Tagspring

Bits of news

The really big news around here is that both Phoebe nests are occupied! With any luck, we will have a bumper crop of flycatchers this year. I suspect there will also be a bumper crop of Cooper’s hawks, given the close to constant presence of the adult hawks in our yard.

It’s mid May, and the lilacs are just blooming, and the leaves are finally getting bigger, and it has been COLD. So cold we only turned the heat off this week. The ticks have been fierce, which maybe wouldn’t be so bad if I would just stay on the roads, but it’s so much more fun to wander off trail.

When Coco Cat first came to live with us, the vet gave us strict instructions to only feed her wet food. We tried. We tried so very very hard. I’ve spent hours browsing cat foods in the pet food warehouse, trying to find some wet food she would eat. The answer seems to be that she simply won’t. On the bright side, I’m now familiar with a vast number of cat foods, if you’re ever in need of a recommendation. She spends 96% of the time sleeping, and the remaining 4% attacking anything that moves. Feet under a blanket, for example.

Callie Dog, on the other hand, is so old that her motto seems to be screw it. She doesn’t wait to see if we’re looking before getting on the couch, she just crawls on up. Something looks interesting to eat? Why not eat it? That particular track has been tough on her digestive tract, by the way. Last night we hopped in the car to run a short errand. She pushed her way out of the house to come too. Given that she’s roughly 100 in human years, we just go with it all. Except the eating anything part. We try to keep that to a minimum.

One small bit of book news. There was a really lovely review of it at NPR yesterday. As someone who grew up listening to a LOT of NPR, I have to say that seeing my book come up on their site was something of a thrill.

Enjoy the spring, dear ones.

Red Trilliums

Traveling, traveling

For those of you who like to to join me in my occasional voyages across the internet, today I am at Adventures in YA Publishing, discussing how to write correctly. (Spoiler: I don’t really have an answer.)

In other news, it has been warm, then cold, then warm, then cold here. It’s a race to see if we can feed out the last of the birdseed before the bears appear. The daffodils have been growing off and on all winter, while the chickadees have been telling us it’s spring for about a month now. I picked a fine year to try snow tires for the first time ever.

Be well. Tell me something happy–I would dearly love to hear it.

April 25, 2015

So busy.

So, so busy.

From now until the beginning of June I’m managing three projects–all important, all demanding, all positive. They’re curtailing my ability to do all sorts of things, including checking in here. I miss it!

For now, let me leave you with a brief update of the world outside my window. Yes, we did have brief snow showers the other day (it is late April, is it not?), and yes, it has been in the thirties multiple nights this week, but…there are crocus blooming in the lawn, and daffodils in the sunny spot by the garage, and mating wood frogs in the pool we keep for them, and peepers at night.

Winter, you have overstayed your welcome. Whether you accept it or not, we are leaving you behind and continuing on. There will be bird nests, and asparagus, and leaves again. Soon. We’ll welcome you back before long, I promise.

Greetings from May

The hawks are noisy this time of year. They circle and call, swoop past our house on their way to secret hawk functions. Yesterday there was more noise than usual as we walked up to the garage. We peered around the edge of the building and into the massive oak there. Look, my daughter said. It has another bird.

It did, though not at all the way I expected. I’m no stranger to the sexual antics of birds, but I’ve never before been privy to such a display by hawks. It makes me wonder where their nest is, whether I might find it if I go looking.

It’s an exceptional fertile spring around here. Our old wading pool has been adopted by both spotted salamanders and multiple varieties of frogs as a vernal pool. We meant to get rid of it, but they’ve returned year after year, in increasing numbers. I suppose the pool is much lighter on predators than the beaver pond, or perhaps it’s just closer. Tadpoles have begun to hatch, and they float, tail down, tired from the work of exiting the egg.

Even the old lady hens are laying up a storm. I’d assumed we were feeding and housing them in exchange for eggs past, but they’ve taken the increased light as a sign they should fill the coop (as much as three hens can manage).

My own creative output is sadly lacking, thanks to an endless cold and a surplus of life events. I did send out my first new short story in months, and I have a few more I’m working on. They feel much harder than the ones I’ve written in the past. I’m not sure if it’s because the older ones were completed during that flurry of amazement that I was writing at all, or if I’ve regressed in terms of dealing with the Infernal Editor, or if I’m simply writing a bit outside of my comfort zone these days.

The only response to any of those, of course, is to continue on. Surrounded by the buoyancy of life outside, I’ll do my best to follow its lead.

Welcome, Spring

And a fine Equinox to you all.

Today started out with sleet on the roads and ice on the trees. It’s ending with blue sky, and temps in the forties, and rivers running down the hill. In New England, winter and spring can share a day like that. I’m following their lead and working on balance today. A dozen things I’d like to be doing, a dozen things I should be doing, and this little sliver of time in which to do them.

I could, for example, clean cobwebs from corners, or I could figure out what to make for two different potlucks in the next week, or I could research public transportation in Syracuse.

Or I could watch a documentary about kids playing chess while knitting myself a hat with yarn I picked out today (multitasking–has to be good, right?), and then stay up late finishing the book I’m reading. Is there really any question as to which is the right choice?

No, there isn’t, is there?

Greetings from the last days of snow

Did you miss me?

Hopefully not. Hopefully, your life has been so unbearably rich and full that you haven’t had even a minute in which to think, oh, that blogger, the driftwood one, where has she gone?

If that’s not the case, if you’ve been checking your email every day, hoping for my return, I apologize. But don’t tell me. Make me believe you haven’t noticed I’ve been missing.

I should be back to my usual erratic schedule. There is sun now, and less snow than there was, and the chickadees have started their hey, come here often call in place of their it’s winter and yet I’m still cheerful call, so I have to assume spring is near. The kids and I had a snowball fight the other day with bare hands and wet snow, which tells me I also forgive winter and will be ready to see her once she comes round again.

But for now I have no interest in thinking about anything but the possibility of open windows and warm breezes in the near future. Is it warm where you are? Have you, by any chance, seen grass? There will be no green around my house for some time still. I’m trying to appreciate the moon on the snow instead. A night hike might be the perfect thing to do.

Tell me something about how your winter has been. Unless, of course, you’ve been enjoying some other season, in which case you should work on making me jealous. Trust me, it won’t be hard.

April update

More snow! Yes, for all my talk about how winter must end, it simply won’t. Yesterday I had the pleasure of a) having my teeth cleaned; b) doing my taxes; c) calling the IRS to clarify something I’d received conflicting information on, listening to the same thirty-second music loop for an hour, and then being hung up on; all while d) sleet pounded on the windows.

But we have frog eggs in a wading pool in the backyard, and the phoebes have returned to work on their dilapidated nest, and the daffodils are blooming, so I’m holding fast to my belief that warm days will come.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a novelette this weekend, one that was supposed to be a nice little short story. It isn’t. I’m finally feeling back in the writing groove (yay!). I’ve also been doing research for Crossroads. It’s been a very very long time since I’ve worked on any novel outside of the Aware world, and it’s taken me a while to switch tracks. It’s hard to believe I’ll ever have the same closeness with another set of characters that I have with Wren and Isis and Juno.

But I think Crossroads, which I keep trying to write as Crosswords (the story of a girl who trades her soul for a chance at winning the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament) (hey, wait a minute, that actually sounds like something fun to write…), will be something good. Blue Riley (Really it’s Sapphire Blue, but my mom was weird that way) has this determination to her that I love. And hiking boots, worn leather hiking boots, and bravery, and…well, I’m getting there. We’ll be friends yet. There are some sections of her story that I’m dying to write.

Finally!

I’ve heard the wood frogs calling! Not, perhaps, the most beautiful of the songs of spring, but one I cherish nonetheless. I may still have snow in the backyard (lots) and may have worn mittens to an outdoors potluck last night, but there are wood frogs calling from the beaver pond, so spring is officially here!

A writing break

The highlight of my day? Watching a red fox trot along the edge of the pines in our backyard this morning. She paused by the chicken coop, sniffed the air, considered the possibilities, and then continued on by. I’ve seen quite a few this year, mostly along the road in the evening, but this is the first at the house this spring.

Or rather, this is the first we’ve seen at the house this spring. When there’s snow in the winter, we can follow their routes: across the backyard, along the beaver pond down the road, through the Audubon sanctuary across the road from us. I suspect they’ve made off with more than one of our chickens, though between the coyotes, the hawks, the owls, the weasels, and the foxes, it’s more a wonder we have any chickens at all.

In any case, this fox looked in remarkable health as she trotted through the yard. I expect we’ll be hearing them soon as well, once it warms up enough to have the windows open at night. If you haven’t ever heard a red fox before, look them up online. Trust me, the sound is not what you’re expecting.

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