A Season of New Things

Spring Has Sprung and So Have the Cats

Our cats are so happy to be released from their long winter’s confinement. We’ve had some lovely weather lately and they’re making the best of it. Other creatures, too, are popping out of hibernation.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out and saw Pookie sitting on his haunches on the lawn, with a magpie facing him about two metres away and another one standing about that far away on his right. Lying between the three of them was the limp body of a full-grown gopher. (Aka, thirteen-striped Richardson ground squirrel.) Whatever it was once known as, the dead critter had become the object of a property dispute.

Magpies are thieves; we see it all the time. If the cats catch something and haven’t eaten it yet, there’s usually a magpie peering hopefully from the garage roof or strutting in the grass nearby. And they often work in pairs. Like: “You distract the cat and I’ll grab the corpse.” Even if there’s no loot magpies often work in teams to torment cats.

So when I saw this standoff I opened the window and shooed the magpies away. With the birds gone Pook went back to playing with the thing awhile, even if it offered no exciting resistance. As soon as he got tired of the game and wandered off the magpie was back, snatching bites of the prize, which Pook didn’t tolerate. He rushed back to reclaim the gopher, then a few minutes later our black cat Angus sauntered up and began gnawing on it. Pook went back to wait beside the gopher hole for another one to pop out. Poor gophers. It’s a hard life at the bottom of the food chain.

Angus likely caught the thing in the first place. Pook is a bit of a thief himself. As I said in an earlier post, he’s an invasive species; he has this habit of pushing his nose into whatever interesting meal Angus is eating and slowly takes over the dish. Or mouse. Or whatever. Anyway, an hour later all trace of the victim was gone, so I imagine whatever remains remained when Angus left the magpies snatched.

Tuesday en route to the city we saw ducks in the ponds. This morning my husband opened the window and heard a meadowlark singing. Bliss! I went outside a bit later and heard the honking of a goose. I looked up and saw a line of snow geese headed by what looked like a Canada goose and he was the cheerleader. So spring has returned to our land.

A New Home for My Stuff

Since spring’s a time of beginning again, I’m going to catch that wave and move to a new blog home.

I’ve been contemplating this for awhile, wanting to bring all my writings under one roof but not quite sure how. I shut down Swallow in the Wind a few months back, but still have Christine Composes for my fiction, plus this site. Now I’m going to bring all my writing to Christine’s Collection’s new home. I contemplated a major renovation, but the categories and tags on my posts would all need reworking to fit the new plan. Easier to start from scratch, I decided.

I’ve had a “spare” private blog for a couple of years, using it to test out new themes before going to all the work of installing them on my public sites. Last week I enlisted the help of Bruce at WordPress Support and he’s been guiding me through this move, bless his heart.

Bruce says it’s no problem to switch the domain name for both active sites so that anyone who types in christinegoodnough.com or christine composes.com will land up there. All subscribers from both sites will be switched to the new one. And I will only have one better-organized blog to contend with. This sounds great to me now, given my health issues.

So I’ve been going back and forth for a few days now, carrying and unpacking a few files, scheduling future posts and generally preparing the site for visitors. I’m delighted with the new look, though I’m sticking with this basic layout. I’ve learned how to build Categories into the main menu, now my category “closets” are easily accessible and every genre will have its proper place in the grand scheme.

I thought I’d give you this heads-up a week or so before I do the final move and open the new site for public viewing. But the only difference you’ll find is that this current site will revert back to the pre-domain address of christinegoodnough.wordpress.com, so if you want to check out some post in these archives you’ll need to type in that address. Christine Composes will go back to christineevelynvance.wordpress.com.

The Food Critic

A just-for-fun verse in response to today’s Word Press prompt: criticize.

The Food Critic

The hawk sat on a signpost
beside a busy highway, his eyes
on the ditches below, hoping for
flushed-out gophers and mice.

He eyed the carrion lying about,
but he disdained stale road kill,
preferred his food on the run,
a challenge for his grabbing skills.

Moving target practice always fun,
plus he relished that last little squeak
as his talons sank in, and the added
adrenaline spiced up the meat.

At this moment he was frowning,
down his curving beak at those ravens
picking at that stinking dead skunk.
Some creatures have no self-respect.

This Bird Blabs!

Lately I have been inspired by the “Friday Fictioneers” group. The bloggers who sign up are given a photo every week and each one writes a 100-word story about it. Links to stories posted here.

So I decided to try my hand at writing a short fiction piece, too. Here’s my attempt; all comments are welcome. Just to make it interesting, the body of this story contains 104  words. Which four should I have left out?

parrot~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE PARROT REVEALS

First the thunderclap, then a spine-chilling scream shredded the tenseness in the darkened room.

Natalie, peering fretfully into the storm, gasped and whirled around. “I wish you’d left that wretched bird in the rainforest where it belongs.”

“But I like my parrot,” her cousin replied. “He’s great company when I’m alone. Besides, he reveals secrets.”

“Oh, really?” Natalie glanced at Regina but in the dim lamplight she missed the malevolence in the other young woman’s eyes.

Regina watched the shadows flickering against the walls. “For example, he’s told me why you’re waiting so anxiously for MY fiancé to arrive.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“Is it, Nat?”

A Liminal Flicker

Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who lived in an old mobile home right next to the woods. This old couple had reached that liminal phase of life so aptly expressed by the poet:
“Those difficult days have come and lit:
too tired to work; too poor to quit.”

One afternoon the old woman, ready for a nice nap, plopped her weary self into her recliner and closed her eyes. A few minutes later she heard a curious sound:

Scritch … Scritch … Scritch

Now this woman, in addition to being old and tired, was also hard of hearing. In this case her handicap made it difficult to judge where the sound was coming from. It seemed to filter in from some liminal place — a hard-shelled bug tapping on the window, perhaps, or a bird hopping on the roof?

SCRITCH … SCRITCH … SCRITCH

Now it could be a student shut in one of the trailer’s liminal rooms, half-heartedly pecking away on a manual typewriter. It would take him years to get an essay done at that rate.

But the old woman remembered she was hard of hearing. Was the source of the sound a lot closer than she first thought? Had some brave mouse ventured out to nibble at the cat food sitting on the dining room floor? Her eyes popped open and she looked toward the cat food dish in the dining area. No mouse.

Now all was silent, so she reclined and shut her eyes. Such a tiny sound she could ignore. Zzz…

CLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANG

The old woman jumped from her chair. This sounded like a chainsaw chewing its way rapid-fire through a drain pipe. She hurried through the trailer, checking every room, but saw nothing spinning or vibrating that could produce a sound like that.

Some madman must be chainsawing his way through the trailer wall! What else could make such a racket? She rushed outside to let this fellow know he dare not mess with her. (A bit of fiction added to embellish the tale.)

She saw no one, no reason for this awful noise. The only living thing she saw was a northern flicker on the roof peering down at her curiously. He was sitting on the…

Oh.

The flicker, deciding she was a wingless, harmless creature, went back to his task of drilling a hole in the steel disc protecting their chimney.

CLANK CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG…

Word Press Daily prompt: Liminal

Welcome vs Irksome

Though our mornings are usually frosty, the snow of late September is long forgotten here in Sask. November is starting out unseasonably mild for us; Saturday was not only warm and sunny, it was a record high for these parts, beating the high in 1948. I was happy to get at some neglected housekeeping and was outside on my ladder cleaning the kitchen windows. Seeing the weather is supposed to remain quite warm all week I hope to clean more windows.

Today our sunny afternoon was perfect for a walk, though the wind is cool. I made it to the railroad track and back — which isn’t so very far but I can always do this trek again. Every little bit counts toward getting my energy back after my chemo-therapy.

We’ve had a special treat this past month as three blue jays have made our woods their home. They come to check out the bird feeder every morning and several times during the day. Since our feeder is built for smaller birds, I spread seeds on the ground to accommodate them even further. They’re rather noisy at times but we love their colors brightening up the yard and they must realize they’re welcome, for they aren’t easily frightened away..

Today’s daily prompt word is irksome, which brings to mind thoughts of the gluttonous magpies that also show up whenever seeds are offered. One night I spread feed on the ground for the early morning arrival of the jays and the next morning saw 7 or 8 magpies polishing it off. Grrr… They make a big mess rooting through the hanging feeder, too. Seeking their favorite nuts and seeds, tossing everything else to the four winds, they can empty a feeder in short order. Grrr again! A blue jay’s call may be screechy, but magpies have a combination squeal/grunt/oink that sounds like a bunch of pigs are biting each others’ tails.

Cats find magpies irksome because magpies love to tease and torment cats, also to steal their catches. I’ve seen magpies prancing a couple of metres in front of a cat trying to lure it into a chase, especially if the cat’s just killed a mouse. The birds often work in a team; one magpie tries to distract or irritate the cat, inviting a chase so the other can gab the mouse.

One day some years back I saw two magpies teasing our big fluffy cat, Panda, in the back yard. I watched as one bird strutted a metre in front of her while the other snuck up behind and grabbed at her twitching tail. She whipped around to face that one and the bird in front edged closer, wanting to pull at her ears. And those brutes have pretty vicious beaks!

Magpies know people find them irksome. As soon as you show your face and make a few motions they’re off into the trees. Folks say the crafty birds can spot a gun barrel half a km away and they don’t stick around to see what you’re aiming at. I’ve many times threatened to get a rifle and learn how to shoot magpies, but I’m a timid sort and fear for my windows, car tires, etc.

On a cheerier note, I see this blog has its 500th follower. Ta-da! Welcome! I appreciate everyone who drops by to read my posts and to express a LIKE — and special I thanks to all 500 of you who FOLLOW my posts.