Sunday, May 13, 2018

Marigold Festival

Each town has their "thing" for which they want to be known. In Maine, where I lived for a long time, the nearby town of Yarmouth is known for its Clam Festival. Here in Georgia, the town of Helen in the mountains is known for its Oktoberfest. Also in Georgia, 45 years ago, the Town of Winterville decided it needed sprucing up and planned a fundraiser and morale-booster. The planning committee chose the marigold to be their town symbol. The marigold stands for "hardiness, versatility, and vigor, and because it is a symbol of friendship all over the world." Funds from the festival are funneled back into the community to maintain buildings and beautify the area.

The town is small with population 1200 at last census. Strangely, it's its own municipality contained wholly within Athens GA. It's quaint, really quaint. Large, two story homes with wrap-around porches line the streets, a nice looking Baptist Church is front and center, an original train depot stands historically and heroically, and Pittard Park is the locale for many community doings, including this festival.

In my opinion, this festival is the perfect size. It is long-standing and reputable enough to attract a variety of vendors, but not so large that it's difficult to get around. My friend and I had a nice time for a few hours walking around and listening to music. Here are my photos of the day.







Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Crafting Friday Night (and Saturday morning)

The urge to craft and make things comes and cannot be denied, lol. I like making bookmarks. They're smaller. This is good because the larger page is more intimidating. The blank page when I'm writing doesn't bother me at all, ever. But the blank page when making arts or crafts is highly daunting! I'm not that creative with making things. There seems to be a disconnect between my mind's eye imagination in seeing, and my hands in producing it. What I produce is amateurish, and only that, after a struggle.

Anyway, last night I made bookmarks from my photos, and overlaid scripture on them. Then I laminate. I've been dissatisfied, though, in the results. I can't quite get the size right. Sometimes they come out too skinny and other times too fat. These two came out not-horrible.


I finally got a clue and searched online for a bookmark template. I found one on Teachers Pay Teachers, for free.


The next challenge was to figure out how to insert the clip art, photos, or pictures that I want, into the bookmark while keeping the shape. Hmmm. Just copying and pasting didn't work. After clicking around some, I found that if you click the image, then click 'Fill' and then follow the pop-up menu to where or what you want to fill the shape with, it will work. In my case, I had prepared some clips of work I'd already done.

When I paint or collage or stencil, I then scan the finished product into the computer, thus digitizing it. So I had a number of items from which to clip sections from and insert into the shapes above.


From left to right: an acrylic painting, a color pencil stencil with digital clip art overlaid, a watercolor, a stenciled and painted collage, a paper collage with stencil on top. All art is by moi.

Then the job is to print out. I forgot that when printing pictures from Word I need to lighten it in the edit section, so, they came out a bit dark. I used regular paper and I think photo paper would make it a little sharper. Something went wrong with the last bookmark and there is no black line border all of a sudden, but those are the vagaries of printing. If I make the margins smaller the whole thing goes funky. So, I'll figure that out next time. I just need to cut out this last batch. Overall, I'm pleased. I like the different shapes of the bookmarks, it makes them more interesting I think.



I plan on attending the Annual Winterville Marigold Festival later this morning with a friend. I'll be visiting and also photo taking at this charming festival held in a small and pretty town.

I might be so jazzed up that I come home and have a blast processing my photos and maybe make more bookmarks. Or the predicted heat might make me decide to lay down with the kitties and take a nap, falling asleep listening to birds out my window. Anyway, it seems to be a good day ahead. I hope it is for you too!



Sunday, May 06, 2018

Summer state of mind

I think these two photos represent my upcoming summer life pretty well.

Oh, the joy of reading. I found the Mrs. Pollifax book series lately and I'm looking forward to a long read through 14 of them. Well, 13, as I already read the first. They are cozy spy mysteries with an elderly female main character that turns out to have a knack for spying for the CIA.



And leisurely mornings drinking coffee. Sometimes with whipped cream! Slowly and quietly, from my favorite mug, not guzzled hastily from a Thermos so as to make it to school in time for the first bell.




School, where I work, is coming to an end in 15 work days. In 12 1/2 work days, the children will be released from school, and then we have a remaining 3 days to have our concluding meetings, and pack up our classrooms. School isn't over, and it's incumbent upon the teachers and staff to maintain standards until the end, but in my mind, oh, goodness, in my mind:


What a complete blessing to be able to work with children, educate them and support teachers on a  great team like I have in my school, then to stay at home and recover refresh relax rejuvenate...well, all of the above!

Teaching is demanding work. Gone are the days of snacks and fingerpainting, if they ever existed at all. Teachers work very hard to meed standards the Local Board, State and the Federal Government set, and parents too. It's like an extension of motherhood. Because our work involves real people with real needs from physical, to emotional, to educational, it almost never ends.  Planning, meetings, correcting, hugging, problem-solving, sometimes clothing and nursing, all happen in addition to teaching, all day long.

And I don't even teach. I am support staff, where I support my teacher in doing all of the above. When you invest emotionally and educationally in an entire person, it's tiring. When you do it for 22 little ones every day all at once, it's more than exhausting. The educational or behavioral strategies you apply, the changes you make in order to reach them, the love given out, the sadness when someone needs to be chastised, the heights when they succeed, or depths when they continue to squander their mind due to various reasons...all take a toll.

So summer comes along and as it approaches there comes a bounce in my step and a twinkle on my eye. I feel pretty happy also when moms get to spend valuable time with their kids at home and they do family things away from the hurry and scurry of the busy-ness of school year.

I always have Grande Plans for the summer. I'll write War & Peace! Not really, but huge plans, I never seem to meet them. Admittedly, it takes discipline to maintain a schedule throughout the 9 weeks we have off for summer. (We return on July 30). It takes discipline not to sink into a laziness that expresses itself in sleeping late, staying in pajamas all day, and eating potato chips or popcorn for breakfast (not that it has happened to me, noooo) but one has high hopes every year.

I do tend to wilt in the extreme heat of a southern summer, and I'm not an active person anyway, so much of the time I'll be in my small, cozy, lovely apartment that I love so dearly, reading, studying, listening to sermons, crafting, and watching movies. Alone. That is my summer state of mind.

Soon to make an appearance, first on May 22 at noon when we load the kids onto the buses for the last time of the 2017-18 school year, then again in force on Friday afternoon when we conclude our retirement party for the staff that are finishing strong after many years of service and are dismissed as staff for the last time this year.

Can't wait!!!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Is it easy to change my routine? See for yourself

This is what it feels like for me (an autistic person) to change my routine or add to my routine.




Reality to an autistic person is a confusing, interacting mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights... Set routines, times, particular routes and rituals all help to get order into an unbearably chaotic life. Trying to keep everything the same reduces some of the terrible fear. Jolliffe (1992) in Howlin (2004), p.137
Also-

Routines play an important role in the lives of people with autism. The everyday hustle and bustle that most people view as normal can be an overwhelming combination of frightening crowds, intimidating sounds and overbearing lights for people with autism. Routines help to create stability and order. 
People with autism quickly learn routines and are naturally motivated to repeat them. If the steps in a routine are presented with a clear beginning and end, the total routine is often learned quickly. Since people with autism are naturally motivated to repeat routines, the completion of the routine is in itself reinforcing. This includes daily, weekly, monthly and annual routines, as well as structuring tasks as consistent routines. 
A reliance on routine to provide certainty in the lives of people with an autism can potentially lead to their behaviour becoming ritualistic and obsessively rigid. This may be most evident during times of change or disturbance. If this occurs it is possible to support people away from this behaviour towards a more balanced approach to routine.


So anyway, there you go. A visual for you

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Do you love where you live?

I love where I live. I love the inside of my apartment and I love the outside yard.

On weekends and in summer I go out into the yard and take a walk around. There is an abundance of things to look at. There are a tremendous variety of birds, animals, and plants to marvel over. In spring the rhododendron, dogwood, pear tree, wildflowers, and azaleas are blooming. The squirrels and chipmunks cavort. Cows low in the distance. The vigorous rooster is crowing next door. Robins, crows, wrens, woodpeckers, cardinals, Eastern blue bird, cedar waxwings and many other birds I don't know fly from tree to tree and sing. The train hoots a few miles away. If it has rained, there might be a new variety of mushroom to observe on the tree stumps. A barn cat skulks by. It's quiet except for the birds, sounds I love.

The yard is large and contains lots of different trees. Dogwood, pear, magnolia, live oak, pine, and more. Here is a photo gallery of this weekend's morning rambles.





















Saturday, April 14, 2018

The weekend, coffee, and cats

The mornings are getting lighter and the evenings are getting longer. Ahhh, spring. Our yard has lots of birds and I enjoy hearing them in the morning. It's natural music and I love it. Wildflowers abound in the yard.


My morning has been filled with RefNet's music and a Sproul sermon. I also listened to Ligon Duncan's FANTASTIC T4G2018 sermon called The Whole in Our Holiness

Stop what you are doing and go LISTEN to that sermon RIGHT NOW. I don't usually urge or gush, because I know different people react to sermons differently. But this is one of the top sermons ever.


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My cat is with me each morning as I sit and type or do my morning routine devotional etc. He has coronavirus.
FIP generally follows infection of a feline coronavirus, which typically does not cause any outward symptoms. It is assumed that there are some types of coronaviruses that mutate into the feline infectious peritonitis, either on their own or as the result of a defect in the cat's immune response. Also complicating the matter is that a coronavirus can lie dormant in a cat's body over months before mutating into FIP. The FIP virus then infects the white blood cells, using them as transportation to invade the entire body. Source
So a cat can live for a long time with coronavirus but then for unknown reasons something triggers the virus into its more deadly form, Feline Infectious Peritonitis. (FIP).


Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease in cats which carries a high mortality due to its characteristic aggressiveness and nonresponsiveness to fever, along with other complications. This disease is comparatively high in multi-cat households as compared to those with a single cat. It is difficult to diagnose, control, and prevent...Source
All three of my cats have (had) coronavirus. Luke declined rapidly after the coronavirus triggered into FIP, and died fairly quickly after getting the disease (which was caused by my adoption of the stray, Murray, who unknown to me, had it). I've been noticing that Murray's coat is a bit rough and dull and he has been quiet lately. I am hoping it's my eyes playing tricks, or it's the change of season or something, and that he also is not declining yet. I know eventually they both will, Bert has it too, but not now. Not yet, please.

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I am definitely a woman of contrasts. Found these at Kroger on the marked down shelf. I could resist neither of them.



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Ahhh, slow Saturday mornings. Breakfast of cheesy grits, veggie hash with a fried egg on top. Yum! And coffee.


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Speaking of coffee, I found this at the Dollar store. I looked at the price and then looked again, it had to be a mistake. Nope. It was $1 for 7 ounces. The price per ounce was less than half of the next highest item, one I had been buying for years. (The Dollar General restaurant sized generic coffee). If I remember, it was 7 cents per ounce. Coffee that cheap can't be good, right? I bought one bag to try it.

It was good. Looking up Mountain High Coffee, it seems that the coffee is gown and processed in VietNam and then shipped to port Savannah for distribution to DG stores. Um, OK, well, it tastes good and I'm thrilled to find something at DG that's both inexpensive and actually tastes decent!!



PS, I went back and bought 4 more pouches.
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Speaking of buying things, The Special Store was having a 50-75% off sale last weekend. I saw on the photos they posted that they were selling a floating shelf bookcase. In inspecting the real thing, I saw that it was clean, new-ish, and heavy duty industrial (which I like)., There were three there, two black that were taller and this one that was gray and shorter.

In a 'use what you have' moment, a few months ago I had brought inside my wrought iron plant stand and had been using that as a bookcase. But now that spring is here I really wanted to bring that back outside as I am anxious to spruce up my patio area. I want to put come small cacti on the plant sand and the painted birdhouse I'd gotten a few weeks ago. This floating shelf book case was only $20 and I thought that was a deal. When I got home I swapped out the plant stand for my new book case.




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Speaking of using what you have, I had taken down a hanging quilt I'd had up for ten years in order to put a painting there instead. Yes change happens slowly in Casa Prata. What to do with the lovely hanging bar so it doesn't get lost or I forget about it? Oh, use it to solve another problem. I'd somehow accumulated a lot of bracelets. This is what I did with the bar:



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I plan to stay quiet today. Next week will be a bit busy as we begin a mandated statewide grade level test for 3-8th graders. I am proctoring. Today I will stay in, nap, read, and write some more. Lucky me, this is exactly what I love to do. About only 30 more days of school with the kids, so soon enough I'll have the summer off to do this every day, not just Saturdays. Have a good weekend everyone!


Friday, April 06, 2018

Murray's napping routine

When I'm home on weekends or on Spring Break, Murray, my younger cat, has a routine. He likes to arise with me from bed, where he sleeps at my feet atop the covers. I feed him and Bert in the morning so they enjoy their breakfast. Murray is an active cat and he marauds all night. He goes from window to window, spying out the nocturnal animals. he checks all the corners, crunched up leaves he might find on the rug or on my shoe I'd tracked in from outside, or chase moths or even invisible insects only he can see. He plays with his ball. I find it in different locations in the house.

But after breakfast, he's tired. He wants to be with me some more though, which is wonderful. As sit down at the table where my laptop is, with my coffee, he leaps on the table and lays down in the cat bed I have there behind the computer. He gazes at me a while (I feel so adored!) and then he curls up and naps.

I browse the internet, type, and read. He snores. It's nice.

Murray has always enjoyed sleeping under the bed covers. He likes his head covered. Sometimes he snugs his head under my arm, or pushed it up under my hand. But the bed is his favorite. Strangely, he will not sleep in or on the bed when it is not made. He lies the covers to be flat. If I linger at the table too long and he has decided to go to bed, he makes some noise or gets off the table and twirls around my feet. I know what it means: Make the bed!

I get up from my chair and head toward the bedroom. He is ahead of me. He sits under the headboard watching and waiting while I make the bed up. When I'm done, he noses his head under the fringe hanging down and then noses his head under the sheet. He jumps up and chooses which end to sleep in. Sometimes he chooses the foot of the bed, where an additional throw carries extra weight for snugness, or sometimes he chooses to snuggle up next to the pillow.

In any case, he will stay there all day until around 4:00 when he leaps down to take a drink of water from his bowl, and greet the world again.

Cats are so particular about what they like and their routines. I love Murray. He is a good cat.



I don't know what the difference was between being one foot
to the left or to the right, but it makes a difference to Murray,
who always chooses more toward the wall.



Wednesday, April 04, 2018

How happy

It's Spring Break. I'm off this week. No kids, no school, no bells, no duties. Just leggings and my oversize tee shirt and naps and kitties and BOOKS.

How happy am I.

Here is what I have been up to.

I have a pile of books I want to make serious headway in. Aside from blogging and answering technical theological questions from readers, both of which take up a lot of my day, I will be reading my Bible regularly in the Michael Coley Bible Reading Plan our church is doing together.

I also am 2 weeks behind in the Biblical Doctrine study I am doing with ladies in a Facebook Group. The study is authored by Jess Pickowcz, wife of Pastor Nathan Pickowicz, an author and a church planter up in New Hampshire.



I am listening to Dr Abner Chou's lectures in Exodus.

My duties and pleasures in the biblical realms concluded, I turn to the books I'm reading. I finished two of them, David Gibson's Living Life Backwards, lessons from Ecclesiastes, and Kris Lundgaard's The Enemy Within. Both were excellent. The enemy within is our sin nature, and it's a really convicting book.



I am still going through Reckless Faith and then someone gave me a book from my Amazon Wish List (I love Amazon Wish Lists, especially other people's- then I KNOW what to get them!), the book on Discipleship by Boice. I can't wait to start that today. Reckless Faith doesn't have a dust jacket, that's why I wrote the title on it. It is about having discernment.



Then there are the secular books.


A friend had recommended the Mrs Pollifax series, a grandma who winds up going undercover for the CIA, lol. Christy is about a 19-year old missionary to Appalachia in the 19-teens, a books I'd read as a teenager but missed the Christian parts. It is based on a true story but told in novel form.


Plants & Herbs of the Bible is browsable, meaning, each page is a stand-alone description of the plant featured on that page. Getting the Picture is a chronological overview of famed photographer John Naar's life.

Periodicals!



The Biblical Doctrine books is a monster, It's heavy and it's thick. I had a hard time handling it while reading it, so I bought this:




I was worried that the book would not fit, but one reviewer said his heavy Law Books fit on it, so I tried it. For $12.99 and free shipping it fills the bill!

I'm having tea from a china cup, because it's chilly outside. After 83 degrees yesterday, a cold front came through and now there is a freeze warning out for tonight. Go figure.

Well I better get back to it. Instead of writing about reading books, I should start reading books! Have a good one everyone!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why I don't watch Doc Martin any more



Doc Martin is a British ITV medical dramedy that has run continuously since 2004 (series takes a year off in between showings). The series depicts a fictional surgeon, Martin Ellingham, whose sudden onset of a fear of blood had caused him to retreat from his career in a busy London hospital to a sleepy fictional Cornwall town of Portwenn as a general practitioner, where the run-ins with blood would presumably be less frequent. The scenery is spectacular and the characters are suitably quirky.

Though it's never stated that Doctor Ellingham, or "Doc Martin" as the locals call him (to his uptight chagrin), is on the Autism Spectrum, in one episode a character playing a psychologist flatly said so. In addition, Doc exhibits many of the markers of Aspergers, including social deficits, appearing to lack empathy, unusual facial expression or postures, intense interest in one or two 'special interests' (medicine and clocks), no social filter, and etc.

The show presents the typical trope of fish out of water, and the fish is Martin and the waters are Aspergers. His gruff and to-the-point manner with no filter means the character has absolutely no bedside manner. He is a rule follower, and isn't nuanced. This means the character does not handle situations sensitively, either socially or medically. He has no friends, not for lack of trying on the people of the village's part. His empty social life doesn't bother him. He is single minded, once on a track he is like a bloodhound on the trail, nothing can make him give up. His main saving grace is that he can diagnose like nobody's business and he is never medically wrong.

He falls in love with school teacher Louisa, deeply. After many seasons, he gets up the nerve to ask her out and they begin a relationship. Of course, Martin isn't romantic and he often ruins dates or social situations with his bluntness. But what Louisa falls in love with are his positive qualities: he is loyal, courageous, brilliant, dedicated, a good listener, and in his own way, he cares deeply for Louisa and would never abandon or hurt her.

Just as in a neuro-typical relationship, an Autistic person has good qualities and irritating qualities. What I grew weary of is the writers' attempt to make all the compromises occur on Martin's side. Despite the character being unromantic, which Louisa knew going in, Louisa constantly complains Martin is not romantic. Despite Martin's abhorrence of social situations, Louisa constantly complains that he never wants to go out. And so on. Martin tries valiantly for Louisa's sake to adjust to her needs, which I found admirable. Louisa is never shown to be patient with Martin or make any compromises on her part. She just yells at him a lot for his deficits, making him feel crushed and bereft. Or she gives him the silent treatment, which, he doesn't understand why and he retreats back to medicine or clocks.

The series became all about Martin's inability to be the man Louisa wants, and it never focuses on his good qualities. A decent, loyal, brilliant, caring man is something to be valued, but the writers only deal with Martin's negative traits.

This is how people on the Autism Spectrum are often portrayed. The subtle or not so subtle issues with an autistic person are that they must change in order to fit in to a neuro-typical world, or worse, change in order to function at all.

Yet Doc Martin functions perfectly well. He had a brilliant career in London, and though he is dealing with a phobia, is making a success of his second career in Portwenn. He has a love interest, a satisfying hobby (clock repair), and soon, a son. He has two aunts who love him, a home, and a life. Just like anybody else. But these things are seen as less than, because he is autistic.

It's been my observation that people on the Spectrum (myself included) can and do function well by making accommodations on behalf of fitting in to the society around us, but also working in tandem with the culture by making our own unique accommodations.

But in Doc Martin, it's all about how Martin must change to make Louisa happy, never that Louisa must also change to make Martin happy.

Another television show that has recently been released that explicitly features a main character on the Spectrum is The Good Doctor, on ABC. The character is Resident surgeon Shaun Murphy at St Bonaventure Hospital. Shaun has a unique ability to visualize any part of the body in 3D, as well as an eidetic memory. These talents are brought up in the interview and touted by his mentor, Hospital President Dr Glassman. Glassman advocates for hiring Shaun, "despite" his autism. Other interviewers worried that Shaun's lack of bedside manner would hinder the good qualities he has, as well as any unpredictable responses he might emit when in stressful situations, such as occur in surgery. By a close vote, Shaun is hired.

I've enjoyed the presentation of how an Autistic character functions in a stressful employment situation. Shaun's 'special interest' of course, is medicine, but over the course of the show, Shaun branches out and enjoys watching football games, makes a friend or two, and even has a romantic encounter with a female friend who values him for who he is.

The show presents a young man functioning in ways that are surely Autistic, but are in parallel with all other people who also function in stressful situations and come up with their own solutions. For example, when stressed, Shaun holds and manipulates a plastic knife his dead brother had given him. A female neuro-typical character twists her hair. Others go home and drink.

In an early episode, a fellow resident (Dr Claire Brown) and Shaun are attempting to solve a medical problem and as a colleague, Brown asks Shaun a series of questions. He never answers. After a while she noticed that Shaun does not answer questions but will respond if she makes a statement. She altered her communication style and they began to engage with each other. Just like neuro-typical people do.

In another episode, a friend visiting Shaun's apartment made note of the unusual configuration of his furniture and the eclectic mix of it. As a boy, Shaun had lived homeless for a while with his beloved brother in an abandoned school bus. He arranged his apartment furniture to mimic the layout of the bus. This comforted him and reminded him of home. The furniture itself was eclectic because different caring adults in his life at that time had given the items to him. The bookcase came from the local librarian, the bureau from a teacher, and so on. It comforted him to have these things around him and to remember their kindness. And don't neuro-typical folks arrange their furniture for maximum comfort and maintain keepsakes (usually photographs) to remind them of good times and nice people?

The show presents an autistic person functioning in society as a whole person. He is a bundle of quirks, eccentricities, attributes, and traits that make up a complex person, just like any other person. Sometimes Shaun is a jerk, not because he is autistic, but because he is acting like a jerk. Sometimes he makes accommodations on behalf of the society around him, and sometimes the people around him make accommodations on behalf of Shaun. What a refreshing way to show someone on the Spectrum.

Though both are medical dramas, I enjoy The Good Doctor much more than Doc Martin. Maybe in the future the television writers will have more characters like Shaun Murphy. Meanwhile, Doctor Ellingham? Some advice. You're too good for Louisa.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cedar waxwings filled the trees this morning

When winter arrives, the birds go away. Here in Georgia, there are a few that stay around, and I love that. There's always a chirp or two in the trees, a swoop or two across the yard. But for the most part, it's quiet.

When spring arrives, the birds come back in droves. They liven the yard.

We have many tall trees and some bushes in the yard, it's great for the birds. We have a tall oak, live oak, a 100 foot magnolia tree, pine trees, and a variety of shrubbery for birds to flit here and there and light upon them. We used to have more cardinals but I don't see them much these days. Same with the mourning doves. We have lots of mockingbirds and jays and crows. I enjoy the warblers. We have lots of songbirds abounding (unless those are the mockingbirds, lol).

Birds are a knitter of air
energizing the sky
Making the air sing,
bringing life to the trees
aeronautical dips and flutterings
done so beautifully with ease

At dawn I like to walk around the yard to see what I would see. The sky lightens with pink almost all the time. it's a rural area so the the stars shine brightly, dark on the ground but starry light above twinkles. The sun had come over the horizon and the day was barely lit. A large flock of cedar waxwings flew over my head and landed in the highest of the trees at the edge of the yard. The rising sun bounced off their their gold chests into and came away as burnished gold. They sat preening, content and singing as they brushed themselves.

Most of them were facing away from me, so even with the zoom lens I could not get a great shot of their faces, but look, just look, aren't they pretty?


There were many more and a smaller flock came after a few minutes and settled in the next door tree, too. It was so fun to watch them.


The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head. The wings are broad and pointed, like a starling’s. The tail is fairly short and square-tipped. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see. Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. All About Birds
Here is a highly zoomed and cropped photo showing the red waxy wingtips. The birds were about 200 feet away from me at the time:



Well it was a treat.






I hope you had a nice day, wherever you are. It was nice here in Georgia, but clouded over in the afternoon and it's been sprinkling on and off ever since. You know what they say, March showers bring...oh wait, that's not right. We do have flowers though, and some warming temps and most wonderful of all, birds!