“If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say, ‘Thank you.’ If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do… Nature is magic.” ~ Robert Bateman
Three years ago today, Zippy accompanied me to a dog adoption event at a pet supply store. I had my heart set on a black dog named Rocko, a dog I’d scoped out on the web site. But when we arrived, Rocko was much bigger than his profile suggested.
Zippy, who wasn’t convinced we should even adopt another dog, said, “He’s too big. I’d prefer a dog more like . . .” he looked down at a dog being walked past us on a leash, “that one there.”
So I sent silent apologies to Rocko and followed Zippy to the event volunteers where he asked if we could take the little dog for a walk outside. Her crate said EMMA and the volunteer who’d just put her back inside after that other person’s “test run,” snapped the leash on Emma again.
We went out with the little dog who had a looong torso and short legs, and allowed her to sniff and investigate the sidewalk and grassy areas of the strip mall. Emma seemed like a nice enough dog, but showed zero interest in us. Until we started back towards the store entrance. Then she stopped and looked up at us with big brown eyes.
Well, the rest is history.
A few days ago I posted about getting arrested and jailed with the young people in our local Sunrise Movement hub. I took the post down when I realized it might somehow be used against me in court. Today I’m back with a link to our GoFundMe page for legal costs.
Please don’t feel obligated to donate, but I thank you in advance if you do throw a few dollars our way. And if you see fit to amplify the message in your social media, I also thank you.
Yesterday at 5:45 pm I realized I hadn’t seen my indoor cat, Marcel, in hours. Zippy, Zebu, and I spent the next several hours in the cold and dark, calling to Marcel who goes silent when afraid. We eventually quit and went to bed to toss and turn, trying in vain to forget how cold it was outside. At 6:30 this morning, Zippy (again) checked the garage we’d left open four inches. This time, Marcel was curled up in the cat bed Zebu had put on top of the recyling bin. SO GRATEFUL.
Five minutes ago, I finished writing the first draft of my new middle-grade novel. It clocks in at 42,793 words and is a whole lot of talking heads and not a whole lot of description, which means it’s kinda skeletal. But I’d hoped to finish by the end of today and, despite my lack of sleep (see Above), I did it! Will I cringe when I read the draft in a couple weeks? Possibly. But there’s no revision without a first draft, baby. Again, I AM SO GRATEFUL.
Tomorrow morning Zippy, Zebu, Wildebeest’s childhood friend (Kyle C), and I are driving to Durango, CO, where Wildebeest lives. His graduation ceremony is on Friday and we’ll be there to witness that incredible milestone. Wildebeest was an avid student until he hit middle school and then had some bad “learning” experiences that completely turned him off school. His was an on-again-off-again college journey and he laments being such an “old graduate,” but I was also 26 when I graduated college (and look how well I turned out!) I’m proud of my tenacious son and GRATEFUL we’ll be there to witness his accomplishment.
Here’s Loki more than a year ago, basking in sun so bright his pupils are slits. None of that toasty warmth today. It’s gray. Cold. Drizzling and threatening snow. Soul-crushing, if I’d allow it. BUT. I’m parked at my standing desk, drafting my new novel.
Maybe if it was sunny and warm, I’d be curled in a patch of sunshine. Napping instead of writing. Guess that’s my silver lining on this miserable day. Color me grudgingly grateful.
Just took a 21-minute walk in the frigid cold, gingerly traversing the icy, rutted streets of our neighborhood. The two feet of snow we got earlier this week are gonna be around a while. Today, I’m thankful for the knowledge that this, too, shall
Blue skies and lily blooms are in my future.
Today I am thankful for:
- The color purple which I wore to critique group dinner last evening after
finishing my work-for-hire assignment in the afternoon.
- A rousing hoop-dancing session this morning before the onset of flu this afternoon.
- My space heater and oscillococcinum.
This morning I woke to about 10 inches of snow on the rail. The finches, especially the goldfinches, were very busy in the sunflowers. I brought my camera to the basement and sat next to Marcel at the sliding glass door where he was intently monitoring the birds’ movements. I snapped a total of 124 photos of those active little birds, confident I was getting many good shots. Wrong. Between their near-constant movement, the swaying of the sunflower stalks, and Marcel rubbing himself against me, I ended up with a whole lot of soft images. But I couldn’t delete them all and am including a sample here to document the lovely start to my day.
The conference stuff continues to marinate in my back-office brain and this afternoon I had a breakthrough on a book idea I’ve been playing with. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t much felt like committing to writing another middle-grade novel. But today’s epiphany gave me a jolt of excitement that I haven’t felt in months. And now I’m seriously contemplating doing NaNoWriMo again this year.
What?! Last year’s experience nearly broke my body from all that sitting and writing, and I wasn’t sure I’d try writing 50,000 words in one month ever again. Which is why I’m thinking a modified version might be better. Something like working at my standing desk to write 1,000 words per day for 50 days. From my perspective, that’s still fast-drafting (and I hope the NaNo police don’t show up at my door to issue me a citation).
I need to ponder this idea, but no matter what I decide I’m grateful to feel excitement again.
I just finished drafting the bulk of my work-for-hire project and am feeling a bit like Emma looks: noodly-tired and in need of a nap. But mostly, I’m thrilled to have reached this point in the project! Definitely something to be thankful for on this Thursday.
Here’s hoping you’ve also experienced some good stuff today!
Today I’m thankful for the passion and energy of the young people in the Sunrise Movement. Last night, largely due to Sunrise’s heroic efforts, CNN held a 7-hour, in-depth conversation about the climate crisis and what needs to be done in order to avert the worst of it. Seven hours, people!
I tried to remember that today as I researched my work-for-hire bird project. Because, while I was thrilled to be eyeballs-deep in bird information, I was also disheartened over and over again to discover that many of those amazing, new-to-me birds’ existences are threatened due to human actions. Our species has made so many mistakes and we continue to make them with blatant disregard for the planet.
BUT. Last night was proof it’s possible to shift the conversation and for that, I am exceedingly grateful. All hail the Sunrise Movement!
I’m so damned happy happy happy right now! I just accepted a work-for-hire assignment centered on birds. I get to research and write about birds!
It’s going to be SO MUCH FUN. Not to mention, I’ll learn a lot which can only make me a better birder.
It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?
Zippy and I are in Ohio visiting my brother and his family. We spent the afternoon hunting down hoop-making materials before returning home to make four hoops of various sizes. Much hooping ensued (including my niece and I hoop-walking to the end of the street and back as her younger brother rode alongside on his scooter). Then basketball was added to the mix.
Here’s my favorite action shot of their entire family:
Lots of smiles and high-energy. A very nice day.
She fearlessly wielded language, never backing down from truth. I’m grateful she graced the planet for 88 years, creating books that will keep her fierce genius alive forever.
Rest in power.
Yesterday we hiked with our elder son, Wildebeest. It was pretty warm and we opted to cut the hike short on Emma’s behalf because despite the bowls of water we gave her throughout and the handful of treats, she still made a beeline for every patch of shade where she’d pant accusingly until we got her up and moving again.
Still and all, it was a wonderful hike. It’s always good to spend time with Wildebeest and was especially nice seeing him in his natural habitat. A happy son makes for a happy mother.
Today I got out of bed at 5:50 a.m. and did some stretching before heading out to meet friend and critique partner Laura Perdew for a hike in Centennial Cone Park. According to my Garmin, we hiked 8.59 miles. The GPS didn’t clock our discussion, but it included conversation about writing, children, spouses, writing, families of origin, wildflowers, proper pronunciation of “penstemon” (turns out we’re both correct), writing, trailrunning, and mountain bikers. Here’s a sampling of the natural glory we witnessed along the way:
So much of our current reality causes me outrage, fear, and anxiety. It’s gotten so that I struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. But today I’m grateful for a new writing project that brings me happiness.
I’m always at my best when fully immersed in a project, especially when the subject matter involves the glories of our natural world, and so this dapper lizard feels like the perfect guide for today’s work.
Today I’m thankful for life’s little mysteries.
I have no idea what this lovely plant is called, but my lack of
knowledge in no way detracts from my appreciation for this image.
It’s true that ignorance can be bliss.
Last night the Boulder/Denver hub of the Sunrise Movement held a town hall meeting on the Green New Deal. It was organized by the two young leaders who worked their tails off to put it together. I’m the group’s token Baby Boomer (my words, not theirs) and was proud to assist Michele Weindling and Nick Tuta as I could. We had over 100 people show up on Memorial Day, many of them young people who care so deeply about the climate crisis they dedicated their last evening of the long weekend to activism. Impressive and humbling.
As I listened to the speeches from young activists and watched the Green New Deal presentation that included the many, many challenges facing young people today (decision to not have children due to climate crisis, crushing student debt, stagnant wages and tight job field, etc.) I teared up. And when those same speakers declared their resolve and refusal to back down from their demands for real action on the climate crisis and environmental equality/justice, I wept some more.
These young people aren’t going to take No for an answer and politicians best wise up. They either need to Step Up or Step Aside. We need a Green New Deal.
Please support the young people in their efforts for a sustainable future and contact your representatives to demand they co-sponsor this aspirational resolution. Thank you in advance!
Zippy and I got up and out to the bridge on South Fork by six this morning. We hoped to see, among other birds, an Elegant Trogon. We joined several birders on the bridge also hoping for the “big prize.” Spoiler alert: Zippy and I never saw the Trogon (can’t vouch for the others since some went farther upstream and others down), but we heard its distinctive call which sounds like a barking seal or pig. We did have the pleasure of viewing some other birds:
American Robin (there’s a nest right there and yesterday we watched the parents battle it out with several Mexican Jays)
Hepatic Tanager (male)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher (or Brown-crested Flycatcher?)
Acorn Woodpecker (Zippy also saw Arizona Woodpecker)
At a couple minutes after eight we regretfully called it a morning since we had to pack up for our trip back to Colorado. As I drove slowly down the road I pulled over next to the stream in hopes of hearing the Trogon one last time. We didn’t hear its call, but we did see this beauty:
Farewell, Cave Creek Canyon.
I’m at the Tampa Airport for my flight back to Denver. I arrived early, early Friday morning and later that day spotted a Roseate Spoonbill swirling its bill in the irrigation ditch running through the community where my mom lives. I was thrilled! I’d never seen one and ran back to my mom’s for my camera. The spoonbill was gone by the time I’d returned.
Later that day I saw one flying high overhead (the pink was the tip-off) and the following day was driving past when I saw a spoonbill in the ditch. Again, I didn’t have my camera but drove home, grabbed it, and sprinted back. Gone.
I went out early in the mornings and in the late afternoons during the time slots the locals suggested held the highest potential for a sighting. I brought my camera in the car.
No more spoonbills.
So now I’m headed home with nothing more than a couple mental snapshots of that unusual species. PLUS this photo of a Pileated Woodpecker I spotted at Kapok Park yesterday. The image isn’t anywhere near sharp, but I’m very happy for the sighting and this photographic memento.
I’ll be back for the Roseate Spoonbill.
A few minutes ago I was working in my front yard, sowing death and destruction via my homemade weed killer (white vinegar, salt, and dish soap), while feeling frustrated and worn out by neverending garden demands. I was dreaming of a full-time gardener. Or better yet, a tiny house and one pot of geraniums. Or maybe a barrel of gasoline and a match to make it all go away.
Then I hit PAUSE on my grumpiness and focused on some blooming tulips.
It really is a wonderful thing to survive a long, dark, cold, snowy winter and be rewarded with colorful flowers. I’m still dreaming of my own gardener, but in the meantime I’m gonna try to appreciate the beauty poking through the tangled, weedy mess that is my front yard.
While I’m finishing up my work-for-hire project (hooray!!!), Zippy is out on the patio harvesting our worm compost. Each time I fed them over the past couple months I’d remark “I need to harvest this stuff. The bin’s getting full.” Well, I never got around to that harvest.
Today’s the day! Zippy wants/needs compost for the seeds he’s about to plant in his vegetable garden so he’s out there utilizing the pile method. Worms are light-sensitive so migrate down in the piles which makes it easier to separate them from the compost.
But it’s still a labor-intensive process and I’m grateful Zippy has tackled the project. However, I’m feeling a bit left out. Solution? As I work on my manuscript I take breaks to go down and say hello to my worm friends. Here’s a mess o’ worms that were hanging out inside an avocado peel:
All hail King Harvest!
As mentioned before, I’m feeling huge regret about a work-for-hire project I accepted. But I’m trying to make the whole thing more palatable by giving myself strict guidelines for how I work on the book. Each day this week I’ve worked for three hours. No more, no less. Yesterday was a particularly difficult session and by the time Zippy came home and asked how it was going, I burst into tears. Later in the evening I asked Zebu if he’d grab hold of my hand and twist it in such a way as to make it impossible for me to type any more and therefore get me out of the assignment.
I know, I know. Fortunately, Zebu was thinking more clearly and refused to injure me.
Better news: today’s work session went surprisingly well. I kept my head down and put in my three hours. I accomplished a lot and can see the end in sight. I will prevail.
The End is still a ways off, but if I squint real hard I see it shining in the distance. And for that I’m exceedingly grateful.