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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Self-Portrait

 Try this. Take a self-portrait while you're doing something you really love. Reading, running, cooking, gardening, even swimming. 

Capture yourself in that moment of joy. 

Cherish it. 

When you need a moment of self-care, look back on the photo and feel those feelings of contentment, of achievement, of happiness. 

You deserve it. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Happy Birthday to Me!

YAY! It's my birthday! 

Well, it was. 

But I love the celebrate all month, so let's keep it going. 

I wanted to learn more about myself, so I turned to astrology. Here's one assessment of people born on my birthday:

"Being a Virgo born on September xxth, you are perhaps most well known for your sensitivity and reserved nature. While others may call you shy or timid, the reality is that you are simply not a fan of the spotlight. You prefer to live life in the background, where you are disturbing others and they are not disturbing you. This tendency makes it difficult to open up to people about your true thoughts or feelings. You are quite different with family and friends, where you find you can be yourself without effort. When you do open yourself up, you may even be surprised by how emotional of a person you really are."

That doesn't seem right. Maybe astrology isn't that reliable. 

But this feels better. 

"Virgos born on September xx embody the spirit of Virgo perfectionism and criticism. These complex and demanding people can be difficult to live with, but no one can doubt their sincerity. They have a humanitarian streak and always like to make an important contribution to society through their work or life-efforts."

OK take a look at this. I think it's spot on. Astrology is totally useful. 

"People born on September xx can be defined as reliable, perfectionists and honest. Just like a true Virgo they are charming and enthusiastic. They enjoy to be taken in consideration and for their merits to be recognized. They hate extremes and stupidity. They are the pickiest zodiac sign when it comes to choosing the people they surround themselves with. The best environment for those born under this sign is in a personal project, working along side with witty people.

 Positive traits: The natives in this sign are circumspect and precise with most life aspects and although they might seem as risk takers at times, they only adventure in territories that they are aware of. They are some of the best progressives so everyone should take their advice in consideration. They are focused and revolutionary in their path and not everyone can keep up with their pace.

 Negative traits: Virgo needs to learn to be more tolerant and accept that not everyone can be as attentive and orderly as they are. Those born on this day are timid and hard to understand by many people. They also have an innate tendency to over calculate many of their actions. When those around them make mistakes and disappoint them they become harsh and intolerant and find it very hard to forgive."


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

My 2021 Bird Count

I've identified 153 bird species this year. I've identified 176 bird species total since 2016. I did add in some historical data of birds I saw in years past. I used my photos of these birds as "proof." 

We're at the early stages of fall migration. I hope to spot a few new birds in the coming weeks, along with some old favorites. 

What bird do you hope to see during fall migration? 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Hiking in the Laurel Highlands

    We went to the Laurel Highlands a few weekends ago. It's about an hour from our house and felt both very familiar and very, very different. The western Pennsylvania woods are filled with ferns and mushrooms, logs and boulders, a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees (I'm still working on the names of local trees) and very familiar birds. Nothing too exotic. 

    The parts that were different were the huge spaces between homes and businesses. Long stretches of road with no traffic lights or stop signs. Not too many places to eat, and not too many great options. That felt a little sad since we saw many farms in the area. 

    We hiked to Jones Mills Falls, visited a scenic overlook. On Sunday we navigated to Cole Mill Falls and then hiked down the mountain to a popular spring and swimming pool called Blue Hole. Even though some of us were tired and frustrated from falling into the creek on the way there, it was a lovely sight. We spotted small, then big, then REALLY big rainbow trout swimming in the Blue Hole. 

    Families filled their camp water bottles at the spring. They told us where to get delicious fresh water and then left. A man arrived and dove into the water, which was about seven feet deep. The water was COLD. Very cold. But refreshing. The man was impressed we had hiked all the way down from the top of the mountain. No, he wasn't a local he said. He lived with his parents in a nearby town called Derry. 

    We were really enjoying ourselves until the man, a total and complete stranger, asked us if we went to church. 

    Like, out of nowhere, out the blue (hole) he asked us that. It was such an awkward strange moment. Everyone was very uncertain how to answer, or if to answer. Why was it any of his business? What would happen if we didn't reply? What would happen if we did? We were out in the middle of nowhere, near no one, with no cell signal. 

    Sure, he was in the water, swimming around. Sure, he probably wouldn't have done anything. 

    But in the past year we've been filled with uncertainty about our safety. We've seen the violence people are willing to commit if they judge someone as unworthy or evil. We've seen everything from a lack of decency to rudeness to anger and physical harm. 

    As the designated talk to strangers person in our family, I answered in a cheerful tone and gave the old name of our church. It has since changed. He guessed that we were Catholic just based on the name. I said yep as I hustled the kids quietly to gather their things so we could leave. 

    Nothing came of it. No one was hurt. We never saw him again on the return trip. We talked about it with the family, how we handled it the best we could, even if in hindsight we would have done a few things differently. 

    We got back to our car without any more upsetting moments. But my memories of this beautiful place will always have him in it, and my worries about him. It will take time for me to ever shake the feeling that we were not safe. And having our visit to this beautiful, wild, nature place tarnished like that makes it hard for me to forgive him. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Are You Wearing a Mask Indoors?

Are you wearing a mask indoors? 

 I am! 


Because Allegheny County is in the substantial transmission range. 

Find out more here: 


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci Needs Reviews!

 Have you read my new book The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci? I'd love if you left a review on Amazon.  

Leaving reviews is one of the best ways to help your author friends. Thanks in advance!