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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Abundant Blessings

This was a day of many surprises...the first being the 3 swans I saw flying in a low formation just south of Monroe on highway 203. I can't drive and take notes at the same time, so I'm not certain which species of swan, only that they were very large, white, and had really obvious black bills. My feeling is that they are Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator). Perhaps tomorrow I'll get another opportunity to check for the yellow spot near the eye which would make them Tundra Swans ( Cygnus columbianus). What a cool birthday present! I remembered to be grateful.

I've come to expect cool things on my birthday. I saw the swans last year, too. Only instead of going to work, I was headed back to the first class after winter break. And once, 5 or 6 years ago, I went out to the car to scrape ice off the windows in order to go to work at the hospital, and saw the largest meteorite ever streak across the early morning sky. I read that the eastern US and Canada should be able to see the Quadrantid meteor shower in the early morning hours...I wonder if my meteor was one of those?

A number of my Missouri friends e-mailed with birthday greetings, and my Washington friends provided cards, a balloon, chocolate cake - with a tall tapered candle, noise-makers, and sprinkles. All the staff in our office at noon sang to me and shared cake. I got homemade granola, good chocolate, and other gifts. Ellen tells me that it's an auspicious year- 7 x 7 - and that big changes are in store for me.

I stopped at the library on my way home, picking up a handful of books on loan and a few more off the sale table. In the short time I was inside the sprinkles turned to rain and I hurried home to my warm apartment and my cat. In the mail I found a birthday card from my Aunt Irene in Springfield, Missouri, and a box from my Mom in Violet Hill, Arkansas. She and my sister Susan had filled it with books. Mom sent the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mammals", one of the field guides that I did not yet own. It's a beautiful book with cool photos, many of them the small rodents that are so hard to identify. I've been puzzling over some photos I took in Idaho this summer, and hope to figure out just which ground squirrels I got pictures of. I'll let you know. I called Mom to thank her, and we talked for half an hour.

I've already put on my "comfortable" clothes and am going to pick a book from the pile on the living room floor. Last night I finished Elmer Kelton's "The Pumpkin Rollers" and am ready for a new one. I'm leaning towards a library book - "How I Write" by Janet Evanovich. Her Stephanie Plum novels crack me up. I expect her writing advice will be sound, and you may benefit from it as well.

I put the tea kettle on for a cup of decaffeinated Celestial Seasonings sweet coconut thai chi tea. They didn't capitalize the name, so I won't either. It's a nice, spicy tea that will go well with a book - and the chocolate. I'm taking the book, the tea, and the cat to the bedroom. We'll talk again tomorrow.

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My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"