Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our crafty animal neighbors

I had been wondering for over a week why the hummingbird feeder is always empty and yet I never saw any hummingbirds around.

I discovered the reason while looking out the deck doors one morning. A squirrel hung upside-down on the feeder and jumped off when I slid open the door. Aha! I knew he was the culprit! But how did he get at the nectar?A teeny-tiny straw?

No, the crafty squirrel  had learned that by tipping the feeder, he could lap up the nectar as fast as his little tongue could lap.

I am not sure how to get around this except lying in wait and jumping out and yelling "Cut that out!" every time he comes near. Who has time for that? So I guess he wins.

I don't know who the thief is that steals my figs every summer. Year after year, the lush harvest disappears just as it gets ripe. Overnight. Every single fig.

We have guessed possums and raccoons. Seeing a deer in our back yard one evening, Jim opined that a deer could stand on its hind feet and reach the figs. Do deer eat figs? We don't know. Besides, he said thoughtfully, some of the figs are too high for even a deer to reach. Unless they used a ladder.

Could be a giraffe, I said. Stranger things have happened.

But I don't think we'll ever know unless we sit up all night waiting for the thief to appear.

Which I might just do, because dang it! it looks like we will have a bumper crop this year. I don't mind sharing, but I would dearly love to have just a few.

Hmmm ... I wonder if squirrels eat figs?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

'Fraidy Cat

It's time to renew my driver's license.

I don't know why, but every time I get that notice in the mail, I get a panicky feeling. It's ridiculous. I've passed the test in three states and have been driving for -- well, never mind how many years.

And yet I'm terrified I will get there and forget everything I ever knew. The last time I was stuck on identifying the round sign. I sat there until the examiner said softly, "Choo-choo-choo..."

"Railroad crossing!" I yelled.

I passed.

Yesterday I was all ready to go. I drove to the license office and went in. Wall to wall people. I left.

I called this morning for an appointment and couldn't get one until two days before my license expired. The examiner told me to come in next week, suggesting a time when they didn't have as many applicants. So I will have to "gird my loins" (whatever that means) and trek back up there.

Is there a routine blip in your road that makes you frantic? For some, it's the annual mammogram. For others, the annual performance review.

We all have fears. Some are rational, some are not. But we face them anyway, to ensure our health, our careers, or just that we can get to the mall, church, and library.

And when we do face our fears and conquer them, don't we feel good about ourselves! Mental high fives all around.

Until next time.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I took a break from writing the past few days to organize the grandkids' photos in an album. What a trip down memory lane! Were those tall, gangly teens once so tiny? It was like watching them grow again, but in fast forward.

I felt more than nostalgia when I looked at the pictures of my mother with her great-grands. She was so proud of them all. She knitted the oldest boy's baptismal robe and cap, a feat at her age and with her arthritis. She also made them all Pooh bears. That woman kitted and sewed up until her passing, even half blind and crippled. She was the poster child for determination and the will to keep going.

I decided to make an album because most of my photos, starting with the advent of digital cameras, are in random digital folders, some on my external hard drive, some on my computer and more on a flash drive.

 It took hours searching through them for a picture I knew I had taken. But, like my mother, I can persevere when I have a goal in mind -- in this case the ability to show a friend a photo without saying, "Wait a minute...maybe it's in this file..." or carrying my computer around with me.

I had a scare yesterday when the power went out just long enough for everything to shut down. Was I going to lose everything at the halfway point? I was so discouraged I walked away. Then, this morning, I went back to the site and lo! they had automatically saved my album for me. I was a happy camper.

Isn't that just like writing? Searching for that scrap of paper on which you scribbled down an idea while waiting for the light to change -- hunting for that chapter you inadvertently filed in the wrong directory -- and. worst of all, losing it altogether because you were so deep into the creative process you forgot to hit "save" before the storm you didn't notice approaching shut down the power?

As Mom would have said, "You knew better!"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

At a crossroad

I need to make a decision.

What it comes down to is 1) keep working on "Riverbend" and make it a great historical novel or 2) shorten the novel and make it a historical romance.

There is a difference.  If I keep to the longer length (90,000 word or thereabouts) I can add more description, backstory, and character development.

If I shorten it (50,000 words) I have a better chance of getting published. I just have to think like a poet and give my descriptions and backstories with more concise and vivid scenes. Making one sentence draw the picture instead of a paragraph; one word instead of a sentence.

So - is my heart's desire to write an epic that may never be published or write a story I can share with readers?

The cold facts are that I have a chance in a million of getting the longer novel published. I could self-publish, but without a strong following, I don't see it selling more than a few copies to friends and family.

I learned from an editor at a recent workshop that digital publishing is the wave of the future. More and more people have e-readers and want to download books they can read in an evening or on a commute (hence the shorter word length). The good news is that there are millions of readers looking for books. Maybe even mine.

So I now face the chore of chopping whole paragraphs, maybe even chapters. Some of my favorite scenes must go. And I must introduce the hero in the second chapter and not the sixth. (A big "no-no" in romance genre. In fact, he should appear in the first chapter or even the first pages, but I need at least one chapter to set up the plot.)

Thank you all for your continuing input. Writers need support and I am grateful for yours.