Bird Watching

Today, I was looking up into the trees at a local park. There is a bird call that I hear all day long here in Delhi. Belongs to the Brown-headed Barbet. A small bird with a green body.

Took this photo a couple of days ago. Not great quality.

barbet

For some reason I associate this bird’s sound with the noise at crosswalks. The one which signals blind folks that it is safe to cross the road.

So all day, like the Pavlovian dog, I just keep wanting to cross the street. Safely. Thank you, barbets.

I looked up trying to find the little sucker.

Imagine my surprise when this is what I see. In the middle of the day. Again, not the best photo taken with my phone. But I think you can figure out what it is.

owl1

Then I realize there are two sets of eyes on me.

owl2

Definitely not barbets.

So cool.

I was laughing because I attempted to take photos at different angles. In front. Behind. Didn’t matter because his eyes were always on me. Sort of like Jesus’ eyes in a picture my Aunt Rose Marie use to have hanging in her house. Always following. I thought of the old saying, “Eyes in the back of your head.”

It really is fascinating how their heads can do the 360 degree turn thingy.

The first time I have ever seen an owl, outside of captivity, was this past January. My husband and I attended an event at a place in Providence, Rhode Island. A Snowy Owl happens to reside on the roof. We caught sight of him while we were leaving.

Owls are cool.

To me.

I remember when my friend, Maria-Ann, and I ran a resale charity shop for a short while in Kuala Lumpur. We had a cute, wooden owl statue for sale. None of the Chinese customers gave it a second glance.

My friend mentioned that it didn’t give off positive vibes in the Chinese culture.

A lot of folks (from my part of the world) associate owls with age and wisdom.

Plenty of owls (with black, thick rimmed spectacles) on graduation cards in the United States. Every May stuffed owls or statues appear on the shelves in Hallmark stores. Ready to be purchased for the graduate-to-be.

Chinese do not have the same association. Believe owls are bad luck.

I get it. Everyone is different.

Here in India?

Owls are thought to bring good luck around the Diwali holiday.

That’s nice.

If sacrificed.

What?????

Folks looking to improve their financial situation think that the sacrificing of an owl will help.

India protects all of the species but there is a bustling black market that exists. Selling owls for hefty fees. All year round for different cures or luck but especially around the holiday.

You can even pay to have someone do the killing for you.

Now, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, etc. but I’m thinking if a person has to kill a living creature to enhance some aspect of their own life maybe a little regrouping is in order. A look at alternative, legal options in that quest for good luck.

Leave the owls alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bit O’ Whimsy

My girlfriend and I did some exploring near the newly purchased home. On this particular day it was a lunch at “The Square Peg” in the historic, waterfront town of Warren, Rhode Island. Followed by us checking out some of the local shops.

I’m compiling a list to share of fun places to see/explore in the area for my female friends.  Work in progress. So wait for it.

For now, though.

Lunch was so good. We enjoyed it very much. Had street tacos, I believe. I don’t consider myself a fan of corn tortillas (I am a flour girl) but I really liked these. The place was bustling with activity. Older couples possibly retired. Ladies who lunch. Even a couple of families. Not a tourist among them.

I recommend the restaurant.

Now, onto the shops.

Stopped by a welcoming and brightly decorated storefront and decided to enter. A beacon of warmth on a cold January day.

Whimsies.

We loved the shop. From the minute we walked in and saw a dog standing behind the cash register. LOL.

We got to chatting. I’m always curious about a person’s journey.

Andrea, the owner, was super nice. Her store is filled with the work of local crafters and artisans. Takes in items on consignment also. She had a look at the upcycled furniture pieces my friend had on her Etsy website. Liked them and said she was certainly welcome to bring them into her shop. See if they would sell there.

I asked her, “So you love coming to work every day?”

And she said, “I love it.”

Now, this is not something she has been doing all her life. She raised her people and enjoyed it. Then was sort of in the right place at the right time. And took a risk. Starting and running your own business always includes risk. Along with hard work and a whole lot of faith.

So, Andie, as it states on her website, is not only living her dream but helping local artisans pass along their gifts. How cool is that? Really?

See the site here.

What did I take from the shop that day? By making the decision to cross that threshold?

Besides a couple of framed pieces.

Reinforced that the whole notion of kindness and friendliness should be a rule and not the exception. That we need to lift each other up. Always. Women and local artists. People in general. We should shop local. A realization that the journey is not always easy. And that there are people out there actually living their dream. Who will inspire us.

Andrea also recommended other places to shop like Cerulean. Another lovely place with beautiful, locally made items and a friendly atmosphere. Owned by women. They will also be on my list of “fun places to visit” especially when they expand their shop with the next door property and begin to offer classes.

Whimsie’s also has an active Facebook page. Send a request to Whimsies. She posts new shop pieces and links to other fun stuff going on in the area.

I just noticed a link posted about an apothecary class she took at a place called “The Stitchery.” That looks fun! I had a glance at their site and checked out the different offerings.

Also saw photos Andrea recently shared of a facility in Fall River, Massachusetts where a fellow is focusing on bringing back the lost art of scrimshaw. His pieces will be in her shop. So wonderful!

There are so many fabulous people, places and things out there. Just have to get out there and make an effort to connect with your fellow humans. You’ll take away so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literary Travels

Many years ago read an article that I found quite interesting. It was about a literary pilgrimage of sorts.

It listed authors and the places they lived or wrote. Most located in upstate New York and some New England.

I wanted to go but never did. Then one day, nearly four years ago, I threw the thought out into the universe. My cousin, Joanne, was interested. A summer road trip was soon in the works.

It was really fun. Exploring places we never would have seen.

We left Brooklyn and our first stop was Washington Irving’s place, Sunnyside. A beautiful place on the Hudson in Westchester, New York.

Headed to Olana. Another gorgeous property. Also situated on the Hudson River. My cousin, Elizabeth, had recommended this stop. The home and studio of painter Frederic Edwin Church now a historic site and managed by the New York State Department of Parks.

Got there too late to take a tour. No amount of scheming on my part could get us in on the current tour. Not sure if they are just really strict about it or if that particular guy was just a schmoe. My charm was totally wasted on him.

But a fantastic site.

http://www.olana.org

Pedal to the metal and we were off again.

We drove to “The Mount” which is the name of Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her book, Ethan Frome, written in 1911, still gives me the shivers.

This was a beautiful home and the surrounding gardens were lovely.

http://www.edithwharton.org

Had a very nice lunch at a cool place in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Food was really good.

Their gallery hosts story telling, spoken word, book launches and more.

http://www.sixdepot.com

Also located in Stockbridge is the Norman Rockwell Museum.

http://www.nrm.org

Crosssed the border and into New York State.

Headed to Austerlitz, in the woods, to visit Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Steepletop. I had read her life story in my Dallas book club years ago. She lived quite the colorful life. Edna was a poet and a feminist.

Love this poem of hers.

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

Interesting that the author of a book I am currently reading now lives in Austerlitz.

http://www.millay.org/visitsteepletop/php

Next stop. Stayed at a neat and simple motel overlooking the lake in Guilderland, New York. This is near Cooperstown.

Browsed the nice shops of Cooperstown and strolled down historic Main Street.

Did not make it to the Fenimore Museum. It is built on the site of James Fenimore Cooper’s 19th century farmhouse. Must have been a time issue if we didn’t make it.

http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org

Anyway, Cooperstown was our last stop. We sure did drive through some beautiful areas of New York and Massachusetts. Stopped at wonderful road side fruit and vegetable stands. Even ended up visiting with a dairy farmer when we drove by his farm.

It was a great road trip that might never have happened. Until I sent it into the universe.

What do you want to send into the universe? Where do you really want to go?

 

Riding The Rails

Here is another long overdue posting. That I promised I would write.

Last summer I organized an outing with friends and family. There were twelve of us.

You know what they say about planning. Man plans and God laughs.

The plan was this. I signed our group up to ride the “Rail Explorers.” They are pedal powered (like a bike) and run on the railroad tracks along the water in Rhode Island. I chose “The Northern Ramble” which is six miles on the historic railroad between Portsmouth and the Sakonnet River. One way tour and a shuttle bus would bring us back.

rails3rails2For some reason, a shuttle bus breakdown or something, we were unable to take this particular tour. So we had to do “The Southern Circuit” which is along the waterfront also but three miles in and three miles back with a quick stop.

Okay, I was a little disappointed because that wasn’t the exact plan. And I was the organizer so I felt bad.

But we totally had fun. And a lot of laughs. It was a great group of people. Enjoying healthy outdoor time on a gorgeous day. By the water. I’m so glad we did it.rails1My peeps. All the way down to the guy in the green shirt.rails4Scenic views. rails6

Had some older folks in the group but also some young ones!

We then headed to a nearby waterfront restaurant chosen with the help of those who lived nearby. But when our caravan arrived it was closed.

Of course it was.

That whole planning thing again.

We persevered. And found another neat little restaurant on the water. Had fabulous food and enjoyed just a super pleasant evening with wonderful friends and family.

rails5                                Definitely deserved these bad boys after that workout!rails7        Is there anything better than ending a beautiful day with an evening like this?

Why am I writing about this now?

So, as stated earlier, I was a little disappointed. I expressed this feeling a few days later to the fellow in charge via email. Told him that I had organized this and felt like I didn’t deliver exactly as promised to my group. If he could provide future tickets (with the original Sakonnet River tour) for them I would be most grateful. I said I would gladly promote the company on Facebook, review on Tripadvisor and also on my personal blog.

He said he would provide vouchers. So I shared my fun photos on social media and with friends. But I never got around to blogging about it.

Here I am.

So, I was extremely satisfied with this company’s response. I enjoyed the experience. As did the members of our group. I think it’s a fantastic idea. Recycling-literally!

They have different locations. Same gig. Riding on a railroad. There is one in Las Vegas and a new one opening this Spring in the Catskills.

If you are looking for something fun to do and will be near any of these three locations I’d recommend it. It’s for everyone! All ages!

See website below.

www. railexplorers.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Kind To Our Bodies

I’m not turning into a health nut. Honest.

But I was watching “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” on Netflix last month. It’s about an Australian man who juices his way across America. He is obese and not in good health. Focusing on turning his life around.

He’s successful. Ends up clearing up his afflictions and getting off all medications.

One sentence in his documentary sort of struck me. Was something like this.

“I wasn’t being kind to my body.”

It was in an Australian accent so it sounded like, “I wasn’t being coined to my bawdy.”

This sentence stuck with me.

We put garbage in our mouths every single day. Processed food. If we can’t pronounce the ingredients or even know what they are then why would we put it in our body?

Like we only get one body in this life time. And if it’s been kind to us shouldn’t we return the favor?

My brother (who recommended the film) and I were discussing it. He mentioned Diet Coke. Which I loved. It was the actual jolt I loved.

I eventually stopped drinking it in India. They have it here so I am not sure why I actually stopped buying it. But I did.

I’m glad I did. I had it in the States a few times but stopped drinking it by the end of my visit there also. It’s said that the combination of the caffeine and the aspartame is a deadly one. In so many ways. Possibly cancer. Damage to the brain. And more.

Now, I knew that aspartame was never my friend. Or a friend of lab rats. And yet, I welcomed it into my body every single day.

I smoked. I certainly knew that was bad for me but the addiction had me just hoping I dodged the bullets that comes with it. So I kept smoking. Because I felt good and I didn’t have any coughs or other things ailing me as a result of it.

I invited cigarettes into my body every day. Numerous times a day. Glad I stopped.

No such thing as a perfect person. But we can be aware of how we treat our bodies. We need them to carry us for a few more years in good health. We probably should be conscious of the ways we can be kinder.

Shouldn’t we be kind to our bodies?

 

 

 

Uncomfortable

This past January my friend Di and I had plans for a lunch.

Winter in New England can be very cold. So everyone has to bundle up.

Kind of weird because it seems like the entire Northeast female population is wearing the same fluffy black coat. The ones that can make a person sort of look like a sausage about to burst out of its waxy looking casing.

Both of us have gained weight. Both of us are little women. Like five feet tall.

We hop into my car, try to get situated so we can belt ourselves in and be on our merry way.

Well, there we were. Twisting, turning and almost grunting trying to get comfortable. Picture, if you will, worm larvae. The puffy jackets don’t help.

We came to this stunning conclusion.

Having extra pounds is just downright uncomfortable.

That is really what it comes down to, isn’t it?

I am uncomfortable.

Not body shaming myself or anyone else. I don’t think we should all look like anorexic models. I don’t want to go on crazy diets. Just want to be at the normal, healthy weight I’m supposed to be.

I’m not comfortable in my clothes because they no longer fit properly. I have clothes I cannot wear. I’m not comfortable passing a mirror (clad or not), catching a glimpse and gasping out loud, “Good God!” I’m not comfortable looking at photographs that show the obvious gain.

A lot of people who are overweight are uncomfortable.

In bathing suits. Shopping for clothes. Always leaning toward the stretchy pants. Self conscious.

I recently saw a posting on a page for a reunion at my high school.

A woman said she ran into another gal (did not name her) and asked if she was going to attend the reunion.

The reply was, “No, not looking like this.”

The woman had gained a lot of weight since high school. So she was going to miss this fabulous opportunity to meet with old friends.

Because she was uncomfortable with herself.

I felt really bad when I read that. I think she absolutely should have gone to the reunion. No one cares about her weight gain.

But I understood how she felt.

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. Except for pregnancies.

Never really bounced up and down with weight but in later years I always picked up a few extra pounds on summer home visits. Usually I dropped those within the first two weeks of my return. Getting busy and back to a routine. Shed the suckers without blinking an eye.

This past summer was no different. There was the usual flurry of activity that happens. Graduation party, birthday parties and nights out at restaurants. Eating all of my favorite foods. The veal parms and the fried clams. Steamers dripping with butter and Casserta’s Pizza. Four road trips with food on the fly.

So I picked up the usual few pounds.

When we returned back home, after seeing the kid off to university, I figured I would drop the additional weight.

It didn’t happen this time.

I returned to a different house and country with no set or usual routine. I had an empty nest. Husband working all day. I didn’t know anyone.

Days and weeks passed. I didn’t lose a pound.

Then on November 6th I quit smoking.

Went home for the Christmas holidays. I don’t know a soul who actually loses weight during that time. I was no exception.

So, what to do?

I figure if I can quit smoking I can do anything.

Have to give a shout out to my brother. He inspired me in a few different ways over the holidays.

So when I arrived back home from the airport on February 7th I hopped on the scale. Hopped right off and documented that number which was at an all time high. It’s probably not even the real number. I call it the air travel weight. Lots of bread and junk.

But I documented it just the same.

I used the Fitbit app on my phone. Like I used an app for smoking cessation.

It’s me that is going to do the hard work but I like to see graphs, progress and encouraging messages.

It comes down to this. It’s all about what I eat. And how much.

I do walk at least an hour a day. But that is because I want to be outside and doing something.

My point is that even if I never left the house or lifted a finger I should be able to lose weight. By being aware of every morsel that I eat.

It can be frustrating. Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason to a gain, loss or plateau during the process.

But today when I stepped on the scale it was a solid ten pound (and a few ounces) loss. Finally the scales have tipped in my favor. I have fifteen more to lose.

Some of you reading this might also be feeling a bit uncomfortable.

You can find comfort.

And you can start today.

Hop on the scale. Write down that number. Get a Fitbit. Set a goal. Challenge a friend. Track your progress. Reward yourself. Document everything that goes into your mouth.

You will absolutely get results.

That’s all there is to it.

You can do this.

Be comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Telling

Everyone loves a good story. I swear that people would give up food and drink to hear a good story.

Okay, maybe just me. But I totally would. I swear.

I LOVE a good story.

Just recently (over the summer holidays) at my cousin’s place, the Irish Social Club, we were told a story that had us on the edge of our seats. It included the East Side, a local restaurant, boxing, an angry young man and a finish with the Boston Marathon.

Jeepers. Okay, there’s that.

Then a more distant memory.

Mazing through the Christian section of Damascus and seeing a big man in a cafe regaling the tea/coffee crowd with old stories. I wished I could understand the Arabic language!

Not long ago.

When my daughter was in the Bay area during her college years, I had sent a birthday gift and list of different things to do in San Francisco. She checked off most on my list but was not able to attend the story telling venue “Fireside.”

Don’t get attached. It’s already a thing of the past. 😦

Here is where I diverge. Still relating to story telling.

I was watching/listening to a story on “The Moth.”

The Moth. It’s a cool thing.

Okay, it was a story about a middle aged woman so I could sort of identify with her. Listened to the podcast, filed away the story for another time and called it a day.

My girlfriend, Mary Ann, works at a book store in an unnamed state. Apparently book stores get loads of books that they cannot sell. For pre-read or not fully/properly edited.

Anyway, she gave me a bunch of free books. Because she’s my friend.

I’m looking at the titles and an author name sounds familiar. Like the same person that was telling a story on “The Moth.”

I google the situation. Yes, it’s her. She is an entertainer (home entertainment), author of a gazillion books, has a billion offspring and also farm animals.

Oh wait, the site directs you to her Amazon store. Because if you followed her blog, book club or page and were the least bit interested in any of her stuff you can buy it and be like her.

Where am I going with this?

Don’t fall for the Martha Stewart nonsense.

She’s written a lot of books. It takes me forever to write a single blog posting. And I don’t even have chickens. Don’t have kids at home. I’m not slow. I’m not quick, I’ll grant you that, but I’m not trailing behind.

Continued message to you. It’s not as easy as one would have you think. I’m not saying the world is full of imposters. I’m just saying take it easy on yourself when comparing with others.

My message to the author. I’m not sure if you have a little help with your writing but please don’t raise the bar too high for the rest of us. Thrilled that you are a go getter. Love that you have an on line store and animals but don’t present an image of “doing it with ease” to the every day woman. Because it’s not easy for many.