Today is not an easy writing day. I received positive feedback on my four opening chapters, including suggestions for increasing tension between my two main characters. As always, it’s valuable input from my Writing Roosters critique partners for which I am exceedingly grateful. However, I’m struggling to stay focused as I try to figure out which changes to tackle first. Each foray into the manuscript distracts me with “oh yeah, then I’ll also need to fix this and this and . . .”
For some reason, this gathering of raucous grackles seems an appropriate image for the day.
There’s a pair of Black-capped Chickadees nesting in the trunk of the neighbors’ crabapple tree right outside our front fence, and they are frequent visitors to our feeders and bath. One of them (for some reason, I’m thinking the male) keeps landing on the fence to peck at the top of the slat.
As far as I know, there aren’t any bugs in that wood. I never see the chickadee come up with anything in his beak. It’s possible it’s a territorial thing, making a drilling sound to warn off other males. Or, maybe this bird’s into pointless, repetitive behavior that may or may not give him a headache. What a silly bird, right?
Then I thought of how I return, over and over again, to Twitter where I’m confronted, over and over again, with example after example of humans being ignorant, hateful, selfish, greedy, thoughtless, hypocritical, and more.
Obviously, I’m in no position to judge this chickadee for knocking his head against the fence.
I chose to spend much of the day in bed, reading an adult novel (thriller/suspense) that came highly recommended. It made me grumpy for various writing-related reasons (mainly characterization), but I kept reading because I’d already invested so much time in it (I know, I know) but also because I was curious how it would wrap up.
Right after finishing that unsatisfactory book, I got an email with a Subject line that was one of my account passwords. That was disconcerting to see. The email was a threat to blackmail me with video of me pleasuring myself to a porn video unless I bought BitCoin from this Alex fellow. I wasn’t worried about the video, because, well, there isn’t one. I was, however, worried, because the blackmailer had correctly identified one of my passwords. So I then had to spend a whole bunch of time changing passwords on various accounts. I admit to feeling a bit stabby at that point.
And that’s pretty much it for this Saturday.
I spent the majority of this day offline. In the morning, I exercised and then spent the afternoon reading through the second draft of my middle-grade novel while jotting notes to myself. After that, as some kind of misguided reward for my discipline and productivity, I went online for a peek at reality. Oh, my.
Rage. Rage. Rage.
I quickly logged out of Twitter and went outside to calm myself. That’s when I heard a whole lot of buzzing. I grabbed my camera and patio chair, and parked next to one of our shrubs that’s flowering. As the bees buzzed and flew around my head, I achieved my calm.
I highly recommend this remedy.
We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.
~ Marcus Aurelius
“If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say, ‘Thank you.’ If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do… Nature is magic.” ~ Robert Bateman
Lots of sunshine here today and I was eager to get outside after two days “trapped” indoors by snowstorm and frigid temperatures. Silly me, I assumed my three menfolk and the dog would share my eagerness. Not so. I finally coaxed Emma off the deck and tried to get a game of chase going in the backyard but, after taking a piddle, she ran back to the deck. The guys stayed indoors, refusing to join in the fun. (Except for when they stepped out long enough to lob a snowball or two at me.)
Well, they missed out on some awesome conditions. Warm sunshine + snow just dying to be packed and rolled into balls. However, the snow was verrrry heavy. Oof.
Eventually, I gave up on creating snow friends and started to play a game of Jenga with myself. Here’s an early iteration (actually, two).
My final Jenga tower was above my head and just as I handed my phone to Zebu to take a picture of me standing next to it, it tipped over. The tower was truly glorious and you’ll just have to take my word for it.
. . . to meet a sunflower that didn’t lift my spirits.
Two compound green eyes
one ear below on belly
wait, what did I hear?
Other bird species come and go, but there isn’t a day that goes by without a House Finch or two (or twenty) paying a visit to my backyard. May that always be the case.
Glance over shoulder
say Good-bye, January
brighter days ahead
I see a cat.
A thick-tailed, thin-necked cat born of the huge snow storm we had in late November, slowly, slowly melting back into the earth.
The older I get, the more I’m conscious of ways very small things can make a change in the world. Tiny little things, but the world is made up of tiny matters, isn’t it?
~ Sandra Cisneros
About seven years ago we spent a bunch of money on landscaping design and installation. We’re very happy with the native shrubs in our backyard, but are questioning the placement of some of those shrubs. Case in point: the two Apache Plumes planted right next to a Mountain Mahogany (which was planted next to an existing volunteer Cotoneaster).
I’m headed out right now to prune and de-crowd this area of the yard. All the while I’m gonna be fighting the urge to call that landscaper and ask him WTF.
I went outside with my camera to find something interesting to post and came across a whole lot of stuff stashed on the patio below our deck. This is just a sampling of what’s there. A long-dead garden hose. Zebu’s bike that he can’t ride for another 3-4 months when he’ll be fully recovered from ACL/meniscus surgery. A broken piece of flagstone. Two sawhorses.
Is there a better place for all that stuff? Probably. But in our defense, those piles of pine needles and leaves found the way there all on their own. And I’m holding onto a slim hope the wind will somehow launch them into the neighbors’ yard.
However, the hose is probably too heavy to make it over the fence.
I spent much of today in my backyard culling plants from my severely crowded flower beds so that I could give them away. (I got in touch with a woman who back in May responded to my “Free Perennials” ad on Craigslist and who happily came this afternoon to retrieve more of the green bounty).
I dug up so many plants. Daylilies. Yarrow. Iris. Valerian. Lamb’s Ear. Plus other plants that got caught in the cull-crossfire (asters, vinca, mallow, etc.).
I admit my beds didn’t look quite as dense as this Pixabay photo, but the claustrophobic feel is definitely spot-on. Fortunately, there’s now a bit more breathing room in my backyard. And unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go . . .
Tell me I’m not the only one who sees fluffy kernels.
As I revise my middle-grade novel, plugging holes and solving plot problems, I’m keeping this sentiment in mind:
Honey bees don’t need a pithy quote; they made the connection between luck and toil a looong time ago.
Yesterday, as Zippy and I walked Emma around our neighborhood, we noted a larger-than-typical number of butterflies. We wondered if we were in a migration path. Sure enough, when we got home and looked in the backyard, we discovered this:
Rather than orange and black like the monarch butterfly, the Painted Lady is orange and brown. Migrations are also happening elsewhere. It was awe-inspiring to be in their lovely company as they soaked up the sun and flowery nutrition from the rabbit brush.Another generous gift from Mother Earth.
That title is a little play on words.
Why? Because the closer, larger sunflowers should be the focus of the photo.
But instead of being the sharpest images, they’re the most blurred.
Anyone looking at this photo must search for my focus,
which is something I find myself doing more and more.
So, welcome to the club.