Tag Archives: Kids

Dogs, Birds and Mysteries. Or What Blogging Can Do to You.

After a few years of sitting at your computer during all kinds of odd hours, you finally become a blogger who doesn’t hesitate for days to press the scary Publish button. And you are comfortable whether or not someone reads your scribbles before they fly out into the cyber space.

Bumble at laptop

Your pile of edits for a post now averages 15 instead of preciously 50. And your images may actually pass for photographs. You enjoy the interactions within the friendly community of fellow bloggers. You make some really good friends. Then what?

mercat

I know it’s different for all of us. The professional bloggers, authors, photographers, etc. probably get better and better at their trade in the niche they have developed, and attract a huge, ever-growing following. But those of us who haven’t really decided what we want to become when we grow up, will probably be inspired to try various new things.  That’s what blogging does to us. We dare to experiment. Some pick up the brush, start painting and get really good at it. Some will become authors and publish several books. Others will become good story-tellers, photographers or graphic artists. A few will dip their toes into various creative pots. The Indecisives. I would be one of those. But then, I predicted that when I started blogging three years ago. I said my blog would be multifaceted. That sounds a whole lot better.

So after writing countless professional articles, reports and a few boring books to bring home the bacon, I tried my hand as a novelist.  Last year I published “Confessions of a Rescue Dog”, a fictional story based on Bumble’s life as a rescue dog. I’m happy to say it got fairly good reviews, even editorial ones, and has brought in a few $$$ to help homeless dogs, cats, birds and rabbits to find forever homes.

One day last summer, my good friend Jackie asked me to design book covers for her new mystery series “DeeDee Watson, PI Series”.  That was another first, but since I’ve been dabbling with digital art occasionally, I bravely said I would try.

Jackie published “The Canine Caper” in August! It is a delightful short story available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book. It introduces the mystery series and its main characters: Dee, a Private Investigator and Tee, her canine sidekick, among others. A quick, fun read!

the canine caper picture

At the end of October Jackie published the second story in the series. “A Case of Deceit” is a full length murder mystery, and is available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book, and as a paperback. This novel takes the reader on a wild ride on Dee’s Harley and by other means, in pursuit of the killer. You’ll love the many twists and turns, and the cast of quirky characters!

a case of deceit picture

And then, inspired by many encouraging comments on the salt marsh series, I wanted to experiment with children’s books. I have just published two small photo books for kids on Blurb. This type of publishing is very expensive, so these books are for sale in softcover at production price. I feel it’s important to spark kids’ interest in the many small miracles in the natural world early on in life.

The first book is written for small kids, up to KG age, and introduces baby birds and juveniles with beautiful photos and a simple narrative. A nice bedtime read.
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The second book is little more elaborate, intended for kids from KG through Elementary School. It presents bird families and their adventures at the salt marsh with a fun and educative narrative and almost 50 full color photographs.

AdventuresoftheSaltMarshBirds cover

I am now working on transforming these photo books to Amazon kids books. The Kindle versions will be interactive photobooks, but due to the paper quality, the paperback editions will need to have cheerful illustrations. Both books/editions will be much more affordable, and hopefully bring joy and learning to more kids.

Please check the Firdemonte Press page for more information on these books and on all the other stuff that’s cooking. Or click on the book covers to buy now 😀

mercat 2

What an ongoing adventure blogging is! I had no idea. I just wish I had more time to dedicate to all these creative facets of life, and to enjoy the great variety of inspirational reads I always find on your blogs. Thank you for being here. Much love.

Scary True Stories. Told Ahead of Halloween. Just In Case.

I’m definitely an implant as far as Halloween is concerned. Growing up in northern Europe, I never knew spooky and scary things were supposed to happen on a certain day, or even in a certain month. Instead, I grew up knowing that 1st of November was All Saints’ Day. Cemeteries would look peaceful with candles burning on the graves of departed loved ones on the Eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31st. There was nothing spooky about that.

So on my first Halloween in the US, just three months after we’d arrived here, I was not prepared for what was to come. I got off the bus a couple of blocks from home, tired after a stressful work day, when a glowing skeleton ran towards me on the darkened suburban street. Spooky. And as it came closer, it spread its arms, ready to grab me.

Instead the skeleton hugged me. And then it spoke. My son’s voice, no doubt. He had already caught on to the local customs and was on his way to trick-or-treat with his new friends. I realized the whole neighborhood was spooky. Ghosts and skeletons hung from the trees. Carved pumpkins threw a ghostly light on the manicured lawns through their hollow eyes and irregular teeth. I had never seen anything like that. It felt rather silly to me as I was still mulling over the outcome of my last meeting. On a very ordinary Monday night. But then, I was no longer a kid.

Not that I was a stranger to skeletons. I actually had one as my front seat passenger when I drove through Addis Ababa to a health care conference a few years earlier. The skeleton had been our guest for a couple of days before the event, so I felt compelled to provide him transport to the venue. I had lovingly made him a hoodie out of a bedsheet for this chilly January day. And I did put his seat belt on. He sat there silently next to me as we navigated our way through this lively city. A few pedestrians spotted my pale passenger, and there was some finger pointing. But we arrived safely. He did his job and I did mine. We even posed for a photo together before our ways parted. So I was used to skeletons. Sort of.

Tiny with a skeletonBut the first Halloween was embarrassing. I didn’t have large stacks of candy for the many trick-or-treaters, who knocked on our door. But luckily I always kept a small stash of treats in my pantry. That lasted for an hour. I was not up to any tricks so I had to put the lights out when my candy was gone. A real outlier. But I was a quick study. The following year I had both pumpkins and candy. Whole pumpkins on the stairs. And wrapped candy in a basket.

However, my scariest spooky experience was not on a Halloween. You see, such things can actually happen any time. This was years earlier. In the dark underground city of the dead. In the catacombs under the city of Rome.

When I walked down there, in those long, narrow, winding tunnels surrounded by damp earth, stone or ancient brick, I was moved far back in human history. To the dark times of persecution. I could feel the suffering in those walls. All my senses we spooked. And the skeletons, skulls and other reminders of those who died or were buried there added to the scary and somewhat claustrophobic experience.

All roads lead to Rome, as they say.  If yours does too, the catacombs may be the place to visit. In the unlikely event that your Halloween is not scary enough.

So what am I going to do this Halloween? You guessed it, right? Visit the salt marsh, of course. In case you don’t see an update on my feathered friends over the weekend, I might’ve been caught in the web of this glowing giant spider. Just so you know.

Well ahead of this upcoming scary walk, I wish you all Happy Halloween and a Peaceful All Saints’ Day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half and Half (8 Images)

This week’s DP photo challenge is “Half and Half”. It leaves room for quite a bit of creativity in the interpretation. I like that. Many things in life are half and half. Even today is half rain, half shine. Different from the day last winter, when the view from my terrace was half fog, half sky.

About half of these images are newer, the other half older. Almost half of you may have seen about half of them before. But because my hard disk is only working half and half since Friday, I can’t process brand new ones right now. I’m expecting a whole new hard disk to arrive at half week. I wish everyone a great week ahead, may there be nothing half and half about it.

You can find other responses to this challenge here.

golder hour on the Gulf
The golden hour on the Gulf.  Half sky, half ocean.
juvenile backcrowned night heron half and half
A juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron. Half adult, half baby.
A crater lake in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Half crater, half lake.
A crater lake in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Half crater, half lake.
tri-colored heron portrait half and half
A Tri-colored Heron. Half in the picture, half outside the picture. Half sharp, half blurred.
two little boys on the beach
Two little boys on the beach. Half winter, half summer. One visitor, one local.
beach sunrise half and half
Sunrise on the beach. Half sand, half sky.
bumble half and half
Bumble. Half dog, half human. Or so he thinks.

Kids. They Grow Up So Fast.

There is a new batch of  Moorhen chicks in the salt marsh. I discovered them first about three weeks ago. They are truly the most difficult bunch to get to pose for camera, thanks to their protective mom. They’re hiding in the high grass and under the trees and bushes at the edge of water.

moorhen  kids hiding
Hiding…

I have gotten stiff branches in my face many times and almost fallen into the shallow water when trying to catch a clear sight of these little chicks. Acrobatic skills required my friends.

smallest moorhen chick swimming
Swimming between “islands”
small morrhen chick
Small explorations…

When they first came out of the nest for short adventures between the small islands, they were round, black fur balls.

moorhen middle chick
On the water…looking for mom

Then a week ago I spotted them again.  They had started their transformation into teenagers. You know, different hair and changes all over. Coupled with an attitude.

moorhen kid 6 where is mom
Where are you mom?!!

They adventured out on their own, but as soon as mama Moorhen was out of sight they got anxious and very loud.

the biggest moorhen kid 906
The biggest chick…a pretty teen

Then a couple of days ago I saw them again…exploring the world on their own. And discovering themselves too…marveling at their huge feet.

moorhen kid  looking at his foot
Oh, my feet are really huge…

Needless to say they were quite amusing to watch. They were still very small, less than half of the size of their mom, but already starting to lose their fluffy baby feathers.

moorhen kid aww
I’m still cute, right?

Please don’t get me wrong. They are still very cute. And a photo is worth every scratch on my legs and bur in my socks. ❤ Tiny