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.

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!

 

The Sorted Details

The Official Logo. Courtesy of Pottermore,com

I am cool. I have an early invitation to Pottermore. A friend signed me up a couple of months ago. You wish you had friends like that. Actually, you should. She’s awesome. Here’s the fun part. Early admittance didn’t actually mean we could get into the site early. We still had to wait for our letter to arrive (via email, not owl) in order to fully access all the features. But mine arrived this morning. I got in early. The site isn’t open to everyone until October, which is, um Saturday. . So I guess that means I rock, but only a little more than the average person. Having received notification that I am just to the right of ordinary, I logged in. Or I tried to.

Now, I’m not here to offer any spoilers or anything. I am pretty sure there were Terms of Service that I agreed to. I know I must have promised not to tell anyone anything cool about the site. Since I’m in the cool-kid club and got in early and all. If I violate the terms, a mountain troll will probably poop on my lawn. So call me the secret keeper. I say nothing about what I see. Except this:

They’re beta-testing the site, and I hope someone over there is taking notes. I can’t get in. Once I’m in, I can’t stay in. And if I stay in, I am not sure how to get where I am going. And once I am there, it takes me forever to figure out how to get where I have been. Nothing makes sense. Kind of like Facebook. Pottermore is the new social network for geeks.

I have no idea what I am doing, and I can’t find a tutorial. Not sure how to see the stuff I want to see. I know people have been sorted into houses because I have been subjected to them via my Twitter feed for the last two weeks. But how do I get there? I want to be sorted, too, but every time I think I have moved a bit forward, I get kicked off the site. The servers can’t handle the volume of users without suddenly shutting people out. I have not been able to stay on for longer than a minute and a half yet, and it’s only open to a million people so far.

It’s a total time-suck. The precious hour I wasted messing about on the site getting absolutely nowhere was time I need to spend writing. Or cleaning. Or eating. Or all three. I spent significantly more time trying to log in than I actually did exploring. I found the whole mess to be tedious and frustrating. I may actually have yelled at my computer once. Okay, twice. An entire hour of my life I will never get back.

So my user name is WolfsbaneNight8. I’ll be back on again the moment I can. Look me up, and we can be friends! Yes, I know. I have a problem. You don’t need to point it out, but thanks.

The Rudest Awakening

I thought I knew who I was. I built my whole life around and identity I thought was my own, and now I see I have been living a lie. I was shattered this week when the catalog arrived, one I had not ordered but found intriguing. But as I flipped through it, my whole life came tumbling down as the realization hit me. I am not a geek.

I’ve spent years being referred to as a geek. After all, if I dress like this and enter Harry Potter costume contests, what does that make me? Certainly not normal.

Laugh if you want. I won. I AM Trelawney.

But apparently, dressing your baby like this:

Maybe I could get in the club if I had used permanent marker to make the scar.

 

does not get you in the club. Now I have read the catalog, and I realize the many ways that I am not a geek.

I don’t get the whole bacon thing: Bacon is greasy, high in fat, salty and terrible. Tastes okay and all, but eating that stuff will kill you. I tried cooking with bacon recently. For my husband’s sake. But at the last second, I totally chickened out and bought turkey bacon. Which according to my husband is not even a reasonable substitute.

I am no whiz at chemistry or physics– I like the idea of chemistry, with all that bonding and stuff, but I could never balance an equation. Mine always tilted to one side.

I have never watched Dr. Who– It’s not available at my library, and I don’t have cable. And I won’t just buy a DVD because *gasp* there’s a chance I might not actually like it.

I don’t have cable–  And therefore I cannot watch Dr. Who. It’s a vicious geek-prevention cycle.

I have never participated in a role-playing game– A couple of weeks ago, we thought we had been transported to Middle Earth because the mountain was never-ending. But none of us had powers. And no one thought it was funny but me.

I am not interested in Zombies– I don’t actually get that fascination, either. Why are smart people so fascinated with a creature that wants to eat their brain? It’s like a cow watching McDonald’s commercials.

I have never played Rock Band– I play two online games, but interest in both is fading, and one is going off-line in a few months anyway.

I don’t like the right TV shows– Star Trek (any generation) bores me to tears, I have no idea what a Tardis is, and Star Wars is only mildly appealing. I do only like the original trilogy, though, so that should give me some bonus points, right?

I don’t have gadgets– I don’t have a cell-phone (i- , smart, or otherwise), and I have no idea what Angry Birds actually is. My daughter tried to tell me about it, but I think she may have been kidding. There aren’t actually pigs involved, right?

I am not up on the latest technology– I’m not a techno-phobe, and I’ve taught myself some cool stuff on the computer, but I am not exactly a genius at it, either. I can update my flash and browser, post pictures, figure out blogging sites, but I am still not exactly sure what an RSS feed is and how it can be my friend. And to me, writing code means leaving a note for my husband that the boys can’t read. It’s called “cursive.” Linux is a mystery to me, as well. Wasn’t he the kid with the blanket on Charlie Brown?

So there you have it. I know what I am not. But here’s the good news. I don’t have to be a geek. I came across another epithet that is hurled with the same amount of scorn and derision. I am a “mommy-blogger.” It’s good to know who I am.

Will I Ever Learn?

Symmetry in nature is beautiful

The days are getting shorter, the kids are off to school, and we all know what that means. I’m screwed. Let the record show that I don’t do this every year. It usually takes about 2 years to completely forget past mistakes and make them anew with reckless abandon. And I think I outdid myself this time.

I love plants. I used to work in a greenhouse in college. I did everything from cloning African violets to cloning carrots (yes, somewhere out there is a giant carrot dragging its mutated self around the globe searching for its creator. It’s ALIIIIIVE!). I love watching the new shoots pop up through the soil, fighting the odds in its struggle for life. I take as much pride in my aloe’s offspring as if I had spawned it with my very own rhizomes. I love surrounding myself with a jungle of green. And that’s my problem. Where does the jungle go in the winter? I only have one window.

Okay, I have more that one window. I don’t live in a subterranean cave, after all. But I also have several cats. And a small kid. So let me amend that statement to “I only have one window that gets enough light for a plant to survive and is out of reach of four-legged diners and wild two-legged diggers.” So I’m screwed.

Last year, I remembered. I remembered the drought and twice-a-day waterings. I remembered not being able to see the top of my kitchen table from October until May. I remembered the heartbreaking parting as I had to send my largest ficus to my husband’s office because there was no way to keep our burgeoning bi-ped out of it. Instead of our forest of tomato plants (which are annual and die before it’s time to bring the plants in, thank you very much) and cuttings of every house plant I have ever owned, I contented myself with planting one tomato and repotting my ferns. I did make a few cuttings of my ficus to grow as Christmas gifts. But that was it.

At the end of last year, I had my fern, my son’s alligator plant and a few of its incredibly homely offspring (but a baby plant is a baby plant and must be nurtured, right?!), and the cuttings of the ficus. At Christmas, I repotted them for their new homes. Unfortunately, the ones that were supposed to travel to the in-laws got left behind. But their tiny pots fit on my sill. I wasn’t too crowded as I did my dishes, and there were only 4 plants to  move off of the kitchen table when it was time to eat.

I blame our university’s garden story-time for the loss of my ever-lovin’ mind. We went to our first story time of the season, and instead of a coloring station, the children got to plant a seed to take home. Squish was fascinated by the bean. He insisted on watering it and checking its progress every day. The day it sprouted was a day of celebration. And then it hit me. What do we DO with it? It can’t live a full life in its little cup. Do we let it die an unnatural death in front of our son, or do we buy some soil and give the stupid thing a chance at achieving its potential? Do I have to tell you what we did?

Once the bean was planted, we (okay, there was no “we.” It was all me) decided it could use some companions. Having no idea what kind of bean we had planted, I was unsure if it was a self-pollinator or not, so we planted some sugar peas in the same pot. We started them in a plastic jar so that the kids (okay, me again) could watch their root development. I called them Venomous Tentacula in honor of the upcoming HP movie, which amused me more than anyone else. They grew with frightening speed. I measured 2 inches of root growth in just under 3 hours. Good thing they’re sensitive to temperature or these things would take over the planet!

Then my husband became an accomplice to my stupidity. He brought home a book on herb gardening. Suddenly I had my heart set on growing my own bay laurel, and we set about on a city-wide search. The plant was elusive, but we managed to secure one. I’ll never have to buy dried bay leaves again! Who knew it needed a 12 inch pot? And it’s a tender perennial, so it needs to winter inside.

Same with the rosemary.

And then my daughter bought some mint. Won’t fresh mint tea be tasty this winter?

And then there’s the thyme. And the oregano.

And those ficus babies have been re-potted. They doubled in size  and are ready for their new homes.  Except for the one I’d really like to keep.

The fern is now so big that it won’t fit in its little nook by the microwave this winter.

And the burro-tail won’t fit on the sill because its new pot is too wide.

I might be easier if we just move.