We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We went down to Carmel with my brother and a friend, and stayed in the friend’s house — it had been his parents’ weekend house. It was so lovely — it’s still full of their things, and kind of perfectly set up for a weekend away. There was lots of cooking and eating and walking and reading and napping — everything you want in a holiday weekend.
We came back Friday night because I had to lead a bird trip on Saturday morning — it’s a requirement for my Master Birding certificate — and I lead it despite the rather dire forecast. In the end, it did not rain, there were 12 participants, we saw 11 species (which is not very much, but honestly, about what you’d expect) and people seemed interested in the history of the change in birds species on campus over time. Also, I had lots of international people, which was great because for them the pretty common birds were actually interesting — life birds, even! So that was good, and the best thing is, it’s over.
Today I have succumbed to the cold I’ve been fighting with for 2 weeks. I’ve spent the day in a chair with Cora napping nearby. She’s happy we’re home. I’ve been reading The Hidden Life of Trees, which is really interesting, although in my head I hear it being read in the voice of Werner Herzog. (We just watched Into the Inferno, which I really recommend.) I’ve finally taken decongestant, since it’s pretty clear this thing is not going away on its own.
And now, I have two weeks to get the house in order before the girls come home. I would really love to get rid of 98% of my belongings. I’m going to see what I can do. This house is plenty big enough for the two of us, although it’s possible the space is not apportioned appropriately. There is no front hall closet, for one thing. It would be great if there was a study-like room on the first floor for Kevin — one we could close the door on. There’s not enough space for things like batteries and lightbulbs. Maybe some of that could go down into the basement — which you can only get to from the outside, sadly. I wonder if it wouldn’t make sense to make access to the basement from inside and then add an office for Kevin down there — huh. That’s kind of appealing.
Anyway. We could certainly stand to get rid of lots of stuff and maybe I will begin with that —
Happy incipient holiday season!
Are you exhausted, too?
I went back to the gym yesterday, after three weeks away with a knee injury. And I started riding my bike to work again this week. So that probably explains some of it.
I definitely feel more like myself.
As someone said to me, it feels like a death. You wake up and feel like something is not right and then you remember — oh, right.
It’s Wednesday. I’m going to try to finish all the remaining writing I need to do for my Master Birding class by this weekend. Then I’ll have the field trip, which I am leading next Saturday, and the test, and I’ll be done — except for the volunteer hours.
It’s been a terrible week.
Book group on Thursday was comforting, just because it was good to be around similarly shocked friends.
Friday I finished assembling my power point presentation for my master birding class, and then gave it in class that night. Eleven of us gave our presentations. They were all interesting, and it’s great because we’ve all become friends — finally, now that the class is about to end. When we finished, out instructor stood up and said that our presentations were all great, and that especially now, when the country is in the dire situation it is in, our leadership will be needed — in many of the ways I’ve been thinking about “Nature is really going to need a friend,” he said. And we felt like Dumbledore’s army.
Saturday I went on a day-long field trip through the delta, seeing beautiful ducks and cranes and geese. It was a lovely day.
Today I have done laundry and cleaned up a bit here and there. In the afternoon, I took the BART over to the lake in Oakland, where we planned to form a ring around all 3.2 miles around the lake. It was a protest, and a very civil one. So, I did that and then came home and now I’m sitting in a chair covered by my sleeping bag while the cat sleeps nearby. There’s soup on the stove, and I made cornbread and the laundry is mostly done and I am cozy and warm and pretty tired.
I think I might actually go to bed pretty soon. The sleeping bag is extremely comforting.
I’m realizing why this feels so personal to me. I grew up as the oddball in a family whose values I did not share, and the only recourse I had was first to hide in my room, and then just to leave. And that’s what I feel like now — obviously I don’t belong here. Time to move on.
But maybe I’m a grown-up now, and maybe I can act differently — assuming I don’t move to Canada (and I might, but there’s no guarantee they won’t elect a dictator, too), what can I do to feel like I belong here and have some say in how things go? I keep reading, “oh we’ve got to work. There’s work to be done.” In the first place, haven’t people worked pretty damn hard over the course of the past 8 year? I know so many people who worked so hard for Clinton, and for progress in general, and I think she ran a decent and persuasive campaign. I feel kind of insulted that we’re supposed to just keep working, as though we haven’t been working like hell already.
In the second place, what does that work look like?
So I’ve been thinking.
1. I’m going to speak up. I’m not going to shut up. I’m not going to hide in my room. I’m going to be forthright and speak up. I’m going to be polite, and explain my opinions, and I’m not shutting up.
2. I’m going to work for the environment. Human rights are going to be suffering all over the place. We’ve all heard the talk about torture and taking people out on stretchers. Girls in headscarves are being beaten up and gay people losing jobs. I actually feel guilty that that’s not my main concern because those are things that I care about. But I think I care about small corners of land more than most people, and that’s what I’m going to work on. Here’s a story. Somehow I got notice of an effort to buy a 5 acre plot of land somewhere in Utah that was under threat of development. It’s a meadow next to a larger piece of protected land, providing “nesting habitat for Great Horned owls, Saw-whet owls and hawks all of which have fledged chicks on this property and in the immediate surrounding area.” Go look — there are owls. It’s a small thing, but it’s an important thing, and I gave some tiny amount of money and the effort was successful.
That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to raise money. I’m going to pick up trash from wetlands, and donate 25 bucks to buy 5 acre parcels. I’m going to let people know when they can do the same. I’m going to take school kids out to the wilderness so they learn to love it, too. I’m going to be a docent on Alcatraz and explain to visiting tourists why they should care about birds. Maybe I’m going to go back to school to be an ecologist, and maybe I’m going to do it in Canada as my path to citizenship. I don’t know, exactly, but that’s the work I’m going to do. I can retire in not too many years, but I am going to get to work now, because I see that I have maybe 25 years left before I will have lost all steam, and this has focused me like a laser beam.
I’ll let you know more as I know more.
I am bitter as all hell, but this is the way I’m going to get through it.
As I heard a sobbing Wellesley student say on the radio yesterday, we’re going to get up, and we’re going to put our pantsuits on, and we’re going to get to work. What choice do we have?
So, we did go, and it was lovely.
It was rainy and stormy and we ended up stuck on the island for one extra night — we were by ourselves, since our friends, without a car, managed to make it home. It meant we condensed the family obligations into one day and had an extra day to go look at beaches and go to bed early in a cottage by ourselves.
It is exhausting being out in the weather.
So that was nice —
I think I am finally worn out, though. Good thing there are no more trips, vacation or otherwise, scheduled for a while.
Hey! I found my key again, or rather someone did. It was in the lost and found. I think I dropped it on my way to the car one night. I am very happy to have it back.
We’re getting ready to go away on one last trip of the year. We’re flying east and taking bicycles on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. On the way back we’ll stop off to see K’s brother’s family and my mother. We’re just going for a long weekend, and I am slightly worried that some rain is predicted — but actually, a while ago it was predicted for the whole weekend, and now it seems to be just for a morning. That’s fine.
I do love fall. It’s been raining here, which is exciting. (Northern California = no rain all summer.) Seems that there is some snow in the mountains, too. I went birding Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sunday I came home just as the rain started and spent the whole day doing indoor things — I folded laundry, vacuumed the cat hair off the couch, sorted out a ton of mail that had been piling up, and read a book. It was great.
And now, I believe, it is time for lunch.
I am feeling kind of pleasingly boring these days. I really have nothing to talk about. It seems like a good thing, though. I might attribute it to faithful gym attendance — this week, at least. Also, I think I heard a hermit thrush in the yard this morning. Such a pretty song — though I’m not sure they should be singing at this time of year — could it have been a young golden-crowned sparrow? And I’m finally thinking about sewing up a sweater I knit over a year ago. See? Boring, but happy.
That’s it —