Lessons learned in the past few years

I’ve been away from my blog for a while. I’d like to begin 2020 with a recap of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few years and ideas for the future.

Stuff that didn’t make sense in 2014

It didn’t make sense to me how the media members believed they were covering a story, but they were actually publicizing a fringe opinion. When the media exposed the actions of an extremist group/organization, they appeared to actually give them credence, especially when repeated ad nausium.

It didn’t make sense to me how polarized my country was, how relatives and neighbors could hold such opposite opinions. Even though we disagreed with many, we don’t want to shoot them like they do in other countries where people fight over politics or religion.

It didn’t make sense to me how people looked at land or location as a place to be exploited and not see the beauty of the place. It didn’t make sense to me how destroying a landscape, improves it;  e.g. why do neighbors bulldoze 100-year-old trees that protect fragile land to farm another acre more or build another grain bin.

What did make sense?

It made sense for a society to take responsibility to care for people unable to care for themselves (disabled, elderly, children and disenfranchised). It made sense to me that wealthy people should be taxed more to pay for roads, police, schools, health care, and even bombs. I often felt that I could do more than I do to help others.

It made sense to celebrate life’s events, like holding a Halloween party for friends and family whenever we are able. We may not pass by a person, group, of part of life again in just the same way – it made sense not to miss opportunities. This sentiment has grown stronger as I age.

20191015_095111

What made sense in my life?

It made sense to always support my children as they figure out life.

It made sense to bury the hatchet of conflict with others and let go of past hurts. This one was and is very difficult for me. I take injuries and hurts to heart, expect apologies that won’t be coming, and find it easier to live without hurtful people in my life.

It made sense to learn to forgive so I don’t feel the agony of resentment all the time. It made sense to bury those feelings in the soil, to plant new life internally as I plant flowers and tomatoes in the spring. I’ve been given another year, another spring to work on this and I was grateful to be alive, or as a friend used to say, “every day above ground is a good one”.

Tiger lilies-3

It made sense to me to focus my daily life on things I could manage and control (like mowing the lawn when it is tall, cleaning the house when it is dirty, taking care of pets and livestock, giving my colleagues a place to vent about the very strange politics of the work-place, participating in groups that improve the little space of the world that I live in) and let alone the neighborhood’s, state’s, nation’s bigger problems.

It made sense to celebrate every sunrise, appreciate every sunset, savor the taste of coffee, the luxury of time to sip a couple cups in the morning, dinner with family or friends, finding time to stop, listen to birds sing and share the bounty of my life. I felt very fortunate to be in that place at that time.

20190926_071502

What makes sense in 2020?

This is the first time I’ve considered these issues in the past six years. It seems appropriate to revisit them again as 2020 begins. I noted in 2014 that Americans may disagree but at least we don’t shoot people. I’m revising that statement based on the history of the past few years. People in this country are more polarized now than six years ago.

In recent years people have started to shoot people they don’t like; target racial groups they don’t like, and pursue whole groups of people whose politics they don’t like. People shoot other people in churches, synagogues, and mosques. People shoot children in elementary and high schools, and at colleges and universities. People shoot people in nightclubs and at concerts. People shoot people in restaurants and corner stores. I understand this exhibition of hated even less than I understand the hate that fuels it.

Perhaps I’m looking through the wrong end of a viewfinder, but I don’t understand the continued exploitation of land and water in this country as if there’s always more land out there to move to, dig up, pump water from the ground via irrigation, build wind farms on, or clutter landscapes with mechanical equipment. It makes no sense to me to encase towers in fifty-feet deep cement platforms for the next generation to worry about removing.

It also makes no sense to mine oil from Canadian tar sands and transport it via pipelines to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico to be sold on the world market. Pipelines that cross the United States and pollute our land with every pipeline break seem nonsensical to me as well as being another source of ill-gotten revenue for the one present of ultra-rich that spend fortunes lobbying politicians to make it happen.

Stuff that does make sense.

Generosity to others and kindness continue to be important qualities. It makes sense to help others when possible. It makes sense to adopt shelter pets, like my dog Pickles rather than buy from pet factories.

20191007_183325

I wish sensible actions and attitudes combined into a longer list and perhaps I need to remove my rose-colored glasses and view the world with a different lens. However, I love my country and its multiplicity of residents regardless of our political divisions. We are all more than our political opinions. Please, let’s stop shooting each other!

It also makes sense to me to record events and attitudes as I experience them. This time and place will not come again. I’m still grateful to be alive at this time. It continues to make sense to celebrate life’s gifts.  I hope the world will be a better place for future generations. If each of us demonstrates one kind gesture toward another and befriends folks rejected by others, we will have a beginning.

 

Shete Boka National Park

20190208_111848

Located on the north end of the Caribbean island of Curacao, the Sheta Boka National Park is, according to their website, an “Area with more than 10 beautiful Boka’s (inlets) where three species of turtles nest. A boka is, in fact, an inlet. Shete Boka stands for ‘seven inlets’. Years ago, the environmental group Amigu di Tera arranged excursions in this area along seven bays. Hence, the name is taken, although in reality there are more than seven coves in this national park. The park begins at the beautiful Boka Tabla where large, unpredictable waves crush against an underground cave. An impressive experience!”  Learn more at https://www.curacao.com/en/directory/do/sights-and-sounds/shete-boka-national-park/

Prevailing northeast winds buffet the island.  Trees on the north end of the island are often bent like the featured image or dwarfed from the wind’s impact.

I visited the park on a tour of the island during February.  It was a restful vacation away from this frigid Nebraska Winter and did wonders for my mental health.  The crashing waves in the first photo were the highlight of the park.  The tour bus also visited a lovely park beach.  Our group had an hour to swim or sit in the sun.  I opted for sunshine, but many dived into the turquoise water.

20190208_122502

The tour bus also stopped at the salt ponds to see flamingos. We were able to walk near a series of protected pools where many flamingos dipped their elegant heads in search of food.  The flamingos have a peaceful existence eating in the still water.

20190208_143630

I noticed unusual water creatures at the edge of the pond.  I’m not sure of their biological identity, but they are quite beautiful.

20190208_143507

Curacao is a destination to consider to get away from northern winters.

Barn Swallows

The barn swallows are gone for this year.  They left sometime in September. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barn_Swallow/id

Image result for Pictures Flying Barn Swallows

I watch for their return Mid-May every year in Nebraska.  I know they will leave end of summer and think I’ll say good-bye this year. I look for them in the evenings, and find they are already gone like quicksilver.  One minute it’s there, the next second it slips through my fingers.  My reflexes aren’t fast enough to see.  Their migratory pattern is fixed in their DNA.  https://journeynorth.org/tm/swallow/News.html

I like to watch the swallows dip and dive on warm summer evenings at twilight.  I imagine it’s possible to see them snapping up mosquitos and flies, cleaning my backyard for human outdoor comfort, as they feed themselves and their young nesting in my barn.

These sleek blue-black birds left about the time I ordered a new black mobile briefcase to roll to new part-time self-employment.  Buying new supplies for  a new post-retirement career is easy and fun.  Writing the letter of resignation to leave my position after 39 years with the same employer is hard.

Over the years, and through many different administers, I worked to provide more and different kinds of  help to students.  Until the last few years, those administrations supported and encouraged my program’s efforts.  They believed in the concept of helping students through many obstacles, enhancing their graduation rates.  The current one doesn’t share that view.  This leader’s focus is public relations, and self-image.

The program I’m leaving has been reduced to near nonexistence. Theoretically, that should make it easier to retire, however leaving is bittersweet.  I’m hopeful the next person in this position will be more articulate, and able to make a case to recover lost services that benefit students.

I’ll build my own mud nest, ready to hatch and fledge a new direction.

See the source image

 

 

 

SUNRISE

Sunrise 2017

I like to be up early in the morning and watch the sunrise.  It’s life-affirming to see another day emerge from darkness as mother earth turns.  Spring mornings often go from pink, to mauve, gold, or red as the morning brightens, as if a master light engineer is controlling the process.

I’m sometimes tired and discouraged by day’s end, but the morning brings promise of a better day ahead.  Listening to the robins wake up, begin their cheerful chirping, the mourning dove calling to attract a new mate, and faint flutter of finches’ wings as they fly to the feeder are a tonic for emotional renewal.

I’m writing this blog to help me make decisions about my future.  Each new day brings a little progress, and many more questions.

July 2015 215

Summer flowers and future decisions are just around the corner.

 

Birds

DSC05061

Sandhill Cranes gather by the thousands along the Platte River this time of year.  Even on a overcast grey morning, it’s an amazing sight to see the islands formed in the river from sleeping crane families.  As they fly from the river, it’s often in large groups.  If you want to learn more about cranes, read the book about cranes by Paul A. Johnsgard, with photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen. It is called A chorus of Cranes, published by the University Press of Colorado.

DSC05090The cranes feed in fields along the Platte during the day, then return to the river at night.

Two years ago, I visited a Prairie Chicken lek in northern Nebraska.  It was another early morning wait in a photography blind for the birds to wake up and begin their mating dance.  Most of the people in the blind were professional photographers with amazing cameras, but I captured a few pictures of male Prairie Chickens showing off for the gals.

Prairie Chicken & Pasque Flower Tour 2016 118

Prairie Chicken & Pasque Flower Tour 2016 027

Weather permitting, I hope to see the mating dance of the Sharp-tailed Grouse this weekend.    When I’m  home, I watch Doves, Blue Jays, Finches, and Woodpeckers eat from the birdfeeder outside my kitchen window.  Bird watching is way for me to chart the season’s changes.  I find peace in Mother Nature’s company, at home, or in a bird’s backyard.