Sunday, December 23, 2012

No work on Christmas? Bah humbug!

It's Norman Rockwell's fault.

Yesterday, I was chatting with a nurse practitioner about the upcoming holidays, and she said rather proudly that she would be working in the emergency room at Tucson Medical Center on Christmas day just as she had done the last 20 years.

Her comment stood out in sharp contrast to the sappy sentiments that I often hear about how horrible it is that people have to work on holidays. Well, actually not all holidays come under fire. It's usually only Thanksgiving and Christmas that conjure up the farcical and romanticized renderings of so-called American life that Norman Rockwell became so famous for.

And that's why I blame him.

Even Charles Dickens, champion of the working class, who penned A Christmas Carol in 1843 depicted the hustle and bustle of buying and selling on Christmas Day. The large goose that Ebeneezer Scrooge bought for the family of Bob Cratchit was both bought and delivered on Christmas Day. In fact Dickens made it very clear that buying and selling was part of what made Christmas a special day.

Thankfully, many people don't buy into this "no work" on holidays nonsense. Fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, utility workers, ranchers, IT specialists (to keep all of those servers running so you can continue to like your friends' Facebook posts...) broadcast workers, farmers, etc. all work on Christmas so our lives peacefully go on uninterrupted.

The next time you hear someone squawk about how no one should have to work on Christmas day, remind them how very fortunate we are that not everyone shares those beliefs.
Photo credit: Merry Christmas Grandma. We came in our new Chevy. Norman Rockwell
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The slaughter of children

There are some who subscribe to the Christian faith who will haughtily raise their noses and declare this senseless slaughter of so many children in Newtown, CT as proof that evil is is escalating, and clearly we are in the "end times." But horrific evil doesn't have a monopoly on the 21st century.

To give just one example, biblical and other corroborating historical records document that over two thousand years ago another mad man slaughtered innocent children.

"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the region thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." Matthew 2:16.

Herod wasn't a by-product of depersonalized social media, semi-automatic weapons, or violent video games. He had babies slaughtered by knife and sword because he feared a prophecy that foretold of a king who would one day claim his kingdom.

That qualifies him as a wacko, and he's a reminder that there has always been evil--even abhorrent evil.

Those of us who represent truth, self-discipline, compassion, and integrity should not be fearful and isolate ourselves. Instead, we should take a stand against evil. If not us, then who?
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

“Joie de vivre!” wrapped in fur and purr

At least a dozen times over the past six months, people told me I should at least be thankful for the time that I did have with him. I suppose I don’t really blame anyone for spouting such platitudes. It’s the kind of thing you say when you don’t know what else to say.

And most people really don’t know what else to say to someone who is mourning the loss of a cat. In their minds, because he wasn’t human, his loss was somehow supposed to hurt less. I actually feel sorry for people like that. People who have not loved an animal deeply are missing a part of their humanity.

Galen, on the deck - Seven Fields, PA
Galen sitting on the railing of the deck.
Seven Fields, Pennsylvania.

It’s taken me over four weeks to grapple with my grief long enough to put at least some of it into words. I suppose even that’s not entirely true. Last October, I learned Galen had cancer. In theory, I had almost a year to embrace his eventual death. I should have been ready, but nothing prepared me for the gaping hole he left behind in my life.

I haven’t fully decided when I feel his absence the most. Is it morning when I realize he’s not stretched out beside me, or on chillier mornings, sandwiched up against me? Is it heading to the shower alone without him eagerly trotting in front leading the way? Is it coming home and not seeing him bounding to the door to greet me? Or perhaps it’s heading to bed knowing he won’t be there to purr me off to sleep.

Galen, on the catio - Tucson, AZ
Galen enjoying a warm day on the catio, January 2012
He always loved to be outside.

In reality, it is all of these things and a hundred other ways too. He was my companion in just about everything from sorting mail to sorting laundry. Wherever I was, he was usually nearby.

If life comes with an expiration date after the prescribed allotment of exuberance is used up, then I understand why his life was cut short. He was the essence of “Joie de vivre!” wrapped in fur and purr.

I suppose it’s only fitting then that at this time of Thanksgiving, I do give thanks for having been able to share what short time he and I did have together. I still feel his loss, but his life was truly a gift.

Micro, Londo and Galen, Seven Fields, Pennsylvania
This picture so captures three distinct personalities.
The timidity of Micro (left), the ennui of Londo (center), and the enthusiasm of Galen (right).

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A life lesson in rattlesnakes

Western Diamondback rattlesnake
One of the wonderful things about living in Tucson is that there's more to Thanksgiving than food and football. Not only was I outside enjoying the fabulous 78 degree sunny day, but many others were too.

As I strapped on my rollerblades in the parking lot at the Agua Caliente trail head, a man drove in with a pick-up truck loaded with five or six kids.

As the boisterous crew tumbled out, I overheard the man say, "OK, everyone listen up!"

The kids quieted.

"If you see a rattlesnake on the path, stop, and take a step back. Don't try to jump over it. We'll all go around it together."

There was a slight pause, and then he said, "That's a good life lesson too."

Indeed it is, sir.
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A pathway in the mind

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.

- Henry David Thoreau - (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) American author, poet, philosopher

Life requires cats

Technically, my first cats weren’t actually my cats. Princess, a big, long-haired, pure-white female and PJ, an even bigger, long-haired, tortie male belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Pearce who moved in next door when I was nine.

My brother and I had always had pets, but a medical diagnosis of “allergies” had limited us to a hamster named Sleepy (he was mean), then a guinea pig we called Puff-Puff (she was sort of mean too) and finally two gerbils, Cathy and Pete.

Deb holding pet gerbil, Cathy
Me holding my pet gerbil Cathy.
(Looks like I'm wearing my older brother's hand-me-down pants.)

The hamster and the guinea pig found new homes, but the gerbils turned out to be great pets. We loved playing with them and building them obstacle courses out of shoe boxes and cardboard toilet paper tubes. But a gerbil is still only…well, a gerbil.

PJ and Princess were indoor/outdoor cats and within a week or so after their arrival I had befriended them. Early mornings and after school I would go in search of one or the other, and it didn’t take too long before they made regular trips to look for me.

I loved them both, but of the two, Princess was a bit more of the social butterfly. She and I spent hours together. My father, a self-professed hater of cats, helped me make a bed for her by removing the rockers from an old doll cradle which I then carefully lined with a blanket that I had crocheted so she could take a snooze in the garage while visiting on chilly winter afternoons.

As the months went by, Princess became a regular visitor. One summer evening as the self-professed hater of cats sat outside reading the newspaper, the story goes (as he tells it) Princess leaped into his lap. I can almost imagine him saying, “Well, hello there cat!” (That’s the name my dad calls all cats.) Like the Grinch at Christmas, my cat- curmudgeon father’s heart grew three sizes that day. A few months later he brought home from the Beaver County Humane Society a puppy for my brother and a kitten for me. Allergies be damned!

Tigger and Misty
Misty and Tigger

Tigger and Misty
Me, as an awkward tween, holding my beloved Tigger

Misty and Tiger, or Tigger as we later called her, quickly worked their way into the family. I still spent time with Princess and PJ, but Tigger was the one I would look for after school, and she got the new crocheted blanket. Years later, when I left home for college, Tigger was who I missed the most.

I got a gerbil to keep in my dorm room. But gerbils are…well, gerbils. I’ve learned that life requires cats.

Tigger and Misty
Tigger on the crocheted blanket I made for her.
Its colors, purple, yellow, and white matched my bedspread. :-)

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vermilion Flycatcher - third year in a row!

Today was one of those days when I just needed to get out of the office for a few minutes. I could have run some errands, but instead, I took a walk around the small neighborhood that borders my office complex. Whenever I do take this stroll, I keep a watch for the Vermilion Flycatcher that I've spotted there the past three years.

Every time I've seen him, he's always been in the same area. He's BRIGHT red--brighter than a cardinal so he's not hard to spot if you know to look for him.

And I do!

Sure enough, he was in the same yard. I snapped his picture as he perched on the chain link fence.
Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher in the neighborhood near my office.

Flycatchers dart after insects flying back and forth from a perch. (Aptly named, eh?) He was a special treat to see in an otherwise busy day!
Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Unplugged from work - Day Five - I did it!

I did manage to stay unplugged from work for five days. Part of my success was luck and part of it was timing. Nothing urgent happened…well, at least nothing that anyone has admitted to… And although it didn’t used to be, the span of time during the academic year was a relatively quiet time to be gone. Rescheduling what had been on my calendar was fairly easy, and all of this had weighed in to my decision to take the step back in the first place.

The hardest days were Sunday (remember, I work EVERY day) and Monday. It was as if I was playing an Olympic volleyball game in my head against myself. One part of me would power serve a thought about work across the net of my consciousness. Another part of me would lunge to hit it out of play. During those first couple of days, the serves were relentless, and I often found myself working harder at trying NOT to think about work than I would if I was actually working.

On day two and three, the intensity of the game eased a bit. By the end of the week, my power server had about as much oomph as an aging relative playing a game of sand lot volleyball at the annual family reunion. At that point, it wasn’t hard to claim victory.

The whole point of my week-long mental jousting was to force myself to face a loss. Or more specifically, yet another loss. In a relatively short period of time, I have lost my mother, a close friend who I considered a family member, and a beloved furry companion.

For the first two, I never missed a beat at the office. Who has time to mourn? Besides, it’s so much easier to just slip back into the routine. Finally, the cumulative effect required an acknowledgement.

In the Jewish faith, there is the tradition of “sitting Shiva” after the death of a family member. Shiva literally means seven and during this week, the mourner is not supposed to do any work while family and friends gather for support, remember the deceased, and allow for grieving and healing. I’m not a Jew, but I could see the wisdom in this forced stepping back.

So I did.

I’m not going to wait 11 years to do it again.
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unplugged from work: Day Four

Today has definitely been the "easiest" day to be unplugged. I suppose I've reached the point of WTF. I've made it this long, one or two more days of disconnect won't really matter.

Using my smartphone, I can see how many messages are sitting in my inbox without actually opening it. Right now, there are fewer in there than I expected, and I wasn't the slightest bit tempted to peek.

That's progress!

And for the record, I do not count looking at my inbox tally as "working," but rather a way to monitor my own endurance. Or apathy. Or both.

The past couple of days have been a weird mix of feeling as if time is flying by while at the same time confronting a great yawning expanse of endlessness. That probably reads a bit more melodramatic or poetic than what I'm actually experiencing.

This whole exercise wasn't about doing it was about simply being. To that end, so far, so good.
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unplugged from work: Day Three

Today I read a Hardy Boy book, The Secret of the Old Mill. I used to read these books as a kid. In fact, the books that I read belonged to my father when HE was a kid. I've read this one before...goodness knows how many years ago. It was one of the originals complete with expressions like "Swell" and "Jeepers."
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unplugged from work: Day Two

I'm sitting on my catio watching the fading glow of a spectacular sunset as the city lights begin to twinkle on. This is my favorite time of the day to be here.

I have successfully avoided checking in to the office for a second day. Admittedly, the day isn't over yet, but I'm confident I can avoid checking in this evening.

Although my mind returns to work frequently throughout the day--er, perhaps every few minutes or so, I find the span of time starting to lengthen.

It's easier to disengage when my surroundings change from the norm. Today, I went exploring more of the nearby trails. My neighborhood, which most people would already say is "out in the middle of nowhere" is surrounded on the northern and eastern side by the Coronado National Forest--or more specifically, even more nowhere. I could walk for miles and not see another living soul. Nirvana!
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unplugged from work - Day One

Today begins Day One - Unplugged. It's probably not one of my prouder admissions, but since at least July of 2001 (and it may be longer) I have only removed myself from work for seven whole days.
Five of those seven days were on a trip to St. Lucia in 2004. No Internet connection or phone service was available, but I still managed to check my work from the airport right up until they started to board the plane.

The other two days were basically personal endurance tests to see if I could actually go 24 consecutive hours without checking in. I checked in at 8:00 AM and remained offline from work until 8:00 AM the next morning, and if truth be told, I probably cheated a bit on both ends. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, I am working on something.

Before one jumps to the conclusion that I might have OCD tendencies--I do--but that's beside the point, I log so many hours because if I don't, I can't keep up. My day begins with the first volley of email before I even hit the shower. If I leave the office at 6:00 PM, and log back in at 8:00 PM, I often have 30 messages waiting for me. That prompts me to put in an additional couple of hours of work in the evening before the cycle begins again the next day. Day after day after day.

To cope with that volume on those rare occasions when I am away, my automated out of office reply usually says that "I'm out of the office, and I will not be checking my email 10,387 times a day." But I WILL check it. And people usually continue to call, email, and text while I'm gone as if I've never left.

For the last decade, a day off for me has meant checking in during the morning, again in the afternoon, and again in the evening to "triage." But even if it's something that only takes five or ten minutes to manage, it still  puts me back in work mode and always being in work mode never allows time to fully recharge.  Ironically, I have always insisted that my colleagues take time for themselves because I know the value in stepping away from work but for whatever reason, I have not extended that privilege to myself.

I may never catch up from trying to disconnect for an entire week. But that's my goal. I put in my payroll last night. I've already had a couple of text messages this morning, but today is Day One - Unplugged.
Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gila Woodpecker eating Sunday brunch

Rather than throwing it away, I sliced up an overripe orange and hung it in the tree for the Gila Woodpeckers. Length of time for one to find it: five minutes! Now they get a nice Sunday brunch, and food doesn't go to waste!

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker in the back yard.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

White-crowned sparrow returns for the winter

To a birder like me, one of the most wonderful things about living in southeastern Arizona is that it's right  in the middle of a migratory path. As if the the Sonoran desert wasn't already bursting with avian full-time residents, hundreds of species pass through here in the spring and fall traveling back and forth from their nesting areas farther north or in higher elevations to their winter homes here in southeastern Arizona or farther south in Mexico and South America. I find MORE birds in the back yard in December than I do in July.

Last spring, I had one straggling white-crowned sparrow who seemed  reluctant to leave the bounty of my bird feeders for his nesting ground farther north. Last Sunday, I spotted one lone white-crowned sparrow--the first to return for the winter. He's not banded, but I would bet money, it's my straggler!

White-Crowned Sparrow
A white-crowned sparrow appeared September 29, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The greatness of a nation

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Mahatma Gandhi -1869 - 1948 (at least the quote is attributed to him).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Red-tailed hawk in the backyard

I watched this Red-tailed hawk from my office window for quite some time this afternoon. They're big (around 24") and usually the hawks spotted perched on telephone poles. This one seemed as interested in preening itself as it did scoping for an early dinner.

I've never seen a Red-tailed hawk fly in near my feeders. They don't have the ability to maneuver in close quarters like some of the other smaller birds of prey--they're kind of the SUV of the raptor world.

Red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk in the back yard.

Red-tailed hawk
Close-up of Red-tailed hawk.

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The companion of solitude

I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.

- Henry David Thoreau - (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) American author, poet, philosopher

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Indiana Jones and the mouse is in the house!

This morning, I noticed that Galen was fascinated by the vase next to the TV. Normally it sits ignored, but today the cat was nosing all around it. If his ID tags hadn't been clinking against its side, I might not have even noticed how very interesting the vase had become. The cat was rather comical to watch as he stood up on his hind legs trying to poke his head into the narrow opening.

Purple vase
Purple vase - a.k.a. cat avoidance vessel

Now curious myself, I walked over and peered into its dark depths. I thought I saw something, but I couldn't be sure. Off I went to get a flashlight while Galen kept up his vigilant pacing. When I returned, flashlight in hand, he was now crouching on the TV stand swinging his paw deep into the vase to see if he could scoop something out--but what?

At the end of the beam cowered a little (and I mean tiny) mouse. I have no idea how it ended up in the vase. I know there are critters in the walls so perhaps it emerged from all the wiring behind the entertainment center and in an effort to try to escape the cat, flung itself--Indiana Jones style--into the relative safe haven of the vase. Although the vase provided refuge from the cat, the mouse was definitely stuck in there.

Fortunately for it, (I think) the mouse was trapped in MY house.

Much to Galen's annoyance, I picked up the vase with the intent to fling the mouse to safety from the catio. I stopped myself though. "This is silly. Why would I fling it from the balcony when I can just set it outside on the ground?" (For the record though, the mouse would have been fine with the fling.)

Out the front door I went, vase in hand, and I shook the scared little mouse onto the walk where it took one second to collect its wits and off it scampered into the rocks and grasses. Mission accomplished. I went back inside.

About ten minutes later, I happened to look out the front door only to see a huge snake where I had been standing just minutes before making the mouse deposit. Annoyed with the thought that I might have just served up its Sunday brunch, I went outside to take a closer look.

Although the snake appeared to have a rattle, it didn't have the familiar black bands along its tail that easily identify many desert rattlesnakes. Instead, its tail had a thick black band, and it was more green instead of the familiar shades of brown of the more common Western Diamondback. However, more importantly to me, it wasn't snacking on anything.

Back inside, I took a quick glance through my Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona and I found a match. The snake was suitably named--a Black-tailed rattlesnake. And, of course, poisonous. A few minutes later, the snake was gone.

Black-tailed rattlesnake - September 9, 2012
Black-tailed rattlesnake

I like to think that Indiana Jones escaped the snake too. Meanwhile, Galen spent much of his afternoon ever hopeful for a rematch...

Galen hunting for mice.
Galen tipped over the vase looking for the mouse.

Hunting for mice
He was convinced it was still around somewhere...

Purple vase
If he just waited quietly...

Purple vase
He SMELLS mouse!!!

Hunting for mice.
Maybe they come in through the fireplace?

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Desert Tortoise - Being quiet helped me see him

It's doubtful that many people would have heard it, but an almost imperceptible stirring of something made me scan the surrounding area where I stood. I had stopped to take a picture of some wildflowers that were growing in the yard, and I thought I might have heard the rustle of a lizard or a snake.

Never one to want to startle a snake, I carefully looked around. That's when I noticed this desert tortoise making his (or her?) way across the yard. If I had been "plugged in," I surely would have missed it.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
Desert tortoise taking a stroll in the front yard.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
When it noticed me, it paused in some shade.
Note all of the little purple wildflowers.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
As I got closer it half tucked in its head.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
It's well camouflaged for the desert.
From a distance, it looks like just another rock!

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Great Blue Heron retuns to the pond

I spotted the Great Blue Herons flying over the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. One was kind enough to pose for me in the mesquite tree down at the pond.

Heron - August 2012
Great Blue Heron in Mesquite, August 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

There is no such thing as stress...

The key to balancing your desire to be at peace with your need to achieve, perform, and earn a living is in recognizing that there’s no such thing as stress; there are only people thinking stressful thoughts. It’s really as simple as that. When you change the way you process the world, the world you’re processing changes.

- Wayne Dyer, Being in Balance

...the moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

William Hutchison Murray (18 March 1913 – 19 March 1996) Scottish Mountaineer

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Barrel cactus - fruit for the lean months ahead

Although I've never conducted a personal taste test, the animal kingdom has voted that barrel cactus fruit isn't very tasty--at least not when compared to their more yummy prickly pear relatives. For this reason, the universe puts them on the bounty table when food is more scarce thus ensuring that the fruit gets eaten and the seeds properly planted--er, that is after a quick trip through the digestive system of a deer, ground squirrel, javelina, etc.

The barrels are blooming now, and their fruit will be available long into the winter months.

Barrel Cactus - August 2012
Barrel Cactus in bloom, August 2012

Barrel Cactus - August 2012
Barrel Cactus in bloom, August 2012

Barrel Cactus - August 2012
Barrel Cactus in bloom, August 2012

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lazuli Bunting - first sighting

Migration season has begun! The Hooded Orioles have already departed for the season, but I saw my first Lazuli Bunting today.

Lazuli Bunting - Tucson - August 2012
A Lazuli Bunting passed through the backyard today.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

I finished reading Susan Cain's book, Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, the day my family departed from a four-day visit. At the beginning of her book, she describes a typical evening from her childhood in which her mom, dad, brother, and sister would cozily sit together in the living room reading their respective books by the fire. To her, this family social behavior was normal, and it wasn't until she got shuttled off to summer camp as a pre-teen that she realized that her version of "normal" was anything but.

This scene could have described my family. Introversion is embedded in much of my family's DNA every bit as much as blue-eyes and left-handedness, and this truth is always more apparent after a family visit. As is often the case, the introverts have married extraverts allowing their spouse to do most of the heavy-lifting when it comes to socializing.

Ms. Cain's book is another voice bringing attention to the gregarious lifestyle so prevelent in American culture today. From the cooperative learning pods in the classroom, wallless offices in the workplace, and open floorplans in homes, there is little effort made to accommodate anyone who might not crave so much togetherness. Her research reminds us that although introverts make up the minority (in Western culture), we all can benefit from their quiet contemplation and introspection. We should celebrate their difference.

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Big sky country

Montana didn't look like I had imagined that it would. The state derives its name from the Spanish word for mountain yet the western part of the state didn't inspire a tribute to John Denver's Rocky Mountain High. Instead, I could have almost convinced myself I was looking at the Allegheny mountains in central Pennsylvania.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View of the marina on Whitefish Lake, outside of the
Lodge at Whitefish Lake in (where else?) Whitefish, Montana. 

That's not to say I was disappointed. It was beautiful, and the 60 - 75 degree daytime temperatures were a welcome respite from the Arizona desert heat.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View of the marina on Whitefish Lake, outside of the
Lodge at Whitefish Lake in (where else?) Whitefish, Montana. 

A conference coupled with a corporate directors' meeting sent me to Whitefish giving me part of one afternoon to explore the area.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
Lodge at Whitefish Lake
My room faced a nature preserve and was wonderfully peaceful. The summer days are long this far north, and the last rays of sunlight didn't disappear until 10:00 PM. I LOVED IT!

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View from my room - Lodge at Whitefish Lake
For night owls like me, I feel cheated with so little daylight in the evenings in Arizona. Instead, it gets light at 4:45 AM--a complete waste of sunshine.

Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
View from my room - Lodge at Whitefish Lake

The Lodge was furnished with cliché mountain trappings (no pun intended) including more than a dozen stuffed animals. This wolf was so life-like he looked like he could walk right off the display. Most of the taxidermy was for sale for those who might have a hankering to add a dead animal to their home décor.

Stuffed Wolf at Whitefish Lodge - Montana - July 2012
Very lifelike stuffed wolf - Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Part of Tuesday afternoon we had some free time, and a few of us headed to Glacier National Park to drive a part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Time and temperatures cut our trip short. I was the only one in the group dressed for the mountain temperatures, and I was also the only one in the group who likes to travel to national parks. No doubt, there's a correlation...

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier National Park

Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road was on my bucket list. Although I'd like to go back and drive the whole road, I can officially cross it off of my list. I've at least been on it.

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier National Park

There had been a forest fire a number of years ago, and the damage was still apparent, but the forest is repairing itself as nature always does.

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Trees scarred by a forest fire - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Ravens in a tree scarred by a forest fire - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Tree scarred by a forest fire - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View from the Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View from the Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Mountain Goat Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Mountain Goat - Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Glacier along the Going-to-the-Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
View at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Alpine Flowers - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Alpine Flowers at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Alpine Flowers - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Alpine Flowers at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Big Horned Sheep - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Big Horned Sheep at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Big Horned Sheep - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Big Horned Sheep at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Big Horned Sheep - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Big Horned Sheep at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

Columbia Squirrel - Glacier National Park - Montana - July 2012
Columbia Squirrel at Logan's Pass - Glacier National Park

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