Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Monday, January 28, 2008

Random thoughts about living by myself in Ithaca

  • It's usually warmer here in Ithaca than in Duluth--sometimes by more than 20 degrees--but today it was five degrees colder. Right when the John Beargrease Sled Dog Race is running--and the dogs get overheated easily. (Don't confuse that with the John Chickenfat Sled Bird Race!)
  • I love Ithaca, but where are the sidewalks? My street is winding and hilly, with a lot of houses, some very close to the road itself, and plenty of deer crossing everywhere, but there is little shoulder and no sidewalks at all, and yet the speed limit is 45 and cars often exceed that. Okay--I live sort of in the country, but within city limits. But how about in the regular residential neighborhoods? So far all the places I've been to have had no sidewalks except the Cornell University campus itself.
  • Why don't the grocery stores carry frozen pizza with just sausage? There's plenty of cheese pizzas, pepperoni pizzas, and other varieties, but I've yet to find a regular old sausage and cheese pizza. Not that I eat frozen pizzas very often, but what's that about?
  • Everyone says to go to Wegman's for groceries. It's HUGE. I'm scared to go inside. I didn't like shopping for groceries in Duluth, and this is no better. Small wonder Russ did most of that for me.
  • Even with Kasey's litter box stuff, I only have one small garbage bag a week, and would be happiest if I had pickup every two weeks, the way my recycling is picked up. But the choices for a hauler are once a week or once a month. I think it's this way in Duluth, too, but there I wasn't living alone.
  • I don't miss TV except Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. But wonderful as they are, even when the writers' strike is over, cable is too expensive.
  • I LOVE my balcony. My apartment is way more expensive than I can afford, but the balcony may make it worth it. (So if my budget is any judge, I'm afraid Tufted Titmice and Red-bellied Woodpeckers really are more entertaining that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.)
  • When you've been working out of your house and easing into your days and goofing around whenever you want, it's exhausting to get into regular full-time working habits. This would be true in Duluth OR Ithaca. But it's why I haven't been posting. I'm dead tired at night and always asleep, or incoherent, by 9 pm. And that's 9 pm EASTERN time--in Duluth, that's 8!
  • Another reason my apartment is worth the extra money is that it's one of the few places that allow renters to have a dog and a cat. I miss Russ and Tommy and a lot of my friends. I think I'd go bonkers without Photon and Kasey. They are SUCH good company!
  • Tufted Titmice are absolutely adorable. I've missed having them as daily birds since we left Lansing, MI, in 1976. I'm SO happy to be back around them!
  • I'm going to be sad that Red-breasted Nuthatches aren't daily birds around here, but am really glad that there are a few around this winter, including one male that comes to my feeder every few days, to ease me out of the habit of seeing them.
  • As soon as I get back from my trip next week to St. Louis and Duluth, I'm going to order mealworms from I'm hoping against hope that I can entice a Tufted Titmouse to come to my hand.
  • I can't wait to get my fluorescent light fixtures from my home office. None of the bulbs in my apartment are fluorescent, I don't have a step stool to change them, and my New York power company doesn't have great deals on them the way Minnesota Power does.

Something cool

Read this post from the Encyclopedia Britannica's environmental blog and scroll down to "Books We Like." That was a pleasant surprise to learn about!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Strange Hybrid?

Last week when I checked the photos on my BirdCam, I came across this one. It's funny how the junco is sitting precisely where it can look to someone unfamiliar with birds like it has a Downy Woodpecker body!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Internet at last!

I don't have internet yet, but my neighbor got hers installed yesterday and I'm getting a free ride on her wireless until mine is installed next week.

So how is Ithaca? Lovely! Not nearly as cold as Duluth. Most days have been gray and/or snowy, but when the sun shines it's ever so beautiful, and there are SO many birds!!! I live in a neighborhood within Ithaca but on the outskirts, called "Ellis Hollow." There's a wooded wetland back of my apartment, and the view is beautiful from my balcony. It's too cold to sit on the balcony, but I have my bird feeders up there, and things are HOPPING! I haven't seen so many birds so consistently all day long every day since my own feeders were hopping like this in Duluth back in the 80s.

How's the Cornell Lab? Every bit as wonderful as I imagined it! I love my job, I love the people I work with, I love everything! People seem to flow with good ideas, and there's a wonderful and empowering synergy there that is ever so much more productive than competitiveness.

Keeping everyone and everything straight has been exhausting, though. I come home very tired every day, though I'm doing a lot better than at first. Photon seems to love our neighborhood. I take her for two walks a day and she likes the familiarity now. Kasey has had a splendid time helping me put together furniture. Since I couldn't fit any furniture except my collapsed Sleep Number Bed mattress in my car, I've decorated the apartment in Early 21st Century Target. Kasey has to poke into every box, stick her nose into every piece I'm working on, and toy with the screws and small parts--she's been great fun, and I'm really glad I brought her and Photon along.

Of course, I miss Russ and Tommy and my Duluth chickadees. Russ and I had our first interstate date last weekend--we went to the movies to see Atonement at close to the same time. I called him while I was in line at the Ithaca Mall, and he called me after his showing in Duluth ended. It was lovely but ever so sad. There was a hauntingly beautiful scene with a Barn Owl.

I'll get around to posting photos later in the week, assuming the internet keeps working. And now I can get back into the swing of trying to podcast my new programs every week.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Spying on my birds

This has been a hectic week, but I'm starting to get a little settled in. I leave for work while it's still pretty dark, and get home after dark. I set out a feeder on my balcony Friday, but didn't have any visitors until Sunday. Even more birds showed up Monday, and every day this week I've added at least one new species to my feeder list! How did I know they were there? I used my spiffy little BirdCam! So far, the camera has seen Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatch (I saw Red-breasted Nuthatch myself on Sunday, but haven't seen any evidence that it's showed up since then), Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Dark-eyed Junco, and American Goldfinch.

My cat Kasey has been watching the birds all week--she's even left some saliva on the balcony door! But she's an indoor cat, so the birds are safe.

Meanwhile, I haven't had much chance for Bigbying yet. The best bird I've had at work has been a Common Redpoll flying over Wednesday.

When I finally have Internet at my apartment, I'll add a bunch more photos!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Here I am!

I'm pretty much moved into my new apartment, Photon and Kasey seem to be enjoying themselves, and I'm having a wonderful time. But no Internet at my place yet, and I probably won't have it until next week. Oh, well. Meanwhile, first bird when I drove into Ithaca was a Blue Jay--it flew right over my car as I passed the Welcome to Ithaca sign! First bird at my feeder--Tufted Titmouse. Not many feeder visitors so far--three titmice, a group of chickadees, and one Red-breasted Nuthatch that I know of. My cell phone reception is VERY poor from my place, except on the balcony. Last night when I was talking to Russ out there in the cold, feeling sorry for myself, suddenly a Great Horned Owl called! I only heard one individual, but he or she (I think it was a male) called over and over and over. So with luck it will stick around.

I sent my phone back to Russ today--Verizon is going to exchange it for another model in hopes that I'll get better reception. So now I have no phone OR Internet at home for several days. But I'll be connected again soon.

Now I'm getting back to work. Did I mention yet that I LOVE my job?!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

199 miles to go!

I'm at the Chautauqua Lakes rest stop on I-86, meaning I've gone 1015 miles with 199 to go! Photon and Kasey are tired of the long, long car ride, but have been wonderful company and very good little riders. My car is filled to the brim, and I'm getting back on the road right away. But I figured I might as well take advantage of the fact that this rest stop has free internet--New York is a civilized state!! I don't know when my own internet will be connected, but I'll post news when I can.