Undiminished

Seventeen years ago, I went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for a three-week session with Marilynne Robinson which was an all-around wonderful experience. She dispensed much wisdom, mostly about reading and writing, but also about life. And this morning, as I looked at the lilies I received from Zippy five days ago, I thought about something Marilynne said during one of our workshops:

People after the age of 23 realize that they’re in the iron fist of gravity and will collect diminishing returns.

At that time, I was 40-years-old and only heard her message on an intellectual level. The thing was, I didn’t feel very far removed from 23 years of age; my returns weren’t yet greatly diminished. After all, every morning I got up and ran fast along the river!

Today I’m feeling more akin to these lilies that, after five days in a vase, broke from their stems in the main bouquet and fell to the countertop. These lilies whose petals are fading and wilting. Lilies in the iron fist of gravity and time.

Flowers still fierce and beautiful in their own way.

Happy anniversary, Emma!

Three years ago today, Zippy accompanied me to a dog adoption event at a pet supply store. I had my heart set on a black dog named Rocko, a dog I’d scoped out on the web site. But when we arrived, Rocko was much bigger than his profile suggested.

Zippy, who wasn’t convinced we should even adopt another dog, said, “He’s too big. I’d prefer a dog more like . . .” he looked down at a dog being walked past us on a leash, “that one there.”

So I sent silent apologies to Rocko and followed Zippy to the event volunteers where he asked if we could take the little dog for a walk outside. Her crate said EMMA and the volunteer who’d just put her back inside after that other person’s “test run,” snapped the leash on Emma again.

February 11, 2020.

We went out with the little dog who had a looong torso and short legs, and allowed her to sniff and investigate the sidewalk and grassy areas of the strip mall. Emma seemed like a nice enough dog, but showed zero interest in us. Until we started back towards the store entrance. Then she stopped and looked up at us with big brown eyes.

Well, the rest is history.

Knock-knock

Zippy and I knocked on doors for Bernie Sanders today. We started out together because he’d never canvassed before, but after one block, Zippy confidently headed out with his own list.

The day was a beautiful experience, in multiple ways. One, it was sunny and downright balmy (high 40s) which was a welcome reprieve after this week’s frigid temperatures and yesterday’s blizzard. Two, we started the day with about 50 enthusiastic volunteers, including a couple with a cute-cute-cute baby. Three, I had some really great conversations with voters I contacted. And four, it was gratifying to canvas for a candidate I truly believe in (as opposed to knocking doors for a lesser evil).

As I said in several of today’s conversations: I’m not naive enough to think our problems will be solved merely by electing Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of fights ahead of us if we’re going to turn this ship around. But the beauty of Bernie’s campaign is that he welcomes we-the-people in those fights. He knows he needs us and he embraces our participation because we will only win if we stand together to fight for the common good (which includes a Green New Deal and Medicare For All).

Bernie Sanders is the one candidate with an army of people ready and willing to take to the streets for equity and justice. Today, I was proud to be a Bernie Bro.

#Caturday distraction

Marcel ruling the roost. January 25, 2020

Zippy and I just returned from a run on the trails with Emma, and as I sat in recovery mode (basically, waiting for my ears to thaw), I noticed the floor was in serious need of vacuuming. But on my way to retrieve the vacuum from the closet, I noticed Marcel’s regal bearing. So, I adroitly abandoned the vacuum for the camera. And now here I am at the laptop, posting on my site.

I’ll take a nice cat photo over clean floors, any day.

Gratitude x 3 = Celebration

Yesterday at 5:45 pm I realized I hadn’t seen my indoor cat, Marcel, in hours. Zippy, Zebu, and I spent the next several hours in the cold and dark, calling to Marcel who goes silent when afraid. We eventually quit and went to bed to toss and turn, trying in vain to forget how cold it was outside. At 6:30 this morning, Zippy (again) checked the garage we’d left open four inches. This time, Marcel was curled up in the cat bed Zebu had put on top of the recyling bin. SO GRATEFUL.

Five minutes ago, I finished writing the first draft of my new middle-grade novel. It clocks in at 42,793 words and is a whole lot of talking heads and not a whole lot of description, which means it’s kinda skeletal. But I’d hoped to finish by the end of today and, despite my lack of sleep (see Above), I did it! Will I cringe when I read the draft in a couple weeks? Possibly. But there’s no revision without a first draft, baby. Again, I AM SO GRATEFUL.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Tomorrow morning Zippy, Zebu, Wildebeest’s childhood friend (Kyle C), and I are driving to Durango, CO, where Wildebeest lives. His graduation ceremony is on Friday and we’ll be there to witness that incredible milestone. Wildebeest was an avid student until he hit middle school and then had some bad “learning” experiences that completely turned him off school. His was an on-again-off-again college journey and he laments being such an “old graduate,” but I was also 26 when I graduated college (and look how well I turned out!) I’m proud of my tenacious son and GRATEFUL we’ll be there to witness his accomplishment.

Thankful

Just took a 21-minute walk in the frigid cold, gingerly traversing the icy, rutted streets of our neighborhood. The two feet of snow we got earlier this week are gonna be around a while. Today, I’m thankful for the knowledge that this, too, shall pass melt.

June 29, 2018

Blue skies and lily blooms are in my future.

I’m still alive, really

Turkey Vulture in Cave Creek Canyon.     5.15.19. Photo by Zippy.

 

Ever have one of those days when it feels as if vultures are circling? Yeah, me too.

I’ve been at my standing desk all afternoon and I think I’d best get moving so I’m not mistaken for carrion.

Monday transformation

Zippy and I ran this morning and just as we finished we encountered this Wooly Bear. I dashed inside for my camera to document our meeting because I haven’t seen a Wooly Bear in many years.

And apparently I never took the time to learn what Wooly Bears become because it came as a complete surprise just now when I looked up “Wooly Bear caterpillar” and discovered my little friend will turn into an IsabellaTiger Moth. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of one of those. You can see it here.

Wishing everyone a transformational Monday!

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.

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.

Hitchhikers

This morning Zippy and I ran on the trails in the open space. It’s hot here so I carried a full bottle of water in a waist pack. I drank it all as we went along (sharing a few swallows with Zippy) which lightened my load. When we got home I removed my shoes and sweaty socks. This is what I plucked from them:

Look at all that extra weight I unknowingly carried. What clever little hitchhiking seeds!

Life imitating art

This afternoon our son invited us to go to the movies with him and his girlfriend. I thanked him for the invite, but said I wanted to get some writing done. Then I thought about it some more and realized it felt important to spend time with them plus have a little outing. My writing projects could wait. My decision caused a tinge of anxiety and on the drive to the theater I silently repeated that mantra to myself several times: my writing projects can wait.

I’m so glad I changed my mind.  BOOKSMART made me laugh and laugh. It’s a smart, funny, and poignant film. I didn’t really know what it was about before going and in case you also live under a rock, here’s the summary:
Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of not-to-be missed fun into one night — a chaotic adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for.

HA! On a much smaller scale, that was me this afternoon. Just like Amy and Molly, I thought the most important use of my time was to keep my nose to the grindstone. Wrong! Sharing smiles and laughter in a dark theater was the very best use of my time. If you haven’t yet seen this movie, what are you waiting for?

Thankful Thursday: Snow for a hot pup!

We just got back from two days camping in the mountains. Yesterday we hiked about seven miles which is a long trek for a short-legged doggo. We gave Emma water throughout the hike and that definitely helped keep her going. But the best remedy was the snow we came across here and there. She rejoiced in this particular patch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cool pup is a happy pup.

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.

Turkey Vulture on clean-up

We had a great birding day today, in large part because we joined up with Friends of Cave Creek Canyon volunteers who know their birds. It was lots of fun and very informative. However, we didn’t need any help identifying this big bird:

Photo by Zippy

Turkey Vulture!

Today the universe answered my call

This afternoon Zippy and I hiked the Greenhouse Trail in the Chiricahua Mountains. The guide trail notes said the mountain hike was also good for birding, so off we went to scratch our two itches. As we hiked along Greenhouse Creek we heard many bird songs and each time we’d raise our binoculars to scan for the source, hoping to identify one of the over 300 bird species in the region. As one after another (usually brown) bird flitted in and out of our sight before we could make a positive identification, I remembered the words of a birder friend from Anchorage. Anne once said to me, “You’re more of a ducker than a birder.”

And she was right. I do pretty well with the larger, more sedate feathered creatures. Ducks, shore birds, and wading birds are my comfort zone. They give me time to make identifications. Song birds in a forest are much harder for me to ID and today my frustration level went way the hell up.

I don’t know a whole lot of bird songs (shout-out to Mourning Doves and Spotted Towhees for their easily identifiable songs!) and I’m crap with our new guide book, Birds of Southeastern Arizona, because it’s grouped by type rather than by color. Hence my frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

As Zippy and I sat on a log next to the creek (because we’d lost the trail, which is a whole other story), he hoped aloud for birds to come up to us with signs. As in, “Hello, I’m a Brown Creeper” or “Hey, check me out. I’m a Brewer’s Sparrow.”

I replied, “We need primary color birds. Like a Vermilion Flycatcher. We for sure could ID the hell out of that bird.” (Because, in case you didn’t already guess, that bird is primarily bright red.)

Guess what happened a couple minutes after my primary colors plea? A bird flew overhead and into a tree right in front of us. Without any muss or fuss, Zippy and I identified a Western Tanager which looks like this:

Don’t worry, we’re not feeling too full of ourselves. While we did manage the identification, this isn’t exactly a great photo. Still, I wanted to celebrate the fact that once in a while the universe does listen and respond accordingly.

Exploring the Chiricahua Mountains

Zippy and I’ve been traveling since Sunday. We camped at the Valley of Fires Recreation Area In New Mexico that night and yesterday afternoon arrived at Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains of Portal, Arizona:

I had to stop and take this photo when we reached the entrance to the canyon.

We got settled in and then did a short hike. We heard some birds but didn’t see any.
Lots of interesting flora, though:

This morning we got up early for a short hike and on the drive there,
saw a Wild Turkey. This was our hiking destination:

The photo doesn’t do justice to the Cathedral Vista. It’s a truly stunning view as you emerge from wooded trail out into the open. And on the way back to where we’re
staying we located this Whiskered Screech-Owl in a sycamore tree:

Photo by Zippy.

Our hosts had told us where to find the feathered friend. Apparently,
the owl hangs out there all the time, watching the comings and goings in
the canyon.

And now we’re off for more adventures!

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!

 

 

Sunday Confessional: I don’t care about Game of Thrones

So the final season of Game of Thrones starts tonight. My mate and my son just finished watching a recap in preparation for the first episode. Their excitement is palpable.

As for me? I’ve watched a total of maybe a couple hours over the years. Game of Thrones is not my cup o’ violence. However, if I happen to be walking through the room when Peter Dinklage’s character is onscreen I always stop to watch.

Photo credit HBO

Confession: I don’t even know his character’s name. And that’s okay by me.

Dessert is served

We’re having friends and family over for dinner. As always, Zippy’s doing the heavy lifting in the food preparation department. But I stepped up and offered to make dessert.

Aesthetically pleasing while also easy-peasy. Plus, I completely stole the idea from our friend’s dinner last week. I’m nothing if not a domestic goddess.

 

Running Endorphins R Us

Happy first day of spring! It’s a beautiful day in the Denver metro area, but I was inside for most of it as I struggled with my work-for-hire project. Late this afternoon I stepped away from my computer and went outside to run around the neighborhood multiple times. First loop was with my short-legged doggo who is sometimes more an anchor than a running partner. So I dropped her off at the house and went out again.

Post-runn photo by Zippy

I’m feeling so much better now. Running for the win!

In the eye of a bomb cyclone

I’d never heard of “bomb cyclone” until yesterday and now Zippy has repeated that phrase so many times Zebu and I are debating drinking a shot every time he says “bomb cyclone.” Might as well have some fun with it, right?

The wind is blowing hard and swirling every which way. Windows on all four sides of the house are affected.

 

North. South. East. West. Everywhere I look is a snowy-blowy mess. Bomb cyclone.

Oops, everyone take a drink!

 

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.