Monday, June 25, 2012

Where's your tuffet?

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down besides her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

You've heard the nursery rhyme before -- probably hundreds of times. I know I have. This morning I was sitting in my big, brown, comfy chair drinking my breakfast. Every morning I make a Pure Protein whey shake with a small banana blended with ice. Great breakfast. So anyway, there I am looking at my drink, thinking about whey when Little Miss Muffet came to mind.

When I was little, I thought tuffet was another word for behind. You know, like a person's behind, or their rear, rump, butt, whatever you want to call it. I had no idea that a tuffet meant a stool. When you look it up, the definition is: a tuft or clump of something, or a footstool or low seat. I'm not sure when I learned it was something she sat on and not her rear-end, but that's what I thought the word meant when I was little. So anyway, I remember giggling to myself whenever I heard this rhyme because I thought it was silly it was mentioned that she sat on her tuffet. I mean, what else would she sit on?

Kids say funny things and often they don't realize the meaning of what they say. I did that with a few things when I was little. We used to have a department store called The Broadway. I used to call it The Broad's Way. My mom would give me a stern look, which told me that wasn't a good thing to say. Another was when we bought our house in Ojai. My mom went to the road to pull up the "For Sale" sign. As she walked back through the yard, I chanted, "Mom's for sale! Mom's for sale!" I got another stern look. Obviously, my joke wasn't funny. I also have this funny little birthmark on my right, big toe. It's shaped like a little bush. Again, my mom didn't think it was funny when I used to say, "That's my little bush!" D'oh! But hey, I was five, so I didn't know I was being inappropriate or saying something bad.

Did you ever say something inappropriate although undeliberate?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Goodbye, Frankie.


I am deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Barbara Techel's beloved dog, Frankie. It's not often I shed tears for other people's pets, especially people that I've never even met in person before. I did for Barbara and Frankie. This little dachshund has touched so many lives in her short lifetime. My heart aches for Barbara and her husband, John. I know how painful losing a pet is. It's even more difficult when you've experienced an illness or injury, and have helped a pet to regain a normal life. It's not an easy thing to do.

Obviously, I can't tell Frankie's story as well as Barbara, so I urge you to check out her website to learn more about this wonderful, little dog and all of the lives she's touched. I bought Barbara's picture book, Frankie The Walk 'n Roll Dog for Neil's birthday a few years back. He loved it, as did I. Please check out Barbara's website to see how you can help other dogs like Frankie.

To Barbara and John -- You're in my thoughts and prayers. God bless.

Barbara's website -- Joyful Paws

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I saw this cartoon online today and I laughed -- and then I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. If you've followed any of my squirrel stories, you'll understand why I find it so funny. My squirrels are so spoiled. If I don't get the seeds out early enough, they start body slamming the French doors in the bedroom. They only eat sunflowers seeds. And they can't just be regular sunflower seeds. They have to be the black-oil sunflower seeds. I understand that with the tiny birds because those are easier to open, but I don't get why the squirrels have to have them as well. I've tried regular sunflower seeds and they wouldn't touch them.

This cartoon struck me so funny because about a week ago Rick bought a big bag of unsalted peanuts. He usually rags on me about feeding all the wildlife, so I was surprised he wanted to get these for the squirrels. I told him I didn't think they'd eat them. Sure as hell -- wouldn't touch the things. I even broke a couple open for them so the nuts were exposed. Nope -- not even a nibble. Crazy little boogers. That's why this cartoon made me laugh so hard this morning. That's how I'm going to look in a few more years and I'm sure the squirrels are going to get meaner and more demanding. God help us all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Father's Day. I was looking on my computer for pictures of Rick with the kids. Geez, it's been a long time since I got one with just him and all four kids. That's harder to do these days with the girls working or away in school or someplace. I did find this one.

It was taken in Joshua Tree National Park, probably sometime around 2002. That was a fun camping trip. Nathan was really into the Land Before Time movies back then. There was one where the dinosaurs were searching for the Great Valley. We went on the Hidden Valley Nature Walk in the park and every time we passed someone Nathan would say, "We're going to the Great Valley!" It was pretty cute. He probably expected to see dinosaurs.

I hope you all have a great Father's Day and are enjoying your weekend.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Two fun finds ...

As usual, yesterday Neil and I did our usual stomp through the local Salvation Army. I didn't find a whole lot I couldn't live without. Neil found a grand piano and tried to convince me he needed it to work on music for his movies. He's so funny. It actually wasn't all that expensive -- about $80.

Piano aside, we did find a couple of books. One is this Graphic Organizers and Activities for Differentiated Instruction in Reading. I liked that it was for grades 4-8, so this will be something I can do with both boys at the same time, and just work at their own levels. It has a $14.99 price tag sticker on the back, but I got it for a quarter. That worked for me.

I also got the book below called How To Draw 101 Animals. It's cool and has all sorts of great animals in it, even lemurs and bison. Again, it cost me a quarter. One nice thing about finding these older books at a thrift store is that it usually leads me to the author's website. The animals book was done by Dan Green and he has a lot of other books I might be interested in using for school. I never know what I'm going to find -- or who I might discover.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wild Thing

I'm going through some old photographs today. I came across a bunch from past trips to Yellowstone. If anything, all they're doing is making me wish I were there. I came across this picture above and it always makes me laugh. I have no idea who that man is, but his hat says Ennis, Montana. Figures. It just goes to show you how close people get and don't give wildlife the space they need and deserve. He's lucky he didn't get gored. Those antlers might be covered with fuzzy velvet, but they can still cause injury.

I also came across the following pictures of a time we watched a grizzly sow take down an elk with her two cubs. We were really far away and didn't own the good zoom lens that we have now, so these pictures are cropped pretty hard. They'll give you a little idea of what we saw. The bears chased them back and forth. They were on a little inlet of land between Yellowstone Lake and an overflow area of water. They literally had no where to go.

In the picture above you can see them perk up and start looking around. In the picture below, they realize it's a grizzly and take off running. If you've ever heard an elk scream, you know how eerie that sounds. Now just imagine a whole herd of them screaming. Freaky.

Here comes the mom in the picture below. She doesn't look all that big here, but remember we were really far away and the picture is cropped.

In the photograph below you can see the sow on the right and then one of the cubs coming up along the left. There were two cubs with her, but they were spread out and I didn't get all three in the same picture. And once they started running after the elk, they were just everywhere.

The picture below is when they were running. The elk ran all over the place, including in the water. I honestly can't tell if this is the mother and a cub, or if it's both cubs. It happened pretty fast.

This last picture is where the sow took down one of the elk. It happened just over the bank, so we couldn't actually see the elk, but we saw it go down. Every now and then one of the three bears would pop its head up to look around while they were eating. Nom, nom, nom ...

Not to be morbid, but it was fascinating to watch. Typically, bears go after elk that are young, sick, or elderly. If you think about that, it is kind of sad. But then you just have to realize how many elk there are in relation to how many grizzlies there are. It's a wild thing to witness, and it's definitely not something you see every time you go to the park.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Feeling Antsy ...

I suppose you could say I have those dreaded after-vacation-blues. I can pretty much say I haven't done anything since getting home from Walt Disney World. Well, just about anything -- of course, I have managed to eat, sleep, bathe, and waste an incredible amount of time online. Ten days in the parks might not sound like a lot, but it's exhausting. Since we were done with school, I knew I'd take that first week easy to relax and recover from our trip. I figured a week would do it, and then I'd work myself into some sort of routine for the summer. Yeahrightsure. It's been just about three weeks now.

Seriously? What the heck? I wish I could say why I'm in such a rut, but I can't. It's not like I don't have stuff to do. I have a ton of things to do for school, like portfolios and yearbooks, not to mention prepare for the upcoming school year. I have a huge pile of books next to my bed that I've been wanting to read. I have two new picture book ideas. I have another idea for a photograph picture book. Then there is cleaning the house, which I'm seriously beginning to think I've forgotten how to do. What is the deal?

What I really want to do is get out of the house. I've been getting antsy about going camping, especially to Glacier National Park or maybe even further south to Yellowstone or Grand Teton. That's what I want to do -- not all this other tedious stuff that I should be doing. The weather hasn't helped much either, since it's been raining a lot. We've had a couple of nice days, but those always seem to land mid-week when Rick is at work. The main road that goes through Glacier, the Going-To-The-Sun Road, is hopefully going to open sometime next week. They were shooting for this weekend, which would have been awesome with it being Father's Day and all, but a recent snowstorm dumped ten more inches of snow and has prolonged the opening. Last year the road didn't open until mid-July, the latest in its history. Check out the link above for more information. It's an absolutely wild road. I have a serious love/hate relationship with it.

In case you were wondering what the above picture is -- ANTS! I took that at a campground in Utah called Cherry Hill. It's a combo RV/waterpark and we used to stop there every year when we made our trip up to Yellowstone. To give you a better view, here's another shot of them a little further away ...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

I was very saddened to read about an eighteen-year-old girl who fell to her death inside Yellowstone National Park. It was her very first day on the job working for the park concessions firm. As you know, I visit YNP quite often and have been at that same location many times. It's called Inspiration Point and it's in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area of the park. You can read the actual story by clicking here.

I was sure I had pictures of the area, so I went looking and found these. The one above is looking up the canyon. The one below is looking directly down from Inspiration Point. As you can see, it's a long way down. And yes, those are full-sized pine trees down there, which gives you a little idea of the enormity of the area. The river is powerful and it's very rugged terrain. 

Apparently, the girl stepped off the platform and the cliff gave out from under her. If I am remembering right, there are signs in this area warning visitors not to do that. Why she did, we may never know. My heart breaks for her family and friends, knowing that she fell literally hundreds of feet to her death. They couldn't even retrieve her body until the following day.

My husband groaned when he saw I posted this story on Facebook. He prefers stupid, happy posts -- like the Princess Leia cat wearing towel rolls on her head -- but I posted it for a reason. The park is wild and dangerous. It's not Disneyland. The guard rails and trails are there because they've had incidents before. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people do stupid things in the park. Whether it's climbing over a rail to get a picture or trying to stick a finger in a geothermal feature -- people do crazy things.

I'm not saying this girl was stupid. Maybe she simply didn't know better. Or maybe she thought just like other people do and that everything would be okay. Obviously, it wasn't. It's a shame that a young life was taken away so quickly and senselessly. I always tell my husband that Death in Yellowstone by Lee H. Whittlesey should be mandatory reading for every visitor before they're allowed to enter the park. It's a real eye-opener. Read it if you can.

And THAT is exactly why I'm posting about this again. If you've ever been to YNP or any of our other national parks, I'm sure you know how spectacular they are. Enjoy them, but enjoy them safely. Trust me, the view is just as good behind that railing as it is five feet away.

The picture of Neil in the yellow jacket was taken in 2009. He's holding up a yellow stone, which is what the park is named after. But don't worry. He put it back on the ground before we left. If there's anything my boys know well, it's to respect the parks and never remove anything from them. The only thing we ever pick up is trash. The final picture is of me, Rick, and the boys. It was taken last fall after we took Nicole to college. Yellowstone is such an amazing place. I think it should be a must-see for everyone.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My Links

I'm planning on updating my website soon. It's been awhile and I need to add some links and other information, including more activity pages. In the meantime, here are a few links that are connected to me ...

That last one is brand new. Denny, my beloved tabby cat, has his very own blog now. He'd really appreciate some followers too, so humor me, if you will. Please feel free to follow or like me on any of these links. I will try to do the same for you. I hope I can get my website updated soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Some "thrifty" book finds ...

As most of you know, I love thrift stores and especially love great book finds. I live in northwest Montana and we don't have a lot of book stores in our area. Our Borders closed down, so all we have a a few indie stores scattered around, along with a couple that sell used books. As much as I love supporting other writers, I do scour the thrift stores and used book stores quite often. Sometimes I get really lucky and come home with some great finds. The books pictured above were ones I picked out for Nathan. The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary and Big Nate are both hardcovers, which I got at the Salvation Army for a quarter each. They sell kid's books anywhere from a dime to a quarter. It's unbelievable. Goodwill is about $1.99 per book.

These cat books pictured above were ones Neil picked out. There is one dinosaur book tossed in there as well. Neil adores cats, so he's always on the look out for cat books. Cat Power! is a hardcover and came with a CD, and again, it only cost a quarter. The others were only a dime.

I got these books to add to our home library. I realized I didn't have a copy of The Wizard of Oz, other than picture books, so that was a great find. I've also been wanting to read more of Jean Craighead George's books, especially after learning she passed away a few weeks ago. The boys and I are huge fans of her and loved her My Side of the Mountain series. I was just talking about Julie of the Wolves on Facebook on Tuesday. I found it for a dime the very next day. Yeah ... a dime! Wow. The Charlie Brown books are both first edition copies, and from what I can tell, first printing. Actually, I already have It Was A Short Summer, Charlie Brown. I bought it anyway because I wanted to compare books and see which one was in better condition. It's from 1970 and Charlie Brown's All-Stars is from 1966. I love finding Charlie Brown books. Smoky Night caught my eye with the Caldecott Award sticker. I don't find many newer hardcover picture books at thrift stores, especially Caldecott winners. Not only that, but this one was illustrated by one of my friends on Facebook. I'll be blogging about that book later on.

The books in the next picture are all Little Golden Books, which I collect. One of those is a Happy Day Book (upper left), which are Bible-based stories. I collect those also and keep them with my LGBs.

And finally, I found some more of the Great Illustrated Classics books. My mother-in-law used to buy these for the girls when they were little, so we have a good sized collection. They're kind of hard to find where I live, so I constantly scour used book stores and thrift stores for them. I was pleased to find these. My boys love these stories and we read them all the time during the school year. Often when we're done with the book, we'll watch a movie if there was one. They're great books that introduce kids to classic stories. I know my girls have gone on to read the originals after being introduced by these abridged versions. 

So anyway, there you have it -- all my recent book finds!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's summertime for Dilly!

Maybe you don't know what that means, but I do. Summer is when I tend to write, or at least attempt to write more. Homeschooling the boys keeps me busy, so I generally don't write too much from September through June. Oh, I get lots of ideas all right. My boys are constantly coming up with new story ideas -- whether they're for Dilly, Critters, The Marshmallow Man, or even something completely new. Actually having the time to sit down and work on them is harder when we're busy with school.

However, I am working on a new story for Dilly. It's no where near being completed, but it follows along the same idea as the other books. Dilly is a pickle-loving rat, who is also a bit obsessed with searching the alphabet to find things he wants. In A New Job for Dilly, he searched from A to Z to find the perfect job. In the second book, A New Friend for Dilly, he did the same trying to find the perfect friend. The third book will be A Dinner Date for Dilly, in which he searches for the perfect meal. I'm hungry already!

So anyway, now I'm working on another one, although I don't know if my publisher will be interested in doing anymore of the Dilly books just yet. I hope so, but we'll have to wait and see. I do have another manuscript for Dilly completed, but it's not under contract yet. That one involves traveling, and I hope we can make it happen as a book sometime as well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Have you hugged your cat today?

Apparently today is National Hug Your Cat Day. So, here's a picture of me hugging my cat. As you can see, Denny doesn't look too thrilled. This picture, however, wasn't taken today. I guess I better hug him again. That is, if I can find the furry ball of fluff! He's probably downstairs with the boys. He sits in their laps while they're on the computer editing their movies and such.

Happy National Hug Your Cat Day!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Graduation Time!

It's that fun time of year again -- time for graduations, whether it be from preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college. I was looking at some pictures online and noticed that some schools are very elaborate when it comes to their graduations. My high school wasn't too fancy, but we did the traditional caps, gowns, and all that jazz. I only have a few pictures of my high school graduation. Our camera was acting up and they turned out blurry. Maybe I'll scan them and see if I can fix them up sometime.

I had to laugh at this picture. This was when I graduated from kindergarten. As you can see, my mom had forced me into getting one of those super short boy hair cuts, which I hated with a passion. Every time she made me cut my hair like that I was absolutely miserable. Regardless of my childhood agony, which you've all heard plenty of, I have to laugh at this picture. You might notice the graduation cap made from construction paper and yarn. I know, but yarn was big in the 1970s. The diploma, which I no longer have, was lovingly glued onto construction paper. It probably wasn't even glue because back then we used paste for everything. Remember paste? I can't tell if the colors are red & blue, or purple & orange. And of course, there I am in the typical plaid dress. But hey, at least I matched my cap and diploma, right? My mom had a thing for plaid. I think it scarred me for life.

Fast forward to 2012 and you'll find kindergarten graduations that are much more elaborate. Some have the full cap, tassel, and gown thing going on. I don't even want to know how much that costs parents. Even so, I'm sure it's fun for them. Years later, those kids will cherish their graduation pictures, whereas I just get a good chuckle out of mine. My girls graduated kindergarten from private schools, but they just wore dresses to their ceremony. There were no caps, gowns, or anything fancy. I was looking at my niece's son's graduation pictures today and noticed the children were wearing little pretend caps made from a heavy card stock. That made me feel a little better, knowing that not all schools get all wild and fancy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sassy Bear is back!

We've seen a little bear activity in our yard recently. I guess that might freak some people out, but we like it because we live in the forest. This particular bear is one we've been watching since she was just a cub. She used to show up with her mom -- a huge black bear that I nicknamed Bearzilla -- along with her brother. Her brother was black and Nathan named him Flint. The female I named Sassy, or Sassy Bear. Anyway, to make a long story longer, Sassy now has two cubs of her own. Ironically, they look exactly like she and Flint looked when we first started seeing them a few years back.

The other day I was sitting in a chair in my living room. I heard a noise and looked out the window. There was Sassy Bear. She had hopped onto the railing and was proceeding to crawl onto the deck. Mind you, our deck is five feet high in some places, maybe even higher, but it was nothing for her. I don't know what came over me, but I stood up and said, "Now get down from there, Sassy Bear." Silly, huh? Of course, she saw me through the window and started to crawl back down, almost like a toddler crawling out of a crib. Rick calls me Snow White because I talk to all the animals around here. Pretty silly, but I'm beginning to think he's onto something. "I'm wishing ..."

As Rick was getting ready for work yesterday, we heard a familiar thud on the deck. Sure enough, Sassy was back. By the time we got to the door to look out, she had hopped down and was on the lawn next to our house. Of course, I grabbed my camera and went outside. It wasn't all the way light yet, so most of my pictures were kind of blurry. The one above was the best one I got yesterday. However, she also left some footprints on the deck railing, pictured below. There are also a few shots of her standing up looking at me right after I told her to get down, along with some others of her cubs. To be honest, I was glad to see it was Sassy. I hadn't seen her awhile, so I was worried something happened to her. She must have had her cubs last spring because they appear to be about a year old now. Black bear cubs usually stay with their mother for just about two years. And from the picture of her standing, it looks like she's still nursing. Gotta love that Sassy Bear!