What. Ever.

Today’s Daily Post prompt is “Agile.” Aaaand, I was stuck. Agile? I have the grace of a drunk badger. I can climb like a monkey at work, and I have to in order to reach some of my exhibits, but I have taken some hard spills. And with the exception of a pinkie toe a few weeks ago*** I haven’t broken any bones. And that which does not kill me is proof that I don’t have osteoporosis. So yes, I’m a tough nut to crack, but I’m not agile.

Helpers. The Caiman Lizard climbs to the top of his exhibit and sits on the edge to supervise my work. I call him Visa because he is everywhere I want to be. His perch here is 8ft off the ground.

My best friends at work? I write about them a lot, but they’re not so agile, either.

Eastern Box Turtle hatchling. He says “I carry my house around on my back. I don’t need to be agile, too.”

My best friends have shells, so I don’t hold their lack of agility against them. My snakes are agile. And I do love snakes. But this isn’t a post about snakes.

Piebald Ball Python – a pet snake in my house. So cute. He’ll be agile one day.

The only thing about me that can slide up and down with the fluidity of a first chair trombone is my frickin’ mood. This morning, my brain is in overdrive. I got up, and all was well. And then…

It snowed! YAY!!!

Wait. I can’t get to work without a ride. I’m snowed in. ARRRGH!

But a snow day at home with the kids? Snowball fights and long walks with the dogs? Awww!

But my Dart Frogs need spraying or their eggs will dry out. THEY WILL DIIIIIIEEEE!

calling frogs

Boss man said he can mist the eggs. Whew!

The Padawan has been sneaking food downstairs, and now I have to ground him for the day, and it’s a snow day so I will have to deal with his crappy mood ALL DAY, and when will he ever learn, but he also just finished the essay that isn’t due until next week, and it’s 2 pages longer than the minimum, and I am a terrible mother for punishing a good student, but then if I don’t, he will never learn, and I am a TERRIBLE MOTHER! And also a terrible writer. That was  one hell of a run-on sentence.

And then the husband brought me coffee. And I might weep with gratitude.

But then the Little Kid Formerly Known as Squish has decided that I can be convinced to let him buy more Nerf blasters and darts. We have an arsenal of these stupid things. No! TAKE  NO FOR AN ANSWER, OR I AM GOING TO THROW EVERY NERF BLASTER WE OWN INTO THE SINKHOLE BEHIND THE HOUSE!

But there’s caramel hot chocolate.

AND MORE NERF BLASTERS! AND THE KID WON’T LET GO OF THE CAT! AND MY ANXIETY IS CHEWING ON THE INSIDE OF MY SKULL!

But kitties.

Bellatrix has the right idea on a snow day!

AND THE KID IS BEGGING ME TO RENT A BOB SLED!

But now he’s found a cardboard box to sled in. Isn’t he creative? I love that kid and his enthusiasm for life!

BUT WHAT IF HE GETS KILLED?! OR MAIMED? AND IT’S ALL MY FAULT?!!! I am a terrible mother.

But he’s going outside to play by himself. Isn’t it great that he can entertain himself outside when so many kids these days just sit in front of the television and play video games?

THE KID JUST EMPTIED ALL MY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS INTO THE FLOOR, SO HE COULD TAKE THE BOX TO SLED IN, AND NOW I MIGHT DIE OF A RAGE-INDUCED ANEURYSM!

But look at me! I can SPELL aneurysm without spell-check! Look at me! I’m an unstable genius!

BUT NOW THE KID IS TALKING ABOUT HOW HE MIGHT DIE OUTSIDE, AND HE JUST MIGHT, AND I SUCK AT MOTHERING!

I can write. Writing soothes me. I enjoy it, and it sets me to rights. I could do a Daily Post prompt…

The Daily Post prompt is “Agile.” Well, crap. My head hurts.

 

*** Pinkie toe injury – I broke my toe by dropping a remote control on it. Because I am smooth like that.

Advertisements

Notes From the Zookeeper: Gratitude

I love my job. There are so many things to be grateful for.

The first call is the critically endangered Golden Dart Frog. The second call is a Bumblebee Dart Frog. I have played these calls back to them for fifteen minute stretches three times a day, five days a week for several weeks now. It gets them grooving.

  • Ingenuity and success. Bowers made of coconuts cut in half are recommended for breeding Dart Frogs. I only have one, and my Annulated Boa has commandeered it. So I made due with what I had – black snake hide-boxes set atop the lids from Chinese food takeout containers. And you know what? It worked!

These are just a few of the eggs hidden in the exhibit. If they hatch, Dad will carry them to a water source on his back. Check back in about 10 days days.

  • Hoses that don’t kink
  • Hoses that aren’t frozen
  • Brand-new hoses that save us from filling our rearing reservoir with a bucket in the cold
  • Guests that show up on bitter cold days because they love the zoo
  • A raise
  • Good water pressure
  • Disposable food storage containers. Seriously. We use these for everything from storing food to raising dart frog tadpoles. Thank you, Glad and Ziploc! Wanna sponsor a post?
  • When the youngsters start to figure out what they’re meant to do

Egyptian Tortoises (Testudo kleinmanni). He’s only seven, so he’s maybe not quite got the hang of it yet, but he’s trying!

  • Surprises. My female Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) has babies every two years. So we thought. She had eleven babies last year. In December, she surprised me with eleven more. This species is critically endangered due to habitat destruction, fragmented populations (some groups have 10 or fewer adults, which isn’t sustainable), over-collection for the pet trade, and a long gestation period (9-14 months!) which combine to make population recovery difficult

Newborn Chinese Crocodile Lizard. It’s tiny until you think that there were ELEVEN of them all curled up in there!

  • This guy.

    Tex, wearing his best opuntia fruit lipstick.

  • When my snack drawer is full. Zookeeping is hungry business!
  • Hidden opportunities. In 2017, I got to volunteer at the Turtle Survival Center in SC, and I got to go to the Turtle Survival Alliance conference in Charleston. I also had a trip to Amphibian Management School. This year, I’m going to Amphibian Research School, and I have a lead on a trip to California.
  • Weird animals
  • Mossy Leaf-tail Gecko (Uroplatus sikorae) shortly after hatching

  • Guests who ask questions and are genuinely interested in learning more
  • The sense of wonder and amazement when guests finally see a well-camouflaged animal on exhibit
  • Plants. I just started two small green houses at work with cuttings to make some really interesting additions to exhibits
  • My iPod. A lot of what I do is solitary. It takes me 6-8 hours a week to maintain my aquatic exhibit. It’s great to have music to listen to. This year, I may expand to podcasts
  • Lowe’s. I love home improvement stores, and it gives me jollies to know where everything is
  • Toboggans and gloves. It’s cold out there!
  • Possibilities. We’re working on planning our new facility. It is going to be incredible and state-of-the-art. Stay tuned!

What are you grateful for? Today is the last day that the linkup is active. Want to participate? Set a timer for 15 minutes. Make a list of what you are grateful for. When the timer goes off, stop. Post, link.

From Dawn at Tales From the Motherland:

How to join in: write your own post and publish it. Copy the link from the post. Then click on the frog below, and follow the instructions to add your link. If you have any trouble, please let me know, and I’d be happy to help. I will also add a link to each post on my own blog post, as they are published. For extra fun, please add the hashtags #BloggersUnite and/or #50HappyThings… because, well, everyone loves a hashtag! The link-up expires January 15th at 11:59pm.

Click here to link

 

 

The Daily Post : Weathered

I haven’t tried the Daily Post in a number of years, but I was inspired by today’s theme: weathered. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t put a zookeeper slant on it, though, would I?

Riverbanks Zoo has a herd of Galapagos Tortoises. We have Aldabra Tortoises at our zoo. These two species are a fascinating example of convergent evolution – animals that develop similar traits, but in different parts of the world. Galapagos Tortoises are found off the coast of Ecuador in South America, and Aldabs are found off the east coast of Africa in the Seychelles. They last shared a common ancestor about 20 million years ago. But they are so similar.

Here’s an Aldabra Giant Tortoise:

Big Al and his watermelon that was donated by a child. If I cut up the watermelon, it’s gone in 10 minutes. A whole watermelon gets shoved around for 5 hours.

Galapagos Tortoise in Riverbanks Zoo, SC

There are minor differences. Galapagos tortoises can get up to about 600lbs, depending on the subspecies, whereas Aldabs top out typically at 350. Though Big Al is a plus-sized model. He’s 525lbs. Galaps typically lack the little scale on their shell behind their neck, called a nuchal scute. Their shells vary, and some have really high arches at their necks to allow them to reach taller shrubs. And Galaps have a very round head by comparison to Aldabs, but you have to really know them to notice. My favorite difference is that Aldabs stretch out their necks to be scratched, while Galaps look straight up. ADORABLE!

The thing about both species is, they can live for, like, ever. Not really. Eventually they peter out, but they live a very, very long time. One animal died in 2006, and there were records on it going back 252 years, and it was a wild-caught animal. The oldest confirmed tortoise was 189 years old. That’s a lot of wear and tear.

Time takes its toll on all of us, tortoises included.

It’s like looking into the face of a dinosaur. Weathered.

Time, wind, and water wear us down. The scales on this Galapagos tortoise girl’s neck have worn smooth with time. Her shell, too, sports that lived-in look. She had a nice hole in her carapace (top shell) that is now a cozy home to a spider.

See the spider web? It was nice and fresh. The damage is purely cosmetic. Shells are tough!

She looks pretty good for her age, don’t you think? Just imagine, a century ago, she looked more like this:

Juvenile Galapagos Tortoise

This tortoise is under six months old, all shiny and pretty and new. There are plenty of growth rings in her shell, too. They are like trees. As they grow, they get new rings. The center of the ring is essentially dead shell, like our hair or fingernails, and the rings are fresh growth. This little baby is all bright-eyed and represents the future of her species.

And this girl? She’s bursting with history.

If this girl could talk…

What do you think of when you hear the word “weathered?” Show us your best photos. Join this week’s Daily Post.

 

Attitude of Gratitude. #BloggersUnite

This is a good post for me to do today. It’s only the second week of January and already this year is trying to eat me alive. It’s way too easy to focus on the negative. I don’t want to do that. I have it pretty good, and I need to remember that. I am grateful for:

  • The disaster that is 2018. God knows what we all need, and he shapes us. The way to mold silver is with fire, and without the heat, I’ll stay the same sad shape. I have needed my series of unfortunate events because it has forced me to do the thing that is hardest for me to do – to ask for (and accept) help. I am an independent person. I can do it myself. MYSELF, DO YOU HEAR ME? And then suddenly, I can’t. Yesterday alone I had to ask for help five times. Yeah, I hate being helpless so much that I keep track. And it’s good for me. People want to help, just like I want to help people. From getting a lift home to getting someone to drive me and a giant aquarium across the zoo because I can’t carry it myself, I have humbled myself.

This dog.She makes me laugh, she gets me off my bum to go for walkies, she keeps the kitties in their proper place.

Lumen wearing her “Where’s the cookie?” face

  • And this guy. Here he is all ready for the eclipse.

    This is just a joke. The animals don’t gaze at the sun, so they don’t need eye protection. But doesn’t he look fly?

And in gallery format:

  • Friends who make me coffee
  • the Women’s March
  • those days when my students really seem to get it and engage in the material
  • writing
  • chocolate
  • possibilities on the horizon
  • a car that needs a new engine but will still get me to work
  • my church family
  • My God who is bigger than all of this and who has the whole world in His hands.
  • Students who won’t stop talking to each other because they have discovered some cool science experiments they really want to share their friends.
  • My job.
  • Good books.
  • Music.
  • My computer, even though I hate Windows 10.
  • All my kids.
  • Plants! All the weird and wonderful plants!

There’s more, but my brain has entered shut-down mode, and I can’t be all that effective. I need to Post this today so I can be a part of Dawn’s link up.

What are you grateful for? Share the joy.

How to join in: write your own post and publish it. Copy the link from the post. Then click on the frog below, and follow the instructions to add your link. If you have any trouble, please let me know, and I’d be happy to help. I will also add a link to each post on my own blog post, as they are published. For extra fun, please add the hashtags #BloggersUnite and/or #50HappyThings… because, well, everyone loves a hashtag! The link-up expires January 15th at 11:59pm.

Click here to link 

Don’t forget to visit the other linked blogs!

 

Doing Nothing Sure Does Take a Lot of Planning!

My new goal to buy absolutely nothing I don’t need comes at a good time. I’ve got a kid in college, an old car, a new dog roughly the size of a grizzly bear. Not buying crap will be a good thing. But it will be a challenge. Where do I even start? The first order of business is to cut myself off from advertising. That meant closing the door on all those wonderful companies I have invited into my inbox. I had to unsubscribe from:

  • Panera – (shockingly the hardest. I am not even quite sure that I am unsubscribed. Spinning circle of death. But if I mark them as spam, I’ll teach Gmail to route those to the junk folder.
  • Fandango – I almost never go to movies unless it’s something big – like Star Wars, so this isn’t a heartbreak. I can catch movies on DVD next year or on Netflix.
  • Funko – I am seriously in love with Funko Pop! figures. I collect most of the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Stranger Things items. But not this year. Maybe next year.
  • Squishable – This website sells the most ridiculous and wonderful stuff toy thingies. I have two. That is all I need. SO cute. So sweet. But no.
  • Target – I unsubscribed from them a while ago because they were spamming me to death! Two or three emails PER DAY! Bye, Felicia!
  • Lemuria Books – I ordered a signed copy of THUG before it was released, and now it’s a treasure. But I don’t have room for tons of books.
  • Verdant Tea – I think I bought something from them once as a gift? I don’t remember. I don’t drink tea. I drink the blood of virgins. And coffee.
  • PayPal – I use them as my primary for online purchases because I can dispute them if the seller turns out to be shady. I will still use Paypal for necessary purchases, but I don’t need the marketing. Also, their algorithms have been drinking. They sent me a link to deals on diamond rings. Yo, dudes, it’s no secret that I dig through poop for a living. What part of that says diamond to you?
  • Hot Topic – Don’t judge. Tons of sweet Stranger Things and Harry Potter merch.
  • Box Lunch – Same.
  • Artscow – a photo gift site that I used a great deal in the past. But their prices have gone up so much that they are unaffordable (like, final cost is now 200% what it was two years ago). This one was a tough goodbye. So many memories, so much business done with this site.
  • Loot Crate – a monthly crate subscription to sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I like sci-fi/fantasy, and I love surprises, so Loot Crates appeal to me. Maybe next year.
  • Loot Vault – cheap, cheap sci-fi/fantasy merch. One of the few business that still offers NEW Firefly goodies.
  • Japan Crate – Like the other “crates,” it’s a monthly subscription for themed surprises. I love such things, but I never ordered. Came close a time or two, which is another reason why they are off my list. I can’t be tempted by cute toys and  tasty snacks.
  • GameStop – this was one I subscribed to because it has a rewards card. They have a few exclusive items a year I was interested in.
  • Poo-pourri – If you’ve ever met people who were all, like, “My poop don’t stink!” it’s because they use Poo-pourri. This stuff WORKS.
  • Kool Kid Toys – They have great prices on Funko Pop!, and I ordered from them once. I love Funko, and I do not need this temptation.
  • Passive Juice Motel. I bought Dark Arts coffee from them for the Severus Snape packaging. I don’t need it.
  • Shutterfly– I tried them once. Too expensive. Even with coupons, and the quality isn’t any better than anyone else. But they send me “free book” photo book coupons. Get behind me, Satan!
  • Ebay – How I ever got on this “personalized for you” list, I don’t know. But Ebay is my kryptonite. Need an obscure herpetology text? Check Ebay! Maybe next year.
  • Hallmark – I used to work for them, and I do try to get their Harry Potter ornaments. That’s how they get me – encouraging me to come in and buy more to build points for “free” stuff. This one will be hard. They have beautiful HP ornaments. But not this year. Maybe next.
  • Amazon Prime- this one was physically the hardest to unsubscribe from. It’s a five-click, multi-page process. Exhausting.
  • Joanne Fabric – I am not a serious crafter, so this one was easier. But I do buy some stuff, and if I get into knitting, I will be tempted. “You sure you wanna do that?” “Positive?” “Okay, but, like puppies will die and stuff.” “It’s your call, man. If you’re sure.” “You didn’t mean that.”
  • Tractor Supply – don’t laugh. They offer GREAT dog toys. Lumen-proof toys. Also? TRACTORS!
  • Dave’s Deals – this email is from Dave Ramsey. He offers some of the best financial advice there is, and Dave’s Deals shares the hottest deals on his books. Somehow I think he would applaud my decision to unsubscribe.
  • Booksamillion – I like my local store, I enjoy the events that they host, but I am way too tempted to buy stuff from them. TOO TEMPTED. Because BOOKS!
  • Book bub. This site was the hardest goodbye. It’s a website that shares daily deals on e-books. You can choose your favorite authors and EVERYTHING, and it will give you alerts when a deal comes up for one of them. As my hands get worse, I am relying even more on my e-reader. I only get hard copies of Herpetology books and things heavily reliant on photos(and illustrated Harry Potter because DUH) because my hands cramp pretty quickly just trying to hold open a tree book.

Holy crap! Look at all the businesses that slid their way into my email inbox! It has taken me two days to hunt down and unsubscribe from marketing. It is stunning to look back and see how much I have allowed businesses into my inbox without even thinking. I have set myself up to be hammered by advertising because I wanted a coupon, or I was hoping for a good deal, or just because I signed up for a loyalty card and didn’t check the box that disallowed marketing emails. Some of the temptation is gone, or it will be in a few weeks.

What stays:

Kroger – They are my store. I get good service and decent prices. I’m good at ignoring deals that I don’t need at the grocery store. For now. And also? Friday Freebies. It’s a thing! Every Friday they release a new freebie deal. You don’t have to buy anything in order to get it, just download the coupon. It’s a good way to try new things.

Snapfish – Their photo products are excellent, and they offer numerous coupons via email. Good coupons. Not quite as inexpensive as Artscow used to be, but affordable, good quality, and FAST.

Netgalley – This website offers Advance Reader Copies of upcoming books. I don’t usually meet publisher requirements to receive them, but when I do, these books are FREE, and if I read one that is a real treasure, I can add it to my Christmas wishlist. Yeah, my family shops from lists. They make life SO much simpler. I recommend.

Union Avenue Books – They are a local brick-and-mortar, independently owned and operated, often imitated but never duplicated bookstore. They offer events, like FUN events, book signings, etc. And I don’t get an email more than once a week. I may decide later that they are too much temptation, but for now, I’m keeping them.

 

 

 

 

Notes From the Zookeeper: Remember Meatball the Miracle Tortoise?

Remember this little guy? He is a tiny miracle of a Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) . His egg had been broken during excavation of the nest (we have to excavate them or the eggs will die), and his keeper had carefully replaced the broken bit of shell and hoped for the best. And out he came with only a small cosmetic defect in his shell.

Now Meatball is a year old, and my how he has grown!

Right before Christmas, guess what? Meatball had a baby brother!

Radiated Tortoise says it is going to have to odd, because it just…can’t…even…

The hatchling should be a male because it was incubated at a lower temperature – 84F. A temperature of 88F produces females. This minute difference in temperatures is one reason why climate change can have a devastating impact on a species. A few really hot summers can result in more females than males, which sounds great at first glance. But too many females in the breeding population can very rapidly reduce genetic diversity.

This baby popped out right before Christmas. What a great surprise! The eggs weren’t even expected to hatch for a few more weeks. We check eggs every morning and afternoon, because we never know for sure. It’s not like incubating bird eggs, where there is only a day or two of variability in expected hatch dates. There can be MONTHS of variability. Like now. SURPRISE!

Now, back to Meatball. It’s hard to see how much he has grown in the last year until you see him beside his new brother. So here ya go!

Meatball’s brother (so far nameless). He likes his collard-green plate more than his chopped greens and veggies.

And here are the two of them together.

Awww! Family portrait!

There are still a few more eggs in the incubator, and Mom and Dad have done such a good job making babies that they no longer have the recommendation to breed, so we will be getting a different pair to work with. If we fill up zoo holdings with animals that are closely related, there’s no room in captivity for genetic diversity. Most zoo animals only have a few offspring. It may be a little while before we have more baby Radiated Tortoises. That’s okay. They’re worth waiting for!

What’s exciting in your world? I want to know!

The Introverted Activist: Kicking Off the New Year with #Resolutions

Well, folks. Here we are. The first Friday of the New Year. I can’t promise that I am going to post on activism on a weekly basis. I get overwhelmed by the state of things sometimes, and I have to take a break. I am only one person. It doesn’t mean that I don’t matter, but it means I can give myself permission not to try to carry the weight of the world by myself. I might even be open to a guest post, if anyone is interested.

So I need to stay politically active. I have voted at every opportunity, and I have informed myself before hitting the polls so I’m not just voting blind (someone I know once had a moment where they thought they had accidentally voted for Stacey Campfield. The stuff of nightmares!)

Maybe the stupidest human being on the planet? And he got re-elected in our district because people didn’t realize who they were voting for. “Stacey? That’s some girl, right? Wimmen’s Lib!” This is why I will not cast a vote without knowing one candidate from another!

 

It was disheartening to learn that out of my city of 186,000 people,  11,000 voted in the November election, and it was the highest turn-out ever for an election that didn’t have anything state or federal on the ballot. But I was encouraged because several of the seats were taken by first-timers, one whose fundraising was a strictly grassroots effort. And I taught my kids that city elections are maybe even more important than national because it affects us right here at home.  So that’s good. Now what?

  • I can help people get connected to health insurance. Enrollment for health insurance is still open for 7 states, almost a quarter of the US population! Looking for health insurance? Maybe your state is one of them. Check here. Congress got rid of the individual mandate, which destabilizes a market that was beginning to shore itself up, but young and healthy people can still stick it to the man by getting insurance even though the government says you don’t have to.
  • I can learn about running for office. There’s an amazing website I found (maybe more than one) that gives the basics. This year, I am going to take the free class in how to run. If you go to that website and put in your address, it will tell you what elected offices are available and when the next election is.
  • I can call my representatives. I have one number for each on my speed dial, but I am going to add numbers for their other offices, too. I called so often this Fall that the intern answering the phone was tired of hearing from me. Want to find yours? Go here.
  • I will probably find my way to a protest or two. Them things is galvanizing.
  • And of course, I will share what I have done here. It’s my way of holding myself accountable. If I inspire someone else to action along the way, so much the better.

So that’s my list. What will you be doing in the coming year? And how can I help?

I May Not Survive 2018.

It’s the second day of the New Year,  and I am pretty sure the universe is trying to kill me. I made myself some goals, and goals are a good thing. One of my unwritten resolutions is to be a more positive person in 2018. I am quite determined. And I am pretty sure I heard the universe say “Hold my beer and watch this!”

I went in to work yesterday. I know. New Year’s Day and all, but I work in a zoo. Al’s gotta eat. And it’s not like I party all night. Nah, I was in bed by 9, asleep by 10. If I want to see the ball drop, I can catch it on Youtube. How can I not go in and see this face?

    My favorite picture I have ever taken of my boy.

I say I went in to work. More correctly, I TRIED to go in to work. On the way there:

  • my car started to overheat
  • I realized a coolant hose was leaning, so I pulled over to the shoulder of the interstate.
  • I did more swearing that I meant to as I watched cars swerve over the line and nearly hit me, even though traffic was to merge into THE OTHER LANE.
  • I figured out I had coolant in the car, so I added some, but…
  • the battery had died due to the severe cold (11F plus windchill)
  • I was wearing shorts.

It took about a half hour before husband could come and retrieve my frozen behind and haul me the rest of the way in It took an hour for my feet to feel like feet again. My day went fine at work. I got some things done, so yay. But I was positive! Go, me! Instead of thinking that 2018 sucks already, quitting my job, and ordering more cats off the internet, I thought “Maybe 2018 is my year of solving problems, of growing stronger and more confident in my abilities.

Then I came home.  And I broke my toe. I didn’t get it x-rayed because there’s nothing to be done with tiny pinky toes except to tape them to their next-door neighbor, but it is purple and blue, and if you touch it, I might accidentally punch you. But it’s just a toe, right? A little tape and bottle of Ibuprofen, and all better. Little toe, littler problem.

I wish I had a good story, like I was fighting ninjas, or practicing mixed martial arts, or I kicked a wall in a rage. But no. I dropped a remote control on it. Our first real TV in, like, 9 years. See? I have been saying all along that television is harmful. Believe it.  TV will break your bones. So anyhow. Toe is taped.  It’s something to laugh about.

And then we come to this morning.

  • Outside spigot A was frozen because someone didn’t leave it running. I won’t say who that was for the sake of marital harmony, but it wasn’t me.
  • Outside spigot B was also frozen. Spousal unit unfroze.
  • Spousal unit let car warm up so he could take me to work.
  • Car ran out of gas. Cars without gas do not take you to work. They sit there and wait to be kicked with my good foot.
  • Spigot A refroze, and the only thing I had with which to unfreeze it was. my. coffee.
  • In the unfreezing process, spigot A sprayed me up and down.
  • My pants froze to my legs

For my safety, I gave up, came inside, put on my pajama pants. I am hiding now. 2018 is coming for me. Don’t tell it where I am.

I can’t bear to look!

 

 

*My family motto is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

A Brave New Year

Everybody makes resolutions. Some people are even all clever and make resolutions NOT to make resolutions, thus proving we can’t get away from this tradition/trend. I’m no exception. This year, I’m going in big. Go big or go home, right? Actually, it’s cold outside. Going home sounds not-so-bad at the moment… Just kidding.

2016 was a dumpster fire. I said there was no possible way that 2017 could be worse than that, which 2017 took as a personal challenge. It was not a good year overall. But you know what? That’s partly my fault. I am not going to spend this brand, spanky new year sitting passively in the passenger’s seat. 2018 is my year of being brave.

This year, 2018, I am going to:

  • Learn to knit. I don’t know a whole lot of people in person who knit, so I am REALLY going to have to go to the interwebs for this one. I have never learned anything from Youtube before, except to pee BEFORE watching an episode of Bad Lip Reading, so this will be an adventure. And for some reason, it makes me a little nervous. But if I practice knitting for a year, I’ll get decent, right?

  • Breed my dart frogs. I have a bunch of them at work. Three different species. And none of them have bred. I have done everything recommended, and I have gotten to the point of getting them in condition and getting them to call, but so far, no luck. If you have bred them before, hit me up. I gotta know what I need to do differently.

Why you little dudes take a vow of chastity?

  • I am going to put my interest in plants to use. I am going to grow some things to sell at the local Farmer’s Market this summer. I can’t stop myself from growing plants. It brings me joy and energy. If I am stressed, I can soothe my spirit by checking up on a cinnamon tree or a root peeking out of a fig cutting. And since I have no self-control where it comes to growing stuff, I can maybe share my joy with others. And make a little cash. To buy more plants…
  • I am going to learn how to make saagwala at home. I love Indian food. I have attempted curry, and I’m good at the recipes I have. Now it’s time to learn saag.
  • I am going to vote in any election that pops up. It’s my civic responsibility, and I’m going to take it seriously.
  • Call my representatives when there are issues I am concerned about. Which is, like always.
  • Add ALL my reps’ numbers to speed dial so I can leave them messages in all of their offices. I currently only have one number each in my phone.
  • Produce 2 pieces, either short story or essay,  to submit somewhere for publication. This means re-learning how to write a short story. Eek! But it’s time to start building my wall of rejections. Or acceptance, but it’s the rejections that make us stronger, right? I am gonna be STRONG!
  • Actually submit these pieces. This is me closing some loopholes.

And here’s the big one. The one that is the biggest change in my life. Are you ready? Am I ready?

  • I am going to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. I read a book by Dolly Freed called “Possum  Living.” It’s a non-fiction book by an 18-year-old. She and her dad spent 3 years living like possums (not eating them!). They ate what was around them – raised chickens in the cellar for meat, raised gardens, saved money however they could. They spent about $1500 a year. Even in 1978, that was chump change. And her motto when it came to buying things was “Not now, maybe later.” That’s my mantra for 2018. I’ll unpack this whole goal in a separate blog post, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress throughout the year. A surprising amount of planning goes into inaction, really. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. It’s just a few minutes long and worth a watch!

How do you plan to make 2018 your lap dog? Inspire me!

I Believe In Miracles

This year has been a challenge for me. Between health annoyances, the political climate that is tearing our country apart, the fear of the future in the hands of a Congress that gleefully ignores the pleas of constituents, a deficit that is poised to bloom, it has been a hard year. This is the year that I realized I’m forgetting about the big picture, that there’s more to the future than this world, that God is sovereign in all things, even in this dumpster fire of a year. I forget that a bigger plan is unfolding.We can’t see it because we’re not supposed to. God is here. He always has been. Hang on. Hang on to one another, hang on to hope. And look for the little miracles. And the big ones. Because they are there.

This year has been especially hard for personal reasons. I learned that one of my kids was struggling, really struggling. Hitting high school is hard. Going to a high school with an accelerated curriculum and where you know almost no one? Where it seems like everyone else has hit their growth spurt and their groove? It’s not just hard but lonely. My sweet child, this little person who is now a big person, is trying to find himself, trying to find his sea legs and develop his own identity. It’s not easy to watch.

He came to me right before Thanksgiving and said “I want a dog.” He may as well have said he wanted to join the circus. My gut reaction? Ain’t no way. We have a dog, I said. He raised an eyebrow. Okay, I must concede. My Phoebe is basically a four-legged slug with hair. She doesn’t even get off the chair unless there’s food in it for her. Good food, too, not some wayward Corn Chex. But we don’t need another dog. We have four cats, a Phoebe, a room full of snakes, and a metric crap-ton of tortoises. We don’t need another dog. We already have this:

Love me. Just don’t make me get up.

Ever notice how sometimes we don’t know what we need until we get it?

I casually mentioned to my friend that shows dogs that perhaps, maybe, in the Spring or summer, we might be interested in looking for a dog. Not show quality. A pet from a quality breeder. Sometimes a breeders’ show prospect doesn’t turn out. Maybe a bite goes off, or a coat is the wrong texture, or maybe the dog doesn’t have the personality to enjoy showing. And that would be a win for me. A dog from a good breeder with health guarantees, but also I WOULDN’T HAVE TO LIVE WITH A PUPPY! I love dogs, but I don’t enjoy puppyhood.

My friend said she would make some calls and see what she could do. And through God and a friend of a friend of a friend, a week later I brought this miracle home:

Lumen

And as it turns out, the thing I did not want became the thing I knew we needed. I knew through the series of texts with her owner that she was meant for us. I bought a crate before I ever met her in person, and then when I met her, I prayed. Please, God, let her owners approve of us. Let us get to take her home. She was ours before I ever touched her.

She’s so perfect for us. Seven years old, German working background, retired from breeding, OFA certified (that means her hips are A-OK), eyes are certified, temperament-tested, a velcro-dog who wants to be with her owner every second of every day. Within 24 hours, she was so tightly bonded with my son that she casually waited outside the bathroom door while he showered.

She’s a traitor. I tell her to go get my son up in the morning, and she lays on top of him so that he can’t move. And lays a paw on his chest when he tries to get up. We’re working on it.

She has gotten me off my butt. I walk her every morning. Son is not hiding in his room anymore, either, because she needs a walk in the afternoon.

She’s hard on toys. And picky. She likes squeak toys, but they can’t JUST squeak. She prefers that they are soft, too. And they last 3.2 seconds. She squeaks, we throw, she squeaks, we throw, she ducks behind the table to the murder-spot and kills the toy dead. Wubba lasted three days. Long live the Wubba. Tuffy toys don’t last, either. But I like a challenge, and my new goal is to find squeak toys that she can’t kill. Any recommendations are welcome.

She is a miracle, this giant girl. The miracle I needed to cap this year, a miracle that lets me know that no matter how dark it seems, the light is there. There are miracles waiting to happen – for me, for you, for our country, for our world. This miracle is mine, but I will share her with you. What miracle will you share with me?