Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snapshot in Time - Butterfly Fiasco

Did you know that on day 34, when you release butterflies that you have hatched and grown from wee little caterpillars, that on day 34 of caring for them, and you let them out, and the whole school is watching, that there will be some birds that will swoop in for a snack and eat them right in front of you?

It sounds like this:

"Oh, look at that one?"
"Wow, they are flying high!"
"This is so cool!"
"Yay, yay, yay!"
"There's mine!"
"No, that's mine!"
"Oh, they are beautiful!"

Ad nauseum.

"Collective, ahhhhhh! Beautiful!"

And then, one fell swoop, the horror story gasp and intake of about 60 students' and teachers' breaths -

"Ahhhh, OOHHHHHH, NO!"

The starlings were picking them off like a nit comb on a head full of lice.

Immediate journal entry by a second grade boy.

I like butterflies.
I like caterpillars.
I DO NOT like birds.

The Decomposition Project

(Photos 1 & 2 taken 11-1-13)

Yes. Kinders rock! We get to do all sorts of cool things.

Currently, we are investigating a long term decomposition project. The materials consist of two pumpkins (minus the seeds, which were cleaned, cooked, and quickly inhaled by eager mouths).

Both pumpkins, one carved and one uncarved - due to very thick, gourd-like skin - reside just outside our classroom door. In the gravel. In the weather. In the snow, wind, rain, ice.

(Photos 3 & 4 taken 11-24-13)

So far, both are still recognizable. One observation - the opened wound, I mean carved pumpkin, is definitely succumbing to decomposition, while the pristine (not for lack of trying) warty pumpkin is just sitting there.

Date of death and burial, er, placement outside for observation: October 30.

Watch for future installments of time lapsed photographs. It's going to get really gross.

(Photos 5 & 6 taken 12-4-13)

(Taken 12-15-13: Looking a little more saggy!)

(Taken 12-19-13: Definitely squishy! The uncarved pumpkin is holding up very well.)

(Taken 1-5-14)

(January 5, 2014)

(January 7, 2014, after a bit of snow and ice)

(January 7)

(January 7)

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Little Story

It was a beautiful idea for a children's book.

I could picture it. Killdeer on the Playground. Illustrated with botanical quality drawings and charts. Charming students and natural habitat. Exhibition of caring for a wild creature. Joy and wonder arising from the hatching and protecting of adorable feathered offspring. A day by day journal of the growing avian family.

Day 1.
Killdeer nest discovered on playground. Right in the middle of the 'running a lap' pathway. Frantic and dramatic parental input - lead them astray, lead them astray, lead them astray. This continued to occur - for 60 students worth of running laps (X2 recesses).

A temporary solution of protection was found by using a hula hoop as a fence around the nest. "Stay clear!" was the command of the day. Teachers and students monitored the eggs in the midst of the bark.

After school, I considered all of the possibilities of a fascinating Caledecott Award Honor Book. Written by a new-to-the-scientific-and-secular-world of children's picture books author. Someone from the beautiful northwest. Someone like - moi.

Beautiful things. Dreams.

Day 2.

Racing to the playground for recess, students and teachers alike hoped for nesting parents.

Instead. An empty nest, no parents, a few shells, and some dried runny yolk at the bottom of the grassy depression nest.

Seems the community dog had a better idea for the eggs.

It WAS a great idea for a story.

Not all was lost. What a great lesson about the food chain!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Light Inspiration

I haven't been too inspired to decorate for Christmas. Must be brain overload, since I usually can't wait to decorate Thanksgiving Day - as soon as turkey leftovers are tucked into the fridge. I adore the lights and visiting favorite Christmas treasures as they come out of storage.

But this year...ho hum. Ornaments and decorations breezed through my fingers. Nope. Nope. Store it. Not this year. Hmmm. Maybe this one.

I even had Christmas music blaring - all 200 songs on the Ipod!

And then, white lights and crystal beckoned me. Inspiration struck.

Feeling more like Christmas is in the air. Especially with all of the burning candles and flickering lights.

Light is important. With the dreary, cold rain (or snow, please, yes, snow!) and shortened days, Christmas lights bring out the nostalgia and coziness of the Season.

A very Light filled and cozy Christmas to you ~
Merry Christmas!

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

. . .

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Song is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:2,6

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Can't Do It All

I know.

It's a shock. Sorry to disappoint my people. Sorry fans (both of you).

But I can't keep up! With my full time job, church, writing deadlines, Bible study, blogs, Facebook, friends, grandkids, parents, family, sleep...all of which I love.

Oh. Can't forget the husband and cat. (Did you notice? I DID leave out cleaning the house. Don't mind if I do.)

And for the fun things - rubber stamping, shopping, eating, cooking, reading, taking pictures, riding the motorcycle...Those are waaaaaayyyyyy down the list.

So forgive me if I miss a month or week or so in writing on my blogs. I want to. I have lists of what to write.

But first things first.

It will happen. One day.

And then maybe I will have 3 fans.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Wanna Be Like Her

I wasn't paying attention to much as I waited for my turn for a flu shot. Next in line, I heard the nurse tell the lady in front of me, "You're good for a year."

"Does that mean you are promising I'll be here? I'm going to turn 96," replied the senior woman.

They chatted and laughed. I eavesdropped.

"I just renewed my drivers license. The man told me he'd see me in five years. I asked him if that was guarantee, because then I'd be 101," she told the nurse.

Then she grabbed her cane and waltzed out of the clinic.

"I wanna be like her," I told the nurse. "95 and barely a cane. And driving."

At the stop light as I went on to other errands, I noticed the young-at-heart lady in her car in the turn lane beside me. While she must have had something to boost her up as high as she was sitting, she was definitely in the moment. The second the light turned, she went for it and headed on her way.

Oh, to be 95 and that full of vim and vigor.

I wanna be like her.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Storm Casualties

What a beautiful, refreshing, amazing, destructive storm!

As we enjoyed the Seahawks vs San Francisco game on Sunday night, the festivities were postponed for an hour due to sheeting rain, thunder, and lightning.

Slightly after the Seattle storm, we had our own storm travel through the Yakima Valley. Oh, what drama!

Driving rain. Check.
Howling, swirling winds. Check.
Wonderfully loud thunder. Check.
Jagged bolts of lightning. Check.
Power outage. Check.
Cooler air. Check.
Cleaner air. Check.

Damage? Check.

Down and done sunflowers were my only storm casualties.

But the sliver lining?
A bucket of gorgeous sunflowers to enjoy.

Sorry birds.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Road Trip

(Windmill at the Presby House Museum)

Nothing more refreshing than a road trip with my honey. Even if the scenery was tinder dry, scorched by long-term constant over 90 degree temps and 0 percentage of rain.

Stop 1: Powerhouse Grill for a delicious bacon and cheese omelet with crispy hashbrowns. The improvement I suggest would be grits. Always grits.

Stop 2: Of course, coffee at Starbucks. Iced decaf Americano with a splash of NF milk. Mmmm.

Stop 3: Cheap gas from the Wolf Den, Wapato.

(Kev in front of the Presby House Museum)

Stop 4: Presby House Museum, Goldendale, WA. I've always wanted to stop. So today, we did. Besides being a beautiful home, the museum is filled with loads of antiques. Many of which I remember using as a child. Or seeing as a child when the items were only slightly out of date. Ouch. Extra: Free deer lounging in the shade behind the house.

(The beautiful Presby House, built in 1902)

(Crazy quilt on display in the museum)

(1890 Bible)

Stop 5-6: Photo Op of the lovely Mt. Adams (our mountain). Amazing how the mountain I see every day looks totally new from a different side.

(Mt. Adams from the south side)

Stop 7: Trout Lake Campground. We used the facilities, but plan to return to stay at this charming spot.

Stop 8: White Salmon: We enjoyed pulled pork spicy nachos and Greek salad (I know, what a combo) at a pub style restaurant. It appeared to be the only eatery open, but the food was delicious!

Stop 9: Not counting the rerouting of ourselves, trying to find the illusive Appleton, we stopped at the Golden Arches for a sweet refreshment to enjoy on the drive home. Never did get on the right road to Appleton.

Future road trip - wait for the fall weather to color the leaves and the rain to dampen the dust. And then it will be time for a motorcycle road trip.

Three cheers for road trips!

(Printing press letters)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Meet My Prize

Jellyfish Creations (

Regard my new prize, recently acquired from a college friend as we celebrated our collective 50th birthday (our whole group).

Hand-blown and crafted on Whidbey and Camano Islands, of Washington State, my treasure features an interesting design resembling a tree branch. She is one creative lady, my friend Julie. The truth be told, all of the Jello Molders group ladies are talented in many ways.

Old enough to appreciate beauty - of any variety.

Upon further reflection, while I appreciate this treasure, there is One even greater. A pearl of great price, worth all of my wealth and sacrifice.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45-46

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sugar Daddy Ants

I've heard about ants that groom and/or milk aphids for honeydew. FYI: That means massage them so they poop. Where there is sugar, there will eventually be ants. So their honeydew must be sweet. Disgusting. And cool.

That's one treat I am just fine without.

It's true. Found my own little colony of aphids attended by their protector (from predators) sugar daddy ants. Amazing! I was assuming (incorrectly) that this symbiotic relationship occurred somewhere in South America, in the jungles of the Amazon.

Nope. Well it could happen there. But it is also happening in my backyard! In the middle of the Yakima Valley, an irrigated desert! Right in the middle of my raised garden beds.

I guess my problem with aphid infestation this year is making somebody happy. Someone is benefiting from my loss of plants due to aphids gorging themselves on my produce.

Those sugar daddy ants. Fat and sassy. Living high on the hog. Aphid hog. They're having all the fun.

It may be a losing battle this year for my garden, but I'm still going to sic my ladybugs on them. All of them.

Go, natural predators, go!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Study in Watercolor Techniques

Part of the fun in watercolor painting is experimenting with other materials that can be used while painting with watercolors. This study was done while I was taking a watercolor painting class at YVCC in Yakima. Though I have pencil writing all over the borders, lines, holes, and extra paint swatches, I love the still-cohesive painting of a barn.

I love barns. I discovered this barn out in the outskirts of the Chickopee, Massachusetts, area. The only thing I couldn't convey while painting the barn was extreme humidity. UGH.

Some materials I played with were pastels, liquid starch, salt, ink, splatter, colored pencils, wax resist, plastic bags, alcohol, and gesso.

To do this study, choose a photo of something you would like to paint. Fold it or draw lines dividing it into 10 rectangles. Divide your watercolor paper with the same number of shapes. Paint each section of the painting using one of the watercolor techniques. I found that I had to work on areas that were not touching and allow each to dry before painting right beside any one area.

Found a great frame at Hobby Lobby.

It was a blast. Though student art, I love the final painting.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Transformed Patio

You can just see the brick patio beneath the window of the future pottery shed.

The long-term plan for the little white shed out back is to repair it into a pottery shed - an art studio, if you will. French doors, brick patio, pergola, running water (almost plumbed in), kiln, shelves. A space where I can play in the dirt, make a mess, and create to my hearts' delight.

This summer, a short-term plan evolved.

Due to our extended spate of 90-100 degree days, the grands had much activity with water - pool, water table, buckets, and so on. But my mud loving grandson was frustrated by Nana's crammed garden beds and lack of dirt for digging and mudding.

The grands, along with Nana and Papa, made a trip to Lowe's for play sand. Say what? A cost of less than $4, and you would think we had purchased a RT pass for the entire family to Disneyland. The sand was a hit; for hours and hours, the sand was loved. To make it work, we had to use the little round plastic swimming pool as a sand box. No big. Both grands had a ball.

And then the temps rose to over 100. Our pool was full of sand. We made a race to a local department store (this was in July, mind you) and they were sold out of pools. Amazing. Still almost 2 months of water fun ahead. No pools.

Back in the yard, desperate for a sand box AND a wading pool, we eyed the brick patio in front of my future pottery shed.

Hmmm. Rearrange a few bricks, build up the edge, dump in the sand, transformation complete...Fantastico!

Shade, flowers, dirt, sand, water, feeze-pops (her words, not mine) & contentment!

For the meantime, we have a sandbox made of bricks. And a wading pool.

And VERY happy grands.

A bonus discovery? Dig down deep enough through the sand and there is dirt!
Dirt plus water plus sand equals one mama-jama mud pit. Dirty and happy kids.

Monday, August 19, 2013

BBG: Birds Be Gone

Why, yes, it did take me all the way until the middle of August to conciously wonder why I had not seen many birds in my yard. And then bam, there I was talking to myself.

"You know, there haven't been any birds around this summer," I said to me. "Usually they are hanging out at the fountain and eating my berries and annoying the cat and picking at the lettuce. They haven't even been having this-is-my-sunflower-get-your-own wars!"

Well, there was that one day there was a beautiful yellow finch eating off the cosmos seeds. But that was it.

Doesn't take me long. I put 2 and 2 together.

This was because I had just noticed WHAT was making the squawking sounds all summer...I KNEW it sounded like a bird that eats other things,like meat. But I couldn't locate the culprit.

Guess where this bird, who had found perfect hunting grounds in my backyard, was nesting? And chilling?

Notice the sparrow hawk on top of the pole. My zoom does not do justice. He was eye-balling me!

Nesting? Right behind our fence in a huge tree. Chilling? Top of the power pole behind our fence.

Sheesh. Sparrow hawks been having a good time in the ole garden of Q.

If you ever feel like small birds are destroying your garden, just encourage one of these sparrow hawks to nest. No more problems for you. Except noise.

So. My birds be gone. Boo-hoo.

(Those are my sunflowers in the foreground. Same bird is on top of the pole. His mate is outlined on a branch in the big tree behind him.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Storming of the Brain

Storming of the brain, otherwise known as brainstorming, is a lovely exercise in dreaming up all sorts of solutions or actions to a problem or idea. I adore brainstorming.

This BS (conducted on sticky notes, which were then torn in half when I organized) was sorted onto a huge art board. Perfect for rearranging my ideas and keeping them in one place.

Because I can really go crazy. Anything goes in brainstorming. From now on, brainstorming will be called BS (not to be confused with other colorful metaphors popular in society).

BS is wild! I always write too many words, so BS is perfect for letting me use all the words I want. The ideas can be good, bad, zany, wayyyyyy out there, scary, boring, impossible - but that's the fun of BS.

Brainstorming is a vacation for the brain. No longer have to stay inside the box. Any box. Maybe the TARDIS. See? I just jumped into BS mode.

Just for fun, try a little BS of your own. Go ahead. Take that idea you've been toying with, put it to paper. Let everything else go out the window and scribble down as many ideas that relate to that idea as you can. Feel free to include mini lists (I also love making lists) for things like questions, supplies, locations, and so on.

The universe is the limit when one is BS. When your brain is pleasantly blank, stow the BS papers somewhere safe and go your way. BS ideas have to simmer for a bit. Pull out the BS list later and take a look. Then you can choose your favorite and get organizing.

Speaking of which, organizing ideas, after BS, may be a bit scary. I've been known to BS on everything - napkins, paper, notepads, sticky notes, receipts, magazine covers...any piece of paper is fair game. Organizing is a tad more interesting using those types of BS notes.

So get to storming of the brain!

PS Yes. That is my ironing board. Due to some rearranging of the office, I am in the market for a good side table to keep my sources at hand. For now. It's the ironing board.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How NOT to Apply Sunscreen

Below is the proof that sunscreen can indeed be applied incorrectly. Particularly if one is doing the applying alone with disregard for personal ability to stretch and reach all nooks, crannies, and large areas of naked skin.

Beware! This graphic photo includes evidence of self-inflicted abuse. Potential for skin damage is at an all time high.

Notice the large swaths of unprotected skin. Added bonus: hand print on right side of back. Sunblock does work! But only if applied.

In the future, prevent the same disaster. Rely on a friend, spouse, offspring, or even the stranger walking down the sidewalk. Don't risk these results.

Please. Ask. For. Help.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ice is a Great Way to Cool Off in Summer Heat

This is a fine way to entertain and cool off during summer heat - a great 2-fer-1 deal!

Ingredients: plastic tub, water, food coloring, freezer

Fill a plastic tub at least 2/3 full with water. Add swirls of food coloring. Freeze. Ours froze with weird lines, but I found out the lines corresponded with the rungs on the freezer shelves.

First we played with the ice in the tub.

Then we dumped out the ice and played.

Next we added water to the ice to see what happened (different color for a different day).

Finally we smashed the ice to smithereens.

Can't beat this cheap activity!

PS There was minimal staining on hands from food coloring. It didn't even last the entire activity.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I'm nesting.

Not the kind you are thinking of. But kind of.

As of yesterday, I would have told everyone to run for their lives before they entered my office/sewing/craft/stamping/closet/library room. Hazardous to your health, avoid at all costs, hazmat before entering.

And then the printer died. Our household seems to be enjoying a spate of electronic failures. After an expensive trip to Costco, new printer box in hand, I entered the scary room.

Alas. No way to transfer or organize so much as a tittle. Major hauling out of stuff - school supplies, give away piles, things for grands to do, magazine pile for hospital, haul to the garage stack...

It is nesting. I do nesting best when I am pregnant and about to give birth (I am not by any stretch of the imagination preggers) or when I have a deadline. How about three very big and important deadlines? With school looming in the near future? Writers of all genres say writing a book is similar to giving birth. Those manuscripts are our babies. Less in terms of blood, stitches, breast feeding, diapers, and hospital stays. But sleepless nights, angst, preparation, nurturing, snacking, obsession, swaddling,...

Throughout college, each time there was a final or a paper or a major project due, I had to organize my desk and get the room tidy. Only then I was able to concentrate on details.

One would think my house would be impeccable, with the plethora of due dates. Not true.

But my desk looks fantastic.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Writer's Life

Having recently returned from the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in SeaTac, Washington, I am slowly getting my brain back to normal. Suitcase is unpacked. A tub is full of notes, business cards, and receipts, waiting to be cared for. The slick girly briefcase/shoulder bag is waiting for attention. The laundry is almost complete. And the manuscript is being edited. Again. And probably will be again. Before it is shipped off to a lovely editor and a cool agent I pitched to during the conference.

If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, or used to be a writer...this conference is very beneficial. Everything I have thought over the years was verbalized, expounded on, repeated, discussed, illustrated, shown, explained, questioned... Things like writer's platform, query letters, proposals, New Adult (that one I had never heard of, nor thought of, as adults are not usually new - since they have been growing as a human since birth), pitch sessions, contracts, agents, publishers, marketing, traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing (missed the explanation on this one), and head shots. That is not all, but the brain is sorting the muddle as I type.

People watching was most interesting. Speaking with a wide variety and caliber of writers was enlightening. Personalities and stress levels were evident, to my amusement and agreement. I did not relax until Saturday afternoon, AFTER my pitch session was over. FYI, a pitch session is very similar to speed dating, except writers pitch to editors and agents in four minute blurbs of time. Observation gave me a slight shock as I realized that some writers actually resemble what they write! I guess that means I will (or do) look like a child. I know I am as short as an elementary student.

There is much to process from four days of long sessions and experiences.

But underneath it all, we get it. Writers understand other writers and the need to write. From an early age we have needed to express ourselves with words on paper. It is hard to write. There are times we must force ourselves to write and words do not come. At other times, words flow like a river of smooth ink. Procrastination is easier than butt time. There is always something else to do. But we must write. Our souls call us to create in our minds. Ideas sneak up as we are engaged in other activities. Words, phrases, and plans are jotted on a myriad of writing surfaces. Scribbles abound in unorganized form, longing to be placed in context.

So we write. Of course, we want readers to read and understand.

But even if readers are not available, we must write.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The New Toy

Three cousins finally met. One won't remember the occasion, possibly two. But for sure, the witnesses and the oldest cousin will recall the fascination with the newest member of the clan. He was cute enough to steal the show and hold the attention of all audience members.

Baby Donavyn

Sister and Brother check out the new playmate

Nana and Papa with all three of their grands

Two cousins could not get enough of Baby Watch TV

What a blessing new babies are! As they grow, they just mature into bigger and more energetic blessings.

One Content Nana