Saturday, November 22, 2014

Well I Guess This Post Needs A Title...

On this, the Four-Year, Four-Month, One-Week Anniversary of my book's publication (a momentous occasion, or rather a sorry reminder that its sequel is nowhere near completion), I present you with: Nearly Half A Dozen Ways You, Too, Can Get A Copy Of The Book, If You Have Not Done So Already, And If You Have Not Done So Already, For Pete's Sake, WHY NOT? IT'S BEEN FOUR YEARS, FOUR MONTHS, AND SEVEN DAYS!

Five ways. Pick one!

The name is Just South Of Normal. Here's a picture:

This is me finishing with the novel pimping. Good night.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Riding In The Car With My Mother

Me: Hey, should we open the moon roof?

Her: Moon roof?

Me: You know, like, the sun roof. Except it's nighttime, so it's a moon roof.

Her: No! Then I'll be cold!

Me: I just meant the slidey part, not the actual glass part.

Her: I guess.

Me: (After opening the slidey part.) Hmmm. Maybe I should just close it. You can't even see anything out that window. Not even the moon. Besides, if there's a hitchhiker* riding on the top of our car trying to scratch his way in, he'd get in sooner that way.

Her: Plus we'd be able to see him scratching, and that'd be really annoying.

*with a hook for a hand, of course.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Scattered Childhood Memories #7: Halloween

My parents took me trick-or-treating for the first time when I was two or three. My only memory of this occasion is going to a house where a lady told us, "Sorry! But we're all out of candy."
I remember being somewhat dumbfounded. How could someone not have any more candy to give out on Halloween, the night you are supposed to give out candy? (Lady, you had ONE job....)

The next year, we moved. In our new neighborhood, everyone seemed to trick-or-treat between 6 and 8 pm, and you only went to the houses that had their porch light on, because that meant they had candy to give. But sometimes people would have their porch light on, yet never answer the door. These people were either super cruel or just didn't understand, but boy did they waste our precious time! They should be glad we weren't the type of kids to "trick," says I.

I wasn't super picky about what kind of candy I got, but I did save an ounce of scorn for any adult who handed out those miniature tootsie rolls. I may not have known much, but I knew what candy cost, and I knew that person was being a cheapskate! Still, other people made up for it. I remember the year someone handed out tiny bags of chips. Score! Or another time, somebody bestowed on me a can of soda. Seriously, I felt like I'd just won the Halloween lottery.

After a night of trick-or-treating came the loot sorting. I took great pleasure in sorting my candy by type and goodness. My brother would often do the same, and then we'd trade things. We'd get to eat a few pieces, then our stash would go in the cupboard. My parents, as far as I know, never (or rarely) dipped into our bins. Our candy was sacred. Mine was mine, my brother's was his, and we left each other's alone (well, okay, maybe I ate a few of my brother's when my own reserves were running low. Maybe.)

But this one year, my grandparents came to stay, and my grandma unapologetically helped herself to my candy whenever the mood struck. I was horrified. Grandma! YOU didn't tromp around the neighborhood and beg for two hours on a cold, rainy night! You're a grown woman with money in your purse! Go buy your own candy!
I swear, I did not have an obsession
with clowns.
Some years, instead of trick-or-treating, we went to a Halloween party at my elementary school. There we played carnival-type games and got candy. Strangely, I remember so little about these events, even though I know I loved them, and they seemed to be a yearly thing.

The first year I went to a non-school-sponsored Halloween party, I was about four. My parents' friends were throwing a party for their kid, whose birthday was shortly after Halloween. They called it a Pumpkin Party, and at the time I didn't think anything of it, but later I learned they were super conservative and probably didn't even celebrate actual Halloween. I remember we played this game where everybody had a string, and they were tangled throughout the living room, and you just had to get to your prize at the end of the string. I think we did a treasure hunt, too. Then we all went to this place and rode bumper cars?? Forget it, I don't think this even happened on Halloween.

The next time I went to somebody's Halloween-esque party, I was older (seventh grade?). My friend's mom devised a haunted house-type activity in their basement, and we got to blindly feel cold spaghetti and peeled grapes. Good times.

Another time I went to a Halloween party, I was in high school, and that was the time I learned that yes, it is true that you can glue your fingers together with SuperGlue. Don't try this at home, kids!

In fifth grade, I threw my own Halloween Party. I invited all my local cousins and a handful of neighbors and my best friend. We decorated pumpkins and ate pizza. I had invited my new friend and her brother, but was stunned to learn that their family didn't celebrate Halloween. Welp, more candy for the rest of us, I guess....

In eighth grade, I went to our school's Halloween Dance. Years of reading Baby-Sitters Club books had convinced me that you could go to middle school dances even without a date and still have a great time and possibly meet the boy of your dreams. This turned out to be a lie. However, I learned that going to a school dance with a group of girl friends could still produce good fun. Boys, shmoys.

My favorite Halloween was in fourth grade. I was a cat that year, and I went to our school's Halloween Party that evening. I was off on my own playing games, when my dad found me and told me we were going home because my cousins had arrived! This was a huge deal because my cousins were moving to our city for the year, and here they were arriving on Halloween, of all nights! Plus I hadn't seen them in a while, so I was super excited. My dad drove me home, and I joined my cousins as they trick-or-treated around our neighborhood. That night was the beginning of a great year.

Halloween traditions:

*Carving pumpkins. (We usually just got store-bought ones.)

*Watching the Garfield Halloween Special

 (even though I was terrified, and I mean terrified, by that old geezer in the haunted house with the pirate ghosts.)

Well, wouldn't YOU be???

*Being all sad when my carved pumpkin finally rotted and/or molded and had to be pitched

*Being even more sad when my Halloween candy ran out

*Being happy again because by that time, it was usually almost time for Thanksgiving, which meant PIE.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oregon Zoo In Summer (Part 2)

* * * * * * *

Summertime at the Oregon Zoo means outdoor concerts... (oh who am I kidding? That goes on year-round)...

You're just not thinking fourth dimensionally! The track will exist in 1985!

...and then there's Zoo Camp, the day camp for kids. Signs of Zoo Camp include groups of kids wearing matching T-shirts, led by a perky counselor whose paycheck depends on whether or not Aidan, Jayden, Rowan D. and Rowan Q. are still alive at the end of the day (and not, say, a snack for the lions.)

Oh, and actual signs....

Do random zoogoers keep interrupting Zoo Camp? Is there anything we can do?

Art project to the rescue!

The Zoo often has special activities during different seasons. This summer they had a lion-feeding demonstration in the mornings. First, a zookeeper spread a bunch of what looked like Spam in different places around this little room. Then she went out a door, and opened another door that led to the lion's outer exhibit. In ran the lions!

I only got around to going to this demo once, but I loved it. However, on this day, I noticed that one of the lady lions was not there, so I asked one of the keepers about it. She told me that this lady lion was in heat, and so they had isolated her, as they were trying to prevent a pregnancy.

Yep! We have new lion cubs anyway! Remember back in May when I witnessed the male lion getting frisky with one of the females? Well, kids, when a daddy lion loves a mommy lion... you get more lion cubs four months later! Hasani, Mashavu, and Niara (and another sister, who didn't make it) were born in September. (I don't have any photos of them yet myself, but check those links above if you want to see the cuteness.)

But what of Lion Cubs 1.0, the ones born in 2013? They're doing just fine -- and they're huge! Not quite as big as their mom (the other lady lion, not the one who just gave birth. Confused yet?) 

Cubs 1.0 love playing with their dad....

Sometimes he appears to enjoy playing with them, too. Other times not.

Elsewhere in the zoo, the animals seemed content....

Although the Cheetah Brothers often look as if they'd like nothing more than to gobble me up...

...I love 'em!

I also love spending many summer days at the zoo... 

 ...annnnnd eating ice cream cones. (Shh, don't tell.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oregon Zoo In Summer (Part 1)

Summer has come to an end -- and so has my first full year of photographing animals at the Oregon Zoo!

Summertime, I discovered, is a great time for taking pictures. Nearly all the Zoo's animals are out & active, if you're fortunate enough to be there at the right time. (Turns out the leopards, who sleep most of the day, are cute and spunky first thing in the morning. Who knew?)

well, i've just had my morning coffee, you see...

I spent many hours watching the black bears....

Some animals may act differently in the summer, but most animals at the Zoo don't really look different. Save for the Mountain Goat...

All summer long he rubs against trees and rocks and slowly but surely removes his wooly coat.

And ends up looking really weird.

Summer is also a great time to see gorgeous flowers... yes, at the zoo. The Oregon Zoo has some amazing varieties of flowers on its grounds, and (duh) they change with the seasons, so I see different things each time I visit. Here are a few of my favorite foliage photos....

Another reason summer's great -- the water in the exhibits is clear and vibrant, meaning you can get great photos of giraffe's reflections:

Or giraffe's... non-reflections....


And then there are the hippos. I know of few other animals that seem so extra happy and content in the summertime. I guess it makes sense; hippos naturally come from warmer climates. Still, these are some peaceful-looking hippos indeed.

Oh wait, I think I found an even happier animal--


Be sure to check out: Oregon Zoo In Summer, Part 2 -- Because I haven't even gotten to the lion cubs yet! Plus: Zoo construction, adorable kid drawings, stalking cheetahs, and more!