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Ravens are my thing . . .

6 Jan

I think the word is out that I like Ravens.  I guessed that after this Christmas.  Not only did I get that wonderful mug I shared a few days back, but I also got a beautiful Raven print from my mother.  And, then, out of the blue, a package came from a friend I only know online.  Phyllis and I have sons the same age and met through an email list of other mother’s who were due to have babies in January 2000.  The mailing list is still active although I only have time to read it occasionally.  Phyllis and I have similar interests in books and quilts and so when we both started blogging, we both supported each other’s blogs.

Phyllis is an avid sewer and used to work in a fabric store.  She makes clothes and quilts and is very, very handy with a needle and thread.  She saw this fabric with flying black birds all over it and thought of me.  She hemmed it into a scarf and sent it off to me.  I love it.  Enough to post this picture!  🙂

My new scarf!

Phyllis is also a once and future novelist.  She is the one person I know who successfully wrote her 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo.  In fact, I think she topped 75,000 words which is really a little show-offy, don’t you think?  I’d be jealous and annoyed except that she has 3 kids, including a daughter who was born in 2008.  Phyllis amazes me and gives me hope that I can do it too!

Thank you again, Phyllis!  You rock!

Where did you bird on January 1st?

2 Jan

My first bird of the New Year was, as I’d hoped, a Chestnut-backed Chickadee.  I went out around 11:30 am on New Year’s day and heard a flock of birds in the trees across the street.  I could barely see them and they were calling but not clear Chickadee calls.  I used my camera to take a picture so I could zoom in and ID them.  They were my sweet Chickadee friends.

First bird of 2009

Jet on 1-1-2009
Crisp, clear, winter sky

Later in the day, my family went out for a walk on the Santa Cruz wharf.   As we left home, a raven said good-bye to us. Beautiful, glossy, shiny, black thing.

Santa Cruz Wharf visit
Santa Cruz Wharf visit

We arrived on the coast and felt amazingly lucky to be living in beautiful California on a sunny winter day.  It was cold and breezy but there were people in the ocean.  We walked out to the end of the wharf.  We saw California Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Brandt’s Cormorants and a Pacific Loon.  The last two being Lifers for me.  (Clare will be so relieved that I have finally seen a Loon in person!)  We also had the joy of watching Sea Lions playing on the piers below the wharf.  What a great way to get my first 7 birds of the year.

Pretty Seagulls all in a row

Cormorant preening

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)

What a rough life!

After our walk, we went to see Marley and Me.  This was a beautiful, funny, sad movie.  This story reminded me so much of my first Labrador, Kashmir.  We laughed hilariously.  We cried, too.  I was pretty much sobbing as quietly as I could in the crowded theater.  My daughter and I had to have a long talk walking back to the car about why movies (and books) that make us cry are satisfying and wonderful in so many ways.  She’s been reluctant to read Black Beauty and Little Women because they are sad.  So, maybe this experience will help her to reach for some new experiences.

I hope all of you have a great first day of the year, as well.  If you need a little poetic inspriation for the new year, visit my poem published on A Handful of Stones.

For more 2009 skies in your Friday, visit Sky Watch Friday!

An Awesome Gift

23 Dec

Teachers get lots of gifts at the holidays.  Sometimes we get good gifts and sometimes not so good ones.  I have been quite lucky in my gifts.  But this year, I feel truly blessed.  One of my students has parents and grandparents who are potters.  I guess she shared with them my love of all things Raven because this was my gift from them.

Raven mug by Jen Hennig

An amazing Raven head.  He will take a place of honor in my home.  I can’t believe how fantastic he is. I suspect that she’s spent as much time admiring Ravens as I have.  I literally gasped and clutched it tightly when I opened it.  Right now it’s on the windowsill in my kitchen and I am admiring it several times a day.

I’d like to share the name of the artist and her contact information but I’m not going to in order to preserve her daughter’s privacy.

Star or Angel?

18 Dec

Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing

There is a holiday meme that makes the rounds this time of year.  One of the questions is “star or angel?”  I guess you now know where I stand.  I wonder if my husband would mind if I replaced our angel with a raven?

Actually, we do both star and angel.  Hey, it works for us.

As my kids and I left school yesterday, we saw two Christmas tree angels.  I had left my camera at home and was sick about it.  “They’ll never do that again,” I moaned to my children.  When we left today, there was one.  I ran back into my classroom to grab my camera.  The kids stood around in front of the building saying, “Hmmmmm.  Act casual.”  and “Do you have any threes?” until I got back.

When I got the shot (well, about 40 of them), they cheered and said, “Victory!  Victory!”

What goofy kids.  Still they know those ravens usually flee at the sight of my camera.  So, yes, I felt pretty victorious when I got the shot!

For more angelic skies  in your Friday, visit Sky Watch Friday!

What do you mean “It’s indoor recess?”

17 Dec

What do you mean "indoor recess"?

Ravens are our clean-up crew at school.  They vie with the crows for “yard duty.”  Despite our jokes that they might carry away a kindergartener, they are actually useful at school.  They clean up trash and food from the playground.  This useful duty almost makes up for the fact that they also poop on the railings, ransack the garbage cans, and pick bits of rubber off of cars . . . they tore up my rear windshield wiper and pecked at my sunroof seal.  Why?  I dunno.  For me, I forgive them.  I mean, just look at them.  What’s not to love?

And, I haven’t ever mentioned my theory on the “vandals” who stole a windshield wiper off a colleague’s car.  Rowdy kids?  I don’t think so . . . try rowdy corvids!

American Sentences – a form of poetry

15 Nov

Writer Allen Ginsberg created a poetry form wherein one writes a sentence that is exactly 17 syllables long.  The amazing poetry site Read.  Write.  Poem. has asked participants to write an American Sentence that will be combined into a collaborative poem.  Very fun stuff.  You can learn about American Sentences at www.americansentences.com.

Raven soaring

Here is my contribution:

A single raven flies overhead making a most raucous noise.

I can’t wait to see what the final collaborative piece of poetry will be.  I love collaborative work when it is done this way . . . in other words when someone else organizes it and I don’t have to meet with people and talk to them and share a common vision but instead we all create something we like and then we see what it turns into — it’s a very special way to create.  And, it works with my curmudegeonly writer ways.  🙂

Oh, and please note the clever way that I ensured that a bird . . . my favorite bird . . . would appear in the group poem.

©2008, Liza Lee Miller.  All rights reserved — except for Read.Write.Poem. putting it into a group poem and creating something new and wonderful with my words.

Look! An actual BIRD!

10 Oct

I promise to you, all my devoted readers . . . I think there are 3 of you now since I went on my mini-blogcation when school started . . . anyway, I promise you that I still watch birds.  It’s just that I have also been on a photocation as well which means that I haven’t been taking pictures of them and without pictures . . . do I know if I really saw them?

Intense Raven

What a zen puzzler.  If Liza sees a bird in the forest but has no camera, was she or it really there?

Anyway, I am making a conscious effort to work at it.  So, when I was walking to my car with the kids the other night and saw this lovely raven . . . I stopped my forward progress, got my camera out of the car, and took some pictures.  My children stared dumbfounded at a sight they hadn’t seen in months.  They then dropped their backpacks, took each other’s hands, and started dancing in a circle chanting “Mom is back!  Mom is back!”

Okay, I made that part up. They know better than to make that much noise near a bird I’m watching even if it is a raven who is making quite enough noise on her own.

Her own?  Why so sure it’s a her?  Well, I’m not SO sure — after all, all Ravens look alike.  I don’t think I’d know for SURE unless I saw one laying an egg.  However . . . what originally caught my attention was a male strutting his stuff on a nearby roof, puffing up his ruff, prancing back and forth, and kronking boldly.  He was quite a display.  Fall is when Ravens fall in love and reaffirm their lifelong love.  There are lots of courtship displays in the fall at my school — food sharing, nuzzling, kissing (and I’m talking about the birds here!  We don’t let the little kids act that way, thank you!).  So, I knew this gentleman was trying to impress a lady and there she was.

I don’t know though . . . does she look impressed?

Don’t miss the party!

1 Jun

Wanderin’ Weeta is throwing a House Party — it’s a BYOBB* party. Check it out! Someone brought a tasty dip of Australian Ravens and Crows — you’re gonna love that! I brought some birds from Albion. I’m also contributing my famous Killer Millerita recipe. Enjoy! But, sip it — it packs a wallop!

Fill a blender 3/4 full of ice cubes. To this add,

  • 1 can frozen Lime juice
  • 5 oz good tequila
  • 5 oz Triple Sec
  • 3 oz Blue Curacao
  • 2 oz Roses Lime Juice

Blend. Serve in glasses rimmed with lime juice and salt and
garnished with a lime slice.

(Warning, smaller blenders will need less ice or they’ll overflow!)

*Bring Your Own Bird Blog!

Widdle Beebees!

31 May

My parents live in the Sierra Nevada mountains at around 7,000 feet above sea level.  It is high desert.  Desolute and rugged and beautiful.  They love it there.  Ravens also love it there.  My parents went for a hike near their house recently and found this:

Raven Nest

A Raven’s Nest with widdle beebee Wavens in it!

Do you see those cute, little, bald, blind heads begging for food?  My mother said the noises emanating out of those little mouths was rather amazing.  Sort of a higher pitched “kronk.”  One of the parents was nearby shredding a squirrel into bits.  They didn’t want to get too close — which is why the image is blurry, they were at the full extent of their zoom — but couldn’t leave without taking a picture or ten.

When they got home, my mom called me full of the news.  I’ve never seen baby ravens.  By the time, Mom and Dad are bringing them to the playground at school, they pretty much look like Ravens.  I so wish I lived less than 5 hours away and had the leisure time to head up there and observe the ravens for a couple of weeks.

Meet Tom!

22 Mar

Peeping Tom

Meet Tom — Peeping Tom. Tom is a raven who visits my classroom everyday. He walks on a roof and looks in the window to the classroom. He kronks up there loudly. Walking back and forth in front of my window, kroking. The window is up high in my classroom which is why it’s hard for us to see Tom well.

Peeping Tom

Tom is looking at me here with particular intent because he knows that I totally beat him this time. I have been trying for weeks to get a picture of Tom to share with you all. Even though I’m in the classroom on the other side of the room, he is gone the minute I pull out my camera. Rotten bird! 🙂 But I got him this time and he knows it.

Peeping Tom

Can’t you just hear him thinking, “Drat that woman and her camera!” Tom shows up during Math almost everyday. The kids totally lose focus and point and talk about him (They call him “Peanut Butter” which is just silly — his name is clearly Tom! Sigh!). Their easy slip into distraction is completely my fault — I shared my enthusiasm for Ravens with them and they found that more compelling than my enthusiasm for adding and subtracting like and unlike fractions. I had to tell them that if Tom is too big a distraction that the blinds will have to close during math. It is pretty cool to watch them see him up there, want to point and shout out about it, struggle to stay calm and at least partially focused on their work while still sneaking peeks up to Tom. They are such great kids!

These ravens at school are wonderful. I do worry a little bit though — they are so smart and Tom is watching through the window during Math — what if he’s picking up how to add and subtract like and unlike fractions? Are we really ready for a population of educated Ravens? The mind boggles.

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And, while you are recovering from boggled mind, head on over to I and the Bird #71 – The Quotable I and the Bird. Clare of The House and other Arctic Musings did a fantastic job. Lots of good weekend reading — enjoy!