Yay, it’s spring! Somehow, I’m even more excited about it this year than usual. I’m glad there’s been plenty of rain, like there’s supposed to be. I’m glad there’s been nice sweater-weather – some years it seems we go straight from winter to summer.
A few weeks ago, I had a dream weekend (for the likes of me). I got to perform with my dance sisters at two different events, and train at two workshops with the amazing Audra Simmons. On Sunday, I had an afternoon date with my Hubbibi in which we had a great meal uninterrupted and then wandered around together conversing uninterrupted in the beautiful spring weather. To top it all off, we went to my parents’ to pick up our children, and I had the chance to go out to the marsh and surround myself with this sound:
It just makes me happy.
And now, the flowers are here! Which makes me even gladder. It seems the flowers are just as affecting for AB. We both got in a tizzy about the sweet, fragrant violets when they popped up.
And we were thrilled about these little irises.
AB was so taken with them, she decided on the spot that she would change her name to Iris. Thenceforth, her name would be Iris Olivia P. (Olivia P. is her best friend’s name). Her own actual name was third in line. That evening, I tried to remember to call her Iris a few times. Luckily, this kind of pretending is usually short-lived. She practiced writing her new name a bunch, but hasn’t made us use it.
A week later, I got a note from her JK teacher asking if there was real significance to the name Iris, since AB had been insisting it was actually her name. She had reportedly gotten upset in line at spring picture day because the silly photographers were outrageously USING HER OLD NAME. The poor supply teacher who was with the class that day didn’t know what to do.
Yesterday when I picked AB up at the end of the day, her teacher looked a little unsure and said, “I hope you’ll find this funny…” and handed me the school photo proofs.
I didn’t just laugh, I practically guffawed. Sean did the same when he saw them. Now THAT is a picture of a girl who is pleased with herself. We may actually order some, for the first time.
Our darling children also insisted on a sibling picture, even though we hadn’t requested one. Doesn’t it look like they love each other?
Here’s one more picture, from today, because I was so excited. It’s the wee cherry tree we planted last year. We didn’t know whether to expect anything but leaves… but yippee! Cherry blossoms!
Minnie could never have guessed that being lost at sea would result in a very special connection with a misunderstood sea “monster”. After all, he’s really just a creature looking for love, like you and me (but more scaly).
Sometimes, if an orphaned mini counting-bear comes along at the right point in a mama Bakugan-dragon’s life, she will take the cub and raise it as her own. This mother is seen grooming her cub as if he were her own Baku-spawn.
The green aliens came to Earth for a reason. It really is just a darn lovable place. Makes you want to give it a big smooch. (Canada especially.)
Happy New Year! Isn’t it nice to have a new start, after the year we’ve had?
Time for the semi-traditional New Year’s Questionnaire. This year, I’ve decided to take some liberties with it. That is to say, I deleted or modified the questions that were annoying me or seemed repetitive. No time for baloney in 2017!
What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Me: Visited North Carolina, taught English, tried an Escape Room (with a team of smart/more experienced people) – and escaped!
Sean: Bought a minivan, subsequently inaugurated it by taking 15 hours in one day to drive two kids and four adults to North Carolina. And then 15 more hours to drive back a week later.
E: Went to the Hogwarts classes and Quidditch practice at the University, licked my own elbow, started Tae Kwon Do classes.
AB:Started school, said lots of French things, learned some Tae Kwon Do moves from my brother.
Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions?
Me: No. I did not at all get my 52 blog posts done, despite the scaled-down nature of the resolution. (I got to 32.) Sigh. I am disappointed. I also didn’t achieve what I set out to with my delayed NaBloPoMo strategy. Life is just too hectic, and although I know that writing is important for my brain and my spirit, so is getting sleep. And so is planning lessons and marking stuff. And so is reading stories to my kids. Et cetera. There are not enough hours to do ALL THE THINGS.
Sean: Not exactly. See Question #17.
E, A: We’re kids. We live in the moment.
3. Did anyone close to you die?
Me: A very dear family friend and member of our Friends’ Meeting.
Sean: Two wonderful step-grandparents.
E: So many of my baby teeth.
A: The loops on my rubber boots.
4. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Me: My report cards done early.
Sean: Really good sleep.
E: A wooden sword. I might make one with all the boards I’ve been breaking in Tae Kwon Do.
A: I would like a unicorn that a princess can ride on!
5. What events from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
Me, Sean: Fires in Fort MacMurray, US Election results, deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, Charmian Carr, Leonard Cohen, Alan Thicke, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds.
Sean: Becoming a supervisor and initiating the overhaul of the tooling system at work.
E: Earning my yellow and orange belts in Tae Kwon Do and participating in my first tournament. And I really developed the skill of soccer this year.
A: Singing many songs in French, especially the one we did at the school concert (“La neige tombe”).
7. What was your biggest failure?
Me: Still not managing to finish unpacking by 2017. (Sadly, this is not a joke.)
Sean: Not losing weight.
E: I get mad at myself when I do things imperfectly.
A: I have no failings.
8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Me: I suspect I’ve been suffering from plantar faciitis…
Sean: Toe broken by karma as I ran up the stairs chasing the kids, having just told them not to run up the stairs. And then there was that tiny metal chip that had to be surgically removed from my eyeball.
E: The usual viruses, and the usual grievous injuries about five times a day.
A: The time my brother scratched my hand that had already been scratched!
9. What was the best thing you bought?
Me: Poo-Pourri. Especially Vanilla Mint. Highly recommend. (And thanks for the tip, JP!)
Sean: OluKai flip flops.
E: I bought my smelly markers with my own money! I went to Staples with the six dollars plus tax in coins in a green container with a lid, and when we checked out I put it on the counter, and that’s how I proudly paid for my own markers. (This is Mummy’s description. Gosh, it was cute.)
A: I got five dollars from my Uncle Barry in North Carolina and I helped pay for my very own pink Automoblox.
10. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Me, Sean: Trump + supporters, ISIL, other terrorists and corrupt individuals… the usual.
E: Mummy and Daddy, when they make me do my homework.
A: Mummy and Daddy, when they make me use words and manners instead of just reading my mind.
11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Me: The peaceful Standing Rock protesters, and the two thousand veterans who joined them.
Sean: Pope Francis’s, for his work with the poor and refusal to buy into the pomp of popehood.
E: Mine, when I broke my first board! (And then a whole bunch more.)
A: Mine, for many diaper-free dry nights!
12. What did you get really excited about?
Me: A beautiful white Christmas.
Sean: The US election – good excited… and then bad excited.
E: Screen time. There’s a lot less of it now that I’m in Grade 2.
A: I’m four. I have no need to examine my own behaviour.
15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Me: Stressing out.
Sean: Eating out.
A: Walking to school. It’s such a long way. I think I still deserve my stroller.
16. How did you spend Christmas?
All: With people we love, all kinds of family. So very fortunate.
17. What is your resolution this year?
Me: Learn not to use the snooze button; use my massage benefits.
Sean: Be fit and productive.
Me, Sean: This year, we are keeping Bullet Journals! We shall thus become organized and effective, beyond all previous experience or expectations. (Sort of like a resolution.) We’ve already started. We are already getting a bit compulsive. I’m sure the Bullet Journal will get its own blog post one of these times.
E: Get my green belt; learn to skate. My mom would like me to resolve to whine less about my responsibilities. We’ll see about that.
A: Try a new dance class or maybe Tae Kwon Do. My mom would like me to resolve to cooperate in the mornings. We’ll see about that.
18. What was your favorite TV program?
Me: The Crown.
Sean: Luke Cage, Daredevil Season 2, The Crown.
E: Lego Ninjago.
A: Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig.
19. What was the best book you read?
Me: The Girl on the Train was basically un-put-down-able.
Sean: A Brief History of the Future and The Harrows of Spring.
E, A: We had the rest of the Harry Potter series read to us, and then all of Narnia, and now we’re on to Roald Dahl. We love them all!
20. What do you regret?
Me: Not being better organized, especially during April through June.
Sean: Spending money on junk food.
E: That time I missed most of gym period because I forgot my indoor shoes at home.
A: All the clothes that are too small for me.
21. What decision are you glad you made?
Me: To buy a mini-van.
Sean: To accept the supervisor position.
E: To ask for Diary of a Wimpy Kid for Christmas. (He has been devouring the series and was almost done book 7 as of Sunday night).
A: Changing my mind at the last minute to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween instead of Elsa again.
22. What was your favorite film of this year?
Sean: Captain America – Civil War.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Here we go. The conclusion of Animal Cutes – and finally, some hope for our ugly friends.
Puppy knows. Like the sunflowers among which he frolics, his time in the sun will nourish him in health as he becomes an adult dog. He also knows he’s actually the love-child of a Mastiff and a St. Bernard, so he’s gonna be humongous. That’s when he’s gonna stick it to the man and overthrow the system.
Ah, the rodentian Robin Hood of his time! Sammy, with his dapper bow-tie and perfect mousie-finger placement, would be perfectly at home having tea with the Queen. He prefers, however, to outwit the powers that would see him die a grisly death in what appears to be a miniature leg-hold trap, and collect cheese for his woodland relatives. He is proficient at this job, with his dexterity and ingenuity, but more importantly, he gives hope to all the animals struggling against ankle-chains, baseball bookies, drug habits, and corporate control.
The bittersweet ending has arrived. This sweet little chick – her name is actually Mabel – was born with some problems. Her mother died of henbane poisoning when Mabel was just beginning to hatch, and she barely survived. She was rescued from freezing by Cubby Bear who heard her cries – but she subsequently witnessed things at Cubtown to which no chick should be exposed.
Recently, however, things are looking up for her. She has made friends and joined a support group. She has started seeing a therapist, the battle-scarred but compassionate Polly Parrot. She takes great comfort in nature, as long as she’s wearing her earmuffs to soften the harsh sounds of the world. She will be okay, and maybe even have chicks of her own someday.
It’s not an easy life for Animal Cutes. I hope I’ve given you a little bit of insight into the challenges they face, so that if someday you meet one of these strangely-dressed, unlovely-but-lovable creatures, you will treat them with kindness.
I know, the last instalment was kind of intense… Not as whimsical as they look, these Animal Cutes. I’m afraid Part 3 also contains some sinister activities.
Poor Miss K. Look at her face. She is clearly fleeing in terror. My sleuthing tells me that the backwards K on her shirt symbolizes, in baseball, “a strikeout looking (where the batter does not swing at a pitch that the umpire then calls strike three).” My guess is that she’s just lost her team a game – and that there was some big money riding on it. Or whatever the kangaroos use as currency. She’s hoping to make it to the Canadian border by nightfall.
This one chills me right to the bone. Sweet, innocent Baby Elephant, so big-eyed he could be the Gerber Elephant. He’s just drinking what he’s given, even though it is not his mama’s milk. By the time his free sample formula supply runs out, mama’s milk will have dried up. At that point, we just hope the family can afford to pay for more. We know who’s responsible: NESTLÉ. Re-read that caption and you’ll see it’s actually a threat. (And yes, Nestlé has been around more than long enough to be an antique – 150 years, actually.)
She’s wiggledy for a reason: simple case of shopaholism. Pigville store employees know her well. She obviously loves to accessorize. At least we know she’s paying in cash, so she’s not running up lots of credit card debt. Here’s hoping she bet on the winning kangaroo baseball team, to finance her proclivities. (Or maybe the winning team was the wombats – I’m sure they’d be great at baseball.)
I know what you’re thinking: Dilovely, you’ve gone beyond nerdy. Now you’re downright eccentric. Not to mention dark and morbid.
Antique Children’s Book, Animal Cutes: The plot thickens. If you thought the questionably cute critters in Part 1 were subversive, get a load of Part 2.
Hoo boy. So many questions. Why is the hippo a sailor? Why is he old and illiterate? Why is he trying to look wise? I have a notion that “Old Sailor HIPPOPOTAMUS” is actually a spy. It’s quite a skill to pretend you’re pretending to be wise while pretending you can’t read. And there’s definitely something shifty in those eyes.
Speaking of shifty… I think Tommy knows propagandist adjectives when he hears ’em. He does not feel free or brave in his floofy sailor suit. He has also probably discovered that he can’t actually grip a rifle in his feathery li’l hands, so that’s making him nervous. But hey, there’s no time like early childhood (or ducklinghood, for that matter) to start military brainwashing. If Tommy can fight for his country on the rolling waves, SO CAN I, right?
As for Kitty’s ostriquestrian adventures, they are bizarre at first glance. How can this possibly be explained? Fortunately for you, I’ve done some research and figured it out.
Remember the kitty from the front cover of Animal Cutes? Upon closer inspection, I’ve determined that the surrounding flowers are hyoscyamus albus, commonly known as yellow henbane, “the paramount means in ancient times of inducing a trance-like state.” Hence Kitty’s expression in Part 1.
Now, in the hallucinatory trance, Kitty is riding an ostrich. According to spirit-animals.com:
To see an ostrich in your dream suggests that you are not facing reality. You are in denial about something and living in a world of your own. There is something in your life that you are unwilling to accept. Make sure you have a good look at what is going on around you right now. There is a personal truth that you are not accepting for yourself.
No wonder Poor KITTY is asking to go slower. For your own drug trip to be advising you to admit you have a drug problem is pretty heavy stuff.
Bet you didn’t know you were going to learn so much, both academically and spiritually, from an Antique Children’s Book, n’est-ce pas, Di-hards?