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Late Night Musings

Hello! Y’all have been on my mind a lot lately. I am swamped in studies, writing, deadlines, clients, etc. (and loving every minute of it) but I’m getting anxious to get back to a routine that allows me the freedom to blog and “chat” with folks around the world. Despite the heavy demands of studies and work, I do manage to get out at least once a week to soak in nature–breathe the fresh air, walk through the forest, linger beside a lily pond, listen to the birds chirping–and be rejuvenated. Since it has been a while since I’ve shared photos, I decided to post a few for your enjoyment. These were taken this summer in Kentucky and Ohio. Enjoy. 🙂

My Daily Entertainment!

All work (or studies) and no play makes for a very boring life! On the other hand, a walk in nature, listening to the sound of a babbling brook, or birdwatching are the types of activities that nourish the soul and rejuvenate the spirit. Fortunately I don’t have to go far for any of these pursuits. As to the last, it has been a joy to be able to look up from my desk (the dining room table) and peer out the window into our back yard to watch the birds and their fledglings flit about all day. I have paused from time to time to take a few shots of the back-yard flurries, and decided to share some of the photos with you. Hope you are enjoying your Sunday!

One that got away....and has taken up residence in our back yard, much to our delight!
One that got away….and has taken up residence in our back yard, much to our delight!
Taking a rest on the powerlines to our house.
Taking a rest on the powerlines to our house.

 

Ooops....this is no bird! But I had to go out and have a talk with her when she began nibbling on my Asters!
Ooops….this is no bird! But I had to go out and have a talk with her when she began nibbling on my Asters!
Nothing like a dip in the birdbath!
Nothing like a dip in the birdbath!
Birdbaths sometimes work as reflecting pools, too. :-)
Birdbaths sometimes work as reflecting pools, too. 🙂

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There's gotta be a way....
There’s gotta be a way….

 

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I said I'm HUNGRY!
I said I’m HUNGRY!
Maybe if I look the other way, she won't know I saw her.
Maybe if I look the other way, she won’t know I saw her.
Finally the food is here.
Finally the food is here.

 

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OUT OF THE WAY! I DON"T KNOW HOW TO STOP!!!!
OUT OF THE WAY! I DON”T KNOW HOW TO STOP!!!!

 

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Just Checking In

Just checking in to see how everyone is doing. School is going well and I am pleased to announce (for those who don’t already know) that the paperwork, interviews, hoop-jumping-through has paid off and I am approved to begin my fieldwork beginning in early April! Yay! I’ll be working with elderly clients who are dealing with depression, and facilitating a group of elderly people in partial hospitalization with mental health issues. It sounds interesting and my supervisor has years of experience in the field and in supervising. I’m a happy camper at the moment.

In addition to pouring my energies into coursework and completing the application process for fieldwork, I have been participating in the Cornel University Lab of Ornithology Feederwatch program for backyard bird watchers! It only requires a few hours each week and I derive great joy and relaxation from it. I have learned a lot about birds by participating in this program, plus I get to contribute data for Cornel University’s research on winter bird migration. It is great fun and quite interesting. At the end of this post I will post a few photos that were taken at the feederstation we set up in our back yard.

Time to get back to the studies. Papers are coming due, discussions need to be posted, and research has already begun for final projects of the quarter. Enjoy the photos. 🙂

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A Welcome Break!

Another school quarter ends. I now have three weeks to rest, reflect, recuperate, and do some fun stuff! I’ll be checking on your blogs, too. I apologize for not making the rounds. I’ve discovered however, that as my coursework progresses, the demands increase and blogging becomes a back-seat priority (except for posting photos now and then…I can’t completely give up blogging!)

Unfortunately this quarter ended on a rocky note; Richard was rushed to the hospital during my finals week. He is now home and back to his usual schedule, but he did give me a scare. The first thing we did when my school break finally began was pack the camera and head out to the woods. Nature is the best therapy in the world for both of us. At one point we ventured onto a wooden platform jutting over the edge of a lily pond and stood in silence as we took in the view. It was late afternoon and the animals were feeding or sitting on logs sunning themselves. Late in the afternoon, even as birds flitted from one spot to another, a lazy quietness permeated the place. It was a mellow time for us both.

A Black-Capped Chickadee wings past in a blur, the summer/autumn colors of the foliage in the background offering a contrast to the blue-gray/black of blurred feathers that formed fluid lines of a bird in flight.

In fact birds filled our day with delight as we watched them feed in different ways!!

Red Winged Black Bird

Then we watched as the Blue Heron caught its meal for the night!

Not only did we watch birds, but fall colors painted the landscape providing a hint of what is to come in the weeks ahead!

By now we were ready to pack it in! Thanks for joining us on our walk in the woods. 🙂

New Year Challenges: 2012 Here We Come!

You may have noticed the new badges I’ve added in the sidebar on my home page. For years I have taken on challenges that if attempted, afford personal growth and development. In other words, I want to become a better person so I accept challenges that will help me do that. This year is no exception. After searching and praying and mulling things over, I joined three challenges for 2012! At first glance, three challenges may seem like a lot, however if you know a little more about them, you will see that the challenges compliment each other in such a way that I feel this is very doable. One challenge is for the month of January only (but if it works out, I may continue on my own but in a modified way.) So, let me tell you about each challenge for this year, and if you like, you may choose to join me. 🙂

This challenge involves finding and writing “small stones.” In order to find “small stones,” one must keep his or her eyes, nose, mouth, fingers, ears and mind open. Pay attention to the world around us and notice. Write it down. That’s it.  You may write a sentence, a paragraph, a poem or haiku. You may take a photograph, or simply string words together that suggest a mood or a color. Whatever you notice, write it down (one thing each day, NOT everything everyday.) This challenge is for one month only, but by the end of the month, there will be a river of “stones” consisting of the things you (I) notice in our world each day. Click on the badge above to find out more about this challenge. This is a “no pressure” challenge. I look forward to seeing what my “river of stones” looks like by the end of January!

Next is the “No Comfort Zone-2012 Challenge!” As implied, we are to step out of our boxes, out of our comfort zones this year. We are challenged to stretch, to grow, to face our fears, to do things that we dream of but never thought we could do. It may be something big (bungee jumping, hang gliding, skydiving, etc.) but more likely we will be challenged by the little things we do that stretch our imagination. For instance, getting up early one morning while it is still dark and driving the dozen miles or so to the lake shore to watch a sunrise is one of my challenges for the coming year! (Yes, if I do this, you will see photos! 🙂 ) It might be trying your hand at painting a landscape, or learning a new instrument, or asking the janitor’s name and then speaking to him or her by name every time your paths cross. It can be anything that is outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you will try something every day (rather daunting), or weekly (a little more reasonable) or even monthly (my comfort zone . . . hmmm . . . another No Comfort Zone-2012 Challenge to consider) or less. This is another no pressure challenge; participants set their own agenda, choose their own challenging behavior, and then write about it. The “River of Stones Jan ’12” is the first challenge I will attempt to meet this, the No Comfort Zone-2012 Challenge. (See what I mean about how these challenges work together! Awesome, huh. 🙂 )

The third challenge, and one that works well with the previous two challenges, is the “Creative Every Day 2012” challenge. (Click on the badge to find out more.) Participants are encouraged to think and act creatively every day, and that can mean anything. This involves thinking “outside the box” (see previous challenge), seeing and noticing (see first challenge) and writing about it, but not necessarily on a daily basis. Maybe I will attempt to make a winter coat for myself (I love to sew, but I’ve never attempted something this complicated, but it may be a daily creative endeavor every day for a week or more.) Or maybe I’ll write a poem about watching the squirrels play chase outside my window (see River of Stones Jan ’12 challenge), etc.

As you can see, any thing I do to meet one challenge, may also meet another or all of the above challenges. Each challenge takes a gentle approach so that there is no “guilt” if we do not do “it” perfectly, or daily. The idea is to further develop a creative, adventuresome, aware life! I think that is good.

I am looking forward to a great 2012. May we each create a year in which our potential bursts open in full bloom!

Brandywine Falls on an Autumn Day

The Jewish holidays are finally over and life returns to normal, whatever normal is. Sunday was a day of catching up paying the bills, washing clothes, putting our holiday “things” away for another year. But Richard and I are not so good at “all work and no play!” We are responsible adults, but the child in each of us has to come out and play at times. 🙂  Some weeks ago I read about the Cuyahoga National Forest and the Brandywine Falls. We had hoped to get down during the height of the colorful fall season, but with the holidays and our work schedules, we were unable to take that drive. Tis a pity because Brandywine Falls is only about thirty minutes from where we live. After hours of doing the responsible adult things however, Richard and I decided it was time for a day trip (or in this case, a three-hour trip.) We got a little lost on the way down, but as always, we found ourselves and made it to our destination. We were not disappointed.

At the top of the trail we got our first glimpse of the falls. The sun was shining and the rays sparkled off the water. A person can tell that the falls will be beautiful, but it is not until further on that the hiker see the full beauty of water cascading over jutting rocks into a pool at the base where the Brandywine River continues its course.

The trail leads hikers down the ravine, gradually at first, zig-zagging gently until
reaching the steps that rapidly accelerate the descent to the base of the falls. Many people may miss the beauty of the forest in their haste to reach the bottom which is a real shame. Although the height of the fall colors had passed, there was still quite a bit of colorful foliage. Furthermore, the sun streaming through the stand of trees created a beauty not to be ignored.

As we continued along the trail descending down to the falls, we also passed some interesting rock formations.

Now the full view of Brandywine Falls was coming into view!

There were two landings from which to view the falls, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

We lingered there for a while, chatting with other visitors and simply enjoying the view. On our way back out of the ravine, I saw the stream meandering through the forest, a sight I had not seen before because I was focused on the falls. The interesting thing is that I had no hope of getting a good shot because the sun was too far down in the sky and the shadows in the hollow were too deep. But, being the photographer that I am, I shot photos to my heart’s content anyway ~ one of the perks of the digital age in photography when there is no worry about the cost of film and processing! Any way, back to my story, when I uploaded these photos to my laptop, I was pleasantly surprised. What the photos showed but I had failed to see when shooting, is that the yellows still in the trees reflected on the stream giving it a golden look in parts. Lovely.

Coming back up the trail, the sun was low enough in the sky to create some beautiful silhouettes of the trees (sorta…at least a silhouette of Richard). Here is one sample.

We walked along another peaceful, bucolic trail for a little while.

And then returned along the path that led us into the park, and past the Bed & Breakfast, once a farmhouse, that provided more interesting photo opportunities.

There you have it! Our wonderful afternoon of playing hooky. 🙂 If you are ever interested in visiting, you can google Cuyahoga National Forest, or Brandywine Falls, or the Brandywine Bread & Breakfast, all found in northeastern Ohio, USA.  Hope you enjoyed the outing. We sure did 😉

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A Matter of Perspective . . . and a thing called Irony

Recently WordPress sent out a writing prompt to revisit a post that was blogged back in January and repost it, or rewrite and repost, or something to that effect.  I don’t usually use the prompts (no reason other than I just do my own thing) but this morning for some reason the prompt came to mind.  So I checked back to my January postings and for starters, realized that I wrote some pretty good pieces back then, and second, the irony of reposting from January!  You see, January is when we moved into this lovely apartment that we are now moving out of.  The photos that were used in the following post could have been taken yesterday!  It is because of this irony, and bringing the story full circle, that I am reprinting “A Matter of Perspective.”

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This past week has been hectic, harried and crazy.  We are finally in our new apartment, albeit up to our ears in boxes.  It will be a while before we create order.  My classes are back in full swing and Richard has to go to work everyday.  But at least we are here, achy muscles, fried nerves, testy dispositions and all.  Every part of my body aches and I tell myself that I am too old for this kind of stuff.  As usual with a move, there were many trips to the nearby super market to get the necessary items we could not put our hands on once our belongings were in the apartment.  Normally I would walk, but there were too many things to carry, too many trips to the market, too many times up and down three flights of stairs, so I drove each time. This is too hard, too strenuous, too demanding—physically, mentally and spiritually.  I kvetch without shame, at least for a while, until I think of the lives others have lived.  My discomfort with this move is for a while, then life will settle into a norm again.  I’ve moved often enough to know that this type of chaos and stress is for a short time only.  For others though, my experience is a mere walk in the park.

I am reminded of a story I read in my grandfather’s memoir.  This is one of the many stories from his homesteading days while a youth in western Canada, not too far from Entwistle.  At the time of these events, Grandpa was a teenager.  I decided that for this post I would share what a trip to the market was like for homesteaders in the wilds of Canada in the early part of the twentieth century, a time when one bought provisions enough to get through an entire winter:

 

Our last trip to Entwistle in 1916 (early winter) I shall never forget. We butchered a steer and loaded it on our wagon to sell in Entwistle.  In places the ground was not frozen deep enough to keep us from breaking through the crust occasionally.  When we came to the crossing of the Pimbine River (about 150’ wide) we tested the ice and thought it would hold us (the team of oxen, a loaded wagon, and my brother and I.)  A little past halfway across we broke through in about 3 feet of water.  We uncoupled the oxen from the wagon and after breaking through the ice several times we finally got them to shore where we built a large fire to get warm by.  Then we went back to prepare to pull the wagon out.  We had about 100 feet of pinch rope but the big task was to get the wagon pole out of the 3 feet of water so we could attach the rope to it.  Jesse jumped in the freezing water and attached the rope to the wagon tongue and then by stages of a few feet at a time we finally got it on the bank of the river.  We were exhausted after all this.  We built a large fire in a nearby log shack, brought the oxen inside where it was warm and then curled up in our blankets on top of some old hay in a corner.  We slept little but did get a good six hours rest at least.  By the light of our fire we cooked our breakfast of rabbit that we had killed the day before and with a loaf of bread and gravy we were ready to be on our way.

The oxen were quite comfortable during the night and after getting their fill of hay, they also were ready to hit the trail, none the worse for the rough day before.  Coming back home the next day was the roughest part of our entire round trip.  When we arrived back on the Pimbine River, we carried about 2200 pounds of groceries across the river on our shoulders then pushed the wagon across the ice.  Then we hooked the 40 feet of leather strap to each oxen in the ring in their nose.  While Jesse pulled on the leather strap, I followed using a long black-snake whip to make each ox move along across the ice.  The ice was frozen thick enough to hold each ox, but it was a slow progress getting each one across.  Then we had to load everything we had carried across the ice and by that time it was late in the night.  I might add here that the crossing on the Pimbine was about 4 to 6 miles down the river from Entwistle.  During the day before the sky was clear and during the middle of the day, about 4 hours, the sun came out bright and warm and thawed the snow on the road going up a steep hill.  Thus we could not get the oxen up the hill, so we spent about 16 hours cutting a trail through the woods around the hill then coming back by the road about sunup or about 9 A.M.  Yes we were exhausted, so after a breakfast of oatmeal and bacon cooked over our improvised camp fire, we rolled up in our blanket and slept for several hours.

There were 2 other short hills that were coated with ice and we had to pack part of our load on our backs and reload again at the top.  The team of oxen could not get solid, safe footing with too big or heavy a load.  We were two days going to Entwistle and 3 days going back home. The last night we stopped over at Jim McKinley’s Stopping Place as those places of night lodging were called in those days.

Never did home look so good to two young men and we slept about 14 hours after we unloaded our provisions and put everything in their place.

When I think of Grandpa, and then I look around this apartment and the mess herein, I am thankful for the comforts that I take for granted every day.  The fact of the matter is that there are many people in the world today who live lives very similar to the life Grandpa lived in his youth.  There is a lot that could be said about the privileges we have, but I will
leave that to another blog.  For now though, my hope is that I shall never forget that no matter how tired, achy, irritable I am, my life is very easy and I have much to be thankful for.

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Just as the title reads, moving ~ and how one feels about it and deals with it ~ is a matter of perspective.  I hope you enjoyed the “re-read” as much as I did. Have a wonderful day and remember to pay attention to those moments in life that remind us to keep the events and occurrences of our lives in perspective.