I first noticed it was because of the other birds mobbing it. It was hunkered down on a limb in my neighbor’s yard, and a blue jay, a mockingbird and a trio of crows were in nearby trees, screaming and occasionally swooping down at it. The hawk did not retaliate, but instead scrunched down, as if trying to disappear. Eventually one crow got too close, and the hawk launched itself heavily into the air – not to attack, but to flee. It didn’t fly further than a few trees away and then crouched close to the trunk. The other birds continued to yell and swoop as I got out the binoculars and tried to ID the hawk.
I knew it wasn’t a sharp-shinned hawk. They visit the area around my bird feeders frequently enough that I can spot them without binoculars. This new hawk was much larger and heavier. A little snow was falling and the light wasn’t great, but I decided it was probably a juvenile red-tailed hawk – a pretty common bird for my area, but a first-time visitor to my back yard.
John and I had some last-minute pre-Christmas errands to run so I had to leave without a better look. When I got back it was nearly dusk, but I could still see the hulking shape of the hawk, this time in our own yard, and with its back to me. I was able to get a better look at its tail and realized that I’d misidentified the bird – that it was more likely a red-shouldered hawk rather than a red-tailed. The species are not dissimilar and the juvvies are pretty easy to mix up, particularly for someone without a lot of hawk experience. I’m not swearing by that ID – I could very well be wrong again – but the hawk was closer to the house early this afternoon, and both John and I got a better look at it. In fact, John had a fabulous sighting: the hawk landed on our deck rail and stayed there for some minutes. Talk about jealous! I was in the shower and missed the whole thing. How I wished John had been able to snap a photo of the bird, but since he didn’t, this one I found on the internet will have to do.
We’ve seen him/her several more times today, mostly at the rear of the yard or in our neighbors’ trees or on the fence line. My bird feeders have been empty since autumn – I’ve been too busy to buy more seed – but I’d fully intended to fill them up on Christmas. However, having a resident hawk makes me reluctant to do so. I don’t want to set up my little feathered friends as a birdie buffet, no matter how entranced I am by our new visitor. (If I was sure the hawk would only make off with the English sparrows and the European starlings – both invasive, non-native species – I wouldn’t have the first scruple.) John wants to feed the hawk, but unless we catch a mouse or something, I don’t see that happening. I don’t think you can buy hawk feed at the local bird supply store.
Having wild creatures in my yard makes me happy, but having a Really Wild Thing visit, particularly during the holidays, feels like a special gift. I hope the Christmas Hawk hangs around for a while – at least into the New Year.
I’ve been fiddling with this new website for about a month and trying to get it sorted out before I “officially” launch it (meaning I’ll tell my family and friends on Facebook to come look at it). I’ve blogged for years on Blogger.com but wanted a website that would combine the blogging with news/info about my acting career and what I hope is a burgeoning writing career. WordPress (which hosts this site) offered more flexibility, but with flexibility comes choices, and I’ve had a lot of choices to make.
I was able to transfer my blogs over from Blogger (more or less intact), and will probably shut that website down once I get this thing firmly in the air. I was able to make separate pages for my acting work and my writing work, and even create sub-pages for those. Those pages will remain largely static unless I have something new to add; the blogging, of course, will go on apace, and those posts can be accessed from the right-hand menu on the main page. I am hoping to step up the frequency of the blogging as well – I’ve been remiss.
Some fun things about this new website: the ability to link to my infrequent tweets, put captions on photos (something I just discovered while writing this blog post) and let people share stuff here via Facebook, Twitter and of course, WordPress.
There are some things I’d like to change – the formatting of my current acting resume (which is the way my agency formats all its clients’ resumes) prevents me from importing it directly onto the Resume page as a file – it goes all wonky. My quick-and-dirty solution was to scan a hard copy and upload that like a photo. It’s not ideal, but it’s at least legible and I’ll get it sorted out to my satisfaction one day.
So – I hope you’ll cruise around my site, make some comments and let me know how it’s working for you. Let me know what you like, what you don’t like and what improvements you think I could make. I’d really appreciate some feedback.
Oh, and P.S.: I do moderate the comments on my website, but that’s mostly as a spam/crazy deterrent. I don’t mind if you disagree with me or have an honest opinion, as long as everything stays polite.
Yeah, I changed the format of the blog. Change is sometimes brought on by necessity, and in this case, I needed not to squint anymore. Hence the font size change.
Change is sometimes brought on by a desire to break away from the old, and in this case, the old format of the blog was looking more and more pinched – almost constipated. Hence the floatier, less boxed-in look.
And change is sometimes brought on by envy. I made some new friends at the writers’ conference, and a couple of them blog, and they use Blogger as their host, too, and their blogs were PRETTIER than mine. Damn it! I did a little investigating this morning and found out that my blog didn’t have to look so staid and formal, and a few clicks later, behold: a fresh new look.
Change by choice is always fun. Change by necessity, not so much. If you’ve been tracking this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a stage actress by profession, and one of the hardest things for those not in the business to understand is that we show folk spend all our time starting over. Those of us who are fortunate enough to land a long-running show (be it theatrical or otherwise) get a little more settled in, but for most of us, it seems that we no sooner get comfortable with a production than it closes and it’s time to move on. Yes, we might work at that theatre again, or with that director, that designer, that stage manager, those crew people or those actors again, but never in that particular set of circumstances. At the end of a run, you drop it all and you move on to the next project.
As with any new venture, there’s a certain amount of trepidation as the first day of rehearsal draws near, which is why so many of us refer to it as The First Day of School. We have our version of school supplies: fresh new scripts and our pencils and pens and highlighters. We have our version of teachers: the director, the stage manager, the designers (and if it’s a musical, the music director and the choreographer). We have our version of hall monitors: company managers, production assistants, technicians, crew members, accompanists and other musicians. We even have our version of the school’s administration in the form of theatre management (the PTA arrives later, when the audience comes into play).
And yes, we also have our version of classmates, in the form of fellow cast members. Some of them you may have worked with before (which can be either good or bad). Some of them you may know by reputation (which again, can be either good or bad). And some of them will be complete strangers. So the first week of rehearsal is spent not only learning from all the teachers and hall monitors and school administration, it’s also getting-to-know-your-classmates time. You figure out who sits where, who’s going to be the class brain or the class president or the class clown. You find out who’s going to be your best bud and who you might have to watch out for on the playground.
My First Day of School is tomorrow, when rehearsals for The Music Man at Arena Stage begin. I haven’t worked at Arena in over ten years, and the place has changed a lot since then – so much that I’m taking a tour after rehearsal, just to get acclimated. I know the show well; I played Zaneeta Shinn in a community theatre production when I was 16 years old, and shows you learn when you’re that young have a tendency to stick with you. This time around I’ll be playing Mrs. Paroo, so that’ll be fun.
Some of the company I know already: I’ve worked with several of them, and am good friends with a few. (It’s not like when I was a kid, an army brat always moving to a new place and arriving at the first day of school not knowing a soul.) I’ve got my pen and pencil and highlighter, so I’m ready. And I’m not a kid anymore, not by a long shot.
But it’s still a new start, a new beginning. New faces, new names to memorize, new things to learn. There’s still that fluttery First Day of School feeling, still the little mantra that every New Kid recites to herself:
Hope it’s fun.
Hope they’re nice.
Hope I can learn it.
Hope they like me.