Signs

I’m not superstitious, but… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gU5Vg2JokU
Had to add that song because I can’t say “superstitious” without it playing in my head. And, yes, Europe is still around and sounding better than ever.

This morning I approached my desk to write the beginning of my new story. Yes, pre-writing is complete and it’s time to get to work! I pulled the blinds open and saw not one, but FIVE pairs of indigo buntings around the bird feeder area (which is just a few feet away from Fernando, if you were wondering.) Indigo buntings are beautiful—my simple camera, especially pictures taken through a window screen—can’t do them justice. Since they are BLUE, and the younger a gorgeous turquoise, you can easily spot them.

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I’ve only seen indigos once or twice in my yard, and it’s been several years since my last sighting. I thought it was amazingly cool, but didn’t put the birds together with writing until I noticed something on the floor. Right next to my anti-fatigue mat (you got it—I use a standing desk because it worked for Hawthorne and I like to pace) a picture was lying face-down. One of my favorite pictures, that just so happens to be me with local writing friend, Joyce Scarbrough, and my writing hero, Laurie Halse Anderson. At some point during the night it jumped off the top of my bulletin board and landed in my path.

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Then it all made sense to this creative brain of mine: my story is about to take flight and I’ve got good company on the journey. Or something like that.

While I’m not superstitious, I do believe in signs.

What do you believe in?

Fernando, for the Win!

Nature has a quiet way of speaking to us. A lot of the time, the noise of people and modern life drowns out the sounds of Earth, but we can all seek what we need to hear, no matter where we are.

From top to bottom, the water oak outside my window is a home and refuge to living things. Though the oak is just beginning to bud—and pollenate its surrounding with yellow dust—the uppermost branches support parasitic mistletoe growth. Though wind storms tear the plants from their host, more are there as a patch of green through the winter in an otherwise bare tree.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

Slightly above mid-level, about three stories off the ground, there’s a red-bellied woodpeckers’ home. Happily, the lovely—and talkative—couple rebuilt a new hole after their original dwelling broke off from the same branch over a year ago.

The hole is in the center of the picture.

The hole is in the center of the picture.


If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don't have a fancy long-range lens.

If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don’t have a fancy long-range lens.

And, of course, near the base of this impressive ecosystem there grows Fernando.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando in all his glory.

Still fresh from a winter’s slumber, the ever industrious fern not only regrows but sets out new runners. There it is: nature telling me to spread—move on to the next branch of creativity.

It’s time to set roots for the next story.

It lives--and grows!

It lives–and grows!

Two Years After: An Oil Spill Reflection

Today is the second anniversary of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Here are links to two blog posts I did about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

http://authorcarriecox.com/2010/06/24/on-a-serious-note/

http://authorcarriecox.com/category/deep-water-horizon/

Just last month I finally ate at a local seafood restaurant. I’m still not 100% certain of the safety of the gulf, but next month I’ll take my family to the beach–and let them play below the water line in the sand–for the first time in two years.

Live and Learn

My blog this week is short—a carry over from my “Never List” last week. One of my readers (hello, cousin!) wanted to hear about number six: NEVER leave a bag of bird seed outside over-night. This is something I’ve learned within the last few years, yet still temp fate with when I’m forgetful (see number four on the previous post.)
I’ve been living in the deep south for thirteen years but I’m still learning the local culture and rules. One big thing to remember, yes do write this down if you are older than twenty-five, is that night life in the south is active. I live within in the city limits—suburban, residential with surrounding businesses, but there are a few pockets of wooded areas and a creek nearby. Opossums and raccoons are frequent nocturnal visitors. Both make short work of a plastic bag of bird seed. They especially like the premium seed, with the nuts and berries. I don’t like paying good money to feed over-sized, rat-like critters.
Don’t even get me started on the daytime issues with squirrels… they can chew through the lids of five gallon plastic paint cans!
There is still time to comment on the list from last week and sound off on your own experiences.

Ice

This morning frost covered the grass and the bird baths were iced over- up to 1/8 of an inch around the rim. All the other cold nights this month only produced some frost on the rooftops. There was even a glittering layer of ice crystals on the canvas of the folding chair on the front porch. I enjoy the winter while I can… it goes so quickly here, if it decides to visit.

"Wouldn’t it Be Nice"

I put the title in quotes because I’m mentally signing that song. Mentally, so as not to create noise pollution.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get a whole new wardrobe every month? To pass on the discarded clothes to others and refill the drawers and hanging spaces in your room with a complete new assortment of adorable, and sometimes even trendy, outfits.
Such is the life of Princess S. She turns four months this week and each month I have to bump her wardrobe up to the next size. At birth she wore (filled out in most cases) 0-3 and 3 month clothing. At one month she was wearing 3-6 months. At two months it was 6 months. At three months she wore 6-9 months. Now, she’s on to 9 and even some 12 months (depending on the cut- she has a long torso).
Both new and used clothes keep coming our way; thanks to generous family members and friends and even my son’s bus driver (not to mention my impulse buying of things so sweet and cheap I couldn’t pass up over the years) we more or less have her first year of clothes taken care of. I always thought I’d use gender neutral clothes with a girl, like I did with my boys, but it’s just too much fun playing dress-up. I’m loving purple tones more than ever. So whenever I do need to buy something to fill-in the gaps I gravitate toward purple and lavender and wisteria…
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On a side note, the goldfinches are arriving! My favorite time of the year to bird watch in the yard. The goldfinches usually stop here mid-late January through March. Long enough for them to start looking gorgeous in their summer plumage before they head back north. But it’s a good thing they don’t stay around all year- I couldn’t afford to feed them. Thistle seed is pricey. “Gold” seed for the goldfinches. And when you get 60-100 goldies eating from your feeders for a month (it takes a few weeks for the numbers to max out and some start leave earlier) the seed bill adds up quickly! But it’s worth the (short term) expense to watch them change and have them here for the Great Backyard Bird Count. I can always count on them for some impressive numbers (to my standards) on my daily counts. http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/