Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nature Notes: Why you should check it out

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I've been doing Nature Notes for quite awhile now as a testimony to the friendship I feel for the creator, Michelle.

Years ago, the people in my real life learned of Michelle when I started to refer to her regarding anything to do with birds and wildlife. Rescuing an animal? I run to her blog. Can't identify a bird? I run to her blog. Have a question about ... anything? I run to her blog.

She's my expert.

But there's more to it than that. I believe people like Michelle have a love within them that not everyone can claim. Not every teacher has this love, but this sort of love makes them teachers. She's the kind of teacher who will change your life in some way if you pay attention. For those of you who know me in real life, she's like Lois M. Jones: You can imagine how fond I am of Michelle.

When I say you should check out her blog on my Nature Notes posts, I'm doing you a big favor. Do yourself a favor and poke around. On her blog, look at the links at the top and along the right side for more information about something that interests you. Read her posts and get to know her. You won't be sorry.

Michelle and Rose are two people I consider friends and they both became my first contributors to support my summer-long project of raising money for AIDS orphans in Tanzania. I didn't ask them to do that, so I'm thinking they must count me as a friend in return.

For that, the internet is worth everything.

Now for Nature Notes Thursday, which I've found get away from me before I blink.

When we bought this house, there were roses on the south side. I really figured they'd die over that first winter because I think of roses as being fussy and not worth the trouble and way too much work. Then after years of neglecting them and realizing they had enough pluck to live without me, I tried something.

I brewed some coffee and I 'watered' the roses with the coffee. I rinsed, dried and ground up egg shells and mixed them into the soil. The results are below:

I have looked at ALL my photos and I don't have a "before" photo, so that should probably tell you something about how the plant looked in years past. I have photos of every. single. thing. that grows in my backyard, but not this plant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A big thank you!

Rose from the Pics & Pieces blog started off my fundraising efforts with my first donation! She is a good blogging friend to me, obviously. I'd like to do all of you a favor and suggest that head over to her blog and look at phenomenal photos and read a story. Pour a cup of coffee or tea and spend 5-10 minutes.

Maybe you'll hang out for awhile.

Rose's photos and memories are worthy of their own book and that's no exaggeration. If you grew up on a farm, in the country or visited a farm or visited the country, you'll relate to what she's writing.

While not every post has a memory, she writes in such a way that after I read her stories, I can imagine her leaning out the back screen door hollering my name to tell me it's supper time. And I grew up in the suburbs or in Army towns! Her stories make me think of mere moments from my childhood. The kind of moments that are partly images, mostly emotion.

Like the one Sunday afternoon I went home with a girl from church and we went to her grandmother's house. I had never seen a farm like that, played so hard or had such a Sunday dinner. I remember the way that day made me feel 30+ years ago. Rose reminds me of people I have known like friends of the family who had a funny story to tell or who dropped in for a visit over coffee at the kitchen table.

There's warmth and generosity about her that shines through her writing. I stumbled onto her blog one day when I hit the "next blog" link on someone else's blog. I've been reading her for years now.

Do yourself a favor. Read this post I've selected. I chose it because it is a combination of a little bit of the past, her incredible photos and a situation she had just encountered: buying clothespins. I totally heart this post for you. I think you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"There is no time to think about how much I hurt; there is only time to run." Ben Logsdon

I'm currently in physical therapy not so much because I injured myself (I know that's what you were thinking) but because my knee hurt. The lovely physical therapist who is now my BFF said she'd rather see me now than in five years when I am in pain and can't run anymore. She also said she would rather see a hundred of me than one who put off getting help until it was too late.

And then she said, "I've just met you and talked to you for five minutes and I can tell already you don't like change."

Say what?

I laughed. She taped my knee, which produces a funny feeling not only in your knee, but also pulling on your skin and sort of turning your stomach queasy. The tape is so tight at first that I can't bend my leg and she wanted me to step up onto a high step with the taped knee...the knee that didn't bend due to the tape.

Following along? I grimaced and that made her say I don't like change. So funny that people can tell us about ourselves. She's right, of course. I don't like change until I get underway. Then it's OK until things change again.

Can I get an amen?

A few days later and the tape is more comfortable. It gets so comfortable you think it isn't holding your kneecap in place anymore. This tape they use is industrial strength. You should need a prescription to buy this tape. If this were WWII, this tape would be rationed for the boys overseas is what I'm saying. A weapon of some sort of destruction on a conveniently sized roll.

I've had my knee taped before, but she wisely reminded me not to pull it off like a Band-Aid because it will fair take a hunk of skin with it. So I did that in the tub with hot water and a lot of soap and some gentle coaxing.

And that's when I learned the same lesson a second time. I've blogged about my obsession with repeating my mistakes, yes? So you know all about that little issue of mine.

The tape was still working after all. But I was told to take it off on Saturday, so I did. I ran six miles first, but then I took it off and now I wish it was back on.

See how I didn't like the tape (change) and then I got used to it right away (underway) and then when it came off, I started all over again (further change).

I go back in the morning. I bet she won't put the tape back on. That's not change, that's called not getting my own way, which is often the best thing since I'm not the one with the education in physical therapy.

(Edited this morning: It was taped again. More waxing rhapsodic over my PT in next post)

What I'll be doing this summer

As if I needed a reason to be tired all the time, I've decided to make training worthwhile this year. Many of you probably already know that Africa has a real problem with HIV/AIDS. Tanzania alone has about a million orphans who have lost one or both parents and some who have also been infected with the disease.

Read what I'll be up to this summer at a different blog:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I found this beauty on my way into the office yesterday morning. He (she?) was on the pavement just steps away from the front door and I was surprised he hadn't been stepped on. I didn't know if touching his beautiful wings would mess something up, so I put my bags on the ground (carefully avoiding the goose poop - we have a nesting pair) and took two envelopes out.

Using the two envelopes, I finally got him moved over to the mulch. He didn't enjoy my attentions and of course, I couldn't sit him down over a cuppa Joe to explain the dangers of people who are just walking out of a door and looking out rather than down. He struggled off the envelopes three times. I felt lucky to get him where I got him.

I prayed for him all morning! I did! I was hoping he just needed to rest and as soon as he gathered himself, he could leave. He was huge, did I mention that? Just gorgeous, too. His body is fuzzy and the browns are lovely shades.

When I went to a late lunch, he was gone. I'm envisioning happy days of flying around making baby moths or whatever extremely handsome moths do in the month of May.

Monday, May 9, 2011

And then there was one

Little "Lily"
July 30, 1997-May 7, 2011

Lily left Eeyore behind.

I don't want to talk about it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nature Notes: Gorse fires in Northern Ireland

Visit Michelle at the home of Nature Notes.

I awoke this morning to a cup of coffee and CBS news talking endlessly about OBL's death and all the details they think they can muster. They've talked to Navy SEALs, who if they really are talking, should hush themselves. They speak about the damage left behind and the "real" information that wasn't in initial reports as if we've been betrayed. In Journalism school, I swore I would never go into broadcast journalism because I couldn't debase myself enough to cough up the crap I've seen on television since I was a kid.

I believe there is a quality to print journalism that is valuable although naturally I don't always like or believe what I read. But look at the condition of print journalism in this country compared to the television news rating circus.

When I checked my Twitter feed this morning, I found an article from the BBC that both lifted my spirits and gave me my Nature Notes post. It's not long, it's about the fires in Northern Ireland, it's balanced in a way you don't find much these days in environmental journalism and it's beautifully written. The link is at the bottom.

I hope you read it.

Here is an excerpt:

There were collective sighs from firemen, land owners and police as the first rain for three weeks fell on Northern Ireland's smouldering heathlands, woodlands and mountains.

There was also a prolonged hiss.

It came from the last embers being extinguished as the rain drops did their work and saved the environment.

It was that bad. If the dry windy weather had continued the damage would have increased.

Instead of flashing across the dry grass, gorse and heather (often doing nature a favour) the fire had the chance to linger, damaging roots and seeds in the ground.

And the damage has been considerable.

The bodies of charred lizards lie in some areas, in others the charred eggs of ground nesting birds. Food resources have been destroyed, putting newly hatched chicks of many birds, including the endangered hen harrier, at risk of starving.

It is all a subtle balance - or was. Swathes of heather are gone. They will eventually be replaced by coarse grass. It is more competitive than the slow growing heather when it comes to filling the charred gaps.

In the thin soil and peat of the Mourne Mountains, for example, the grass provides no protection against erosion. Heavy rain pouring off steep heather-free hillsides will wash the soil, the loose rocks and the mountain side away.

In just two days human activity has done more damage than has occurred in centuries.

Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A day on the job with ADD

I start my day with coffee from home. It's my favorite coffee. Turn on radio if I remember, respond to emails I checked when I woke up earlier.

Remember at the last minute that I have a candidate coming in. Why do I schedule interviews in the morning?

Think about putting on lipstick. Forget to do that. Look around my office to see if there's anything I need to sort, like a pile of receipts from my purse. Throw the receipts in the gallon-size Ziploc bag in my drawer. Put yesterday's water bottles in my recycling bag. Wonder why my drawer smells so bad? Try to remember to look in the drawer for rogue potpourri, broken perfume bottle or laundry soap. Overpowering. Fill two water bottles.

Answer the phone. Visit with co-worker. Greet candidate. Serve coffee. Ask candidate what they want in their next job, why they're leaving the current job and how much money they make. Make private notes in my head about things people shouldn't do or say in an interview.

Show the candidate out of the office because one wall is painted bright orange and one wall is painted bright purple and my office is the furthest from the front door, so no one can find their way through the cubicle farm between the rivers of color. Wash my hands. Look at my hair and wonder for the 53073,3425.0534,343th time if I should cut it a little shorter and also wonder why it's so frizzy.

Check Twitter, check LinkedIn. Eat oatmeal, maybe. Put our logo on a candidate's resume and say out loud, "Stop formatting your stupid resumes, people!" Listen to the Monkees. Sing along. Realize my office door is open. Look outside.

Bird! Squirrel! Should I Twitter something?

Walk around the office and look at people. Consider candy from the dish. Pick up candy. Put candy back.

Go back to my desk to continue reformatting a resume. In frustration, clear their formatting and start from scratch. Count their bullet points. Curse Bill Gates, Wordstar and Word Perfect. Bah. Check Google Reader for blog updates. Too many to read, put that off until later.

Call several candidates. Talk someone off the ledge. Get up for a tissue because the box is on the table due to a crying unemployed woman. She's sweet. I should call her and see how she's doing. Eat an orange.


Talk to co-worker about running, lack of running, upcoming runs and how poorly prepared and/or lazy we are. Call sweet candidate. She's fine. Check the weather. Talk to a friend. "What are you doing?" Skype, make a list, get up and look in the fridge. Charge my phone. Buckle down and call the candidate I don't want to talk to.

Look in the fridge. Think about whales. Wander. Look at Facebook.

Answer all the emails from the emails I sent out the afternoon prior. Everyone answers at once. Make notes, scan a document, random thought. Copy comments into database, call people back, comb my hair, schedule interviews. Weasel my way onto a employment panel at a networking event. Call people. Read resumes. Check my email. Pull my hair into a ponytail. Answer questions about interviewing for a candidate's second job interview through another vendor. Feel smug when he tells me I 'geek' interview tips.

Shake my head.

Shut my door, turn on the radio. Send out emails to update candidates and reach out to candidates who have recently found jobs. Do you like it? Do you hate it? You hate it! Yay! I have 10 jobs you might like more! Drink water. Look outside.

Put on my coat, put my phone in my purse. Leave the office after I turn off the television no one else remembers to turn off. Go back upstairs and get what I forgot. Walk to the car. Go home.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Relaxify Myself

I stayed in bed with a sick cat for a total of 6 hours. She laid on me and slept while I watched a movie and some television reruns. I walked three miles. I sat in my mother-in-law's driveway for a visit in the sunshine. I made brownies.

That's it. That was my Sunday. I hope yours was just as relaxing as mine.

I've been meaning to do Nature Notes and write about goofy things, but I am busy either: running, swimming, walking, eating, working or sleeping. Except for today. And maybe some other days when laziness has taken over.

If you've been around awhile, you may remember that I get to the running and swimming and little else as things ramp up. But this year, I'm 4.5 months before my first half marathon with the second a month later. I'm starting as early as year 1, but way earlier than last year. I ran just over 10.5 miles last week. I'll get there. What strikes me is how I can be busy and only run 10.5 miles. It's still a circus over here trying to get out the door.

Last fall I planted bulbs and got some nice results. I took photos last week, but there wasn't any sunshine. These were for Nature Notes, which snuck up on me. I took these Thursday morning on my way to work and then never stopped at work long enough to post. This week I have purple tulips that weren't blooming at all last week.

The tulip buds below are now purple. I didn't plan on purple and peach tulips, right? I gardened yesterday and as I beheld the glory that is my little plot I had to admit it has to the most poorly-planned garden I've ever seen. But then there's the whole LiBud tree I have growing in my back yard and all I can say is to know me is to love me and shake your head a lot.

Also, I have a question. Will rabbits eat my onion tops? Because I have rabbits and I thought I had planted onions in this one spot, but there aren't any little green sprouts. Also, I saw a garden today that has onions growing and they're huge already. I hope I didn't plant too late and they grow okay once the Iowa oven begins to bake.