Why Armadillos? (part 1)

When I started my blog, I was determined to have a banner photo that I had taken myself. I went through a bunch of photos I took at the Catoctin Zoo in Thurmont, MD last September trying to find one I liked. I had great pictures of parrots, turtles, goats, snakes, and even tigers, but I stopped in my tracks when I hit the armadillo picture. Something inside me went “That’s it!”

So now I have an armadillo on my blog. The truth is, I’ve always had a soft spot for armadillos. While I love animals of all kinds, including the creepy crawly stuff most people avoid, armadillos are one of my favorites.

Just to show you that my armadillo thing is for real, I’ll be posting pictures of the armadillos in my life. Here’s the first one. It’s an armadillo I made years ago when I learned how to make 3-D animals with wire and beads from the book Beaded Animals in Jewelry by Lette Lammens and Els Scholte. As soon as I got the hang of it, I began playing with the patterns in the book. To make an armadillo, I just changed the bead colors on the standard mouse pattern. It made more sense to me as an armadillo anyway since you can’t see any feet. This little guy has no name, but he lives on my sewing machine. He’s my good-luck sewing mascot and keeps me company while I work on quilts and other projects. He’s just 2 inches long.

And as a bonus, check out this little guy at Cute Overload. Awwwwww!

Writing is simple…

I originally wrote the following on 10/26/07:

Every writing book I’ve ever read comes down to this: Writers write. All of them say it is that simple. If you want to be a writer, you have to spend time writing.

It may be that simple, but it just isn’t that easy. Writing is about putting your thoughts onto paper, sharing your memories, dreams, ideas, and emotions through words. Many of the things I want to communicate don’t have any words. How do I write a picture for another to see? How do I lead the reader through the nerves in my body or the synapses in my mind? Things intangible, and yet utterly real, long to be shared, explored, and understood. And words are such a feeble thing to use in the process. Every word has its meaning, and through combinations, many meanings can be achieved. But there is a lack of logic in finding the right words for the look of a sunbeam in a bedroom or the inner collapse depression brings. The best words are a leap from the start. An unexpected connection is made, and the reader thinks, “Yes. That is true. That is something I know.”

But my intellectual brain, with its years of education and study, wants me to think my way through all this. Surely writing would be easier if I just thought about it. Hence, the shelf in my office dedicated to books about writing. Books I go to for insight, sympathy, companionship, hope, support, and guidance. I’ve been fascinated by the creative process, especially the creative writing process, for as long as I can remember. I know in my heart that my ultimate dream has always been to be a writer. From watching me over the years, you would think what I really wanted to be was a reader who can tell you all about how to write.

The odd thing is that I can write when I choose to. Last year, I participated in NaNoWriMo and made the deadline with a few days to spare: 50,000 words in under 30 days. I found it easy to sit and write for hours, especially when the fire was stoked and burning well. I can get caught up in the idea of the moment – the scene, situation, characters, action – and then the words flow as if they were water.

I guess the key is the choice. I have to allow myself to write. Even knowing how much I enjoy it, and how energizing I find it, I will often give myself other things to do, divert myself from my dream of dreams, and head off into areas that are also interesting and even fulfilling, but that result in another day about which I have to say, “Today I did not write.”

I haven’t got forever. I want to write the things that are in me. I know I can overflow with ideas. I just have to show up and keep showing up, and over time they will come to the surface for recording.

Sacred.

Scared.

I realized last night that these two words were only different in the order of two letters, and I thought it was interesting. I even wondered if I couldn’t do something with the observation. Make it the point of something. (Perhaps a mistyped note or letter, which says one but meant the other?) The mind of the writer at work.

I am a writer. It’s my ultimate passion. Reading to see how others have done it. Losing myself in the flow when my muse suddenly gives me the Gift like water from a fire hose. The words come so rapidly the action seems violent. But such glory! Such joy! To stand awash in the flood and lose all sense of time and the world around me. That is immortality.

We now return you to May 2008.

I’m happy to say I write regularly now. I’m currently cranking out 1500+ words per day on my first NaNoWriMo novel (I wrote a second one in Nov 2007; it is currently on the back burner, stewing). My life is a miracle and rarely do I look back on my day and think “I didn’t write”.

There is hope for us all.

Puerto Rico

We’ve been back from Puerto Rico for a week now, so it’s time to post some pictures. Here’s a bird-of-paradise in El Yunque National Park, PR.

Bird of Paradise, El Yunque National Park, PR

Also from El Yunque, a shot of a snail (this sucker was about 3 inches across…)

Here’s an example of the bizarre root systems many trees in the tropics have — up above ground. Kurt tells me they don’t know for sure if this is an adaptation to the high rain fall, a necessary structural buttressing, or both. (I love it when we don’t know things.)

I was fascinated to see palm trees growing wild in the forest. Having lived in AZ and seen all the work required to keep a palm tree alive in a desert, it seemed unreal that there is a climate on the planet that can support them (and tons of other plant and animal life while it’s at it).

One last shot from El Yunque, which was only open for half a day while we were in that part of the island. The storm that made our drive from the airport to our B&B so dramatic brought down limbs and caused some mud slides. It took them a day and a half to clear up the roads enough for visitors to drive into the park, and even then they cautioned us to be careful, especially on the trails. This is La Mina falls, part of a wonderful paved trail we hiked.

On to San Juan. We visited the fort (San Felipe del Morro), which sits on a point at the mouth of the bay. Believe it or not, this fort was actually taken by the enemies several times over the centuries.

There were many walls I couldn’t see over even on my tiptoes. Translation: Kit is short. But we did find a wall taller than Kurt.

Old San Juan has been renovated and is beautiful. I couldn’t get over all the colors — blue brick streets and houses in all sorts of pastel colors.

(I took a million pictures like this one…)

Something I took with my friend Deb Robson in mind (she’s working on a book about wool right now): sheep statues (in old San Juan). At least, I’m pretty sure they’re sheep, and not goats… Their coats look a little scraggy.

Last but not least: proof that our vacation did not suck. The view from our room the last two nights we were there…

The biggest problem with our vacation: it was too short. We were just getting the hang of lying around on the beach all day reading, and it was time to come home.