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6BY4: An Aside December 31, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

For Christmas, my stepfather-in-law, with whom I keep the annual bird lists, sent me a book about a guy who broke the big-year record a few years ago. I had sent him this book last Christmas, and now that he’s read it, it’s my turn. “Please ignore the coffee stain on the cover,” he wrote.

To do a big year, one needs time and money. The book’s author had just quit his job, and clearly, he has money. At least it would appear so in the first couple of chapters, as he flies cross-country twice before March. At February’s end, he has a species count of 294, and he hasn’t yet decided to do a big year. (His final count was 749.)

The number 294 hits me especially hard because unless I venture out into the subzero wind-chill temperatures during the next fourteen hours or something amazing shows up at my feeder, my count for this year will remain exactly half that: 147. For the whole year.

Which shows, in part, that I’m not a serious birder, no matter how people around me perceive it. I sometimes wish I was more serious, but: time and money. Even my best year—the year we hired a guide in southeastern Arizona, where the author begins his journey in January—my count was just 173.*

And that’s OK. Still, I wish I had time, and I wish I had money, and I can guarantee you that with both, I would do a lot more destination birding.


*Will I ever break 200? It would take some planning, a lot more discipline, and a reordering of priorities.

2037/2017 December 30, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I made it. I got rid of 2017 things in 2017.

If I hadn’t made it, I was going to cheat by just shredding/recycling some scrap paper (as I have a pile four or five reams high that I use for manuscript drafts, running the unused side through the printer). But, as we’ve discussed, that would have been most unsatisfying. Still, I would have done it.

But I didn’t have to, because I gave my Buffy/Angel comic book collection to the 13-year-old across the street. And I gave an old toy to the young kids down the street. And a neighbor took some other items either for the family or the food cupboard. There was a bag of mixed hardware (screws, etc.) that finally pushed me over 2017, there being enough in that bag to call it 2037. So we can call it an even 2017 if you’d like.

And I printed out a 2018-in-2018 chart. Let the games begin.


Ooops. Scrawled one word too quickly. The editor is embarrassed.

Writing Advice December 24, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

When attempting haikus, it’s good to get John Blackburn’s verses and Karl Suessdorf’s tune to “Moonlight in Vermont” stuck in your head.

Pennies in a stream
Falling leaves, a sycamore
Moonlight in Vermont

Icy finger waves
Ski trails on a mountain side
Snowlight in Vermont

[Telegraph cables, they sing down the highway
And travel each bend in the road
People who meet in this romantic setting
Are so hypnotized by the lovely]

Evening summer breeze
Warbling of a meadowlark
Moonlight in Vermont

[You and I and moonlight in Vermont]

Backlimericks 6 December 23, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I think this is the last of the limericks I wrote for my friend’s fiftieth. It’s arguably the weakest of the bunch. I wrote it because birthday cards with ageist jokes annoy me.

[obligatory ageist birthday limerick]

Blah blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah old.
Blah blah-blah-blah blah, so we’re told.
Blah blah-blah-blah icky.
Blah blah-blah-blah sticky.
Blah blah-blah-blah blah-blah-blah cold.

Dashing through No Snow December 22, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

We were supposed to be in Portland Tuesday through Saturday. I was excited to be in town over a Thursday so that I could go to a contra dance. But as the weather reports came in, Tim and I texted from our respective workplaces over the wisdom of staying in town—whether leaving Friday morning (today) would be too late to avoid driving through a storm. So we made a dash for it. We had a quick early dinner at a Japanese-food-truck-turned-cozy-corner spot (where we wouldn’t feel deprived by not drinking but could still have amazing food) and checked out of the hotel around 6:15 pm to face a 4.5-or-so-hours drive home.

The skies were clear. The roads were dry. The crescent moon was setting. Dashing through no snow. Hard to believe it was on its way.

I was in bed by 11:30, I think. When I got up in the wee hours (to wee, of course), the snow had begun, heavy flakes visible by the streetlight.

Today we took our first x-country ski on the rail trail.

Tonight we are hunkering down.

Even More 153s December 21, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Truth be told, I’ve seen a lot of 153s that I haven’t bothered to note. Because they are everywhere. But here are some.

  • In August, when planning my Maine vacation itinerary, the fastest route between Portland and Port Clyde was reported to be 1:53.
  • On August 21, I stopped working at 1:53 to join friends to view the eclipse.
  • On August 25, I discovered that the battery in the clock in my workout room had died. I replaced it at 1:53 and set clock to same.
  • On September 15, I tried to balance my checkbook, but found I was $153.39 off on my first attempt.
  • On September 22, at 2:03, I looked up the weather report and saw this: W—P—, VT 10 Day Weather as of 1:53 pm EDT.

Then I ignored a bunch, but

  • On October 22, the icon on my phone screen for emails noted a count 153 (I never check email on my phone).

Again, I ignored 153s around me. But

  • On November 11, in the parking lot at the doctor’s office, I looked up and had parked behind a 153 license plate (see photo, below). The very next day Tim and I were grocery shopping and I saw another one!

More ignoring.

  • On December 19, when we set up the GPS to stop at the Maine Mall before we headed into Portland proper, it told us we would arrive at our destination at 1:53. And
  • Yesterday I was informed in an email that “Children’s Disaster Services sent 153 dedicated volunteers to 13 locations affected by disaster or trauma and cared for more than 2,328 children.”

Which prompted this riveting update.

Jewelry Cleaning Recipe December 20, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I’m about a 4.5-hour drive away from Route 153. Last night I grabbed a pair of earrings I’d packed to wear and noticed that they need a cleaning. A few years ago I found a really good recipe for this task. I’m always afraid I’ll lose it (even though it’s printed out at home), so I figure I’ll put it here for backup/safekeeping/your information. Turns out it’s all over the Internet, even on Epicurious.

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon dish detergent
1 cup water
1 piece aluminum foil

Heat water in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil that roughly covers the bottom of a small bowl (like a cereal bowl).

Pour hot water into bowl. Place salt, soda, and dishwashing liquid into bowl. Place jewelry on top of foil and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse jewelry in cool water and dry jewelry completely with soft cloth. Discard solution after use and make a new batch next time.

1772/2017 December 19, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I took some things to a friend’s consignment store, and he took more than I thought he would, but not as much as I’d’ve liked, but one of the things was a bag full of 40 things, 40 of the same things, so between that, and giving some stuff away, and wrapping some presents in some unorthodox things, I’ve added 67 more things to the thing count since the last report, but I’m leaving town and will not be able to dispose of other things this week, so at 245 things to go, I’m still in trouble.

Cold, Dark December 18, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Last night, Tim and I were splitting a beer before dinner. The lava lamp was going, Don Braden was blaring on the CD player, the laundry was in the dryer.

And suddenly it went dark. I mean really dark. It was probably around 5:15 pm, which means it had been really dark for nearly an hour.

But we live in the boonies, and when the very few streetlights go out and all your neighbors lights go out and there is no moonlight out there, it is DARK.

So we took a couple of minutes to adjust. Tim’s phone was nearby and he found the flashlight function so we could find other flashlights and get the candles going.

In a few minutes I got a text from the power company estimating that we’d get power back at 8:08 pm. (It is always some seemingly random time.)

Meanwhile, our plan to reheat/make a dent in the massive amount of leftovers in the fridge came to a complete halt.

When we lose power, we lose everything. (Maybe someday we’ll get a generator, but we’re not there yet.) We don’t have a working fireplace. There is no heat. There is no water. There is no stove, because safety features override our ability to light the burners.

I had so much to do that I put on a headlamp, wrapped a present to mail, and balanced the checkbook. Really. I could not accept downtime.

Eventually I sat and read on the couch, which was delightful, except for the getting-colder-and-colder part.

At exactly 8:00 pm, the power came back on. We rushed to microwave lasagna and quickly restore our diminishing fat.

Insteadoftree December 17, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I’ve been a little sad that our schedules have been both too busy and unpredictable to get a Christmas tree this year. It’s been three years since the last. What I miss most is my ornaments. And the white lights.

Sometimes we put up garlands in lieu of the tree. We did that last year. Then I can hang a few select ornaments (like Helen’s pickle).

We are off to Portland later this week, so I have given up hope for this year. Last week Tim brought a poinsettia back from a music gig. Then last night two neighbor gals, Edith (8) and Evelyn (5), brought Tim homemade birthday cards and homemade ornaments. I promptly hung the ornaments on the poinsettia insteadoftree. Aren’t they fabulous?

Edie and Evie’s ornaments!