Being Shrek

Fun fact: while wild sheep shed their wool annually, domesticated sheep bred for wool don’t; the wool just keeps growing. Like so:

shrek 1

This is Shrek, a sheep who so hated being sheared that he hid for six years.  When he was finally sheared, he had produced enough wool for 20 men’s suits. Doesn’t that look glorious?

shrek 2

I can really relate to this sheep. Shrek hated the thought of getting sheared so much that he ran from the shepherds for six years, eventually becoming “wool blind” and unable to even see, obviously a dangerous situation — especially for a prey animal. While I’ve never let my personal grooming go to the point of endangering my life, I have avoided doing things from fear or stubbornness.

I’ve let opportunities slip away because I was fearful of taking a first step.

I’ve let friendships wither and die because I was too stubborn to repair a breach or too embarrassed to admit my fault.

I’ve avoided doing what was necessary and inevitable because it was too much trouble, too hard, or too overwhelming.

Maybe I’m not carrying around 60 pounds of wool, but I’ve been Shrek.

But if I overcome my fear, my pride, my lethargy and just do the dang thing that needs doing, it almost always turns out that it wasn’t that horrific after all. The anticipation and fear is almost always worse than the thing itself. It’s a lesson I think Shrek wished he’d learned five years earlier.

shrek 3

Doesn’t that look like a happy sheep?

What have you been avoiding? What steps can you take to face the shearer?

100 Word Challenge: The enemy


“What!” Billy was incredulous. “He takes your nose? And your mom lets him?”

“Worse than that,” Joey nodded grimly, “She laughed. Not only that, she introduced us. She made me say ‘Hi’ and take my finger out of my nose”

Billy made a peas-for-dinner face. “What did you do?”

“I made him give it back. He patted my head and called me Sonny,” Joey shuddered.

“So how do we get out of this?” Billy was frantic. “Your mom is taking us right to him.”

“Didn’t I tell you? He’s got candy.”

Billy and Joey started running toward the old man.


Part of the fascinating “100 Word Challenge” project by Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom. 

My previous stories are here.

Jimmie’s story about friendship, and his roundup of other storytellers.

Join in! (If you don’t have a blog, leave your story in the comments.)



The Capaciousness of Story

Katie DiCamillo’s 2014 Newbery Medal acceptance speech is a must-watch or read (pdf link). It’s truly lovely.

I was gonna, ya know, blog about it, being a blogger and all that. But it really doesn’t need my commentary. That being said, what did you think?

100 Word Challenge: Music


The old man readied his instrument, bracing himself for what would come.

One day the music had conjured a lion. He had felt wild and the wildness in him roared.

And then there was the joyous spring morning he blew a million flowers through the square.

When his Nell had passed, he had flooded the city with a torrent of tears. Everyone mourned, though they knew not why.

Today he would try to harness the gift, bringing not just emotions, but memories to being. He closed his eyes picturing Nell: young, beautiful, graceful. With the first sweet note, she appeared.


Part of the fascinating “100 Word Challenge” project by Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom.   Join in! (If you don’t have a blog, leave your story in the comments.)

Jimmie’s story and round-up are here. I’m kind of disappointed there’s not more to the wereroo this week. I hope she comes back!

My previous stories are here.

But of course

It has been hideously hot in Texas (and most of the country) the past few weeks. The Facebook page Traces of Texas posted this accurate photo:


Well, it’s accurate, except it hasn’t been partly cloudy. Up until today, it’s been blindingly bright. But today, we have lots of cloud cover. Today is also the first night of the peak Perseid Meteor Shower viewing window. Because of course it is.

But fret not, North Texans! The best time to watch for meteors will be Thursday morning between midnight and dawn, which will be clear and cooler than it has been. This is a great year for watching the Perseids because there is no moon. Experts say there will be 50 to 100 meteors an hour at the peak. The great thing about meteor showers is you don’t need a telescope or other special equipment, you just point your eyes upward. Grab a blanket and check it out.

For more viewing tips, check out Earth and Sky.

100 word challenge: Traveler

A different sort of inspiration this week:


Karen finally felt at home. Sure, life in the American West was hard, but once you were armed—and that was always her first step—the rest worked itself out. The most important lesson she’d learned: Wherever and whenever you are, be prepared to defend yourself.

She’d attached herself to a community that appreciated her medical know-how. Yes, they thought her odd, but they liked her. As she walked home from delivering another child, she caught herself humming a familiar song. “No! Not again!”

The music filled her head as she fell into the void. “When to now?” she sighed.

Part of the fascinating “100 Word Challenge” project by Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom.   Join in! (If you don’t have a blog, leave your story in the comments.)

My previous stories are here.

It begins

For the past three weeks, I’ve been inundated with back-to-school ads, social media posts on getting ready for school, and a host of emails on curriculum and classes. My response has been, “LALALALALA, I can’t hear you!” I told myself I was going to enjoy my summer and not think about school until August.

Oh, hey there, August! So I guess I have to think about school now.

Last year was … we’ll go with unworkable. I seriously overscheduled and overcommitted us, and it was ugly. That will not happen again this year. I’m going to practice saying, “No!” in the mirror until I’m randomly yelling it at strangers in the grocery store. Every “Can you X” or “Will you Y” will be met “I’ll need to get back to you on that.” I will stop; realistically analyze our schedule, our abilities, and our needs; and then give an answer. Unless it’s something like “My head’s on fire! Can you put it out?” I think I’ll probably be okay doing that.

My first step for thinking about the new school year is to decide on our goals. It’s no use planning a journey if you don’t know where you want to end up. In addition to academic goals, we need to set spiritual and character-growth goals. For example, last year we were so caught up in our own stuff–and so overextended with both time and money–that we participated in almost no service activities. That can’t happen again this year. I have no desire to become a person who is only concerned with my own life, nor do I wish to raise my children to be those people.

After we decide on our goals, I’ll need to list our assets. The most important asset anyone has is time. Last year, I found this very helpful little e-book Tell Your Time (af). Unfortunately, I was so overscheduled that I started hyperventilating when I was working through the book. And from that anxiety attack I learned to tell my time before it had me in a headlock.

Honestly, once these two steps are completed, the rest will fall in place easily. Despite the fact that I said I wasn’t going to think about school until August, I have been storing information on programs and curriculum as they come my way. The acquiring aspect is pretty easy. After eleven years of homeschooling, there’s not a great deal to purchase, and I have a fairly good idea of what those items are.

But today, I’ll start with our goals and our assets, and the next thing you know, we’ll be storming the castle.

100 word challenge: Moonman


“Grandpa, mum says it’s all nonsense, that you came from the moon.”

“Did she, girlie? Nonsense can be true.”

“Is it true? Did you come from the moon? Why did you leave?”

The old man was quiet for a moment, thinking of his beautiful home and the silver sands and inky black sky. Then he shuddered at the memory of the terrible reason he had fled. Was it worth telling the child of her true origin, knowing that it would lead to the horrible truth?

He sighed. As another old Moonman said, “Truth will out.”

“Well,” the old man began…


Part of the fascinating “100 Word Challenge” project by Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom.   Join in! (If you don’t have a blog, leave your story in the comments.)

My previous stories are here:  The Rite, Payback, Waiting, Lost and Found, In the Mud

UPDATE: Jimmie has a monster (?) story this week, along with links to more fiction fun.


Introducing Hermione

This is a slightly delayed introduction, as we got her almost two weeks ago. Ahem.

When Keaggy died we knew we wanted another cat, but for heart-healing and scheduling reasons, we wanted to wait until this summer after our summer vacation. Just a few weeks before our vacation, a friend posted on Facebook that she had kittens available. And there was much rejoicing.

Meet Hermione–whose name the kids selected long before she was a gleam in her father’s eye.

H backpack

After seventeen years of boy cats, I wanted a girl, hoping that she’ll be less apt to mark her territory.  So we have this sweet, gentle little calico girl kitty. Who attacks anything that moves. The vet actually asked if she had any feral blood in her. (No, she’s just very energetic, and she did not appreciate the exam.)

H bag

After two geezer cats, a kitten is quite a different experience.  My girls are big into knitting and crocheting, and a house full of yarn is heaven on earth for a kitten.

H toy

We were a little worried about Jack accepting her. I mean, he’s the friendliest dog on the planet, but he is a dog. Fortunately, it was love at first sight. Between his fascination with this tiny ball of fluff and Keaggy having him well-trained to know who’s top dog, they’re getting along quite well. In fact, this morning Jack was giving Hermione rides in her cat carrier. (And yes, she liked it, a lot.)

H and J

All-in-all, she’s pretty wonderful, and everyone here is in love, even if we are still getting use to the random attacks on our feet.

H sleeping

P.S. Jack wants everyone to know he’s cute, too.

Cute Jack

Fine Arts Friday: A place to know

*Yes, this is technically not Friday. Stuff happened and Friday got away from me, but I have a theme and I’m sticking with it.

We have sorely remiss in our nature studies because A. it’s too dang hot and B. . . .  No, actually just A. We did do some nature-y stuff on vacation. We went to the beach, which is nature in a big, overwhelming way, and we went to the nature center at Gulf State Park. The docent there was very helpful and friendly. He let the kids (minus Sprite) hold a snake, and answered tons of questions. We also met the center mascot, Homer.


I think Homer was describing the exhibits to Bulldozer. Or he was taunting the creatures who were stuck behind the glass.

But while it’s good to see new and exciting natural venues, it’s far more important for children to have a piece of nature close to home that they can call their own. They need a place that they can explore and become friends with. And that means regular visits to a specific corner of the woods (or desert or whatever wild place your area contains.) I’ve been neglecting our regular, get out in nature routine. The kids have been spending a good deal of time outside in the neighborhood, and of course, we hassled the bunnies who nested in my garden. But we weren’t visiting our place. We weren’t nature studying in the spend time exploring, journaling, and just being all nature-fied. So I figured it was about time we (meaning I) got off our (meaning my) duff and back into the wild. Or as wild as suburban North Texas gets.

“Our place” when it comes to naturing (new word!) is in a nature preserve about five minutes from our house. It’s 200 acres bordered by residential areas, so is definitely nature, but still, it’s in the middle of suburbia. It has very well tended trails, both paved and unpaved, decent bathrooms, playgrounds, pavilions, an amphitheater, and a huge tower overlooking the whole park. It’s kinda swank for a nature preserve, is what I’m saying. And sometimes when we’re naturing, it doesn’t feel very wild, partly because it’s so popular. Honestly, it’s hard to feel “in the wild” when the 20-plus mom’s stroller workout group is passing you on the six feet wide concrete path, or when a huge entourage is one field over for quincanera pictures. But through diligent exploring, we’ve found a off-the-beaten-path, seldom visited place that we call ours.

AHNP jul24

Off a side entrance, winding through and past a hidden pavilion, and down into a ravine, at the far edge of the park, there’s a bridge over the tree-shaded creek. While not a total secret, it definitely doesn’t get the foot traffic the rest of the park gets. We only saw three small groups today in the hour and a half we were there. For whatever reason, we hadn’t been back to “our” place since last fall. I wish we had gone just after all the rain, because we definitely saw some signs that the water was impressively high. One nice change is that they replaced the bridge that had been some Scout’s Eagle project. While it was a nice-looking bridge, the “one-person-at-a-time-and-cross-at-your-own-risk” sign was a little off-putting. I prefer my bridges come without warning signs.

While we occasionally hike, the kids and I prefer to hang out by the creek and keep our explorations to a smaller area.  And even though we’re in the same smallish space, we’re all in our own worlds. Sprite tends to just sit, soak in the beauty, and pet Jack. Little Miss draws in her journal. The boys throw both stones in the creek and chase every creature they see, but Bulldozer documents his discoveries while Satchmo just works on producing a bigger splash. They managed to catch a few tiny frogs, and even saw one lose it’s tail. They may have been the immediate cause of the tail losing. I do a little of everything–except for the frog bit. But mostly, like Sprite, I just like to sit and be there.

AHNP jul24 Collage2

Looking up into the canopy, I realized how important these visits to this place are. It’s important not just to teach my children about the natural world, but to give them a piece of that world that they can know and love. I don’t have to teach that love, it’s a natural outflowing of the knowing. But I do have to facilitate the meeting. I have to put nature time on our schedule and guard that time, as strongly as I guard time for math or history. I have to give them a place.

And more than just the physical place, I need to carve out a place in our time and resources. I need to provide tools they need to understand their place, like the butterfly guide that helped us identify the giant swallowtail that danced above our heads all morning. I’m no naturalist and can’t answer all their “what is it” and “how does it” questions, but I take time and effort to help them find those answers later. But I must prioritize providing a place in nature and for nature in their lives. And hopefully, they’ll carry their love and knowledge of this place into a love for the whole natural world.

Do you have a place in nature that you call your own? How often do you visit it?

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