Thursday, June 26, 2014

New York is on my mind

I work with a woman who grew up rather close to where I did, and we're about the same age.  We talked for a while yesterday about all of the things we love about upstate NY.  The scenery, fall foliage, good pizza, favorite diners, shopping malls we loved as teenagers that no longer exist, the Adirondacks, the weather, the Mohawk River valley, old amusement parks, etc., etc.  It made us both a bit melancholy but happy to know someone who shares similar memories.

I've lived out west for about fifteen years now, and I'm finding it difficult to leave an area that means so much to me.  It's not just the prolific wildlife and the gorgeous mountains.  It's the people.  It's the wide open spaces.  It's the kindness you find pretty much every where you go.  It's having pronghorn just beyond my back yard and horses during the summer who come to our fence for apples and carrots.  It's the amazing sunsets and June thunderstorms and short summers that make you appreciate each and every day the warm weather lasts.  And it's the place that made me realize my life had a lot more potential than the narrow existence I believed I was destined for where I grew up.  I don't know that I would have traveled down the path I've walked for the last fifteen years if Yellowstone didn't pop up on my radar.  And, man oh man, am I glad it did.  I've written about this before briefly, but the park and living in it changed my life.  And it led to many other adventures I might never have experienced otherwise.  (Practicing gratitude for this right now!)

We will soon be moving away from this part of the country, and while I'm excited for the next adventure, I'm also sad to leave behind my life in Montana.  As they say, change is good, which I know to be true.  So.....on to the next place in the next month or so.  Meanwhile, I'm in a New York State of Mind.  Been singing the song by Billy Joel for weeks now, even humming it at work.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I'm a little bit of a bird nerd.  Not so much that I have a life list where I check off species as I see them.  Nor have I traveled the globe in search of rare or endemic birds, hoping for a glimpse or a photograph (although I do yearn to see a blue-footed booby before I die).  But I've always been a fan of our avian friends.  Where I grew up, mourning doves, cardinals, robins & blue jays were rather common backyard birds, although I'm not sure that I fully appreciated them until after I lived in Yellowstone.  That is where I truly fell in love with birds.  Wyoming and Montana have prolific wildlife in general.  I certainly have enjoyed the mega fauna like bison and elk.  Sightings of critters like marmots and pikas always make me happy.  However, it has often been the birds that delight me most.  Everything from hooded mergansers and buffleheads to harlequin ducks and American white pelicans can make a day in the great outdoors well worthwhile.  Even mallards and Canada geese are pleasurable to watch, despite how everyday they are in many places.

There is a deck overlooking a marshy field at my workplace, and this is where I eat lunch most days.  The area is plentiful with killdeer, red-winged black birds, yellow-headed blackbirds, sparrows and meadowlarks.  Currently, there is a resident sandhill crane couple with a chick.  I occasionally see a pronghorn or two on the hillside adjacent to this area as well.  All while eating lunch.  What a gift!

This evening I thought I would share some images of birds that I've had the pleasure to watch and photograph in various places.  Hope you enjoy them.

raven in Bryce Canyon National Park

black swan on Lake Rotorua in New Zealand

hooded crow that nested in the tree outside our apartment in Vienna

heron at the Stadtpark in Vienna

a seagull I named Pete on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland

swans and cygnets on the Danube
this colorful guy hung out with us while we ate lunch in a park on Kauai these guys aren't wild.  This is the parliament of owls that lives on one of my bookshelves.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Things are going on, changes are happening.....

Thus is life, no?  Tim and I are making plans for our future which immediately includes selling our home and soon will mean moving to another place, to another town, maybe even to another country.  Graduate school calls the boy & life's path of adventure calls us both.

I will miss our xeriscaped front yard full of cat mint, Russian sage, yucca, blanket flowers, lamb's ear, rabbit brush, coneflower, sparia and 'Autumn Joy' sedum very much

So, our house is up for sale.  We've already had one garage sale and may have a second one soon.  We have begun the arduous task of thinning our possessions, packing, deciding what we can live without & what will go into storage.  This certainly makes one take stock of memories and attachments to things acquired over the years.  Do I really need to hold onto that book someone gifted me 15 years ago that I've never read?  How do I begin to weed through my craft supplies to donate what I honestly won't use?  Why have I kept a scratched up side table from a garage sale in upstate NY that I haven't found the time (or desire) to refinish?  Some moments have made me realize purging is a gift of good feelings - freedom from stuff, providing something useful to an organization that helps others & will be able to do a bit more when they sell what I donate, having more breathing space in my home, having less to pack in the end.  It feels great.  In fact, during my garage sale I gave many things away and not just at the end of the day.  I was happy to see it go.  Happy to know someone else would find use for it, whatever it was.  Happy to have fun conversations with joyful people who wandered buy to shop or just look around.  Happy to know I gained some extra cash to make an appointment for a much-needed haircut and go out to dinner with Tim!  

I won't deny that the money we made after many hours of set up was nice.  But overall, letting go of the STUFF was by far the biggest reward.  No doubt about it. 

Miss Penny enjoying some fresh air in the back yard despite having to wear her harness and leash