Just a quick shout out to some of the other writers I’ve met thus far at the 2014 UW-Madison Writers’ Institute — Kris, Lisa, Marci, Robyn, and the rest of you wonderful scribblers whose names I’ve already forgotten.

I’m glad to have encountered you and chatted with you, if only for a moment, and I hope that you will have an interesting and productive conference weekend!

Also, thanks to the terrific presenters: Doug Moe, Ron Kuka, Nathan Bransford, and others. You’re sharing some great info and I appreciate the opportunity to listen to your writing wisdom!

Mar 132014

I’ve had the good fortune to find success with various writing projects during the past year. The above collage reflects my feature writing for Julien’s Journal magazine. Click on it for a link to my publications portfolio, where you can read a sample of my published work. I’ve also been lucky to be able to open up to more freelance projects, as time and “real life” permits. I’ve gotten to meet some pretty interesting Dubuquers as I listen to their stories in order to write about them. Welcome to my website, and please contact me if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas to share.


Today for a rare update I’ll talk about four of my photos. I chose this for a blog topic because I thought it seemed like a simple, achievable goal. Here’s the first:

Nuthatch in silver maple tree

This little nuthatch is inspecting a treat I smeared in the big silver maple in the front yard. Thanks to the Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible, I’ve been getting more creative feeding our birdly friends. I discovered that they love the grease you drain while cooking hamburger if it is mixed with a little cornmeal. That’s what he’s contemplating. It didn’t take long for this little nuthatch and his colleagues to make the treat disappear.

Next photo:


Here’s the underbelly view of a quizzical woodpecker. I can’t remember anymore if this is a Downy or a Hairy, but she’s definitely a female since she lacks any red on her temples. I love the mottled tail feathers. We have 2 or 3 pairs of downy woodpeckers here, always eager for the suet and willing to flutter close to humans. The hairy woodpecker is their bigger cousin. As far as I know, size is the only difference. That, and the beak tends to look blacker in the Hairy.  Also, the Hairy is not only more rare, but is more shy of humans. That may be linked to the fact that they need a bigger nesting hole, hence are reliant upon deeper woods.

Downies always seem to come to the food in pairs, with the males slightly more assertive. A female will peek excitedly around a branch at the suet feeder for just a little too long, so her hubbie/brother beats her to it.  Two males sometimes lightly squabble as they compete by fluttering in circles until they both lose their spot on the branch.

The Hairys, on the other hand, appear one at a time, and have a much larger personal space when it comes to the noxious human interloper. Last winter we saw only one sickly male, and soon he stopped coming. I felt so sad for his lonesome mate. This winter, there is a nice, fat male in evidence, so the Hairys are a viable team again. I did take some photos through the window for size comparison of Hairy and Downy woodpeckers when both were sitting on the same branch. However, they are not very nice photos so you’ll just have to imagine. The Downy is about 5 inches long and the Hairy around 3 inches bigger, or about the size of a Blue Jay. They say that woodpeckers love to eat Emerald Ash Borers, which is a very good thing.

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