Archive | 4:09 pm

A good day at the feeders!

22 Jun

Yesterday was about the weirdest weather day I can remember.  We are under the influence of an unusual weather pattern.  For whatever reason, hot, dry air is swirling up to us from the desert southwest.  Our temperatures are crazy hot and our weather is just not acting normally at all.  Yesterday, I was working on my computer and the kids came running in the house saying, “It’s raining!”  Remember, folks, this is California.  We don’t get rain in the summer.  We get 3 months of nearly solid torrential rain and that has to last us all year.  I figured a neighbor had lost control of his hose and was spraying over into our yard.  I walked outside and it was like summer in Texas.  It was raining at my house but not across the street.  Up above us was one tiny little black cloud. It was 90F and raining in my driveway. We stood out in it and enjoyed it for the 3 minutes it lasted.

Later in the day, we headed down into Santa Cruz to visit The Birdfeeder.  The drive was memorable.  First of all, I was an idiot to drive into Santa Cruz on a beach day.  It was 110F in San Jose and half of that city decided to go to the beach.  The second reason it was memorable was that there were a lot more than one little black cloud in the sky.  There were lots and lots of them and I could see it raining down over the Monterey Bay.  Except for the vista of the bay spread before me, it looked like driving through the southwest.  And, then, the lightning started.  Now, again, we don’t get summer storms here in California.  I know some of you are sick to tears of summer storms right now but they just don’t happen here.  My kids couldn’t remember ever having seen lightning before — they were thrilled.  I was thrilled for them but also very worried.  We’ve had 3 wildfires in this county already this year (the last one looks like arson and 15 homes were lost along with countless big animals that rescuers couldn’t get to in time).  Lightning isn’t our friend — and, in fact, it sparked off 14 fires.  Thankfully, none of them got out of control.

Photo by
Star Lit Lotus

All of which is a long way of saying that I got birdseed yesterday.  I have been a bad and neglectful birdfeeder lately.  I haven’t deserved the wonderful birds I’ve been seeing lately.  So, I had to fix that.  This morning, the pgymy nuthatches got me going.  They were begging for food.  So, I brought all the feeders in and cleaned them and refilled them and hung them.  Yay me.

Clean & Refilled feeders

Well, they were clean!
Well, they WERE clean!

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Handsome boy
Black-headed Grosbeak (June 2007)

So, all my birds are happy again.  In fact, Mr Black-headed Grosbeak brought Mrs Black-headed Grosbeak in for a snack today.  She was too skittish to relax and eat but she was there so that was a real treat.  Last year, they brought their fledgling in, too.  I feel as if the birds rewarded me for my hard work.


Weekend Wordsmith: Storyteller

22 Jun

The art of telling a story to children is complicated.  Telling a story to anyone is complicated but telling a story to children is more so.  Children are at once eager to believe and suspicious.  They want to be swept up in your words but they don’t want to seem foolish either.  There are amazing storytellers.  I am not one of them.

When I tell a story to children, I usually forget to plan ahead.  My stories start out well but I don’t know where I am going with them and I end up in trouble.  How can the ogre escape the trap laid by the villain?  I don’t know — it’s a darn good trap but I already made the kids fall in love with the ogre.  I rarely want to use a storytelling moment to push children into an understanding of the harsh realities of the “real world.”  Good storytellers plan ahead.

When I tell a story to children, I usually forget to have a point.  The best stories have a message, a meaning, a theme, a moral.  My moral may change as the story goes along — I start out telling a story about how good children go to bed on time but suddenly it’s a story about a clean room being a good thing and ends up being a story about how doing what your mother tells you to do is always the right choice.  A little ambiguity goes a long way to ruining an otherwise good story.  Good storytellers have a message.

When I tell a story to children, I usually forget to make it funny.  Kids like funny.  Kids listen to funny.  Kids remember funny.  Funny is hard though and serious is a bit easier — at least for me.  Good storytellers are funny.

When I tell a story to children, I usually forget to make it familiar.  Children love stories that seem familiar with a twist.  There is comfort in the familiar.  They know what will happen (or do they?) but don’t know how we’ll get there or what will happen along the way.  Good storytellers build on the familiar.

When I tell a story to children, I usually forget to savor it and enjoy the telling of it.  I forget that my enjoyment in the telling will translate into their enjoyment in the hearing.  Feeling rushed is a reality for parents and teachers but not one we should pass along to our children during story time. Good storytellers enjoy telling stories.

Storytelling is an art and a craft.  I hope to be a good storyteller one day.

More works by Weekend Wordsmiths.
All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License