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Do you ever forget what year it is? Right then, right when you’re right in the middle of it?

Ever feel like, right when you weren’t looking, someone pushed the Pause button on your life, and there you were, stuck?

Neither one of those “feelings” accurately describes what I have been feeling lately — and by “lately,” I mean, “oh, for the last three or four months (or longer)” — but, somehow, they both seem to apply. Mix in the fact that the change of seasons has already occurred (can’t you just feel the days getting shorter and shorter?) and the knowledge that winter is just around the corner (I’m sorry, Jane and Deb and everyone else with a disdain for cold weather, but it’s true!), and there you have it — and by “it” I mean “me.”

(It is all about me, still … right?!)

So, here I am, stuck in my lil’ time warp, convinced that, in the midst of it all, every once in a while, I am also experiencing something painfully similar to what my mother– and other mothers before her, and women in general long before (and after) all of them, and so on and etc., into infinity, more or less — would possibly refer to as a hot flash.

And I’m only 42.

Although, the other day (maybe yesterday?), I got to thinking about turning 43. And so far, my years as a fortysomething have never bothered me, but suddenly I was struck (stricken?) by the notion that, suddenly, 43 sounded very old. I mean, although I wouldn’t want to wish any of the years of my life away, there’s something that sounds so much better about 44 — mostly the fact that it’s a multiple of 11 — than 43.

I don’t know. I’m kinda cranky. Could be because I’m still dealing with my sinuses/allergies and my mostly screwed-up sleep patterns thanks to the congestion and the Benadryl or NyQuil or Claritin-wannabe that I’ve taken over the past two weeks. (No, I haven’t mixed or over-indulged in the medications, and I’m pretty sure I’m not dependent on any of them.) Meanwhile, I developed my mid-winter cough last week, about three months early, but I’m happy to report that it seems to be fading.

In fact, all in all, I’m happy overall … just a little out of it, I guess.

Other than that, what’s been going on?

Well, for starters, I’m looking quite forward to watching the Cubs play Arizona in the National League Division Series starting on Wednesday. Karl and I both attempted to get tickets — both of us spending 45 minutes or so in Virtual Waiting Rooms at our respective computers, hoping to get logged into the system — but we were denied. If I wanted to pony-up a couple hundred bucks, I could probably go on eBay or StubHub and get a seat for Saturday’s Game 3, which will be played at Wrigley Field, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t bear the idea of spending the weekend “on the road” (See? I told you I’ve been feeling old!) … especially when the idea of watching the game from the comfort of my couch or, better yet, viewing it on the 48-incher, sounds much more appealing.

I realize that not everyone likes baseball, but if you happen to be feeling the least bit ambivalent about which team to root for in the playoffs, I would encourage you to cheer for the Cubs. They could use all the positive energy we can muster because, let’s face it, 1908 was a long time ago … and, as I have become painfully aware, none of us is getting any younger!

In other medical news, I am pleased to report that Kiddle is doing amazingly well after having The Operation last week. I took her to Dr. Clark last Thursday — after needing three attempts to get her into the dreaded “pet taxi,” the final try leaving me with scratches all over my right forearm and a gash in my left palm — promptly at 7:30 a.m. The vet had originally said she would be ready to come home at 12:30 p.m. that day, but when we told him we also wanted to get her wormed and vaccinated, he told us he’d keep her there overnight.

Kiddle emitted a couple of mournful “meows” on the way there, but otherwise didn’t seem too upset. I picked her up at 9:30 a.m. the next day.

Diane had told me, going in, that Kiddle “might not like you anymore!” after I had crammed her into the carrier and taken her to the vet’s office (seems Patches turned against Kurt a few years back when he caught her, put her in a box and took her to the vet’s office to be treated for what turned out to be a sinus infection). However, not long after I had set the carrier on the ground and Kiddle had sprinted out of it, sure enough, she started rubbing against my legs like before.

My kitty still loves me!

(I’m supposed to take her back in a couple of weeks to have her stitches removed. We’ll see how much she loves me after that.)

In photography news, I’ve been shooting away, occasionally, but have been slacking about posting. Believe it or not, I’m still trying to get organized in ordering prints of photos from the past year or so (that’s sort of where my confusion over what year it is comes about) and am making a genuine effort to, at the very least, get some of my favorites into albums or frames.

Meanwhile, here are a few shots from the day I saw Peter Tork. I was en route to the tennis tournament later that afternoon, but a light rain was falling, so I figured the tournament was still in a weather delay. I swung by a road on the west edge of town where, the previous night, I had found some sunflowers. While I was shooting, my phone rang; it was Diane, asking me where I was (because, apparently, it wasn’t raining at the tennis courts and our match was getting ready to start) and what I was doing. I told her I was taking pictures of sunflowers, and she seemed neither impressed nor convinced that that was a very good reason to be late for a tennis match.

I, on the other hand, thought it was a perfectly understandable reason — and I’m pretty sure at least a few of you agree!

No Trespassing

3 Sunflowers

Red Ant

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Sunflower

This is the hummingbird I “adopted” over the weekend. (I’m not the one holding the birdie, but I did get to let it fly from my hand after I took this photo.)

My Birdie

I think this is a female ruby-throated hummingbird, based on what Master Permit Bander Vernon Kleen told us at the sixth annual Hummingbird Festival. (I have to admit, I was concentrating on taking pictures more than I was on listening to what Vern had to say.) Male ruby-throated hummingbirds have … well, ruby-colored throats — once they’ve matured, anyway. Females and young males do not have ruby-colored throats. Apparently, you can also tell their gender by their tail-feathers, and one way to determine a younger bird from a more mature bird is by whether their beaks have ridges.

Young hummingbirds have ridges or tiny notches on their beaks — basically, from having their beaks smooshed whilst the baby birds are still in the egg, according to photographer David Brewer! The ridges get worn down, however, as the birds dip their beaks into flowers and feeders and what-not; hence, older birds have smoother beaks.

Anyhoo, I dig hummingbirds. Can’t help it.

Hummingbird & Sunflowers 1

Hummingbird & Sunflowers 2

Hummingbird & Sunflowers 3

Hummingbird & Sunflower 4

And along the lines of SNL’s “Find the Pope in the Pizza Contest” from the 1970s: How about a “Find the Hummingbird in the Rose of Sharon Contest”?!

Humminbird & Pink Flowers

I was feeling a little dismayed the other day because I had not yet seen any sunflowers this summer. I found one at Diane’s neighbor’s house, but it was all scraggly and dried out; I saw some in Herrin the other evening when we were getting gas on our way back from Pizza & Pasta Express, but Kameron and Kendra were tired, and I’d already wasted several minutes taking what I thought was an alternate route (turns out it was one giant rural circle), so I decided to forgo a quick photo shoot.

Then, yesterday, I discovered some sunflowers just outside Freeman Spur — thanks to Sheila, who had told me about them at work. She had told me how to get to them, too, but I had never been to “The Spur,” so I was rather confused by all the curves. I called her as I was driving, and just as I was explaining where I was, I saw them!

“Never mind, there they are!” I exclaimed.

Sunflowers

Sunflower & Flutterby

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My Shots on Flickr

Waving

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Shed & Pump