Monthly Archives: July 2012

Whether you’re an extreme birder, or more chill (like me), then this is for you!

This hummer captured mid-beat appears to be in prayer.

If you’d rather grab the binoculars than the remote, trek through forests listening for songs on the breeze, you’re probably a birder.

Here’s Nikki!

I don’t know what came first with me, the photo opps, or the urge to always look up, but about the time we brought home Nikki (our Nikon D5100), I was inspired to begin bird watching (the trendier term includes listening, as well as looking.) The tamer, and more patient fellas in our southern California backyard begged for shooting, and the pursuit of capturing them–digitally of course, hooked me.

So in typical Bev fashion, I took the bull by the horns, or bird by the feathers as it were, and plunged into the sport, hobby, passion, call it what you will, of birding. But let’s not overdo it.

On a plane to Hawaii last summer, I had watched The Big Year, the movie based on the book by Mark Obmascik. In it, characters played by Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson vie for the highest count of species spotted in one year, forsaking jobs, relationships and a good bit of sanity to achieve the honor.

This excellent article in Birds and Blooms magazine explains the pursuit, the book and the guy whose story inspired the franchise.

We’re talking extreme birding here, y’all.

In the movie, they’d often dash within viewing distance, glance at the bird, then rush to catch a plane, boat or chopper to their next location to tick off another species.

Um, we won’t discuss some of the primitive living situations, which we all know is not going to happen with Bev. Check me into a Marriott, and cue the natives!

That’s the beauty of the hobby. Wherever you stay, live, play, the little critters are all around, and fascinating to watch.

Created with the ability to migrate millions of miles, care for their young in extreme conditions (think penguins), birds reflect the boundless imagination and sense of humor of our creator God.

What a gift He gave us, and we’d be remiss in not taking a little time to study and admire them.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, er, launch into birding, I posted an article that makes it easy-peasy to begin, “Ten Easy Tips to Begin Birdwatching by This Weekend,”available on Amazon. Don’t worry, no leave of absence required. Unless you want to!

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in south Texas

What are your favorite birds? Have you taken up a new hobby or sport lately?

I’d love to hear about it!



Click on the cover below to check out my Kindle article, and start exploring the world of birding. See you on the hunt!



Who’s your Puppy? Or, We Got our Dog a Dog.

Gracie demonstrates her form.

The Olympics are just around the corner, and we thought we’d get a head start. Well, a head start cheering from the sidelines!

First a tiny bit of background.

Our family had been a couple years without a pet when Lindsay (at the time living at home starting her new career) fell in love with a miniature pinscher puppy (if you could have seen that little body wiggling with glee when Lindsay picked her up, you would’ve caved as well–even if you swore you did NOT need another dog.)

Who could resist those big brown eyes?

 Yep, love at first sight.

Lindsay named her Gracie (oddly similar name to my main character, Grace Harkins. Weird, right?) and she snuggled, gnawed, wiggled her stump, and generally worked her way into our hearts.


We quickly realized “Busy” –one of her many nicknames, would need lots of activities and attention.

More than four or twenty humans could provide.

Enter, Linda Morrill, our terrific pet sitter. (Cheers to pet sitters everywhere!) Over-dogged at her house, she was looking to adopt out the ever-patient, and as you can see, elegant Chloe.

Linda observed the two pups were made to play, and a sister-hood was born.

Why the jumping photo at the top you ask?

To keep Gracie’s active mind engaged, Lindsay recently enrolled her in agility training, and their graduation was a few days ago. A shout out to Intelligent Ability of Orange County. (You can find similar classes in your area. No need to be super athletic, it’s great fun and good exercise. The dogs seem to enjoy it as well!)

While Gracie was in class, Chloe showed up to cheer her on. Then on graduation day, the trainers “inspired” her to give it a go…

Chloe demonstrates even the prissiest dog will perform for a yummy treat....and a little encouragement from a sister.

In one of the funnest graduation ceremonies ever, Gracie earned her diploma, and all the “rights and privileges pertaining therein.” Cracks me up. Do not tell this dog she doesn’t have rights, she’s got the paper to prove it!

Gracie's got that "yeah, I rock," expression.

Look at Gracie--I bet she's thinking, "that is NOT how that's done, Marley."

Why not give agility a try with your dog?

One of the graduates gets a well-deserved hug from mom.

Don’t worry about me, though. Now that the grand-dogs only live with us on a part-time basis (I call it shared custody), and I’m not spoiling and generally organizing my life around their schedules, I’m having fun writing about Leo the rescued Yorkie in the Seasons of Cherryvale. So now you know the inspiration behind my canine characters!

Here’s a link to the US Dog Agility Association to find out more. You should give it a try!

Take the leap! Gracie says "you can do it!"

Here are some helpful, entertaining and sometimes just dog-gone funny (sorry) links for you to explore the world of agile dogs: – he reviews new toys, all types of food, rescue dogs, and generally the world of keeping pets healthy and happy. – What’s in it for you, the dog, and some terrific photographs. – Really intense, but some great dog handling tips, even for the non-agile.