Erie in Springtime | 5.10.24

Erie in Springtime | 5.10.24

What is there to say about a place where the Warbler Chorus is punctuated by Oriole Arias? Birder’s Heaven? Because that perfectly describes the week in Erie… specifically at Presque Isle. And those Oriole’s? Well, I saw dozens of them… dozens. I have never seen so many Baltimore Oriole’s in my life!

We were in Erie for The Great Migration… and let me tell you. It absolutely is great! And yes, I saw new-to-me birds… still. And that amazes me! I feel so fortunate that we are so close to such a significant migration route!

My brief, but spectacular “new bird” list included Common Yellowthroats, Indigo Buntings, Great Crested Flycatchers, Blue-headed Vireos, Yellow-breasted Chats, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Wood-Pewees, and Tennessee Warblers.

But perhaps the best moments of all on this vacation were the hours we included Sherman. I am not sure how many more “vacations” we will have with Sherman. Earlier in April we invested in a Dog Stroller… yes, I have become that person… and it might have been the absolute best part of the trip! He has never liked being “left behind” but since losing his hearing being in his crate really stresses him. But there was no way he could walk as much as we do when we are in Presque Isle… even with the new medication he is on. The stroller made amazing LONG walks possible and their “paved path system” is one that goes all around the peninsula… so we just kept walking! Sherman thought he was in Dog Heaven… all the sights, all the smells, *almost* none of the walking!

The weather was perfect spring weather… some overcast days, some days with light rain, some days with sun… and all days cooler! I watched the trees go from bare branches to new leaves and all the stages between! Presque Isle is a place that is never the same any day but the leafing out was so dramatic and gorgeous to experience!

Carolyn had sent a text about what looked like an amazing exhibit at the Erie Art Museum and I really wanted to go but Steve absolutely did not (and it was not worth an argument, lol) so I missed it… sigh.

I did not take a ton of pictures… I leaned into Margaret Renkl’s wise advice: “How truly valuable is a device that makes you take your eyes from an experience so momentary you might miss it altogether?” So for the most part, my phone stayed in my pocket!

And speaking of phones – and technology in general – perhaps that was the best part of our time away… being truly away. I was not scrolling apps. I was not looking at emails. It was such a good break!

The ONLY thing I regularly used with my phone was the Merlin app… sadly, I cannot hear most birdsong so Merlin telling me what it was hearing was helpful for me to then find the bird with binoculars. Thankfully, that Warbler Chorus was loud and lovely and constant! And those Oriole Arias… unbelievably delightful!

I only had one incident with a tic and it appears I found it before it bit me! Whew! (But I kept thinking “something” was crawling on me for days afterwards!)

But as great as the week away was, it was so good to get back home. This is my last Friday without hearing aids… yes, I go to get them next Tuesday and I really cannot wait!

Thanks for revisiting our Erie getaway! Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!

Reading…the best of the best | 2023

Reading…the best of the best | 2023

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

It has been an excellent year of reading (again!) I truly do not understand how the non-reader gets through the day… happily that is something I will never have to experience because reading is essential to my day!

I am most profoundly grateful for my local library… most of what I have read, I read courtesy of my library. My reading life is all the more richer and fuller thanks to them! I love the people that work there… they are some of my favorite people on the planet! They were some of the first to welcome me to the area when I moved here 10 years ago!

It was a stellar reading year for me… I read a whopping 106 books! I read more this year than last year, but less than other years. But the most amazing statistics from the year show how really magnificent my reading was this year!

I doubled my Netgalley books this year… I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to read 26 ARC’s (advanced reader copies) and so many of these books (Netgalley books are flagged with **)  made my “best books of the year” list!

I listen to books… a lot! Of the 106 books read, 54 of them were audiobooks and almost every single one was courtesy of my library!

There were 7 books that I did not finish this year… books that just weren’t for me. Years ago, I would have felt guilty to not finish a book… but “bailing” on a book was something that I embraced in my Year of Release… it was one of the best things ever.

I read LOTS of books that I gave a 5-star rating… of the 106 books… I gave 46 of them a 5-star rating.

So you might now be wondering how one chooses the best from that many “best” choices… well, I have some criteria for my Best Reading of 2023. The books on this list have stayed with me since I read them. They have delightfully lingered and for some of these books… they inspired me to read them more than once!

So here is my Best Reading of 2023 List… I highly recommend every book on this list! (They just might change your life!!) There are 11 books here with each book better than the one before it…. so when you get to the bottom, you have reached the best book of my year.

  • Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro (I loved this book so much that I immediately re-read it.)
  • The Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude and Inciting Joy by Ross Gay (I think a bit of Ross Gay every day is a very good idea! I will be reading more of him in 2024!)
  • No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister ** (a book about the power of a book is one I have not stopped thinking about!)
  • Sarah Winman… yes, just the author! I read 3 of her books this year and each one was tremendous, thought provoking, and each lingered in the most wonderful way!
  • The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl. ** This book is life changing… and I loved it so much that I am going to spend the entire year with it… in my backyard. Two weeks in and I am discovering new things already… I can’t wait to see where my backyard and Margaret take me!
  • Above Ground by Clint Smith. A moving volume of poetry that took me back in time to when my children were small. I loved Clint, but these poems reminded me of a forgotten time!
  • Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward. ** This book was so necessary in a time where the “whitewashing” of history is happening in real time. I have not stopped thinking about Annis and her journey.
  • Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan. I would not have even known about this book were it not for the Read With Us book club… we read The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida and I needed to know more… so a bit of Googling led me to Brotherless Night. This story is one that has not left me, it reminds me that even the obscure story needs to be heard!
  • My Friends by Hisham Matar. ** This was a Netgalley book that “picked me” … an editor emailed (I am sure a volume of readers) and suggested I might enjoy this book. I am so glad I followed her suggestion! This book would have been my top read (if I did not read Rilke and Tommy Orange!) This book opened my eyes, changed how I think about the displaced… refugees… those without a homeland. Thank you, Hisham for writing such a compelling, beautiful, heartbreaking story!
  • Rilke… my goodness, I love Rilke so much. I read two Rilke books this year (a re-read of one by a different translator.) The more I read Rilke, the more I want to read more. There will be more Rilke in 2024 as well!
  • This last book barely squeaked under the wire… Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange ** (it will be out next March) It has only been a few days but I have not stopped thinking about the Star Journey. This might be Tommy’s best book ever… at least until he writes another one! Ha!

There you have it… 11 books… roughly 10% of my reading year.

I will be back tomorrow with my Year of Unraveling review!

Photo by Anthony 🙂

Presque Isle | 4.29.22

Presque Isle | 4.29.22

As I shared on Monday, I did not take my usual number of photos on this visit to Presque Isle in Erie.

But the lack of images does not diminish the memories…at all. Rather, I think, the lack of photos has sharpened my memories because I spent my time looking all around me, not through the lens of my iPhone.

We stayed at a new Airbnb… and it was a big improvement! Cleaner…updated…with all appliances in working order! Ha! I know, but having a working oven was nice… it meant I could make a frozen pizza…and at the end of a long day of walking around Presque Isle it made for a easy-peasy dinner. It was lovely…and in the back yard was a cemetery. We even had a couple of sunset views from the back yard!

Last June marked the centennial of Presque Isle State Park and it was so much fun to see the gallery of images from the last 100 years at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. We were fortunate to visit on a day with little traffic and a park ranger spent some time talking with us…and I learned something I did not know! In 1966 there was a UFO *and alien* sighting at Presque Isle… and the U.S. Air Force investigators came to…well investigate. The ranger said it was perhaps the most curious bit of history connected with the park. Of course I took a picture and sent it off to Sam (Sam and I have a running Alien Dialog) and he thought perhaps the aliens might have been gathering water, lol! But maybe that is why Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes! Haha!

UFO and alien sighting…oh my!

We spent the better portion of a day hiking out and back from Gull Point. It is still a sanctuary for shore birds and terns and it is a trek, the downed trees make the going… challenging… but once you get out to the point it is just spectacular. We were a bit early for Piping Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, and Sanderlings. But we saw Caspian Terns, Fosters Terns, Common Terns, and – of course –  lots of those raucous Killdeers!

Over the course of the 9 days we were there, I saw 19 new birds… it was really kind of awesome. And really thanks to the Merlin App, hearing a new bird… and then knowing what to look for helped me to find them more easily in the trees, which were thankfully still bare! Perhaps the best birding though was all the Osprey watching! There are two nesting pairs on the peninsula this year and we saw them almost every day. We even saw them fishing, which was truly spectacular to see! If you have never seen an Osprey fishing, once they have caught the fish they position the the fish head first… streamlining it to make flying easier! It is a fun sight to watch and they are really such magnificent birds!

The weather was cold (and so windy) but I am not upset by that at all. We took advantage of the colder weather to hike in the woods almost without fear of deer ticks…most days it was chilly with a brisk wind (thank goodness for hand knits! ha!) and we hiked so many new areas. A fun trek was the historic trail from the lighthouse to the bay – about 2.5 miles long round trip – and it has a lovely but narrow sidewalk. It was the way the lighthouse keeper and his family got from the lighthouse to the bay where there was a ferry to Erie. The trail now runs along a pond which I am not certain was there when the sidewalk was built but it was one of our easier days of trekking! For such a small space, okay 3,200 acres really isn’t that small, but the terrain is so diverse and we still have not seen all of it! After reading Gathering Moss, I was amazed at how much moss and lichen we saw…everywhere! We also saw lots of evidence of beavers, but never saw one though I looked for them fervently! We were not sure what happened to all the birch trees, but over the winter they all have lost their branches. It was really quite eerie to see.

But perhaps the best thing of all about Presque Isle is what it does to time…it makes it stand still. Really. We would look at our watches and be shocked at how much time had passed although the hours spent there coupled with all the miles we walked say we spent a good chunk of each day there!

Dramatic skies, wild winds, and a spectacular place to wander in made for the best get away. If you live in Western PA… you should head to Erie and visit Presque Isle. It does not disappoint!

On my way to Gull Point!

I hope you enjoyed my brief but spectacular vacation. Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!

 

Looking Back | May 2021

Looking Back | May 2021

“Most of the dandelions had changed from suns into moons.”
Vladimir Nabokov

For a long month, May seemed over before it began! Likewise… holy cow it seems like all we did was drink! (Perhaps that is why the month flew by? lol)

Anyways… there were some good things this month! Like so many sunny days, blooming iris, and unfurling leaves! AND… there were so many not.too.hot days to be outside enjoying the weather!

Always there are things I could have done better, which include doing more spinning during the month. I barely sat at my wheel in May, aside from that photo to start the month. I hope to remedy that and find some inspiration to sit and spin some in what remains of this month.

There you have my May memories. What about you? What stood out for you in May?

 

Looking Back | April 2021

Looking Back | April 2021

Snow in April is abominable,” said Anne. “Like a slap in the face when you expected a kiss.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

The start of April seemed to go unbelievably slowly – inching by at a snails pace. And there were so many days with snow! Gah, crazy I tell you!

I am dividing the month’s look back to Home and Away. One was obviously better than the other, but boy… both were good…different, but good.

First up… Home:


April absolutely fooled us with a snowy start. But Spring fought back and I attended and out-of-doors Easter Service and loved it! We got our Second Jabs done AND had our first outside Happy Hour of the year! Woo! And, speaking of outside eating! The patio opened at Spoonwood Brewery and we went! I also finished a very woolly sweater that I got a good bit of use out of in April…sigh. But, I was so happy that I had it! (Hint… I did not do a very good job on packing for Erie…I forgot a winter coat because my brain was apparently switched off)

Presque Isle…take me AWAY:

Traveling with an aging pet is a challenge – Sherman hates stairs, but he really hates unfamiliar stairs. We have found a place we like… and while it costs a little more than most places in Erie, it is all one level and it has a fenced in yard! And it is less than 2 miles from Presque Isle (and it is right around the corner from the BEST Mexican restaurant! Haha!) So a little more money to rent, but it really works for us. However!! It has ONE rug in the entire house… not good for my aging pup! So we brought Sherman’s Super Highway of Rugs so he could get off that one rug, lol. Oh, and we brought his “cozy blanket” because when you are professional napper you need a good cozy blanket! Hahaha (and yes… you do see a little sweeper in that last photo… Pug owners the world over know that if you go someplace, you need to be able to clean up after your beloved little Super Shedder!


I think the photos speak for themselves… we were outside all.the.time. In all.the.weathers! (only with a Lopapeysa for warmth…silly me!) One thing that Spring does well are skies and boy were they glorious! We got moody and broody skies, white wispy clouds in light blue skies, and not a cloud in sight deep blue skies! And I even channeled Vera a bit with those turtles on the log!

We stopped at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center on our first day there and a Presque Isle Conservation Officer told us about some “less traveled” walks that we would have never found on our own… they are less traveled for a reason! We made good use of these new found trails!

Yes, there was snow. But it was just so incredibly beautiful I could not even be upset about it. It did not last, but wow was it gorgeous! I think that even the plethora of diving ducks on Presque Isle Bay liked it!

I even saw a freighter and quickly texted my daughter to find out where Christian was! (He was not on that boat, but that is exactly like the boat he works on!)

All photos were taken with my iPhone but I was really wishing I had my “big camera” to get some photos of all the birds we saw! There were so many… and so many (more than two dozen!!) NEW to me birds. I have seen them in bird books, but never in the wild! We also watched members of the Erie Bird Observatory banding migratory birds! Watched… as in stood at the table and watched them weigh, measure, record, and band birds. It was so fun!

I worried we would not have a day that we could hike out to Gull Point but the weather and the wind cooperated so we could! The trails are underwater, so you have to traverse along the beach – so if there are strong westerly winds you need hip waders to get out to the point. It was an excellent trek! We saw Bald Eagles, Ospreys, and Common and Caspian Terns!

I will leave you with a wee bit of video so that you can see how Lake Erie can go from wild to calm… and it is beautiful in every stage!

I will be back here on Wednesday for some Unraveling!

Looking Back | March 2021

Looking Back | March 2021

March is such a fickle month.
It is the seam between winter and spring—though seam suggests an even hem, and March is more like a rough line of stitches sewn by an unsteady hand, swinging wildly between January gusts and June greens. You don’t know what you’ll find, until you step outside.
V. E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
This quote from Addie LaRue describes exactly the March I had. A rough line of stitches sewn by an unsteady hand perfectly recounts the days of the month. One would be hard pressed to sew a straight line with the wild winds that March brought! (I know because I attempted a bit of sewing on the pergola cover that the wind has wreaked havoc with!)

In March I jumped on the Costco Tulip Bandwagon and thoroughly enjoyed their brief, but spectacular display! I also got my first COVID-19 vaccination (dose two happens today!) which means I am one step closer to seeing family that I have so desperately missed. Though there is no photo as my daughter does not want photos shared online, Olivia reached the 6 month old milestone. Thankfully, I do get sometimes permissions from Heidi to share Vivi and Winston… and this month’s Winston just made me laugh! Those curled up toes. That hat! (Bald headed babies are just the best, yes?) I have been enlisted to do some hat sewing, which I hope to get to this week!

I enjoyed seeing the movement of the sunrise as it inched its way up from the back corner of my yard heading to its summer rising point.

Despite winter wanting to cling on a bit, the signs of spring kept gaining ground.

And that was March… I hope your March had some high points! See you all back here on Wednesday for some unraveling!

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