Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Flocking Together

I was proctoring an all essay final on Monday when the silence was broken by honking geese somewhere in the distance.

I also heard the migration from inside while grading at night on Nov. 28 or 29th.

Out in the field in mid-November (probably the 11th) we kept hearing birds just over the tree tops.  I finally realized that it was a large flock very high in the sky.  My best guess is cranes, as they were definitely not geese.

Driving to New Mexico on Nov. 23, I encountered many lone raptors.  If it weren't such a preposterous suggestion, I would say that three of them were falcons.  Which would increase my lifetime wild falcons sightings by 300 percent.

As I was walking to work on Thursday, Dec. 1 a flock of canada geese flew low over the houses and there was a flash of white in their midst.  A snow goose among the canadas.

No, I don't know what that means.  Perhaps the one I saw last Dec. found some friends?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wearing my heron on my sleeve and an owl around my neck

I really don't like doves.  Mourning doves, in fact, are probably my least favorite bird, and somehow it irks me that their ridiculous coo-ing bird-brained-ness is the symbol for peace.  I love hawks, but I'm already reminding Aster and Dianthus, "There are no winners in war," every time they pull out the army men.  I'm no hawk.

Several times this year I've thought about blogging about bird symbols, but have gotten mentally caught up with the dove/hawk thing, to which I've started to respond, "Well, I'm a heron."  Which is a pretty meaningless statement because being a heron on policy issues makes no sense.  But herons, great blue herons in particular, have resonated with me for twenty years.  I see them as good omens or spirit guides or just something personally special (Wow-- it appears I wrote the same thing 8 years ago).

I've been wanting to blog about the election, but I am still too angry.  I've been wearing one of my two owl necklaces daily to remind me of the wisdom of choosing my words well.  And I've been losing sleep composing this blog post.  As I finally sit to write it, I find that I still can't.

I'll just say what I told one of my classes on November 9.  "There are people in our community who are fearful following the results of the election.  I sincerely hope their fears are unfounded.  Whoever you voted or didn't vote for (because statistically, it 's likely you didn't vote), it is all of our job to make sure those fears don't have a basis.  If you live by Christian values, now is the time to demonstrate them."

Which gets us to the heron on my sleeve in the title.  By "heron on my sleeve" I meant "heart on my sleeve," because it is a little too easy to see how I feel about things (except that I always smile, so some people can't tell, so I have to pre-announce to one of my colleagues when I am cranky) and by "heart on my sleeve" I also meant "safety pin on my chest".  I've been wearing a safety pin prominently each day.  Safety pins are a signal that I am a safe space, that people can talk to me regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, size, and that I will get involved should someone be harassed for who they are.  In yet another way that our country is divided, my social media feed is largely "post-safety pin" including some circles safety pin wearers are being mocked for doing so little, and the students on my campus are largely oblivious that the movement exits.

But I'm wearing my safety pin with pride.  I've been in contact with my congressman. I will register as a Muslim if it comes to that.  I urge you to join me.  True, it's a symbolic gesture.  But so are lots of things.  And little symbolic gestures can add up.

 Like votes.

Herons are lovely and graceful.  And then they are move and they are gangly and clumsy and awkwardly proportioned.  And then they are flying and they are funny looking and inefficient, but they are flying.  They are still and hard to disturb and nearly inactive.  And then they are fast and sharp.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

For Grandma and Kathleen

I cried a lot last week as the Cubs won the World Series.  Joy, yes, but also real sadness that my grandparents weren't alive to see this. And gladness that my parents were.  And concerns about the end times it foretold. (I jest.  I think.)

I will cry tonight as the election results come in-- however they do.

But as I've prepared my white linen outfit-- the closest I have to a white pantsuit, I've been very sentimental-- like I get about the Cubs, but angrier-- as I realize all of the sexism and misogyny wrapped up in so many things.  I'm pissed off about middle age and old women being invisible and apologize that I am just now recognizing the extent of this.

Yet Grandma, Mom, Kathleen, Jane, Darna, . . . you were never invisible to me.  Thank you that I've always had amazing strong women in my life (and thank you Dad for always appreciating that).  I pressed my linen pants and curled my hair this morning Kathleen; I know how you always hated Chelsea's; and Grandma I appreciate how you think that I should be wearing whatever is comfortable to vote and not worrying what Kathleen would think.  So I'm representing a long (but sadly not that long) line of suffragettes as I wear white to vote.  And Mom, the red shoes and the pterodactyl necklace are my Big Orange Splot you always taught me to have.

I took my sons when I actually voted on Friday.  We discussed the merits of Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson  and the next day Gary Johnson was batting with the bases loaded in one of Aster's convoluted World Series play-by-play stories, perhaps with some college volleyball mixed in.  I love this.  There is so much disconcerting about the world they are growing up in, but my sons are growing up in a world in which female scientists are the norm, where the Cubs and Royals have recently won the World Series, and where women and libertarians are on the ballot for President.

Grandma and Kathleen,  I am excited to witness it for you.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pumpkin and Jedi

Yep, they are growing up.
Past years can be accessed starting here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bird Bingo in the Midst of a Glowing Season

Sun rise and sun sets have been phenomenal recently, and the trees in my town are just beginning to turn.  Despite plenty of turmoil around, I feel I'm in the midst of a long glowing season.

Aster and Texas Glowing in the Morning Light
BioBlitz 2016
BioBlitz was a lovely glow-y weekend in the middle of this.  We camped, ate well, taught people about invasive species and may have met our tribe (more on that someday), and, very importantly we saw birds: egrets, cormorants, vultures, herons, kingfishers, three types of woodpeckers, and osprey (which is more than the total of the last two BioBlitzes combined).  The boys played Bird Bingo twice. some bird trivia game once and we were on the winning team for BioBlitz jeopardy, where my knowledge or the state vegetable of Oklahoma (watermelon) and bird pop culture ("Just like Stevie Nicks, this bird goes ooh-ooh-ooh") came in handy.

Watch the birds and keep glowing.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Judging books by their covers (again)

A long ago conversation with Amateur Reader and my sister-in-law still has me thinking about how I select books (I was attempting to link to the conversation on Wuthering Expectations here, but I am now recalling that this was an actual conversation, mulled over coffee and good food, so I'm only finding distantly related posts, like the one AR wrote about plot twists in Jane Eyre, which would probably be relevant for readers of Okay For Now except at the time of that blog post, AR hadn't yet read Jane Eyre and I couldn't remember it).

At the library in particular, I judge books by their covers.

I picked up Saving CeeCee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman because it had a hummingbird on the cover and kept it because something on the jacket suggested it was about Savannah, and it has been my Savannah summer.  If the universe is signaling to me through my book choices, it is reminding me of the very fine line there is between quirky crazy and mentally ill and that the family members can be easily scarred by both.  Despite that somber message, and a having a strong anti-discrimination pro-confident woman position, the book is mostly a light coming of age story of an adolescent girl escaping her parents and thriving among the rich women in Savannah.  M, MiL, GK and many others would enjoy it, particularly if travelling to Savannah, but its no glorious caper of a Mary Kay Andrews chick book.

I picked up The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli because dancing pancakes fits in right there with magical food, a common motif among things I read,  and I was feeling guilty that I had never noticed Eileen Spinelli as I was checking out Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli, her husband.  I was in the children's and young adult (shelved together at the local library) novels looking in the S for Okay for Now when Spinelli jumped out at me.  Jake and Lily was great.  One thing that J. Spinelli does very well is recognize that we are all the bad guy in our youth and his very likable characters make some very unkind (if normal) friendship moves.  Jake and Lily is no Stargirl, but it is pretty fabulous.  The Dancing Pancake was in verse, of sorts, and also lots of fun.  I would have no reason to compare it to Jake and Lily were Eileen and Jerry not married, so I am not going to do so now.

I picked up The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller from the new books because I was going to mock it based on the silly cover.  But from the cover I also learned that the heroine is abandoned in Weston, West Virginia.  And since one fourth of my nuclear family was born in Weston, West Virginia (population 4,110), somehow the book was calling to me.  The Artisan's Wife is historical Christian feminist romance of some sub-genre I have never before encountered.  A very large portion of the book is devoted to work and the running of a tile works.  Another large chunk takes place at the mental hospital (an imposing building in Weston, known now (for haunted house tours) and allegedly in the 1870s according to the book as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum) [message from universe about mental illness duly noted], and the last chunk is dealing with family and prayers.  The book is good and the writing solid enough to stand up on its own merits, but as the romance is entirely without tension, I have no idea what this book would be or who would read it if it wasn't niche marketed.  [Note: there are two copies of this book among the new books at our small local library.  Either somebody is reading these books or some librarian thinks some readers are reading these books].

While looking for something else this morning, I ran back across Having It and Eating It by Sabine Durant, which I read sometime in the last year or two because Durant is now shelved where Katie Fforde used to be.  It's one of the chick lit books focusing on the messiness of relationships (I'd probably place Wife-22, The After Wife, and Bridgett Jones in this category) and, while everything is neatly resolved, it left me feeling a bit deflated.  I guess sometimes I do want plain happy marriages.

I would not have read Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers based on the cover because someone chose a really mundane quote for the back cover and Behind the Throne is described as beginning "an action-packed new series with a heroine as rebellious as HAN SOLO, as savvy as LEIA, and as skilled as REY." (emphasis not mine).  However it is good, really good, and I have my next in the series pre-ordered from Amazon. Whether or not K.B.'s sister is a dear friend (and she is), I would be recommending Behind the Throne for anyone with a passing interest in action sci-fi (the Star Wars assessment is not that far off, but seems very unlikely to prompt me to read a book) or feminist dystopias.

What are you reading?

Plant Images from Central Kansas, July 2016
They are as unrelated to these books as Desmanthus is to H.Clinton

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Not to be outdone by G.H.W. Bush

As a private citizen, I will be exercising my right to vote in a few weeks and I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
Illinois Bundle Flower in Kansas

I know you are shocked.

[I've been waking up trembling recently following dreams that I am personally responsible for DT.  I'm pretty sure a blog post from a known ecologist and educator isn't going to change a lot of minds; but George, Barbara and I are doing what we can. (From my home computer long after I should have gone to bed, in my case.)]