Thursday Things

1. I had quite the visitor on Friday.

virginiarail-4

This is a Virginia Rail. Typically a shy bird that hangs out in freshwater marshes, this one decided to defy all expectations and “hide” in plain sight on my concrete patio.

virginiarail-2

I have no idea how he ended up in my courtyard, given that I rarely see birds of any variety in it, never mind birds that should be on the shores of Lake Michigan. He was able to run around the courtyard just fine, and I saw him fly from a sunken staircase up to ground level, so he didn’t seem to have any broken wings. My theory is that he might’ve hit a window somewhere and was recovering from being stunned or he, being a pretty small creature, was having a hard time with the high winds we had Friday and decided to shelter in the courtyard until conditions were a little friendlier.

virginiarail-3

Regardless, it was cool to add a new bird to my life list and get to see a Virginia Rail so clearly.

Then on Monday, I had another good bird encounter!

yellowbelliedsapsucker2019

Check out that fluffy Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! I have a special place in my heart for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers after my traumatic encounter with one two years ago, so I look forward to mid-April when they migrate through the city and I have a chance of seeing them (preferably on trees, not my personal belongings). I saw one in an evergreen last April, and actually saw another one in an evergreen in the same area this past Saturday. Both of those times, they were pretty high up in the tree and fairly easily spooked. But then on my walk at lunch on Monday, I encountered this fellow! I could not believe how brave he was! Granted, my walk wasn’t down the busiest street in Chicago, but this tree was only a couple feet away from the sidewalk. There he was, drilling away without a care in the world other than getting some sap out of that tree. I ā¤ migration season.

2. I do not ā¤ snow-in-April season.

aprilsnow

Sunday was ridiculous. I know that it sometimes snows in April–sometimes even later than April 14!–but this was next level. It snowed all. day. The city got 5.3 inches, only .1 inches off the all-time single-day record for April in Chicago! I knew it was going to snow on Sunday, but I don’t think anyone expected it to snow so much. There was even thundersnow! It was nuts!

All I could think about on my way to church that morning was how unspeakably glad I was that the Lakefront 10 Miler was on Saturday, not Sunday. I know there were races in the area on Sunday, and I cannot IMAGINE running through that nonsense. It was miserable enough walking the three blocks from my CTA stop to my church, never mind running any sort of substantial distance. I had briefly toyed with the idea of trying to find a 5K to do on Sunday to see if I could take advantage of my current fitness level/PR streak, but never acted on that impulse to see if I could find any races and boy am I glad I didn’t. I almost certainly would’ve DNS-ed.

3. I leave tomorrow for a 12-day trip to Europe. On the one hand, I’m really excited! I’ve wanted to take this trip since…like 2013, I think? I originally planned to take it in 2016, then spent all my money set aside for the trip on physical therapy instead. I wanted to go in 2017, but a family wedding conflicted with when I planned to travel, so then I pushed the trip back to 2018, but another wedding was scheduled for when I wanted to travel. So, 2019 it is! I’ve dreamed about this trip for a really long time, and I’m looking forward to making it a reality.

On the other, more immediate hand, I am SO. STRESSED. about this trip. Or, more specifically, all the things I have to do prior to the trip. I’m not too stressed about being abroad. I’m not traveling alone, which takes some of the pressure off. My stress about being abroad is related to language barriers and general unfamiliarity with my surroundings, but I’m not super stressed about those things – like, a 3/10 on the Bethany Stress Scale. My understanding is that most people speak English in the places I’ll be (particularly in, you know, England. Ha.), between the two of us on the trip we have somewhere between a rudimentary and semi-proficient grasp on the native languages of the other countries we’ll be visiting in case we run into someone who doesn’t speak English, and in my experience visiting new places for the first time, I usually get familiar with my surroundings fairly quickly, so I think that will be okay. I’m a little stressed about the flights, too, but that’s mostly from a duration/anticipated lack of sleep standpoint, and there’s nothing I can really do about either of those things.

However, I’m at approximately a 9.8/10 on the Bethany Stress Scale when it comes to all of the things I need to do between now and tomorrow. I ended up taking this afternoon off work to buy myself some more time, which feels like one of the most ridiculous reasons I’ve ever taken PTO: taking PTO in order to prepare for upcoming PTO. But there was absolutely no way I was going to get through all the packing and chores I need to finish before heading to the airport without an extra four hours (especially since I would really like to go to church tonight, as I won’t be able to go on Good Friday). And then, of course, there were all the things I needed to do before today: itinerary creation, booking transportation, buying tickets for places we want to visit, coordinating with people we’ll meet up with while abroad, getting outlet adapters, getting foreign currency: it has been a lot of work. First world problem work, I suppose, but a gigantic source of stress over the past few weeks nevertheless.

Speaking of which, I don’t expect to have a whole lot of content on the blog while I’m gone. There might be one post if I can get my act together before leaving, but getting my act together for the blog is at the very bottom of my priority list right now. Otherwise, I’ll talk to you all in May!

Any tips on keeping boredom at bay during a trans-Atlantic flight? I can only spend so much time working on my coloring book (my normal way of passing time on flights)

 

6 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. Your bird photos are always so interesting. How did you get into this hobby?

    Have a great time on your trip! So jealous! I am always stressed as I’m about to travel. It seems like no matter how well I prepare, there are always things that come up and there is just no way to avoid the stress. But, it will pass! Have fun!

    • So, I grew up in a fairly rural area, and we had a couple bird feeders, so we’d get birds coming by all the time. Every now and again (usually during migration) we’d get special birds – Indigo Buntings, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles. Because it was so rare that they’d come by, it was always a big deal to my mom, and it became a big deal to me, too. When I moved to Chicago, I initially though there weren’t any birds around at all other than pigeons and House Sparrows, but the more I started paying attention a couple of years ago, the more I realized the city actually gets a lot of birds, especially during migration. So I started paying attention, started seeing birds I had never seen before, and the next thing I knew I was an all-in bird nerd, ha. It’s a really fun hobby! I like going out and never knowing what birds I might see. Sometimes it’s just the usual suspects, but when there’s someone unexpected, it makes it that much more exciting!

      Thanks! I’m telling myself that all the stress now will make the trip that much more enjoyable. Hopefully that’s true!

  2. Aww, how awesome you got to see those two birds! I hope the little guy made it out of your courtyard okay.

    OMG, I am totally like you with pre-travel stress. I almost always take PTO before a trip to prep! So that does not seem absurd to me at all. I hope you are able to get everything done today and chill on the flight and get excited for your adventures! Too bad you don’t have a 900 page book to read šŸ˜‰ I read, watch movies, and knit on flights! I haven’t done a long one in a long time, though!

    The snow didn’t bother me at all but I didn’t have to go anywhere. I can’t imagine racing in that. Xaarlin did, and her race photos show how horrible the conditions were!

    Have a great trip!

    • That makes me feel a lot better that I’m not the only one to take PTO to get ready for actual PTO. And seriously! I should’ve waited to read The Goldfinch until now! Incidentally, we’re going to be in the city that has the museum where the actual painting The Goldfinch is, and I’m hoping I might get to see it. I spent 21 hours reading a book about it – I feel like I have to go see it now!

  3. Bethany – please take LOADS of photos during your trip and take notes … I want to read all of the recaps when you get back! šŸ™‚
    p.s. Links to where you stay/eat will be added to my spreadsheet of places I’d like to visit when I go back to Europe next year! (The joys of dual citizenship and family all over Europe) šŸ™‚

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