Sunday, June 28, 2009


Things to do:

Spend time with kids
Bake fruity things
Try to eat enough artichokes to be perfectly sick of them
Go to the beach
Try to leave some sand at the beach
Vacuum sand out of the carpet
And the car
And the closet
And the couch
And the refrigerator
Paint the kids’ rooms
Watch embarrassing reality TV but try to pretend I don't
Grill stuff
Read War and Peace
Or not
Keep plugging away at picture books
Keep trying to habilitate this one:

What’s not high up on my summer to do list? Blogging. I notice things have slowed down in Blogtown, so I’m probably not the only one finding reasons to step away from the computer. I’m going to try to post something once a week or so ‘til September (I can’t stay away from it altogether). I'm sure I'll keep popping in on everyone, too, can only watch so much reality TV. And I'd miss corresponding with everyone.

So, what’s on your to do list for the summer?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A New Book by Rena Jones, and Some Fun Rat Facts, Too

What is the perfect occupation for a rat? You can explore the possibilities from A to Z in Rena Jones’ new picture book, A New Job for Dilly.

In this story, a rat named Dilly seeks a job to support his passion for sour pickles. This clever alphabet book is illustrated by Lisa Oakman.

I thought it was interesting that Rena chose the misunderstood rat as the main character for her picture book, so I decided to look for some fun facts about rats. While researching, I formed a few opinions of my own as to what might be suitable employment for these talented critters…

- ­Rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter! They’d be perfect for getting to those hard to reach places – I’d hire one to search for that spare change hiding under the car seats.

- Rats are very social creatures, and excellent taste-testers. I think party planning would be a good career for a fun-loving rat.

- Studies have shown that rats are ticklish, and even emit “laughing” sounds when tickled. Hmm…if rats have a funny bone, maybe they’d be good at reviewing TV sitcoms or writing riddles.

- Rats are good swimmers, and can be taught to reel in objects attached to the end of a rope. That sounds like the perfect set of skills for a deckhand.

- Rats can chew through glass, cinderblock, wire, aluminum, and lead. Wow! I think a rat might have a brilliant career in etching or engraving. Or maybe one could manage to scrape the dried pancake batter off my counter.

To learn more about the adventures of Dilly, hop over to Rena’s blog. And be sure to enter to win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly! Just leave a comment on at least FOUR of the seven blog stops. Rena will put your name in a pot and a winner will be chosen at the end of the tour. Please make sure she has a way to contact you, and remember to reply to at least FOUR different stops to qualify...see my sidebar for the tour schedule (and click on the names to arrive at their blogs). Rena will contact the winner at the end of the tour to find out how they'd like the book to be signed. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hide and Squeak

These are pictures I took years ago of baby rats that belonged to a friend of mine.

You might have to search a little to spot them.

Since rats have received a bit of a bad rap, my friend and I thought it would be fun to photograph them among pretty things like baubles and lace...

...which we happened to find in colors that matched their fur.

Rats are playful and intellegent, and make sweet pets.

Come back tomorrow for a fun post about rats!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pants on Fire

I was tagged by Rena with this ‘Sinful Nature’ meme:

"Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each sin) and hope they can lie."

Pride -- What is your biggest contribution to the world?
You know those big fat recliners that have everything: cup holder, refrigerator, remote control cubby, massager...essentially everything except a flusher and a toilet paper holder? Totally my idea. That, and the Ped Egg, too.

Envy -- What do your coworkers have that you wish was yours?
When I had coworkers, it was the cubicles I coveted. I could use some tweedy gray walls so I can pin up my timesheet and my Dilbert calendar. And I’d love to have the scent of my neighbor’s Cup o’ Noodles wafting into my workspace.

Gluttony -- What did you eat last night?
Carl’s Junior. I eat it every night because their commercials are so appetizing. Nothing makes me hungrier than watching people eat like jackals.

Lust -- What really lights your fire?
The sight of a cell phone kiosk. Oh, it’s exciting enough just to be in a shopping mall. It's even better when twenty year olds with turned-up collars and gold chains beckon, call me Ma’am, and try to sell me a new phone.

Anger -- What is the last thing that really pissed you off?
At the movies on Father’s Day I spotted a baseball cap that said #1 Dad. I’m kicking myself for not being able to come up with a gift idea that's that original.

Greed -- Name something you hoard and keep from others.
Baked goods. What…wasn’t that the point of The Little Red Hen? I bake it, I eat it. Make your own cookies!

Sloth -- What’s the laziest thing you ever did?
Paint abstracts. Whenever I'm in a gallery, I overhear someone say a monkey can do that. Or a two year old. I guess it must be true then.

Who else wants to search for their inner fibber? I tag:





Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tummy = Too Chummy

My husband is the type of person who always has to strike up a conversation. He‘s got a cheery comment or a joke for everyone – cashiers, bank tellers, repairmen, parking lot attendants - you name it. This mortifies our children. So it’s a good thing they weren’t with him earlier when he walked to the corner store to buy a Pepsi. I think it went like this:

Most of the employees at this store recognize us – we walk there nearly every day. This time my husband got in the line of a cashier he’s seen a couple of times but doesn’t know well. She was cute and young, and sporting a big pregnant belly behind her checkstand.

He gave his usual enthusiastic greeting, after which the young cashier squealed, “Ooh! My baby just kicked! Do you want to feel it?”

My husband, who doesn’t always think before he acts, said, “Sure!” and reached over to grab her big Pooh-bear belly.

One second…two seconds passed. Nothing happened.

Three seconds…four seconds…

That baby was not going to budge. I believe this was the baby’s silent protest against any future embarrassment from his mother.

Five…six seconds. My husband stared at the ceiling, now keenly aware of standing in a public place with his hands on some strange woman’s belly. Seven…eight. The cashier stared in the direction of her feet, though she couldn’t possibly have seen them. Nine…ten…

My husband finally relinquished his grip and pulled his hands safely into his own personal space.

“Gee...that was weird,” he said.

“Um, yeah, that was awkward,” the cashier said, hastening to finish the transaction. My husband grabbed the Pepsi and headed for the exit.

Do you suppose he found a lesson in there somewhere? Nah...probably not.

**In more pertinent news, next week Rena Jones is having a blog tour to introduce her brand new picture book, A New Job for Dilly. Check my sidebar for the tour schedule, and plan to enter to win a copy! Visit Rena’s blog for more info.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Going Places

I was away for only two days, and somehow it threw my whole week off. Laundry, shopping, end of school year stuff…

I haven’t done anything I planned to do this week, including thinking up blog posts. So I’ll just suggest you go check out a fun game over on The Inconsequential Blogger. She’s traveling to some exotic locations, and posting mystery pictures. Try to guess where she is and leave a comment on her blog. She even hints at a souvenir prize (but only if she finds time to shop).

And, since I'm not nearly jealous enough of everyone's travel plans, feel free to tell me some of the exotic places you've been.

Monday, June 15, 2009

By The Sea

Last night we returned from a weekend celebration on Catalina Island. Despite shivering like crazy, we all stood on the bow of the ferry to watch the sunset. I didn’t dare try to get a picture. The wind was blowing so hard I was sure the camera would be whipped overboard. My hair would have snaked all over the image anyhow. Besides, it’s been years since I watched that big orange disk dissolve into the ocean. I didn’t want to miss a second of it, even to snap a picture.

Later, my daughter tried to describe the feeling she gets when she sees a large body of water at night. She said it’s beautiful but somehow makes her feel nervous and overwhelmed; she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. My husband said he gets a kind of nostalgic feeling. I thought I knew what they were getting at. I get a little melancholic, but it isn’t entirely unpleasant. My son said he feels the same but couldn’t describe it.

I thought it was interesting that we all seemed to be trying to describe a similar sensation – one that contained a peculiar mix of awe, hope and longing. It would be a challenge to find the right words; some feelings are just more elusive than others.

How would you describe seeing the ocean at night? Or what experience do you find indescribable?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Reading

My daughter just finished up her first year of high school. The week before school was out, she picked up a little summer reading from the library.

I took one look at that volume and thought, that is not a book. That’s not even a tome. That is a piece of furniture.

She carted all six pounds of it (yes, she weighed it) around in her backpack the last week of school. I figured if nothing else, at least she’d get a workout. It turns out, she loved it. She finished reading it last night; it barely took her a couple of weeks to get through it. Maybe it's as hard to put down as it is to pick up.

I have to say, I’ve always been intimidated by the sheer size of that work. Which doesn’t make sense, because when I’m in the middle of a great book, I hate for it to end. For the first time, I’m curious to read it.

What book have you been meaning to read, but have never gotten around to it?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Own Personal Shoppers

Yesterday I had a revelation. If you have an occasion coming up, you probably shouldn’t take your husband and teenage daughter up on offers to take you dress shopping. It turns out there are husbands and teenage daughters who think you can still dress like a nineteen year old.

Every time you happen to reach for a dress that looks like it might be intended for someone over thirty-five, it is smacked out of your hand before you can utter, “What about this one?”

By the time you manage to grab an armload to try on, a couple of fairly skimpy dresses have snuck into the pile. You don’t know how they got there. Teenage daughter follows you into the dressing room.

Every time you zip yourself into something with sleeves or pleats or a little extra breathing room, teenage daughter scrunches her nose so tight the bow of her lips goes right up her nostrils.

Reluctantly, you pull on one dress that is about one and a half sizes too small, and a couple decades too young for you. Teenage daughter releases her lips into a smile.

“That one’s perfect!” She skips out of the dressing room to fetch your husband.

Your husband, bless him, agrees with her. All pleas for something that covers your knees are ignored. You are wheedled into at least putting the dress on hold.

Then you are left to wonder whether you have, in fact, been playing it a little too safe when it comes to your wardrobe. Maybe you could be a little less of a fuddy-duddy. Maybe, as in other areas, once in a while you should try to break out of your clothing comfort zone. And maybe you should give it a chance, at least to please the people who love you enough to think you still look good in a little dress.

On the other hand, you wonder if you’ll wind up looking like one of those aging celebrities - the ones that don’t know when to abandon the spaghetti straps and the short-shorts.

The dress is still on hold. My personal shoppers have been given the day off.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Inspiration is everywhere!!

Um...except when it's not.

As it turns out, very unlikely picture book characters are ALSO everywhere... The Wire Basket I Took Down From the Top Shelf. I'll call him Dusty.

And here's Leftover Spaghetti Man. Also known as "Sticky".

Doghair Dude. We'll call him Harry.

Meet Shelly. I could write about When Harry Met Shelly.

Or Broken Shelly.

How 'bout my friend Jean Rippa? That one could be a tear-jerker.

Although probably not as much of a tear-jerker as this one:

The adventures of Bill Stack. Sniff. I think I need a tissue...

Sometimes it's better just not to think. Wouldn't you agree, Too Much Takeout Guy?

Right. That's what I thought, too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Return of Vlad, The White Lined Sphinx Moth

We arrived home on Wednesday to find the newly emerged Vlad waiting to greet us:

Hooray! I was starting to get a little worried, because we'd just hit the three week mark. If you missed the story of Vlad the caterpillar, you can read about him here and here. We identified him as a white lined sphinx moth, also known as a hummingbird moth.

I'm glad I left some sticks in the jar, because we found him hanging on one. I believe like butterflies, they need to hang for a period in order for their wings to fill up properly.

Later we found him clinging to the net on top of his jar, so we took him out to the garden. Since he didn't look ready to fly off, I moved him to the lavender bush:

I've seen his relatives hovering around this bush and hoped he'd be happy there. He was a very cooperative subject, and even let me spread his wings just enough to see the pretty pink underneath. He must've gotten tired of posing, though, because shortly after that he took off!

The first time we saw these hummingbird moths flitting around the lavender bush, it was my son who correctly identified them. All that time spent with his nose in the bug books has it's rewards.

Hummingbird moths are fascinating to see in flight. I tried to embed a video I found, but for some reason it wasn't working...if you'd like to watch how they fly, you can view a video here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ballooning Talent

My eleven year old has been learning how to make balloon animals. He’s getting good at it. I wouldn’t try it – I’d get too nervous with all that popping.

He was down to his very last balloon and attempted to learn a new design. I think he ran out of balloon before he could finish it, and instead twisted up his own new design:

He named him Julio.

I think Julio is cool-io.

Do you have any unique or unusual talents?

Monday, June 1, 2009


I don’t buy a lot of knick-knacks. I don’t like clutter; I do like being surrounded by objects I truly like. Just once in a while when I come across an object that speaks to me, I spurge. Even then it’s usually a small splurge.

About ten years ago I spotted a small wooden deer in a garden shop. It was such a simple piece of art: a little log body and head, with twig legs and antlers. It was so rustic and whimsical I had to have it. I put it by the front door.

I noticed our entryway was looking neglected, so the other day I tidied up a little. I cleaned up the potted plants and dusted everything, including the little deer. Then I rearranged the items just to change things up a little.

That’s probably why I didn’t notice right away that the little deer was missing. Yesterday I headed out for my morning walk. I passed by my newly tended potted plants, noticed they were looking happier already, and kept walking. I got about three quarters of the way down the block, and then I found this:

Somewhere there's an idiot who thinks a wooden deer head makes an amusing trophy.

Seriously, what is wrong with some people?