December 22, 2020

Here’s a Christmas Goose for you.

Yesterday I went out to Barr Lake State Park for a Solstice walk and birding expedition, because it was a really nice day and I need to soak up all the sun I can this time of year. I had a great walk — and saw more Canada Geese than I think I ever have in one place. They just kept coming, hundreds of them, all hanging out at the edge of the water. So much noise.

A good lesson to learn in birding: always take a second look at that gigantic flock of what seems like one species. Especially waterfowl, because there might be something mixed in with all that brown.

This is a really bad phone picture. Photography is one thing that I just can’t get worked up about practicing to get good at, so you’ll have to put up with my crap images. But I still kind of love this one, because in that sea of drab brown Canada geese — a flash of white. Something odd, something different, a bird species I’d never seen at Barr Lake before. It’s a snow goose. This is only the second time I’ve seen a snow goose.

I’m not sure how this one lone snow goose ended up hanging out with a giant flock of an entirely different species, but there it is. (There were actually two, but they weren’t together, I’m sure there’s a story there.)

Always take that second look. Don’t make assumptions about what you’re looking at.


Mesa Verde

October 20, 2020

From a hike I did at Mesa Verde National Park:

Last month, I went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. One of the things I love about these outings is sometimes something magical happens. Like emerging from the woods to the shore of Bierstadt Lake and coming face-to-fact with… moose. One would have been memorable. Two was otherworldly.

battening down the hatches

September 7, 2020

Colorado’s getting hit with a big ol’ round of Jumanji 2020 this week.

A massive wildfire flared up about forty miles northwest of my house yesterday. I have a fine layer of ash and burned pine needles all over my yard today. I need to walk around and see what needs cleaning up.

This summer has felt very long, and it’s about to come to a screeching halt. Tonight, we have a winter storm warning. The forecast is calling for a 50 degree drop in temperature overnight and six inches of snow tomorrow. I definitely need to batten down the hatches.

Speaking of which, last week I was interviewed for this Denver Post article on why Colorado is the setting for so many apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic stories. In the interview I forgot to mention the weather.

So yeah. I’m a little tired this week. Still, I’ve been feeling a lot of gratitude that I have a safe place to stay and friends and family looking out for me. And my work has been a comfort.

Just gotta keep going.


runaway weekend

July 6, 2020

In a normal year, this past weekend I would have been at Battlemoor, a regional SCA event held at a beautiful mountain site, in a meadow along a a rushing creek, near the town of Buena Vista (where we discovered Deerhammer whiskey last year, but never mind that).

This year, all SCA events have been cancelled, along with everything else (I see DragonCon just went down. Gah.). But some (trusted, responsible, socially distanced) friends and I threw up our hands and rented a house in the mountains for the weekend. Mostly to get away from the massive amateur fireworks, which as has been pointed out elsewhere, have been ridiculous and upsetting for those of us not participating. And Independence Day felt sad this year, given how epic a failure the collective response to covid has been. It didn’t have to be like this. It really didn’t.

Anyway, four days in the mountains was… great. I didn’t do much but knit and read books and take in the air. (And watch Hamilton, finally, but more on that later.) I didn’t even take any pictures.

I did feed the hummingbirds, and when I went to take down the feeder to bring it home, one angry hummer wasn’t quite finished. So I stood and held the feeder up. And he came in to drink. For a couple of minutes I got to watch him, literally my arm’s length away. Close enough to see his little tongue flicking at the end of his bill.

And that was my weekend.


Global Big Day 2020

May 11, 2020

Saturday was the Global Big Day bird count, in which birders all over the world try to spot as many bird species as they can in a 24 hour period. I’ve participated for four years now. I really look forward to it, even though every year I end up feeling like I’m not a very good birder.

This year, I was worried about going to my usual birding spots, which are popular public parks and likely to be crowded. So in the interest of social distancing, I picked a spot on private land that I’ve been wanting to birdwatch at for awhile:  the farm where I ride horses. It’s got a stand of cottonwoods along an irrigation ditch, which is excellent bird habitat. I got up early, was out there with my binoculars by 7:30 am, which is virtuously early for me.

It was a good plan. Then the wind started blowing. Then it got cold. The sun was shining, but I was shivering and battered within an hour. And the birds just don’t come out when it’s that blustery. Only logged 14 species, and I was a bit disappointed. Highlights:  western kingbirds and a blue-gray gnatcatcher.

I seem to be doing worse and worse at this each year. But hey, at least I got out there at all, right?

I’ve just about decided not to wait for the next official Big Day, but at some point pick a nice, warm, sunny, beautiful day and do my own personal Big Day, no pressure.


adventure ho!

January 16, 2020

Check another thing off the bucket list:  I’ve been snowshoeing. Twice, even.

I should have done this ages ago, because I really like it. Hiking, in snow. Generally, I don’t like the cold, but the snowy world is so beautiful and engaging it’s totally worth the extra prep and attention. Rocky Mountain National Park, one of my favorite places, is different in winter:

Bonus:  The first trip up was right after I finished watching The Terror, which added a certain zing to the adventure. This is up at Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. This picture is me actually on the lake, which is very frozen right now. How cool is that?

Seriously, I look like I’m about to dive into a James Bond adventure.

snowpocalypse part 2!

November 27, 2019

Final snow count for my area:  13″.  Just enough to shut everything down and throw a monkey wrench in the week, but not enough to be record setting or break the top count of Colorado snowfalls. (For me, that’s still Oct 1997 when I lived in Palmer Lake, which got 52″ in one storm. That was something.)

I really hope I don’t have to run to the store today. We lost a shopping day, two days before Thanksgiving. Grocery stores today are going to be a nightmare.

*stays home, sips cocoa*


November 25, 2019

We’re due to get 18″ of snow overnight, so the area is in full-on snowpocalypse mode. Combine this with the usual Thanksgiving prep madness, and shopping for basics is kind of a no-go. Seriously, I almost had to duke it out with a woman for the last cans of kidney-health formula prescription dog food. Then she said she has a Great Dane and I’m all, here, have it all, Lily just needs, you know, a can or two.

So, I think Lily and I are set. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, here’s the long version of my very angry review of Ad Astra for Lightspeed. I really only get this angry when a film thinks it’s smart, and is so proud of how smart it is, when in fact it is dumber than a sack of bricks.

Rapid space baboons. Really.


the trees have eyes

October 28, 2019

In the category of “do something that scares you,” I signed up for an online nature journaling and drawing class. I’m looking for ways to be more engaged with my birdwatching, and also to practice art — I haven’t really done anything with the visual arts since I was a teenager. So, I’m dipping my toes in.  It’s been a little frustrating and slow going — the class started in early October, the same month that I had trips/conventions for three weekends and I’m on deadline for a novel revision. And the weather turned utterly crappy, so I haven’t been able to get outside to actually, you know, nature journal.  But slow going is still going, and my backyard is pretty cool. The juncos are back at my feeder, so some time this week I hope to sit by the window with a cup of tea and my sketchbook and see what I can record.

One of the points of the class is that through observing, journaling, and sketching, you’ll notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise. By taking time to really observe, and really look at and record details, you’ll see things you wouldn’t by just taking a photo and moving on.

For example, I did a sketch of some of the aspen trees in my backyard. And discovered that my aspens have eyes. This whole time they’ve had them. I can’t not see it now.