Archive for May, 2013

My cousin in England sent me a link to an amazing live web-cam  shot.  High on a Church in Sheffield, (in Yorkshire, England) a nest-table had been set up.  A pair of Peregrine Falcons made it their home and hatched three chicks.  The web-cam was situated to view the nest, for two reasons:  to guard the nest and the chicks, to make sure nothing and nobody interfered–Peregrine Falcons were, until recently, on the endangered species list;  and for viewing by those who might be interested among the general public.

Tony warned me I would need patience, because the chicks kept themselves “private” by huddling in the corner out of sight of the camera.  I watched for a few minutes and could see nothing.  I was about to click off the site when suddenly here comes Mama Peregrine (or might have been Papa) carrying a dead bird in her talons.  Immediately one of the chicks pokes its head around the corner and Mama proceeds to shred the dead bird and feed morsals to her chick.  She did this for quite a long time, during which I did not see evidence of any other chicks.  Then the other two showed themselves–but did Mama feed them?  No, she continued to feed the one hungry child, which did seem to me to be bigger than the other two.  She completely ignored them.  When Number One Favorite child turned away, appetite apparently satisfied, Mama finished the rest of the carcass herself!  The smaller two chicks gave up and stepped back out of sight, no doubt to huddle in the corner again.

Everything from the dead bird was eaten–the only things left were the wings and legs!  Mama dragged the remains to the edge of the nest table and slid them over the side.

Staff and volunteers from the University of Sheffield along with the Sheffield Bird Study Group were the ones responsible the nest table and the wonderful visual experience.

…There being nothing further to report, I hereby declare this meeting adj…Ooops, sorry forgot where I was for a minute.

Keep Calm and Carry On











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Just thinking

I found the bodies of the final two baby birds–one under each of two trees in our back yard.  They looked to have been partially eaten (sorry for the unpleasant image) and to have been dropped from up in the branches.  I found them Monday morning–they weren’t there Sunday night.  I imagine one of the local wandering cats got them, though I haven’t seen any cats actually inside our yard; I don’t know what else could have done this.

So sad–four eggs, four hatchlings, and none survived.

I watched a video by Jon Bard (Children’s Book Insider.) He suggested that even while watching television we could be “writing”–by analysing what we were watching, thinking about how we might change the scene or dialogue, for instance, if we were writing the subject matter.  It brought back memories of my dates, in a long ago life, with a stage manager.  It was when I worked for the manager of a chain of theaters in England.  I hated going to the movies with him, particularly  musicals–throughout the show he would nudge me and say things like “I would have used a different backdrop there…” or “Oh no, not red curtains behind the lead dancer–with the dress she’s wearing, it should be purple…” and “That scenery is all wrong…”

And thinking of long ago friends; I am intensely curious about what has happened to all the friends I worked with forty-odd years ago in England, and have tried to trace many of them through the Internet.  I suddenly realized that the majority of them were male, then felt guilty, wondering what The Husband would think about that.  Thing is–men don’t change their names, so tracing them is (should be) easy, whereas the women I worked with have long since married, thus changing at least their last names.  Not only that, most of my jobs have been in a majority-male work environment, so obviously most of my friends were of the male persuasion (that’s a silly expression, but I just felt like using it!)

Keep Calm and Carry On




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I go out into the back yard and no bird scolds me–my fledglings have flown.  I don’t know what happened to all of them–first four, then three, then only two remained.  Friday there were still two, but yesterday I could only find one, and the parents were only fussing in the area where that little one perched.  This morning–nothing.  No parent bird shouting at me–all is quiet. Usually even when the babies have grown enough to be flying around, Mama bird still feeds them.  Alas, I fear the worst–something got all of the babies; probably a cat.  Or a hawk.  Oh well, that’s nature for you.

Bit by bit and slowly, the middle of my paranormal, other-world, novel is coming together.  Sadly, I learned yesterday that my English friend, one who lives in my old home town, and who was a huge provider of Pendle Witch information for my research, passed away last week.  She was ninety-three years old, and her demise came after a short and sudden illness.  Her daughter emailed me, told me the end was quick and Joan died peacefully with her family around her.  I shall miss her–her letters were a breath of fresh, English, air.  RIP, Joan, thank you for all you gave me.

Now I need to collect together, in a more coherent fashion, the clippings, magazines, newspaper articles, and photographs that Joan sent me over the past few years.  I did have a question about a mysterious tunnel with a bricked up entrance located close to the farmhouse I was raised in–I never did know the why’s and wherefor’s of the tunnel, and I intended, in my next letter to Joan, to ask if she knew anything about it, or even if it was still there.  I suppose I will never find out–unless I win the lottery and can afford to make a flying visit “home”.

I carry a mental picture of that bricked up entrance, and will use the scene in my novel–I’ll make up my own reasons for it being there and being sealed off.

The fact that I didn’t question the reasons for the tunnel when I was living there as a child, makes me realize just how little we do question things around us;  we live with them,  accepting them as a fact of everyday life, without question.

Keep Calm and Carry On






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Empty Nest

Well, the babies have left the nest.  They’ve grown  so quickly.  Yesterday morning they were still in the nest, by late afternoon all but one had disappeared; by sundown the final baby had left home!  I’m talking about the Mocking Bird family that lived in my rose bush.  Four eggs hatched, but now, twenty-four hours later, only two fledglings are accounted for.

I have to go out ahead of my dogs to trace the birds’ whereabouts so I can keep the one dog, Mini, away from them.  It’s like playing hide-and-seek, the louder and closer the parent birds “chack” their warnings, the closer I am to the babies.  As soon as I spot one, I leave the area and look for the other one, and when I know where they are, then I let Mini out and watch her carefully.

When I first spotted a nest being built in the rose “tree” I thought it looked too flimsy to hold eggs.  However, on looking at it closely, now that it has emptied, I can see how intricately the twigs and strands of fiber (from an old carpet piece I threw out) were woven together.  Our recent high winds didn’t hurt it at all.  I wonder where the birds will build next year–and if the two survivors will stay around here.

Some thoughts on my writing.  I have the first part of my novel drafted–I have the last chapters in my head.  The middle–nothing!  The middle of my story takes place in a parallel universe, and I wanted to make it very scary.  However, even with my imagination and my Celtic (Welsh) and Witch (Lancashire English) background, I can’t seem to come up with really scary stuff.

So, instead of continuing my writing from chapter  five, I’m going to forget all that and simply write the middle.  I can think of individual scenes of scariness, but need to tie them all together somehow.

You see, I tend to think with humor.  I want one of my scary characters to be a mysterious being who pulls a ferry across a fog-shrouded river.  He is dressed in a dark, monk’s habit, has no face or hands that can be seen.  Then I think of him as telling my protagonist, in a sad voice, “I came up with the way to make myself invisible–unfortunately I can’t make it work on clothing.”  But that’s not the atmosphere I want to convey!

Maybe I should rethink the whole thing–and make it a spoof on horror.  No, that’s not what I want to do.  Let me think about it.

All for now.

Keep Calm and Carry On

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In an earlier post I mentioned that a Mocking Bird had built a nest in a rose bush in our back yard.  It had four eggs in it–they have now hatched, and I’ve been enjoying watching the parent birds fly back and forth with grubs, bugs, and who know what else, to feed the youngsters.

The birds will not fuss at all when I, or our three dogs, walk close to the rose bush, but let a squirrel come within yards and they will dive bomb it until it clears the fence and disappears into the neighbor’s yard. I really do feel honored that the birds chose to build a home and raise a family not only in our yard, but within eye level.  I know I will have to watch the dogs when the babies are big enough to leave the nest–our Mini I know will chase the baby birds.  The oldest dog, Maxi, is too laid back to bother, he will just sit and watch them for a while, then ignore them.  The middle dog can’t see too well–she has Glaucoma.  All three are elderly–Maxi is twelve, Miss Charlie is eleven, and Mini is ten.

How time flies–it doesn’t seem that long since we brought Miss Charlie home as a puppy–the other two were adopted about five years ago, as adults.  They are all Miniature Dachshunds, Maxi being Mini’s father–even though he is half the size of her!

All for today–maybe something more serious tomorrow (maybe about writing even!)

Keep Calm and Carry On


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Reading and Writing

I have had writer’s block for about two months now, since right before I had my knee operated on.  While recuperating I have been reading.  I have come to the conclusion that being an avid reader does not make me a good, or motivated, writer.  In fact, my self-esteem as a writer has slid downhill rapidly; I mean, what makes me think I can write?  I certainly can’t write as well as the authors of the books I have read in the last four weeks.  I am left thinking “Wish I could write like that.”

Speaking of writer’s block.  I attended the monthly meeting of the East Texas Writer’s Association last night.  A meeting I thoroughly enjoyed.  The speaker was Becca Anderson, and her main subject was Inspiration and Writer’s Block.  The event was enjoyable because Becca encouraged interaction, and we surely did interact!  She gave us writing prompts, and the responses were emphatically humorous–laugh-out-loud humorous, which I’m sure did all of us some good. The responses also led to discussions–and more laughs.  It was a very lively meeting.

Now to a Pet Peeve:

One of my favorite scents is Lavender (I also like Lilac and Rose)–I’m talking about scents for household “bad scent” removers, pot pourri,or air fresheners.  But why, oh why, must manufacturers of those things mix perfumes?  I like lavender, but not when mixed with vanilla;  I like lilac, but not mixed with camomile.  Why can’t they make a straight lavender?  If people want vanilla–I’m sure a plain, unmixed vanilla air spray is available.

Actually my current favorite air freshener is called  “Fresh Linen”–it reminds me of my late aunt’s home back in England, where I spent my summers every year.  Homesick again–kind of like a song by Dionne Warwick “There’s always something there (sing “here”) to remind me…”

Keep Calm and Carry On.

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First of all, I want to thank my friend Gay for her comments–at least I know one person reads me!  Thank you Gay.

My cousin (with whom I recently connected after  50 or more years) lives in a coastal town called Weymouth, which is in the county of Dorset in England .  Tomorrow (Monday) is a “Bank Holiday” in the UK,   meaning the banks are closed and therefore so is everything business-wise, making this weekend a holiday weekend.  Tony’s eldest daughter, her husband and three sons are spending it with him and his wife Janet.  The older boys are (if I remember correctly) somewhere in the region of six and eight years old (the baby just a baby) and Tony was taking the family  to the beach where a Kite Festival was going on.

Tony is a photographer, carries more than one camera and multiple lenses with him at all times, so of course he took pictures–and emailed six or so on to me.  The weather was beautiful there yesterday, as perfect as a Spring day can get in England.  Enough wind to send the kites soaring, and Ben, the oldest boy, got his up and flying, but not so windy that the sea was too full of waves to prevent the boys’ dad from taking them out in a pedal-powered yellow craft, just big enough for three of them.  The beach looked so inviting, smooth sand, and not too crowded.  How I wish I could have been there.

Tony tells me there will be more, many more, photographs emailed to me tomorrow–he loves to add to my homesickness!

I must mention that any body of salt water surrounding the UK is referred to as “the sea”–to me, any salt water is simply the sea.  I find it hard to get used to people here calling it “the Ocean” or “the Gulf”.  When we go to a beach in the UK, we go to “the seaside.”  We spend our holidays at “the seaside”–and I was told (but don’t know the accuracy of this) that nowhere in England is more than sixty miles from “the sea”.  And I miss it.

And that is all for now.

Keep Calm and Carry On

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