Miss Beatrix Potter Hen

Miss Beatrix Potter Hen
Miss Bea posing for Mama!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

6 EGG-cellent Writing Tips from My Egg-straordinary Hens

The world if chock full of suprises! Simply look around you and you'll discover great things. As a backyard chicken keeper, I spend a great deal of time simply observing my fine feathered friends. As a country dweller, I must be on the lookout for signs of predators, and therefore, always supervise their free range time. Talk about surprises! Although I did a great deal of research prior to cradling my very first flock of day old chicks in my hands, hands-on learning is priceless. I could literally fill a half dozen books with what I've learned about chickens. However, they've taught me far more about life itself. So, imagine my surprise, when I overheard some very clucky insights...on writing?
Miss Felicity, my Speckled Sussex

1. A Simple Routine Reaps Great Rewards

    Chickens thrive on routine. They're not much for change. Kudos, to you-dos, my happy
    hens, because a simple routine will take you far in life. Routines provide guidance and
    help to keep you on track. You all know only too well, just how easy it is to go off on a
    social media tangent and leave America's next great novel or award winning blog to
    gather dust on your desk.
     If you're more of a flap-happy free spirit, your routine needn't be written in stone.
     It's always a good rule of thumb to allow some flexibility, just in case. After all,
     NO chicken worth its cluck would resist a nice juicy worm just because it wasn't
     on the schedule.  

2. The Power of Perseverance

     The humble worm doesn't stand a chance once spotted by the keenly sighted
     chicken. The dynamic duo of a chicken's egg-cellent eyesight and perfectly
     chiseled beak are winners every time. Flying insects, on the other wing, are more
     of a challenge. Watching my gals leap and flap while in pursuit of a flying, flitting,
     buzzing snack is great fun. Chickens aren't naturally good flyers. They're clumsy.
     But, what they lack in style and grace, they more than make up for in perseverance.
     They keep their eyes on prize and do...not...give...up! Enough said, yes?

3. The Importance of a Flock of Support

   " It's friendship, friendship, Just a perfect blendship..." Cole Porter certainly knew
    the value of  friendship. Having the unwavering support of friends is so important in
    life. Chicken flocks are the epitome of a support group! Flocks that forage together,
    stay together. It's just that simple.
    Writers need that same unwavering support. Having like-minded writers in your
    dog-eared book corner is the greatest gift-they wholeheartedly understand the
    plot twists of a writer's life.

4. Fuel for Thought

    In the wild, chickens eat from the land-pecking up a multitude of all natural nutrients
    in the form of bugs, grains, berries, and grasses is the best form of preventative
    health-care ever. Now, while a good balanced diet is necessary for the brain to
    function well, let's talk a little bit about another type of fuel. A good writer should
    always be reading, reading, reading-reading the classics, reading how-to articles to
    improve your craft, reading colleagues works, etc.

5. Promote Yourself

    Writers have to don a LOT of different hats to be successful. You have to write,
    research, edit, seek out markets for your awesome works, and you need to promote
    yourselves. Chickens are the most egg-straordinary egg-ample of self-promotion on
    the planet. Why, one simple "egg song" can literally be heard from miles away. Talk
    about promotion! Now, don't be shy! Take a cluck or two from the humble laying hen
    and sing your praises by posting links to your works, awards, and accomplishments
    on social media platforms!

6. Always Put Your Best Beak Forward

    Chickens are meticulous cleaning machines, continually flip-flopping in their dusty
    baths, flapping off all the dust and debris, and then preening to fine tune the
    process, so to speak. The end result is a beautiful, soft and fluffy, clean chicken.
    Just perfect!

    For writers, this means editing, editing, editing. Even though you may need to edit
    until the cows come home, the time you put into crafting your "just right" piece will
    be sooo worthwhile in the end.  Always, always, always submit your BEST work!

Now, while these six simple tips may seem like common sense; sometimes, we all need a
gentle reminder to stir things up a little. So, I encourage all you wordsmiths to always be
on the lookout for teachable moments. They tend to pop up when you least egg-spect it,
and may come from the most unlikely source...Cluck, cluck, cluck! Cheers!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Haiku

A chill in the air
Crunchy leaves scattered about
Autumn is knocking

Autumn breezes in
Painting trees with bold brush strokes-
Bursts of color shout

Pretty White Birch Tree
Dressed in yellow for the fall
Sways to the music

Streams continue still
Flowing, running, racing time
Until winter's wrath

Foraging nearby,
Rhode Island Reds complement
The tree's party dress.

Daylight wanes each day
Starlight boasts of longer hours
Meteors zip, zip

Autumn rain drenches
Fallen leaves lie soaked and flat-
Slippery as ice

Nuts drop,drop and bounce
Great prizes for passing squirrels
Watch out, drop, drop, drop!

Sweet Corn harvested
Cornstalks drying, fading fast-
Brittle in the breeze.

Bright orange pumpkins
Growing, thriving on their vines
Shining in the sun

Blustery days shout
Trees discard their leafy cloaks
Shivering trees cry

The sun sets early
Sleeping so soundly and long
Dreams of early spring

The grass wears glitter-
Silvery, frozen, shining
Crunches underfoot

Juncos just appear
Heralds of  a season's end
Snowbirds chitting...snow!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Make it a Magnetic Monday!

Ah, Monday morning...can't trust that day!

Don't sing the blues just because it's Monday. Drown out those Monday Monday blues with a new melody. Put on your favorite song, turn up the volume and turn down any invitation to sing the blues. Make it a magnetic Monday!

If you don't have any projects that warrant immediate attention or dastardly deadlines looming, change direction and mold your otherwise hum drum Monday into a productive and magnetic networking day. Or, even if you do have something due, start your day out with a positive twist-spend a power hour marketing, meeting new writers, making connections, and making a difference in your Monday mood.

Ready, set, go...

A great place to start making new connections is to pop on over to the Writer's Digest October Platform Challenge where Robert Lee Brewer has compiled a CrAzY huge list of writer's blogs.

Reach out to fellow writers-read a few posts or a dozen, then leave a companionable comment, and invite them to visit your blog by including a link to a post you think they might like. Perhaps you share more in common than a way with words. Take a moment to really introduce yourself and share a tid bit about what it is you have in common with them. Making lasting lifelong connections can begin with a single word-Hello.

I've taken this challenge and ran with it like a GIANT run on sentence. I've reached out to more than twenty new writers and what I got in return is priceless...friendship. Thank you fellow wordsmiths!

Another great place to make connections is to join an online writer's group. Facebook is overflowing with "just the write places" to find comaraderie. The Write Life offers this fine list of  FB writer's groups-there's sure to be one to fit your writing style.

Mondays will take on a whole new mood when you reach out and make it a magnetic Monday!

So, I challenge you, fellow writers: go, seek, comment, and invite.

Maine-ly France-Places I Want to Live!

Hello and Salut mes amis!

Ahh, the beauty of travel-journeys that revitalize, mesmerize and captivate our senses-is one of the great joys in life.

Two such places find their place deep within my heart-Maine and France. Maine is a place I've traveled to several times and it simply takes my breath away. It's such a beautiful, beautiful place. I want to live there. France is a place I visit almost every day...in my mind. I hear it's a beautiful,beautiful place. And, I want to live there,too.

Maine, with its magnificent forests and craggy coastlines, quaint little historic towns, and lovely pastoral countrysides makes me positively daydreamy. I could daydream the day away with vivid recollections of this amazing place crashing into my mind like the waves that crash into its lengthy shoreline-continually, fervently.

Places you absolutely must see: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Lisa Steele's Fresh Eggs Daily farm, Boothbay Harbor, the classic New England town of Portland, Camden, and the delightful little fishing town of Rockport.

Maine is soooo much more than forest land and sightings of monstrous moose, although, just as I am anxiously awaiting to spot the elusive Wassergass Black Bear, I would like to spot a real moose someday! Again, from AFAR!! Seriously though, Maine is breathtaking! It's beauty is incomparable-there's just no place like it on earth. This notable northern work of art has it all-seafood, one of a kind finds for the antique treasure hunter, vast beaches and acres of pure undisturbed forests, lovely historical lighthouses, quaint shops overflowing with books, odds and ends, nautical knick knacks and much, much more.

France, with its foreign allure, the city of lights, quaint little historic towns, and lovely pastoral countrysides, also makes me positively daydreamy.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Places I long to see one day:gay Paris with its towering landmark, the Eiffel Tower, Chelles, where my friend, Bea calls home, the town of Lyon, recommended to me by my new fellow writer friend Rose M Griffith, the pretty town of Annecy and it's beautiful spotless lake, The Luxembourg Gardens, pretty, pretty, pretty Provence, of course The Pont Alexandre III, Etretat, Carcassone, and The Dordogne Region in central France.

The country of France is home to famous art treasures, rich cuisine, miles of fine wine trails, cute little cafes on the street, markets and museums, beaches and rolling hills, yet it's missing one small detail...me. Oh, I've no doubt that one day I will step foot on French soil. And, oh how sweet that day will be. I can picture it so vividly in my mind that I can almost taste that first bite of my freshly baked croissant, mmmmmm! Bon appetit!

I want to explore the countrsides. I want to walk along the bustling Parisian streets, pause to rest at a sidewalk cafe, and try my hand at speaking the native tongue to order a sweet treat...delicieuse!

Goodbye and aurevoir for now my friends! I'll see you at the top of the La tour Eiffel!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto!

We're in bear country!

Apparently, our little countryside corner of the world is now home to Black Bears.

Black Bear Image courtesy of criminalatt from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While my two, now grown, children were growing up here in this lovely quiet countryside hamlet of eastern Pennsylvania, I often remarked that one day a bear would walk out of the woods bordering our backyard. That remark was met with a flurry of laughter and disbelief. Well, no one's laughing now. In fact, this is anything but a laughing matter. It's got me downright spooked!

As a regular walker and a chicken keeper, I believe in a NO Black Bears Allowed policy in our neighborhood. Mother Nature begs to differ. Yes, Black Bears have been spotted wandering around the backyards across the street. A week ago, a Black Bear was seen wandering around MY backyard. Did I see it? NO! We were all out, but my neighbor told me about it later that evening, being sure to clarify that it was BIG! Do I want to see a Black Bear? Yes, but definitely from AFAR!!

More and more Black Bears are being spotted in our local area. Mama bears out for a morning stroll with a couple of mischivous cubs in tow and single wanderers looking for a new haunt have been spotted and talk is definitely not cheap. I know I stop and pay rapt attention whenever I hear any mention of a Big Black presence moseying around my neighborhood.

I know what they say. I've heard the hearsay many times. They're more afraid of you than you should be of them. Make a LOT of noise-it scares them. Don't R U N, but slowly and gingerly back away from them. All sound advice, yes, but it still offers me little to no comfort. They're BEARS after all. And, this isn't Jellystone National Park where your typical bear dons a sweeter-than-pie Yogi Bear cap and banters back and forth with a short furry sidekick named Boo Boo.

Anyway, I took action. I now whistle when I walk-carrying a whistle with me at all times while I'm out and about in my neighborhood gives me a sense of control over this un-bear-ably scary situation. I don't feel so powerless and fearful. Now, while I do stay closer to home these days and only walk during daylight hours when I can pretty much see any things that go bump on and around my path, I think it's extremely safe to say that I am still spooked.

Another tip from "the newest neighborhood gone bear country" is knowledge. Knowledge is powerful! So, I googled them. I read all about these black blurs that have been frequenting my lovely peaceful lane. I now come equipped with the knowledge I need, should I encounter said blur. I got the facts straight from the Black Bear's mouth so to speak-the Pennsylvania State Game Commission. Now, while this information was written with your average Pennsylvanian in mind; the frank, very helpful advice can be applied to any encounter with these big black beauties of the forest. Yes, they are beautiful, awesome creatures of God, but that doesn't mean I have to like them or want them wandering through my backyard.

Always be beary, beary careful when in bear country-be mindful of your surroundings and take steps to eliminate whatever food source is attracting Black Bears to your neck of the woods. Black Bears are voracious eaters and not discriminating in the least-they eat anything and everything. They'll even knock around your trash cans searching for any leftover scraps that they deem beary beary good. As true omnivores, bears eat a wide variety of foods-garden vegetables and plants,small backyard farm animals such as my egg-straordinarily sweet laying hens, your lovely well-manicured lawns, dead animal carcusses, bird seed set out for song birds, beehives, and  fruit trees, etc. are all on the menu. Your backyard is a definitely a Black Bear smorgasbord.

So, all that being said, I still have yet to sight one of these Big Black Beauties. I'll keep you posted, though.