Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breaking the silence.

Spring migration is almost over. I've spent a total of about 6 hours of it birding. This year is so different from the last. I'm starting to miss doing a big year. I'm watching friends do them this year and they've already blown well past my measly 234. If I were to bring up the idea of another big year it would surely be the end of my marriage. And really, it ain't worth that to see a few more birds.

For those that enjoy reading this stuff, I'm sorry for being so absent. There has been a crushing amount of work with my job this year. Now that I'm with a new partner at work I feel a renewed sense of commitment to doing the best possible job of advertising I can. I had grown lazy in my old partnership. My work was ok but certainly not great. And let's face it, every one of you hates to see ads. Shit, I hate seeing them. The only thing that can make them bearable is if they don't completely suck ass. So I'm trying not to bombard you with complete shit advertising. Instead, I'll bombard you with better than average ads. Not sure that's so much better really.

A moth on our back door. Anyone know the species?

At home, things have not been so great this migration season. Sure we are still a happy family but Shep is not well. Nothing terrifically serious, no tumors or anything life threatening like that. But when your child is uncomfortable it weighs heavily on you. My son has developed this issue with his adenoids, whatever the f**k they are. He is living a generally miserable life right now. His adenoids are big I guess. Imagine the worst allergies/head cold you've ever had and multiply that by ten and then, think of having it 24-7 for nearly 6 months. The other day he sat next to me on the couch. We were watching some avengers cartoons. He asked if he could whisper something in my ear. "Of course", I said. Very softly he asked me this, "Dad, will I be sick like this forever?" It made me cry. He feels so shitty, and has felt this way since about December (right around his 4th birthday).I felt really helpless and so sorry for him. It's as if he has begun to resign himself to feeling shitty for the rest of his life. I never even considered he'd think that he would live a long life. He seems to live so day-to-day. I'm constantly amazed by his ability to grasp the scale of life.

The new sandbox with anti cat-litter covering.

There is an operation he can get. Pretty standard stuff. They go in through the mouth and up into the nose area and just scrape out these adenoid things. Seems easy enough but he needs to be put completely under and might need to be in hospital over night. Right there. That makes me freak out. Hospitals are full of capable people but even capable people make mistakes. I'm sure it'll be fine but if you have a kid(s), you know that feeling of helplessness. I just wish I was a mutant that could remove his problem and take it into myself. Then, I could get the operation and he could just go back to being a kid and stop thinking his days from now on would be filled with feeling miserable.

Georgia doesn't have this issue. Way back, 2 years ago, she had a little issue with one kidney. Again, nothing too crazy. One of them was smaller than the other and was backing up a bit. I remember freaking out at the time but we dealt with that. During migration season this year she developed a pretty crazy cough. It was so insistent. There was no clearing her throat. She would literally cough until she puked. This went on for over a week. It seems to be letting up finally now but it was really intense around our place for a couple weeks.

Took a moment out to shoot my toy along side my dad's.

Shep's issue was really flaring up and with Georgia sick too, Rachel and I got about three hours sleep a night for a long while there. This takes it's toll on a family. Everyone was generally tired and miserable all the time. Things are looking up a bit now at least for the kids. Last night was the first night Rachel and I both slept right from midnight to 6  am. It was really amazing. For a few days there it was like when these two little people first came home with us. Sleep for a couple hours, wake up, deal with issues and then sleep another hour or so. Then go to work or in Rachel's case, draw for the kids book she's currently working on. It's been really nuts.

To top it off, our dog Lucy seems to be going insane. She has taken to shitting/pissing all over the house, generally right after going out for a run in the yard. She has also started biting the kids and us for no reason at all. We think she may be blind and deaf as she doesn't seem to see you unless you're right close to her, then she bites. She also can't hear you even when you yell her name unless she looking directly at you. She's always been a good napper but these days she just wanders the house aimlessly at all hours of the day and night. Last night Rachel let her out into the yard and she just ran off and didn't come back. I went looking and found her in the woods behind the house with a cut on her forehead. She took one look at me and bottled off into the forest. I chased her about for a while. She actually got tired and stopped running so I tackled her as gently as I could and carried her home. She spent the entire trip violently chewing on my hands. Crazy. She's an old girl though. 14 or so years old. A chihuahua.

Breakfast Rachel made me while I was working in the garden.

On the up side of things, we got lots of work done on our first long weekend of the summer. The vegetable gardens are nearly complete. We planted beans, peas, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, and many more. Our strawberry patch is filling in nicely as are the raspberry bushes. And all this time spent outside is spent around birds. There have been so many great birds in my back yard this year. For nests, I've managed to find White-breathed Nuthatch, House Wren, Robin and Great-crested Flycatcher. I also built the kids a sand box to play in. It's about the only thing that can keep Shep happy and unbothered by his nose issue. There's really nothing I like better than sitting in my garden with Rachel listening to the birds and watching my kids play together in the sand box.

My beautiful Georgia.

As an aside, there is some really very exciting news around Punk Rock Big Year. Of course, I can't mention more than that right now but you'll be the second to know when I can talk about it more. Rachel will be the first to know. Hope everyone's spring migration is going great.

Paul Riss
Punk Rock Big Year


  1. sorry to hear of all the troubles...

    This, too, shall pass.

    Did the World Series this year. 147 species. Maybe a Big Year is next.

  2. Wow, sorry about all the stuff your family is going thru right now. I hope things get better for all of you real soon!

  3. 147 OC, nice. do a big year. it's fun.

  4. thanks dAwN, so sorry to have missed you this year at BSBO. i tried so hard to be there but time just didn't permit. i nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to organize it into my schedule. i'm taking Shep to the ENT specialist this Friday to work out his surgery.

  5. Checked out your work..still think the sumo stuff was and is great. If that's average to you, I look forward to seeing what you have in store.

  6. Thanks Anonymous, if that really is your real name. ;-)

    Yes, that was a fun piece to be a part of. Now I just need to work hard to make something better. I know for sure I have yet to beat that one but we are trying.

    Thanks for continuing to follow my blog Anon.

  7. Hang in there, Paul!

  8. Thanks Josh. Shep has an operation lined up for early June.

  9. Hi Paul, (I chanced upon your Twitter profile through AKBirder.)
    I hope my saying that you have a very interesting website makes you feel better. Also, I totally identify with the 'shit birder' post. The only difference is, I don't tweet my sightings. Also, my part of the city almost devoid of sightings. My stupidity remains with me and i continue to be a backseat birder (the kind who has books, no bins and a camera with 3.5x zoom).

    Second: The white moth... I think it is an "Agreeable Tiger Moth" or what I simply Googled - White furry moth. ;)

    Finally, I really do hope your son gets better. It's great that you have the space (your yard and sandbox) and the time for your kids. Otherwise, it becomes even more emotionally difficult to handle - for both sides.
    I'll sign off with this -- to a speedy recovery and perfect health!

  10. Aristarkhos; Thanks for the uplifting comments. I've been following AKbirder for some time. Thanks for the Moth insight. Shep now has an appointment for an operation that will really help him so we are looking forward to that.

    Don't ever be ashamed of being an backseat birder, any birder is a good birder. But I'd urge you to go the extra mile, it is very worth while and can be super rewarding. A decent pair of bins can be as low as $100. a really formidable pair will run you about $500. beyond that you're getting into the thousands and really, it's not needed.

    Where are you located? I may know someone in your area that can really help you get started with the best places to go and so on.

    Again, thanks for your comment and good birding.


  11. Hi Paul,
    Apologies for the late reply. Glad to know about Shep's appointment. It'll come as such a relief to him.

    And I won't be an ashamed backseat birder :) I try to 'evangelise' my non-birder friends with little bits of information and try to get them interested. I have been trying to save up for a binoculars but it's a little difficult - have to look after an ailing father with bare bones support, so none of us at home get much time for ourselves. even if i do get myself a pair of bins, i won't get the time to make a trip to the areas in Bombay that are birding hotspots.
    My days are spent in office and whatever is left of it is with my wife and 4 year old. One of the reasons for this delayed response. :)

    Am in Bombay, India. And thanks again for the encouragement and follow back on Twitter. Take care!

  12. Very sorry to hear about your dad Aristarkhos.

    There's no such thing as a bad birder. As long as you love them, you're ok in my books. You might be one of my first followers that has connected from Bombay. I'm very happy to meet your aquaintance and I wish you the best of luck. I'd be really happy to hear of any cool birds you see over there. Is there any one Bombay bird in particular you like to see most?