Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some Things Old, Some Things New

This summer has been the season of broken things. We’ve replaced a car, a vacuum cleaner, and a washer and dryer. The dishwasher is giving me attitude. Apparently washing dishes halfway and not drying them at all is enough. I don’t want to know what the puddle at the bottom is all about. What bugs me is replacing items I’ve had for fifteen years with things that break down within a year or two.

It’d be nice to purchase something new because I want it and can afford it, rather than being forced to even if we can’t afford it.

My husband, the eternally optimistic one, thinks either way is just fine…because either way you get new stuff.

I like new stuff. I can imagine I’d like financial security, too.

What I don’t like is car shopping. We tried a couple of car dealerships and found some used cars that were practical, boring and a couple of light years out of our price range. And the salesmen refused to haggle. You can’t buy a car without haggling.

Next we tried one of those funky used car places where the office is in a sagging trailer – the kind that makes me wish I always carried hand sanitizer around in my purse. Almost everything on the lot had more than 90,000 miles on it and looked like it had been put out to the concrete pasture.

Then we spotted a ’92 Buick with only 42,000 miles on it. There wasn’t a scratch on it. We took it for a drive. The kids made it clear they’d sulk if we looked at anything else.

They were crazy about the retro look. Who knew the ‘90’s were retro?

Besides, the car was so cheap I could’ve written a check (if I’d thought to actually bring a checkbook). That was after haggling, of course. So we did the whimsical and impractical thing: we bought the seventeen year old car that made us smile.

If only I could get used to the idea that something made in the same year I got married looks sooooo old-fashioned.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Puttin' On My Top Hat...

For those of you who don’t know it yet, this is Corfu. He’s a pretty entertaining bird, but his best tricks are imitating sounds of cutlery and swinging upside down from his toys. He’s not known for being eager to please.

Don’t worry, though - this post is not about him. This post is about the teenage sense of humor, and the sublime randomness of some of the comments they can come up with. I only posted Corfu’s picture because in order to appreciate the following example of this, you need to know who Corfu is.

I had just dumped a huge load of laundry out onto the daybed in the living room, since this is the designated laundry folding spot. My daughter, who is prone to random bursts of helpfulness, sauntered over and started helping me sort socks.

For a couple of minutes we sorted in silence. Then my daughter made this very important announcement:

“We need to go see Corfu’s tap recital tonight.”

Now that’s something I'd like to see. Good thing the laundry is done. I’m wondering what could be the appropriate attire for such an occasion.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Worry Too Much

This is just the kind of detail I always agonize about.

Our local SCBWI chapter asked our illustrator group to create cards to send a message of hope and recovery following recent bushfire disasters in Victoria, Australia. SCBWI Australia and New Zealand organized the Hope Card for Australia project, for children’s authors and illustrators to show support for the children and schools of Australia.

To brainstorm an idea, I looked for images that to me conveyed a feeling of hope. I liked an image I found of grass growing against a blue sky.

A nice enough start. I thought I’d go with a universal children’s book character, and added a mouse.

I wanted to include something specific to the area, so I researched native wildflowers and added the cut leaf daisy.

Something about the picture didn’t seem right. As I added finishing touches to my painting, it dawned on me – I’ve seen a documentary showing an overpopulation of mice plaguing Australian farm life. Oops. A message of hope for wildfire recovery probably shouldn’t include an animal whose wildly fluctuating populations occasionally wreak havoc on crops.

I searched images of Australian wildlife, found adorable pictures of Australian Wood Duck ducklings, and quickly redid the illustration:

And just after I turned it in, I learned that these little darlings have ALSO been known to be pests, although hopefully to a lesser degree.

If you think about it, plenty of lovable characters could be nuisances in real life, starting with the sweet little bunny. I’ll bet there was a darn good reason Peter Rabbit’s father was baked in a pie.

In Australia, even the beloved kangaroo has given headaches to farm communities. I’ll have to console myself with believing my little duckling wouldn’t dare cause any trouble.

Maybe I should’ve gone with a koala. Anyway, with all the best intentions, I'm sending good thoughts (along with a sometimes misbehaving duck) to Australia.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I know I should post something other than pictures of my dog. It just happens that today is the one year anniversary of the day we brought Luna home from the Baja Animal Sanctuary. She was four months old. How could I resist a face like that?

This anniversary arrived just when I learned I have another piece of flash fiction posted over at Children Come First. It might be obvious that Luna's antics partly inspired this story. Click on the story title to read The Missing Cookies.