What a difference a day makes

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.

Image from Pexels.com

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.

You and me both, Emma

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!

Thankful Thursday

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!

Thankful Thursday: BIRDS assignment!

Northern Cardinal (female). Columbus, OH. August 23, 2019

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!

Birds, people!

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?

Thankful Thursday

Today I’m grateful for dogs. So many humans are a massive disappointment (I’m looking at you, DNC Resolution Committee members who voted against a #ClimateDebate) and I’m thankful canines agree to hang out with us.

Roscoe, this one’s for you.

Thankful Thursday

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.

Thank you, Toni Morrison

We die. That may be the meaning of life.
But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.
                                                               ~ Toni Morrison

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.

 

Thankful Thursday

Horse Gulch. Durango, CO.

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.

Dose of nature + friendship

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a beautiful day and I’m so grateful for the dose of nature + friendship. Thank you, Laura, for being my hiking buddy and generous writing partner. You’re the best.

Thankful Thursday: the natural world

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.

Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard. Greenhouse Trail, Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019

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.

Recap of Green New Deal town hall

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.

Forgot my camera so have just this one blurry shot of me in my Green New Deal bandana. We had a table for people to make one for themselves, their kids, or dogs.

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!

Final birding excursion

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)
Northern Flicker
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Hepatic Tanager (male)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher (or Brown-crested Flycatcher?)
Plumbeous Vireo
Acorn Woodpecker (Zippy also saw Arizona Woodpecker)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Painted Redstart

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.

My consolation prize

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.

Twofer Tuesday: tulip edition

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.

King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

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:

And here’s an adult and a younger worm that patiently allowed me to hold them for a moment before I headed back to my writing project:

 

 

All hail King Harvest!

 

 

Thankful Thursday: today I didn’t cry

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.

Image from Makamuki0 at Pixabay.

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.

Thankful Thursday: Snow Mountain Ranch edition

Zippy and I just returned from a skate-skiing trip to the mountains. He’s currently soaking in an epsom salt bath to alleviate the aches and pains associated with two days of skate-skiing after YEARS away from the activity.

I’d like to write more about my skate-skiing experiences in Anchorage plus this most recent outing, but am too tired to tackle it today. I’ll just put  a photo from this morning’s session right here as a placeholder.

If you look closely you can see moose prints in the groomed snow.

It was a glorious day at Snow Mountain Ranch.

For anyone in need of a smile

I just came across this photo of a young Wildebeest that was trimmed by my mother-in-law. I mean, this has to be her doing. I’ve never had the patience for such intricate scissors-work. I must admit, though, that bib on his head is the perfect framing device for his cherubic face, so good on her!

I smile each and every time I look at my son’s expression.

Thankful Thursday: Mary Oliver edition

Today I’m grateful for Mary Oliver who created accessible poems that were simultaneously simple and profound. Here’s one of my favorites from American Primitive.

Vultures
Like large dark
lazy
butterflies they sweep over
the glades looking
for death,
to eat it,
to make it vanish,
to make of it the miracle:
resurrection. No one
knows how many
they are who daily
minister so to the grassy
miles, no one
counts how many bodies
they discover
and descend to, demonstrating
each time the earth’s
appetite, the unending
waterfalls of change.
No one,
moreover,
wants to ponder it,
how it will be
to feel the blood cool,
shapeliness dissolve.
Locked into
the blaze of our own bodies
we watch them
wheeling and drifting, we
honor them and we
loathe them,
however wise the doctrine,
however magnificent the cycles,
however ultimately sweet
the huddle of death to fuel
those powerful wings.

Rest in beauty, Mary.

Thankful Thursday

When you rise in the morning,
give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
                                                                       ~ Tecumseh