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:
The snores are making it difficult to concentrate on revisions, but the elevated levels of cuteness make it worth sharing my writing space with the napping Zoey and Emma.
I’d like to think these two turtles were riveted by my presence or had surfaced to deliver an important message from their community , but the truth is they were merely hanging out in hopes I’d drop some food in the water. I had none.
Their disdain was palpable.
This morning Zippy and I went for a run on the trails. Trailrunning is great fun because it usually keeps my thoughts focused on the rocky, uneven terrain. My mantra is “Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.” That helps keep me in the moment so I don’t hook a toe and fall on my face. However, today I struggled with the nasty voice in my head, telling me I was slow and tired and really-Tracy-you-should-just-walk-because-you’re-not-a-real-runner.
So I fought back with two new mantras.
The sky was blue, the temperature was a perfect 58 degrees, and the Western Meadowlarks were out in force, warbling their beautiful songs. There was no reason to feel anything other than pure joy and gratitude for my time out in the open space. Today’s mantras became “Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing. Beautiful day, beautiful day. Birds are singing. Birds are singing.”
Once those went on repeat in my head, the nasty voice was nowhere to be heard.
Yesterday I went for a run on the trails. While stopping to stretch at the top of what Zippy and I refer to as “the slog,” I spotted a splash of bright pink off to the side of the trail. At first I thought it was a candy wrapper and as I moved closer, decided it was a painted rock. It was neither. Sitting there all by itself was a perfectly round, perfectly lovely little cactus. **
Later, as I continued running, I noticed something sticking out of my shoe. I figured it was grass that’d gotten stuck in some mud in my tread, and promptly forgot about it. However, when I was home and taking off my shoes, I nearly impaled myself. Not on a wad of grass, but on the spiny cactus that had hitched a ride on my shoe.
Now I remember why it’s much more fun to run on the trails than the streets.
(** I didn’t have a camera with me, but when Zippy went out to do an errand, he drove to the nearest trailhead and photographed the beauteous cactus for me.)
This morning I pulled some manuscript/project boxes out of the closet to see if there’s anything in there worth salvaging for my next writing endeavor. (My little writer brain has to have something to noodle on, so while I await my critique group’s feedback on my work-in-progress, I’ve started thinking about what comes next). Well, those boxes proved irresistible to the cats.
Marcel claiming his literary territory
Later this afternoon, Emma and I went out on the trails. Although it was warm enough for me to wear shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, there were still a few patches of snow along the way. We stopped running so that Emma could do her thing.
I laughed as she scooped snow with her snout and dug holes with her paws and slid down the slope on her tummy.
Emma + snow = happiness
I took a total of two photos today. First, I crept up on wild and crazy Marcel. SNAP!
Then, I pivoted to capture the rambunctious Loki.
National Geographic, you know where to find me.
When Zebu was a high school senior, he brought home a paper outlining the “rules” for senior photos. In addition to sensible guidelines such as “Do not wear sunglasses,” and “No props such as guns or weapons or other offensive material,” was “Students’ heads should not be pressed between two trees.”
October 13, 2017
Ever since reading that, we take every opportunity to photograph ourselves with heads wedged between two trees. Granted, Emma and I are nowhere near wedged in this photo, but it’s the thought that counts.
Zebu would approve.
These guys are so noisy in the spring,
banging on the rain gutters and downspouts
to advertise their territories.
Today? Nothing that I can hear,
although they might be talkin’ smack to each other
out there on the wire.
Birds strike me as being less dickish than humans.