Steller Jay

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We pulled into the parking lot of the Visitors’ Center at the Summit of Roger’s Pass in the Glacier National Park where I encountered an unfamiliar bird. A Steller Jay up close and personal – on my rear view mirror.

There were two, flitting around but with no weariness of me and my camera. The one above seems to be an adult and the other was maybe her little one and they were practicing independence.

The young one still had down that she had all fluffed up at one point and her coloring was gorgeous.

Transition Time Again

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I’m taking a break from packing and laundry and cleaning out the refrigerator. It is time to make our transition to our other environment. I have nine orchids growing on trees around our condo here in Florida – and I spoke to our son and he said the grass has turned green in southern Michigan. As we drive north we see spring unfolding in reverse; leaving lush green foliage and flowers blooming and arriving in our northern neighborhood in very early spring.

This is not just a weather transition for us. Many of our condo friends here in Florida have left for their northern homes or will be leaving in the weeks after us. It is hard saying goodbye even though we know we will see them again in October or January. We also look forward to seeing northern friends that we haven’t seen since December – and we have a 3 month old great-granddaughter who met us when she was born and I think is missing us.

The main topic of conversation at the pool this past week was packing. So many of us seem to fill our cars twice a year taking things back and forth. We talk about how we can carry less back and forth, how we need to have sufficient clothes at both homes, figure out what we don’t need to take north. I decided to not worry about forgetting something because Michigan has stores and I can buy anything I can’t live without.

What I need to do now is say good-bye to my favorite places and things here in Florida so I can feel excitement about going back to all the things that I love in Michigan. We have been saying good-bye to our favorite restaurants, we went to the beach for a sunset, and I made my last trip to the Naples Botanical Garden. On Sunday we attend the Easter service at the church we fell in love with and consider our home church, and as is tradition every Sunday in Naples we will have breakfast at the counter at Blueberries. Then we will change clothes, shut down the condo, and hit the road.

Keeping it Sane on This Side of the Pond

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“Longfellows” glass figures created by Hans Godo Frabel.

The constant chaos and turmoil of this U.S. presidency is wearing on me. I have political fatigue and have been looking for ways to preserve my sanity and the better parts of my nature. But I still live with constant fear – even though I am not prone to anxiety. I feel like I am constantly loosing my balance.

I read a post, “Keeping it Sane” by my blogging-buddy, Isobel, who lives in London. She wrote about the Brexit fatigue she is feeling. She shared a couple of ways she is trying to cope with the political and economic turmoil caused by Brexit, asking how others are coping. I started to write a comment that was getting really long so I decided I needed to write a post on the topic of my political fatigue here in the U.S. I don’t have a good comprehension of the issues involved with Brexit because the U.S. news gives it the same cursory coverage that it gives most foreign news. I also don’t have the inbred understanding of their political system as I do ours, gained from growing up in school systems that taught civics. All the same, it seemed like I could have exchanged words from our political situation with words Isobel used, and the meaning would have been the same. I could identify with what Isobel said.

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Sometimes I don’t feel like I can win in this tug of war between wanting to know what is happening and wanting to hide under a rock. However, I know I can’t be edified by the president. Like Isobel, I walk out of the room or turn off the TV when Trump is speaking because he tells so many lies that I can’t discern what is the truth. He is also inarticulate in his speaking. When he speaks he doesn’t say anything that has coherent meaning, and I find this very frustrating. Not listening to him helps to keep me cool.

I am also limiting the amount of time that I listen to political news. Our news cycle seems to move so quickly because of a president who tweets from the hip without knowledge or discernment. I have believed that I need to keep abreast of each breaking news story but so much of the breaking news is a repeat of last hour’s breaking news. With so much political chaos I have decided that I only need to know the summary, the really important stuff.

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I have found that Rachael Maddow does the best job of giving the facts about the most important political developments, researching historical events that shed light on current events, and connecting the dots so I can understand the political players and how they are impacting on what I believe are the important issues. She does it with humor and intelligence so I end up feeling that we can fight evil and work for what is best for the common good. I also keep informed by obtaining periodic news updates from several other sources (both conservative and liberal) and read in-depth reports on issues that are of special interest to me.

This chaos and assault on our society and democracy has made me aware of the values that are so precious to our democracy, like a free press, an independent judiciary, and a voting process that is free of political interference. These values were so much a part of my being that I wasn’t aware of how fragile they can be when people who are unethical start a systematic war against them. I am becoming wiser, even in my old age. Life is good as long as I can keep learning and feeling strong. Yes, life is good when I can fight in my small ways for justice and kindness and democracy.

So I watch my nutrition and keep exercising so my brain stays strong and my body healthy. I work at not letting bad people make me nasty and naughty – I practice good manners and treat all people with respect. And the time freed up from not watching political talk I spend in creative projects, making my environment beautiful and peaceful, and engaging in healthy social relationships to keep my mood on a level keel.

I hope my U.S. readers are keeping themselves politically informed from several credible sources but also maintaining a personal lifestyle that works towards solutions instead of weakening our society. And please, please, please work towards what is good for the least among us so that all can be productive participants in our social and economic systems.

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How wonderful it would be if everyone could say that life is good in spite of personal hardships and challenges.

Leavings

I love beginnings, like starting new quilts and arriving at the Naples Botanical Garden in the morning when the sun is low in the sky, the temperature is cool, and my energy is high. The entrance to the Garden is a boardwalk through an area planted with tropical plants from around the world, something like an introduction to a novel or a trailer for a movie.

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There is a stream running down one side and a small pond with a sculpture from the current collection on the other and I sometimes stop to take a few photos.

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I am eager to walk on, to chat a minute with the woman at the window, the one who swipes my membership card. I am thinking about the type of light I think I will have and how high the sun is. I am plotting my course to either a favorite spot or a special corner of the garden my soul needs to visit. Or maybe I’m thinking about visiting the orchid garden first, before it fills with visitors.

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I always stay too long at the Garden. After I decide it is time to head home, I seem to be drawn into another wonderful photograph and then another. I take my leave of the garden well after my energy is used up, and so tired that even my weekly scone and ginger limeade at the cafe doesn’t do much to perk me up.

I feel satiated as I head for the exit, eager to return home. And then something special happens. The exit is a boardwalk parallel to the entrance, with the lush tropical plants and stream in between. Here I slow down, and pause. Here I find a few more surprises and have to get my camera and tripod out of my cart.

I think I hear a lesson being taught, maybe an echo from long-ago regions of my memory. This lesson has to do with leavings – making sure to do it gracefully and memorably. I wonder if impressions are made more in the leavings than the entrances.

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