One day last week, son Wildebeest and I had our cameras out to practice photographing a black cat and a white cat at the same time. It’s difficult to land on the correct settings that will allow the black cat to have definition without also blowing out the white cat’s fur. This photo is proof of my ongoing struggle.
Marcel and Loki basking on their box condo. November 20, 2020
However, capturing the moment Loki launched the attack on his brother from below was a small victory. And if you look closely, you’ll see a hint of trepidation on Marcel’s face. Every picture, even a poor one, tells a story.
Over the past several years, my partner has bemoaned the scarcity of magpies in our yard. We’d see them throughout the neighborhood, but they weren’t spending much time in our yard anymore. We missed their raucous energy.
Then one day last month (which just happened to be our wedding anniversary), we noticed a whole bunch of magpies in our neighbors’ backyard, their trees, and on the fence between us. We’d hit the magpie jackpot! But why?
Rainbow peering through the fence at magpies frolicking in our bird bath. August 15, 2020
Well, according to our neighbor, when he came home that day to find his yard filled with magpies, he was equally puzzled. Then he went to feed his dog and couldn’t find the nearly-full bag of chow, which was also a puzzle. So he stepped out in the yard and pieced together the sequence of events. His doggo had dragged the bag of food into the yard, scattering the kibble everywhere. The smart corvids had quickly found the treasure.
They also immediately found our bath and took turns tidying up.
August 15, 2020
And as a sign of their appreciation for the use of our facilities, they began leaving gifts for us on the deck rail and tucked away on the steps.
The best news is they’re still hanging around and we’re treated to magpie sightings every day.
I’ve been struggling and I know I’m not alone. We in the United States have been told in very clear terms that we are on our own. Our government serves the wealthy and powerful, and that’s it. We the People get crumbs while the elites party on.
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels
Mental health is a huge issue for many, many people right now. Life’s always been a tough row to hoe, but this pandemic has upped the ante. I’m fortunate in that I have my writing. The middle-grade novel I’ve worked on for the past eight months has been my lifeline. I am very grateful for this project. However, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be sending the manuscript to my agent by the end of the month. And then what? Each time I think of COVID minus a writing project, my anxiety surges.
So here’s my official statement to the universe: Hellooo, I am open to new story ideas!
This funny little tale unfolded as I sat on the patio with my camera. I was too tired to continue gardening and hoped that focusing on something beside the thoughts in my head would improve my physical and emotional state.
Today as I work on my novel, I am thinking ahead, hoping ahead, to the day when a reader reaches for my story. Last May, I photographed this man perusing a “Book Exchange” in Stockholm and am posting it as a motivator. I aim to create the most compelling, reader-enticing story I can write, dammit.
The feeder was full first thing this morning. We had Blue Jays, American Magpies, and a Northern Flicker or two trying to get at the peanuts. However, this scrub jay fussed at them and mostly kept everyone away.
Then, after all that effort, this jay would fly from the feeder to the nearby shrubs to hide the peanuts. I mean, no subterfuge whatsoever. A direct line from feeder to shrubs. I waited for the others to start raiding the peanut cache, but I never saw anyone try it.
Perhaps the other birds took note for later in the season when they’ll need food. If so, I envy them their memories. I had trouble locating my coffee cup this morning.
Last night, Zippy and I watched the final episode of the four-season series “Rectify.” (Logline: A former death row inmate named Daniel Holden, who may have been wrongly convicted as a teen, comes home after nearly 20 years away.)
Zippy and I discovered the show on Netflix last year and were blown away by the first three seasons. At the time, the fourth was still in production and then it eventually became available. For months, I put off watching it because I knew that the story and characters deserved my absolute emotional attention. The show is quietly, beautifully, stunningly intense. There isn’t an empty calorie in those 30 episodes. Each episode must be savored and slowly digested, and I needed to be ready.
Today, I’m digesting. I’m thinking about all those characters and their stories. I’m ruminating on the complexities of justice and the legal system, and the horrors faced by people in prison and the dificulties ex-cons face once they get out. I’m missing Daniel’s sister, Amantha, and wishing we could be friends.
I can’t stop thinking about “Rectify.”
It’s the real deal. The writing is magnificent (and taught me much about storytelling and the power of character arcs), and the performances are extraordinary. Many scenes had me laughing and crying, and always, always thinking and feeling. The show is so damned good and creator Ray McKinnon deserves to have a star or tree or satellite dish named after him.
I’ll stop here. Please, if you haven’t yet seen it, make time in your life for “Rectify.”
NOTE: I fully realize these photos are low-quality. However, because I’ve spent the day trying to schedule an emergency root canal AND because we just learned that someone stole our credit union debit card info in order to steal $1000 from our account, I’m thinking a Double Dose of Bunny is in order.
These were taken yesterday. I hope you enjoy.
NOTE #2: The body language of the bunny on the driveway hints at a continuing interest in CHASE, but I can’t vouch for what happened next.
There I was in my bra, surrounded by strangers, while a man hit me repeatedly in the head with his hat…
I drove my brother’s pickup to the Rooney Valley Recycling Center to unload the juniper branches and sod I’d removed from my yard. I paid $10 at the gate and the woman told me I needed to separate the materials so she directed me to the very back of the area where there was a huge mound of sod. Right across from it was the enormous pile of branches. She thought it’d be most convenient for me to unload both back there.
I drove past one other truck on my way to the sod mound, weaving around materials piled so high you can’t see anyone or anything else. I parked the truck next to the mound and started grabbing sod and flinging it into the pile. It was a nice morning, not too warm, not too windy. Not bad at all, I thought as I flung a huge piece of sod.
Suddenly an annoying fly was buzzing around my head. Quite aggressively. I told the damned fly to shoo, but then there was another. And another.
Except they weren’t damned flies. They were damned bees. A swarm of them. All around me but especially around my head.
In my hair.
I took off my ball cap and waved it around my head. Frantically. As I screamed.
The bees kept buzzing. My whole head vibrated.
I tried to be calm, to stand still so they’d leave me alone.
They were too pissed. I felt a sting.
So I screamed some more And ran a bit toward the entrance.
The woman from the other truck saw me and yelled, “Run, honey! Run!”
I ran past her and the man with her said for me to run to the shack at the gate. (Not clear on why I’d want to bring bees to the woman in the shack, but at least it was a plan!)
But before I got there, the woman screamed for me to take off my shirt because bees were flying out of it.
The woman from the shack came out while the other woman helped me unbutton my shirt. She shook it out while the man yelled for me to stand still.
Then he hit me in the head with his hat, over and over. Really hard.
I was so grateful.
He knocked all but two bees off my head. I got the second-to-the-last one and the woman brushed off the last.
I was bee-free but full of adrenaline.
And there was my brother’s truck, keys in the ignition, way back there surrounded by an angry swarm of bees.
The man and woman drove me back there in their truck. We watched while bees swarmed near the truck and around the stump that probably held their nest.
The one I’d inadvertently hit with a huge piece of sod.
We strategized. I walked slowly to the truck, got in the passenger side and slammed the door. The man slowly walked to the back of my truck, grabbed the broom and rake leaning there, and threw them in my truck before getting back in his own.
I unloaded the rest of my materials in stump-free areas and was remarkably calm the entire time, if I do say so myself.
On the drive home, though, a fly buzzed in the truck cab and I panicked. And screamed.
I’ve got a ways to go before letting go of the bee panic. But I’d be much worse off without Good Samaritans, Phyllis and Jeff, there to help me.
Next time I go to the drop-off, I think I’ll wear one of these: