The Sun Still Shines

blue sky

With the state of the world today, it seemed like a good time to start writing in this blog again. There seems to be so much, fear, chaos, anxiety, and panic that I can only hope my optimistic words will help somehow.

I live in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York and yesterday I received the news that my girls’ school is going to close for a month. While this has been happening across the country due to COVID-19, there haven’t been any cases of it reported in this county yet. I can understand the school districts wanting to take precautions to protect everyone, but it’s just so hard to fathom that something like this is happening in my lifetime.

Having seen the chaos and pandemonium at grocery stores due to fears about the virus and self-quarantine, I headed to Walmart before the sun was even up yesterday morning because I just needed basic groceries. I was most worried that I wouldn’t be able to get milk for the week but when I checked their grocery app it was still in stock so I was hopeful.

Although I was anxious to get my milk and other essentials for the week, I still took the time to stop by Canandaigua Lake and take some pictures. I think it’s vital that in these “dark” feeling times we still remember and see the beauty that remains all around us and that the light still shines strong. The only eerie part about my visit to the lake was the abundance of seagulls circling overhead but that’s really not unusual for them and perhaps they sensed something amiss about the humans around them.

When I shop early on Saturday mornings, there are usually very few people in the store and as a well-practiced introvert, I’m okay with that.

But yesterday morning there were more people than usual and indeed, the toilet paper, tissue, and paper towel aisles were completely empty. Fortunately, I bought a package last week that will last me and my girls a couple of weeks. Hopefully, by the time we run out, people will have regained their sanity.

I was able to get my gallon of milk and the other essentials I needed for what I thought would be a relatively normal school week. There were odd things missing from shelves such as frozen pizza, pasta, dish detergent, and macaroni and cheese. But when I went to the vitamin aisle, the only vitamin that seemed depleted was vitamin C. Also the bread aisle was nearly as empty as the toilet paper aisle.

While I did my shopping, there were employees dashing around fulfilling grocery pickup orders and people filling their carts. There was a sense of nervousness and uncertainty in the air and I tried my best not to let it infect me. To perk myself up a bit, I bought a colorful spring-themed bedspread and some flowery bell-bottom pants that are far too young for me. But in these trying times, a girl does what she must to lift her spirits.

When I finished shopping, I headed to my mother’s house for the usual Saturday visit which involves doing laundry and watching The Good Witch or something else we can find streaming. I usually play World of Warcraft too and my mom and I have interesting conversations.

Neither of us is panicked about COVID-19, we’re just being smart and taking precautions. My mother is in her 70s and has underlying health conditions so she’s at a higher risk but I pray to all the powers that be every day that she stays healthy and that this all blows over eventually and life can return to normal.

As far as the whole social distancing thing goes, as an introvert, I’ve been doing that for years without an issue. I work from home already so I’m fine with having my girls home from school. I do worry that more people working online might mean less work for me, but time will tell how that plays out. I’m hoping the work from home surge will actually benefit Rev.com and their online transcribers like myself.

I’ve been spending time by myself for many years because on days I don’t have my daughters, it’s just me and my four cats and one dog. I tried being more of a social butterfly in the past but it really wasn’t for me. The only social events I seem to thrive at are the pow-wows hosted by The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) and I’m hopeful those will resume and continue when it’s safe.

One of the most important things I do for my mental and physical health is to take the time to stop and appreciate the world around me. I go for walks, I sit outside on my deck, or I even just watch the birds out my window. Today the sun is shining and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. The world hasn’t stopped spinning, the sun still shines, and I have a lot to be grateful for.

I don’t know what the next few weeks and months will hold, but I remain optimistic and hopeful and always try to find the upside of any situation. Just last week I was grumbling about the time change and how the early school mornings were dark again. Well now there is no physical school for a month and we can all sleep in until it’s light.

By the time school resumes-and it will resume, I have faith in that-the mornings will be light again, it will be spring, and life will begin its annual blooming. I don’t know about you, but I plan on enjoying every moment and focusing more on the light than on the dark.

Wingspans of Imagination

turkey vulture in the sky

Turkey vulture soaring on today’s walk.

Whenever I see turkey vultures soaring in the sky on my daily walks or when I’m out driving, they remind me of a time when I imagined them as dragons. That might sound odd, but hear me out. It was during a time of my life where I felt trapped in an unhappy situation and I just wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out. I remember being in the car as a passenger and looking out the window to see turkey vultures soaring in the distance, their great wingspans impressive even so far away. They were soaring further out of view and as they did so, I was able to envision their shapes as not those of turkey vultures, but of dragons.

You see, I believe in magic and I’ve always believed in magic. And in that moment of rather deep despair, I really needed to believe that those turkey vultures were dragons because it meant that they were magic. In believing in magic, I find hope, strength, and power. Believing in magic helps me hold on to the idea that anything is possible if I just put my mind and spirit into it and send the right energy out into the world. Seeing those turkey vultures as dragons soaring out of sight helped me believe that I too would somehow soar out of my then unhappy situation and be free again.

Freeing myself of that unhappy situation didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. It took longer than I wanted it to, but it’s behind me now and I’m able to soar free in ways I couldn’t even fathom back then. The wingspans of imagination on those turkey vultures was much greater than their five to six foot physical wingspans. For me, the wingspan on those creatures extended beyond reality, as they transformed into dragons that helped carry me to new breadths of imagination, hope, and happiness.

Crisp Breezes and Hot Coffee

adirondack coffee mug lower quality

One of my favorite mugs for drinking coffee.

The weather has turned cool and crisp with the arrival of autumn. Well, at least right now it’s cool and crisp, I don’t really know about tomorrow because the weather has been all over the place lately. Autumn has arrived according to the calendar, but that doesn’t mean the temperatures are going to cooperate. Yesterday it was warm and humid and I was wearing shorts. Today started out the same temperature-wise but turned rainy and cool, with glimpses of sun here and there.

I’ve put warmer blankets on my bed and started using my humidifier instead of my fan at night when I sleep. I’ve also kicked those warm blankets off and torqued up the fan when it didn’t get as cool at night as I expected. I’d say this is typical autumn weather for where I live, but with climate change, I’m not sure “typical weather” is even a thing anymore. I just take it day by day and see what surprises await me.

When the air is actually cool and stays that way, I enjoy drinking coffee hot. In the summer or hotter weather, I drink it cold. The point is, I love my coffee. I like whole bean coffee that I grind myself, ground coffee from a can, and even instant coffee. I take my coffee, hot or cold, with flavored creamer of some kind. The flavor depends on my mood, the season, the cycle of the moon, and so on. There are certain flavors I avoid, but I like to experiment with new taste sensations occasionally. I always stir the creamer in with an iced tea spoon that I then leave in even while drinking my coffee. It’s a quirk of mine. 😉

As I work from home, I usually drink my coffee at my desk, enjoying sips as I type away on my current transcription job. I tend to have more than one cup of coffee a day, but I am usually at my desk when drinking it. I drink it while I’m playing World of Warcraft or writing in my latest story, or as now, writing a new blog entry. I always have a cup of water alongside my mug of coffee to stay hydrated because coffee isn’t exactly a thirst quencher.

I heard something the other day about coffee that made me evaluate my perception of coffee. Someone said that people don’t like the taste of coffee, but they put up with it for the caffeine element. I thought about that and realized that no, that doesn’t apply to me. I do actually enjoy the taste of coffee. Would I drink it black? I have in the past and while a bit bitter, it wasn’t horrible. I don’t however, drown the main flavor of coffee with my creamers, I just sweeten it a bit.

As far as drinking it for the caffeine content goes, that’s somewhat true, but since I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 16 or so, it really doesn’t keep me alert like it used to. I have even been known to drink decaf coffee just because I wanted the taste of it without the caffeine. I love holding the mug of hot coffee in my hands, inhaling that familiar aroma, and then sipping at it. I like it hot, not tepid, but sometimes I make it a little too hot and can’t hold the mug without burning myself. Obviously even after so many years of making and drinking coffee, I still don’t know what I’m doing aside from just enjoying it.

Thinking deeper about my enjoyment of coffee, I believe one of the reasons I love coffee so much is because it reminds me of my father. I think the very first cup of coffee I ever had was from a pot he made and as I recall it was orange flavored. It was probably some specialty coffee ground from the store, but I remember that taste so vividly on my tongue. I remember it was during a family trip to a cottage in the Adirondack Mountains and I remember waking up to the smell of that orange flavored coffee brewing in the early light of morning. The air was cool and smelled like pine trees as it always does in the Adirondacks, and I recall that that hot cup of coffee helped warm me up on a chilly morning.

To this day, hot coffee warms me up on cool days and makes me smile as I think about my father and how far I’ve come from that first cup of coffee to the amazing life I live now. Wondrous that such a simple seeming thing as drinking coffee can hold so much meaning.

Winter, Spring, Winter, Spring? 

Despite my eagerness for spring to arrive and stay, it doesn’t want to cooperate with my wishes. In the area of Upstate NY where I live we keep having nice, spring days, then winter days then spring again. It’s a constant yoyo of weather and difficult to keep up with.

This past weekend I took a little road trip to a different part of my state and on my drive out and for the first day, the weather was cold and winter-like. Then on my drive home Sunday the sun was shining and it was warm and spring-like. It was also March when I left and April when I came back so the weather coordinated with that.

Yesterday and today’s weather has been decidedly spring-like with sun, clouds and periodic rain. The temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s and the birds and peeper frogs are singing with increased excitement for warmer weather. Unfortunately, temperatures are supposed to drop again the next few days as winter tries to hold on.

I took Jazzmin for a nice long walk this morning when the sun came out on what was supposed to be a rain-filled day and it was so warm I didn’t need a jacket. A few hours later though the weather changed again, rain returned and now there’s a chill in the air. The forecast for next week looks promising with 50s and 60s but we have to endure the last remnants of winter just a bit longer. One thing is for certain, I’ll be savoring every moment of spring once it finally arrives for good!

Softening rain

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Interesting cloud formation after the rain

Yesterday we finally received significant rain for the first time in many weeks. It’s been one of the driest summers we’ve had in this region since I first moved here over 10 years ago. I know for certain it hasn’t been this dry since I moved into my house in August of 2011 because I’m quite sure I’ve had to mow every week through spring and summer up until this year.

While I don’t miss the mowing, the lack of rain had turned every surrounding stream to dry rock beds. My yard felt like solid rock whenever I walked on it and looked like a desert filled with dead, yellow grass. I had to water my small trees and any outside plants every morning to help them survive the hot, dry weather. Any days I forgot to water my plants resulted in dead or dying plants and I think next year I’ll plant a few less pots.

There have been many days when the forecast predicted thunderstorms but they’d all pass to the north or south or evaporate before reaching this area. I was therefore skeptical when I saw the colorful blob of precipitation on the radar of my weather app. I wasn’t certain it would make it this far and actually drop rain if it did.

Fortunately, the storm clouds held together and thundered over our area dropping a substantial amount of much needed rain. I’d forgotten what wet roadways looked like! There were two big rounds of storms that swept through yesterday and when I took Jazzmin out into the yard afterwards, I was amazed to feel that the ground was slightly squishy and wet beneath my bare feet. It wasn’t like walking on rock anymore and I reveled in the softness from the rain.

Seeing my deck wet and my birdbaths overflowing with rain were welcome sights after such a long period of dryness. I’m sure the earth, trees, plants and animals were all extremely grateful for the rejuvenating softness of rain.

Beauty in the Breeze

Yesterday was one of those breezy but glorious days. The high temperature was 62 degrees and the sky was full of big puffy clouds that occasionally blocked out the sun in the most breathtaking way. When I took Jazzmin out for our afternoon walk, I paused on the way back in the house to observe the way the wind was swirling the tall grass in the field behind my house into shimmering waves that seemed to breathe along with the breeze. The power and beauty of the wind is something I have always admired and it was extremely worthy of that admiration yesterday.

Around 4 p.m. I felt this inner tug and voice telling me that I needed to spend some time outside. Knowing better than to ignore such feelings, I decided to lay a blanket down in the lawn in front of my smaller storage shed and sit on it for a while enjoying the beauty of the day. I hooked Jazzmin to her tree lead within a few feet of my blanket and she set about busily sniffing away at squirrel trails. With my thick green comforter spread out on the ground, I then spread myself out on it and laid on my back feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. By that time, the temperature had dropped into the mid-50’s so I was wearing my sweatshirt, tank top and yoga pants. I was “sun bathing” completely clothed as it were and considering I’m not a big fan of tanning it worked fine for me.

I closed my eyes for a while feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and then eventually rolled over on my stomach to watch the huge cumulous clouds move over the back field like a thick, fluffy blanket. Dragonflies flew by periodically, I saw a few butterflies too, and amid the tall grass, I could see red – winged blackbirds, starlings and bobolinks flying up before disappearing back down into the grass. It was all so amazing and peaceful that I was glad I’d made the time to go out and enjoy it.

Another periodic visitor in my gaze were turkey vultures flying low over my house and then soaring up on the winds and out over the valley to the west. Eventually I decided to stand up and walk over to the western edge of my property so I could see where the turkey vultures were going. I was quite surprised to see at least 20 of the huge birds soaring at various heights over the properties down the hill from me. I surmised that there must have been appetizing roadkill somewhere down the road to attract so many of the scavengers. I understand that many people might find turkey vultures and the fact that they’re scavengers ugly, but I admire them for their huge wingspan, grace in the air and the essential role they play in the cycle of life. If we humans are going to keep hitting animals that try unsuccessfully to cross the road in front of our vehicles, the least we can do is show proper respect for the turkey vultures who clean up after our mess.

As I watched the large birds circle, I took a few pictures with my phone even though I knew they would just look like dark specks among the clouds.

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

Those specks among the clouds are turkey vultures. Extremely zoomed in pic from my phone

I had just lowered my phone when I realized that one of the circling birds didn’t have the same shape as the turkey vultures. At first, I thought it was a hawk but then I saw that it was much too large. A moment later the sun came out from behind the latest swath of clouds and in the warm golden glow, I saw the white head and tail that revealed to me that I was looking at a bald eagle.

My heart swelled in joy at the sight of the bird and when it broke off from the turkey vultures and flew northeast temporarily disappearing beyond the canopy of my trees I walked quickly toward my driveway to try to catch another glimpse of it. I was therefore elated when I saw that the bald eagle had turned and was now flying directly over me as I stood in my driveway. Tears immediately flowed from my eyes as I saw the great bird closer and there was no denying those beautiful white head and tail feathers. I held my phone up to take a couple pictures and hoped I got something recognizable because I couldn’t see anything in my viewfinder due to the glare.

bald eagle above me

Another zoomed in pic. Bald eagle directly above me.

As I watched, the bald eagle flew gracefully from north to south over me as I stood in the driveway, then over my yard and into the field behind my house, eventually soaring beyond my sight over the southwestern line of trees.

The dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The small, dark speck is the bald eagle soaring over the southwestern trees.

The tears were still streaming down my cheeks because I felt so blessed by the visit of the great bird and its powerful spirit and I didn’t even bother to wipe them away. I let the tears dry on my face as I sat back down on my blanket, overcome with feelings of awe and amazement. My heart and spirit pulsed with gratitude that the universe had sent me such a powerful messenger. Aloud I thanked the Creator, Great Spirit and my father’s spirit for reminding me once again that I haven’t been forgotten and that even though I might not know what it is yet, that I have an amazing destiny ahead of me. I am eternally glad that I listened to that inner voice yesterday telling me that I needed to sit in the lawn for a bit to enjoy the day and witness the beauty in the breeze.

Beautiful storms

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Storm clouds swallowing the sun


From my western facing deck I always have a great view of the incoming weather as it makes the way across the valley and to the hills where I live. On clear days, I can see blue sky stretching into the horizon and on stormy days, I can see the dark clouds slowly swallowing the blue in flashes of lightning and visible lines of rain as they approach.

Today was one of those stormy days and although it wasn’t raining when I put Jazzmin out this morning, the air was thick with humidity and the breeze promised additional moisture. The air was cool but not cold and I watched later as the storms approached, changing the sky from dark to darker.

When particularly turbulent storms approach, full of rumbling thunder and flashing lightning, I love to stand on my deck and watch them grow closer. Especially in summer when it’s been a hot day and I can just feel that the storm is going to bring relief. There’s something so raw and beautiful about the power of mother nature as she stirs up the wind and brings the rain that drenches the earth.

I can still feel that power even after the rain stops as I walk into the wet grass with bare feet. It’s as if the pulse of the ground received an energetic jolt from the storm and I can feel the heartbeat of the earth much more vividly. I often close my eyes when I’m standing in the grass to feel the breeze upon my face and listen to it whisper of more beautiful storms to come.