Stressed?

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coloring inside the lines

When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to fill graphic design color books with marvelous artwork. What he made of those pages of geometric lines and curves still makes me wonder at his imagination and talent. He did not allow the pages to tell him what to draw or color. He made someone else’s black lines dissolve into his ideas. It must have been immensely satisfying, because he lined bookshelves full of this beauty.

Some years ago, I started thinking his hobby was worth exploring. I always liked colored pencils and sometimes crayons, and often chalk. Instead of talent, I capitalized on my ability to stay within the lines, my stubborn attitude toward completing things, and a great eye for good quality paper and pencils. Television-watching has never been more fun than it is now, because I can pay as much or as little attention to either pursuit – the TV show or the coloring page – as I want at the moment. What a worry-free zone I created for me.

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therapeutic stress-relievers???

Until now. Everyone seems to be buying adult coloring books and art supplies for stress relief. We have coloring books that direct grief and coloring books that keep you from eating and others that encourage you to quit smoking. I have been years in this pursuit, and show no signs of stopping. I don’t remember picking up the hobby because of stress. It just seemed like a good idea. But it’s sort of like if the medicine helps your condition, didn’t you have the disease? And then another thought occurs to me. Shouldn’t I at some point in time feel cured and leave the books behind? All this commercialization of coloring has me perplexed.

I am left with one question. It’s not should I be worried? It’s how worried should I be?

….stressed out at the bungalow…. MarshaIMG_6262

 

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Who are you?

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Susan in Stockholm with a well-deserved ice cream cone (raspberry licorice with salt)

There are so many ways to think about that question, but this time I am asking it literally to myself. I have been Marsha at the bungalow for quite a few years, but Marsha is not real. She has been a writing alter-ego that I cherish and enjoy. When I started adding my real name, Susan, to my comments in other blogs, it had a nice ring of truth.

As Susan – who else? – I am beginning a blog devoted to walks at home and around the world. I hope you all will join me at Onesmallwalk.com.

It’s simple – click here, then look at the top right of the webpage and click on ‘follow’ (I think a ‘follow’ button also hovers on the bottom of the page.) Of course, you can also click the link above.

For the first several walks, I will link the two blogs, and you can – almost – always find me at Restless Jo’s Monday Walks.

So if you see comments in your blogs from a Susan who sounds familiar, it might be because Marsha has become a real girl – Susan@onesmallwalk. See you around!

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made for walking

Hawk News

“Do you see your hawk?” asked Stanley.

I looked where he was pointing, and – as usual-  saw tree or sky. We were on our first walk since returning from a trip, entering the area near the dunes where we had first seen Mr Hawk. Just before we left, we’d noticed Mr and Mrs Hawk had been spending most of their time near the eucalyptus trees along the highway, where the nest still sat looking a little empty. IMG_4380

Reacquainting myself with the neighborhood after a trip is always entertaining, and I was eager to find out what exciting things we had missed. Baby hawks? Evidence of eggs? Frantic hunting? But even Stanley couldn’t find a bird in the nest tree. So, we had continued on our walk, eventually coming to the dunes area where Stanley made the sighting.

I continued looking in the approximate direction, hoping to see a wing through the foliage. Stanley stood, his chin pointing out the sight I couldn’t see. Then the hawk treated me to a long swoop from a high branch to another tall limb, and flew off toward the nesting area in the grove along the highway. I assumed it was Mr. Hawk on a hunting expedition, but that was really just me filling in the blanks of a springtime story.

We continued on our walk. It’s Sadie’s walk, after all, and she had some important digs to rediscover. Other neighborhood creatures greeted us, hanging out in the misty sunshine.

I paused under the nest on the way back home. Looking up about 50 feet high into a broad eucalyptus wasn’t the best perspective for snooping down inside the nest. Since I wouldn’t be climbing up, it was the only perspective available, so I snapped a few photos, frail compared to the wonderful eagle cam that tracks the Washington DC bald eagles.

When I caught up to Stanley and Sadie, Stanley handed me a feather. White and gray-brown with fluttery-like fuzz, it was a thrilling memento. Why? Not quite long enough for an adult tail feather, and, with those tiny down-like fluffs, not as stream-lined, we decided it looked like a fledgling feather.IMG_4292

The next morning on our walk with Sadie, we stopped near the nest, but nothing seemed to be going on there. We didn’t see any creatures in the nest, none flew by, and there was no screaming hawk call. I left the eucalyptus grove disappointed. No hawk presented itself for the rest of the morning walk.

In the afternoon, I walked alone by the nest, and noticed some movement. I estimated the hawk home to be about 2 1/2 feet deep, so a lot can go on in there that I can’t see.

I aimed the camera, hoping the photos would bring some detail. Suddenly, wings unfolded and a hawk took off out of the nest. I tried to get a shot as it held onto the branch of the next tree. (click on the photos and you will see a larger view) When I got home, I rushed to the computer to let it help me see what it was I photographed. There, in a slightly blurred mix of branches, was my first look at – not a baby hawk, but – a teen-aged fledgling.IMG_4366

Looks to me like Mr and Mrs Hawk did a great job while we were gone.IMG_4379

Congratulations to the hawk family.

More Hawkishness

Strictly photos today, as we wait out the brooding season, take a vacation away from the nest, and hope for a late spring hatching. I am truly nervous to be gone from these two for a month. I can plan for Sadie’s care, and will hear the stories when I return. But for the Hawk family, I will simply miss a huge part of the story. Well, it’s not so sad that it will keep me home!

 

Classical Glass

Sometimes it’s difficult to find on the beach. Sometimes, it nearly jumps out at you in a blur as you walk by.

Sometimes you get fooled.

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bright green seaweed, not glass

Other times, the ocean hasn’t worked its magic yet, and you see sharp edges and too-clear colors. IMG_2349

But always, the sea glass takes you by surprise. It’s a beach, with rock and shells and sand. Not these pieces of man-made substance that are re-made by the ocean.

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Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk 

 

Mr. Hawk’s New Place

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On our daily walks, we look for Mr. Hawk in his usual haunt. Normally, we can count on seeing him at least once in the clearing by the dunes, where he has been busy hunting. But we don’t see him there, day after day.

Mrs. Hawk has taken to perching inside their great nest, seemingly day after day after day. It has been difficult to get detailed photos of the nest. It is built into the eucalyptus near the highway, far up in the tree, sheltered by large branches, leaves and smaller twigs. Look close – you can see her tail.

But where is Mr. Hawk?

Close by, of course. He is in one of the eucalyptus trees opposite the nest. And he is showing his strength and voicing his warnings to any flying creature near by. Stanley says there is something in the nest worth guarding.

 

Wonder what that may be?

Just for the shell of it

IMG_1496It’s a beach walk, for heaven’s sake. There should be shells, right? On my almost-daily walks on the beach, I watch the waves, I look at the birds, I notice the changes in the hillsides, I always admire the rocks along the way. I rarely pay attention to the shells. Today, though, just for the shell of it, it’s going to be a different walk from my usual.

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Shy shell, trying to hide

I have always comforted myself when I mistakenly step on a seashell by reminding myself “I am helping the beach make sand.”

Especially the sand dollars, whose crisp crunch I try to avoid, but it is inevitable that they turn into sand. We get hermit crab shells, or parts of them, clam shells, sea snail shells, shells from abalone and oyster. I love the shells that have urchins making a home on top.

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And curls in shells next to the smooth surface of a rock.

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shell

Hope you have a shell of a day. Happy Walking.

walking logolinked to Jo’s Monday Walk

 

Hawks 5

IMG_0859My new prowess as a hawk-eye didn’t last long. The next morning, our walk took us along the same path, and even though we saw the nest, we saw no birds.

That is, until we reached the clearing by the sand dunes and Stanley said,  “So, do you see your hawk?”

“Where? In the trees? Is it perching?”

“The tall tree. It’s the male.”

“The eucalyptus? The cedar?”

“Right there. Right ahead.”

We are what I estimate to be 1/4 mile away and I do not understand Stanley’s ability to spy out a 20-inch long bird hidden in a 50-foot tall tree from that distance. He continues to point and I continue to peer.

 

When we are directly below the tree, I see the hawk moments before it flies away. But he goes over to his hunting post closer to the dunes, and I hurry closer to get some photos.

IMG_1956Sadie is occupied with digging today, and I use the time to study this hawk. He does look like the one that is usually here, scanning the dunes for food. We have seen him swoop and pull out something – maybe a mouse or a frog – twice. On a couple previous visits, the second hawk, possibly the female, sits on a nearby tree and waits for food, sounding out if she becomes impatient. Today, we see only the one hawk, the hunter.

IMG_1943Soon, Sadie is panting with exertion and ready to go. As we approach the highway crosswalk, I pause to take a picture of the nest. One day, I hope to see a hawk there.

When I get home, I look at my nest photos, and this is what I see:IMG_1629

 

I think maybe mama hawk thinks the nest is ready!

Rock Walk 2

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We walk today on Morro Strand beach. Again, you ask? Yes. Yesterday the wind blew hard and furious all day. That means new sand will be turned-over, new rocks exposed. Let’s go see.

It’s fun to look for rocks that have a specific shape. A broken heart?…

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The sandstone is always a favorite, maybe because it is a challenge to get it to smile at the camera.

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There’s always a poser or two or three.

My favorites are the colorful groupings

and the shiny, shiny smooth black stones.

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But just about any rock will do. Happy walking.

walking logoLinked to Jo’s Monday Walk

Hawks 4

IMG_0859I beg Stanley’s help, because I am desperate to find their nest. I feel time slipping away as early spring passes with each day. I know that if these two are a pair, the breeding cycle is in full swing, and the nesting is under way. But where?

Stanley, of course, has witnessed some of this hanky-panky in the air. About a month ago, he saw two hawks twirling way up in the clouds. Another time, one of the hawks swooped in a spiral down and down, only to fly up to join the second in the sky. He tells me his stories, and I read about the significance in my reference books and on-line sources. It bothers me a bit that he knows instinctively what these raptors are doing, and I believe him only if I can read it in a book. He is always right – not an overly attractive thing in a spouse – even so, I beg his help in finding the hawk home.

IMG_2152I point at a bird flying up high. “Hawk?”

“Vulture.”

We continue to scan the cedar trees in the clearing, the tall eucalyptus and the scrub bush that grows tall enough that hawks might venture there. Usually, we find at least one hawk in this clearing by the dunes, but other times, we see them both in the row of tall eucalyptus by the highway.

“There are two, flying together. Over the dunes,” I point, and aim my camera.

“Vultures,” Stanley says with confidence.

 

IMG_2169I am about to acknowledge that I am drawn to vultures the way Stanley is drawn to hawks. I see them in the sky all the time. They pose for me. My camera loves they way they float in the wind and spread their long wings. I think they are beautiful and ferocious-looking. But I am not wiling to give up the pursuit of our neighborhood red-shouldered hawks.

Finally, Stanley sees one raptor fly into the tall cedar across the street from the clearing and pull out a twig. He – Stanley says it is the male – flies out to his post near the dunes. I try to catch the hawk in a photo, but he is gone before I can focus.

That night just before dark, as I stand on our front porch at the bungalow, I hear their screaming chatter. I can’t see them. They are about two blocks away, just past Hwy 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway). Their distinctive call, though, has become easy to recognize.

On our walk the next morning, I remind Stanley that today, we are looking for the nest. I remember hearing them in the eucalyptus just beyond the highway the night before, and scan in the tall trees for a jumble of sticks, bark, leaves and bramble. I stay, looking up, until my neck is sore and Sadie is impatient. Stanley says the nest will be high in the trees, and big. I see nothing but leaves and limbs and branches. We continue on.

Half-way through the empty lot where the eucalyptus grow, I look back. There it is. Protected by the outer branches, I see a tangle of green woven into the crook of two inner branches.

“There it is,” I say.

Stanley looks back, smiles. “Oh, yeah,” he says, grinning.

We don’t see the hawks nearby, and wonder why they have chosen a spot so close to the highway. But today’s discovery has me hoping that these two are settling in this close to us in the bungalow. Maybe I have some promise as a hawk-watcher after all.