Magic of the Everyday, Nature, the dog

Definitely Spring!

Yes, I know the calendar told us that the first day of spring has just passed, but I’ve been seeing so much spring around here lately, and it’s awesome, so I’m gonna share!

The plum tree is covered in gumball-sized fruits of dull, celery green, and the new blueberry bushes are awash with clusters of greenish fruit, as well. The earliest loquats are now ripe, with more changing from greenish-yellow to golden orange every day. In the veggie garden, while the recent cooler weather has not been to my sulking tomatoes’ liking, the carrots and onions are thriving!

We’ve spotted our first hummingbirds, out at the purple-flowering sage in the front, and within an hour I had both hummingbird feeders out (I haven’t spotted any takers, yet, despite the chill temps early in the mornings). And Cedar Waxwings are swarming the holly tree outside my dining room window (and every berry-holding tree in the neighborhood honestly), swallowing down every ripe berry they can coax off the branches, fueling their trips further northwards.

And finally, how about the bigger wildlife?

Let’s start with Dasher. He adores sleeping in the sunbeams, as you know. I move soft bed out into the lanai and he takes a toy (or four) out with him, a security blanket to hold in his mouth as he dozes contentedly. Here’s his toy-of-choice yesterday:

Yes, he chose to wrestle that gator into submission, and looked quite comfortable holding it helpless in his so-powerful jaws! (snort, snert!)

And then, my sister (visiting from Ohio) and I went out to Payne’s Prairie to check out the scene. There was the owl, visible high in the live oak near the entrance, and even a fluffy chic, just as big as the parent but still incapable of flight, near the very top, basking in a sunbeam! (too high up; my pics turned out terrible–use your imagination???)

We proceeded to the boardwalk, where we were met with this:

Click to em-biggen any of these photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right–a momma gator and her brood. At first, it looked like only 3, then 5. Then we managed to count 7, then 12–and then we saw more underneath the boardwalk, and some on the other side… In short, I have no idea how many baby gators were there. But momma knew. A wading bird came near and she moved, threatening it until it flew off, looking for a cheaper meal. And we heard the babies give their little beeping cries now and again. While I’d been hoping to see some gators, I never expected this! And never this close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were other treasures too–an anhinga, sunbathing so close we could almost touch it. And loads of snakes of various stripes: garter snakes, water moccasins, brown water snakes. Rails and moorhens and egrets and herons and red-winged mockingbirds and…yeah, we went back to stare some more at the baby gators. They were the stars of the day.

Looking out at Payne’s Prairie from a small rise.
Not headless, but looking below it into the water! See the orange beak near the top of the tail, to the left?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Life, the dog, Writing

What? December? How?

Okay, so today I flopped the calendar page over and thought, “Gee, I just did this last week for November, didn’t I?” Obviously not. And yet, there is always something of a rush to the final months of the year, isn’t there? This year has been no exception.

First of all, I added to the chaos by signing up for a “Nearly NaNo” challenge with some of the folks I attended Taos Toolbox with two years ago. “Nearly” in that no, I didn’t want the insane 50,000 wordcount looming over me with everything else going on this month. But I do know that I normally slack off in November and December, so I wanted to push through those early writing doldrums. I decided on 20,000 words for a target, and 25,000 for a stretch goal. And, thanks to the accountability/challenge of the Google doc we kept for our daily wordcounts, I met my stretch goal! Woooo!

(To celebrate, yesterday I started work on a new short story. Ummmmm, I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work…)

With 10 days to go, the 3rd & Starlight Kickstarter is 68% funded! And did you notice that now, at the $70 EVERY HERO NEEDS ONE level, you’ll get a signed paperback copy of SIDEKICKS!, an anthology about (duh) the sidekick, edited by Sarah Hans and published by Alliteration Ink. SIDEKICKS! contains my story, “Worthy,” which is the page I’ll be signing for you. The level also includes paperback versions of 3rd & Starlight, 2nd & Starlight, and 1st & Starlight, as well as ebook versions of all three Starlight books! What a deal! But we’re not there yet, so please fund us and tell your friends! (And did you see that while not a reward yet, an audiobook for everyone who funds at $25 and above if the Kickstarter goes over the Kickstarter Goal is in the works…)

Of course, the dog didn’t idly sit by while all this was going on. No, of course not! My dog would never do that. He decided to break off a bit of his marrow bone, break that into smaller bits, and swallow them. Which resulted in his going to the emergency vet over the Veteran’s Day weekend for emergency endoscopy, where they went down his throat and pulled the bits out. Nothing like a bit of excitement while trying to focus, is there? I’m happy to report that the very next day, Dasher was running around like nothing had happened–which, for him, nothing had. He’d slept through the whole thing!

Meanwhile, the holidays are ramping up into full swing. This weekend we’re setting up our decor and lights, indoor and out. Cards have been written and are being mailed in bits and bobs, dribs and drabs, so as not to overwhelm the mail carrier all at once. Some gifts have even been purchased! Before you know it, I’ll be back here with a summary of the year that was 2017.

But not now, not yet. I have more days to go, and more writing to do. And a dog who will only get tennis balls, not marrow bones, to keep him busy.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, science, the dog, Travel, Writing

Mid-June Update

Things have been busy here, and I’m still in a bit of a whirl. Dasher is fully recovered, according to Monday’s liver enzyme test, which is the biggest news for me. And the best. He’s been acting fine, so it’s good to see it’s more than just a temporary reprieve.

He also got his shots yesterday, including a new one for the canine influenza that’s hit Florida. With his frequency of appearance at the UF Vet Med Hospital, which is a hotbed of diagnosis for this outbreak, I think it’s wise that he get all the protection a dog can get; after all, he’s had enough issues without adding one more. (Trupanion will probably thank me for this, too!)

Last week, spousal unit and I took a short trip north. Our first night we spent at a friend’s home in New Jersey, near where we used to live. The weather was cool and fine, and we got to harvest some of the last asparagus out of the garden! Oh, so delicious. I miss garden-fresh asparagus so much after tasting that lovely treat! The gardens were also a delight, with columbine, roses, iris, foxglove, and clematis. The long, cool spring held the blooms perfectly for our visit.

Afterwards, we traveled into New York City and absorbed city atmosphere and energy. We walked neighborhoods and parks, ate a a few favorite restaurants and tried a few new ones, took in some new sights as well as revisiting some old favorites. Can I admit that it was relaxing? Yes, NYC and relaxing don’t normally work together, but it was. Both of us just slowed down and enjoyed being on vacation. It was great.

Back home again, I’ve started to dive heavily into the research end of the literal “world building:” How long would the planet’s rotational period be? How about moons–could I have two, and what would their cycles in the night sky be? Could/should the planet have a great rift, like the one on Mars? How would that affect the story, or would it be located elsewhere? What are the different languages spoken by the various peoples, and how are they visually/aurally different? Etc…

Yes, it’s work, but it’s fun work. And it’s calling me, calling…

Bye for now. Time to research biology and form for a cool critter I’m making.

Magic of the Everyday, Paradise Lost, the dog

Good News for May

My dog, Dasher, is doing so much better! He’s active, and playful, and letting me know that he’s full of life and fun again. We’re still awaiting the final biopsy results, and will have yet another blood test next week at his follow-up appointment, but it seems that the immediate threat (while still from unknown source[s]) is over. What a relief!

In light of his healthier state, I went to Paradise Lost last weekend, my first one. It was 4 days of writing immersion; talking, listening, thinking, drinking, sleeping, and breathing SFF writing! It was a blast. It was exhausting. I’m so glad I went, and I was so glad to come home again (where I promptly got sick–yuck!). I’m also so glad I didn’t get pulled off a plane for any reason, or have any real flight delays. (Really, what is going on in the airline world of late? First United, now Delta? Jeesh!)

Now, back home again, I’m watching the hummingbirds argue over whose feeder it is, laughing as the anoles try to out-macho one another with their head-bobbing and throat-sac displays, their back ridges raised to full extension, and trying to time picking my strawberries as they near ripeness, to get a few of them before the squirrels do. Black racer snakes slither about, picking off unwary lizards and basking in the sun. The magnolia tree’s cupped, soup bowl-sized blossoms are scenting the air a lemony light-floral, the jasmine is just now fading from its full flush of bloom and is still sending out a thick, heady sweetness in the evenings,  while the gardenia beneath the magnolia is fit to bursting with tons of tight buds! It’s a good year for fragrance in my garden! 🙂

It’s also a good year for weeds, unfortunately. Weeds and words–that should be carved onto my tombstone. And on that note, it’s back to the pair of them, as the dog naps in a sunbeam.

Life is (mostly) good.

Personal Life, the dog

Quick Update

I’ve been missing again, and here’s why: Dasher is sick. And we don’t know with what/why.

He’s had laparoscopic surgery to assess his liver, and take samples for biopsy. Those reports aren’t back yet. He’s lethargic–expected with his liver not working very well–but not jaundiced, and no longer anemic (the liver fortifying drugs at work?). It’s hard to see him, a mere three years old, acting so frail and old and doddering. His anti-seizure meds are being changed to give him ones that are less taxing on the liver, which is good, but which also runs the risk of upsetting the delicate balance and his having a seizure during the transition.

So, I’m writing in the corners of time around dog-care. Caring for Dasher is my priority, and otherwise dealing with life comes next. But I’m not having much excess time for blogging, or hanging out on social media. Bear with me, please. I’ll be back. And when I am, I hope I’ll have more good and fun news to share.

Personal Life, the dog

It’s Adoptiversary Day!

dashernotail

Which means that two years ago today, we brought Dasher home from the Haile’s Angels adoption event at Petsmart. He earned his name by dashing about at the end of his leash, so happy and eager and cute. He’s still happy and eager and cute (even if sometimes that becomes annoying!).

Today, we’ll celebrate by giving him a deer antler, and some extra special treats. He’s already wagging his tail, just imagining it. Or, well, it is his normal state of being, so maybe he’s just being his normal self. Either way, he’s happy. We’re happy. And yes, Dasher is definitely one of the things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving.

I hope today brings you some of the same good fortune and lasting happiness that adopting Dasher has brought to our lives.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Personal Life, the dog, Writing

Where Went October?

pearspersimmons
Pears and persimmons–fall is here!

It’s already the end of October? My neighborhood is already fully invested in it’s over-the-top Halloween decor. We put up our (more reserved) decor offerings yesterday, in the cool and lovely 76F day (except for the cardboard bats–they’ll go up the afternoon of Halloween, so the damp doesn’t do them in). This week, it’s off to buy 1000 pieces of candy for the trick or treaters who’ll show up at our door (did I mention that we always run out early, even so?). Mind-boggling, but true, and let me tell you, it’s so much fun to watch these kids all dressed up literally take over our streets, and to see the gusto that the neighborhood throws into this entertainment. I’m not sure who has more fun–the kids, or the adults!

The weather’s been unseasonably cool in the evenings. It’s dipped down into the 40s the past few nights, and got down to 42F last night. That’s just too close to frost! I’ve started  pulling some potted plants inside at night, and closing windows, and am shifting things about in the garage, getting the frost blankets out for the in-ground delicates should it grow any colder. And doing this in October, especially after the extended heat of summer? Just crazy. We had a bonfire on Saturday evening, and huddled around the bright flames as dark coolness settled in all around us. I toasted a few marshmallows, and we drank cider, and life was good.

emptyThe night before that, spousal-unit and I had “date-night”–an actual dinner out at a nice restaurant, just the two of us. It was lovely to talk and enjoy one another’s company without doing dishes after, or shopping and cooking it all. We both had delicious meals, too–proof of the fact is this photo: I couldn’t stop long enough to take a pic until the plate was clean! Trust me, it was that good.

We also visited Payne’s Prairie. The water levels are remarkably low right now–the lowest they’ve been in a decade according to a ranger who chatted with us. No one really understands why; the whole regions infrastructure of sinks and springs is pretty poorly understood even today, so what affects the water levels, and how, isn’t always apparent.

freerideWith less water to hide in, we saw more alligators sunning and swimming. And some babies were clearly visible in the shallows on the right side of the diked trail. The low waters also mean that the wild cracker horses have to come closer to alligator-infested waters to drink, like these beauties with their “riders.” You know that’ll mean some equine–and alligator–casualties to come.

orangingup
Yum on the way!

My tiny little tangerine tree is bowed over with its load of fruit, which has begun to change from orange to green! Hurray! As have the orange and tangerine trees in the neighborhood. Our Meyer lemon tree has just started to show yellowing on a couple lemons. We got a bunch of persimmons from the orchard just down the road and have been feasting on them. I bought a few gorgeous pears at the grocery store, as well, and they’re looking gorgeous here until they finish ripening and we eat them up–yum!

And then we come to Dasher. Ah, poor Dasher. He started limping again. Just a bit, at first, so we suspected it was his patella slipping out of place. Until one day, he started hobbling 3-legged again. And didn’t stop. A trip to the vet and a set of x-rays later confirmed that no, his patella seemed fine, but his remaining ACL was ruptured. And so–another surgery.

checkingin
Checking in at UF Small Animal Hospital for surgery–again.

He’s in recovery now, but we have another concern. His seizures aren’t being totally blocked by the meds he’s on (3 different ones at this time). Small near-seizure ‘episodes’ slip through, on about a 10-day to 2-week cycle–way too frequently, especially given his med dosages. And his liver isn’t able to handle more of these meds. In fact, we’re doing another monitoring blood test later this week. So in November, he’s going for an MRI of his brain, to check whether there is some physical (correctible) reason for these seizures. And honestly, I’m not sure what to hope. “Yes” means he might have a chance of getting off all these meds. But it also means another surgery–quite literally, brain surgery! I’m really tired of putting him through these things (he’s not quite 3 yet, and this is surgery 5 that he’s recovering from now), of feeling guilty for his pain and confusion, even while knowing that it’s the right thing to do. But a “No” means we have to keep looking for meds and dosages that will control the seizures without killing him or making him sick. And we’ve been through 4 common medicines already, so what are the chances of this happening? Sigh.

Around all this, writing has been happening (but not by zombies)! Honest! I’ve made good progress on Book 2 of the Jessamin trilogy, and have edited 2 short stories–one newly written, and one that needed a final (I hope!) thoughtful (and therefore slow and difficult) edit to sharpen and hone. One is out on submission now, trying its wings for the first time. The other is waiting a bit, the timing not being right for its next submission quite yet. But soon… .

Nature, the dog, Travel, Writing, Writing Workshops

Round-Up for late-June/July

Happy Belated Canada Day to my neighbors to the (now far) north, and Happy (forthcoming) Independence Day to those of us in the U. S.

Husband, dog and I celebrated by taking Thursday & Friday off and making a break to the gulf coast town of Dunedin, FL. We stayed in the dog-friendly Best Western Hotel (great spot for dog owners, with a shady park right across the street for “walkies.”), which was, amazingly, also right on the waterfront! Part of the draw was the quaint town filled with cool little shops and awesome restaurants (not enough time for all of them on this short trip–we must return!).

Another huge draw was Honeymoon Island State Park with its much-touted dog beach. We went, and it was good. However, even on the beach and in the water, dogs had to remain on a leash, which, okay, I get it–but it made it less than fun. Since I didn’t know this, I’d only brought a 4-foot leash, which made me work hard to let him swim. Also less than fun for poor Dasher was the fact that the water was actually hot! Warmer than the air temp, which was around 86°F–and after a few blissful minutes of swimming, he just wanted out and up, into the cool breeze and my arms. I actually felt bad for the small conchs plopped there in the low-tide shallows, slowly turning into soup. 😦

On the plus side, in a very short trip we managed to see much interesting and unusual wildlife: 4 sandhill cranes, 1 spoonbill, 2 perched/nesting osprey, scads of scuttling land crabs (really, it was almost unsettling; they made the undergrowth rustle with their passage on the way back from the dog beach), and a dolphin. Dasher made quick canine friendships with many other dogs, and charmed a number of folks walking in Dunedin, as is his nature. (How did I end up with such a social butterfly for a dog? Oh, yeah, that was husband’s doing…makes perfect sense. They’re the extroverts of this family, I’m the wallflower.)

You may have noticed that I’ve been rather scarce around this blog of late. I’ve been busy preparing for Taos Toolbox, coming up in just a week. Each participant submits up to 10,000 words of their novel + a synopsis of up to 3 pages, and we all read and crit one another’s work. There are 15 students this year; that’s a lot of words to be read beforehand. In addition, Nancy Kress has assigned 2 short stories, and Walter Jon Williams has assigned a short novel. There has been much reading and wearing of eyeglasses going on here, but I’m not complaining. I’m already learning things; there is no way to read that many words and not pick up a few things here and there, and my future classmates are a very talented bunch!

Which leads directly to a warning: I’m leaving next Saturday, and I don’t expect to be posting here on the blog during the workshop. Which means you won’t see activity here until the end of July, when I return. I’m hoping to have a summary of my workshop experience after I return, so there is that to look forward to. If you really, really need a fix of the wit (such as it is) and wisdom (such as it isn’t) of M. E. Garber, I suggest you take a peek at my Twitter feed during my absence. And if not, I’ll see you again once I return.

Happy July, everyone! Hope you’re fully enjoying summer.