Free as a bird
When I was about 7 years old, there was a dog in the neighborhood who had me on edge. I'm fairly sure it was the beginning of my flying dreams. I'm never afraid of anything in my dreams, it's just that I can fly. Lift up and go. No wings, no flapping of my arms. Just lift and lean. Incredible.
Something to crow about
To wrap-up the birds and birding theme for May, I’ve pulled bird-related movies, books, and random bits I thought you'd enjoy.
These are things I’ve read, seen, made, or had experience with. If you’ve got others, comment and let us know about them.
The early bird gets the worm
The Big Year is a movie starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin. If you’ve ever wondered (or have no idea) what birders refer to as a Big Year, this is a light-hearted introduction.
Birds of a feather flock together
Chicken People is a documentary about show chickens. This one I found by chance and learned a lot. For starters, I didn’t know show chickens were even a thing. It's also supporting evidence that if there’s something you like, there’s probably a hobby group, club, or someone else who likes it, too.
An albatross around the neck
One of my favorite books about writing is Ann Lamont’s Bird by Bird. It’s not a book about birds. It’s a book for writers, but it’s more than that. It’s stories. Great stories, including the title story ... one we could all learn from.
Happy as a lark
Go along for the ride with Birding by Bus in their vintage VW bus, Valentina. Beautiful birds, a lovely couple, and a fabulous journey.
Like a duck to water
The collages in this post are some of my earliest. A lot of you may not like to chop up the envelopes you get in the mail, but if you don't mind, it's an easy way to get a collection of cancelled stamps going. Cut the stamp from the envelope and place it in a bowl of water. After 10 minutes or so, you can peel the stamp away from the envelope paper and use it in collage work and journals.
When I finished this one, it was suppose to be a house, but then I wondered, is it a house or an envelope? What do you think?
A feather in your cap
Do you like to color or doodle? It can be wonderfully distracting. Soothing, even. If you haven't tried it, go ahead, download and print these three birds and get to it. You don't have to have colored pencils or markers, you can use a pen or pencil to add texture and patterns.
A rare bird
A poetry experiment in upper and lower case letters. It could be titled, "Things I notice on my morning walk."
STanding in the puDDle
the bird Dipped ...
WiGGLEed and SHuTTered,
FLAPPed and FLUTTered
AGain . . . and AGAIN
BIRD wriggles, Water RIPPLes ...
RinSE and REPEAT
Silly as a goose
When I considered the bird idioms, I wasn't sure how to add them to the post. I was going to list them, until I realized they'd make great headers for the paragraph breaks. Are you the rare bird that noticed?
Feather your nest
Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed this birding expedition. For more on what I found on birds and birding this month, start here.
Whether its birds or something else, our hobbies, passions, and pastimes bring us together ... and set us apart. They make us (and life) more interesting.
When you're bored, frustrated, restless, or tired, find something that interests you and follow it for a while. The distraction can settle an anxious mind and the discovery can help you breathe.
If you have ideas you want to share, make a comment or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you.
Did you find Waystation Whistle by chance? We don't want you to miss anything, so be sure to add your name to the mailing list.
And before you go ... have you heard the woodpeckers? Click on the image to hear them ... and read about the woodpeckers here.
Two too many avocados. All ripe with no recipe to go to.
Well, I should say, no recipe I'd made before that I wanted to make again. I wanted something different.
I needed a recipe.
When I saw the name of the recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding, I wasn't sure to what to think other than, what an odd combination of ingredients.
But it works. Avocado and chocolate ... and some maple syrup and a splash of milk.
It's so good every time I place a little bowl of pudding on the table, I ask, "Want some puddin, Puddin?"
If avocados don't make it on your grocery list very often, but you like chocolate pudding, you might want to try the recipe. I use dark cocoa powder and add extra maple syrup. And, according to The Pretty Bee where you can find the recipe, it's paleo and vegan. Two more reasons (if you're looking for one) to try it. Yum, yum.
Do you have recipes with odd ingredient pairings? Do tell.
Sundials: fighting time and finding patience
On our morning walk we passed a sundial and the urge to check the time was irresitible. The arrow (or the gnomon as the shadow-casting feature on a sundial is called) indicated it was just after 7:00.
We were confused.
It was, we knew, just after 8:00. It took us a split second(!) to realize sundials, of course, don’t recognize Daylight Savings Time.
The sundial moved more than time
Seeing the sundial made me think more about time. How we spend it, how we fight with it, and how it teases us.
When I got home, I was reminded once again, that I need to be patient. That whatever hobbies, passions, and pastimes we choose, they need time to build and develop.
Just a week after I started my illustrated journal, I decided to go with the sundial for a new page and collage. But I struggled. I sketched the idea and started cutting bits of paper, but it wasn’t working. The proportions were off and even though one of the things I like most about collage is that it’s perfectly imperfect, it still needs to look like something close to what it represents. I wanted to give up and walk away because things weren’t going my way.
But I didn’t.
I stayed with it, and the more I worked on it, things began to shift. The idea of the sun as a background element came, then adding the minute and hour hands seemed like a good idea. It was slow going, but with each idea, my confidence grew and I forgot about the time, and the struggle.
When I was done, I knew there was a lesson somewhere, and it seems, the lesson is: things take time.
When I sat down I was frustrated and wanted my collage to come together quickly. Clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. My mind needed time to process the concept and figure things out.
But that’s not all.
The sundial set me on a course of unexpected curiosity, offering a couple of other lessons:
You never know where something may lead
When we got home, we were curious about sundials. We learned that sundials are the “earliest timekeeping device” and the element that casts a shadow is the gnomon.
It gave us renewed appreciation for sculpture, the stars, the sun, and the moon.
Hang in there
When I started the collage I was impatient. Things were taking longer than expected and I wanted to give up. But when I finished, nearly two hours later, I felt better. More relaxed and (really) happy that I stayed with it.
How often do you fight with time? Are there lessons you’ve learned from sticking with something?
Tell me about it.
Won't you be my neighbor?
We weren't part of the conversation, but heard the exchange. One neighbor talking to another, over a white picket fence.
"Would you like a red dahlia?" the woman with the black dog on a leash asked over the white picket fence.
"Yes," the woman on the other side of the picket fence said.
"I'll pot it and bring it over in the morning," the woman with the dog said.
So many people are looking for ways to get outside, but stay close to home. There are flower gardens and vegetable gardens sprouting up, one block after another.
Gardening is a hobby I tussle with. I like the idea of having one, but the work involved keeps me from digging in. After I heard the conversation, I wanted a red dahlia. So I made one. And because I'm partial to them, I modeled my collage after a botanical print.
Are you a gardener? Got dahlias?
For the love of books
There is a brick and mortar library in the neighborhood, but still, just five blocks away, there is a Little Free Library, a “take a book, return a book” exchange.
As part of our stay-at-home routine we walk around the neighborhood and every day we pass the Little Free Library box. Two weeks ago we put three books in the box and watched and waited to see how long they'd last.
The day after we put them in the box, one of them was gone. But then it took over a week for the second, and today, two weeks later, the third book was gone.
People love to read
Started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, the Little Free Library network has spread. In 2020, there are "100,000 registered libraries in more than 100 countries worldwide." People like to read.
Though book exchanges are not a new idea, the Little Free Library keeps a registry of each through a community website.
Build your own
The project has inspired readers and carpenters alike. If you're interested in having a book sharing box in your neighborhood, the Little Free Library site has plans and tips for building and installing your library.
Not sure? There is a delightful gallery of images on their Instagram site.
Wondering if there's a book box in your neighborhood? The Little Free Library website includes a map page where you can look up your location. That’s where I discovered there are three within just a couple of miles of where I live.
Maybe there's one in your neighborhood?
Extraordinary but real
The first time I saw what I would later learn was a bleeding heart plant, I thought it was a fanciful creation. Imaginary flowers created by some skilled craftsperson with an affinity for hearts.
We’d been invited by friends to join them for the weekend at the family “home,” a second home that went back generations. Though no one lived in house, it was occupied regularly by different members of the extended family, often in the way we were using it: a weekend get-away, a few days in the country.
It was a grand old farmhouse with an eclectic mix of antique furniture, professionally painted portraits, pillow-soft sofas, a staircase off the living room and another in the kitchen, threadbare bedspreads, a large lawn, formal garden, and a hand-crafted lamp with bleeding hearts cut from tin.
The bleeding hearts were a life-size decorative element at the base of the lamp. The tin hearts were painted pink, pierced, and threaded with wire to hang and sway like the real thing.
I’d never seen such a plant and the heart shapes seemed too extraordinary to be real. It was only years later when I saw a bleeding heart plant growing in someone’s garden did I learn they were real.
It’s clear the lamp was inspired by nature, but I wonder ... was it created to mirror a passion for gardening? After all, there was that formal garden. Or was it a way to explore the potential of cut metal?
Maybe it was simply a one-and-done hobby project.
It’s spring here in Maine and the bleeding hearts are in bloom. Seeing them always reminds me of that lamp. Of my doubt. How I admired the skill and artistry of the lamp, but scoffed at the idea of heart-shaped flowers.
My ignorance colored my perception of what I was looking at. I realize now the artist must have been inspired by one or all of the elements that made the lamp what it was: the flowers, nature, their craft. And how, by creating a lasting reminder of the plant, they preserved a moment in time.
I’m in the early stages of journaling, but I see that no matter what we create, the materials we use, or the subject we choose to represent, by giving it form, we’re able to share it and touch others in ways we’ll never know. The artist who created that lamp will never know how much I think about it, what I learned from it, what it means to me.
Or how I wish it was in my living room.
So share your art, your craft, your writing. You never know who's looking.
What are you working on?
So many of us are cooking more, and being one of those people who is cooking more, I can say there are days when it's a bit of a chore. The days I don't want to to cook are the days I want to be doing other things. When the time it takes to cook something takes me away from something else.
I like to cook, always have. Baking is one of my hobbies.
But it's good to have a break.
We cooked a lot the day before (different dishes for lunch and dinner). It wasn't planned, but the following day when we did a run-through meal plan, we realized we had leftovers for lunch and dinner.
Lunch and dinner.
Two meals we didn't have to cook. What a welcome break from starting from scratch. From the chopping, sauteing, peeling, measuring, and mixing. The piled up dishes, bowls, and pots and pans.
It meant less time in the kitchen, more time for other things. So easy, it was like having takeout.
It was a small thing, but a good thing. A reminder to notice when things are good. We noticed, and it felt good.
So good we made popcorn. We had the time. And anyway, making popcorn is fun and not so much like cooking. And that was good, too.
How about you? What simple pleasures are you noticing?
We heard the woodpeckers, but couldn’t see them, so I had to do a bit of research to capture them in this collage.
And though this is today’s journal page, it was late April when we took our woods walk, when the trees were still bare. The woodpeckers were on my mind because we recorded the sound of them drumming (learned that's what it's called during my research) and today figured out how to extract the sound from the video.
Not sure we heard a male and female, but wanted to represent both because their coloring is different; the male has a red dot on the head, while the female is pure black and white.
The Downy Woodpecker is a small woodpecker:
Length: 5.5” - 6.7” | Wingspan: 9.8” - 11.8”
The Cornell Lab has a great site, AllAboutBirds.com for identifying all sorts of birds.
Are the woodpeckers drumming in your neck of the woods?
This post is part of the May playbook: birds and birding.
An Illustrated Journal
Early evening is when I get restless. I don’t like to read at the end of the day because most days I spend a lot of time on the computer.
Sometimes a movie is a good fit, but more often than not, I find myself watching television or spending more time than I should scrolling Instagram. And that leaves me more restless.
After thinking about what I could manage and what makes sense, I’ve decided to try journaling. It’s new to me and I want to experiment.
I’m not interested in listing what I’ve done during the day. Instead, I want to focus on one thing that caught my attention during the day. One topic, subject, thought, or feeling.
And I want to set some parameters:
This is the first collage.
Last night I cooked a new dish: Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Cabbage from Smitten Kitchen. It was good, especially the cooked cabbage.
When I was pulling the ingredients, I realized new recipes are what keep me interested in cooking. Sure, I have a few go-to recipes, but I like trying new ones.
And my cast iron pans.
Geez I love those pans. They are like the original non-stick cooking pans. And clean up? So easy. I use them for almost all my cooking.
What about you ... do you journal? Do you set parameters? I’d love to know your process. Got any tips to share?
Do you cook? With cast iron? I'd love to know.
I HeARd the CaRDiNal siNGing before I saw it
PerCHeD in the BiRcH tree
a CAt LOOkiNG At mE, LOOkiNG at iT
And, ONe MoRe SaP BUCket
tHat MaKes ThrEE
This is a throwback: a collage and poem I created a few years ago. It's still one of my favorites. You can see I was starting to use sheet music in my work.
It's also got a bit of shorthand mixed in: that line with the dot below it.
Do you know what it means? Morning. That simple line with a dot = a word.
Shorthand is a symbolic writing system used by office clerks and secretaries before voice recorders were available. I'm not fluent in shorthand. It comes from a shorthand instruction book I found at a secondhand shop. The book has an index, so it's easy to pull a single word.
It's like code writing because so few people still know shorthand. Don't you think it would be great for a secret diary or message? One big drawback, though, you'd have to learn shorthand to make it work.
And the poem?
I don't consider myself a poet, but sometimes I like to combine words with images to tell short stories. I don't remember now why I used upper and lower case letters for the poem, but it does make it interesting.
If you'd like to write more, short poems could be a starting point.
Not my hobby.
Even if you don't stick with it, a new hobby might lead to something else. I haven't done much more with poetry, but the collage was the beginning of a lot more collage work. I now work entirely with sheet music and really like collage.
Do you have a hobby that started while you were doing something else?
This post is a continuation of the May theme, birds and birding.
If you have ideas or work you'd like to share, get in touch. I'd love to see what you're doing.
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All aboard! Get on track with new adventures.