My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hitchin' a Ride

Happy December!

The Monday after Thanksgiving was usually the most demoralizing day of the year in our UPS household. But not this year! Pretty sure I have yet to see BW's feet touch the floor since yesterday afternoon! :-) I thought we'd be going all-out with our decorating and other holiday activities since this will be the first year of our married life that BW's available to truly help with and enjoy it. But I think we're both still decompressing, because neither of us feels inspired to go to all the trouble. So we've decided to enjoy a restful, simple, minimalist holiday season and spend some time on various de-cluttering and organizing projects. Thought today I'd begin with my blog, sorting through the ridiculous number of draft posts I never got around to finishing and/or publishing, and finally delete, complete, or post them as appropriate. 

So to start with, here's one that's been languishing in my drafts since May 2013! No idea what came along to interrupt my train of thought for a year and a half. :-)

When I first saw James Neiger's incredible prize-winning photo Great Horned Owl and American Crow...

I couldn't help but wonder if a similar sight gave NASA's engineers this idea! :-)

NASA's Space shuttle Endeavour riding piggyback atop a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, 
lands at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility in Southern California on 20 Sep 2012 
during the final shuttle ferry flight.
Photo credit: Z. Pearlman


  1. Oh, wow... I've never seen that photo! And it sounds like a relaxing, simplified holiday is what you all needed... I hope it's a lovely one and a great month for the two of you!

    1. Thank you, Eva, I hope yours is a lovely and peaceful one too! Will you be spending it close to home or going on more adventures to beautiful settings?

    2. I'll be at home this time around :) Home is Switzerland at the moment so, if I get snow, it'll be a beautiful setting!

    3. When I was in the AF, I fantasized about being stationed in Italy, and spending Christmas by myself in a little alpine Swiss village! You've sort of been living my dream. Seriously, I think I'm supposed to join you over there. :-) Another fantasy is to spend Christmas in England, in some Dickens-like village. Did you get to do that while you were studying there?

      Anyway, enjoy your beautiful holidays - and though it's not required for beauty, I do hope you'll get snow (and us too! It's all melted except for piles of "snirt" (snow+dirt), heaped there by the snowplows.)

  2. LOVE that photo - and the place it took your mind.
    Have a wonderful, relaxed, low-key holiday season. I suspect your very best gift is that this year you will be able to share it.

    1. Thank you, Ellie Sue - you're right about the very best gift. Can't top it, so didn't even bother to try (unless you want to count the water filter we just ordered for our shower head. Merry, merry. LOL!) Wishing you and the SP a peaceful, healing, restful holiday season too!

  3. Clever photos! It seems like decluttering and reorganizing is a stage I am stuck in since arriving in Oregon. Attempting to get as minimal as I can at this time in my life. That Christmas tree header is wonderful! Enjoy your minimalist holiday!-- barbara

    1. Thanks, Barbara! And I know what you mean - we divested ourselves of SO much before moving from the house in the mountains where we'd lived (and accumulated) for 19 years, and then again when we moved into this house - and still we often set things out by the curb to sell or give away - yet still there is more downsizing and organizing to do. Mostly of photos! Boxes and boxes of photos. And let's not even talk about all the digital ones on my hard drive! :-) Living lightly is more and more appealing as time goes by - funny how many of us are encouraged to accumulate during our first half of life, and some of us then spend the second half lightening the load!

      I'm glad you like my header photo (it was from our first Christmas in this house, haven't put the tree up since!) Thought it would be a fun change. :-)

      I hope you really enjoy your first holiday season in your new digs! You seem to be getting a lot out of exploring your new surroundings!

  4. I'm so happy that you both can share the holiday season (and the rest of the year, of course) together without the headache of UPS. It sounds like you're off to a great start with the first holiday season of retirement!

    Both photos are incredible. The timing for the owl and crow is amazing, not to mention an action shot as well! I can't imagine ever being able to get such a shot.

    I'm in awe that they could actually piggy back a shuttle on a plane like that. Incredible! Although, I don't think I'd want to be on board of either for that event.... :-o

    1. There were so many times (especially Decembers) when we thought this year would NEVER come! We're really grateful and happy that it did - especially when BW's replacement told him yesterday that he's already ready to quit! BW gave him a pep-talk about how it was going to get better (liar!) and to hang in there. I don't think Brian was convinced.

      I'm with you, I can't imagine getting a shot like that. It's so hard to get a good photo of critters in motion, especially unpredictable motion, and with a telephoto no less! He has a lot more skill (and no doubt better equipment) than I do. And talk about being in the right place at the right time! His POV was perfect.

      I have to laugh whenever I see a photo of the Space Shuttle riding piggyback on the plane, because it reminds me of a Pin with a photo like this that says, "I call bullshit on overweight luggage fees!" LOL!

  5. Minimalist holiday! I love it. :-)

    Crows and predator birds are interesting to see. At the rabbit rescue it isn't unusual to have hawks cruising overhead nor is it unusual to see a group of crows giving the hawk fits. They almost always harass the hawks in a gang, several crows will take turns yelling at and chasing the hawk when she/he spirals around looking for a meal. I presumed they would go after owls too and that's a great photo you shared. The look on the owls face says it all. We've learned to listen for crows yelling about something because that's almost always a signal that a hawk is around.

    1. Us too! :-) Some years it's fun to go all-out, but this year's simple, quick, and easy-peasy decorating was really enjoyable - and the place still manages to look festive with a nutcracker here and a garland there. And of course I kept my "candle in every window" tradition. :-)

      Your description of the raptors and their nemeses reminds me a great deal of the similar sights we'd see frequently from our home on the mountainside. There were a lot of wild bunnies and field mice and chipmunks and songbirds, hence a lot of raptors (mostly red tail and sharp-shinned hawks and bald and golden eagles). There were also a lot of crows and ravens and magpies, hence a lot of noisy harassment of said raptors - sometimes it looked and sounded like gang warfare! You're right that they are an excellent early-warning system, impossible to ignore! We had owls on occasion too, but usually after dark, so we never saw one getting harangued.

      A sharp-shinned hawk's arrival was always eerie, since we'd go from trees, feeders, and fence railings full of song birds to silent emptiness in a heartbeat. We always knew it meant a sharp-shinned hawk was nearby, and everyone had gone into silent hiding. And the songbirds would signal the hawk's departure just as suddenly, filling our yard with their presence and songs once again. "Bird-brains" my butt!!!

    2. One of the lovely new knowings I have gained is that anyone thinking our sister/brother Earthlings are stupid is someone with some serious hitches in either their reality testing abilities or their thinking abilities (or both). :-)

    3. Couldn't agree more! It's our ability to understand, measure, and even be aware of their intelligence that is lacking whenever we label an animal "dumb." Since you're a particular friend of rabbits, I'm sure you know this quote already, "If a rabbit defined intelligence the way man does, then the most intelligent animal would be a rabbit, followed by the animal most willing to obey the commands of a rabbit."
      ~Robert Brault

  6. Love your photos, especially the crow-owl combo.....a shot of a lifetime! As far as things on the home front, yeah, I can see your point of just wanting to keep it simple this year. Your new life may take a bit of getting used to. I know it took us a while, too......but it's a good thing ;-). xoxo

    1. WISH that were "my" photo! Definitely the capture of a lifetime! And yes, we are still adjusting. It's harder to be disciplined and get my chores and projects done with my best friend hanging around the house all the time! (Pinterest doesn't help either, lol). Poor BW has PTSD, he's actually having UPS Christmas nightmares! I hope that by next year, he's all over that. He sure does LOVE retirement! :-)

    2. I get the nightmares, but I had mine while I was nad-grabber understudy. Since retirement.....nada! Maybe you need to smudge your sleeping quarters ;-). Glad BW loves retirement.

  7. Hi! Long time nosee. Your photos are very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Minoru! I know, I vanished from Blog Land for a while there! I've been reading, baking, and working on Christmas present projects for my mom and some faraway friends. I must catch up on your blog soon!

  8. Aren't you ever so clever to put these two photos together! Both photos are a bit incredible and it's only because they're on your post that I believe that they aren't photo-shopped (And that you didn't post it on April 1 - thought that doesn't mean I wouldn't fall for your old tricks!)

    Anyway, I'm quite impressed and as always, enjoy your clever posts! You have about the same amount of ambition to post as I have time to read these days so it's working out for me but I hope for the sake of your many fans that 2015 will bring a blogging muse to your soul!!

    1. LOL, what do you mean "my old tricks!" I'm innocent! And don't be calling anything about me "old" this close to Jan 3. LOL I'm confident the NASA photo is genuine, having seen many photos and videos of the Space Shuttle being piggy-backed that way (especially when I was in Space Command!). When it comes to the crow & owl photo, I'm having to trust the photographer and the people running the contest who would have vetted the photo's authenticity (one would think!) I've seen crows interact like this with other raptors many times, but the angle he got on this photo is definitely amazing!

      Glad you enjoyed this one and though I'd like to think my blogging muse will pay me many inspiring visits in the New Year, it's feeling like she's taken on other clients and has little time to bother with me, or to care about disappointing my blog's "many fans" (HA!!!) :-)


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