The Best Parts http://thebestparts.net Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude Sun, 14 Jun 2015 23:57:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Elk Knob State Park http://thebestparts.net/elk-knob-state-park/ http://thebestparts.net/elk-knob-state-park/#comments Sun, 14 Jun 2015 23:57:01 +0000 http://thebestparts.net/?p=4360 Gail and I went with our Forsyth County Audubon bird group to Elk Knob State Park in the North Carolina mountains. We went specifically to look for the Golden-winged Warbler. We were in the right spot, hearing our target warbler on several occasions. But we never quite laid eyes on one. We did see or … Continue reading Elk Knob State Park

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Elk Knob State Park

Gail and I went with our Forsyth County Audubon bird group to Elk Knob State Park in the North Carolina mountains. We went specifically to look for the Golden-winged Warbler. We were in the right spot, hearing our target warbler on several occasions. But we never quite laid eyes on one. We did see or hear several other warblers, too, including Ovenbird, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, and Common Yellowthroat. Other fun mountain birds included Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, and Veery. All told, we finished with 24 species, which is not a big day as far as counts go, but it was a FUN day! We had a nice group on a nice day at a beautiful place!

Here is a pic Gail took of the Chestnut-sided Warbler:

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Indigo Buntings are always cool to see:

Indigo Bunting

Then we decided to take a hike all the way to the top of Elk Knob, an elevation of 5,520 feet.

We encountered this deer along the way. She stayed surprisingly close for quite a while. I wonder if she wasn’t protecting a little one somewhere close by.

at Elk Knob

And at the top, we were rewarded with these amazing views!

Princess Gail at Elk Knob State Park

Gail at Elk Knob

Man, did we get a workout, too! According to our FitBits, we finished with over 15,000 steps, or about 7.5 mountain miles, and credit for 111 flights of stairs!

We are so grateful to be able to enjoy things like this. I hope we can keep doing it for a very long time! :-)

view from Elk Knob

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Two new winter visitors http://thebestparts.net/two-new-winter-visitors/ http://thebestparts.net/two-new-winter-visitors/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:29:24 +0000 http://thebestparts.net/?p=4348 Our backyard bird list is now up to 67 species with the addition of these two new winter-time visitors: the Ruby-crowned Kinglet and the Hermit Thrush! ūüėÄ

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Our backyard bird list is now up to 67 species with the addition of these two new winter-time visitors: the Ruby-crowned Kinglet and the Hermit Thrush! 😀

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Hermit Thrush

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First Backyard Ruby-crowned Kinglet http://thebestparts.net/first-backyard-ruby-crowned-kinglet/ http://thebestparts.net/first-backyard-ruby-crowned-kinglet/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:32:29 +0000 http://thebestparts.net/?p=4338 Despite the blizzard conditions up north this year, we had not had a flake of snow until today. We are having a few flakes now. Cold weather and snow bring the birds out to our feeders. Among our many visitors today, of 21 species, we saw our first backyard Ruby-crowned Kinglet! Not the sharpest picture, … Continue reading First Backyard Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Despite the blizzard conditions up north this year, we had not had a flake of snow until today. We are having a few flakes now. Cold weather and snow bring the birds out to our feeders. Among our many visitors today, of 21 species, we saw our first backyard Ruby-crowned Kinglet!

Not the sharpest picture, but the one that shows the ruby crown best:

IMG_0733

Eastern Bluebirds:

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A Carolina Chickadee, a Brown-headed Nuthatch, and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet:

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The Nuthatch and the Kinglet:

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A Downy Woodpecker:

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From the top down, an Eastern Bluebird, a Dark-eyed Junco, a Pine Warbler, and a Carolina Wren:

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Great bird-time at our house today! 😀

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No resolutions for 2015 http://thebestparts.net/no-resolutions-for-2015/ http://thebestparts.net/no-resolutions-for-2015/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 22:00:48 +0000 http://thebestparts.net/?p=4325 For some reason I am not motivated to even think about a New Year’s resolution for 2015. Sure, I could set some easy goals, like to improve my diet and exercise, or to write and draw more, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to feel obligated to any of that. If I have … Continue reading No resolutions for 2015

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Click here to view the embedded video.

For some reason I am not motivated to even think about a New Year’s resolution for 2015. Sure, I could set some easy goals, like to improve my diet and exercise, or to write and draw more, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to feel obligated to any of that. If I have a special goal at all, it is to do a triathlon with my son, Kevin, sometime after my 60th birthday in May. But I can prepare myself for that without any particular resolution.

Usually I like New Year’s resolutions. There’s something about starting things fresh on January first. But I tend to set New Year’s goals that I don’t quite accomplish. I lose interest, or I lose my motivation and energy, or unexpected things get in the way. Then it feels a bit like a failure, even if I tell myself that I had made progress in one way or another.

So this year I will not set specific goals. I do want to eat right, exercise more, etc. But I will do that day in / day out, week in / week out anyway. Instead, I will go with the flow, wherever my energy takes me.

See, the thing is, I have a lot of interests, and there is never enough time in the day to do them all. I tend to go in spurts, too. I’ll focus on this for a while, and then on that. And that’s okay. So I’m just going to accept that.

I have to admit that my looming 60th birthday is working on my mind a bit. Not in a depressing sort of way, but acknowledging that time flies and is running out. I only have so many good, energetic years in me. I don’t want to waste any time at all. I even hate that I have to sleep and eat. I really think that this pressure to live life now, while I can, replaces any need for New Year’s resolutions. I am motivated by the ticking clock, and I am motivated to stay healthy and strong for as long as I can. There are a lot of things I want to do!

So, resolutions or not, here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous, and productive 2015! May all your dreams come true! :-)

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National Novel Writing Month http://thebestparts.net/national-novel-writing-month/ http://thebestparts.net/national-novel-writing-month/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 23:41:05 +0000 http://thebestparts.net/?p=4312 Today marks the end of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It is the first time I participated, and it definitely won’t be my last! The point of NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words towards a novel, during the month of November. That boils down to 1,667 words per day. Well, I didn’t even … Continue reading National Novel Writing Month

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NaNoWriMo crest

Today marks the end of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. It is the first time I participated, and it definitely won’t be my last!

The point of NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words towards a novel, during the month of November. That boils down to 1,667 words per day.

Well, I didn’t even come close to the goal. I will finish the NaNoWriMo today with 15,780 words, and I am actually quite happy with that!

I wish I could have written more, but work, a trip to visit family, and a visit by family, took precedence. We all have priorities. I’m not a full-time writer.

But wow, did I ever learn a lot! NaNoWriMo forced me to do several things:

  • To decide on a specific genre, topic and title for a novel.
  • To make a good guess at the eventual length of the novel.
  • To define characters, their internal and external conflicts, and their story arcs.
  • To write dialogue.
  • To choose pivotal scenes through which to tell the story.
  • To determine point of view and voice.
  • To establish my work flow, which for me was to first outline the story before I felt ready to start writing.
  • To find the right physical space, ambiance, and frame of mind for writing.
  • To set specific goals for each writing session.
  • To write in an interesting, story-telling fashion, as opposed to the precise, non-fiction writing that is burned into me as a result of my medical education and career.

15,000 words gets me a long way toward my novel, which I have estimated to be in the 120,000-150,000 word range typical of science fiction stories. Theoretically, at this pace I could finish it in 10 months. Presumably I would get better at it, and faster, so I could possibly finish it in less than 10 months. Then again there is the matter of editing, second and thirds drafts, etc., which could delay the novel’s completion by an unknown amount of time. In any event, I now have a road map for the novel, a growing toolbox of writing knowledge and skills, and a good start!

As a side benefit, I am again more interested in reading. That seems to come and go in my life. But now I will read with a better appreciation of the writers’ styles, and will hopefully learn even more about writing in the process.

If you have ever thought about writing a book, I strongly encourage you to consider NaNoWriMo next year! Start early by deciding on a genre, topic and title. Think about characters, settings, etc. Set up an outline if you like to work that way. There is a lot of prep work you can do before the NaNoWriMo actually starts.

Oh, and BTW, get Scrivener and learn how to use it! (This is not a paid advertisement. I just believe there is no better tool for writers than this outstanding software.)

 

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