Friday, July 3, 2015

Five Things Friday While Waiting for Rain . . .

1. Swimming. I swam before 7 yesterday morning and then I went for one last swim at 9:15, just so that I could cool off enough to fall asleep later. That made a total of four swims yesterday, each one glorious. The water has never been so warm so early, although it's still noticeably the Pacific Ocean north of the 49th parallel. . .

2. Drought. I know those of you who live in normally hot, dry places think I'm exaggerating, but we've set records now for May and June with virtually no rain that counts through those two months. This has never happened historically, although we do often have a stretch of 6 to 8 weeks' drought late summer. Surrounded as we are by so many huge trees and considerable tall dry grass, I'm anxious, and I'm not the only one. Right now, looking across the Salish Sea, I see a thick band of smoke from a wildfire on the Sunshine Coast. And just behind us, on Vancouver Island, there's a 20-hectare fire that began in a hayfield and has caught some forest, caused evacuation of a small neighbourhood of homes. Sounds as if firefighters brought the fire under control last night, but it's been windy here and the weather report through next Thursday shows only more sunshine. No rain.

3. We're used to birdsong around us, but there was so much noise this morning that I took my tea onto the back deck to see what was up. Sat at the table, noticed the robins, a few sparrows, all chattering and chirping up in the fir and the yew tree near the pond. Then a double-take, as I recognized a large, striated shape of different texture and colours than the yew trunk it was perched near. Wow! A Barred Owl, in our backyard, so close, better get the camera. Got up ever so quietly and carefully and was doing fine until, on my way back out, the screen door clattered behind me, and I saw the big bird leave the branch he'd been sitting on. . . .

and fly the ten or fifteen feet to sit on the edge of our pergola! I suspect that, in this prolonged drought, he'd got thirsty enough to think of drinking from our fishpond, but the robins were not keen on sharing territory with a hunter. Check out my YouTube video, if you're interested, for 30 seconds of harassed owl trying to maintain dignity. He stayed long enough (whether as a face-saving move or still hoping he could satisfy his thirst) that I was able to get 2 1/2 minutes of video and another 5 or 10 minutes of gobsmacked enjoyment.



4. Recommended watching: My nephew, a stand-up comic and aspiring screenwriter, IM'd me the other day to alert me to a just-released documentary on Nina Simone, available on Netflix: What Happened, Miss Simone.  Cue this for your weekend viewing 'cause my nephew is right! Powerful, moving, sad, entertaining, with some fascinating historical footage. Black and female with a burning ambition and a determination to use her music for political change, mental illness and an abusive husband and a desire for all those material goods that have spelled success. The documentary redeems Simone particularly through her daughter who speaks so thoughtfully and understandingly about her mother, despite what she details unflinchingly as some obvious neglect.

Isn't it wonderful to have this younger generation of daughters, sons, nephews, nieces, friends' children whom we have watched grow up, tell us about shows we should watch, books we might like, music we should listen to? Thanks, Gav!

5. Organizing. This has to be included in my Five Things, boring as it may seem, because it's assumed a spot at the top of my activity list this week. Having packed up and brought home five boxes of books from my campus office last week, I had to find room on bookshelves here. This meant serious culling, and it started a chain reaction of tasks. Since those books came home, I emptied the two 2-drawer file cabinets that supported the 8 foot x 30 inch desktop Paul made for me years ago. Then I cleared the piles of paper and of books, the containers of pens, pencils, and paper clips, the tiers for organizing mail, the camera and sketching gear that got "stored" on top of that desktop. Once all that was clear, we hauled the cabinets and plywood top out and replaced them with a desk Paul's dad made him when he was in high school. Its much small footprint makes my office roomier and the smaller surface forestalls my tendency to packrat the top of my desk. I still have four drawers, which is plenty of storage IF I'm judicious, which I intend to be.

I've also begun culling my books (the original task, if you remember!), and have already got four boxes to donate. I've wanted to get at tasks like these for the last couple of years, and was a bit frustrated, to be honest, that I didn't have energy to tackle them all as soon as classes were over. Bit by bit, though, I'm figuring this retirement gig out, and I'm pacing myself. But I'm also feeling really good when I get something done so definitively.

There we go, then. Another Five Things on Another Friday. We have some lovely family visits scheduled for the weekend. Son, daughter-in-law, and beautiful baby granddaughter will be here Sunday, and Pater will be picking Nola up the same day for a week's visit here. I have a post (Paris Eating, Part II) ready to publish over the weekend, and I'll be peeking in here to read your comments, but otherwise, I'm hoping to stay away from the computer for a few days. Happy Weekend!
   

22 comments:

  1. How wonderful to see that owl in your backyard. That head turn at the beginning of the video is pretty amazing! Good luck with the on-going culling. Since I retired in February and Stu was ill, then recovering from surgery, in the months that followed...I had lots of time for my clean-out. Actually enjoyed setting up my den to reflect all my interests, instead of work papers and work schedules and work to-do lists.

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    1. Isn't it cool the way they swivel their heads, owls?
      I'm almost finished the clearing-out now, so yes, I think it will be fun to re-structure the room a bit, setting it up around leisure interests. There will be some carpentry involved while we're away in the fall, so I'm trying to get a sense now of exactly what I want. . .

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  2. Hi Mater, what a treat in your backyard! Good luck with the culling - I wonder if it will be easy for you to let go of 'work' books?

    I hope you get some longed-for rain soon - at least you are still in your home, no need for evacuation, let's pray it stays that way. Those poor people in Saskatchewan!

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    1. You've put your finger on it, Patricia. Some of the "work" materials are tougher to let go of because of the way research/scholarship and teaching work together. Many of my materials are here because of personal interests. That said, I'm recognizing that those interests have changed, and while I'm saving more than I probably need to, just for a few more months, just in case, I've also deliberately exercised some ruthlessness.

      Yes, the Saskatchewan situation is horrible. BC's got a few spots that may go a similar direction, and we have four small (so far) bush fires here in Nanaimo (two of them right in city neighbourhoods, vacant lots, etc.). Our Drought Level was just raised to the highest provincial level. Hope the firefighters can keep up their energy and spirit. . .No rain until at least the end of this next week. . .

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  3. Love the owl -- we have one that roams the neighborhood, and the birds always tell us when he (she?) has arrived.

    We are full of boxes brought back from father's house as we close the estate. I find too that bringing in something new requires rearranging and culling the old. It always takes twice as long as I think it will, but otherwise we would overflow.

    Love the recent pictures. We just bought a similar camera, but I have had no time to learn how to use it. Perhaps my August project?
    Lynn

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    1. The birds really do announce an owl's arrival, don't they?!
      Processing those boxes from your father's house is emotional work as well as physical, but it's important. Even just sorting through my old books and files had an emotional component -- looking at the past always does, I suppose. But I think it's probably a good idea to do some culling every few years and I'm glad I finally have time to.
      I hope you find time to play with your camera. Even just with the automatic features, I was happy with mine for years. Now even more so . .

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  4. I took a bunch of books to donate and to exchange today. I got more reading material and helped to stock the shelves of our community library (book exchange). It is so odd that there has been no significant rain since I've come home. I have lived almost 5 months without rain. That owl looks almost artificial I am watching Le Témoins on Netflix but Monsieur (so-called because of his early inattention in French class) has a hard time following. Nicholas Winton, who I just heard about in my class two weeks ago, died Wednesday. I watched Nicky's Family, earlier this week. You might enjoy it.
    I was contemplating the Nina Simone documentary and will watch it. Good luck with the books.

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    1. That long without rain must feel remarkably strange. Both you and I have always lived in this rainy climate; growing up here has us feeling odd when there's no rain for two weeks, never mind this prolonged drought.
      Isn't Les Témoins good?! And I so appreciate being able to have the French subtitling, a really good way for me to supplement my oral comprehension, especially given my hearing impairment.
      Thanks for the rec. on Nicky's Family.

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  5. That owl is such a beautiful creature! What a treat. We occasionally get a red-tailed hawk or two doing reconnaissance from one of our neighborhood trees, but owls don't seem to be part of our local fauna. This drought is so widespread and makes me worry about long-term climate change impacts. We've cut back our watering (again) and may have a yard full of dry brush before the summer is done (and we still have another 4-5 months of dry weather ahead).

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    1. Impossible not to worry about climate change when we're getting droughts and temperatures that (here, at least) surpass records kept for over 120 years. We're now at only one-day-a-week watering. Can't imagine 4-5 months of dry weather that you'll have. Our vegetation here hasn't evolved to suit that, obviously. . .

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  6. Also meant to say that I'd seen a bus-stop poster for the Nina Simone documentary and hope to watch it sometime this weekend.

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  7. I hope the rain comes to you soon and NOT accompanied by electrical storms. We have been blanketed by the haze coming from the Saskatchewan fires for several days. The sun is a big yellow-pink circle in the sky (A defined circle. Like a beach ball.) I am glad the fires are not closer but feel for the people and the creatures that are suffering.

    Enjoy your weekend with family!

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    1. Crossing my fingers against electrical storms! I'm sure the firefighters are too! Those Saskatchewan fires must be terrifying. I remember the huge fires that covered the Okanagan/BC Interior in 2003 (and they're beginning to burn there again. . .) Hope that haze isn't too tough on your breathing -- not good for asthmatics and others with any compromised respiratory function. . .

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  8. Your owl is magnificent. I hope he/she managed to find a peaceful water source.
    Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest you were exaggerating the drought. It was just the contrast between your landscape and that here in Malta. In Australia, where I usually live, bushfires in the summer months are a constant threat, so I know it's not something to take lightly.
    I left the disposal of work papers for many, many months after retirement. When at last I made myself do it, it gave me such a satisfied feeling of completion.
    Lilibet

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    1. Oh, Lilibet, I wasn't at all offended, but I know our landscape doesn't look like one afflicted by drought and thought I should explain.
      If I had room and hadn't already let too much clutter build up over the past few years, I think I might have left that paper-sorting for a while as well. Having it done, though, YES, you're right! Such a satisfaction. Job well done. Tick that item right off the list! ;-)

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  9. Lovely to be able to dive in for a cooling dip whenever you feel like it ... another advantage of retirement , of course .
    The weather is gorgeous here , with the occasional cracking storm to cool it down a bit . I'm just sitting in the shade , reading a good book and eating tomatoes .
    Idleness is bliss.

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    1. It is completely lovely to dive in for a cool-off whenever I need one -- I'm so lucky!
      Glad to hear you're doing just the right thing in gorgeous weather -- part of the gorgeousness is the balancing storm, isn't it? Lessons there, I see . . . ;-)
      Bliss out! Continue being happily idle!

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  10. You have made this owl lover ecstatic! I'm saving this for good! (I doubt owls •think• they have to save face, there is probably some owl justification operating overtime.)

    And thx for recc re Nina SImone doc!

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  11. Glad you liked it, K. I was thrilled! and yes, any anthropomorphizing of the owl's intention is purely tongue-in-cheek.

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  12. It is so beautiful to live near sea!
    I love owls,allways something mysterious about them! And in a daylight! But your litlle birds are very brave :-),don't you think?
    So sorry about your weather
    We have a couple of fires at the seaside every year,so dangerous,and sad
    Tough times when you have to part with your books,isn't it?
    My first time was awful ,now I donate them a lot
    Have a nice weekend !
    Dottoressa

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  13. The owl is brilliant. I think your photo would make an excellent birthday - or even Christmas - card. Esp. for the older person. Dignified. Grace under pressure. Ho hum. I do hope you get rain. We are having periods of incredibly hot weather here in England, interspersed with electrical storms at night. It smells wonderful when you go out the front door in the morning and the rain has fallen. How you must love being able to walk out your back door and into the water. I envy you. In a good way.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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