Category Archives: birding

A good day. Mostly.

It’s not quite two p.m. as I type this, but today has been one of the sorts of days that I hope for, but rarely occur.  To me, a “good day” is one in which I get things done in the home, outside, with the kids’ school, and that something pleasant happens for me, too.  It has a nice pace:  Filled, but not frenetic.  I hate busy, deadline-driven days.  I hate days where I feel like I’m doing stuff all the livelong day but nothing gets accomplished.  I hate days in which there is an abundance of strife amongst the children.  Today has been good, full of the things I like, and with little to none of the things I don’t.  So, I thought I’d document it, if for no other reason, than to encourage myself.

  1. Let the day begin!  The day started just as I prefer:  On the back patio, with a cool breeze blowing, coffee mug in hand, reading the Bible.  I have an odd (?) affinity for Old Testament prophets, and was reading from Zechariah.  Then, my four-year-old, Fiala, came outdoors, sleepy-headed, and crawled up into my lap.  It was just right.  What started as a bright and breezy morning has turned into an all-out windy, dusty day, but that’s OK.  It’s keeping the temps down to the high 70s, which is fine with me.
  2. Gardening.  I am out of large and medium pots, now!  In what I semi-affectionately call my “fake garden”, I now have 10 medium or large pots filled with plants and seeds, in addition to my two, 2′ x 4′ planting boxes.  Today, after creating a mix of native “soil” (clay, really), compost (from a bag;  my homemade stuff isn’t ready yet), and vermiculite in a wheelbarrow, I transferred two large heirloom tomato starts into my last two medium pots.  I planted cilantro seed around one and cumin seed around the other.  I also transferred three small tomato starts (not ready to plant outside) into larger containers.  In related news…  I thought that with such a small garden, that there was NO WAY I’d forget what I had planted.  Wrong.  I have three different kinds of squash (I think) plus a few cantaloupe plants and a couple of cucumber plants, and they all look identical.  I have no remembrance about what is planted, exactly, and where.  Around each larger plant, I also planted smaller things like chard, scallions, various herbs, and flowers.  Some things are pretty easy to tell:  Chard, for one.  Scallions, too, are pretty apparent.  But the various herbs and flowers???  I have no idea.  AFTER I had planted cilantro seed around one tomato plant today, I noticed that some seedlings in another pot were getting real leaves.  “That looks like cilantro!” I thought, “Or is it parsley??”  I sampled it.  Cilantro.  From now on, I am making markers for each pot.
  3. I found the one I’m using, in perfect, nearly-unused condition in the shed. It is identical to one that my family had, while growing up. If I had realized it was “vintage” and could sell for $20 on Etsy, maybe I’d have sold it instead of using it…. Maybe not. I like it.

    Yard work.  I am happily transforming our back yard.  Our home, into which we moved in July 2012, needs some serious work to the back yard.  The front, too.  But, the back is where the living and the gardening takes place.  We have plans to seriously overhaul the back yard, but one bad thing about this being a larger property (almost 1/2 acre) is that the bigger the yard, the more it costs to re-do.  We need a pool fence, a completely redone drip irrigation and sprinkler system.  We need more trees.  We need to install my REAL garden (which, blessedly, my husband does consider a high priority!!).  We need to re-do at least some of the landscaping so that grass is not growing right next to the swimming pool.  The cool-decking needs redone.  We need gutters.  The whole yard needs to be Roto-tilled, as the clay soil is VERY compacted.  The list goes on.  But for now, we’re doing small things.  For instance, every Monday, I’ve been moving a sprinkler around the yard.  I let it soak a spot for an hour, then move the sprinkler.  It has very much greened-up the yard.  Regrettably, a good half of what’s growing is weeds.  But, when the collection of grass and weeds are mown, as my 15yo son did on Saturday, the yard is looking quite nicely.  There are a number of bare dirt patches, still, though.  I decided today to start aerating them, to see if that will encourage the grass to spread.  Today, I only did a maybe 5′ x 20′ section with an aerator we already had.  It’s just a four-prong step-on device.

  4. Homeschooling.  In spite of the above, I still got school done with my four school-age children.  Actually, I’m sitting at the dining room table with my son Ethan (who is a sophomore) while he works on science reading and questions…  I read in several subjects to my 11 and 13-year-old sons, and gave them instructions for further self-directed work.  For my first-grader, Audrey, well…  I should have done more with her.  I only had her do her workbook items (phonics and math) and then let her play with her new Play-Doh contraption all morning.  That’s fine motor skills and creativity, right??  (It was her birthday on Saturday…  Can’t believe she is seven!!)
  5. Laundry.  I also washed, dried, and folded a giant double-load of laundry, and loaded the machine with a new load to start tonight, after the electricity rates go back down for the evening…
  6. Food, etc.  I noticed that some red oak leaf lettuce, obtained from the CSA on Wednesday, was looking decidedly water-logged this morning.  So, I sorted through that, as well as some CSA spinach, and started a small salad for my lunch, and a large salad for our family’s dinner tonight.  And I used up the rest of the Red Russian Kale I had on hand, too, though that went on top my eggs this morning.  It feels good to use something completely.  I also harvested ten small-to-medium-sized Red Rhubarb Chard leaves this morning to add to the salads.  It was the first chard harvest of this spring…  I love my organic CSA veggies, but there is nothing better than plucking something from the back garden, which you’ve grown from seed, and nurtured into maturity.
  7. from Wikipedia

    Birds!  I finally positively identified a hummingbird that has been flitting around our back yard for the last couple of weeks.  It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird.  I got to get quite close.  “Male, medium-small, short beak, red gorget, throat, and head, green back, wingtips not quite as long as the tail…  Think it’s an Anna’s.”  Then, I went back inside and checked my Sibley guide.  It was an Anna’s.  Those are fairly uncommon here — I usually see Black-Chinned or Costa’s hummers.  It wasn’t quite as satisfying as ID’ing a new-to-me species, but still very nice.

  8. Pain.  The ONE bad thing about this pregnancy — I am now 28 weeks — is that I have a mass of varicose veins running up the back of my right leg, from my knee area up into my rear.  It sucks.  It is often incredibly painful.  I am WAITING AND WAITING on a stupid, expensive, girdle-looking “pregnancy support garment” that I purchased about two weeks ago.  I hope it works miracles.  I do take Horse Chestnut Seed extract for leg vein support and pain, as well as cod liver oil to thin my blood.  That worked brilliantly until about six weeks ago…  Some days are better than others, and today, even though I’ve been on my feet for much of the day, has been good.
  9. The one bad thing about today:  Last week, we took my truck — I call it The Land Barge — in to get fixed, as the RPMs were revving with little corresponding power to the engine.  The shop found a cracked gasket somewhere that was letting air into the system.  Problem fixed.  Except that it wasn’t.  On my way to the zoo on Friday (a 25 mile trip), the truck started to lose power and we had to pray it into the zoo parking lot.  My husband came to our rescue and traded out vehicles.  (Originally, all five children were going to go to the zoo with me, but my husband said that Ethan, our 15yo, needed to stay home and work on school.  I wasn’t quite in agreement, but did go along with it.  Well, if Ethan HAD been with us, we wouldn’t all have fit into my hubby’s small commuter car!  As it was, myself and the four kids fit snugly but fine…)  The truck completely broke when my hubby was driving it, and he had to get AAA to tow it back to the shop, which is closed on the weekend.  (I don’t mind single-owner, small businesses that close on the weekend and give themselves and their employees a break.)  Today, we heard from the shop that they had to take it out for a spin for a good 20 minutes to get the truck to repeat the problem, as no codes were showing up on the computer diagnostic system they use.  The good news, I guess, is that the truck DID lose power and they DID determine the source.  The bad news is that we need an entire new transmission for the truck.  That’s an expensive fix!  :(  One good thing, though, about being 39 and gaining the perspective of years, is that I have seen provide for us NO MATTER WHAT, and I wasn’t worried.  No, I don’t know where the money will come from — we’ve been saving money for a tax bill and the midwife — but that’s OK.  God still provides, He still takes care of us, and I found myself saying, “At least it broke down now, not on some big, long summer trip.”
  10. Now, I’m blogging, which I’ve been working at, off-and-on (mostly “on”) for the last hour and 20 minutes…  I’m always happy when time allows for that.
  11. Next, I will sort through Sunday’s coupons and plan my four-store grocery trip, which will be this evening, after my husband comes home from work with the car, instead of this afternoon…

No matter what happens the rest of the day (it is now 4:00), I can look back and say, “Today was a good day.”

Events

 

  1. This is my kitchen, right now, as I type:
  2. We moved into this house in July with a plan to remodel about 40% of it as soon as possible.  “ASAP” has come upon us, much to my satisfaction.  People have been asking me, “Are you settled in?” and I have answered, “No, and I don’t want to be!  I can’t wait until the remodel starts!!”  I’m very pleased that I got to swing a sledge hammer and kick in drywall.  :D  Very cathartic.  I’m also crazy-excited about the finished product, which won’t be completed for another three weeks or so.
  3. You might be thinking, “How is she making dinner?”  The answer:  Crockpot, grill, and pre-cooked chickens from Costco.  I’m awfully impressed with myself that in 11 days of demolition and construction, we’ve eaten out exactly two meals.  My family is less than impressed, especially my kids.  They don’t see Costco roasted chicken and carrots with hummus (also both from Costco — the cilantro jalapeno hummus is all natural and VERY tasty!) as a real meal.
  4. To facilitate above-mentioned demo and construction, my father-in-law came to stay with us for six days, as he is a general contractor and pretty much overseeing the project.  He is a wonderful man, very easy-going, doesn’t expect me to cook for him, is totally fine with sleeping on my 11yo’s lower, twin bunk bed (though we tried to give him the master bed, and at least my son’s bed has a new mattress).  On a night when my husband was away at his Bible study, and the kids were all in bed, he looked at me and said, “I think we both deserve a Blizzard,” and off he went to Dairy Queen.  :)  Hard not to love a man like that.  Hahahaha!!  However, even a house guest that is stellar company is still somewhat wearing, eventually, for a girl who tends to need some alone-time before bed each night, to maintain sanity.  He went back to Prescott for the weekend+, and is due to arrive again tomorrow.
  5. My mother is in the hospital.  She was admitted on the 27th of September, and is still there.  Long-time readers might remember that my mom has long had health difficulty.  Truly, I am SO VERY GLAD that she is still with us, in spite of a number of doctors’ very negative prognostications.  But, she averages a trip to the hospital around once every six months.  She is in ill health, indeed.  Even before her admittance, my sister and I were stepping up our involvement in our mom’s daily life, as she was frequently “getting into trouble”, so to speak, during the five hours that my step-dad is away from home at his part-time job.  It made me extra-glad that we moved close by my mom;  that is one of the reasons we picked this house.  She suffered a stroke, though it took a couple of days in the hospital for the doctors to come to a definitive diagnosis.  It doesn’t appear that it was a severe stroke.  However, we’re theorizing that this wasn’t the first one, as starting in February, after a surgery, she had difficulty recalling words.  Her health has never quite recovered from that surgery, and it has continued to decline markedly;  we’ve been in a search to find out what was causing it — her heart?  Oxygen depletion?  Early-onset dementia?  Conflict with medication?  Too many meds?  Not enough?  Is she just exhausted?  It still could be any or all of those, but the fact that she has had at least one stroke, and likely more than one, is now apparent.  The very good news is that she is already recovering mobility on her right side, and is no longer speaking gibberish, and is more aware of life and people.  There is light back in her eyes.  She is still in the hospital, but that is turning out to be a good thing, as the doctors are discovering things that are actually helping her… and her appetite, which has been gone for a couple of years, is returning.
  6. One of my dear friends just moved to the Pacific Northwest.  Their two boys are also some of my three boys’ dearest friends, and the whole thing has been wearing on me, emotionally.  I’m happy for them.  Heck, I would gladly move to Portland!!!  But, there is a hole of sadness in my heart, both for myself, and my boys.  They were some of my few homeschooling friends, locally, and we went to the same church.  I miss them.
  7. On Sunday night, two precious friends, who are also birders, went with me to a local birding hot spot.  There were reports of a Roseate Spoonbill there.  I had seen one, once, in 2004, on the Gulf of Mexico, in Texas.  They’re not supposed to be in the Phoenix area;  this one was clearly lost.  However, I’m glad that this particular Roseate Spoonbill made friends with a bunch of egrets and decided to travel with them, because the little trip to view him was such a precious time to me.  Spending time with friends who share a passion, just hanging out…  Talking about deep things and not-so-deep things…  Those two hours were a much-needed respite, and I thank God for good friends.

    (c) TPWD

MoFiN and SooP

Saturday was the 17th anniversary of marriage to my dear, integrous, handsome, and highly talented husband, Martin.  We enjoyed a fabulous day trip to central Arizona, where we enjoyed wine tastings at Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery and Page Springs Cellars.  Javelina Leap was more instructional and intimate.  Page Springs was more impressive, large, and put-together.  Page Springs had WAY more wines, but I think I enjoyed the experience at Javelina Leap better.

There are other wineries in the area, but we thought we’d better halt it at two.  :)

We also very much enjoyed an hour or more meandering around the Page Springs Fish Hatchery nature area walking on the close, wooded trails, and watching the birds in and around the ponds.  We saw a Black Phoebe, six or so Great Blue Herons, dozens of American Coots and American Widgeons, many Mallards, several White-Crowned Sparrows, and perhaps hundreds of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, which were a new add to my life birding list.  We likely would have ID’ed more birds had we given it more time.

We spent the late afternoon and evening in old town Cottonwood, where there was a festival of some sort with a variety of interesting people, booths, music, art, and general funky, small-town atmosphere.  We bought some Peruvian wool yarn for my sister, who was staying with my girls, and had dinner at the Tavern Grille.

It was a great day.

On the drive home, we stopped for Starbuck’s and watched the moon rise over the bare hills of central Arizona.  Perfect.

When we got home, we discovered that my sister nearly died watching my girls.  Not really, but she was in tears.  Of course, she never let on about any of this while we were gone.  :(  She requested that she never watch the girls again without the help of at least two of my boys.  We then sort of laughed over the apparent oxymoron of how it’s easier to care for five children than two.  Plus her own 15 month old daughter.  My sister Robin has a bad back, and she said that she realized that, most of the time she watches my children, she stays on the couch and gives orders to the older children, intervening when necessary.  :)  Much easier than chasing around one-, three-, and five-year-olds, nonstop, for about twelve hours.  She was in pain and a little horrified how Audrey in particular took advantage of Robin’s less-than-availability, instead of sympathizing and helping more, especially in light of how Robin had carted Audrey around to all sorts of special things that day — a birthday party, a paint-your-own-pottery place, the park…

I felt badly for Robin, and badly about raising a daughter who isn’t appreciative of the good things provided for her.  I’m still sorting that out in my mind, and in a couple of conversations with my sister regarding parenting…

This provided a giggle, though:

When my sister was preparing dinner (“soop”), Audrey — who had attended a birthday party earlier that day with her own gluten-free cupcakes in hand — decided to petition Robin for a better dinner.  “Mofin?  Yes!  Soop?  NO!”  It’s a “sparkle muffin” with frosting and sprinkles (a.k.a. a cupcake).  Note the appropriately-placed smiley face and frowny face.

Overall, a good day.

Next time, I’ll definitely have mercy on my sister by leaving behind some helpers for her.  :)

Dear Brown-headed Cowbird,

I love your clear, watery warble. But your parenting practices are highly suspect.

I can’t decide if I like you or not.

Sincerely,

~Karen

Just about everything but parenting

  • Writing:  If you have read here for a while, you may remember that much of my 2010 and part of 2011 was taken up with ghostwriting a book.  The book is now available for sale — here at Brushed by God — and soon elsewhere.  :)
  • School:  During the school year, it seems like a genius plan to work for six weeks then take off a week.  With these regular breaks, my house gets clean, special trips happen, everyone breathes a deep breath.  But, ’round about this time of year, when just about everyone else is done with school and we still have four weeks left, it seems less than brilliant.  We’re not finished until June 10.
  • Garden:  Thanks to repaired irrigation tubing and some short, cute fencing, my garden now really looks like a garden, according to my husband who blessedly did the irrigation and fence work.  :)  However, the fence does not keep out our dog, who has an odd — and maddening — affinity for corn plants.  My corn, some of them 18″ high, does not like it, either.  The garden sits in a side yard, and we may have to run a sturdier barrier from house to side-fence to make the garden dog-proof.  Otherwise, the garden is taking spectacular shape.
  • Fitness:  I am now feeling stronger after nearly three weeks of hiking 3.5 miles, three times a week.  This makes me happy.  My “fat” jeans are looser, too, even though I’ve really lost no weight.  I guess that’s from muscle gain?  I don’t know.
  • My bodybuilding cousin Romney, military wife and mother of two.

    Random extended family thoughts:  I’ve been reflecting on how widely differing my extended family is.  It’s really a cross-section of American society in general…  Just amongst my cousins (including both sides of my family), one is a nun, one is gay, another just placed fourth in a body-building competition — it has been interesting to watch her really transform in the last 18 months,  one is a single dad, one lives in a neo-hippie commune, one is teaching English in Japan, one is a theater professor, some are academics, some are blue-collar workers, some are Christians (in various manifestations), some are pagan, some are married, some not…  Lots of really disparate interests and paths of life.  I find it really fascinating.  Are most families similar to mine in their dissimilarities??  I don’t think there’s enough closeness in my extended family, and I’m sure there’s some cause-and-effect somewhere in there, but I’m not sure of the root…  I’m sure I’m part of the problem, too, sadly.

  • Church stuff:  Over the summer, I’ll be attending a Beth Moore Bible study (the updated version of Breaking Free).  Yesterday, my pastor’s wife asked me if I would, during one of the weeks’ meetings, give a little testimony based on the story I wrote last week, on the story of my son Wesley’s life, and how God really saved my life (literally) through him, when I thought it would kill me.  I was really pleased with her request.  I printed out and edited the original story because I have to hold it to seven minutes, which required me to cut it roughly in half.  That’s OK.  My writing is generally too bloated and filled with unnecessary asides, anyway.  I have pared.  :)
  • Household stuff:  My hubby installed a “new” microwave over the weekend.  Our “old” one was just 5½ years old, but literally falling apart –  the vent broke off and had already been replaced (then broke again), the door handle completely broke off…  Replacing the door was going to cost us nearly $200.  Ack!  We couldn’t do that.  Thankfully, he works for a homebuilder, and we were able to get one out of a model home for less than half of retail.  Cool!  So, it’s five years old or so, but it’s never been used.  A friend of ours has the same model and is very happy with it.  I now have to figure out how best to clean stainless steel, as it is the first stainless appliance in our home.  Small complaint, though;  I’m happy to have a functional microwave.
  • Birds:  A Northern Cardinal (and today, his mate) has been visiting my back yard for the last three mornings.  Cardinals are not rare in the Phoenix area, but they are uncommon, and in the 5+ years we’ve been in our home, this is the first time that we’ve had a daily visitor.  Mr. Cardinal has pleasantly interrupted my mornings.  :)
  • Other cardinals:  My husband was asked to design a home — like a manse — for a cardinal in California.  I’m very proud of him.  It’s a modest 1600 s.f. house on a very narrow lot.  My man is brilliant and thinks in 3D.  He whipped out the plan in one day.
  • My mother:  In sad news, my mom is back in the hospital.  I can’t remember how much I blogged about it last year, but in July, we nearly lost her.  She has Marfan Syndrome, and her skeleton is collapsing, which has given her decreased space for her lungs (and other organs).  Additionally, half of her diaphragm is paralyzed.  Then, she got double pneumonia.  She recovered, to our great relief.  She is a stubborn lady, and that can pay dividends when fighting illness.  She has lost a tremendous amount of weight and is very frail, and has been placed on oxygen “as needed”.  In the last month or so, her need for oxygen has been 24/7, with her oxygen saturation dipping into the 60% range or even down to 50% if she’s off of oxygen for even a short while.  After a doctor appointment yesterday, the doctor sent her straight to the E.R.  She has double pneumonia again, and is correspondingly hypoxic.  She was supposed to have major surgery (an estimated 12 hour ordeal) on the 25th of this month to resection her spine and to put in metal supports inside her ribcage area.  This is a risky procedure even for a healthy person;  for her, the doctors had given about a 60% chance for surviving surgery, mostly because of the extremely mushy shape of her arteries — she’s had two AAA repairs and one femoral artery replaced already due to aneurysms.  However, the surgery is really her only hope — aside from miraculous healing — for longer-term survival, since right now, she’s slowly being suffocated.  With this bout of pneumonia, the doctors have indefinitely shelved the surgery.  She’s crushed about that, but — unlike past stays — she’s relieved to be back in the hospital.  Normally, she is an unwilling patient.  I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not that she’s happy to be in the hospital.  Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Poetic birding, summer plans, and a million trips to the potty

  • There are Lesser Nighthawks all over my neighborhood, mostly in the summer.   They wheel in the air close to the streetlights, and rest on the road (!), camouflaged on the asphalt, frequently rising in a flurry of feathers as a car drives by.  I went for a walk with my youngest daughter around sunset last night, and heard what seemed to be two different Lessers calling to each other, but I didn’t see them.  (I’m on a birding listserv, and a guy posted about seeing a Lesser Nighthawk last night.  I replied with this, and after I had written it, I re-read it, and it sounded poetic.)
  • I am very excited to have booked at least part of our summer

    At Limekiln, you get THIS...

    vacation!!  I have wanted to go to California’s Limekiln State Park for a good five years, and this summer it appears that I’m going to get my wish!  My dear hubby is a very linear thinker, and wants to have A, B, and C done and tied neatly with a bow before moving on to D, E, and F.  In other words,he does NOT like to plan ahead, because then there are a million half-done, tentative things hanging around in his brain, and it drives him batty. Additionally,being that we live in the scenic and wonderful state of Arizona, he sees little need to venture out of our borders, with the possible exception of Colorado, since his brother lives there.

    ...only a few hundred feet from THIS.

    He’s NOT into driving long distances.  So, my planning has been made with extra thankfulness for him agreeing — well in advance — to plan for and book a trip that he’s not all that sure is going to be worth the tedium of driving for two days…

  • Fiala, my 26 month old, is potty-training.  She’s doing well!  Mostly, that is.  She even went to church yesterday without a diaper, and stayed dry all day.  She still has to be taken to the potty every 30 minutes or so, though.  When she says, “I fuh-uhgot to go potty!” that means, “I’m wet!”  This morning, I was doing a school with Wesley, and didn’t want to be interrupted to take yet another trip to the bathroom.  So, on a whim, I asked my four-year-old, Audrey, if she would take her.  A few minutes later, they came back, flushed and grinning with triumph, and both very aware of the novelty.  Next up:  Audrey makes dinner for our family of seven and runs a few loads of laundry.  :P

Weird. Awkward. Birders.

Not my pic! This is what a Crissal Thrasher looks like, taken by Elroy Limmer.

I sent out a plea for assistance to a local birding list yesterday.  In the e-mail, I described how, over the last week or so, I have spotted two juvenile thrashers — siblings, perhaps? — and they look similar to Crissal Thrashers, except that they both have extensive black (or at least charcoal grey) streaking on their breasts, which Crissals should not have.  I described the birds as best as I could, and hoped for some good responses.  I was specifically wondering if thrashers could hybridize, since a couple of them have dark spots/streaks on their breasts.

I got several really helpful private replies, with the general consensus that it’s probably a Crissal Thrasher, though I’m not convinced;  there is a LOT of streaking on the breast, and it is very dark, which Crissals don’t have, either mature or immature.

Anyway.

One of the replies I receive, though, threw me for a loop.  It was from a lady who suggested that she come over and spend the day with me on Saturday to help me out with my “thrasher problem.”  She told me she’d schedule her time with me around a college football game she wanted to see, and some time with a cousin who also lives in my city.

I was taken quite aback.  It just seemed really forward.

I replied:

It has been a pleasant surprise, during my short time on the bird list, that it appears that a number of those participating offer up their homes and properties for other birders.  I really love that camaraderie.

However, I just don’t think it would work for you to come on Saturday.  Saturdays are our only days for family time, and we tend to be quite selfish of our time together, even on weekends that are not busy with responsibilities and activities.  My husband has a full-time job, plus is the worship pastor for our church, so our weekend time is rather abbreviated. Additionally, some or all seven of us have plans for both Friday and Saturday…  And, my sister and her husband and new baby are moving back to Phoenix, and should arrive on Sunday.  Time gets even tighter around the holidays.  Lastly, to be honest, I think my husband would be rather unnerved by a stranger — no matter how friendly and innocuous — spending the day with our family.

I feel badly saying no to your suggestion, and I’m sure you would be lovely company, but, unfortunately, I just don’t think it would work.

~Karen

p.s. Maybe it’s still a good idea to visit your cousin!  It sounds like you could use some company.  If they’re the sort that are up for a drive, I suggest taking the Carefree Highway to the western entrance of Castle Hot Springs Road (almost to Wickenburg), and driving north and east to a spot about ten miles in, to where there is a convergence of two or three perennial creeks — N 33.97620 x W 112.44647, if you have a GPS.  You can do an easy hike back in at least three directions and follow the creek beds for some great birding.  I’ve been there at all times of the year, and there is always some water, though, of course, after it rains there is always more.  :)   (You can enter the coordinates on this website to get a map: http://www.mytopo.com/searchgeo.cfm)

Perhaps I should have just told her, “No, thank you.”

Or, perhaps she is really in need of a friend and I should have, if nothing else, took it on as an opportunity to minister.

It just seemed like an unsettling mix of loneliness, presumption, and wanting to help…

Ten things I have enjoyed in the last few days

In no particular order:

  1. Fiala’s second birthday.  Precious girl.  We have no pictures because my camera is totally broken now, and the grandparents forgot theirs.  We had a simple cookout party with family at the park on Saturday.  Between Friday (her actual birthday), and Saturday, she received a grand total of three presents, each simple and inexpensive… but her face is such a delight when she receives a present.  I think she really understands the heart of gift-giving, and she feels so special and thankful, no matter what the gift is, which makes it all the more delightful to give something to her.
  2. Receiving new earrings in the mail.  Ordered from Mom Potter’s Etsy shop:)
  3. The new Sherlock on PBS Masterpiece.  It was so wonderful!  I really enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch (what a name!) on 2008′s The Last Enemy, aired on Masterpiece Contemporary last year, and he was even better as a 21st century Sherlock.  My husband wasn’t so convinced he’d like it — he’s a big fan of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock portrayal.  But, about ten minutes into it, he said, “OK.  I’m hooked!”  Not giving too much away, but if you know the story of Sherlock Holmes, the one problem I had with the storyline/script is that it HIGHLY inferred that one character was so-and-so, but it turned out not to be the case, but another slightly lesser-known character.  I felt a tad manipulated, and I hate that in movies/TV shows.  Still.  It was really good.
  4. The cooler weather in Phoenix. Mornings in the 60s.  Days in the 80s or occasionally a bit lower.  ~sigh~  I’ve been waiting for this!!
  5. Getting a couple of bird mysteries solved, via a birding listserv I just joined.  Yes, that is a Eurasian Collared-Dove I saw;  as an introduced species, they are heading westward.  And, yes, Anna’s Hummingbirds can hybridize with Costa’s.
  6. Worship on Sunday.  It was so rich, both musically, and with the presence of God.  I couldn’t even sing, half the time.  Good thing I wasn’t on stage!  ;)
  7. The author of the book I ghost-wrote signed her contract. This was after long weeks of (slow) negotiations.  She got some things altered for her benefit.  Good for her!!  Expected publication date is August 1, 2011.
  8. Our “new” entertainment center.  Our TV barely fits, but it does fit!  My hubby and oldest son spent a good portion of Saturday setting it up.  :)
  9. The Jars of Clay Greatest Hits CD.  I have a couple of their CDs.  I’ve been a somewhat-fan over the years.  And, this CD is two years old, so I’m behind… (as always, with music)  But, what a great CD this is!!  I spied it at the library, and I’ve been greatly enjoying it.  All my kids like it, too.  I’ve been belting out the songs at the top of my lungs as we’ve traveled to and fro these last couple of weeks, as I’m familiar with all but three tracks on the CD.  It’s eminently singable.  I’m not normally a huge fan of retrospective type albums, but for someone like me, who enjoys Jars of Clay, but who does not own the whole collection of their discs, it’s perfect.
  10. My oldest son, Ethan.  He’s not a “thing”, but I have been so enjoying his growing-up.  He is 13.  In June, he stepped up to the youth group at our church, instead of the kids’ church…  He was unsure about the transition, but he’s really enjoying it now, and I think it has lent to his already-thoughtful nature, learning things and considering subjects that need some deeper maturity.  He’s a boy of few words, so it’s difficult to get a long conversation from him.  But, in our exchanges, I have been delighted in the evidence of his careful thought and kind consideration of those with whom (or of whom) he speaks.  He’s not perfect, of course, and there are a few things about him that make me wanna pull out my hair.  But — similar to my husband, of whom I have the same confidence — Ethan is faithful to work on the areas of his life’s garden which need weeding.  If you point out an error, he genuinely takes steps to improve, even if initially, he’s not all that receptive.  He’s a son to make a mother proud, and I love him so.

Interesting things: My own mini blog carnival.

Too many compelling blogs, too little time….

Here is a mini-roundup of bloggy thoughts I’ve found interesting in the last few days.

Hey, also, if you have a blog, or know of a blog that you think might interest me, leave a comment with a link!  (I’m always looking for interesting blogs, even as I sigh about there not being enough time to read them.)

  1. Joy writes an amusing post, a retrospective on her eighth wedding anniversary, of all the anniversary camping trips she and her husband have taken.  She also posts other thoughts, both beautiful and heart-wrenching on the ups and downs of their eight years together…  I’m trying to figure out if I find these posts particularly compelling because I know (knew?) Joy in real life…  They’re worth a read, even if you don’t know Joy.  :)
  2. Really compelling thoughts by Amy Romano at Science & Sensibility, regarding the nature and value of research (stemming from thoughts on the connection between endometriosis and c-sections).  As always on that blog, the ideas presented are quite learned and heady, and I’m always hesitant to comment.  I couldn’t resist this time, though.
  3. A thought-provoking post from Luke Holzmann questioning that specialization automatically equals better science.  He relates it, sort of, to education.  I think my comments, collectively, are longer than his original post.  Thank you, Luke, for your tolerance of my verbosity.
  4. I WAS JUST THINKING ABOUT THIS!  And along comes a blog post, on my reader, as if reading my thoughts.  From Pacific NW Birder, a discussion on changes in common and scientific names of creatures, notably the Rock Dove, Columba livia, whose name has recently been changed to Rock Pigeon.
  5. A “report”, via blog, by my neighbor, friend, and fellow homeschooler, Jeanne on the cranberry.  Entitled Pearls of Crimson, it’s a compact treatise on the cranberry’s history as well as some current scientific findings.
  6. A post, entitled Why I Don’t Watch Glee, by my friend Nicole, on not being a trend-follower.  I could relate with so much of what she said!
  7. Beautiful story by Daja of champagne and cigars on the banks of the Seine with a homeless man… echoes of Matthew 25:37-40 (truly!).

Backyard birding (or, the birds think it’s winter!)

  • I would make fun of this name, if I wasn’t a birder:  Red-naped Sapsucker.  Yes, that’s a real name.  And, yes, he sucks sap.  I’ve been enjoying one in my back yard for about a week.  It’s the first time I’ve seen on in the Phoenix area.

    (not my photo!!)

  • After the demise of my hummingbird feeder, my dear husband bought me another, as a surprise.  I haven’t hung it up yet;  I think I’m going to attach it to a limb of a tree in our back yard, so it doesn’t drip sweet goo on the back patio.  It’s lovely copper with a real glass container.  :)
  • I’m also happy for the return of Say’s Phoebes.  Occasionally, I see a Say’s during the summer, but they’re much more common in the winter.  Not that it’s really winter here, yet.  They’re not really exciting birds, but they’re… peaceful.  Peaceful birds.  And, I like their gentle-but-clear whistled call.

    Photo by Peter Basterfield

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