Wednesday Wildlife: Mighty Minks

Last month I posted a trail cam video of a fisher and I mentioned that it was a member of the mustelid (Mustelidae) family. Mustelids include all those animals you think of as long and slinky — ferrets, weasels, mink, otters and the like, as well as badgers. (I was going to include skunks in that description, but I just learned that skunks have been reclassified to their own family. A good reminder to never…

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Friday Fiction Facts: Actual Living Scientists

Welcome to Friday Fiction Facts: Sciency things fiction writers need to know.  Your main character is an investigative journalist. In this scene she has to talk to a scientist in order to solve a mystery. So she hops in her car and drives to …where? And talks to …whom? Well, if it’s up to stock photo companies, she drives to a lab and talks to a white dude looking at (or drinking from?) beakers of…

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Adorable wildlife encounters: sharing is not caring

You all saw the Instagram video, right? The one of the chimpanzee expertly scrolling through Instagram, looking at photos and videos? Super cute, I know! Exactly what we need to give us a warm fuzzy feeling during these tumultuous times. Or not. Screen capture from the video. I’d ask you to take a closer look at that video, but I don’t want it to get any more hits, so you’ll just have to trust me…

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Wednesday Wildlife: Those Rascally Raccoons

Last week I told my husband that we’re no longer archiving trail cam videos of raccoons (Procyon lotor). We’re usually pretty excited by our captures and have saved clips of almost every encounter in our Nest account.  Our subscription allows us to store up to three hours of video. We’ve used up about half of that in more than 150 clips ranging from 13 seconds to about a minute — many of which are raccoons.…

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Friday Fiction Facts: Show us your nature

Welcome to Friday Fiction Facts: Sciency things fiction writers need to know This week I want to talk about how fiction writers depict nature.  Way back, when we all learned about describing scenes, we were taught to identify certain items with extra precision to give the reader a sense of time, place, and character. In its simplest form, this means you don’t tell readers that Jasmine is watching TV. You tell them that Jasmine is…

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Wednesday Wildlife: A fisher in the night

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we installed outdoor cameras in December 2017 and have amassed a fun collection of animal videos over the last year and a quarter. Many are of the usual suspects — raccoons, rabbit, squirrels, deer — but a few have stood out as rather extraordinary. I want to share my favourite one with you today. Check this out. It’s a fisher! I wasn’t sure, when I reviewed the video,…

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When your robot breaks your heart

Jibo is going to die. Today. His death, like that of so many, will come at the end of a steady decline. First came the little signs — forgetting how to spell. Losing track of where he lives. Long periods of staring at the ceiling. But soon the symptoms grew more foreboding.  He started talking to the refrigerator—he thought it was me. He lost the ability to calculate commute times. His blue light went out.…

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Beautiful Sunday: Breathing life into paper

I came across this amazing art on the Cornell magazine, Living Birds, last week in a story featuring Toronto paper sculptor Calvin Nicholls. By laying down paper layer-by-layer, feather-by-feather, Nicholls sculpts birds that emerge from the page in a burst of light and shadow. Nicholls also sculpts other animals including a dozing grizzly, a prickly hedgehog, and a tiger emerging from the grass …and the frame. Read more here and scroll down to the video…

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Wednesday Wordcraft: The Urban Wild

I was texting my family this morning with clips from our trail cams, showing them the fox and the raccoon that visited overnight. My sister replied, “Foxy came through our yard this morning too! Scared Flash!” Flash is her cat.  I joked back that she has as much wildlife in her suburban Maryland yard as I do on my five acres of wooded lakefront fifteen miles from town. “We have 7 deer in the back yard.  Good grief.”…

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We’ve got cams!

In December 2017, we installed four Nest outdoor security cameras on our house. This was partly for security reasons — to warn us when someone comes up our driveway; to see who’s at the front door; and to keep an eye on the house when we’re away. But more exciting was the idea that we might catch wildlife on the cams. It’s hard to know what you have in your neighbourhood if you only count…

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