Lighting isn’t always a bright idea

Zippy and I just took Emma for a walk around our neighborhood. As we walked, we noted the bright, outdoor lights shining on the marjority of houses we passed. It was a relief whenever we passed dark houses. A break for our eyes.

As annoying as those bright lights are for me, they can be life and death for birds during migration time. (And yes, I understand that lights on tall buildings are more problematic for birds than suburban lighting.)

Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

I still wish that all people, both urban and suburban, worried less about what might be lurking in the dark, and more about the well-being of our feathered friends. Excessive lighting is just that.

 

Every creature fast and small

Every creature is better alive than dead,
men and moose and pine trees,
and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

~  Henry David Thoreau

Over the past weekend, we were in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. My two sons, Wildebeest and Zebu, got into a lively debate over running ability and were finally coerced by those sick of listening to that debate into running a short race. While their uncle got ready at the finish line with his camera to capture their final steps, their father (Zippy) lined them up at the starting line. But just before Zippy shot the proverbial starter’s pistol, he saw a tiny creature on the race course:

Horned Lizard aka Horny Toad

After moving the Horned Lizard to safety, the race commenced.

 

(NOTE: Wildebeest won by a slim margin, pulling a quad muscle in the process. The two agreed to switch “lanes” and run it again, and that time Zebu won by a whole bunch. I’m guessing the Horned Lizard is as happy as the rest of us that the two of them have, at least temporarily, moved beyond that whole running debate.)

Today, I got good news

That bears repeating: today, I got good news.

Last week, I went to Planned Parenthood because of a health concern. While there, I had a breast exam that revealed a mass in my right breast. I was referred to an imaging place for my first ever mammogram (along with sonogram and possible biopsy). I was also given a list of surgeons. Cue the anxiety.

Today I went to Invision Sally Jobe where I was treated with much kindness AND learned that there are no concerns regarding my breast tissue! The technician who did the sonogram told me as much when she went off to share her results with the doctor who had already seen the mammogram results. The sonogram tech left me alone in a room with this framed photo:

For the next ten minutes, I gazed at these fascinating women as I waited for final confirmation that all was clear on my breast-ern front.* I spent the time trying to decide which cowgirl I most resemble (in attitude, looks, fashion sense). I liked the attitude of the first woman on the left with her hands on her hips, but had to acknowledge that I probably wouldn’t do that in a group photo. I decided that while the woman third from the left is wearing lipstick (which I also love to wear), she’s a little too put-together for me.  I eventually settled on the woman fourth from the right as most representative of who I perceive myself to be, and then was pleased to notice she’s holding hands with the woman to her left. Really, they all seem to be pretty damned cool women** and I would be happy to embody any of their energy (although the second woman from the left is (A) without a hat in the sun *gasp* and (B) wearing either a shiny track suit or pre-disco-era clothing, neither of which are in my fashion wheelhouse.)

So now I’m home. I immediately called to cancel my Friday appointment with the surgeon, and then settled in to bask in my good news. I also asked Zippy to help document today with a photo of this HAPPY COWGIRL.***

*This was Zippy’s suggestion for wording of the first text I sent after learning the news.

** Confession: It took me a while to catch on, but I finally realized that the fourth woman from the left and the fourth woman from the right are sisters, possibly twins. I mean, once I noticed it, I was kinda embarrassed it took me that long to see the obvious.

***Note: I’m wearing the lucky pants that have brought me good news during two dental appointments (including the news that I DID NOT NEED A ROOT CANAL) and now today’s excellent breast-related news.

Remember the Vasa

I photographed these carved figures with my phone while visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, and have held onto the bizarre image for months as I waited for the right time to display it here.

Today feels like an especially good day in the Corporate States of America to share these figures from the Vasa’s prow.

I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
[The Vasa] was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.

Militarization.
Privatization.
King’s ambitions.
Dangerous instability.
Greed and arrogance.
Epic failure.

The Vasa sank after traveling just 1300 meters.

Today I’m indulging in a little wishful thinking.

(NOTE: As a writer, I’m also thinking about how there’s truly no such thing as an original plot line. Greedheads gonna be greedheads, from the beginning of time…)

Drama in the backyard

I was working here at my desk, next to an open window, when I became aware of frenetic activity in the yard below. A split second later, another fact penetrated my brain fog: squeaking/screaming.

I jumped up and looked outside. Emma had a squirrel in her mouth. More shrieking (this time, from me).

Fast forward to Emma inside with me while Zebu went outside to check on the condition of the squirrel. He found it, alive, but motionless. It then took off running for the fence. Zebu came back inside to give the shocked animal some space. As we watched from the window, the squirrel tried climbing the six-feet-tall wooden fence. The bundle of fur made it halfway and then dropped to the ground. We agonized for the squirrel.

And then Zebu’s brain kicked in.

“That’s not a squirrel. It doesn’t have a tail.” Pause. “That’s a prairie dog!”

We were SO happy! The “squirrel” wasn’t failing to climb the fence because it was injured, it was failing because it wasn’t a fence-climbing creature!

Zebu leaned a timber against the fence for the prairie dog to use as a ramp. Didn’t work. He then opened the gate that lets out onto the wild hillside behind our house. Unfortunately, the prairie dog ran past the open gate, multiple times, and tried climbing the fence at the other end of the yard.

By then, Zippy was home. He and Zebu tried “herding” the frantic prairie dog to the gate. It was pretty stressful for everyone. Obviously, it was most stressful for the poor prairie dog.

He hunkered down and froze in front of Zebu. Right after I caught this shot, I was enlisted to help with the herding. By the time I put on shoes and got outside, the prairie dog made one more sprint.

This time, he went out the gate!

The three of us celebrated the liberation and apparent good health of our visitor, and wished him a safe return to his burrow (wherever that might be). Some days (and today is most definitely one of those days), it’s important to embrace the roles we play in setting things right on our little patch of the planet.

 

Day 9: Almost home

We got up at 5:30 this morning, Uppsala time, and just barely caught the-bus-we-thought-was-a-train (when we purchased the tickets yesterday) to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. From there we flew to Amsterdam. After promising that all checked luggage was our own and that no one had asked us to bring anything on the plane, we got on a packed plane. Our flight to Minneapolis took 7+ hours. Once in the airport, I got busted by the agricultural-sniffing dog for carrying an orange across the ocean. I relinquished the citrus and then we had to re-check our bags and go through security again because, you know, we could’ve spent that 7+ –hour flight filling our shoes with knives. We’re now sitting in a bar/restaurant, drinking local craft beer and eating fries while we wait for our flight to Denver.

It’s already been a loooong day, and there’s still miles to go.

Here’s a somewhat appropriate image from our last day in Stockholm:

Almost home.

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Day 8: Friday Haiku in three-part harmony

Our family is rich
so how did I end up with
this big onion head?
~ Tracy

This picture makes me
think little girls in dumb hats
is super cool shit.
~  Zippy

Children lose their smiles
pose for a picture; realize
head is an onion.
~ Zebu

(NOTE: Despite the no-talking rule as we composed our haikus, mother and son both went the onion route. Nature or nurture, hmm?)

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Day 7: Biking the river in Uppsala

This afternoon, Zippy and I took the train from Stockholm to Uppsala where Zebu has been studying for two semesters. He took us on a walking tour of the university town where I was thrilled to see evidence of a phenomenon he’d described during one of our Skype sessions:
 Bikes in the river.

Thanks for making my day, anonymous bike-thrower!

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