Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Zen thoughts with bunnies

The master in the art of living
Makes little distinction between his work and his play,
His labor and his leisure,
His mind and his body,
His education and his recreation,
His love and his religion.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply persues his vision of excellence in whatever he does,
Leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.
To him he is always doing both.
--Zen Buddhist Text

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Things unseen

I've no idea how far I walked in the fog today, but long enough that by the time I was back at the parking lot my hair fell wet in ringlets, sticky with salt. The fog had obliterated any landmarks along the beach and it was only my vague sense that hours had passed that caused me to turn back. This was no sunny, invigorating winter beach; it felt neither wide nor expansive. There was no winking promise of spring in the air, either. White-bellied gulls appeared out of the nothingness ahead and the only sound was that of the waves churning the sand.

The edges of things: the shoreline and the horizon were all so soft with the fog that my camera mostly refused to focus. It was pleasant to imagine nothing beyond the couple hundred feet I was able to see ahead of me. Out of the salty haze I finally spotted what I'd come looking for; back for a week or two, a lone piping plover fed along the wrack line at the very limits of my imagination. The harder I tried to see it, the faster it ran and blended into nothingness.

Poof! Gone.

A couple hundred steps ahead and I'd spot it again for an instant, this time running crosswise to me in the dry sand, blending into a driftwood and clam shell background. In and out of my awareness, I think it must have accompanied me quite far, just out of clear view, a bit of fog drifted sand on still winter-black legs. These birds are hard to spot on a clear day even when they're running; their markings blend so expertly with drift sticks and sand. I like to meet them for the year on this type of day, for whatever reason, when the hot sun and crowds of a June day seem an impossibility.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stumped (again)

I need a name... can anyone help?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Line 73a

Amount of line 72 you want refunded to you.

Are they kidding???


Nevermind... I don't want that money back. You just keep it.

Anything about this yearly ritual that makes you howl with laughter?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday reflected

Early spring at the boardwalk, Asbury Park

It was vaguely above freezing today so I wandered to the boardwalk to see what I could see and found this, much to my delight! Another reflection shot; this one from the window of an art gallery that's new to the boardwalk. It's a crazy juxtaposition, I know, but the ocean and boardwalk benches (and a trash can!) are there reflected among a photo montage of some familiar icons... the casino, the carousel and the convention center where Bruce has been practising the last couple nights.

Monday, March 23, 2009


"It is a most beautiful spectacle although often difficult for us to observe. After catching a fish, the male gains height as he returns to the nesting area and while still several kilometres away he starts his display. To me the display call is very distinctive; it's a high-pitched 'pee-pee-pee-pee...pee' and if I search the skies I will see him soaring majestically, maybe a thousand feet above, as he moves in sweeping circles closer and closer to the nesting site. He climbs several hundred feet upwards with rapidly beating wings, then hovering briefly, with fanned tail, he performs a breathtaking dive showing the fish grasped in outstretched talons. He pulls out of the dive and powers sky-wards to repeat the performance. All the time his calling can be heard by his mate and finally his last stoop takes him in a long power dive right to the eyrie, where the fish is presented to his mate."

(Ospreys, by Roy Dennis, Colin Baxter Photography Ltd, 1991, p13)

There's no sweeter sound in late March than an amorous Osprey, save perhaps, the lonely peeplo calls of Piping Plovers. To those of us who love the shore and its birds and who miss them for the months of their absence, both are enough to bring tears to our eyes.

There was a bit of female rivalry taking place at this northernmost nest on Sandy Hook yesterday. A female interloper repeatedly interrupted the male's courtship flight... whether to steal the fish he meant to present to his mate below or perhaps to steal him away from her.


Click on the pic for a slightly more satisying view. Can anyone name the channel marker thingy for me?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tell me what you really think

Hm. In the last week at work, I've been told the following:

"That is none of your business and you really need to learn your place."


"I feel really sorry for you that you hate being a social worker so much that you have to be so rude. You should find a new profession. In fact, I'll suggest that to your supervisor, too."


"Your caseload must be really high that it takes you a whole day to return my phone call. Maybe you need an assistant."

That last one, finally, hits the truth.

I do need an assistant to return ridiculous phone calls for me, soothe the nerves of needy clients and do all the godforsaken paperwork that justifies my seat at this desk. All that crap handled by someone else and out of my way, I'll have plenty of time to:

Tell them only what they want to hear


Do all the stuff they seem to think is my responsibility, rather than doing a thing for themselves.

Heaven forbid!

I've been at this far too long to be as surprised as I am by the hostility flung my way on a daily basis. I guess I'm just surprised that I'm surprised anymore.

Is it Friday yet?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bad bird photo of the week

Count the purple sandpipers!

Careful... they do blend in well with their surroundings. I'm always amazed with their nonchalance as they hunt for food where the rough sea crashes against the rocks. Some even seem to be napping!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Octopus lady

Every once in a while I make an excuse to visit the octopus lady that's down in the old Casino on the boardwalk in Asbury Park; yesterday afternoon I went over with the intention of photographing some of the other public art that's on display while the building is being revamped, but my lens was drawn to her, again.

There's something about this mural that feels very out of place there and yet very right for being surrounded by a building that's falling apart all around her. It amuses me to watch the contrast of yuppy joggers and local bums strolling beneath her coquettish glance, seemingly unaware of the change to the city she might portend.

Some more pics from the Casino are in
this post.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jetty treats

I met MevetS (fellow NJ Audubon volunteer) and his photography group this morning at Barnegat Light. Aside from some equipment envy on my part, it didn't feel much different than any other bird walk.

Bird geeks.

Camera geek


Not much difference, huh?

Other than the lighthouse, the main draw at Barnegat Light is the sea ducks. The problem is the birds like to hang out way at the end of this jetty along the inlet. Scary stuff! If you haven't already seen the link at Patrick's blog, have a look at this story of a local birder who recently fell and was trapped out there in his quest for pics of the eiders that frequent the inlet.

Most people walk the jetty like it's nothing, but I'm normally a trembling mess. I was ready to refuse outright today and walk along the sand, but went ahead anyway and found it okay. Maybe cause the rocks were dry and it wasn't freezing cold. The birds make the walk worth it... nestled among the rocks are pretty harlequins and the inlet offered close looks at common loons in breeding plumage and courting oldsquaw.

Way out at the very tip, the jetty boulders were squirming with purple sandpipers... little dark birds that I like nearly as much as sanderlings.

Have a look at Steve's pics from today... wow. (Camera envy.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beyond to spring

I met the moveable feast of Spring a bit ahead of schedule; found it spread with sun among the mountains and laughed at my urge to escape the last bitter days of a too long winter.

Where shade lies deep in hilly woodlands, trilliums were hurried to bloom in the unseasonable heat of an early March day.

Patches of bluets frosted the early green of grass at our feet and tempted the eye of passing butterflies.

Among the leaf mold on rocky hillsides we found hepatica blooming and the promise of dogtooth violets in the dampness alongside the river.

Lush ferns and mosses trailside hinted at the beauty that'll come later when the mountain laurel and rhododendron bloom above them.

With any luck, I'll find these same beauties closer to home in a couple weeks, with the same wonder and hope in my heart, reaching still for something beyond.

Spring... have you wandered to find it yet?


Thursday, March 12, 2009

On notice

Everyone (!) at my job was officially notified today that for reasons of economy and efficiency we are subject to layoff effective May 1, 2009.


The fact is that within our agency (Planning and Resources, Social Services, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Office on Aging, Office on Disabilities, and Veteran's Internment) ten positions are being abolished. Ten people (some of whom are my friends! and have worked there for 20+ years!) received individual notices of layoff today. We all received a general notice of layoff or demotion because of the kooky way that civil service works...

If someone has what's called displacement or *bumping* rights, they can exercise that right against another employee's position in order to remain employed. The *bumped* employee may also have displacement rights and cause the layoff or demotion of another employee in a lateral or demotional position. Sort of a domino effect from top to bottom.

So while my position or that of anyone else in my unit isn't in jeopardy, there's the chance that any of us could be bumped into a lesser position (if we're lucky) or bumped right out the door if there isn't some other unfortunate soul with less seniority.

Makes for great morale and a pleasant work environment, really.

Image lifted from

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A box of goodies

The magic of a good teacher-naturalist lies in live props, I think.

Tonight was the children's program at our monthly Audubon meeting and this guy had the kids enthralled with his box of tricks... tree frogs and turtles and the hugest boa constrictor I've ever seen.

Every kid had the chance to (gently) touch each animal and that goes a long way to keeping their attention, of course. I wish that our chapter did more outreach to kids in the community to get them interested in nature, but this program for kids once a year is the best we can manage, usually.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Zen thoughts with bunnies

We all need a safe haven; for Boomer it's the pooty box or this sunny spot beneath the desk where he naps, a place that provides a little love, peace, and a feeling of protection.

What's your safe haven?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Snow crazy

Like snow-crazed dogs everywhere, Luka considered all that white fluffy stuff as a grand excuse to play!

While I was busy digging my car out... he busied himself with uncovering his basketball. He liked for me to toss the ball into a fresh patch so that he could plunge his whole head under the snow and push the ball along with his nose like a seal.

It took hours to shovel enough of the driveway to get my car out... mostly because Luka insisted on playing fetch the whole time! (Fetch is mainly about throwing the ball for him and then wrestling him to the ground to get it back.)

He made the chore fun at least... sometimes I think if it weren't for him I'd hardly have an excuse to play anymore. With Luka, I can roll around in the snow like a kid and get away with it.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Robin invasion

We had near to a foot of snow finally; it blew into great drifts that swallowed Luka whole. The neighbor's catalpa served as a staging area for the robins and cedar waxwings waiting for a turn to drink from our little fishpond. The deep end is free of ice thanks to a bubbler constantly churning the surface, the shallows a tea-colored slush from the oak leaves accumulated under the thin ice.

The holly tree out front kept a small army of robins fed today, their plump bodies colored for spring. I want to feel sorry for them out there in the cold and snow, but they seem content enough, even if they don't look it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009