Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Economy casualty?

Well, I needn't have worried about the big day of ski registration yesterday. Eerily quiet, with totals down nearly 25% from a year ago. Only two explanations make any sort of sense:

1) Changing demographics; perhaps not that many folks are interested.
2) Less discretionary income; perhaps not as many folks can afford the lessons, or it's not as high a priority as it might have been.

So a relief, but a questioning sort of relief. And yet -- relief!

Onward, slow and steady...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Small escape part 2

A couple photos that Ma took at Naniboujou. Nice to see I can actually smile! Especially before a possibly ugly workday tomorrow; believe me I'm praying otherwise. Enjoy the photos!

The nieces and I

Naniboujou sunrise

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A-OK!

Everything is going well with my sister's recovery, and as expected she will be home tomorrow. Ma made the trip from Nisswa to "see for herself" and appears satisfied with the situation. I ate dinner with the family tonight to get all the latest news, and the nieces seem to be taking everything in stride.

Many "Thank You"s to all the well-wishers, both on- and off-line. Your thoughts and prayers are GREATLY appreciated!

Hopefully back to normal this weekend, as I think we could all use some sleep...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jolt

I wish the title was only a reference to a high-caffeine soft drink...

Thankfully my sister should be OK and home on Friday. But today she suffered a mild heart attack. At least she was fully aware of what was occurring and got herself to a hospital. The blocked artery is small, the body will heal.

The psyches of herself and those around her are another matter. Once over the shock, I'm pretty sure that she, I, my brother-in-law and my nieces will be OK. Mom, however, is taking this hard, especially after the joys of the past weekend. As she says, she has to see that everything is actually OK before she believes it.

All will be well. We just have to give this a few days...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Timing...

One of Amber's efforts from a September bird banding session. Thanks to Jessi Henderson for "lending a hand." Enjoy!

Warbler and dragonfly

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A different perspective...

...of photographer Amber at work, here photographing the Great-crested Flycatcher we banded near Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Bird and photog

A small escape

Celebration of Mom's #80 is now complete after a very relaxing weekend at Naniboujou Lodge north of Grand Marais, MN. On to the ugly business of software upgrades and ski registrations, which will occupy my next two weeks.

Some photos from this weekend... enjoy!


Naniboujou Lodge

Rock hunting

Lake Superior shore 1

Lake Superior shore 2

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No NSWO, but...

My foray into the world of attempting to band Northern Saw-whet Owls has thus far come up empty. However, the evenings that the group and I were outside were wonderful. Last night stands out, ending our night with a bright near-full moon, howling coyotes and overhead avian chip-notes. I don't know the species of the latter, probably some of the various late warblers and sparrows on their way south some of the sounds did remind me of Horned Larks). But despite the cold, a magical evening. Thanks to all who participated, we will try again next year!

Off the the north shore of Lake Superior for the weekend, I will check in again (hopefully with photos!) most likely Tuesday. See y'all later!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rain Man

Having more time to myself than expected (nothing worse than an ill dental hygienist), I decided to walk this morning. Not just any walk, but one loosely based upon the Henri Nouwen quote in my previous entry.

Nature was cooperating with a gently soaking rain. The rush hour was basically over, so traffic noise was minimized and fellow walkers were more amiable. My conclusion after my forty-five minute jaunt:

1) It truly is quite comforting to just be out on a quiet fall day, before the coming raw days of transition to winter.
2) One does feel more open to the world, more willing to say Hello and be at peace with one's fellow man.
3) I am gently soaked.

How many of these feelings I'd have if my home (if I was "lucky") was a cardboard box under a bridge is open to question.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Better times...

...at least personally. Stock market news (now supposedly down 39% from its highest level) doesn't worry me, whether it should or not. From the low spirits of earlier this week, life is seeming better. As part of this, I share some quotes from items written or read in the past 24 hours. Explanations as needed. Enjoy!

...don't write from obligation.

From an e-mail to a very dear friend. "Obligatory" writing should be reserved for tax forms, bill payments and similar. "Creative" writing must come from within as the Spirit moves you. My friend is doing a delightful job of the latter, I can't wait for her first publication!

...the white line was brightest just to the edge of the shadow. So I thought about the reasonable physics of this, the natural coolness of this, looked around at how light was different at various angles, etc. All while managing to stay on the road[.]
But my main jump was to here: when I feel the darkness, the shadow descend,.... if I can only remember or will myself to look, that just behind that "it" shadow....is the brightest light.


From an e-mail from another dear friend. More than anything else this week, this note helped me out of my depths. My heartfelt gratitude to the author...

..."Isn't the rain beautiful?" he said. "Why do we keep resisting rain? Why do we want the sun when we should be willing to be soaked by the rain? The Lord wants to soak us with his grace and love. Isn't it marvelous when we can feel the Lord in so many ways and get to know him better and better! He lets us experience his presence even now in all that surrounds us...

Not my alter ego the Preacher, but Henri Nouwen in his book "The Genesee Diary". It is very much like the thought I express to others, that my "church" is whenever I am outside. It is where I feel most surrounded by grace and love, especially when accompanied by close friends like those above. It is also one of the most difficult things to remember when one's thoughts are spiralling downward, out of control.

Many thanks to the both of you, and all my circle of friends. I really needed all of you this week.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Highs and lows 3

It started innocently enough. I remarked in a friend's e-mail how I plan my vacations, trips etc to sort of get from one round of work to another. But then something kicked in that hadn't been around for many years.

One's thoughts and emotions twist in an eerie downward spiral that is very difficult to stop. Nothing was really "going wrong", but it didn't matter. Life was just getting worse by the minute. The topper was to read this article and its associated heart-wrenching letters, and today felt like a total loss.

No need for readers to worry (no need to cheer either); I was not that far down. Yet I was far enough that the cycle of thought in the above article becomes understandable.

Only friend Sharon and others were able to help stop the cycle. At tonight's Birds and Beer (for which I thought I had the wrong date as I was alone the first half-hour) she, Linda, Sue, Kirk and the rest of the crew got my mood turned way around to at least salvage part of an otherwise dismal day. Great people (thank you Val for being such a wonderful waitress!), funny off-the-wall jokes and a side of a participant I never knew existed. A very needed evening. Kinda fun to meet state senator John Marty in person!

Today's downside is certainly not gone. But perhaps now it can slowly retreat and be gone for another 40 years...

More from Saturday

More photos from Saturday, courtesy of ace photog Amber. Enjoy!

Orange-crowned Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Swamp Sparrow

(Western) Palm Warbler

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bite, bite birdie

Yes, the bird was already free to go. Yes, this did hurt. Banding can be hazardous!

Determined cardinal

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Taking de bait

Watched as much of the vice-presidential debate as I could stand (which wasn't much, in fact it's still on as I write this), but barring a major faux pas in the last few minutes I think that:

1) We need to institute a "getting back to" rule in these things. That phrase and anything similar should never be allowed. Answer the question you were asked!

2) I give a very slight edge to the candidate who was not winking the whole time. I'll let you guess...

Overall, PTOOEY I say! Let's get the next month over with ASAP...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Boobird is dead

Yay, I finally got myself down to one e-mail account! My old account through aol served me well for many years, but with this last upgrade forcing the issue it was time to put it to rest. Paying money for stuff that I never really used anyways was getting stupid. And all the fluff that would come with the free account wasn't needed. Where I am now, through gmail, makes more sense with what I am using on the InterTubes. And that isn't really much.

Hope to band a few more songbirds before our big push the 12th-15th giving a shot to banding Northern Saw-whet Owls. That will probably rank as the nuttiest thing I've tried (sorry, no bungee-jumping for me), besides actually trying to win the lottery. I'll keep you all informed.

Also, be prepared for a first appearance of yet another alter ego, the Preacher; sort of a cross between John Hagee and Ric Flair. What he has to say will probably not sit well with folks, which is why he doesn't come out often. As soon as he gets his notes together, he'll be ready...