the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wham! Hello Winter!

When I went to bed, the lawn was green and the trees were brown.  When I woke up, the world had gone brilliant white:
But if you asked the chickens, they wouldn't agree.  Snow clings to chicken wire, turning their world dark.  This is what they saw when they looked into their yard:

I left the light on all day for the chickens.  For the horses, snow on top of dirt that hasn't had a chance to freeze, equals mud.  Every step will churn it up more. 

I might be the only one who thought the first snow was pretty.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Watching the Watch Dog

That's Nikita in her cage, with her cat buddy, Harley the Fearless The cage is a permanent fixture in my family room.  This is NOT my idea of chic home decor. 

Nikita's not there because I told her to go there.  She likes her cage.

When we adopted Nikita at one year old we were her fourth home.  She was insecure, ignorant of boundaries, and only half-housebroken, and had to be confined when left alone, like a puppy.  I thought it would be a temporary situation.  Hahahaha, I can be so naive!

Whenever I put my shoes on or jingle my keys, Nikita runs to the cage.  If I don't get there to close the door soon enough, she bounces back out, watching me and making false moves toward the cage, tail wagging.  Making sure I don't forget to lock her in.  Because my job is to protect her.

But if anyone ever breaks in, man, watch out for Harley.  She's tough, and she's not locked up.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writing, with Restrictions

Writing chapter two with TC.  If I just avoid using P,O, K, L, and M the story moves along fine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MRI of an Author's Brain

I haven't been posting.  I haven't done much of anything, due to one all-consuming obsession - I've started a new book.  (Bet you thought it was another Rock!)

This is how the process works for me.  I figure out who the main characters will be and what their conflicts are, both with each other and their own internal conflicts.  Then I plot a story around that.  It's all pretty vague, and the whole mess churns around in my brain until I have a feel for what the first scene will be.  Then I start writing.  That's where I am now, fifteen pages into it.

If you could see inside my mind, it would look exactly like this:

That swirling fog is trying to coalesce into a story.  See the dark spot on the left?  That's chapter one.  It's solid and sure - stuff happening, characters interacting, tension set up.  It's reaching short tentacles into the confusing mess behind it, trying to find the right elements to pull together for chapter two.
See the small yellowish dot in the lower right portion, the itty bitty spot that's barely visible in my mind?  That's the rest of my life.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are in there, along with family obligations, house cleaning, cooking, and my perpetual list of errands.  Embarrassing, but true.  As that solid core of story gets larger, and the churning mass gets smaller, the tiny yellow spot will grow.  By next April the yellow spot might fill half of my brain and I will be able to pass as human for short periods of time.  Until then, please bear with me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Summer of Hawks

Early this summer I noticed a man I didn't recognize walking down our road, camera in hand.  A few days later I saw him again on the same stretch of road, just a few houses from mine.  Then again, and again, always with a camera.  He was too obvious to arouse suspicion, but still, it was odd.  He didn't live there, and there's not much to take pictures of except trees and the occasional turkey or deer.  I finally stopped and asked what he was doing.

His name was Dale Hoffman, he lived a mile away, and he was watching two Cooper's Hawks build a nest at the top of a pine tree just off the road.  He pointed it out to me, a huge mass of sticks crowning the tree, but shielded from view by the branches of a larger, dead tree.  He intended to photograph the hawks from egg laying through raising their babies to adulthood. 

He was also standing guard.  The road commission was trimming trees along the power lines, and the hawk's nest was close to where they would be cutting, just when the pair was laying eggs.  Fearing they would abandon the nest, Dale made sure the tree trimmers skirted the area until the young hawks were grown.  They'd have to come back in two months.  He got no argument - Cooper's Hawks are protected in Michigan.

I saw Dale all summer as he kept a daily log in photos of the hawks raising their brood of four chicks.  It turns out Dale is a pretty good photographer (in addition to having long hair, a rugged physique, and abs of steel - or so he says.  He knows I write romance!)  He allowed me to share his photos here.

The adult's wingspan is from two to three feet, the female being larger than the male.

All four babies made it to adulthood.