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A February Post February 25, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Since the dawn of this blog, I’ve gotten at least one post in per month, so I better just write something.

It’s hard, though.

Life in the United States has been surreal and depressing. You know what I’m talking about.

So, what has been good?

Parties. Dinner parties, birthday parties, happy hours.

We went to visit Lali and Ed, which was so much fun and a great change of pace. It was lovely to see their new home. While Lali and Tim played duets, I sat on the couch with Ed and read New Yorker cartoons. It was relaxing and heavenly. We went birding and saw buffleheads and got to show Ed and Lali buffleheads! Isn’t buffleheads fun to say? Try it: Buffleheads.

We went to a dance festival and did a lot of contradancing and heard some good music.

My driver’s license is renewed, and the taxes are done.

My 2017 bird count pushed past forty today.

We’ve managed some beautiful cross-country skiing.

Today, however, it is nearly 70 degrees F, which is wonderful and weird and wrong.

Tim’s gal pals just showed up for a music date: another recorder player and a singer. I am hiding out and posting for the sake of February posting.

Buffleheads.

Running into Blog Friends January 26, 2017

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Yesterday I mentioned at last meeting Alesia near the steps of the capitol during the Women’s March on Montpelier. In person!

Another cyberfriend I hope to meet someday, one I met online through the 365 project, I’ve recently run into in hard copy: in Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, which I have at long last read.

Jerry sent me her copy through Sioux, thinking I would like this memoir by a falconer. I sure did.

I often peek ahead to the acknowledgments section, and I did with this book, and there was Scott’s name. Scott is also a falconer.

Via Facebook, I told him I’d seen his name. He wrote back that he didn’t realize he’d gotten a mention there. “Good ol’ Helen!,” he said. “When you get into the latter half of the book, you’ll get to go hawking with me and spend some time with my friend Erin as well.”

And a couple of nights ago, I did just that.

When I reported back to him, he said, “If you want to see some of what you read about in that portion of the book, there’s a multimedia piece that a couple of my friends put together several years ago that ended up being broadcast on NPR.”

And here it is:

Rethinking Pink January 25, 2017

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It feels terrible to come clean about this, but the whole breast cancer thing with pink? It makes me crazy. I wish they’d chosen any other color. I cannot buy (or bear) all the pink swag. I know it’s a reclamation, but I am not going to buy any pink fly-fishing gear or hop on the girly-color bandwagon.

So when the women’s march idea came up last November, I bristled—not at the thought of pussy hats, but of PINK pussy hats.

Lots of my Vermont friends headed to DC last weekend, including my across-the-street neighbor, Emily, who turned 12 on inauguration day and whose mother, as a present, took her on the two-overnights-on-the-bus-for-all-day-at-the-rally trip that left from here. This is a birthday that girl will NEVER forget. (The women on the bus signed Emily’s copy of book 2 of John Lewis’s March. How cool is that? Really.)

I headed to Montpelier with Rhonda and her son Ben. A lot of my friends had obtained their pussy hats, and I was starting to feel a bit guilty about having no pink. I have two pink ball caps, but neither would really do. I had my beanie from 2010’s Rally to Restore Sanity (my last DC march) as backup. Rhonda had an extra pink beanie and would bring it for my consideration.

It was a nice mixed-pink wool number with a flower. I wore it.

We got into town early enough to find parking and tool around. We had no idea how many people had come in after us until we headed back to the school where the march was about to begin. Cell service was overwhelmed, cut out, and we were unable to meet up with Sarah and Laura, after all our planning.

(When we left town, we discovered an interstate lined with parked cars, cars parked in the median strip, the exits into town closed off. It was astounding.)

Besides being part of a positive and inspiring demonstration, a highlight for me was being spotted by a blog friend, Alesia, whom I’d never met in all these years. (365ers: I can’t remember if she participated in that project, but she certainly was around soon after. She, like Helen, has since retired from the blogosphere.) Rhonda and I were closely watching the parade for Laura and Sarah from an excellent vantage point approaching the statehouse, and Alesia, who knew I would be there, recognized me (me, in a pink hat no less!), and I got to hug a cyberfriend!

But back to the pink. Seeing all the pink in the crowd that day—and more importantly, seeing it all at the march in DC and at all the marches around the world—that sea of pink really was uplifting. For at least one day, I loved it.

Rhonda gave me the lovely hat as a souvenir. (But I still won’t buy any pink fly-fishing gear.)

153s January 18, 2017

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On December 20, I noted that I see the number 153 often. Mali encouraged me to yes, report sightings. They in fact seemed to dry up a bit, but earlier this week I got to five, so here they are:

  • On December 21, a food bank informed me that “Your gift, in any amount, provided the fuel needed to nourish 153,000 people this year.” OK, that’s not exactly 153, but you can see why it counts.
  • On December 26, my Fitbit reported that I’d climbed a total of 153 floors that week (“39 below last week”—yeah, whatever).
  • On January 7, when looking at the Philadelphia map to find the location of my hotel (booked for March), Google maps informed me that I could get in for $153 that night (which is less than I’m going to pay—but I didn’t have time to drive to Philadelphia from Vermont that night and take advantage of that last-minute deal).
  • On January 15, I opened the book I’m reading to the next chapter (16: Rain), which began on page 153.
  • On January 17, I noticed that venue where I’d attended a small concert on Saturday noted (on Facebook) that 153 people had checked in there. That number is higher today.

I know I’m rather aware of 153, but it does seem an odd number to pop up so much.

Puffins January 11, 2017

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For Mali and Helen

In comments to my Quarterly Report and Summation, Mali and Helen reminded me of puffins and a 365 entry from ten years ago about a day almost twenty years ago, which was one of the best days of my whole life.

265/365 Rita of the Shetland Islands

directed us to that northernmost point: drive, park, a 90-minute hike. There we might see the puffin colony, but it was probably too late. It wasn’t. They frolicked within feet of us. Back at the car we devoured the tea she’d lovingly, knowingly packed.

Here are a few of the many photos from that day (31 July 1997).

puffin1

puffin2

puffin3

puffin4

Today’s Birthday Limericks January 6, 2017

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If all goes as planned, these limericks will be read tonight at a very small dinner party on the occasion of a seventy-seventh birthday. Like all birthday limericks, there are private jokes and unexplained specifics scattered throughout, but I’ll include all four anyway.

He offers an edible flower
on plates filled with sweet and with sour.
The cheese board enthralls.
When you’re headed to Paul’s
you’re in for a most happy hour.

Come set a spell here—it’s topnotch:
drink in hand! and bird feeders to watch!
It’s usually G & T
but come Epiphany,*
well, then it’s usually scotch.

Sir Paul is a well-mannered man
(an American born in Japan).
He’s the most gracious guest
and his hosting’s the best
and he kisses my neck when he can.

This bottle of booze is for you.
It’s for you, it’s for you, it’s for you.
It isn’t for me
And it’s not for [name redacted]
It’s for you—but I’d like some too.

 

*Today, in fact.

2017 Things January 4, 2017

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On December 31, a friend posted:

Today H— [her daughter] and I have been running around the house trying to meet our goal of getting rid of 2016 things this year…we’re almost there…

2016 things! Another way to approach the decluttering. The KonMari Method. The toss-one-thing-a-day method. Now the getting-rid-of-the-same-number-of-things-as-what-year-it-is method.

Could be fun to try, but you’d have to decide what “a thing” is.

For instance, if I got rid of all the paper I have that’s printed on one side that I’m keeping to run through my printer on the OTHER side when I’m printing out draft after draft of certain manuscripts, and if I counted each sheet as one thing, I’m pretty sure I’d be finished with the project when I tossed that pile. Or very nearly so.

And that wouldn’t be as satisfying as all that.

My friend says she used to keep a blog about this, but requests to see said blog have thus far gone unanswered.

5BY4: Quarterly Report and Summation January 1, 2017

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I only added five species to the list since September, and my last one was November 10 (if only that white bird had been a gyrfalcon!). But they were cool: common nighthawk, ruby-crowned kinglet, snowy owl, great-horned owl, and black vulture. Of course, this ties with my record for additions in the last quarter (2012). Unless one travels, things slow way down.

So once again, I present the list in its entirety, because it sounds pretty: white-breasted nuthatch, American goldfinch, black-capped chickadee, mourning dove, downy woodpecker, house sparrow, mallard, American crow, dark-eyed junco, tufted titmouse, Canada goose, red-tailed hawk, house finch, blue jay, northern cardinal, European starling, hairy woodpecker, wild turkey, rock dove, American tree sparrow, northern harrier, common raven, red-bellied woodpecker, common merganser, belted kingfisher, ring-necked pheasant, pileated woodpecker, ring-necked duck, tufted duck, bufflehead, redhead, canvasback, greater scaup, lesser scaup, bald eagle, common goldeneye, white-winged scoter, herring gull, great black-backed gull, black duck, eastern bluebird, American robin, purple finch, red-winged blackbird, song sparrow, killdeer, cedar waxwing, turkey vulture, pine siskin, ruffed grouse, hooded merganser, common grackle, painted bunting, Cooper’s hawk, American kestrel, eastern phoebe, wood duck, chipping sparrow, double-crested cormorant, eastern meadowlark, white-throated sparrow, tree swallow, rose-breasted grosbeak, eastern towhee, Wilson’s snipe, warbling vireo, yellow warbler, golden-winged warbler, northern flicker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, barred owl, yellow-throated vireo, gray catbird, common yellowthroat, house wren, eastern kingbird, indigo bunting, ruby-throated hummingbird, hermit thrush, chimney swift, bobolink, spotted sandpiper, Baltimore oriole, common loon, osprey, American woodcock, ovenbird, veery, solitary sandpiper, wood thrush, American redstart, blue-winged warbler, scarlet tanager, great-crested flycatcher, chestnut-sided warbler, barn swallow, eastern wood-pewee, red-eyed vireo, brown thrasher, field sparrow, broad-winged hawk, northern mockingbird, great blue heron, fish crow, snow goose, Carolina wren, Louisiana waterthrush, black-and-white warbler, green heron, red-breasted nuthatch, yellow-rumped warbler, brown creeper, merlin, great-tailed grackle, common nighthawk, ruby-crowned kinglet, snowy owl, great-horned owl, black vulture. (118 species. 2015: 125. 2014: 118. 2013: 173. 2012: 115.)

I could do better if I’d just learn my gulls and sparrows already.

Mystery Bird December 31, 2016

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I have only a few more hours to add bird species to the 2016 list. But I woke with the dreaded cold, stayed in bed til 10:30, and it’s already noon. Unless something exotic comes to my feeder (which needs to be filled) in the next few hours, my list is done.

We had hopes on Monday. We got word from friends of a snowy owl sighting, so we dropped everything and went. Found the bird, which was hundreds of yards away. But something was off. It was all white, but it didn’t look like an owl. It was shaped more like a hawk, and it’s eyes were definitely not owly. We tried to get closer with our scope, but between us and the crows, it got spooked.

It was not a snowy owl.

The best we could come up with via our guide was a white morph of a gyrfalcon. It truly looked like it could be this—even though it was all white—and it wouldn’t be impossible, but it would be unlikely. No one would believe this if we claimed it without photographic proof. Still, we’d never seen a gyrfalcon and were excited that that’s what it could be.

I also wondered if the bird was just an anomaly. Its eyes were dark, so I figured it wasn’t albino, but when I got home I started researching that to be sure. That’s when I discovered that birds could be leucistic—loss of pigment, but not in the eyes. And it became clear that what we saw was almost certainly a leucistic red-tailed hawk.

That’s not a bird I can add to my species list, but it was cool.

We went back yesterday to look for it again—nothing.

Really wish we could have gotten a photo.

Chuck’s Santa Story December 26, 2016

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Quoted here because I don’t want to forget it.

My dad: “Santa doesn’t like eggnog.”
Us kids: “What? We always leave eggnog and cookies, and he always drinks it.”
My dad: “No, he doesn’t. I drink it so you think he drinks it. But he never wants it.”
Us kids: “Well, what does he like?”
My dad: “Santa likes Scotch.”