Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The more things change

..the more they stay the same. Cliche, yes, but also true.

Our extended family is changing again. New grand-nephew due any day, while his Grandpa recovers from life-threatening disease and his Grandma gets laid off from her job of the past 4 years. The new kid's Mommy and Daddy are also both out of work. And while I've always been appreciative and cognizant of the fact that my pay comes from the generosity of the tax-paying public, I am also now thankful that the welfare net caught my own kin. Being younger, pregnant, and out-of-work just plain sucks. So does being older, sick, and out of work. When it hits the fan in our family, it hits big time.

Some philosophers say that a life lived with no highs and no lows isn't a life lived, it's a life of mere existence. Most of the crowd we run with live lives of highs and lows, but I do have some friends whose lives are straight and simple. Ever so often, I envy that. But to give up the highs for the times of low, like we are experiencing now. . . . . I'm not sure that would be a good pay off.

So I'll help my family out, yet again, because I know they will be there for me when I need them. And we will share more highs and more lows. As long as we're keeping a balance in there somehow, we'll be fine.

Keep your tailgate up.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Bird Count, Northwesten Ohio Style

I attended the Grand Rapids/Waterville Ohio Christmas Bird Count again on Saturday. The blustery day (high of 19, winds at 10-15 mph) didn't deter the hardy birders of our region. This is one of the most highly attended counts in the state, in one of the best areas of the state for birding, especially this time of year. With the woods of the Oak Openings Region and the banks of the Maumee River along the 9 mile stretch of grand rapids, counts are always interesting.

Here's the quick recap from our fearless compiler and a good friend Tom Kemp:
The cold Jan 2nd weather (high of 19) did not deter the record number of participants (44, including some Boy Scouts) from tying the all-time species high (82) on the 43rd annual Grand Rapids-Waterville Christmas bird count. Highlights were plenty: Northern goshawk at the Providence Park dam (Stockford and Fausnaugh); Golden eagle over Oak Openings Park (M. Kemp); 7 species of gulls on the Maumee River including 1 adult Thayer's, 2 Iceland, 3 Glaucous, and 10 Lesser Black-backed (Andersons, Kemps, Miller, Fausnaugh, Stockford, Witter); 4 Saw-whet owls (Links, M. Kemp, Stockford, Fausnaugh); Common redpolls in Oak Openings Park (Links); Peregrine falcon; 4 late Killdeers. Nine species were found in record numbers including Eastern bluebird (219 - wow!) and American robin (641).

I was able to get pics of the Thayer's gull. The most amazing part of the story is that Tom looked out over thousands of gulls~~he estimated 1300~~and within minutes picked out the Thayers. I swear the guy can smell birds! The Boy Scouts he mentioned were with me. Three really nice kids gave up a Saturday during winter break to go count birds. They were remarkably impressed with Tom's skill. I'm always impressed with his skills! This is the second year I got to tag along on count day. Given that I'm the World's Laziest Birder, I always learn new stuff with Tom.

In other news, the basement is shaping up beautifully. Really--I'll post pics soon.

Back to the drill tomorrow. DD's excited to return to school, FTD could care less. Me? Mixed emotions about sending the boys off every day. All in all, a very nice break and holiday.