Writing Frustrations and Bird Poop

Bird poop is not pleasant. It’s messy, and one of the worst offenders around here right now are the robins.


Once winter is on the wane, I’m always delighted to welcome the earliest robins. They’re harbingers of spring, after all, and that makes me smile. By summertime, however, I’ve begun to tire of the white accumulations that adorn our deck railings and outdoor furniture, and I’m no longer smiling.

Robins are pretty, and they sing a sweet song, I’ll give them that. But they don’t eat birdseed. The lawn and garden are their kitchen source for earthworms and berries. The only appeal our deck apparently has for them is as a bathroom… a place to perch and deposit their doo-doo, which I don’t-don’t like! Someone had a warped sense of humour when they named the species ‘Turdus migratorius’.

We had 45 people coming here last night for a church barbecue. In preparation, we had pulled weeds and tidied the gardens. Hubby power-washed the deck, and I wiped down the lawn furniture. You get the picture. We wanted things to be neat and clean for our guests, and it was… until late-afternoon, just before the first guests arrived, when Mr. Robin Redbreast dropped in and dropped. Ackkk!!! It was too late to get out the hose, but there was no point in stressing over little blobby things, as maddening as they were. I found a rag, cleaned them away as best I could and carried on, soon forgetting all about the annoyance and enjoying a wonderful evening with friends.

The writing application that occurred to me later had to do with not overstressing about little things. No point in grinding to a halt  when the wrong words deposit themselves on the page during a first draft. Better to look at the overall picture, get on with the job and worry about cleaning up the messy bits during revision. There are bound to be more messy bits before it’s done and we’re ready to put the manuscript out on display anyway.

In future, when I’m getting really frustrated, maybe I’ll try and remember to mutter, “Oh, poop!!!” then have a laugh and get back to work.

What’s your method of banishing first draft frustrations?

~  ~  ~


Things In Common, Or Not

They arrive together, an unlikely pair – a female Red-winged Blackbird and a Black-capped Chickadee.  Sometimes the male Blackbird comes, too, and then the Chickadee waits on the sidelines, resting on the tip of a cedar trellis for his turn at the birdseed.

They’re here every morning for breakfast before the other chirpy horde arrives. The male Blackbird returns periodically throughout the day, but the female does not. I can’t determine if the Chickadee is among the many others who flit in and out.

It’s strange to see them come and go together each morning. I wonder what they have in common and then I realize — of course (duh!) — it’s their need for food.

It matters not to them that the other is of a different size and species. There’s no aggression – not like when the squirrel comes to chase everyone else away while he gobbles his fill – no quarrelling as there is between the Hummingbirds who fight over who will sit where.

We’re told in scripture to consider the birds… “they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”* I’m sure we are. But I think we might learn something from them, too.

* [Matthew 6:26]

Held Hostage by a Robin

On May 12th I commented on the annoying antics of a resident robin. Six days later he is no longer “fluttering at” our windows, but throwing himself against them! One by one I have closed every blind in the house.


This morning resounding thumps wakened us at 6:30 a.m. He had found the only window that has no blinds… our ensuite bathroom. We tried draping a towel over it, but the robin is now hitting the screened portion. On a sunny holiday weekend such as this I resent being held hostage behind closed blinds but I’m not sure what to do about it.


Somehow, I don’t think the Animal Control officer is about to come out and rescue us from a robin.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cheekiness Personified!

What a brat! We refill our birdfeeder whenever its emptiness threatens a famine for our favourite birds, usually once a week. Top-ups have been happening with increasing frequency, however, since a non-feathered diner discovered the easy pickings.


Yesterday the squirrel managed to dislodge the lid so he could climb right inside the seed-filled cylinder.  He chowed down and with stuffed cheeks raced away to store his hoard somewhere safe. After repeated trips I noticed he was taking ownership of the feeder and challenging the chickadees, juncos and blackbirds. When he managed to chase off a much larger jay we took action and securely replaced the birdfeeder’s lid – at which point he challenged us!


We were not persuaded to remove the lid for him. Cheeky brat!

Guilty Pleasure

The dead and rain-sodden body of a tiny chickadee lays on our deck beneath the kitchen windows. He evidently misjudged his route between the birdfeeder and the nearby trees and collided with the glass. It happens so seldom, but whenever it does I have the urge to stand in the window like a scarecrow for the next few days and warn the other birds away. That’s not a sensible solution, of course. Pulling down the blinds or relocating the feeder would be a better idea. But with the blinds closed I would have to have the lights on during these dark wintry days, and the bears destroy the feeders when I put them anywhere else.

Red-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

My dilemma would be solved if I simply chose not to feed the birds but that’s not a decision I want to make. I love to see them lined up on the railing hovering impatiently as they wait their turn for tasty seeds or bits of suet. In the past hour alone there have been two Flickers and several chickadees, nuthatches and juncos plus a cheeky squirrel all vying for their dinner reservations. They are a delight to watch, but when one gives his life for my pleasure it makes me question my priorities.


Perhaps a wreath hung in each window will act as a beacon on the flight path and solve my problem at least until the Christmas season is over.


But for now there’s a pint-sized funeral service and burial to conduct.


Becoming Visible


Visibility can be a good thing (or not) depending on the circumstances. For the large Northern Flicker on the fir tree outside my window seclusion seems to be a priority. He hovers there, checking out conditions at the suet feeder before homing in for breakfast, but whenever I step close to the window he flits away again to wait within the protection of branches until I give him his mealtime privacy. Our Chickadees, on the other hand, are too greedy to care about my presence. Darting back and forth from the swaying birdfeeder, they snatch seedy morsels and settle on the porch railing to chow down directly in front of my window. Should the feeder need refilling, they will flutter indignantly at the glass with noisy reprimands. They’re very visible.

It occurs to me that such birdy behaviour is reminiscent of an author’s dilemma: disliking interruptions as we focus on feeding our creative selves, and yet needing a degree of visibility to get what our resulting creation needs — readers.

So I have arrived, fluttering noisily albeit reluctantly, into the world of weblogs. I have become visible.