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6BY2: Quarterly Report July 27, 2017

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Seriously, I couldn’t have posted this July 1? Life has been too ridiculous lately. Second quarter: eastern phoebe, American woodcock, Wilson’s snipe, Carolina wren, belted kingfisher, brown-headed cowbird, osprey, yellow-rumped warbler, pine warbler, tree swallow, chipping sparrow, northern flicker, great egret, Cooper’s hawk, black vulture, yellow warbler, northern rough-winged swallow, eastern towhee, blue-gray gnatcatcher, snowy egret, fish crow, surf scoter, long-tailed duck, common eider, common loon, great black-backed gull, double-crested cormorant, house finch, broad-winged hawk, rose-breasted grosbeak, chimney swift, warbling vireo, barn swallow, brown thrasher, gray catbird, black-and-white warbler, indigo bunting (May 6!), yellow-bellied sapsucker, house wren, common yellowthroat, Baltimore oriole, bobolink, white-crowned sparrow, chestnut-sided warbler, American redstart, blue-winged warbler, ovenbird, northern parula, veery, ruby-throated hummingbird, eastern wood-pewee, American bittern, eastern kingbird, ring-billed gull, spotted sandpiper, red-eyed vireo, cedar waxwing, hermit thrush, green heron, glossy ibis, willet, Nelson’s (sharp-tailed) sparrow, great-crested flycatcher, wood thrush, scarlet tanager.

The most exciting of these for me was the American bittern. Before May 19, I had only seen one once, ever—and suddenly there were two!—and had never heard one in the wild, which I did, at last, the following day.

Year-to-date count: 115. (2012: 102. 2013: 162. 2014: 102. 2015: 120. 2016: 104.)

Yet More 153s July 27, 2017

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I tend to see them in bunches. I saw one immediately after posting the last batch. When I work out, as often as not I glance down at the 1:53 mark. That said, it seems I often glance down at exactly 12:34 too. So here is my latest collection:

  • On March 29, Joe posted about Relay for Life at 1:53pm.
  • On April 3, I got this stat from FitBit, kind of buried in a bigger number, but: 72,215 total steps, 19,153 more than last week.
  • On April 10, reading for work: “For example, in 2010, the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Group (IADPSG) recommended that a universal 75-g, 2-hour OGTT be performed during pregnancy and that the diagnosis of GDM be established when any single threshold value was met or exceeded (fasting value, 92 mg/dL; 1-hour value, 180 mg/dL; or 2-hour value, 153 mg/dL).”
  • On April 24: Does glancing at the clock at 1:53 pm count? (This happens quite a bit too.)
  • On April 25: Adding up my disparate bits of time working on a job during the day, I came up with 1 hour, 153 minutes (which is really 3 hours, 33 minutes, but that’s where the notation started).
  • On April 26, reviewing a manuscript, I find this endnote: “Ed Shenk, Fly Rod Trouting (Stackpole Books: Harrisburg, PA, 1989), 153.”
  • On April 26, as I ended a quick follow-up call with a new, very impressive author, I noticed our conversation lasted 1:53.
  • On April 29, when working on finances, and dividing a total amount of money I need for something by the number of pay periods I have to save for it, I got 153.36/pay period.
  • On April 30, on a search for our public radio station’s coverage of Trump’s first 100 days, the short newscast that came up first on the page (local headlines, it turns out) was 1:53 long.
  • On May 1, working out on elliptical, watching the first episode of a show, I feel that it’s dragging, I wonder when the hell it’s going to be over, I check the remaining episode time on the remote—1:53. (I made it through.)
  • On May 11, during another workout, watching Flight of the Conchords (that’s for you, Mali), I paused it at the end of my workout to mark for next time, with 1:53 left in the scene.
  • On May 15, my reflexologist was telling a story about living in New Jersey—which exit? 153.
  • On May 15, I was watching Santa Clarita Diet and trying to figure out how I knew the actress Grace Zabriskie—wasn’t she on Twin Peaks?—and IMDB lists 153 actress credits for her.
  • On May 19, I printed out an email I’d written to an author for my files, which I apparently sent at 1:53 pm.
  • On May 21, Comcast alerted me that among the channels I am no longer receiving is 153. Not that I have any idea what that was.
  • On July 6, in working on finding references for a recently deceased author, I find A. E. Eaton, “A Revisional Monograph of Recent Ephemeridae or Mayflies,” The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, 2nd Series: Zoology (Part III [vol. 3, no. 3, April 1885, 153–230]).

Two Rivers (by a Guest Blogger) June 28, 2017

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Tim’s father died on June 2. Tim was able to be with him for the last ten days of his life, fully participating in hospice. The memorial service was June 24. This is Tim’s tribute, which he read at the service.

Here’s a little fishing story.

When I was a young boy, about 12 years old, I had a big night. I went fishing with my dad.

The river was low, it was a summer evening—perfect for wet wading in our cutoffs and old sneakers.

We stepped into the water just before sunset and started to fish. This was the first time Dad let me join him wading out into the Susquehanna.

“Always respect the river.” He always told me this. “Every year there is some tragic story of kids drowning because they took the river for granted. Stay alert and aware of what’s around you, and you’ll be fine.”

This was clearly no joke. It wasn’t about how to wade. It was about how to be when I waded.

So out we went. The water came up to Dad’s thighs and occasionally his waist. I was waist deep, then chest deep, staying close, fishing by his side.

We cast into the sunset. The river was alive, not only with fish, but with a strong, steady current that threatened to knock me off my feet. I tried putting my back to the current. I tried standing sideways to reduce the drag. It was awkward at first, but with practice I found that if I didn’t fight it, if I leaned into it, it supported me, even lifted me a little. The water was cool. I felt at home.

Two hours later it was dark. There were exciting and mysterious splashes up ahead. I wanted to reach them. Fishing is like that. There is a constant striving to cast a little farther, reach some pocket of water beyond your reach. So we cast, waded a little farther, and cast—looking for some connection with what we couldn’t see. I always think of Dad with that confidence that I lack, leaning hard into the current, fearlessly reaching out in any new situation, into the mystery ahead.

By this time we had discovered the ledges. They were easy to feel with your feet, even when you couldn’t see them. One step at a time. “Don’t move your left foot until your right foot is secure.” By sticking to the tops of the ledge, seeking the high ground, we found ourselves a quarter mile out. We didn’t talk much, and as Dad’s confidence in me grew, we found different forks of the ledge to wade on, but always within earshot.

I knew that he was worried about me, but at the same time he was a little bit proud. He wanted to take care of me, but he knew that I had some things to learn. So he gave me a little distance and simply checked in whenever he hooked a fish or heard me splashing around.

***

Three weeks ago, I had another big night. I went fishing with my dad.

I had the privilege to wade into the second river.

We were in Dad and Barb’s home. Just five days ago, Amy rode with him in the ambulance from the hospital. He was home.

I had just taken the hard lesson of learning about palliative care.

By some miracle, I was with him for his last ten days. Four of those were in the hospital and the last six in his home. Communication was hard in the hospital, but he had made it crystal clear that he wanted to leave. He wanted to go home.

We took turns at his side, helping in any way we could.

I learned a lot from my sister and brothers about how to help him. Changing sheets with him on the bed—thanks, Dave! Swabbing his mouth—thanks, Amy! Tom had a particularly challenging night before I arrived, and I was astounded by his courage and strength. With all this help, I gave it my best.

For a few nights I had the overnight shift with my nephew, Austin. He was an angel, at my dad’s side every night. Barb was there with me always, in a chair at his side.

In the early morning hours, everyone dozed off but me and Dad.

***

And there we were: back in the river, sticking to the top of the ledge.

His breathing frightened me, but he was leaning strong into the current, casting out to connect to the unseen. He would raise an arm, setting the hook, then he laid it back at his side. The water was cool; it was alive. We felt at home.

He wanted to take care of me, but he knew that I had something to learn.

Now, in Numbers May 30, 2017

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29: Days since I’ve posted anything here.

131: Days since the administration change and beginning of darkness that has fallen o’er the earth.

140: Number of pages to go in Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, a book that is freaking me the #*¢¡ out.

6: Days since Tim left quickly for Pennsylvania to be part of the vigil of his father’s dying.

6: Days during which I’ve been unsure whether I should be here or there.

106: Number of bird species I’ve allowed myself to list this calendar year.

0: Number I’ve added since Tim left (I’ve mostly stayed indoors).

1013: Number of things I’ve discarded in my quest to get rid of 2017 things in 2017. Hundreds of these came from three drawers in my home office.

14: Number of items I have on my running list of 153s, not yet posted.

5: Cookies I ate at work today—four tiny homemade-by-coworker sugar cookies and a Tokyo banana cookie from a just-returned-from-vacation coworker.

3: Number of dogs at the office today.

5: Number of dogs that are sometimes at the office.

6: Seriously, I think there was a day when there were this many dogs in that small office.

0: My tolerance for dog skirmishes (followed by their people skirmishes) while I am trying to work.

20: Approximate number of feet between me and Cake at their concert Saturday night for a few songs. I love Cake.

100 Days May 1, 2017

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Hard to believe that the official horror of the current administration has been only 100 days long (now 102). Its existence has certainly cast a pall over just about everything, including things that are difficult all on their own.

Yet, on that hundredth day, the rose-breasted grosbeaks returned. At dusk, a woodcock let us listen in on his courtship flight. Then, under an intensely clear and star-filled sky, a shooting star appeared, remaining visible long enough for me to see it, recognize it, and point it out to friends, who turned to watch it too.

6BY1: Quarterly Report April 3, 2017

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Mali is OK with me posting lists, and it’s time for the first quarterly species report anyway.

Some of the more exciting sightings: Following (in my car) a bald eagle upriver to see it land on a tree branch by the bridge. Watching a barred owl fly off with a mouse. Spotting a beautiful rough-legged hawk. Viewing water birds, of course, when we trekked out to find them (remember the buffleheads?—and the other day, in search of a trumpeter swan we couldn’t locate, northern pintail and green-winged teal). And locating a brown creeper, because I hardly ever see them.

So far: downy woodpecker, common raven, black-capped chickadee, American goldfinch, white-breasted nuthatch, American crow, mallard, tufted titmouse, American tree sparrow, dark-eyed junco, European starling, house sparrow, mourning dove, blue jay, red-bellied woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, rock dove, red-tailed hawk, eastern bluebird, purple finch, wild turkey, bald eagle, northern cardinal, Canada goose, barred owl, rough-legged hawk, snow bunting, American robin, bufflehead, horned grebe, common merganser, herring gull, northern harrier, horned lark, brown creeper, pileated woodpecker, American kestrel, red-winged blackbird, killdeer, wood duck, turkey vulture, common grackle, eastern meadowlark, northern mockingbird, mute swan, song sparrow, northern pintail, green-winged teal, American black duck, great blue heron.

Year-to-date count: 50. (2012: 40. 2013: 53. 2014: 40. 2015: 43. 2016: 56.)

More 153s March 29, 2017

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I am too overwhelmed by life generally to write. So you’re getting more lists. Today it’s more 153s. I waited til I got to ten more.

  • On January 22, at the end of my workout, I stopped the Corner Gas DVD I was watching and marked my place on it. It was 1:53:53.
  • On February 13, for work, had to look up the USS R. M. Blatchford, which turned out to be the USS General R. M. Blatchford (AP-153).
  • On February 17, while reading the school board report, I saw a mention of Act 153.
  • On March 6, in the town report, same.
  • On March 7, my friends who run a creamery posted a video on Facebook, and when I saw it, its counter read “153 views.”
  • On March 8, I received tickets to a June concert with the return address 153 Main Street.
  • On March 13, while cleaning out my e-mail in-box after a trip, I looked up and saw the status as 153 messages, 39 unread.
  • On March 18, the Mavis Staples CD I got for my birthday got stuck/began skipping on the last track in the CD player, at 1:53. (It played fine on the Bose.)
  • On March 26, an early-morning glance at my Fitbit read 153 steps.
  • On March 29 (today), on a work-related Google search, this came up: Geriatrics for Specialists—Page 153—Google Books Result.

Also today, but barely worth mentioning, is that when I worked out on my NordicTrack, I happened to glance at time elapsed right at 1:53 (that’s not quite two minutes, folks, and I was already glancing). And just now, when I went to set a timer to go off at 3:00 (an old-fashioned electronic one, not my phone), I put in 1:07, because the time was 1:53.

My life is riveting.

Circulation March 15, 2017

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How can I read what I want to read without purchasing another book that will take up space in my house but still hold a physical book in my hands?

A year ago, my book group read the first in Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels (a series of four). I really wanted to read the whole series, but I didn’t want to purchase the whole series. I solved this problem by purchasing them all for my sister for Christmas, thinking she would like them (she did) and thinking she could loan them back to me (she has). I thought I would just skim the first novel to remind myself what was in it, but I ended up being sucked in, and I read it again, which is good when one wants to read a series straight through.

Meanwhile, my book group has decided on a couple of tempting titles, which is annoying because I want to read the Neopolitan series uninterrupted.

The first of these, which I must finish by tomorrow, is Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Of course, I used to have a copy, and I got rid of it during my first successful fiction purge. I did not want to purchase the book, so I went to the library. The library! Imagine!

Amazingly—given that the book group is local and the library is tiny—I found a copy. It’s a fabulous old hardback that physically reminds me of my childhood reading. There is a due-date card pasted in the back with the author/title typed onto it and due dates recorded in rubber stamp.

What surprises me the most is that it looks like this book has been checked out only a dozen times since it was put on the shelf in 1979: twice in 1979, and once each in 1981, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2013, me now. See?:

There is something nostalgic about reading this rubber-stamped list on a due-date card. These dates represent my last year of high school, some college time, camp counseling, celebrating a first anniversary, living in DC. Between the two November 5 dates, I moved to Vermont. By the next November checkout, I’d moved into this house. I’d turned forty by the first May date and fifty by the second. It’s been almost four years since someone took this book home, but once it sat unread for a decade.

It turns out that maybe, despite having an old paperback copy on my own shelf for years, I’d never read The Bell Jar. I don’t remember it. It’s fantastic.

277/2017 March 8, 2017

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I haven’t forgotten about getting rid of 2017 things in 2017. But I’m not making a lot of progress. In fact, too many new things have come into my house since the first of the year.

Getting rid of 2017 items means disposing of an average of 5.5 items per day. Today is the sixty-seventh day of the year, which means if I were on schedule, I would have gotten rid of 368.5 items.

I count 277, which puts me nearly 100 behind. Today.

Things I am not counting: regular in-and-out trash and recycling related to food items and mail, with two exceptions: catalogs and magazines. I put these in my get-rid-of count because they fall into the category of hesitation and saving—I set them aside, sometimes for months, and then I do a major purge. The most recent purge counts for about half of the total, so it’s obvious that I am not spending enough time on this.

So far I’ve gotten ridden of things by:

  • throwing them out
  • recycling them
  • passing them along to friends
  • taking them to a consignment shop
  • donating them to the thrift store

The consignment shop things, if they don’t sell, could find their way back.

So much stuff. So much someone-can-use-this-can’t-they stuff.

A February Post February 25, 2017

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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.