Wild Things In My Yard

I have noticed an alarming increase of wild animals in my neighborhood. I say alarming because I had a bear peer at me through my ground floor bedroom window a few mornings ago. Even deer, coyote and fox run through my yard, which is uncommon in the small city I live in, where squirrels and skunks have reigned as long as I remember. Have the surrounding woods become overcrowded that these anomalies need to venture to town for room and board? Is there a chance I may come home from work some night to find them occupying my house?

The cartoonist in me finds this humorous. I come home to a deer sitting in my La-Z-Boy, reading my paper. He glances over his reading glasses at me and says “Hey, how was your day?”

And you just know papa bear is in the next room, sleeping in my bed!

Recently, a neighbor showed me pictures of her petting a baby deer. It had wandered into her yard, lost. She fed it apples and sent it on its way. The deer has been back every day since. So far, it hasn’t brought along any friends.

Speaking of friends, a guy I know blames it on the decreasing number of hunters. Another friend blames it on the increasing number of bird feeders in town. Both may be right, but I think an animal would need to be starving to take to bird seed. Whichever the case, Animal Control has been busy downtown, and neighbors are busy erecting fences this summer. And I’ve been closing my bedroom windows at night, just in case papa bear wants my bed.

Apple Orchard [poetry]

Apple Orchard
Apple Orchard, Oil Painting

In small acreage on a hilly clearing,
Sunny morning shines golden on chalky-pink blossoms;
I pause and prolong my hike to watch sunbeams lick away dewdrops
Soaking in shaded greenery of an apple orchard.

Craggy, crabby branches nod jaggedly at a breeze dashing across the way;
Wasps complain from gray papery hives swaying above me;
A hummingbird pauses and peeks inside a blossom—
Perhaps she smells the jellies, pies and cider clearly on my mind.

I head away on journey once more,
Longing to return and sample ripe fruit from the trees.

© 2006

Ravenwood, Chapter 10 [fiction]


Music means a lot to my cast of Ravenwood characters.

Amy Everly is musically talented—she is exuberant about music—and has a need to express herself. “Strives to excel at music for self-expression” best describes Amy—music means everything to her. When she is down, she recharges by writing and playing songs on her mother’s piano and on her own Gibson acoustic guitar. She sings with a beautiful soprano voice.

Her mom, Sunni, keeps a piano in the living room and she taught Amy how to play (Dave had no interest in learning, only listening—he often falls asleep at night while listening to his mom play).

Amy also became musically talented because music was important to me and I wanted a character who had the time and talent to put together a rock band. I wrote lyrics and kept them in my notebooks. I also kept notes about Ravenwood and my characters in them. In one of my notebooks, I wrote, “Within the realms of poetry and music lie many possibilities. Dig deep. There is an Arc of Topological Space to be mined.” That year, Amy put together ARC, a basement band that soon turned into a garage band when Sunni complained about how loud the music was beneath her study room and library.



ARC was “A” for Amy Everly (lead guitars, lead vocals), “R” for Amy’s friend and classmate Riley Lewis (rhythm guitars, keyboards, vocals), and “C” for their friend Cheryl Sherwood (drums, percussion).

ARC’s music began as cover versions of standard Top 40 rock of the 1970s for a while until the group began writing music and composing their own songs.


Riley Lewis was a minor character brought onstage during scenes with the band. She played rhythm guitars, keyboards, and sang harmonies. She was constrained in character, but not a bit shy. She had blue eyes and blonde hair that was straight and always past her shoulders, never short.

Riley’s nicknames were “Rile” and “Riles.” In ninth grade, she was 5’ 5” and 95 lbs. and was very striking in appearance. Her usual dressing style was the conventional shirts and jeans uniform worn by teens all over America, but she favored colorful clothes and sometimes wore skirts and dresses. And she was the one who wore the occasional fancy perfumes, makeup and lipstick, and painted her fingers and toes. She would become the HS prom queen her senior year and eventually marry the captain of the football team.

Riley’s poetry sparked ARC’s evolution, and it was the basis of the band’s earliest songs. She teamed up with Amy and the two wrote most of ARC’s music catalogue from 1972 to 1975.

Here are my two favorite poems written by Riley in 1971 and turned into song the following year.

Woodland Birds:

Crows talk
Noisy devils they
Jays squawk
Raucous rascals they
Birds walk, Some hop, And birds track bird tracks, hey.

Ruffed grouse
Aggressive take-offs they
Bursting thickets they
Birds fly, Some soar, And wings beat wing beats, hey.

Woodland birds call woodland bird calls
Hear chicken-like birds drumming on logs
And snow bank divers bursting from bogs.
Woodland birds live woodland bird lives
See them
See perching blackbirds watching it snow
On tree branch beauties grooming below.

Woodland birds, They speak to me
Woodland birds, Some answer me
Woodland birds, Fly up to me
Woodland birds, Are part of me.

Woodland birds call woodland bird calls
Woodland birds live woodland bird lives
See them.


Visions come in sleep, To dreamers on the hill
Hands so soft and warm, Chase cold from daffodil.
Lovers smile like children, Caught stealing off with pie
Laugh with thoughts unheard—
These dreamers, you and I.

We are the dreamers, Yes we’re the searching ones
We’re always fitting pieces, To learn if there’s a plan;
Not sure why we do it, But when we hear the call
We know we’re getting closer, To answers for us all.

Dreamers dream a world, With groundwork of good will
Build a better place, Better, better still.
Power falls like liquid, Sent flowing out to sea
We will be as one—
As equals, we will be.

We are the dreamers, Yes we’re romantic souls
We’re always climbing higher, To get a better view;
Not sure why we do it, We find it hard to stop
We’re always working harder, To make it to the top.


Cheryl Sherwood, or CJ as her friends called her, was ARC’s drummer and percussionist. She played the same story role as Riley: very minor. She had chocolate brown eyes and hair. She wore her hair long and straight to the middle of her back. She often wore baggy tops, T-shirts and blue jeans, tennis shoes, clogs, and sandals. She wore flip-flops at home and around town during the summer, as well as shorts and swim tops. In the winter, she liked wearing sweats indoors, and favored a furry parka and knee-high boots outdoors.

CJ was the highly intelligent member of ARC (she was offered advancement at school but she refused to leave behind her friends), which made her seem older than she was. This aspect seemed like free admission to hang with older students, which she did as she got older.

Among her ARC band mates, CJ was the quiet one and wild one rolled into one person. In her quiet mode, she was thoughtful and artistic, a trait similar to Vree Erikson, Amy’s cousin. However, she was also the girl who partied at the older kids’ houses, was sexually active with a senior boy when she was 16, and seemed to be in a constant identity crisis. Her drum kit was her therapy couch. Often after school, she went into a transitory snap and beat on her drums until she came out feeling better about herself.

More about my Ravenwood characters is on the way. Stay tuned.