Friday, May 29, 2009


After days of clouds and rain, the sun finally came out. I took the opportunity to capture Iris in all her glory.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that librarians have special powers. I still need some of the books I took out, but they've been renewed the maximum amount of times and were due. My librarian was able to give me an extra three weeks! After returning one and reordering it via interlibrary loan I figured there had to be a better way. Next time, I'll ask if I can do this with a phone call instead of a visit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Today the contest results arrived. Wow, what a surprise (smiley face). On the certificate the chairman judge wrote "congratulations on finding a topic of interest to kids and researching well." The thing that pleases me is my nonfiction entry was competing with fiction too. I also think the shorter entries for younger kids have an advantage. There are less places to go wrong in your writing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm SO EXCITED, I went poking around a contest website and found I'd won 1st honorable mention in the Children's Literature category of the 2009 CNW/FFWA Florida State Writing Competition!!! I have yet to receive anything in the mail. That makes my day.

It's actually been a tough day where I've put the pedal to the metal chiseling away at these revisions. At daybreak, I had 20 questions left to answer so I figured if I tackled 5/day I could get it done in 4 days and still have time to review the article. It's very slow because I need to locate obscure little facts that I know I've read somewhere and can't remember where. I'm spurred on knowing if I do more then 5 I will have less to do in the future. I've got 9 left and the day is young. Way to go!

As for the bunny, the chill of the night turned into the thrill of the hunt. A carefree bunny skipping through the yard became a trophy, carefully placed. Bad kitty.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lady's Slipper

As promised, here are the photographs of a Lady's Slipper taken this morning under a confused sky. I was hoping for sunshine. I like the first one because it reminds me of a woman wearing a poufy Elizabethan dress and bonnet.

Warning all Facebook users. Delete any emails that say "check out bit clan be." It's a virus. There's a phony Facebook site at that website and it will infiltrate your email.

I was on the trail this AM with the camera so pics of Lady's slippers are forthcoming.

Yesterday evening while I was doing some revisions outside, a bunny went flying by my feet with my cat in hot pursuit. It was startling and amusing. This cat is an indoor cat and has never caught a thing. To see her high tailing it across the lawn was pretty comical. This evening the other cat (the hunter) showed up at the back door with a tiny bunny. Three of us were sympathizing with the bunny as it rushed off the side of the deck. The cat was kept inside until the rabbit escaped across the street. Since Zajac means hare in Polish, it was the least we could do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

At the library this past week, I picked up a survey to complete. The library received money from somewhere (grant? donor?) and they're trying to find the best use for that money. One question was to describe your ideal library. There is enough space for one sentence and that's it. Hah. One of my very first thoughts was a drive thru window. Most of the time I run to the library to fetch inter library loans at the circulation desk, then I'm gone. A drive thru window would make it easier for parents with small children, people with walking problems, and others who arrive for quick book pick-ups. After a quick search, I was surpised that some libraries in PA and OH have them. My library is is in an old mansion which has a marble circulation desk that is very elegant. But it's very open. Little spaces with cozy couches and plants would make me want to stay there versus grab and run. And certainly any renovations should be environmentally appropriate. There's plenty of other questions, but that one alone got me thinking.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today I got an early start. 5 minutes = 2 degrees hotter. When I left the house it was 61 degrees. A little more then an hour later, it was 88. On the trail I saw furloughed and furry-ed friends. I know because my husband is out back on a UTC furlough day. But no one seemed to mind. On the shaded trail, I tried to catch up to a woodchuck, but it scrambled up a steep embankment and stopped, frozen on a ledge. I stopped and we were eye to eye. If only I had a camera I could have captured it's plump tawny body.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This is what it's like to be a writer.....

Yesterday, my 2,000 word article came back from the repair shop covered in red ink. There were 48 (give or take a few) questions added that I need to answer, delete, or talk my way out of. That's one question for every 40 or so words. But whose counting? Questions like "where?" "why should they?" "when?" "how did she do that?" Answering these questions will inevitably increase the size of this manuscript which I've been assured is fine.

My mother is always telling me I ask a lot of questions. I wonder what this editor's mother tells him. I suspect he's been put up for adoption for harassment.

Today, I added a descriptive paragraph. It's a good thing I don't write fiction. I'm not sure I'd ever finish a manuscript the way I spend so much time tossing descriptive words in the air. But there is one sentence I wrote that I'm particularly fond of. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yesterday, under a cloudless sky on a mottled trail, I ran an energized 6 miles and was rewarded with the sight of 3 bounding deer, a fluttering swallowtail butterfly, and a collection of lady's slippers. I plan to get a picture of the lady's slippers and post it, but for now the camera batteries are exhausted and need some recharging.

Last night, I waited patiently under a clear sky with my binoculars. The space station was due to zip across the sky from 9:07 to 9:09PM. This time I was ready. But it pulled a no-show. Figures.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

4:28 A.M., two things occurred to me.
1. Coincidentally, a few days ago I read a book that had a picture of barium sulfate in it. In the last article I completed, I wrote briefly about barium sulfate. The book mentioned it is phosphorescent. That got me wondering if this is the component in anatase that makes it glow under an ultraviolet light. No barium sulfate was found in the map ink. This is a key question. Does pure anatase without barium sulfate glow under ultraviolet light? If yes, that explains everything. If no, the mystery deepens. What is causing the ink to glow under UV light. And I thought I was done analyzing this.
2. If publishers are struggling due to difficult economic times and writers are undervalued, I don't see how they can be appropriately valued. Then again, I'm only on Chapter 3 of "A Whole New Mind."

Monday, May 18, 2009

I found this post at Roger Tory Peterson Institute about nest eggs. It clearly says not to disturb the nest! I was talking to my next door neighbor. Every year a robin makes a nest in his rhododendron bush and something bites the heads off the baby birds. SICK! He removes the nest before the eggs are laid.

I'm enjoying reading my blog traffic reports. The thing that entertains me the most is the bizarre search criteria used to enter the site. Today a friend got here by doing a google search on "Linda Zajac this is Emily." Cute.

Today, I added a science link to the Howard Hughes Medical Center CoolScience website. It looks like a pretty decent site for educators and for kids too.

I read a couple of nonfiction science books edited by an editor I've worked with and now I'm reading "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. Page 1: "The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind - computer programmers who could crank code.......The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind - creators and empathizers.....These people - artists, inventors, designers, storytellers...... will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys." Interesting that it mentions the computer programmer of my past and the "storyteller" of the present. I missed creativity when I did computer work. It mentions the creative fields have always been undervalued. I've always associated that with the population of writers not with the actual value/importance of the job - sort of a supply/demand scenario. And we all know there is a HUGE supply of writers. The book is certainly giving me material to think about.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I found this article about enhancements to the google search function. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing thoroughly. I did spot a google squared function that sounds really helpful for research. It will produce a spreadsheet so the user can cross check data from multiple sources to determine if information is accurate. This will certainly speed up the process of verifying questionable information and will also help kids when they do research.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's ironic that my efforts to save the eggs contributed to their demise by luring a predator to the nest. Now doesn't that figure?

I signed up for sitemeter to keep track of blog activity. But when the reports listed zero visitors even though I'd been on my own blog, I knew something was wrong. Yesterday, I figured it out. Now if you scroll all the way to the end of the posts you'll find a little sitemeter icon that I was sorely missing. It made all the difference in the world. The reports don't identify the person, but it does identify how they got to the site, where they live, and how long they were visiting. Good stuff to know.

So far, today's visitors are from CT (that would be me), TX, AZ, LA, CA, Quebec, and the U.K.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No, I won't be adding more raisins to the robins nest. My cat spent a lot of time watching that nest, but I think she slept through today's raid. After a quick check on the nest, I found the eggs had disappeared. Could the baby birds have hatched in half a day and flown off? I don't think so. Look below and see what I found in the grass. Not a good sign. Did the bird seed in the nest attract a bird that eats robins eggs? Probably. A wildlife rehabilitator I am not.
This morning, I checked on those eggs and I'm happy to report that a bird flew out of the bush! Now, do I add more raisins to the nest?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Surprise surprise! After no activity for a couple of days, I took a look at the nest today and found many of the raisins have disappeared. That's the good news. The bad news is that my cat (the hunter) was positioned at the base of the rhododendron tree.....waiting. Did I lure a bird back only to see my cat polish it off. I hope not.

After meeting with my writing friend, I emailed the completed article today!!!!!!!! I was happy that after reading it, she was uncertain whether the document was authentic or a forgery.

I've been also tinkering with online technology. I added site counters to this blog to get traffic stats since I've no clue if anyone besides my mother reads it. With the help of a cousin (once removed), I've also been getting a little more familiar with Facebook. I now understand the power behind this social networking tool.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Here's my last ditch effort to save the eggs. I got the brainy idea of filling the nest up with seeds figuring the robin won't have to work too hard to get food. That was before I went online and looked up what robins eat. Naturally, they don't eat seeds. But they do eat fruit so I plumped up some raisins in water and filled the nest up with those. If a robin doesn't return to the nest I will have to conclude there is no room for the poor bird. Nothing like tampering with nature.

Friday, May 8, 2009

At 5 A.M., cool air sneaked in through the window, opened a crack. A mourning dove cried. I was reminded of the 3 abandoned eggs. What kind of a mother bird are you? If birds could write, they'd never last in this profession with their lack of perseverance. There's nothing wrong with those eggs, they didn't crack. Get back on the job, buster. I've considered covering them with grass, a little swatch of fabric or bringing them inside, but what would I do with them if they hatched?

I created a new Facebook account under Linda Rose Zajac to set myself apart from all the Linda Zajac's in the world. It's mainly because I'm now writing for high school aged kids who are attracted to online social networking. As of this writing, I have all of 2 friends. Effort to find friends = close to zero. When I invited my daughter to friend me, she emailed while in school "STALKER!!!!" Ut oh. What is she doing midday emailing me when she is supposed to be at school paying attention? What am I doing midday mopping up the cellar after one college student overloaded the washing machine? Humph.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Somewhere in the soaking woods, there's a grief stricken robin. After finding the three eggs in the dirt this afternoon, I scooped them up with a spoon. Carefully, I pushed the nest back in the crook of the rhododendron tree and put the eggs back as good as new. Normally, they hatch in 12-14 days. That's pretty fast. But I am sad to say the robin did not return. This evening, angry rain punished the innocent eggs. I hold out little hope they will hatch.

Afterward, as I sat outside reading in my Adirondack chair, I thought about the eggs I tried in vain to save and was reminded of a scientist I wrote about not too long ago. Interesting similarities. I was looking forward to posting pictures of the eggs cracking and baby chicks. It was not meant to be.

But for every sad story there is a happy one. I've included a picture looking down through the crowns of my "royalty tulips" (I obviously forgot their real name). They remind me of sliced starfruit dressed in red.

I hate to admit this, but I'm back again playing with ink. First of all, yesterday I noticed that oil pigments and gelatin don't mix so I needed liquin (linseed oil) to make it work. I'm not sure if that was a component in the chemical tests so today I played around with water colors. Since I did not have titanium white, I used Chinese white. It was basically a test to see how everything mixed together and to see what kind of browns I could produce with complimentary colors purple(grape jello) and yellow ochre. Here's a plateworth of results. I did use an ivory black to deepen the color. I also tried cheery gelatin (the red splotch on the right), but don't think that would have done it.
Hopefully, I can get a life soon and move onto a new project while this article moves back and forth for editing.

It doesn't appear so......

I did a little research on jell-o to see when it was invented and if grape jell-o was even around during 1957 when the map was discovered (I figured it was). I found some interesting stuff. Jell-o is an antique. The first flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry, and raspberry. In the 1950's and 1960's new flavors were produced - black cherry, black raspberry, blackberry, and grape. Hmm. Blackberry is a deep purple too and now I'm wondering what kind of browns that would produce. But I do need to get a life and get moving onto a new project as mentioned above....................Hmm.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today I amused myself by pretending I was a forger. I wanted to see what kind of browns I could make from grape gelatin, yellow ochre and titanium white. I also wanted to see how long it would take a mixture like this to dry - would a forger have enough time to sprinkle soot on the ink? Another thing I was interested in was how would a line look if soot were sprinkled on to wet ink. Well, I didn't have any soot. The closest thing I could find was small granular black embossing powder that is used for rubber stamping. Conclusions: The gelatin definitely needs to be dissolved in hot water before using otherwise it's grainy. There is time to sprinkle soot before the "ink" dries. The color was a golden brown and I'm not sure if it's dark enough to match iron gall ink. Note: I sprinkled my name in various places with powder, but made no attempt to cover it completely.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yesterday I opened a piece of mail and thought wow, Emily took great pictures of Beinecke Library the day we were there. But they weren't photographs, they were postcards. She collected the postcards for me while I was busy taking a couple more pictures and then forgot to give them to me. Also inside was a nice little surprise that I needed - a chocolate in the shape of CT with the words "best places to work 2009."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ut oh, guess who else has spotted the nest in the rhododendron bush? She walked out the door and craned her neck right through the deck rails....waiting. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Marbles, is a cold blooded murderer, killing things for the sport of it. Nice kitty. Then she expects us to be thrilled when a half-dead item is left by the back door. The second picture was taken from the deck looking down into the nest. What an excellent vantage point! The bird was out there in the rain incubating - not that I noticed.

And about that article that was finis, well this AM, I made a few minor changes to the last two sentences and a couple of other sentences too. My friend Emily who went with me to see the Vinland Map at Beinecke Library is now a self-proclaimed "expert" on the map. She urged me to email her the article "for her review." Snicker. That definitely was a memorable day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Look what we found in our rhododendron bush right off the back deck! There are 4 eggs inside that nest. I hopped on a stepladder to take the nest picture, so hopefully I didn't disturb them. I suspect the 2 robins were fighting over whose stupid idea it was to build the nest so low to the ground and off a deck where 2 cats roam. I'm hoping to get more pics when they hatch.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


There's something very pleasant about planting flowers by a mailbox. It's comforting to walk by them when lousy mail arrives - not that I ever get crummy mail or anything. These are my favorite tulips. They remind me of royalty. After busting stones for two straight days verifying my words, I'm delighted that the article is complete!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Since school was closed yesterday due to swine issues, Julia and I headed for the equine pastures to do some horseback riding. Quite honestly, I contemplated whether I should bring my article and verify it in the car while she trotted off. I thought I might regret not going so I saddled up on Lady. After a 25-30 mile bike ride (a personal record) From Vernon to Columbia this past weekend with Walt, I wasn't too terribly keen on bouncing around in the saddle as much as my horse was eager to run. It certainly was a different way to see the woods. At the end of the ride, when I was spacing off looking at the gigantic white tent for horses, Lady lurched forward when she spotted the truck portion of a tractor trailer with engine running. It was a VERY good thing I had one hand on the reins and the other on the saddle because that was a bit too sudden for my liking. Our trail leader commented that I had good control of the horse. Yeah right, the thing nearly threw me!

When I returned home, I was quite happy to find a nice detailed email from a scientist. It gave me the last bits of information I needed to finish the article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!