Duck Tales

Mama DuckFor the last few weeks, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of our ducklings. You see, ever since we moved onto our acreage and built a big pond at the back of the property, we’ve had a pair of mallard ducks stop to nest. We’ve even had a few broods hatch and within weeks, the mama duck is parading them through the yard or teaching them to swim. The photo to the left is of the female duck as she walked past the basement window.

Sometimes, though, the local predators get the eggs before they hatch. If that happens, the ducks search for a new nesting spot.

This year, while my DH was using the grass trimmer along the edge of the front yard, the mama duck came flapping out of a spreading juniper we have in the front flower bed. Later, when he used the small tractor to mow in that area, she came flapping out of the juniper again.

That’s when we realized our mama duck was nesting in the front yard next to the driveway.

IMG_0399She’s been sitting on her eggs for at least two weeks and the incubation period is roughly 28 days. So we’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the new brood. She’s even gotten used to the roar of the trimmer and tractor as my DH takes care of his grass duties.

Sometimes while I’m working in the flowerbed, I’ll peek between the branches of the juniper and see her sitting there, keeping her eggs warm. She flies out only to feed and go for a quick swim in the pond, and then she heads back to her nest to sit some more.

While I finish up the last of the edits on my upcoming book, Always Remember, our family is eagerly anticipating the arrival of our new guests. They’re camera shy, but I’m hoping this year I’m quick enough to get some pictures.

Here’s a few facts about mallard ducks:

1) They mate for life.

2) If predators destroy their nest and eggs, the ducks will lay another batch of eggs anywhere between two to four additional times that year. In other words, they don’t give up!

3) If a mama duck is attacked while in her nest, she will fly away, and only when the danger has passed will she return.

4) While the mama ducks are sitting dutifully on their nest of eggs, the papa ducks are off galavanting with their buddies. I’ve read that they stay near the female duck and nest, in order to protect them, but this year, I haven’t seen the male duck anywhere near the main yard.

Do you have any ducks or other wild animals making their home in your area or any duck/wild animal tales to tell?

Originally posted at Women Unplugged.

I am “The Worrier”

WorrierI worry about driving off a mountain cliff and crashing into the ravine below.

I worry about working in the gardens and being attacked by one of the large predators that wander through our yard.

I worry about dying slow and painful instead of dying fast and easy.

I worry about my mom being alone in her house and having an accident while I’m not there to help her.

I worry about not seeing my siblings when my mom is gone.

I worry about my boys never finding a girl who’ll make them happy or finding one that makes them unhappy.

I worry about my tender new plants getting hit by Jack Frost.

I worry about getting old, gaining weight, going gray, and losing my eyebrows.

I worry I may never finish THIS BOOK or any more after.

I worry about the icy winter roads and the people driving on them.

I worry about the farmers getting too much rain during their spring planting and then again, during their fall harvest.

I worry about the planes passing overhead crashing into my backyard.

I worry about the crickets and frogs in the pond finding their way into my house and <shudder> into my bed.

Frog with boI worry about moving, downsizing into a smaller place, and having to decide what’s necessary and what’s not.

I worry about leaving behind my computer and iPad and iPhone, and not being connected to the world.

I worry endlessly, needlessly, about all things big and small.

Why am I not crazy yet or is that still to come? Or are writers naturally worrisome people?

What do you worry about and how do you keep the craziness at bay?

Originally posted at Women Unplugged.

Flip Flops & Belly Flops

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-angel-food-cake-image26144826This weekend, we spent Easter at my mom’s. My youngest sister came out for the weekend and brought her two girls. My sister-in-law, after a wonderful vacation in Hawaii and despite three feet of snow still on the ground, showed up in flip flops and a tan. It was warm out, so she was celebrating spring.

I was in charge of the baking. I make peanut butter-butterscotch-marshmallow squares, which happens to be a family favourite. For the first time in years, the butterscotch chips melted on the very first try. I didn’t have to boil the heck out the recipe just to get them half melted. (Thank you, Hershey, for finally improving your Chipits mix!)

After my success with the squares, I was feeling pretty confident and so I moved on to the Angel Food cake. It came out of a box, not from scratch, so it was a no-brainer. As long as nobody thumped across the floor while it was in the oven, I was guaranteed success.

I only wish I’d taken pictures to show the mess I created …

I pulled out the bowl, the mixer, and my two cup measuring cup, dumped the contents from the cake mix into the bowl and proceeded to measure the water. The recipe called for one and a quarter cups of water, so I carefully measured the water, poured it into the bowl, and mixed it. Very quickly, the mixture threatened to flow over the edges of the bowl. I barely managed to keep it contained, then poured it into the Angel Food cake pan, and slid it into the oven.

While it cooked, I could smell something odd, almost like burned sugar. My oven had been cooking things quicker than normal, so I’d adjusted the time as I didn’t want to overcook the cake. Forty-minutes later, the buzzer went off and I opened the oven door.

My heart sank in my chest. The cake was half the size of the pan. I pulled it out of the oven, turned the pan upside down to let it cool, and the cake instantly belly flopped out of the pan onto the counter. What the heck?

My son and I stood there, staring at the mess on the counter. The top inch of the mix had cooked, but the rest of the cake was a mushy half-cooked mess. What had gone wrong? I had no time to figure it out because I had to head back to the store.

This time, I bought two mixes, just in case the cake flopped again. As I proceeded to begin the whole process over again, I lifted my two cup measuring cup and realized … I’d had one and a quarter cups on the brain, so had filled the entire two cups with water and counted it as one cup. Duh!

The second cake came out perfect (well, except for the part that exploded out of the pan and landed on the oven floor) and after our Easter dinner, we served it with strawberries and vanilla ice cream, the perfect end to a perfect dinner.

Will I ever make this mistake again? You bet. I’ve made the same mistake before, while my mind has been occupied with more important things, like plot holes and wonky character growth and non-existent settings. Hmmm, maybe it’s time to buy a one cup measuring cup.

Please tell me about your cooking disasters because I love to hear how other people make a mess in their kitchen. 🙂

Originally published at  Women Unplugged.

 

Have Computer, Will Travel

Winter2Somewhere in the world, spring has arrived. It’s not here in my part of the world, even though March 20th – officially the first day of spring – has come and gone. Instead, we still have three feet of snow on the ground, with more in the forecast.

I know spring is out there, looming in the not too distant future, and when it arrives it’ll be time to move my office outdoors.

This is one of the big pleasures of working for myself. My office is wherever I happen to set up shop. Right now, it’s in the northeast wing of the house, where the morning sunshine blinds me from mid-April to mid-September. I have to wear sunglasses while I type or close the drapes to keep the sun out.

Have computer, will travel … all the way from the indoor office to the deck or the family room or the kitchen table. And if I’m feeling particularly adventuresome, I pack up my computer and my husband, and head for the mountains.

Winter1I feel a mountain adventure coming on. So while I contemplate packing my suitcase and computer, I’ll leave you with a little teaser for my upcoming novel THE MARRIAGE PACT:

A hotshot divorce lawyer encounters the wedding planner from hell – the gorgeous, sexy woman he met and bedded a month ago who is pregnant with his child.

If you want to find out more about my upcoming release, join my newsletter!

The Directionally Challenged Weathervane

weathervane1If you remember, last year I blogged about a new garden area we were designing. We spent the summer with a shovel in our hands, turning over the dirt, then built a small garden shed which we planned to let weather naturally so one day it would take on the appearance of those old buildings you see falling down around an old farm yard. This summer, we’ll work up the soil and fill the garden area around the shed with cedars and a variety of flowering bushes and plants.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

This winter, while we watched the snow fly and wondered if it would ever stop, we jumped online and ordered a weathervane from the Urban Nature Store.

Then my better half built a cupola, similar to the one on this site.

Now while we wait for the snow to melt and the weather to warm, the weathervane and cupola sit just outside of the kitchen window on our deck.

Today during lunch, the wind howled and brought in colder weather along with some – soon to arrive – additional snow. Our lunchtime conversation eventually turned to the direction the weathervane was pointing in. The arrow pointed south, so I said that the wind was coming out of the north and blowing south.

Apparently, I’ve spent my entire life reading weathervanes incorrectly.

I always believed that the arrow on the weathervane pointed in the same direction as the wind was blowing. This makes perfect sense to me. After all, if you shoot a bow and arrow, the arrow flies arrow-first, right?

According to my better half and youngest son, the arrow on the weather vane points into the wind. While this makes absolutely no sense to me, I’ve decided that I’m not the one that’s directionally challenged this time (although if you remember this other post, you might choose to differ). Our weathervane is directionally challenged, pointing backwards in the wrong direction.

Am I the only one who believes the arrow on a weathervane points in the direction of the wind?

Originally posted at Women Unplugged.

 

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