A buffalo chicken salad, no tomatoes, no dressing, add Greek olives. It’s my usual order from a local restaurant when I cannot bear the burden of being an actual grown adult. Meaning, I did not bring a lunch with me. So? Is my sans lunch status truly blog worthy? Probably not, but as is typical, my thoughts on a mundane matter have run amok.
There are a handful of places that I frequent. Therefore, there is some familiarity between myself and the employees. There’s a Starbucks in the capital city I go to, albeit less frequently now, where one of the baristas often gives me a free drink or a goodie. I think I must have a face that just screams, “I freaking love cake pops!” There’s a Dunkin’ nearby my place of work where I will get either a coffee or a refresher if I’m particularly parched at noon. I’ve gotten free drinks there as well, mainly due to a mistake, but free is free! There is a delightfully friendly woman who works at that franchise who has done wonders for my self esteem. So, at these places there is some, as I wrote, familiarity, but beyond that, I feel like I am genuinely liked by some of the people I have encountered repeatedly.
So, the restaurant I order my salad from is also a place of business I have often visited (I don’t particularly like adulting, nor am I great at it) so I know that the owners and employees are familiar with me. Today, my salad is so, so hot. SOOOO hot! My chicken is just drenched in buffalo sauce, and when I saw drenched, I’m talking Bo Derek coming out of the ocean drenched. So, how do I interpret all of this extra buffalo sauce? Do they me, or do they hate me?
. . . and so I have titled one of my Christmas gifts, a 2022 wall calendar comprised of the photographs of various birds I have captured (the photos, not the birds. *No birds were harmed in the making of this calendar) throughout 2021. It was not a simple task to select a mere 12 photos from the hundreds (er, possibly a thousand+) I have taken and stored throughout this nearly yearlong project. My mission to take a good or (even better) a great picture of a woodpecker, blue jay, loon, turkey, crow, tufted titmouse, and a hummingbird will continue well into 2022. I know this calendar is only 12-13 pages, but within these pages . . . a tremendous number of hours of patience, the discomfort (and sometimes pain) from awkward and often uncomfortable positions of my body, a multitude of battery charges and changes, and disappointment (due to failure to capture a much wanted shot, ruined shots, etc.). Most of all, these pages are packed with love . . . not only the love for those I am gifting these to, but my love for the birds. I also have a newfound enjoyment of the peace of nature.
As I have written in previous entries, it wasn’t until my (too) brief stint working from home, due to COVID, that I discovered my interest in and affection for wild birds. In taking the time to watch them and photograph them, I discovered a vast variety of feathered creatures in my neck of the woods, a diversity far beyond what I knew existed in my own backyard. I often took to my bird books or Reddit for a bird ID. Being outside more also sparked a deeper interest in mycology, but that will be in another post.
So, I share with you: 2021 Was For the Birds! I think March, June, and November are my favorite photographs. Please, share with me your favorites (either bird or photo) in the comments!
*ARC provided via NetGalley. Below is my NetGalley review:
4 stars from me = I really liked it. I did not develop a fondness / love for graphic novels until I was well into adulthood, but my taste is very specific – typically the GNs by Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill. I was absolutely thrilled, JUST BEYOND thrilled, if you will, when I saw that R.L. Stine has a new graphic novel being published the 26th of this month.
R.L. Stine’s numerous books made up at least a full quarter of my childhood. I remember Mum taking me to the bookstore where I’d select two or three Goosebumps books, and she’d gently remind me to not read them all in one day. I read Just Beyond: Monstrosity in two sittings just because I remembered the plea to not read all of my Stine material in one day (:
The writing in this tale brought me straight back to growing up in the 90s where I craved all the Goosebumps, all the Fear Street, and all the episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? A solid 3.5 for the writing and artwork – I just love the subdued colors used in this spooky story! The other .5 of a star is for nostalgia and pure joy alone.
As an adult, this graphic novel did not scare me, but I can see where it may creep out a young child depending on their sensitivities to creepy, spooky, and horror.
One of my most beloved pastimes, since spring / summer of 2020, has been birdwatching. It was during my first stint working from home, due to COVID-19, that I realized how much I enjoy the birds – their antics, their songs. My Dad has always enjoyed birds and has maintained various feeders since before I was born and all throughout my childhood and teen years, but I never appreciated the hobby until recently.
It has been absolutely joyous to watch the winged sojourners! Before I began feeding them, I would see chickadees around, and one robin who pokes around in the backyard. It was soon after I put up a feeder that I began to see so many varieties: goldfinches, sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers (hairy, downy, and pileated), blue jays, tufted titmice, juncos, mourning doves, and my absolute favorite, the cardinal couple. The cardinals have routinely come to visit each morning and each evening. I can hear them long before I see them, and it’s when I hear their first chirps that I make my way to the window beside the apple tree. I have named the male Jasper and the female Felicity.
Sadly, due to the mess the birds make, through no fault of their own, I have encountered some issues of late with pesky and much unwanted rodents. With teary eyes and a depressive affect, I have stopped feeding my birds. The traffic has slowed, but Felicity and Jasper still come by each morning and each evening. Over the months, I have spent many hours sitting with my birds, capturing photos, stringing plain popcorn, and hand feeding unsalted walnuts to the chickadees. The logical part of me comprehends that I cannot become overrun with rodents, but the emotional part of me, with a sizable capacity to love animals – feathered, furry, and finned, is just absolutely crushed. The birds who commune at my apple tree, the tree I have dubbed the buffet tree, they fly between my home and my parents’ home. If they did not have a second food source established, I would wait until spring to wean them from my smörgåsbord. In the summer, I observed many of the birds partake in the apples so I may continue to see the flighted fowl during the warmer months, when the apples are ripe and bountiful.
Ultimately, I still intend to enjoy the hobby; it will just require a bit more effort on my part. I am surrounded by woods and can take my chair, camera, and patience to a place of solitude where I can sit serenely and survey. Perhaps I will buy binoculars. I know for certain that there are owls out there, as I hear them in the late night / early morning hours. According to Mum, my Dad has plans to create an area for me in their yard, a place for me to place my feeder, my birdhouses, and perhaps a birdbath. I think the gesture is so thoughtful, and I look so forward to it.
Luckily, I will be able to continue to enjoy the wild birds, in person and via swaps: postcards, crafts, and mail art. There are many bird lovers in my family and within my (very small) friend group, and I have been working to take nice photographs to convert into 2022 calendars to give as Christmas gifts. My Aunt Nancy, for my birthday, gifted me my uncle’s bird book. He too was able to hand feed the chickadees.
After this weekend’s PoGO Kanto event, I have some thoughts and opinions to share. Mind you, I am not a professional player. I am a novice at best, and in addition to such, I am a (mostly) rural PoGoer. Whether or not the event was worth the ticket price . . . Well, that depends on what each individual is looking to gain from the 12 hour adventure. For me personally, it was worth it for two reasons: Pokédex and research. The beauty of Pokémon Go is its diversity regarding how an individual wants to and chooses to play. Do you want to catch the rarest of the rare? Do you want shinies? Do you want to complete research tasks? I intend to review the following categories, specifically about the Kanto event: tasks, shinies, raids, as well as pros and cons as they applied to me (rewards, red vs. green).
Of note, if you are a rural player without access to a nearby Pokéstop, the task of defeating a GO Tour Challenger would have been impossible, especially since there were several to defeat throughout the day. Granted, if you are able to go to a location where there are Pokéstops, all is well. I am fortunate in that I live so near to a Pokéstop, that I have access to it with a little lucky GPS drift, and when the drift isn’t good, I can take a short jaunt to the mailbox. I was able to gauge that a Go Tour Challenger would appear at my local Pokéstop approximately every 30 minutes. So, the tasks featured under the “TODAY” tab took me from 0900hrs until about 1645hrs. If I had left my home and found additional Pokéstops and Go Tour Challengers, I am certain it would have cut my completion time significantly. However, I am knee deep in remodeling projects so I did not want to leave the house for all-day PoGO.
Tasks & Rewards: My favorite part of any event, including the monthly Community Day, is the research tasks. Whether it’s “TODAY,” “FIELD,” or “SPECIAL” research, I love it all. With this event, the MASTERWORK research has been unlocked. This research is time consuming! The first round (or page) being to send 151 gifts, make 151 great throws, and to earn the Platinum Kanto Medal. The next level will be even more time consuming: catch a Pokémon 30 days in a row, catch 151 species of Pokémon, and catch 30 of each type of Pokémon (normal, fire, fairy, grass, rock, fighting, etc., etc., etc.). As we all know, with tasks come the rewards. And honestly, the rewards alone may be worth the cost of the ticket. I was swimming in balls (of the Poké variety!), berries, revolves, potions, and candies.
Raids& Red vs. Green: Being rural, I have no access to gyms and their raids, unless I travel 20-30 minutes north or south, so I utilize the PokemonGoFriends subreddit via Reddit for my raiding. Since the Kanto event began at 0900hrs local time, there were plenty of raids to be had on Friday night. To finish out my Kanto Pokédex, I needed Kangaskhan. The raid thread was overrun Friday night, but I was able to nab what I needed (very) early Saturday morning. I was thrilled that I would not have to deal with raiding and could focus on catching shinies all day, but I was quite mistaken! The Kanto GO Tour was broken into tasks: Incense, Trade, Pallet Town, Pewter City, Cerulean City, Fuchsia City, Pokémon League, Research, Raid, and Evolve. The only task I have not (and likely will not) complete is trade. I have no IRL friends playing PoGO so I cannot trade for the greens. The event was divided between red and green. I chose red, which means the Pokémon attracted to incense were: Ekans, Oddish, Mankey, Growlithe, Scyther, and Electabuzz. I need to trade for the greens: Sandshrew, Vulpix, Meowth, Bellsprout, Magmar, Pinsir. I was able to catch all but the greens. Getting back to the raids! I had assumed I would not need to raid on Saturday, but I was mistaken as one of the tasks was to catch Articuno, Mr. Mime, Kangaskhan, Zapdos, Tauros, Moltres, Mewtwo, and one other I cannot remember. *I really should have taken notes on Saturday! So, back to raiding I went, but I did not need to rely too heavily on the chaos that was the Remote Raid Megathread because random raid invitations from those on my friends list were poppin’.
Shinies: My one disappointment is how many shinies I caught. I only caught nine, some of which I already had. On Sunday, after the event was over, I happened to catch a shiny Mewtwo (via raid). I fully understand that if I were in a more Pokémon populated area, my shiny catch rate may have been far higher than the pitiful nine (out of 151) I was able to add to my collection. I wish I had taken a screenshot of my stats before the event and after it to compare Pokémon catch numbers, but sadly, I did not. I know I caught quite a few, my estimate being well over 500.
Despite my lackluster level of excitement regarding the shinies, I am absolutely thrilled that I was able to complete the Kanto Pokédex. Many of us were stuck with some empty slots due to some of the Pokémon being regional. I am also thrilled with the tasks and the ongoing and time consuming Masterwork research. I will most certainly participate in another region’s event if the opportunity arises, but again, whether it’s worth the $12.00 is dependent upon how one plays and where the interest lies.
It has been a very long while since I have shared any of my blather, but I think I have (more than once) shared my blogging MO, which is to eventually let the virtual diary dwindle. However, I refuse to fall into that same pattern yet again. The fact that I have 13 saved drafts is a clear indication that I want to keep writing. I should probably review said drafts and finish the posts that remain applicable and delete those that are no longer pertinent, but first, the reason I logged in today: COFFEE.
Actually, my thoughts run a bit deeper than coffee . . . but not by much. Monday, February 8th was my first day working from the station again. Some context: I worked from home March 17th – April 30th 2020. I returned to my office and worked from there from May 1st until the end of November. Mid – end of November, there was a COVID outbreak so the agency returned to the rotating and / or working from home schedule(s). I am the only civilian employee who has the ability to truly work from home; the others rotated days. Those rotating were paid for their days off . . . those lucky ducks! I too was a fortunate fowl:
a) no driving for 1.5+ hours each day
b) lunch hour naps
c) sleeping beyond 0430
d) unlimited pupper snuggles
e) pajama uniform
f) household chores were maintained
g) nonexistent social anxiety
With Monday being my first day back to the station, I faced a hearty dose of stress, with a pinch of chaos, due to the need to re-establish a morning routine. Getting a coffee was more important than ever before. I always order iced coffee (yes, even in winter), but my order was made hot. The girl working at the drive – thru window caught the error right away, which I was impressed with because she had not seen me in over two months. From there, the scanner wouldn’t scan my free beverage coupon, nor would it accept payment via the app. I told her, “I have back up!” As I handed her my debit card, I saw the line growing faster than a teenage boy who’s hit his growth spurt. She thanked me profusely for my patience, and I wished her a better day. Fast forward to today (Friday), and it’s the same girl working the drive-thru on Monday. Today, my order was iced, and the scanner and app worked. She handed me TWO coffees. Was this an intentional act due to my appreciated patience days ago, or was it simply a mistake on their part? Either way, the universe rewarded me for giving away what’s free for all of us to share – our kindness.
Be nice, people.
And that, my friends, is why I logged in – to share my two coffees.
And to share some photos of what I’ve been up to:
When I began this blog, I intended it to be dedicated to my health and fitness journey, but I have since shared crafts, book reviews, and thoughts not devoted to eating and exercise. I think it is time to make some minor tweaks and just let my blog be the eclectic collection of schtuffs that is . . . ME. I have SO many bird photos and projects and bits and bobs to display.
Before WordPress crashed, I had a significant post written about my bookishophile persona and its birth. I will rewrite it later, but until then, in summary: for only my book reviews, follow me over here. Your support is appreciated!
I met a seemingly delightful woman named Carol the week before last. I have been meaning to write about the encounter for several days now, but I have been struggling to find the time to blog between work, the usual adulting tasks, and stepping up to help various members of my family more. Since the systems are currently down at work, I may as well put my time to use. I’ve already used the gym for an hour, and since it was a light cardio day, I was able to read my Kindle while walking on the treadmill. When I read while walking, I enlarge the print to gigantically ginormous. If a stranger were to take a peek into my Kindle, they would assume that I’m 97 years old with glaucoma. In summary, I’ve been paid today to: exercise, read, and blog.
Though Carol seems to be a delightful woman, she has really messed me up. You see, Carol and I met as I was leaving work. Between the Coronavirus and protesting, work has been extra . . . busy, stressful, crazy? None of these adjectives summarize it well. Granted, I know that the afore listed are issues that are important and affect just about everyone, some more than others, but I digress. As I was writing . . . I was leaving work after a draining day. I just wanted to get home, but I made it only two streets away from before Carol wanted to meet me so badly, she slammed her car into mine; Carol T-boned me like she was the protagonist in a plot about murder for hire. I was minding my own business, traveling along a one-way street where I had the right of way, listening to my new audiobook that I was granted permission to read via NetGalley (shout out to NetGalley and Alex North, author of The Shadows!), when BANG, CRUNCH, BOOM. Apparently, Carol thought the stop sign AND the flashing, red traffic light were mere suggestions. She blew through the intersection (well, not really since I was in her way) like the signage and signal weren’t even there.
Carol knew she done effed up right away because she was yelling, “Sorry!” out of her window almost immediately after impact. The witness, a pedestrian who crossed the street moments before Carol blew through the crosswalk, called 9-1-1. I made the appropriate phone calls indicating I was going to be late getting home and letting my loved ones know that I’m not damaged, only my car is. However, that is a lie because I am damaged a bit. Remember reading that Carol really messed me up? I am terrified to drive now. I have such heightened anxiety driving , that I am in tears by the time I get to my destination, and I spend the majority of my day fearful of the next time I need to get behind the wheel.
Despite Carol nearly destroying my car, her experience was far worse than mine. I mean, my car is in bad shape, and I mean B-A-D shape – just terrible! I very riskily and cautiously drove my batmobile (bat as in battered) home. My original idea was to park it back at work and get a ride home, but I did not want to wait for someone to come pick me up. My commute is 45+ minutes so that is a long wait for someone who already wanted to be home. So, why was Carol’s experience worse than mine, when we went through basically the same incident? Well, for one, I imagine her insurance premium will be on the rise considering they need to pay for my damages, her damages, and my rental, which apparently, I will have for quite some time; it’s been nearly two weeks since the accident, and the parts that have been ordered to repair my car won’t be received for at least a week. The collision center employee said that my estimate “so far” is about $4,000.
Carol’s collision became worse than mine when we learned, after an officer backed my car up in order to determine whose car was leaking fluids, that she never put her car in park. So, off went her car, destined to cause more destruction in its wake. Mind you, this was at an intersection so there were cars stopped at the sign / light across the way from Carol’s oncoming, unoccupied motor vehicle. The SUV was stopped mere inches away from another vehicle, mere moments before hitting a bystander’s car head-on. After the rogue vehicle was reigned in, Carol backed into the secondary officer, and then she almost hit a man on a bicycle. Carol had a very bad day.
Overall, it has not been a pleasant experience. Dealing with the insurance has been a chore, and because I am forced to face my newfound anxiety head-on (heyyyyo!), I am drained and emotional and just . . . I am fatigued.
If I had met Carol under any other circumstance, I think I would like her. This sentiment is not to imply that I do not like her, for I don’t know her; we happened to cross paths. Carol seems like a nice lady, but there are numerous kind people who are bad at driving.
In all seriousness though, it really takes just one moment, one split second to change you / your life. When I watched the video of the accident, I realized that it was a matter of nanoseconds that determined that I walked away unharmed; Carol could have (and almost) seriously harmed me or worse. It’s terrifying to think about, really.
This may be the most adult I have ever been, tbh. Physically, I am clearly a grown-up. Mentally? Eh, not so much. The general joke is that I am 12 due to my undying love for glitter, pink, unicorns, and “kid” crafts. I like perler beads and loom bands and duct tape, but I do some bad@$$ things with these supplies, if I do say so myself.
On the 17th of March, it came to light that I, along with several of my colleagues, were possibly exposed to COVID-19. My anxiety level, due to this Novel Coronavirus, is . . . not great (understatement of the year). I assist in caring for my aged (83) Gma, and my own Mum has chronic illnesses and a compromised immune system; on my most anxious of days, I think that this could wipe out my entire family. My anxiety waxes and wanes, and I assume this is typical for the majority.
Luckily, the man who potentially exposed myself and a handful of others to the virus, he tested negative for Coronavirus. On the afternoon of the 17th, I was dismissed from work, on administrative leave, until further notice. On the 19th, I was informed that the test of the ill was negative, but that I had been assigned to work from home until further notice. How fortunate I am to a) still have my job, b) have the ability to work from home so I do not have to absolutely obliterate my sick and vacation time, and c) remain adequately distant from the public. Of note, I am innately an introvert. Social distancing is second nature to me. In fact, I’m such an introvert and so socially distant, I bet it’s even first nature to me.
On the bright side, for the first time in all of my years, my behavior is socially acceptable! I’m no longer socially awkward because I’m bad at or don’t want to make small talk – I’m respectful of others’ space. No longer am I snobby or bitchy because I don’t want to socialize in a crowd or shake a stranger’s hand – I’m now cautious. This is all tongue in cheek, folks. I know that the virus is serious. If I did not know just how serious COVID-19 is, I wouldn’t have anxiety about it, now would I?
I do feel that the majority of people lie on either end of the spectrum. One end of the spectrum being those who are panic shopping and hoarding, and the other end of the spectrum being those who aren’t worried about Corona because “it’s just a cold.” If the former could dial it back a few notches and the latter could dial it up a few notches, thus the two schools of thought meeting somewhere in the middle, I think we’d all fare better.
. . . but back to my original statement pertaining to my adulting abilities. Working from home means I don’t have to commute one and a half hours each day. Holy newfound free time! Currently, I don’t have to get up at 0400hrs just to complete the morning tasks, get ready, and get to the station by 0700hrs. I showered at 0651hrs this morning, and I was still working by my scheduled start time. During my short breaks, I get the laundry done and / or the dishes done. During my longer break, I get dinner prepared and / or some baking done. My house is spotless and more organized than ever before. I have mastered the art of maintaining a routine, both housework wise and work wise! There are certainly challenges to working from home, but I am getting so much done due to the lack of multiple interruptions, yet I miss those interruptions. Though shy, I think I may be more social than I realized. Although I do tend to be lonely with only my thoughts to keep me company throughout the day, I will never take for granted just how fortunate I am to be working.
Mind you, I am writing this on a day where my anxiety is mild and manageable. My thought process tends to be a little more clouded when my brain is freaking the eff out. BUT even when my thoughts are out of control, I still don’t take for granted my blessings: as of right now, I am healthy, my family is healthy, and my friends are healthy. As of right now, I remain employed. As of right now, I may not have the physical closeness of my IRL friends, but I have some wonderful connections with people I’ve “met” via the interwebs. Finally, the extra time spent with my Radin has been nourishing to my heart and soul, and it seems to benefit him as well because extra potty breaks!
This is a worldwide mess. A complete and utter and absolute shitshow of a mess. It is hard now, and it may be hard for a while yet, but we will get through this. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced loss due to this virus. My heart goes out to everyone who is experiencing depression, anxiety, and fear. This is damn hard. We will get through this.
Ah, the coveted, annual Beach to Beacon registration! For the past two years, 2018 and 2019, I was fortunate and snagged a spot when registration opened. This year? Not so much.
In 2019, public registrations sold out in 13 minutes. Yesterday, the slots were filled in 17 minutes. Annually, registration opens at 0700; I am fully aware of and familiar with the enrollment process. However, yesterday, I played space cadet until shortly after 0800. So, yeah . . . no guaranteed spot for me, and I knew so the instant I realized that I had forgotten B2B sign-up day. When I looked at the clock upon my realization, I was a minimum of 43 minutes too late.
I entered the lottery. The reality is, I may have ended up in the lottery even if I had remembered to enter the registration queue on time. My fingers and toes are crossed as I have not had the best of luck in runners’ lotteries; for the second consecutive year, I did not win a NYC marathon spot. Life is fraught with disappointment(s), but luckily, my blessings outweigh my setbacks so I’m not doleful. I may not get to run in this year’s Beach to Beacon, but I will try again in 2021 – same applies to the NYC marathon spot!
Coming soon . . .
How my best friend moved out-of-state without saying goodbye.