The One Where God Smacked Me Upside the Head

I grew up in a church. My family was one that was in church any time the doors were open. We were in children’s choir, youth group, puppeteering, even clowning. *** My exposure to all things Jesus included all the best Bible stories. And there were some weird ones. Daniel hung out with some lions, Jesus turned water into wine. Kind of cool. And of course I knew Jonah and the whale. Or I thought I did. And then my friend Danielle delivered me a sermon.

In case you aren’t familiar, I’ll catch you up to speed.

So Jonah was a prophet of God, and God wanted him to go to Ninevah, which was the heart and soul of wickedness. They skinned their enemies and cut out their tongues, they terrorized the countryside, and they probably didn’t even wipe their sweat off the stationary bike at the gym. They were all around bad dudes and dudettes. And God wanted them to know it. Text messaging hadn’t been invented yet, except for that one time with some stone tablets on Mount Sinai, so God told Jonah to get a move on and tell the bad guys that God was going to shake things up if they didn’t change their ways. And Jonah said no.

Here’s the part I didn’t understand. Jonah said no, not because he was afraid he would be skinned, detongued, and forced to sit through spin class in a puddle of someone else’s sweat. He didn’t want to go because he didn’t want God to forgive them.

See, Jonah knew God. He knew his goodness and his mercy and that God kept his word. And if God keeps his word, that would mean that if the bad guys said sorry and meant it, God was going to forgive them. FORGIVE THEM! And Jonah basically said in his head “Are you kidding me? God wants me to share heaven with these heathens? Yeah, no thanks!” So he jumped on board a ship to Joppa, which is, like, a gajillion miles away in the opposite direction. Because we can hide from God and all, right?

Another phenomenal BC drawing. You’re welcome.

As I sat in the sermon, God hit me over the head with a giant, soggy fish. Danielle was preaching to ME. And God and I had a chat.

God: Yo, Jonah.

Me: That’s not my name.

God: Might as well be. Hey, how ’bout handing out some of that forgiveness I’ve given you?

Me: But, they… I mean… what about… Okay, NO.

God: Seriously? Do it.

Me: But they –

God: Do it.

Me: But when-

God: *facepalm* Kid, Imma say this slowly so you can understand. You don’t deserve grace. But I gave it to you, right?

Me: Right, but-

God: You’re a sinner.

Me: I got that, but they –

God: Who forgave those sins?

Me: Um, you, but-

God: Who?

Me: You. You forgave my sins.

God: You’re a sinner. They are sinners.

Me: You got that right! Do you know what they –

God: *sigh* Let me explain it another way. You don’t deserve grace any more than they do. And they certainly don’t deserve it any less.

Me: …

God – Hello?


God: I’m glad we had this little talk, aren’t you?

And here’s the beauty of it. I AM glad we had that talk. Because it has changed me. Suddenly, I could let go of that perceived slight. I didn’t worry over someone’s misdeeds because I, too, had been given a gift that I didn’t deserve. I fall short of God’s glory, and He gets that. He’s got grace in abundance and stands in the gap for me, and if he will do it for me in all my brokenness, who am I to stand in the way of other people receiving the same gift? So I say thanks and move on when I didn’t think moving on was even a possibility. God is good that way.

Have you ever felt like the message (from sermon, book, movie, music video, etc) was directed at you?

***Don’t knock it. We were paid $10 an hour in the 80s to don the clown suit and terrorize entertain children at picnics and such.



Possum Living: My Frisky Bitz Bring All the Cats to the Yard

Normally Fridays are reserved for politics, but this week threatened to send me into a tailspin, so it’s Possum Living instead. My biggest and most challenging goal for 2018 is to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. When I am stressed, depressed, or anxious, I have a bad habit of either eating compulsively or spending too much, and I’m drawing the line. There are less destructive ways to cope. And I’ve found one.

First, let me tell you my successes.

  • I survived the State of the Union without feeling compelled to spend money or eat things that I shouldn’t. I was really proud of myself. I was anxious, tense, scared, stressed, but I didn’t make bad decisions.
  • I passed on a deal for a book that I wanted. It was a sweet deal, too, but I sent the email to the trash folder without blinking.
  • I made a trip to Lowe’s for work, and I walked right past the sick plant section, even though I could see they had two Norfolk Island Pines that needed rescuing. I didn’t even look at the price. That was my hardest challenge. Plants are a weakness.
  • I have become more comfortable with being a little hungry during the day. I haven’t panicked as if I would NEVER EAT AGAIN. You can laugh, but some part of my twisted brain thought/thinks it is true.
  • My muffin-top has shrunk a bit.
  • I signed up for a 1/2 marathon.

So let me introduce you to the thing that is filling in the blanks for me. Neko Atsume.

The premise is simple. You download the free app, and you get a yard, a food bowl, and some cheap cat food. The goal is to attract cats to your yard. There are a gajillion of them. After they leave your yard, they leave fish behind as a thank you. Some of the fish are silver, but some are gold, (what you’d normally pay money for). You use the fish to buy items in the store – everything from fancy food to new toys to try to lure rarer cats to the yard. I’ve played it for a week-and-a-half, and I love it. It’s adorable, it allows me to make some purchases in their little store, set goals, develop a strategy for meeting those goals. It’s SO MUCH FUN!

On Tuesday, instead of choking down cookies or surfing Amazon, I checked in on my cats. I rearranged the furniture. I made sure the kitties were fed. And I didn’t worry. Or stress.

Kittehz! This is the original yard. The cat with his back to me cracks me right up. Isn’t that just like a cat?

The cats filter in and out at will, and the most fun in the morning is checking in to see who dropped by during the night. Only 5 cats can occupy the space at a time, so it’s a good idea to maximize the area by purchasing the items that are likely to bring in the most gold fish. It only takes 180 gold fish to expand the yard to hold more cats to bring more fish to buy more yard to hold more cats… And so on it goes. It may seem silly or pointless, but it’s working for me.

Different kittehz, and see how the little black one wore itself out playing?

I saved, I strategized, I read all the online tips, and I expanded my yard. Was it all I had hoped, Oh, yeah!

This is the yard and the inside of the house. The fat white cat on the grass is Tubbs. Most people hate him. I haven’t seen him often enough to be anything but amused by his chubby countenance.

The kitty condo holds up to 5 cats, which brings the total of cats at one time to 13!

I am late to this game. Lots of people discovered it before I did, but better late than never. I don’t know why it works, or even for how long it will work, but I’m okay with it. I’ll take what I can get, and if it quits working, I’ll find something new. I’ll make it to good health and a happier bank account one day at a time, one kitteh at a time.

What ways have you found to help manage stress? Have your methods evolved over time?

The Introverted Activist: What’s On My Mind

If you dislike politics, Friday’s posts are where they happen. I try to have a specific day because not everyone likes to talk politics or agrees with mine, and that’s cool. There’s more to me than that. So if you’re here for the turtles and zoo stuff, feel free to skip Fridays. I’m just glad you’re here.

So we’re, like, three or four weeks into the new year, and already I’m exhausted by the mess we continue to make. Awesome. Last week was horrible, really. I’ve been through government shut downs before. My mom worked for the government her entire working life, and we’ve been there. We experienced the three weeks of furlough and wondering how the bills were going to get paid. I survived it. Shut downs don’t scare me anymore. They infuriate me, like during the Obama administration when we were going from one 3-month appropriations bill to another. Come on, Congress. Get thumb out of ear and get budget passed.

So last week I was more angry than scared. I was proud of Democrats for standing strong and supremely irritated when Schumer caved. And I was OUTRAGED at Mitchy-witch choosing to reject funding to pay the military during the shut down. I know it was a pressure tactic, but it was cruel. Did you miss it? I’ve got you covered!

Here’s what Miss Heather wants.

  1. I want a clean DACA bill passed. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is the right thing to do. These folks were KIDS when they were brought into the country illegally. And now they’re college students, employees, tax-payers, and the GOP wants to yank them up and send them back to a country they may not even remember. Thanks for remembering Deuteronomy 10:19. Imagine being a toddler in the backseat of your mom’s car when she committed a bank robbery. Then when you’re 20, someone picks you up and puts you in jail for your mom’s crime. That she committed. Without your involvement or consent. Deportation of Dreamers amounts to the same thing. Why does that make sense to anyone at all?
  2. The second thing I want is funding for CHIP. Children’s Health Insurance Program is not the same thing as Medicaid. Whole different ballgame, folks. CHIP works with WORKING parents who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy health insurance. The program was a bipartisan effort to keep our kids healthy. Kids. Why is that wrong?
  3. The third thing that I want is for Congress to forget about the ridiculous wall. We don’t need a wall. The worst mass-shootings in our country’s history were committed by white people. We need that money for other things.

What have I done this week to achieve these goals?

  • I’ve called my senators on the regular. I speak with earnest civility to Bob Corker because sometimes he does the right thing. I rant at Lamar Alexander because he has swallowed the Republican bait hook, line, and sinker, and he only votes along party lines.
  • I have educated myself about the issues at hand. Education is key. So many people don’t understand what they’re voting FOR. It’s sad.
  • I have shared what I have learned online, and I have encouraged myself to keep fighting the good fight. It’s nowhere close to over.
  • I have begun discussing and researching candidates for the midterm elections. Even though 2018 has felt like a millennium at this point, November will come. And we can flip some states blue.

Here are some places you can plug in:

  • Indivisible 453 – Voter ID laws
  • – They will give you the number for your representatives and tell you what the burning issues are that you can call about.
  • Association of State Democratic Chairs – they can help you get in touch with your local group
  • DCCC – find out how to volunteer for the Democratic party
  • GOP – find out how to volunteer – I don’t expect that everyone holds my ideals. You do you. If we each work toward our important goals, we can shape this country the way it should be, with something for everyone.


What have you done this week to help move the country in the direction YOU believe that it should go?


Possum Living: Laying the Ground Rules

So back at the beginning of the year (is 2018 over yet, because it feels like it has hung around long enough!), I shared some of my goals. One of them was the most ambitious thing I have ever tried. Inspired by the book Possum Living (cool video here), I plan to go all of 2018 without buying anything I don’t NEED. Sometimes there is a giant grey area between needs and wants. Take books, for example. I need books like I need air. But do I NEED to BUY them? Unless it is a text for my job, probably not. This outline is rather fluid, and time may force some changes, but I will share any changes as a means of holding myself accountable.


  • Gasoline
  • Food
  • College tuition
  • Clothing (but NO T-SHIRTS)
  • Utilities and mortgage
  •  Cellphone – I have a Tracfone, so I have to get service cards periodically. Texts are $5 for 1000, and it’s the primary way we communicate at work
  • Books specifically relevant to work – must be read within a month of purchase
  • Car (I signed my car’s death warrant when I put my favorite sticker on it)
  • Potting soil and bare bones supplies for growing plants to sell at Farmer’s Market
  • Photo books – I do these twice a year as a gift for my mom, but I also get one for me. My photos are essential. But no superfluous photo gifts. I use Snapfish, and they usually provide me with good coupons.


  • Books (Goodbye, BookBub! Until next year?) – Not even the illustrated Goblet of Fire due out in October
  • Harry Potter memorabilia (this kills me!)
  • Music (unless I already have gift card credit on the music site)
  • Toys for the pets. It’s too bad, really, because Lumen is quite destructive, but she LOVES HER TOYS SO MUCH! I stocked up on the one toy she hasn’t managed to completely murder and dismantle, so she won’t have nothing. Don’t look at me like that!
  • Additional pets – (no more snakes? WHAT? But… but…)
  • He wants a friend…

  • Additional pet housing, beyond basic supplies (food, UVB bulbs, etc
  • Toys in general
  • Impulse buys for the kids
  • Clearance holiday stuff *whimper* unless it’s for prizes for my students
  • Squishables
  • Coffee or meals out – unless I am traveling or it is pre-arranged date-night
  • Postage for packages to friends
  • Gifts – beyond family birthdays and gift-giving holidays
  • An addendum to the above rule: no creating gift-giving holidays. In our house, Valentine’s Day is a children’s holiday. I cannot turn it into a “Hey, gimme this Funko Pop! figure” holiday.

So you’re here to hold me accountable.  Almost As much fun as a host of fleas nesting in your armpits.

I make a lot of impulse purchases when I’m feeling sad, lonely, depressed, excited, anxious. I admit that I shop (and eat) to deal with feelings and to fill a void. So what am I going to do when that shopper vibe starts bouncing in my brain? I’m going to be creative. Literally. Like, I’m going to create something. Here are some ways to channel my energy

  • Write – I’ve been successful with this one. I have been writing a LOT. I have written so many blog posts this year already, and that’s not even the tip of my brain’s iceberg. I think I could spend the next few weeks and write out blog posts for each day for the rest of the year. Don’t worry. I won’t. But I could. And I wrote a short story and entered a writing competition. So yay.
  • Take Lumen for a walk or a run- I ran with her a few days ago, and I totally freaked her out. “If Mommy’s running, someone must be chasing! LET’S MAKE TRACKS!”
  • Who’s the happiest dog-parking dog in the world? And maybe the most exhausted. Little Pittie mixes are fast and intense, old girl!

  • Read – I am on NetGalley, and I’m working on reading a book I’m super-excited about. And when I read the book, I can REVIEW it, so that brings me back to WRITING!
  • Knit – I have the basics down. Yay, me. But I suck at it. Practice makes perfect, so I shall practice.
  • Give stuff away – Stuff begets more stuff. If I clear out some of the clutter, I am less inclined to buy matching clutter. Also, moving stuff out helps me to realize how much I already HAVE.
  • Make little turtles out of Sculpey – I’m good at this, and I owe some people some critters. I gotta get on this as soon as my right arm begins functioning again.
  • Play Neko Atsume -What better way to practice becoming a crazy cat lady than to learn to attract stray cats?

    My yarn balls bring ALL the kitties to the yard. And I can’t get rid of them. Help!


How do YOU deal with anxiety or depression? What’s the most effective thing for you? Tell me in the comments.




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.


But kitties.

Bellatrix has the right idea on a snow day!


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 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?


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


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.


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! And visit Dawn at Tales From the Motherland. I was remiss in adding this link earlier.



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!