Saturday, August 20, 2016

Lost and Found

We had a bit of a scare at our house last evening. At dinnertime, when I let Barley out the front door, a Black Snake slithered in. I screamed bloody murder, and Don came running. He trapped the snake with his boot while I went after the loppers; then I retreated, shaken, to the kitchen as he dispatched the snake. It was a mature Black Snake, not huge, but a good 2 feet long.

The calamity averted, we looked for Barley. Since coming to us last December, except when we've taken him places, he's never been out of sight of the house. He spends most of his time in the house with us, but sometimes we call him our driveway dog, because when we walk in the woods, he always runs home ahead of us, as if drawn to the house with a large magnet, and waits in the driveway. But last night, we didn't see him anywhere. Nor did he respond to our calling. Alarmed, Don noticed that the deer were still grazing on the north side of the house, so we knew he hadn't gone that way.  

Don got the pickup, and I joined him, and we headed for the road. At the highway, we saw where Barley had dropped his favorite stick. We thought he could be headed for Don's brother's place, a mile away, but Barley is not savvy about cars, and anything could happen. Across the highway and up the hill on the county road opposite ours, we found him, 1/4 mile from home, looking lost and lonely at the side of the road. With great relief, I got out of the truck and wrapped him in my arms, then he willingly jumped in the back seat, and rode with us back home. Once there, he sniffed the front door with great interest, then settled back into his routine, seemingly as relieved to be back home as we were to have him.

We trembled when we thought of the other possible outcomes for Barley.  But it's comforting to know that the God who watches over us doesn't confine His interest to people, He sees every bird that falls, He cares about every creature He has made, and He certainly cares about Barley.
In His hand is the life of every creature,
and the breath of every human being.
Job 12:10

First posted on 8/17/10

Friday, July 29, 2016

Save My Plant

Do you remember the girl in the 90's who lived in a redwood tree for two years to save it from getting cut down? In our yard, all it takes to save a plant is one tree frog.

It's like this--tidy gardening has never been my forte; I'm often hesitant about pulling weeds. Please don't jump to the conclusion that I'm lazy; it's just that the perennial question nags at me: "could this be a flower?"

In the flower bed in front of the house, there is a four foot mystery plant, and it looks out of place--a slender stalk with leaves but no blossoms, a full foot taller than the others. Since we have company coming tomorrow, I finally took out my pruners. This was the day it was going down.

Then, just as I was positioned to make the fatal cut, I saw it. Poised on a leaf on the tall, silly plant, was one very cute tree frog.

Ce sempre domani. There's always tomorrow.

Linking with Saturday's Critters

First posted on 7/25/10

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Five Things to Love about Blurb Trade Books

When I wanted to self publish a short story recently, I went to Blurb, my favorite online custom book publisher, to see what formats were available. I chose to do a 5" x 8" trade book. Here's what I liked about the experience:

1. Ease of the Bookmaking Process

Book wright is Blurb's free application for bookmaking, and I found it intuitive and a pleasure to work with.

2. Price

The price of these trade books is reasonable; in fact, before I factored in the shipping cost, it seemed almost too good to be true. The smallest of their 3 trade books, in soft cover, standard color, 24 pages, is $7.47 plus shipping, which varies depending on where you live. The shipping to me in Missouri was $5.99 (I think west coast residents get off a little cheaper) and the tax was $0.89, bringing the total to $11.74, which still doesn't seem bad considering this is a small run of a custom book. Additional pages are available for an additional cost per page.

You can see the price options here; the most economical option, Economy B&W, is $2.49 per book.

Blurb has volume discounts for as few as 10 books, with frequent other discounts on their website.

3. Quality

I chose Standard Color Printing, which uses a medium weight matte paper that allows little bleed through. The printed text is sharp and clear, and my black and white photos are of good quality. I have yet to try color photos.

(Blurb's photo books have more and better quality paper options; they are also more expensive.)

4. Responsive customer service

When I had a question about the process, Blurb's customer service via e-mail was quick, friendly, and easy to understand.

5. Ease of Setting Up Book Sales

Blurb makes book selling available online through their bookstore, which is easy to set up. These little books make great gifts, and even if you're not anticipating many sales, if you post it in their bookstore, you can make the book available for viewing online in a nifty page-turning format.

For those who are serious about selling their books, there are also the options of selling them on, Ingram, or Apple iBooks.

My book is a simple story of faith's beginning in the heart of one small girl. And that girl was me. You can see it here:Heart Change by Connie Smiley

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Clouds Hang Poised

The Clouds Hang Poised

Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of Him who is perfect in knowledge?
Job 37:16

Linking with Skywatch Friday

Friday, July 8, 2016

Day Job

Gray Vulture

A faint tapping sound came from upstairs, like the sound of someone knocking on the window. When I went up to investigate, I saw a Black Vulture at the large window in the living room, tapping softly. I was pretty sure I knew what it wanted.

About a week earlier, Don, bless his heart, had hit the wall about the squirrels that were taking over our bird feeder. It's squirrel hunting season here, and Don's a hunter, so I'll let you fill in the blanks. Having eaten his share of squirrels in his youth from necessity, and not from love of the meat, Don opted to donate these to our local clean up crew, the vultures. For a while, every morning, one squirrel was disappearing from the feeder and appearing, belly up, on a tall stump out from the kitchen. The vultures were efficient at disposal.

But now there had been a two day absence of squirrel meat, and the vulture at the window seemed to be asking politely, 
"Did you forget something?"

The next day, and for some time since then, there have been two Black Vultures here regularly. 
They are a lot like pets, in that they expect to be fed. 

Unlike Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures are almost handsome, with their amour-like head gear and white stockings. 

They perch on our deck... 

preen themselves...

drink from the birdbath...

lounge on the stump where the squirrels have appeared...

stretch, and generally make themselves comfortable.

 One of them even tried to take a bite of our door mat.  
It may have been a ploy for sympathy, as in "See how hungry I am?" 

Occasionally, they get demanding, flying up and striking the window with force, but for the most part, they are friendly, and even let us join them on the deck if we stay quietly in our corner.

Of course, with all this activity, squirrels are not coming around as much. The vultures haven't seemed to figure out that their frequent presence is contrary to their interests. So, until they do, we'll enjoy the entertainment. Soon enough, they'll get hungry and find it necessary to return to their regular day jobs--policing this area's highways, county roads, farms and woodlands for opportunities to put on their bibs and get back to work.