Monday, May 29, 2006

Attention, Absolute Write Fans!

Hi, everyone! For various reasons, I've failed to update my blog in a looooong time. So, without further ado, here are a few brief tidbits: the bluebirds fledged and the parents are already anxious to start another family (but they have to wait until the birdhouse is dried and hung back up on the post--I cleaned it this morning), my roses and gardenias are blooming (yay!), I've had tons of work to do (deadlines next week, a real biggie the following week, and then on to new projects and assignments--woohoo!), and spending time with my lovely family. On the homefront and work front, all is well.

As for my beloved Absolute Write, not so good. I've been so upset I haven't even posted anything! So many others have, though, and they have done such wonderful jobs that anything I could say would pale in comparison. If you're interested in finding out what's what, check out the following sites.

Jenna Glatzer, owner of Absolute Write, blogs about it. So does Dawno, and she has a whole bunch of links that pretty much cover everything. Scroll down through her blog and check it out--don't miss her links to the relevant posts on Making Light and Miss Snark's blog. If you were a member of Absolute Write and haven't yet found it, Roger Carlson has graciously set up a gathering place for our displaced folks.

I apologize for the brevity of my remarks, but if you check out the above links, you'll find plenty of information, tons of other links, and updates on the situation. Hang in there, Absolute Writers!

*Donate* Want to donate to the cause? Here are two easy ways:

Go read Jenna's post about it. Or:

Click the button:

*Flash* Get your copy of The Street Smart Writer written by Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Steven and support AW, too! Just click the button for info.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Few Pictures

Here's a nice shot of the male bluebird as he prepares to enter the box. Isn't he dressed in a beautiful shade of blue?

Here's our brand new car port. Now all we have to do is put in the gravel and then plant flowers and stuff around the sides. And best of all, the bluebird couple wasn't the least bit disturbed by all the hustle and bustle! The nest building is progressing smoothly.

It's a good thing noise and activity doesn't bother them. I had company later that afternoon and it sure wasn't quiet around here! The kids love to play outside when they're here and our big up-and-down front yard keeps them busy.

Hills are made for little boys to roll down...

and for little girls to run up!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Gardening Bluebirds

Writes With Feathers has been gardening! Last weekend we started a lovely flower garden in front of the house. I say started because I don't know if we'll ever finish—we keep thinking of other things we'd like to stick in there.

So far, we have a hybrid tea rose (Blue Girl, which is actually a very pretty shade of lavender), a butterfly bush, a hydrangea that is already bushing out like you wouldn't believe, and a 'Mystery' gardenia. Then there are the three maples we planted last year, and a couple of new dwarf Alberta spruce trees; we put one at each end of the garden. We'll decide what else will go in this plot later.

The other flower beds run along the front porch and a week or so ago I planted some cannas (The President, which is a vibrant shade of deep red) and two colors of bearded iris (Full Tide, an absolutely gorgeous shade of blue, and Cherub's Smile, a delicate shade of pink) in them. The cannas are doing well, but the irises haven't broken the ground yet. I'm trying to resist the urge to dig them up to see what's going on. (Roots yet? Well, why not??) Oh, yes, and we also planted some 'sticks' a friend gave us. They're going to be Angel Trumpets if they ever put out any leaves or anything. At least, I'm sure they're rooted (I looked). And at this point, the deer are leaving the shrubs in those beds alone—after they ate all the leaves and pruned every one of them nearly to the ground a few weeks ago!

Unfortunately, the camellias didn't fare so well. Right after they started to bloom, we had a serious freeze and the flowers that had already bloomed dropped off. The buds I was so optimistic about never opened. Oh, well. When I fed the other shrubs and flowers, I made sure to give them some, too and now they're sporting lots of new growth. They'll be fine I'm sure (fingers crossed). Oh, and the cypress trees we set out last year are growing like gangbusters. I love those things.

I have Eastern bluebird news!! There's a pair setting up housekeeping in a box near the end of our 32' front porch. They've been busily carrying nesting materials into the box. The male just can't seem to get it right; often the female removes what he takes in! I can just hear her: "What do you think you're doing? I'm not having that in my nest!"

Here's where the bluebird gardening comes in: we mulched the new flower garden yesterday. Today I see the female poking around in the mulch and taking shreds of something into the box. Apparently, some of the stuff in the mulch is of a consistency that strikes her fancy! I did see the male emerge from the box with some of it, though. He brought it to a porch rail where he spent several minutes poking, stretching, and pulling at it. When he finished, the female fluttered over to check it out, gave her approval, and took it into the birdhouse.

But there may be a hitch on the bluebird front. We've having a carport installed today and it's going up only about 18' from their box. I'll know by late this afternoon if they've been spooked away.

Pictures of the gardens and bluebirds will follow soon. Be well!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Parrot Foot-itis

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

There's a little known affliction spreading among parrot fanciers (okay, among two parrot fanciers as far as I can confirm, and one of them doesn't even have a parrot) that I fear may become epidemic. Are you at risk? Answer this brief questionnaire to evaluate your susceptibility:

1. Have you recently discovered at least one parrot feather among your possessions?
2. Are there tiny parrot-shaped beauty marks covering your feet and ankles?
3. Do you feel an unusually strong urge to consume *green bean casserole, even when it's not a holiday?
4. Do you read this blog?

If you answered 'yes' to any of the questions, then I'm afraid you may be high-risk for infection. I'm sorry to say that there is no cure. The best advice I can offer is to find other parrot people and hang out with them. It may not make the problem go away, but at least nobody will gawk at you (not much, anyway; they'll be careful not to be obvious).

I myself suffer from Parrot Foot-itis. The photograph below shows how extensive it is at this point. I must warn you, the picture is quite graphic. Do not view if you suffer from nervousness, sleeplessness, or crankiness. If you've just eaten, wait at least 30 minutes before viewing or it could cause cramps.



I'm trying to protect the innocent...


So I missed April Fool's day by a few hours - Happy April 3rd!

*Green bean casserole - inside joke! I just might post my favorite recipe one of these days - so long as Dawno posts hers, too. :D

Friday, March 31, 2006

More Rio :)

Here's a picture of Rio I meant to post with the others and forgot. I'd ordered some toys from Sonoran Parrots for the birds and here he is browsing through the smaller ones. He finally chose the little green airplane and in a matter of minutes, reduced it to teensy bits of chewed-up plastic. Good times.

I don't know if the pose gives you any idea of his size, but he's perched on my arm. Of course, my arm isn't terribly big so I don't suppose that's a real good gauge of measurement. *grin* Think of it like this: his beak is almost the size of a budgie's (parakeet's) head. He looks quite huge beside Sun conures or cockatiels. But then I look at him next to Pancho and think how small he is! (Pancho's a big fella.)

And Rio insisted that I repost the computer picture - it seems I didn't make it clear who that was busily working his little talons off. That's Rio at the keyboard, not Pancho. Rio got his beak quite out of joint with me over that. Sheesh. Prima donna. At least I didn't mention that my biggest concern when he's working is poop between the keys, and not any typos he might make. Yeah, good thing I didn't mention that.

Oh, you people are gonna be so sorry you asked about the birds. Bwahahahah! There's more to come!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Meet the Parrots!

At long last, here are my guys. See, I really do have parrots!

Pancho is an Orange-winged Amazon who has been with me since 1991. He's a real love. Someday I'll tell you how we came to be a family. It's a great story.

Rio is a Blue-crowned conure and the ruler of the world. Just ask him. He's been with me for nearly 20 years and is as much a part of me as my right arm.

Pancho, as you see, is very photogenic. He often appears alongside my magazine articles. Rio isn't too shabby himself; he's been on the cover of a book! Enjoy.

This is one of Pancho's favorite toys, from Sonoran Parrots.

And here he is wearing a toy on his head. Hey, I never said he was serious all the time!

I may have mentioned that I wrote a book about conures. Well, here's who really wrote it:

Rio worked very hard on this project! Here's the finished product:

The Conure Handbook is available at (lots of other places, too).

I hope you've enjoyed meeting the parrots. There's more to come; just stay tuned! Until then, be well, be happy, and be healthy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My First Camellia of 2006!

Isn't it beautiful? Fat buds cover that entire little tree and they will soon be exploding into lovely snow-white flowers just like this one. There are buds covering the other camellia, too, but it always blooms later. Those flowers will be a gorgeous deep scarlet, a color that always stuns me, even though I've seen it before.

I hope to catch up with everyone's blogs soon. I've been busily writing with the feathers, churning out work for several different publications and a book publisher. One new pub (new to me, anyway) is interested in the possibility of monthly pet articles from me! That will be fun.

I hope everyone is well, healthy, and as busy as you want to be! The parrots are impatiently waiting to make their entrance into the blogisphere and I've promised them it will happen…SOON! So stay tuned.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Diabetes Stuff (but parrots on the way!)

Here I am, a couple of days later, to add something to my previous post that will hopefully make my situation be a bit simpler to understand--I am a 'brittle' diabetic. Here's a link to an article that explains brittle diabetes very clearly: Brittle Diabetes .

Once I spent 30 days in the hospital so that doctors could try to determine why my diabetes is so hard to control. Every bite of food I took, every step of exercise I did (and we had regular exercise twice a day), my sleep, emotions, blood sugars, everything, was recorded and analyzed. The result? Nothing they tried regulated my glucose levels, my blood sugars swung merrily from pillar to post, and I earned the spiffy label of brittle diabetic.

This means that my blood sugars don't respond to treatment as expected, no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try. For instance, I may have a normal blood sugar reading one minute, then twenty minutes later be in the 400s, then half an hour later, my glucose levels might drop to the twenties. I can go for days and be in fairly good control, then boom! Things go haywire, and who knows why? It's aggravating, dangerous, sometimes kind of funny, and never, ever boring. Diabetes, my friends, ain't for wimps. I just thank God that my daughter's diabetes responds well to traditional treatment.

And now, what you've all been waiting for (well, Mac, anyway *grin*), parrot stuff is on the way! Stay tuned for all you ever wanted to know about the feathered maniacs who provide me with boundless inspiration, spread seed hulls, poop and good cheer throughout my office, and cheerily scream their little heads off when the telephone rings. Pictures and information are on the way! 'Til then, take it easy, be happy, and be good to yourselves.

Friday, February 24, 2006

My Treadmill Hates Me

Well, I guess it doesn't really hate ME, I think it has a problem with my diabetes.

See, I bought this really cool treadmill last month. It's a spiffy model—it features a variable incline and speed, counts the calories you've burned and measures the miles you've walked, tells you what your heart rate is, counts your steps, there's even a workout fan in the console. Lot of good that does me; I'm so short the air just barely ruffles the top of my hair. Sill, it's a pretty neat machine and I like it. It, however, does not like me.

Which brings me back to the diabetes thing. No matter what I try, I just can't get my blood sugars to cooperate with my walking plan! I've tried walking after lunch; insulin reaction. I tried eating a big sugar-laden snack before walking, thinking that maybe if I drive my blood sugar up, the exercise will bring it down to a reasonable level and everything will even out; insulin reaction. One day I thought I had managed to avoid any problems, but no. The reaction hit at 2:30 in the morning. There's just something unfair about being awakened from a dead sleep and having to drag yourself into the kitchen to get something to eat. But when your blood sugar tests something cute like 47, you have no choice.

On a related note, my daughter has the same trouble with her exercise routine. She's also insulin dependent (don't let anybody tell you that diabetes 'skips a generation.' That's a big, fat lie.). She doesn't have a treadmill, but likes to do Pilates. She ends up with the same insulin reaction annoyances that hit me. Or course, she also has three kids that keep her hopping, so that may have something to do with her blood sugars.

Anyway, I guess this is really just a rant about one of the aggravations of living with insulin dependent diabetes. Diabetics should get some form of regular exercise. It helps keep us in shape, helps control blood sugars, and is a low-impact exercise that almost anyone can do. I just wish somebody would tell our (MY) blood sugars that this is for our own good.

My next blog entry will be more cheerful, I promise. 'Til next time, be happy, be safe, be healthy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just A Few Pictures

I thought I'd see if I could learn to post pictures, so here goes nothing:

The most beautiful curly blonde hair in the world. Of course, I may be prejudiced. It's my granddaughter Chelsea!

Here is my husband Allen with our grandsons, Tyler and Bailey. Allen teaches music and as you can see, he's busy with a couple of banjo students.

And this is me!

Okay, I've tortured you enough now. More sensible postings will appear soon. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Look! I'm Blogging!

Well, here I am! And on Valentine's Day, no less. Thanks to some dear people on Absolute Write (you know who you are!), I have *gulp* begun my very own blog.

Here's a brief explanation for the title of the thing: I am a full-time freelance writer/photographer and I work with two parrots watching over my shoulder. Rio is a 20 year-old Blue-crowned conure and he's a very exacting editor--he's also the inspiration behind my first book, The Conure Handbook (Barron's Educational Series, Inc.). Pancho is a 20-something year-old Orange-winged Amazon. He also figures heavily into my work, most often as a model. Pancho has appeared in a number of print publications and is extremely photogenic.

I live in a rural setting and enjoy watching the huge varitey of wild birds native to this area. At any given time, there are numerous birds dining at the feeders on my front porch and on the pellets and seeds I scatter in the back yard. If the food supply runs low, they don't hesitate to peck on the window to tell me!

Hence, the title Writes With Feathers, or Écrit avec des plumes (thank you, Dawno!).

Well, if that isn't enough excitement for one time, I don't know what is! Until we meet again, then. :)