Remaking Old Magic with a Little Toothpaste and Elbow Grease

When I was a kid, one of my favourite chores was polishing silverware. I can't say how many times I was asked to do it, though it couldn't have been very many. Most of the time the good silverware lived in a heavy wooden chest on the top shelf of the hall closet, waiting patiently for a few holiday dinners a year. But every once in awhile it would be brought down and placed on the big table on an otherwise unremarkable Saturday, and I would be set up with a little blue tin of silver polish and a soft white cloth. I would methodically work my way through the curious array of oversized spoons and undersized forks and oddly shaped knives, genuinely enjoying myself. I wish I could say my pleasure came from being able to contribute to family celebrations, but the truth is that I just really liked watching the tarnish disappear beneath my fingers. It didn't feel like cleaning; it felt like I was conducting a ceremony to remove a curse.  It felt like magic. Decades later, I don

Streaking for Citizen Science Month

 ... eBird streaking that is. Along with being Earth Month, April is also Citizen Science Month . Citizen science is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of activities, but what they all have in common is that they provide ways for non-professionals to contribute in some way to scientific research and discovery. There are two ongoing data collection projects I try to contribute to regularly; iNaturalist and eBird.  iNaturalist is focused on observations of individual wild organisms (you can explore mine through my iNaturalist profile ), while eBird is a survey-style project based on observing all of the birds in a given area at a given time. Although I signed up with eBird about a year and a half before I joined iNaturalist, in recent years I've been using iNat (as the cool kids call it) far more often. But in honour of Citizen Science Month I'm currently trying to make up for that with a little bit of healthy self-competition: eBird keeps track of the most days in a row

Sketches are Back with a Sturgeon

Sometimes I find an activity I really enjoy; one that makes my day or week or month measurably better. Sometimes I get distracted or fall into old routines and drift away from that activity for no particular reason. And so it was with the #SundayFishSketch, which I was really loving about a year ago , and then three months later I just... stopped. But this morning I ate some cinnamon buns and drew a Lake Sturgeon, as one should:  I hope you are also enjoying life's simple pleasures, fish-based or otherwise.