Nicola here! It's time for our monthly What We're Reading column, but this month the Wenches have been out and about, travelling, attending conferences, moving house or in some cases disappearing under a huge mound of work and/or laundry! So instead of our monthly round up of books, we thought we would share What We Are Looking At instead. What better way to start than with Sparky, the Wench Godkitten, who provides us with the perfect image for this post.
On the subject of Sparky, Sherrie writes:
As far as “what I’m looking at,” it’s hard to see anything but the kitten. Until today, his crate rested on my desk. He’s moved to the next size crate—large dog size—and I’ve set it up beside my desk, so he’s still in my sightline where he keeps me entertained with his antics. Several times a day he’s let out of the crate and has free run of my desk and kitchen.
Mary Jo is also looking at her gorgeous animal companions:
I'm looking at CATS! Go away for almost a week, and when you return, they're everywhere. I have four cats, all adoptees, and I'll wake up in the morning with all three of the toms on the bed, assuring I don't slip away without feeding them breakfast. (The tabby girl will be in the powder room, yowling to be fed first, away from all those big bossy toms.) Here's the senior tom, Grady, looking like a space alien on top of a bookcase in my office.
From fur to feathers! Joanna writes:
When Nicola suggested we give everybody a glimpse of what we're doing ... of what we're looking at ... I said to myself something like --
So Andrea said -- 'That's your message right there, Joanna. Just snap a pic and you're done!''
Here are my poor attempts. Did you know that hummingbirds fight? They're fierce. They dive bomb each other and chase each other away from the feeder. Like jewels quarrelling. Beautiful.
Joanna, we’re glad you were able to capture such beautiful pictures!
Today I'm looking at some family photos and rearranging some of them in a new location. It's back to work tomorrow! Here are my three guys when they were young -- and a photo of the middle brother meeting the youngest for the first time.
Cara/Andrea is looking at the great outdoors:
I’m looking at the wild raspberries in my backyard and smiling. It’s been a tough summer for them. They usually ripen around Fourth of July, but heavy rains, then searing heat delayed the process until this week. For a number of years, I’ve had an annual ritual of picking them at the height of flavor and making a homemade “Framboise” with sugar and vodka to serve throughout the winter as an after dinner cordial at parties—it’s always a huge hit with friends. (Trust me, it’s delicious, and the rich color looks very festive in tiny crystal glasses!) I admit that I also eat handfuls right off the prickly vines, their sun-warmed sweetness the very epitome of summer for me.
This year, the sight is more special than usual because Hurricane Sandy really hammered my property last November. I lost lots of towering 100 ft. pines, which crushed much of the smaller plantings when they came crashing down. Cleaning up the debris—lumberjacks with chainsaws and tractors dragging logs and branches out to be carted away—pretty much destroyed the rest. I had a huge thicket of wild blackberry bushes that right now is a patch of bare dirt since the stump grinder and excavator finished their work earlier this summer. It makes me a little sad to look at it . . . but raspberry canes grow quickly, and it did my heart good to see them suddenly sprout up this spring in their old location. Rebirth, regeneration—the handful of berries I had this morning tasted extra sweet.
I'm looking with satisfaction at our runner beans. They're already producing delicious beans and I'll be stocking my freezer for the winter!
Nicola here, and I have been out and about too. July has been unusually warm and sunny in the UK, which has made it perfect for butterflies. I’ve been looking out for them on my walks with the dog. Last weekend we visited the ancient hunting ground of Savernake Forest. I love walking in Savernake. It has such an air of timeless history about it. I stand in awe, looking at oak trees that were saplings when King Henry VIII came hunting here.
At Savernake we were looking for the Purple Emperor butterfly. One thing I love about butterflies apart from their delicacy and jewel bright colours is that so many of them have unusual names and a rich and fascinating history. James Petiver named the Purple Emperor "Mr Dale's Purple Eye" in 1704 in honour of a fellow collector. By the middle of the 18th century it was known as the purple high flyer because of its penchant for living in treetops. It became the Purple Emperor in 1766, but in Germany it is" the large shimmer butterfly" and to the French "the greater flashing Mars" after the Roman God of War. Such impressive names for such a fragile creature! We found this one feeding on the ground.
Finally Anne has been beachcombing and finding the most delicious things:
I went down to the beach the other day. I was having lunch with two other historical romance authors in Brighton — the Melbourne version, not any of the many other namesakes of the original Brighton Beach. I took my camera, thinking that I'd pop down to the beach afterward and take a photo of the Victorian-era beach huts there. http://bit.ly/13NuYOd They're historically protected, though their exterior colors aren't exactly historic, and these days they're highly desirable properties. Recently one sold for half a million dollars.
However, it was easing into peak hour by the time I got there, and I overshot the car park turn off and ended up much further along from the beach huts. Thinking I'd walk off some of my very nice lunch, I took my camera and hit the beach to walk back. I walked on the sand, along the tide mark. Mistake. I'm a beachcomber to the core -- I don't think I've ever come away from the beach without having picked something up. The moment I spotted the first little piece of sea-glass, my pace slowed to a crawl. I love sea-glass, and I use it to make jewellery. I didn't end up making it to the beach huts -- I had to get to the city for a book launch -- but I did end up with a lovely collection of sea-glass.
We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into what the Wenches have been looking at this month. Now it’s over to you – what have you been looking at during July? Whether you have been travelling, visiting places, reading or just looking at the view from your window, we’d love to hear about it!