Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

Posts tagged ‘nature’

Lying In Wait For Birds

I was washing dishes one afternoon last week and saw this in our backyard:

Extreme focus…on bird or squirrel?

We would prefer the cats out of our yard because my son and husband are allergic (our son even more so–hives from fur, dander, saliva), plus the darn things like to use any bare area/spot in the lawn as their own kitty litter box, especially the areas right next to our house. Ugh. Curse this sandy soil in Florida!!

What was amusing, however, was where this cat decided to lie down in our yard. See that pole in front of him? This is what it belongs to:

Lying in wait for birds.

Yup, that’s right. He was lying in wait for birds under our “new” homemade bird feeder stand. By the time we got the camera, he shifted his focus onto us. By the way, my husband made that steel baffle because the squirrels were climbing up the metal pole (it’s one used for plants) and jumping onto the bird feeders!

This cat isn’t interested in the bird seed. He wants to jump up and catch any one of the many bluejays, doves, wrens, and cardinals that visit our bird feeders. Little stinker!

Do you have any unexpected visitors to your backyard?

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

How Do You Connect on Social Media Or Don’t You?

Do You Connect?

Today I read a wonderful post written by Jody Hedlund. She is the author of The Doctor’s Lady and I always find her blog posts well worth the read with helpful tips and insights for readers and writers alike.

Her post, Putting the “Social” Back in Social Media struck a chord with me so much that as I was writing a comment on her blog, it became a post.

Are you on the fence about chatting with your readers/followers even when they’re basically sitting right next to you? Do you feel it’s too much effort to share or comment or begin a dialogue and instead choose to ignore them? If so, you’re missing out on a tremendous experience!

Ms. Hedlund writes that she’s

“…observed a disturbing trend among the writing community on social media sites–the lack of interaction.” and that “…particularly Twitter–has become one big infomercial.”

She’s talking about spamming, of course. Where writers or wanna-be-writers do nothing but post promotional tweets sometimes as often as a dozen times a day filling their followers Twitter feeds with nothing but spam. There is no interaction. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a personal tweet or even a response tweet to anyone in their feed. They don’t want to share themselves nor do they care about who follows them, as long as they can promote their book. They are all about quantity of followers (Facebook way of life) rather than quality of followers (Twitter way of life). All they want are sales, fame, and fortune, and they want them NOW. 😦

Here’s an Image For You

When I see these sorts of tweets in my Twitter feed, I imagine someone standing outside their home on their porch waving a bright orange flag with a megaphone yelling, “BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! I’LL JUST DIE IF YOU DON’T BUY MY BOOK!!”

Of course, all of the neighbors are safely tucked away inside their homes hoping this lunatic will simply shut up and leave them alone. I mean, after all, who does he think he is asking us to buy his book when he’s never shown an interest of any kind towards them? Snap goes the blinds. In Twitter’s case, the Unfollow button works just fine.

Now, I don’t think that’s the image this writer realizes he’s conjuring for his followers. In his desperation, assumptions are made (right or wrong). Those assumptions usually include the following: he is a self-published author that hasn’t bothered to invest time in numerous edits and re-writes, nor invest money into professional editing or strong cover art, and certainly hasn’t done his homework on marketing and social media. He’s probably not worth a read. Ouch.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New writers (or anyone new to social media with a product or service to sell) need to realize you are there to connect *not* to sell. If you do connect, you’ll automatically sell. How much? Well, that depends on many unknown and known factors, plus a good deal of luck. Even the Big Six Publishers realize there is an “unknown” factor involved. You just never know what will truly resonate with the public and motivate them to buy a book (or any product).

Fully Interacting and Being Successful on Twitter

I realize we live in a culture of instant gratification and there are many new writers seeking, nay demanding, instant fame and financial success with their blog or their self-publishing endeavor. They are panicked and desperate for attention and sales. This is very unfortunate. They are missing what social media really is about: a way to globally connect with people, not just ‘follow’ or be ‘followed’. And, in order to connect, you must interact.

Personally, I love Twitter and have carried on many successful discussions and worthwhile chats via this social media platform. And for those who continue to say Twitter isn’t good for such things? I politely say to  them, “You’re wrong. That is not my experience. I have lots of valuable, fun, helpful conversations with people on Twitter!”

Once you start a conversation, it’s easy to continue it! Even a simple back-and-forth of “Love your post about…couldn’t agree more!” and/or “Thank you!” establishes a rapport. 🙂

I have chatted with astronomers, gardeners, well-known writers/authors, literary agents, publishers, moms and dads, successful bloggers, HR people (in Australia!), tech people, and many more intelligent, thought-provoking, helpful, successful, and articulate people on Twitter. It’s quite satisfying and a whole lot of fun!

And that is what social media is all about: sharing, helping, having fun, and establishing/creating relationships.

That’s what creates readers, followers, and traffic to your blog, site, or account. Not spamming. Not sending out a dozen tweets all within two minutes in the hope of “trying to keep up blog traffic every day.” That writer will remain anonymous. I tried to discreetly (via DM) tell him what he was doing was considered spam and most people won’t click through to read one of those 12 posts much less ANY of them when you flood their Twitter feed like that. It just doesn’t work that way.

But, interacting takes time!

Yes, it does but not as much time as you think it does. Set your timer and spend 15 minutes catching up on your Twitter feed. You can respond to a few people in only 30 seconds. Then, post 2-3 times a day about your day, your pet, your editing, your writing. Once a week, promote your book tactfully. On your Twitter profile page, make sure you have your site or blog url address so people can click through to see who this nice and/or interesting person is and what they write! It’s quite do-able. 🙂

It’s like that adage: Do what you love and the money will follow. Well, write about what you love (and be sincere/authentic), and people will follow. Forget about sales and fame. Begin a blog or Twitter account because you want to connect, because you’re curious, because you see it as a fun adventure!

Don’t do it if your primary reason is to get sales. Even major companies are finding out about that flaw. Build a relationship with your customers and you’ll have customers for life. Don’t…and you won’t. It’s really that simple.

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Who’s Been Sleeping…Errr…Digging Up My Flower Beds?

I’m surprised I haven’t shattered our windows and given myself a bloody hand when I bang on them to scare these rascals away from my plants and flower boxes. Tapping no longer works. Unfortunately, they just keep coming back but man, can they jump!

I’ve been trying to capture a photo of the dirt-digging, dirt-flinging perpetrators for a while now. Finally, I got one!!! I actually ended up with a series of photographs.

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To dissuade these guys, I’ve tried chili powder in a soap spray, and a peppermint soap spray, all to no avail. Cute as they are, these darn squirrels keep coming back and digging up my flowers anywhere I plant: in window boxes, in containers on my porch, even the flowers I plant in the ground are dug up!

I know that sometimes they are burying the acorns from the oak tree in our front yard but most of the time, they’re not carrying anything in their tiny scrawny hands. I swear they can’t remember where the hell they’ve planted their stash, and they don’t care what they dig up to find it.

There are so many sandy holes in my yard, you could play miniature golf for hours.

For this reason, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have any kind of garden without some sort of cage around it to keep the squirrels out. Back to the drawing board…or sketch pad!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Mystery Animals Came Out After The Rain!

It’s still pouring outside from Tropical Storm Debby but yesterday when we had a brief break from the rain, I went to get the mail and discovered tiny creatures hopping all over the street!

When I first saw movement out of the corner of my eyes, I thought the fluttering was tiny bits of leaves knocked down from the downpours but my mind dismissed that almost immediately. My eyes zoomed into one dark spot an arm’s length away only to have it move before I got a good look. I followed and saw this:

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As my eyes adjusted to their forms, I scanned the road for more. There were dozens of these tiny frogs all over the road. I yelled for my husband and quickly asked him to have our son bring out my camera.

I still haven’t figured out if they are actually frogs or toads yet and specifically, what kind. However, I am assuming since they came out after a rain, they’d be frogs…right? Or did the heavy rains disrupt a nest of toads and they had to flee for drier ground?

I’m still searching so if anyone can tell me which type of frogs or toads these are (here in Florida), I would love to have you comment. Thanks! 🙂

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

The Night Before Delivery

(A nod to Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.)

The Night Before Delivery

Twas the night before delivery
When all through our home
We were sweating, trying to sleep
but tossing and turning, dreaming of gnomes.

The area was cleared, laundry was done and removed
For we had received a phone call with news…oh, what news!

What had planned to be a Wednesday delivery
Had been moved up to Tuesday. Oh gee!

So Hubby in his boxers and I in my pj’s
Had finally settled down for a cozy night of sleep…NAY!

When out in the driveway there sounded a loud beep!
I rushed to the kitchen and made ready to greet.

Opening the garage door I threw up the switch
Turned on the light and I began to twitch!

***

The sun on the pavement and bright white truck & van
Made my heart flutter as my eyes tried to scan.

Hark! What to my tired and bleary eyes should appear?
But a van and two trucks with five workmen in gear.

With a tall young driver, so prompt and polite
I knew in a moment, everything would be alright.

More rapid than greyhounds, introductions were made.
And he pointed and shouted and called them by name.

“Here’s Todd. Now Dave! Now Michael and Dixon!
Now on to the plans we have for a fixin’.
To the inside of the garage and the side of the house!
We need to detach, remove, install and replace for her spouse!”

As bees set to work on cleaning the hive
When they carry the debris to the outside,
So on to the old units the workmen encroached
With a truck full of tools and the Supervisor’s approach.

And then in a flurry, I heard the men chatter
Then the clinking and clanking of wrenches and hammer.

As I withdrew to my home, and was closing the door
The Supervisor quickly said, “There is more!”

***

He was dressed in his uniform, so clean and so pressed
A striking comparison to me who was so rumpled and depressed.

A clipboard and pen were ready at hand,
He went over the details, waved over my land.

***

His eyes were so bright! His smile so happy!
His demeanor so nice! Whereas I was quite flappy!

His voice was too pleasant for me at this early time.
And I almost swore that he may have mimed!

But the clipboard he held with pen tight in his hand
Was bouncing and moving as if in a band.

He told me of supplies, measurements, time, and expectations.
With barely 5 hours of sleep, I’m not sure I heard all the information.

He was fairly thin and agile, a right pleasing good fellow.
And I laughed when he told me I would soon be able to mellow.

A flick of his head to his workers, the four
And he was off for supplies for an hour or more.

When he came back with supplies, the workers they pounced.
They were ready to finish. They grabbed, strolled and bounced.

And turning again, he drove off with a wave,
And I turned and walked wistfully back into my cave.

***

Then the team called me out, the new HVAC was installed!
And they all drove away. I was so glad I called.

 And I heard their comments so clear in my head,
“Happy Sleeping to you!” The four of them said.

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.


You Think You’re Hot?

This is what I’ve been using to cool off over the past several days as outdoor temperatures have been between 90 & 93 degrees putting our indoor temperatures in an un-air-conditioned house at 88 & 90 degrees.

See the ice cubes? No? That’s ’cause they melted already!

Sitting outside to get cool with a wet paper towel draped around my neck and my feet gleefully playing in this tub of cold water wasn’t too bad but in the evening, the heat was unbearable.

It’s difficult to sleep when it’s still 80 degrees inside with all the windows open! The outside temperature has been getting down to about 66, maybe 70 but the wind hasn’t been in our favor so our house never cooled down below 80 degrees. Hard to fall asleep when you’re breaking into a sweat.

Actually, I was doing pretty well for about 6 out of the 7 weeks. Right up until about a week ago and yesterday (or the day before?), I told my husband, “That’s it! I’ve reached my limit!” As record-breaking temperatures sky-rocketed to 93-94 degrees, it was just too much.

My office was 90 degrees. My hair a frizzy mess (ahh, humidity, my archenemy), and my impression of the Wicked Witch of the West was dead-on although instead of screaming, “I’m melting! I’m melting!” I was whimpering “I’m wilted! I’m wilted!” But the effect was pretty much the same as I sank into my office chair letting it de-pump into the lowest position so I could plunk my head on my desk.

And then…it happened. We got a phone call saying our delivery and installation would be a day earlier than planned. That may not sound like much to some but at this point, it was wonderful, miraculous news to us!

And so…I give you…in my next post…The Night Before Delivery. Enjoy!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Continuing Signs of Spring

One of the most pleasurable experiences about walking is finding some beautiful plants and flowers to photograph! I can walk throughout my neighborhood or simply drive to a new one and come home with fresh ideas, a sense of appreciation and wonder, and some great photos like the ones below.

This full and trailing honeysuckle is not only gorgeous to look at but fragrant as well. I love catching a hint of the scent as I walk by.

The above is, I think, some sedum, a ground cover with star-like flowers. If anyone knows differently, please comment below. It’s a wondrous mass of yellow color.

This bright red/orange amaryllis stood proud and tall next to several others that were not yet fully bloomed. How *does* it stay so straight with that much weight on top? Amazing.

Here’s a close-up of the fully bloomed amaryllis.

Here’s another amaryllis that was just showing off its magnificent bloom. The size of this flower is impressive!

Where do you take some of your best nature or flower photographs? In your neighborhood, in a park, or in your window? I’d love to know! 🙂

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.