Saturday, June 23, 2007

Winners & Surprises

Added today to the Win What PBW Reads This Week box: The Damned by L.A. Banks, Rage Therapy by Daniel Kalla, Mammoth by John Varley, Cooking Light magazine July 2007 issue, National Geographic Traveler magazine May/June 2007 issue, and Reader's Digest magazine June 2007 issue.

We put the magic hat into action tonight for the Raintree: Haunted giveaway, and the winners are:

Karen, the lurker (whose comment started with Thunder and lightning.)

DiDi (whose comment started with I absolutely love rain.)

Elaine (whose comment started with I like snow.)

Rebecca (whose comment started with I desperately crave the sun...)

Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to, and let me know if you'd like to have Linda Howard's Raintree: Inferno as well. Thanks to everyone for joining in.

I got a very big surprise this morning when I went out to meditate. I make a habit of bringing the camera onto the porch with me to photograph whatever comes to visit my yard. I'll never be a great photographer, but sometimes I get lucky, as with capturing the ongoing drama of who has been living in our bird house.

When I came out the door today, what I saw made me think the kids had been messing with it. It made me angry, because while the blue bird's chicks are all grown up and gone, I was pretty sure from a lingering odor that one of them didn't make it (and I kicked myself for not cleaning out the body a week ago, when I should have done it. I just didn't want to upset the mother, who has still been coming back to the birdhouse every day.)

I walked over to pull whatever the kids had stuck in the perch hole, and then stopped in my tracks.

I still thought it was a hose or a toy, until it slithered. Then I looked down and saw it had a much bigger parent with it.

Both are black racers; Big Mama likes to hunt in my garden and scare my socks off.

I'd never seen Junior before, and or two racers hunting together.

As I got closer, I discovered that Big Mama was just finishing up swallowing the deceased chick, which she must have gotten out of the birdhouse before I came out on the porch. Racers will eat just about anything.

I was able to get close enough to get both snakes in the picture. Junior didn't appreciate my curiosity, but Big Mama didn't twitch a scale.

The drama escalated when the mother blue bird came out of nowhere and began attacking the snakes, chasing off Big Mama immediately. It took her a bit more time to get Junior out of the birdhouse.

The entire incident took about an hour to play through from start to finish, with me mostly quietly sitting in a chair, camera in hand, jaw in lap. Just when I think I'm used to living in the country, something like this happens.

Tomorrow there will be a skunk living in that birdhouse. I just know it.


  1. Congrats to the winners!

    Also, wow. Scary/really cool/wow again. Snakes.

  2. Ohhh, it took me a second to notice what it was. I'd be freaked. I hate snakes.

  3. Utterly enchanting. How fascinating.

  4. Wow - those shots are awesome. I love doing exactly that, taking pictures of funny things that come into the yard.

    Since it's New Zealand, there are no snakes, but lots of birds and funny insects. Got a walking stick (stick insect?) the length of my hand a few months ago. :)

    Very cool stuff.

  5. Great post. Thanks for the pics.

  6. Black racers crack me up for some weird reason. I had one invade my computer room about three years ago. He (she?) hung out here for three days, basking on the windowsill during the sunny part of the day, and curling up under the entertainment center the rest of the time.

    I finally got him out of the house when he moved in front of the screen door to bask. I crept out, opened the screen door from the outside and blocked it open. Then I came back in the other way and went toward him with my makeshift snake hook and net. He took one look at me with my insane tools and lit out for the great outdoors.

    We still see him, or some of his friends at least, hanging out in the firecracker bushes. And they're all named "Fred."

  7. That's why I love just sitting and looking outside. You never know what you're going to see.

    Thanks for the pictures, Lynn. One of these days I'll have a camera and return the favor. =o)

  8. Anonymous10:18 AM

    The comment about snakes moving into the house reminds me of an episode from my childhood. When I turned 14 and my oldest brother went to college, I inherited the much coveted "grown up" bedroom, the only one downstairs in our house. On my second night sleeping downstairs (well, more like being terrified of being alone on the first floor), I heard horrible noises coming from the other side of the door.

    Eventually, I steeled my nerves to find out what was causing the ruckus and opened the door a crack to catch a peek. What did I see? My father, chasing a bird that had somehow gotten into the house. I'll never forget seeing Dad, in his boxers, chasing a bird through the den with a net made out of a bent clothes hanger and a pair of Mom's pantyhose.


  9. Great pics. But what I want to know is, how do you find time to read so much? I've read 2 books and 1 magazine this week. It's a low week because I have my parents here so I'm spending time with them instead of off in a book, but still. I can't remember the last time I read as much in a week as you just did! *I don't count the books I read to the kids.*

  10. Amazing series of pics. What a brave bluebird.

  11. Awesome pictures. Thanks.

  12. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Same question as Charlene!

    And that's fantastic. I knew as soon as I saw the pic that it was a snake but I didn't notice Big Mama. Snakes fascinate me, but I've only had the nerve to hold onto a ball python. Tiny one. He was our biology class pet, and a friend and I would hold him during lessons, partly just to creep out the girly-girl who sat next to us. We'd put him around our neck and just let him hang there. Would never do that NOW but it's kinda fun to remember.

  13. Congratulations, winners.

    What drama! On the bright side, you don't have to clean out the birdhouse. Sounds like Big Mama knows you're not going to bother her. I'd say she likes you. (smile)

    Hubby found a surprise on the living room hearth of the new house when he was up there earlier this week -- a three-foot snakeskin. Looks like a racer.

    We've been having entirely too many exciting wildlife experiences lately -- and these are in the city limits. We expect this stuff in the country.

  14. Anonymous12:23 PM

    The pics were great! I'm not only a snake fan, but a snake mom as well - my baby is a four year old Mexican Milk Snake, by the name of Scarlet. She's a complete diva, hence the name.

  15. That is most cool! Wonderful photos. Can't wait to see who moves into the birdhouse next!

  16. I know Black Racers are harmless to people and I know that they do good things like keeping rodent populations low, but... *shudder!*

    I echo everyone else: you must be a darned fast reader. Then again, you also seem to be a very focused person who accomplishes what she sits down to do without allowing distractions to distract. If I could manage five min... - Oh, look! A shiney thing!!!

  17. This is one of my true squirm moments. Snakes. I don't know why, but ugh, they make me want to turn myself inside out. I just don't know how else to explain it.


    But I bet it was an absolutely fascinating hour, and probably cleared your brain out as well as meditating would have, too.

  18. Charlene (and a couple others) asked: how do you find time to read so much?

    To begin with, I read very fast. I can finish most books in two hours or less and a magazine in thirty minutes. Go ahead, hate me.

    My routine is to read a book in the morning when I take my writing breaks, then another at night when I take editing breaks. Occasionally I'll read while I'm having lunch, too. During the summer I'm not on the road picking up the kids from school, so I allow myself those three hours for reading and on-spec projects.

  19. Anonymous10:17 PM

    oh i woulda freaked.

    i don't like slithery things. not one bit.

    i've finally come to accept it, but apparently I'm a little more girly than I thought. Here I thought I was a die hard tomboy.

  20. Anonymous11:08 PM

    Great photos! And congratulations to the winners! :-)

  21. Anonymous2:44 AM

    Congrats all winners!

    Happy reading!

    What great photos!

    Terri W.

  22. Thanks for reminding me why I should always always carry my camera around with me!!

  23. I have another question for you - when do you sleep???

    I rarely allow myself to read during the day (blogs / email / groups aside!) because 1) I can't finish the books I read in a couple of hours and 2) once I start to read I don't want to stop! Consequently, I mostly read at night before bed which also means on occasion I stay up later than I intent too...

  24. Neat!

    I do know a school teacher in rural Montana who had a mama skunk move in under her mobile home. The teacher learned to be very, very quiet.

  25. I'm late to the party because I'm behind reading posts but I had to comment on this. What an incredible thing to be witness to. Real life (and nature) always riveting. Thanks for sharing this.

  26. I know it's nature and the circle of life and all that, but I feel so sorry for that mama bird. :(

    The pictures are amazing btw. I can see how you might've thought Jr. was a hose or something. At first I didn't realize what he was in the picture. Eek!

  27. Heh, at least they're harmless.

    Got a chuckle out of your story. I am also familiar with them as I had one crawl up to my patio door one day and proceed to lift its head up and peer into the house.


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