Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elephant makes stool, do you sit on it or step in it?

I recently followed a headline reading, “Elephant Makes Stool,” followed by “First Known Aha Moment for Species.”
An elephant uses a cube as a stool.
Kandula uses stool to reach for fruit.

There's a child in my house.

Once, that child made a stool, too.

It came with an AHA moment, as well.

I believe that child may have thought something like “Eureka!”

The link I followed took me to a page showing the video of the defining moment for the baby elephant.

I thought I might see something humorous.

“Eureka!” I read, “Burst of insight may redefine elephant intelligence.”

In an apparent flash of insight, I realized the stool was, a stool.

Watch the video here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wonder what I'm thinking?

This is a picture of me that my daughter captured on a recent trip to China. I find it all very intriguing. Help me write the photo caption by leaving your thoughts in the comments section.

That could be intriguing, too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I'm spending my tax dollars on


Discover. Contemplate. Question.

All the things that happen when we read a good book.

Our community opened a new library. Now, that's a good story.
(And tax dollars well spent).

Photos by Kailynn via flickrSLiDR.

Read more:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New post coming soon

I mean it.

Maybe I'll explain why it looks like I'm on tv.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chinese cup takes off

There are moments when a camera is handy. Occasionally, those moments are enhanced when the camera at hand incorporates video. Watch this cup of tea travel across the table all by itself.

Then tell me what it means.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why you should always keep a clean room

Yesterday, one of our web visitors spent some precious Saturday leisure time to reflect on our wallpaper post. Their reflection resulted in a comment that was simply too good not to feature. And like all good thoughtful, reflective posts, there is a moral to the story (See Editor's Note below).

Here's the contribution from an 'anonymous' visitor:

Once upon a time Little_Carol was overheard commenting on The "Magic Mother." For those of you who do not know who The "Magic Mother" was I'll try and explain. She was the mystical, magical mother that was never wrong and always knew what you were doing and thinking. In this part of the universe nothing was kept from The "Magic Mother" because she was the closest thing to an omniscient being they knew. The universe was in balance and all things were right. This is how things are and things rarely change.

One day Little_Brother came along. Now Little_Sister thought that Little_Brother was the most annoying creature in the world, this unbeknown to her is called the little brother effect. The little brother annoyance factor is higher and louder when is traveling towards him or him towards you. Simply stated the little brother effect is directly proportional to the proximity of you to the little brother.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the day that Little_Brother came along. The universe shifted that day as the balance had been upset. Little_Brother came to believe in the things his Big_Sisters told him of the omniscient being they knew and called The "Magic Mother." She was always right and had never been proved otherwise. Things in the universe began to settle back in and once again the universe was in balance and all things were right. This is how things are and things rarely change.

One day as Little_Brother was walking through a room he overheard The "Magic Mother" talking and he was stunned. He actually thought he heard The "Magic Mother" say she was wrong. This.....could it be... but how could he prove it. You see like the boy that called wolf Little_Brother had been known to pull a prank or 2 or 3 or eleven-teen. He knew Big_Sisters would never believe him and think it was just another prank. His mind went rushing how to prove it. Since he was a well read boy for his age, he loved Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes, a thought came into his mind. Why not put it on paper and see if The "Magic Mother" would sign it. Proof positive that no one could deny. Yes and it was a good example of Occam's razor, well at least he thought it was.

Decision made, he quickly searched for something to write on and write with. He quickly penned the important things (On this date, at this time, The "Magic Mother" admitted to being wrong). He left a line for her signature. He approached The "Magic Mother" and presented her with his writing. She quickly read it. This always puzzled him he thought she would have known what he was up to and would have no need to read it. That was just a passing thought and was as easily forgotten as the answer "yes" to the question of can I go out and play.

She signed it, after a little laugh. Oh, on that day the universe once again shifted and once again it was not balanced. He had to find Big_Sisters and show them his proof. Big_Sisters could hardly believe their eyes, and the universe shifted again as things became more and more out of balance. They ran to The "Magic Mother" and asked if it was true. They could not believe that Little_Brother could be right and The "Magic Mother" was not. Oh, how their universes were turned upside down that day.

As the years went by, that piece of paper was swallowed up in the portable hole that existed in his room, although he could never find it. This did not matter as it was always remember there was a piece of paper and even to this day The "Magic Mother" is still The "Magic Mother."

Editors Note: Let this be a lesson to all of us, clean your room and know where your important papers are!

The only other thing I can say, is this: I REMEMBER THAT PIECE OF PAPER.

Like it was yesterday :-)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why I don't always have to be right, do you?

About seven years ago, I traded bedrooms with my daughter. The exchange gave me the quiet room on the back of the house, the one that overlooks the (mostly) well-kept expanse of backyard.

The room I vacated had a super abundance of what I call 'old-lady' wallpaper. I remember questioning my then grade school-aged daughter whether she would like the wallpaper changed. At the time it didn't bother her.

I was fine with that.

I did not relish the thought of tearing it down.

Now, several years later, the room your friends hang out in seems to carry a greater value. Personally, I would have complained far sooner, and campaigned quite diligently for a disruption of the flowery bonanza. My daughter seemed content.

Until now.

It's a holiday. We have an extra day off. It's time to attack the wall paper.

I agreed.

After all, I would have done it sooner, but it was a lovely pattern once to someone, and I could tell the paper had come from the expensive end of the wallpaper book. I wasn't looking for extra work way back then. Today, that postponed chore caught up with me.

When I start a project, I plan, gather supplies, get an early start, and quit when am I one arm's length past exhaustion. Which is to say, I don't loll around in bed and crawl out all sleepy-eyed, meandering across the hall, chat and spend some time deciding what to eat for breakfast.

When I finally saw the whites of my daughter's eyes, I'd already been to the store, purchased a wallpaper perforating tool, chemical remover, a high pressure sprayer, set up the purchased equipment and tested it.

I organized my gear in the kitchen and gave her instructions to protect the carpet and furniture, then took my trappings to her room. I realized she had lined everything up to begin work on the wall with the most wallpaper. I sucked air through my teeth and rolled my lips in and considered. "Here's my recommendation," I said. I pointed to the wall with the least amount of flower-ganza. "I'd start with that wall. You can probably finish it in one day. You'll learn a lot, and by the end of the day one wall will be completed."

She sighed, as if I always have to change things, as if I need to be right.

"If you start on this big wall and tucker out, it won't be finished, it will look like a mess. If you can get the other wall done, you'll feel like you accomplished something," I encouraged.

She agreed to my recommendation. I'm not one to usually back down. She's generally willing to learn.

I helped her get started and turned the tools over to her. About an hour later, I checked in. "Are you tired?"

Vigorous head nod.

"Aren't you glad I suggested the smaller wall?"

She smiled and said, "Mommy's always right."

I didn't like that assessment. It felt self-righteous. Argumentative. Not genuine. I arched a brow and said, "I don't have to be right. It would be better to say, 'Mommy has great ideas.'"

Those words sounded way more satisfactory slipping past my daughter's smile.

How about you? When's the last time you were right, and how did it feel when someone else realized it?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book flies off nightstand: Like a Bird Wanders

Some time back at a Vancouver Writer's Mixer, I met two local authors, Sharon Bernash Smith and Linda Reinhardt. They were part of an author trio who had written Like a Bird Wanders. We had a lively conversation, decided to keep in touch, gmailed each other, and connected on LinkedIn. They were planning a virtual book tour and their publisher, OakTara, sent me a copy of Like a Bird Wanders, so I could join in.

I picked up the book several times, read a few pages and set it down.

It sat by my bedside. Months turned into a year. More months went by and other books and projects piled on top.

A recent development at work offered the opportunity to create an audio podcast. I flounced into the office with a concept I was eager to flesh out. Before I barely turned on my computer, a co-worker leaned into my cube and proffered the same idea. I knew there was traction in the creative sphere and we should do it.

The course of the project at work allowed me to reconnect with Linda Reinhardt. Our subsequent conversation reengaged my interest in completing Like a Bird Wanders. I plucked the paperback out of the pile, relaxed on the bed and plummeted into the turn of the century: a family in crisis, punished by their own choices, propelled by events like the Yacolt fire—the largest fire recorded in Washington state history.

The story is told through the voices of the three McLeod sisters. Each of the authors spoke as one of the sisters. Because I had met two of the authors, I found myself wondering which author represented which character. I waver between asking Linda to disclose who was who and leaving the question unspoken. Some mysteries are meant to be savored.

The book speaks to the importance of family, of solid values that give us good footing no matter what life throws at us or what choices we make. It's about relationships. Some relationships support our dreams and support us through life's crises, others are centered around the other person's needs, and become selfish and self-serving—for them, not for us. It's also about not postponing joy in the midst of sadness.

Thirty pages in, I inserted my first marker. Eva Jo speaks about how unremarkable our days can be, yet how blessed we are, "by the things that make them that way." How much of what is plain and regular in our lives, isn't so plain, but builds the foundation of what we need to survive the unexpected? Later, Eva Jo writes to her absent sister Grace, "I'm living behind the loom, not able to see much but strange patterns." How much of our lives make no sense until we are farther down the road?

In her journal, Grace writes of the mesmerizing beauty of a Tanager, 'a flame with wings.' She follows the flash of red onto private property, recieves permission to scout it, but the bird escapes into the air, and melancholy walks Grace out of the garden. "It was only then I realized he'd left something behind. His song." What are we leaving behind? A beautiful pattern wrought by our own 'life's loom?' The gift of song? All these thoughts engaged me as I fell deeper into the book.

In another letter, Eva Jo encourages Nettie, "Place your hand over your own heart, Gracie. Feel it beating? That's how often I think of you..." This is good storytelling, the words tell us how often Eva Jo thinks about her sister without using cliches such as, not a day goes by that I don't think of you. The wonder of the sister-to-sister connection is a continuous thread throughout the book.

There are places in Like A Bird Wanders, especially near the end, when the reader receives an abundance of information as the story ties up the loose ends, and at the beginning it was a bit of a transition to get into the feel of the letter exchange, but overall, the book spoke to me in emotional ways that I won't soon forget.

On Thursday June 24, our work project debuts, Book Convos: conversations about books and people who love them, on More on that, later!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Winner of the novel Hemlock Lake

I think everyone should win. It doesn't always happen that way. It requires skill, strategy, and when all else fails, luck.

Here's our lucky winner from the last drawing on Pearl of Carol.
Deb Cushman


Friday, June 3, 2011

Why a winner is always a writer

Thank you Jan, Abhishek, Wendy, Kailynn, Tina, Suedenym (sp), Deb, Elizabeth, Melanie, MusicalDogs, Mike, Jacqueline, DukTape, and Anonymous for your comments on the guest post from author Carolyn J. Rose. You were entered in the drawing for the novel, HEMLOCK LAKE, A Catskill Mountains Mystery, published by Five Star.

Due to the high credibility of this blog and desire to sustain that enviable status, the drawing was held at a neutral place (my place of employment), in a neutral spot (the lunchroom), was conducted by a neutral party (first person I could enlist), was witnessed by people who didn't care, and has been authenticated as COMPLETELY LEGIT. Signed affidavits will be provided upon request.

Cue drum roll:



(enthusiastic applause!!!)

Deb is a children's writer living in Washington State. Her short stories have appeared in several children's magazines and she is currently working on a contemporary middle grade novel. She also blogs at the Adventures of Freckles & Deb, Bunny Bloggers. Her prize has been delivered, read and savored. We'll wait for Deb to chime in with a review.

To everyone: I am looking forward to sharing more of your wit and thoughtful commentary to balance my blather. Oh, and its way okay to invite your friends on over to the Pearl of Carol.

In conclusion, a winner is always a writer because in the contest you had to leave a comment.

That requires writing.

Any questions?

Send them to: pearlofcarol (at) gmail (dot) com.

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