Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Misfortune Cookie?

Last night we had sesame shrimp take-out from the local Chinese restaurant.

My fortune cookie said, "Alas! I am the Apple of Your Eye."

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Big Silly

This is Mabel. She belongs to our older daughter and her family. When they adopted her as a year-old puppy, the shelter folks assured them that she was a "beagle mix" and wouldn't get much larger. Mabel now weighs 65 pounds.

Mabel grew into a big, sweet oaf of a dog, with one major flaw. She was a"runner." If a door opened, she'd be gone in a flash. She'd dash gleefully up and down the street, through backyards, through puddles. through neighbors' treasured flower beds. She'd ignore the word "come." Sometimes she'd let you get close enough to nab her. Then a demon would peer out through her eyes and she'd take off with a grin on her face.  She'd  come home when she was tired, after her family endured 3 or 4 anxious hours.

One time, only once, did someone succeed in getting her back within 5 minutes of an escape. An estimator came to talk to us about a new chain-link fence. We opened the door for him, forgetting that Mabel was visiting, and she was gone. "Oh, a runner!" exclaimed the man, seeing the possibility of a sale vanish along with the dash-away dog. "Can I borrow a leash?"  He took it across the street, and sat down on the lawn about 20 yards from where Mabel was eagerly sniffing the shrubbery. Then he began snapping the clasp on the leash. Mabel was curious. She approached. GOTCHA! On went the leash and home she came.  Unfortunately, that trick never worked again. 

Her favorite destination used to be the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, which was close to her house. Squeezing through a gap in the fence, Mabel would run merrily back and forth inside the refuge, while her family stood helplessly outside. When she finally came home, her muddy fur would be full of ticks and burrs. She became notorious in the neighborhood. My husband was driving around at 11 PM one Friday night, when he spotted a man out walking a miniature poodle. "Did a big white dog come through here?" he asked the man. "You mean Mabel?" the guy replied.

Several years passed. Mabel got older and plumper. She no longer seemed hell-bent on slipping out the door. A couple of walks on the leash every day were enough. When the family moved from South Laurel to North Laurel in May, they assumed her running days were over.


At twilight on a Sunday night three weeks ago, the phone rang. It was our older daughter, panicked because Mabel had dashed out the door.  She was sure her dog wouldn't be able to find her way home after dark. Her husband, at the Redskins game, was not due home until past midnight.

It was completely dark when my husband reached North Laurel. He drove our daughter around. Sometimes they got out  of the car and walked and called, but all they heard was the sound of joyful baying in the distance. Several times they nearly had her, but that inner demon once again urged her to ignore them and take off.  Finally, around 11, they gave up, exhausted. Our daughter left the gate and back door wide open in case the Prodigal returned. My worried husband drove home. 

Before midnight came a welcome call. Mabel was home!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Getting to Know Four Octopuses

 The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was actually about the souls of four octopuses: Athena, Octavia, Kali and Karma. All were intelligent and friendly with humans. Each had a distinctive personality. Unfortunately for the aquarium employees and volunteers who care for and love them, these creatures have surprisingly brief life spans of about four years. My feelings about octopuses changed from "ick" to "awesome" while reading this book. I admired the determination of the middle-aged author to persist in her efforts to master underwater diving so she could meet wild octopuses face to face--this, despite the pain in her ears that would force her to resurface reluctantly more than once. She also introduced her readers to some truly outstanding volunteers at the New England Aquarium. Despite the presence of several colored photos and tiny sketches on the bottom corners of the pages, I wished the book had also included a pen-and-ink textbook-type drawing of an octopus. The author would refer to such octopus body parts as its suckers, arms, beak, funnel and mantle. Mental pictures of some of these came readily to mind. Others, not so much.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

What I've Been Up To

I volunteered to help with crafts at "Camp Saint Philip's," our church's vacation Bible school, which will be held July 17-21.  This year's theme is "Barnyard Roundup: Jesus Gathers Us Together."  Here are the crafts projects I came up with:  four paper sculptures (two "breeds" of pigs, an ear of corn and a carrot) a couple of corn-husk dolls, and a rooster made from paper cut-outs. I hope the kids enjoy making them as much as I did in creating them.

Two other women are also helping with crafts. One of them won first prize in a Washington Post crafts contest for a box crafted from paper she made herself. The other is a kindergarten teacher . She certainly has a more realistic idea than I do of what kids can accomplish in 45 minutes. I've only seen their ideas on a spread sheet. They have plans for small farm animals, a barn, a chicken coop, egg-carton bees, flowers made from prints of the kids' hands, marble paper, a bee house and a barn-owl mosaic.

One of the challenges we'll face with the paper sculptures is getting the individual sheets of craft paper to lie flat so that the kids can trace the patterns and cut them out without too much frustration. I've already cut out 24 sheets of craft paper for the fronts and backs of a dozen paper sculptures. Since craft paper comes in rolls, the cut-off sheets immediately sprang back into tight rolls. I ended up with 24 "scrolls" instead of 24 flat and cooperative sheets. I've been trying to get them to lie flat by stacking the sheets and placing heavy books and gallon paint cans on the stack. We'll see if that works.