Some happy updates

Greetings from a rainy day in Colorado where the landscape has become intensely green! The moisture is very welcome here and in addition to this positive development, I have a few more things to share:

  • My mid-April wish came true and two pairs of House Wrens are nesting in our neighbors’ nest box AND in the box we put up this spring. Here’s one photographed a few minutes ago as it sat in the rain, surveying the landscape and occasionally breaking into that song I just love-love-love.

The wren’s coloration is off and I’m not sure whether that’s due to wet feathers or molting or both factors. But there’s no mistaking that profile and song.

  • As mentioned here, last summer I parted ways with my (wonderful) former agent and in the fall began the querying process. I’m so happy to now share that last month I signed with a new stellar agent (Wendi Gu of Sandford J. Greenburger Associates) and am now waiting for her editorial letter on my middle grade novel. We’ve had really good conversations about the manuscript and Wendi offered insightful suggestions for strengthening the story, so I can’t wait to dig in again and make GRAPPLE the best it can be before it goes out on submission. Hooray!
  • I’m using this waiting time to my advantage (rather than nervously twiddling my thumbs) and am drafting my new middle grade. I’d been working on it, off and on, while querying agents before realizing the uncertainty of the querying process was having such a negative impact on my work that I’d pretty much stopped. But now I have an incredible partner in my career and am motivated to write more stories–lots of stories!–and have been making good progress. My secret? This week I packed up my laptop, notebook, snacks, etc. and headed out in Moby to nearby parks where I am away from the distraction of home and social media. On Wednesday, I parked at the edge of one of the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater parking lots where a beautiful bird serenaded me as I added words to my story.   A couple days this week I worked in the parking lot of a neighboring park, but yesterday I almost abandoned my session there because someone flew a BUZZING drone all around Moby for about 15-20 minutes before finally giving up on the harassment.
  • And now I’m headed out again in Moby as soon as I post this. The really good news? I don’t have to worry about finding shade because it’s raining!

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend filled with weather of your choice and lots of singing birds!



Twofer Tuesday: watercolor memories

These are views from our campsite at Vega State Park last week. It’d rained all day and when it finally stopped, we emerged from Moby to do a little exploring in the calm, freshly-scrubbed air. The water’s surface was the perfect palette.

May 11, 2023

The peaceful quiet was only disturbed by the sound of Emma chomping on a crayfish claw shell she’d found and then refused to let me remove from her mouth. Naughty little dog.


Tulip therapy

The tulips have been glorious this spring and I just returned from a walk around the neighborhood where many, many cheery clumps of tulips bobbed their heads in the light breeze.

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.”  ~ Luther Burbank

Next door neighbors’ passionate pink tulips.

While the neighbors’ tulips are still in full glory, some of mine are already on their way out. But there’s no hiding a tulip’s grandeur, even in those final days.

I mean, I can only hope to look this vivid and interesting on my deathbed. (Maybe I can do without the spider, though.)

Tulips, I salute you.

Twofer Tuesday: stillness

Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance. ~ Morgan Freeman


In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. ~ Deepak Chopra

Out my window. July 30, 2021

Cleansing breath

My heart is heavy after watching today’s session of Montana’s state House vote to censure trans Representative Zooey Zephyr. The vote was along party lines, 68-32. She is now banned from the House floor and not allowed to speak on legislation, and will only be allowed to vote remotely. Zephyr’s speech in her defense was powerful and brought me to tears. She’s on the right side of history. Those who silence the voices of those speaking on behalf of the oppressed? Nasty, small-minded fascists.

*cleansing breath*

So here is a Bushtit photographed  in September of 2021: 

This darling wee bird was accompanied by a whole bunch of other Bushtits that day and I post its photo in honor of the lone Bushtit that briefly visited the feeder as I hoop-danced this morning. It’s exceedingly rare for a Bushtit to travel alone, and I’m hoping it’s only because the rest of the gang was nearby taking cover from the rain.

I receive the gift of this bird’s beautiful presence and now share it with you.

What is that?

I went exploring through photo folders in search of something to post on this rainy (yes, rain! 😀) afternoon and started looking at images from my visit to the Chatfield Audubon Center last May. This one caught my eye because, well, blooms and bees!

I was fairly confident that photo showed a honey bee feasting on Wild Plum blossoms. And I knew for sure the bird on the left was a Common Grackle.

But then I looked some more and came across the photo below and had no idea what I was seeing. The image is poor quality, but I figured there were enough identifying features to make an identification. Sure enough, this is a type of whiptail lizard, specifically, a Six-lined Racerunner (the third photo is the best match). Woot woot!

That research victory got me looking more closely at other photos in the folder and I came across one which proved more difficult to identify. How would you describe this plant? I tried double leaves, spade-shaped leaves, double blooms, and then just searched “colorado wildflower yellow” and there it was: Leafy Spurge.

People keep telling me about cool apps they have on their phones for identifying flora and fauna, but I never remember them in the moment. How about you? Do you use apps? If so, what’s your recommendation?

Sleep tight, hold tight

I’m happy to say we received much-needed moisture in the last 48 hours! Yesterday, I woke to about 4 inches of snow on the railing and it continued to lightly snow for several hours more. After it’d stopped, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a squirrel in the plum bushes behind the fence which is a common sight. But when I looked again a few minutes later, that squirrel was in the same position. Could it be asleep?

Indeed it was. There were several squirrels eating from the two nut munch cylinders we hang on the back fence and they’d been busy as the snow fell, and I wondered if this one was just tuckered out from all the food foraging in the cold. While finches and towhees hopped around the nearby branches, the squirrel slightly opened her eyes while keeping her head down on the branch, and then appeared to go back to sleep.

It wasn’t until other squirrels began chasing each other on top of the fence that this one abandoned its rest. If this squirrel is the same that brazenly ate peanuts from the bird feeder this morning as I watched from just feet away, I’d say the powernap did her good.

Can’t blame her

I haven’t been outside at all today because of the wind. We received the tiniest bit of rain/snow last night, but today is dry, dry, dry and windy, windy, windy. Not a good combination. So, this image and the following quote feel appropriate.

It seems to me like Mother Nature’s mercy and forgiveness have run dry, as we ceaselessly abuse her and take her for granted in order for us to continue our addiction to using fossil fuels. I’ve gotta say, I don’t blame her. Not one bit.
~ Gloria Reuben

It’s not my birthday but here’s my wish

There are many, many things I wish would come to pass on behalf of people and planet, but I’m focusing on the personal right now. My wish is for House Wrens to nest in the neighbor’s nest box as they did last year so that I may drink up all that beautiful song* again.

July 3, 2022

Or maybe I’ll be really greedy and wish for wrens to nest at the neighbors’ AND for another pair to come stay in the nest box we hung beneath our deck. Wouldn’t that be something? 💚

*From Cornell’s All About Birds:
Both males and females sing. Males often sing 9-11 times per minute during breeding season. Songs are a long, jumbled bubbling introduced by abrupt churrs and scolds and made up of 12-16 recognizable syllables. Females sing mainly in answer to their mates shortly after pairing up; their songs can include high-pitched squeals unlike any sounds males make.

Friday Haiku + surprise

As I often do on Fridays, I went in search of a photo to use as a haiku prompt and landed on one from a visit to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in August of 2021.  This image reminded me of childhood when our mother tried to wrangle the five kids for a decent photo that was inevitably ruined by someone flashing bunny ears behind a sibling or making a face or turning away from the camera. Clearly, these cormorants couldn’t care less about me getting a good shot.

And so I wrote this haiku:

many cormorants
but majority headless
group photo challenge

Before posting it I took a closer look, zooming in on the birds nearest the center of the photo, and decided to crop the image to only show those four cormorants. And that’s when I discovered something I’d missed. Do you see it?

A skull!

Holy guacamole. This calls for a whole new haiku:

glossy birds sunbathe
pronghorn antelope keeps watch
sprinting days over

Please join in the fun and comment with your own haiku for this photo!

Thankful Thursday: these two

I’m the last one up and about each morning. Zippy, the dog, and cats all get up earlier, leaving me alone in the closed bedroom. When I’m fully awake and ready to greet the day, I call to Zippy and he opens the door so that these two can jump up on the bed to greet me.

According to Zippy, Marcel the cat and Emma the pup pretty much ignore each other until it’s time to come see me. And then it’s a whole lot of head-butting and grooming on Marcel’s part. Not sure what motivates that loving behavior, but it’s a hella nice way to begin my day. And for that, I’m grateful.

Emma, however, might have other feelings.

Twofer Tuesday: feathered intrigue

Not a high-quality photo, but there’s some drama and intrigue here:

Barr Lake State Park April 8, 2021

I get the sense these two are working hard at ignoring each other because they’re already acquainted. Like, maybe they’ve had prior run-ins and now carry grudges. Or maybe they’ve never met, but that pelican with the stabby, knobby bill scares the bejesus out of the cormorant and beneath the surface it’s paddling like mad to get away.

Maybe they’re both new in town and too shy to strike up a friendship. Or maybe that cormorant’s haughty tilt of the beak is designed to keep other birds at a distance.

Maybe it’s really a well-choreographed water ballet that’s supposed to make us think these two dancers are on a collision course when really they end up executing an elegant near-miss.

More likely, the photo is just a fun little image from two years ago that makes me nostalgic for that day.

Botanic bouquets

Today I joined a new friend from Barnraisers and his family for a visit to the Botanic Gardens in Denver. They live out of state and while we’d only met via zoom, he and I  connected through the screen. Happily, his spouse and son were equally fun to talk with. I purposely left my camera at home so as not to be rude about interrupting conversations to take photos, but these beauties were too hard to resist and I used my camera phone to capture their essence.

Here’s another clump highlighting the stems which resemble fluffy evening gowns:

Hooray for the beauty of Pasque Flowers!