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Second Big Year (2BY)1: The Saga Continues January 31, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

With Danny—aka Dan’l, the way we always address him in writing—Tim and I agreed to try the listing thing for another calendar year. Overall, January wasn’t a bad month for us, but that’s because we took an entire Saturday, got in the car, and drove north to bird. Time, travel. I can tell that story some other time, maybe.

A couple of days ago, Dan’l extended an invitation to Tim’s sister, Amy, to join the group. I thought his invite was worth sharing here, especially as I don’t seem to be writing much. (Dan’l has, in fact, unknowingly been a guest blogger before.) He writes to Amy:

As you may already know, Tim, Indigo, and I are in the midst of a birding “big year.” After your call a while ago about sighting a pileated woodpecker, I checked in with the Vermont branch and suggested that you might be allowed to join in. Although they were not sure that you may have confused the pileated with a herring gull, they finally agreed. So, I am hereby inviting you to be part of the big year. However, you may not want to join after you know what the conditions are.

First, any sighting that you report must be supported by sworn affidavits from at least three witnesses. Second, your reports must be sent to headquarters in Vermont using encrypted messages, since our rivals are constantly monitoring our emails. Third, you must not reveal what you are taking part in, not even to close personal friends. If someone catches you looking at birds, it will be up to you to lie convincingly. (We can supply you with some standard lies if you are desperate.) The potential benefits which may accrue from our winning the international competition are staggering, and secrecy is our only protection. (Because you are family, we will waive the $500 entry fee.)

I’ve not yet heard whether Amy will be joining us, but I’ve already got a pileated on my list.

Crazy January 30, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I can’t even tell you what’s been going on in my life lately because it’s crazy, and it’s the kind of crazy you can’t talk about, the family crazy, the crazy that goes way way back, probably before I was born, the crazy that just kept going, a crazy that made (in my opinion) bad decisions and alienated me early on, the kind of crazy that I could never get a handle on because it felt so foreign, but it was related to me—how could it be related to me?—the kind of crazy that will never get better but becomes more itself and stronger until at last you’re looking at a crazy situation that didn’t have to be and it brings up all this crazy stuff from way way back from way back from not so far back from right now and you try to be as nice as you can about it while your anger smolders (barely) beneath the surface because to what possible good could showing anger do at this point anyway and it is just all so very very sad.

Theory: Deaccessioning January 23, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I have this beautiful theory that this, at long last, will be a year of deaccessioning. I will cull my collection of books and CDs. I will donate more clothing or take it to consignment shops. I will make another pile of potential yard-sale items. I will find new homes for things now living on the Island of Misfit Stuff.

Recently, I pulled two CDs I never listen to, listened to them, enjoyed them, and thought of someone who might enjoy them even more. I mailed them to her, explaining that it was OK if she didn’t like them. I was pleased that I’d done something.

Then I went to an awesome concert Saturday night and bought two more CDs.

I have a friend whose 365 choice this year is to post an item a day on eBay. I admire her stamina. In fact, I just purchased one of her offerings—a tiny lead elephant—to keep company with the tiny lead Bactrian camel she once gave me. The elephant’s in the mail.

Clearly, I need to do better.

Bactrian with rainbow.

Bactrian with rainbow.

In-Boxes January 15, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

A couple of decades ago, an in-box, to me, was simply that tray on my desk at work, or perhaps the box in which I picked up my interoffice mail. Now, technology and the general busyness of life can turn almost anything into an in-box.

There are the obvious in-boxes: regular mail and e-mail. Facebook has become its own kind of in-box, between messages I receive that way and the general keepingupness of the thing. Blogs, too, need to be regularly checked. Now that I’ve finally joined the twenty-first century and gotten myself an iPhone, there are messages there too, both phone and text. I have an answering machine on my landline; I need to watch for its flashing light.

I don’t watch TV in real time very often, so my backlog of taped shows feels like another kind of in-box; the Netflix queue adds to that feeling.

Against my better judgment, but to support Special Olympics, I’m subscribing to Rolling Stone again, which I can’t keep up with but try to read when I go to the gym. I am always issues behind. (I am someone who compulsively reads almost every word, so I generally avoid magazine subscriptions.) I have a couple of gift subscriptions as a result of Christmas. I should feel grateful, but actually, I’m panicked.

My book queue also feels like a towering in-box, with approximately thirty books sitting there waiting to be next up. Please, no one send me books for awhile. Book group, understand if I need to abandon you.

The house itself feels like its own in-box, with its never-ending tasks and, as recently noted, not enough out-boxing.

Stuff: In Which the Holidays Again Cause Me Panic January 9, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I love my family and my friends and the very thoughtful gifts I receive around the Christmas holidays. I especially love acquiring books I want to read, DVDs I want to watch and rewatch, music I want to hear. I get some silly gifts that make me laugh. And Tim tolerates, over the course of autumn, my picking up artsy things I really want, handing them to him, and instructing him to wrap them up for me for Christmas.

Because truly, if something is going to come into this house and take up space, I would like to want it or—even better—need it.

It is when I begin to try to find places to store these new things that the shit hits the fan. I don’t have room for any more stuff. In trying to stuff something new into a drawer, I see that there is too much stuff already in it, and what is all this stuff, and do I really need all this stuff?

I empty drawers. I go through closets. I edit, but usually only slightly.

Part of the problem in letting go is sentimentality—with books, for instance, something to which I’m sure many of you can relate. Of course I could buy/borrow that book if I ever truly wanted to read it again. But I feel an attachment.

Or someone has given me something lovely that I don’t even remember I have til I pull it out of its stashed place. “Awww,” I think, thinking of that person or an event or a shared history.

I remember some celebrity claiming that it was the “Awww” feeling that was important, so he had begun taking a photo of the item, then getting rid of the item, because he could recreate that feeling by looking at the photo. It’s an interesting thought. Practical.

My situation could be much, much worse. I come from hoarders, and I react to that constantly, so things are not as bad as they might otherwise be. I don’t have children, so that’s a huge amount of stuff I never have to find a place for.

Last summer we had that yard sale. That helped a bit.

Still, if I counted each thing in the house as separate thing, how many things might there be? Thousands, certainly. Tens of thousands? How many of them, if they disappeared tomorrow, would I not even notice were gone?

BY12: 146 January 1, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Yesterday, after my last post, I saw a common redpoll at the feeder, hanging with a flock of goldfinches. It seemed there was only one. This morning, there was a whole flock. But yesterday’s loner pushed my personal count to 115.

The group total is 146.

American black duck, American coot, American crow, American dipper, American goldfinch, American kestrel, American redstart, American robin, American tree sparrow, American widgeon, bald eagle, barn swallow, barred owl, belted kingfisher, black and white warbler, black-billed magpie, black-crowned night heron, black-throated blue warbler, black-throated green warbler, black vulture, Blackburnian warbler, black-capped chickadee, blue gray gnatcatcher, blue jay, boat-tailed grackle, bob white quail, bobolink, broad-winged hawk, brown creeper, brown-headed cowbird, brown pelican, brown thrasher, bufflehead, Canada goose, Cape May warbler, Carolina chickadee, Carolina wren, Caspian tern, cedar waxwing, chimney swift, chipping sparrow, common eider, common grackle, common merganser, common raven, common redpoll, common snipe, common tern, common yellowthroat, Cooper’s hawk, dark-eyed junco, double-crested cormorant, downy woodpecker, eastern bluebird, eastern kingbird, eastern phoebe, eastern screech owl, eastern wood pewee, European starling, evening grosbeak, field sparrow, fish crow, fox sparrow, gadwall, golden-crowned kinglet, gray catbird, great black-backed gull, great blue heron, great crested flycatcher, great egret, great-horned owl, great shearwater, hairy woodpecker, hermit thrush, herring gull, hooded merganser, house finch, house sparrow, house wren, indigo bunting, killdeer, laughing gull, least tern, lesser scaup, little green heron, magnolia warbler, mallard, mourning dove, mute swan, Nashville warbler, northern cardinal, northern flicker, northern harrier, northern mockingbird, northern oriole, northern parula, northern pintail, northern shoveler, osprey, oven bird, palm warbler, pileated woodpecker, pine siskin, piping plover, purple finch, red-bellied woodpecker, red-breasted merganser, red-breasted nuthatch, red-eyed vireo, red-tailed hawk, red-winged blackbird, ring-billed gull, ring-necked duck, rock pigeon, rose-breasted grosbeak, rough-winged swallow, ruby-crowned kinglet, ruby-throated hummingbird, ruddy duck, ruffed grouse, rufous-sided/eastern towhee, scarlet tanager, snow goose, snowy egret, song sparrow, sooty shearwater, Steller’s jay, tree swallow, tufted titmouse, tundra swan, turkey vulture, veery, warbling vireo, white-breasted nuthatch, white-crowned sparrow, white-throated sparrow, wild turkey, willet, Wilson’s storm petrel, Wilson’s warbler, wood duck, wood thrush, woodcock, yellow-bellied sapsucker, yellow-rumped warbler, yellow warbler.