’m regaining my health. Still have my morning cough episodes, but yesterday I walked the neighborhood (2.25 miles, yo!) and today did yard clean-up for three hours and then took another walk. I’m tired now, but not to-the-bone-fatigued. Whatever illness was dogging me, it’s on the way out. Woot! Woot! Woot!

To celebrate, here’s a beautiful little bouquet I photographed in my neighbor’s yard.