Category Archives: Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff

Looking for documentaries? Recommended watches …

I’m a shameless consumer of documentaries, but like anything else, they are all about personal taste. There are docs that are excellent, but if the subject matter doesn’t float your boat, then you’re not going to be interested (sports, fashion, medical, and political documentaries, for example, are just not my thing).

That said, many people ask me what I’ve been watching lately if they’re into documentaries. Although I’ve been too crazy busy to do much of anything, I was lucky enough to get some downtime due to illness earlier in the year, I’m often working on mindless projects that could use an incentive, and I do take a full day off once in awhile to prevent burn-out and turn off my brain.

Here are some of the documentaries I’ve watched since the beginning of the year, and where Read the rest of this entry

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! The wren babies hatched!

The little ones arrived yesterday (June 18) at about one in the afternoon!

7 Baby Wren 24 hours old

See his eye? This little guy is fewer than twenty-four hours old!

I came downstairs to get a bottled water, and I saw the female Carolina wren perched on top of the nest box, chirping furiously—calling her mate. When he didn’t come, she jumped Read the rest of this entry

“Life begins when you get back up.”

The last few months, while full of joy and wonderful things, have also harbored a few emotional challenges in the wake of unexpected change.

I’ve always felt I’ve had choices. I can A, let things beat me and roll over and play dead until I recover; B, keep fighting; C, find a decent work around and keep moving; or D, a combination of B and C and take all of that pain and heartache and channel it into something worthwhile instead of whining about it.

First of all, yes, I have chosen A a few times in my life, so this isn’t a post about my fabulous strength and endurance. F—, sometimes, shit just beats me, and that’s okay. Recently, though, it’s been choice D, and there are days when the gumption’s running low. It’s always wonderful, then, to find a little something Read the rest of this entry

Baby birds are coming!

We have another Carolina wren nest this year! It’s under one of our grill covers that we’d pulled off and left on a chair–these little guys build QUICKLY! Mommy wren and Fattypants are being pretty protective, as expected. They have commandeered the porch, pretty much.

Location of Nest

Nest location.

Nest materials

Carolina wrens build their nests of moss and sticks.

TINY EGGS in Nest!

I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THESE TINY EGGS HATCH!!

A win for the weekend!

Cemetery Dance Online Review Celebration Pic

An incredible finish to an awesome week! I didn’t think my amazing week could get any better, but the Cemetery Dance reviewer mentioned my story “Nothing to See Here” in Generation X-ed and Read the rest of this entry

Most recent escape to the Bronx Zoo!

2 Ready for Safari in the Heat

Nathan and I went prepared with plenty of water. This was the first sign you saw as you entered the Main Zoo at the Southern Boulevard Gate.

I’ve been a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society (New York City Zoos and Aquarium) for twenty-one years now—I’m lucky enough that I live just about an hour away.

In my earliest days of being a member, it was because I was heavily involved volunteering for two aquariums, and there were volunteer opportunities at the zoo—such as decorating for the Holiday Lights—that were offered to members, so I joined. I was also dating a guy at the time who was, like me, an aquarium volunteer and loved animals. Most of our dates involved, if not the Bronx Zoo or New York Aquarium, some other zoo or aquarium.

The guy turned out to be a class-A jerk, but I’m grateful, because it was the zoo that became a true love.

Over the years, the zoo has been a place to escape for a few hours, an inspiration for several short stories, and a place where magical memories are made. Nathan and I have been the busiest we’ve ever been since the beginning of 2020—and recently, I’ve had so much on my plate I’m basically working through nights and weekends. There has been very little time to see each other, let alone hang out. So when Nathan suggested I take the weekend off and go with him to the zoo—well, that sounded great!

Our usual course is have a couple of beers and lunch, see two or three exhibits, and hit the gift shop. Because the zoo is so big and can never really be completely done in one day, this is a great system. Every visit is different, and we can key experiences based on conditions (the last few times, we have stuck to outdoor or large indoor exhibits, like World of Birds, due to the pandemic, or if it’s pouring rain, we stick to a small area and do the larger indoor exhibits at the bottom half of the zoo, like Wild Asia, which has Jungle World and isn’t too far from Congo Gorilla Forest. In the winter, we do all the warmer things in the center of the zoo and jump from Mouse House to Reptile House to Madagascar).

We can also base them on other factors. World of Birds was on my list last June because of one particular bird I wanted to see—a bleeding heart dove, for a story idea (which is still germinating, but will eventually come to pass). Sometimes, it’s just to go do a big-ticket exhibit like Dinosaur Safari, or participate in a particular event, like Holiday Lights (which we spent mostly just boozing at the ice bar) or Boo at the Zoo (which we mostly spent at the extinct animal cemetery and photographing an informational wall of extinct animals). Sometimes I want to Christmas shop or just pick up the annual Members-only t-shirt. And regardless of what we do there, we love to bird. We always do a bird count!

We ended up picking a 95 degree day, but because we’re members, we never feel like we have to push ourselves, so we agreed we’d go see just a couple of favorites.

1 Bronx Zoo Ready for Safari in the Heat

It was our first sweltering, humid day of the year! I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Heat Miser!

First stop was lunch! We couldn’t sit at the usual outdoor patio across from the Dancing Crane Café because there was an event, but we found a nice little table away from the action. My favorite is always chicken fingers. I can’t drink a lot of beer, so Nathan always gets a giant one and I get to have some.

Then we went down to see the lions, because that’s Nathan’s favorite, and passed a bunch of sunning turtles on the way.

5 Turtles

Turtles sunning themselves in the turtle pond across from the Reptile House. Never too hot for a turtle!

On the way back up to the Dancing Crane area, we took a rest (that’s actually quite a hill to climb in the heat) at the Somba Village, which is a souvenir/snack stand area Nathan’s never been to (Jerk and I used to hang there because it was near World of Darkness, our favorite exhibit, which has long since closed). Nathan, who grew up on a farm and used to raise goats, of course still loves them. He was thrilled to get an ice cold beer and watch all the goats that were in the baboon exhibit. It was really fun to take him to an exhibit he’d never been to (and we have been many times, so I was surprised there was still something he hadn’t seen!)

6 Goats in Somba Village

This beer was a little bit too “hoppy” for me, but clearly the booze did its job, because this was a pathetic attempt at an “artsy” photo with beer and goats.

Also, Somba Village seemed to be peacock haven. Peacocks sort of run freely throughout the zoo, but there were three or four in this tiny spot. There were lots of kids around, though, and they were clearly annoying—I mean, that’s okay, tiny kids see this big pretty moving thing and scream and laugh and chase them. That’s what kids do; no matter how hard you try to wrangle them, it’s going to happen. So I soon figured out the reason the peacocks liked it there was because there were elevated patches of brush they could duck into to get out of the fray. Several did. Smart birds!

We stopped to visit the brown bears, who were keeping cool in the water in their exhibit.

The heat was mighty, so we took Read the rest of this entry

Meet our bunny!

Bunny - May 14 1

I live in the woods, and although I’m really close to everything—I have superstores, banks, a movie theater, and every resource just about two miles in either direction—we’re secluded here. What’s cool about this is we have so many woodland creatures Read the rest of this entry

On the 42nd anniversary of the Mount St. Helens disaster, a review and A+ documentaries

I like to read nonfiction, and I’ll confess, there is much of it that isn’t an easy read, even if I’m riveted by the topic. Steve Olson’s Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, however, is an exception, and on the 42nd anniversary of that fateful 1980 day, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

ERUPTION by Steve Olson

My copy of ERUPTION is tied with a ribbon because I have articles all stuffed inside it. It sits next to an oil lamp made from Mount St. Helens ash and a photograph of the now-famous buried A-frame taken just after it was deluged up to its second floor in mudflows during the event. The curious home is now a tourist attraction.

Although I can’t exactly give a “spoiler-free” review (we all know what happened at Mount St. Helens), I will do my best.

What Olson really discusses here is the conglomeration of factors that led to the deaths of 57 people—who were, contrary to the way it was spun for the press, not in what was a dedicated danger zone (except for three, two of whom had permission and one who just refused to leave his lodge). Rendered in poetic language in several places, the narrative is Read the rest of this entry

A Motherless Daughter’s Gratitude on Mother’s Day

Mother's Day Card Blog Art

For those out there missing their moms, I thought—as a woman who no longer has hers—I’d share a little of my own journey with you in the hopes it’ll bring some of you comfort, or perhaps give you a new perspective. And if you’ve not read the book Motherless Daughters, definitely pick that up. You’ll find in its pages voices who feel just like you, and that’s comforting, too.

Also, all the photos of my mom in this post are pre-cancer. She’d be horrified if the few photos we had of her looking that bad were on public display (it’s why we have so few pictures of her after she got sick in the first place).

74KristiKissieFaceMomOrangeDressChuckDogFood

Me, Mom, and that little turd in blue is my brother. Don’t ask me why I’m making a fish face in this picture. I have no idea. This is 1974. I had just turned three.

Many motherless people, especially motherless daughters, have a rough time on Mother’s Day. But every Mother’s Day for the past three decades, all I’ve ever thought is, “I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore.”

I used to think this made me a horrible person. How can I just sit here and be relieved that I don’t have to participate in this? For years, I felt like there was either something deeply psychologically wrong with me, or that I was just an incredibly selfish, unempathetic person.

Then I figured it out. Mom got sick when I was eight and underwent a long battle with cancer, ending in her death when I was fifteen. She was horrendously sick during those years, and despite the fact that we were told just pray really hard and be really good and Jesus will save her, I knew better. I think we all did. Mother’s Days, when she was alive, were torture to watch. I remember giving her presents and making her favorite meal and thinking, ‘is this the last Mother’s Day?’ They were joyless, terrifying, and sometimes ruined because she was just too sick. Mother’s Days in our house were, in short, totally traumatizing. It was a bunch of people in a room pretending we all didn’t see the giant elephant while we plastered on our fake smiles—Mom included. I can see in old Mother’s Day pictures how absolutely tortured and depressed she was, trying to put on a show for everyone else. Her eyes hold nothing but pain.

There was nothing psychologically wrong with me in feeling relieved. Good Lord, there would probably be something more wrong with me if I didn’t.

Do I miss her? Of course. Read the rest of this entry

HAPPY EASTER!

This baby bunny cake wishes you and yours a very happy Easter (if that’s what you celebrate). If you don’t, then he wishes you a joyous Sunday and a refreshing spring!

Cute Easter Bunny Cake

Krissi, Charles, Nathan, and Mikey the cat

Read the rest of this entry

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