Soaring Like a Mountain Eagle

Eagle’s Wings: Photo captured at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans, Louisiana), 2011

…and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

Microblog Mondays: Time Out for Cute

I received many beautiful and meaningful postcards the last few days, so at the moment I’m torn between posting something meaningful and something cute.

Watercolor by Martha Slavin

“Cute Overload,” Watercolor by Martha Slavin

As you can see, cute won. Why?  The last few days were challenging, and I just want to stop thinking for a moment.

The postcard is a reproduction of a watercolor by one of my new postcard pals, Martha. Martha is an artist and a writer.  The watercolor was inspired by raccoons that used to live under her deck.  She writes  that they now “just travel through.”

Isn’t he the cutest?

microblog_mondays

Microblog Mondays: Permission to Rest

Happy New Year!

Two of my nieces shared a meme from “Quiet Quotes” today–one on Instagram, the other on Facebook. The meme reads, “Raise your hand shamelessly if you have successfully wasted the first day of 2017.”  I raised both hands because I did absolutely nothing on the first day of 2017.

Red-tailed Leopard at the Nashville Zoo

Clouded Leopard at the Nashville Zoo

I was fine with my utter slothfulness until night fell and sleep beckoned.  Then…I started thinking about all the things I could have done.

However, today has been super productive, and as I’m blazing through my to do list, I feel differently.  The “wasted first day of 2017” led to a “successful” second day of 2017.  I accomplished more today than I would have accomplished yesterday and today had I not allowed myself to simply rest.  I work (hard) constantly, often even when I’m on vacation.  I earned the “day off,” and the reality is that all the things that must be done will be done when they need to be done.  I have just about a week left of my winter vacation, and I give myself permission to rest even more if I want to.

What about you?  Do you allow yourself time out–to do nothing–to “be” in your own skin without guilt?

[Note: This year I will be participating in Microblog Mondays.  The idea is to post a short blog every Monday–from one word to eight sentences. This one is a little longer than I intended, but “short” is relative. Right?]

Animals in Monochrome

Can you believe January is o-v-e-r?! Didn’t the year just begin yesterday?

Now that the pesky start of the semester out of the way, maybe, I can make time for other important things, like blog posts, poetry, and photography.

It’s been months since I shared one of my monochrome swaps.  The latest–completed earlier this month–was ‘animals in monochrome” in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.  Grstamping, my partner, sent an envelope full of black and white goodies that someone quickly claimed for his collection of animal photos. Seriously. I was left with the note about the photos. I was “allowed” to scan them, at least.

Grstamping has been focusing on photographing animals lately, so she had a lot to share.  She sent a number of aquatic animals– [Click an image for a closer look]

And birds–

And cute rodents–

Squirrel

“Black Squirrel” by Grstamping

Chipmunk

“Chipmunk” by Grstamping

I’m torn between the chipmunk and the octopus tentacles as my favorite.  It’s hard not to love “cute,” but the tentacles are interesting.

I shared photos of our sweet-natured donkey and horse, Esau and Barnabas.  They’re always game for a photo opportunity.

Esau in Black and White

“Say Heehaw, Esau”

Barnabas in Black and White

“Smile Pretty for the Camera”

“Animals” was actually the seventh swap in the monochrome series hosted in our little group.  I’ll get around to posting “Trees in Monochrome” and “Clouds in Monochrome” eventually.

If you want to see the earlier monochrome posts, click the links below:

Happy Last Day of January!

The Indigo Buntings of Academia

I stole a moment yesterday from all the “things to do” to “thin out” the stationery and planner pouches I carry to work with me. All the pretty things were spread out on the coffee table. Among them were at least seven letters to which I must respond soon. In that stack of letters was a gorgeous notecard from Omi, an adjunct English professor and one of my “Professors United” pals on swap-bot.

"Indigo Bunting" by Christy Lemp

“Indigo Bunting” by Christy Lemp

Lemp’s watercolor was one of the winners of the AAUW’s 2015 Art contest.  From the back of the card:

Christy Lemp always loved to draw and paint but only starred devoting more time to it after years of working other jobs and raising her family.  Spurred by the passage of a milestone birthday, Lemp quit her job and dove into her passion: watercolor painting.  After much hard work and persistence, Lemp’s dream of making artwork for people has come true. Indigo Bunting was inspired by a Mother’s Day visit of the beautiful bird to Lemp’s bird feeder.

I often think about adjunct professors like Omi who toil day in and day out with inadequate pay and benefits.  In this letter, Omi wrote about how the university that employs her changed the adjunct pay schedule from biweekly to monthly and were (or are) discussing eliminating adjuncts in her discipline altogether! I am sympathetic to the plight of adjuncts and disturbed by how some universities take advantage of them, but I know that many adjuncts appreciate having a paycheck and a job in academia, hoping that “a foot in the door” will lead to a full-time position.

According to the Chipper Woods Bird Observatory:

Indigo Buntings perform a valuable service as they consume grasshoppers, beetles, cankerworms, flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, weevils and aphids. Diet also consists of seeds of raspberries, grasses, thistle, goldenrod, dandelions and other weed seeds. It is well worth the effort to provide suitable brushy habitat and shrubby forest edges to assure a healthy population of these attractive little songsters.

I’m not in the habit of comparing people to animals, but it’s fitting that Omi wrote her letter on this card. It’s a reminder that adjuncts, too, provide an invaluable service to colleges and universities. They, often, perform in ways that other professors refuse, taking on the grunt work of service courses that leave them little time to pursue their own research and dreams.

Despite the challenges, Omi seems upbeat and optimistic. She’s writing, reading, crafting, sharing beauty, and loving her life–and her cats who “own [her] soul because she can’t resist their cute faces.”  =^..^=

A Box Full of Nature

My family and I were in and out of town during the month of July and “work” started hours after we returned from our last trip.  There was little time to appreciate and share the goodies that filled my mailbox over the last few of weeks.  But know that I was elated to find “nature” in the stack of mail waiting for our return–postcards and a letter that arrived somewhat unexpectedly.

The first I’m sharing is a really adorable polar bear postcard Silke sent.  She’d told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to add a little fun to my mailbox.  Of course, to my advantage, I forgotten about her intent.

From the postcard back (translated from German): Polar bears have adjusted perfectly with their white fur to their arctic surrounding. When they approach their prey, mostly seals, they even hide their black noses, if possible'

From the postcard back (translated from German): Polar bears have adjusted perfectly with their white fur to their arctic surrounding. When they approach their prey, mostly seals, they even hide their black noses, if possible.

Silke added to the description:  “Now, you tell me how they know they have black noses?”  I laughed out loud, because now I’m wondering that very thing. Animal intelligence.  More polar bear facts she shared:

  • As adults, polar bears live mostly solitary lives
  • They are the world’s biggest land predators
  • They can mate with brown bears
  • Their habitat is endangered by the meltdown of arctic ice.

She even added a tiny, happy brown bear sticker to the back of the postcard.  Adorable. Isn’t he?

Nature in my mailbox PCs-2

Candace of Glenrosa Journeys sent a postcard boasting about her coming retirement.  Okay, not really. Maybe not.  (Not sure, as I received this news as I’m beginning a new academic year). Her postcard should have been “expected” also.  We’d committed to exchanging postcards post-LYA and we procrastinated sending.  I couldn’t decide which one to send, and Candace was lazy–her words, not mine.  😀  She shared a beautiful butterfly postcard and quote that were worth the wait:

“Like a Butterfly” by Candace

The quote:

I want to fly like a butterfly around this beautiful world, till the last frame of my life and the last click of my heart.  –Biju Karakkonam

To see more Candace’s beautiful photography which focuses on the nature of Phoenix, Arizona, you must see her blog,  Glenrosa Journeys, or Flickr album.

Lastly, I received a letter from Beckra, a friend and colleague I met through swap-bot.  This was totally unexpected, especially since she had just sent me a special package a couple of weeks before–and I hadn’t even had a chance to respond to her yet.  Way to put the pressure on, Beckra.  😉

In addition to her newsy letter, she shared her photography story (read: philosophy) and three of her photo postcards. [Click an image for a closer look]

She writes:

Photography is a different way of experiencing, and one that helps me see differently. […] Without photography I’d never spend so much time with water and light, and I’m grateful for that.

I featured Beckra’s calming photo postcards in an October 2014 post I might need to revisit in a couple of days when classes begin: Getting Through the Crazies: part i.

Thank you, ladies, for adding beauty and joy to my life! You’re on my snail mail list for this week. Hugs…

Oh, the Cows!

I got in trouble with my son because of the cow posting a few nights ago.  Sure, I posted “the cow” as he requested, but he didn’t want me to post a “Photoshopped cow” [Note: I didn’t know he was familiar with the term]. He wanted me to post “the cow” in “its” natural state.  So, here’s the photo, no filter.

"For the Little One," No Filter, Northern Alabama, 2013

“For the Little One,” No Filter, Northern Alabama, 2013

And a goat on the same land captured seconds later:

"Who You Lookin' At?" Somewhere in North Alabama, 2013

“Who You Lookin’ At?” or “Through the Barbed Wire,” Somewhere in North Alabama, 2013

And while we’re at it you might as well have some more bovine:

"Bovine Basking on a Beach," Maui, Hawaii, 2005

“Bovine Basking on a Beach,” Maui, Hawaii, 2005

I snapped this one in Maui a long time ago.   I wonder where else in the U.S. we’d find beach-lovin’ bovine.

Moo!

Two Heads Are Better Than One. Sixteen Legs Are Even Better Than Four!

It’s been more than a month since my last post, so I have quite a bit of mailbox goodness to share. I’ll have to put the sharing on hold a bit because my little one made a special request for me to post the two-headed cow I photographed last year during one of our Saturday afternoon drives.

Two-Headed Cow

Two-Headed Cow

 

He gets such a kick out of this photo!  It’s not exactly two-headed. In fact, there are more than two cows here. Three obviously. Keep looking and you’ll see the baby legs of a second calf.

Enjoy!

Month of Letters: More Postcards!

My little one is ill at the moment, so I’ve placed plans on hold to get some of my personal letters out in the mail.  I did manage to meet my mail commitments for February 4th and 5th–thanks to swap-bot and Postcrossing.  Three postcards–one an advertising card–hit the “mail stream” the last two days.

Aerial View of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Interestingly, this was sent to a swap-bot who lives in Alabama but wants to move to New Orleans some day.

Aerial View of the French Quarter in New Orleans. This was sent to a swap-bot who lives in Alabama but wants to move to NOLA some day.  I wonder what she’ll say when she learns that I’m a New Orleanian who recently moved to AL! 🙂

And here’s the advertising card I sent out:

Matine Chaisson Gallery presents NIAGARA:  paintings by JACK NIVIEN.  This is from a late 2010 exhibition.

Martine Chaisson Gallery presents NIAGARA: paintings by JACK NIVEN.
“The Woods” by Jack Niven, 2009, Oil on Canvas

If you’re planning to visit New Orleans, the MCG is located at 727 Camp Street.  If you’re thirsting for more of Jack Niven, an artist who lives and works in New Orleans, check out his website.

That was yesterday.

Today, I sent a “Happy Animal” postcard to a Postcrosser from Kiev (Ukraine).  I’d forgotten all about our private swap, until I received a postcard from her (see below).  Eek!  “Feja” likes animals and Winnie-the-Pooh, so I thought she’d appreciate a cute animal.

Happy Animal Time by Junzo Terada

Happy Animal Time by Junzo Terada

According to the bio provided, Junzo Terada is an Osaka-based artist.  He designs and illustrates a wide variety of products that can be found in the Comes Mart store he owns in Osaka, Japan.  The Happy Animal Time collection of 30 different postcards is published by Chronicle Books.

Here’s the awesome card “Feja” sent to me:

"Woman's Strength" (my title)

By Smugasta

I “heart” this postcard, but I really can’t tell you much about it because everything is written in Russian or Ukrainian.  You can find more of the artist’s work at Smugasta or at Smugasta’s Live Journal.  Even if you can’t read a word, the artist provides a lot interesting, amusing, quirky and fun illustrations for  your visual pleasure.

That’s it for now!  See you tomorrow–maybe!