Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Magician's Elephant

Update, April 30: I finished, and the ending is even better than I thought it would be. This author also wrote "Tiger Rising" and "The Tale of Despereaux."

I'm almost finished reading this book written by Kate DiCamillo. (Tag line: "Believe the unbelievable.")

"Who could keep from loving a boy so brave and true?"

Yeah, we all know what the ending will be, because it's one of those books like Paulo Coehlo's "The Alchemist" and a whole slew of others...

But it's the details that count. And when I picked this book up, I knew it would be fun to read. How could we not want to know what happened to all these characters: the magician's elephant, the magician, the boy so brave and true, his little sister, the countess, the policeman and his wife, the beggar and his blind dog, even the old soldier...

And maybe think about how we will answer these questions when we ask them about our own life:

What if?

Why not?

Could it be?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mother

Thanks for teaching me all the most important things I've ever learned:

---Keep on smiling, no matter how bad your circumstances are or how much pain you're feeling.

---Keep your eye on the ball.

---If you think you're too old to do something, then maybe you are. But if you want to do something really really badly, then do it, no matter how old you are.

---Love the people around you in every way you can, using words when absolutely necessary.

---Keep laughing. After all, everything is pretty funny, isn't it. I mean, everything.

---Don't give up on the important things, and know when whatever other things aren't important enough to worry about.

---Pray and study the scriptures, because this is how you'll find eternal life.



P.S. Plus, there are LOTS more. I'll add them sometime soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Today as I celebrate the resurrection of my Lord, Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer, I read this testimony:

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” (D&C 76:22).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I know that I am not the head of this Church. The Lord Jesus Christ is its head. My mission, my chief responsibility, my greatest honor comes in bearing solemn testimony of His living reality. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who condescended to come into this world of misery, struggle, and pain, to touch men’s hearts for good, to teach the way of eternal life, and to give Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He is ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He shall reign forever and ever’ (Handel’s Messiah). … I bear solemn witness that He lives and stands on the right hand of His Father.”

President Thomas S. Monson said, earlier this month, "No words in Christendom mean more to me than those spoken by the angel to the weeping Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as they approached the tomb to care for the body of their Lord: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6)....

"Of Him who delivered each of us from endless death, I testify He is a teacher of truth—but He is more than a teacher. He is the exemplar of the perfect life—but He is more than an exemplar. He is the great physician—but He is more than a physician. He is the literal Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel, even the risen Lord, who declared, “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:4)....

“'Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’

"Of this I testify."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Lion Called Christian

We've all seen this movie clip before, right?

Well, I just found the book at the discount table at my local bookstore, and it's as charming as can be. I haven't read all of it, but here's a fun bit:

"We had not told Christian that he was a lion. We thought this knowledge would only lead to regrettable lionlike behavior. We avoided using the word "lion" in front of him, but occasionally had to spell out L-I-O-N to ignorant people...

"We drove him to Trafalgar Square to see the lions at the base of Nelson's Column. He was delighted to be such an obvious symbol of nobility. Fortunately, this information did not alter his behavior, for he had, like all cats, assumed superiority over us from the beginning. But too much knowledge could be dangerous or confusing, so we asked the Moravian minister not to tell Christian that the early Christians had been fed to the lions.

"Consistent with their standards, Harrods had sold us a lion of quality..."

And so on. It all makes me want to go and hug a lion...but, not to worry, I won't.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That Scary Yellow Ball in the Sky

The sun came out yesterday.

There was so much light I could hardly stand it.

I'm not complaining. I'm just saying.

Good night, sun! Please come again soon!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Hear You

Mada is down the hall calling for me to come pay attention to him. This call is a peremptory, demanding, two-syllable squawk: "Come HERE!" (Or, as it sounds to me, "Squawk-squawk!")

(It's different from the call Sunshine used to make, "Squawk-squawk," which sounded more like "Mom-meee!" I guess she spoke a different dialect.)

So I call back to him, "I hear you!"

He's on top of his cage, and all he has to do is fly down the hall, make a sharp right turn, and fly into this room and perch on my shoulder. He does it all the time. So why is he calling to me this time to come pick him up?

I don't know. I have no idea, except I think he's like a little kid who just wants the adult to pay attention, give some cuddles.

Mada has some other "words" in addition to "Lisa," the only word he says clearly.

He says, "Bath," which sounds to me like, "Squawk!" But it's a different squawk than the "Come here!" double-squawk and the "Come play with me!" squawk.

In fact, the only way I can tell for sure that he wants a bath is to fill his bath bowl with warm water, hold it up close to my body, and see if he steps in.

(It doesn't matter if I understand the "Play with me!" squawk, because he's always willing to do that. I only have to step up to his cage and give him the red plastic glass, or piece of paper, or clear bottle, and he'll grab it in his beak, wave it around a few times, and throw it to the floor.)

So I call back to Mada, "I hear you!" until he stops squawking and busies himself with something else. Later on he'll come flying down the hall to see me. He'll sit on my shoulder, squawk in my ear (Ouch! It's a wonder I'm not totally deaf!), and climb around on the back of my chair until he gets bored and flies back to perch on top of his cage.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Man

So, today taxes are due. I found these related items in my daily paper:

First, this question: If a tax man and a lawyer were both drowning and you could only save one, would you go to lunch or read the paper?

And these quotes:

Completing a tax return is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher. --- Albert Einstein

The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has. --- Will Rogers

The only difference between a taxman and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. --- Mark Twain

I want to find out who this FICA guy is and how come he's taking so much of my money. --- An NHL player

Worried about an audit? Avoid what's called a red flag. That's something the IRS always looks for. For example, say you have some money left in your bank account after paying taxes. That's a red flag. --- Jay Leno

It's income tax time again, Americans, time to gather up those records, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta. --- Dave Barry

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hummingbird Feeder

A pretty cotton-candy sunset, but why did I take this photo?

Ah, I'm beginning to see: I didn't care about the view of Vancouver to points west.

But what was it was about the scene that I liked so much? Aha! This is it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


What nutrients make grasshoppers grow?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Editor's Choice

Evening, St. Lawrence
(Visual Arts Editor's Choice in the 2011 Salmon Creek Journal)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Decorah Eagles

NEW UPDATE: Watching this nest at night is interesting, too! The mom (or dad) is desperately trying to sleep, and the little ones keep moving around, poking their heads out, crawling out,and squabbling with each other. It all seems so familiar!

UPDATE: This is getting more interesting all the time, as the three hatchlings move around and demand food. Here's the link, in case you don't want to scroll down to watch the eagles.

This is a photo I took at the Peregrine Fund's raptor center near Boise, Idaho of a bald eagle with a broken wing. The bird can't be released back into the wild, so it stays safe in the center where it's well cared for and where it helps educate people about the importance of raptors.

I can't get the video-streaming site to show here, but here's the link to watch the eagles nesting at a fish hatchery near Decorah, Iowa.

You can see the "snacks" the parents leave around the edge of the nest to feed the hatchlings, and the little ones sticking their heads out every once in awhile, moving around and cheeping, and the parent feeding them.

Three of the eggs have hatched so far. If you scroll down the page you'll find links for videos of the mom laying the eggs, bringing in prey, calling for her mate to come take over for awhile, the two of them changing places, and so on.

Most of the time the mom (or dad) just sits there, providing warmth and shelter for the babies. I just now watched her feeding them, then urging them to go back under her, then piling the twigs and fluff around closer to her body to make sure they're well insulated.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hail? Yes!

I'm really glad I haven't planted anything outside yet!

On April 6, we had a hailstorm that peppered us (salted us) with giant chunks of ice (well, bigger than green peas).

It went on and on and on. Kids came out and played in it like it was snow.

Finally it slowed down enough so we could run to the car to go grocery shopping.

Less than 100 feet down the hill, it was rain, not hail. And by the time we got home, all that was left were a lot of puddles of slush.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More Birds!

(A green jay, borrowed from another blogger's website)

The Cornell Bird Lab's Team Sapsucker is going to have a Big Day of looking for birds in Texas, trying to break the record for the most species of birds spotted in one 24-hour period.

Check out the Big Day website for information and photos.

And check out this video to see some of the gorgeous birds they'll see there.

Finally, some bald eagle nests:

Decorah, Iowa (2 eggs have hatched and the 3rd is due to hatch any day now)

Santa Catalina Island, Sauces

Santa Catalina Island, Two Harbors

Santa Catalina Island, West End

Monday, April 4, 2011

And Now, The Swallows

Thanks, Ellen!

And now the violet-green swallows are here, darting and swooping all over the neighborhoods.

Can't find one of my own photos, so here's a great website with photos and information.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Foolin'

April 1, 2011: My horoscope for today reads, "You may think you've got tough skin, but you're not immune to the criticism of a picky boss." Or something like that. And I thought, No foolin'!

Last night we went for a drive up the Gorge, stopping in sweet little Stevenson, where the Bahma Cafe had closed for the day and Granny's Gedunk Ice Cream Parlor hadn't opened for the season, but we got dinner at the Subway there. No foolin'!

On our way up, we saw a flight of turkey vultures on their spring migration down. (Yep, they migrate, too.) And another sign of spring: the first splotchy insect on the windshield. No foolin'!

And a break in the clouds which left a patch of sunshine on the hills on the other side of the river, a great blue heron on our side, and lots of ducks and geese. Amazing!