Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Human Connection

I am a person to person person. I am. This is not a world where that is encouraged, quite the opposite. While you are on hold waiting for a human being, you are bombarded with reminders that, “Did you know that you can do this online?” Or “Did you know that you can do that online?” If I could have done it online, I would have, but now I need to speak to a human. And please, delete the part of the recording that says, “Your call is important to us.” If it was you would hire more service representatives. And you can stop thanking me for my patience. It ran out about an hour and a half ago. In total I spent over three hours on the phone yesterday evening (ruined supper) but still I am grateful. Here we go…

We have to change our Qantas flights back to Oz because of my eye surgery. After a ten or so minute hold, the first call produced someone with a thick French accent who I could not really understand. I do not think she understood me either. She led me to believe that I could change the flight online myself and we parted ways. You cannot change the flight online yourself.

The second attempt brought me someone who I just said that I could not understand and I hung up. My third call brought me Nonhle (pronounced Nonche) who was in South Africa. I spent over an hour with her as she worked on our rescheduling. I chatted with her about South Africa, birding and wildlife. We laughed and joked. She was delightful. She put me on hold twice and was gone perhaps ten minutes each time. Then she said that she had to talk with ticketing and asked if I could hold again. I said yes, but please don’t lose me!

Sadly, she did. I remained on hold over an hour and a half and finally the call was disconnected. In the meantime, I called Qantas on Lynn’s phone (while mine was still on hold) four times trying to see what was going on to no avail. I finally got someone who said that Nonhle wanted to call me. I gave him my number and he stayed on with me until I was on with her. It was a joyous reunion! She was so apologetic and sweet. She had no idea how we got disconnected. She said that she would not put me on hold again and we stayed together until the flight change was completely sorted.

Then she told me that the charges for the new flights would be an additional $911. However, she was able to find a similar flight four days later and saved us $426 of those charges. She had really worked to make this work for me. We had had a real, human connection. She thanked me and I thanked her and I am sure that in the real world, we would have hugged. I am grateful.
A familiar sight for my wife and me. There are still lovely individuals working for that massive, impersonal company. You just have to be fortunate enough to make a connection with them.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hours of Pleasure Per Dollar

Our visiting friends leave today to head back to the Land of Enchantment. That far away state of adobe and green chile, of Kokopelli and conchos has some of our dearest friends within its borders. We have been out there and will certainly go back again someday. But this morning my mind is mostly distracted as I edge toward my first cataract surgery this Thursday. I am absolutely confident in the procedure, but it is a surgery, and it is my eye, and I think I have mentioned a few score of times that I am prone to anxiety.

Therefore I am writing about something this morning to distract myself. It is something that I came up with years ago, and that I believe in, and I live by (no, not Lifer Pie). It is… Hours of Pleasure Per Dollar.

Deciding on what it is appropriate to spend money is incredibly subjective. Best friends, couples and lovers have more disagreement over the proper spending of funds than any other single issue. It can be a difficult topic. I hope that this concept may help with that. Whenever you are choosing a purchase, remember the item’s potential for Hours of Pleasure Per Dollar, or HPPT. I do and I am grateful.

There are many examples of excellent HPPT. I am writing this on one. This is a year old MacBook that I have probably already had over a thousand hours of pleasure with and I will continue to do so for years to come. My Swarovski bins sitting to my left, even purchased reconditioned were quite expensive. I bought them in 2010 and they have given me thousands of hours of pleasure. The same goes for my camera and lens and my scope. These are the purchases that keep on giving. Not to mention our phones! What seemed such a pricey thing back when we started looking at smart phones has become a daily part of our lives, providing us with many opportunities for pleasure. These are all bargain items in HPPT and I am grateful for them.

So when you are deciding on a purchase think of its pleasure shelf life along with the actual price. You may find that the more expensive item is the better deal. I am grateful.
There's some excellent HPPT right there.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Love Rules

It has been a very good several days. There are always things about which to be grateful and positive. That is the whole point of my blog, but the last few days have had the “good” shining in and illuminating all our lives. The Supreme Court decision on marriage equality sent love vibrations through the world. We are blessed to have dear friends, a married couple, visiting us from New Mexico where they were legally married last year (they are both of the woman type of human). Therefore it was even more special as my world and my friends across the globe exploded in beautiful rainbows and love… love, love, love! I am so grateful.

The idea that anyone could oppose marriage equality baffles and enrages me. It is an issue on which I have no give. If you oppose it, I oppose you and we’re done, and I am grateful to be done with you. This is a time to rejoice that it does indeed feel like the 21st century, at least for a while. No, we are not going to be dragged back into the nineteenth century by bigots, racists and morons. We will continue to make progress through love and love will win! Oh yes, I am grateful!

We have had some excellent birding (see the blog before this one) and some just plain wonderful fun with our friends. I am so grateful that they came to the coast to spend some time with us. And the timing could not have been sweeter!
Our friends having just seen about a dozen Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.
Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Woodpeckers, Bobwhites, Bears and Goatsuckers

Yesterday was extraordinary. We have wonderful friends, Lee and Nicki visiting us here between the sandbar and the swamp and they are birders (imagine that). One of the more sought after birds in our area is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. It is a lovely, endangered and poorly named bird. Many people think that it should be called the “white-cheeked woodpecker.” But instead it is named for a tiny red spot near its ‘ear’ that you never see. And “cockade” is a word no one has used much since the 19th century.

Cockade: a decoration that is worn on a hat especially as part of a uniform to show a person's status, rank, etc.

So we were all up early and by 6am we were headed to the Palmetto Peartree Preserve (or P3 as it is called by the cool kids. I call it Palmetto Peartree Preserve) about a half hour inland. We arrived in the same area where I had seen one last August and we began to look and listen. Nicki wandered a bit further down the road and we headed down to check that area. When we got to her, she said that she thought she was hearing them and that she was seeing a lot of bird activity. Moments later a woodpecker flew across the road and Lynn said, “That’s it!” And I said, “That’s your bird!” Red-cockaded Woodpecker, yes!
Red-cockaded right over there!
Over the next half hour or so we watched perhaps a dozen or more RCWO’s frolicking about the branches of the trees just off the road beside us. It was amazing. I am so grateful. We saw some immature males that still had the red dot on their crown. At first I thought I was seeing the cockade, but on further research, I learned about the immature male’s red dot.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis 
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis 
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis 
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis
After a nice “country” brekkie in Columbia, the next thing on our agenda were Bears. We drove back to the Alligator River NWR and soon found some momma bears with cubs. Then Lee mentioned that she did not have Northern Bobwhite and although it was getting on toward noon, we had hopes of finding her another lifer and we did! 
Where there are Northern Bobwhites, Alligator River NWR.
In the evening I drove us down to the Bodie Island Lighthouse. We had a lovely time looking and seeing lots of birds as dusk approached. We had Virginia and Clapper Rails, Glossy and White Ibis. It occurred to me that Chuck-will’s-widows (which would be a life bird for me) were sometimes heard along the lighthouse road. So as we left, I drove slowly and listened. Before we had gone a hundred meters, we heard that distinct call. It was close and loud. We all got out to peer into the foliage and evidently it decided it needed to cross the road because it flew right over us (and right between Lee and me). I had bare-eye looks at this gorgeous goatsucker! Yes, the first Life Bird for me since CONW in Ohio. I was and am, incredibly grateful. There will be pie in my future.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Life: It Is Not Going To Come To You. Go Do It!

Today this morning mostly got away from me. I don’t feel well. I know what it is, and I am sure it will pass, but it is uncomfortable and I did not feel like writing. However that is not important right now. Yes, I was going to skip doing a gratitude post today and then, as so often happens, inspiration tapped me on my dizzy head.

My niece, Ali posted this meme. I fully believe it and I live it to the best of my ability. I am sharing it as my Living Gratitude post today, because I am not only grateful for Ali and her husband Mike, but I am grateful for my life and for my friends and family (they are one in the same to me).

When I write, "Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music." at the end of each post, they are more than words. I see their meaning every time I write them. I am grateful for these words and for their guidance. I am not at a place; I am on a path. Thank y’all for coming with me. I am so glad that I do not travel it alone.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Little Big Year

These posts are meant (for me) to be an ongoing search for, and exploration of gratitude. I want to post regularly as I have been doing on Facebook, but I do not want to force them. It does me no good to bang-out some quick “I am grateful for my iPhone and I love y’all” post to fill in the day (although I am, and I do). So I look for inspiration as well as the time to write. I usually can find both, if I am just willing to look.

As we begin our travels in a couple of months, I plan to document the Big Adventure on this blog (I must come up with a better name for it. I called it that because it is not a Big Year, but it is Big and it is an Adventure). Maybe I will call it, “Little Big Year” as a nod to that excellent film, "Little Big Man." But any reference to a “Big Year” puts Lynn off a bit as she has seen me in full-birding mode and she is not going to put up with that for a year around Australia. And seriously, I do not want to do a full-on big year either. As far as Oz goes, John Weigel has set the bar 770 where it will undoubtedly remain for many years to come. That was a BIG Year. So in this coming year, I will keep track of my species, but it’s not going to be a Big Year, as I said, maybe a Little Big Year. I guess I have named it after all. The Little Big Year, I am grateful!

I want to show y’all something. I used to collect Ukuleles. Kent Ippolito and I had over 300 together at one point and I ended up with over 200 myself. The fun was in the acquisition, not in the possession. Ebay and the internet in general basically killed that fun and I sold my collection (almost all of it) back in 2010 just as I was getting more seriously into birding. So in some ways, I justify the expense of my good bins, my camera and scope by saying that the old hobby paid for the new hobby.

Here are some photos of what was called the Uke Room at our house in Fredericksburg. There are more, and I think better, photos somewhere. There were certainly more ukes, the walls were filled from floor to ceiling. It was very cool and I am grateful for that time and the fun of finding them.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Whisper Tube

It just happened to be the day before the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere) that Lynn and I successfully put shades up in the skylights here at the cottage. I did not even think about the date until this morning. Anyway, skylights seem to be a good idea in general. Who doesn’t like the sky? Or light? Put them together and wow! How can you not love Sky Light! Believe me, it is possible.
That is a high ceiling.

After you live with them a while, you find they can be very annoying and will even begin to sadden the colors of your upholstery and rugs. The ideal, but insanely expensive solution, is remote control blinds. However, they are way out of our price range. So Lynn made these shades out of heavy material and I managed to get them into the skylight wells without killing myself. I am grateful.
The lovely morning light that is not blasting down from the skylights!
The best part, other than me not falling off the ladder, was that we were left with a wonderful, long, heavy cardboard tube to play with (the material came wrapped on it). So we now have a “Whisper Tube” to use to tell each other secrets when we need to. Here we are testing it, and it works great! Yes, occasionally couples need to safely whisper secrets to each other and I am grateful.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Eye Eye!

Let me begin with gratitude for the sound of a Green Heron’s “skeow” in the trees above me as I was taking the recycling down this morning. It is a cool sound. I did not see the bird, nor did I look very hard for it. I knew it was up there in the shadows, but I don’t see very well in low light, or at a distance, for now. But that is going to change.

We have scheduled cataract surgery for me. They are going to do one eye on 2 July and if all goes well, the second on 13 July. I have complete confidence in the procedure, but it is stressful in general and I am dealing with my tendency toward anxiety, certainly nothing new for me. We will have to push back our departure for Oz by a few weeks, possibly a month, but it doesn’t really affect our plans too much. We will just change our travel routes accordingly and I will be able to see so much better! I am so grateful. I was more than a little worried about going off on the biggest year of birding of my life with poor vision.

Ah, there is a beautiful Great-crested Flycatcher, a regular yard visitor and one of my favorites. I haven’t seen the pair of Pileated Woodpeckers this morning, but I heard some knocking. There are lots of Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Common Grackles and House Finches out there among the trees as usual. Having “dimmer” vision, I have gotten a little better at silhouette identification, but as I said, soon I will be seeing much better and I am truly grateful.

I will leave you with a few yard shots from last June. Here is a Green Heron on the next-door neighbor’s roof and the Pileated Woodpeckers. I wonder if it is the same pair this year? It seems like it would be.
Pileated Woodpecker (M) Hylatomus Pileatus
Pileated Woodpecker (F) Hylatomus Pileatus
Green Heron, Butorides verisens
Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


It is difficult to describe how much stuff has gotten away from me over the last five or so years. Before we left Fredericksburg, we began to radically downsize in preparation for moving to Australia. Since then we have re-downsized over, and over, and over again. To give you an idea, a full forty-foot container went to Australia and a not full twenty-foot container returned (and at some point in the future, hopefully will return yet again to Oz). It is a long, emotional and very complex story and it has taken its toll. But the stuff is the least of it. It is indeed, just stuff. Even the really cool stuff, and the stuff that has emotional attachments and history is still just stuff. I can do without most of it and I am grateful.

I used to do a comedy bit about what if when you die you find out that the Egyptians were right, and you get “there” and they ask, “Where’s all your stuff?” And you’re like, “You mean I could have brought it?” And they say, “Well, yeah. All of it.” And you’re like, “Damn. Can I go back and get it?” And they’re like, “Um, no.” But we all know (most of us) that it is NOT going to be the case. Our stuff will go to our heirs, who most likely will keep a couple of things, sell some, give some away and yes, throw out a lot of it.

I see downsizing on three levels. They are:

1. Downsize like you are moving into a smaller house.

2. Downsize like you are moving into a smaller house in another hemisphere.

3. Downsize like there has been a death and you’re cleaning out the house of a distant relative.

We’ve pretty much done that number three a few times now. I don’t miss anything really. I do hate having to repurchase stuff that we found out we needed after all. But really, that is easy. The hard thing is having to let go of the sentimental stuff, as I mentioned, the stuff with a history. But I reckon I have gotten pretty good at letting go in general and I am grateful. Here is a bit of stuff that I still have with me.
That is an Australian Trumpet Shell, Syrinx aruanus this shell was Lynn's and she gave it to me after we were married. I love this shell, and yes, there is a ceramic alligator with a pig in its mouth on the right. Oh, and they're resting on my great-grandfather's roll-top desk that I have had most of my life.

A stain-glass pelican that we've had for a while. There is not a really long history with this, but it is something that I quite like and noticing it, and that I still had it, is what initially inspired this blog.

We probably have less than a fifth of the books we used to have, but books are, well, books and I need to be around books. These are but a few, there are several other bookcases in the house.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lynn's Lifer Grasshopper Sparrow

Yesterday we left our little home between the Sandbar and the Swamp to head up to the lower Eastern Shore of Virginia. It is really quite an easy drive, just up to Va. Beach and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (or CBBT as it is known). It takes about two and a half hours. It was a beautiful, although very hot day. Temperatures were around 100 F (38 C) except close to the water where they stayed in the lower nineties. But in the car with the A/C running it was lovely. I am grateful.

We had planned to pop up here at some point before we head back to Oz at the end of July for basically two reasons. One, we love The Shanty restaurant in Cape Charles and two, we love Adria who works there and we want to catch up with her. A third reason had recently made itself known. Grasshopper Sparrows were being reported on eBird at Magothy Bay Preserve. This would be a lifer for Lynn.

We arrived on the shore in the early afternoon and I suggested that we have a quick look for the sparrow. As I mentioned, it was very hot and I think Lynn said, “Oh, hell no!” or something similar. So we grabbed a bite of lunch and then, since we were only minutes from the sparrow area, I drove us over to have a look anyway.

As we headed down the gravel entrance road through brown, partially mown fields of hay, a sparrow flew across in front of us and landed, perched up to our left. I said, “There’s your sparrow!” The first bird we saw in that area was Lynn’s lifer Grasshopper Sparrow. I am grateful.
Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
There were four, two pairs I reckon, and we got amazing looks at these, what can sometimes be, frustrating little sparrows. It may have been the heat, or season, but they perched up and would stay up. They even occasionally perched on the power lines. I took copious photos and Lynn got wonderful Life Looks. I am grateful!

Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum
We capped off our day with a phenomenal supper at The Shanty (which I documented on the facebook). Their Soft Crab BLT is in my top favorite sandwiches in the world. Lynn had pound cake with strawberries as her “Lifer Pie” and I even had Mexican chocolate ice cream (at the Shanty, but made by Brown Dog Ice Cream, local, wondrous, handmade ice cream) as a guide’s lifer pie reward. I am grateful.
The view from our table at The Shanty

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Photo-bomb Your Own Life

We had company this weekend… a couple that we have known and loved for many years and one of my oldest, closest friends. It was a delight to hangout with people who share collective memories of our lives. There are not a lot of those anymore, and I am grateful. Kent and I go back 35-40 years (I am not sure exactly, we all know I drank). In 1978 a house we were renting together was condemned while we were living in it. This is Kent and me standing on either side of the DANGER this property is condemned sign.

So it was big fun to just hang around again. I could write a book just on Kent and my shared experiences. Amazingly, we were never arrested. I am grateful.

I took a photo the other day and someone commented that it looked as if I was photo-bombing my own photo. It did look like that, and it set me to thinking. Sometimes we need to photo-bomb our own lives. We need to stick ourselves into it, even when it seems like maybe we’re not supposed to be there.

There is an excellent saying that states that the answer to an unasked question is always, “No.” I get that, and certainly agree in most cases. However… I also believe strongly in the saying, “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” (Interpretation of signage is something that I am very liberal with. No access? I thought that only meant no vehicular access). Most often in the broader sense, we do not need permission from anyone but ourselves. I am learning to give myself permission and I am grateful. I also have bail money.

So occasionally I photo-bomb my own life. I recommend it. Do not wait for others to do it, put yourself in the picture! 

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Queen and I

This is a gratitude retrospective. In the 1990’s once or twice a year, I would perform on Grand Cayman Island. They were incredible gigs that lasted 2 weeks and although the pay was light, the accommodations were all inclusive (except drinks and we know I don’t drink). And all activities, which for me meant snorkeling, were free as well. I even gave diving a go, but I still preferred to snorkel. I loved it there!

During one of these gigs in 1994, Queen Elizabeth II was returning to visit “her” islands for the first time in 17 years. Everyone was excited, including me. They really fixed up the place, cleaning anything that could be cleaned and putting a fresh coat of paint on anything that could be painted. The island literally shone. They love their Queen.

It was scheduled that she was going to drive down Seven Mile Beach Rd. to the Governor’s Mansion, at a certain time and we went out to have a look (our hotel was on that road). There were quite a few people waiting as the motorcade with the white Rolls rolled slowly down the narrow two-lane street. The Queen was in the backseat doing the “Queen wave” to her adoring fans and subjects. It was pretty cool and after she passed, we walked back into the hotel. We had seen the Queen. Keen.

About two hours later one of our Caymanian friends called and said that the Queen was leaving the Governor’s Mansion well ahead of schedule and would be driving back past our hotel and if we wanted another look with less people around, we should go out now. It had also begun to rain. Lynn opted out, but I walked down to the road again (it was a warm rain). I was the only one out there. I could see the motorcade coming and I stood, in the rain, waving and smiling (a bit like an idiot I suppose) as it approached.

They were going quite slowly and as the Rolls started to pass me, I saw her notice me standing there. The Queen of England looked directly at me and waved at me with her fingers. Not the “Queen wave” but a personal, just at me, real wave. I was thrilled, because that kind of thing does thrill me.

They say that you cannot un-see something, so somewhere in the grey matter of Queen Elizabeth II there is an image of me, in the rain, smiling and waving. It is probably somewhere way in the back, under a stack of old National Geographics or somthing, but it is in there. However, the image of her waving back at me is right up near the front of my brain in a box marked, “cool stuff that I will never forget.” I am grateful.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Being Open To Gratitude

This is one of those mornings when I have no idea what I am going to be writing about even as I write. The words will either find their own path or not. We will see. They do find it, more often than not, although sometimes they go astray and fade away into the distance without getting anywhere. I am picturing some sort of "word graveyard" where the bleached bones of unused words from unfinished thoughts lie in piles in shimmering sunlight. I imagine this as a desert where mirages of false ideas lead the words toward their eventual demise. I do have a vivid imagination and I am grateful for it. Unless it turns on me.

I am grateful for so many things and yet sometimes, my overriding "feeling" is that of anxiety and insecurity. That has been the case through my life and I suppose it has something to do with my imagination, or my upbringing (I come from worriers) or it might just be my basic wiring. Whatever the cause, I continue to work to overcome it and writing these expressions of living gratitude is a part of that. This morning I will just write a list of things I am grateful for as they come to mind.
Here we go...

Lynn and I sorted how to use credits on Skype telephoning and I was able to call and check on Matilda. We are having solar panels installed and a few other things done and all seems well.

Also using Skype phone, I was able to make the booking for Lynn's birthday week on Norfolk Island. That is going to be incredible.

Our wonderful next door neighbor and his delightful eldest daughter brought us two pieces of cake that she had made. She was wearing her favorite t-shirt, which we brought her from Oz. It has an aboriginal design on it. I love that she loves that shirt.

I had an excellent walk, with a few little run-breaks, around the harbor yesterday morning. I am continuing to walk every day.

Lynn made a shrimp (fresh and locally caught) dish for dinner that was garlicy and incredibly delicious.

Sherry called us on the regular Skype and it was wonderful to see her and chat a bit.

I picked up a package at the Post Office from our dear friend, John. It contained a massive (and currently out of print) Australian road atlas as well as a stack of other maps to help with our planning. I am so deeply grateful for his invaluable support and help with our coming travels.

So there is a list of things just from yesterday for which I am grateful. Any one of them could have been expanded into a whole post in itself. Gratitude overcomes the anxieties, if I am just open to it. I am grateful. 

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


When I was growing up, I felt that the world was moving toward, evolving. Then in stepped the propaganda greed-machines and slowly, for some folks, what had come to be thought of as common sense began to be twisted into something petty and ignorant. Arrogant ignorance is not something I grew up with. We knew it was out there, the KKK for example, but it was fringe stuff, something far away and unreal for me as a kid. I watched integration beginning and thought, “Well of course. That’s common sense.” The large majority of us knew it was the right thing to do… back then. Can you imagine Fox News covering George Wallace blocking the door of the University of Alabama? Sadly, I can.

Where is the gratitude in this? Well, I am grateful that regardless of politics, I still have a knack for connecting with people of all types and I am grateful that many will connect back. I have had genuine conversations with strangers at the grocery. I am grateful for learning to understand the importance of kindness and compassion. I am not always good at it, but I am working on it. I am grateful that I am evolving.

I am very grateful to be a part of a community who think, and love, and care, a community that is also evolving and growing. “The Tribe,” as it is sometimes called, is wonderfully family-like in all the best senses of that word. We care about each other and the earth we live on. I do belong and I am grateful for who we are, and who I am. Who I have become over the years and who I am continuing to become.

I love this photo by Angel Abrue of me singing my songs for some of the Tribe. In a way this photo defines me. If all I ever accomplished was this right here, it really would be enough for me.

Birds. Peace. Earth. Love. Laughter. Music.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Passion: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. Mirram-Webster

I believe that passion is what separates living from existing. I reckon all of y'all know that I am passionate about birding. I came to this passion later in life. I was always into nature and I was an avid saltwater fisherman, but the birding bug did not bite me until early 2009 in Australia. The look on my face in this photo of me as I am told that it is time to leave the Western Treatment Plant captures the birth of a birder (and look at those bins! They are independent focus and weigh a ton. And how about that little point and shoot?).

I did not choose birding. Somehow it chose me. There was never a point when I thought, "I don't fish anymore and I'm tired of collecting ukuleles. I think I'll go to a waste treatment plant and look at birds." The best passions just happen naturally. I don't want to live a life where I do not have a reason to get up before dawn sometimes, or a reason to push myself (Colima Warbler, I am coming for you spring of 2017). I will never forget the afternoon in Deniliquin, NSW when Lynn and I lay down for naps after getting up at five that morning, knowing that we'd be out chasing the Plains Wanderer until after midnight, but still we were both too excited to sleep. That is passion and better yet, that is shared passion. It doesn't always happen, but it is magic when it does. I am grateful for that memory and look forward to making many more.

I am not here to judge others. Not everyone "gets" birding and there are those whose passions I have difficulty understanding, but I don't have to. In my opinion people choose their own paths and those paths, no matter how seemingly unappealing, serve them in some way.

Confusion between obsession and passion seems silly to me. People who don't get birding, sometimes call my dedication to it an obsession. Yes, I will stand for four hours staring into the same stretch of woods, in the rain, in hopes of glimpsing a Connecticut Warbler (and I did) and it was worth every second. That is passion. Obsession is trying to shoot a president to impress Jodie Foster. Here I am in the Florida heat walking to the far end of that shadeless track to look for a Purple Swamphen. Yes I saw it, and it was worth it. I am grateful.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Time Maps and the Visual Brain

So as we plan, shifting and changing our proposed travel dates, I bought a calendar that shows the whole year. I actually said to Lynn, “I need to see this on a map, I mean calendar.”

But a calendar IS a time map! And I need to see it laid out, not in a damn list. To my brain, lists are just a pile of words. A proper calendar I can see and understand. Once I “see” something I have it. I am 100% visual in my perception of things. I can see the route we are taking around Australia in my “minds eye” because I have drawn it out on maps. When it was a list of places with names and dates, I could not grasp it. So I am very grateful for calendars.

I am also grateful for finally, in my later years, understanding how my mind works (somewhat). As an ADHD person I have learned that some processes work better for me than others. People in general are not ADHD, nor are they inclined to tolerate brains that work differently than theirs. They cannot understand why you can’t just buckle down and go through a list, or fill out the forms. Do my own taxes? Kiss my ass. I can’t understand why other people can’t write stories or draw pictures. I am grateful for my creativity, even at the cost of my ability to do some other things.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

“It’s Never Too Late To Have A Good Childhood”

Yesterday, I had a childhood memory rise to the top in the sludge of my brain like a bubble popping on the surface of a tar pit. I don’t recall much about my early years, and I reflected on this memory and it was sad. I do not whine about my childhood. It sure could have been worse, but I was basically ignored ninety percent of the time.  I was alone, and lonely a lot. As I remembered this, I thought these very words…

“I did not have a bad childhood, actually it’s going pretty well.” Damn right it is, and I am grateful.

“It is never too late to have a good childhood,” was my next thought. I knew someone else must have thought of that phrase before me and sure enough, Google gives credit to both Tom Robbins and Berke Breathed (most excellent company!) but it seems the credit should go to Robbins. Regardless of who said it first, it is still worth repeating, and repeating, and repeating. Yes! You can be the kid you always wanted to be!

If I have one message for the world, that is it. More than embracing your inner child: BE your inner child. Allow that playfulness, wonder, joy, curiosity, and yes, gratitude of a child to fill your life. But be prepared! As with all children, there may be bullies on your playground who want to push you around! Sometimes they call themselves “responsible adults.” They will tell you why you can’t. They are f-ing FULL of the word, “can’t.”

So I am here to tell you that you can. Yes. You. Can. And so can I, and I am really grateful!

Here is a photo of my granddaughter with a clothes pin (clothes peg) backward on her nose. I taught her to do that.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Friday, June 5, 2015

You Can’t Wear It Out

Later yesterday morning, I had yet another wonderful walk around the harbor in Manteo. The rain had stopped for a bit and it was lovely. A most excellent walk indeed and yes, I am grateful. Here are a few photos from Manteo.
Here is the harbor and my favorite “little” sailboat over there. I love the roundness of its lines.
What I am most grateful for yesterday, was working on our routing for the second half of the Big Adventure! Lynn and I poured over the notes, and the books, and the maps, and apps… coming up with a rough draft of our schedule and planned route. This took hours and we worked on it together. I am amazingly grateful and I can hardly wait. The phenomenal, wondrous sights we will see as the birds lead us around Oz! Writing down names like, Shark Bay or Broome Bird Observatory and SO many others as destinations, not just places! I am possibly going to need another word for grateful. I may wear it out.

However, that is the most wonderful thing about gratitude. It is like love; you cannot wear it out! The more gratitude that you give, the more gratitude you have. The more you are grateful, the more easy it becomes to be grateful. So, I am very grateful. Some days I am also worried and anxious, or frustrated and angry, but when I sit down to write these posts, I look for and find the things for which I am truly grateful. It may occasionally begin as a “fake it until you make it” type thing, but it works. And I am grateful. Here is a photo of our planning table from yesterday.
Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.