Category Archives: Nature Writing

Coolest research for a story-anything to do with the great outdoors

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more” 
~George Gordon Byron, 1788 – 1824~Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Hmmmm! Coolest… thing I researched are the birds, animals, and insects that live around me.  What interests me is the most fun to research.

You looking at me!
This guy is sitting on my rain gutter downspout.

Interested in Praying Mantis…check out this site from National Geographic Kids. 

 

Once I start searching out information, I found how nature is overlooked when it comes to the bottom dollar.  Those that have made a comeback; those still on the endangered species list; and those just living day to day, need our help.

Bee on Chicory in my yard 2016

I have met people who will give incorrect information to get their priorities pushed through.   And I have heard ‘fear talk’ of big businesses; how no one has the money to fight them. For the average person that is true. But once they connect with the correct people the chain strengthens.

Sorry, I am rambling and grumbling.

Once the weather starts to warm up, and the snows are scattered piles along windbreaks and at the base of evergreens, where the sun doesn’t reach. It is then that migratory birds  head back home, getting connected, searching out safe or so-so safe nesting areas.

That is when they start their mating dance. Songbirds dance on the ground weaving and bobbing, puffing out chest feathers and singing a song that echoes from the past.   Hawks; whose dance swims high above us, diving and circling repeating their secrets, screeched out longer family litanies; impressing each other with their pedigree.

Turkey Vulture in my yard spring 2017

Then, there are the bees… I saw an article where the ‘rusty-patched bumblebee, a species on the brink of extinction’ stopped construction of a four-lane, 5-mile toll road and a four-lane Fox River bridge crossing.’ As I read about those bees, a Bumble was busy knocking against my kitchen window; letting me know I have been seen.

Morning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) Hanging out by the garden 2016

Spring’s warm sun brings out insects and new plant growth…I can go on and on. Nature is so cool. Researching Mother Nature is so much fun.

Oh, before I forget, let me add the weirdest- animal scat. Come on, I know you want to click that link for animal scat. 

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~John Muir

Illinois endangered lists:

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/lists/illinois-cty.html

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/endangered/charts/birds-falcons.html

https://www.fws.gov/MIDWEST/Endangered/insects/index.html

 

Writer’s Village University an online community of writers helping writers

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I belong to an online community of writers that hail from all over the world.   Some are just beginning to come into who they are. Many are published authors or soon will be.     We are all learning.

Why did I join this site? I wanted to find my muse; she wandered off as my life got in the way. I wanted to interact with writers, authors, bloggers, and poets. I wanted to learn. Most of all I wanted to become a published author. I had taken a few classes from a local online college. Each class came with a cost around one hundred dollars. For eight weeks I was allowed to access the class, participate in the lessons, then after that, I lost the connection.

I joined James Patterson’s Masterclass.com. Luckily, I will never lose access to that class and its twenty-two video lessons and information.  I can watch them over and over. If I wanted to take a different class, I would need to pay again.

 

I wanted more…

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Then, I found Writer’s Village University. I could sign up for a one-month trial membership, a one-year, a three-year or a lifetime membership, all dependent on my budget. Check out prices HERE and see some of the upcoming classes.

The creator of Writer’s Village University is RJ Hembree .

“I’ve developed many courses since 1995, covering both conventional and artistic approaches to writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. My joy is research and discovery, and even more, watching our members grow into fine writers. Many have published, won awards and write professionally. We have a wide variety of experience levels in our membership. My job is to explore ways of bringing out the best in them.”

Click on the links at the top of, Writer’s Village University’s page  and you will find information on their MFA program. They have a short story MFA and a Creative Writing Certificate program, plus a lot more.

Click on WRITING COURSES, you will see a list of features courses. Click on the screenwriting course and it will open up to give you details and a list of classes.

How does this site work? When I first joined, I was confused, elated and a little nervous. I pulled up a class and read the instructions, did the readings and wrote a paper then posted it. Well, that class wasn’t activated. I did know that. I was testing the waters, sticking in my big toe to see if anyone would bite it off. They didn’t. I got a ‘like’ for my efforts. It felt good. No haters allowed here.

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I found another class. This one had a moderator, a teacher running it. I signed up by clicking the front-page link and when the class opened. I walked in, read the instructions and said, Hello.

If you missed the start date of a class, don’t fret; you can try again when the class opens again. Or you can politely ask if you can join.

If you are like me and you are wondering how this community came into being, it started in the mind of Bob Hembree he tells us his..

“initial motivation was to connect with others interested in postmodern literature, authors like Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, John Barth, Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez” He said, “what I found were like-minded writer’s, so began to share what I was learning about writing.”

Bob will decide when to schedule a class. You can see open classes on the Calendar link at the top of the page. A moderator posts the lessons; you are given instructions on how to post your assignment: with a tile that includes your name, lesson # (WC 350).

You will learn how to comment on your classmate’s lessons. Commenting on your fellow student’s posts will help you learn even more. How is that possible? You will read the lesson and post your assignments. Then, as you read your classmate’s postings you will see things from a different point of view. You will learn and see the written word in a way you never thought possible. You will have many ‘Ah-ha’ moments that will help in your own writing.

This site has an unbelievable selection of online classes. So far I have taken thirty-two classes. At this moment, I am working in a class titled, Writing for Online and Print Markets. We are using a book by Naveed Saleh, called, The Complete Guide to Article Writing. Some classes have reading material available. On other’s you will need to buy the book. Don’t stop reading, this gets even easier. You can look to the Book Exchange in the Forums.  I have gotten great prices on Ebay and Amazon. Your local library may even be able to find the books you need. Don’t disregard coupons for places like Barnes & Noble

I just finished a class, where were discussing  Loren Eiseley’s ‘The Immense Journey’. I love this line from Eiseley’s essay, Little Men, and Flying Saucers.

“In a universe whose size is beyond human imagining, where our worlds floats like a dust mote in the void of night, men have grown inconceivably lonely.”

Writers don’t have to float like a dust mote; we have a place at Writer’s Village University

Hurry on over. F2K is starting on September 7th, 2016.

F2K

Bob tells us: “F2K is a beginning creative writing course, though experienced writers often repeat the course as a refresher and for inspiration. The classes are facilitated by experienced volunteers from Writers’ Village University.”

If you sign up and I hope you do, you can take classes that are aimed at beginners to published authors. Once you sign up look around. Check out the forums. Yes, there is even on more on the site, more than just classes.

Writer’s Village University is an online community of writers helping writers. Come by and take a look.

Memberships

Cooper’s Hawk thriving in Hampshire Illinois

Cooper's Hawk in Hampshire Illinois
Cooper’s Hawk in Hampshire Illinois June 2016

A Cooper’s Hawk has been nesting in Hampshire Township, just outside the town of Hampshire, Illinois. They can be seen flying swiftly between the trees. Circumnavigating farm fields, skimming over fences, twirling and disappearing only to reappear in a free fall.

They dive low to the ground like a kite on a tight string. Immediately, darting up to the treetops where they disappear in the dense foliage. Those explosions of speed are amazing. Observing their enthusiasm can take your breath away. While giving you an adrenaline rush that will have you on your toes, wishing you could follow them into that kaleidoscope of green. Calling out warnings, with a cak-cak-cak-cak-cak, in bursts of two to five seconds long, an alarm that a human is in the yard. At the same time, the air is charged with angry calls from other birds screeching that a Cooper’s Hawk is hunting.

These hawks have a kettle of nicknames: Forest hawk, Chicken hawk, Blue Darter, Quail Hawk, Hen Hawk, Mexican hawk, Striker, Swift hawk, Lynx of the bird world, and a Flying Cross. They live up to every one of those names.

Early in May, an adult hawk was dive-bombing the house making it abundantly clear that they were nesting. Once you know that a bird is nesting, stay away from them. They are secretive and protective of their nests. Cooper’s Hawk can lay between two and five eggs and will attack if you try to approach them. You can’t blame them for trying to protect their offspring. Having humans around will  cause the birds stress and they may abandon their young.

They weigh between ten to twenty-four ounces. And have a wingspan of twenty-seven to thirty-six inches; similar to the size of a crow at fifteen to twenty inches long. According to, ‘hawkwatch.org’ a Cooper’s Hawk can be easily misidentified. They do look similar to Sharp-shinned Hawks, which are smaller birds. You would need to see two birds next to each other, comparing size and color to accurately identify a Cooper’s hawk. The color of their eyes, the iris, will change from a nestling’s bluish-gray to the juvenile’s bright yellow. With the changing plumage, from juvenile to adult, eye color will transform into the red iris of an adult.

Cooper’s Hawks were on the endangered species list in 2013, they have since been taken off that list. Survival is still a fight as they contend with pesticides, foxes, accidents, and humans. It is illegal to kill them. Killing hawks is a federal violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

 Hawks in flight

By Gerardine Baugh

A shrill cry echoes off the green that is summer

I see her. Then I see him, both

Wings spread like fingers, touching the clouds

Circling to a height afar of Icarus’s dream

So close to the sun

They own the air in a union of steaming blue

They are lovers, keepers of peace

Wishing I could join their power of free-flight

I cherish a desire

For it to be more, than a dream

Hawks help keep wild birds and rodents from over populating which is a good thing. Cooper’s hawk will eat wild birds, rats, mice and insects, even lizards, snakes, toads, anything small enough for them to carry. Which is why putting out poison to kill a rodent is a bad idea; it will end up killing a helpful, amazing hawk.

A juvenile, Cooper’s Hawk landed on my deck railing looking frazzled and wet. He may have just left the nest. If you look closely, at the photo, you can see some pinfeathers. That bird is not paying any attention to what or who is behind the window, that is directly in front of where he is perched. When he finally notices, he seems confused, surprised, then upset. He seems to be saying, ‘How dare you look at me!’

On the other side of that window not only was this guy being filmed, but there were cats watching as if it were a movie. They were so enthralled by the large bird; they hardly noticed the glass in-between.

Five days after that first encounter, I was on the deck checking my tomatoes and taking pictures, when I spotted that hawk balancing on an old trimmed, tree branch. It was over fifty feet from the house. Cooper’s Hawk do not like being watched. That didn’t surprise me. Hawks are predators, hunters. They aren’t at ease being noticed. This bird was understandably distressed at being looked at, so I took my camera and went inside.

I won’t try and approach raptors; their talons and sharp beaks could send me to the hospital. Or they can be injured trying to get away. I took my pictures and let him be.

Cooper's Hawk August 2016
Cooper’s Hawk August 2016 Check out those blue eyes

 

According to ‘All About Birds,’ Cooper’s Hawks (Accipiter cooperii) kill their prey by repeated squeezing. (In that case, Raquel Welch’s character, Loana, shouldn’t have survived the flight to the pterodactyl’s nest. Yes, I know, I am over-looking the fact that picking her up wouldn’t have been impossible.) Some hawks have been known to hold their prey underwater until it drowns. Males are smaller than females; the males build the nest, and will provide all the food for the female and the young fledging. Females will do all the hunting while not nesting. The females are bigger and stronger than the males so they can catch larger prey.

Cooper’s Hawks fly through trees, fast. Weaving in and out quickly, they can easily get hurt by running into hanging branches, which can cause their deaths. In a study of 300 Cooper’s Hawks skeletons, 23 percent had healed over fractures. (See link 7)

  • Accipiter: Short, round wings, and rudder-like tails, they are spectacular at maneuvering in thick woods, darting in and out of trees. Examples of accipiter’s are Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Goshawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks.
  • Buteo: Soaring hawks, they can soar for long stretches without flapping their wings. Broad-wings, and short broad tails, Buteos include the Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk and Rough-legged Hawk.
  • Falcons: Fastest birds of prey, long pointed wings, streamlined bodies. The peregrine falcon can dive at speeds over 150 miles per hour. Falcons include the American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, and Merlin.

Don’t try to touch a Hawk. Don’t try to save them. All your good intentions will do is harm them. Adopt a no-nest policy. Which means you won’t approach any bird’s nest. Never try to get a peek at a Hawk without using binoculars. Getting too close can be dangerous for you and the hawk.

Have you seen a Cooper’s hawk?

Here are some great sites if you want to read about Cooper’s Hawks.

  1. If you found an injured bird call this helpline. CBCM hotline, 773-988-1867
  1. Fox Valley Wild Life Center at (630) 365-3800

I Found an Animal

  1. Fish & Wildlife Service

 

  1. All About Birds
  1. Illinois Raptor center
  1. Migratory Bird Treaty Act Protected Species
  1. The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.  PDF In link: Incidence of naturally healed fractures in the pectoral bones of North American accipiters.
  1. Kane County Audubon: (click link for ‘sightings’)
  1. Migratory Bird Treaty Act

 

  1. Hawk Migration Association of North America

 

Eighth Video Lesson James Patterson’s MasterClass Writer’s Block

Lesson 8

Lesson 8 James Patterson's Masterclass
Lesson 8 James Patterson’s Masterclass

WRITER’S BLOCK

James Patterson holds up a yellow legal pad and says, “This is the enemy, the blank page.”

Just get that first draft down. Like everyone James Patterson can have trouble getting those words down on paper, getting them down so they sound and feel right.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”~ E.B. White

To cut through my writer’s block, I tried a dictation software. Where my  words were typed out for me. That didn’t work. ‘If ‘what I spoke out loud,  wasn’t  what was typed. Which, disappointedly it wasn’t. Instead  it caused more writer’s block and anger at  myself for trying to  do something new, instead of just writing and editing later…I will answer emails or wash dishes instead of writing. So using that software was my way at procrastinating.

Back to James.

If he isn’t getting it, he puts TBD (To Be Done)  then comes back to it. Blocks happen. When you get blocked just move on.

James said, “Like when your trying to do a sport and you get all tense, that’s not going to work. You’re going to strike out.”

Seven days a week, Mr. Patterson gets up early and skims through two or three papers, and a cup of coffee.  It takes him about fifteen minute.  Then he starts writing. He writes in pencil, on yellow legal pad.  He has an assistant to type up his handwritten ideas.

I want an assistant. 🙂  She can help vacuum up all the cat hair. I bet James has a maid to do his vacuuming …yes, I am getting off track.

James Patterson will read what he ‘just’ wrote and edits that only.

What I got from this video is  you need to find a way to make your mind a blank. So you can recharge. This makes sense. When I get stressed, I can’t write. When my mind is full I can’t write.

Stay Focused

James has always been able to tune out the world and focus on what he is doing.

I will need to take all my crazy personalities off to the side and have a talk with them. Maybe I just need to yell ‘Shut up’ not that they will listen…Some people can use music to find that place where they can write. I need quiet. Find your quiet place.

James Patterson can tune out anything. He is able to concentrate. He does one thing at a time. If you learn how to tune out everything, learn to focus on one thing. Concentrate on that one thing. Then you then can get into the story, into the scene.

James Patterson writes seven days a week, he loves it!

 “Do the best you can possibly do.”  James Patterson said,  “Aim for the stars.”

This lesson comes with the PDF workbook and a comments section where you can post your thoughts on this lesson.

 

Bucks are dangerous when they are trolling~ Deer mating season in Hampshire

A walking path is never even. That was the thought in my head this afternoon when I headed out through the garage. The winds were coming at me from the northwest, cold and strong. First thing I wanted to do was collect one large bag of trash from the pole barn, there seems to be a never ending supply of junk in that barn.
As I opened up the barn I kept talking out loud to myself, I was hoping that the skunk who lives around the barn would scurry away when it heard me coming.

I consider it a good outing when nothing furry tries to chase me down:-)

After I had one bag stuffed and tied off I looked off towards the back path, or what use to be the back path. My tractor had stopped working this summer, as well as the gas mower. So parts of my lawn /field grass were ankle to waist high, making my walk an arduous excursion. I still had the narrow path that Uriah had carved. I decided to take a walk, before deep snow erased that path.

I stopped my non-stop, keep-away-animal chatter as I hit the lowest part of the path. I followed a line though the grass then turned to the left and walked on the incline, sidestepping a section riddle with burrows.

I made a mental note to bring with a small saw or heavy clippers next time, and cut the invading Bog Willows away from the old path.

I continued on towards the east invisible fence line. I turned towards the north and a wave of sadness hit. I kept walking.

I was in an area where, years before, I had been charged by a forty pound raccoon. At that time I had three dogs with me, they all saved my life.

I stopped and listened. Winds blasted over the oldest Bog Willows and rustled the tops of the four to five foot dried grass , then blew past me.

“ I think I need to walk a different path …” I said that out loud.

Instantaneously, a buck stood up, not more than forty feet from where I was standing.

I can’t speak for the buck,..for me, that moment moved in slow motion.

I stopped breathing and froze! I was hoping that he wouldn’t notice me standing in front of him wearing a bright orange jacket, I closed my eyes ..I really wished that would make me disappear!

A male deer’s mating, or rutting season is around November. Bucks are attitude with pointy antlers. And I found myself standing too close to one. If he charged at me he could use those antlers or stomp on me, yes they do that! Ouch!

When the buck rose up from where he had been resting, he slowly turned in my direction. I could see the wind slightly ruffling his fur as it blew towards me, lucky for me I was down wind. He snorted as he stood up and again as he faced me. He stomped the ground, and raised his head up and smelled the air.

At this point I was trying to become a turtle and shrink into my coat.

I didn’t breath! I didn’t move, that is supposed to work right? Or it that only for bears?

After a minute he turned and took a couple of steps away, snorting indignantly. Then with three effortless jumps, he disapeared in the trees. I got an impression he had springs for legs.

It took me a couple of minutes to relax and head back to the house.

Note to self… Tomorrows walk will be taken in the open, empty farm field next door.

oct pic. leaves have fallen off
Tall grass hidding deer

Male deer are called bucks, bulls, stags or harts. Female deer are called does, cows or hinds. Young deer are called fawns or calfs.~ http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_facts/Deer.htm

Poem for April 16th~ Old Saying In the Mid-West if you don’t like the weather wait a minute!

I couldn’t believe the way the snow came down today, and just last week it was hot, and I mean uncomfortably hot, somewhere near ninety..

I posted this poem for today’s prompt “write a snapshot poem” this afternoon I also took this video with the new camera, – it’s a Nikon.  

Link to poem a day challenge: http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/2011/04/16/2011AprilPADChallengeDay16.aspx

 I used up the Cannon after eight months and the Sony barely made it a month.  I had bought the extended warranty at Best Buy so I was able to try different cameras. So far the Nikon is the best.

Michael is beginning to think cameras don’t’ like me. I keep explaining that some electronics have gremlins in them

I thought I would have trouble with setting up a video, then I found using, Microsoft Live I could fix it and upload it to YouTube

Here’s April 16th, 2011’s poem..

“Freeze Frame”

by Gerardine Baugh

It is snowing

Uriah runs up to me

His thick coat is covered in water droplets

Looking up, he gives me a doggy grin

Knowing what’s coming I cringe and step back

He begins to shake

That, slow movement

Only his pudgy, furry body can accomplish. 

Where he turns his head one way, and

His body fat slips in the other direction

Water is launched from the ends of his fur

Encompassing him in a shower of reflected light 

I turned my back on him and the wind  

Time stops…

My hair covers my eyes

Snow blasts past me

An invisible serpent writhing as an updraft

Bellowing out my coat it slides up the naked trees.

Gathering up dry leaves from the ground, and

Playing with them around the tree tops

In a millisecond, sound stops

Then, the winds skate back down the trees

Letting go

Raining brown leaves within the white snow

Slipping across the grass, then

Like a playful child, pulls at my legs

Snowflakes hit my face stinging cold

Uriah doesn’t seem to notice the wind, or the cold snow

Staring expectantly

He whines and nudges at my hand for a treat

The last day, day 28 for the Haiku Challenge

Day 28 for the Haiku Challenge

Life makes a sound

Rattles, Sings, Roars and Whistles

Can you hear your life?

 

Rush, rush, rush!  Ease up

Life comes at you full speed,

Step off the tracks and rest

*

Walk the rail, kick the gravel

Dance forward, feel the vibration

Just don’t forget, home

*

This is the last day of The Haiku Challenge. I had fun!  I hope you enjoyed reading my Haikus and you followed the links to other poets. Maybe you wrote a few yourself, If not, try it!  

The snow is melting, sort of. Everything is covered in a very,  slippery coating of ice, right now it’s glistening in the sunlight. Such dangerous beauty!  I finally got a camera that works; now I need to set up the software and start snapping pictures.  See you outside on our walking path..:-)

Here is the link to the last day of the Haiku Challenge Blog…http://pendownmythought.blogspot.com/2011/02/haiku-challenge-28-days-28-haikus-day_8843.html

Haiku Challenge Day 14~Love and the Dodo

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope, that someone special has said those three wonderful words today… “I Love you!”

I try to say them every day, even if I’m miffed. Michael got me a cake and candy; he is being a real sweetheart.  I just gained an extra ten pounds this weekend.

The snow is slowly trying to melt. I walked around checking out the status of the drifts.  I can’t walk anywhere off the driveway. The snow has melted to about waist level. 

No worries! Spring is just around the corner and I am happily looking forward to a long walk on the back path.

Uriah decided he wanted to run.  He took a leap into the snow and sunk. I had to dig him out. He wasn’t happy.

For day 14 of the Haiku Challenge the word is ‘LOVE’.

Haiku Challenge Day 14Love

Love is a dodo

Chasing it won’t make it yours

Put out some bird seed

  

A flame that burns brightly

Will one day set fire to the house

 You have to repaint

 

Here’s the link to the Haiku Challenge Blog…http://pendownmythought.blogspot.com/2011/02/haiku-challenge-28-days-28-haikus-day_14.html

 

I noticed that the date of my Blog Posts is off-way off. What’s up with that? The last two were posted on the 13th …I hope this one shows it to be the real 14th…