Mood

Having trouble focusing today. Still haven’t started my NaNoWriMo writing and just had a mini-meltdown. However, the universe then gifted me this robin in our birdbath and for several minutes, I aimed my camera and forgot everything else.

American Robin. November 3, 2020.

This attitude? It me.

Who is that masked bird?

We’re used to seeing Black-capped Chickadees around our yard. They visit the feeders and bath, and peck at the top of the fence. So Zippy and I were taken aback yesterday when watching birds at the peanut feeder. As a chickadee hopped around the branches, we both frowned and said at the same time, “Something’s off.”

We quickly realized that, instead of a black cap, this chickadee had a mask around its eyes. Wait, what?

Mountain Chickadee. October 26, 2020.

Ahem. The answer was easy. We were looking at a Mountain Chickadee which our guide book said was “thought to be one of the top ten most abundant birds in Colorado.” Yes, we’ve seen them before. But we’d gotten so used to the steady stream of black caps, that somehow the mask threw us. (I know, not very good birders.)

Ah, well. I’m happy to report both species of chickadee are sticking around to dine on peanuts.

Oh happy snowy day

Colorado is getting much-needed precipitation today. While Zippy and I agree we’d prefer rain to snow, we’re gratefully accepting this weather. Even the sub-freezing temperatures. Whatever it takes to smother the wildfires.

Because it’s too cold to venture outside with my camera today, here’s a representative photo of a squirrel from a snowy day last February.

February 9, 2020.

If you look closely, you can see the snow on its nose as a result of it burrowing along the branch.

Listen up: bird & dog tale

August 22, 2020

Over the past several years, my partner has bemoaned the scarcity of magpies in our yard. We’d see them throughout the neighborhood, but they weren’t spending much time in our yard anymore. We missed their raucous energy.

Then one day last month (which just happened to be our wedding anniversary), we noticed a whole bunch of magpies in our neighbors’ backyard, their trees, and on the fence between us. We’d hit the magpie jackpot! But why?

Rainbow peering through the fence at magpies frolicking in our bird bath. August 15, 2020

 

Well, according to our neighbor, when he came home that day to find his yard filled with magpies, he was equally puzzled. Then he went to feed his dog and couldn’t find the nearly-full bag of chow, which was also a puzzle. So he stepped out in the yard and pieced together the sequence of events. His doggo had dragged the bag of food into the yard, scattering the kibble everywhere. The smart corvids had quickly found the treasure.

They also immediately found our bath and took turns tidying up.

August 15, 2020

And as a sign of their appreciation for the use of our facilities, they began leaving gifts for us on the deck rail and tucked away on the steps.
       

The best news is they’re still hanging around and we’re treated to magpie sightings every day.

Four Black-billed Magpies. August 15, 2020

We salute you, Rainbow Dash. Pure genius.

the Monday crowd

Marcel assesses the activity. September 28, 2020

Cat and squirrel face off through the glass as a House Finch dines in the background. Meanwhile, a fish (window sticker) swims across the scene. Would’ve been even more awesome if a reptile wandered into the picture.

Guess it could happen…the day’s still young.

Revision meets Finch tableau

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.)

One happy dog

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.

Woof!

Sunday Confessional: Underwhelmed edition

I didn’t leave my house today, not even for my daily walk around the neighborhood. In fact, I didn’t get exercise of any kind, unless I include snuggling with my cats and dog.

I did, however, sit in front of my computer most of the day, revising the final chapter of my novel. I’m not thrilled with the results.

Young scrub jay.  June 21, 2020.

I did also photograph a young scrub jay as it preened its wet feathers. In fact, I took about 50 photos of that scrub jay and this one is probably the best. (I can’t say for sure as I tired of looking at/deleting them and somewhat randomly selected this one).

Am I satisfied with this Sunday?
Does it matter at this point?
It is what it is and was what it was.

On developing curiosity

April 17, 2020.

It’s only Monday and I’m feeling anxious about various family members and all I want to do is hunker down with tasty snacks and forget about the rest of the week and everything that comes with it. Alas, life doesn’t work that way. Even this squirrel, who appears so content in the photo, was moments later focused on my intrusion. None of us are allowed to just be. Or, are we?

“There is a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same. A much more interesting, kind and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our curiosity is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we are committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing.”
― Pema Chödrön

Pop a quarantine wheelie

Glanced out my kitchen window and saw this guy using his quarantine time to acquire (or maybe, improve upon) a skill. It was great fun watching him.

     

I never popped a wheelie, but did grow up riding a hand-me-down bike with pedal brakes (which involved rotating the pedals in reverse), and by the time it’d passed through three older siblings and gotten to me, the brake action was practically non-existent. Riding downhill was always an “exhilarating” experience.

While this guy did wobble a few times in the cul-de-sac, he never laid it out flat the way I did with my bike once when stomping on the “brakes” as I went around a sand-covered curve at the bottom of our hill. I can still feel the burn of that road rash.

Fortunately,  no gravel in this daredevil’s knees and palms.

Out my window

I can vouch for my Stay-At-Home household in Colorado: we are NOT amused by this snowstorm and the accompanying cold temperatures.

We need sunshine. We need warmth. We need dry streets and trails.

Waaaaaah.

Meet my neighbor

Yes, it’s snowing again in Colorado. At this point in the year, I’d prefer the sunshine and warmer temperatures we’ve had the past week or so, but this storm has it perks. Exhibit A: looking out my window at Rainbow.

Rainbow Dash (so-named in honor of My Little Pony)

As I write this, she’s still out there, content to let the snow accumulate on her beautiful, thick fur.