Saturday, October 17, 2015

What Do We Have Here?

I was checkin' out my Little Free Library, when...


There's a Little Free Library label on this book,
but it's not my address!

I know there are other Little Free Libraries in my city,
but this address was not familiar.

So I headed over, and look what I found!

Isn't it cool?

Of course, I dropped off a book,
(and my card)...

... and picked up a book to take home.


A hardback copy of Stink!

If you're in the neighborhood,
check it out!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Taking A Leap

I am not a person in love with change.
Or risk.
Or leaps of faith.

However, although I don't love those moments in my own life,
I'm crazy about them in pop culture.

Ariel trading her tail for legs...

...Jim kissing Pam...

... Harry leaving with Hagrid after hearing,
"Yer a wizard, Harry."

I love that first meeting between Harry and Hagrid SO MUCH.

So when no classroom job turned up
 where I could put my spankin' new credential to use, 
I went ahead and took the PE job I was offered.

Take a chance, I thought.
Make a leap.

What's the worse that could happen?


This little angry piggie is the closest image to how I felt.

I was exhausted, chronically dehydrated, and only working two days a week.

Plus!  I only got to see the kids ten minutes or so at a time,
since I team-taught.

Stop, kids!  I want to talk about what you did this past summer!

A big reason I got into teaching was because I like hanging around kids!
I wanted more that the few minutes I got, for example, to discuss with one little girl
why she thought her sister was a squib.

Poor Filch.  And poor sister.

I thought I was stuck with my job,
but I got a call to interview for a part-time teaching job,
and realized that available jobs were appearing again on the websites.

I applied to several, interviewed, and yay!
was hired as a part-time "push-in" teacher in a kindergarten class.

Zoidberg shares my glee.

What exactly the new job entails, I'm not sure.
But I know I need to take a leap, 
if I'm going to move on to the next stage of my life.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Twenty-five years ago, I became an aunty for the first time,
when my niece Sierra Rae De Paul was born.

A rare pensive moment.

She was a happy baby and toddler,
and was loved and cuddled and cherished, 
as all children should be.

The trusting look of a well-loved child.

However, Sierra began to have seizures,
which meant medicine and doctor visits and worries.

With her uncle Gregg.

But Sierra was still a smiling, happy girl,
and although her verbal language didn't progress,
she seemed to have little trouble understanding those around her.

With her mother, my sister Vicki.

She could be mischievous, but never mean.
She liked to tease her parents by shaking her head "No" when they asked,
"Do you love Mommy?  Daddy? Mat?"
but they always knew her true feelings.

With her cousins and sister.

The seizures and more health problems continued,
but you wouldn't know it by her attitude.

This picture couldn't be more accurate.

Although her parents divorced when she was young,
her father was always involved,
and she was blessed to gain a stepfather who could not have loved her more.

At my sister's wedding to her second husband.

Looking at the photos now,
it's easy to see how Sierra became more and more frail as she got older.
Her cheerful nature remained a constant, though,
and it was a rare photo that didn't capture her smile.

With her sister and cousins, again.

In time, her bones became so fragile that she was given a wheelchair to get around in,
a development that she embraced, 
as it meant it was easier for her to get to where she needed.

Her twenty-first birthday. She loved having her whole family around.

When she was young, she loved Barney, balloons, and puzzles,
and she never outgrew that love.
It was gratifying to give Sierra a gift,
since she greeted a new balloon or puzzle with a squealing delight
that made everyone around her laugh and smile.

Her Halloween costume.

 But... late this summer, she didn't feel well.
Just as her parents had done countless times before,
she was taken to the doctor.
However, this time, as the doctor sent them on to the emergency room,
she stopped breathing.

The medical team got her breathing again,
but it was too late.  The damage had been done.

We spent a week in the ICU waiting room,
and the nurses told us they rarely saw the room so full.
"Sierra always brought us together," said her heartbroken stepfather.

When the doctor told us there was no chance of recovery,
my sister stood by Sierra's bed and told her,
"No more boots, Sierra.  Just Barney and balloons."

Barney was happy Sierra would never have to
 wear an uncomfortable "boot" cast again.

We said our goodbyes, and she slipped away,
surrounded by her closest family.

When it came time to plan her service, my sister was adamant that it would be a 
"Celebration of Life," not some sad, dark affair.
We dressed in purple or green, in honor of the singing dinosaur she loved,
and the room was filled with balloons and pictures of Sierra.

Just some of the family that was there.

I nervously read a one-page remembrance, and hurried back to my chair,
but my sister tenderly, steadily shared memory after memory of Sierra
and how she had changed those around her for the better.

At the end of the time, we took the balloons outside, and set them free.
We watched them float away, purple and green and buoyant,
and thought of how much Sierra would have loved to watch them fly.

 A person's life is like a stone dropped into water,
the ripples moving out farther and farther,
touching shores and the ripples from other stones.

Like others who knew Sierra, I feel changed by knowing her.

My sister and I, for example, had a ritual when we said goodbye:
instead of hugging,
we would stiffly put out a single arm and tap each other on the shoulder.

It was a little joke about how we weren't a huggy pair growing up,
but when I saw Vicki in the hospital after Sierra entered it
we put our arms around each other for the first time since we were small.

And without saying anything,
we knew that going forward that is how we would say goodbye.

Because life is too short to keep those we love at arm's distance.

***   ***  ***   ***   ***

 Goodbye, Sierra.
You will be missed by all who knew you.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I Will Save Youuuuu!

I am fortunate to live a few miles away from a very cool couple
who has made their house a Monarch butterfly way station.

I have bought several milkweed plants from them in the past, 
and used them to raise Monarch butterflies from egg to beautiful butterfly.

I had my new bushes just sitting out by the front porch...

... when I realized caterpillars were disappearing!

I blame these guys.

(Doesn't he look shifty?)

I thought I'd put them in my nice bug enclosure...

... but the enclosure was too short.

How was I going to save this last little guy?

(I named him Nemo, of course.)

Then I remembered a million years ago, I made my own photography light box
with nothing more than a box and some tissue paper.


I got it!

I started with an enormous Amazon box...

... some cheap screening...

... and some duct tape.

I go into battle for DUCT tape.)

I CAREFULLY cut two inches in from each side
(except the bottom)
with a box cutter and a heavy-duty ruler.

It looked like this when I was done.
(I reinforced any floppy bits with duct tape.)

 Then I cut the screening bigger than the hole,
but smaller than the edges,
and duct-taped it down.

For the top, I taped down one side of the screening,
but not the other three.
I reinforced the three other edges of the screen so I would have a handy flap.

I placed two milkweed plants inside...

... closed the flap,
and taaaa daaaa!

If little Nemo had hands,
I think he would give me a thumbs-up.


Here's an awesome timelapse video I found on the excellent website

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Have Questions

I found this little dude in my garden:

Is this cute or creepy?

It feels kinda "Game of Thrones"-ish.

As in,
"I shall eviscerate you
and use your hollowed-out corpse as shelter!" 

Game of Thrones S4E5 - Arya

I'm just sayin'...
did that little snail just find the empty snail shell,
or did it have a hand big slimy foot in the bigger snail's demise?

Inquiring minds want to know.