Sunday, May 31, 2020

Keeping busy

It's the end of the month (wow, it almost felt like a normal month) and it's time, once again for P.J.'s monthly photo blogging challenge. This month's theme was keeping busy and the tough part of this month was to narrow down my selections to just five photos and I actually cheated a little bit on one of them since it's a collage, but you'll see why I did it in the story. This is also the 1 year anniversary of my retirement of teaching. May 31st last year was my last day on the job and ironically, I was much busier in the early part of this first year than I am now, but then again, you could say it's a different kind of busy. Here's my five photos interpreting the theme of Keeping Busy.

1. Environmental art

I viewed part of this theme as not necessarily all me keeping busy, but seeing how others are also coping with this. I go on photo walks on a daily basis around my neighborhood and one of the neighbors just up the street from us has been creating some environmental art as a way to keep busy during this strange time we're having. She walks around the neighborhood looking for stones that she can use in her art projects. She told me she has a mental image of what she wants to create and then goes out looking for stones to help her create her image. She glues the stones to a tile and inlays the tile along the sidewalk in front of her house. This is the third of about 7 or 8 she has created over the course of the last month or so. There is a piece depicting a couple canoeing, a child holding a bunch of helium balloons and a couple backpacking. The backpacking piece just showed up this morning and she has room for about 3 or 4 more pieces along this part of her front yard. Since they live on a corner, I'm hoping she continues with this around the other side of their house.

2. Cairns

Another house near us has created cairns using their existing rocks, at least I'm assuming they're only using their existing rocks. But as you can see, they have a lot of rocks in their front yard in which to choose, so I think I'm safe in assuming this. The cairns actually have changed a number of times over the course of the month. I suspect that others in the neighborhood either are attempting to add to the cairns, or are just deliberately toppling them over. Either way, I've noticed that they take different heights and positions, so the owners don't seem to be deterred by their cairns changing shapes. They also have a rather large collection of gnomes and buddhas in the front yard, many of which are also balanced on some of these stones. You can see examples of both of these in the background of my second shot.

3. Angry Bird©

About three weeks ago, I noticed this Angry Bird© plush toy appear in our local park. I figured it would last a day or two before someone would pick it up and take off with it, but it kept showing up every single day in a different part of the park. Eventually, it made its way out to the front of the community center, where I figured, for sure, it will disappear as soon as a worker sees it just lying amongst the shrubbery. Nope, it continued to be busy and move around and I started documenting its movements as it spent each day in a different part of the park. Several times, I thought it was gone, but it showed up again, or I'd just missed it the last time I was out walking in the park. The park is a fairly large park and there's lots of nooks and crannies in which to hide something like this, but someone or several someones are having fun kicking it around. I guess that's why it's probably an Angry Bird©.

I thought about taking it myself and making a photo journey of it as I wandered about the park, but my wife convinced me that the spirit of the Angry Bird© was that it needed to just move naturally, by others, not manipulated by me, so I left it for others to move around. The only manipulation I did with the bird was to place it upright before taking its photo.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to spot it for the last four days and I'm worried that it might have flown the coop. It's gone MIA previously since I first noticed it in the park, but this has been the longest period of time that I haven't been able to see it somewhere in the park. Ironically, the last time I did see it was back in the far reaches of the park, that very few people go to, so I don't think it was regular foot traffic doing it in. There is a day care on the other side of the fence from where I last saw it so perhaps someone thought it was from there and tossed it over the fence. I went and looked over the fence this morning to see if I see it, but it didn't appear to be there. Hopefully, it'll show up shortly in another part of the park, but if it doesn't, I hope whoever took it will give it a good home.

4. Birds

In this post, I talked about the different kinds of birds I've been noticing in the neighborhood. I've been keeping myself busy rediscovering my DSLR and the main subject over the past couple of months have been birds. The same park where the plush toy had been found is also a great area to go bird watching. I discovered why one day while I wasn't in the park, but the day that I took this shot of a western bluebird. This shot was taken in the front yard of a house that abuts to the rear end of the park. On the park side is a nice fifth of a mile trail that winds in and out of some citrus and juniper trees. Five times around and you've walked a mile and probably seen a lot of nature.

Still, I kept thinking there seemed to be an inordinate amount of birds back in this area. Then I started noticing a peacock call. Hmmmm. So as I was out walking, I spotted the bluebird and got several good shots of it and the owner of the house came out and we had a nice conversation about birds in general. And yeah, he has a peacock in his back yard and so spreads seed around quite generously, which attracts other birds including the western bluebird pair.

So because of the neighbor keeping busy taking care of his own flock, I've been kept busy taking wildlife photos. We sort of have a symbiotic relationship, although he's not really getting much from me, but I seem to benefitting greatly. As noted in my other post, my overall knowledge of birds has increased in the last couple of months and I've been able to up my photography game as well. It's keeping me busy and I'll take that. Walking around outside is much better that sitting home inside on your butt all day long.

5. Speaking of butts

This particular nesting site is in the opposite direction of the park where I take most of my bird shots, but the acorn woodpeckers holing up here some to like this particular tree. There are a couple of different nests inside this tree, not all of which are acorn woodpeckers. 

Over the course of my many daily walks, I'd see the woodpeckers  flying to and fro from other trees back over to this one, but could never spot where their nest was until one day a week ago, when I came upon the tree from a different angle than what I'd normally been approaching the tree. That made all the difference in the world. I watched one of the two parents swoop down from a neighboring palm tree, alight on the trunk of the tree and then quickly disappear inside the hole. I feel fortunate that I was actually able to get this shot, but those two parental birds were busy flying here and there taking care of their young. I guess it's a concentrated burst of parenting as opposed to a longer period that we do over the childhood of our own offspring.

And there you have it, my five photos interpreting the theme Keeping Busy. Please stop by P.J.'s blog and check out some of the other photographer's interpretation of the same theme.


  1. love the birds and the rocks! stay safe :)

  2. I remember a year ago when you were writing about retiring, and what a year it has been!
    You live in a creative neighborhood, these "stone crafts" are super cool, so are the cairns.
    I wonder what the backstory of this Angry Bird might be? Does it have a GPS tracker installed? Keep us posted if it reappears...

    1. It's been in incredibly "interesting" year. I got to do some of the things I wanted to do, and others fell by the wayside, more likely to be postponed for a season or two.

      That would be cool if the Angry Bird did have a GPS tracking device in it.

  3. I very much enjoyed your post for this month's challenge. Your bluebird capture is awesome! I giggled at the Angry Bird© collage and do hope he is simply hiding out somewhere in the park to take a break. Looks like retirement agrees with you. :-) I just finished a semester of teaching 22 Gen Z graphic designers at our local university and looking forward to a more relaxing summer of photography opportunities.

    1. Thank you ever so much and good luck on a restful and fulfilling summer.

  4. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your environment with us.

  5. Great take on the theme. Thanks for sharing! Such a beautiful blue bird.

    1. Thank you very much. I'm lucky I get to see that bluebird about every other day.

  6. I really appreciate how you not only shared some of what's keeping you busy, but also some things that are keeping others busy. Plus they all relate to nature, which is always a win in my books. Congratulations on the 1-yr retirement anniversary. I'm sure it's not gone entirely as imagined. But you seem to have a positive attitude towards finding new opportunities to be creative and engaged while waiting for things to settle enough that you can pursue your original plans. Take care!

    1. Thank you very much. Over the years, I've learned out to make lemonade out of lemons. Things change, but eventually, things will get back to a way where I'll feel more comfortable doing some of the things I enjoy doing.