My Backyard in Spring

“Well worth waiting for.” That’s what I think each morning when I go out in my backyard in the springtime and see the abundance of wildlife that has hatched or bloomed. While I have been too soft-hearted to snag a tulip (can’t decide which one to kill and bring inside), today, I did break off a small piece of my recovering lilac bush — recovering because last year it was covered in a wild vine that chokes whatever plants it grabs hold of. With the vines removed last summer, the lilacs had a chance to bounce back this May, albeit a little stumped. Now, their perfumey fragrance is permeating my home office.

At the edge of my property, there is a pond fed by a small river. It is dammed at one end. It is the perfect breeding ground for many water fowl, also turtles and beavers.  This morning, I saw a mother duck and four babies, small as bathtub rubber duckies, swimming with her. (I’ll get a photo next time.) Also, a Canadian goose landed (though I can’t say for sure it is from Canada as I have not asked for its papers). We’ve had a number of geese, but this one landed alone on the water and proceeded to honk and honk, more loudly than my dog barks. I am 100 percent sure it was calling for its mate. I hope the other goose finds its way over. (Of course, in these photos that I just ran back outside to take, you can’t actually see any animals, but they were all there at 7 a.m. I swear!)

I also watched a beaver swimming by. They look so much happier this time of year than when they emerge from under the ice and snow through a hole and skitter around on the top of the pond as they do in the winter. There are also blue heron, usually two, though as with the goose, I saw only one recently. If it sees me or my dog, it flaps over to the other side of the pond, looking rather like a mini-pterodactyl. The other cool creatures to watch fly are the mallards. They launch themselves from the bank on the other side, fly for a few hundred yards, quacking noisily, usually in pairs, and then they land, feet first with a massive splash. The other day, two pairs of ducks seemed to be fighting for superiority over the pond, chasing each other in flight and dive bombing whenever one landed. I don’t know which pair triumphed.

Meanwhile, I have a couple domesticated companions with me at all times.

Perry, the Wonder Dog, loves to play ball and for the most part ignores the wilder creatures. (Here is a video of him in slow motion — just because!)

Sabrina on tree.Sabrina, the cat, always comes out, too. We have a fallen tree in the yard that has been there since a large storm a couple months ago, and because she is not the most agile creature, the horizontal tree has been her first experience with “climbing.” She loves this maple; it’s perfect for sitting in the sun or trimming her own claws with fervent scratching.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games out there in the yard. I spend a lot of time decapitating dandelions with Perry’s ball thrower. Best garden tool ever!

 

Now, back to work on this perfect spring day!

Happy Easter, 2017!

I simply want to wish my fellow human beings and animal friends a very wonderful Easter Sunday.

Now, here’s a sweet treat (and naturally gluten free). My gentleman friend (GF) and I made a Martha Stewart recipe for coconut almond macaroons. We added chocolate chips and they came out quite delicioso!

Coconut Almond Macaroons

The very simple recipe:

1 cup natural cane sugar

3 large egg whites

3 cups unsweetened shredded cocounut

3/4 cup sliverred almonds

1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2)Whisk together sugar and egg whites in a medium bowl. Stir in coconut, almonds, vanilla, salt, and, if desired, chocolate chips.

3)Drop the coconut mixture by 2 tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

(I used a giant cookie sheet and this made about 24, but you may want to use two sheets.)

4)With moistened hands, squeeze each mound tightly together to form a compact ball.

5)Using a spatula, flatten one side at a time to form a pyramid shape. (I didn’t have the patience for this, but my GF did.)

6)Bake in oven until golden brown on bottoms and edges, 15 – 18 minutes. (Switch baking sheets top rack to bottom rack halfway through if you use two sheets.)

7)Transfer sheets to wire racks and cool for 5 minutes. Transfer macaroons to racks, and cool completely, about 20 minutes. (No, we didn’t wait that long before tasting.)

ENJOY! Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

March Madness, Marketing, and March Hares

March Madness usually refers to basketball. For many writers, the madness of March is the push to get older manuscripts finally finished, to begin new stories that have been kicking around in their heads for too many long winter months, and to figure out that elusive creature called “marketing.”

I know I’m definitely juggling all three as I finish up Book 4 of The Defiant Hearts series, which should have been finished and published about two years ago. At the same time, I couldn’t help but write back cover copy for two books that don’t exist yet. The characters have been nagging at me to get started so, at the very least, I wrote the bcc so they know I’m serious. Those pushy people in my head. Sheesh!!

Lastly, I’ve been delving into the land of newsletter marketing. Many writers, including a good friend of mine, were stranded by the closing of one business that handled relatively inexpensive emailings to large lists of thousands of subscribers. The next closest seemed to be prohibitively expensive since my friend has 25,000 signups to her newsletter. Then I discovered that for me to help her produce her newsletters, I don’t have to go with the expensive, canned variety, such as MailChimp, Mailer Lite, AWeber, or Constant Contact.

No, for very short money, under $50 per year, I can use a WP plugin to integrate her newsletter signups to her list and send her emails from an independent SMTP. This part is important since it might be a headache (meaning slow and unwieldy) to use her website’s host server to send out 25,000 emails at once.

Too technical for many, I love figuring this stuff out. All part of my March Madness routine, adding more things to my plate until I’m running around like a March hare!!! Honestly, maybe I look more like this guy on the right:

Cover of Presenting Lady Gus

I love the cover created by Philip Re. And the happy couple is standing in front of the real Thornbury Castle featured in the story.

Meanwhile, I am still enjoying a warm reception to my latest novella, Presenting Lady Gus. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet . . . click here. And if you already have, I would be grateful if you could leave a review.

Happy Spring!!