Thursday, December 17, 2009

Season's greetings!

OK, it was a bit longer hiatus than I thought, but I'm momentarily back. I will probably slip under the radar again, but I just wanted folks to know I'm still alive. I send everyone appropriate Holiday greetings from momma Jean's backyard, where we were graced by this rare avian visitor (a first in person for me). Enjoy!

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush in shade

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Temporary leave...

To those who might be reading this blog, circumstances dictate that I temporarily suspend updates. I will resume when my connection status is more reliable, probably sometime in August. I know y'all will miss me (ya sure); see you then!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The fuzziness of this is due to its origin on a cell phone (thank you, Rita Sandstrom!). Enjoy!

On one knee with Michelle

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Exciting times

Yes, that 14th definition of love is growing every day. To review:

14) a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

More later...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BOBO Linkage...

Forgive my extended absence, dear readers, life has been rather exciting lately. Other details to follow as warranted...

Last weekend at the regular bird banding session at Lowry Nature Center, we retrapped a Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) on the same hillside where it had been banded last year. Simply amazing!

Bobolink 2301-74310

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I can relate...

Gotta love The Onion! Enjoy the article


(hope the link survives for awhile...)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Avian frustration

Not to anthropomorphize, but birds can get the last laugh on us bird banders. As an example, Amber took this photo of friend and subpermittee Roger yesterday during our study of Sedge Wrens. Yes, both are in the photo. Enjoy!

Sedge Wren and Roger

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crazy days...

...which is not referring to the festival of "Pretty Good Shopping" in Nisswa, MN. It has been a very unpredictable two weeks. Amazingly, most of it in a very good way.

The avian migration this year is literally all over the map. It is nigh impossible to say what species one will encounter on a particular day. I think at the cabin we still have White-throated Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers, which in theory should be past there by now. Pine Siskins are still everywhere and probably nesting. Our Lowry banding session had mostly Chipping Sparrows. Bay-breasted Warblers are being seen right now both in the Brainerd area and down here. No orderly march northward in 2009; but it is exciting to finally have these feathered wonders arriving!

As regular readers know, I have been plodding along with "the 14 definitions of love" in this blog. Oddly enough, I might be living my way into definition 14. For fear of jinxing this unfolding delight (my wonderful pessimist tendencies), I'm leaving details out for now. When I'm ready to say more, this definition could be quite interesting.

I will shortly be away at the cabin until June, then the summer work slog begins. Now, however, there might be a very good reason to keep slogging... I leave you with a photo from ace taker Amber. Enjoy!

Quick, three beers! Olive-sided Flycatcher

Saturday, May 16, 2009


A truly remarkable week this past week. To celebrate, I share a photo from last weekend.


Something from nothing

Temperature below 40F. Wind from the north at 20-30mph. I had 0 hopes for the Lowry bird banding program today. If I hadn't thought we had a group arriving, I would have canceled the program.

Then as I drove to the nature center, I noticed a burned field with a number of sparrows. The back of the field was slightly protected from the wind by low vegetation. I thought "Well, this might work." After I had scanned our other usual net sites and found them well windblown, I took two nets and set along the field. Of course the first wave of feeding birds had flown, but it seemed the only choice.

It was a fortunate choice. Despite the over-breezy day, most of our 22 banded birds of 9 species came from those nets. And a remarkable set of species it was, including 2 (Eastern Kingbird and Tree Swallow) that I had not banded in 5 years. Hopefully friend Roger got some good photos for his blog...

I think I had some Help today...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Roch and roles

Spent the bulk of the day in Rochester, Minnesota. A very interesting day in multiple ways.

The most mundane was the visit to the dentist. I realize 75 miles is a haul for a dentist, but when a certain comfort level is achieved this patient doesn't want to change. And it's usually semiannual. Of course as I say that, I have to return in two weeks for a filling replacement. Oh, well...

The most awkward was visiting friends that I had not seen in over five years. So much had changed that none of us were in the same place as before. It was an excruciating experience for me, and I'm sure I didn't make it easy for them. My "private side" was present in full glory. Thirty minutes was all I could handle. As much as they might want me back, I don't think I can. Perhaps they don't want me back. Oh, well...

The most sublime was a lunch visit with "the woman from definition 13" (how's that for mystery?). She was recently laid off from the company where we first met. At lunch, she was accompanied by a grandson in a baby carrier, which she promptly handed to me. Odd as it may be for this old geezer, I felt quite "at home" with her and a young'un (ah, the imagination run amok; a beautiful thing). The restaurant folks, both waitstaff and patrons, look at you entirely differently. Doesn't hurt that grandson is a three-month old cutie (sorry, readers, I didn't have my camera). My friend has been through alot herself in the past few years, yet she exemplifies what a positive attitude can do. An amazing, beautiful woman. If only... Oh, well!

Now home from Rochester, I have much prep to do for tomorrow, including baking cookies tonight. Bird banding with friends Amber and Michelle in the morning, lunch with friend Kathy, then dinner with Michelle. With all that running around, thankfully gas isn't still $4+!

All is well...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Lemony goodness"

I use Amber's apt phrase to accompany a photo she took at Friday's banding session at Carver Park:

Male Yellow Warbler

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Music sampler

As I was sampling some of my CD collection this evening, my eyes wandered to the bookshelf containing my old LP collection. Perhaps someday I will get back to vinyl, seeing as it's making a comeback (I'm always at least two technological leaps behind). For the reader to judge eclecticity (OK, maybe that's not a word), I provide a sample of 10 adjoining records from said shelf. I'm guessing I'm about average: not all the same style, but not total polarity either...

Oregon - (self-titled)
Peter Ostroushko - Sluz Duz Music
Pink Floyd - Ummagumma
Prefab Sprout - Two Wheels Good
Pretenders - Learning to Crawl
Carl Sandburg - Flat Rock Ballads
Sound of Music - Original Broadway Recording
South Pacific - Original Broadway Recording
Stephen Stills - (self-titled)
Strawbs - The Best of Strawbs

I do lack such bands as Queen, Rolling Stones, Roxy Music and others; never liked 'em.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Blown away

Well, not quite, but the wind gusts that followed today's clearing weather nearly blew over one of my bird banding nets, while I was trying to extract a Chipping Sparrow! Needless to say, banding was done for the day. I got myself out, the sparrow got itself out, and none of us suffered ill effects more than being quite startled.

Ace photog and bander-in-training Amber took some great non-banding photos, especially the pair of Eastern Bluebirds. We think the bluebirds were winning the battle with Tree Swallows despite being outnumbered; we shall see. Enjoy the photos below!

Female Eastern Bluebird

Male Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallow

White-throated Sparrow

Monday, April 27, 2009

Love? part 4B

Well, I was already half-asleep when inspiration struck. One of those things that I can't let wait, or what I want to say will be gone.

To review, the definition of "love" being examined is:

13) a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

I initially addressed the "parent" aspect, and the "child" aspect does not currently apply. Thus we arrive at the "friend" aspect. Here goes (GULP)...

Do the people for whom I feel this attachment know that I feel this? Honestly I don't know. I believe they do, but only those people could answer that. As I stated before, I trust I have not been shy about expressing this feeling, despite my tendency to privacy. Those I consider friends are for me very close (some might even say too close). But how that feeling is both expressed by me and interpreted by others is, well, best expressed by them. Which is a very long-winded way of saying, again, I don't know.

Have I felt truly, unequivocally "loved" by someone? Yes, whether intended or not by the other. But one, actually two, incidents will forever stand out in my mind. These acts were by the same person, roughly within a six-month period. They were so out-of-the-blue, seemingly insignificant and yet so generous, that they became unforgettable.

First was the very simple act of making for me a fried-egg sandwich lunch, then showing me the trick of how to do this in a microwave. We would enjoy many of these over the next year, each cooking for the other in turn.

Second was helping me solve a particularly nasty software problem, aggravated by a receding cold. When I returned from a meeting that day, a surprise awaited me on my whiteboard. Thereon was written the solution to the problem, surrounded by a border of hearts.

Have I felt this way about the acts of others? Probably, but none so memorable as those. Her selflessness (at least as I felt it) was a joy. Have others felt this way about my actions? I wish I could say. I hope to someday be as uplifting to others as she was to me.

In sum, for this definition I guess "love" is in the heart of the beholder.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Six-mile migration

Another sign of spring is my mother's "moving" from her townhouse to the lake cabin. I will be helping her this weekend with the first part of that move, which isn't complete until mid-May (too cold yet!). On the lake, ice is out and loons are in. None too soon for my psyche!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Haven't forgotten...

...just too pooped lately to write. Love these change-of-weather colds! Still contemplating the last definition and a half, and will expound thoroughly when the right words happen along.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Love? part 4A

As the reader can tell, the last definitions of the word "love" are terribly difficult to be open and honest about. Not just with you, but with myself. It would be wonderful to say that every situation in my life is nothing but endless love in all its definitions. Perhaps if I could have been in San Francisco in 1967. This being a small condo in the Twin Cities suburbs in 2009, more likely not.

My penultimate answer must again be broken into an easy and difficult part. Even the easy may contain an item that is difficult to say. The definition is:

13) a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

As no children have come forward as yet, I will stick with parents and friends/misc (could be pets or something, after all) as the subject matter. The "easier" part about parents shall come first.

As to my mother, yes. This feeling did not come easily. As to my father, not yet. And this is a very difficult thing to admit. But after their divorce in 1966 (I was 10 at the time), my mother raised me. My father went on to a very productive life in Toronto, London, Brussels then back to Toronto.

For many years, dad Charles' input to my life was to relive his side of that divorce. Only after his stroke in 1986, then his "triple tragedy" in 1994 (his mother, wife and ex-father-in-law all dying within a few weeks) did the relationship start to repair. We are finally somewhat friends again, but it has not been an easy hill to climb. With perseverance, I still hope to someday love him as my father.

Probably leftover uncertainty clouded my relationship with mom Jean for the first few years after 1966. Amongst the memorable lines during those formative years was my balking at mowing the lawn: "Who was your slave before I came along?" And yet we persevered. We managed to find a mutual interest in birds and the outdoors which has persisted to this day. Above all, we kept communicating (both speaking and listening), even if one didn't like what the other had to say.

It might only be one factor, but "love" must have two-way communications to live. Always.

The other part to this answer will be soon. I just want to know I'm saying what I want to say.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mediocrates strikes again!

Apparently I really baffled someone today with this tidbit:

Unfortunately I can't choose a subworld...

Well, it made sense to me!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Love? part 3

I'm not sure how well I can really tackle this tonight, so I'm choosing what for me is the easiest of the remaining 3 definitions:

12) affectionate concern for the well-being of others

This is a definite yes. I must qualify it slightly in that my relationships seem, for better or worse, to be "all or nothing". I am a very private person, although less so with advancing years; a Sydney Harris column explains this well. I'm not much for the partying with strangers scene. Even the Birds and Beers which I now fondly attend started as a "Well, OK, only because so-and-so will be there" affair.

That said, my friends know that for them I will (if possible) drop everything to help them if needed. And I mean 24/7. A sample moment was paying $1000 for an immediate flight to San Francisco because a friend had tried suicide. Perhaps this is a sign more of obsession than devotion, but it is who I am.

I also remember a time that bugs me to this day. I was visiting my college town when thoughts turned to a fellow student. It was as though she was with me, calling for my assistance. I ignored this, as "I had to get home". As I found out later, she was needing a ride to MSP airport (on my way home) because her mother had died. Those of you that wish to scream "coincidence" may do so now.

Yes I do have concern for those close to me, and want to help in any way I can. Hopefully they all know that because I've actually told them, rather than by reading it here.

Then again, does it only qualify as "love" if I have that same 24/7 concern for people I do not know? Therein lies a very difficult question, for which I have no answer right now. Perhaps someday...

Happy Easter to all...

If not the rest of the year, this is a time to reflect upon what Christianity is truly all about. And I do not mean the cheap imitation seen so much these days.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Love? part 2

Continuing yesterday's entry with the four definitions of the word "love" that have been the deepest experiences in my 53 years. I do not know if others share the same, or a different combination. I can only speak for me.

11) the benevolent affection of God, or the reverent affection due God.

Many would find me lacking in the latter and not appreciative enough of the former. And yet...

Whether attributable to God, good fortune, unbelievable luck, beating Darwinism or whatever you wish, I should probably not be alive today. The four incidents that stand out the most:
- The old-style (think 1960) garage door that fell on me. Not just coming down, but dropping out of the track and landing flat. As the doctor said, if my head had not gone through that window...
- The 1968 mystery illness that was never diagnosed. To quote Monty Python, " better..."
- The 1981 pea-soup fog-shrouded highway drive, finding a stalled car in the middle of the road. It was two lengths ahead of me and I was going highway speed (idiot).
- The 1995 drive through a construction zone when a deer jumped the J-barrier and headed straight for my windshield.

So have I felt the love of a higher power in my life? Very much so in those cases. In just mundane everyday life? Yes I do. Friends more learned than I may scoff; that does not matter to me.

Do I consider myself a Christian? Yes I do. Would other Christians consider me a Christian? Probably not. I don't have my Bible memorized. I consider "being saved" as something to strive for in one's life every day, not just the "I'm saved and you're not, nanner-nanner boo-boo" mentality which seems so prevalent. I consider all of us God's children, even those of us that have "done horrible things". I have too many of my own sins to castigate any supposed sins of others. I consider Jesus' teachings the most right for me, but I cannot belittle how others find their path to God. Two recently-made friends have brought forth that God-sense within me so much; I hope I have in some small way done the same for them.

My favorite Bible verses shall always be the Beatitudes, Ecclesiastes and Psalm 103. Even if Psalm 23 is the only chapter I sorta-kinda know by heart.

I could write about one of the other three definitions, but I think this is enough for tonight. Blessings and love to you all.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Love? part 1

Out of curiosity, I checked the definition of the word "love" today. I was just wondering if anything I've experienced in life qualifies, especially with fellow human beings. I was surprised that, noun-wise, fourteen definitions are given; I was actually expecting more. Just for fun, I'm going to delve into each definition and see what comes up.

The first few are easy:

1) [Chiefly Tennis] a score of zero; nothing. The few times I've played tennis (not table tennis), that's been my score. So yes, I've experienced this kind of love.
2) a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L. I probably used this when trying to spell things out in my Customer Support days at IBM. So yes for this also.
3) strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything. This would probably qualify for hobbies such as bird banding, photography and Sudoku. Another yes.
4) the object or thing so liked [relating to 3 above]. By extension, yes!
5) a term of endearment. While I think I've used this myself, I know I have received it. A definite yes.
6) when capitalized, the personification of affection, such as Eros or Cupid. I don't think I've used this in my own writing (some may disagree), but I've certainly read others' works. A qualified yes here.
7) a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart. I don't quite like the self referential definition, but another yes is in store.
8) sexual passion or desire. Um, yeah...
9) sexual intercourse or copulation. About as base a definition as possible, but oh well. The reader can guess...
10) an affair or intensely amorous incident; amour. I do like the last word in this definition. Again, to the reader...

At which point, because for me the depth of my sense of "love" is in definitions 11 through 14, I'm stopping. Longer answers to come...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Beautiful day 2...

...although it did not start that way. Woke up feeling quite queasy, source unknown but most likely food-related (although a close co-worker just returned from a few sick days, so perhaps he was more contagious than he thought). Dragged myself out of bed and headed to Lowry Nature Center.

Once there the queasiness vanished and had a wonderful morning with friend (and, hopefully next year, banding subpermittee) Amber. I did some banding training with her and she did an excellent job. I know she complained of "sweaty palm syndrome" but, having had that myself, I knew the cure: practice, practice, practice! Below I give the reader a photo she took at today's session. Best bud Roger showed up later and we all had a grand lunch at the usual spot in Victoria.

This afternoon I enjoyed a beautiful (albeit slightly chilly) time with new friend Kathy. Chatting with her just comes so easily, a comfort level to be cherished. Sometimes people come into your life at just the right time...

I must also mention the starting point of this wonderful day (actually 24 hours). On Friday night, friend Sue Plankis invited me at 6PM for a woodcock/snipe watch at Cliff Fen Park at 7PM with her, hubby Joe and mutual friend Linda Whyte. What fun to have a rotund ball of feathers flutter right over our heads!

A sweet, sweet time. Thanks to all!

Fox Sparrow

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Beautiful day...

...and I do swear on a stack of whatever you have handy (Bibles to pancakes) that these are not April Fools' pranks. These all happened today, running precisely contrary to the thread of previous weeks. Therefore in celebration, I'm noting these happenings and going to bed. Yippee!

1) The contact that caused me so much Internet frustration has been established, and I could not be happier. This person is a treasure.

2) I was officially welcomed into the world of banding birds with auxiliary markers. Granted this is not an earth-shattering change for me (just colored and coded leg bands, as opposed to the huger change of radio telemetry), but every new skill helps. Now if I could just steady myself enough to band hummingbirds!

3) The co-worker who a few weeks ago referred to me as "worthless to the organization" this afternoon referred to me as "a genius". Granted I might still be worthless, but at least I know something of the process...

4) Another co-worker might have provided me my first memorable laugh moment; we were both in stitches afterward. This meek and mild person noted her increasing frustration with the work environment, and without hesitation said

"Maybe I should be a pole dancer!"

I about keeled over right there. We agreed, laughing all the way, that she'd get good exercise, make lots of people happy and make better money...

Can't ask for more than those! I'm a happy boy this April 1st...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Frustration, but...

OK, three entries in one night might be a bit much.

Internet communications can be so frustrating sometimes. Especially when the only known method of communication results in a "no-reply@..." message, so one still doesn't really know whom one is communicating with. GRR.

Then again, as per one of my fave guitarists, perhaps I can turn a disadvantage into an advantage. I've never been to Eloise Butler Gardens, a wonderful flower- and bird-watching spot in the heart of suburban Minneapolis (OK, "heart" and "suburban" don't quite go together, especially here in Eagan). I will just pull up a bench (or a plot of ground if no benches exist) and hope that someday said person will stop by to enjoy with me the sights and sounds of spring. If not, I hope it doesn't get too cold at night...

Still reeling from my 16-hour day Monday. 'Nite, all...

Must be...

Despite the somewhat cool and rather wet weather, a robin is singing in a nearby tree. Hurrah for the sounds of spring!


Perhaps this is a common phenomenon, this way the mind works. Perhaps it's just the strength of the situation involved. Psychoanalysis, anyone? Or perhaps I should say: psycho analysis, anyone? I'll leave that up to the studio audience.

Without further ado...

Memories that, when re-thought, still make me cry (not from joy): 4
Memories that, when re-thought, still make me laugh myself silly: 0

Thank goodness for

Memories that, when re-thought, still make my heart sing and smile: 2, including 1 from the last Birds and Beer.

Have to hang on to the latter until graced with new. Perhaps someday that 0 will change, too! I'm trying...

Surprise #1

I noted in yesterday's post the "thanklessness factor" to some aspects of my work. Well, yesterday proved me wrong. I received a number of compliments from fellow workers. It made the 16-hour day (starting at midnight) worth it. But oh, was I sore physically; my head was making my shoulders ache. I was pretty well done mentally, too. One could have told me 2+2=87 and I'd make a case for it.

To prove my point, yesterday's post was really two days ago...

Only 30 more days 'til vacation season!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

And thus it begins...

Tomorrow (whenever I can drag myself out of bed) begins an intense four-week grind of upgrades, upgrades, new software and more upgrades. It is this kind of time that leaves me pretty much useless at the end of said period. And people wonder why I'm "out standing in the field" so much in May... It is the thanklessness of this work (nobody says much if everything works, but...) that is the most wearing; being "happy to have work" isn't that inspiring when folks want to throttle you. We shall see how it goes.

Into the abyss!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Uh, spring?

Seems like all thoughts of springtime are out the window up in these parts, as the flakes and flurries fly. Then again being born in a blizzard almost 53 years ago should let one know what to expect this time of year.

In honor of said momentous occasion (YAWN), and before "major upgrade week #1" begins, I'm headed to Ma's for a quick R+R weekend and birthday goodies. Don't ask me why, but a menu of hash and spice cake sounded quite good. That and a bit of birdwatching; she still has 100+ redpolls frequenting her feeders.

Best wishes to all, dear readers! Send good thoughts and vibes to those west of here fighting the rising waters...

Monday, March 23, 2009

On mute?

I wish I could mute the sound of the wind a touch. A gentle zephyr in one's ears is one thing. The gale-powered roar of bare trees is something else.

I wish I could be less mute with two of my friends. One situation is a simple lack of alternate methods except face-to-face; if I am someday blessed then alternatives will be freely shared. The other is a simple lack of dialogue, even when face-to-face. I guess silence is communication, in a way the strongest of all.

I wish I could mute all the shouting, the hate, the fear in this world. Perhaps, in my own tiny little corner, I can...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy birthday tomorrow to

Kathy Heidel, friend and mentor. Some 30+ years ago she "pulled me out of the fire" and I can never thank her enough. Below is a photo of me and her in 1990, when I had earned a Distinguished Volunteer Award from Three Rivers Park District (then Suburban Hennepin Regional Parks, I think).

Mark and Kathy

That spring thing

Bird banding at Lowry Nature Center yesterday was a fun, intense day. When all was done, encountered 51 birds of 7 species, giving us over 100 birds for the last two sessions! Winter has not been that kind to the banding crew in recent years, so this has been a real treat (tweet?). The final tally for the day:

Species New Retrap

Common Redpoll (CORE) 2 0
Black-capped Chickadee (BCCH) 11 7
Dark-eyed junco (SCJU) 17 0
American Tree Sparrow (ATSP) 8 1
White-breasted Nuthatch (WBNU) 2 1
Downy Woodpecker (DOWO) 1 0
Red-winged Blackbird (RWBL) 0 1

Also on a bright note, long-time volunteer Linda Zimmerman (LZ in my last post) is out of the hospital as of late Friday afternoon and feeling much better. Apparently the pains of Friday were more related to gall bladder than heart.

Treasure every moment!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Just a couple things...

Yet again, I have received notice that a dear friend's life has taken an unexpected turn. Friend and bird banding volunteer Linda hospitalized herself this morning with chest pains. She seems OK, but the hospital has been keeping her for observation. As I told her when we talked today, "...a little drastic to get out of having me for dinner!" Get well, LZ!

Last night's conversation with hopefully-new-found-friend Kathy was a Blessing. Heartfelt give-and-take, out of nowhere. A thousand thank-yous, KC!

Bird banding tomorrow (transition time, could be very interesting or a bust). First of many upgrades Sunday. I will probably be a zombie by Sunday night, but both of the above will be on my mind.

Treasure every moment you can, dear reader...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Birds and Beer bliss

Just returned from a fine evening of Birds and Beer at the fabulous Merlin's Rest. A night of great laughs and conversation, especially with one fellow reveler, that was very exhilarating and very needed. Hopefully the glow will last, as with the next couple work weeks some glow will come in handy...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sibling love...

As I'm going through old photos trying to make sense of the other branches of the family tree, I came across this fun shot. All I can say is, I really do love my sister! I'll let the readers be the judge for themselves... The photo was taken in Portland, Maine in July 1963.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Year YiR

Although it's only mid-March, perhaps it's time for a "Year in Review" because this has been anything but dull. I think so far the goods have outweighed the bads, but I leave that to the reader.

On the good side:
1) Redpolls, redpolls, redpolls!
2) My tax refund from the Feds (offset by owing to MN, of course!).
3) VT Jackie and I making some genealogy breakthroughs.
4) The AZ trip to see Tom and Sheri, with Blue Mockingbird, Ruddy Ground-doves and super-mucho Sandhill Cranes as bonuses.
5) Not worrying about all the financial craziness (even if I should).

On the bad side:
1) Being told my work was "worthless to the organization".
2) Being told I was trying to "sabotage projects".
3) Being told a photo of me was "repulsive".
4) The maladies and mishaps of close friends and co-workers.
5) Too much winter!

Can't wait for the rest of the year!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Never dull...

Found out a bit ago that a good friend and co-worker was involved in a car accident during our most recent bout of winter weather. Said friend is alright although somewhat worse for wear, but car is a total loss. If not for the airbags... Another moment that one can never anticipate but must keep in mind.

Spring can come any day now...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bye, spring!

Thankfully this will be short setback, but another two wintry days in store is about as much as I can take. I already know what sort of commute awaits, probably PM as usual. As the rest of my hair falls out from stress...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Get out!

With spring finally making a sneak peek (not for long, however), this will be a good weekend to actually step outside and BREATHE.

Can't do it for too long, as the last of my tax statements finally arrived so the best time for that will be Sunday, when semi-winter will be hovering beyond the window.

Also have received some wonderful communications from Vermont friend and Niles relative Jackie, so I want to start making files of these various newspaper articles she has shared with me. Such fun!

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Redpolls III

Belaboring a subject, I know. Thanks to my ever-researching mother, I have a graph of her observed counts of Common Redpolls in January and February of 2009. Surprisingly, the first individual was seen at her feeders on January 1, none were observed in 2008.

Common Redpoll graph

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday and today combined, three women with quiet but profound impacts on my life have celebrated birthdays. Best wishes to Carol in Rochester, Karen in Arizona and Jo in Colorado. Your wonderful influences will always be with me...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Redpolls II

Despite the previous night's snow and a bit of a slog to Lowry Nature Center, today's bird banding program was well worth it. Banded a total of 48 birds of 7 species, which along with 2 recaptured Black-capped Chickadees made for an even 50 birds. The breakdown of the 48 newly banded birds is:

Black-capped Chickadee: 7
American Goldfinch: 8
American Tree Sparrow: 1
White-breasted Nuthatch: 2
Purple Finch: 5
Hoary Redpoll: 1
Common Redpoll: 24

A marvelous day! When photos arrive from those who could take them (I was busy presenting the program to the public), I will post them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I am pleased as anything to learn that dear friends Susie and Jessi Henderson are being recognized for their volunteer service to our community. Congratulations to you both, you've very much earned it! That will make your upcoming Colorado move that much more "painful", but our loss will be Durango's gain.

Bless you, Jessi and Susie. I am a "proud papa"!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back from Bisbee

Returned more tired than refreshed from my Bisbee trip, but very much worth the wear. I hope to have a couple of Sheri's photos posted in the next few days. Meantime I provide my own meager efforts. Enjoy!

A swirl of Sandhill Cranes

Tom Wood crane-watching

"Taiga" Merlin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Arizona bound!

Tomorrow I head to beautiful, sunny (well, actually might rain every day...) Bisbee AZ to stay with dear friends Tom and Sheri. It seems that no matter how low life gets, when the three of us get together it is a laugh riot bar none. So great to have friends like that! I might even get in a blog entry if I can borrow their 'puter... Otherwise, see y'all next week!

Monday, February 09, 2009


OK, I know it's sappy sentiment, but today's mail contained this valentine card from Ma. What makes it special is we have been sending it back and forth (with a couple gaps) since 1966. For concern of message privacy, I will only share the front. Enjoy, even if this is a trifle early!

Happy Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I share herein some of the 200+ Common Redpolls that were gracing my mom's backyard up by Nisswa. Unfortunately this is the only decent picture, so you'll have to take my word for the numbers...

Common Redpolls

Death spiral (of a sort)...

Against my will (but I did it anyways) I'm being dragged deeper and deeper into the netherworld of the InterTubes. Now I have a Facebook account. YEESH. At least I might be able to track down some lost contacts or open other channels of communications with some folks. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. Of course, I said the same thing about blogs a couple years ago! We shall see...

I also sense that a close relationship is in a death spiral, which is nagging me no end. Unfortunately not much one can do when all communications is one-way. Again, we shall see...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Best game evah!

I'm 90+ percent sure this is a spoof, but if it's not I want one...

Accordion Hero by Kimmo Pohjonen

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's only talk...

Found this while strolling through the Intertubes. It is a quick synopsis of my favorite musical group, King Crimson. It also describes some other artists of note for whom the mighty Crimso has "struck a chord". Very interesting reading, even if I don't agree that one noted composition (not improvisation) is mere "noodling". To each their own!

Kind of a strange week, with enough little things going wrong to be laughable. A sweet co-worker unexpectedly left today, which took me aback. Another has a sig other going through a medical crisis; my prayers to all involved.

On a brighter note, happy #50 tomorrow to another good friend; yet another friend/co-worker will be doing same a week from now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy belated 25th!

January 19, 1984 was the coldest day of that winter; at least it felt so to me. That day I moved to my current Eagan address. Although a trifle "small" these days (only because I have too much STUFF) it has everything I need. And the mortgage is paid.

Many "Thank You"s to Tom Pendleton, wherever you are, for your able assistance during that move.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday, Monday...

Not quite the Mamas and Papas song, but a state of mind once today was fairly well completed. Some are worse than others, but because today started with:

1) Someone who wanted to ditch a year's work for no reason,
2) A non-existent meeting that I thought still existed
3) A different someone wanting something fixed right away and then leaving before I can get any details

you get the idea.

Then again a few things did go right today, including

1) Talking the perpetrator of the first item above out of same
2) One of the fastest rides home in years
3) A nice talk with long-time but long-absent friend Carol

so a totally mixed bag. The topper was arrival home tonight, when I was prepared to fix a multi-meal supper and discovered... no glass baking dish. So, off to the local Wal-mart or equivalent, then I can get cooking. And I was so hoping for early bedtime!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Didn't realize an entire week had drifted by without an entry. Too many intense work projects and a slight case of "flu and tick season" made time pass rather quickly. So I will try to get inspired with these items:

1) Sort of akin to getting the first seed catalog in the mail, I sent to the Bird Banding Laboratory last year's records. Which means this year's banding can't be too far behind...

2) With Susie Henderson's birthday coming soon, I need to find a unique but inexpensive gift. With the family soon moving to Durango, CO and her involvement with birds, I'm pretty sure I can think of something...

3) I'm following a crazy notion and investigating a possible house purchase in Bisbee, AZ. Not that I want to be in debt and working for the next 30 or so years, but with prices and mortgages the way they are, one never knows...

As always, I will keep readers informed. To close, a photo from last year. Think spring!

Me with Least Flycatcher

Friday, January 16, 2009

Frozen in time...

Man, the last few winters have made me totally wussy. Only down to -25 or so and it is cold, cold, cold! Oh, for the days from 1988 to about 2005 when any cold weather lasted for about two days...

A group of co-workers, at the urging of one, broke into song:

We're havin' a heat wave...

when the temperature had officially reached 0 Fahrenheit. Yes, one does have to be crazy to live here!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Been there...

I think I wrote a very similar entry some time back, but I must again question why Minnesotans don't better know how to drive on a snowy road. I endured another commute tonight in which the first 2/3 of the journey took an expected 45 minutes, then the last 1/3 was a slower-than-snails 2+ hour carbon-fest. Unbelievable... As with the previous marathon I should have stopped at Merlin's Rest and quaffed a few until traffic lessened, but everything was going so well...

Three months to go, then perhaps some relief!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Totally random thoughts...

...because it's been a crazy week and life is all jumbled together. Nothing bad, just a blur. So I'll string together a few on-my-mind items in a "stream of consciousness" fashion and see what happens.

1) How can peace exist in the Middle East if: a) both (all?) parties aren't committed to the concept and b) the peacemakers are killed, especially from within?

2) How can someone with a straight face say someone should act a certain way and then, when in the same situation, himself act totally opposite?

3) The person who called me "worthless" has been praising me all week. Go figure...

4) Which is more important, renovating old buildings or buying new pet washers?

5) How can Reversi (aka Othello) still be unsolved? On a more interesting note, why not expand to a 10x10 or larger grid? The same for checkers, chess, and other "confined" games?

6) If so many folks think that NASA's space missions are outdated then: a) why keep wanting to fix the Hubble Telescope and b) why not have them solve the energy problem instead? Seems like they have some pretty smart folks there...

7) Total hypothesis, and probably plenty of books on the subjects: what if Abraham Lincoln had either a) lost in 1860 or 1864, or b) not been assassinated?

8) I wish the interstate circle around the Twin Cities was light rail...

9) Despite the pounding the old retirement fund has taken this past year, life is actually pretty good. Helps that the money isn't a priority...

10) Where will I be in five years: a) still here full-time in MN; b) part-time in either AZ or CO; c) full-time in AZ or CO; d) on the lam somewhere else (TX perhaps?); or e) Heaven, Hell or elsewhere? We shall see!

And so to bed soon, as the snow is expected to be flying this upcoming morning rush hour and I want to be at work on time to leave for north on time to... You get the idea. Have a fine weekend, everyone!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Full week

Yes, the holidays are over, and the five-day workweeks return. At least for a moment, because we get those odd days off in January (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and February (Presidents' Day).

Very glad that my friends the Hendersons survived snow- and ice-fall on their trips out to and back from Durango, CO. See you folks soon!

As I knew that watching the local football squad would be too painful, I spent today re-watching my favorite mini-series, I, Claudius. From that show comes one of my favorite all-time lines. If only I could use this with a certain co-worker (regular readers can guess who):

You set the standard for sanity in the world...

Later, 'gators!