deer at Lake MedinaI’m thinking of trying to find a telephoto lens for my phone. I seem to be taking a lot of pictures where the thing I wanted a picture of is just a dark blur in the distance, mostly of birds, of course. When I was at Dauphin Island, another visitor to the bird sanctuary pointed out a peregrine falcon to me. I have now learned enough to know how cool that was — they’re rare — but in my photo, the falcon is just a brown blur at the top of a tree, not discernible as a bird.

This morning, Zelda and I set off on our walk. We’re at Lake Medina, at a Thousand Trails campground, and I was headed up through the campground. There’s a nature trail that I was headed to, but I wasn’t sure how far away it was. But we were barely down our own block when I spotted a deer. I gasped, holding my breath with delight and surprise. And then I fumbled for my phone — fumbled, because Zelda was very interested and tugging at her leash — but before I could get it out, the deer bounded away.

I sighed with disappointment, but then shrugged, resigned. It’s not like the picture would have turned out, anyway. The deer would have been a brown blur against trees. Zooming just makes it blurry. I kept walking. And then gasped again. Two deer! So cool!! And then I opened my eyes a lot wider — way, way more than two deer. There were six. No, eight. No, ten.

I’d never seen so many deer in one place (outside of a zoo) in my life. So I took some pictures of blurry brown spots and we kept walking. More deer. More walking. More deer. More walking. More deer! At one point, I could see fifteen of them, all females of different sizes. At another point, I could see three males, all with small antlers. Zelda and I wandered for a couple of miles, up to the top of the campground and back down again. We never did go on the nature trail, but then, the nature was right there, so we didn’t really need it.

I’m parked by the side of the lake and the view in front of me is dusty ochre rocks and scrub for probably five hundred feet, then blue lake, then in the distance low dark green hills. The day is gray and cool, possibly going up to 68, pretty clearly so overcast that the sun is not going to shine. And my weather app just let me know that it’s raining within ten miles of me. Not a surprise. I have to say, Texas is really just a lot wetter than I ever imagined it would be. Of course, if I wanted sun and heat, I could have stayed home in Florida, so that’s not complaining, it’s just… noticing.

Yesterday I broke my fiction-writing streak. For 12 weeks, I managed to write 1000 words a day, six days a week. 74 days total of writing. But this week I missed two days. And on a third day, I really didn’t make 1000 — I was more like 850 when I finally gave up. There’s a part of me that wants to write 3000 words today and count them retroactively but I don’t know, it seems like lying to myself, and why bother? I’ve written 74,000 words in the past three months and I’d like to give myself credit for that, without making myself feel like a failure for not having written 76,000.

I can’t remember if I’ve written about goals vs systems here yet  — well, I know I have written about it, more than once, but I can’t remember if I’ve posted anything about it — but it feels like keeping a streak going is more of a goal than a system. In other words, a negative approach to life instead of a positive one. In my positive, system-based approach to life, the system is to write 1000 words a day and I can be successful today without caring about whether I met yesterday’s goal. That feels much healthier.

I’m still going to continue using Streaks, because tracking my activity is helping me push to do more. When I started, one of my “tasks” was to walk 3000 steps a day. That’s not a lot of steps — about a mile and a half — and I often walked twice that. But sometimes I walked less, too. Since I started using Streaks, 83 days ago, I’ve walked at least 3000 steps every day, gradually upping the task to 4K, then 5K, and now 6K. This past week, I broke 10,000 (4.3 miles) three times. I’m pleased, of course, that my streak is 83 days strong, but I’m more pleased that I’m steadily going farther distances, and tracking lets me see that improvement. Of course, now that I’m considering this, it’s possible that my multiple long walks had something to do with the early bedtimes that interfered with my writing and that’s not a good trade-off. But whatever, I’m not giving up on Streaks. I’m just acknowledging that I broke my writing streak and I’m going to start a new one. Today.

Right now, in fact.