The snow has started falling again, much to the delight of these four kids.
It’s been fun seeing the many snow caves and tunnels and quinzhees around the neighborhood. When I lived in Anchorage, my good friend Anne S. did a weekend wilderness class during the winter in which they had to build quinzhees and then spend the night in them. She invited me to take the class with her, but I declined. When Anne returned, she regaled me with stories of a woman named Betsy who struggled throughout the weekend, constantly complaining about cold, wet, hunger, discomfort, etc.
I looked at Anne and said, “I would’ve been the Betsy of the quinzhee.”
True then and true now.
Emma and I just returned from a sunny and warm excursion in the open space. We hiked up the mountain as fast as we could and then ran down. Well, we did some running. My short-legged companion doesn’t like the heat and slowed to a walk multiple times. At one point, she even did her signature “goin’ on strike” move. She stopped and dug in to pull the leash taut, then flopped on her belly with pink tongue hanging out.
I’d already offered her water from my cupped hand when we were at the top of the mountain, which she refused. So when she was on her belly, I tried another approach: pouring water in front of her. Instead of lapping it with her tongue, she ignored it. Silly dog, refusing libation when hot and thirsty. Well, I wasn’t willing to take no for an answer and pried her jaws open to pour water in her mouth.
Worked like a charm! Emma got up and ran almost the entire way back to the street. Such a good doggo.
(Note: Zippy took the photo with the camera still set for shooting the Brown Creeper in low light even though Emma and I were in bright, bright light. I salvaged the photo via a filter. Artsy, no?)
I’m making a concerted effort to focus my gaze on activities and topics that bring joy rather than churning anxiety. Today, along with Zippy and Emma, I went out in the BLOWY sunshine to hike/run on the trails. I felt so much better as a result, even if I did have to carry my running hat that would NOT stay on my head.
Yesterday’s act of self-care was to photograph lovely shadows on the patio. Here are two of my favorites (the one on the right also contains sunflower stalk shadows):
So much going on in the world demands our push-back, but sometimes I need to lower my gaze and focus on the small stuff. Sunshine, wrought-iron patio furniture, and shadows. Who knew?
I gave myself the day off and spent it in bed reading adult fiction (Tana French’s THE WITCH ELM). Self-care without guilt. Write my 1,000 words? Only if it felt right. I wasn’t going to butt heads with myself and turn it into a negative situation.
Photo by Hans Lindgren from Pexels
I’m happy to say I’m now in the head-space to crank out my daily word count. Thank you to these adorable goats for their role in helping me get there. And now I’m off to write . . .
Yesterday, Zippy told Wildebeest a story from when we lived in Alaska (before Wildebeest was born). It was a summer night, and Zippy and our dog Packy were out in our large yard where there was a pile of branches and grass clippings left by the previous owners. (We, being basically lazy people, had left it there with the rationale that it provided wildlife habitat). Zippy noticed something white in the branches, something he thought was a volleyball.
He proceeded to poke at the “volleyball” with a stick. (I know, I know. Who arms themselves with a stick when approaching a piece of sports equipment?)
Well, you can guess what happened. BEES!
Zippy yelled, “Run, Packy! Run!” The bees swarmed them as they ran to the safety of the house.*
As I listened to his story, a memory tickled my brain. And then I remembered: Have I Got a Story for You. Read it and weep (with laughter).
*Zippy wasn’t stung and as far as we know, no stingers penetrated Packy’s thick fur.
Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020
These are hard days and I’m trying to find joy wherever I can. This photo lifts my spirits not only because I love the composition, but also the memory of taking it. I sat outside my little KOA cabin last June, watching the birds and bunnies moving about, and was completely engrossed in my surroundings. I remember the joy I felt aiming my camera at all that activity. So much life on display.
It’s a beautiful planet.
For the past couple years, I’ve regretted planting Russian Sage in my garden. It gets leggy and spreads all over the place. The root system makes it very difficult to remove.
Then I saw these Goldfinches.
August 22, 2020
Maybe the sage should stay, after all.
I stayed in a KOA cabin in Grand Island, Nebraska, earlier this month. The cabin was cute and cozy, but the highlight was the Barn Swallow presence.
June 4, 2020
June 4, 2020
They’d built a nest on the beam above the front porch and were very active. I was so focused on photographing this pair I didn’t realize I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I shudder to think how many bites I would’ve gotten if those swallows weren’t there to catch and eat mosquitoes on the wing. I’m definitely on #TeamSwallow when it comes to biting insects.
ONE: I was worried I wouldn’t have iris blooms this year, but here’s the first to flower. The dependable purple comes through yet again!
Iris bloom on May 13, 2020.
TWO: Yesterday’s writing session was angsty and difficult as I flailed about, trying to find my way through the revision. I brainstormed last night before going to sleep and then instructed my brain to help me find the best path forward. I woke this morning with the answer (which wasn’t even on the list). Today, working on my book was a joy.
This photo is from earlier this month during a foray into the open space with my blanket and camera. It was taken from quite a distance and, at the time, I thought I was looking at two magpies. It wasn’t until I downloaded my photos that I realized it was one Black-billed Magpie and one American Robin.
Open space. April 1, 2020.
In the majority of the pictures of these two, the birds face the same direction, as if their heads swiveled in unison. Magpies get a bad rap for aggression, so it’s nice seeing this peaceful coexistence.
I took these photos on Valentine’s Day, but can neither confirm nor deny these two finches are partnered. All I know for sure is they are energetic birds that make me smile.
Other bird species come and go, but there isn’t a day that goes by without a House Finch or two (or twenty) paying a visit to my backyard. May that always be the case.
Two juncos. One adult. One juvenile.
Two juncos. Both hungry.
Two juncos. One seed-gatherer. One seed-receiver.
Two juncos making me smile on this Tuesday morning.
Black cat Loki and white brother-cat Marcel striking the same pose on my bed this morning.
If you look very closely you can see Loki’s green eyes. Otherwise, he’s pretty much a black hole. Explains why there aren’t many photos of him on this blog. Loving? Absolutely. Photogenic? Not at all.
I noticed a stately beetle on the screen and went for the camera. After taking several photos, I turned and saw sleepy doggo on the bed. *click*
Not exactly a National Geographic photo safari, I admit. However, these two images offer an accurate depiction of this household. Various creatures napping, chilling, and just hanging out. I’m okay with the lack of giraffes and rampaging rhinos.
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.
Here are two books I read and greatly enjoyed this week:
Sheila Turnage’s THREE TIMES LUCKY is a fun romp filled with twists and turns. Cece Bell’s EL DEAFO is a funny and heartfelt graphic novel about the author’s elementary school years wearing the hearing aid that gave her superpowers.
I highly recommend these gems published in 2012 and 2014. (Yes, I’m woefully behind in my reading. You know what they say: so many books, so little time.)
I had mixed feelings posting this image because I wouldn’t want my most intimate actions put on display. That said, I was fascinated by these two as they trundled up and down the mulch and twigs, staying joined the entire time.
How many of us would procreate if it required hill climbing while carrying partners on our backs?
I’m getting ready to head out to one of my senator’s offices to urge his support for a Green New Deal. I had a conversation with one of his D.C. staffers yesterday when I called (again) to ask that he co-sponsor the Green New Deal. I was told Senator Bennet doesn’t support it because he wants legislation that’s bi-partisan so that whatever is passed won’t be subject to political winds depending on who is in power.
Classic establishment Dem thinking. Water down the policy in hopes the soulless ghouls across the aisle will approve. This senator also thinks he might run for president. *insert hysterical laughter* If Senator Bennet thinks he’ll get anywhere without the support of the young people out there fighting for their futures, he’s incredibly out of touch. Which is what I told that staffer.
Here are my signs for this afternoon’s meeting:
I don’t have high hopes for Senator Bennet who voted to approve the Keystone Pipeline and said at the time he thought Keystone should be part of a bigger solution to climate change. (?!) BUT, I can’t not make the effort when so much is at stake.
Please, even if you’ve already done so, put in calls today to your two senators and one representative to ask them to co-sponsor the resolution for a Green New Deal. We’ve gotta go bold before it’s too late.
After picking up our younger brother from the Tampa airport, we missed a turn on the drive home and ended up discovering a hidden gem: Cypress Point Park. Here are my brother and sister wading in the very cold Tampa Bay water, searching for crabs, minnows, and other ocean life.
That was probably the most refreshing “wrong turn” I’ve ever experienced and I highly recommend visiting the park if you’re in the area.
Here’s Loki momentarily taking focus off the diabolical shoelace that keeps unexpectedly twitching:
and here’s Marcel being chill while soaking up a little sun:
Neither phone-photo is especially high quality, but these feline brothers are most definitely top-notch.
Yesterday was so damned cold I didn’t go outside. By evening, I was anxious and grumpy. Today it’s still very cold, but I just went for a fast 22-minute walk with Zippy and Emma in the sunshine. I feel exhilarated! And as soon as I post this, I’m going to turn up the music and get going on the Massive Photo Scrapbooking Project.
Because as Michael Franti says: Music is sunshine. Like sunshine, music is a powerful force that can instantly and almost chemically change your entire mood. Music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose.
I’m gonna double down on the mood enhancement. Sunshine + Music. I refuse to let December’s cold and short days grind the life out of me.
This photo was taken last February, but I’m posting it today as a reminder. Because dogs get it. They totally grasp the importance of taking the time to just be. Sure, there are squirrels to chase along the fence, scents to decipher, and holes to dig, but there’s also sunshine, light breezes, and listening to birds.
I’m going to follow Roscoe and Emma’s lead, and grab a little time today to just be.
Yesterday Zebu had surgery to reconstruct his ACL. We were all rooting for ACL-only intervention because that would mean a mere 10 days on crutches. Alas, while poking around in Zebu’s knee, the surgeon confirmed a couple tears in the meniscus which means Zebu is now on crutches for six weeks. The good news is the surgery went well.
This morning a nice man delivered and set up a Continuous Passive Motion machine that will help Zebu’s circulation and flexibility. He’s supposed to do a minimum of six hours per day. That’s a lot of hours. But as I pointed out: he’s got nothing better to do right now.
I had no idea way back when that basketball could be so incredibly hard on the body. Would it have changed anything? Probably not. Basketball was his passion.
Still. I probably owe an apology to football.
For your viewing pleasure, a bit of synchronized perching: