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Utah [revisited] December 5, 2017

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Lately, living in the U.S. has meant every day’s news chipping away at one’s spirit. I’ve been to neither Bears Ear nor Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monuments. Bears Ear is about a 3-hour drive south of where my friends live, and we made it only as far south as Canyonlands. When I finally wrote about our trip, I didn’t focus on the parks I’d visited. But I included a few good photos.

Utah June 26, 2014

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It’s been more than a month since we’ve returned from our Utah vacation. I still miss my friends and the landscape.

I could talk about our brief overnight in Salt Lake City before hitting the road to Moab and Castle Valley (especially hanging with that Aussie in the bar). I could tell you about the two vastly different dinner events our friends took us to: the secret café fundraiser dinner at an activist’s unassuming fenced-in backyard and the LDS church neighborhood potluck.

secret cafe

I could tell you about the amazing hikes I took in Arches, Canyonlands, and (I’m not kidding, it’s still called) Negro Bill Canyon. But maybe I’ll tell you about the hours I spent by myself near the end of the week. Well, almost by myself.

Tim and Bill had gotten up predawn to head out to photograph some mountains. Susan was having people over to the house for a meeting. I needed some exercise, and there was gorgeousness all around me. So Susan drew me a map.

It was a great map.

I started out from their house

house

and headed this way:

view from house 2

Susan was sending me on a walk that could take me to the base of Castle Rock, eventually, although there wasn’t really a trail there. Her map took me from the driveway, to a right on Shafer Lane. I crossed Castle Valley Drive (paved), then continued along Shafer.

Before I got to the more potentially complicated parts of the walk, a yellow dog joined me.

By joining me, I mean she walked with me, but much farther ahead. Occasionally she’d look back to see where I was.

I got to the dry creek (drawn on the map!). I think it was there I decided I had to pee. The dog came back to watch me, from a distance.

I squeezed through the pedestrian passage by the gate (drawn on the map!), the end of the public road. Private property, but permission for walkers and bikers. I got to the fire station (map!) and the gate (map!) that I had to open myself. I did, and I let the dog through with me. She’d been waiting for me there. I closed the gate behind us.

Soon we got to the far paved road, where we crossed into the trailless land. Susan told me to find the dry creek bed and walk up that.

Easy enough.

Walking up the creek bed looked like this:

creek bed early

It was a lovely hike, and this is about as close as I got to Castle Rock:

creek bed 3

The dog was around, but she’d gotten pretty far ahead of me. I was ready to turn back. I called to her. Nothing. I whistled. Nothing.

I began to worry that this was not my dog, and I’d let her through a gate.

I began to reassure myself that this dog, whom I watched squeeze through other fences and find wide openings in barbed wire, could go anywhere she wanted and did.

Still. I’d let her through that gate, and now I wanted to go home, and where was she?

I started heading back. I called a little. I figured she’d turn up. I had to pee again. I found a place to do that.

And then there she was. How predictable.

She passed me, turned around, sat a respectful distance away, and watched.

“Almost done,” I said to her. “You can pee over this if you want.”

And when I got up and walked away, she did just that.

Proud of herself. I let her dominate. It is her territory, after all.

She crossed the road with me, back through the gate. She chased and dug for small mammals:

digging

She was usually way ahead of me and looked like this:

way home

She passed wherever it was that she joined me and stayed with me all the way home. The last stretch looked like this:

last stretch

We got to the cool shade of the front porch. Susan’s meeting was still going on. Tim and Bill were back. Tim was napping. I went inside to get a bowl of water for the panting dog.

“There’s a dog that’s been with me all day,” I told Bill. “I gotta give her some water. You don’t mind, do you? I doubt she’ll stay.”

“You mean Ginger?” said Bill.

Everyone knows Ginger. She gets around.

We sat on the porch together for a spell. Shady. I planked, nose to nose with her. When I did, I noticed the staples above her left front paw, the slightly shaved patch. Didn’t seem to be hurting her any.

She rested a bit.

ginger

She stayed long enough to be polite. And then she took off.

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No Kidding in NZ December 4, 2017

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My dear friendI’venevermet Mali agreed to be interviewed on video for this article about women without children. Because I’m childfree by choice (and don’t tend to use the word childless), I used to make the mistake of assuming anyone else without children was like me. It only took a couple of embarrassing mistakes to learn to never assume anything. One thing I love about reading Mali (see No Kidding here) over the years is to learn about the pain that never fully goes away but, for her, has meant all sorts of other fantastic opportunities in her life that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Mali embraces a life I truly envy, and it’s her [what seems to be natural] ability to joyfully embrace it that I may envy most. I love that I get to watch and hear her here, and I’m proud/in awe of the work she’s done over the years. “The article is about the stigma society still places on women without children, and indicative of this is the fact that I was the only childless woman (rather than an academic or counsellor) who agreed not to be anonymous, and to be photographed for the article,” she blogged. She also noted that “In the interview, I stressed too that the isolation women without children might feel makes us much more aware of the many other people in society who might feel alone at this time of year, but it didn’t make the edit. So I want to mention it here, to remind us all to try and include, and be thoughtful around, those who might be feeling alone or left out or just plain sad this year. Being Merry isn’t compulsory, but being kind definitely should be.” Cheers to that.

Backlimericks 2 December 3, 2017

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Here’s one written for Fat Red Ant (of 365 fame), which I must have quickly scrawled on her birthday and posted to her Facebook page—and then had a very hard time finding a copy. She and I have a tradition of turning a birthday cartwheel.

She’s visual, verbal, and smart:
shoots photos, makes jewelry, games, art.
On every birthday
she finds ways to play
and turns like the wheel on a cart.

Backlimericks 1 December 2, 2017

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A friend turned fifty nearly three years ago, and I wrote him a half dozen limericks to mark the occasion. I posted the best two here and here. We’re dining out with him (and his her) tonight. Here’s another one.

Connoisseur of the urban nightlife
navigating both high and low life,
he’ll gladly opine
on great places to dine,
plus he’s tapping that smokin’ hot wife.

Strike December 1, 2017

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Tim and I hosted seven of his relatives for Thanksgiving. I think between shopping and cooking and cleaning up, I was on my feet for almost ten days. We don’t own a dishwasher, so you can imagine. I decided to go on a two-week cooking strike, beginning last Sunday night, meaning that if I am in the kitchen, I can only heat/reheat things. My schedule has cooperated in that Monday morning we left for Portland and Wednesday we returned, which meant all those meals were prepared by someone else. Wednesday night I threw frozen potstickers in a wok with leftover shiitakes and frozen spinach. (Heating frozen stuff doesn’t count.) Yesterday I thawed/reheated soup for lunch and went to book group last night—someone else cooked. Tonight is Tim’s company’s holiday party. So the strike has been fairly successful, not being at home and all, but the downside is that I’m overeating a lot of rich/caloric stuff. Surely that won’t continue at tonight’s holiday gathering. —Waddling Indigo

A Birthday Limerick for Lynda November 5, 2017

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The gods, with their omniscient powers,
dropped you in the house next to ours.
We’re so perfectly neighborly—
and downright enable-y—
as we while away sweet happy hours.

A Birthday Limerick for Helen October 22, 2017

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Procrastinitus Interruptus
was a blog by an artful seductress.
On Helen we crushed.
O’er her writing we gushed.
But sadly, today we get bupkis.

Clearly I am still harboring abandonment issues. Happy birthday, Helen!

Goloptious October 20, 2017

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When I got home from vacation, I quick-had-to-make-some-granola because we were having overnight houseguests. As I was assembling the ingredients, I noticed I was getting a little low on honey (local wildflower honey…mmmmm) and made a mental note to get some. But at the farmer’s market, I decided to wait a little longer until I was a little lower. I’m on a postvacation budget, after all.

The Winnie-the-Pooh song goes through my head:

It’s very, very funny,
’Cos I know I had some honey;
’Cos it had a label on,
Saying HUNNY.
A goloptious full-up pot too,
And I don’t know where it’s got to,
No, I don’t know where it’s gone—
Well, it’s funny.

Several hours upon my return from the farmer’s market, my friends arrived bearing gifts, including some local honey from their town in New Jersey (bearing honey, one might say). The next day, I went to a friend’s small birthday gathering, and she and her husband gave us some of their honey (so local that their bees may have visited my yard). Just five days after that, another friend came over to talk some business with Tim and brought some of his honey (he lives only a couple of miles away).

Now I have a goloptious full-up pot too. Thank you, kind friends.

A Birthday Limerick for Mali October 19, 2017

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Two days ago I startled to realize that certain people have birthdays this week and those certain people had requested, back in December, that limericks be written for said occasions. I had ten months’ warning, and I pretty much forgot about it. It’s hard to say what would have happened if I’d begun work immediately. Without further ado, here is a birthday limerick for Mali, whose birthday is October 20, which it already is in New Zealand.

She’s seventeen hours ahead,
which makes it tomorrow instead.
When Mali, let’s say,
sips Thursday’s chardonnay,
it’s safe to assume I’m in bed.

6BY3: Quarterly Report October 18, 2017

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Our recent vacation was scheduled around both ends of a long weekend: a birding ecostudies trip on Monhegan Island in Maine. We normally don’t splurge on such things, but a former neighbor of mine was one of the leaders, and we couldn’t pass on the combination of birds/time spent with her.

Without those birding experts, we would never have been able to identify the confusing fall warblers in their nonbreeding plumage. Nor would we have been sure of certain sparrows or sparrowlike species. With hired guides, my annual totals go up, without question.

The group as a whole listed 100 birds or so; I listed 73 species for the trip, adding 22 species to my 2017 list (although here I will tell you only about 19, as the last day of the trip was October 1, the first day of the next quarter. I am sure you can’t wait to hear what those last three were.) (And, for the record, one bird on the list was a species I had seen/heard multiple times but somehow had failed to list during the second quarter.)

Highlights for me were seeing gannets (always a highlight for me), watching a snipe feed by a pond, and observing so many raptors. The most fun sighting of the quarter may have been the gray jays we ran into in the Adirondacks in early September. But that’s another story.

Without further ado, here’s the list: common tern, black-throated green warbler, gray jay, red-breasted nuthatch, palm warbler, greater yellowlegs, lesser yellowlegs, northern gannet, black guillemot, laughing gull, peregrine falcon, great cormorant, sharp-shinned hawk, merlin, blue-headed vireo, golden-crowned kinglet, ruby-crowned kinglet, American pipit, clay-colored sparrow, white-throated sparrow, Cape May warbler, blackpoll warbler, dickcissel, Savannah sparrow, Lincoln’s sparrow, rusty blackbird.

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