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Common Grackle: Photography Challenge Day 53

Grackle in the bushes

Today’s photograph is of the common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula), that I spotted sitting in a bush close to the waters of Boomer Lake.

The grackle is a large blackbird that does appear black from afar, but once you get closer to them—the males have glossy purple heads, and their bodies have an iridescent look to them. They also have bright golden eyes as well.

These birds typically nest in small colonies, and even when they’re foraging/feeding they’re usually in small groups. They are omnivorous—feeding on insects, spiders, minnows, berries, grains, and acorns (just to name a few things). Plus they will eat at feeders—though they typically prefer feeding on the ground compared to sitting on the feeder (though I’ve seen quite a few of them hanging from our small suet feeder in the backyard).

They typically raise four or five young (the female incubates the eggs), and then both parents handing the feeding (which is primarily insects). The young grackles leave the nest usually a little over two weeks after hatching.

Grackles are found basically east of the Rocky Mountains, and within that range there are the areas that they can be found year round, and then the areas that they are only seen during the summer/fall (or breeding seasons). For those that might migrate during the year (breeding in the northern parts of the US & into Canada), they probably winter down in Texas and then potentially intermingle with local groups of grackles in other states (so we might have migratory grackles coming through, but wouldn’t notice since we also have grackles that live here year round).

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Shortish Post–Photography Challenge Day 12: It’s still icy around the pond.

Well we got above freezing today, and we’ll be above freezing for awhile tomorrow before the next winter storm comes through. So while I was out in the yard filling up the bird feeders for the birds, squirrels, raccoons, and any other animal that wants to eat some sun flower seeds I’d noticed that there was still ice around parts of the pond.

It’s an ice snail.

What I find so cool about the ice, is that I’m pretty sure in the middle of those two ice cones are just little twigs, or possibly the stems of a some weeds that were growing at the edge of the pond last fall.

It’s been an yo-yo winter in terms of the temperature differences (we’ve had some nice days, followed by some really cold days), but luckily all the winter weather that has hit usually disappears within a couple of days. It will be interesting with next storm coming through to see how quickly it moves through, how much precipitation falls, and how long it stays around.

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Day 2 and 3 of Photography Challenge

Pancakes looking down from her perch

Well since there were issues with connecting to the wifi last night and being able to add in a new post–today there will be two for the entry of one in the photography challenge.

The picture selected for yesterday is another one of Pancakes. Unlike the other two cats who will sit lower towards everyone, if Pancake is isn’t on someone’s lap or curled up under a blanket–she is watching everything from the “top” of her world.

When we lived out in Boston, I actually have pictures of her sitting on top of a large box that I had kept (I had numerous other boxes in it), and covered with a blanket. There were several nights when she would just sit up there and watch both me and the dog, before jumping down to sleep on the bed.

Whenever we do move, I have the old cat condo to take with (hopefully it will stand in the new apartment), so that she can still sit at the top of the world.

The pond froze a little bit last night and today.

The picture selected for today, is one of the outside pond that we have. So a polar vortex has been pushing its way south and east over the past few days. Luckily, we are far enough south and west, that we got chilly temperatures (today we were about 34 degrees, and last night it was 17 feeling like 6)–but not the frigid temps that some of the other states are getting.

I’ve realized that with the job search it may very well lead me back to a state that actually gets a good amount of winter weather (i.e. the snow), and gets dark earlier than what I like. I’ve also realized that to grow as a scientist and an individual–it means change, and dealing with things that I don’t enjoy (cold, wet snow and the sun setting at earlier times)–those changes though can lead to other adventures. Right now that is one thing I can say for certain is needed–change. The form of that change–I’m not 100% certain, but I am certain that I really don’t want to be in the same place again come winter next year.

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My Current Mood (and short post)

So it does seem that the universe is giving me the hint that it will soon be time to close the door on this chapter of my life (at least professionally for now). My current position is up in about three and a half months (give or take a few days)–it’s scary to realize that Thanksgiving is that close; and no one can give me a solid answer on whether or not it will be extended. One song that has been going through my mind almost on constant replay has been “Maybe” by Sick Puppies. I first heard this song (and of the group) when I was out in Boston; and right now it seems to almost be becoming my theme song. So here’s their video via youtube.

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Photography Challenge Day 2 and a note

So I had decided that today’s post was going to be some type of quote. The only problem was that I couldn’t decided on either the type of quote or the quote that I wanted to use. I have several different sets of cards that have quotes on them, so you wouldn’t think that there would be a problem. Well tonight there was–I just couldn’t find one that totally fit my mood. So instead I took a picture of the tank top that I wore today, because that quote on it totally fits both my current mood, and just how I am in general.

Now this isn’t going to be a post bashing on religion–I have plenty of friends who are religious and as long as we don’t really talk about religion we’re fine. The reason is this: I don’t believe in organized religion, especially the western ones. As far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t be that difficult to realize that killing someone is bad, stealing things are bad, and so forth. I mean if you have to be told how to behave, and then threatened with “hell” to behave–then I think you should be talking with a psychologist.

My point is this–being kind to each other can be both easy and hard. There are people that we always get along with, and then there are the people that we get along with some of the time, and then there are the people that we can’t stand but put with for a variety of reasons. Everyone has their own paths to walk, and not every path is an easy path but we shouldn’t be making each other’s paths harder if we can avoid it. I know that there are people that I have to deal with that I don’t get along with for a variety of reasons–I always try to remain polite and professional.

With the way the world is going these days, lets all try to be a little nicer to each other–that can be as simple as saying good morning when your co-workers show up (or wishing them a good evening when you’re leaving); and then being polite and holding the door for the person behind you, or giving directions to someone who is new to the area. Let’s try to spread a little more light and happiness in the world and drive out the hate and fear.


Also while today is national watermelon day–I think that post is going to be getting published sometime this weekend, as I’m being a total geek and adding in a little more science to my article (which means reading and summarizing a couple of research papers).

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The female mallard came by for some seed

Well most of the afternoon was again spent sitting outside in the backyard enjoying the slight breeze that coming through the yard and noticing that numerous butterflies were starting to come through the yard. Then someone noticed that there was a duck on the side of the house by the bird feeder. It turns out that the female mallard came by for some of the bird seed that was on the ground.

      Waterfowl came back

It was slightly unusual in that the male wasn’t with the female, but he could have been back at the nest guarding the eggs (or chicks if they’ve hatched), giving momma mallard some time away from the nest (since it is mothers day you know).

Considering our close proximity to Boomer Lake, it isn’t all that surprising that when there is water in the creek, at least one pair of mallards come by for grazing on the bird seeds.

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Friday Photography Post—probably a day late (shortish post)

Well it’s looking like today’s photography challenge is going to be getting posted tomorrow. The pictures were rather larger and my phone isn’t happy trying to email them to myself (I know that I could plug the phone into the computer & download them–but that becomes even a bigger pain of trying to locate them in iPhotos library for uploading).

The weekend is going to be spent trying to get a lot of personal & professional development things taken care of, plus the usual yard and house work. I’m hoping that I can get back on track with certain things and get the anxiety under control and start moving forward with the transition plan. It has been helping to see the vision board every time that I turn on my computer, and that has been helping me move (even in baby steps) forward, when I would really like to curl up in a ball at times and forget that the world exists.

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Aries New Moon Goals

So today marks the presence of the new moon, and the fact that we’re halfway through the month of April. So in a way it’s fitting that the new moon is in Aries (as Aries is the zodiac sign for those born between March 21st and April 19th). So with the moon going through Aries, there are quite a few things that are going on during this time period. There isn’t a review of last month’s new moon goals (since I was sick and forgot to make them).


For starters—it can be considered a time of starting over (since Aries is the first zodiac sign, and therefore this can also be considered “the start of a new year”). Therefore this is the time for more planning, but is also a time for making an action plan based on the earlier planning.


So things to do during this period: Make a 12-month plan (I already had this on my weekly schedule of things to do, but will move it up in the week). My 12-month plan will probably be a blend of both electronic documentation and actually writing out on paper with a pen.

Step outside my comfort zone (in terms of networking and trying to figure out what the next job will be). I should also try to step outside my comfort zone in terms of trying to figure out how to get back into workout routine, but I’m not a social workout person–so I’ll probably stick with just doing my workouts via beachbody, and meeting friends for walking around Boomer Lake.

Have some fun—try to take the dog for an evening walk, work on crafts, and just unplug from social media and the world every once in awhile.

Focus on myself (what I need, where I’m going and so forth)—this could be the time when I should try to go and get my haircut, donate some clothes, and so forth.

So that’s just focusing the fact that the new moon is in Aries. When I look to see what house it is in—it’s in my 6th house (or my daily work and health zone). This means that for the next two weeks I need to focus on both my daily work and health routines.

This is an area that I definitely need to work on (namely making sure that I’m getting my workout in daily—I’ve been falling into the habit of just saying that I’ve walked for 30 or 40 minutes a day and have called it good). I know what I need to do (workout out daily and start getting my nutrition back under control), though right now my main enemy isn’t total laziness, but a combination of stress, anxiety, with a touch of laziness (or more specifically tiredness).

So, I know this has been a rambling post on everything that one should be focusing on during the Aries New Moon—therefore I’ll end it with my goals for the next two weeks:

1) Workout daily (Continue doing Yoga Booty Ballet, via BeachbodyOnDemand)

2) Make my new overall 12-month plan (plus the 12-month plan for each subcategory; then start monthly/weekly/daily breakdown to get to those 12-month goals).

3) Get my nutrition back under control (only buy an occasional fruit cup at work for a snack)

4) Have some fun—take the dogs for an evening walk, or continue working on my afghan (unplug from social media and the news).

Hopefully by sitting down and starting a new overall 12-month plan (with then new breakdowns), I can hopefully get the anxiety and stress under control and be more willing and able to step outside my comfort zone to determine exactly who it is I’m meant to be.

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Trying to find a routine yet again….

Well I realized that next week will have to mark the second restart of my photography challenge (or maybe tomorrow), as I didn’t post a picture (or anything) the past couple of days. I guess I’m still slowly recovering from having the flu still.

One thing that I have to do this weekend, is start up the second volume of my bullet journal (which I have now gone two and half weeks of not doing since coming down with the flu). I do better when I know that there are things to check off, and I have some idea of how my week is suppose to progress. I will be getting better at nutrition now–I went and did the free wellness checkup today (mainly to get the numbers and to make sure that everything was still within the normal range). Good news is that everything is still within the normal range, the bad news is that its closer to the almost trouble range as well.

I know for a fact that my nutrition has been off point more than on point for the past couple of years. Having my shakeology daily (or even weekly), and a mini workout doesn’t balance the amount of processed foods I’ve been eating. I think that it is time for me to go back to trying to have salads for lunch (with a vinaigrette dressing) or something that doesn’t have a lot of processed carbs (i.e. no bread or wraps), and making a protein shake for dinner whenever that meal is more processed than I prefer. Getting the nutrition under control will allow me to lose the weight, even when I stick to low impact cardio.

Getting the wellness checkup was the little push I need–the numbers are still good, but they’ve crept in the wrong direction (towards the real trouble zones), and if I don’t want to have to take medication for them later, I need to get the situation under control now. I’ve also realized that when the sweet tooth comes zooming out–there are times when I’m good at controlling it, and other times when I give in to it (this afternoon is an example of that).

So I’ve managed to start the bullet/to-do list/everyday journal yesterday. Hopefully I will be getting back into some healthy habits if I can color a box to say that it’s been done. I’ve also realized that with trying to find a new job, I will in theory be juggling almost three full time jobs (since I’ve been told that networking and job searching should almost be treated like full time jobs on top of the already full time job that I have). So yeah I think the alarm clock is going to have to be set for the weekends so that I can get some stuff accomplished instead of just sitting on my rear all day long.

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Virgo Full Moon: Photography Challenge Day 62

Finally managed to get a picture of the full moon late last night. The moon is traveling through the Virgo constellation right now.

The Virgo Full Moon

So to do things a little different, I thought I’d give some interesting facts about both the constellation Virgo and the Virgo zodiac sign.

Some fun facts about both the Virgo constellation and the Virgo zodiac sign:

The Virgo constellation is the largest of the Zodiac constellations, and is the second largest constellation behind Hydra.
There are numerous different stars, exoplanets and other deep sky objects that make up the constellation, including:
Spica, which is the brightest star of the constellation. This star luckily is about 260 light years away from Earth, but is 2300 times brighter than the sun (which is why is can be seen so well).
Then the other bright stars (in order of decreasing brightness) within the constellation include: Porrima and Arich, Vindemiatrix, and Heze.
There are eleven deep space objects within the constellation and then numerous exoplanets as well including the first ones to ever be found to rotate around pulsar stars.
(information gained from:

Within Greek mythology, the constellation is linked to the following individuals: Dike, the goddess of justice, and Persephone.

As for the Zodiac sign, Virgo is the 6th sign of the Zodiac (going from August 23 to September 22), and:

1) Rules over the house of routine. Basically this the representation of your daily habits, and everything that goes along with it.
2) Is associated with earth (one of the four elements).
As an earth sign, Virgo is observant & practical focusing on the world around them.
3) Is associated with the planet Mercury.
This allows for Virgos to narrow down the useful information, getting rid of the fluff, and also come up with different ideas.
4) The symbol associated with Virgo is the virgin. This sign is the balancing part to the analytical mind set of the Virgo.
5) Who’s tarot card is the Hermit. The Hermit challenges one to “find comfort in solitude, and to use quiet time alone to absorb the answers we need”.
6) Who’s quality is mutable. This means they are a little more flexible than others.
7) Who’s favorite colors are probably either green and/or brown.

(information gained from:

I think I’m going to be looking a little more deeply into both my Virgo traits (since its my Star Sign), my Scorpio traits (since its my Rising Sign), my Cusp of Beauty traits (since my birthday falls within the range of transition between Virgo and Libra), and my Aquarius traits (since this is my Moon Sign).

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