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Archive for January, 2009

A Rare Visitation

Yesterday, a group of us visited Petal, MS (my husband takes me to the nicest places! Ok, I’m serious!) to see a visitor to our area who is rarely seen. He accommodated us with frequent songs, acrobatics, and preening. Sound distasteful? Well, not really. Not when you realize that the visitor was a bird, a great bird, a REALLY GREAT bird: the Vermillion Flycatcher.

So we hung out in the cold, damp of an overcast Sunday afternoon watching this magnificent creature fly around a marshy pond, catching insects and generally ruling the roost. Of course, we watched other birds, too, (palm warbler, yellow-rumped warblers, cardinals, Eastern Phoebe, Red-tailed hawks, kestrals, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, blackbirds, and more) but this guy, this rare wanderer to our damp, cold land, held our fascination firmly.

Why here, when this is a western bird, known for hanging in deserty places, liking heat. Why now, when no strong storms have passed through, no winds to blow him in, no wandering females he was chasing? Who knows, but I do know it was great habitat: lots of bugs, protected from most predators, water and lots of room to fly….although he was working hard to eat, he also looked like he was having fun, cutting through scrub, swooping low to the water, and generally entertaining the odd humans on shore. May be the best Sunday I’ve had in awhile.

Today?  I was back at work, working on an NEH Grant application, cooking up another NEH project (proposal due next week), but all day — I was dreaming of red…

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What a Week!

It started with MLK holiday, which turned into wonderful work for The Writer (and me as tagalong) when he was asked to “fill in” for a speaker at a senior lunch at his mom’s church.  We had a great lunch, a great time, and drew (according to the lovely, generous facilitator Bob Atkinson) the biggest crowd in some long time!  A great way for Ronnie to start off his New Year work-wise!

Then, Tuesday was work for me, but I confess that I kept the inaugural activities and commentary up and running for a good part of the morning, crying intermittently at the hope & promise on all those faces in the Washington crowd.  I am (in my own non-god-worshipping way) praying for our new President and all our leaders.

And, then just work.  So grateful still to have a job — THIS job.  So fortunate as companies around the globe lay off workers and people’s lives get tumbled about into confusion and fear.  Even with higher ed budget cuts, I am trying not to let myself get caught up in the fearfulness about it all.  Trying to stay rooted in the present and be grateful for what is — right here, right now.  I am so blessed and have so much to be grateful for.

What about you? What’s happening in your lives?  What are you grateful for, afraid of today?  What’s on your mind, what’s worrying you?

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25 years ago yesterday, I got married, saving my long-time love, Ronnie Blackwell. And he married me, too, and saved me right back! Today, I am still grateful that it was him who found me, who settled on me, who gathered me into his fold and made me his own (and vice versa!). Ok, yes, there are days I want to strangle him! Sometimes more than a day at a time! But, generally, we are looking in the same direction, making progress on the vision, looking through the same colored glasses, holding hands and crossing roads together, and still sharing nap mats and juice boxes.

This week was a big one in terms of anniversaries for us, as Ronnie also celebrated his first anniversary with the Sun Herald as their “birding columnist.” Of course, he celebrated by NOT having a column in Sunday’s paper; apparently, mailboxes filled and his article never got received by the editors. But, we’ll all overlook that little incident and keep plugging along…he is already at work on this week’s articles.

And, of course, this week is bittersweet for me as it is the first anniversary of my brother’s death…a whole year. Unbelievable still that he is gone from my life forever. I can only guess what it must be like for his wife and Christopher…still have not had the heart to bring myself back to family photos to do a collection for Chris….maybe this year for his birthday…

People keep asking me what we’re “doing” to mark the big anniversary. What does one DO? It just IS…another day, another piece of the cake, another experience…of course, it is significant that we’ve managed to string together enough bites of life to add up to 25 YEARS, but we just don’t have any big plans. Dinner with family/friends, a good bottle of wine, a cake shared with friends on Thursday night, we’ll probably take a picture (oops! we did!), and then we’ll just go on with our lives, stringing together more days, more bites of life, and see where those take us. It is a good ride.

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jan1trekOn January 1st, Ron organized the Audubon group on a morning run of area spots for good birding in advance of the Christmas Bird Count two days later. I stayed home and cooked lunch for the folks who’d committed to get themselves rousted out on what turned out to be a beautiful, sunny, mild day:

jan1lunchHoppin’ John, cole slaw, stewed cabbage, smoked ham, country cured ham, stuffed eggs, rolls, cornbread, pork chops, jalapeno peas, and a BIG Banana Pudding. Starting it off — ah….Mimosas!  The drink of all good southerners on brunch days!  And, best of all, 12 friends around our table to share it all with! What a great way to start the new year!

Maybe next year, I’ll crock-pot it all and go on the bird count myself!

Thank you to my husband for this great new tradition!

May it last forever!

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