The Reason I am Not Speaking To My Sister

My sister an I used to get along fine. Not anymore. I quit speaking to her a few days ago. We used to do fun things. We both love Harry Potter. She makes a great Molly Weasley, and we went to the release of the last two books together. Those days are done. Except for Harry Potter. I still love him.

That's butterbeer she is holding. And she even let me have some. But what she did recently is inexcusable.

That’s butterbeer she is holding. And she even let me have some. But what she did recently is inexcusable.

We are all put on this earth for a purpose, I firmly believe that. It is up to us to fulfill it; us and no one else. And that’s what it all comes down to.

She has her gifts, and I have mine. I am a decent photographer, and that’s what I was doing. That was my job, and I took it seriously. I can’t say the same for her. It went fine at first. She did her thing and all, but then suddenly she totally dropped the ball. I mean FOR REAL. I don’t know if she gave up, or if she was bored, or if she was a victim of over-thinking. No idea. I would ask her and find out, but it would involve speaking to her. And I’m not. I believe I mentioned that.

Anyway, I was kind of counting on her to get her part done, and she didn’t. I mean, how hard is it? You put the crystal of power to the vampire’s chest and blow it to smithereens. It’s demon-vanquishing 101, people. I would have done it myself, but, HELLO, I had the camera.  I can’t wield the crystal, anyway. That’s totally her deal. But she didn’t do it

I don’t know why she didn’t. She had no trouble nixing the possessed dog’s head/transistor radio thingy or the old monster with the weird hair, but when she got to that last boogie-man, things kind of fell apart. She dusted the dude with the powder of darkness just fine. And she lit the candle like she’d done it her whole life. But when it came time to seal the deal, she choked. And we both died. So that’s why I’m mad at my sister.

So it may have been a dream, but I’m not sure. I’m not taking any chances. Any Chosen Ones out there who know their way around a Crystal of Power?

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.

 

My Parenting Philosophy in Three Words

Maybe I’m not such a great parent after all.

My parenting philosophy can be summed up in three words. “Keep Expectations Low.” I need that on a t-shirt. Because I’ve never taken them on vacation (Go ahead and judge me. I am TERRIBLE!), I don’t have to do much to impress the boys. They’re better off that way.

I could drive them around the block and show up at the YMCA, and they’d still think it an exotic vacation if they get to:

  • play video games in bed until 11pm.
  • enjoy cable TV – although Squish learned that having 50 channels doesn’t guarantee that there is something to actually watch. It was a hard life lesson for him.
  • get snacks from a vending machine
  • continental breakfast, whether it boasts a waffle maker or dog turd sandwiches.
  • swim in a pool – and let me tell you, size does not matter. Our motel pool is smaller than the double bed in the motel room, and they still think they are Mr. and Mrs. Howell.
Source: Gilligasisle.com I'll let them argue over which one is Lovey, but neither of them wants to get their hair wet.

Source: Gilligansisle.com I’ll let them argue over which one is Lovey, but neither of them wants to get their hair wet.

One day, maybe we’ll actually get cable at home, and then they will NEVER leave! NAH!

The One Where I Admit I’m Negligent

You heard it here first. I am not a good parent. I let my kids down in a big way.

I’ve never taken my kids on vacation. Like, ever. Not once. The Girl-child is 19, and she’s never been away on vacation. She has been away from home, of course. All the kids have. To grandma’s, to camp, etc. But never away to do fun things for more than a night. Until now. It’s road trip time.

It is for the boys, anyway. The Girl-child is staying home because she has a job. And I have, like, a million pets. We’re hitting the road for St Augustine.

Last night, it all seemed like a good idea, a great one, even. I was so excited. We went to St Augustine as honeymooners 21 years ago, and we loved it so much. There are plenty of places we haven’t been, but if we’re going to leap into vacation, we should go somewhere we know. Or think we know. Or whatever.

In the light of day, the shine has worn off this particular idea. I didn’t go on vacation much as a kid. Why should my kids be spoiled? Also? Kittens. How do I leave this?

Pan-DOR-able. How do I leave this face and stay gone for 2% of her young life? I don't deserve her love!

Pan-DOR-able. How do I leave this face and stay gone for 2% of her young life? I don’t deserve her love!

This morning,  husband loaded the car with way too much stuff. I will continue packing things into bags until there is nothing left but the bare studs and a few good memories if I am not bodily removed from the premises. The goal was to leave at 7am

6:30 Squish wakes us up

6:40 Finally get out of bed

6:45 Look around for the clothes I laid out last night. I swear they were *right here*

6:50 Find clothes in exactly the spot I left them last night. My bad, husband. I didn’t see them. Don’t look at me like that!

6:55 Learn that husband does not, in fact, like my orange Minions shirt and never has. It’s like our whole marriage has been a lie.

6:56 Begin existential crisis.

7:15 Ignore horn honking in the driveway and check Twitter

7:18 Go out to move car.

7:19 Return to the house to get keys.

7:20 Return to house to get coffee

7:21 Return to house to pee one last time

7:23 Insist that everyone else go pee also

7:35 Get in car

7:36 Return to house to replace kitten who mysteriously appeared in my backpack. I don’t know how she got there, so stop looking at me like that.

7:38 On the road.

The trip was uneventful. Husband found a route that takes 5 fewer hours than our last trip, or maybe new interstates have been constructed in the last 20 years. The only blip was a visit to a benighted McDonald’s with the least attentive servers in history and a child at the table behind us whose shrieks could have peeled the paint off the walls.

We got here in before dark, but I suspect it’s going to be an interesting visit. Instead of a magical stay at a bed and breakfast, we’re at the bad end of town in a motel who lists “toilet” as one of its amenities. I was all excited, but my enthusiasm waned with the daylight. Suddenly it seems like too much work to leave the room.

It’s not all bad. The kids didn’t want to leave the room, either. They opted to send Dad out to bring back a pizza. I’m pretending that it’s a money-saving move and not because I don’t have the energy to fight traffic tonight. Time enough for that tomorrow, right?

I can’t sleep without a kitten chewing on my feet. I do hope that one of the boys is up to the job.

 

Servers So Rude

My actual conversation with a Chipotle server:

So beautiful! Source: Chipotle.com

So beautiful! Source: Chipotle.com

Her: You want anything else on it? Any salsa?

Me: I want guac. I know it’s extra. It’s okay.

Her: There is no guac.

Me: I want guac.

Her: There is no guac.

Me: How can there be no guac?

Her: Because you didn’t buy any. This is your house, Mom.

Sounds like excuses to me.

It's almost like I woke her up to roll my burrito. Oh, wait. I did.

It’s almost like I woke her up to roll my burrito. Oh, wait. I did.

 

Things That Are Better In Pairs

Things in life that are best when they come in a multi-pack:

  • Shoes
I couldn't wear these. I have the balance of a drunk newborn wildebeest.

I couldn’t wear these. I have the balance of a drunk newborn wildebeest.

  • Socks
Buy me these. I needs these. Source

Buy me these. I needs these. Source

  • Cookies. I’ll take two pairs of cookies, thanks. Make that a dozen!
I definitely need these in my life!

I definitely need these in my life!

    • Underwear. Although technically I am not sure I understand the concept of “pair of underwear.” Unless they’re counting the leg holes? Anyone know? Anyone? Bueller

      I don't understand "brief," either.

      I don’t understand “brief,” either.

    • Kittens.
How happy am I? Pretty darned happy!

How happy am I? Pretty darned happy!

 

Never adopt just one kitten when you can have two. I cannot recommend pairs of kittens highly enough. Especially little black ones. They have a harder time finding a home. The adoption organization we got the baby kittens from is the same one who matched us with Pixel and Bellatrix. They run specials on black cats and kittens because they are so hard to place.

Meet Pandora. She’s on the right. We adopted her the day after we got Ravenclaw. It was too hard to leave her behind. In theory, she was to go with the Girl-child to college. In reality, she is so bonded to her sister that I don’t think we can ever separate them. Sorry, Girl-child! Would you perhaps like a pony instead?

 

Don’t have the ability to adopt a cat or kitten? You can still help. Click the PayPal button on Happy Paws’ website to donate. Even $5 buys some cat litter. You can even sponsor the adoption of the cat or kitten of your choice so someone of lower income may be able to take home a best friend for life. No, I am not being paid to advertise. I just think this rescue does a great job!

The Best Question I Have Ever Been Asked

Zookeepers get asked a lot of questions. It’s part of the job, and honestly one of my favorite things.
Yesterday morning I was bent over unclogging a tube in the bog turtle rearing exhibit. I heard a family approach the fence, and the mom began reading the graphics aloud to her young son.

“Looking into this exhibit,  you may be looking into the future of bog turtle conservation…”

The little boy looked at me through the peeking window and said “Are you real?”

I assured him that I was. His eyes got huge as he took the words on the graphics to heart.

“Are you from the future?”

If Santa can break the space/time continuum, why couldn’t a zookeeper? We are made of magic and cat hair.
My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that's because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that’s because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

It’s National Zookeeper Appreciation Week. Have you hugged a keeper yet?

Things I Would Rather Do Than Re-Watch “Secret Life of Pets”

I took Squish to see “The Secret Life of Pets” because I apparently I didn’t learn anything from the whole “Finding Dory” fiasco.

Ravenclaw says save your money. Watch a kitten with a laser pointer instead. She's a harsh critic.

Ravenclaw says save your money. Watch a kitten with a laser pointer instead. She’s a harsh critic.

Things I would rather do than re-watch “The Secret Life of Pets”

  • Scratch my poison ivy (actually, this one is kind of cheating because scratching poison ivy is awesome. At least for the first week).
  • Take a bubble bath with a cat.
  • Read Game of Thrones.
  • Pick my nose.
  • Pick a stranger’s nose.
  • Play Roulette blindfolded with five cups of lemonade and a cup of cat pee.
  • Watch full coverage of the Republican National Convention without a bathroom break. While drinking cat pee.
  • Redecorate my house in Early Hairball.
  • Write an entire blog post with Alpha-Bits cereal.
  • Watch colonoscopy videos in 4-D.
  • Live out the recurring nightmare of walking down the hallway of my high school naked.
  • Misuse punctuation.
  • Listen to “Achy Breaky Heart” scratched out by fingernails on a chalkboard.
  • Kiss a monkey.
  • Give up eating fresh cherries for the rest of my life.
  • Give up eating MoonPies for the rest of my life. Yeah, it was that bad.

 What is the worst movie you have seen this year?

It’s hard to be brave

Kids are weird. Anyone who tries to tell you differently is kind of missing the whole magic of childhood.

Anyway, I’ve lost my share of sleep dealing with odd things.

Padawan_001

The Padawan looking innocent. I assure you, he is not.

This one? He used to get me out of bed to complain that his stuffed shark, Hammer, was singing to him. Don’t suggest that he let Hammer sing him to sleep either. “You don’t understand,” the Padawan would lament, night after night. “He’s singing jazz!” Touché, little man.

And this one?

The Girl-child, back in the day. But not ALL the way back in the day because those photos are on old fashioned negatives.

The Girl-child, back in the day. But not ALL the way back in the day because those photos are on old fashioned negatives.

She used to scream that Sharp Tooth was coming to get her. Sharp Tooth? The T-Rex from that adorable fright-fest, “The Land Before Time?”

So here’s a new one on me.

“There’s a werewolf!”

“Uh, we talked about this before. There’s no such thing as werewolves.”

“I saw one.”

“It’s not a werewolf.”

“WEREWOLF!”

“Where?”

“There!”

“I don’t see it!”

“There! Just now! It moved!”

“I see it. It’s not a werewolf.”

“No, THAT OVER THERE! WEREWOLF!”

“Not.”

“IS!”

“Baby, for the last time, it’s not a werewolf. I know it’s not a werewolf. That’s the dog.”

NOT a werewolf. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary.

NOT a werewolf. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary.

“You sure?”

“I’m really, really sure, Ravenclaw.”

I don't think she believes me.

I don’t think she believes me.