Thursday, August 27, 2015

Getting there

I just finished the first draft of “The Forests of the Night”, the next in the the Tiger Lily series. I had really hoped to have the whole thing done and ready to go before the start of the fall semester but I think I knew that was unrealistic. Now the plan is to get the rewrites done ASAP, but without being too hasty. I’m just sticking my head above the waves here to catch a breath. You know what “they” say: getting there is half the fun.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hummingbird Moths

The first time I saw a hummingbird moth I thought I had wandered into an alternate universe. In front of me was a winged, jewel-like little creature. It was flitting from flower to flower, drinking nectar. It was using what I thought of as a hummingbird’s feeding strategy. Not only that, but the constant motion of its little wings made a whir like a hummingbird’s. I was young. I thought it was magic.

I’m much older now but I still think hummingbird moths are magic. I know they are the product of convergent evolution, but that doesn’t make them any less magic. Every year now, as spring rolls into summer, I go on stake out in my garden. The hummingbird moths always appear. I have yet to be disappointed.


There are many varieties of hummingbird moths. What I have are mostly clear wings. One thing about these little guys: they are hard to photograph, especially with a slow old camera like mine. They move fast! You can find much better images of them online but the picture here is mine: a magical creature drinking nectar from my bee balm. Magic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Fun

It’s summer. We are just past the height of the Solstice. My hollyhocks are blooming; hummingbirds buzz through the garden. Twilights are long and the nights are warm. And there is one other ever-present feature of summer: bugs.

Insects are important, of course. They fill critical niches in the ecology. I know this and I regularly send annoying emails to my elected representatives about saving bees and monarchs. Insects can be great if they are outdoors. Recently, however, I have had adventures of the insect kind indoors.

The first was the cricket under the floorboards.  It sounds like a cliché but trust me, that thing gave a whole new meaning to the word “loud”. Think jet engine running up for take-off. In your living room. There was no way I could get the thing out short of tearing up the floor and I’m not sure that would have worked. I could have tried to kill it by saturating the floor and the room with bug repellent but that would have probably killed the humans and left the cricket untouched.

I did research. The bug was almost certainly male, advertising for a mate. (Hello, crickets, try the internet instead.)  We resigned ourselves to hearing the poor cricket’s lonely song for a few days and maybe wearing earplugs. 

Then one morning I saw one of my cats staring at something on the floor. It was The Cricket! I scooped up The Cricket and took him outside and considered the problem solved. Until two days later when I found the second cricket under the scrutiny of my other cat. I relocated this cricket also. But now I’m worried. Was the second cricket a female? If so, did she leave lots of cricket eggs to hatch and swarm through my house forming rock bands or wailing country music under the floorboards at some future date?

And that’s just crickets. Then there is The Spider. He appeared on the chair in the bedroom in the dim light at midnight. He was fast, so I never caught him or got a really good look at him. What I did see was an arachnid about ten centimeters long. Well, maybe I exaggerate just a bit, but that thing was big! He was hairy. 

I know spiders are not insects. I actually kind of like spiders. Outdoors. The one who lives in the bedroom (and I hope there is only one) has now been named Boris. That’s in honor of The Who’s “Boris the Spider”, which I have been humming.  So yes, it’s summer.
                                   Look, he's crawling up my wall
Black and hairy, very small
Now he's up above my head
Hanging by a little thread

Boris the spider
Boris the spider

(The Who)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Here We Go

For those of you who have been asking about the next installment in the “Tiger Lily” series,  I’ve started it. Now I just have to finish it. “Just."


Occasionally someone asks me where I get my inspiration or where I get my ideas. I’m tempted to respond with the classic, “a post office box in Poughkeepsie,” but that’s too easy.  Or rather, I wish it were that easy; I would rent that box in a flash. My father once gave me some words to ponder.  “Inspiration,” he said, “is the application of the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”  It’s a start, anyway. Here we go.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The First Sign of Spring

Today it has been snowing. It snow-rained, drizzled and snizzled and now it’s snow again. The meteorologists say we could get maybe three inches overnight. I did, however, see the first sign of spring a few days ago. I went back into my woods looking for daffodil shoots. There was still too much snow for me to find anything, but I did come back with the very first sign of the turning season. I thought I felt something on my neck and there it was: a tick. First sign of spring or American horror story?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sad Haiku

World Poetry Day
Free coffee for words they said
But not for me here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Land Persephone Forgot

I recently saw a painting of Persephone, the Goddess of Springtime. She was awakening under the soil, stretching up to break through the earth with flowers and leaves. It was supposed to be reassuring: see! Spring is almost here. Well, Persephone apparently hit the snooze button.  There is so much snow here that if we get more no one knows where to put it.  Classes at my university have been repeatedly canceled or delayed for bad weather. The rotator cuff tears in my shoulder are not getting any better with all the shoveling. People walk around grumbling.

And then yesterday I saw it. I was sitting on the couch, looking absently out through my glass door. Outside the door is barren whiteness of seemingly endless snow. My garden fence is buried under drifts. The bare branches of the lilac trees stretch upward against a grey sky.  Sitting on one of the branches was a male cardinal. 

He was bright red, brilliant against the stark landscape. The cardinal began to sing. Was he calling his mate? Was he the first sign of Spring?  I know cardinals don’t migrate but I wanted to believe that this beautiful visitor meant a change in the weather.  I wanted a picture of him. So I grabbed for my camera. By the time I got to the door, he was gone, of course.


I saw him later, flying above the snow. And today was the first above freezing day since I don’t know when. Slush! Melting snow! Woo hoo! I checked the weather forecast, hoping for more. We are under a winter storm warning. Persephone went back to bed.