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100 Days May 1, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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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.

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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.

Running into Blog Friends January 26, 2017

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Yesterday I mentioned at last meeting Alesia near the steps of the capitol during the Women’s March on Montpelier. In person!

Another cyberfriend I hope to meet someday, one I met online through the 365 project, I’ve recently run into in hard copy: in Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, which I have at long last read.

Jerry sent me her copy through Sioux, thinking I would like this memoir by a falconer. I sure did.

I often peek ahead to the acknowledgments section, and I did with this book, and there was Scott’s name. Scott is also a falconer.

Via Facebook, I told him I’d seen his name. He wrote back that he didn’t realize he’d gotten a mention there. “Good ol’ Helen!,” he said. “When you get into the latter half of the book, you’ll get to go hawking with me and spend some time with my friend Erin as well.”

And a couple of nights ago, I did just that.

When I reported back to him, he said, “If you want to see some of what you read about in that portion of the book, there’s a multimedia piece that a couple of my friends put together several years ago that ended up being broadcast on NPR.”

And here it is:

Rethinking Pink January 25, 2017

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It feels terrible to come clean about this, but the whole breast cancer thing with pink? It makes me crazy. I wish they’d chosen any other color. I cannot buy (or bear) all the pink swag. I know it’s a reclamation, but I am not going to buy any pink fly-fishing gear or hop on the girly-color bandwagon.

So when the women’s march idea came up last November, I bristled—not at the thought of pussy hats, but of PINK pussy hats.

Lots of my Vermont friends headed to DC last weekend, including my across-the-street neighbor, Emily, who turned 12 on inauguration day and whose mother, as a present, took her on the two-overnights-on-the-bus-for-all-day-at-the-rally trip that left from here. This is a birthday that girl will NEVER forget. (The women on the bus signed Emily’s copy of book 2 of John Lewis’s March. How cool is that? Really.)

I headed to Montpelier with Rhonda and her son Ben. A lot of my friends had obtained their pussy hats, and I was starting to feel a bit guilty about having no pink. I have two pink ball caps, but neither would really do. I had my beanie from 2010’s Rally to Restore Sanity (my last DC march) as backup. Rhonda had an extra pink beanie and would bring it for my consideration.

It was a nice mixed-pink wool number with a flower. I wore it.

We got into town early enough to find parking and tool around. We had no idea how many people had come in after us until we headed back to the school where the march was about to begin. Cell service was overwhelmed, cut out, and we were unable to meet up with Sarah and Laura, after all our planning.

(When we left town, we discovered an interstate lined with parked cars, cars parked in the median strip, the exits into town closed off. It was astounding.)

Besides being part of a positive and inspiring demonstration, a highlight for me was being spotted by a blog friend, Alesia, whom I’d never met in all these years. (365ers: I can’t remember if she participated in that project, but she certainly was around soon after. She, like Helen, has since retired from the blogosphere.) Rhonda and I were closely watching the parade for Laura and Sarah from an excellent vantage point approaching the statehouse, and Alesia, who knew I would be there, recognized me (me, in a pink hat no less!), and I got to hug a cyberfriend!

But back to the pink. Seeing all the pink in the crowd that day—and more importantly, seeing it all at the march in DC and at all the marches around the world—that sea of pink really was uplifting. For at least one day, I loved it.

Rhonda gave me the lovely hat as a souvenir. (But I still won’t buy any pink fly-fishing gear.)

153s January 18, 2017

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On December 20, I noted that I see the number 153 often. Mali encouraged me to yes, report sightings. They in fact seemed to dry up a bit, but earlier this week I got to five, so here they are:

  • On December 21, a food bank informed me that “Your gift, in any amount, provided the fuel needed to nourish 153,000 people this year.” OK, that’s not exactly 153, but you can see why it counts.
  • On December 26, my Fitbit reported that I’d climbed a total of 153 floors that week (“39 below last week”—yeah, whatever).
  • On January 7, when looking at the Philadelphia map to find the location of my hotel (booked for March), Google maps informed me that I could get in for $153 that night (which is less than I’m going to pay—but I didn’t have time to drive to Philadelphia from Vermont that night and take advantage of that last-minute deal).
  • On January 15, I opened the book I’m reading to the next chapter (16: Rain), which began on page 153.
  • On January 17, I noticed that venue where I’d attended a small concert on Saturday noted (on Facebook) that 153 people had checked in there. That number is higher today.

I know I’m rather aware of 153, but it does seem an odd number to pop up so much.

Puffins January 11, 2017

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For Mali and Helen

In comments to my Quarterly Report and Summation, Mali and Helen reminded me of puffins and a 365 entry from ten years ago about a day almost twenty years ago, which was one of the best days of my whole life.

265/365 Rita of the Shetland Islands

directed us to that northernmost point: drive, park, a 90-minute hike. There we might see the puffin colony, but it was probably too late. It wasn’t. They frolicked within feet of us. Back at the car we devoured the tea she’d lovingly, knowingly packed.

Here are a few of the many photos from that day (31 July 1997).

puffin1

puffin2

puffin3

puffin4