The Linda Show

“A true friend, regardless of personal sacrifice or embarrassment, makes us smile.”
– Me. (I just made that up.)

(Yes, Linda is wearing a hat fashioned from bubble-packing. She does this sort of thing routinely. It’s all part of The Linda Show.)

Is it any wonder I love her?


Are you lucky enough to have an office clown for entertainment on late afternoons?

Still Alice

My plans for the weekend involve a blanket and a book or two.

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I’m a committed non-fiction reader; resistant, for whatever reason, to the suspension of reality necessary to enjoy most novels. Sure there’s the occasional story that grabs and holds me, but more often than not I leave them half-read and only half-enjoyed.

Sometime before the holidays I read the debut novel by Lisa Genova which was recommended to me by the owner of a little bookstore I found here in town.

(As a side note: How wonderful is it to have someone, anyone, employed in a bookstore actually be familiar enough with the inventory to be able to recommend something based on one’s favorite authors?)

Still Alice tells the story of a Harvard professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. A sad story, sure, but unique in that it’s told from Alice’s point of view and thereby offers insight into the painful descent into dementia.

One of my most favorite parts of the novel occurs toward the end; Alice has been invited to deliver the keynote at a national conference for Alzheimer’s care professionals. She makes a plea to not be forgotten and written off or limited by her disease saying, “… My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.”

A worthy credo for any of us, I think.

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So… any good books this weekend to stay warm with?

How I spent my blog vacation

trying to stay warm

giggling into pillows

treasuring the magic of snow and ice

buying the world’s most ridiculous bikini

reminiscing with shrinky-dinks and easy-bake ovens

waving back at colorful fish
sliding down snowy roads in my converse sneakers
feeling a little blue
spoiling other people’s dogs

trying out the big bed

witnessing the sun decorate the sky at dawn and dusk
grasping for words

(triple letter and double word scores)

searching for a cell signal in the mountains

counting crows

watching quietly as children opened gifts

puzzling over cryptic sparrows and wishing for a better lens

meeting friends and family

losing myself in diamond dust and the enormity of the night sky

scandalizing a couple sweet little girls

(nothing too serious… don’t worry!)

scoring an awesome set of horseshoes

celebrating the new year twice

(once with sparklers and banging pots and the next with kisses and hugs)

making wishes on a falling star

beating everyone at pool

soaking up the welcome heat of a fire

seeing someone i love look ridiculously happy

Year in review: birds

2009 was a good year for birds: I added twelve new species to my life list, give or take one or two that I’m probably making up or remembering wrong.


I don’t believe that increasing one’s life list has anything much to do with skill; in fact, I’ve found that over the years as my skills have improved, I’ve whittled my list down by quite a few birds that were questionable in my memory. Did I really see that Baird’s Sandpiper or was I just part of a group that did? Would I know it when I saw it again?

Most certainly not.

So I don’t count the Goshawk that flew over our van in the Adirondacks years ago or half of the gulls I could. I’ve seen them, yeah, but I recognize now that I still don’t know them. I was probably a little too generous with myself as a beginner and my life list reflected that.

As it stands, the number hovers a few over 300, which is respectable, I think, considering that I hadn’t traveled much to see birds until this past year. Adding new life birds at this point is about money and travel and getting up the courage to do a pelagic trip. Considering how close I am to the ocean, it’s almost shameful that I don’t know shorebirds well or have many seabirds. Gulls are still beyond me and that’s still a point of pride that I’m not prepared to surrender, yet.


My first life bird of 2009 was close to home; a sweet Orange-Crowned Warbler that I saw with a sweet friend at Sandy Hook in January.

April’s trip with The Flock to the New River Birding and Nature Festival netted me three warblers: Swainson’s, Cerulean and Yellow-Throated. I most wanted Cerulean on that trip and was glad to get it, though the light was horrible and rainy and I still hope to see one whose color matches the sky like they say it does.

Late June found me, on a whim, in Michigan for Kirtland’s Warbler. Most would consider this a once-in-a-lifetime bird and I was lucky enough to stand among a small group of them singing and feeding young on a summer day.


October at the Colonial Coast Birding Festival brought many wonders and six new birds.

I spent a couple days with crazy dream birds, like this Roseate Spoonbill, flying over my head while I wondered how anyone could possibly concentrate on anything else!

Huge pink birds with ridiculously-shaped bills… just crazy.

Mind you, there was a Spoonbill here in NJ at about the same time, but nothing could’ve compared to the sight of groups of them, mixed with Wood Storks and White Ibis floating over in the unbearable heat.

The Brown Pelicans on that trip nearly drove me to distraction, too. And fits of uncontrollable laughter.


There was also a less-than-satisfying look at a Loggerhead Shrike and what I remember to be a Common Moorhen.

Probably I’m making that last one up, though I do somehow remember a purplish bird that reminded me of a chicken.

Probably I shouldn’t count that one yet, right?

The last life bird of the year was sort of a nemesis bird for me: a Golden Eagle. There’d been a couple speck sightings of them through the years, mostly at the hawkwatch at Cape May, but nothing I ever felt really comfortable counting. This one, flying over the road in late October I’ll count for now, until I spot one out west somewhere, perched close enough that I can see the wash of gold across its shoulders.

So… what birds did you add to your life list last year? Which are you hoping to add in 2010?