1. I am officially a competitive climber! Well, kind of.
Last Saturday, I participated in my first ever climbing competition. It took place at First Ascent Avondale, where I’ve climbed a couple times in the past. The comp ran for three hours, and during that time you were free to climb any of the 53 routes set for the comp. The routes ranged in difficulty from 5.6 (very easy) to 5.13 (very hard) and had a certain point value assigned to it based on its level of difficulty. Once you completed the route, you earned the points assigned to it, and if you flashed the route (completed it on your first attempt without any falls), you earned a 10% bonus on top of the route’s stated point value. The judges took your five highest scores and combined them to form your final score.
I signed up for the recreational division, but apparently climbed too many hard routes, as I found out after they posted results that I had been bumped up to the intermediate division. I came in second to last, since most of the people in the intermediate division climbed 5.10as and higher, while I climbed mostly 5.9s, which had lower point totals (not that it matters – I don’t have the skill or strength to climb anything beyond a 5.10a at this point anyway). But regardless, I still had a really good time. The routes at First Ascent are set QUITE different from the routes at Brooklyn Boulders, and it was fun to try something new.
2. I think we’ve established quite well that I love birds, yes? If we haven’t, I’ll just state it for the record, clearly, once and for all: I love birds. They make me happy. I also will whine to no end about how I wish we had more birds in Chicago, or, more specifically, how I wish we had more birds like I had in my yard growing up: goldfinches and house finches and chickadees and blue jays and catbirds and mourning doves and cardinals and tufted titmice and downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers and, on lucky occasions, bluebirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles, and redheaded woodpeckers. So many pretty birdies! Meanwhile, I consider anything that isn’t a starling, sparrow, robin, or pigeon to be exciting around these parts.
WELL. I’ve recently started working on identifying birds by sound rather than just by sight, and have come to realize we have a lot more birds in my neighborhood than I gave the city credit for! In the past week and a half, I’ve seen and heard both chickadees and mourning doves, but what I hear most often (aside from robins, that is) are actually cardinals! Now that I know what cardinals sound like, I hear them singing their songs all the time.
(When you hear this, look towards the top of the trees, since that’s where cardinals tend to hang out in my experience.)
Anyway, in addition to that, I know that cardinals also just peep, and on Sunday, I was in my apartment getting ready for church when I heard a very loud peeping. I looked out the window, and:
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG
A lady cardinal came to visit me!! Not only did she come to visit, but she came to harvest the stringy bits left over in my planters from last year to use for her nest!! (I actually had a lady house finch do the same thing a couple of weeks ago, to my endless delight. I’ve been trying to figure out how to attract birdies without attracting Chippy the Squirrel, and it appears I’ve hit on something with my laziness at not removing the coconut liners from my planting troughs.) And then she came back on Monday morning, too! I told her to tell all her friends and invite them, as they are all MORE than welcome to take as many stringy bits as they need to construct their homes.
Seriously, though, you have no idea how happy this made me. In nearly four years of living in the city, all I’ve wanted is to be able to see birds from my window like I could growing up, so this just makes me burst with joy.
3. In much sadder news, this past Sunday, aside from the cardinal spotting, was not a particularly fun day for me. I’ve known my church has been in financial trouble for quite some time, but they just recently revealed to us how dire the situation has become. It’s so bad that, short of a literal miracle in the form of about $1 million or so falling from the sky, we pretty much have to sell our building in order to avoid bankruptcy.
I could write untold numbers of blog posts on the reasons why we’re in this financial situation, on the anger and hurt I feel towards current and past leaders and parishioners who put us in this state, on the gut-wrenching injustice of it all *shakes fist at sky*, but for the moment, I just want to bemoan the absolute lack of any concern for the historic preservation of churches in this city. We have a few options of what we can do to preserve our parish in the sense of the (very few) people who continue to attend my church, but none of them involve preserving the building, which is now over 125 years old (and, unsurprisingly, the cause of many of our financial problems, as 125 year old buildings don’t generally come equipped with regenerating roofs or self-fixing stained glass windows). Regardless of what happens (aside from that $1 million falling from the sky option), the church will, at the absolute best, be completely gutted, if not torn down entirely. We have no landmark status, so nothing prevents anyone from tearing it down and putting up a couple characterless, unimaginative, hideous modern three flats in its place if they so chose. I don’t know. I find the whole thing very upsetting. Regardless of how you feel about religion, Christianity or otherwise, I think nearly everyone can agree that any house of worship, regardless of which religion claims it, tends to top the list of beautiful architecture in a place. The care and concern that goes into building a church (or synagogue, or temple, or mosque, or whatever) far exceeds the care and concern that goes into building a house, or an office, or a school (or at least a school these days…I’d make a solid argument for the beauty of school architecture in the past), at least from my perspective, and to tear that down to make some sweet, sweet cash is just something I find morally repulsive, not only from a religious standpoint, but from a respect for the past standpoint and from an appreciation for art standpoint.
But I don’t have an extra $1 million lying around (hard to believe, I know), so there’s nothing I can do And that just sucks.
Do you have an extra $1 million lying around you want to give to my church? Haha. One can dream…
Any other ideas on how I can attract more birds to my deck without attracting less savory creatures (i.e.: squirrels, raccoons, rats, etc.) at the same time?