A Trickster Appears

I have always loved animals, especially wild animals. Living where I do, I have some amazing wildlife sightings at times, as well as other indications that there are non-human neighbors all around.

Sometimes this is startling, as when a bear tore down the bird feeders hanging right beside the house. Other encounters are more of a nuisance, as when some temporarily-visiting beavers flooded our yard. And I am well aware that if we ever decided to venture into, say, chicken-keeping, they would need the equivalent of a doomsday bunker for a coop if they wanted to survive even a week. But there is still nothing like looking up to find  yourself sharing space with some other creature, especially those that most people rarely see.

I bring this up now because this morning, I looked out my window and saw tracks crossing our pond. We’ve been hearing coyotes off and on at night, and seeing their tracks everywhere, and these looked like the right size (and made the right kind of pattern) for coyote prints. A glance through one of my field guides turned up a picture of coyote tracks crossing a frozen lake that looked exactly like what I was seeing. So I figured, “Ok, most likely coyote, but I’d like to go out and look at them up close after I’m dressed.”

So I took a shower, got dressed, brushed my teeth, turned around…and there was a coyote sauntering straight across the yard and onto the pond. Holding my breath, I ran for my camera. My dog hadn’t seen the coyote yet, and it was very close to the house; even through a window I could probably get a good picture as long as she didn’t scare it away.

Important note: My dog is amazing. She has learned the specific sound of the zipper on my camera bag, and if I open that up she comes running from anywhere in the house to see what’s caught my attention. I heard her start up the stairs as soon as I had the camera in hand, so I ran for my bedroom window instead of the one nearest to me. See, the bedroom windows are higher up, taller than my dog can reach, so it would buy me a few minutes while she chased me in there but still couldn’t see what I had grabbed the camera for.

The quiet didn’t last, of course; she saw my attention was focused outside and went to where she could see. The coyote ran at the first volley of barks, but it didn’t go far before turning back to look. That’s where I got my best picture, as the coyote looked back across the snowy pond.

Coyote standing on snow, facing the camera

Now, the eastern coyote is a hybrid with a liberal percentage of wolf DNA and a small amount of dog ancestry as well. It is larger than other coyotes as a result, and I think it looks more wolflike overall. When we hear our local pack sing (and I think there are three of them right now) there’s a quick chorus of barking yips, and then one voice raised in a long, smooth howl that sounds exactly like a wolf.

So that was my excitement for today. And perhaps it is fitting that a creature characterized as a trickster in so many cultures should turn up to show 2016 the door. But is that a commentary on the year just ending, or the one about to begin?


This is a very welcome time to have a  three-day weekend ahead of me. Last weekend I had four days off, but it wasn’t entirely relaxing. For one thing, I was visiting family for the holidays, which involves a lot of stress even when it’s an otherwise pleasant visit. And then on top of that, we all ended up catching a very nasty stomach flu, which left us all sick as dogs at one point or another. (The dog, ironically, was fine.)

So I ended up getting back wishing I could have a weekend to recover from my weekend. And now I have one! Better late than never, eh?

Today was fairly uneventful; I spent a little time this morning taking pictures of the fresh snowfall (about 6″) around our woods, then did my testing work. To clear my head after that, I took the dog on about a 2-mile walk down the snowy road. Only saw one vehicle on the street during that time, but the wind kept gusting and made the dog and I both keep thinking that there was another car coming up behind us.

After that I had plans to work on a couple of different projects, but I got caught up redesigning my Twitter header and icon as well as looking at new themes for this blog. It was on the list, I just didn’t expect to get so involved with it. (It didn’t help that changing the Gravatar for my WordPress account was really glitchy and took forever; I’m giving it some time to see if it actually worked.)

And now I’m completely fried from looking at WordPress themes too long. 🙂 For the rest of the evening, I think I will play some Skyrim to unwind. It’s been a little while since I’ve had time to play, but I think I left off exploring a seemingly endless Dwemer ruin looking for an Elder Scroll. It’s gotta be down there somewhere!

Snow and Grit

Snow-covered hemlock branches

On days like this I really enjoy working from home. No worrying about when the snow will start, or whether I will be able to get back up my hilly street to come home. Instead I can sit by the window and watch the snow fall, while quietly working on my laptop.

I work part-time as a software tester. Today was a mix of finishing up writing test cases on a new project and beginning actual testing. I always like that transition; I enjoy test-case writing quite a bit, but by the end of writing I am usually a little bit fried and very much ready to switch gears. The time passed quickly today, and left me with energy to work on my own studies and projects.

Not all work projects are like that, by the way. Some leave me completely drained by the end of the same number of hours, with little brain power left for creative pursuits or even reading. That’s one reason I’m happy to keep my hours at part-time levels; I encountered Autistic burnout several years ago — before I even knew I was Autistic — and I still struggle with maintaining my energy levels over the course of a workday, especially if there is any level of stress involved.

This brings to mind something that my therapist and I talked about once. She said that after hearing about my childhood and younger adulthood, she felt that I had approached life with a certain amount of grit. I had pushed through my difficulties in order to get where I wanted to go, sometimes to the point that I hadn’t even acknowledged those difficulties — I had just gone and done it. But after a certain point, I just didn’t have the resources to keep gritting my way through things. That’s when my strategy changed to creating a life where I didn’t need so much grit.

This involved a lot of choices that sometimes felt like failures: I quit a lucrative job and essentially short-circuited any career options I might have had. I moved to an area that was quieter but offers many fewer career opportunities, and chose to work only part-time at a very simple office job I was highly over-qualified for. Eventually even that job felt like too much of a strain, and I again felt like I was a failure, that I couldn’t handle even that.

But what was really happening was that I was building the life I needed. Yes, I have a lot less money than I would have at my old job, but I chose that over continuing to burn myself out. Yes, I am not on a defined career track, but I am free to follow my own creative pursuits and see where they lead me. And yes, I had to leave even that “easy” office job, but that moved me out of an emotionally charged work environment and into a job I actually enjoy, one that I can (usually) do from home.

I’m not where I thought I might end up when I gritted my way through a physics degree at a very well-known university, and sometimes I feel like I should have “accomplished” more — but I love where I am and what I have in my life. If I can’t easily describe that life to others with an easy label, well, then I guess they’ll just have to get to know me as the Eclectic Autistic that I am. 🙂

New Year, New Blog

I’ve always liked reinventing myself. Or at least my public self. And since this blog has been stagnating for a while, I figured it was time to reinvent it. So let me now announce the new name for this blog: Eclectic Autistic.

I had been trying to focus on writing about autism, after finding out last year that I am Autistic, but while that remains a very strong interest of mine, I’ve found it rather limiting as a subject for this blog. I mean, I live every day Autistic, but I can’t always tease out something about autism to write about. So I thought, why not just write about my days?

So that’s the plan. I won’t promise to succeed, but I want to at least try to post about something interesting each day — or even just to write about what I did that day, and how it affected me. Then this can be a place to share some of my interests outside of autism as well, but in a way that acknowledges the pervasive influence of my Autistic style of thinking and being.

How ’bout it?