Dear Opl: I Love You

dear Opl-001My pre-ordered copies of Dear Opl arrived this week. It was great fun opening the box. I finally had my hands on this gem of a book, penned by Shelley Sackier of Peak Perspective.

My 15-year-old son asked why I ordered so many copies. “Because I know the author,” I gushed, to which he replied, “Yeah, but why do you need so many copies of the same book?”

More about that in a bit.

I discovered Shelley’s blog a few years ago and quickly became a fan. She’s an extraordinary writer, who weaves humor and smarts into a variety of essays published weekly. When I belly up to my computer and settle in for a good read, I know I’ll be entertained. I’m also there to learn. Each week I try to absorb that special something that makes her an engaging writer. When my blog grows up it wants to be just like Peak Perspective.

On the subject of Peak Perspective, Shelley’s blog title

was born of both sight and wordplay. [She] lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Through a series of serendipitous events several of my fellow bloggers met Shelley on her “peak” earlier this year. She graciously hosted four women she’d never met for a magical gathering of spirited conversation.

If time travel were possible, I would give a copy of this book to my younger self. Like Opl, my father died when I was young leaving a gaping hole in our lives. Like Opl, I turned to junk food for comfort and solace.  And though our mother was a wonderful cook, once faced with the task of working full-time and raising three girls on a budget, much of our food came from packages, too, just like Opl. My life in those days felt hopeless. Opl learns a healthier way to be in the world. She discovers ways to nurture and be nurtured and in doing so discovers her own voice.

Here’s what the book jacket says:

There are three things Opl never expected to do during the eighth grade:

  • Start a vendetta against celebrity chef Alfie Adam, the “nude Food Dude”
  • Take yoga classes with her grandpa
  • Become a famous blogger

But after a year of shrinking down her personality to compensate for the fact that her body’s getting bigger (like taking the “a” out of Opal to make her name 25% smaller), Opl thinks it’s about time to begin speaking up again What she doesn’t expect is for everyone to actually start listening…

Sharing the Love

Would you like a copy of Dear Opl for your own library? Do you know a young teen that would enjoy “a brilliant story with heart, a few tears and much laughter.” -Kathryn Erskine

I’ve purchased several copies, including a few for our neighborhood Little Free Libraries. If you would like one, please let me know in the comment below. Once I have a tally, I’ll start mailing copies next week.*

*Fine print/lawyer talk: This offer remains open through midnight, August 14, 2015 PST. One copy per household please.

 

 

Turning Lemons into…Dinosaurs

Our lemon tree is covered with flowers again, promising another banner crop later this year. What I didn’t expect was this:

baby dinosaur lemon tree
It seems our enterprising tree has given birth to a baby dinosaur.

Thank you in advance for keeping your congratulatory comments to a dull roar. We don’t want to wake the baby.

Is there any ‘funny business’ happening in your world today?

Birds of Wisdom: A bit of Goofing Off

DSC_0017I’ve been working extra hours these past few weeks, so when my client called to cancel this morning, I was (mostly) relieved.  I decided to treat myself to a much-needed thirty minutes of goofing off.  I sat in a chair facing the garden, played a game on my phone and within minutes had a sleeping cat on my lap.

It wasn’t long before my eyes drifted out to the usual wildlife antics.  Foraging squirrels raced around the garden, so round and full I’m amazed they can still move.   It looked as though they were working as a team.  You don’t see that every day! It’s usually ‘every squirrel for themselves.’  The light grey squirrel moved across the lawn, into the shrubs and then used the camellia trellis like a ladder.  I should have jumped up for the camera then, but I was busy goofing off.  Right behind him was a dark, brown squirrel, following his every move. It looked like a game of follow the leader.

Just  outside the window, a small bird flew from branch to branch in the maple tree.  Then he turned and appeared to be looking in the window.  How could I ignore an invitation like that!?

Camera in hand, it was still incredibly challenging getting his picture.  He darted from branch to branch, up, down, back up.  Then he flew to the neighboring yard, and within minutes was back again.  Perhaps he could see his own reflection, though he never went for the window.*

I’ve decided he was keeping an eye on me, making sure I stuck to my goofing-off schedule before getting back to work.  Meanwhile, he was keeping plenty busy for both of us.

Are you taking some time to goof-off during this hectic season?

*It’s disheartening to hear a bird fly into a closed window. One theory is that the sky reflects in the glass, and to the bird thinks it can fly through. These clever decals Window Alert: Protect Your Songbirds act as a ‘stoplight’ for the birds.

 

Frank and the Squirrels Who Loved Him

That sounds like a dime-store romance doesn’t it?

In this story we have no tragic heroine, just a sad pumpkin named Frank unable to live up to his potential after a careless gardener tossed him willy-nilly on to the walkway.  Poor, poor, Frank.

There are no villains either, simply opportunistic squirrels passionate about (eating) pumpkins.

After Frank went splitsville, even a hardy set of staples couldn’t keep him together for long.  The elements took their toll.  Frank flat-lined. It was time to remove the staples.

pumpkin with staples

Frank’s demise

After counting to three, I reached down and scooped up a mass of soggy pumpkin pulp and a handful of white seeds.  The rest was up to the squirrels.  They came and went for two days, but I never had my camera ready.  The stars finally aligned and I took a handful of photos, below.

squirrel eating pumpkin pulp

Passionate about pumpkin

squirrel jumping

Flying squirrel

dark squirrel eating pumpkin

Table manners

grey squirrel eating pumpkin

Plenty to go around

 

Slipping into Friday with a Silly Joke

Someone told me the following joke years ago and it still makes me giggle.  I don’t generally remember jokes, even five minutes later, or I mess up the telling of the joke and give away the punch line.

Since I edit my own blog, this time I’ll get it right. And since you are reading this joke, I’ll never know if you are rolling your eyes, or suppressing a soft groan.

In my mind, you’ve just let out a deep belly laugh, and now have tears running down your cheeks while you call to someone in the other room to come hear this hilarious joke.

Perhaps I should have stopped before that last paragraph.  Now you really have your hopes up. I’m nothing if not optimistic.

A man hears a knock at his door, but upon answering doesn’t find anyone there.

He closes the door, but again hears a knock.

The second time he opens the door, looks down and sees a garden snail on his front porch.

He bends down, hurls the snail across the yard and again closes the door.

Flash forward: Ten Years Later

The same man hears a knock at his door and upon answering it, he sees the same snail on his front porch.

The snail looks up at him and says, “What the hell was that about?”

snail on porch

I hope you’re sliding into a happy Friday.

 

Fairy Garden Fail: Are You Laughing Yet?

Bunny ear with a bit of laundry lint for the birds.

Bunny ear with a bit of laundry lint for the birds.

Some days you get it right and some days things go terribly wrong. Today fell into the latter. My concept for the Easter fairy garden was simple: The merest suggestion of an Easter Bunny watching over the little garden. Perhaps I should have quit with the bunny ears subtly peeking out from the fescue. I completely forgot the cliché ‘quit while you’re ahead’ and kept going. Now its dark and starting to rain so I’ve no time for a do-over. When I downloaded the pictures, they were, well…kinda of creepy. When my son saw the photos and burst out laughing, I knew I was doomed.

So…here is what I initially wrote, and the pictures that don’t quite go with it.

Tiny eggs appeared in the fairy garden today.  I guess the Easter Bunny started his rounds early.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs!

I completely understand.  I started my own rounds by reaching into the bag of tomorrow’s candy so I could do a little ‘quality control.’  No sense making my kids sick on untested chocolate.

So far, so good.  🙂

The Easter Bunny seems to have grown since we last saw him.  Like many of us, he’s suffering from a bit of middle-aged spread.  He wears it well though.  Perhaps I need to wear more pink…or eat less chocolate.

Big Boy Bunny

Big Boy Bunny

Nah. I’m searching the web now for the latest in pink confections..I mean fashions.

Happy Easter!

This little deer found an egg.

This little deer found an egg.

Look left little frog...you're getting warmer

Look left little frog…you’re getting warmer

Bunny ears

Bunny ears!

Cute 'little' bunny with a tulip petal nose

Cute ‘little’ bunny with a tulip petal nose

deer and Alyssum

I hope you’re laughing, too.

Garden Limericks: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I’m not Irish, but my once bright red hair might give you pause.  I’m not a fan of beer, either, green or otherwise.   I do love the excuse to wear green, however, and the chance to write green limericks.

Here are two from last year:

Snail on a Tulip MagnoliaAs a gardener I find much to love,
even weeds at the end of my glove.
I once kept a log,
then I learned how to blog,
hence combining two hobbies thereof.

♣♣♣♣♣

Leprechaun Path Fairy Garden

Fairy Garden

♣♣♣♣♣

In my garden I learned how to sow,
tiny seeds laid all in a row.
Then I wait for the pests,
snails and rats never rest,
hoping one day something might grow.

Birthday Wishes

When I was fresh out of college, I had the luck of the Irish, the chance to work for a fledgling (now thriving) theater in San Jose, founded by full-blooded Irishman James (Jim) Reber.  How Irish is Jim?  He was born on St. Patrick’s day!

Today, Jim is Executive Director of San Jose Parks Foundation.  He’s raising green for green. Here is Jim’s story:

I am using my birthday as an excuse to raise funds to keep San Jose’s Parks green, beautiful and safe and accessible to everyone. Help me celebrate a birthday, the arrival of Spring and San Jose’s Parks Foundation’s Neighborhood Empowerment Program. The foundation works with neighborhood groups to help residents keep their parks in great condition. $50, $100 or whatever you can afford will help keep our city parks green and healthy.

There was a young man named James Reber,
He started a repertory theater,
Then parks caught his eye;
He’s such a great guy,
Happy birthday, it’s time for green beer-beer!