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  • J. Darris Mitchell

Walkin' and Talkin'

ON Desk


A commitment to a volunteer organization has taken up much of my time this month so not a ton to report on works in process.


I have managed to outline a new project that will take place in the Archipelago (same world as A Crown of Cobwebs). I’m pretty happy with it and have been tinkering with a few bits. I’m trying to decide if I should try to power through and write a rough draft over the week between Xmas and New Year’s or use that week to start revision on The Crane and the Wolf in earnest. The new project sounds more fun, but that’s kind of a point for revising the old one. I like writing new things; revision is less fun. Either way, I need to finish my volunteer work for 2020 first. But I’m almost done! 2 more hours of training to go!


Personal Note


My one-year-old is now walking and talking! His favorite words are “kitten,” and “tickle.” The second word he uses while he wiggles his fingers and totters towards a target like a tiny, chubby-cheeked kaiju. He has yet to realize that humans and cats can be tickled (sort of on the cats?) but that a bowl of black beans or a piece of bread cannot be tickled. Apparently it a subtle distinction. Who knew?


We abstained from Thanksgiving, and in doing so broke the hearts of both of our kids’ grandmothers. We are now trying to engineer the guardrails for a safe Xmas. Both families have agreed to outdoors, but I’m not sure what’s that worth when they seem physically incapable of not touching their grandbabies. I think we’ve all been keeping safe, so its probably fine, but I have a feeling that quite a few families performed this exact same bit of mental logical gymnastics before heading off to Thanksgiving and adding to our country’s newest Covid-19 spike.


Saying, ‘well, we have been safe,’ feels a bit delusional to me. At the end of the day, we’re all apes trying to fight an invisible threat that won’t even make some of us sick… apes that drink wine. Fortunately, the holidays have always stressed me out, so I’m accustomed to the conflicting emotions.



Bird of the Week


The cold weather has brought strange and beautiful visitors to Travis County. I ventured to the western tip of the county to see a group of Mountain Bluebirds who came down to get out of the cold. Eastern Bluebirds are regular residents of central Texas, and I expected this montane variety to look much the same. However, they proved to be something special. With feathers the cool blue of a chilly winter sky, and no orange on their bellies, these bluebirds looked like they really did belong to a land of pine trees and deep snow.


I also managed to spot a Canyon Wren, a white-throated, orange tailed lil’ birb who was just tweetin’ his lil’ heart out from his perch on a dead branch.


I have seen 245 species of birds in Travis County THIS YEAR, making me the tenth nerdiest bird nerd in town! This weekend is Christmas Bird Count, an annual event where people go out and count all the birds! I am eager to lend my expertise, such as it is, but also am trying to balance staying safe. Birders are often retirees, and I do not want to spend eight hours with six 65+ year-olds. I think I’m Covid-19 free, but also not so competitive that I want to risk infecting those on the leader boards so I can pull ahead.

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