Saturday, November 22, 2014

Always Learning - Equal Time

I posted a comment on TripAdvisor after I was involved in the nature walk where I saw the trapped raccoons, and the trapper sent me a note.      This is what he said:

     "Hi, I am the trapper who's traps you saw in the refuge. I am very sorry to have ruined your day and just wanted to touch base with you and let you know the racoons were in no way in any pain and I do check my traps every single day they are out. I do my best to prevent any harm to the animal."
I answered him, thanking him for his reply, said that I am not opposed to hunting animals for human use but that I don't like to see them suffer, and I asked why the animals are trapped.   He answered me, 
    "I do my best to check in the morning hours as the raccoons tend to only move at night.  I'm certain I was there shortly after you had taken a walk.  There is still a very large fur market as well as meat market, everything I harvest is taken care of humanely.  I sell the fur and donate a lot of meat throughout the winter.  I don't want you to get the impression I or any trapper for that matter is just out to kill animals.  It is a very useful tool to help manage certain animals, raccoons in this case (especially in the refuge) can wreck havoc on turtle eggs, waterfowl eggs and young, and many other animals.   Hopefully this helps give you a little bit of peace of mind.  If you have any questions feel free to ask.  Thanks!"
    He also told me that he is taking precautions to keep the animals further away from the trails now because he doesn't want visitors to be upset, especially the young children we sometimes bring along.   Aside from making every effort to respond to my concerns, he has given me a lot to think about.    And as I told him, no matter where I end up on the issues themselves, I admire his willingness to  have the conversation.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mid November in the Middle of the Mitten

What do we call this time of year?  Late Fall?  Early Winter?   It is getting cold, that's all I can be sure of, and there is a dusting of snow again today.   I am toying with the idea of buying snow shoes . . . I've never worn them, any tips or advice?
A friend and I took another beautiful walk in our local Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge this week but this time it was not nearly as much fun.  We look forward to these interludes of peace, the return to nature.   We see deer and birds and muskrat, an assortment of critters who are always surprised to see us there.
But on this walk, we were horrified to find live raccoons caught in traps right next to the pathway, their paws clamped down under a sleeve designed, no doubt, to protect the public from the sight of their poor paws.    There was no way for us to free them, or even to put them out of their misery.   We found a ranger who told us bluntly, "we have too many of them," and promised at least to let the trapper know so that they would not have to sit and suffer for long.  

And yet when we left the refuge hours later, the animals were still there, no longer alert, breathing heavily and clearly suffering.   A very upsetting sight.   I have never shot an animal, but I would have been glad to have my pistol that day.  
In happier news, my grandson turns 10 this week, double digits!    It is hard to remember when he  was as small as a construction cone and fascinated by big machinery.    He has been a joy for me for the entire decade, that's for sure, but growing up way too fast for my liking, as kids tend to do.  :)   I will be going today to hear him play cello and his little sister play violin at their orchestra concert, what fun!
And, on the geeky side of my life, I have finally dipped my toes into another area of amateur radio with my first packet station -- I built the Raspberry Pi that forms the guts of the system and, after a series of mess-ups and mistakes, it was finally set up today and I sent my first digital messages this evening.    Now I'm waiting to see whether they worked and what I'll get back.   Who doesn't love to get mail?!   And I enjoy getting it in many forms these days, by snail mail, through your comments (!), by Morse Code and hopefully now in a digital form, too.  

I hope you are all enjoying a variety of contacts with the people you care about, too, as winter approaches.   Stay warm out there! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Already

This has been a beautiful weekend, and I should be more content.   Today, at least, I am tired, and that helps.   We had our monthly search and rescue field drill last night, a 4-hour night drill in the woods, and the combination of tromping through the underbrush and a late night were good for me.   (That's me in back in the floppy hat, all that bundling on top of my natural padding!)  It is challenging to do compass work and keep a bearing in the dark, it is challenging just to walk through the uneven terrain, over fallen trees and through puckerbrush when you can't see anything beyond your flashlight.   There was ice on the puddles and frost on the ground by the time we finished for the night.   But so much fun!   And the skills we learn in a night search will make daytime searching seem easy by comparison, or so we hope.

Not much else is going on.     My sister gave me a pair of inexpensive earrings that she bought for me specifically because they are called "Waiting For My Lover" earrings.   She loves omens and symbols, as do I.   They are cute and I was pleased.   I have the best guy friend in the world, a perfect almost-brother, and grateful for that, but there is still an empty space in my life.    But the earrings broke right away, which seemed too clear an omen to me, and made my thoughts turn to the things I do not have.    I have spent a lifetime giving my heart where it was not wanted, and at this late date it is extremely unlikely that there will ever be a Yin for my Yang.   I have never wanted to be anything other than a partner in a loving relationship so it is hard for me,  no matter how old I get, to shake the yearning for what seemed to be a  destiny.   My life is good and I am grateful for family, for health and for good friends, and I spend my days trying to make life better for other people, but I expect I will still feel cheated when I finally die because this has seemed since childhood to be my only purpose, and yet it has eluded me.     It doesn't help that I will officially be Very Old at the end of this month.  Shake it off.   It serves no one to stay too long in self pity.
Life goes on.   My work continues, although our hospice is shrinking.   I'm not sure why, since people are dying as often as they ever did.   Some blame the changes in insurance, or upper management, or the many competitors that have sprung up, making it a very different market than when we were the only hospice in town.   My manager gave me a Spirit Angel for Pastoral Care Week last week, perhaps as encouragement, to show that she values what I do, although I keep telling her that it would make financial sense to lay me off with so few patients.     A sign of my burn out, I guess, that I am so eager to leave, but so far I am still working.

Tomorrow is Monday, and it all begins again.  But this weekend was fun, filled with cold air and exercise.  Life is good.

Friday, October 31, 2014

I've been keeping busy with work and search/rescue drills and committees, trying to adjust my mind to the increasingly cold and gray weather.    The trees are getting bare and although it is still a beautiful world, it is clear that Winter Is Coming.
I only got a few projects done to link to Cat Patches October NewFO party this month.    I made a couple more slinky eternity scarves to put away for Christmas,  not an impressive accomplishment since they literally take 15 minutes each to complete.
My only Real sewing project was to finish another Paris-themed bag for my wonderful daughter in law.   I haven't given her this one yet, I might use it as wrapping at Christmas.

I started placing charm squares for another tote but have not had time to even stitch the basic seams yet, much less pick out a lining fabric.
In other projects, I had one of my grief groups paint their idea of what gratitude feels like, and although I did not paint my own vision of that feeling, it was interesting to see how it looks from different stages in the grief journey.   It takes my breath away.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Weekend

Although my sister texted me that this is the season of Duman Gloom (don't you love the way that Siri mis-spells and misinterprets?!), it has been beautiful.   Today a friend and I took a 6+ mile walk through the Shiawassee National Wildlife Preserve, and although it was damp and cloudy, it was so pretty that it almost hurt to see.   The trees were still in full color, the geese were flying in by the hundreds honking all the way,  the caterpillars were wearing their winter coats, we found a butterball mushroom the size of a human head, and I even saw a tiny frog.   Another best day ever.








Monday, October 13, 2014

Always Looking

There's really nothing new with me, but the past couple of weekends have been busy.   And so beautiful!   Michigan is really glorious this time of year, and the trees have been especially bright this autumn.



I spent the weekend before last at a search a few hours south of our area.    We drove to help another 'start up' search and rescue group with their planning and search for a missing person there.    The weekend involved long hours on the road, only a few hours of sleep, and very long days, but we were glad to do it.   Sadly, we did not find the man and I had to go back to work, but we learned that his body was found the next day, a sad ending that we can only hope offered his family some closure.    

I got to spend fun time with the Grands and their family, we had supper together a couple of times, walked the dog, and visited.   
I helped a friend make apple sauce, and picked grapes and helped make grape juice to can, although we would have had a lot more juice for later if the wasps and I had stopped eating so many of the delicious concords.   All of the bees and wasps have been sluggish in the colder weather, which is a lucky thing when you have your hands in there with them. 

I finished a couple more tote bags, too.   I made a cute goulish bag for a friend's daughter who likes the darker side.  And my Grands both liked one particular Halloween bag I made, so I made another of the same fabric since they both want to use them for Trick or Treating.  

 I also made another French-themed tote using Lindsey's pattern at Fort Worth Fabric Studio and adding an inside pocket this time.   What a great pattern!

I stopped at a local cheesemaker on one of my country drives,

and of course this is great baking weather.    The son of a friend is a fan of my desserts and of course I love having someone appreciate the things I make, so the last two weeks I've made a blueberry pie and a really delicious almond pastry especially for him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Being Mindful

This last month has been a little rough for me, with the concussion, some personal hurts, and a steadily deteriorating work environment.    I am licking my wounds, waiting for my natural optimism to surface, and waiting out the sadness.    Meantime, I am doing what I can to keep myself busy, and enjoying the satisfaction of accomplishment in the midst of it all.    The things I am doing have been simple because I don't have the mental energy right now to do more, and many of them are pictured in previous posts.  

Although I am not sure I care even a little bit about actually getting it up and running, I am making progress toward establishing my amateur radio packet system.   I built my own Raspberry Pi, a mini computer that will form the brains of the system.    This area of work is new to me and I was surprised to find that electronics and soldering are really just another kind of craft and just as fun to do.  I still work with a mentor, but hope I will be ready soon to step out on my own.   I live a solitary life, and I need to face up to that and learn to do for myself.


I am walking again, not as regularly as I should, but a lot more than I have been.   And I am enjoying what is left of the bounty of summer's harvest.

My family got themselves a dog with an unknown past and so I have been stopping in to visit with her mid-day, while her new mom and dad are at work.   She seems to be bonding well with her new family but only tolerates me, which is fine.   I let her out to potty and give her a cookie and then she goes right back to her bed to wait for her real family.   Even so, she provides a distant companionship for a little bit each afternoon and Lord knows I need more of that since beggers can't be choosers.

The colors here have been beautiful and the weather is increasingly crisp.   I am loving the new crop of apples and the flashes of red and orange everywhere I look.   And I am happy to be wearing socks and fleece again.    Life is good, and I am hard at work, finding my way back to contentment.