Monday, February 3, 2020

The Monarch Story

In case you hadn't heard, for me the spring and summer of 2019 was pretty preoccupied by monarch butterflies.  These well known Lepidoptera* have relatively recently become a species of concern and work well as a poster species for rousing the general public into supporting pollinators.  

Their numbers have been in decline for the last several decades due to habitat loss/fragmentation, pesticides and herbicides on the food they eat, and as is often the case, climate change.  

Here I would like to chronicle a little project that we took upon ourselves here at Ogden Nature Center

Two little girls who frequent the nature center quite a bit, helping us release one of the butterflies we raised. 

*Lepidoptera-order of insects that include moths and butterflies

In March of this year we did a teacher workshop on monarch butterflies and how to teach about them in the classroom.  It was a interdisciplinary workshop, combining science and art.  It was free and one of the benefits was that at the end you got a certificate good for 5 free monarch butterfly caterpillars and milkweed to raise in your classroom with your students.  

Fast forward to the end of summer, right before the school year started.  We got 30 milkweed plants and about 150 of the teeniest, tiniest caterpillars.  I wish I could have captured just how small they were when they were hatched!  Their eggs are no bigger than the head of a pin so imagine how small the caterpillars would have to be coming out of that!

As it is I did take some pictures of their growth progress.    

Caterpillars were probably about 5-7 days old at this point. 

So cute!!  See how many you can spot in this picture. 

Not all the teachers actually came and got their monarch caterpillars so we at the nature center were able to experience raising about 15 of them.  

About a week and a half old here.  Maybe closer to 2 weeks. 

I would check on them every day to make sure that they had plenty of milkweed to eat and that they were all growing ok.  It was really magical watching them grow.

2.5-3 weeks old. 

3.5-4 weeks old. 

After about 4 weeks and LOTS of milkweed later they were full grown and ready for the next stage.  Once a caterpillar has eaten it's fill and is ready to pupate it will create a little silken platform on a leaf (or in our case the top of the mesh enclosures we had them in).  They then hang from this silken platform and form a "J" shape.  

A caterpillar just about ready to pupate. 

A fact that not all know is that in the next stage while it grows wings and completes metamorphosis, butterflies don't form a cocoon.  Moths are the ones that spin cocoons around themselves while they change.  The picture below is actually just the exoskeleton of the pupa form of the caterpillar.  Not a cocoon.  It's called a chrysalis.  

Here is a pretty neat video of the process.  

The caterpillar will stay in the pupal stage for about 4 weeks before emerging.  They are called "monarch" butterflies because of the golden "crown" that is seen at the top of the chrysalis.  

Just before they are ready to emerge, the chrysalis turns black and you can begin to see the distinct pattern of the butterfly come through.  

These two have less than 24 hours before they will emerge.  

Then right before they come out the chrysalis will turn clear.  

In only a few hours this butterfly will emerge.  

If you look near the tip of this butterflies abdomen there are two symmetrical little black spots on the veins.  This indicates that it is a male butterfly. 

We released them as they hatched which was also quite a magical process.  

If you look near the tip of the abdomen on this butterfly you will see it does not have the black spots that the male has. 

Another butterfly with the spots indicating a male. 

I just wanted to share a little bit of the magic and one of the many and multiplying reasons I love my job.

Sure there is stress and frustration and exhaustion as there will be in most jobs.

But at Ogden Nature Center, I get to counteract that stressful stuff with moments of childlike wonder.  

Whether it's watching children make a connection and have the time of their lives discovering animal tracks, or it's me chasing after insects or spotting a bird, or crossing paths with deer, it's a relief and rejuvenation.

And I adore it.

Here in the dead of winter, I am already anticipating the warm months of sunshine and new life.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

My A B C's of Gratitude

This all begins on a Monday.  The Monday before Thanksgiving, to be precise.

 It was cold and snowing in a way that wasn't pleasant for anyone.  I had been at work since 7:00 am and didn't have a prayer of being done until at least 5:30.  I had to drive through snow and traffic to schools 1 hour away.  I was to teach 4 different 1 hour long presentations to cooped up first graders who weren't getting outdoor recess and were super excited for their upcoming holiday break.  

Needless to say I was in a "just make it through" kind of mood.  Not a good way to start the week.  

But then this thing happened that I didn't expect and flipped my whole day.  

I was already out of sorts for the first class of the days for many reasons, the main one being the teacher wasn't prepared because she didn't read my email.  But they started their day off as usual, with the singing of the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance.

Then this school did something I've not seen at other schools.  Over the intercom came a voice form the front office saying it was time for "Mindful Monday".  I was already in front of the class ready to teach when they started this.  I didn't want to just sit their awkwardly in front of them so I participated.  The voice had them place a hand over their heart and their stomach and began some basic, calming breathing exercises.  Relaxing them.  I realized as I sat breathing and listening to the voice as it told me to relax my shoulders and face that I was actually pretty tense.  So I breathed and I relaxed.  This exercise lasted maybe 5 minutes.  

And at the end of it I felt better. 

The best part is that before she signed off, the voice told the students to try and think of their thankful A B C's.  Think of something you are thankful for beginning with each letter of the alphabet.  

I loved this idea.  Both of the thankful A B C's as well as the mindfulness Monday.

I don't take enough time in my life to be mindful.  To sit and just be still.  To not only relax my body but to relax my mind.  

So, in light of the holidays, I want to share my own A B C's of gratitude.  

This is not an exhaustive list of all the things I'm thankful for...also it's longish.  So be ready.

Here we go!

A: Abundance
I grew up in a life where things were sometimes tight.  There were a lot of us kiddos.  But my parents did everything they could to make sure we had the necessities.  We were never wanting.  We had food, a roof over our heads, books to read, toys to play with, and even a pet or two.  Maybe my clothes were hand me downs, maybe our milk was made of powdered milk mixed with water.  Some nights we had "mung" for dinner (macaroni noodles, ground beef, onions, tomato sauce) because it was what we had. 

But it was enough.  And we were never left wanting.  

The first year of my life in Utah was one of the hardest of my life.  There were a lot of reasons for this but one of them was the fact that I could barely make ends meet.  There were times I worried where my food was going to come from and my income was desperately dependent on the generosity of the people at the tables I was waiting on.  Very rarely have I lived a life so strained.  

And so now I am thankful that while I am not rolling in cash, I have enough for what I need and enough extra to start building up my savings again and start paying off debts. I have enough that I don't have to work two jobs.  What a tremendous blessing.    

B: Bones
No, not skeletons silly.  

Simply put, I'm thankful for my dog (don't worry not just the one, the other one will come up later).  The pup that I hadn't planned to get at the shelter but the one who changed my life for the better.  

He has been and continues to be one of the best dogs I've ever had. He's cuddly, sweet, affectionate, playful, smart, and listens to me.  The perfect partner, eh?  Except for the fact that he's a dog.

I adore this silly boy and I am thankful for him daily.

C: Camaraderie 
Specifically the kind that I find at work.  I'm typically the kind of person who can get along with most people, but I've worked many jobs where there were people where I just had a hard time handling in large doses.  Overall it was rare for me to make friends that I spent a lot of time with outside of work.

At my current job at the nature center, I have finally found my true niche.  I'm working with people who have similar ideals and ambitions as me.  People who will nerd out about nature just as much as me.  People who love to educate and who are basically dorky and quirky and my kind of people.

I paint with Susan and Hailey, I nature journal with Brent and Susan, I jam tunes with Lauren and Brent, I play Dungeons & Dragons with Daniel and Lauren, I go hiking with any and all of them.  I find that not only do I enjoy working with all my coworkers but I really enjoy spending time with them outside of work.  That is something that has been missing in my life and I am thankful for it.

D: Dungeons and Dragons 
I've had friends who play Dungeons and Dragons and I've sat in on a couple sessions.  I even played once.  But I was not invited back into that campaign (which made sense, they were in the middle of it).  I didn't really meet anyone for years after that who played.  Then I met Daniel when we both started work at the nature center.  He turned me onto a trio of comedian brothers who had a D&D podcast and shortly after invited me to join a new campaign he was starting.

It's been a fun adventure where I get to stretch and flex my creativity and it's been a blast full of snacks and side splitting laughs and I love that he helped me really get into it.  I don't know what I'm going to do when my other adventurers leave next year!

E: Environmental Education
In a nutshell, I love my job and the kind of work that I get to do.  I've found my passion and I couldn't be happier with where this job is taking me right now.

I'm thankful for all the places that have fanned the flame of my love for environmental education.  I'm thankful for a field that seeks to get people passionate and learned about the natural world around them.

Thank goodness I found my calling.

F: Friends and Family
I have so many great friends and family that I can't list them all without taking pages and pages.  But while I do get along with most people as I said before, I am particular about the people I become close to and let see the deeper side of me.  I am so grateful for the friends I have that still like me for me, flaws and all.

My family is stuck with me and have to love me no matter what and everything.  But what I am really grateful for when it comes to them is the fact that we all actually still get along and really enjoy one another's company.  This is also the case for my extended family. The more I learn of the world the more I find that this isn't always true and is becoming more of rare thing.  I love and adore my family and can't wait to spend eternity with them.

G: The Gospel of Jesus Christ
I don't know if I can put into words that express how important having Jesus Christ as my exemplar is to me and my life.  It shapes who I am on the surface as well as on a deeply spiritual level.  I believe that one of the most important reasons for being in this existence for a little blip of time is to improve ourselves and improve the world around us, leaving it better than when we came to it.  I fully believe that following the example of our savior and brother enables us to do this and brings joy and peace along the way.

H: Health
I know that I am not the most healthy person in the world.  I need to lose weight.  I really need to stop eating so much sugar.

But all in all I have been in good health. I have far less to worry about than others and while it may not last, for that I am grateful.  Hopefully I'll get my act together this coming year.

I: Intelligence
This is not a humble brag.  I'm not trying to flout my "intelligence".  I am thankful to be a human being who is capable of intelligent thought.  I can make my own decisions and have the agency to do so.  Yay for being sentient!

J: Jude
Before you become confused, Jude is my car.  I've had him for 7 years, he's over 10 years old, and he's gotten me through lots of scrapes and adventures and is still going strong.  I may not take care of him as well as I could, but he always gets me where to go.  And I still love the great gas mileage!  I've been there and back again and there again and back again so many times.  He's taking a beating but is still there for me.  Thanks Jude!

K: Kindness
There have been so many tender mercies in my life provided by amazing people who have been put in my life.  Strangers, as well as dear friends, have reached out to me just when I needed it.  Kindness is such a valuable virtue and commodity.  I wish we saw it more on this planet we call home, but every time I do see it whether personally or via the internet, my faith that humanity is inherently good is restored.  I still have faith in people and I try to hold to that.

 L: Lily
There we go!  We got to Lily eventually.  Lily has adventure to say the least.  I will be the first to admit that getting her was not my smartest move.  I was not ready for a second dog.  But once I commit to something I stick with it.  So I stuck it out with her.  Through all the stress, the messes, the frustrations, the hard move to Utah, I never gave up on her.  She is still a wild child and so much more of a challenge than Bones.  But I have learned so much with her.  She is SO affectionate and silly and playful and she always knows how to make me laugh and cheer me up.  I don't know now what I would do without her (well...maybe get a cat but SHHHHH DON'T TELL HER THAT!)

M: Music
I could go on and on about music.  Whether it's a film soundtrack, or the new Coldplay album, the Tabernacle Choir, or feeds my soul.  Not just music I listen to but music  I learn and perform.  I have been feeling the music void in my life of late and hope that in the near future I can find the time to join a community choir and maybe even perform at open mic night with my co-worker, Brent.  Music is magic and I am so lucky to have parents who taught me a little about how to appreciate and wield that magic.

N: Nature
This one might seem obvious.  To anyone who knows me I am an avid lover of nature.  But it's so much more than that.  Among the beauty, the quiet, the tumult, the curiosities, the richness of nature, I feel whole.  I feel peace.  I feel wonder.  More than anything else in the world, nature makes sense.  It draws me in.  It heals me when I need it the most.  It touches and inspires me in ways that just about nothing else does.  It's my life and livelihood, and it is one of my passions.  I am thankful to live in such a diverse world where amazing things and places exist. 

O: Ogden
Just the other day I was walking along Ogden's hot spot, 25th street, in all its festive splendor when I realized something:  I love where I live.  Of the few places I've lived in or experienced in Utah, Ogden has the most personality without feeling overwhelming.  It's the place that feels the most like my home back in Missouri.  There's always something to do whether it's trivia, open mike, art walks, baking classes, knitting classes, painting classes, cool seminars on the college campus, minor league baseball games, college football games, etc. etc.etc. I could keep going on.  The farmer's market here is pretty darn amazing, 25th street is eclectic and has many fun places to visit and delicious places to eat.  Ogden loves its history and is all about creating a fun place for college students and families alike.

It is a place of beauty, of experience, of fun.  It has this low key, relaxed vibe that lets you feel like you can be who you want without judgement.

I am thankful for Ogden and for finding a place that I can feel at home.

P: Painting/Photography
I've always wanted to be more artistic.  It's a skill that so many of my family members have developed even going back to grandparents and possibly further.  So over the past several months I have been trying to develop those skills.  I only have a phone camera, some cheap acrylics, and a want to do better.  It's been fun and maybe someday it will be a more marketable skill but for now I'm just really loving the experience and the hobby of it all.  I'm thankful to have a creative outlet.

Q: Quirks
I love that individuality of humans.  Little things that make us unique.  I love that one of my coworkers sings random out of tune songs about the avocado he brought for lunch.  I love that my other coworker says my name in the voice of David Bowie's Goblin King from Labyrinth every time she sees me.  I love the different, random quirks of my two dogs.  I love the distinctly different way every single one of my immediate and extended family members are quirky and yet it's a quirkyness I can see in all of us that defines us as family.

Also I'm thankful for the work "quirk" itself because its fun. 

R: Repentance
Where justice, love, and mercy meet.

Repentance is something I can still hardly grasp, but it gives me hope which is something we could all use a little more of in this world.

Without the perfect sacrifice of my Brother and Savior, I would be helpless.  Lost in darkness without anything to hold onto.

I still feel that way sometimes.  There are days, weeks, months where I have felt I am drowning, drifting, careening our of control.  But HE is always there to pull me back.  For that, I owe my life and eternal soul.

S: Singing
Ok, a little less heavy now.  Something I have been so thankful for in my life is singing.  From a young age it's brought me happiness.  Heavenly Father saw fit to give me a voice to laud him with and I do so gladly as often as I can.  I've loved performing in choirs, small ensembles, solos, in the car, with friends, etc.  Singing fills my heart and has, at times, seemed to thin the veil between this mortal existence and the next.  I miss singing in a choir and I hope to remedy that hole within me soon.

T: Tears
I am thankful for happy tears, for tears that come with mercy.  I am thankful for the swelling within me that has no words, but its a burning that confirms to me the truthfulness of all things and with it the wetting of my eyes.  I am thankful for the movie tears, the music tears, the laughing so hard you cant breathe tears.

But I am also thankful for the tears of anguish, of pain, of loss, of feeling utterly alone in a black abyss.  I'm thankful for the ugly tears, the quiet tears, the tears no one sees, the tears that only the closest ones to you see.

Without the tears of sadness and hurt, we wouldn't be able to understand and appreciate the tears of joy.  I am thankful to be a person who feels and who expresses those feelings by leaking out of my eyes.

U: Utah
I didn't want to move here.  Did you know that?  I had said to myself many times over while I searched for jobs that I would never go to Utah.  How foolishly stubborn I was.  I said that and searched for over 5 years before I humbled myself and finally, truly considered it.

Do I believe I could have found myself happy with a job elsewhere?  Yes.  But my journey took me here.  It took A LOT of courage, a lot of acceptance, and in the end it was really hard.  But I made it here.

For now I am still here.  And for now I love it.

There's plenty not to love but whats the use in focusing on that?  Here there is adventure and beauty beyond compare.  Here there are new things to be learned and new experiences to be had.  Here there is family who I would love to know better.  Here there are mountains to climb, valleys to explore, wonders I haven't conceived of yet.

And here?  Here it's a dry heat.  Thank goodness for that.

V: Veterans
I would be an ungrateful person indeed if I didn't mention those who have fought and died for what they believed in.  I am thankful for all those willing to stand up for goodness, even if it was the hard decision.  I'm thankful for those who defended their country even if it might not have been the best decision the country made.  I am thankful for those who have courage I will never know.  Discipline I will never have.  My heart aches for those who have fought and died in war or battle.  I know war can and will still come.  I am thankful for those who are willing to take up the banner to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

W: Work Ethic
Really this is just me being thankful for my parents.  Since I can remember they had me out there helping do the work that needed to be done.  I was always taught how to take care of myself even if I didn't need to.  I was taught to finish what you start and to stay dedicated and work hard.  This is a virtue that has become somewhat tarnished over the years. So I am thankful to have been raised by parents who instilled a strong work ethic in me.  I wouldn't be where I am without it. 

X: Xylophones

Ok, ok.  I'll admit.  X was hard.  I promise I didn't pick Xylophone because it was the only X word I could think of.  Those who know me know I have, in the past, been a percussionist.  It's one of my favorite things about me because it made me stand out.  In Jr. high, being the only female in the percussion section, I often got landed with the instruments the boys thought were too girly for them to play.  The glockenspiel, the xylophone, the chimes, etc.  It helped that I knew piano.  Because of that it was something that I became really good at in Jr. High and going into High School. I feel that talent defined me.  Keyboard percussion instruments are still my favorite because you can express so much with them.  And they just sound fun.  I'm thankful for their existence and that I got to learn to play them.  I hope to own one someday and get those chops back into shape.  

Y: Yummy things
It would be silly of me not to mention the fact that the world is full of so many uniquely delicious things!  One of my favorite things is to try new foods, new recipes, new restaurants.  I am thankful to have a mouth that wants to eat new things and loves most things.  It is the time of the season to eat so many wonderfully familiar and rich foods and treats but actually right now I am most thankful for one of the best restaurants I have been to in a long time.  It's this little Korean place in Ogden and if you are ever in the area, we have to go!

Z: Zillion
I am thankful for about a zillion other things but this post has already run really long.  But here are a  few simple things I want to mention:

Lovely smelling wax melts
Space heaters
Soft throw blankets
Fuzzy socks
Hot herbal tea
Creativity and inspiration
Good movies
Good books

A good life.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Two Weekends of Tracy Aviary

It's the beginning of a new month.  One of my favorites.  Not because it holds my birthday or, often, Easter.  I love it because it is usually a better tell of the first true signs of spring.  

I love spring in full swing but there is something special about the first few weeks (not the random and annoying surprise snow storms).  

There's something new, fresh, and wonderful when you get your first whiff of a new season.  Spring smells green and earthy and newly damp.  

I love the warmer days that are still cool.  

I love the puffy clouds that hold the promise of life giving moisture. 

 I love the first flowers and the songs of birds and frogs as they blend together in a symphony of new life.  

I even love transitioning from thick hearty soups and rich, winter food to pasta salad, green salad, fresh ingredients, fresh herbs and veggies.  Berries tasting more in season.  

And something new I've come to love are the mountains covered in snow but feeling the sun shine on me down below. 

I think mountains were meant to be clothed in snow.  They are nice in their own way in the other seasons, but late fall, winter, and early spring is where they really shine. 

While I personally have made it my goal to move out of Utah after several years and start trying to head for new England again, I find myself falling for the mountains. 

And with my goal this year of hiking all the peaks in the Ogden area by the end of the year, I fully expect to love them even more.  

They may be the undoing of my plan and I might just find myself unable to leave them. 

We shall see, mountains, we shall see. 

Along with the nicer weather has been this insatiable urge to get out more.  No more snuggling against the cold and telling myself it's ok to be lazy because it's dark and icky outside. 

Two weekends in a row I went to Tracy Aviary, my old summer stomping grounds.  It was wonderful and I loved being back there.  Allow me to share some pictures of the first week. 

American White Pelican

Green-naped pheasant pigeon

Hooded Pitta

American Avocet

Kia learning a new trick.  They are SO SMART!!  This was something he had never learned before.  They call it "clean up".  She dumped out all these toys and started by just setting them around the edge.  He was able to figure out that what the trainer wanted was for him to knock the toys in the hole and he would get a treat.  

Once he got all the toys in she then scattered them on the ground around the bin to make it more challenging and he got the hang of it immediately.  He didn't have to be shown how or anything.  I love these birds.  

Couldn't pass up a chance to snag a picture of the peacock displaying. 

There were just a few from the first weekend.  (Two weekends ago).  

That same day I got to attend an eagle court of honor where we bring our eagle Des Ta Te in.  

Des Ta Te means "may the sun shine on your face and in your heart in a good way".  It's an Apache name. 

It was cool to get to see her out of her enclosure and to see how Bryce (the guy holding her) handled her.  It was also neat to hear all the stories he has about her. 

It was a neat experience. 

Below are just a few pictures of the deer we see all the time on our property.  Not the healthiest herd, to be honest.  There isn't a lot of genetic diversity since they are all family and mostly stick to the property so end of breeding with relatives.  I actually learned that usually over Christmas Break the wildlife service comes and helps cull the heard to help it not get rampant and even more unhealthy.  

ANYWAY.  The point is the babies are always cute and it's cool for kids to get to see wild animals in the wild.  

And, since I don't share enough about them (except when I'm telling gross stories), here's a cute picture of Bones and Lily during a recent snuggle fest we all shared. 

So last weekend I went to Tracy Aviary again with Kirsti and Alice which was a treat.  I hope Alice had tons of fun.  I had tons of fun watching her be cute. 

Here's anoter trio of some of my favorite birds.  Roseate Spoonbills (you can find them in Florida).  They get to go on walks sometimes and are super used to humans and are really chill.  And a lot of fun!  They are named Rizzo, Frenchie, and Marty after The Pink Ladies. 

Another Kia picture because I love them so much. 

Not a bird but forsythia is one of my favorite early springtime flowers. 

Great Green Macaw

Long eared owl.  How cute is he???

Alice looking simply precious as a barn owl. 

And again as a toucan. 

And after knowing most of the birds at the aviary I cannot for the life of me remember what this one is.  

Who want's to give it a name?  

Anyway the last two weekends have been great and April promises to deliver a lot of Fun.  

Between a visit from Mom and Dad, a fun birthday weekend with Kirsti, Fan-X, Easter, etc.  there is a lot in store.  

Tis the season to get out and do things!

And I can't wait. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Those with weak constitutions or currently eating delicious food, proceed with caution.

This title speaks for itself and believe me when I say that I am not exaggerating.  

What I have to say may shock and disgust you. 

It was a Monday. 

Now, I'm not one for superstition.  Sure, I knock on wood from time to time and I used to hold my breath crossing bridges as a kid.  But Monday's?  The only reason they seem to be worse than other days is their inconvenient location after the weekend.  Poor Mondays.  They get a bad rap. 

I will say that this particular Monday has made me a little "stitious", if not superly so.  

It began around 5:00 am with a smell.  

I was resting peacefully, another two hours of sleep ahead of me, both dogs beside me on the bed.  Or so I thought.  

Suddenly, my slow, deep breathing caught the fist whiff of stink.  Noting too foul at first.  I chalked it up to a typical dog toot.  Both Bones and Lily have been known to give off some noxious fumes from time to time.  The smell roused me from my deep sleep, but I rolled over unconcerned.  

After several moments the smell didn't dissipate as I thought it would.  In fact, it got stronger.  I felt my irritation rise, thinking that one of my dogs was really stinky and how dare they wake me up like this.  I tossed and turned for a little while, trying to change my position to hopefully escape the stench when I realized that Lily was not, in fact, on the bed. 

My eyes flew open and immediately narrowed in the early morning darkness.


The smell.  Her absence.  The sound of her collar clinking in the distance.  I felt my stomach sink as despair washed over me.  Clearly this was not a simple case of canine flatulence.  This was more serious.

I grabbed my phone and switched on the flashlight so I could make sure I didn't step in any warm and smelly surprises on my way to switch on the light.  

"Lily" I grumbled under my breath, groggy but quickly becoming more alert in my anticipation of the fecal carnage I expect to find.  I can see her cowering, tail tucked, in the dim circle of light my phone gives off. 

I switch on the overhead light and squint against its sudden brightness. 

I am filled with instant relief.  

Ahead of me are 4 small poops, well formed and not too sticky.  An easy clean!!  The smell had led me to believe something much more nefarious was afoot. My heart was significantly lighter.  While I was still annoyed at Lily's seeming lack of control, I would lose little sleep over this.  I scooped up the poop with a large wad of TP and flushed it all down the toilet.  I did a light cleaning of the carpet, sprayed some febreeze, cracked the window, put Lily in her kennel (in case she decided to leave more gifts between now and my normal waking time).  Then I fwumped back into bed.

I thought the story of the Monday morning poop fiasco was over. 

Little did I know....unspeakable horrors awaited me.

I'm going to speak them anyway. 

I awoke at my normal time, the room a little chilly from the cracked window, and prepared to meet the morning.  

I stumbled to the bathroom to relieve myself, then went to let Lily out of the kennel.

I was met with the same smell as before.  

My stomach clenched.  

I groaned loudly my unhappiness and approached the kennel where all I could find was Lily looking guilty and poopy paw prints.

There had been poop.

There were paw prints to show it.

Were was the poop......


I knew.  I knew because I know my dog and one of the most annoying and horribly disgusting things she does is this: if she has an accident, she does everything she can to hide the evidence.  And in her supposedly clever but truthfully unhinged mind that means she must EAT IT.  

I had been lucky before, but not this time.  She had eaten her own waste.  This would be ok if it were only going to result in a doubly digested, absorbed, and refined fecal discharge later.  But no.

Oh ho ho ho no.

I'm not that lucky.

And experience has taught me one very important thing when Lily eats her own droppings.

What goes down, must come back up. 

At this time I would like to warn you once again to please set aside any and all delicious food.  Or better yet avert your eyes altogether and simply scroll down until you reach the pictures and more pleasant things. 

If not, know you read on at your own risk.  

I pulled Lily out of her kennel to rid it of the poopy paw prints.  My only thought was to get it clean and un-stinkified so that I could shove her in it again before the inevitable happened.  You see, her kennel has a removable plastic bottom that makes messes relatively easy to manage.  Her kennel was the best place for any and all disgusting things to happen.  

I thought I had time.  

I thought I could be fast enough. 


As I am spraying the plastic bottom down to rid it of any and all feces,  I hear it. 

A sound most horrifying that I can only imagine will give me night terrors in the years to come.  A loud, wet, hack/gag.  

I wish I could describe to you the emotions I felt.  I feel like I can only compare it to a combination of the revulsion one might feel in sticking their hands in a hole crawling with bugs mixed with the terror of a painful and inevitable death (a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-for both feelings).  

I rushed out to see that Lily had done the worst thing she could do and I hadn't been quick enough to catch it.  

On the carpet was, in my mind, a veritable lake of vomit.

But not just any vomit. 

Poo vomit.

And let me tell you folks, if you think you've smelled bad smells, you haven't.  

You've not smelled anything close to a bad smell until you've smelled the smell of poo vomit.  IT'S PARTIALLY DIGESTED POOP MIXED WITH MOSTLY DIGESTED FOOD AND BILE.  

If there was a way to recreate it and bottle it, I could make a fortune selling it to secret government organizations to be used as the most effective form of torture ever created. 

But I digress.  Back to me trying my best to get you to puke. 

There it was.  The poo vomit lake.  Staring me in the face.  Sneering.  Telling me that I would have no shower this morning, no breakfast, no chance to slowly and pleasantly greet my morning and my week.  No.  There wold be no time for simple things such as these.  If I wanted to be rid of that smell I would be spending my morning cleaning up the worst smell in the world that has taken the form of something the consistency of pea soup. 

You're welcome, pea soup lovers.  You can't say I didn't warn you. 

I closed Lily in the bathroom (the only place in my living space with tile) and proceeded to do what I could.  Imagine trying to clean pea soup off of carpet.  Medium length fiber carpet.  Imagine trying to do it with a quickly dwindling supply of paper towels (cause folks...if I used a washable towel to clean this it wold be thrown out and possibly incinerated.).  Imagine trying to mop up a lake of poo vomit with paper towels that you might not have enough of while trying not to pass out from the smell. 

I promise that I am only slightly exaggerating for the sake of humor.  Only slightly.  

I did what I could and then thanked all the stars in the heavens that Erica (who I live with) has a carpet cleaning vacuum.  Much like the ones you can rent.  Bless the person who invented such a device for without it...I would have had to burn a hole in the carpet.  Or simply replace the whole of the basement every time this poo vomit thing happens.

And yes...this very thing has happened before. More than once.

I use the carpet cleaner to suck up the rest of the nasty and do my best to shampoo it.  But if you knew what this smell was like you would understand that this was not enough.  I went over it again and again.  Then I soaked the spot down with a heavy duty carpet cleaning spray from the pet store.  Then I threw open the windows making the basement cold, turned on my wax melty thingy that makes my living room smell like cookies, covered the still damp spot with that good smelling arm and hammer baking soda smell remover stuff....and finally felt like I had done all I could. 

 I let Lily out of the bathroom so that I could get the plastic bottom of the kennel from where I'd left it drying in the shower so I could sequester her in her kennel.  


In that short time, Lily made her way to a new spot of carpet and ejected yet ANOTHER POO VOMIT LAKE onto the carpet.  I cried out in horror and despair!  No creature has ever made the equivalent of the sound that emerged from my lips.  I am ashamed to admit that a swear or two accompanied the sound. 

I was already going to be late for work!  The carpet cleaning vacuum was already disgusting and needed to be cleaned.  The place still smelled of rotting death and here was a second lake of disgust to clean up.  

Worst of all, I was out of paper towels.  

So...on the verge of tears I had only one option for that stinking pile of digested poop and bile pea soup.  I had to use the vacuum to suck it all up.  No pre removal.

And so...I did.  The vacuum sucked it up, leaving in it's tank a mixture most foul.  I gave the new spot the same treatment as the one before and prayed that Lily's stomach was empty.  By this time I was exhausted and already late for work (luckily my schedule is usually a little flexible).  Bones was anxious because he could sense I was angry but didn't know why.  Lily was anxious because she knew I was angry at her but didn't know why. 

And I was just angry and upset and worn out. 

I tell you what, Garfield hard it lucky.  I'd take a pie to the face every day of the week if it meant never having a Monday like this ever again. 

To make matters worse, I had shut Lily in the bathroom for the day to avoid further mess to the carpet or her kennel.  

Guess what I came home to?

A sloppy, runny poop patty and poopy paw prints all over my shower. 


Image result for garfield yelling picture   
Picture courtesy of the great Jim Davis. 

Ok.  Lets abruptly move on to some nicer things from previous weeks. 

We have mule deer on our property. Probably 6-10 in total?  I usually only see 6 at a time.  A few of them are young and pretty darn cute.  They are more scruffy then the white-tailed deer I am used to but they are still cute to see. 

It's been slim pickings with the cold and all the snow. We don't have the best food sources for these guys which is why I'm surprised we have so many.  

The other day I caught this little one munching on bird seed.  And not even the good stuff, the chaff left behind from the birds on the ground.  But munch away it did, right next to our visitor center building.  And it was cute. 

 Sorry for the chatting in the background in this one. 

Mom, you might want to look away for this next one. 

I wanted to share a picture of one of my favorite creatures.  At least my favorite snake.  I have a favorite tortoise and hope to develop some kind of relationship with one of our birds at some point. 

Anyway, this is Paintbrush.  He's a milk snake.  And I took him to the indoor farmer's market a couple weekends ago.  I know not everyone sees it but I think he's one of the cutest things. 

Another video or the deer.  More than one this time. 

This promotion brings with it new challenges and I often wonder if I am up to facing all of them.  Things have gotten busy and I find myself working extra hours, worried I won't meet deadlines.  Knowing that it's just a matter of time before I let something slip.  

I let my insecurity reign sometimes.  I wonder if I will really add to this position or simply be adequate.  I have this desire to rise above mediocrity but at the same time a great fear of falling should I rise too high.  

It doesn't help that I have a side of me that just wants to sit in pjs all the time and simply cuddle with my dogs.  

But there is a thirst to prove myself. And to go above and beyond what is asked.  

I might not be able to do it right now, but I have time.  And in time will come familiarity and things will get a little easier.  Then perhaps I can find ways to really shine and not just be another voice in the background. 

I think it's time to end.  I thank you for bearing with me in that disgusting and sorry tale above.  

I promise my next post won't be so poopy.   

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Unpopular Opinion: I love winter

It's the middle of February and while I love random sunny, days in the 40s and 50s, I do so love winter.  

The snow, the clear stars, my breath on the air.  I love how much my dogs love to romp in the white powder.  The way the sun sparkles on the piles of flakes.  

I do miss the look of frost on a grassy field.  That was much more easily found in Missouri.  As were cardinals.  I miss cardinals.  

But I am rather enjoying the winter here.  Yes it can get sloppy at times, but overall I am rather pleased with how tolerable the cold is in Utah.  (Not that I'm trying to brag).  

This past week has encouraged me.  Instead of being worried and afraid that I can't handle the increased workload and responsibility of my new position, I am now confident that 'tis nothing I can't handle.  I look forward to the new challenges and experiences that it brings.

I am where I want to be.  I am with my people doing what I love.  Right now, I wouldn't trade that for anything.  

(Me as a superhero.  Made at an art integration conference that I was able to attend)

This is my addition to a "mural" as part of the same art integration conference.  

This would be my "signature" if I were a graffiti artist

As part of my new position I have opportunities to attend training and conferences that take me cool places.  I was able to go to the Hogel Zoo.  The weather was terrible so I didn't get to see much but here are a few pictures and videos.  

My phone isn't the best camera but I sometimes try to capture the beauty that I find while I'm here.  I hope someday to afford a camera that will make this easier.  Below is a picture I took while hiking with my dogs in the evening on the Bonneville Shoreline trail which is a short 5 minute drive away from my house.  You can see the temple in the distance.  It's right in the middle of town and every time I see it I do truly think in my mind  "I love to see the temple". 

Finally, Kirsti came to visit!!  We had a blast at the nature center (I didn't snag any pictures) but we also went to a place that I shall never be allowed in again unless I have a child with me.  So I was truly happy to capture a glimpse of the magical place called The Treehouse Museum.  I think it kind of a cross between The Magic House and The City Museum in St. Louis.  It was so fun!  

There were so many multicultural displays!  There were also lots of little exhibits that were related to Ogden, Utah, the United States, etc.  It was really so fun.  I think I loved it more than Alice!

Every exhibit had little costumes of some kind!  Alice loved the cowboy hats.  

Look at this kid, she's a natural cowgirl!

Little mural at the rodeo exhibit.  How many random famous characters can you spot?

This was an adorable little diner!  Kids could put on little aprons and pretend to serve food to people sitting at the bar and at little tables.  It was adorable and totally something I would have loved playing with as a kid.  Maybe if enough kids play with this, they will appreciate food service and tip better!

Alice spent a lot of time in this wonderfully charming woodland exhibit and I was happy to oblige.  It was lovely and so well painted.  I swooned. 

There was a little oval office where you could pretend to be President!  

There was a great room/exhibit that talked about all the first ladies and these displays with all the first ladies (through Nixon) in Porcelain doll form.  

There was a room with a few small exhibits on fables from other countries.  This one was from Russia.  I can't remember the name of the fable but I can only guess it included Baba Yaga.  

No awesome interactive children's place is complete without a giant chess board!

And finally this seemed too perfect not to include.  Alice was, indeed, in a wonderland.  We all were.  And I hope she is able to visit again and again to enjoy this place.

I'm finding myself more and more at home.  While I do love winter, I look forward to all spring will bring.  More hikes with the dogs, kayaking on lakes, camping, General Conference, and seeing the nature center in bloom with wildflowers.  

Until next time, dear fam.  Love to you all!

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