November, 2016

The first week that I got back from the west coast, I spent sleeping and eating and sitting indoors.  Then I got back outside to enjoy the beautiful Pennsylvania fall weather.  I finished fixing the last thirty feet of the stone wall along my driveway and spent a week in the yard, cleaning up leaves and planting some new Winterberry bushes.  These are excellent for winter bird feed because their berries don't taste that good to birds, so they eat them only after everything else is gone.  So these nutritious berries are usually still available late in the winter when the birds need them the most.  I spent time going for walks without my camera and binoculars.  Kathryn, Greg Allen and I started a new company called The Birds Eat Free Foundation in September and in November, I did the paperwork to obtain tax free status for BEFF.  This should add a nice new wrinkle and help to focus my activities.

 

December, 2016

The weather was so unseasonably mild that it set some record warm temperatures for the day / location.  We hit 70 dgree weather for more that a week and were warmer than southern California on some days.  I got out and played golf twice and got a decent score once.  Chris, Beans, and I had a really good walk one morning at the John Heinz NWR in Tinicum.  We recorded over 35 species, mostly common birds, including some cool ducks - Pintails, Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, and Mallards.  I went to Conowingo Dam on a day when the eagles were flying and fighting over fish that they were getting in the water below the dam.  When Rachel, Kathryn and I went to Conowingo Dam, the weather had gotten back to the normal December cold and we didn't see as many eagle as you sometimes get at this location.

 

Pintails, John Heinz NWR, December 2015

 

Mallards, John Heinz NWR, December 2015

 

 

Bald Eagle, Conowingo Dam, December 2015

 

Kathryn and Rachel at Conowingo Dam, December, 2015

 

January, 2016

I visited my brother, Ken and his wife, Nancy in Canadaigua, New York in the Finger Lakes region.  We took a long walk along Canadaigua Lake near the city and I would be lying, if I said that I wasn't cold.  I have respect for the many Canada Geese, Crows, Cardinals, Mallards, and tiny Chickadees that can survive in these conditions.  We saw one Mallard, stunning in brilliant breeding plumage, sitting on the ice near shore and ventured closer to get a better look.  He didn't fly.  When we came back a half hour later and saw that he was still there, we were certain that he had been frozen into the lake.  The next morning, I used him in a poem.  As usual the poem has a bird in it, but it's about people.  Wesley is the founder of the Methodist movement and Bonhoeffer was killed by the Nazis near the end of World War II.  The mallard photo is one that I took of a bird at John Heinz NWR that is as beautiful as the one that we saw in the frozen North.

 

 

            A Mallard in the Winter

We drove along the lake so happily

And saw a lovely duck that looked so nice

We got a little closer and could see

The bird was frozen solid in the ice.

 

It drifted on the water in the night

And never felt ice form around its feet

So now it holds its green head high and bright

In death, its beauty seems so bitter sweet.

 

We got ourselves some shelter from the cold

And talked about our heroes from the past

How young John Wesley was so proud and bold

And how the good Bonhoeffer breathed his last.

 

His choice was walk away and leave no trace

Or let them freeze his spirit into place.

 

 

 

 

February, 2016

It's weird how when animals go into real hibernation, they start off at their heaviest and loose all that extra weight as they doze through the winter.  It seems that modern humans are completely opposite to the natural order.  We start the winter at our most fit, gain weight, and work hard through the winter.  Back in November, I was as thin as I have been since my middle twenties.  By now in late February, I've put a few of those pounds back on and I am unfortunately close to normal again.  

This week, I finished writing a novel that I am hoping you will read.  It's called "Telekinetics Eat Free".  It doesn't have anything to do with birds and isn't a sequel to "Birds Eat Free".  Unlike my first attempt to write a book, this one has an actual story and plot.  I should have it ready to download from Amazon Kindle by April.  I'll post my progress on that in follow on journal entries.

I am coaching softball with Greg this spring.  He's the Varsity coach for Unionville Chadds Ford High School and I'm the Junior Varsity coach.  Rachel is Greg's assistant coach on Varsity.  The girls on the team are really nice and very talented. I'm looking forward to a fun spring with softball.  So I need to stick around here through May.  That's not a problem and should give me an opportunity to see the spring migration on the Delaware Bay.   After the softball season is over, I expect to go for a nice, long walk.

 

March, April, May - 2016

I spent these months coaching softball and starting a new book.  Softball took up four hours each weekday, unless we had a game.  Then it took up more.  It was a fun experience.  The girls were all excellent people.  On top of that, they were pretty good athletes.  We worked on a lot of fundamental skills, game strategies, and emphasized the mental aspects of the game.  We tried to teach the skills of practicing to perform well, focusing during competition, learning skills outside of your comfort zones, taking direction from a leader (coach or manager or teammate) who might not be smarter than you, getting proper nutrition and sleep, and taking responsibility as an individual while performing within the team concept  -- all these skills have direct carry over to every aspect of future life.  It seemed like the players enjoyed the season as much as the three coaches did.  We also won a lot of games.  The Varsity was 9-10, despite having to compete against teams with pitchers earmarked for college careers,  The JV was 12-5 (I think, but I don't feel like looking it up right now.  The point was that we did win our share of games.)   Honestly, softball took up a lot more time and effort than I anticipated and so I probably won't do that next year.

I renamed "Telekinetics Eat Free"  to "She changed her mind...".   Both are good titles, but the new title captures the theme of the book better.  I printed out five copies and handed them to family and friends, hoping to get some quick feedback.  That didn't happen.  They are all busy with their own things and aren't really fans of this kind of book.  I didn't publish it yet as an e-book, but will get to that.

I created a new web-site at BungieCordBill.com.  The plan is to move my personal stuff, including this journal over to the new site and to use BirdsEatFree.com as a more corporate looking site for the Birds Eat Free Foundation.  The new Rocket Theme template that I chose for BungieCordBill.com is really slick.   I started the site, but it will take months of work to get the material moved over and start to use it regularly.

I did the 2016 990-PF form for the Foundation and Greg reviewed it and signed it.   I think that we are completely up-to-date on the Foundation obligations, but I need to push through some additional projects this year to continue its energy.

I started a new book called "The Balderston Drive Conspiracy".  It is about digging a hole in the backyard.  As of July 14, I am about two-thirds done.  The writing is going very well and I think that it will be a good read.