Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunshine sparkled on the trail that was dusted with snow, .  Like wind tossed glitter, the ice crystals twinkled in shades of yellow, green, blue, red, and maybe even purple. It was a cold morning. My teeth tingled and the water vapor in my nose froze. When I got back home, my legs were beet red. But it was nice to get out.

Monday, I shipped out two envelopes. I've been reading research papers and hopefully, next week I can make a trip to the university library to pull a bunch more. I expect 2010 to be a year where wild cards might just get flipped at a moments notice.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I stumbled upon this slide show of snowflakes and found it fascinating. Today the temp was 53 degrees here in Connecticut, so our snow is history. I was on the trail in shorts.

I had an envelope all sealed and ready to go until I unsealed it and made some changes. Then I sealed it back up with rubber cement only to unseal it once more. I was planning to mail it in early January, but now I think it will go out tomorrow along with a second envelope. Right now, it is the best I have to give, but is it enough?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last night I was thinking about time. Time is a good friend when it's used to craft and sculpt a piece of writing. But time is not a friend when it slips away too fast. Although I am very happy that my article is out, I don't get a sense that it represents the time and effort that went into it. Such is life.

Today, I went back into the woods for more cross-country skiing. Enroute, we saw a deer and stopped to snap a picture. I rolled down the window and leaned out to take the shot. Walt beeped the horn in hopes that the deer would turn to face us, but it did not. After 2.5 hours on the trails at Fenton-Ruby Park in Willington, we were exhausted. On the way home, we drove by the field with the deer. It was still there--in the exact same spot. It was fake. LOL. Boy did we feel stupid.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Today, I received some nice Christmas presents in the mail. My five contributor copies of the December issue of ChemMatters arrived! I also received a check for two articles that will be coming out in the January issue of Fun For Kidz! Yes!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Today, I had great fun breaking trail on cross-country skis at Gay City State Park. As I sliced through fresh powder in the silent snowy woods, I thought about an idea I had in mid 2007. It took me until early 2009 to get moving on it and I'm hoping 2010 brings it to fruition. Knowing all that time slipped through my fingertips is discouraging. At day's end, I captured the sun setting from my front steps.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Walkway over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie New York

Today I went for a hike over a new walkway over the Hudson River in New York. It opened up this past October and must have been beautiful in the fall. What a mistake it was to leave my hat and warmer gloves in the car. I was so cold from the wind whipping across the open water that I actually sought refuge in an outhouse of all places. I also sat in one of those golf cart thingies, not because it was warm, but because no one was looking and I could get away with it (snicker). I thought it was interesting that tiny glass eels from Bermuda swim all the way up the Hudson. The bridge in the picture is the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today, December 15th, is the mailing deadline.
The cornmeal colored envelope has been carefully addressed.
The stamps have been neatly placed in the corner.
But the contents, the clip, has not arrived.
Where is the December clip?
Deep breath (repeat 6 times).

Monday, December 14, 2009

As I was flying out the door this morning, I caught a glimpse of this burning sunrise and paused. Upon return from the school, the color had vanished into the clouds. It's tough in this hurried season to take the time and enjoy the moment.

One envelope is ready to fly in 2010. One more to go.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rising from the barren soil, can a tiny voice singing its heart out get noticed or will it get trampled--by a stampede? Sigh. Well, there is only one way to find out. Yesterday, I wrote out a couple of envelopes and formatted the revised piece the correct way. Don't ask how many times I did it wrong before I got it right. Everything's going out the door in early January.

I still don't have my clip for a December article. Three more days and it will be too late to submit it to the magazine merit contest. I'm probably the only nutcase that enters ChemMatters articles.

With her classmates and some brave adults, Julia jumped in the frigid water in the town pool this afternoon as part of a fundraiser to raise money to send a kid to camp. There was a thin layer of ice in the water. BRRRRRR! The dead mouse floating in the pool was a nice touch. Ewwwww!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I found this article about 130 scientists requesting changes to the Endangered Species Act. Under the Bush administration wording was changed to limit the region of protection as that which the plant/animal now occupies versus the plant/animal's historic range. The scientists make a good point that this territory could be so small that it would be impossible to recover from.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Granted, this photograph is not going to win any awards for stunning photography, but it does make a good point. Yesterday, in the fresh air under gray skies, I was eager to test out my new pair of cross-country skis. I headed into the woods behind my house and quickly found snow-covered fallen logs, a rock wall, and all kinds of spiny shrubs. I wasn't skiing, I was maneuvering so I turned around and went back for the snowshoes. Ultimately, it was a good choice. I had a peaceful hike up and down hills in the snowy woods. Following human prints, I got lost in both time and place.

I invest a lot of time and energy in what I write so I really lament about what I'm working on next. In the past month, I've gone in several different directions only to realize that I really want to write what I "finished" earlier this year. But I knew that piece needed work because it was not placing well. Anyhow, I went back to the starting point and reviewed, revised, and refined it. Now I will retrace last year's steps in hopes of getting somewhere. My New Year's resolution: Burst out of the egg and shatter the shell!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I was stopped at a school bus waiting while this kid took his sweet ole time walking slowly while trying to zip up his jacket. I wanted to roll down my window and yell, "can you pick it up a little." Not because I'm impatient, but more because I have an important video I wanted to blog about today. This video explains the latest news about "Climategate." A computer system was hacked and climate emails were stolen, taken out of context and publicized. One comment in the video mentions how it has been "many years of scientists working against a relentless force." Other key points:
Somewhere near minute 7:45 of video - These emails were made public before an important climate conference in Copenhagen in hopes of undermining the science.

The major point:
Somewhere after 9 minutes of video - "130 different countries" and "a large number of scientists" were involved in studying climate change. THIS IS NOT A CONSPIRACY!
Also, the information for the K-2 class I will be teaching at Manchester Community College is now on the website. The information for my class is on page 4. We had a lot of fun last year!

Fingers crossed big time that if I fix last year's problem, this years entry will have the flare it needs to light the skies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Last night, some time after 9PM, a light bulb went off in a very dense head. Euphoria. I wanted to climb a high mountain and shout at the top of my lungs
When you think something is your absolute best and no one notices, it leaves feelings of disappointment, frustration and futility. Making considerable revisions on Saturday to something else, reading "The Orchid Thief", and reviewing last year's pick made me discover what was wrong. AGGHHH! How could I have been so blind, so foolish, so stupid? Don't answer that! A wave of relief has swept over me, bringing renewed hope. Out of last year's paper, I've folded, creased, and crafted a new paper airplane. I'm waiting for the right breeze to send it aloft and hoping this time it soars!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's a winter wonderland outside! Here's my favorite writing spot covered in snow. Someone (me) forgot to put the chair in the cellar (oops).

Yesterday, I really got rolling on revisions to a chapter I "completed" last February. Maybe it was a good thing it didn't do well in a contest. Maybe it's a good thing I put it away for months. But finding out what was wrong and how to fix it was the real problem. I think I turned regular sugar into confectioner's sugar and I'm very pleased with the results!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

At 4:17AM, I was tossing words around. Funny, how you think something is done, but at night your subconscious conjures up a better way to word it. I love my subconscious, but I hate the hours it keeps.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving has totally derailed me. I am struggling to get back on track. I suspect packing the contents of the dining room table in the cellar had a lot to do with it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Someday I'll get that clip I've been waiting for.
Someday I'll get an email from that elusive editor.
Someday I'll know what the status is.
Someday I'll stop whining.
But not tonight.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I have been chasing an elusive bird. It settles down on a balcony, seemingly within reach, but the minute I stretch my arms to grab it, it's airborne, only to land again within view. This leaves me wondering whether it is the bird I really want or the satisfaction of actually catching it. Maybe there isn't just one bird, but a whole flock. Sigh.

My brother sent me an email on the cash for clunkers appliance program. You can register to get emails about the program as the information comes available.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I found evidence that the December 2009 issue of ChemMatters is out! I am eagerly awaiting my contributor copies. This particular article was laparoscopically edited, or at least it seems that way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Since I'm looking to get rid of a leaky old energy-wasting refrigerator, the Cash for Clunkers Appliance program was of interest to me. It looks like it is getting rolling later than anticipated and funds will be available after 11/30/09.

I was dismayed to read this article about how Siberian tigers are in decline. I did some research on Siberian tigers for an article that was published in the September 2007 issue of Highlights. You kind of hope things improve after the word gets out, but unfortunately, that is not the case.

Very soon, I'll be leaving for the 73rd running of the Manchester Road Race. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A dire need to clear off the dining room table for a Thanksgiving feast forced me to finish sewing the other side of the velcro on my vinyl costumes. Now the sewing machine and the costumes are packed away. Hallelujah! Since we don't plan to eat off a two inch tall stack of research, there is still more to clear off that table. Ugh.

As usual, there will be a party in the streets of Manchester on Thanksgiving Day for the 73rd running of the annual road race. Good luck to all my trail buddies, especially Ray in the 70+ division. I'm rooting for you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

People's Forest, Barkhamsted Connecticut

I've been reading, revising and refining something that I thought I finished. It didn't get very far when I entered it in a contest so I know I can improve it. I'm really happy with it now. The muddled ending has been replaced with a more enticing ending and some rough edges have been sanded away.

I was hoping to post some photographs of a hike in People's Forest, but the "Indian caves" were more like overhangs and not worthy of a shot. I regret not taking the Jessie Gerard trail. The Hartford Courant listed it as one of the top 10 foliage hikes in CT (even if the foliage is done). At one point, my brother hit the brakes quickly as a little chicken scurried across the road. It was quite funny.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today, on this glorious day, two deer tried to sneak by me while I wasn't looking. But I turned around at the three mile mark and there they were crossing the path right in front of me. I watched as they scaled a steep hillside, disappearing into the barren woods.

I'm happy to report that I've modified the first paragraph of my biography (about me).

I found a couple of things online that I thought were quite interesting. First of all, I noticed and read a 1996 ChemMatters article on the same topic as my soon to be published article. It amazes me how different two articles on the same topic can be.

I also found this new study on grizzly bears. They are using the same technology that was used in the Montana study that I wrote about a number of years ago.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today I spent four hours volunteering at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair at UConn. It was somewhat dismal to hear that the number of people attending had dropped significantly from last year despite what looked like a lot of people in the ballroom. I met a writer who lives in the adjacent town and also an illustrator who lives across the river. Unfortunately, I didn't give myself much time to pour over the offerings. I picked up an autographed "aggressive read" for my niece for Christmas. Hope she is not reading this!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Through Facebook, I was invited to join a social networking site that high school students from Silver Creek High School in Indiana are part of. I'm not quite sure what this means, but it sounded like a really good way for students and writers to converge in cyberspace. I was glad to help. What a great idea!

Aside from that I have got to get looking through online supply catalogs for weird things like plaster, magnet sheets, and an ink pad or two.

I am itching to get back into research and writing which I've put aside for a while. I've also been contemplating whether I should delve into the work-for-hire stuff that everyone else does. But, I am not someone who does thing just because everyone else does.

Tomorrow, I'm volunteering again at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair up at UConn.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The headpieces are done. I need to sew on the other side of the velcro and I should be all set with the props for this school program.

Every now and then I come up with a quotation I like so I've added those to the "About me" section. Here's todays quote that I posted on Facebook.

"If we accept the facts as facts then we lose the ability to uncover inaccuracies" ~ Linda Zajac

I will be rewriting that "bio" at some point, hopefully sooner versus later.

I received an email about the wolf class I teach at Manchester Community College Excursions in Learning Program. The class will be held from 9 to 12 on Saturday, February 6th 2010. Last year the class was sold out!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today I posted a video of a green iguana on St. John. Every time I've seen an iguana in a zoo or museum, the thing has been motionless, stuffed in a tiny cage. Up high in a tree, this video shows how the iguana moves in the wild. I watched wondering what would happen when it got to the end of a branch. Finally, with amazing agility, it moved to the next tree. I spiced up the video with some Caribbean music which I thought was kind of amusing. But Windows Movie Maker was much more frustrating then I remember. Often it would error out with a "Windows Movie Maker needs to close right now."

Today I plan to visit the hardware store and get some colored wire to fashion headpieces.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm still working on these costumes. Sunday I trimmed armholes because I'm afraid they are going to rip if little arms are pushing in and out of them. I sewed up one side so now they look like long painted vinyl muscle shirts. Lovely indeed. Since there was no velcro in my basement, today I ventured to the fabric store for 2- inch sew on velcro.

There was a bit of excitement there. The key broke in a door in the back and the alarm was screaming for help. I wanted to hit it with a hammer. Then I spotted the clearance stuff (75% off!). As I pulled out a wig, a misplaced Christmas tree ornament fell to the ground and smashed. OOPS! I got the sales lady to help with clean up. Christmas stuff did not belong in that bin.

Anyhow, I was looking for something to fashion the headpieces out of and saw those wigs. Perfect. The thought of putting the pig-tailed ribbon-tied "Dorothy" wig on a male volunteer totally amused me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

At home, I can hear a bird sing or a squirrel chatter, but nothing like night on St. John. From the deck, the lights on St. Thomas were a galaxy of stars in the sea.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today. I was pleasantly surprised to find this online post by Gwendolyn Hooks that mentions why websites are a good idea for writers. My website is mentioned.

I've been trimming armholes and I just finished sewing shoulder seams using six rows of stitching across each. They should be pretty strong. What started out as a tube costume that closed in the back is now an over-the-head costume that closes on the sides. Hey, it works for me! Next, I need to put velcro on the sides and I'm toying with adhesive (which we have in the cellar) or sew-on velcro. Adhesive is much faster, but will it come loose? For a science and technology program, there is a lot of art in the homemade costumes, painted and sewn. While making alterations, I tried the costume on a number of times. At one point I was kneeling, trying to gauge how it would look on someone much smaller--much better!

I've also started playing with Windows Media player in hopes of posting some St. John videos of animals. I'm quite rusty with that.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today I'm posting photographs of two unusual trees I spotted on the way to snorkeling off the beach at Cinnamon Bay Campground on St. John. After unsuccessfully trying to identify them, I asked the naturalist at Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History for help. He identified the first picture as Indian Mulberry. The dimpled fruit has medicinal uses. The second photograph of green tassels is still an enigma. Palm flowers perhaps?

I think I've finally settled on how I'm strengthening my vinyl costumes--a redesign. I'm hoping my sewing machine can pierce through two layers of vinyl to produce some quick strong seams across the shoulders. I'll be testing this out soon. After putting it aside for several weeks, I read and slightly modified my brochure. I'm really happy with the information I included. It makes a strong case for this program.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I just finished painting the fourth piece of vinyl--my final vinyl. Each3x5 foot sheet took about two hours to paint except for the last one which took roughly 1 1/2 hours. I started with the widest brush applying a base layer of color. I followed up with a smaller brush and some strokes of texture. Lastly, I used the smallest brush for details and little dabs of moss green for color. Yesterday afternoon, my almost 9 year- old niece was over so I used her as a model and started to cut (eek, one mistake and I could wreck a sheet of vinyl). Now I have a new concern. I cut slices for armholes and realized that I've created a weak spot right at the top of the slice where the weight of a sheet of vinyl rests. The area has to be reinforced somehow? Hm. It was quite entertaining to see her dressed up. Basically these four sheets of vinyl are four costumes that cover the worst case scenario. Whole lot of work for worst case scenario, but necessary.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where I live in Connecticut, I don't find plump millipedes like this one. It appeared on our door mat at Maho Bay and at night they congregate on the railings. There are no streetlamps at this ecoresort. Flashlights are essential when naviagating the boardwalks and stairs at night. (we attached LED's to our visors). The thought of accidentally putting your palm on one of these babies is quite disgusting. When disturbed they can squirt out a fluid.

I spent more time looking at standards. In Connecticut, I'm happy to report that I can run this program for K-5. Connecticut standard makers rock! But I noticed that the "standards" are not at all standard in different states.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

One day on the way to Waterlemon Cay, a great snorkeling place on St John, we stopped to explore the ruins of Annaberg Sugar Plantation. But it wasn't the ruins that I found most interesting, it was the plants in the area. Thankfully, many had markers. The reddish peeling bark of the turpentine tree is real easy to distinguish. A man we were talking to offered me a genip that he pulled from the genip tree. The fruit is like a large leathery green grape, mushy and golden inside with a pit that reminded me of an unshelled almond.

Yesterday I painted 2 of 4 3x5 feet pieces of vinyl and I'm real happy with the way they are turning out. Ideas need freedom to roam and flourish, but "curriculum" is the leash that restrains them. Grumble. Today, I reviewed the standards and decided this should be a grades 3-5 presentation, but I know that younger kids would enjoy it too!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Since tomorrow is Halloween I thought I'd post information about a fascinating, but scary tree I encountered on St. John. In the rain, you don't want to stand under the manchineel tree, one of the most poisonous plants on earth. Corrosive sap can drip and burn your skin. The tree is also called the poison guava. In 1493, Columbus' men ate the "death apples" from this tree and met their demise. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything distinct about the tree or its bark that would allow me to pick it out of a forest. Thus, without a big sign indicating its whereabouts (now I read the trees are marked with a red "X"), I could have marched under the thing countless times. Most of the information I found about this tree was on medical websites that said to seek attention immediately. Wonder what happens if you don't. I also wondered if wildlife passed under it or touched it would they suffer the same caustic burns. If so, how do they know to avoid it? It sounds like a menace the island can't get rid of.
Scientific American posted an interesting article about what can be done to improve U.S. students standings in math and science.

I dug a whole ton of research material out of the basement and decided to continue working on a topic I've already started versus starting anything new. Glory will be the day that I get to finish some of these works in progress.

Yesterday, I returned to working on a school program I've been thinking about. I went out on a limb and purchased some on-clearance vinyl versus felt that I initially had in mind. On the ride home, I began to regret this purchase, thinking that acrylic paint would crack on this material. At home, I did a test run of acrylic on vinyl and was pleasantly surprised that the surface is much easier to paint than felt and the paint doesn't chip. It works for me! I'm heading back to buy more today.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

These large mud nests were all over the place on St. John. I thought this one was interesting built in a tangle of mangroves. I was surprised to learn it was built by termites. It would be quite a bit of work for a human to shovel all that dirt and the thought of tiny insects building that enormous ball of mud was amazing. Then I thought of the extensive boardwalks where we stayed. I wondered if they ate pressure treated wood?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everywhere we went on St. John, we carried a snorkel and fins. By the time we reached the water, we were eager to jump in. I've posted some pictures taken with a cheap Kodak underwater camera (we are talking $9.99). For a cheesy camera, I'm real happy with my sea turtle picture (click on it for a larger view). The sea turtle I spotted at this nesting beach is either a hawksbill or a green sea turtle, I'll let you decide. I tailed that turtle for close to a half hour. The poor dear couldn't get rid of the shadow above it (me). Steve Irwin came to mind when I saw the stingray so I kind of freaked out when one ray turned around to face me. Eek I'm outta here! The stars in the sky were matched by stars in the sea (and a purple fan coral too). The last underwater photograph I posted is lousy, I know, but it's a picture of 2 cocoa-colored nurse sharks parked like buses under a chunk of coral. The island in the very last photograph is Whistling Cay. We kayaked out to the rocky beach and snorkeled around this behemoth. Holy cow, I was exhausted. It was tough getting back on shore, on the slippery rocks, and contending with flippers. Now I know what driftwood feels like.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yesterday, while running 6 miles, I took a spill on the trail as my toe connected with what was likely the only stone sticking out of the path. I went flying, landing hard, bloodying my knee and scraping my palms. It sort of reminded me of my effort this year. I've been reaching for the stars, but the stars are too far too reach. I picked myself up, wiped off the sand, and forged onward, weary and exhausted. Thankfully, my knee looked worse than it actually was.

I was wondering if I was away from writing for a week, would I miss it. As the taxi tossed us around on the winding bumpy roads we heard the sound of joyous tree frogs. Walt called them "therapeutic." It reminded me of a writing workshop I attended in 2005, so much for getting away from it. Every night after hiking and snorkeling we climbed 237 steps to our room at harmony studios at Maho Bay (I've posted a photograph of an eco-tent at Maho Bay). I loved the place. It reminded me of staying on a nature hike. I wish there were more places like this. Every evening we'd hear a chorus of tree frogs. By morning, crickets and songbirds would join the symphony. One morning this tree frog landed on the awning. The croaking was so loud, I searched the place, certain it was in the bathroom somewhere. The brave pearly-eyed thrasher would reappear on the deck each evening hoping for a handout. One day Walt scooped up a little lizard that we found on the bed and put it on the railing. I went inside for a second, when I returned the lizard was gone and the bird was sitting on the railing. I looked at the bird wondering, "did you eat that?"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This past week I completed a final review of my December ChemMatters article. Today, I finished some writing that is due early next year. I'll let it sit around and ferment for a while just to make sure it reads ok. Now I really need to find another topic that lights a fire under me. No luck so far.

Today. I posted some photographs of a hike I was very apprehensive about. It was hot, humid, and hilly. We hauled heavy packs stuffed with two water bottles, snorkel and fins, and camera/camcorder. While walking, stones would roll in front of us, but upon closer examination they were really these giant hermit crabs. They get around by doing donuts. When I stepped inside an old sugar plantation, the sudden flapping of about twenty bats scared the daylights out of me. This hike also took us to some pre-Columbus petroglyphs in an ancient spiritual site. We also saw some deer, but best of all, after snorkeling, we charged uphill on the return!

Friday, October 23, 2009

St John is a land of contrasts where rugged subtropical mountain forests rise sharply from sparkling turquoise waters. It's a place where the locals want you to cover up your bathing suit in town, but it's ok for folks to sleep on the park benches. It's a place where everyone says hitchhiking is safe. Joyce and Spike (a little smelly dog that sat on my lap), gave us a ride the day the bus wasn't working. But during the trip Joyce told us of a recent house invasion. Intruders wearing ski masks held her and her husband at gunpoint for 1 1/2 hours. It's a place where precious resources are saved and precious resources are wasted. We stayed in a studio at an eco-resort in a remote corner of the island. There water, cans, and bottles were recycled--even unused food (like the little jar of mayo we didn't finish) was stored in a refrigerator for other guests to take. But in other corners of the island I saw energy being wasted. A VITRAN bus left running and unattended for at least 30 minutes made me want to reach in and shut off the engine. It was a relief to escape the heat and humidity into the shops on St. John and St Thomas (second photo)--but not one of them had the door shut. All that cool air was running right outside into the streets. It was a colossal waste of energy. On the flight home, we looked down through the dark skies. I thought about the night sky at St. John and the two shooting stars I had seen. I thought about all the stars that were visible. Long Island was a glaring circuit board of lights. I wondered if you turned off every other street light if all the other lights would give enough light to get by.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm not quite sure what bird is in the first photograph, but I thought the angle of the bird made it look as big as an airplane. It was the first photograph I took on a ferry to St. John and I think it came out pretty neat. At breakfast every morning, someone in the kitchen would set out a bowl of maple syrup which these bananaquits lapped up eagerly. These tiny birds cheeped away, reminding me of strolling through a rainforest in a zoo. The last photograph is of a frigate, a bird with an interesting forked tail. We spotted the frigate high in the sky on a hike out at Ram's Head.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The years have passed on the wings of a hummingbird. I can't believe Walt and I have been married 25 years. We marked the day with fresh memories at St. John National Park. I'll be posting more science/nature photographs in the coming days. Right now, I have an article to review.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Calling a contact person only works when they pick up the phone. I may try an email instead. I was hoping to get the ball rolling on this program. Grumble.

My daughter mentioned she's volunteering at a science center near her college. Once she gets started, she'll be doing a hands-on activity with the kids. I can certainly suggest a few tricks in my bag, if need be.

I'm looking forward to posting some interesting new science photographs to splash some color on the pages of this blog. Please be patient, they're coming!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I picked up a great tip from a FB writer "friend." Today I'll be in contact with someone to get the ball rolling on doing free presentations for a while so I can iron out the glitches. I've decided to get working on some stuff that's not due until March. Typically, the beginning of the year is busy with crummy stuff--tax returns and financial applications for college. Double yuck. Anyhow, if this presentation thing gets moving that's more fuel for the fire of persuasion for my package of stuff that is due in March.

On January 6, 2008, I listed on the wishlist of this site that videos be used for educational purposes. I found this article (actually it's a bit old) that leads me to believe I was on to something.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The lure of the wet wilderness was stronger than Walt's words of caution for an injured foot. I snuck out while he was in the shower after he ran (gulp) nine miles. In the parking lot a distance runner carefully clutched a string of patio lights, yellow-green orbs of power water. At mile 1.75 two young runners in a pack, passed me. I vowed no more and sped up to hold off four other runners behind me. So much for that light run coming off an injury. The four mile trail run was a release that felt like I smashed a bottle of frustration. Aghhh, that felt good.

Today I found something that is making me consider writing YA nonfiction instead of mid grade. I reread version #870 and #871 of the article due to be published in December. Quite frankly, I like the longer version better. Hm.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm in the midst of developing a school program, but naturally I can't just do a Powerpoint presentation like everyone else. I believe in what I'm creating, but I'm wondering how it will be received. It's innovative in a way. Generally, if money is involved, in a choice between the tried and true or something new, I find a lot of people stick with what they know. I've had some really informative discussions on school visits with other more experienced writers. This has left me with several questions:
1. How many kids can the presentation accommodate? My original thought was one class at a time, but now I'm hearing that schools on tight budgets expect assemblies for an entire grade.
2. Is it me that prefers smaller presentations (true) or is it the nature of the presentation?
3. The presentation includes one hands-on activity. Can all the kids do this activity or should I scrap the idea?
I know this presentation will be educational, memorable, and fun.

And I have more questions swirling around in my head about my next project. The ole squirrel in the middle of the road issue. Maybe escaping from this scene will let me see through the facade.

Friday, October 2, 2009

On Highlight's website, I found an article I wrote back in 2005. It was published in September 2007. Since it's now online, I've provided a link in the "writing" section of this website.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yesterday was one of those days where I spent a lot of time thinking, but had little to show for my efforts. Probably the best thing I did was drive to three elementary schools. For some reason that helped me envision the program I'm developing. I realized what was going to work and what needed further work.

When I worked designing computer programs, testing was a really important part of the process. To test a computer program one must run it through every conceivable combination of inputs and conditions. I guess you could say I'm testing the program in my head trying to think of every conceivable problem and how to address it.

I also discovered an exciting conference I'd like to attend. Since it's in January the only concern is the weather. Although I don't exactly sing on key, it's time to perfect my pitch.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's killing me to take Motrin with every meal. I've heard excessive Motrin is linked to acid reflux disease. Thus in my mind I see this connection:
smoking : lung cancer :: Motrin : acid reflux (notice the "excessive" has been removed).
I'm happy to report that after 3 days of using crutches (at home only), I'm finally starting to walk close to normal again. Hallelujah! I also avoided a shot which the doctor admitted, "it hurts."

Now that walking is not so pained, I can head into the cellar to review my extensive supply of program materials today. The presentation has got to be the best it can be. Nothing less. But I'm seriously thinking of scrapping my second presentation idea. After spending a day digging deeper into the research, I'm not finding a whole lot I can work with.

I'm eagerly awaiting publication of three articles, one in December(ChemMatters) and two in January(both in Fun for Kidz).

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm still hobbling on ballet toes, hardly graceful. Thankfully the rain washed away my plans to go hiking yesterday. Sunshine breeds disappointment on a hurting foot. The doctor is finally back in his office. Thoughts of a shot piercing a tender heel are not sitting well.

Despite the foot problem, the programs I'm developing are moving forward. I have some concerns about the first one, namely will I have too much stuff to handle. For the second program, I'll need to do more research to add content. The challenge is making it entertaining. I'm pretty confident I can, but it will take some thought.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm alright, I'm alright
It only hurts when I breathe
(Lyrics from Breathe by Melissa Etheridge)

And when I walk. And when I sleep. I had a wretched night of sleep with a foot that gave me a constant stream of pain. My husband, who received his doctorate from TrailRunner magazine (April 2009, issue 58, p37) thinks I have Plantar Fasciitis which I have taken to calling plantar facetious because it's easier to say. It's also called heel spurs. I think he's right. I've never heard of this, but was amazed at how many people I met that either had it (including my own brother) or knew of it. None have great memories.

I was told one way to cure the problem is a shot of cortisone in my heel. The thought of a needle piercing my hard crusty heel brings back flashbacks of a little girl playing in the snow. Danger lurked beneath a thick layer of fluffy ice crystals. Wearing snow boots, the child stepped on a nail she could not have seen. There are more memories of a puncture wound, a tender foot and being carried to Sunday school class by a kind man.

The brochure is done, but the thought of standing to present it is not pleasant right now. I'm thinking ahead, to future published articles, and how I can turn those into exciting programs. Hm. There's a big challenge there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The bottom of my left foot is in absolute trauma right now. It feels like there's a thorn in there and when I put my foot down it hurts all over. I think I sprained an arch muscle running yesterday. It isn't the first time. Instead of looking forward to the two separate birthday parties tomorrow, now I'm apprehensive it's going to hurt if I stand too long.

While the foot was icing (which did not help), I was rewording the second page of the brochure. The whole thing is much stronger--the presentation and my bio. I also changed the color scheme. I'm not a pill taker, but it's going to be a Motrin and melatonin night. Ow!
Today, I'm planning to revise and update the tri-fold school visits brochure I did a while back. I'm enthusiastic about this new program I'm developing, but the big question is how to get it out there. It's going to be affordable because I believe in its value. I've been online looking for material that I'm not sure even exists. I did find a homemade recipe that I'll have to test out (no it's not food). Good luck to me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yesterday, I sunk into a pit of despair as the shortcomings of the publishing industry rose to the surface in a hard boil. I had no patience for the snail's pace on this crammed highway of writers, no patience for being corrected, no patience. But patience is the first thing to go when I'm tired. I stewed in the quicksand making FB friends, cooking dinner (stew), and surfing online for jobs. Essentially, I accomplished nothing.

But at night my subconscious mind was a stardust fairy leaving gifts behind. Two nights ago when I was still in this rut, I had a phenomenal dream. I opened the front door of the house and walked outside. Wildlife was right there at my doorstep. It was wildlife I'd love to see in their natural habitat. It was totally amazing, one of the best dreams I can remember.

Last night at 4AM, I hatched a plan for a top notch school program. It was staring me right in the face, but I didn't see it. When I worked as a computer programmer, sometimes I'd struggle all day trying to understand why a program was misbehaving. But at night the answer would come. The stardust fairy sprinkles magic when you need it most.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The English language has some odd little quirks that cause writers to stumble and stub their toes--the same toes they need to get their foot in the door--so I thought I'd write in a different language today.


Maybe it's better stated this way....

मॅँ एक असाधारण स्वप्न ने पिछली रात के लिए खोल दिया है कि मेरे सामने द्वार थीं और पूरे पैंगुइन्स के स्थान पर!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A second ago I had a major panic attack thinking I'd sent out an article that had already been accepted for publication elsewhere. Thankfully, I was incorrect. Phew.

It was a slow process to get here, but it all seems like a blur. Sometimes I'm so wrapped up in writing that it leaves me gasping for air, struggling to break free. Lately, I've come to understand the thought process of an indecisive squirrel in the middle of the road. Which way?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I found an article in Scientific American about a new vision for teaching science.

"We face a real crisis in science education in America. Representative Bart Gordon of Tennessee, chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology, has warned that countries such as China and India will trample the U.S. economy in the near future without major improvements in teaching."

"The most effective teaching expands both the knowledge and the skills needed to engage with science authentically—that is, in a manner akin to how scientists work."

I'm happy to report that I will be running another 3 hour class on wolf research as part of Manchester Community College's Excursions in Learning program. It will be held on a Saturday in February. Last year, we went outside and backtracked wolf prints just like real scientists do. I think we all enjoyed this part of the class the most.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Well, it made my day to find my article mentioned as a "cover story" on the anticancer website. I'm thrilled.
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination.........

And I scream from the top of my lungs,
What's goin' on

(lyrics from 4 Non Blondes)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yesterday, after making it off Charles Island with the tide quickly rising, we traveled to the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center in Milford. It's located on an 840 acre salt marsh at the base of the Housatonic River. Inside, among the tanks of little creatures, we found turtles like this jazzy diamondback terrapin, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and a bearded dragon. A spiral staircase led to the tower. What a peaceful place. With an ocean breeze, a great view of the salt marsh, and relaxing rockers, I could have spent all day there with my binoculars. Across the street was a beach with this long-necked great egret canvassing the waters for dinner.

Tomorrow, I'm making some small revisions and hopefully I'll get moving on a new outline.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Charles Island, Milford

Today, Robinson Crusoe and I ventured out to Charles Island in Milford CT. We were impatient for low tide, sloshing through the water wearing old sneakers (a good choice). Now I have the recipe for foot fungus.   We discovered the altar, a remnant from a religious retreat in the 1930's. We knew it was time to head back when two boys warned us that the tide was coming in.

Charles Island is a haven for migrating shorebirds, so the interior of the island is closed during the summer. It is one of the three largest migrating shorebird habitats in CT. At low tide a tombolo connects the island to Silver Sands Beach, making it possible to walk there. If you don't return in time, the tide can reach five to six feet and it's entirely possible to get stuck on the island. The island has a lot of history connected to it.  Legend has it that Captain Kidd's treasure is buried there.

Lately, I've been increasing my social network, but I wonder about that sometimes. Facebook is a broad quilt tied together with common thread, but it's hardly thick enough to keep a person warm. Tomorrow, we meet and I should have time to get started on another outline.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ragweed is rearing its ugly yellow head. Every now and then I let out a loud sneeze that makes the cats jump. Today, I was happy to finish an 8.8 mile run, longer than anything I've done in a while. While on the trail I was mulling over what to work on next. I am hoping I can put the package together quickly now that I'm familiar with the story. Tomorrow, we're off to do a very interesting short hike--but if we don't return quick enough we could get trapped. More on that later.....

Friday, September 11, 2009

I just reread portions of a package of stuff I submitted earlier in the year. I have every bit of confidence in what I wrote. It's a good story. Unfortunately, if nothing materializes, I don't know what to fix. Usually I can figure out what's wrong. Haven't I made every mistake there is to make? But this time, I don't see it. I fear the chess board may flip on this one.
I found this very unusual, but attractive dragonfruit at the grocery store so yesterday, it turned into a breakfast of exploration. How does one eat this thing? I could have cheated and gone on the internet and looked it up like I do everything else, but it was more fun to figure it out. First I tried peeling it, but that didn't work. Then I sliced into it and ended up with two speckled eggs with fuschia shells. The shells easily peeled off. Despite its flare, the fruit was rather bland, like a kiwi soaked in water. You have to admit, that is one neat looking fruit with a cool name.

On the writing front, we're finally narrowing down a crit date, hopefully next week. I've signed up to help with the Connecticut Children's Book Fair held at Uconn November 14-15 from 8:30-5PM. Currently, I'm reading some interesting recently published nonfiction written as a story.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I smell something sour. Bracing for the fall......I cranked up the music to drown out my thoughts. The mop is out and soon the floor will shine. I've got to believe that it won't go unnoticed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Several things are hinged together. A breath of sour air could easily topple the dominoes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bolton Notch, Bolton - part 2

I posted more photographs of yesterday's hike at Bolton Notch, CT. This flag was visible from the highway below. Today, I tried to snap a photograph of the flag rock from the highway. Hah, easier said than done. For safety's sake, I ditched the idea. The rock had more paint on it than any other rock I can remember seeing. The trail to the cave at the notch started right before this tunnel on the left.

When I was training for a half marathon last year, I ran through that eerie tunnel. Water trickled down the side of the damp, dark walls.

My article is again "with editor." What's next? Unknown.