Leaf Birds

Stemmery QC 035Glossy mahogany leavesoak leaves
lofted from the highest limbs of the majestic white oak start their long drift down.
Up! A gusty blow shoots them higher than they’ve ever been! Whirling and darting as do the birds they’ve envied so often, they are loose from the limb. Free air lifts and enlivens them, only them, and they dance gaily, lightly.

Loosing breath, they flutter from the magnificent sky in a gentle gyre.
They settle with a sigh upon the many that have gone before, resigned to sleep, treasuring their grand time as leaf birds.

Stemmery QC 024Stemmery QC 023On the front porch watching and listening to the birds, you see the neatest things. The wind plays a lot of tricks, too! Here is is Friday afternoon and I can hardly wait to get back home. Rainy or nor, here I come!  Doesn’t this picture look like a watercolor?
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HooDoo Remembered

I had money in my past life way out in sunny California. That’s now I earned enough to buy my land and cabin kit. Ain’t got none now, money that is, but that’s a different story. One of the unnecessary but cool things I bought in that halcyon time was a nice German scroll saw. These are the ones that have the fine serrated blades that go up and down so you can cut out all manner of intricate shapes. I got a wood burner pen with a nifty set of tips too.

A dozen years or so ago, the sad little boy down the way had brought me two puppies in a sack, saying his Mom had told him to go shoot them. Right, don’t take care of the cause, just keep killing the helpless effects…or get your impressionable son to do the dirty work. We have low-cost spay and neuter here and laziness is not a good excuse. I step from soapbox now, sorry.

Of course, I adopted them. I named them HooDoo and WhyNot. Hoo and Why were shaggy and gangly, truly goofy with one blue and one brown eye each. A couple years after I got them both fixed, Whynot disappeared…coyotes? There is heavy predator pressure around here and he was a brave fella.

HooDoo, the forty-seven shades of brown female, stayed closer to the cabin and became the sloppiest leap-and-lick sweetheart. Hoo became shaggier and more fun as the years passed and got along swell with my other animals. I loved the way she’d loll her head back and forth, dripping slobber. Rowdies in pick-up trucks tearing up the narrow gravel road hit her and fled without observable remorse.

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Fast forward, that saw is in the back of the garage with junk piled on and around it. I have no idea where the wood burner pen got off to. However, at one time I put it to good use. The doorway to the garage has a double light switch.


You see it everywhere now, crowdsourcing. First it was cool new inventions that needed start-up cash, then struggling artists that needed a good push toward stardom, and always charities. Now you see people wanting you to fund what used to  be regular expenses. A guy has to fix his truck. This girl always wanted a horse.

The one that gets me is the independent author who is begging asking for an all-paid self publishDistant Trees of a book with unknown quality. I’m a big fan of self-publishing, all my books are that way. Right now, I have a great deal of anxiety over whether I can afford to enter a prestigious contest – one that will also judge my five books as a series. It would boost my credibility and maybe encourage a few book buyers. If I won. Hmm.

I have not been able to afford professional editing of any of my books; I would love to but that would run thousands of bucks for each one. A substantive edit is heavily pushed at Indies, I am bombarded with smiling Editors who assure me their service will make by book shimmer in Tenembrasperfection. My cover designs rely heavily on royalty-free photo sites, not the dazzling Graphic Designer outfits that lay on heavy persuasion that the cover is the BIG THING.GREEN.Dig.BadgeWIN

I, like a multitude of others, abhor spending my time and money of a book somebody slapped up on Amazon with little or no editing. I have been burned and am very wary now. Some covers look like grade-schoolers did their darnedest. You can’t even trust the reviews because unscrupulous authors buy them by the hundred – a practice Amazon is now cracking down World of Our Ownon. To avoid that pitfall, I studied hard and used local amateur editors. I edited several times over the span of months. I paid for cover design. To validate that approach, I have won or placed in several contests, though none for cash prizes.

Download 090915 078Should I get on IndieGoGo or some other site and explain that my books show what happens when the climate changes, how it affects the folks a hundred years from now, about how desperate people make bad decisions? My books will enlighten the public! Give me $10000 to get CadillacNeighbors editing and a professionally designed cover! Give me marketing funds! Give me the moohlah to enter big-time contests…

I can’t see doing that. Perhaps I’m too independent or too proud. I did order a complete set of my books to send to that contest. Maybe I’ll win!

Falco, Little Brown Bat

Little Brown Bat Hi there! I’m Falco and I live in a very tolerant and ecologically minded lady’s cabin. I’m a Little Brown Bat, and have lots of family around here. A less-than-well-known fact is that independent boys like me don’t congregate with the rest of the gang in a hollow tree; we like to each pick out a warm barn…or cabin.

There’s a high, peaked ceiling in this place, kind of barnlike. I fly all over at night when those tasty mosquitoes and wasps are around, and always say howdy to that lady that sleeps right next to my main roost. I have a grand roost! Right in the middle of the upstairs (a 2nd floor is above half the downstairs area) is a room with a flat top. Well between the flat top and the slanting panel and beam ceiling is a really cozy spot for me. Usually.

I do have a complaint! It started getting rather chilly at night and the nut still had windows in that slanting roof open! Not just one, but the whole darned row of them, from one end of the house to the other. Finally I had to fly down there while they were watching that wretched noise-and-flashy-light-box they have downstairs and get their attention.

My Sweetheart
It wasn’t my fault the goofy bat was so tempting!

They noticed me quick, okay, a handsome fellow catches attention. I asked politely, “How is a guy supposed to hibernate with a cold draft blowing down his back!” I latched onto a log over a nearby wall-type window and stayed right there until that silly yet kind lady got the message and shut those darned windows. Brrr! Now if I can only get back to sleep.

One word on leering, sneaking, lazy, leaping, useless, clawing, flightless, spoiled rotten, nerve-wracking and absolutely butt-ugly creatures called cats: SCAT!


NOLA Vacation 023One reason I was so jazzed about going to New Orleans was the prospect of seeing ALLIGATORS! I’d already done a Swamp Tour there and an Everglades kayak tour a couple years ago, so my focus this time was the gators in town.

Here’s one at the Tourist Information place in the French Quarter. He’s the Master of Brochures.

One might think this is a terrible thing to do to a living creature, however I got over that by reasoning that there are a zillion gators and NOLA Vacation 022if the locals couldn’t make money off of them, they would exterminate them as dangerous reptilian menaces. Hence Swamp Tours, purses, boots, barbecues and storefront greeters. The fame of gators helps conserve them and their habitat, and the habitat is continually at risk.

This Praline Guardian is certainly an eye catcher.

Check this out:

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I’ve had a gator-fixation for quite a while. It started with a really hectic day at work; I felt I had gators on my butt all day. One thing led to another. I painted this 6 ft wide floor cloth. In this one, the gators get revenge by luring tourists with beach umbrellas. There’s a row of cars parked to the left, but where did the people go? I assure you it looks better in person.

Gator Floorcloth



Gator Poster 001
copyright 2007 Niall Benvie/Nature Picture Library

And as a constant reminder of the perils I face here at work, this poster hangs directly in front of me, forever in mid-slurp.



Whirlwind New Orleans!

NOLA Vacation 011Ma and I got back from New Orleans Saturday, nigh onto midnight. It was a quick trip, but lots of fun. Wednesday night, we were treated to a fancy dinner in the French Quarter, at Muriel’s. The Grilled Puppy Drum (fish, not canine) with toasted pecan and cracked caper dressing in a gruyere sauce was delectable. And ooh-la-la, Crème Brulee afterwards.

The next day we worked the vision clinic all day. I helped folks fill out the complicated forms most if the NOLA Vacation 006time, then switched to helping them pick out their frames. In the end, we gave 353 people free eye exams and on-the-spot glasses courtesy of the VSP lab in the van out back. Tiring but wonderful!

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Ma, with the Prize-Worthy Glasses

Friday, the only full day we had on our own, started at Café du Monde for beignets followed by a Natchez steamboat trip down the Mississippi and back, with a jazz band serenade. Shop, shop, souvenir, French Market, walk, walk, look, look, pralines, t-shirts, gator hats.

I had intended to end the evening at a Cajun club for dinner and zydeco but on the way, we stumbled upon a stage sitting right smack in the middle of Decatur Street. Turns out we’d happened on the  Frank’s Italian Ristorante 50th anniversary celebration; soon the quirky Rock ‘n Roll oldies and funnies band captured Mama’s heart. I backed her roller against the curb and soon Frank himself brought us two plates of free food – muffeletas. Ma said yick to that, so I went in and bought a mess of fried oysters for her. You’d though I’d been starving her! I had to treat her right since the story I won the trip with was about her getting glasses…not that I wouldn’t have anyway.

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Alas, Saturday’s flight home came far too quickly. Still, we had a blast and loved every minute of it. Now if I could only find some more of that Abita Springs Turbodog ale, hmmm.

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500 Words = New Orleans!

Hey, I won a trip to New Orleans! Where I work, we have VSP vision insurance. I deal they do is go to different cities with a mobile clinic and provide free eye exams and glasses. They posted an essay contest on how access to vision care has affected me or someone I love. I wrote about Ma because Medicare doesn’t pay for glasses, just diseases. I wrote about the comical way she went about choosing her glasses and apparently the VSP judges thought was entertaining, too. Cash, a posh hotel, airfare, wow!

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One whole day I get to be part of the vision care outreach, right at the scene. That is going to be so cool and I will absolutely take pictures to share. Since I haven’t been there yet, here are some miscellaneous cabin shots…why not? Especially needed is the shot of Ma, with her glasses on!

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One more thing, my newest sci-fi book is officially out! Yippee! It’s only $2.99 for the eBook, and if you have an Amazon deal it could be free. Give it a try – and leave a review if you can. Thanks!


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