Taking Refuge

Last Sunday the Gracious One and her husband invited me to go out with them for lunch, to be followed with a ride to the Wildlife Refuge, something we like to do every February – February being the month that many varieties of feathered beauties fly in on their migrations. This year we did not see as many eagles as we have in the past, nor did we see the numbers of ducks and geese possibly because we are in our third year of lower-than-normal precipitation and the water levels were very low, but it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon in good company. I want to share with you my pictures from that day, while my mind wanders and my fingers ramble across the keyboard with completely unrelated thoughts.

One of the bald eagles we saw:
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Although you probably do not care at all, I realized the other morning that my bed only ever gets really “made” when I change the sheets. It gets “straightened” every morning, but with only one person under the covers – my bed partners Lily and Shasta sleep above the covers – it’s never really messed up. That might be attributed, in part, to the fact that my bed partners like to sleep close to me so I have little opportunity to flail about.

Flocks of snow geese coming in:
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I try to eat a healthy diet, my dinner consisting largely of vegetables, grains and beans with meats being fish occasionally and chicken more often. Lunch is usually turkey, cheese, sliced tomato and fresh spinach on a healthy bread. When I eat chocolate, it’s almost always dark chocolate. I’m working on consuming more fruits besides grapes in their liquid form. But then I turn around and get a salt craving which usually results in buying salty potato chips and leads to me consuming half a bag at a sitting. I still get points for trying, right? And don’t the healthy meals offset the greasy, salty potato chips? Oh yes, I recently read that most of us don’t eat enough salt these days. That’s like the egg thing and the coffee thing – they’re good for you, no they’re bad for you, now they’re good for you.

Snow geese landing in their large groups:
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In the mornings, I am often surrounded by all four of my furry girls. There is comfort in their presence – at least I cannot be accused of talking to myself, because they listen very intently. They don’t always pay attention, but they listen. I wonder, though, why they deem the bathroom to be a good place for us to spend time together. It seems that once we women have children, it becomes impossible to actually spend time in that room alone. Our children grow up and leave home, but we have animals (or many of us do) and they feel obligated to take the place of those children. Bailey feels I’m a captive audience and brings her ball to be tossed to her. Shasta’s position is to try to intercept the ball. Lily feels it’s a good time to be petted and only Twiggy allows me privacy. Or what privacy there is left to be had.

Groups of snow geese with a few Greater White-fronted Geese, commonly called Specks, closer:
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Although the predictions called for light snowfall overnight, we had rain and now the sun has come out and is making the raindrops on the bird tree branches sparkle. Nature’s diamonds. The overnight rain means the pine needles that need to be raked will be heavy with wet and so I need not feel guilty if I don’t go out and gather more of them for burning. Perhaps I will spend my day, or part of it, in the kitchen.

A view of Mount Shasta:
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I will make Thai Chicken Curry with rice for my dinner, and I will start the process of cooking Bailey’s food which consists of chicken, rolled oats and sometimes quinoa and rice, carrots, peas, green beans, celery and often spinach, all chopped up and boiled together. Bailey has developed sour stomach problems and this concoction with a little dry dog food stirred in seems to work best for her. Shasta girl has an iron stomach so she is easier – she gets dry dog food topped with frozen green beans or peas. The discrimination does not seem to bother her at all.

While we didn’t see as many eagles, ducks and geese as usual, Sandhill Cranes were out in abundance, sometimes serenading us with their purr-like calls.
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So there you have it – the trip to the Refuge and my wandering, rambling thoughts. Perhaps I’ll go read my book for awhile. For you I wish a day of enough. What the heck, how about a whole weekend of enough?!

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

The topic this week for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Bicycles and Motorcycles. When I read this this morning, I immediately thought of the various types of bicycles and motorcycles I’ve seen when I traveled to Asia, where they are a primary mode of transportation. It sounded fun, so here are my submissions.

First, in 2010 in Beijing where there are a lot of bicycles in various forms:

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In Vietnam this past December, we saw more scooters:

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In heavy traffic I would need more protection from the autos and trucks than either bicycles or scooters provide, I think. Somehow they survive though.

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Share Your World – 2015 Week 8

Somehow it got to be Monday again – already – and Monday brings Cee and her challenge to share our worlds. Not only is it Monday again – already – it is the last week of another month. How in the world did that happen so quickly?! I think I don’t like time passing so quickly. Cee’s questions this week are going to be a little harder for me to answer, but here goes.

1. Your favorite blog post that you have written? (add link) I don’t know. Do I have a favorite? I’d have to go back to day 1, five years ago WordPress tells me, to reread every post I’ve written and then make a choice. Problem is, some of those years are gone – well, okay, all of those years are gone now, but some of those posts have been lost in my moving from the original host of my blog to my own website and then to WordPress.com. Counting that first host, I’ve actually been blogging for more than five years. Off and on. So what all of this jabber comes down to is that I don’t know, I have no idea. I have to beg off on this one.

2. What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $500? Why? Another hard question! $500 wouldn’t be enough to do one of the things that would give me the most pleasure, and that would be to install new flooring throughout the house. It also wouldn’t be enough to take a couple of months and do a driving tour through Europe. Or the United Kingdom. Or both. Maybe I could take my closest friends for a long weekend in Portland – something we haven’t done for a few years. Why? Because I think I’m having this old age crisis that makes me want to spend time with loved ones in places I like or would like to get to know. So what this answer tells you is that I’m apparently not very altruistic – I should want to save the world or house and feed the homeless. Sadness.

3. If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?”, what would it be? I guess maybe I’d like to know why – wait, is wanting to know why the same as knowing the answer to any question? Close enough, I think. So – I’d want to know why it is that in the time of our lives that we have the energy to explore the world and learn about new places and cultures, climb mountains and dive into the deep sea, we must work to earn the money to do these things – but by the time we earn the money to do these things, we no longer have the energy and the body parts are not as cooperative as they once were. So maybe the question is: Why is it we either have the time and energy to do things or we have the money to do things or but never do those both come at the same time?

4. Where do you eat breakfast? Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to eat out, but rarely do I go out for breakfast these days. So when I do get around to eating breakfast, it’s usually something like a bagel and cream cheese or instant oatmeal or granola or a banana or whatever is quick and easy. Most often I eat it in my morning room. Sometimes I fix breakfast for dinner, which is always eaten in my family room in front of the TV. My dining table is for folding clothes and piling things nowadays.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for a day out with friends, I am grateful for the sunshine, I am grateful for kisses from my furry girls. I am looking forward to continuing to get up each morning to see what that day brings.

As is my custom, a few photos from this past week:

A sunset
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Ready to pounce on whatever is at the bottom of the slope
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The Clark’s Nutcrackers were back in force a couple of days this past week; this one came close enough to become a subject for my camera.
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Amazon, You Don’t Know Me As Well As You Think You Do

I have figured out that Amazon pays attention to my shopping habits – and I do a lot of shopping on Amazon. Love that free shipping that comes with Prime! I get emails regularly offering me their latest deals – interestingly enough, the deals most often relate to things I’ve bought or looked at. But this morning they offered me this great deal on cases for tennis rackets. I thought to myself “What? I don’t play tennis!” Then I remembered – awhile back I bought a bag of tennis balls from Amazon. Uh huh – what they didn’t know was that was a Bailey gift. Bailey is the ball girl in our household. She doesn’t need a racket, she has a mouth and a good eye for following the ball. Amazon, fail!

This post will be interspersed with totally unrelated photos of the walk Shasta and I took last weekend on a warm for February, sunny day.
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Amazon also sends me many deals for electronic devices. They know my weakness for electronic devices, obviously, and so they are not so far off on that. But – I have told them repeatedly – Windows 8 drove me to Mac. So don’t be offering me those Windows operated laptops and tablets, because I’ll not be buying them. Got it, Amazon? Not only that, but new electronic devices are not in the budget right now, so just back off.

We found stands of new trees and other green stuff growing.
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But oh how tempting some of their offers are. I really need more Kindle books – the 50 or so that are in my Kindle app now probably will only last me a year or so, so I should stock up on more, shouldn’t I? And gosh, some of those instant videos look interesting. And the bamboo sheet set? I looked at those, did not buy, but they would be heaven, wouldn’t they?

On our way to the headwaters of this river, the Wood River.
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And I do like me those cookbooks – although I seem to go to Google for recipes using whatever it is I have that sounds like something I would want, so cookbooks are probably not practical. Not to mention I already have quite a supply. And I have a very nice slow cooker, thank you Kat, so no, I don’t need more of them. Watches? No, that was something I was just curious about but not really thinking about buying, you know. The same thing with jeans – I bought some, I still have them, I don’t need anymore right now. But thank you for thinking of me.

And then, the river itself. Shasta glory!
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So thank you, Amazon, for thinking of me. I appreciate that you just want me to have the best of what you offer, and that you’ve taken the time to get to know me, to the extent you know me. But for now – I think I have enough.

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Share Your World – 2015 Week 7

Today is a day for more yard cleanup, but it’s still a bit cool for that so while I wait for more warmth, let’s join Cee to share a bit more.

1. Is the paper money in your possession right now organized sequentially according to denomination and with the bills right side up and facing the same way? Ahh, you’ve found one of my compulsive behavioral quirks – my bills absolutely must be as you said – sequential, right side up and facing the same way. That comes, I think, from the time I spent as a cashier at a theater when I was in business school. But it also makes sense, don’cha think? Neat, orderly, makes it easier to quickly get the denomination you want. Of course, like Cee, I don’t often have much cash on hand.

2. What is your favorite type of dog? (can be anything from a specific breed, a stuffed animal or character in a movie) Really? You have to ask? It’s probably pretty obvious to anyone who has read many of my posts that my answer is going to be labrador retriever, although after a couple of times of narrowly missing being bowled over by the pushy one (Shasta), or a few times of having to step over the one who always always lays in a doorway or directly in the path (Bailey), I think a much smaller dog would be a good idea. Of course, then I’d trip over it because I wouldn’t see it in time.

3. If money was not an issue, would you go on a cruise? If so where would you go? Yes. To the Mediterranean Sea with stops on all the Greek Islands and all around the coastline. It would be a very long cruise, and I would want the stops to allow for a lot of exploration. Perhaps I would need a private ship, and include my friends and family and we could cruise for, oh, maybe six weeks or so. The ship would, of course, have to have accommodations for the furry girls, at least the big ones.

4. Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight? Okay, I need you to define “haunted”. Do you mean a house that has ghosts or do you mean a house with evil spirits? If you mean a house that has ghosts, I lived in a house with a resident ghost once – he walked across the piano keys some nights and opened and closed cupboard doors – don’t think he ever found anything that appealed to him, however, because nothing was ever missing. So my answer is, if the house had ghosts but they were not evil, yes, I would sleep there. If there was evil in the house, no I would not.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for warm sunny days that allow me to get outside and clean up some of the accumulated yard debris. It makes me feel righteous when I can see I have accomplished something, and the warm sunny days have chased away the gray day oppression that was beginning to weigh me down. What am I looking forward to? More of the same.

While working outside yesterday, I found more signs of spring. Cutting back the peonies (yes, I confess to a major crime – I failed to do that last fall), I found the earliest one sending up new sprouts
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a Viola with a tiny bud
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the Autumn Joy Sedum sending up this year’s future flowers
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and, while having my early morning cup of coffee and watching the birds out my window, a bluebird checking out one of the birdhouses (forgive the lack of clarity, the light was not the best and the zoom was all the way out).
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I do love spring!

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Fall Yard Clean-up Before Spring

While the eastern half of the country huddles under blankets for warmth and sees nothing but white through its windows, in my part of the world we have sunshine, no snow and temperatures running well above normal. Obviously, our country is suffering from a split personality. This week, our rain has gone away and sunshine has prevailed, urging me to get out of my chair and head outside to do the flower bed cleanup that should have been done in the fall – and to remove the pine needles that winter’s wind has blown down to shelter the flowers that will bless our spring and summer.

Plan is to attack one small bed or portion of a bed at a time, because these years myself is not willing to spend many hours of the day on my knees or bending over. This day’s project was the south end of the slope bed, which looked like this before I started
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Disgusting, isn’t it? In my defense, I leave the stems of flowers with seed heads over the winter for the birds – the rest of it? Attribute all that to the fact that when October gets here I grow lazy and this past October I was traveling. Excuses? Yes.

First, I pulled the dead annual flowers from the tub planter, for which Lily thanked me. She did not like perching there when the pokey brown stalks were covering the cushion of the soft soil.
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Not long into the work of clearing, which I seem to end up doing on my knees even though I have brought a rake with me, I was given a gift
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by a girl who thought it would do me good to play for awhile.
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As I pulled out pine needles, grasses and clover – which I have been fighting for as many years as this bed has existed and wonder if this will be the year I finally wave the white flag – I found gifts. Earthworms not yet ready to awaken
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tiny little daylily sprouts
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then there were my helpers.
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The more I cleared, the more treasures I found, all very very early this year. Daffodils halfway to their full growth
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iris whose rhizomes have risen above the soil – maybe time for me to haul in some topsoil? Or dig and divide. This will require some thinking about.
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I have reached the end for this day – I have cleared the part of the bed where the daffodils bloom and created a large pile of debris which will need to be hauled to the burn pile on another day. Always, I have my companions, my helpers, my “let’s lay on the green sprouts and see if they will spring back to life when we leave” girls.
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On my way back into the house, I notice that even the little willow bush has green sprouts. I shall do a daily dance for the early spring to continue and no hard frosts to destroy the future of all these green gifts.
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And there are the pots of spring color that I decided on my last trip to town I must have – the gray rainy week called for some bright spots. These girls are residing in their temporary home – once the flower bed cleanup has been done and space has been cleared they will be moved to a permanent home.
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Enough – this day provided enough.

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Share Your World – 2015 Week 6

Good morning! Time to to play with Cee again.

1. What was the last time you went to a new place? This is an easy one – December, when I met Gep and Kat in Vietnam.
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2. If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels, other? And what type of genre would you prefer? I love to play with words, and my blog is a great platform to satisfy that urge. I don’t think I could be a poet and doubt very much that I’d ever be able to put together a plot and believable characters, so I think the blog will be all that I will ever produce.

3. Out of your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing) which is your favorite? Sight. For sure. Hearing is important, and if I were to lose it I’m certain I would find out how much it meant to me – I don’t have a very discerning sense of taste or smell anyway (probably because of the far too many years I smoked), but sight – without it, I would miss so many things, like these
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4. If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours? I’m not sure how to answer that one – what is satisfying for me might not be for others. I can say there is little I feel I need beyond what I have. A little more income would be nice – just enough to make it a little easier. But I could not ask for better kids, or better friends, or a more comfortable home. My furry girls are great companions, nudging me out of my comfort zone a little. I think the photo below, taken a few years ago when I still had hair, is a good example of my feeling of satisfaction.
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Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? I am grateful for the rain that came because we desperately need the moisture. I am grateful for the fact that the rain has gone now and the sun has returned. I am grateful for the birds at my feeders, the purring cat on my lap. I am looking forward to getting out in the yard and starting the spring flower bed cleanup early this year.

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