solitary wee bushtit
flockmates await her
solitary wee bushtit
flockmates await her
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~ Albert Schweitzer
I’d also extend thanks to autumn’s vibrant foliage for doing the same.
This Red-winged Blackbird and Mourning Dove shared a tree as the sun went down on our first day of camping in Moby, the Great White campervan, in late April. We were walking around Lake Hasty (John Martin Reservoir State Park) at the end of a lovely day when I spotted them.
We receive many doves (Mourning and Eurasian-collared) here at our backyard feeder, but Red-winged Blackbird sightings are more rare. I have childhood memories of them singing their beautiful song as they perched on cattails along the train tracks.
I’m posting this picture to commemorate the end of our camping season. Yesterday we unloaded Moby in preparation for a trip to the shop to have a pop-top installed. Next year, we’ll be able to stand up inside. Can’t wait to get back out there to bask in the glories of the natural world.
I sometimes hoard photos I especially love, waiting for The Perfect Moment to post here. I’ve been holding onto this Rocky Mountain Bee Plant photo for over two months.
At the time I took this picture, I didn’t know what I was looking at. We’d driven past many of these plants alongside the road as we headed to a camping destination in August and I made a note to photograph them on the return trip. When I saw a patch of them as we drove home, I somewhat quickly veered to a little driveway off the road, and parked. Seeing the flowers up close, I was overcome by their beauty and photographed them from different angles. I can still feel my smile of delight. Several vehicles roared past, horns blowing as passengers happy-waved. I wasn’t the only Rocky Mountain Bee Plant fan.
So why share this treasured photo today? It’s the start of a new week and I’m buoyed by good feelings as I finish up revisions on my manuscript. Also, it’s my sister’s birthday.
Here’s to beautiful discoveries that sometimes bloom in the ditches!
The final harvest
a patty pan squash tableau
next stop the stew pot
Today I am grateful the week-long paint exterior paint job was completed several hours before the season’s first snowfall.
I’m grateful we resolved a big mix-up. Turned out they’d matched the trim color incorrectly, which I didn’t realize until last night. I spent sleepless hours fretting about it and woke all out of sorts. When I spoke to them and didn’t get much satisfaction, I wisely went for a 38 degree run on the trails. The cold air and beautiful open space cleared my mind. Afterward, we talked more, they listened to my concerns, and agreed to return at a later date to repaint the trim the correct color.
It’s been 12 years since the exterior was painted and the southern and eastern exposures were brutalized by sun and weather. I hadn’t anticipated the incredible noise and disruption that would come with three guys sanding-drilling-pounding on various walls, often simultaneously. Not to mention occasionally being caught off-guard when I spotted strange men through the windows.
One more time: I am grateful the exterior paint job is complete! (For a while, anyway).
I’m very thankful for our home and our ability to pay for its upkeep. (And hooray that the supply chain issues only slightly affected the timeline for completing the job!)
It’s a good Thursday on the planet.
My most recent post was about the cat card I made for my neighbor’s birthday over the weekend. Turns out, she received yellow roses from her sister. And then an identical delivery of yellow roses due to florist error. Instead of keeping all that glory for herself, my generous neighbor offered me one of the bouquets. I just collected it from her and decided I wanted to document it on this ol’ blog, so set it on the floor in a patch of natural light.
Marcel immediately came to investigate.
“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.” – Kahlil Gibran
And Marcel? Well, he sees the rose and its thorns, then proceeds to snack on the surrounding foliage.
Tomorrow is our neighbor’s birthday and because B is the kind soul who cares for Loki and Marcel when we’re out camping, I wanted a photo of them for a card. It’s tough getting good photos of a black and a white cat (at the same time) because Loki tends to fade into the shadows. After several unsuccessful photo shoots of them napping on the bed and lounging in their box-condo, I asked Zippy to hold them.
It was a full minute of squirming, shedding, feline shenanigans, but I was able to capture this shot. I’m especially pleased Marcel’s looking directly at the camera because B has high hopes that one of these times when she’s cat-sitting, she’ll finally get Marcel to happy-drool. He’s been holding out on her.
Our dear neighbor takes her cat whisperer duties very seriously.
final colorful hurrah
splendor in last gasp
I’d just gotten on the gravel road leading away from Cataract Lake Campground when a pair of enormous ears poked up from behind a shrub. I stopped Moby (our great white campervan) and handed the camera to Zippy in the passenger seat. By the time he had it up, another set of ears had joined the first and then the two mule deer kindly stepped out into the open.
They very calmly watched us and seemed prepared to do so for as long as we wanted to sit there. We bade them a good day and continued our drive back home, smiles on our faces.
Only 16 days to finish these revisions before I send the middle grade manuscript to my critique group. It was a bold move, requesting that critique slot when I’d only revised slightly less the half the manuscript, but I needed an incentive. And because I’ve been making solid progress, the last few days I’ve congratulated myself for imposing a deadline.
Today, though, I feel tiny in the face of all the work that remains. Onward I fly.
Last week we drove two hours from home for a two-night camping trip in the White River National Forest. We hoped to get a first-come-first-served site at Cataract Creek Campground, in large part because of the multiple hiking trails there. Minutes before we arrived at our destination Zippy exclaimed, “Oh, that’s not good!”
He’d just realized he hadn’t brought any shoes. All he had were the Tevas on his feet. He didn’t want to drive back to Silverthorne and shop for shoes because he didn’t want us to miss out on getting one of the five camping sites. So, we went ahead and were fortunate to claim a great site. This was our view:
After getting settled at our site, we hiked around Lower Cataract Lake where we saw the moose. It was about a three-mile hike, mostly level, and comfort-wise, Zippy had no problem wearing Tevas (with socks). The biggest issue was the worn-out velcro on the straps that required frequent readjustment.
The next day’s hike, however, would present more of a challenge. We’d planned on hiking to Eaglesmere Lake which was about an eight-mile round trip from the campground with an elevation gain of 1,850 feet. Zippy insisted he could do the hike so we got ready by late morning and headed out . . .at the same time it began to sprinkle. The rain wasn’t a problem because the early part of the hike was in the forest. So on we went, me lagging behind Zippy and Emma because I couldn’t refrain from taking photos. Everywhere I looked there was yet another beautiful sight.
We encountered a couple from the campground as they headed back. They hadn’t hiked to the lake but turned around partway there. We chatted and continued on. And on and on and on as it sprinkled rain, off and on.
“How much farther?” I asked.
That’s when Zippy remembered that he’d printed out trail info before leaving home but had forgotten it in the van. Cool. We’d also neglected to use his phone to take a photo of the trail map at the trailhead. I’d photographed one the day before with the camera and that image was now buried below many, many photos I’d taken since. Who had time to look for that? Zippy did remember the info saying that there was a downhill before the lakes.
Eventually, Zippy had had enough and sat on a log. (He didn’t tell me until later, but the pad of his foot was blistered below the skin.) I, however, was determined to make it to that damned lake. We’d come so far and I wasn’t going to miss out. So we divvied up the trail mix, I replenished his water bottle from my camel back, and we synchronized watches, noting the time I left. Zippy said he and Emma would wait there 20 minutes. What wasn’t discussed was whether he’d head back to the campground or follow me.
On I went, hiking fast and hoping each curve in the trail would reveal the downhill taking me to the lake. As I cruised along, I came upon a sign post. I checked it out (but didn’t photograph it then ) and continued to bear left where there was a visible decline on the trail.
Soon, I heard water and figured the lake must be fed by a waterfall. Down, down, down I went until . . . a creek. No lake and no sign of the trail. It’d just ended. I stood there on the rocky outcropping above the water, exclaiming WTF over and over, as I thought about how I’d just given myself a whole lot more of uphill. There was nothing to do but turn around and head back up the trail. Several minutes later, there were Zippy and Emma coming to find me! I was very happy to see them. Zippy wasn’t sure which way I’d gone at that sign post but decided it was correct to bear left. He started to worry I’d gone to the right but then saw my wide toe-box footprints and knew he was on the right track.
I told him I’d since realized I should’ve turned at the sign post, but we both agreed there was nothing on the sign to indicate Eaglesmere Lake. Wrong! When we got back to the sign, Zippy noticed the faded white arrow pointing to the right. Aargh! I still wasn’t willing to give up on seeing that damned lake so we went up the trail a ways until it was obvious there was still a long way to go. They sky was darker and thunder had been rumbling off and on throughout the afternoon so it seemed extremely foolish to push on. We agreed we’d come back next fall and do the correct hike.
We hiked miles back to the campground, rain pelting us. The one and only smart thing we’d done was bring rain coats and gloves. Emma, however, got water in her ears and had to shake now and again. By the time we made it back, Zippy and Emma had gone about nine miles and I’d hiked ten. We were wet, muddy, and cold. But in light of all the stupid things we’d done, we were very lucky that was the extent of our discomfort.
We’ll see Eaglesmere Lake in 2022!
Creepy is better than just plain scary because you can’t look away from creepy – you want to know the truth! ~ Ransom Riggs
The truth? Marcel is an exceedingly sweet cat with a penchant for creepy and just because it looks as if he’d eat a corpse, I really don’t believe he’d follow through.
One pup one adult
one chill the other bonkers
As we hiked around Lower Cataract Lake, we were gifted with a moose sighting.
This young male had stood perfectly still, watching us watching him, before starting his slow slog across the lake. The mud and water created a loud squelching that brought smiles to our faces. And we were happy to again encounter (from a distance) this moose on the other side of the lake as it headed into the aspen.
One of the hardest parts of leaving Alaska for me was saying goodbye to almost daily moose sightings. There was a large bull that used to run out of the forest and abruptly stop in the clearing next to the road I drove home. The dewlap below his chin would swing wildly as he stood motionless. I loved that moose and am grateful I got to see this youngster. They are magnificent beings.
Perched on its food source
a seed on head, one in bill
Okay, I’m being a big dramatic. But something’s gotta give here in Day 4 (or is it Day 5?) of working on the same damned chapter. I’m stuck.
Each time I think I’ve sorted things and gotten some momentum, I come to another screeching halt. It’s part brain, part exhausted-by-reality, part lack of confidence, and part what’s-the-freaking-point.
Maybe I’ve jinxed myself by repeatedly expressing my gratitude for being able to create during these incredibly difficult days. Earlier this week, I did just that, sharing with a non-writer friend how grateful I was to be able to immerse myself in my project. I told her many creatives aren’t functioning as they’d like these days.
And now I’m not, either. Instead, I’m stuck between the rock and a hard place. Send lawyers, guns, and money.
My friend spotted a large bird in a tree off in the distance as we walked around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge last month. Was it a hawk? Too big. What was it?
We slowly and quietly moved closer to the tree. This not-great quality photo was taken from quite a ways away.
My friend thought maybe a Golden Eagle, which seemed like a very good guess. We very carefully moved a bit farther on the trail until we were on the other side of the tree.
Hello there, regal raptor with the sharp beak and talons! Thank you for allowing us to gawk.
When I returned home and got the photos up on my computer screen, Zippy suggested it wasn’t a Golden Eagle, but a juvenile Bald Eagle. After a little more research, we decided he was correct.
I recently wrote a work-for-hire book about birds around the world and was limited to 100 birds. I didn’t include the Bald Eagle in the Birds of Prey section because I figured kids were already pretty familiar with them. Apparently, the editor felt differently because when my author copies arrived, there was a Bald Eagle on the cover. I checked inside and discovered the Black-thighed Falconet, which weighs 1.23 ounces and is one of the smallest birds of prey in the world, had been replaced by the mighty Bald Eagle. I admit to being disappointed by that switch.
However, I was not at all disappointed by this Bald Eagle sighting. Also? My friend could not have spotted a sparrow-sized falconet from that distance. Amateur birders such as ourselves definitely benefit when the sightings weigh in at close to 14 pounds of pure fierceness.
As Congresspeople return from vacation to their well-paying jobs today, there are actions around the country in support of #SealTheDeal for the full $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Because I’m unable to join the others on the streets today, I want to say this:
and remind Congress of this:
Lastly, in regards to the Parliamentarian spewing nonsense about not being able to fund items in that reconciliation bill:
We see you, Democrats.
All those who love Nature she loves in return, and will richly reward, not perhaps with the good things they are commonly called, but with the best things, of this world–not with money and titles, horses and carriages, but with bright and happy thoughts, contentment and peace of mind. ~ John Lubbock