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Flycatcher's World - Web, Words, and Wonderful Critters

Updated on March 19, 2015

Who the heck is Flycatcher?

Just another living creature in this dew-spangled web, I go by "Flycatcher" because:

1. Flycatcher was the name of my first retired racing greyhound, the Hound of My Heart;

2. I'm very shy, so it has always felt more comfortable to use a nickname when I'm writing online; and

3. As a kid, "flycatcher" was my name for a spider, and spiders are just so cool. They build a beautiful web to catch whatever drifts by, and this seems to me very appropriate for the way that someone with many diverse interests tends to explore the world.

my dogs
my dogs

More Than You Wanted to Know

For those who really feel the need for data and details, OK, here goes:

  • I'm a Canadian who's about half-way through what any of us can reasonably expect for a lifespan.
  • I've been self-employed for almost all my life, mostly in three areas and often in all three of these at the same time:
    • beekeeping - recently downscaled to a backyard sideline;
    • dog training - I teach dog obedience classes in the evenings, a couple of times a week;
    • writing and publishing - non-fiction trade books, mostly, but also technical writing and, increasingly as the years pass, web content on a wide variety of topics. I don't specialize as much as I used to but still find myself drawn to areas of history and society, arts and culture, with a sub-speciality in web-based technology and almost anything to do with the outdoors.
  • My greatest joy is to learn new things... which may just be a way of saying I've got a really short attention span. :)

Retired Racing Greyhounds - Greyhounds are habit-forming. It's impossible to adopt just one.

two black greyhounds
two black greyhounds

This photo shows a classic summertime activity around my place, taken a few years ago when I had two black greyhounds - one male and one female. Both were retired racing greyhounds, of course, and just a pair of big goofs. Greyhounds can get pretty competitive when they're running and playing together, so I put their kennel muzzles on them when they're turned out in the big fenced yard, in case you're wondering why they're wearing muzzles in the photo. Actually, greyhounds are incredibly gentle dogs with a lot of love to give once they convert from livestock to pets, and they make me laugh every single day.

On January 2, 2013, I lost the beautiful big boy to an aggressive form of bone cancer, far too soon - he was only 5 years old. R.I.P., my gentle giant.

Update: Most recently, I've adopted a mature ex-racing greyhound with epilepsy. Buster has grand mal seizures that can be quite alarming, but the rest of the time he's a perfectly normal, healthy, happy, handsome brindle boy - you'd never know there is anything medically the matter with him. In fact, at the age of 7 years, he's now gone "back to school" (at the dog training school where I moonlight) and has got up to Grade 3 in Obedience.

Running With The Big Dogs - These are the Porch Pet Gates that keep me (almost) sane...

My partner designed these pet gates to close off our verandah so the dogs can hang out there without going off to chase the barn cats or find a skunk. Then he drew up a nice set of woodworking plans for people to make their own, because just that's the kind of thing we get up to out here in the country.

Two of the dogs shown in this video are visitors, staying at "sleep-over camp" while their owners, friends of ours, are away on vacation. The rest of the dogs are mine. Aren't they a fine-looking pack?

My old Golden Retriever, Cinderella
My old Golden Retriever, Cinderella

A Bit More on My Pets

Animals of all sorts are welcome!

Up until the beginning of January 2012, I also had a very elderly golden retriever. (You may pause here briefly to admire her photograph. What a beauty, eh?) I miss her very much... but that's the way of life, isn't it? We just have to deal with it, as a fair trade for the joy that our animals give us in the short span of time that we have them. And to be fair, I have perhaps more than my fair share of "pets" to love and enjoy.

Besides the ever-changing cast of Smart Cats who patrol my place (putting terror into the heart of unwary rodents), there are the honey bees.

And, before you ask - no, I'm not going to give a name to every one of the bees that buzz around my garden. (Admittedly, though I have been known to get quite attached to the occasional queen bee, for which the other beekeepers tease me unmercifully.)

Beekeepers.  Photo by the author.
Beekeepers. Photo by the author.

Honeybees

Beekeeping has a way of getting under your skin...

I got my first "nuc" of bees in the spring of 1999, and over the years "the girls" have become an essential part of my lifestyle in spring, summer, and fall right up to frost. And in the winter, I sit around and repair the apiary equipment, and think about getting back out to the beeyard when the snow is finally gone.

For a number of years, our colonies were hired out for pollination services, to growers of apples, strawberries, blueberries and cranberries - each crop in turn as it came into bloom - but apiculture at that level tends to take the fun out of it and feel a lot like work! When I realized I couldn't remember the details of each hive's health without copious notes, I knew it was time to downsize and get back to the pleasures of backyard beekeeping. With just a few colonies to keep friends and family in honey, beeswax, and other products of the hive, there's time again to sit in the sun and listen to the bees' soothing hum.

My Beekeeping Workbench / Assistant - It's called the Bee-Mate, because someone around here (not me) likes bad puns.

I am not a tall person and not particularly strong, and beekeeping can be a pretty physical activity - especially if you've got honey supers loaded for harvest. Those boxes get very heavy! So, my partner, who is not only a keen woodworker but quite an inventor (you saw the video of our porch pet gates, right?) came up with this folding workbench that I could drag out to the beeyard with me to act as a spare set of hands and also reduce the amount of bending and lifting involved in working the hives. That was back in 2004, and I'm still using the Bee-Mate prototype model - it's stood up really well over the years.

Since 2004, our woodworking plans for the Bee-Mate workbench have been purchased by beekeepers all over the world, and a couple of US beekeepers are now licensed to make Bee-Mate benches for sale in their own states. How cool is that? :)

Breaking News! - Bee photo makes the big time!

I'm not a good photographer, but it's not too hard to take half-decent pictures of honeybees if you're a beekeeper with a camera - assuming your camera doesn't have honey smeared all over the lens. When you know your bees and they know you, you can get up very close and just take your time about getting a good shot, without worrying about the "camera shake" that afflicts shutterbugs who are nervous around thousands of stinging insects.

The Bee: A Natural History
The Bee: A Natural History

I was tickled pink and proud as Punch to be asked my permission for one of my own bee photographs to appear in a beautiful new book - this one!

 
Kitty (c) Flycatcher
Kitty (c) Flycatcher

Cats

And then there are the Smart Cats, who rule over us all...

Although a "dog person" from childhood, I was long ago tamed and trained by a series of Smart Cats. It's hard to claim that cats are "pets" exactly, as clearly it is the cats who actually own us mere humans... Ah, but if you're a cat lover, you know all about that in your own life, don't you?

My favourite cat at the moment is a dear old 17-year-old barn cat with no tail. She comes and goes as she likes, tormenting poor Peter the good-natured ginger tom, and getting treats off every household in a two-mile radius when she gets bored with mousing. A half-dozen different families are under the delusion that Shadow Cat is their kitty!

The photo here is a typical portrait of my second-favourite, Kitty (yes, that's her name - and no, I didn't name her!), who is almost impossible to photograph because she's far too curious about what that camera thing is.

You can read some of my cat obsession stuff here along with those of some other writer friends in a collection of feline-fancier articles that just seems to keep on growing... much like the collection of cat figurines from around the world that begins to look like it might take over my china cabinet. But who can resist just one more, when each feline friend is a treasure in his or her own right?

Right, so that's quite enough about me (and then some)... I'd love you to introduce yourself in the guestbook here, if you've got time to write a comment and say Hello!

So good to meet you! - Leave me a quick note to say "hello"?

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    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 2 years ago from California

      Introduce myself...OK, I am Kathy. Apparently I read this 3 years ago, but hey, always nice to stop back by and learn something new :) Love the humor, just like I did last time.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      I knew you that are from Canada! However, it is great to know about you and your lifestyle.

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      Flycatcher, It was fun reading about your pets and work--- an interesting life. Thanks for sharing and letting us get to know you a little more. Great lens! Oh, I had wondered how you got your username : )

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Hi Flycatcher, so nice to get to know you better through this lens :) My mom always said that anyone who loves animals has a good heart. She has a big rottweiler (kinda scary) but he's a sweet big baby! Thanks for all your help since I've started here on Squidoo, you seem like a very friendly and helpful person!

    • profile image

      Colin323 3 years ago

      If you like dogs & bees, you must be a good person! Cats are another matter though, but nobody's perfect.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I don't know how I've missed this page, but I'm glad I finally read it. The fence design is great and I'll share it with a tweet. Love your pet stories and your heart for God's creatures.

    • Jemjoseph profile image

      Jemjoseph 4 years ago

      I like the way your name "Flycatcher" reflects the way you catch whatever interests you on the world wide web, quite creative. It's nice to have met you Flycatcher.

    • FrancesWrites profile image

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      "...I was long ago tamed and trained by a series of Smart Cats." SNAP!! :)Nice to meet you Flycatcher. I'm a Squidoo newbie (Squidoobie?) and your one of your "How To... How Do" questions provided the inspiration for one of my first lenses. I've just published that here How to Find North without a Compass and I've credited you in the lens and linked back to your page here for a bit of link love. Hope it helps your Squidooing (and I hope I'm doing it right ;) )

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 4 years ago

      I didn't realize you had been involved in beekeeping? Kudos to you especially when we hear the reports about the bees in jeopardy in the USA.

    • geosum profile image

      geosum 4 years ago

      Good reading about you and your animals. I miss having cats and dogs in my current location. Maybe someday...

    • KonstantinaK profile image

      KonstantinaK 4 years ago

      Hi Flycatcher, after your help I wanted to get to know you better. I'm involved in animal rescue overseas , mostly dogs, and it was nice to see your love for dogs and your two rescued greyhounds. I will be coming back as you have so much going on and there is so much to read. Wonderful!

    • profile image

      kimadagem 4 years ago

      So sorry to hear about the loss of your two babies; I've lost a cat myself and I know how hard it is. Not being much of a "dog person" I've only ever met one greyhound; he was a retired racer who found a home with a coworker. And yes, as you said, he was a gentle giant - which was great for someone like me who is a bit wary of canines.

    • Eileen N Dogs profile image

      Eileen N Dogs 4 years ago

      Hi Flycatcher! I linked to your list of dog training books in my new lens in debunking pack theory in dog training. It was very helpful to have a good library already made up. I love it that you keep it current. Thanks! eileenanddogs

    • skhdesigns lm profile image

      skhdesigns lm 4 years ago

      Hello! I love the gate you have on the porch! I am not in need of one now but if ever...... Glad to see another fellow dog lover!

    • profile image

      MiaMusement 4 years ago

      I send heartfelt condolences on the loss of your gentle giant greyhound early this month. He looks very happy in the photo, and that seems a good way to remember him. You're right: it is the way life works, but it does hurt sometimes. Sending you a virtual hug...

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, what a lensography! I am sorry for the loss of your beloved golden retriever. Losing an animal companion is just about as difficult as losing a human one.

    • profile image

      BigMoneyNet 5 years ago

      Thanks for your advice! I love the history behind your screen name. For us as children we had a thing for bees. We were always running around catching them in jars so we could inspect them without getting stung.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 5 years ago

      Enjoyed getting to know you a little, and I appreciate your helpful comments on my Rocket Squids lenses.

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 5 years ago

      Just dropping into say hello

    • flycatcherrr profile image
      Author

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      @grannysage: The dogs don't jump the porch railing because they're having way too much fun on the porch. :) Thanks for the visit, @grannysage, I enjoyed poking around some of your lenses yesterday and getting to know you a little bit too.

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      Just wondering why the dogs don't jump over the porch railing. I agree about cats, they own us and train us to their wishes. Bee keeping sounds like an adventurous undertaking. I enjoyed getting to know more about you.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      You have almost as many interests as I do! It's a joy to get to know you better. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You have so many interests - some very unusual - you must lead a very interesting life. Very nice to meet you and your very special animals!

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Hi Flycatcher! Thanks for liking my newest lens - how to build a small backyard patio. I am also Canadian and also about half way through my life, well maybe a little more than halfway but hey I plan on living to be 100! :) Your greyhounds appear to be full of personality - love the pics!

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 5 years ago

      Love your world and your lens! Sweet dogs! And I'll be sure to check out your honey's doodle shop on Zazzle later this week! ~ Hmmsuddenly my mouth is watering for some honey freshly harvested from the hive! Too bad you live up north. I have an hyperactive older wheaten that definitely needs more training and then some! I bet your greyhounds could give her a workout.:)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

      Either I am psychic (which I doubt) or I have been here before :) Your interests all sound cool, but I like the tradebook publishing one the most but didn't seen an article on this (I looked). Besides being a good writer, I love your sense of humor.

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 5 years ago

      I am laughing! I have to go see your greyhound in the angel costume! Plus we have similar humor bones and my mom is considering adopting a retired greyhound! :D ~Ren

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 5 years ago

      You sound like a seriously cool lady... If you're ever in the midwestern U.S. (Kansas City, to be precise) let me know and I'll buy you coffee and dessert.

    • canoz profile image

      Heather Bradford 5 years ago from Canada

      Well we have a few similarities... I'm female, don't have a TV either, and telemarketers just bring out the worst in me! Poor things... I know they're just doing their job! My husband is Canadian and my father keeps bees so I have a soft spot for those things too ;-) I think using Flycatcher to honour your beloved dog is wonderful.... we planted a memory tree for our dog (a hibiscus actually) and it often cheers me up when I see the blooms and remember her! Lovely to get to know you a little. Thanks for sharing.