Response to “White Pelicans — Writing Prompt” :-)

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no pelicans but ...

no pelicans but …

Suzanne, over at Write by the Sea, Live by the Sea, posted a writing prompt concerning Brown Pelicans and asked for responses.  Mine, I figure, was a bit too long for the Comments Box and decided to share it here:

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon in the Vero Beach area, we went up to Wabaso to the Disney timeshare to have a look.  While we were meeting with one of the staff, I noticed the shadow of three pelicans, flying in perfect formation, going past in perfect timing as well — every 16 minutes they flew by.

I made a joke and asked it they were real or Disney Animatronics.  They went south to north only and were so perfectly regular in their timing, they just didn’t seem real.  The gal who worked there was shocked.  “What pelicans?”

She had NO IDEA that these birds flew by at all.  “No idea at all?” I wondered and was shocked.

<><   ><>   <><   ><>   <><   ><>

Back in 2005, when we were house hunting, I drove around and looked at places from the outside to see whether it would be worth rustling up our RE Agent and my husband to go have a closer look at properties.  I found lots of places I liked from the outside, but hubby had some reason to not bother going back.

One was a building currently being used as a house but had been a hotel and still had its license.  It has 2 1/2 acres, so hubby could have had his garden(s).  It has a summer kitchen, so I could have preserved the produce from his vegetable garden.

And it was across the street from the town park overlooking the Mississippi with the trains running in between.

He said it was too far to commute and that was the end of that dream location.

My favorite part — a very well kept secret.  PELICANS!  White pelicans migrate through the area and come to rest in the area for a short time every year.  There is not one single mention of them on the Department of Natural Resources website, the River Road website or the town website as being in the area at all.  I can understand — the town has a population barely over 100 and other than that park there is no real parking in the area.  No one wants a huge influx of gawkers.  (Except the town has an annual arts fair and I cannot imagine where people park for that!)

We went looking for the pelicans on Sunday, sure that we were getting close to the time when they would be continuing their journey away from the Mississippi into the West toward their nesting and summer stomping grounds.  We found noisy gulls (mostly laughing gulls and terns) but no pelicans.  Still too much ice on the River for them.  Once we found someone who knew anything and was willing to admit it, we were told that most of the ice needs to be gone before they show up — another two to three weeks, probably …

I plan to go back in two weeks …

Or PLANNED on it …

But the forecast for the next week to ten days is for a nasty four letter word beginning with “S” …

BAH!

More Smart Animals

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EESH! 

No sooner had I hit the “publish” button for the post on “Smart Animals” than I began to think of other books I could have, maybe should have, included in the list.  So, this afternoon, I sat down and went through a list of books that I have access to and pulled out titles of books to share with you … Far too many for one more post.  It will probably be several posts. 

Let’s start with two series of books:

Redwall series by Brian Jacques

There are more than 20 books in this series featuring the animals of Redwall Abbey.  In the first book, Redwall, Cluny the Scourge, a rat, and his horde show up, determined to capture the abbey for themselves.  One mouse from the abbey decides to go in search of the sword of Martin the Warrior.  He encounters sparrows, cats, and an owl, among other animals in his quest.

So far, I’ve listened to five of the books of the series.  The audio versions are a Full Cast production so that each character definitely has a distinctive voice.  I’ve enjoyed each book.  Redwall and Martin The Warrior are among my favorites, so far.  :-)

There is a pile of cd cases next to my desk, though — I ordered as many of the books of the series as I could find through the local public library consortium’s online catalog (how’s that for a mouthful and a tongue twister?) … and they all showed up at once;  lots of listening to get through in a few short weeks.  But I expect lots of good listens!

Author, Brian Jacques, was interviewed by John Scieszka as part of the Thalia Kids’ Book Club series.  It is not an exceptional interview – Jacques laughs way too much.  But he does tell about growing up in Liverpool during WWII.  He told things about that time I did not know — like, I knew London had been bombed but didn’t know the Germans had also bombed other port cities.  He uses terms most kids won’t understand, and maybe many parents — and maybe this will encourage them to learn about life at that time and in Great Britain.    You can get a copy of the interview at Audible.com.

Mistmantle series by M.I. McAllister

Ah, I must admit, I haven’t listened to any of these books yet.  I did listen to the sample at Audible and decided to add Urchin of the Riding Stars to my library.  Then I visited the library online catalog to look for the rest of the series in audio.  There are two more in my wish list for the next time I make a book request from the consortium inter-library loan system.  Urchin is a squirrel who fell out of a tree as a baby and has grown up near the castle.  These are his adventures.  Based on the sample, I expect to enjoy these books as much as the Redwall books.

Reviewers at Amazon say they feel this series is superior to the Redwall series.  For more info about the author, check out wikipedia.

Another “Series” to Check Out

Humphrey stories by Betty Birney

Humphrey is a classroom hamster.  He gets to go home with various students from the class on weekends.  He has lots of adventures and helps a lot of people, including the school janitor. He tells the stories, too.  Delightful tales.

So far, I’ve listened to The World According to Humphrey and Friendship According to Humphrey.  There are six more books in the series.

One Last “Series” of a Fun Animal but Maybe Not So “Smart”

This is a series of picture books about Walter … um … Walter the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, Elizabeth Gundy, to be exact. He isn’t so smart as stinky.  But he always seems to save the day.  Of the three books of the five (or six depending on the list you use) of the Walter books I’ve encountered, my favorite is Walter the Farting Dog Goes on a Cruise.  His adventures are sure to make children giggle and parents smile (if ruefully — why is it that such stinky subjects can be so fun(ny)?).

For more information on the books in this series, check here, and for info on William Kotzwinkle, check here.

There are LOTS and lots of great books featuring animals.  I will, however, wait a little before I spring another list of them on you.

In the meantime, Have Great Reads!

Smart Animals

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I read a blog post today about how animals might be smarter than we think.

Read these two posts from Suzanne about her doggie woes, then come back for my thoughts about the intelligence of animals …

–> Is My Writing Career Going to the Dogs?

–> News From the Dog House

The Comment I Left

I left a long comment at the “dog house” post, and copy most of it here:

“Well, I’ve decided that animals are a lot smarter than humans give them credit for.

“Lately, I’ve been really ‘irked’ by writers who put animals into their stories and then make a comment ‘it’s as if they might understand what I say.’  It’s not ‘as if’ — they do!  It’s just a matter of how willing they are to let us know they understand.  Most, I think, prefer to let us think they are dumb and stupid, so that we don’t make too many demands on them.  But … they understand.

“We also had a cat who watched TV.  101 Dalmatians was one of her favorite movies — she would carefully watch the parts that involved animals and often wandered off when it was basically just humans on the screen, then come back just in time to watch the animals again.  One day I put in the tape of the original Disney cartoon version.  I was sure she would ignore it. Well, I was wrong!  She did the same exact thing with that movie — watched the animals intently and ignored the human interactions.

“One day, as I was leaving the house, a hummingbird buzzed up trying to get to the feeder close by.  When I moved, it began to fly off.  I called after it, “I just wanted to take your picture.”  It came back, hovered as they do and after I had taken about half a dozen shots flew away to wait for me to get out of the way so it could get to the feeder.

“And last, one day a couple of Septembers ago, I was driving down the road, heading to the grocery store.  I saw a cat huddled on a bank along the side of the road.  I was just about a mile from home.  I did a u-turn, then another and pulled up beside the cat.  I put down the passenger side window and told her, ‘I know it is getting cold out at night and the coyotes are often in that field above you and that is a badger hole above your head.  We live down the road about a mile.  My husband just put up a shed and left an opening so cats can get in there to be out of the cold.  Be very careful when you cross the road, but you are quite welcome to stay there if you want.’  I put up the window and drove away.

“She didn’t show up and I was sort of relieved.  Then one morning, I pulled into the driveway and there were four kittens playing in front of that shed.  A little bit later, as I sat watching the kittens, I finally saw the cat I had talked to. 

“She stayed about 3 weeks, until she was sure her kittens were welcome to stay with us and she left.  Haven’t seen her since.  She was a gorgeous Himalayan and her kittens were the cat equivalent of mutts.

“They are still with us …”

Books You May Enjoy About Animals

Now, to be honest, I can’t think of titles of the books where I got irked at the writer for having a character say “It’s like they understand what I say.”  However, I do remember some books about intelligent animals that I think you might enjoy.

The Cat Who …

First, I must start with Koko from The Cat Who series of books by Lilian Jackson Braun.

The series features James Qwilleran, a newspaperman.  He gains a cat, Koko, in the first book of the series, The Cat Who Could Read Backward, that helps him solve a murder.  Yum-yum joins them in the second book of the series, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern.

There are 29 books in the series.  The first three came out between 1966 and 1968;  new books began appearing in the series in 1986.  To be honest, when I began reading the series in the mid-1990’s, I believed that a committee of people were writing under Braun’s name.  Books contradict one another and seem unaware of events from books earlier in the series, especially the original three. 

I’m still not sure whether they are all written by Braun.  However, I enjoy them.

I also have to admit that I was among those who wrote comments about the 29th book of the series, The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers, claiming that Qwilleran’s action were not true to his character.  Then I went back to the beginning of the series to try to finally read all of the books, and in order.  And, now I must admit, Qwill’s behavior in this book fits his original personality quite well.

For a list of all of the books in the series, and for information about Ms. Braun, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilian_Jackson_Braun

The later books in the series are set in Pick Ax, a place that is “400 miles from everywhere.”  I thought I had found a possible location for Pick Ax on Google Earth, near Houghton, MI in the Yooper, but wikipedia suggests that it is Bad Ax, MI.

Another Cat Who Story

Ah, this is a fun and wonderful children’s story.

The Cat Who Wanted to Go Home, by Jill Tomlinson, tells the story of a little French cat who falls asleep in the basket of a hot air balloon and finds herself in England.  Susie wants to go home!  And she has a few adventures along the way.

Amazon has this version of the book.  However, I suggest an audio version from Audible.com.  Susie meows French words and unless a parent wants to attempt that when reading the story to their child(ren), a good audio version is a better option and is very inexpensive too.  :-)

Audible actually has two versions of the book, read by different readers and published by different companies.  The one I got and listen to from time to time when looking for a short “pick-me-up” that makes me smile, is the one read by Maureen Lipman

I did listen to the sample provided at Audible for the other version, read by Sophie Aldred.  There are wave sound effects and music that, to me, detract from the story.  AND the text is different from the version I’ve listened to.  This version matches the book available at Amazon, though. 

But, I prefer the Maureen Lipman audiobook.  (And it is less expensive by a whole 50 cents — LOL!)

Sneaky Pie Brown — Co-Author

Sneaky Pie Brown supposedly helps her person, Rita Mae Brown, write the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series.  I don’t know, though.  Seems to me, if Sneaky Pie was really helping, Mrs. Murphy would have featured a bit more in the one book in this series that I listened to:  Wish You Were Here

It was a good book, but I was disappointed, initially, because the description of the story seemed to indicate that the cat and her friend (a dog!) were “one step ahead” of their human, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, the town post mistress who has a bad habit of reading the back of postcards before she puts them in their correct boxes.

There are 20 books in this series.  Ms. Brown has written many other books.  A listing can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Mae_Brown.

Four More Books for Children

Yep, I love children’s books.  :-)

Here are four I’ve enjoyed:

Whittington, by Alan Armstrong, is one of my favorites.  It is the story of two children, their grandfather who has a “farm” of acquired animals, and a tom cat that wanders in and asks to be allowed to stay.  He has a ragged ear from fighting and an engaging story of the history of his name.  He tells a tale about Dick Whittington, a historical London mayor, and his adventures. 

Check out wikipedia and not much is really known about the real Dick Whittington.  This is a tale with a twist — how a cat made his fortune.  :-)

Hobart, by Anita T. Briggs, is about a litter of piglets.  Hobart wants to dance!  He and his littermates perfect their performances and show off to the farmer.  Wonderful results.

Now for the series of books about The Bed and Biscuit, by Joan Carris.

Starting with Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit, we meet Grampa Bender who runs an animal boardinghouse with the help of Ernest the pig, Gabby the mynah bird and Milly the cat.  He comes home one day with a mysterious bundle and these three loyal friends begin to worry.

In Wild Times at the Bed and Biscuit, the three friends are trying to train Sir Walter, a Scottish Terrier puppy who has joined them, while dealing with some interesting boarders, including a cranky muskrat, at the animal boardinghouse run by Grampa Bender.

And, I just found out that there is a new book in the series, Magic at the Bed and Biscuit.  Apparently, an ornery chicken, Malicia, is now staying at the animal boardinghouse.  The four friends are having a hard time dealing with this newcomer!  This book is on my “read soon” list, for sure.  :-)

Tell me —

1)  Are animals smarter than humans say they are?  (I’ve got more stories I could tell about that — mostly ones my husband has told me …)

2)  Have you read any good books that feature some intelligent animals?

Have Great Reads!

[Once again I am forced to say that WordPress is funky and adding extra lines between paragraphs in ways that I can’t seem to control!  ARGH!  Sorry about that … and on my screen, when I preview the final post, there is a combination of fonts on screen.  One font shows here in the “write the post” box and another usually shows up on the final post page, but today, both fonts are taking turns showing up on the post page.  **shrugs shoulders and plans to go off to blogger to begin working on setting up the blog there instead of here …**]

It’s Random Acts of Publicity Week and …

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Can I come in and listen to a book with you?

I read two posts about two books of history for children.

The first, by Suzanne Lieurance, is a review of Nancy Sanders’ book Frederick Douglass – His Life and Times with 21 Activities.  The second, a review of The Golden Pathway by Donna McDine, is written by Carol Fraser Hagen.  Check out their reviews (I haven’t had an opportunity to read either book yet.)

When I was a kid in school, history was the most boring and awful subject.  It was even worse than word problems in math class.  **shudder** 

Now, though, as an adult, I am discovering the world of history is fascinating.  Probably because the books for the reading public do more than cover an event in one paragraph, but go into lots of interesting and fascinating details.  And it turns out that most of the text in those school textbooks is a perpetuation of historical myth.  The truth is far more fascinating.

So, it was with a bit of reluctance that I listened to a book I had borrowed from the public library’s OverDrive Media digital library. When I downloaded the kids’ book, I did not realize it was going to be an educational book in disguise.  Since I had downloaded four short kids books that day, I saved this one for last.  I’m glad I did eventually listen to it.  I may even try to add a copy of it to my personal library so I can listen to it again whenever I want to.

What educational novel might actually get so high praise from me?  The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick gets this praise.  I must admit that I was not ready to give the book quite so high praise at first.  Only after telling my husband about the book did I realize how good it is.

The book is about a boy whose older brother is illegally sold to the Union Army by their mean and drunkard uncle during the American Civil War.  Homer runs away and embarks on a journey to find and rescue his brother.  The journey takes him, ultimately, to the battlefield at Gettysburg, meeting some real historical figures along the way.  The description of this scene, the Gettysburg battlefield, I felt was too vivid for the intended young audience (ages 9 and up).  My husband’s response, though, was “GOOD!”  Yep.  He’s right.  And so, I give the book a firm and sure 2 Thumbs Up. 

So, I told you I had downloaded other kids books that day.    Might as well tell you about them, too.   :-)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, started out a little slowly but got more and more interesting as the book progressed.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable book about a little girl living in a depressed and gray village where her parents labor long hours in the rice paddy.  She heads out to find the Man In The Moon and this is the story of her journey.

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux,by Geraldine McCaughrean, tells the story of a boy who is supposed to die on his thirteenth birthday, but he runs away to avoid this destiny.  He has many adventures that are totally unbelievable — but that is sort of what makes the book so fun to read.  The level of hyperbole is great but not campy.  The story end is even better.

13 Gifts, by Wendy Mass, is part of a series of books, I think.  What makes them a series is the location, and characters who populate the location.  This book, though, focuses on a new girl to the town and a journey of self-discovery that she takes.  She has been a loner for so long that when she arrives at her aunt’s home for the summer, she is not prepared to meet and make friends with a group of other kids in town. 

There is a hole in the backyard at her aunt’s house.  They are planning to have an in-ground pool installed but have not decided what shape the pool should be.  My favorite part of the book was her relationship with one particular boy in town who is preparing for his bar mitzvah and practices in that hole.

Which brings me to Holes, by Louis Sachar.  I haven’t seen the movie and couldn’t bring myself to listen to the book during the week I had it.  I’ve downloaded it before and didn’t listen to it then, either.  I’m not even sure why not.  I’ve been told numerous times that the movie was good and even that the book is good, but …

Anyhow, children’s books are fun to read or listen to.  History can be lots of fun too.

Have Great Reads!

Facebook: A Response

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I do not visit Facebook very often anymore. 

For a long time, I visited Facebook about once a month or less.  Then I got into the habit of keeping up with it every day.  Then I went back to ignoring it as much as possible.  I find it is a time vampire.

However, a couple days ago, I decided to see what was going on there.

Someone whom I “friended” likes to repost pictures from those she follows.  And one of her reposts was a poster/photo of Romans 12:2 — Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …

Ouch, stop squeezing me!

As I grew up in a small independent Baptist church in southern New Jersey, our youth group decided this verse meant to avoid peer pressure and fads and to concentrate instead on things we learned at church.  I remember, vaguely, the Living Bible using terms like “don’t be squeezed into the world’s mold” — or that is how we interpreted it at the time.

Sort of ironic, none of us really faced much peer pressure since none of us were part of any “in” crowd.  We also knew there wasn’t much chance of ever being part of one of those groups, so there was no reason to give in to peer pressure just to fit in;  we knew we wouldn’t fit in no matter what we did.  Nor was the issue of fads really an issue for us, since none of us could afford to keep up with the latest fad.  We were learning thrift and make-do attitudes in our homes out of necessity not out of any sense of rightness, righteousness or any other morality-based reasoning.

However, since then, the church (as a whole, not any particular local congregation) has decided that peer pressure can be a good thing.  If the “right” people exert this pressure, the end result can only be a glorious, right and proper thing.  And of course, the only “right” people are those who are as right as you can get.

Hmmmmmm …

Think?  Who me?

Giving in to peer pressure, whether to do something right or something wrong, is never a good thing.

Why?

To do so it to ignore the second part of the verse.  “Renewing of your mind.”  We had decided that meant thinking about Godly and churchy things.  Thinking?  Really?

My husband constantly runs into people who do not think.  They admit it.  They repeat what their pastor told them, do not double check the scripture passage and do not consider what they have been told nor what they believe.  They accept it as truth with no questions asked because no thought occurs.

When talking to His disciples about the coming anti-christs, Jesus told them “Do not be deceived.”  And many will take that literally to mean to not be deceived about anyone claiming to be Christ.  

But what about those who claim to speak in His name and for Him, to be passing on wisdom and understanding of His will?

We are told of the Bereans, “these were better than they, for daily they searched the scriptures to see if what we told them was true.”

And even more important is to understand what it means when the story of Jesus’ life as a child finds Him not among the people heading back home after a visit to Jerusalem, but in the Temple ‘discussing’ the Scriptures with the priests.  Discussing usually involves thought and deep thinking about the meaning of the subject.  And, no, thought about scripture is not the purview of just the scholars, pastors and priests, and deities.  It is the right and duty of all who want to live by those scriptures.

How true to scripture is the rhetoric of the Right?  How true to the will and desire of God is the platform of the Conservative movement?

Ayn Rand, Heroine of the Conservatives was …

Among other things, Ayn Rand was extremely selfish and anti-Christian.  Her selfish attitude grew out of events of her childhood as a child and from growing up Jewish in pre- and post-Revolution Russia and, from a psychological point-of-view, an almost understandable result of those events.  [For more about her life and philosophy check out Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller]  However, she took her selfishness to such an extreme that when her publisher allotted paper equally to all books and authors they published, she demanded they give her more paper than the others because she was more important than the rest.

However …

Selfishness and the idea that God deals only with the powerful is not Biblical.  These are not godly ideals.

What is the gospel that the Great Commission refers to?

Can Man bring righteousness to another person by bringing him Law to follow?

(You can probably guess my answer to that question, can’t you?  I will answer it here very soon …)

 

[The image used in thos post comes from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vampyr_ill_artlibre_jnl.png]

 

 

{Please note — extra space between paragraphs is a problem with wordpress and is not my fault … thus one day I will be migrating this blog to Blogger but I need to get it set up first …}

“Welcome to the Land of Cain” needs an Author

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Ever since the extreme right-wing conservatives (politically and religiously) in the USA decided to demonize — thanks, only in part, to Ann Coulter’s book Demonic — those anywhere left of their position on any and all issues affecting life in this country, I have been (mentally) threatening to start a blog called “Welcome to the Land of Cain.”  I even went so far as to find an online name generator (sorry, I forget which one I used, but there are a number of them to choose from if you google it) — to find a list of possible names for my “author” of the blog.

While looking for other information on my computer, which I did not find yet, I came across that list of names that the generator spit out for me.  I have now narrowed the list from over 100 names to just 10 to choose from. 

I need help, though.  I’m not sure which to use.  AND I hope to find out if any of these are actual names in another language, so that I do not inadvertently choose a name that is “real.”

Here they are — let me know, in the comments, which you like and if you know if any of these names are real or not.  THANKS in advance :-)

  • –> Topun
  • –> Ulaphunal
  • –> Oxpzac
  • –> Isnak or Iznak
  • –> Urarot
  • –> Idosap
  • –> Taax
  • –> Zoltper
  • –> Isutih
  • –> Unadon
  • –> Ahlex
  •  –> My husband just suggested a real name, Lilith — however, the story behind the name is really interesting and in Arabian mythology she was the first wife of Adam who did not “behave” and became a djinn (an evil spirit)

[The source for the image in this post is http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andras(demon).jpg

I’m not sure if I need to include the copyright information or if that stuff refers to adding an image to the wiki commons … so I put it here if you want to click on it and findout a little more about the image …]

A Site You May Enjoy

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I won’t write much today because there is so much junk on my desk — even filling up the space in front of the keyboard — that it is hard to type. **sigh** Anyhow, my husband introduced me to a website that I would like to share with you.

http://naturesoundsfor.me/Calm_Thunder_Storm

You can adjust the sounds (there is a drop down menu of a variety of choices), the balance between right and left speakers (using the sliders) and adjust volume (using the up and down slider). And there is an option for making the chosen sound continuous or periodic/episodic. It is really cool. You can save your sounds if you want. I hope you enjoy this site.  :-)