The Introverted Activist: Things Will Get Better

I’m still tired. Are you still tired? But are you in it to win it? Yeah, me, too. Rah, rah, and all that. Did I mention I am tired?

But things are going to get better. Maybe they already are. 45’s first pick to be National Security Advisor is *poof* and the second pick doesn’t want the job. What happened to Flynn? Depends on who you ask. Fired? Quit? Abducted by aliens? Who cares? He’s gone. And the Labor Secretary? Remember him? Whatshisface Pudzer? The guy who would like to do away with a minimum wage and automate everything? He’s gone, too. And the person who has been nominated to replace him might actually be qualified for the job. Or maybe the bar has been set so low by this administration that a rabid puggle seems qualified.

I made a thing. It’s a Trumpertantrum drinking game, designed to make this administration more entertaining.

did flynn talk to Russia

But then I realized it could also be deadly. I thought I could suggest switching to water after every 2 drinks, but then there’s still hyponatremia to worry about. So I thought about milk shakes. But is there a pancreas in the world that can handle THAT much sugar? Diet soda? Nope again. An overdose of artificial sweetener can be deadly. So then I considered deep breaths instead of drinks, but then everyone would hyperventilate and pass out, maybe hitting a head on the floor and dying. And I can’t be responsible for that, so instead of drinking each time he hits one of these milestones, think a happy thought or pet a puppy. Nobody ever passed out from petting a puppy. Just be careful not to rub all its hair off. It’s going to be a long four years.

Calls and protests work, and not just for this whole train wreck of an administration. In case you have never heard of Bresha Meadows, at the age of 14, young Bresha shot and killed her abusive father. She was sent to an adult prison. An adult prison. Remember Michael Carneal? He murdered 3 students and injured 5 others at his high school in 1997. He was sent to a juvenile facility until he turned 18. But Bresha has been held in an adult prison. Until recently. Letters, protests, and phone calls put enough pressure on prosecutors that she was moved a few weeks ago to a juvenile mental health facility. Her family has to pay the cost of her treatment, so there’s a link where you can donate if you are so inclined. But she can go outside, she is with other kids, and she can get the help she deserves.

What I did this week:

I wrote a lot of letters. A lot of them. To Republicans, to Democrats. I went to a huddle at my friend’s house. We encouraged each other, and we made plans for the next four years. That feels like a long time, but we can do it.

what are people doing besides marching

This is what democracy looks like. And friendship.

I made an action plan for each week. I am going to make 5 calls a week and write 3 letters. I wrote 5 letters this week, so I am ahead of the game. I even wrote one to President Bannon.

The call I made to my Senators this week was focused on 2 things – keeping Bannon out of the situation room and keeping the Affordable Care Act intact until there is a decent replacement (and insisting that the replacement include those with preexisting conditions – an aside here, I knew a woman who didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant at her new job until she qualified for health insurance. She was 8 weeks pregnant when she got the job, and so was 20 weeks along before she went for her first prenatal appointment because she knew otherwise insurance wouldn’t cover it because her pregnancy was a preexisting condition. No prenatal care until it was essentially too late to prevent most issues. Do Republicans really want to go back to those days?)

I made plans to attend the local march on April 15 to protest Trumpertantrum’s refusal to show his tax returns.

I made plans to attend some Nashville events, too, later in spring.

I made a list of my local representatives at the state level. I am going to become quite familiar with them and their work because I have letters and calls to make there, too.

And I took some time away. Because I’m tired.

This week, why not write a letter yourself. Or show up at a local office and share your wants with your Congress person’s staff? Write a letter sharing your story and your expectations for affordable care. You can do it! We can do it! It’s already working, friends. We’re pushing a ball uphill, but we’ve learned this week that it isn’t likely to roll back over and crush us!

Need more ideas? Check here. And visit here for a breakdown of enrollment in Affordable Care Act by congressional district. Share what you find. A study this week revealed that around 30% of Americans don’t know that ACA and ObamaCare are the same thing. Republicans successfully obfuscated the issue by using the term “ObamaCare,” so be kind to anyone you encounter who might have been confused. They aren’t alone. Raise your hand if you have never been sucked in by rhetoric. We’ve all been there, done that.

Face-palm of the week: Good ol’ Betsy “Keep Bears Out Of Public Schools” DeVos is doing a spanking good job in her new post. Wait. There is no spanking in public school. A time-outing good job? Whatever. Anyway, she managed to not only misspell the name of civil rights activist, W.E. B. DuBois, she misspelled the apology, as well. Go, team! Dear Betsy, how do you spell “derp?”

Need a laugh? Download this awesome app. It’s called “Make Trump Tweets Eight Again.” And it does this:

What did you get up to this week? Have a favorite hashtag you have been involved with? Share it in the comments.

Good Things Thursday

I am in a low place right now. The political climate is eating me alive. Every day it feels like there is a new disaster, and I feel like one of the dogs in the learned helplessness experiments. Remember those studies from Psych 101? A dog that received an electrical shock that it couldn’t avoid eventually learned to give up and quit trying. I feel that way. I’m shocked every, single day, and I don’t know how to not just give up.

But I’m NOT giving up, and that is what today is about. The political maelstrom may scream all around me, but I will find the little things that give me peace and happiness. Stolen joys.

  • This one is the only one of political nature. It’s pretty funny. It’s a PSA about gerrymandering, and it’s great!

  • My new boots.
Bestwaterproof boots

My beautiful Muck boots

They say you can’t judge someone until after walking a mile in their shoes. This means you can never judge me because I will not let you WEAR my boots. So there. They are lovely and warm and waterproof, and I ordered them on a Tuesday, and they arrived on Wednesday. I’ve never had free shipping mean “get it in 24 hours” before!

  • This kid:
do cucumbers help puffy eyes

He decided he wanted a spa day, so he begged his dad to buy cucumbers. Best fifty cents ever spent.

Also, this kid:

Is skating still popular

He was a skater boy, a young alligator boy… I don’t know the song.

Yeah, same kid. He has anxiety issues and some irrational fears. Well, to me they are irrational; to him they make perfect sense. But this kid who is so afraid of getting hurt went to a school skating party and decided he was going to learn to skate. He spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, and he was a walking bruise, but by the end of the evening, there was this:

best songs to skate to

Look at him go! May we all have the determination of a second-grader who decides they’re gonna skate, come hell, high water, or far-too-solid floor.

  • This kid:
are snakes good pets

His eyes are kind of wild because he is my son. He can’t keep his eyes open when his picture is taken unless he opens them ALL the way.

He has turned into a Herp kid. He loves snakes and lizards, and he has taken over my snakes at home. Pictured here with Colonel Shucks.

  • Baby tortoises enjoying some mushrooms.
The little bite marks in the piece of stem makes me laugh. They're so serious about their mushrooms!

The little bite marks in the piece of stem makes me laugh. They’re so serious about their mushrooms!

  • It’s half-price candy time! I can’t share a picture because I ate it all already. Sue me.
  • It’s also Girl Scout Cookie time! All the district cookies were distributed in the zoo’s lower parking lot today. I could have staged a heist and made off with a semi loaded with the things, but I didn’t.
  • I leave for Amphibian Management School in a week-and-a-half. Yes, it’s a real thing.
  • I was invited to talk to a group of first graders about my job! Yes, please!
  • My Christmas presents for 4 people got here today! I love giving gifts.
  • Phones that can get $1000 texts for $5.
  • My new siphon at work. It sucks. Like, in the literal good way. It has revolutionized maintenance of one of my exhibits. If you have a decent-sized aquarium, don’t go with the cheap knock-offs. Go for name-brand Pythons. No, they didn’t sponsor my post (they can if they want to, though!). It’s just a product that works beautifully!
  • Sweet, sweet sick cat is hanging on. She is not eating well, but she is still here.
  • Then there’s this:
How beautiful are these books? It's a rhetorical question. Because the answer can only be SO BEAUTIFUL!

How beautiful are these books? It’s a rhetorical question. Because the answer can only be SO BEAUTIFUL!

The Bloggess held her second annual Booksgiving, which was an opportunity for people to gift one another books via Amazon wishlists. I received Spanish Harry Potter on Sunday. I am planning a trip to the Galapagos to study Giant Tortoises, and I want to increase my Spanish fluency. Reading is a great way to do that. And then today I came home and found The Bloggess’ own book in my mailbox! Someone had bought a second book for me! Is there anything better than the kindness of strangers?

What’s good in your world right now?

Surviving Depression Part II, Holiday Edition

This one could be subtitled “I’m going to make it.”

My chronic condition has had a flare-up, and the psychiatric symptoms are the worst part. There’s no filter. Every sense is on edge. Everything from the keyboard touching my wrist to the stale perfume of the lady sitting next to me at the movies piles up on me until I’m ready to run screaming. But there are good things in my life, too. I’m not filtering those out, either. There is so much good.

Pandora wears a Santa hat because she loves me

Pandora wears a Santa hat because she loves me

Lucky penny I found on the sidewalk. Heads up, so all the luck is still in it!

Lucky penny I found on the sidewalk. Heads up, so all the luck is still in it! Maybe it’s a wishing penny, too. I wished on it. I’ll let you know.

This guy? This gloomy Gus? That's the Padawan. He was asked by his STEM teacher to submit his project idea to the university because he thinks it might be a lead on a cure to certain cancers.

This guy? This gloomy Gus? That’s the Padawan. He was asked by his STEM teacher to submit his project idea to the university because the teacher thinks it might be a lead on a cure to certain cancers. Like, really.

I have a job where a business trip sends me to places where I can see this.

I have a job where a business trip sends me to places where I can see stuff like this.

One of my Chinese Crocodile Lizards just birthed eleven of these tiny things. They're livebearers. I'll share more in a separate post.

One of my Chinese Crocodile Lizards just birthed eleven of these tiny things. They’re livebearers. I’ll share more in a separate post.

My darling Ravenclaw. I don't know how we got on without her. She plays fetch with that balled up pipe cleaner for hours.

My darling Ravenclaw. I don’t know how we got on without her. She plays fetch with that balled up pipe cleaner for hours.

Baby radiated tortoise hatching. Can you see her closed eye? She is sleeping and waiting to break out of the egg!

Baby radiated tortoise hatching. Can you see her closed eye? She is sleeping and waiting to break out of the egg!

Obama/Biden memes. These have made post-election life bearable.

Obama/Biden memes. These have made post-election life bearable.

Birthday doughnuts! The day after my birthday, so the magic lasted EVEN LONGER!

Surprise birthday doughnuts! The day after my birthday, so the magic lasted EVEN LONGER!

Surprise birthday Funko figures! I live in a world where Newt Scamander and Picket exist!

Surprise birthday Funko figures! I live in a world where Newt Scamander and Picket exist!

No photo for this one, but I got to take Squish to his first Star Wars movie in a theater. He watched the trilogy for his birthday a few years ago, now he reads the books, watches Rebels, and obsesses about Boba Fett. It was a privilege to take him to Rogue One. He was SO excited! Every time he saw an Easter egg or a familiar character, he hit me in the arm and looked at me with a look of shock and wonder.

And I have a husband who went out to get me a Waffleberry Brownie Blast because I asked him to. I am lucky. And Christmas is coming. I’m settling into the joy of the season.  Even if it’s hard at times, the joy of the season is still there. It gets buried, but it’s there.

What brings you joy? Here’s to the end of 2016

I just joined a blog hop, and you can, too. Here are your instructions, should you choose to accept them (please accept!).

From Dawn at Tales from the Motherland: “To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the InLinkz tool at the very bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. (folks have trouble with this, but it’s not that hard. 4)Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 3, 2017. After that date, no blogs can be added.”

Inlinkz Tool Here

I can’t wait to read about the things you are grateful for.

Home For the Holidays

About a year ago (maybe more, maybe less) I discovered a wonderful group of people through the magic of The Bloggess.If you haven’t read her work, you should. She is upfront about her personal experience with mental illness, and she’s just downright funny. Wait. Where was I? Ah, yes. The Tribe. Through the wonders of The Bloggess and Twitter, I have gotten connected with all of these great people.

For many, the holidays can be a challenge, even for those who don’t actually celebrate them. So to make things maybe a little brighter this season, I had an idea. What if we took the time to support one another through a package or a card swap? Fun, yes?

I would recommend keeping package contents at $20 or below because many of us are strapped for cash at the holidays, but you and your package swap partners can dicker on an amount if you want.

If you would like to participate, please send me an email at zooheatheroneAtGeemaildotcom. (this is code so that spam bots don’t seek me out. To decode, that is either 1 OR ONE – both are my accounts- and gmail)

The email should include the following:

Your name

An address (I encourage everyone to use a work address or P.O. box because I can’t guarantee into whose hands the final list will fall, even if I am careful).

Whether you are interested in a package swap, a card swap, or both

How many packages and/or cards you wish to swap

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, or neither

How can your swap partner(s) encourage you?

Twitter handle

For those interested in a package exchange, please also include the following:

What helps you to enjoy the holidays? For example, I love Christmas music, both secular and religious. I also put toys on my Christmas wish list EVERY YEAR because I love to tap into the kid in me.

Favorite things

LEAST favorite things

Any food allergies, in case your partner wants to send you edibles.

I’ll keep this open until Monday, and then I will pair package partners (I’ll notify you through your DMs, so make sure you’re following me on Twitter. and share the card list with everyone who wants to exchange cards.

Let me know if there is anything I have missed.

Oh, and if you’re all “Man, I have no $$ for cards, postage, or packages, but I sure would like to get me some email,” let me know that, too.

Even if you can’t afford to send cards but need some holiday cheer, don’t hesitate to send me your info. I bet there are a bunch of people who find some pleasure in sending cards.

And because things are more fun with a photo, you get Tawny Frogmouth.

Tawny Frogmouth! TAWNY FROGMOUTH!

Tawny Frogmouth! TAWNY FROGMOUTH!

Surviving Depression

Some posts, like my last one, are so easy to write. The words and images flow to the page in no time. This post isn’t one of those. I’ve pondered it for weeks on end. How do I say it just right, so that I don’t look like a crazy person do the topic justice? Will I say it right? Will I embarrass myself? My family? The cats? They would never forgive me.

I am just going to stay in this tiny little ball and pretend the world doesn't exist. M'kay?

I am just going to stay in this tiny little ball and pretend the world doesn’t exist. M’kay?

So here goes, for better or for worse. I have experienced depressive episodes for most of my life, for different reasons. I know now that I have a congenital liver disorder that can affect my whole body, including my moods. The psych symptoms are the hardest to deal with, and it doesn’t help to remind myself that these feelings aren’t “real,” that they are a biological reaction to a missing enzyme. It also doesn’t help to remind myself that I should be grateful for what I have. I can’t be grateful for my beautiful family when all I can remember is how I have let them down. I know I have a great job, two of them, actually, but I can’t think about it without thinking of all the balls I have let drop or how I could be better.

Depression is a beast. It’s a paralytic. I cannot appreciate the big things because they are just too, too big, a shadow looming overhead. Sometimes in the thick of it, I need the little things, things small enough to hold in my paralyzed hands. So there you go. My tiny things.

Kittens. Forever and ever and ever. Ravenclaw and Pandora are sometimes what keeps me going. I can put one foot in front of the other if I know that in an hour or two, I can cover myself in baby kittens and peace out.

Pandora says she just can't even, ya'll.

Pandora says she just can’t even, ya’ll.

And they sleep beside me, and they keep me company, and even when they are grown up cats, they will be my refuge. Ravenclaw’s love language is a game called “Imma trip you until you pick me up and hold me like a little baby.” And Pandora’s is “Imma lick your eyeballs in the middle of the night.” I don’t even have to think about whether or not I deserve their love. Deserve it or not, they’re serving it up.

My plants. I might have a problem, you know. I have a green thumb, and I LOVE to grow things. The only tiny wrinkle here is that I only have one window for winter when all the plants come IN. And five cats. F-I-V-E cats. But my plants help me to keep going.

The more complicated it is to grow a cultivore, the more I like it. Maybe when I have success with the tough ones, it proves I can do something right, despite the voices in my head to the contrary.

Harry Potter. And it doesn’t bother me at all to say it. I love being in a world that has Harry Potter, and even NEW Harry Potter things. And I can cos-play with the best of them. I won an award at The Cursed Child book release party. Best Costume Overall. I feel proud to be a part of it. (If you click to enlarge the images, you will see the Playboy mags on the shelf behind me)

Cherries. There are cherries in the world. I guess they are out of season now, but that means it will be less than a year before they are BACK on shelves.

I couldn't find a license-free image of cherries, and they are not available now. so I drew you some.

I couldn’t find a license-free image of cherries, and they are not available now. so I drew you some. I am a giver.

Friendship in unexpected places. We had a Harry Potter event at the zoo, and I had too much work to do and couldn’t participate. But the people running the event didn’t want me to miss out. They made me a magic wand. With Slytherin sparkles and a ribbon that looks like snake-skin. I am humbled every time I look at it.

The photo doesn't do it justice (I used a point-and-shoot). It is a thing of beauty.

The photo doesn’t do it justice (I used a point-and-shoot). It is a thing of beauty.

This might be the beginning of a series. Out of curiosity, how do you keep going when things get tough?

 

The Real Reason I Can’t Get Anything Done

I love my job, and I try to do it well. Each day, I set goals for myself, taking pride in crossing tasks off my list one after the other. This week, one of my jobs was to take some pictures for a special event. It took me several days and 52 photos to get a shot that was workable, but there went one more big item off my list.

Luke, the Buff Crested Bustard (Eupodotis gindiana). These guys are crazy-eyed, and I love them. Even though I'm not bird lover.

Luke, the Buff Crested Bustard (Eupodotis gindiana). These guys are crazy-eyed, and I love them. Even though I’m not bird lover.

I had another big task to do this week. I almost didn’t get it done. It should have taken me an hour or two at the most, but instead it took the better part of the week, working off and on. Due to excessive rain, the hay in the Aldabra Tortoise lot looked rather shabby, so I wanted to rake it up and put down fresh hay. A number of things got in my way – tours, weather, other important tasks.

Meet my biggest obstacle.

You remember Al, I am sure. A quarter ton of love.

You remember Al, I am sure. A quarter ton of love. Check out old Tex in the back, minding his own beeswax.

Al has been at our zoo since 1974, and he knows how to get what he wants. Currently, what he wants is my attention. I have turned over some of the maintenance of his exhibit to two trusted volunteers, and I haven’t had as much time to spend with him. When I brought in the fresh bale of hay, he parked himself ON it. So there was nothing I could do but wait. And pet him. Who is training whom, here? Eh, I believe we know the answer to that one.

A better view for you. That's his giant shell, right smack dab in the middle of my hay bale.

A better view for you. That’s his giant shell, right smack dab in the middle of my hay bale. Looks right comfy, doesn’t he?

Click to enlarge the following images. They may not make sense otherwise.

So what is a girl to do?This task should have taken 15 minutes. It took over an hour. No regrets. I first met Big Al when I was 8 years old, and I fell in love with him on sight. Now it seems the feeling may be mutual. Today I was a little less task oriented, and a little more loved. It was a good trade.

 

Ending the Debate

I don’t usually address hot-button topics on my blog. I’m a fiery and passionate individual, and I’m learning that my knee-jerk reactions make me prone to put my foot right in my mouth. When I get really fired up about something, I wait before I address it. When the smoke clears, I don’t want to discover that I have totally embarrassed myself by not thinking things through properly.  Today I don’t care anymore. I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer or hide how I really feel. I’m speaking out. I don’t care about making people mad or fights in the comment section. I can’t keep silent anymore. You want to know my stance? The correct one. Under. The issue is question is, of course, toilet paper.

This patent proves nothing. This is a DESIGN patent, not a utility patent. It shows how it's made, NOT how it is used. So take that, all you hung-over people. Welcome to the Under-world.

This patent proves nothing. This is a DESIGN patent, not a utility patent. It shows how it’s made, NOT how it is used. So take that, all you hung-over people. Welcome to the Under-world.

 

It is simple science. It’s a little-known fact that Sir Isaac Newton was one of the earliest proponents of “under,” about 150 years before TP ever had a patent. Remember high school physics? Me, neither. But I do remember his first law of motion. An object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. At first, I thought he was talking about Squish. He used to run into walls a lot. But then I gleaned the deeper meaning.

Clearly Newton was talking about the proper way to hang the bog roll. Give a tug to a hungover roll of Charmin (or any brand at all. I’m not picking on you, Charmin. Please don’t sue me for insinuating you are less aerodynamically sound than your counterparts), and it goes on forever. There is no outside force to act upon said object, and therefore no way to control how much comes off the roll. A rear-hanger, however, provides its own outside force. A mere yank to the left or right (no preferences here!), and the proper amount needed to complete the paperwork tears right off.

Under is more practical for kids and pets. Cats, dogs, and kids have a habit of playing with the toilet paper.  A curious hand or paw bats the paper, and it rolls off into the floor in an ever-increasing pile, and the next thing you know, the living room looks like the morning after a Halloween frat party. A rear-orientation, however, means that a kid or critter can paw to its heart’s content without causing any damage. ***

Less ick-factor. If the toilet paper doesn’t unroll wildly, there’s less chance that the end of it will come into contact with floor-cooties. Floor-cooties are real, and they are disgusting.

It is avant garde. Over is so easy to support. It’s too easy. It looks all fancy when you fold the outside piece into a little triangle. Whatever. Under is subtle. You have to look closer to appreciate. Over is the Starbucks coffee of toilet paper orientation. Just because a lot of people use it doesn’t mean it’s right. Under is the hipster, fair-trade coffee shop. It just tastes better. Wait…

Cooler people go under. Guess who’s a hung-over girl? Tori Spelling. Because “it’s chic.” Don’t get me started. Guess who’s an under-guy? Gerhard Richter. You know. The dude who painted this? I know it looks blurry. It’s supposed to. It’s an oil-painting of toilet paper.

Kolorolle. Yes, it's art. IT'S ART.

Kolorolle. Yes, it’s art. IT’S ART. It sold at Sotheby’s for about $180,00, so that makes it art, and therefore RIGHT.

Know who else is “over?” My husband. I found that out tonight. Wow. 20 years of marriage, and you think you know someone. I’m considering asking for an annulment. He misrepresented himself.

Want the other side of the debate? Visit Rae at Peas and Cougars. She thinks she knows something on this topic. I think we all know that she does not. Visit her anyway. It’s bound to be funny.

So, join in the brouhaha. Are you an over-achiever or an under-dog?

*** Except for my old dog, Magic. She ate the paper straight from the roll in big chunks so we were cleaning ourselves with what looked like an endless roll of Swiss cheese. But she doesn’t count. She wasn’t an average dog. I’ve had houseplants that could outperform her on IQ tests.

Happy Things

It’s Spring Break! Well, it was. I had a whole week off. That’s a lie. I had quite a to-do list, so there was very little time for the nothingness I had hoped for, but it was still pretty darned good. I thought I would share a little of the awesome with you.

Most folks know I’m a zoo girl. One day a week, it is my privilege to get to work with critically endangered turtles and tortoises. One of them is the Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata), a species native to Madagascar whose numbers have dropped by half in the last ten years. We have a breeding pair of them, and this year I was asked to teach them to drink out of a water  bowl. Sounds weird. An animal encounters water, they should know how to drink, right? But some animals do not. If the surface of the water is not moving, many desert animals are not stimulated to drink. They can see the water, and they can smell it, but they don’t quite know what to do with it. The chances of them encountering standing water in the wild are almost non-existent.

Armed with a spray mister and no small amount of determination, I set out to teach our pair what a water bowl is for. When Radiated tortoises feel a spray of rain, they instinctively stand. They have even been known to dance. The idea behind the spray mister is to get them to their feet and then place the water bowl right next to them so that when they lay down, they are practically in it. Then the surface of the water is sprayed to agitate it an hopefully inspire the animal to take a drink.

The animals are naturally shy. At first, I had to stand behind them while I sprayed so that they would come out of their shell at all. Tortoises can see colors, and the bright blue volunteer shirt was a little off-putting and reminded them I was there.  I had no luck at first. They were too intimidated by my presence to drink. After a few weeks, we began to see some progress. They would stand for up to 20 minutes while I sprayed them, but they still wouldn’t drink. A couple of times, one or the other would land clumsily in the water bowl. I could see twin dimples in the water from their nostrils as they took the scent of the water. They tasted it briefly, and then got startled and pulled back in their shells.

Long story short (too late?), after three months of work, my work is done. Just in time to send them outside for the summer where they will forget everything I taught them. But I did it. There is nothing more satisfying than watching the female turn toward the bowl and dip her head, the muscles in her neck moving rhythmically as she takes a long drink.

There are things you don’t expect to see on my blog. Mammals are one of those things. But my friend called a couple of days ago and shared the exciting news that her English cocker spaniel had delivered a litter of eight puppies. Eight. Six girls, two boys, all doing very well.

Over the next couple of weeks, the pigment in their noses will begin to appear, their ears will open, and their fur will fill in. Right now they look like they haven’t quite cooked all the way. Give them time!

And here is my favorite happy thing to share today. People ask what I get out of blogging. Besides the endless piles of cash, of course. Sometimes the benefits of blogging are intangible. There’s the satisfaction of a job well done. There is also the joy of meeting a fellow blogger in person and learning they are exactly as you imagined them to be, except even better. And then there’s this:

Yes. It's a barf bag. The most wonderful barf bag in the history of such things.

Yes. It’s a barf bag. The most wonderful barf bag in the history of such things.

 

I came home the other day, and I found this beauty in the mail. After reading my Pinterest craft post, a wonderful blogger sent me the most fabulous Hello Kitty motion discomfort bag. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! I can now honestly say I am not in blogging for the money. I’m in it for the barf bags. Thank you, Susan! I treasure it! And if you have never read Susan’s work, go visit her at Lost In China. She has been Freshly Pressed a few times, and for good reason. Go read about her online dating life and life with her very traditional parents. I’ve linked you to one of my favorite posts. Go! Read! Laugh!

I have other good things to share. There is just too much awesome in my life for one post. Stay tuned! What’s awesome in your world?

Making Up the Rules

Internet is still out. Interesting that when I actually have internet access, I forget that I want to look up companies who can install it for me, which is how I come to be sitting in a Panera, covered in flour and chocolate from all the baking I’ve done for Squish’s fall festival to assuage the guilt for missing the event completely. Because I’m going to miss it. I have a date.

Tomorrow, after I teach my toddler class at the zoo, I will make like a cow patty and hit the dusty trail. In about 24 hours, I’ll be turning into sj’s driveway. There’s a balloon there to show me just where to go and everything. Amy will be there. And I am so nervous.

I’ve know sj for four years. We’ve exchanged emails daily for what feels like ever. She knows the ugly things about me. She has known me at my worst. But we have never actually met in person.

I’ve followed Amy’s blog for over a year. I won her book  many months ago, and I’ve been email her for quite some time. She is witty, charming, and her writing is delightful. I heart her dearly. But we’ve never met, either.

I know how to meet people. I’ve met people thousands of times in my life. When I’m leading tour groups, I meet dozens in one place. I know that routine. Exchange names, smile politely, ask about their work/school, move on to the next person: later, rinse, repeat. Easy.

But what about people you haven’t seen face-to-face, but they were there for you when your beloved pet died, when you were hospitalized suddenly, when the job so wished for doesn’t materialize, when a child has a serious health issue? What are the rules? Can you bypass the polite smiles and move right to a giant bear hug?

What if you have so many inside jokes (I imagine sj snickersnorting over “lather, rinse, repeat.” Long story, but let’s just say I’m more careful with my chat windows) that everything is an inside joke? And you love the same music, and you’ve talked books exhaustively, and they know you so well that their reading recommendations are NEVER off, and Eleanor and Park made you both weepy? Can you skip talking about the weather and move to eating food off their plate?

I’ve done it once before, this meeting someone who was once only words on a screen, a few months ago when I meet Emily, and it was wonderful. It worked so well. I think it will work this time, too, and for the same reason. I suspect that Amy and sj are in person exactly as they are online. That’s one thing that draws me to their writing – their raw honesty.

How does this all work? I don’t know. But I’m about to find out, and I’m so excited! sj and Amy, I’ll be seeing you ladies soon! You’ll know me by my Severus Snape t-shirt and my smile!

Gratuitous baby tortoise shot. Because when I can't share pics, I get shaky.

Gratuitous baby tortoise shot. Because when I can’t share pics, I get shaky. On a computer screen, this pic is bigger than life-size. 

 

I Needed Some Good News

I needed a win this week. I’m in a bit of a rough patch.

Rewrites are not going well at all. I’m experiencing a love-hate relationship with my novel. I vacillate between thinking this book might be my big break and feeling like I should scrap the whole thing before I embarrass myself at the beta-read stage. Stuff is not so great at work, either. Two of the computers I worked so hard to get set up are dead, less than three weeks after setting them up. They’re still under warranty, of course, but it means that I have to devote some of my precious writing time to getting them exchanged. And now my wedding ring is missing. I needed a win, and I got a big one.

You might think my big win came from the reptile department. Six new Eastern Box Turtles hatched this week.

 

No post is complete without a bellybutton shot.

No post is complete without a bellybutton shot. If those little splayed toes don’t get you, you need to see the wizard for a heart.

This is good news, indeed. But it wasn’t my great news.There was something even better.

And then there was this:

Is it wrong that I'm a little disappointed? I was hoping for books.

Yes. there is this. Not a book, to be sure, but it’s a start.

 

Which is good news because it proves Rowling hasn’t gotten HP out of her system yet. But there’s something even better. I know. I hear you asking me “But Heather, what could be better than a movie about the magical world you love so much, especially since Rowling is writing the screenplay herself?” I also heard you call me a dweeb under your breath. Don’t think I didn’t. I’ll ignore that part and answer your question. What could be better? This:

Better than a new HP movie!

Better than a new HP movie!

And:

Also better than a new HP movie

Also better than a new HP movie

It is now official. In a month, I get the incredible opportunity to have a giant sleepover weekend with sj and Amy! I am not sure I can handle all the awesome. I feel like the universe has given me a gift.Two of my favorite people. In the same place. At the same time.

Thanks, Universe! I needed this!