Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Small Projects!

A couple of days I was sewing all day!  It's way too hot to enjoy anything outside that doesn't have to be done.  I put into action my plan to do over the sleeping quarters in my van.  Just so happened my mom had one of those memory foams she wanted rid of so I am going to try it out, if I like it I'll just keep it.   It was not quite long enough because I folded it in half to make it thicker it's 3 inch so folded over it's a 6 inch If I decide to keep it I will cut it in half so it will lay flatter... I will add some stuffing to the top and bottom about 6 inches each end, and my pillows cover over that area anyways will make it even softer. SO soft at the head and foot and firm in the middle sounds good.  I used some of the material I designed if you recall from several years back; so USE what you have is the theme here.  My short success in fabric designing came in handy as I was able to retain all the yardage of the sample materials. I hope the foam will be comfy, I know it will save time, no pumping...and the cover is cotton, (the citrus one) so it should be comfortable and easy to brush dog hair off of! That's important in my case. 

I can toss my sleeping bag on and it won't be sliding around or I can lay right on the cotton cover during warm weather.  The whole ensemble is colorful and bright and has my signature horsey theme! The 2 horsey covers fit king sized pillows. 

The wedge shaped bolster is nice to prop against to read, use the laptop, do mapping, or preparing a blog post...so I covered it in the rusty/red microfiber. I also had that piece of patch work tie-dyed cotton, I made a cover for the pillow I bring along.  Makes life on the road more comfortable...
I will include photos when I get these into the van right now I'm using the seat as seating so it's in the upright position.  I will put it in the van when I prepare for a trip till then its residing on the guest bed!

The Privacy Curtain:

This privacy curtain I picked up at Goodwill a couple yrs ago.  It's just a regular window panel with grommets at the top made of a fawn colored microfiber we used to call this ultra-suede.  It is sort of wrinkled because I usually have it stuffed in an overhead bin in the van. I'm not really concerned with that, as long as it provides the privacy I want. I don't know, can you iron microfiber?  It was always too long and not wide enough so I just hung it up sideways to make it work.  And it did work, but I finally cut the bottom off and undid the side hems. 

I took that piece from the bottom and cut it in half and added a piece to each side of the panel...then I found at a Walmart some of those snap in grommets in brown for $5.  So I finished up the top by adding 2 more grommets on each end.  
I put it up using a bungee cord.  No bumping my head on a rod.   I think I've got it up a little too high but I can adjust it in like half a second...or completely remove it when I'm not traveling.  Finally my privacy curtain can slide into place easy peasy.

House Projects:

I had these 3 big 24 x 24 pillow inserts hanging out in my storage closet waiting for me to decide what to do with them!  So I used some of the brown fabric from my Chi Chi line here in the guest room, 

and 2 more in my room just for those days when I need something soft to prop against...I rarely linger in bed, but who knows Im getting older by the minute.  

One more project I've wanted to get my desktop PC to turn on, it refused to come on about 2 yrs ago so I just put it away, now it's time to get real about repairing or getting rid of it...I made a video you may have one that won't start so here is what I did!

The old Power Supply will go to the recycling center to be recycled...that is one way to combat the problem of consumption, recycle everything you can! 
I take my plastics to the recycle center, my aluminum and tin cans, and electronics to the scrap yard where it gets recycled and cardboard and paper products go to the recycle center too.  Plastic bags can be recycled at 2 grocery stores in our area, and I compost food scraps... BUT our state stopped recycling glass!! SO sad!

On the PC I found my old Yahoo 360 blog posts at least the ones I was able to copy before Yahoo closed their blogging platform down...it's been interesting to read through those I hope to be able to add a tab at the top of this blog, if I can remember how to do it.  

Out in the yard the heat and the rain has the jalapeno peppers ready to eat!  I did away with my garden patch and now just plant in pots.  

AUGUST the gateway to fall...

Every day is a new Adventure.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Back to the Future

Clore Automotive SOLAR ESA1 12V Male to Male Outlet Charger CordThe battery pack arrived fully charged and is suggested to be kept plugged into an outlet at all times...so I did that. It does not overcharge as per the instruction booklet.  I discovered I  need a male to male plug so it can be recharged from my van's power outlet!  I decided to order the plug,  Amazon had the better price. I can't wait to be using this on my future travels.  :o) It's been so hot n humid I haven't done any traveling or birding lately.  So I decided to share  some old memories. This post is a little diversion away from my norm...I know I always enjoy when I read your blogs and you share bits of who you are and to me that makes us human and                                        not just words on a page, as stated in my blog title,
                                     My Life, this post falls under that heading.


I do not want to be a Prime Member, I was ambushed!  It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to cancel that and I hope it actually is cancelled...what a dirty rotten trick!  It happened while I was trying to click the free shipping option.  I have to wonder how many people they have scammed out of money this way?  I used to think Amazon was a good thing...

container ships bringing goods to NY Harbor was an hourly event viewed from my studio. 

So I went back to the item and found one directly from the seller Free Shipping total $6.75!  Amazon's owner Jeff Bezos (his worth is over $90 billion) decided he needs to spend  his excess wealth by "exploring space-force."  Bernie Sanders had a better idea "how about you  give your employees a decent wage, better health care, and other humane necessary benefits."  Message to Bezos...don't let the Ozone Layer hit you in the ass on your way outta here! I hate that I'm adding to his disposable income. 

So most of you have seen these photos before...but since I'm going to talk about my life in NY may as well share some of the very few photos I have from that time.

this old 3 story house on the beach is where my studio was located , Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn.  There was 12 apartments in this building  the Army COE was constantly repairing beach erosion.  Behind that sand was a 16 ft sea wall below ground  and by the time I left NY you needed a 12 ft ladder to get over that wall to the beach below thanks to stronger storms coming to land. 

                (sand recovery vehicle below.) 

 I put up an affiliate link in my last post for the first time in recent history.  When I lived in NY I used to sell books on Amazon and became an affiliate back in 2001.  I averaged about $30 a month profit.  I'd sell a book for 3.50, then the shipping would be about $1.06, it was fair I was charging actual cost using Media Mail then  I started offering free shipping and sell the book for $4.75.  Amazon decided to raise the shipping to $3.00 per book Amazon greed drove my Books By Sondra right out of business.  I was making extra cash for my "Get out of NYC fund."  So I put up the link thinking this could take money from Bezos and put it in my buy a Kayak Fund! (Im dropping my loose change in my piggy bank)
You can choose to be happy with what you have or you can think you're poor.   I chose to love the simple life. One based on need and not greed.   I had lived my first year in the city as a room mate.  I was on 4th st just blocks north of the Towers and after 9/11  I decided I wanted to get out of the city and shed of a room mate. So I got a copy of the Jewish Free Press and began to look for my solo apartment.  Many of the Jewish landlords are Hasidic Jews.  They would not rent to me because I was not kosher, literally and even tho I don't even eat meat...and they do, made no sense to me.  I kept looking. I found this place and I loved it.  The landlord was Jewish but he was not practicing and was a retired FDNY fire chief...so he let me fill out an application.  Stanley and I had our differences but for the most part he was fair. I will never forget how happy I was when he called and told me I could have the apartment!  I had zero furniture and it was unfurnished and I didn't even have a car! I used to walk from buses and trains and used my bike to get around.   When I was on my shift I saw various pieces on the curb..and my friend helped me go back later and we filled up the back of her dodge caravan!  I moved in on Saturday with all my found objects!  Sea Gate is the only gated community in NYC! 

The Beach Club

All the humble furniture for my apt was FREE right off the curb! I just cleaned it up and used it. 
the chairs and table all found at different locations, and a Hollywood bed frame, a chair, nightstand, 2 folding beach chairs (for company) and the shells found on the beach became artwork. Friends gave me the microwave, the lamp, and the mattresses set. The only thing I purchased was the hanging lamp, and an air conditioner at a used shop for $40 during my second yr. 

little blessings 

My online book sales was the perfect set up since I had access to thousands of used books in the many book stores around the city.  One in particular just off 14th St in Union Square ,The Strand,  had an entire section of books for $1 and they even had a free section.   I bought lots of Self Help, DIY, Natural History, Cook Books,  Coffee Table Books,  Travel Guides...and more.  It was so much fun!   I sold books for about a year. 

The kitchen in my studio I did over using contact paper! The black thing in the middle is the fridge! The map on the bathroom door is  the Appalachian Trail. And the bohemian bead curtain was dropped with the homemade screen on nice days when I had my door open.  

I bought a folding/rolling cart to bring my books home via the subway.  At first I used my backpack but it was too heavy for the trip home.  Riding the subway from Coney Island where I lived to the City (normally on Tuesdays) became part of my routine.  My work schedule was Wednesday - Friday 9 - 9.  As ya'll know I worked in EMS as an EMT and later as a Paramedic.  Most days my shift turned into a 14 hour one and legally they could mandate me  up to 16 hrs!  And sometimes they did that.  My day started with a commute on the Belt Parkway. I got a car about 2 months after moving to Brooklyn, (that is a story for another time) I had sold the Ford Explorer when I lived in the city because parking is a nightmare.  My shift began at 9 am  then home most nights about 11:30 pm, to bed, rinse and repeat Thursday and by Friday night I was a Zombie!  If you have never seen the movie Bringing Out the Dead  (Nicholas Gage 1999) I suggest you see it, so true to form of the life of a medic in a big city.  Many times I took extra shifts on my days off to add to my moving out of NYC and getting out of EMS fund. Time and a half was nice!


The Cyclone is the wooden roller coaster at Coney Island, here it is in off season, after Labor Day on a miserable cold Brooklyn day! Winters to me were brutal with the windchill constantly being a factor. 

About once a month I made my book runs as I called it.  I'd fill my cart with $10 worth of books.  I'd  list most  for $4.75 and they sold fast.  I'd wrap books in heavy stock brown paper and drop them at a post office in the city on my work days, I never had to make a special trip to mail my books as there are post offices all over the city. 

This side of the studio was my "bedroom" area, I had all my little girl things out to comfort me in a city that can be hostile without really trying to be. 

The $30 extra a month helped me save money to make that move out of New York City and I never looked back but I have to say I learned more in those 6 years about me than in all the years that I had lived before!  I did miss my book biz when it was gone, and I missed the monthly trips to buy the books, which meant one less subway ticket purchased, one less lunch eaten out, and  less sales for Amazon.  The greed of one only takes away, it does not enhance the lives of many.   

                     My easy chair a curbside find with cushions and pillows I made myself, with a folding
footstool.  Even tho my studio was basement level I had tons of natural light and my own entrance!

I furnished my 20 x 16 Studio with curbside finds and this wicker shelf unit was totally adequate  for an entertainment center....My sis sent me this HUGE TV for Christmas one year.  I nearly died because it was HUGE! I had an old 13" with the knobs from the 70's.  I gave that one to someone else and found a way to put the big one in my unit. I never had Cable, later I did get hooked to an outdoor antenna.  This set stuck out by 6 inches...I removed one shelf put legs on it and attached it to the other shelf making it wider.  I had this DVD /VCR player,and I used that for entertainment. I was one of the very early Netflix customers, and my sis used to tape CSI and she mailed  me a VHS full of CSI episodes monthly.   That was the highlight of my evenings on those days off!  That's my player on the top shelf blue light shining, I still use that one to this day...still have that old stereo and speakers too!  My studio became my haven, a place where the city and the ugly job I had was left at the Gate.

and yet a medical drama..lol 

On days off I walked  this beach.  I could see the Verrazano Bridge over the Narrows leading to Staten Island and New Jersey beyond.  I looked forward to driving over that bridge for the last time heading out of NYC, and finally that did happen!  Notice the lighthouse on the right...yes we had one...this was a typical New England shore side community it just happened to have a New York connection.

after Labor Day I was usually the only person on the beach

Beach combing was my favorite thing to do once the summer crowds no longer made the trip down on the F train to invade our little piece of heaven. Our beach was private but there was a beach club and so many sunbathers would set up on the beach on warm days.  Coney Island proper is open Memorial Day to Labor Day.  The attractions are the boardwalk, the beach, Luna Park with all the Carney attractions, a Minor League Ball Park, (the Brooklyn Cyclones) and the NY Aquarium all just blocks away.  I enjoyed going to ball games and a few visits to the aquarium but  people watching was by far the most prevalent activity.  Living by the beach is the only thing that kept me sane during that era of my life, nature has always been my savior.

So that's a  little look into my giant step back to my future.   

Every day is a new Adventure.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Go Fly A Kite!

I found this cool machine so I ordered one! It's a handy charging unit for 110 electric things, has Power sockets for DC charging, and it has USB charging, it will jump a dead battery, and it will inflate a tire, and it's rechargeable. When it will not charge you can buy replacement battery for it around $60.  SO this is cheaper than a 100 watt solar system I was considering and I will get about the same results. So one is on the way I'll have to let you know how it goes.  I got it from Amazon.  I really don't want to attach solar panels to my van since I'm not traveling all the time...this I can carry when I need it and when I don't it can store in the shed. Although it is a great emergency tool also. Check it out here DieHard

I Had a day trip on the 9th...Like I mentioned I'm keeping my eye on the ebird alerts just in case something interesting pops up that I can go hunt for....but this one I actually found on Birding in SC Facebook group I follow, a guy posted some awesome shots he took at Bear Island.  I have posted about Bear Island WMA  (wildlife management area) maybe a few times before on this blog.  It's about 2 1/2 hrs south down the dreaded I-95 to the Low Country.  I kinda decided to go last minute.  AND amazing we've had a couple days of lower humidity so it was windows down all the way south!

Spanish moss on the trees

I arrived about 11:30 am the breeze hung around till about 1:30 then it began to warm up but I still had a nice day out.  Some mosquitoes, and 2 ticks attacked me!  My skin is still crawling!   

At the Kiosk, you sign in and there's a comment card....'More Birding Access Please' was my comment...every time I go here it's locked gates and the reeds are so tall there is no place to view the open water,  the old rice fields...just a wee bit of mowing, maybe a boardwalk...throw us birders a bone please, they cater to the hunters, and yet we birders  get no special treatment. They plow tracks and plant crops to bring in geese, and ducks that over winter here that is for the hunters, because in the fall they close the main gate to anyone except hunters with special permits!  Who knows my comment may help.  It's a fantastic place but the drives are always gated and locked so you don't get to cover as much ground as you'd like.  I took one long hike to find the majority of the waterfowl at the Pecan Tree Road area, hench the ticks! shudder

Eastern Kingbird

The water level is controlled by these canals and wood structures called trunks...

they can open and close them

these roseate spoonbills look like cotton candy up on these posts...

The pink is already beginning to fade as breeding season passes...

a good look at the underside of that awesome spoonbill

The wood storks were feeding even farther away so I was happy when a few flew over me way up high so this is cropped...but it's cool to see the underside too!

Anhinga were scattered here and there and this one flew over me too...see his big webbed feet...

This moorhen,  (common gallinule) came prancing across the road...

Showing off her big green feet!

This shot was quite distant and right out in the bleaching sun, but check it out...I call this Standing Room Only!

L > R We have Royal Tern, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, Ring Billed Gull, Great Egret, Ring Billed Gull

Saw some Tri-Colored Herons out there too 

There's an ocean of sweet grass here...and if you have ever visited Charleston SC you know the awesome work of the Gullah, descendants of long ago slaves from Africa who settled on the barrier islands of SC.  They have their own language, culture, and they're artisans with great talent passed down through generations. 

Times were that as you drove down to the low country on the old tarmac you would see self made 3 sided roadside stands and in those would be the women weaving their sweet grass baskets and  all displayed for sale. I purchased such a basket many yrs ago...and I still have it.  I imagine you might find a few stands still around, but most artists take their arts n crafts down in the Market Place in Charleston.  That is a fun thing to do if you find yourself footloose in that lovely city.  One that now is becoming overcrowded and heavy with stalled traffic.  

In the above photo do you see just down from center a little rock looking thing in the water?  I did too, so I zoomed in...hello!

Just a young one about 2 ft long, I didn't see any large adults this time...wonder where they were?...another reason I don't like having to wade thru tall sea grass to get to the water's edge to see the birds.

This is one viewing platform on the  refuge...

It's right by the road so I've never seen anything in this area, maybe a Great Blue Heron or some coots on occasion.   It is a beautiful view tho...

One cool thing about trying to see over the grass is seeing all these dragon flies sitting up like pinwheels on the stems....I found 11 in this one photo!  The air was thick with them!

This one caught my eye..especially the red dots on the wing tips...

And the name is even more eye catching, its a Halloween Pennant, (Celithemis Eponina Drury)


These 4 showed up and I can't figure why ebird said it's rare...beause I've never been here without seeing Greater and sometime Lesser Yellow Legs too...hmmm  This is Greater yellow legs in breeding plumage note the barring across the flanks and down onto the belly 

WAY up high had 4 Mississippi Kites...Only one got close enough for a photo...and I had to crop it to even show this to you 

And along with those 4 was the bird I went down to find, it is not rare they do breed here but I had never seen one so now I have...

also a heavy crop of the lifer........Swallow Tailed Kite! 

And what a beauty!!  An amazing flyer!  Easy to see where he got the name...

He swooped...he tucked and dove....


And then swiftly flew far away!  Another day spent out in nature, my Savior!

Every day is a new Adventure.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Ducking the Heat!

It's been HOT! More humid than anything...but that makes it so uncomfortable to be outdoors where I love to be so I've been a couch potato.  I have been doing most of my outdoor chores, get it done as early as I can ...meanwhile I'm back to receiving the ABA rare bird alerts for my area...and one came over  that I watched for a few days....it was a bit of a drive but with the AC blasting in the van I figure may as well make the drive, get off the couch for a day, so on the eve of the 4th, away I did go.


North up I-26 which they call East and West, so  I guess we must drive West...to get to North Carolina, about 37 miles over the border near Asheville.  It was a bit cooler, or less humid I should say.  (90 degrees) If you've visited or ever heard of the Biltmore Mansion, and the Biltmore Forest, right along the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, that's where I was.  My target area was Julian Lake Park...it's a nice park on the banks of the Julian Lake, there's picnic areas, a playground, fishing pier, a dock for boats, and plenty of Ducks and Geese!

My target bird was actually a duck! But while looking for him I saw this....an Egyptian Goose!  Wow. check out these feathers. 

Egyptian Goose


And those PINK legs...what a surprise, I had not seen him reported...so I was happy to see one here.  

These ducks and geese are wild, but they are also well cared for, I must explain.  They live the life of normal waterfowl, they have predators, they are free to come or go but why would they go when they are being fed?  I met one of the volunteers...and she explained that there is a group of benefactors who come and feed the ducks and geese that call this lake home. 

I walked around with this lady who is one of the volunteers that feeds the waterfowl...

She took me over and I got to hand feed some of the Greylag Geese and the Muscovy they were so gentle when they took the pellets from our hands....and the Muscovy had 4 ducklings...so very cute.  This one eating up here is only a year old she is not the mother of the chicks, they may be her step siblings. 

And my first Indian Runner, a Domestic Duck, they walk upright like a penguin!  Here's one but he didn't walk for me he was enjoying a rest...Brown duck on the left 

I reported these as Greylag and Canada Goose Hybrids, 

And some others, 

I'd say this was def a hybrid too...

AND last but not least the target bird, this lone white cheeked pintail!  What a beautiful duck!  I didn't get to see him in the water wish now I had waited till he was ready for a swim, but he was more interested in resting after he foraged on the pellets the lady tossed out...


This duck is much smaller than a mallard...

Look at the lovely feathering on his back...and he has this brilliant green wing stripe showing up here in this shot..

This is not a domestic duck, he is hanging out with a group of hand fed ducks and why not... he arrived wild and has settled in nicely....I don't know about his breeding code, but he sure is a fine looking duck.  The volunteer told me he has been living here on and off...he left when it got cold and returned in the spring.  It is a Neotropical species spottily distributed in South America and the Caribbean and a frequent visitor to marsh land in Florida...according to Cornell Lab.

A really fine day of ducking the heat!  I'm creeping up on 450, half my goal at half the year so my cup is half full!

Every day is a new Adventure.