Leaping Lizard

Living in Texas, during the month of August, is akin to living on the receiving end of hair dryer – hot, dry, and windy. 

Last year was one of the worst summers on record.   This year, not so much.  We’ve actually seen a good bit of rain with below average temperatures.  This week, my daughter and I ventured over to a local nature preserve to enjoy the cool weather and to get a bit of exercise.  As you know by now, I don’t go outside without my camera. 

During our nature walk, we came across this interesting lizard.  And by came across, I mean he darted out of the bushes, bounded off our feet, skittered into the brush, and up a tree. 

I’m not going to lie, we squealed like little girls.

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Things I learned this week…and last

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

– Albert Einstein

This week I learned…

…that sometimes I do stupid things.  I know, hard to believe, but true nonetheless.  This week, I beamed myself in the head with my own car door.  I blame the rain – and my vain desire to protect my freshly straightened hair from falling victim to the frizz factor.  What’s the lesson to be learned here?  Making a mad dash from the house to the car through a steady drizzle with my head down doesn’t help me avoid getting wet, it just means I will inaccurately judge the angle of the opening door.  Ouch.

that you will never catch me driving along a rural Norwegian road at midnight.  It seems in doing so, one runs the risk of literally running into a moose – and a bear.  Crazy, I know. However, one unlucky motorist in Norway did just that.  I haven’t written a Man vs.. Beast blog in several months, but I can’t help to think that this incident lends credence to my long standing assertion that the animals are conspiring to take over the world.  Obviously, the moose and the bear were intent on a carjacking.  The question is:  Why?  Perhaps an errand for the Great Whites lurking just off the New England coast?  It bears consideration.  (See what I did there?)

…that the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is fabulous.  As one who is enthralled with history, especially biblical history, this exhibit gives incredible insight.  It was definitely worth schlepping an hour or so west, through rush hour traffic, white-knuckle construction zones, and torrential rain.   As I said in a previous blog, my family was wholly uninterested in tagging along.  That’s alright, I bear them no ill will.   I recognized the glazed over look they got in their eyes whenever I mentioned going.   It’s the same look I get when my husband mentions that Dream Theater is in town.   I shudder at the very thought…

…that my daughter is turning into a cynic.  This week, while we were camped out on the living room floor watching the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a commercial for a popular adjustable mattress aired.  It boasted that 93% of users saw improved sleep.  Out of the blue, my daughter says:  “Sucks for that other 7%.”  Indeed, it does.

…that the war on women continues.  I don’t like to infuse politics into my blog.  I firmly believe political ideology is something that should never be thrust upon the unwilling.  I think doing so polarizes the nation, and breeds hostility and hate.  I believe the same can be said for religion.  I usually make a point to avoid the discussion of both.  Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something that I find troubling:  The far right’s preoccupation with the mysterious inner workings of the female reproductive system.  I’m not really sure where they received their general knowledge of anatomy, but I’d like to reassure the male establishment that my girly parts (and those of every other woman in America) do not have mystical superpowers bent on world domination.  While I agree, that might be kinda cool, and would perhaps lessen the sting of the dreaded “monthly inconvenience”, it is, in fact, not possible for a vagina to take down nations.

I think it’s time to focus on a more imminent threat to the country’s well being – a broken economy.

On a similar note:  If you’d like to have a good laugh,and have an appreciation for the ridiculous, check out the Borowitz Report over at The New Yorker.  Maybe not for everyone, but I sure do get a good giggle out of it every now and then.

…that classes begin again next week.  As always, I’m filled with a host of emotions: excitement, trepidation, annoyance.  I am taking a freshman level science course this semester.  I’m not thrilled.  Science is one of those things that I could do without.  I understand the relevance, even appreciate its need in molding our young people into individuals who can competitively carry our country into the future.  I get that.  I just don’t want to sit through a three hour lab with said young people.  Does that make me old?

…that a See’s Candies has opened up inside my local mall.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.  But it’s so very, very good.

…that I’ve been nominated for the “Addictive Blogger Award” by Katy Brandes.  I always get a big kick out of these awards.  It’s the narcissist in me, I’m sure, but it’s always nice to receive a bit of acknowledgement from one’s peers.  Thank you, Katy.   It is greatly appreciated and puts a big smile on my face.  And, I’ll admit, found me standing in front of my bathroom mirror channeling Sally Field:  “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Just kidding.  About the Sally Field part – not about the the appreciation part.  I do sincerely love that you may be addicted to my blog.

As always, these things must be paid forward.  The list of blogs I find addictive is endless, but in the interest of brevity, here are the first five that come to mind:

Cosy Travels of a Viking and his Kitten – a chronicle of European travel highlighted by some truly beautiful photographs.

The Writer’s Advice – lots of writing advice with a sarcastic edge I enjoy.

Word Flows –  lots of writing inspiration.  One of my favs.

Mike Osborn Photo – some great photographs from across the pond.

The Sugarlump – love those cats!

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment.  I was going to bring you a fabulous photograph of the Monarch butterfly I saw this week at a local nature preserve.  Unfortunately, I never got a clear shot because my lovely daughter photo-bombed me.  So, in retaliation, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mischievous daughter.  Enjoy.

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Chihuly and the dragonfly

A love affair?

A true appreciation for art?

Either way, who can blame him? 

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Things I learned this week

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

― Charles M. Schulz

I learned this week…

…that, at the ripe age of 40, I’ve finally taught myself to swim.  I have kept this under wraps for a while.  I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing – not my friends; not my family.  I’m sure they are going to be shocked because they’ve put up with my number one phobia for a very long time:  drowning.  It’s kept me from doing a lot of fun stuff over the years.  However,  I am thrilled to announce that this week, I did the front crawl from one end of the pool to the other – without stopping.    And I did it a dozen times.  All by myself.  With my daughter cheering me on.  Of course, being a 40 year old unaccustomed to the physical exertion of swimming, I nearly collapsed and drowned.

…that my daughter is an evolving enigma.  She has quirks and habits that I’ve come to accept, even rely upon, as evidence that she is an independent spirit.  Take for instance her hair.  She is cursed blessed with thick honey blonde tresses that frizz curl wildly around her beautiful face.  She hates every strand, and insists that she not be seen without it firmly secured in a slick-backed pony tail.   This is non-negotiable.  If, by chance, there is an instance of variance from the norm, there will be long sighs, nasty glares, and even tears.  This week she rocked my world.  Out of the blue, she announced, as she pulled the band from her hair and let it flow freely down her back, that in a year or two she just might start wearing it down.  The truly remarkable thing, and what threw me into a state of shock, was that we were at our neighborhood pool.  In public.  Surrounded by dozens of strangers.  Who have now seen her with her hair down.

…that the next installment in the Jason Bourne saga (sans Jason Bourne) has been unleashed on the nation.  In the past, I have railed against Hollywood’s dirty habit of unnecessarily rebooting and remaking movies in order to capitalize on the viewing public’s need for familiarity at the box office. I won’t rehash my feelings – you can read them for yourself, if you are so inclined.   I have to admit, I don’t understand the need for another Bourne film, especially one without its namesake.   When I first heard rumor of it, I thought it ridiculous.  I swore I wouldn’t see it, but curiosity got the better of me.  I saw it.  I hated.  As I write this, I am watching a the original Bourne trilogy in hopes that it will wash away the stench of The Bourne Legacy.

For some additional reviews of the movie, check out:

Om Malik

Movie Talkies

Sweep the Legs

IMG_2213…that a girl in China was found to have spider living in her ear – for a week.  A lot of things creep me out.  Spiders, oddly enough, are not one of them.  However, upon reading this article (and viewing the pictures), I was struck by a sense of familiarity.  Then it hit me – that spider’s brother took up residence in my car two months ago!  It may be time to dig out the old bug bomb.  I now have serious case of the heebee-jeebees.

…that I can check “staying up late(ish) to watch a meteor shower” off my list of things I must do before I die.  I stayed up.  I sat in a lawn chair in my driveway, stared up at the sky, and – got nothing.  I didn’t see anything, but low flying airplanes.  Well, there was that one thing, with the flashing lights and erratic flight pattern.  I told myself it was a weather balloon – because they’re always weather balloons, right?  By and large, though, I was bored out of my freaking mind.  I bow down to my geeky science loving friends who have the discipline for such things.  I, obviously, do not.

…that while working on my WIP this week, I discovered that Anna’ brother is a lot more trouble than he’s worth.  Luckily my writing group was more than willing to come to my rescue.  If you write and don’t have a writing group – get one.  You won’t regret it.  Unless your group sucks.  Then you might regret it.  So choose wisely.  I did.

…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by these water droplets clinging to a spider’s web.  I know, there really isn’t anything warm and fuzzy about it.  So what.  I like it and it’s my blog.  Enjoy.

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On the agony of writing

I’ve written in some capacity since the third grade.   My first completed work was an alternate ending short story inspired by Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare.   I was very proud of that story.  I sat for hours, hunched over my desk, No. 2 pencil biting into my short stubby fingers, the eraser worn to the quick, and labored over every single word.  When I finished, I felt proud.  I had written a story.  From beginning to end.   I turned it in to my teacher, confident that I would earn an A for such blinding brilliance.  It was a great story.

My teacher saw things a bit different.   The evil Mrs. Rupe promptly tore my work to shreds, citing a laundry list of flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings.  She gave me a C.

I always hated Mrs. Rupe.

I’m not bitter about it.  Really.  Though, I do hold a special place for her at the top of my list of unforgivable grudges.  She was a miserable human being who should have retired from teaching long before 1980.   But for all of her petty viciousness, and she was awful for so many reason beyond just giving me a C, she did teach me a few important lessons:  writing is subjective, rejection is a rite of passage, and criticism keeps a writer grounded.

Of course, such lessons are meant for those who can actually finish something in a timely manner without falling victim to the hazards cluttering the road to success.  I seem to be having a bit of trouble navigating that thoroughfare, at the moment.   Or perhaps, it’s my mode of transportation that is faulty.  I blame the outline – I think it has a flat.

For several days, I’ve struggled to write a single scene, introducing a solitary character.   My trouble started when I made the decision to give Anna a brother.  His name is Aaron and he is a total pain in my ass.   I thought he would add an emotional depth and focus to the story, but instead he’s done nothing but cause me heartburn and an endless headache.  The latter may be from banging my head on my desk out of frustration.   I’m not really sure.  It’s hard to differentiate.

The way I see it, I have three choices:  delete him completely – move on and pretend he never happened; kill him slow and painfully – my novel is titled Retribution; or scrap the scene as it is and start over.

Oh lord, maybe I should tweak the outline again…ugh.

Writing is brutal; its hard; its agonizing.

I think I hate it.

But, I love it.

Note to self:  buy more Advil.

Frisco Heritage Museum

This past spring, I discovered the Frisco Heritage Museum in Frisco, Texas.   Initially, I went to fulfill an extra credit assignment given by my Western Civilization professor.  I was to view the Quanah Parker photo exhibit and answer a series of questions.  I did.  It was a fascinating lesson in the struggle between the native tribal population in Texas and Oklahoma, and the pioneers who settled the land in the mid-nineteenth century.  The photos told of the bloody toll the clash of cultures took on both sides, and chronicled the rise of the last Comanche chief from local tribesman to national statesman.

The museum is also host to a number of other permanent exhibits that highlight the city’s one hundred year history.  Who knew that this bustling economic and retail hub was once just a dusty stop on the Shawnee Trail?

To give the visitor a first hand reminder of Frisco’s rich history, the grounds are home to a handful of historical buildings that date back to it’s inception.  There’s a train depot – complete with train, the Lebanon Baptist Church, an old windmill, the Crozier-Sickles house, and the Smith-Muse house.  They are all wonderfully preserved and give an insightful glimpse into the past.

I’ve been back several times now, camera in hand.  This weekend, I stumbled across some photos I took on my last trip.   Hope you enjoy.

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Things I learned this week

“Lost a planet Master Obi-Wan has.  How embarrassing.”  – Yoda

I learned this week…

that Snoop Dogg has changed his name to Snoop Lion.  I’m so relieved.  I don’t know about you, but I was beginning to question the longevity of his career if he should continue on with such a moniker.

…that I should never be trusted to do two things:  dress myself or pick out eye glasses.   I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that if given a choice between a pair of respectable black slacks and a pair with obnoxious stripes, I will pick the stripes every single time – and wear them with a printed top.  I am a fashion failure.  I get it.  I embrace it.  A few years ago I got glasses.  I went down to my local optical mart, tried on a few dozen frames, ignored the annoying optician’s suggestions, and took home a set of glasses that would never leave their handy-dandy carry case.  I hated them.  This week, out of necessity – my eyes have decided to act their age – I went to get a new pair.  I opted to go back to my optometrist’s office because it was convenient – and I get a discount.   I chose a few frames, and asked the peppy little optician for advice.  She took one look at what I had chosen, said no, no, no, and promptly made me start the process over.  As it turns out, my taste in glasses is just as flawed as my taste in trousers.  I am now the proud owner of a pair of glasses that I like – and wear.  Yay for pushy, obnoxious optician lady who is immune to my stink eye and biting sarcasm.

…that I have the best writing group on the planet.  This week our meeting turned into an impromptu photo shoot when one of our members came dressed up in an anime costume.

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There’s a special place in my heart for this girl.

…that I won something.  I never win things, but this week I found out that I won a copy of Tania L. Ramos’ new book Be Still.  She is an independently published author who still maintains her day job as a registered nurse.  I admire her tenacity and dedication to her craft.  I can’t wait to read her book.  Go check her out her blog.  Oh, and while you’re at it, check out Nerdy Book Reviews. Some good stuff over there, too.

…that dress shopping with my daughter is going to be a test of my resolve.  She is entering 7th grade band and unlike last year when the required concert uniform consisted of a black embossed polo and khaki pants, this year she will have to wear a black dress.  Yes, my friends, a dress.  My daughter doesn’t wear dresses…or anything that might be construed as girly.  She is a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal.  If she ever feels the need to spice it up, she might go so far as to slap on a button up shirt and a pair of low top Converse sneakers.  But that’s where she draws the line.  We hit a few stores this week in search of this black band dress.  We didn’t find one, but I was rewarded for my efforts with lots of heavy sighs and eyes rolls.  Can’t wait to tell her that she won’t be able to wear her sneakers with the dress we’ve yet to find.  That ought to go over well.  The last time I got her in a pair of dress shoes was the last time she wore a dress – her brother’s wedding.  She cried over the dress, and exchanged the shoes for a pair of bright blue Crocs as soon as the ceremony was over.

…that IKEA on a Saturday is torture.  Two visits to IKEA on the same Saturday is a special kind of Hell that is beyond adequate description.

…this week’s awww moment isn’t an awww moment at all.  It’s just one of my Chihuly exhibit photos.  The reflection of the glass gives the appearance of paint bleeding through the water.  I think it’s kinda cool.

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