January 2012

Life is Good

Today I hammered out most of a script upon my agent’s request. It is eighty pages, aimed for 5-7 year olds, required multiple cups of coffee, and at one point features a small sheep standing in a Viking longboat screaming “Valhalla, I am coming!”

Even if it doesn’t sell, the fact that this is my job makes me just unbearably pleased with life.

(Don’t ask, I don’t know, no, it hasn’t sold yet, it is still in infancy, there is no publication date or probability, and I will let you all know as soon as I know anything concrete.)


My Dad and stepmom are moving to Atlanta! Yay! They’ll actually be close enough for holiday visits and stuff, as opposed to flying out every couple of years to Phoenix. I will admittedly miss the excuse to visit AZ, which is one of my favorite places, but I’ll stoked that they’ll be within driving distance!

I have been trying to think of the things you warn non-Southerners about when moving to the South. All I’ve got is “Do you know what the humidity is like?” and “Okra is a cruel trap perpetrated on the unsuspecting.” Since I only know Atlanta in passing, I’m not sure what to warn them about there…granted they’re from Maricopa County, the politics can’t be much more reactionary…

Great Horned Owl Mask II

I'm an owl!

This is my second Great Horned Owl Mask, and pretty similar to the first, except that I added more gray to the feather design and darkened the bottom of the white eye circles, because…err…seemed like a good idea at the time.

As promised, this one goes to e-bay, because I have no idea how to price these, and am hoping the market can figure it out.

I’m noodling around with a few other designs as we speak, including a snowy owl, although I have no idea if that one will come out. It’s white. I hate painting white. Grrr.

Buy the owl!

Wrenglow Goes To E-bay!

Since there was some significant interest in this one, I’m sending it to e-bay!

(Auction starts a bit higher than usual on this one, because it’s a fairly large piece by my standards– 8 x 16–and I am absurdly proud of it and would cry a little if it went for less than that.)

I will also be auctioning the second of the great horned owl masks off here shortly–just gotta wait for the glue on the strap holders to dry…


I keep trying to find ways to paint birds, a way that I feel like I’m doing some justice to them, but not just churning out Yet Another Wildlife Portrait. I still don’t know if I’ve found it, but this one came out kinda neat.

8 x 12, mixed media over digital

Scanning this one was a bear. The blue glow is not quite so stark on the original, and the colors blend more smoothly into the background–the india ink is reflecting the light differently than the colored pencil, and that makes the scanner go into a tizzy. I had to do a lot of tweaking, and while this is close, the original is subtler. The alternative, however, involves tripods and swearing and lighting and I shudder to contemplate it.

Prints available, original for sale, drop a line for pricing and availability and all that.

Home again, home again…

Well, it was a distant look at the snowy owls, but we got it!

Also I’m home, etc, nothing caught fire, the beagle is fine, Ben began head-butting me so intensely that he nearly gave me a nosebleed. On to more important things!

The ice was pretty dire, but our hosts were Canadian, so we set out on the road in search of bookstores to sign at and birds to track down. Tina, our hostess, is a fabulous birder and managed to snag me no less than 25 life birds, despite weather that would drive lesser mortals to huddle by the fire with a hot toddy and a travel guide to the Bahamas. (This puts me at a whopping 277 birds. I have high hopes that a trip to Texas in April may put me over 300.)

The snow drove varied thrushes down from the mountains, so for a brief period they were as common as robins everywhere we went. A snowy walk when we couldn’t get very far out of the house got me a hyperactive Townsend’s warbler, and there were wigeons, cackling geese, buffleheads and a ring-necked duck all hunkered down on a nearby pond.

The next day we made it out of the city (which was good, because it got us away from the majority of panicky motorists) to a ferry, which yielded such delights as pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants, a Barrow’s Goldeneye, rhino auklets, and surf and white-wing scoters, as well as a look at a Common Goldeneye that finally got it off my BVD list.* (Most of this was from-the-car birding, because it was pretty wretched out—we’d spot from the car, then get out with scopes if there was something worth scoping.)

We were driving down a road that cut through large fields and saw such an amazing show that Tina quickly pulled over on the shoulder. A crow was dogfighting a peregrine falcon—serious, flip-over-in-the-air-with-claws-out kind of stuff—and the crow was winning. Into the middle of this lumbers an adult bald eagle. The peregrine decides that it will take that crap from a crow, but not from an eagle, and goes after the eagle. The crow decides that the peregrine is now sufficiently distracted from whatever the crow was grumpy about and quits the field, while the falcon harassed the eagle away into the trees on the edge of the field.

Well, it was pretty awesome. We agreed that even with common birds, it was worth watching. Tina started the car up again and that’s when we discovered that the shoulder was not actually a shoulder, but a lot of snow piled up to look like a shoulder to motorists. All-wheel drive will save you if there’s a tire actually on asphalt, but we were well and truly boned. The car slid and wiggled into the ditch. I got out and pushed. Two passing motorists got out and pushed. The car wallowed deeper into the snow.

At this point we spotted that extremely rare bird, The Kindness of Strangers, because not one but THREE cars stopped for us. Two of them were large trucks. One of the drivers lived just up the block and had a tow rope at home, so he leaped back in the truck (accompanied by two interested German shepherds) got the tow rope, and came back. The owner of an even larger truck pulled up in the interim, and with these two gentlemen working under the car, they managed to get the rope attached, the car hauled out, and restore my faith in humanity for at least a month.

Our time in the ditch was actually put to good use. It was late enough in the day that the light was starting to fail and the owls got up and hunting. I got both a short-eared owl and a PAIR of snowys cruising over the fields hunting for dinner, interrupted by occasional trumpeter swans.

The final trek was to Ocean Shores, home to an emperor goose, a king eider, and more snowys. We got none of them, because the storm was so massive that it drove the waves over the jetties in huge gouts of spray and washed out the walkways, driving the eider and the goose to more sheltered homes. But we did manage a few interesting birds, and we got more checking various spots like sewage ponds (always a great location) which turned up various peeps and a harrier taking a dunlin right out of the air. A final drive down the coast turned up more grebes and loons, a marbled godwit, and somewhat unusually for the time and place, a pair of Western bluebirds. (They would normally be on the other side of the mountains, and while they’re spotted occasionally out by the coast, January’s an odd season for it.)

Kevin came out with us on the last trek to experience Guerrilla Birding first hand. I believe the high point of his day was a nap in the back seat. Otherwise it was a lot of jargon, driving in the car, getting out of the car, standing in winds so cold your tears froze on your cheeks, getting back in the car, listening to more jargon, etc. Having made the absolute effort to comprehend my freakish hobby, I hereby publicly absolve him of all birding duties that do not involve accompanying me to places to keep away serial killers.

And then we came home. I devoutly hope that my next trek out there will not be so hedged about with business and bad weather that I can actually do another meet and greet and see some friends, but for deathly weather, we didn’t do bad at all.


*Better View Desired—i.e, you’ve seen the bird, it’s an ID all right, but it was so far off that you don’t feel like you’ve really experienced the bird. I have a fair number of these.

Prisoner of the Great White North

So I got into Seattle last night around nine, found the city paralyzed with snow, and managed with the aid of a disgruntled cab driver, to get to our friend Tina’s. (Actually, the cab driver, who thought I should have gotten a hotel, that Kevin should have come to meet me, that snow was a cruel joke perpetrated by an unkind god, etc, got me as far as a Jack-In-The-Box parking lot. Tina and Kevin came and rescued me from death by ice. This was very kind of them.)

This morning, freezing rain has left a quarter-inch of ice on every surface, and most of our plans for birding and work and so forth have been completely kiboshed, what with the inability to leave the house and all.

But all is not lost! There is a varied thrush on the feeder, visible just outside the window as I write, and a varied thrush is arguably the most spectacular bird you’ve never heard of. There is also a chesnut-backed chickadee, a cavalcade of Oregon juncos, two of the coldest and surliest Anna’s hummingbirds ever (Tina keeps going out to unfreeze the feeder for them) and a spotted towhee so magnificent that he is like the platonic ideal of a spotted towhee.

The thrush, though, is incredible. Dude. What a bird.

Hopefully we will be out of deep-freeze tomorrow and able to go on the hunt for the emperor goose, king eider, and snowy owls that may be available, but for the moment, I am just seriously in awe of that thrush.

Travelling, Travelling…

Off to the Great White North, hopefully to spot a snowy owl (or at least not get snowed in.) It’s a whirlwind business/birding trip, so I’m getting minimal socializing in, but we’ll almost certainly be back later this year, and hopefully can do more hanging out.

In the meantime, I am now Ready For Spring. I was mulching in Hello Kitty pajamas yesterday. (Yes, that will be the title of my memoir.) My brain would like to get into Serious Gardening Mode now. I am being forced to read gardening books to stay sane. They aren’t helping.

Spring, damn you!


So Kevin’s off on a business trip for a bit, and I’m engaging in the usual behaviors that make me feel better when he’s out of town, like checking the locks eight hundred times, turning on a radio in every room in the house, and eating takeout crab rangoon. (Yes, I know it’s not real crab. It may not even be real rangoon. I don’t care.) There is a large, sad dog in the downstairs hallway staring fixedly at the door in hope that his god will return at any moment. There is a regular-sized, amiable beagle wandering around hoping that Kevin is dead so that he (the beagle) can assume the preeminent place in my affections. I decide to leave them to their respective dreams and take a hard cider and a gardening book and go have a hot bath.

While I am sitting on the toilet waiting for the tub to fill and the bubble bath to become more than a few sad suds, Angus (aka Little Orange Cat) jumps up on the edge of the tub and peers in. I have take a hot bath at least once a week for the entire four years that Angus and I have lived together, and usually he’s not this interested.

Before I have time to wonder whether there is something of interest to cats (and thus of horror to humans—dead mouse, live mouse, giant centipede, etc) in the tub, Ben swaggers into the bathroom and glances up at a Little Orange Butt hanging in the air over his head.

Without even pause for thought—except perhaps “Thank you, Bastet!”—Ben sat up on his haunches and smacked Angus very hard on the butt.

Well, he jumped, of course. Into the tub. Full of about four inches of water. There was a blur of orange fur and very wide eyes as he did that amazing levitation act that only cats above water can manage, tried to jump out, skidded, jumped again, skidded again, and finally managed to get out of the tub. I was very glad that I hadn’t been in it at the time, as I would probably look like I’d fought with a Cusinart. Once his paws were under him, he was gone from the bathroom faster than the human eye could follow. Somewhere in the house, as I write, there is a very wet and very embarrassed Little Orange Cat. I do not expect to see him for some time.

Ben stalked over and flopped down on the bathroom scale, which he owns. I prefer this, as it gives me an excuse not to obsess over my weight in the morning. (Well, sure, I could check, but it would upset the cat! C’mon!) He looked smug. I love him very, very much, but as Kevin frequently says “You know, your cat is kind of an asshole.”

Yes. Yes, he is.

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