On things I probably didn’t see

A couple of days ago, I looked out the window in my kitchen at exactly the right time to see a bald eagle briefly perch in a tree in my back yard and then fly away again. It was there exactly long enough for me to register the brown body, the white head, and the yellow beak, and long enough to process the fact that if it was some sort of crow with a skin condition it was also the largest corvid I had ever seen by a multiple of two or three, but not long enough for me to get my phone out of my pocket and get even a blurry picture. I’ll be honest; I didn’t believe my eyes.

A few minutes of research later, I discovered that not only are there known bald eagle nests in St. Joseph County, one of the more recently discovered ones is within a few miles of my house. So … yeah. It’s actually more plausible, given where I live, that I saw an actual bald eagle in my back yard than that it was some sort of mutant crow or cosplaying hawk. I mean, it was fast, but it wasn’t that fast. They’re kind of distinctive-looking animals.

This is the place where the post takes a little bit of a turn, so brace yourself, but: as of right now we’re three days away from the two-year anniversary of my mom’s death, and … well. I’ve actually texted her number once since she died, complete with an apology if someone else had the number. It either hasn’t been reassigned or they were nice enough to not respond to me.

It has been a long time since I wanted to talk to my mom as much as I did during that moment. Mom loved birds; she’d have been over here in a flash, and she’d have camped out on my back porch, winter weather be damned, until she saw the damn eagle herself. If I were a more spiritual person, I’d construct some sort of metaphor here abut her watching over us through the bird. I don’t have it in me to allow myself that sort of comfort, unfortunately.

But damn, I wish I had a way to tell her about it.

In which that’s enough, thanks

It’s not necessary to point out to me that there are parts of the country that have it far, far worse than northern Indiana does right now, and I’ve already done the “go to a hotel for a night because it’s freezing outside and the power is out” thing this year, so believe me, I get it. And the snow is drifty and powdery, and that’s the deepest part of the driveway, and a foot away there might have been 6″ of snow and a foot away from that it might have been back up to 15″. I figure the average depth of the driveway was around a foot of snow or so, maybe a bit more. The last time I had to clear the driveway there was only six or seven inches of the stuff but it was incredibly dense and wet, and that was a far more exhausting job than this was.

It sucked anyway.

We had a snow day today, such as it is; I found out halfway through 3rd hour that apparently on “snow days” I’m not expected to actually do Meets with my students. I shrugged and did the rest of them anyway. Tomorrow is Wednesday, which is supposed to be asynchronous (ie, no Meets) so that we can attend meetings and go to trainings; there have been no trainings remotely relevant to Math teachers for about two months and I cancelled the 8th grade team meeting because we’ve really only had two days of school since the last one. Combine that with the fact that I got caught up on my grading yesterday and my day is rather startlingly open, which I would normally regard as a good thing but I am definitely casting a wary glance at anyway at the moment.

This happened today, too, right outside my office window and conveniently in between classes:

I got another video of him that was closer, but this also lets you see some of the crows that were flying around (and making enough noise that they were the reason I looked around the window in the first place;) there were at least a dozen of them that I could see, and the hawk gave not one thin damn what they were doing. I wasn’t able to get a good look at what he was eating; it occurs to me that there are probably remains under the tree but I’m not going out there to look right now. I *think* this is the second time I’ve spotted this dude in my yard and I still haven’t been able to get a clear look at him– the first time he was chilling in a bush while I was taking the garbage out but he flew away before I could get a good picture. If he comes back a third time, I’m naming him.

(It occurs to me that I don’t really know where all the toads go during wintertime, so he might be eating a Deathwish. Best bet given that it was broad daylight is probably a ground squirrel or a chipmunk, but who the hell knows.)

Stay warm, y’all.

In which let’s go to bed and start over

Lots of overgrowth, plus a goddamn tree fell down onto our fence.

Nothing today has gone quite right, y’all. My wife and I went out to clear some overgrowth along our back fence (a task that has to be done every year, at least, and which we do every two years, at most) this morning and I managed to whip myself in the eye with a tree branch somehow. Damn thing went perfectly under my glasses. Do we own safety glasses? Yes, we do, and my wife is an honest-to-God safety professional. Was I wearing them? Hell no, they get foggy and my glasses were supposed to be enough.

Hah. Dumbass.

It doesn’t hurt anymore but there is a visible scrape on the white of my eye and I spent a good several hours this morning and afternoon with the deeply weird feeling that I couldn’t see out of that eye when, in fact, I could. I don’t recommend that. People on Twitter were literally telling me to go to the ER. It was alarming.

Yes, I hurt myself, and then told Twitter about it and didn’t go see a doctor. Shut up.

Also our chainsaw is electrical and my wife managed to nearly cut the power cord in half at one point. It is possible that we shouldn’t be trusted around power tools any longer.

We tried to go to the zoo, but it was The First Nice Saturday of the Year, and holy shit was the zoo crowded. Like, “can’t get into the parking lot, the line to get in the door is a block long, don’t even bother looking for a parking spot” bad. So instead we ended up at the 4-H Fair’s Ag Days thing. The boy may officially be too old for this; I’m not sure. I was still weirded out by the whole eye thing and it’s possible that I wasn’t in a properly receptive mood to be surrounded by obese white Republicans with shitty tattoos.

My GOD, the shitty tattoos you see at Ag Days. Lord, y’all. I’m not usually the type to stealth photos of people in public to make fun of them on social media, but Ag Days makes that difficult.

Anyway. Cows, pigs, bunnies, alpacas. Never trust an alpaca. They’re all assholes, every last one of them. He didn’t really want to pet anything this year and was more interested in crawling around on the farm machinery that was scattered around. I took great pleasure in preventing him from crawling into the cargo end of a manure spreader by telling him what it was. Y’know. Family stuff.

Point is, today really hasn’t quite gone like I wanted it to, and I started a book on Monday or so that I’ve been saving for Spring Break because it’s long and I knew it was gonna be a tough read, and I finally gave up on it and put it down today because it’s just bad, and … bleh. I need to go to bed early tonight and find a way to do something fun with my last day of spring break, because I know my tendency is going to be to spend all day tomorrow in a bad mood and I don’t want to inflict that on my family.

So. Yeah.

Okay I like this one

I’ve been kinda lethargic and sick-ish all day, and had actually been in bed for about an hour and a half before dragging myself out to draw a picture.  I’d previously figured oh to hell with it I’ll do two tomorrow and then got up anyway.  This happened; I like it enough to share it:

IMG_6766

Important fact: everything I’ve drawn so far has had a reference to it, either a .jpg I Googled somewhere or a photo reference or a still life object on my desk or something.  I actually grabbed this from a coloring book website.  I’ll let you know when I start doing genuinely original stuff.  🙂

(Also: added an “Art” category, the first new category I’ve added to the blog in years.)

Three quick anecdotes

dd7065d25a40c3ebc3df5c394d80aab9.jpgNone of these are really worth posts on their own– well, one, maybe– but I wanna record them, so here you go.


Driving home from dropping the boy off at school one day last week, a bird happens to catch my eye at a traffic light.  It’s probably a blackbird, but it’s a bit too far away for me to be sure– crow-shaped, and black, but too small to be a crow unless it’s a juvenile.  So, sure.  Blackbird.  As I’m watching it, it abruptly does a tight 270° turn and heads straight down to the ground, wings out.  I think at first that either the bird has been shot and what looked like a turn was actually a tumble or I’ve literally just seen this bird die in midair— which has to happen to birds sometime, right?  Surely once in a while a bird just has a stroke or a heart attack or something?

At any rate, it pulls up right before it hits the ground and lands and then I lose track of it. If it had dove down at an angle, I’d not have said anything about it and just assumed it was going after a mouse or something, but 1) it looked way too small to be a bird of prey and 2) I have never seen a bird fly straight down before.  It was weird as hell.


I’m at work, and I notice a spider perhaps two feet above my eye level and maybe three feet off to my right.  The building I work in has very high ceilings, and my first thought is where the hell is his web attached, because if he’s coming down a string of silk it’s gotta be thirty or forty feet long by now.  Then I notice that he’s coming straight toward me, which is not something I’d expect a spider coming down a strand of silk to do.  He’s a tiny spider, and I’m not frightened of them, so this provokes fascination rather than oh god kill it fear.  As he gets closer, I realize that he’s not attached to anything and he’s not acting like he’s climbing a web– he’s got his legs curled up underneath him, in fact.  The damn thing is floating.  I even wave my hand above him to check, and the breeze from my hand stirs him a bit but I clearly don’t break any strands of web.  I try to film him but he’s too small for the resolution on my phone to handle.  I watch him drift onto a sofa and crawl away.


Yesterday, first customer of the day.  He waves me off at first, saying he’s only looking, which is just fine.  I tell him everything in the store is on sale (which is true, and is useful information, I figure) and that the way our current deal works is “spend more, save more.”

He looks dead at me and says “You mean Jew more, save more?”

It takes me a second to process yeah that’s what the fuck he said.

“No,” I reply, shifting into my Teacher Voice.  “I said spend more, save more.”  And then I walk away and let my manager know that this fucker will be receiving no help from me whatsoever while he’s in the store and that if he speaks to me again we’re all lucky if the only thing I do is refer him to another salesperson.

The man and his wife circle the sales floor and leave without speaking to or being spoken to by anyone else.  I spend the rest of my day with half of my brain proud of me for not losing my job by lighting this fucker up and the other half of my brain ashamed of me for not lighting the fucker up anyway.

I am, much later, trending toward the second option, for the record.  How the fuck are you so fucking comfortable with being a bigot that you’ll just say shit like that to random fucking strangers in public?  I shoulda thrown his ass out.