Peering out

I feel a kinship with this robin peering out from the vegetation and wish I could hunker down in a like manner. I dread what comes next. Neoliberalism cannot defeat white supremacy because the two are deeply entwined. I believe this is what’s known as a recipe for disaster.

American Robin in Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020.

I wouldn’t fault anyone in search of a four-leaf clover right right about now.

Same old, same old

It’s cold, gray, and snowing right now. Ten days ago, it was cold, gray, and snowing when this Northern Flicker posed on the wire.

Northern Flicker, December 18, 2020.

Today I’m battling indecision and feelings of overwhelm as I work to instill a semblance of structure and order to the draft and memo I need to send my critique group in a week. Ten days ago, I battled indecision and overwhelm as I worked to instill structure and order to the materials for my critique group.

I guess I could take comfort in the consistency?

Thankful Thursday: Clear Creek edition

This morning I met my pal Laura Perdew  in Golden where we walked the paths next to Clear Creek. It was sunny, but cold and windy. After we adjusted, though, it was absolutely beautiful. We walked and talked. Walked and took in our surroundings. Laura spotted a duck on the water, a species neither of us recognized, and I lamented that I’d forgotten my camera. Later on, we circled back to where we’d started from and there was the duck again. These photos were all taken with my phone. I had on my prescription sunglasses that are polarized and couldn’t really see anything. Basically, I held up my phone and optimistically clicked away.

   

The above image on the left shows two mallards on the ice while the duck we didn’t recognize paddled about. (We later identified that paddler as a hybrid Common/Barrow’s Goldeneye, a perfectly stunning specimen). The Goldeneye is also in that photo on the right which was captured as I blindly clicked away.

These ice photos were taken from where I sat on a boulder in the sunshine, so very happy to be out in the natural world. I swear I could spend hours looking at ice formations.

     

It was a glorious morning and I’m going back there soon with my camera. Clear Creek is balm for my soul.

(Note: Right before waking this morning, I dreamt I was out in public and realized I’d forgotten to wear my mask. As I fumbled to put it on, I realized the throngs of people around me were all mask-less. I called through mine in a panic: “Where are your masks?” I was ignored. Fortunately, I’m pleased to report my real life experience was totally different and probably 95% of the people I saw today wore masks.)

Gaining daylight!

Yesterday was the winter solstice which means it was the shortest day of the year. As of today, we’re gaining daylight. I know I’m not alone in welcoming that boost to our collective morale. When I called out a “Happy Solstice” to a neighborhood friend today, he tilted his face to the sun and pumped his arms.

I went in search of an appropriate quotation for this post and decided upon the following which, in light of the president-elect’s role in inflicting austerity on the masses via the latest covid “relief” legislation, feels very spot-on:

We must not fear daylight just because it almost always illuminates a miserable world. ~ Rene Magritte

But at the same time, more daylight allows more bird sightings.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, December 13, 2020.

I refuse to allow the greedhead bastards to take away all my joy. Happy Solstice!

Insult to injury

We’re eight months into a pandemic. Over 300,000 have died. Millions have lost their employer-based health insurance. Millions are facing food shortages while food banks struggle to meet the overwhelming needs.

Did our elected officials come together this week to provide every person a monthly check? Did they vote to provide Medicare for All? Did they cancel student debt? Of course not.

Cooper’s Hawk by Zippy. September 18, 2020.

Last week they voted for a $740 billion defense spending bill. This week they’re generously offering We the People $600 each, up to $2,400/household.

When will we finally rise up?

Missteps

I’d written just under 40,000 words of my latest middle-grade novel when it hit me: it’s not working. As in, not working as written. The story’s premise is solid (I believe), but the way I was telling the story was not working.

Yesterday I went all the way back to chapter two and tried again. The good news is that approach  feels stronger. More sustainable. The bad news? Adopting that approach will mean scrapping a whole lot of those 40k words. Yikes. How could I get it so wrong?

Welp, as author Thomas Mann noted: A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

I’m feeling a bit discouraged. But like this House Finch outside my window today, I need to accept that I bobbled the initial landing.

    

And just keep on writing so that

I regain my footing in the story. It’s all I can do.

So very long ago

I took this photo last March, at the beginning of the quarantine.

Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, March 20, 2020.

Little did I know what was in store for everyone. I’m quite sure I stood at the window that day, focusing on the scrub jays and bushtits visiting the feeders, knowing the best and healthiest path forward was to seek out beauty and moments of quiet joy.

I hope this scrub jay is still alive and well. I hope the forecast for snow this weekend comes true (because Colorado needs moisture). And I hope I never stop seeing the beauty around me.

Anticipation

It’s Monday, with a whole new week ahead of us, and for some reason I’m feeling a sense of anticipation. There’s gonna be some kind of shift, a welcome change or gift. It feels delusional to write those words in the year 2020. But there you have it.  I believe something’s coming and that whatever it is ,will be positive.

Eurasian Collared-Dove, September 6, 2019

And even if I’m wrong, at least in this moment I’m leaning into good feelings. These days, that’s a huge win.

In search of momentum

Yikes, I missed one day of writing and am now suffering an acute case of Lost Momentum. Per my NaNoWriMo goals (45,000 words in 45 days), I need to get a minimum of 1,700 words down today if I’m to remain on schedule.

*sob* That feels like SO. MANY. WORDS.

*deep breath* Here I go, getting started. This is me, starting. One-two-three, write! Come on, Tracy, you can do it!

Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.

*exhale* Even though completing my words feels less likely than the magpie pushing that wheelbarrow, I’m going to write those 1,700 words. Right now. Truly.

Trusting the process

Clearwater, FL. May 5, 2019.

There’s a very good chance you can’t tell the bird in this blurred photo is an Osprey. It is, trust me. Looking closely, I pieced together enough info to make the identification. White undersides. A white head with a dark band running through the eyes. Sharply hooked beak. The way it holds its wings in flight. This is an Osprey.

Why post this low-quality photo today?

Because it’s a fair representation of the new middle grade I’m drafting via my modified NaNoWriMo efforts. I’m 11,000 words into the story and while much feels blurred and unidentifiable, specific and undeniable elements are guiding my way. When the panic and doubts set in (as they are today), I want to remember that I know the basic elements of this story. I want to remember I will find my way through the blurry, messy collection of words.

I want to remember to trust in the process.

Ready, Set, Go!

Face the week
Embrace the challenges and opportunities
Agitate for a better world
Fight for someone you don’t know.

American Robin. November 3, 2020.

Confession: I’m still in my pajamas and am working from bed today.
Gathering my strength for Ready, Set, Go!
I’ll be there soon, I promise.

Thankful Thursday: 5 items, yo!

Black-billed Magpie in open space. March 31, 2020.

This morning, for the second day in a row, I got up and ran on the trails.

Black-billed Magpies perched on yucca alongside the trail and flew ahead of me as I chugged along, bringing smiles and lifting my spirits.

I’m excited to regain the strength and endurance I’ll need for the many fights ahead on behalf of the people and planet.

Day by day, I’m inching closer to FINALLY understanding my protagonist in my new novel project. That’s the good news. The bad is there’s a very good chance the 4k words I’ve written thus far will end up in the trash and I’ll be back to 0 words. However, I’m feeling more solid and at peace with this newer understanding.

While knotty writing problems sometimes amp up my frustration, they also take my focus and provide a refuge from our current (and future) reality. Hooray for an inner creative life!

Mood

Having trouble focusing today. Still haven’t started my NaNoWriMo writing and just had a mini-meltdown. However, the universe then gifted me this robin in our birdbath and for several minutes, I aimed my camera and forgot everything else.

American Robin. November 3, 2020.

This attitude? It me.

Breathing deeply

I’m very grateful for today’s clean air! The snow ( temporarily, at least) cleared the smoke and ash from the wildfires. There’s also sunshine. Hooray! And it was a balmy 40 degrees as Zippy, Emma, and I walked around the neighborhood, skirting patches of ice. It’s the first walk in weeks and weeks (months?) in which I didn’t have to wear a mask to protect my lungs from smoke. I felt so free.

House finch. October 24, 2019.

My son, Zebu, doesn’t get it, but I absolutely love the day following a big snowstorm. Clean, crisp air plus blue skies equals happiness.

This photo was taken the day after one of our snowstorms last October, but it’s a perfect representation of this day. And maybe this same House Finch is out in the plum bushes as I write these words.

Who is that masked bird?

We’re used to seeing Black-capped Chickadees around our yard. They visit the feeders and bath, and peck at the top of the fence. So Zippy and I were taken aback yesterday when watching birds at the peanut feeder. As a chickadee hopped around the branches, we both frowned and said at the same time, “Something’s off.”

We quickly realized that, instead of a black cap, this chickadee had a mask around its eyes. Wait, what?

Mountain Chickadee. October 26, 2020.

Ahem. The answer was easy. We were looking at a Mountain Chickadee which our guide book said was “thought to be one of the top ten most abundant birds in Colorado.” Yes, we’ve seen them before. But we’d gotten so used to the steady stream of black caps, that somehow the mask threw us. (I know, not very good birders.)

Ah, well. I’m happy to report both species of chickadee are sticking around to dine on peanuts.

My state’s on fire

American Robin. December 16, 2019.

This photo was taken last December, but it feels fitting for today because the robin is looking to the north. As I write this, people are being evacuated north of here due to the East Troublesome Fire that exploded from about 35,000 acres to 127,000 acres after 60 mph wind gusts last night. The fire jumped the Continental Divide. Rocky Mountain National Park is on fire. Homes are burning. East Troublesome Fire is currently the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado history.

Colorado has been on fire with multiple wildfires for the last four months but I’m told I must vote for the presidential candidate who believes climate change is real, yet keeps telling us he opposes a Green New Deal and won’t ban fracking. I’m told I must help the Democrats reclaim the Senate by voting for the candidate who drank fracking fluid and opposes a Green New Deal. It doesn’t matter to them that I’ve spent much of those past four months inside as my lungs can’t handle the smoky air; I owe them my vote.

I’m angry and exhausted and just about cried out.