Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pretty Bird

We were treated to a visit by a male house finch recently. Most are quite skittish and won't stick around if they pick up any movement nearby. It made it quite a challenge to get good photos.
This feeder is right outside the kitchen window. We get several members of the finch family, blue jays, starlings, even a woodpecker now and again. Most stick around no matter what we do, but the house finches take off at the slightest provocation.
They come by fairly often now, so we see them all the time. They usually only stay a few seconds at a time.
Last week, for reasons known only to this fellow, he stuck around and let us take his picture.
We're glad he did.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Twosomes--Now With Birds

Two birds share the feeder. The pretty red male house finch on the left and a junco on the right.

Tuesday again and that means I get to put up two lines I’ve written in the past week and two I’ve read.
Here we go.

Something I read:

“A pure white cat with dark blue eyes slipped out of the brambles. Inside, the noise of mewling grew louder.”
from Warriors: Into the Wild, Erin Hunter, Avon Books, 2003.
Okay, technically it was read to me as it’s our bedtime story.

Two lines I wrote this week from my current WIP A Fly on the Wall:

“He checked the mirror one more time. Satisfied that everything was fine he stepped into a darker area and made the trip back to his century.”

Many, many thanks to the Women of Mystery for the Two Sentence Tuesdays.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gratitude Monday - In a Heartbeat

One of the bluebirds found on the Kootenay Plains.

It’s a great day.
It’s Monday, the start of a fresh week “with no mistakes in it” if you’ll let me quote Anne Shirley. (Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery. Anne was talking about a day, but I’m stupidoptimstic and will go with week).
I’m grateful for many things already and now I get to add a new one. On May 14 I’m going in for some outpatient heart surgery at the U of A.
It’s called catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation.
I got the call on Friday that it was set up. It’ll take all day and I have to stay in Edmonton that night in case I have to get back to the hospital for any reason.
I’ve decided I won’t have to, but I’ll stay handy to it anyway.
Prior to the surgery I need to have a cardioversion done again. It’s where the heart is stopped ever so briefly and then restarted. It’s done to restore proper sinus rhythm.
Once that’s done I get to stop taking the second beta blocker I was put on recently.
It’s all good and it’s just going to keep getting better.
The bluebird in the picture is, of course, the bluebird of happiness.
Have a great week, everyone.
I’m going to.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quick Reminder--New Moon

Hey, everybody, the new moon is here.
It happened last night (in Alberta) at 9:23 p.m. That means we have until 9:23 tonight to get those abundance cheques written and filed away.
Fill out a cheque. In the amount areas write Paid In Full.
Make it out to yourself.
Do not put a date on it.
Sign it The Law of Abundance
Put it away somewhere and forget about it.

Happy Abundance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Photo Finish Friday -- A Guest at the Feeder

Yesterday we were treated to a visit from a Gray-Crowned Rosy Finch.
He, or she, went to the water dish first. It was frozen over, but our guest pecked valiantly at the ice.

As we watched I noticed it was eating, not trying to get a drink. It was cleaning up the fallen sunflower seeds from the feeder above.

It went away for a bit, but then came back and went to the feeder. It stayed and ate, and ate, and ate. Then it flew away.

After a while it came back and ate. It did this repeatedly throughout the day. It was a calm bird, or perhaps just very hungry, as it didn't flinch when photographed.

These birds are commonly found in the mountains. I'd seen one years ago near the top of a mountain in Jasper on the Cavell Meadows hike.
I didn't expect to see one at the kitchen feeder, but I am tickled that it happened.

Go on. Click to enlarge me. I want you to.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Early Springtime in the Rockies

Spring in the Rockies. The North Saskatchewan River is open and flowing while the land remains cold and dry. Snow huddles in the shade hanging on as long as it can and mountains rise from the plain to greet the returning warmth of the sun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

War and Pussycats- More Twos on Tuesday

A proper cat scan.

I was so tickled last week to join in on the Women of Mystery’s Two Sentence Tuesdays I thought I’d give it another go this week.
It keeps me writing, for one thing, and for another it forces me to tap out something that I can share with the blogging world without cringing.

This is something we read this week. My husband reads me a bedtime story and has done so virtually every night for the 19 years we’ve been together. We received the Warriors series for a Christmas gift from friends and we’ve just started it. I absolutely love it and can’t help but refer to it as “War and Pussycats.”

Here are two sentences from Warriors: Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter, Avon Books, 2003.

“After a moment’s pause, several of the cats moved forward to lick Redtail’s bedraggled fur. As they groomed they purred hushed phrases to the dead warrior.”

My contribution is from the novel I started late last week about a mirror that randomly plays back images it has reflected.

"Light bounced around the room from the mirror. In its face a man in his mid 30s slapped his forehead and raised his arms to the ceiling."

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be out for most of the day. In keeping with the theme of the today’s post I’m off to the U of A Hospitals for a cardiac CAT scan.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gratitude Monday - SerpentPuss Edition

All is not as it seems.

One of the neighborhood kitties, Puss, stopped by for a visit yesterday. She's a frequent visitor to our yard and loves to be smooched. Before we found out her name we ID her by her collar so to us Puss will always be Gold Collar.
We can't have cats of our own as my husband is allergic to them, but he likes them and they like him.

I let her crawl on my shoulder and purr in my ear for a few minutes. It's always a pleasure to hear a pussycat purr. I turned her over to my husband who spent a good half-hour out on the front porch in the afternoon sun attending to Gold Collar's needs and wishes.

I'm grateful that she likes us so much and feels at home in our yard. It's good to have a friendly kitty come by to visit and we look forward to whatever time she deigns to give us.

As for the picture, as threatening as those fangs might look, she was only yawning. A good afternoon's smooching can take a lot out of a pussycat.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - Magnificent Blue Edition

This bluebird on a wire lent a glorious splash of colour to the last year's yellow-brown grasses and leaves out on the Kootenay Plains.
This was more than likely a western bluebird although he didn't turn around so I can't be sure. The area is one of the best places to see this beautiful bird.
Mountain bluebirds are out there, too, and we saw some. That's the only way I know we saw at least two different pair last week.
I hope this photo puts some colour in your day and puts a pleasant cap on your week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Boots Worked

The North Saskatchewan River at Preacher's Point. The photo has nothing to do with the post. I just like it.

I finished my vampire western yesterday.
I put my boots on for the final push and wrote the final scene just before 11:30 a.m. The manuscript came in at just under 56,000 words. I’d thought at first it would be around 60,000, but toward the end I realized it would be closer to 55,000.
It felt good.
I haven’t written “The End” nor have I used the editing symbol -30- on that last page yet. That glorious moment will come in its own good time.
About a week ago I got an idea for a third book. It grabbed hold of my imagination and it would not let go.
Originally, the vampire western was meant to keep me occupied while my first novel’s first draft cooled off.
I was going to get after editing it. Instead I took a few hours off in the afternoon and then cracked open a fresh file and began working on the third book.
I’ll get the editing done on the first one, and the second one, but for now I’ve got to get something done on the third.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whirlpool Point

This is called Whirlpool Point. It's along the David Thompson Highway (aka Highway 11) and it's where the North Saskatchwan River makes a whirlpool. Whirlpool Point is close to the Banff Park gate and almost a two-hour drive west of Rocky Mountain House.
I've lived here for 21 years now and it never ceases to give me a thrill to know this scenery is in my back yard.
What I can get to in an easy drive some people might only see once in their lives. I am aware every day how blessed I am to live here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Twosday Triumphs

The fine writers at Women of Mystery have something going on called Two Sentence Tuesday.
I've played once or twice, but put my sentences up over there. Today, for a refreshing change of pace, I thought I'd foul my own nest instead.
Offerings are to include two sentences that I've read over the past week and two I've written.
What I've read:

"Some people, for example, think spirit sounds spooky; they may find consciousness more appealing.
Soul sounds ominous to some; extended self-awareness, though, can convey the same meaning."
-from Edgar Cayce Answers Life's 10 Most Important Questions, by John G. Fuller, Warner Books, 1989.

And my offerings for the past week:

“Arturs, are you sure you should use the word living?”
"It makes my point. And I can be killed therefore I must be alive. Anyway, I’m not going to argue the finer points of my existence. Especially given that you can’t die at all.”

It's a bit more than two, but they go together and I didn't want to break things up.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Bluebird Plains Edition

We went for a drive out west on Good Friday. We took our time and stopped for photos as needed. I'd said our mission was to find bluebirds.
There's at least one nesting pair out on the Kootenay Plains, about a 90 to 105 minute drive from here. The Plains are an ecological reserve and many bluebird boxes are attached to the fenceposts along the highway.
We saw bluebird couples four times during our drive. We saw at least two different pairs, based on the colouring. Maybe there were eight birds. Maybe it was four twice, or two four times, or maybe one pair three times and then another. We may never know and it does not matter. We went for bluebirds and they were most accommodating.
It was a good day for a drive in the mountains, and for that I am grateful.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

These Boots...

... were made for writing.

By popular demand, okay two commenters mentioned it, here are the cowboy boots I bought for writing.

They're Boulet, a Canadian brand, and they're deerhide.

I put them on and let them work their magic on my mind.

They're comfortable. They feel good. When I wear them I scale the dizzying heights of nearly 5'5".

They help me concentrate and think like my characters. One character likes the feel of bare feet in her boots. Good for her. I don't share the opinion, but at least I got a chance to try it and feel it for myself. It's all part of the research and it's important.

I often wonder what else my writing will compel me to do, but learning things and experiencing life are big draws for the job.

I have a very good job.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Character Knows Best

Research for writing takes some interesting turns. The Internet is great for looking things up. It’s even better for getting distracted and forgetting your original search after few clicked links.
Questions can be put to people. I discovered through years of reporting that most people are willing to share what they know if they are asked. Further, many a person’s favorite subject is him or her self. There’s a good chance I’m not the exception to that rule.
My current manuscript concerns itself with some vampires, damphyres (half-human) really, who live in the Old West. The family lives as a regular family and at least two of the offspring want to be cowboys.
Cowboy research is easy enough. Best of all it gave me a great excuse to drop a ridiculous amount of money on cowboy boots. I only wear them around the house and I do it when I’m writing.
I say it helps.
On the vampire side of the ledger the bulk of my research is theoretical. I read somewhere that if you throw grain or seeds in front of one he or she is compelled to stop and count each individual kernel. If interrupted said bloodsucker has to start all over.
Okay, this sort of OCD behavior can be tried. One December morn we had some fresh deer offerings out by the composters in the garden. In the interest of research I told my husband what I needed and had him interrupt me three times while I counted them.
It’s very annoying. I felt awfully sorry for vampires that morning.
That’s about all I can do as my teeth aren’t nearly strong enough to do any jaws-on tests. Even if I had some nice, sharp, pointy eyeteeth I assume there’s a limit to how much even my long-suffering mate will put up with from me.
In another wrinkle, one of characters is a lesbian. I’d vacillated on this point for a while and wondered if it was only because she wanted to be a cowboy. I resisted it for no other reasons than I am limited in my research capabilities. I’m in over my head. I don’t even know what to ask.
I was fighting with my character. Was she sure about this because I really don’t know what to do, and could I please have a sign?
I put it out to the Universe and went about my day looking for vampire info. Clicks took me to a website detailing the major veins in the body. The vein in the inner thigh is the called Greater Saphenous Vein.
There’s no arguing with that kind of a sign.

*Confused about why this is a sign?*
Try here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Still Here, Still Breathing

C'est moi in Tierra del Fuego and happy about it.

Another Monday. Another chance to be grateful.
Still here. Still breathing.
Top of the week to you.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - Chilean Pastoral

This peaceful scene was a treat to see. I'd move there in a heartbeat.
It was along the southern highway which runs along the Reloncavii Fjord in Chile.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Name Game Post

Here's my version of the name game that Reb did the other day.

1 Your rock star name (first pet, current car) – Trixie Corolla

2.Your gangsta name (favourite ice cream flavour, favourite type of shoe) –
Chocolate Gaucho Boot

3.Your Native American name (favourite colour, favourite animal) – Blue Wolf

4.Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born) – Jocelyn Barrhead

5.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name) Utale

6.Superhero name (2nd favourite colour, favourite drink) – Red Whiskey

7.NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers) – George John

8.Dancer name (the name of your favourite perfume/cologne/scent, favourite candy) Coffee Caramel

9.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) Fleming Frankfurt

10.Spy name (your favourite season/holiday, flower) – Samhain Tiger Lily

11.Cartoon name:(favourite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now) – Strawberry Socks

12.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree) – Granola Pine

13.Movie (or porn) star name (first pet, first street where you lived) – Trixie Klondike

I can certainly understand why Trixie Klondike changed her name in later years to Jocelyn Barrhead. It's bad enough having been a porn star, but can you imagine if her fans ever found out she was once Granola Pine?!
And we'll not be discussing the years as Coffee Caramel . . .

Okay, I'll stop, but those names clearly have a story to tell.