I spy with my little eye–crow poison in bloom.

So I noticed this wildflower blooming around the base of one of our crepe myrtle bushes.

False garlic, aka crows poison blooming in the yard

What was unique and interesting about the flowers–I didn’t plant them there. Some animal (whether it was mammal or avian) ate the seeds of the flowers somewhere else and used this area as their ‘bathroom’ at some point over the past few months.

So false garlic (also known as crow poison) is an early spring wildflower that is one of the first to appear in bloom, and depending on the summer weather may even flower again in the fall.

This is a wildflower that is native to a good chunk of United States (from Virginia to Oklahoma and upwards from Ohio to Nebraska; the only state in the ‘area’ that it isn’t found in is West Virginia), Mexico, and South America (Peru, Uruguay, and areas within Argentina and Chile). It has also been listed as a rare or threatened plant in two states (Indiana as crow poison, and within Ohio as false garlic).

While I didn’t plant the flowers around the bushes, it was a nice little pop of color this spring, when so many of the plants didn’t really flower that well (our peach bush was budding out in February when the killing freeze came through, that also took out our crepe myrtles–though at least one has growth near the base of the plant; the jury is still out on the other four).

Before these had flowered, my dad noticed others in the yard-but mowed them down thinking they were just weeds–little did we know that they would give beautiful white flowers. If more pop up this fall, I may try to ‘transplant’ them to anohter area, where we can appreciate the flowers and color better.

Reference: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=NOBI2

No Comments flowersnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Photography Winner: Turkey Vultures are back in the sky

So spring is here (more or less), and how can I tell?

Turkey Vulture in flight

The turkey vultures are back and soaring through the skies over Boomer Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Turkey vulture soaring over Boomer Lake

Turkey vultures are unique birds in Oklahoma–they are a year-round resident in the eastern half of the state, but are a migratory/summer bird for the central and western parts of the state.

I managed to get these pictures of one soaring over Boomer Lake earlier this month, but have also noticed them in the afternoon soaring over the neighborhood when I’m out in the backyard (and of course my camera is inside). Since they’re scavengers, they end up spending a lot of time looking/smelling for their next meal. I’m hoping that once the weather gets nice (and stays nice) I will be able to do weekly walks up at Boomer Lake, and maybe spot one sitting atop a dead tree again. Plus maybe be able to spot a young turkey vulture soaring in the sky as well (since they don’t really make nests, and they prefer to roost away from humans I doubt that I’d be able to get a picture of a young vulture near the home turf).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Photography Challenge Winner: female mallard in a tree

2021 seems to be the year of double takes in terms of photography.

There are just those pictures that make you take a double glance (or maybe pinch yourself) to make sure that you’re not dreaming of the shot.

Since the weather has been up and down in temperatures, the SARS-CoV2 virus is slowly getting under control, and things are slowly trying to return to normal, I haven’t been out and about with my camera as much as I have in previous years.

So far for 2021, my ‘double glance’ pictures have included the large crayfish in the creek; the yellow-bellied sapsucker on the small suet feeder; the black-crowned night heron perched over Boomer Lake, and then this female mallard.

Female mallard ‘in’ the tree

Getting a picture of a mallard (female or male) really isn’t that difficult at Boomer Lake–I think they’re probably the second most abundant waterfowl there after the Canada geese.

Female mallard ‘on’ the tree.

These pictures are unique in the fact that the female mallard was sitting on the trunk of the tree, quacking while her mate was on the ground either scanning the area for trouble, or every so often looking up at her (probably wondering ‘what the hell’…). I’m use to seeing great blue herons, egrets, and even cormorants sitting in trees, but this had been the first time I’d seen a duck that high off the ground.

She’s just surveying the area……

While I didn’t get that close to the tree (since I didn’t want to scare them off), I did manage to get several pictures of the female mallard on the tree, and she seemed quite happy to be at the ‘top of the world’ for a while. Luckily, I doubt that she was scooping it out as a nesting site, since all mallards prefer to make their nests on the ground, hidden, and fairly close to the water (easier for the ducklings to start following their mother into the water after hatching).

Female mallard, standing around and quaking.

One interesting little fact about mallards–if you hear one quacking, that is actually the female mallard; the sounds of the male mallards are more of a quiet rasping sound.

Hopefully I will be able to get back to my walks at Boomer Lake this summer and manage to get some pictures of the female with her young (as only the female mallard takes care of the young).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

The runaway crayfish–winner of the daily photography challenge

So the winner for the photography challenge today is the crayfish, and it is pulling double duty–a blog post and a photography page.

Crayfish moving around in the creek

I’d been meaning to write and publish the photography page for about a month now–ever since I managed to get the pictures back in March.

This was one of those double take sightings–you know when you see something that you know is ‘real’ but at the same time you mentally ask yourself: ‘did I really see that?’

I mean I thought that someone had thrown a lobster into the creek due to its size–and turned to google to make sure that crayfish in Oklahoma actually get to this size. I’m totally use to the small ones that are usually used as bait for fishing, and swim away from you if you get to close to them–this one probably would have stood its ground if I tried to pick it up.

I was lucky that the water was fairly clear and slow moving–usually when there is a decent amount of water in the creek it is murky and you can’t see anything.

Crayfish trucking along in the creek

But the water was ‘clear’ enough that I managed to track this guy for probably ten to fifteen minutes before I lost sight of it under a branch and some other debris.

I also know that I’m not going to be wandering through the creek bare-foot either (not that I’ve done that for years), cause I don’t want one of these biting my toes.

Do you prefer small or large crayfish?

No Comments natureoutdoorsPhotographyScience

Throwback Thursday Photography Edition: Two more ‘day-trip’ pages are up

So today’s post is pulling double duty again–entry into the photography challenge (#throwbackthursday) and announcing that there are two additional travel pages up.

‘Gloss Mountain’, western Oklahoma

So I’ve been slowly working on expanding the number of pages that I have under the current ‘tabs’ on the website. While I’ve been getting better at posting the bird pages, I’ve been lagging on updating the travel section.

My main reason for being slow–I haven’t done any ‘new’ traveling in a couple of years (since May 2018), and that means that everything currently can be consider ‘throw-back’, ‘flash-back’, or ‘way-back’ in terms of hashtags.

I will be adding in more pages, but most will have the disclaimer that it has been ‘X’ years since I’ve been to ‘Y’ so things might have changed over the years.

Over the past month, I have slowly added in two new travel pages from a couple of ‘day trips’ we had taken over the years. I would have to say that there are probably plenty of things to do in every state, depending on what you like to do. I like to be outdoors, but with others (safety in numbers), but if I’m exploring a new city–I’m happier on my own.

The ‘day trips’ were basically drives out to the western part of the state, and stopping at a couple of state parks.

One trip was a drive to Gloss Mountain State Park, where my dad and I did a little hiking. This is a small state park right off the highway, that has hiking paths and tables for picnics–no camping though. We went in the fall when the weather was a little cooler, and that meant there were less chances of crossing paths with any snakes.

If you drive north about an hour, you will end up at the Great Salt Plains State Park. We actually tried to combine these two day trips into a single trip, but found out that we had just missed the digging season for the salt crystals by a week.

Looking out onto the salt plains

We actually went back out west to dig for crystals the following fall (but before the digging area was closed), and had a unique time digging for selenite crystals.

Selenite crystals

The only thing I would have done differently on that trip–was to have more water, a pail/box (or something to carry the crystals), and possibly a small stool to sit on. While I don’t mind digging in the sand/salt–I don’t enjoy having it work its way into my shorts.

While it has been about four years since we’ve been to either Gloss Mountain State Park or Great Salt Plains State Park, I’m hoping to make the trips back west again–but possibly at times when the wildflowers are blooming (for Gloss Mountain), and early fall for a hike at Great Salt Plains State Park. Just need to figure out who to rope into the trip(s).

Have you even digging for crystals or rocks? Where is your favorite place to hike?

No Comments Day TripsnatureoutdoorsPhotographyState Parkstravel

CIZEd it Up: reflections & realization that I’m not a professional dancer

CIZE (c) beachbody.com

So there is another fitness program review page up under the fitness tab. Since I had decided that I wasn’t quite in the mood to finish Barre Blend (but will be finishing up the last four weeks throughout the rest of the year)–I transitioned to CIZE for the month of March and the beginning of April.

While I’ve had the program for years (it came out on DVD back in 2015, when Beachbody was still releasing their workout programs on DVD), I never could make it all the way through the program.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the program or the trainer–it was that I kept getting frustrated with how fast the routines would progress. Since I’m someone who has always considered herself as someone with two left feet–I will fully admit that when it comes to dancing, I gete frustrated quite easily.

But since one of the words I chose for 2021 was growth–I decided that I would give the program another try, and instead of focsuing on getting each move down perfect, I would focus on having fun and learning something different.

This was actually the mindset I started to cultivate last year when I was in my first round of 10 rounds–I know that I won’t be a professional mixed martial art fighter, just like I know I will never be a professional dancer, but I can go through the programs with the focus on enjoying moving my body and learning something new.

I have no idea on whether or not I lost a lot of inches, nor do I know how many pounds may have been lost or gained during this program–as those aren’t things that I’m focusing on during my journey now.

My focus now is getting into the best shape of my life, which may mean that I do lose weight, but at the same time I know I will also be focusing on gaining muscle and self-confidence as well.

On a side note, I did the preview workout for Shaun T’s newest program: Let’s Get Up! I enjoyed it–it is looking to be a mix of dance (but easier to follow than CIZE–no big choreograph dances) and resistance training. I may end up breaking my no-buying early access to a workout program when the early access is available for this one.

I gave CIZE 4.5 out of 5 stars–only because there wasn’t a ‘modifier’ (or someone dancing just a little slower than the others). I do plan on doing another round of CIZE probably sometime in 2022 or 2023.

No Comments fitnessHealthPersonal DevelopmentReflections

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, pulls double duty: day 3 of photography challenge and has it’s own page

So this is a double post–an entry into the photography challenge (slightly late–but day 3), and an announcement of an additional woodpecker page.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker at the small suet feeder

Last month I managed to get a couple pictures of this woodpecker at the small suet feeder, and I think I noticed it several times before (but never had my camera on me). As I mentioned on the page–I spent a month thinking it was the hairy woodpecker, because it was larger than a downy woodpecker, but alas it turns out to be the yellow-bellied sapsucker instead.

While it is a winter resident within Oklahoma, I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve seen one up close and not on a tree.

As their name implies–they prefer to eat the sugar rich sap of certain trees, but in some cases they can be found eating at suet feeders. It looks like they prefer the more ‘lardy’ suet to the ones that are caked in seeds.

Since it wasn’t showing a bright red neck, I’m pretty certain that this was a female yellow-bellied sapsucker that was getting a meal before possibly starting her trek north to her breeding grounds.

While I know that I won’t be seeing these birds again until winter–I’m hoping that maybe I will also be able to spot a male at the suet feeder as well. We do have a maple tree in the front yard, so I will be keeping an eye out to see if any decide to start ‘tapping’ it for its sap.

With the addition of the yellow-bellied sapsucker, I’ve gotten pictures of 6 of the 23 species that can be spotted within the US. One goal is going to be trying to get a picture of the hairy woodpecker (for real), I know that it is larger than the downy, and that their bill is longer than the downy’s bill at some point this year.

I have noticed that the red-bellied woodpecker and the downy woodpecker are back (though in truth–they never left) at the feeders, it will be interesting to see what other woodpeckers come through this year as well.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographyScience

‘New Astrological Year’: Aries New Moon Goals

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been dealing with the SARS-CoV2 viral pandemic for over a year now. The number of cases globally are over 137 million, and within the US we’re going to be hitting 32 million total cases tomorrow (April 13). Looking back at the post from last year–I can say that I managed to meet the top goals that I set at the outbreak of the pandemic (even though we’re still not totally out of it)–I managed not to catch the virus (and actually managed to get the J&J vaccine shot last week), and I have more or less managed to keep my sanity intact over the past year (now need to work on improving time and project management).

I’ve been trying to be better at posting this year than I was last year–I started the photography challenge again last week, and will probably be posting day 3 tomorrow (though in theory it should more like day eight). But enough about that–the moon is going through it’s fourth new phase either last night or tonight (depending on where you live), and it marks the ‘start’ of new astrological calendar.

So what are some things that one can work on during the Aries new moon?

They include:

Taking action on dreams and plans.

Making a 12-month plan

Be courageous in moving towards achieving your goals

Have some fun

Focus on yourself

Then one should look to see what house Aries is passing through to gain a little more prospective about the coming weeks. For me it is passing through my 6th house or my daily work and health zone. So for me this means that I should be trying to develop that daily schedule that allows me to focus on the top priorities in my life right now: personal/professional development, health (mental/spiritual/physical), and of course working on my transition plan (tied in with personal/professional development).

So if one looks back at the book ‘Moonology’, there are lists of things that one can pick from that are associated with each sign in each house–so for me when Aries goes through my 6th house I can pick and chose from the following:

Recommit to some type of exercise program

Think about (correct if need be) your eating habits

Help someone out this month

Talk to your boss about any work concerns you might have

Read a book on positive thinking

Eat healthy lunches or dinners for one month (no exceptions)

Learn to meditate

So I’m starting to find it a little uncanny at times how accurate the moon transitions are through the houses (especially when I know there are certain things I should be focusing on). While there are things that are listed and are considered ‘mainstream’ (such as correcting eating habits or eating healthier)–I’m actually working on developing a better relationship with food, and starting to listen to my body more. I’ve been sticking with a workout routine (at least platform wise) and by that I actually mean that I’m aiming at moving my body for at least five to fifteen minutes a day–doing a workout, chores, walking, gardening, or whatever; unless I feel like I’m in need of a rest day.

So what are the things that I’m going to try to focus on over the next few weeks?

Making a 12-month plan. I have my ‘focal points’ (more on these in another post)–now I just need to flesh things out to a yearly plan (with monthly/weekly and possibly daily goals)

Start with Country Heat and once the arm isn’t as sore transition to 21-Day Fix Live

Work on incorporating more fruits into my day and then slowly work on the veggies

Read one of the books I’ve bought on positive thinking (or at least on positive psychology)

Continue with my evening meditation routines.

And while the insanity of the world is slowly starting to come under control, I’m still going to focus on: Progress over Perfection.

No Comments AstrologycareerfinancesfitnessHealthNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

‘CIZED IT UP’: Looking back at the Pisces New Moon Goals

So we’ve entered April, and will soon be having the fourth new moon of the year (either tonight or tomorrow). Having a competent administration to deal with the ‘fires’ from the last administration, seem to be making the days and months go by faster this year.

So before I look ahead to the next new moon (Aries), it is time to look back at the goals that I set for the Pisces new moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Pisces New Moon included:

  1. Continue with CIZE–while it isn’t belly dancing, it is a dance program. It may teach me how to use my two ‘left’ feet before I try to find a free belly dancing program.
  2. Doodle sketch a cross-stitch pattern and work on cross-stitching this month.
  3. Finish patching the one afghan and start making a patch (or patches) for the second afghan.
  4. Continue with an evening meditation routine and try to meditate in the morning as well.
  5. Dream ‘big’ on where I would like to be in say 3-5 years and start making plans/goals for getting there.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I stuck with CIZE and actually am ‘finished’ with my first round. I say ‘finished’ because I didn’t totally follow the schedule for the program, but tried each routine at least once, include additional dance routines that were added to the program as ‘bonus’ workouts.
  2. I totally forgot that I was going to try to start working on a cross-stitch project this month.
  3. While I have a patch on the one afghan–I still need to finish stitching around the hole, and I haven’t started making the other patches for the larger afghan.
  4. For the most part I’ve been good with doing evening meditations before bed, though I haven’t really been able to get into the habit of meditating in the mornings yet.
  5. The ‘dream big’ goal–yeah, it hasn’t happened yet. The reason–good ole’ inner critic/imposter syndrome; while I’ve acknowledge my inner critic/imposter syndrome and am figuring out ways to work with it instead of against it–it does manage to drag me back into the comfort zone frequently (and this pass week that was where I was sitting).

So I managed to meet (more or less) three out of the five goals (so had a success rate of roughly 60 percent) this past month. Not perfect, but not the worse I’ve done either. I realize that part of the issue (at least for the past two weeks) was the anxiety over getting the vaccine for the SARS-CoV2 virus (I didn’t realize how anxious I was until I got in and out), the other part is still working on giving myself grace, acceptance, and realization that I’m not going to be perfect, probably will fall more than once moving forward and that’s fine–as long as I get back up and continue trying.

So I realized that I managed to keep one of the sayings for 2021 front and center this past month: ‘Progress over Perfection’. I’m making progress and it isn’t perfect–it’s messy, but that is life–messy if you’re trying to improve and live; it only seems ‘perfect’ if you’re willing to stay stagnant–and that isn’t something that I’m willing to do anymore.

I’m going to continue making 2021 a year of growth–and it doesn’t matter how microscopically small that progress looks to others as long as I keep moving forward.

No Comments AstrologyfitnessNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Got my SARS-CoV2 vaccine (J&J)-currently dealing with only a few ‘side-effects’

So, yesterday I managed to get my SARS-CoV2 vaccine as Oklahoma was allowing all residents (and non-residents) over the age of 16 to be eligible for one of the three vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson).

All three shots have a different level of efficiency in terms of if you catch the SARS-CoV2 virus, how symptomatic you may be (J&J is the lowest at 76% and Pfizer and Moderna are higher–where they’re both somewhere in the 90s percentile)–but all three are 100% effective at ensuring that you won’t pass away from the SARS-CoV2 virus (as all participants in the different clinical trials lived–0 deaths were reported).

So I’m not going to be posting a picture of my vaccine card–but I will mention what potential side effects I’m dealing with.

I managed to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday–which meant that it was a one and done deal (no need to go back in 3 to 4 weeks for a second shot). A single shot, wait ten minutes or so (to make sure that I wasn’t going to have a reaction), and then I was free to go.

My arm was sore immediately–which could be due to both having decent muscle tone in my upper arms (I have been trying to get into the best shape of my life), but also have a semi-incompetent person giving me the shot. I’m saying semi-incompetent because I’ve had shots before and most of them never hurt right away–this one did.

That was the only ‘symptom’ that I had yesterday–a sore arm.

Today, besides still having a sore arm, I also have a mild to moderate headache. Though the headache could be due to the fact taht I had a bad night sleep (since I got the shot in my left arm-it made it difficult to sleep on my left side, which is my preferred side), so that may not be a side effect of the shot.

I possibly also have been running a low-grade fever for the past eight hours or so as well. While I haven’t taken my temperature (wchi I don’t like doing since my normal temperature runs low anyways), I have gone between having the slight shivers and then sweating–which for me usually means that I’m running a low-grade fever.

I plan on keeping on top of both headache and the potential fever with over the counter pain medications throughout the day.

While it is nice that I’ve gotten the shot (and technically after another month of self-isolating, I could travel), I will still be self-isolating, wearing a mask when I need to go out, and practicing social distancing. Last I heard a quarter of the adult population in the US has gotten at least one shot–but that is still a good fifty to sixty-five percent below the possible ‘herd immunity’ level we need, so we’re still not out of the woods yet in terms of the pandemic–but I’m doing my part.

Have you gotten your vaccine yet? If so-which one? If not-why?

No Comments HealthPandemic2020Reflections