Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Procrastination Plus


You know how when you have multiple deadlines and are under stress, and it suddenly becomes imperative to declutter the kitchen – a job that has been looming for about, oh, two years – and rewrite the prologue to the novel you’ve been closeting in the cellar since 2004? That’s where I am today. It’s deadline city here at Charlotte’s Web – one project handed in this morning, another due tomorrow and another on Friday, some more next week, on and on until the end of the year. I’m thrilled to be busy and earning money, don’t get me wrong, but why do I choose this moment to need to clean out the knife drawer and throw out all the Tupperware lids that no longer have containers to match?

Anyway, while I was working very hard to avoid my work, some real distraction flew in, some genuine, not-to-missed procrastination action. It’s as if the Procrastination God just took pity me. Look at her, he said from his plump pillows, look at her messing about with rubber bands and cleaning cloths, it’s a bit pathetic really. Let’s send her something that will keep her staring out the window all afternoon in an open-mouthed daze so that tonight is a tense and horrible all-nighter. And to keep her at it, let’s make it something so fabulous that she’ll have to blog about it too, thus wasting even more time.

Dear readers, when I returned from collecting a Kind from Kindergarten (in the pouring rain, with wet shoes and a slight temper), I glanced out of my kitchen window to see not one, not two, not even three, but six (SIX! you hear me cry) European Eagle owls roosting in the pine tree opposite. I am watching six Uhus, folks, about six metres away from me. It being sleep-time, they aren’t up to much. There’s a bit of wing shaking going on, a bit of stretching and preening and head twisting. But most of the time the team are asleep.

I know these babies. We think they were born in the two pine trees in the bottom of our garden that our delightful neighbours asked to have chopped down. On dusky evenings we’d watch them cavort and play on the lawn, all squeaky with excitement, and then they’d be off with the parents for a bit of hunting school. Two summers have passed with no owl visits, until my friend from Dubai – who was also visiting that summer we got to know our owl babies – arrived last week. She and I enjoyed a lovely evening owl show, of swooping and prancing. We counted what we thought to be eight owls, but since they kept heading off on laps around the neighbourhood we were never completely sure how many.

I now confirm, dear friend from Dubai, that there are six owls. It’s autumn now, and they have returned to the garden of their birth to settle down and make some babies of their own. If you come back next summer, there’ll be more owl shows for you to watch. And luckily some of my other neighbours have lots of lovely trees for them to roost in. Maybe they’ll lay their eggs right here in front of my kitchen window.

If I didn’t have a hallway to declutter, a prologue to finish and a deadline to meet, I’d google me some connections between owls and the Romans (there was once a Roman temple where our house and garden now stand) and toss in a few literary flourishes for your amusement. But I really have to go and work. If any of you want to do that for me, I’d be so grateful, because right now I’m dragging these fingernails right off WordPress, saying good-bye to you and to my beautiful owl babies.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

15 thoughts on “Procrastination Plus

  1. How lucky you are! Owls, and bats for that matter, are lovely to watch, aren’t they?

    Years and years ago, when I was alone at my parent’s home, I heard what I thought were steps coming up our back staircase, and a repeated “ssshh”. I thought it might be robbers. I sneaked a peek through the kitchen louvers only to stare right into the eyes of a two-feet-high screech owl perched on the windowsill.

  2. Oh, I love owls! You’re so lucky to have some there to watch.

    But now I’m going to turn into a Mum/Editor…….Charlotte, stop fannying around and get your proper work done!!!!


  3. But how else is the kitchen going to get de-cluttered? Deadlines or other unpleasant facts of life are the only known catalysts for a spot of de-cluttering in our house.

    How lovely to have owls in the garden. We have a few round here but never up close and personal on a first name basis.

  4. wow!!! six uhus in your garden?! oh envy … i wanna see them! baby uhus are just the most endearing silly-looking creatures. forget about those deadlines! send pictures!

  5. Oh that does sound good (if not ideal under the circumstances). I agree with bine – post some pictures up! Great description of the scenario but pictures would be the icing on the cake…

  6. Ooh, I hear you, and I wish someone would explain it. I mean, doesn’t everything just always look messier whenever you have work to do? Strange connection.

    I had some owl visitors around this time last year–although not as majestic as your feathered friends 😉

  7. Lucky you! I would love to see owls in my neck of the woods and to be able to show some real live ones to the Bambina!

  8. Owls! My totem bird. We heard them in Suffolk last week but didn’t see any (probably staying out of the rain like us).

  9. I wish I could explain the whole need to tidy, de-clutter, poke holes in my eyes when a deadline is looming.

    Back in March, when we were visiting my in-laws, we had a nightly owl visitor. We’d be sitting on the front verandah, having our nightly drink and an owl would land on the fence and simply watch us watching him. Spellbinding, it was. How lucky you are to have a family of owls cavorting in your yard.

    (‘Fraid to say that the Romans, unlike the Greeks, didn’t much like owls. They were regarded as portents of doom. Poor owls.)

  10. (Can’t keep up with your posts. Must go back and read them all and comment appropriately!)

    How wonderful to see so many owls all in one place! That’s a good omen for sure.

    And yes, I am SO good about insisting on doing the things I really don’t need to do in order to push the REAL work aside. Thus the state of my house at the moment. 🙂

  11. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that does this; give me a deadline to meet and everything that has ever been postponed immediately has to get done. But I also have a habit of cleaning when I’m hopping mad. When I was teaching the children would measure the state of my current relationship by how often and how thoroughly we cleaned out the store cupboard. You should have been there the day we finally got to the back (it was a very large cupboard) and found among other things an old iron mangle and a three-legged stuffed badger!

  12. But, let’s not forget <a href= Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and crafts, who came from Athena, Greek goddess of same, who always had her owl. If I’m not mistaken in my Googling, there was a column with Minerva on its base found in your town!

    I think I’ll add owls to foxes as the two animals I’d most like to see in the wild.

  13. Aahh! Fix my html please!

  14. Charlotte, that’s amazing! I’ve never seen eagle owls running errh flying wild, so far. And I grew up in the middle of a good old German forest! We only had brown owls in our garden.
    Have you seen the Uhu “Julchen” at the Tinnuculus falconry ( in Heidelberg by now? It’s near the “Königsstuhl” inmidst the “magic forest” (
    I don’t like falconries very much, I prefer to see birds of prey spiraling at the sky – where they belong, but Julchen is so tame and friendly that you can touch her: and her feathering is so incredibly soft – so very very soft!
    But of course, all this is nothing compared to having 6 eagle owls living and breeding in your back-yard.
    I am green with envy. But enough of it now – deadlines are waiting!
    silke 🙂

  15. All right, I am not only green with envy but I am seriously thinking about going straight over to Expedia and getting tickets to your place so I can watch the owls too. Where did you live, again? How totally totally cool, and what a particularly proper reason to have to procrastinate.

    I was hours late for work one day back in the mists of time because the red tailed hawk who had a nest in the eucalyptus tree across the street was fledging her young and I felt compelled to watch the process. I did call my boss and explain what was going on, and lovely woman that she was, she not only did not fire me but allowed me to take a personal day so I also got paid.

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