jump to navigation

Wintertime January 24, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

(inspired, if you could call it that, by Mali’s “Summertime” post today, and written in a headcolddaze)

When winter is kind—temperatures at least 20°F, snow of the dry fluffy variety perfect for cross-country skiing—I love winter. But a cold winter is a cruel winter, and lately, it’s been cold: nighttime temperatures dipping into negative double digits, daytime highs maybe reaching positive doubles.

We in old, cold Victorian houses suffer.

On Wednesday morning, I noticed that my heat was out. When I went to the basement, I discovered that my oil tank was empty. I’m on autodelivery, and I don’t remember this ever happening before. Of course it happened because it’s been so cold and we’ve been burning more oil. But usually oil companies take this into account and make more deliveries.

Because it was so cold, I then had to worry about pipes freezing. I have to worry about that even when we have heat.

Luckily, by noon I had an oil delivery, but my kitchen temperature (which is the cold room in the house) had by that time dropped to 40°.

Did I mention that I’m also sick? A bad head cold. It’s exhausting me. It’s been almost a week, and it feels like forever. I can’t get work done that requires any brain whatsoever. I’m going to be a wreck trying to meet a deadline next week. But there’s no point in trying to think at that level until I’m healthier.

So having no heat on Wednesday was doubly bad as I shivered and sniffled and worried about the pipes. Imagine then, if you will, the sinking feeling I had around 5:00 this morning when the power went out. According to a Facebook alert from the fire department: “[The power company] is aware of the situation and working on fixing the problem. In the meantime, be aware of your neighbors who may not have heat during the outage, as the temperature is -12.”

My neighbors started texting at 5:52. If I wanted to come up and hang by the woodstove, I should feel free, especially if I had some ground coffee. Is everybody out of power? WTF? School canceled.

I tried to keep my arms under the flannel sheets as I replied.

This outage was unexpected, so I hadn’t filled a bucket in the bathroom. With no power, we have no heat and no water and one flush left.

I decided to not leave the bed. I am beginning to feel defeated.

Did I mention I’ve been dealing with some weird back/leg pain for 3 weeks?

Two and half hours later, the power came back on. I’m sick, I decided. I’ll get up when I get up.

I’m up.

I feel terrible. I look worse. Saw a couple of neighbors briefly last night, and one said, You look terrible. I laughed. It’s true. If a tissue hits my face ten times, it shows. Think hundreds of times, that allegedly lotion-filled, soft stuff scraping away all my skin cells.

I feel like I’ve lost a week of my life. I think this week has lasted forever.

And I’m not even that sick.

This is the kind of cold that can and does kill people.

I’m suffering, and I’m not even suffering. How do people with no financial resources and real health issues make it through this?

Give me 20°. Even 18°. I learned a long time ago that the temperature at which water freezes isn’t truly cold—after all, it’s 44° warmer than it was this morning, when the power went out.

Shaken January 20, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Thanks to a couple of high-end craft cocktail bars in faraway cities, thanks to the talented amateur bartenders among my local friends, I am well aware that I have become a bit of a martini/cocktail snob. Some of this, of course, is simply that I like what I like. But it makes it hard to order drinks in an unfamiliar establishment.

So when I was in New York City recently for a minireunion of high school friends, what I really wanted was a Vesper, and I should know by now that when ordering this simple drink, there are risks involved. I asked the waiter if I could get one, and he asked for the recipe. I told him three parts gin, one part vodka, one-half part Lillet, with a twist.

He came back to the table and reported that the bartender could oblige. “The James Bond drink, right?” he said. Right. Casino Royale. The people at the next table were amused.

It arrived. The flavor was pretty good, but it seemed a little . . . warm.

Clearly, they had stirred it.

But they had tried to accommodate me. I decided to say nothing. Until the waiter came back and asked how I liked it: I told him it was good, then hesitated, then mentioned that I had expected it to be a little colder.

Could he take it back and make it colder?, he offered. Yes.

Gawd. I’m getting high maintenance enough to start sending back drinks. (In November we insisted that my friend Lynda do this on her birthday when she got talked into a specialty drink she didn’t like. But it was her birthday! No one should accept a disappointing drink on her birthday.)

He came back with a colder drink (which seemed ever-so-slightly watered down, but whatever). “They’re stirring the cocktails tonight,” he said, explaining.

But it was a Vesper! You said James Bond! I certainly needn’t repeat the catchphrase.

Perhaps next time (if there is a next time) I should quote directly, with Bond swagger: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

Got it?

2BY14: Cormorant? January 4, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Dan’l, our third partner in the Big Year project, sent us his species list on New Year’s Eve. Tim combined our three lists, and together we got a total of 201. So, at least we hit that number as a group, even though I did not manage it on my own.

Dan’l had ducks and shorebirds we didn’t have, to be sure. But among them was this one: double-crested cormorant.

Somehow, I’d never put that bird on my list. And I saw lots of them this year.

So, what’s that about? What other birds did I see, and knew them when I saw them, and never noted them? Are some of the commoners so common that I think surely I’ve noted them already? Even when I haven’t?

How unfair to commoners.

Or am I just sloppy?

Or, as I bemoan almost every day of late, am I just getting old?

Anyway: Double-crested cormorant. Of course.

2BY13: A Summation January 1, 2014

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Clearly, after September, I somehow gave up on the big year concept. I didn’t add a single species after that.

In 2012, after September, I added only five species, two of which I didn’t even see this year (evening grosbeak, black vulture [Probably a black vulture or two passed my way, but I was never in a position to positively ID it, so it’s turkey until proven black.]).

Still, 2013 was a much bigger year than 2012, thanks to Arizona. I listed 172 species compared with 115. Sadly, it seems like I need at least two trips to vastly different geographic areas within one year to reach 200. That, or I really have to get serious. (Could I have seen 28 more species right around here if I’d devoted my life to it? I’m guessing the answer is yes.)

But here it is, January 1, so if I do this again, I’m back at zero until I check out the bird feeder. Here’s my cut-and-paste-from-previous-posts 2013 list: tufted titmouse, American goldfinch, dark-eyed junco, mourning dove, common redpoll, black-capped chickadee, downy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, American tree sparrow, northern cardinal, red-tailed hawk, American crow, blue jay, European starling, rock dove, American kestrel, snow bunting, rough-legged hawk, common raven, mallard, American black duck, common merganser, common goldeneye, ring-billed gull, bald eagle, American robin, eastern meadowlark, horned lark, wild turkey, Carolina wren, hairy woodpecker, barred owl, black-backed gull, Canada goose, red-bellied woodpecker, mute swan, pileated woodpecker, lesser scaup, eastern bluebird, house sparrow, northern mockingbird, common eider, common loon, red-breasted merganser, fish crow, long-tailed duck (oldsquaw), house finch, white-winged scoter, red-winged blackbird, killdeer, turkey vulture, great blue heron, song sparrow, common grackle, brown-headed cowbird, eastern phoebe, purple finch, white-throated sparrow, great-tailed grackle, white-winged dove, black-chinned hummingbird, broad-billed hummingbird, rufous hummingbird, brown-crested flycatcher, Wilson’s warbler, yellow warbler, vermilion flycatcher, lark sparrow, common yellowthroat, gila woodpecker, Abert’s towhee, gray hawk, Cassin’s kingbird, barn swallow, black-headed grosbeak, dusky-capped flycatcher, Lucy’s warbler, zone-tailed hawk, Bullock’s oriole, red-tailed hawk (Fuertes), Botteri’s sparrow, ladderback woodpecker, osprey, hooded oriole, Cassin’s vireo, plumbeous vireo, summer tanager, bridled titmouse, ruby-crowned kinglet, northern beardless tyrannulet, Bell’s vireo, yellow-breasted chat, green-tailed towhee, American coot, Mexican jay, canyon wren, yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon), Eurasian collared dove, pie-billed grebe, sora, Bewick’s wren, Cassin’s sparrow, lazuli bunting, Gambel’s quail, acorn woodpecker, cedar waxwing, violet-crowned hummingbird, curve-billed thrasher, white-crowned sparrow, lesser goldfinch, pyrrhuloxia, pine siskin, indigo bunting, chipping sparrow, greater roadrunner, common poor-will, ash-throated flycatcher, black-necked stilt, northern shoveler, cinnamon teal, American avocet, white-faced ibis, American widgeon, blue-winged teal, ruddy duck, cactus wren, black-throated sparrow, lesser nighthawk, black-tailed gnatcatcher, verdin, Western kingbird, rufous-sided towhee, rose-breasted grosbeak, chimney swift, tree swallow, warbling vireo, wood duck, belted kingfisher, ovenbird, house wren, Baltimore oriole, American redstart, yellow-bellied sapsucker, northern flicker, gray catbird, ruby-throated hummingbird, chestnut-sided warbler, blue-winged warbler, black-and-white warbler, golden-winged warbler, veery, great-crested flycatcher, ruffed grouse, hermit thrush, spotted sandpiper, bobolink, eastern kingbird, eastern wood-pewee, red-eyed vireo, northern waterthrush, red-breasted nuthatch, scarlet tanager, black-throated green warbler, broad-winged hawk, great egret, northern harrier, snowy egret, great-horned owl, Acadian flycatcher, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, yellow-billed cuckoo.

May your new bird year be big.