Good Yule
(and Happy Holidaze)

COVID-ly birding at 4,500 feet, looking for an elusive woodpecker.
We discovered that birds do not flush as quickly when we wear our disguise.

Best wishes for a joyful Yule,
a return to sanity in the coming New Year,
and having 2020 (in) hindsight.

♩ ♫ ♩ ♫ ♩ ♫ ♩

                            Larry and Janis
                            "Pandemic Partners"

2020 Highlights

The Birdy Couple:

•   Santo Flaminga (Plasticopterus rudolpher) pretty much says it all in terms of serious birding this year. I.e., we went nowhere, other than virtually. As it turned out, Janis only had one trip planned, cancelled of course, and rescheduled for next year — with any luck.

As with many of you, I'm sure, we did our share of jigsaw puzzles and binging on Netflix and Prime, our current favorites being The Brokenwood Mysteries (New Zealand), 800 Words (New Zealand), New Tricks (Great Britain) and The Great British Baking Show — the latter of which we watched mulitple episodes while, for the first time ever, cooking the entire T-day feast (for two), then eating leftovers for three days and still having enough in the freezer for Christmas.

On the silver lining side of things, I made a record 49 forays (and still counting) into Tecolote Canyon (two blocks away), hiking and birding, the birds of the year (in said canyon) being (sad to say) an American Coot (right), accompanied by (yay!) an elusive Green Heron (left), foraging in Tecolote Creek (or what's left of it).

Pandemonic haircut: The mop on my head got shaggier than ever (a common problem, I imagine), what with avoiding the barber shop. (With a growing bald spot, and viewed from behind, I had acquired a Cadfael-like tonsure, befitting my "Friar" nickname.)

Then, one October morning, someone (unbeknownst to me) unceremoniously threw a bag over my head, tossed me into a vehicle, and hauled me away. I ended up strapped to a chair at a remote location while a horrific device of torture buzzed about my head. Janis swears she had nothing to do with it. Uh-huh.

Book / Writing News:

•   Fortuitously, I had a busy year, editing more than a dozen book manuscripts and seeing a number of them published. (No, I do not receive any payola for singling out the following books.)

  • One book I'm particularly proud of is She's So Cold: The Stephanie Crowe Murder Case — A Defense Attorney's Inside Story (nonfiction, true crime).
        In January 1998, 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found brutally stabbed to death in her own bedroom, in the small town of Escondido, California. Defense attorney Donald E. McInnis lays out the unjust prosecution of Stephanie's 14-year-old brother Michael and two of Michael's friends. McInnis exposes the horror police officers and prosecutors can inflict upon easily manipulated youths who are treated as though they have the mental capacity of adults.
        To prevent this type of injustice from occurring to others, the author has proposed a new Miranda warning specifically worded for juveniles and a Children’s Bill of Rights.
        The book (paperback, ebook) will be released on January 21, 2021, marking the anniversary of Stephanie's murder. Anyone interested in this book may pre-order the Kindle edition now.

    Midwest Book Review says: "A powerful read. No reader of true crime or juvenile rights should be without this outstanding book. Law professors will find She’s So Cold holds much fodder for classroom discussion and debate, as well."

  • The Fourth Rising (fiction, suspense) by Martin Roy Hill (July 2020).
        I mentioned this book last year, but it did not come out until last July, and it has a theme relevant to the political climate today.
        On May 8, 1945, WWII in Europe ended with Germany’s surrender. But did the Nazi Party itself surrender? Some say no. The horrific murder of an old flame’s husband sets former war correspondent Peter Brandt on the hunt for hidden Nazi treasure. The search takes him down a bloody trail leading from the drug cartels of Mexico to a neo-Nazi training camp in the Southern California mountains. Along the way, he unearths a decades-long Nazi conspiracy to create a new Fourth Reich and continue the Nazi Party’s plan for world domination. Inspired by true historical events.

  • Quick & Easy EMF Guide: 99 Tips to Lower Exposure to Harmful Electromagnetic Radiation — Includes Dangers of 5G & Smart Devices by Lois Cadwallader and Bill Cadwallader (nonfiction, health & safety).
         Remember the novel coronavirus? The COVID-19 pandemic? Like EMFs, we couldn’t see, touch, or smell that invisible enemy. Now is a good time to unburden and protect our immune system as much as possible. Although we cannot totally escape the presence of EMFs, we can take steps and adopt habits that will greatly reduce our exposure to harmful electromagnetic radiation. This provides 99 Tips to lower exposure to harmful electromagnetic radiation, including the dangers of 5G wireless communication & smart devices.

  • Pursuit of a Woman by Milton Turner (fiction, romance).
         A heartwarming story of romance and love sparked by a man's chance encounter with a mysterious woman. It could be the basis of a movie on the Lifetime channel. The book will be released March 15, 2021.

  • I did little writing of my own, but I am in the process of completing an audio book of Dare I Call It Murder?, which (with any luck) will be out next year. (No, I am not narrating it myself.)

Music Arena: Not much fiddling around since early March. Which gave me the time to work on a project of my own: The Pandemic Sessions — New Tunes in the Old-time Style (mostly).


The Pandemic Sessions comprises a series of recordings of compositions by yours truly — aka the Fiddlin’ Friar (an ironic moniker I acquired as a mountain man re-enactor). This volume contains the sheet music of these compositions, as well as explanatory notes.

A companion CD will feature most of the tunes, or the tracks may be downloaded individually. The recordings include me playing the fiddle (because I couldn’t afford to hire a Nashville pro — beaver plews, apparently, no longer being as good as gold), as well as bass and (very little) guitar. The accompanists and featured soloists include virtual guest artists (a number of whom are Nashville pros).

Some of you will recognize a few of the tunes — Manitoulin Thunder, Grinnin' Al Grennan, Red Pint Rag, Spellbound Waltz, Fiddling Infidelities, Strummer’s Breakdown — and it includes a number of newer tunes written in the past year or two, including Got the Pandemic Blues, Fleece & Flannel, Bíawaaisee Baaló (Bead Woman), and Ode for Elijah.

I had hoped to have this completed this year, but life (and work) intervened, so I'm now looking at early 2021 (as the Pandemic rages on).

More info at: The Pandemic Sessions — New Tunes in the Old-time Style (mostly)

Related Links

•   Winter Solstice — Shortest Day of the Year (northern hemisphere)
•   Winter Solstice Traditions: Rituals for a Simple Celebration
•   Larry's Facebook Page
•   Wigeon Publishing

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