I spent the afternoon with friend Laura at Barr Lake State Park which I’d never visited, despite living in Colorado for 24 years. It’s embarrassing, really. Tons o’ birds hang out there and I didn’t know about the park until Laura asked if I’d ever been there.
We remedied the situation today and it was a glorious three hours. I took gobs of photos, some of which I’ve already deleted. Many, though, make me smile.
American White Pelican
Throughout the afternoon, Laura wondered about the bump/horn on the pelicans’ bills. I finally took the time to pull out my little bird guide and then read this to Laura: Breeding adults also usually grown a flat fibrous plate in the middle of the upper mandible. The plate drops off after eggs have hatched.
Laura’s response: “But why? Why do they grow that?”
Well, I just did a little online research and still have no idea why breeding adults temporarily grow what appears to be enormous warts on their bills. However, that lack of knowledge in no way detracts from my gratitude for walking and talking with my friend on a beautiful, sunshine-y spring day in a bird wonderland.
Today I’m grateful for Zippy, pictured here when he traveled with me to the Chiricahua Mountains to see birds. He shops and cooks for us, lets me sleep in as long as I need, and supports me in whatever I set out to do. He will even sometimes laugh at my jokes.
Cave Creek Canyon. May 16, 2019
This guy’s got a good heart and I’m oh so grateful he chose to share it with me.
Today I am grateful for the ongoing generosity and kindness of others, especially during these difficult days.
August 18, 2019
I wrote something in an email that could have easily been misinterpreted and this woman read past my fumbling and clumsy words to recognize the intent buried within. In that moment, she granted me peace and tranquility. Her kindness changed the trajectory of my day.
It’s a gray day here and the high will be 23 degrees colder than yesterday.
Purple Coneflowers. July 16, 2020
I’m beneath a blanket on the couch, reading Bryan Stevenson’s JUST MERCY: A Story of Justice and Redemption. It began as research for my work-in-progress, but I’m grateful my project brought me to this book. It’s fierce and tender, all at once. Both rage-inducing and strangely calming** in its depiction of humanity at its worst and best.
Change is possible. Spring is on its way. And today, I am grateful for both those truths.
(** ETA when I wrote about the calming aspect of this book, I was in opening chapters. Having read for much of day, I have to admit there’s more content that enrages rather than soothes. We are a messed up and deeply racist society.)
We love the sight of the brown and ruddy earth;
it is the color of life, while a snow-covered plain is the face of death.
Yet snow is but the mask of the life-giving rain; it, too, is the friend of man,
the tender, sculpturesque, immaculate, warming, fertilizing snow.
~ John Burroughs
Out my window, February 25, 2021
Today I’m grateful for the foot of snow we received during the night. Colorado is experiencing extreme drought and wildfires are definitely in our near future, but right now I’m embracing this gift from the skies. And because this is a climate emergency, I don’t care if this sounds greedy: “More, please.”
Today I’m grateful for my wavy hair that hides scissors-related mistakes. I haven’t had a professional haircut in over a year and just cut my own for the third time during this no-end-in-sight pandemic. Does it look like a pro cut? Nope. Do I care? Not at all. Do I feel better now? Absolutely!
Tracy post-cut. February 8, 2021
Here’s a photo taken with my Android phone camera (that takes incredibly low-quality selfies). Looking at it, I already see some too-long strands here and there. Not to mention I appear slightly cross-eyed. 😂
Whatever. I’m relieved to have less hair to deal with and am now ready to face the coming week.
eta: adding this other photo because it shows more egregious hair errors!:
May this bold, beautiful bloom brighten your day, as well.
Daylily, July 19, 2019
My Writing Roosters critique group had our zoom meeting last night to discuss my work-in-progress. As mentioned here and here and here, I was paralyzed with indecision for several weeks because I’d become convinced my story was an irredeemable hot mess. Guess what? It’s not! As one member said on our call, “I think maybe you were getting inside your own head.”
Me? Inside my own head? How could that possibly be?! 🤣 🤣 🤣
I’ve got some plotting issues to sort out, but the two main characters got a thumbs-up from the group. Whew. Color me noodly with relief.
Poppy blooming in front garden. May 16, 2020.
I chose the poppy image for this post because (1) it’s a very cheery and vibrant color and (2) last night one of my critique partners caught a reference to a previous manuscript about a girl named Poppy Valentine.
Wildebeest was with us for a little over two months, helping out with his grandma, before he left to spend time with friends in Denver. This morning, he made one more stop here where we had a socially-distanced visit outside in the sunshine. Then he went out through the gate.
January 4, 2021
He’s heading back to his home in Durango.
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.)
It’s a beautiful day in Colorado on this, my birthday. The snow is melting due to sunshine and a balmy 50 degrees.
August 4, 2020.
Late November always presents a mental health challenge and I struggle to summon the enthusiasm for these days. However, I got up and hoop-danced this morning which felt very good. And, as always, it lifts my spirits to gaze upon a cheery sunflower. This one bloomed several months ago and I award the image bonus points for that busy, busy bee. Happy birthday to me.
This morning I dodged another dental bullet. After nearly two months of dread, fear, and anxiety hanging over me, the endodontist sent me on my merry way without any invasive procedures. Woot! Woot! Woot! (or Quack! Quack! Quack!)
Clearwater, FL. May 5, 2019.
I am one very lucky duck.
Zippy accepted my invitation to run on the trails with me this afternoon. It turned out, lots of people had the same idea so we ran our regular route in reverse to avoid the hiking couple we saw as soon as we got on the trail. I’m so glad we did because as we ran along the ravine, we were gifted a wildlife sighting.
Photo by Jim Kennedy. Metzger Farm Open Space, CO. January 19, 2019.
Four coyotes on the opposite slope. Two loped off to our left and the others sat next to the trail where we planned to run. We debated turning around so as to not further stress the remaining two and then decided it was a stress for them either way. So on we went, and the coyotes melted into the brush at our uphill, huffing approach.
I’d thought my coyote-sighting days were behind me as I’ve mostly seen them early in the mornings and I’m no longer an early-in-the-morning runner. But this here Monday played against type and started the week with a wonderful surprise. Definitely a good omen.
Life’s a particularly hard row to hoe these days. BUT. Today is a very good day because I just finished making congratulatory phone calls to the applicants who’ve been accepted into the Michelle Begley Mentor Program. There’s much joy that comes from being the program coordinator, and a big piece of that joy is getting to be the bearer of good news. Woot! I do love spreading happiness.
And now I think I’ll take the doggo out for a walk in the sunshine.
Lucky, lucky me.
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!
I haven’t gone for a run in months, mostly due to the unhealthy air quality from our wildfire-filled summer and autumn. But we got snow on Sunday and Monday, and the air is better than it’s been in a loooong time, so I got Zippy to join me on a run.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
We look nothing like this couple. And our workout was nothing these two incredibly fit individuals would do, but that’s okay. We drove to another neighborhood that’s flat (ours is a constant up and down) and ran for 5 minutes then walked for 1 minute. Repeat. Our pace was slow, our muscles felt tight and heavy, but we were out on a beautiful blue-sky day. Moving. Breathing hard. Feeling (mostly) alive for a grand total of 3.45 miles. Woot!
Today I’m grateful for clean air and running once again!
Hard days on the planet, yo. However, this morning I sent my revised manuscript to my agent and that feels so very good. While that project has definitely been my refuge, there were times it was hard to focus because of *gestures* everything. But after two months, the revisions are complete and I’m very proud of my tenacity (call me Tenacious T) and the finished product. Huge shout-out to all the readers who offered their insights, suggestions, and support at various stages of the process. ❤️
Blue Jay, Florida. May 3, 2019.
I’m also grateful for birds. They never, ever let me down. No matter what — watching them, listening to them, studying them — always soothes my soul and returns me to balance. More birds, please.
We’re still in lock-down mode here in Colorado as the wildfires continue to burn. Air quality is poor (although a bit better after a tiny rain episode yesterday) and I’m staying inside. Instead of walking Emma this morning, I opted for a hoop-dance session in the living room.
Horse Gulch Trail, Durango, CO. July 31, 2019
And rather than going on an actual hike, I’m reliving one from July of 2019 when Zippy, Emma, and I visited elder-son Wildebeest. I remember that hike. It was quite hot that day, but still very nice to be out and about in nature.
I’m looking forward to the day we can do it again.
I got out of bed at 7:20 this morning, which is early for me (I know, I know), because I had a call scheduled with my agent to discuss revising my middle grade novel. The good news is that although there’s much work ahead of me, I’m excited about this book again.
Bee on Fern Bush. August 4, 2020
Before the call, I felt zero enthusiasm. I couldn’t imagine how I’d revise this book in a way that would satisfy my agent’s (valid) concerns while remaining true to my vision. Fortunately, my agent has a keen editorial eye and made several excellent suggestions that give me a path forward. I’m so relieved! So happy!
Now, all that’s left to do is the actual work. HA! This busy bee needs to get revising.
Today I’m grateful for the music of Jim James, specifically “Tribute To” which I’ve started listening to while doing yoga.
Jim James aka Yim Yames. Image from Wikimedia
The gentle music plus the gentle motion brings me peace.
It’s hard getting out of bed these days. I eventually got myself upright and after my morning ablutions, I reached for my hoop. For twenty minutes, I hoop-danced in front of my living room window. My mood lifted and I felt more energized. As I danced to the music, my eyes kept going to the purple coneflowers in the front garden bed and I told myself I’d photograph them when the dance session ended.
Purple Coneflowers. July 16, 2020.
Today I am grateful for these flowers, for my hoop, for music, and for my climate activist friend who’s currently reading my middle grade novel to make sure I didn’t misrepresent anything. Also? I’m glad I got out of bed.
This photo seems fitting today as I continue revising my middle-grade novel based on a critique partner’s (CP) comments.
House Finches + Goldfinch. May 23, 2020.
Her insights are helping me ground each character in key scenes. This CP excels at noting the many moving pieces in my story, reminding me to take into account each character’s perspective. Revision is a dream when I’m equipped with such a good map. Much gratitude to Marcia.
(Another CP is reading the same version Marcia received and I’m beaming thoughts to the universe that his feedback aligns with hers because otherwise, yikes. What will I do with a whole new map? Breathe, Tracy. Breathe.)
I’ve been struggling and I know I’m not alone. We in the United States have been told in very clear terms that we are on our own. Our government serves the wealthy and powerful, and that’s it. We the People get crumbs while the elites party on.
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels
Mental health is a huge issue for many, many people right now. Life’s always been a tough row to hoe, but this pandemic has upped the ante. I’m fortunate in that I have my writing. The middle-grade novel I’ve worked on for the past eight months has been my lifeline. I am very grateful for this project. However, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be sending the manuscript to my agent by the end of the month. And then what? Each time I think of COVID minus a writing project, my anxiety surges.
So here’s my official statement to the universe: Hellooo, I am open to new story ideas!
I just hit SEND on the 44,000-word middle-grade manuscript I’ve been revising. I sent it to two readers who haven’t seen it before which means fresh eyes/fresh insights. Woot! Hitting SEND also means this project is no longer my concern (temporarily, but still!) and that I’m free to be and do as I please for the next week or so.
Right now, I’m feeling like this doggo that walked past my house this morning.
Unknown happy dog. June 28, 2020.
Today I’m (again) exceedingly grateful for Sunrise Movement. These young people are fighting with moral clarity, passion, and a fierce determination. They endorsed Green New Deal candidates across the country and played a key role in Jamaal Bowman’s victory in New York on Tuesday and what is looking like a victory for Charles Booker in Kentucky. Incredible!
And next up is Colorado’s U.S. Senate primary on June 30th. Sunrise endorsed Andrew Romanoff and I can tell you Sunrise Colorado is on overdrive. Phonebanking, flyering, etc. On Monday, we were in front of Hickenlooper’s house and the crew got me so fired up that I shouted myself hoarse and clapped a big ol’ purple bruise in my palm.
Here are some of my Sunrise cohorts in the streets. June 2020.
The tides are turning and the young aren’t going to settle for entrenched, corporate politicians. Change is coming! So, so grateful for Sunrise Movement! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤