One person’s kryptonite…

20 December, 2015            One person’s kryptonite…

…is another person’s gesture of gratitude! Evelyn and I have a friend named Joel Elston who is a life coach specializing in health and addiction recovery. He recently published a memoir called The Bench. It’s fantastic. Here’s Amazon’s blurb: “The Bench chronicles the life of a compulsive gambler that takes his addiction to depths most cannot imagine, only to discover that the horrors of addiction would be necessary for the amazing transformation that happened in his recovery […].” We know Joel as the guy who goes to the gym whenever he has a spare moment, drinks green smoothies and eats grass fed beef. Imagine our surprise when Joel recently told us that “Superman has kryptonite – I have this:”

Superman has kryptonite...

Superman has kryptonite…

Which, my goodness, have you ever tasted that stuff? It’s hard not to have a weakness for it. But we’ve had roofers working hard on our house today – on a Sunday – and it’s cold.

Those guys were working harder on a Sunday than I work any day of the week.

Those guys were working harder on a Sunday than I work any day of the week.

And they all took a lunch break and were sitting on drywall buckets, eating and soaking up the sun. We have enough Ghirardelli Kryptonite (a.k.a. “Peppermint Bark”) to reach to the moon and back. Although it’s disappearing quickly. Ev said “why don’t you take some out to those guys?” So I did, and there were four guys out there, and a significant language barrier. They got mighty quiet and serious when they saw me (a.k.a. “the homeowner”) walking up to them. I held out the bag for the first guy to reach inside and get a handful. He got an enormous smile on his face. I walked to the next guy and held out the bag for him – same thing. They started smiling and chatting and became animated and enthusiastic in an instant. Fun little moment on a Sunday afternoon – thanks Evie!

It doesn’t feel a lot like winter here in Richmond – or in a lot of the eastern US, I’ve heard. But the sun is up for a very brief time and it’s still cold at night. The shortest daylight of 2015 will happen the day after tomorrow, December 22. So the Pony Pasture deer are in their winter mode, which means finding a warm spot during the middle of the day and taking a rest. I saw this one on Tuesday. She’d watched us (me, Mackey and Turner) for some time but eventually found us boring. The mailman pulled down the street and she turned her attention toward him:

Watching the mailman:

Watching the mailman:

This morning Mackey and Turner and I were hiking again and this time we brought our friend Yuki. It’s really hard to photograph the three of them together. Here’s Mackey and Yuki having fun while Turner goes to the water’s edge for a slurp:

Yuki (white) and Mackey cavorting, Turner heads for the water's edge.

Yuki (white) and Mackey cavorting, Turner heads for the water’s edge.

Anyway, they’re all leashed up when we get to “deer country” and the deer just watch us walk by. Today I was staring at a doe like the one above, and I was shifting around trying to get different angles. She was staring straight at me, like so:

She's hard to pick out - look for her black nose near the center, an ear above that, and an eye

She’s hard to pick out – look for her black nose near the center, an ear above that, and an eye

I think I’d done that for three minutes or more when two more deer stood up practically under her feet! I was clueless! They all started walking through the woods. It amazes me there were so many deer in the woods and I had no idea. There are at least two in this picture; they’re hard to see:

At least two visible deer - look hard - they blend in.

At least two visible deer – look hard – they blend in. Near the center, one’s head (look for eyes/ears/nose) is facing, another’s hind quarter in front of that. 

I saw a bluebird at Pony Pasture Tuesday; they’re easier to pick out:

Pony Pasture bluebird

Pony Pasture bluebird

Buffleheads too, of course. This is what most of my bufflehead pictures look like – always one is diving. If you ever photograph buffleheads, you will have a lot of them disappear the instant your lens is pointing toward them. They’re not trying to get away – they just dive a lot. It’s what buffleheads do. Presumably they’re getting food:

Somewhere, a bufflehead is always diving

Somewhere, a bufflehead is always diving

I saw a female pileated on Tuesday as well:

Female Pileated woodpecker

Female Pileated woodpecker

And this turtle sunning itself:

Mid-December turtle - crazy.

Mid-December turtle – crazy.

The local Red-tails are still out in full force. I see them nearly every day. I took this picture on Wednesday when the sun was bright. This is the female. Her mate was one tower away. Notice the conspicuous bulge just below her beak. That’s her crop; she’d just eaten. I would guess a mouse or a chipmunk by the size of that. But there’s no telling:

Female Red-tailed hawk with conspicuously bulging crop

Female Red-tailed hawk with conspicuously bulging crop

A friend told me about a Facebook group called Wildflowers, trees and fungi. So I’ve gotten a few pictures of fungi recently. I’m working on (not today) a mea culpa regarding my Every living thing project. It began as “Pony Pasture Flora and Fauna” and that’s how I should have left it. An overabundance of hubris nudged me to calling it “Every living thing,” and I thought I could catalog every living thing in Pony Pasture in one year. Fat chance. As I saw more and more plants and insects that I was unable to name, I thought “I’d better change the name to “MOST living things.” Then like thirty seconds later I saw another fungus it’s likely I’ll never identify and I thought “I’d better change the name to MANY living things.” Because there’s snails and moths and algaes and lichens and mosses tadpoles and slugs and molds and it’s mind-boggling. And think about this – this is just in one tiny little park in one medium-sized city! I’ll keep adding to the list, but I suspect my original notion of “every” living thing will not be realized any time soon, at least by me.

Still – here are a couple of neat fungi – or lichens or molds or something – that I photographed today:

Unidentified orange fungus. Or mold.

Unidentified orange fungus. Or mold.

The "every living thing" mystery continues

The “every living thing” mystery continues

If you celebrate Christmas on December 25, Merry Christmas. If Christmas is not your thing, I hope you have a spectacular day anyway.

All best,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, buffleheads, Dogs, Fun, fungus, Ghirardelli, James River, People, Peppermint bark, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Turtles, whitetail deer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to One person’s kryptonite…

  1. Mark Wittkofski says:

    Great photos as usual Jay and always fun to enjoy!

  2. Tom Dailey says:

    Good luck , ain’t diversity wonderful. Merry Christmas!

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