Slice of Life #11


Tonight was  Coffeehouse and Teacher’s Pet at High Tech, two of my favorite events of the year.  Coffeehouse is an opportunity for students to share their fine arts talents with the school community and it never disappoints.  Tonight’s performances included dance, jazz, pop, rock, and much more.  Even a Weird Al performance got everyone laughing!  I’m always amazing by the talent at HTHS and tonight was no exception.  Kudos to all of the current students (and alum!) who performed tonight.

My second favorite part of the night is Teacher’s Pet.  I still remember the first Teacher’s Pet competition during my days as a student at HTHS! Inspired by The Newlywed Game, Teacher’s Pet matches students and teachers in a great game that always leaves everyone laughing.  This year I competed with Emma, our school president and my mini-me.  We have so much in common that we didn’t even practice!

It worked out.  Because we are the Teacher’s Pet champs this year!

I’d like to thank Kenny Chesney, Dublin (Ireland), BASH, books, and sunny-side up eggs for helping us win.  ;)

Slice of Life #10


Did you know that if Fedex loses your package they don’t take any responsibility for it?

I did not know this until today.

On Tuesday I checked the tracking for an order that had recently shipped.  I ordered a new bed cover for the dogs from MollyMutt (an awesome company) and thought it was due to be delivered.  When I pulled up the tracking information on Fedex’s website I was happy to see that the order had been delivered earlier that day.

It all seemed too easy, so I should have been suspicious.

When I got home the package was nowhere to be found.  Ok, I thought.  Maybe the cleaning company brought it inside.  But I couldn’t find it anywhere inside the house, either.

No big deal, I thought.  A quick call to Fedex should take of this.  So I called and spoke to a lovely woman who set up a trace and told me that most likely the driver had misdelivered the package. This was not unheard of so the next morning he would go back to the home and retrieve the package.  I was annoyed that I had to wait another day to get my package but I was happy with the way Fedex was willing to help me.

It all seemed too easy, so I should have been suspicious.

When I got home from work the next day there was no package.  I checked my phone and there was no call from Fedex either.  After walking the dogs I called Fedex again and was told that the company was a experiencing a system failure but I could expect an update on the situation within 24 hours.

When I got home today there was still no package.  Now I was annoyed.  The bed I bought was on sale so I wanted to make a claim with the shipper before it sold out.  I placed another call to Fedex and after speaking to an operator and being put on hold I was disconnected.  I attempted to call back and the situation repeated.  And it happened a third time.  Really?!

Fourth time is the charm, I guess.  Someone finally called me back and I was excited to get some resolution to the problem.  Maybe the driver had found the package and would be delivering tomorrow.

Yeah, not exactly what happened.

What did happen was a Fedex representative told me that the driver said he delivered it so there was nothing they could do.  I must have lost it or someone in my home must have stolen it.  Yes, they accused me of lying.  Really, Fedex? When I explained that someone was home when the package was supposedly scanned and delivered the representative said there was nothing to be done.  She was closing the issue and Fedex was not responsible for the lost package.  “Our driver delivered it,” she said.  “What happened after that is your responsibility”.

I wanted to punch someone.  So for the record, Fedex doesn’t take responsibility for the actions of their drivers.  They stand by them and don’t require them to retrieve packages when they make a mistake.

Thankfully, my experience with MollyMutt was much better.  The customer service representative who answered the phone was duly horrified by Fedex’s callous attitude and immediately set to work getting my order shipped out again.

While getting that setup he noticed my address and said, “Freehold?  As in Bruce?”

When I said yes, that Freehold, he was very excited.  “I’m seeing Bruce this Saturday!” he exclaimed.

We chatted about Bruce Springsteen for a few minutes and when the conversation trailed off he told me my order was shipping out that hour.  Yes, my new order is already on its way!  And they are filing a claim with Fedex.

I loathe poor customer service and I love great customer service.  A nice customer service representative can save the day!


Slice of Life #9- Sounds

Who-ho-o-o, whoo-hoo-o-o, whoo!

Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep! Peep!

Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack!

The forest is a cacophony of sound.

Today it was over seventy degrees and the amphibians woke up from hibernation.  I drove to Assunpink Wildlife Management Area today and when I got out of my car the noise was deafening. As I moved closer to the marsh and vernal pools the sound got louder and louder.  If I had been able to go deeper into the marsh I would have needed earplugs!

The sound linked above is a brief recording of the spring peepers and wood frogs advertising their mating calls while I was at Assunpink today.  I can still hear spring peepers outside my house at 11pm at night which means it is officially spring (no matter what the calendar says).

My morning started with noise, too.  When we left the house a little after 5am and well before dawn I heard the great horned owl hooting.  Only this time it was clear that Chris and I were listening to a duet!  Most likely a male and a female they duetted for the entirety of our morning dog walk.

Then about 12 hours later they started up again.  I crossed the street and decided to try to find the general area where the owls were hanging out.  Once I got into the woods I realized I was listening to at least 3 owls!  The male and female pair were making it clear that they were defending their territory while the third owl, much further away, hooted to or at them.

I didn’t find the owls, though I did narrow down the area where they are living/nesting.  I didn’t want to stress them as it’s breeding season so I’ll keep an eye out but I won’t go any deeper into the woods to find them.  Instead, I’ll hope that one of them decides to visit my backyard again.

Now it’s 11:30pm and the cacophony has finally quieted down.  But I know that the spring peepers are just getting started….For the next two weeks you won’t be able to hear yourself think outside my front door because the peepers will be desperately trying to attract a mate.  And you know what?  I’m ok with that!

Slice of Life #8


Today it was 65 degrees.  Today the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  Today was the perfect day for a long hike.

After school I changed into hiking clothes (my spring hiking clothes!  Not flannel-lined pants!) and packed up the dogs.  The days are getting longer so I decided to try to get a few miles in at Thompson Park.  Because I wanted to avoid the crowded side of the park I ended up driving around a bit in an effort to find a parking lot that didn’t bring us into the middle of the main, paved trail.  Because my dog hikes are also birdwatching hikes I prefer to stay on the unpaved trails and in the woods.

Eventually I found a parking lot that was across the street from the county park.  This lot did not have a gate so I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of getting locked in the park.  By 4pm we were on the trail, feet squishing into the mud.

We walked up and down the hills of the park for about 90 minutes and 3 miles.  I spotted common mergansers, savannah sparrows (lifer!), mute swans, bluebirds, red-winged black birds, robins, a red-tailed hawk, and some deer.  We didn’t leave until 5:50pm and I didn’t need a jacket or a hat.  I love spring!  Now I just need the spring bird migration to start….

Slice of Life #7


Today it was beautiful.  Sun shining, birds singing, flowers blooming beautiful.  After school I came home, changed, grabbed the dogs, and headed to the park.  I threw my pack over my back and we set off down the trail in search of the elusive pileated woodpecker that I’ve seen and heard over the last few months.  Pileated woodpeckers don’t usually live here, thanks to habitat fragmentation, but this guy (or guys) has been around for a few months.  Of course, the only time I see a pileated woodpecker is when I don’t have my camera with or when it is too far away to get a decent picture.

It’s been about a month since I saw my last pileated, though I do think I’ve heard him/her/them a few times in the last few weeks.  I’ve only gotten a few terrible pictures, but they represent my current goal:

I didn’t have any luck today.  The dogs and I walked about two miles, including off the trail and a little deeper into the woods.  No pileateds, but we were pulled off the trail when I heard what I thought were ducks.

Turns out I was hearing wood frogs in the vernal pools.  The first sign of spring! Then I saw skunk weed starting to pop up out of the ground.  Spring really has sprung!


Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Slice of Life #6


After I got home from tutoring this morning I made my way to the window on the far side of the house  Outside that window I can see my bird feeders (all eight of them).  Saturday and Sunday are my Project Feederwatch days so I make sure to spend a few minutes each day observing the feeders and writing down the species I see. I always keep my camera nearby so that I can photograph any new or exciting species that visit the yard.

As I settled in to spend a few minutes relaxing and watching my feeders something caught my eye.  Under the feeders, mixed in with a flock of blackbirds (grackles, starlings, and red-winged blackbirds), I caught sight of something different.  Something the color of a burnt orange crayon and about the size of a female cardinal. It hopped around, in between the blackbirds, and I suddenly realized what it was.

I turned to grab my camera and it wasn’t there!  Ahh!  That’s right, I had taken it on the field excursion yesterday.  It must still be in my field bag!

I flew out of the room, rushing past Chris.  “New bird!  Need the camera!” I explained. He didn’t even blink.  He’s pretty used to my bird antics at this point.

I grabbed the camera and rushed back to the room.  No!  The bird was gone!  I scanned the tree line and tried to see into the bushes.  Nothing.  Arg!

I was pretty sure I knew what I had seen but without a photo to get a closer look I felt guilty  counting it and adding it to my Project Feederwatch data. With a sigh, I packed up  the camera and headed out to run errands with Chris.

We returned about an hour later and I figured I’d give it one more go.  Not expecting to see the bird again, I sat down and started to count the juncos flitting about the feeders.

Then I saw it.  Red.  Orange.  Grey.  It was back!  I grabbed my camera and began clicking away through the window.  The bird hopped around, cracking sunflower seeds and safflower seeds, ignoring the other birds doing the same.  After taking a lot of pictures I grabbed my phone and opened up the Merlin app.  After inputting the size, color, and location of the bird I was vindicated.  My rare sighting was confirmed!

Meet the fox sparrow.  A first of the year, a first in the yard, and a lifer for me!


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