Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Author Takes on Taming the Wilds

Well, it's been quite a Spring. I have my outdoor project continuing from last year. It's coming along, for sure. I've seen progress from the year before. You see, there's a section of our yard that has been let go wild with trees and undergrowth, it separates our yard from the park nicely in that once the underbrush grows in leaves, you can't see the park, and what matters is the park-goers can't see us.

A few years ago, my husband mowed into this section, just around one tree, and I made a trail into the wilds of this woods. To give you an idea it might be 30-40 yards deep. It goes along the edge, making an L shape along the border of the yard. And the yard is at least an acre upon which the house sits. The whole of the property is at least 5 acres, depending upon where you stop counting.

Anyway, back to my project of taming my backyard wilderness... This was very wild with raspberry brambles, dead limbs and such. It took me the summer of last year to make a meandering trail through to the end of it, where our service drive is. I hauled a lot of wood chips from an old pile, one wheel barrel at a time. In the heat and humidity. And sometimes after a 6-hour stint on the bus.

This Spring, with the weather cooperating more than last (had constant rain), I have been out nearly every day after work, and on the weekends. I've extended my trail to meander more, and have it bending back to the main trail that comes out by 30 foot pines. Once I get this thing done, it's going to be grand. If it doesn't kill me in the process.

You see, I'm an outdoors person. I can't not be outside when the weather breaks and is nice out. I've contented myself in going for walks in the park. Which is fine, but this woods had been something of a curiosity. I wanted to see its mysteries for myself. This spring I've discovered the spring beauties (a blue blossoming bulb that I planted a very long time ago) coming up near an old tree. And white trout lily, just behind that. Erythronium albidum.jpg
and the the dog's tooth.
Then, just this weekend, I discovered lily-of-the-valley growing all on its own in the middle, beneath the many walnut trees. I never knew those could just pop up anywhere. I have them by the house. Another thing I'd brought with me when we first moved here 21 years ago. I'd never seen it, probably because by the time I was able to work in there last year, the blossoms had faded. But if you've never smelled them, they are the sweetest smelling flowers, similar, but better than plumb trees in blossom.

And of course there are violets. I covet the white one's but love those from which they are named.

I found clumps of these growing nearby and dug several up and transplanted them last week. They're doing well, as I'm keeping them watered.

My husband, as you may already know, works out in the park proper. He mows, and he's into that now, so he hasn't time or energy to help me on this very physical project. This has been my project, and he doesn't mind my doing this, he just doesn't want me to over do it. I have not been able to work more than a few hours outside at a time, until this weekend. When I was young, I went full-bore all day long. I put in an 8 hour day working in my garden, and the yard, moving big, heavy rocks, and keeping it all in neat order. My father would have to tell me to quit around 3:00. I have not had that sort of day since I was in my twenties or thirties. But this weekend came close when my husband came out and had to tell me it was 2:30. I'd been working out in my garden, hauling brush one way, and wood chips another, and spreading it out on the trail. I trimmed a lot, that day too. So, I'd have to say I had been going at it for four straight hours that afternoon. So, taking a few days off from maiming myself (you should see my scratches on my legs and arms), and resting my sore back/body, is a good thing, with the weather going from warm to very cool. Plus, I've got a full day tomorrow on the bus (7 hours).

I've got something like 2 and a half weeks before I'm free to do as I please and one of them will be gardening. The other thing will be not getting up at 4 AM!

Oh, in case you haven't had a chance to read my author's bio over at Creativia, here is the link for that. It's called "A Fresh take on Vampire fiction"

Have a good rest of your week!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sign me Nature Lover

Hey, guys. I've been outside this past week. We've finally hit 70's and 80's, and I had to get some yard work done, and then went to work on my own little woods. I've been making sections for me to sit in, enjoy the birds, the quiet, and such. Today I transplanted violets--the white ones are beautiful.

Anyway, that's my excuse for being out of touch for the most part. And having little to yak about.

As most of you know we (my husband and I) live at a county forest preserve. Afton was once a farm. There's an old barn that still stands and we live in the house that is over 100 years old. My husband works out here, and he is the manager of this park as well as one other. There are other people here, of course. There's the resource manager, and a few others who either help him, or work here and elsewhere.

Long story short, this park has been here since the 70's. The trees were hand planted. They put in prairie plantings which in my case I have not seen since I was a teenager walking along the rail road picking wild asparagus. At this time of year the shooting stars will be one of the first reintroduced plants which will blossom. I remember seeing these plants out here when we first came to visit. We enjoyed this park. I have to say that we were visitors here when it was maybe 15 years old. We lived in town, and so escaping to this wildlife refuge was a treat. We often wondered what it would be like to have this as our backyard. Well, we've been here now for 21 years. So, certain dreams do come true.

This is also a wetlands is being established. This takes hours and hours of back-breaking work, planting such as lily pads and other aquatic plants by hand. It's a conservation effort, and provides natural habitats for birds and animals alike. In other words it's first and foremost a wild life park. Not a dog park, and I get really fed up with people who think otherwise and when they disobey the dogs on leash rule that gets my dander up.

This morning at my other work place, I made mention of my husband checking to make sure someone was not letting their dogs lose in our park. The woman sitting there said "I always let my dogs lose. We're gone for hours and hours." I looked at her and said, "We do have a leash rule in the park."
"I don't care."
"You don't care? What about the wild life?"
"I don't care."
I wanted to add, but didn't, that there is a $50 fine for any dogs caught off leash, but you know, her attitude smacked of elitist, and I just thought she would deserve it if she got caught by one of our sheriff's deputies who come out here, or the animal control people. And I know what our natural resource manager would say to her, and he would not be kind. Nor would Dennis.

At this time of year the birds are nesting, and animals are having their young. A lose dog is not a good thing to have in a wild life preserve. The majority of us really hate the fact that the superintendent allows it. If we had it our way (and I include the rest of the forest preserve staff here), we would have none of it.

Here's an example of the birds we have in the forest preserve (here and elsewhere).

Believe it or not we do have the bald eagle, and here is one with an eaglet.

A male pheasant in winter. These birds nest on the ground. We've just gotten these birds back after 3 harsh winters in a row. I'd hate to see a dog flush a female from her nest disturb the nest and no more eggs or chicks.

We've also heard that we may have wild turkeys--one was spotted just south of the park, not far away. These turkeys eat acorns in the fall and winter.

We also have many waterfowl, some of which I've yet to personally identify, but here is an egret, which is nesting in a pond in the main park. There are a lot of other smaller birds that do nest on the ground. The forest preserve puts up signs throughout the park prohibiting lose dogs through May, because of the nesting of birds and animals. You'd think people with half a brain would understand this. But apparently even those with a portion of a brain should get it, but they've got this idea that they pay their taxes (it's 1%) and are entitled to run their dogs lose. Maybe they need a lobotomy, or something, would understand this. But there are other people out here enjoying the wildlife--as you see, people who like to come out with their cameras, enjoy a leisurely walk without having to fear a dog running up to them. And other people who actually obey the rules and use the leash find this behavior really beyond exasperating.

Well, that will do for today's little rant. Opinions are welcome, just don't run your dog lose out here, or let my husband catch you, he has speed dial to the animal control people who can give you a ticket.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Crescendo Book #5

I've been rather busy, and so haven't had a chance to put this in here. But the fourth book in Sabrina Strong series Crescendo is now available, if you've been waiting for it, and didn't know. (Because I've been blasting it everywhere else, don't you see).

Bill Gannon is dead. 

The good news is the dhampire will be born, but not through who you'd expect. When Vasyl learns what Sabrina has done, it creates a rift between them. 

After donating her plasma in order to save Tremayne, and surviving Nicolas' attempt on her life, a group of black witches abduct her and begin draining her of her powers. She's near death when Dante stops them, and he and Vasyl return her home. Dante has a way to return her powers, but in a way that Vasyl isn't pleased with. 

After introducing Vasyl to her brother, wife and children, she warns him about vampires who will try and hurt them. But these warnings go unheeded when they get invitation for what they think is an all expenses paid weekend in Tremayne Towers. With the vampire war raging all around them, the ultimate confontation with Ilona Tremayne is at hand.

Chickens lay eggs, and so do Turtles

For those of you who don't know my husband is park ranger and one of his main jobs is mowing. He has a large deck (72") Toro Zero T...