Monday, June 24, 2013

Lions and Tigers and ... Panthers? Oh My!

My little cardinal friend –NOT – woke me again this morning before 6 AM. I forgot to mention the cardinal to the relatives who were house sitting on the weekend. Oops. Sorry about that. He was still bouncing off the windows (the bird not the relative) when we returned home.

Often people ask where writers come up with their stories. Well, my friends, stories are everywhere. On our drive home, I spotted a bouquet of flowers on a vacant bench. Now, that’s a story in the making. A mystery. Of course, it would involve murder because that’s my genre of late.

Near home, another mystery presented itself. On Camlachie Road, between the 402 overpass and Michigan Line, something leaped from the ditch and ran across the road in front of our vehicle. What was THAT? We couldn’t believe our eyes. My husband, never one to encourage my imagination – it can be scary living with someone who creates murder and mayhem on a daily basis – said he didn’t know and tried to leave it at that.

I'm not one to let something go. I knew what it looked like but come on, we’re in Southernwestern Ontario. I kept thinking of the pole-like tail. How long and straight it was when the animal was running. Running very fast, I might add. A cat’s tail. Cat’s ears and face. No, it’s impossible, I thought. The sleek body was a muddy grey-brown colour. It was big.

Unlike the bench and bouquet earlier in our drive, my imagination was not churning. I was too puzzled about this animal to be ‘writing’ a story. When I got home, I immediately searched the internet and discovered there had been other panther or cougar sightings in Lambton County within the past three years. It seemed too incredible to be true.

I did what anyone else would do. I posted it on facebook. The only comment was to question if I got a picture of it. I couldn’t tell if they were snickering but since that was the only comment on my posting, I assumed no one believed me.

Of course, there was no picture. My cell phone was in my purse. Besides, I was leaning forward on the seat with my eyes and mouth wide open. I can’t say that I didn’t think of taking a picture, but I knew there was no time. He was moving as fast as ... well, a panther, I suppose.

Now, coyotes are common in our area. We saw one once in the field behind our house. At night, we often hear them yipping in the distance. Sometimes, they venture closer. One night a pack of them was outside our bedroom window. My heart pounded. Their blood-curdling yodelling was incredibly loud and TOO CLOSE.

Our dog ran – no, she slunk with her tail between her legs – out of the bedroom. After the coyotes left, I found her huddled in a corner of the living room. Since then, if Lex refuses to go outside at night, I never force her. Dogs sense danger long before humans. I trust her instincts.

Another night, my husband heard the coyotes lapping water from our fountain. He turned on the outside lights. They disappeared fast.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the morning we discovered a herd of horses in our front yard. Another story for another time. Yes, my friends, stories are everywhere for writers.

So, in addition to coyotes and horses, and I've blogged about the skunks, we now have panthers. And a cardinal − let’s not forget the nuisance cardinal who drives me insane with her incessant attack on the windows.

Gotta love country living.



Monday, June 17, 2013

Cardinals - Beautiful but Annoying

The thump against my window is driving me insane. Each morning it’s the same wake-up call.

Swoop...thump. Swoop...thump. Swoop...thump. Sometimes it goes on for hours.

The cat ignores him. Having discovered the futility of lying in wait to pounce against the glass, Tiki sits on the bed methodically licking her paws and wiping the sleep from her eyes. 
The cardinal’s majestic crest and vibrant red plumage are a striking contrast to the lush green of the hydrangea that climbs the side of the window. His eyes are two shiny black beads in the morning light. They are such a beautiful bird. Why do they have to be so annoying??

After several mornings of pillow pounding, I am getting increasingly cranky. It’s not just the mornings. The males (more than one?) tap their beaks against the glass and fly into the windows all day long. The steady rhythm of their irritating ritual is driving me nuts.

One day during lunch, a female cardinal attached herself to the screened patio door. Looking for her mate? He’s not in here, I told her. I regretted my harsh tone as she lifted off. Alone.

It’s my habit to sleep with the blinds open so I can awaken to the beauty of the white clustered flowers of the hydrangea pressed against the glass. The greens, purples, and yellows of the trees and shrubs. The beautiful red cardinal perched atop a bush singing at the top of his lungs between swoops and thuds. Aghhh!

Swoop...thump. Swoop...thump.

I know immediately the topic of this week’s blog. Lately I’ve considered posting pictures with my blogs and that thought has me leaping to my feet to get my camera. Positioned at the bedroom window, I wait.

Here he comes! In a flurry of red feathers, he applies the brakes just before contact with the window. My finger fumbles on the button. Click! I check the picture − delete it. The next one will be better. I wait.

The sound is coming from the living room. The weight of a bird hitting the window. I can’t believe it, I say out loud. The cat looks up indifferently. He’ll be back, I tell Tiki, don’t worry, he’ll come back. I wait.

I didn't think the bird would be deterred by my presence near the window. One morning − needing an extra hour of sleep − I stacked pillows the length of the window. That’ll scare him away, I thought. It made no difference. Sparkling window catchers don’t work either.

I wait − eye glued to view finder, finger poised on button − remembering the calming coo of the doves from their nest in the hydrangea before the cardinals took over the territory.

My husband enters the bedroom. You’ll never get a picture that way, he says. He offers another suggestion. No, I’ll just write my blog and forget the picture, I tell him.

I make a coffee, go to the living room, and fire up the laptop. No sign of the cardinal. After typing a few words, a movement outside the window catches my eye. The dove is sitting on the rail looking in at me. I watch as its head tilts from side to side. Puzzled that I’m giving up so easily? Disappointed? Maybe. It just wants to go back to its nest in the hydrangea.

I think of taking a picture of the dove. Lexus, on the floor next to my chair, gives a loud sigh and a little snort. The beak tapping and body thumping continues at the bedroom window.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Write Getaway

There’s something about sleeping in a bed I don’t have to make, and showering in a bathroom I don’t have to clean that makes me feel pampered. Marv, on the other hand, thinks there’s no place like home. Bless his heart.

It was only a one-night retreat but a getaway to our favourite inn was just what I needed to re-group and re-focus. Away from deadlines and household chores, I was able to unwind and relax, as I haven’t done for ... let’s just say it has been too long.

Our standard room was anything but standard. The king-size white duvet and colourful cushions, burnt orange wing chair, and dark mahogany furnishings added to the ambience of a well-appointed room. The vault ceiling and tall window – overlooking the parking lot, but I wasn’t there for the view anyway – contributed to the striking impression. The spacious bathroom, which boasted a huge – what did they have in mind – shower with full-length double glass doors, humungous showerhead, and thirsty luxurious robes, spelled ‘good mood in progress’.

The beautiful sunny day encouraged us to quickly unpack and head to the patio for a drymartinistraightupwithatwist. It had been so long since I’d ordered one I had almost forgotten my preference. After a splendid martini, we toured the grounds basking in the warm temperatures, and admiring the gardens and magnificent fountains. Perhaps I should incorporate pictures with my blogs. Maybe I will in future posts.

Our dinner feast included ginger carrot soup, lobster salad, a variety of breads (a weakness of mine), calamari salad, liver pate, and my favourite brie cheese.

I felt relaxed and so appreciative of my undemanding surroundings that all signs of the fatigue and gloom of previous weeks had pretty much dissipated. My husband and I were both glad for the break from routine.

Marv ordered his favourite prime rib while I succumbed to pasta (another weakness) and scallops. Huge luscious scallops. And red wine. I’m typically a two-glass gal but the third serving found its way into my glass.

We retired to the lounge where we shared a scrumptious chocolate mousse-like cake dessert and finished our wine. Well, no, actually I was still carrying the same half glass of wine when we returned to our room. If housekeeping hasn’t cleaned our room yet, it’s still there.

Because I’m an early riser, I packed The Toronto Star and my favourite newspaper, The Globe and Mail. While my husband slept, I enjoyed a coffee and a catchup. I had just reached the Travel Section when he began to stir. Look honey, I said, there’s some terrific deals on cruises. He put his pillow over his head.

I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Trying to Write my Blog

Another night with Michael Bublé, my scrumptious pasta sauce, and red wine. Not the full-bodied wine I prefer, but at least it’s red. And not Michael Bublé in the flesh, but still it is his latest CD. And the pasta sauce – my homemade sauce with the sliced black olives, lean ground beef, mushrooms − is from the freezer. Still and all, a great evening.

I lick the wine residue from my lips, watch my husband walk up the hall to the bedroom, and then I turn on the computer. Time to write my blog. Have fun, he said, as he nuzzled my cheek. Uh huh, I answered, unconvincingly.

As always when I turn on my computer, especially on a Sunday night after a particularly busy weekend, I look at my emails. Too many for me to start reading. I check out facebook. I look at the fifty or so pics my friends posted of their weekend trip and yawn. Not that the pics are boring – au contraire – but it’s been such a wonderfully relaxing evening that I am write.

I turn off the computer. My blog will wait until morning.

Five a. m. and I’m wide-awake. While the coffee is brewing, I throw on the load of laundry that I intended to do the evening before – right about the time Michael started crooning. Then, settled next to the window in the living room – not the office where I should be – I breathe in the intoxicating aroma of the rich Italian roast before taking my first sip. Ahhhh. I turn on my laptop. Again, the emails. I deal with them first. There are a lot of them. Some with links that I will check out later. Now for the blog. Oops, time for another load of laundry.

The dog, not quite ready to start her day, has joined me in the living room to continue her sleep. On the couch. I don’t say anything. If I shoo her off the couch, she’ll need to go out. Then she’ll want her breakfast. Logical deductions. There is no time. It’s 6:30 and I haven’t started the blog yet.

My fingers are poised over the keyboard. This is Monday. Not only the first day of the week, but also the first day of the rest of my life. I`ll send out a couple of stories to ... somewhere, and get started on the best − most suspenseful − short story I’ve ever written. Maybe I’ll have a draft ready for the fiction group on Wednesday.

Here comes the cat. Tiki normally sleeps on the satellite receiver. Now she is trying to lie across my laptop. I give her a little affection before pushing her away. Oh no, now the dog is shifting and snorting. I’ll soon have to let her out. Feed her, too.

I think the dryer has stopped. I’ll check. While I’m at it, maybe I’ll make another cup of coffee, chop, dice, and sauté a new batch of spaghetti sauce, run the vacuum over the floors, and look out the front door to make sure the birds aren’t building another nest in the light fixture.

Oh, wait! Don’t go! I’m not finished ... I haven’t started ... my blog ... wait...