No, nothing dire has happened to me. Between March and September we had a very steady stream of guests—never more than ten days between them—and then of course we were in PA all of July, with limited internet access. So, just very busy. Also, getting a lot of work done—some work-for-hire, as well as the POLISHED and severely chopped (but still 101,000 words) ms. of The Sword Dance
. Which I have now dared to send to my editor.
I finished that up on Friday, and now am hoping to have a bit of a lull. We are going to plant some apple trees.
Sara has been installed at Imperial Academy for the last month and is working hard. Actually, it is hard not to draw parallels to Hogwarts—the setting is incredibly beautiful, as the school is ringed by moor and mountain, and the buildings are all very sweepingly Victorian Gothic. Sara is not going out for quiddich, nor for the school's PIPE BAND (that's pipe as in bagpipe
), who perform at local flying shows and the Edinburgh Tattoo, in full regalia.sara in uniform, first day of school
(hmm, I notice looking at this picture how BIG her blazer is!)
What she has
joined so far is the riding club, the kayaking club (which they practice in their itty bitty ancient swimming pool—the poor thing got lost trying to find it on the first day because the building is labelled "BATHS" not "Pool"), and the "French Cinema Club." This last just cracks me up: I picture a smoke-filled room full of twelve-year-olds in black berets. So far they have watched a live-action Asterix film.
In bird world, the ospreys have all buggered off back to Africa. The chicks from the RSPB site at Loch Garten have been radio-tagged, and if you are as obsessed as me you can follow their migration progress here:http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/tracking/lochgartenospreys/index.asp
I managed to watch the first chick fledge at Loch of the Lowes remotely from Pennsylvania and an hour later my wireless link packed up. I picked up the wildlife center's blog post the next day via my niece's Wii link, but she couldn't get the webcam pics, and I wept
to think that it would be three more weeks before I got back to Scotland and could see them again. After four visits to the local Staples, each a 15 mile round trip from my grandmother's house, I finally got my laptop functional again in time to catch the second chick make its virgin flight.
But then my uncle took me osprey-spotting in his little boat in Great Egg Harbor Bay in New Jersey, and, well, my wounded spirit was mended. I actually lost count of the ospreys we saw. Lots of families sitting on nests, clearly females with not-quite-fledged chicks, with the male nearby (the nests are all on purpose-built pole platforms). The best view was of a male, female and 2 chicks all perched together and honestly no more than thirty feet away from us. The last one we saw was a male perched on a pole and clutching a gigantic fish—his family was on a nest rather further away kicking up a racket—and he flew over our heads and across the bay carrying the fish. They shift the fish round in their talons to head into the wind to reduce drag as they fly! pictures by my uncle Craig... note bloody fish!
Well, I will stop there before I get too twitchery. The Raptor Show continues in our front garden, as we recently got to watch a female sparrowhawk devour a woodpigeon AS BIG AS HERSELF right outside the study window.