We went for a walk at 8:00 this morning despite the cold temperature because we wanted to be back inside before the wind started blowing again. And we just made it. As soon as we returned, I went out to clean and refill the bird bath (which was filled with pine needles, dirt, and other debris from yesterday’s wind) and that’s when the wind began raging again. (Note: the bath’s already polluted but there’s no point in cleaning now).
As noted yesterday, my anxiety levels were high (update: the fire in Park County spread to Teller County and has now burned 1,200 acres) and I chose to put on music loud enough to drown out the sound of the heavy gusts of wind while I played with ink and paints.
I copied each of these animals from a drawing book and consider them a huge success. Not because the crocodile looks like she has mumps or because what appears to be an otter was actually supposed to be a weasel. No, I consider my little art session a success because for a while there I was not thinking about our wildfire evacuation kit, the extreme drought and water shortage here in the West, or how the Biden administration continues to authorize more oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Instead, I was focused on drawing silly little pictures and learning how to use paints.
And now I’m going back to my art table where I’ll turn up the music and create some more. Oh, and comfort Emma when she gets agitated about those 50-mph gusts of wind.
Wishing you calm wherever you are.
The wind is BLOWING right now. (Per my phone, weather is currently: “62 degrees and blowing widespread dust.”) It’s warm and very dry here in Colorado and one wildfire’s already burning in Park County. My wildfire anxiety is HIGH. Emma’s pressed up against my feet right now because the house shakes and the roof creaks with each particularly strong gust of wind. Making matters worse, tomorrow’s supposed to be even windier than today. Ugh.
I’m going to abort my writing plans and instead play loud music to drown out the nightmare outside while I create some art. Before I go, here’s a tree I photographed yesterday when we hiked at Castlewood Canyon State Park (where the wind had already started). We still had a lovely time.
I went searching for a wind-related quote and found this which feels like a good antidote to my current windy reality and a good match for this photo. Enjoy.
We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
This morning my phone told me it was –10 degrees outside which would explain the frost and ice on the insides of the bedroom window. It eventually got a little warmer, but was still so cold that when Zippy went out for a few minutes to shovel, he lost feeling in his fingers. I haven’t gone outside today and am exceedingly grateful I had the luxury to make that decision.
In case you’re also enduring brutally cold temperatures, here’s a photo from July 2020 when I crawled beneath the day lilies as they reached for the warm, blue sky:
I look forward to seeing those cheery flowers again.
It’s currently 6 degrees (and according to the weather app, “feels like –6”) so I’m warming myself with a memory of last July when we were camping in Routt National Forest.
Not only was it much warmer on that day, we could also hike on the trails. Around here, it’s been so wet and muddy that I haven’t been out in the open space for a couple months. And today I haven’t even ventured outside, not even to walk Emma. It’s too damned cold.
But yesterday? It was in the upper 50s.
Make it make sense.
It’s bitterly cold today and uppermost in my mind is that I’m exceedingly grateful for my warm home. We had to take our dog to the vet this morning and it was a slow fourteen mile drive. Many were equally cautious but, of course, there were those who treated the snowy-icy streets as their personal speedway. We had to detour on the way home to pick up something and by the time I was at the red light at the top of our exit ramp, I was looking forward to being off the road.
Rear-ended by someone who’d missed the memo that the streets were freaking slippery. The good news is there was no damage to the car (except the impact knocked the muffler tape loose and now our old Subaru is REALLY loud again). The bad news? The collision triggered my PTSD and I was weepy and shaky for a bit, not to mention suddenly feeling so much anger toward people. The unmasked and the fast drivers, aka the people who don’t seem to give a damn about anyone else’s health and well-being. Part of the issue is that I’ve been rear-ended a bunch of times over the years and I’m really, really sick of it.
But again, uppermost in my mind today as the temperatures dipped well below zero is that I’m exceedingly grateful for my warm home. In that spirit, here’s a beautiful Mourning Dove I photographed at the Chatfield Audubon Center last May. A much more soothing image than the puffed-out birds hunkered down in the trees today.
Peace until all of us.
Today is the shortest day of the year and tomorrow we begin gaining daylight. Despite the incremental change at first, it’s still a huge boost to mental health. And we need it here in Colorado as we brace ourselves for an arctic blast. Tonight it will get down to -12 degrees F and tomorrow’s high will be a whopping -1 degree. And thanks to the climate crisis, we’re also smelling smoke from a wildfire in Boulder County (almost exactly one year after the Marshall Fire last December!) Cold enough to kill people and dry/windy enough to burn everything down. How’s that for messed up?
Anyway, this is some kind of hybrid dragonly/butterfly we found while clearing out my mother-in-law’s house. The six-inch by four-inch, bejeweled curiosity now hangs in my writing room window and I just photographed it as the foothills went dark. The bluish tinge is a result of the Arctic filter I applied, which felt appropriate.
Here’s to more hospitable days. Happy Solstice, everyone!
Over the weekend, I made a vow to start running every other day again which meant today is running day. But it’s only 24 degrees. Ugh. So I decided to run inside on the treadmill, then thought about the monotony of treadmill running and decided to give it a try outside. I put on my warm togs and a face mask, hoping my glasses wouldn’t steam up.
Photo by Xeniya Kovaleva at Pexels.com
Although my mask wasn’t nearly as festive as that one and the neighborhood streets were dry, other than that this photo has the exact same vibe. HA. Just a happy-go-lucky run in frigid temperatures. I concentrated on inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth which mostly kept my glasses steam-free . . . until they weren’t and it became impossible to see. So I took off the mask and ran the rest of the way home.
Now my cheeks are rosy-red and I’m happily indoors again, swimming in a warm sea of endorphins. Mission accomplished.
(1) We still turn on our holiday lights despite the fact we’re nearing the end of February.
February 2, 2022
(2) It’s 4:43 of the p.m. and I’m still in my pajamas.
♫ I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
what else can I be but what I am
All week, those of us in Colorado were bombarded with forecasts for an epic snowstorm. The forecasts frequently changed (regarding intensity, snowfall, start time, etc.) and during one 45-minute period in which Zippy checked three times, he read three different forecasts. The whole situation began to feel a bit hyperbolic.** That’s no longer the case.
View out my front window about 4:45 p.m. on March 14, 2021
The birds are doing their best to weather the storm, including these two Northern Flickers clinging to the telephone pole and three American Robins hunkered down in a Russian Olive tree:
Photo quality is poor due to the swirling snow covering windows on all four sides of the house. (Full disclosure: my windows were already smudged by cats and dog).
Drought-stricken Colorado definitely needs moisture so I’m not complaining, especially since I’m warm and safe inside. I realize how very fortunate I am.
** My favorite tweet from the week (@PhosphoSolution):
There are so many thoughts and feelings jumbled inside me right now regarding the climate crisis, green new deal, capitalism, greed, cruelty, political failure, collective trauma, heartache and rage, but rather than unpack all that, I opted for self-care. I just spent the last thirty minutes looking through photos from camping trips and hikes, birding excursions, quick getaways in the nearby open space, etc. It was nice to gaze upon and remember those moments.
May 6, 2019
Because I need to get outside to shovel the much-needed snow we finally got last night, I had to quit my trip down memory lane and make a photographic decision. I opted to celebrate (again) the juvenile Limpkin that allowed me to take many photos of it when I visited Kapok Park.
One bird can’t change the trajectory of the world, but this limpkin can and did soothe my soul. Maybe it will do the same for you.
I took this photo exactly one year ago and I’m now wondering if Emma closed her eyes because she saw into the future.
Maybe Emma sensed that one year later we’d be on Day 12 of a mold issue/odor issue in our pantry during a stretch of brutally cold weather. Maybe she knew the mold mitigation company would have to come out to treat the problem a second time. Maybe our sweet Emma couldn’t bear to see what was coming.
Maybe or maybe not. But if Emma really was that damned clairvoyant, I wish she’d given us a heads-up on the improperly mounted chimney cap that was gonna cause major condensation problems.
. . . and I’ll blow your fence down.
Did the Big Bad Wolf pay us a visit last night? No. But we did have wind gusts strong enough to repeatedly slam a tree branch against the side of the house, causing our doggo much anxiety and me much grumpiness. I put a pillow over my head and eventually fell asleep.
December 23, 2020. Photo by Wildebeest
I was the last one awake and upright this morning. However, I was the first to notice something was not-right. Zippy and Wildebeest somehow both failed to see the fence was down. When I pointed it out to him, Zippy replied, “Oh, that’s probably why it took Emma so long to come back inside this morning. Guess she was out exploring.”
Fence companies are VERY busy right now. Zippy erected a temporary fence across the thirty-foot gap while we wait. It may be months. Prediction: Emma has several more adventures in her near future.
August 15, 2020
What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? ~ Henry David Thoreau
Zippy took this photo last month and while today’s air quality isn’t nearly so orange, I’m not spending any time outside. The local air quality index reads “Unhealthy for sensitive groups.” I’ll go out on a limb and say I think this translates to “the air is unhealthy for everyone and everything.”
Exceptionalism?! All over the United States, people are hiding indoors to escape the ravages of the climate crisis. And our elected officials don’t care, so it’ll only get worse.
Earlier this week, I prepared for the coming massive drop in temperature (over 60 degrees in 24 hours) and snowstorm by putting buckets over three of my sedum plants. The sedum had just come into bloom and I couldn’t bear thinking about the bees and butterflies losing that food. While we did lose a huge limb from our red maple, the plants fared better.
September 12, 2020
The sedum survived and my winged friends were out in force today.
(Shout-out to Michelle who would’ve been fifty years old today. She also loved flora and fauna.)
Neighbor’s ash tree. May 29, 2020.
Partially clad limbs
but mostly naked branches
too many cold snaps
Two days ago it was 70+ degrees here in Colorado and I went out for a run in a t-shirt. Yesterday, the temperatures dropped to about 25 degrees. Today? About 11 degrees and the snow keeps falling. I’m trying to focus on the cozy aspects of being “trapped” inside. Tea, books, space heater. More tea.
I’m also keeping an eye on the feeders.
Northern Flicker. February 4, 2020.
S[he] who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter. ~ John Burroughs
Today is cold and icy. Again. Unlike two weeks ago, I am not venturing outside because I very much do not want to slip and fall again. Instead, I went in search of an appropriate quotation for this ice-encrusted day. I found the following . It speaks to me, despite never having directed a film. I read it as “Writing a novel is mystifying…”
Directing is mystifying. It’s a long, long, skid on an icy road, and you do the best you can trying to stay on the road… If you’re still here when you come out of the spin, it’s a relief. But you’ve got to have the terror if you’re going to do anything worthwhile.
~ Mike Nichols
Suffice to say, I’m firmly in the white-knuckle, can-I-pull-this-off portion of the writing process right now. First drafts can be simultaneously exhilarating and puke-inducing.
Lilac bloom on May 17, 2018.
The thermometer currently reads 18 degrees. The sky is gray. It’s snowing and blowing, and is forecast to continue like that through tomorrow morning. I try to live in the moment, to be mindful and present in my life. But right now, in this moment, I’m looking ahead to spring and lilacs in bloom.
Fight me, Pema Chödrön.
I’d never heard of “bomb cyclone” until yesterday and now Zippy has repeated that phrase so many times Zebu and I are debating drinking a shot every time he says “bomb cyclone.” Might as well have some fun with it, right?
The wind is blowing hard and swirling every which way. Windows on all four sides of the house are affected.
North. South. East. West. Everywhere I look is a snowy-blowy mess. Bomb cyclone.
Oops, everyone take a drink!
I just got back from a 4-mile run around the neighborhood. Emma started with me and then bailed at about 3/4 of a mile, possibly due to it being only 27 degrees. But it all worked out because as I dropped her off at home, I had the sense to put on my mask. Suddenly, it felt quite pleasant out there.
And when a bunny ran in front of me, I grinned and remembered that it’s Bunny Monday!
I’m sorry I don’t have a bunny photo to share, but here I am at home again, reenacting my Bunny Monday grin.
It’s too cold to take Emma for her walk.
The sun is nowhere to be seen.
It’s gonna be dark-dark-dark in a couple hours.
Humor me and this long-ago clematis bloom.
Under certain circumstances,
profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
~ Mark Twain
AP Photo, File