A friend who knows my love of birds passed along this 500-piece puzzle after she’d put it together. I started working on it late last night. First, I turned all the pieces right-side-up on the table and took a quick pic which I texted to her with “Let the puzzling begin!”
Her reply: “I hope you don’t get addicted like I did and have a hard time stopping.” 😬
I told her not to worry, that even if I did get addicted, it was fine by me.
Welp, I spent more time today working on this puzzle than attending to most other things on my To Do list. But it felt good for my brain and mental health, so I don’t begrudge the distraction. Plus, it’s birds!
A friend and I went to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge last Friday where we walked, talked, and communed with the natural world. First up is a Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant.
This was one of two dragonflies that moved incredibly quickly as they darted together up-down-off-to-the-side-then-up-again as we spun around, trying to keep them in sight before they abruptly came to rest on these rushes.
Sometimes we didn’t know what we were looking at and took time to investigate.
No matter what we saw, whether it was old or new to us, we took delight in the many tiny miracles. Even a much-maligned thistle made us pause and reach out a gentle finger to touch its wondrous beauty.
All gratitude to Mother Nature.
I spent the afternoon at Sawhill Ponds and Walden Ponds in Boulder. I’d never been before. My goodness, it’s a lovely place to wander. At one point we were on a tiny trail along the shoreline, scrambling over fallen trees and uneven terrain, when we heard several plops.
Oops. There’d been an entire logful of turtles before we startled them away. Laura pointed out we wouldn’t even have noticed any of them if not for the sound. But lucky us, we were alerted to the presence of this lone turtle that remained. Resolute. And completely still. (I didn’t even notice the mirror image until I was cropping the photo.)
Ponds are magical places and I’m happy to have another soul-replenishing destination on my radar.
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.
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.)
Yesterday I felt optimistic and filled with anticipation of good things to come. Today? Those glorious feelings have already faded and I’m in need of a boost. So I went to my photo archives in search of wildflowers.
August 28, 2019
These are Parry’s Primrose, spotted while hiking to Square Top Lakes with friend and critique partner, Laura Perdew. That was a very good day and these lovely little flowers are a reminder there are more good days in my future.
Typically, I attempt to photograph wildflowers so they are recognizable if not identifiable. But as I quickly scanned images from a year ago when I hiked to Square Top Lakes with Laura Perdew, this was the one that caught my eye.
August 28, 2019
What is it? An alpine aster, but I only know this because of the other flowers in the frame. This, though, was my favorite representation. The curled petals remind me of those rolled-up paper noisemakers that unfurl and then roll up again.
It seems the party’s over for this aster. But is this flower past its glory? Not to my eyes.
Square Top Lakes hike. August 28, 2019.
A lifetime ago
laughing, talking on the trails
little did we know
Outside my window it’s cold, wet, and gray. So right now I’m focusing on bright memories, such as a hike last July with my pal, Laura. It was a beautiful day at Centennial Cone Park and the wildflowers were out in all their glory. Here’s one:
Centennial Cone Park. July 10, 2019.
(Confession: I just spent 15 minutes trying to identify this alien-like flower with it’s two budding tentacles, and still have no idea what I’m looking at. But I guess all that matters is the cheery yellow perked me right up. Take that, January drear!)
Thank you, stranger. And welcome to Earth.
When my friend Laura tipped me off to today’s significance, National Bird Day, I went in search of an appropriate bird photo. Oops. I could look at bird photos for a looong time. So many beauties to choose from. I forced myself to make a decision and settled on this dapper Blue Jay.
Clearwater, Florida. May 3, 2019
Birds are the canaries in the climate change coal-mine. Today and every day, I celebrate their existence. I can’t fathom a world without them. We must make big changes and quickly. #GreenNewDeal
Centennial Cone Park hike with Laura Perdew. July 10, 2019.
Flora and fauna
portrait of nature’s balance
Nature will bear the closest inspection.
She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf,
and take an insect view of its plain. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Mariposa Lily. Centennial Cone Park, July 10, 2019.
Hike to Square Top Lakes. August 28, 2019.
Hardy little plants
in hostile environment
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.
Today I salute my friend Laura who talked me off an editorial ledge. After I sent some angry, frustrated texts, she called and listened to my rant. Then wise Laura offered some very good suggestions for moving forward and I will be implementing her ideas when I get back to work. Which won’t be until Monday.
Because right now it’s the weekend and I refuse to spend any more time and energy on this project.
Today I’m thankful for critique partner and friend, Laura Perdew, who encouraged me to try NaNoWriMo this year. I’m positive I wouldn’t even have considered fast-drafting if she hadn’t suggested NaNo as the cure for my exceedingly slooow outlining and drafting of this new project.
Today is the halfway point for NaNo and here’s what I’ve accomplished thus far:
I’m more than halfway to my target of 52,169 words for November (I’d already written 2,169 words and didn’t want to “cheat” on achieving 50,000 words in 30 days so included them in my final draft target). I am thrilled. Absolutely over the moon with my progress. Hooray! Etc. 🙂
It’s amazing what I can accomplish once I banish my internal editor to a corner with tape over her mouth.
Last night I met with my critique group (Writing Roosters) which always results in renewed energy and inspiration. What was different about last night’s experience is that I came home with a whole new game plan for my work-in-progress. A kinda scary yet exhilerating plan!
Laura Perdew and I were talking before the others arrived and after describing where I was at in my new project (outlining, figuring out stuff, writing VERY VERY slowly), she suggested I do NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month takes place in November and participants set a goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve never done it before (although back in the glory days of LiveJournal I used to participate in writer Jo Knowles’s modified JoNoWriMo+1.5 which ran September 15-November 30).
Normally, I’m not a proponent of banging out a whole bunch of words in a short time because I know how easily I can get off track. Fast-drafting can also lead to SLOW revising as I struggle to make sense of the “story” I created. However, I think I can get myself set by November 1 so that I have a strong outline and characterization in place before writing this book. I realize that part of the reason for the SLOW writing on this project thus far is due to me second-guessing every other word. I need to give myself permission to get the story down as outlined and then revise from there.
So. Today I’m grateful for my critique partner’s kick in the butt.
I’m in for NaNoWriMo. Anyone else participating this year?