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Late. January 31, 2019

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Gets harder in the winter, gotta be a fake or shiver.
It takes a great deal out of me.
. . . I wanna go out but I wanna stay home.
—Courtney Barnett, “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party”

I spend a lot of time alone. I like being alone, until I want to not be alone—that moment when the content feeling of solitude shifts to an anxious one of isolation.

Especially in winter, when I suddenly I realize I haven’t seen my neighbors, as we’re all hunkered down, hiding from the cold and the dark. Hibernating. I realize I haven’t gone out and done anything. I want to. But I don’t want to.

We need to prod one another. Sometimes we do. It’s good.

But it’s hard to feel inspired. It’s hard to stay in and start projects. It’s hard to go out and see friends.

I am not overly busy with friends, but I am not getting anything accomplished beyond maintenance. I am watching dark comedy on Netflix. I am in bed early, reading. I am getting nothing done.

The days are getting longer, but they are still short, and so cold.

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Oh. January 31, 2019

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I think I’ve been drinking too much. Far from having a dry January—people do this, and it sounds like an interesting exercise—I have been having a very wet one.

I love having happy hour when Tim gets home. But once I get a little happy, I want to get more happy.

January is tough, and this one has been, in part because we discovered early in the month that Tim needed to have two wisdom teeth out, and he couldn’t get an appointment to have it done until the 29th, so for three weeks or so he had to live with what was going on. He took antibiotics, it got better, but it couldn’t have been fun. Getting calories was an adventure. Less than 48 hours ago—and driving 47 miles each way in a snowstorm—he got the two teeth extracted. He seems to be doing very well.

One of the ways he was self-medicating, besides the massive ibuprofen, was good old-fashioned alcohol. Turns out that because he’s not taking the real painkillers postsurgery, alcohol is not contraindicated during his recovery. So it was back to happy hour again last night.

In the January isolation, I am like a happy puppy when Tim gets home, ready for jazz in Martini Lounge and a Vesper with a twist.

Ice. January 31, 2019

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Winter can be isolating. Some isolation is choice. Some is not. Sometimes one may find oneself choosing isolation and not choosing it at the same time.

The January weather has been challenging. Deep cold. A weekend snowstorm dumping fabulous, x-country-skiable snow, but the temperatures so low and the wind chill so high that venturing out was impossible for me. This was immediately followed by a 50-degree warming that brought lots of rain, which of course produced flooding here and there. Lots of water falling on 18 inches of snow and ice. Good times.

Often I refuse to leave the house.

But yesterday, after about 5 inches of snow the night before, after I went out to shovel enough to get cars out, I saw that I had a window to ski. The sun was out and would be for a few more hours. The temperature was in the teens. There was no wind to speak of.

So out I went, onto the rail trail and into the fluffy stuff. There was just enough snow cover on the icy base. I was the first and the only one out there.

Sunshine. Exercise. I hope it happens again.

Still More 153s January 31, 2019

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Because 153s.

  • On December 3, on the VPR website: “According to the Agency of Education website, 63 percent of the state’s K-12 students will live in a new union school district created by Act 46 and by Acts 153 and 156—two previously adopted school district consolidation laws—by July 2019.”
  • On December 14, I got some cash for the weekend, added it to what was in my wallet, counted it all: $153.
  • On January 3, in Portland, I logged into a work project, logged out, and time spent was 1 hour, 53 minutes. Amazingly, it happened again the next day.
  • On January 5, at the rest stop on the way home from Portland, tax on our food totaled $1.53 (see photo).
  • Yesterday, because I had insomnia the night before, I checked my Fitbit to see how the app tracked my sleep. Of the 7 hours, 15 minutes I was “sleeping,” I allegedly spent 1 hour, 53 minutes of that awake (see screen shot). I can guarantee you that at best, I was asleep only 1 hour, 53 minutes. If that.

Tax.

“Awake.”

7BY4: Quarterly Report and Summation January 3, 2019

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A winter wren in Central Park. Red-breasted nuthatches, finally, at my feeder. Canada (used to be gray) jays in the Adirondacks, as well as some evening grosbeaks (gasp!) at a feeder right across from a random parking spot in Keene Valley. Pine siskins at my feeder and rusty blackbirds on the rail trail. A great black hawk in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park, a rarity from South/Central America, who was devouring a squirrel when we saw him/her. Snow buntings in eastern Vermont. On December 30, from our front porch, we heard a great-horned owl in the tree next to us.

These were my last nine species of 2018, bringing my count to exactly the same as last year’s: 147.

Here is the year’s full list: dark-eyed junco, hairy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker, American goldfinch, red-bellied woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, house finch, Carolina wren, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, American crow, European starling, rock pigeon, mourning dove, northern cardinal, purple finch, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, Canada goose, turkey vulture, herring gull, wild turkey, pileated woodpecker, eastern bluebird, snowy owl, mallard, American robin, northern harrier, short-eared owl, red-breasted merganser, common loon, surf scoter, house sparrow, common eider, northern mockingbird, common goldeneye, bufflehead, great black-backed gull, merlin, song sparrow, red-winged blackbird, cedar waxwing, fish crow, bald eagle, common grackle, greater scaup, lesser scaup, common merganser, American wigeon, ring-billed gull, hooded merganser, snow goose, American kestrel, brown creeper, black vulture, great blue heron, northern shoveler, belted kingfisher, wood duck, golden-crowned kinglet, white-throated sparrow, long-tailed duck, osprey, killdeer, northern flicker, great-crested cormorant, eastern phoebe, ruby-crowned kinglet, Savannah sparrow, tree swallow, brown-headed cowbird, yellow-bellied sapsucker, eastern towhee, Wilson’s snipe, American woodcock, chipping sparrow, broad-winged hawk, yellow warbler, field sparrow, bobolink, eastern meadowlark, yellow-rumped warbler, common raven, chimney swift, rose-breasted grosbeak, house wren, common yellowthroat, northern parula, blue-gray gnatcatcher, worm-eating warbler, barn swallow, gray catbird, hermit thrush, ovenbird, great-crested flycatcher, green heron, solitary sandpiper, wood thrush, indigo bunting, northern rough-winged swallow, black-and-white warbler, Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager, red-shouldered hawk, red-eyed vireo, Acadian flycatcher, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, prairie warbler, Cooper’s hawk, Carolina chickadee, bay-breasted warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, yellow-bellied flycatcher, warbling vireo, American redstart, eastern kingbird, eastern wood pewee, ruffed grouse, eastern whip-poor-will, snowy egret, great egret, glossy ibis, willet, lesser yellowlegs, cliff swallow, black-throated green warbler, ruby-throated hummingbird, barred owl, blue-headed vireo, peregrine falcon, mute swan, black-crowned night heron, least tern, common tern, common nighthawk, American bittern, winter wren, red-breasted nuthatch, Canada jay, evening grosbeak, pine siskin, rusty blackbird, great black hawk, snow bunting, great-horned owl.

(147 species. 2017: 147. 2016: 118. 2015: 125. 2014: 118. 2013: 173. 2012: 115.)

In Hiding January 2, 2019

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It as if the birds know it is January 1. The annual species count rolls back to zero. Black-capped chickadees refuse to show themselves at the feeder, as do goldfinches and two species of daily visiting woodpecker. At least, they don’t show up before you’re on the road again, trying to bird from the fast-moving car in backlit conditions, thinking “some sort of hawk” or “some sort of gull” or “were those turkeys?” Can’t list a maybe. Even early on the 2nd at the bakery next door, the permanent-fixture-please-feed-me-those-flaky-crumbs house sparrows are nowhere to be seen.

91 (Disappearances) December 31, 2018

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On December 31, I hope it is safe to say that I will not be spending any more nights away from home this year, but without question, this is the year I have spent more nights away than ever. I wish I could say that it’s because I am a world traveler or because I have a high-powered, well-paying job that requires such things, but neither of these is true.

The bulk of my time away has to do with the nightmare of aging parents. (It is followed by accompanying Tim to Portland when I can. I work during the days, eat well at night, and it keeps us from spending too much time apart.)

In 2018, I spent 91 nights away from my own bed. A quarter of the year.

January: I went to my parents’ home (my hometown) in Maryland to see for myself what the hell was happening there. Three nights in Maryland proper, staying with high-school-BFF Sue at her mother’s house. Sue lives conveniently halfway between Route 153 and the town where we grew up. I broke up the trip by staying the night at her house on both ends. At the very end of the month, I went with Tim to Portland, a trip that straddled the month change. So, two nights New Jersey, three nights Maryland, three nights Maine (month total: 8).

February: Finished out that Portland trip. Headed back to Maryland with my sister to begin the long slog of horrificness. Stayed at a beautiful writer’s retreat through airbnb. Sue let us break up the drive again. Two nights Maine, two nights New Jersey, five nights Maryland (month total: 9).

March: Trip to Maryland with Tim to get parents settled in a new situation. Broke up drive on way down by staying at his mother’s in Pennsylvania. At the end of the month, made a wonderfully selfish trip to Kim’s (also in Pennsylvania) to attend a kd Lang concert at the Beacon. Three nights Pennsylvania, four nights Maryland (month total: 7).

April: Another trip to Portland with Tim. Dad worsened, so immediate trip to Maryland, during which he died. On the last day of the month, drove to a resort in Vermont where Tim was working to see it and him. Five nights Maine, seven nights Maryland, one night Vermont (month total: 13).

May: A previously planned trip to Maryland for two weddings, which ended up including my father’s memorial. The two-weddings-and-a-funeral trip. Did a work thing in NYC on the front end and Sue let us stay with her. Stayed at my sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s house to visit them and attend Emily and Will’s wedding. Drove up to Pennsylvania for a one-night to visit Tim’s mom and her husband. Drove back to an airbnb to be home for dad’s memorial service, but had to move to a hotel for the night of Angela and Joe’s wedding. Later in the month, went to Portland with Tim. One night New Jersey, eight nights Maryland, one night Pennsylvania, three nights Maine (month total: 13).

June: My sister-in-law flew to Vermont for a Decemberists concert; we met her and spent the night. My sister and I headed back to a Maryland airbnb via Sue’s for a frustrating trip trying to work with my mother. We then headed to West Virginia for a night at her best-friend-from-elementary-school’s place. One night Vermont, one night New Jersey, five nights Maryland, one night West Virginia (month total: 8).

July: Broke up the drive home from West Virginia at Sue’s. Went to Rhode Island to see the shore from my cousin’s house, attend a concert at the early music festival, and find the cemetery where my mother expects to be buried. Went to Portland (where I got to go to a Courtney Barnett concert!). One night New Jersey, three nights Rhode Island, four nights Maine (month total: 8).

August: You won’t believe this, but I took a pleasure trip. Sue, Jim, Tim, and I went to Bloomington, Indiana, to see Hoagy’s musical about his father. We stayed with my friend Esther. This may not sound like a destination vacation, but it was the second time I’d spent time there, and it was great. And it had nothing to do with my parents or about anything other than having fun. Four nights in Indiana (month total: 4).

September: I spent a night in New York City for a work event. I went to a lodge in the Adirondacks with a bunch of guys Tim works with so that I could go fishing and be in the Adirondacks. Three nights in New York (month total: 3).

October: Tim and I went to New York City to attend a play that Sue was producing at the fringe festival. We met newlyweds Joe and Angela there for dinner that night. My sister and I flew to Maryland to check in on the situation. On Halloween, I abandoned my candy post to join Tim at his photo shoot at White Pine Camp on Osgood Pond, because it was the pond I had spent twenty-two summers on before the lodge we went to was sold. Three nights New York, two nights Maryland (month total: 5).

November: I spent one more night at White Pine Camp. I went to Portland twice with Tim: once for four nights, once for three. One night New York, seven nights Maine (month total: 8).

December: Tim and I visited my mother in Maryland (staying at a hotel, of course). We went to his mother’s for Christmas eve and day. Upon arrival home, I did a quick turnaround and drove to friend Susan’s (in Vermont), traveling with her and her friend to Hartford, Connecticut, to see Hamilton and almost running out of gas around midnight on the way back to Susan’s after the show. Two nights Maryland, two nights Pennsylvania, one night Vermont (month total: 5).

I’m exhausted just reading this and don’t expect you to have made it this far. But this explains, in part, where I’ve been all year. Why I’ve been absent from Route 153.

This, and the fact that I was working on a 365 blog for 2018, finished today. Many of you know that, as you were right there with me. And now that it’s over, I’ll be back here.

I hope.

Still with the 153s November 29, 2018

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Because until that 365 project is over, this is all you’re getting. Lists of birds and 153s.

  • I just deleted a forwarded link from my in box from January that I was going to look at later, subject line “153 best Gallery Walls images on Pinterest.”
  • Reading about the film Puzzle, running time was listed as 1h, 53m.
  • When I looked up directions from my place to one in the Adirondacks in September, travel time was listed as 1 hour, 53 minutes.
  • In October, when my favorite Sears guy showed up to service two appliances, I noticed on the receipt that his technician ID number is 1153.
  • On November 1, in looking up have/got/have got, I found these sample sentences: It’s got 153 calories and 45g of carbohydrates. It has 153 calories and 45g of carbohydrates. (more formal)
  • On November 25, the Washington Post sent an e-mail with the headline “Camp Fire—the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history—is 100 percent contained, officials say,” and then went on to give this description in the body of the e-mail: “Cal Fire and local authorities announced Sunday that the fire, which has killed at least 85 people, burned more than 153,000 acres and destroyed nearly 14,000 residences, is under control.”
  • That same day, when looking at a program/charity I give to annually, their home page had a big pie chart on it that showed that 10% of their budget ($153,870) is spent on fundraising (with 85% on programming and 5% on administration).

I’ve seen even more than those, I swear.

7BY3: Quarterly Report October 18, 2018

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I only added eight species in the third quarter, but what a lovely eight they were: blue-headed vireo, peregrine falcon, mute swan, black-crowned night heron, least tern, common tern, common nighthawk, and American bittern. The blue-headed vireo was an unexpected treat in a Vermont state park. The peregrine falcon flew over my house, some sort of prey in tow—I was sitting on my front porch when I saw it. I saw the swan, heron, and terns on our quick trip to Rhode Island. We saw the nighthawk on the Indiana University campus. And at the end of a work-related fishing trip, Tim and I snuck over to our beloved interpretive center in Paul Smiths, New York, and flushed the bittern from its marshy hiding place as we walked by. It’s only the third time I’ve seen a bittern (and I’ve only heard one once).

Year-to-date count at this quarter: 138. (2012: 110. 2013: 173 [which turned out to be that year’s total]. 2014: 116. 2015: 124. 2016: 113. 2017: 141.)

Two Birthday Limericks September 30, 2018

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We had a 100 Years birthday party in Parts West the first of this month, a double 50th for Rhonda and Martha. Of course, I wrote each a limerick. For Rhonda:

Her birthday was spent in Rwanda.
Her visage outshines La Gioconda.
With resolve like RBG’s*
She responds to all Help mes.
The world is much richer with Rhonda.

And for Martha:

When I jones for a dose of her wit,
I glance out my window a bit
and if I can see her,
we might have a be-er
and a call-the-world-on-its-shit porch sit.

 

*Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s