All posts by Paul Cipywnyk

Birds’ Breakfast Buffet at Birch Bay State Park

Here’s a set of photos I took this morning at Birch Bay State Park in WA. It was a veritable breakfast buffet on the beach for various birds. Herons were chowing down on several kinds of fish, and what appeared to be lamprey. Gulls were rooting out clams, carrying them up and then dropping them to break them open. An eagle sat overlooking the breakfast scene while being harassed by a crow. Stimulating morning on the beach!

Flickr Album here.

heron in flight at birch bay

Cute Deer at Fort Ebey State Park, WA

There are lots of deer in state parks on Whidbey Island that are fairly accustomed to people. The ones we’ve seen have been wary, and not overly tame, but confident enough to get good photos.

I think we’ve seen the following one twice in about as many weeks at Fort Ebey State Park. Same area, same size, same behavior.

deer_1_fort_ebey_state_park_wa_20140707

Out in the open above, and nearly concealed between the tree at bottom right below.

deer fort ebey, wa

Looking Forward to Burnaby Blues & Roots Fest in August

Looking forward to the Burnaby Blues and Roots Fest in August. This is steadily developing into a major music extravaganza. I’m particularly anticipating Imelda May — as I recall, she broke an ankle (?) at her last BB&R appearance a few years ago, and soldiered on like the trouper she is. Gorgeous voice and great band, eh?

I’m also eagerly awaiting the performance by Miss Quincy. I have gone head over heels for this Canadian band recently. Top of my play list!

A Fave Hawk Photo from 2009

I “shot” this hawk couple on their nest on a rural road in southern Alberta back in 2009.

Hawks on nest in southern AlbertaI

I’ve been asked several times over the years if this is a photo of a diorama in some museum. It’s definitely a live shot.

I saw the nest as I was slowly cruising down a rural road. It was likely the Red Coat Trail, or a parallel road nearby.

I spotted the nest, drove past it in an attempt to allay suspicions, and slowly wandered back toward it, hiding any equipment, as hawks are very shy of anything that looks like a “projection” or rifle.

I slowly angled into the ditch and eventually snapped several shots, but the parents were getting agitated, so I backed off.

Just in time. The male swooped me seconds later as I was backing away, but seeing that I was already retreating, he stayed 5-10 meters above me.

An exhilarating experience, but one that also respected the birds. As soon as I knew I was intruding, I backed off.

If you try this, please give them their space, too. Thanks!

 

Writing 500 Words Per Day – First Try

How long will it take to write 500 words?

That is the question. I am off on a quest to write 500 words a day, every day, until something substantial arises from the keyboarding. I am only one monkey pounding away, so I am curious to see how long it will take me to write the first 500 words.

Why write 500 words a day? There are plenty of writing programs out there that flog this concept. The number may be different, but the idea that remains constant is that to produce any manuscript you have to get words down on paper. Or characters up on the screen.

You simply write. If you have an idea in mind, great. If you’re adding to something already started, wonderful. If you’ve got nothing, just go. Just get those fingers tapping or pen scrawling. And do it every day.

Eventually, the theory goes, that writing will begin to coalesce into something. Ideas will form. Concepts will begin to glimmer through the mist. The more you write, the more likely you are to come up with something that will eventually be usable.

So where is my writing headed? Honestly, I’m not sure. I have a background in journalism, but I haven’t done newswriting for many years. I started a creative writing program at the university level some 30-odd years ago, and gave up after a few months. I switched to expository writing, and was happy there for the rest of the semester before going off to journalism school. So essays, reportage––those genres are certainly within my capabilities.

But there is also the lure of fiction. I love reading novels, why not write one? But that’s a daunting task. That’s also where the 500 words a day comes in. It’s a manageable chunk. It’s not dozens of pages, it’s not a chapter. I’ve taken a fiction workshop or two over the last few years, mostly from an editing standpoint because that’s my work. I’m a freelance editor. But I’ve also participated in some fiction writing workshops, and while I found them scary, I did quite well.

“Write an opening page for a novel this evening, and then we’ll come back tomorrow morning and share them.” Yikes! But I survived. I even got a fair bit of praise. But then that first page has been sitting untouched on my computer for a couple of years now.

But perhaps I could add to that page, 500 words at a time. See how that goes. All it takes is the discipline to do it. 500 words isn’t such a huge challenge, is it? I’m at 438 words on this page now, and that’s taken me six minutes.

Another approach that some of my Facebook friends were discussing recently is the timer technique. You get a cheap, simple kitchen timer, or use one on your phone or computer, and focus on activities in 30-minute chunks. Again the idea is to make the chunks manageable, and not something to be feared. So you, say, practice that guitar that you haven’t touched in years for 30 minutes a day.

Whoops! I’m done! I am now at 526 words, so I quit.

That wasn’t bad at all.

Now to just do it again. And again…

Word count: 547

Elapsed time: 8 minutes

UPDATE: July 9 – BTW I am not going to be posting my daily 500 words on this blog every day. Apologies if that’s what readers thought. While it might have been fun, I think a daily dose of unedited dreck would quickly become tiresome. However, if any 500-word session produces something I feel is worth sharing, I will post bits and pieces, and perhaps the occasional entire spew.

New WP Blog Looks Great on Portable Devices

One of the first major benefits that I’ve noticed in moving my blog from a decrepit MT system to a state-of-the-art WP system is that the blog scales to portable devices beautifully, and automagically. That’s what comes from upgrading to contemporary software.

I’m not slagging MT, I’m sure their new versions function well in this regard, too.

Slowly Getting the Hang of WordPress

I’m slowly becoming accustomed to WordPress. After over ten years of running my old blog on an ancient version of Movable Type, the change is taking time to get used to.

I’ll have to buckle down over the next week or three, work through the tutorials, skim the manuals, and just keep playing with it until I get more comfortable. The best way to learn is by doing.

I’m sticking to a standard theme for now. I get the impression one can easily get lost in endless hours of exploring available themes. Some day. . .

I should mention that I’m hosting this blog on my long-standing account with Pair Networks. Setting up Word Press using Pair’s pairSIM software installation system was a breeze.

I’ve had an account with Pair since June 1997.

I look forward to hundreds, and eventually thousands, of posts here. I reached nearly 1,700 on my old MT blog. . .