Winter Greetings 2022

Wishing you peace and health in the New Year

We had a very busy birding year with Bob going daily to Morro Rock showing hundreds of visitors the Peregrine Falcons, a Burrowing Owl and many other birds. Heather went out eBirding keeping Checklists for Cornell most days and is up to 277 species in the San Luis Obispo County so far. I also went on a Pelagic Trip. Photos from top left down: Peregrine Falcon, Burrowing Owl, Bob, Pigeon Guillemot, Blue Grosbeak, Western Gull, Black-crowned Night Heron, Nuptials’s Woodpecker, Black Oystercatcher, Heather, Black-footed Albatross, American Avocet. 

The best in the New Year for all of you

Heather O’Connor in Morro Bay California, USA

A useful idea…

It’s been a very long time, but I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve been out doing lots of birding.

American White pelicans and Caspian Terns

Recently, I took an in person DMV Mature Driver Improvement Course. It took eight classroom hours spread over two days. I thought it would be a good idea as I am 79 now and should be aware of the new rules and suggestions on how to be in good condition for driving. They also offer a 10% discount on car insurance once the course is completed. That will be good for 3 years. I rather like that very much!

Part of the course gave us a list of questions to respond to. The list of things that I had to complete were just three. Get an eye exam, go for a hearing test and buy new tires. All important things to take care of as I aim for my 80th birthday on 27 September 2022.

First, the eye exam pointed out that the capsule that holds my IOL lens had become cloudy. I sort of noticed it, but needed guidance. So I made an appointment to have a laser surgical procedure, capsulotomy, to open up the viewing area. Easily done quickly. So that is handled!

Second, I had driven down Main Street in Morro Bay passing the hearing aid center which always has a sign outstaying FREE hearing test, so I made an appointment and went in. A year ago my son, Adam, said I missed hearing something Livia, my granddaughter, had said. Also, when out eBirding with friends, some said they heard birds that I was missing. Hearing loss can be rather sneaky. It’s so gradual. My hearing test pointed out that I had a high frequency hearing loss in the mild to moderate range. Not a problem when I found out that a pair of Oticon hearing aids solved the problem. I consider the devices just like getting a pair of reading glasses, but at a steeper cost. Medicare doesn’t pay for them! But, I am a saver and shelled out for them. Now I hear the birds fully, the crickets at night, the rain, and voices more crisply. How nice! I also, found a YouTube site by Dr. Cliff to be highly informative when new to hearing aids! So that was handled!

Third, on to my last job… get new tires. Easy, since all I had to do was go to Hinson’s in Morro Bay and get and estimate and have them ordered . That’s handled.

Bridgestone tires on my Chevrolet BOLT EV

So back to life and eBirding. I am up to 261 birds seen this year having learned many new birds that I’d never seen before. Feel free to guess how many birds I’ll have by the end of 2022. The correct guess will receive one of my eBird photos!

A Ruff was the most exotic bird that I saw. Using Cornell’s “Birds of the World”, I found out it is much more showy when breeding in Finnmark, Norway. Oh! how I’d love to see it in breeding plumage!

So while it has taken time to get my three jobs handled while going out eBirding almost daily, I now have more jobs to do like the front and back yard clean ups. Perpetual in California!

But for now I’m going for a swim!

Morro Bay High School Pool

Until the next sketch, peace and health, Heather

Be vaccinated and boosted!

Be a wise…

Thought you’d like some artwork instead of my opinions. You’ll get both in case you were wondering.

My father gave me a Peterson’s Bird Book when I was around 8 or 9 years old. It had a colorful bird, a Painted Bunting, on the cover. Always wanted to see one. It took me years and many miles of travel to find one! Another time, I gave my Banma gift of a painting of a Ruddy Duck. I loved the duck because it had a bright blue bill.

Great-horned Owl – a pastel sketch

Lately, I’ve been involved with eBirding. Don’t know what that is? It’s a way to become involved with Cornell Lab of Ornithology by recording the birds seen. An app in my iPhone called eBird is where I record my checklist, then at the end of my day submit it to Cornell University which has local reviewer to make sure I’m doing my job correctly. Very satisfying since it makes thousands of birds available to researchers who are studying climate change along with other fields of study that will impact us over the years.

Maybe you’ve noticed the tragedies in the past few days, months and past years that involve so many of us. The wildfires in California, the extremely damaging hurricanes that have roared up the east coast USA, the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected our planet. Tampering with our given natural conditions has created the conditions to spin off all sorts of positive and negative situations.

Be a wise person and consider the consequences.

Until the next sketch, peace, get the vaccine and be well, Heather

P.S. If you are local and want to draw birds, please contact me.

Never too late…

July 2021

You think about going to a whole food plant based way of eating for your health, but you don’t. 

Now I’ll give you this cookbook to play with. It’s like having a new toy! I never used to read the Foreword or Introduction in a book, but do it in this one even if you never read the rest of the book. I don’t believe you’ll be able to skip the rest of this colorful and these delicious recipes. I learned so much from this cookbook. Ann and Jane Esselstyn even put demos on YouTube ! So much fun to watch.

I’ve invited friends over to make the S.O.B. Veggie Burgers and had loads of fun.

The reason I continue eating this way is because as I got older, I was scared of debilitating diseases. I don’t want to be diminished by poor health. Recently, I have lost family and friends to heart disease. You do know it takes years to develop heart disease. It just doesn’t happen all of a sudden like a cold or sore throat and will go away in a couple days. I am convinced you can start living a way to avoid heart disease. 

My main reason is to not have this happen to anyone you or I know. On the 2nd of September 2020, I lost my nephew to a widowmaker heart attack when he was just 48. It happened so suddenly!  I am convinced it didn’t have to happen. A huge emptiness was left in the hearts of his family, my sister (his mother) and her two daughters, his wife and four children, all the people he came in contact with through coaching, work, neighbors and me. 

The younger you are the better the time to start. I ate high fiber brown rice, granola along with my wealthy diet which included butter, sour cream, milk, chicken, fish and other meats along with fruits and vegetables. Later in 2011, I started avoiding meat, dairy, cheese, ice cream and other high fat foods when I was 69 and wish I’d started when I was a lot younger! You’re lucky, you can start now!

I beg you to consider the situation that you are in and make a healthful choice. We all have our own personal demons that run our lives in the background. The “I don’t want to”…ideas. Can you tell them to be gone and do something kind and beneficial for your life? 

P.S. There are other reasons to go WFPB…like diseases that take a long time to develop- cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other annoying and scary health problems.

Until the next sketch, peace, get the vaccine and be well, Heather

Go plant-based…

Plant Stock 2020

There is an excellent program on your computer right now that I started watching last night. Avoid so many health problems! It runs through the weekend. If you’re willing to spend $97 then you’ll have all the information you can possibly use. Re-watch all the presentations, the ones you want to see again or missed.

If you eat well, you feel well! You are happy, have energy and sleep well.

There is more education here for the rest of your life. Especially for men! I say this because many men depend on the women or partner in their life for what they eat or are too lazy to cook for themselves. Men are just as smart and capable in feeding themselves healthfully. Think about your sex life, your heart, your weight. It’s all about your total health. All information is suitable for men, women and children.

This program is run by the Esselstyn Family Foundation especially Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. M.D. who wrote the book How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Others include the well respected physicians in Lifestyle Medicine. Drs. Klaper, McDougall, Barnard, Greger and many more.

Vegan pizza

So eat it fresh and raw or cook it up. Enjoy your good health. Remember that it has taken you years to create habits that have made you sick, fat and miserable. Jump in 100% or start gradually by including plants in place of the animal products you used to eat day by day. So sign in to Plant Stock 2020 Consider it an education and a prescription for HEALTH !

Let me know if you have registered and watched this Plant Stock 2020. I’d love to hear what you thought about the program and all the reruns. Tell me what you’re eating and cooking too! We need to create a plant-based support group.

Until the next sketch… Peace and health, Heather

P.S. Maybe you thought I forgot some hearty food like grains, legumes and nuts. Wait for my next post, friends.


I’ve always been very curious. I had first heard of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in January in a wet market, a place where small animals were kept crowded together in small cages before being butchered. My search was on. I needed to know as much as possible. I learned a little about bats, pangolins and civets. As the days in February crept on I was worried. It was not something we, all around the world, knew how to deal with. The disease had strange and somewhat familiar symptoms in combination with powerful symptoms which could easily kill a person. We didn’t have medicine which could make it disappear.

I found I had to go back to the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak. My mother born in 1908 would have been only 10 years old. Her father was a doctor and would have to have treated the people in Pennsylvania. My father born in 1901 would have been 17. Both parents are now gone. A friend of mine who is 98 years old was the closest I could get to 1918, but she was born in 1922… So no one to talk to and ask questions. In 2020, I had no idea what to do except to read a book.

So off I went to the internet to order a hard copy, something that I could hold in my hands, John M. Barry’s book, The Great Influenza, The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. I love being read to, so when the book arrived Bob and I decided to read it to each other chapter by chapter. We learned about the history of medicine in America and Europe. America was far behind. Many of our physicians traveled to Europe to study. The book told where the assumed first case started, how it spread because of soldiers traveling to be trained and fight in WW1, the sequence of waves of infection, how our body steps up our immune system to fight off an invader and many brilliant men and women who experimented for long hours searching for vaccines and cures.

After reading this extensive book on the 1918 pandemic, I had a much better view of what we are dealing with in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am clear on the following these important points.

Respect the knowledge of the epidemiological scientists. Use common sense. Think how best to curtail the disease as rapidly as possible. Continually self-educate on topics of this disease from reliable scientific sources. Do not be selfish or think you are invincible or immortal. Be curious! Be healthy. Eat your veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds for a strong immune system. This disease has no boundaries. Be very, very careful to be well educated and stay up to date with the latest information. Do not be bashful wearing a mask. It has two way protection and could save your life and others lives.

Until the next sketch, Heather

I wish I had…

Lately, I have thought of all the things I wish I had done. I have the time now. California is in “shelter at home” situation to slow the rate of infection of the Covid-19 viral infection. It’s better to be prepared for the worst and be happy if it eases up sooner. You’d call me a pessimist. That’s OK with me.

To make it through this challenging time, I have to learn to think a bit differently. I am especially interested in immunity for good reason.

Below is what I made from the “Forks Over Knives” App after I searched for my main ingredient, bok choy. It had the high immunity ingredients of garlic, fresh fresh ginger, Shitaki mushrooms, leeks, onions, celery, bok choy, broccoli, edamame, jalapeño peppers and Chinese Five Spice powder and was delicious.

I wish I had changed my lifestyle and eaten plants consistently years ago. I could have skipped the knee and hip replacement, high blood pressure and depression.  I eat plants now. I avoid all animal products. I have since learned that my body functions much better when avoiding all animal products and alcohol ( a Class 1 carcinogen). I am much healthier now! And so will the planet Earth be too! 

Wild Mushroom Pho

As you can tell, I dive into all the information that I can find from the websites that I follow. I feel like a sieve filtering out all the junk and saving the valuable information for you and me.

After watching the movie which is available on Netflix, “Forks Over Knives,” I started following the people that I’ve mentioned in previous posts and on other areas of this blog. Here are a few people to check in on and even sign up for their newsletters to stay healthy. Please do! Especially important at this time. 

Dr. John McDougall is a favorite. Check out his YouTube videos for dealing with the Coronavirus. Very interesting! I’ve gone to his “Advanced Nutrition Weekends” and even a week of nutrition study and travel to Kauai. From there I met others such as Drs. Esselstyn, Greger, Fuhrman, Ornish, Goldhamer,  and many more reputable physicians. I am totally convinced that this will serve me well through this difficult time of Covid-19.

The reason that I’m so convinced and am working so hard is that I’m in the high risk age category, 77, but since I have no chronic diseases of aging (obesity, diabetes, heart condition, cancer, etc.) I plan to be  around for a long time. No reason not to put in my best effort! I expect you will too!

Until the next sketch, Heather

Pennsylvania beginnings…

My tulips, irises under the blooming redbud tree, Cercis canadensis
82 Cottage St, Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
White wisteria hanging from the pergola

Just to bring you into my world, I was born in the state capitol of Pennsylvania and lived there for five years, then moved to West Point Island, New Jersey and  moved back to Pennsylvania where I spent the majority of my life.  Now follow me on my personal travels…

There were things in my life that I loved… the out of doors, boats and living near the water, color, science, medicine, travel, learning new things, etc.  I had a lot of curiosity and loved exploring. I always thought that I was doing well in the way I lived my life. I chose to participate in school, college, marriages, work, moves across the country and meeting new friends and so forth. Just to clue you in, I am 77 having been born in 1942, I thought “It was a very good year” as the song says.

But now down to the nitty gritty… My parents worried about me frequently. I was sick with colds, sore throats, fevers and in school came down with most everything that was going around. At six years old, a strep throat put me in the hospital with antibiotics around the clock, my derrière was black and blue with all the penicillin shots. As a child, my energy was low and I took lots of long naps. Mom did too. Every Christmas my sister and I seemed to be sick. We’d decorate beautiful sugar cookies in the shape of angels. Birthdays always included a 1,2,3,4 recipe birthday cake made with lots of eggs, sugar and white flour by Mom with icing any color we wanted. I chose blue 10x sugar frosting. Ice cream or a fruit pie were favorite desserts after a dinner of meat, a green veggie and a starch (potato, Pennsylvania Dutch wide noodles or rice). My father brought ice cream, donuts from the bakery, chocolate TastyCakes, a local Philadelphia favorite. We were never at a loss for something sweet, tasty and delicious to eat.

In the late 1940s and 50s we lived on a barrier island in New Jersey. Looking west over Barnegat Bay, we saw sunsets, blimps and heat lightning from oncoming thunderstorms in the distance. We used to drive into Toms River and through the Pine Barrens for school, doctors appointment and shopping. Mom always knew where to get the best produce, tomatoes, blueberries, corn, etc. from the local farm stands. I still love blueberries and all the fresh fruits and vegetables. We would go crabbing in the bay for blue claw crabs and often drove up to Point Pleasant to buy fish at the Point Pleasant fish market on the docks. Mom asked me what kind of fish I’d like. I’d always say bluefish. Remember “blue” was my favorite color! She laughed when I told her that after eating years of bluefish, not her favorite. In the evening, my father and I often set an eel trap in the channel baited with squashed crabs that I had caught while wading in the shallow water to catch eels. In the evening we’d take the filled trap out to the channel and tied it to  a channel marker. The next morning we’d row out to pull up the line and find our trap filled with eels.  Eighteen was the most we caught. Once we caught a diamond back terrapin which we released.  Rowing back we then we threw the eels into our big sand box so they’d be easier to grab and then worked on gutting and skinning them.  Mom cut them in short pieces and put them in a paper bag with flour, salt and pepper. Sautéing them in butter and serving them for dinner made a delicious dinner for us. Other days, we waded in the bay in front of our house. We could take a crab net and scoop up a “softie,” a soft shelled crab, which Mom then sautéed in butter and enjoyed immensely. Ten years at the Jersey shore covered my most impressionable years of five to fifteen.

I was a skinny child and recall being the last one to leave the school lunch room because I was a slow eater. I did look forward to the hot turkey or roast beef sandwiches on white bread served with gravy and sometimes hotdogs with mustard at the school lunches. 

At fifteen years of age after learning to swim and sail in and on Barnegat Bay, a move was made back to Pennsylvania.  As I grew up, I went to visit friends for celebrations, my palate was expanding to cocktails, exotic cheeses, salami and spanakopita. My travels took me to other countries with strange foods which were unique and worth tasing and savoring. At home, my mother tried to keep us healthy by telling us to clean our plates, not drink Coke, try new foods like the chick peas, spinach that I never really liked. I like it now. My Grandmother grew rhubarb and potatoes, canned peaches and tomatoes at her home in Reading, Pennsylvania. I gathered a love of gardening and cooking from my grandmother and mother. 

At twenty one, I weighed 110 pounds and was 5’9″ and continued to be a light weight (about 125 to 135 pounds) until I was in my fifties when menopause caught up with my metabolism. 

I believed that the food I ate such as chicken, beef, pork, other meats, dairy, yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream were good for me and wouldn’t cause any problems. I followed the common beliefs  that we needed protein (meat) strong muscles, and calcium (milk) for bone density. Probably, just like you thought. I grew up in the 40s,  50s and 60s when so much was changing. Processed food was on the horizon. Spaghetti O’s, frozen pizza, hot dogs, fish sticks, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Jello, instant pudding randomly found their way into the rest of my diet. I often had a hard time concentrating and napped often and sometimes just felt low on energy. My sister and I frequently were sick around the holidays when we made our special desserts like sour cream pound cakes with candied cherries and a decadent sour cream chocolate sauce called “chocolate goop” that we put on  ice cream.

As a young adult, I loved being out of doors, lived on a cruising sailboat and often rode a bike, swam at the YMCA pool and practiced yoga. Exercise to balance out my indoor, sedentary artwork was something I always enjoyed, thank goodness. 

All that was how I began my life. Because of my curiosity, I continued learning about health, so never fear, I made some very major moves as I came across valuable information. I only wish that I had learned all that I know now. Going in with a good bit of curiosity, skepticism and thought, I found a more healthful path that I’d like to share with you.

Until the next sketch…peace, Heather



I told you to expect posts on nutrition or artwork. Here is a combination of the two. Last Saturday, I took a pastel workshop with Otto Sturcke which ended up being a well focused 4 hours spent on noticing the intensity of the red, yellow and green peppers. So satisfying to me because it made the thought of eating real plants so delicious.

Green, yellow and red deliciousness

Now… what to do with them? Next step is to raid the refrigerator. What do I have? Brown rice, three bean chili, sweet and yellow onions, tofu, beet greens (Dr. Esselstyn would be pleased), oregano from our garden and lots of other things that just don’t sound like they should go into a pepper. That’s it, “Stuffed peppers.” Now all I have to do is find out what spices to add. On a search for a vegan recipe, I found Ceara’s Kitchen had a really nice one that could help me through the timing and assembly steps. Helpful photographs too. One thing I will do is to keep it simple by eliminating a few things and add the things that I think will make it tasty. I do not add oil, but sauté in vegetable broth like she does. Recipes like this can be very forgiving. One of my favorite things to add would be some corn kernels.

This would be a fine dinner as a way to avoid eating a chicken. I raised chickens years ago and loved the variety of breeds that we received from Murray McMurray Hatchery. My 5 year old son and I sold eggs to neighbors and had the joy of seeing how a fluffy chick became a handsome breed of chicken and went on to laying eggs. At this time, I’d keep them was pets and wouldn’t dare to eat them. Unfortunately, factory farm raised chickens are extremely high in fat and processed under conditions that you wouldn’t expect. And you thought they were safe? Not at all. Check out this website in the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, PCRM. So, it’s stuffed peppers tonight!

Until the next sketch…peace and good health, Heather


This morning when the pool was closed, I went for a two mile walk to close my Apple Watch green exercise circle. I always aim to close my red move circle and blue stand circles. It’s just a good way for me to keep track of my daily lifestyle goals lifestyle goals.

The walk around the peninsula across from the Morro Bay State Park Marina

On my walk, I met a friend who I’d met when we were docents at the Friends of the Elephant Seal rookery. We chatted about what we as retired people were doing now. Where I live there are many opportunities for retirees to contribute to the out-of-doors natural science education of visitors. Many travelers from all over the United States and all over the seven continents. California has a unique landscape of ocean, bays, rivers, forests, grasslands and deserts making a healthy lifestyle easy to experience.

As usual the topic of nutrition came up. With me, it usually does because it’s such a big part of my life ever since I watched the movie Forks Over Knives and various other links such as the one I received today. It was a podcast Plant Strong with Rip Esselstyn.

The strange thing was that when my friend went to the doctor’s office with her husband, a conversation began. She told me that all the women in the waiting room said that their husbands, partners or significant others were alive because of what the women were doing. I cannot figure it out why women are usually the ones who care, take responsibility and run the house so that their husbands are the recipients of all their efforts, continuous kindness, health care and generosity.

I have come to the conclusion that men are just as capable to take on their own health and lifestyle needs. Do we want to continually drag an unwilling partner along as we make our best efforts? Or do we just keep doing what we want and set a good example for a healthy lifestyle?

The way I see it, having two partners working on healthy lifestyles and nutritional needs has a much huge benefit for both of them. The biggest gift to our partner is to give them ourselves in our most healthy condition when we take responsibility for ourselves. Now the best gift they can give to us is the excitement, enthusiasm and knowledge to support a whole foods plant based, no oil, salt and sugar, lifestyle too!

Health is a gift we give to our immediate family, children and extended family. Right?

Recipe from T. Colin Campbell’ Center for Nutrition Studies: Loaded Miso Noodle Soup

After I made the soup Last night, I put some away in a pint jar for lunch today. I enjoyed it both days!

Have you looked at the other areas of this website? Websites and podcasts, books and cookbooks are some that I have used and followed. My introductory post is the “Healthy lifestyle.”

My favorite pizza with FieldRoast Italian sausages and NO CHEESE!

Can you identify all the delicious topping for my pizza? If you can, I’ll email you one of my favorite Jane Esselstyn Recipes for veggie burgers.

Until the next sketch…peace and good health, Heather