Thursday, May 21, 2020

avifauna

I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence - that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light. - Lynn Thomson




My husband and I spotted this Whimbrel over the weekend and excitedly watched as it repeatedly stuck its long bill into the mud along Knik Arm.  Their diet includes mollusks, crabs, worms and insects, and occassionally we saw it successfully pull something from the muck to consume.  We returned to the area this afternoon and were delighted to see three Whimbrels rummaging in the mud.  Lucky us!  

Sunday was our first ever sighting of a Whimbrel, and we also had first time sightings of Black-bellied Plovers and Bonaparte's Gulls that day.  Unfortunately, we didn't get any clear photos of these other birds, but we sure had fun spotting and identifying them.  We're quite blessed with avian life here in Anchorage.  Today we also watched an Arctic Tern fishing, a Mew Gull defending its nest from a Black-billed Magpie, a nesting Canada Goose, a foraging Sandhill Crane, and a wading pair of Wigeons among other birdie riches.  
  
view from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail across Knick Arm to the Talkeetna Mountains

Saturday, May 9, 2020

deluge


Beginning in early March, I started signing up for free online summits ranging from using creativity (in its many manifestations) for healing to learning how to write my story, from trying new ways to revive energy levels to painting big, bold flowers.  My intentions were ambitious, and I actively watched instructional videos and interviews while signing up for more and more content from various presenters.  I was feeling positive and motivated for the first several weeks, and then, suddenly, I wasn't.  I've allowed my inbox to reach an overwhelming number of read, starred, and unread emails while actively avoiding doing anything about it.  Instead, I now only look for specific emails about mail order prescriptions or those from friends and family.  The number of tabs open on the laptop I share with my husband has also gotten a bit out of control.  So what gives?


I'm in overload with the deluge of artists, makers, writers, life coaches, advocates, and teachers whom I've invited into my inbox by signing up for free classes and subscribing to interesting websites.  So why have I done this?  Because I'm always looking to learn new things and watch new things and discover new creative people and their work.  Because so many people have been offering access to ways to cope with how our lives have changed amidst this pandemic at no charge.  Because each new website I subscribe to gives me links to even more creative people that I want to know about.  It's me grasping at loads of learning potential, but maybe a little too much learning potential.


Overwhelm sometimes comes easy for me as someone who identifies as highly sensitive so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that I'm feeling it now in the midst of social isolation and a constant news cycle about the coronavirus and COVID-19.  The thing is, however, that my life hasn't really changed all that much since this pandemic began and restrictions were put in place.  Or so I thought. 


I'm a homebody now, and I was homebody before this.  I don't have a wide array of friends that I socialize with in person on a regular basis since, truthfully, I just haven't met that many people in Alaska since my husband and I moved here two years ago.  (My long-term friendships are with folks scattered elsewhere around the US and beyond.)  My infrequent outings have been with co-workers of my husband and their partners.  Also, I'm not someone who is missing getting my nails done, getting a haircut (it's been nearly three years since my last one), eating out, going to the gym, getting massages or shopping.  I enjoy some of these things, but I'm okay not getting to do them just now.  Thankfully, my husband is an essential employee and has additionally taken on the role of grocery-getter.  Therefore, my time is spent largely at home with my forays outside limited to walks, bird watching, or taking our cat into the fenced back yard. 


But maybe there are some things I haven't been acknowledging about my feelings of saturation and overload.  By that, I mean the stress of how much things have actually changed + the unknowns + the worries about my loved ones might be making too much learning potential feel like a burden because those opportunities are, well, more things to think about.  Added to these things is my status as someone with an underlying condition which puts me at greater risk were I to fall ill from this virus/disease.  There is a level of fear inherent in any outing now, something I'm not sure I was recognizing until these last few days. 


There are loads of folks out there, pretty much on a daily basis, telling us that it's okay to feel all of the feelings we have.  It's okay to not do anything, to put things off that can be put off.  It's okay to not be productive.  It's okay to feel sad or mad or fearful.  It's okay to feel overcome by responsibilities and to do lists.  And it's okay to feel like creativity can be put on hold until you're really interested and focused.  So that's my plan for now - stop worrying about what's not getting done and allow feelings to come and eventually go.


Coming from a place of privilege in knowing my husband and I still have savings and money coming in, that we have the means to keep ourselves entertained, that we live in a beautiful place, that our well-being remains stable, and that we have health insurance, it would be arrogant entitlement to wish for more than what I currently have and can do while so many are suffering. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bees! Art Elements theme challenge


Today is reveal day for the April Art Elements theme challenge.  The subject this month, chosen by contributor Niky Sayers, is BEES.  

As a lover of honey, flowers, fruit, nuts, and vegetables, I'm a big fan of bees.  Without their pollinating prowess, our world would be a drastically different place.  Although most folks may only think of how we benefit from their industriousness, bees are pretty fascinating creatures in their own right.  

I grew up with a mom who was terrified of bees, wasps and hornets.  She'd been stung many times as a kid, and her fear was palpable whenever one buzzed nearby.  Fascination outweighed dread for me despite being stung by a bumblebee when I was eight or nine years old.  I still feel that way and often take the time to watch them at work, especially when roses are involved as you can see from the next few photos.



When this challenge was first announced, I had loads of ideas.  Collage, jewelry, embellished fabric hearts, watercolor, and so on.  As happens, time got away from me before I could create all that I imagined, but I did dig out lots of supplies and make a few bee-related things.

This necklace has bronze bee charms in the middle strand, and the color scheme came from thoughts of honey in its many shades from amber to dark brown.




These earrings were inspired by the typical coloring we associate with bees.


Hearts are kinda my thing.  I collect them and sometimes create them in one medium or another.  A good chunk of wall space in my craft room is dedicated to all things decorative and heart-shaped.  Finding the bee fabric and buttons as well as the other items amongst my stash to make this particular heart was a big part of the fun in doing this challenge.  The hand sewing, maybe a little less so.  Ha Ha.





This is my first time participating in an Art Elements theme challenge after years of viewing what others have created from month to month.  I enjoyed it and hope to take part again in future.

Please visit the links below to peruse the lovelies other folks have created.  Enjoy!


AE team:

Guests:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

In need of a flower fix




I'm feeling a bit homesick for upstate New York these days.  Spring has a way of reawakening memories of visiting a favorite rose garden and tulip festival despite now living over 4,000 miles away.  Of course, I miss my family too.  My sisters are in the medical field, and my parents have chronic health issues so I'm worried for them.  Knowing they are vigilant and taking care of each other helps, however.  

As the temperatures warm here in Alaska, we're still weeks away from seeing blooms on flowers and trees.  Meanwhile, I'll share some photos from a few years ago and daydream about colorful gardens.









Saturday, April 18, 2020

If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring. - Victor Hugo








During these last several weeks while stay at home mandates have been in place, my travel has mostly been limited to taking walks through the neighborhood.  I've noticed more chickadees flitting about and heard the occasional Steller's Jay making noise outside our home, but I'm very much longing to see the return of spring migratory birds.  There is still snow on the ground and some waterways remain largely frozen here.  However, warming temps are quickly melting the remnants of winter.  Thankfully!  

Many of my favorite spots to bird watch aren't currently ideal for maintaining a safe distance from others so I'm patiently awaiting mud season's passing.  The hope is that clearer paths and the ability to step off trail will soon make exercising and bird watching easier.  This might seem like a silly concern or ambition in the midst of a pandemic, but nature has always been my respite from stress and worry.  It is my soother, a way to seek calm and peace, the literal path to joy and repose.  Watching birds has become yet another way to attain tranquility while outdoors.  (Confession: my husband and I have been watching YouTube videos of birds and The Cornell Lab webcams to both amuse our cat and to get our avian "fix.")

So until restrictions lift and risks are eliminated, I'll peruse and post photos from previous years (like those above), watch birds from my windows or yard, and enjoy glimpses caught while walking.  Stay safe everyone.