Monthly Archives: April 2016

Z is for Zoo

Z is for Zoo

When my brother Bill visited from New Jersey last month, one of the places I took him was the Phoenix Zoo. Here are some highlights:








What’s on the little island? Storks?




Orangutan family


An ibis, I think


I pleaded with this peacock to spread his tail, but he would not cooperate. 

My camera battery conked out before we saw the giraffes, one of my favorite animals at the zoo.
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In the Meme Time: Y is for Yoga

In the Meme Time: Y is for Yoga

Found on Twitter:Yoga for Writers.jpg

Available as a poster from Electric Lit.

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X is for Xylophone.

X is for Xylophone.

So, I’m guessing a lot of the bloggers participating in the A to Z Challenge will be posting about xylophones today. I’m looking forward to visiting a bunch.

Most people, when they hear the word xylophone, probably picture something like this:


Photo by Olivier Colas

and know it sounds something like this:

And a whole segment of society (Orff-Schulwerk trained teachers and their elementary school students) visualizes something like this:


and expects them to sound like this:

(To be accurate, the above ensemble also includes glockenspiels and metallophones.)

The xylophone is a musical instrument consisting of wood bars struck by mallets. It is ancient, at least 1500 years old, and it originated in Africa or possibly southeast Asia; or perhaps developed in multiple locations.

Last month, my brother Bill visited me from New Jersey, and I took him to the incredible Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. While we were there, I took photographs of as many xylophones (and xylophone-type instruments) as I could, knowing I would need them for this article. (Click on any image below to scroll through enlargements.)

One of my favorite pieces of music featuring the xylophone is Fossils, from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.

If you have not yet had your full of xylophones today, watch the delightful concert below.

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V is for Velcro®

V is for Velcro®

To be completely accurate, the product commonly referred to by that name is actually called hook and loop fastener. Velcro is the name of the manufacturer. (Disclaimer: In the course of this article, I will probably continue to incorrectly call the product Velcro.)

The ubiquitous hook and loop fastener has hundreds of applications. My favorite use of Velcro is on small children’s sneakers. I bought Velcro shoes for my own five kids (well, maybe not for the oldest; I don’t think they made them then), and as an elementary general music teacher, I spent several hours a week tying shoes of kindergarteners and first graders whose parents were not as forward-thinking as I.

Converse Kids Chuck Taylor

Back in the day I also bought nursing bras equipped with Velcro closures. Pro: they can be operated with one hand while holding a hungry baby. Con: the lovely ripping sound they make when detaching guarantees that you can’t surreptitiously breastfeed your baby in public. All eyes will move toward you as curious bystanders try to locate who just tore their clothes.

Click on this video to learn how hook and loop fasteners were invented:

Velcro can be found wherever sewing notions are sold.

Some of the many uses of Velcro include

  1. Hanging things on walls. Artwork, toys, the TV remote, tools, a shopping list pad and a pen, virtually anything that can be organized on a wall can be fastened there with Velcro.
  2. Keeping things from sliding. Attach a throw rug to the floor. Attach a chair pad to a seat. Attach a tablecloth to a picnic table.
  3. Removing pill balls from sweaters.
  4. Closing gaps between button on a blouse.
  5. Replacing a worn-out closure on a handbag.
  6. Bundling cords. Bundling Christmas lights. Velcro devised a product especially for this purpose.
  7. In place of other types of fasteners. A friend who is helping her daughter make slipcovers will use Velcro instead of zippers on the cushions.

And, of course, Velcro can be used to create artwork:


A friend who was a nurse told me that the invention of Velcro revolutionized the taking of blood pressures. Are you old enough to remember blood pressure cuffs with a row of metal hooks and rows of metal slots?

What about you? What is your favorite use of Velcro? Share in the comments below.

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Cee Neuner hosts lots of challenges on her blog. I especially like her Share Your World Challenge, and participate whenever the questions speak to me. Here are my responses to this week’s queries:

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen? 

I love writing with a pen that flows well, and that would be my first choice. However, I grab a pencil if I think I might be making changes. And if it’s a work-in-progress, like a book or a blog post, all bets are off–edits are so much easier on computer.

What’s your choice: jigsaw, word, maze or numeric puzzles?

I do the sudoku in the newspaper every morning. They get progressively harder during the week (easiest on Monday, most difficult on Sunday). Many weeks I can’t complete any puzzle after Wednesday. Occasionally I’ll get through a whole week of puzzles, only to get stumped again on Thursday.

Do you prefer long hair or short hair for yourself? 

I kind of like it long. My hair is very straight; I’d just as soon not fuss with it. Lately, my hair has been breaking and I’ve been thinking about going shorter. But my hair was long and straight when I met my husband forty-four years ago, and he definitely prefers it long.

List five some of your favorite blogs.

  1. Author Linda McQuinn Carlblom’s Parenting With a Smile.
  2. My OBT, short for My One Beautiful Thing, posted daily.
  3. Treadlemusic, mostly about free-motion quilting.
  4. Cee’s Photography, of course.
  5. Author K.M. Weiland’ Helping Writers Become Authors.
  6. Doing Life Together, put out by my critique group, Tuesday’s Children. (Sorry, just had to add one more.)

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Friday marked the end of an era for us. My husband traded in his 1979 MG Midget for a new  Nissan Sentra.midget

When Greg bought it ten years ago, the Midget was his dream car. However, old cars are labor intensive, and we decided not to continually put money into a car that can’t be counted on to start. I am grateful he now has a vehicle that is reliable, and he won’t have to borrow my car on a daily basis.

As for the coming week, I have a wonderful life, and I look forward to every day.

U is for the Unicorn Tapestries


Not Abstract Enough, COB Photo Challenge

Not Abstract Enough, COB Photo Challenge

On my morning walk on Saturday, I took lots of pictures, mostly flowers I’ve already posted, but also a couple with the Daily Post Photo Challenge prompt, “abstract,” in mind.

They didn’t turn out abstract enough.

Luckily, they’re perfect odd balls, so here they are:


Rock geometry


Creosote gone to seed

From the Creator’s Heart #43

From the Creator’s Heart #43

Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done (Psalm 9:11 NIV).


A Snippet of The Unicornologist, Chapter 1

A Snippet of The Unicornologist, Chapter 1


I’m participating in Weekend Writing Warriors, sharing a snippet from the opening of my YA mystical fantasy-in-progress, The Unicornologist:

“You’ve got to give Kate a chance.”

Hillary crossed her arms. “I wish you never married her. We were just fine, the two of us alone. I don’t need a new mother.”

“She’s not trying to take Mom’s place. No one expects Kate to replace Mom in your heart, Hillary. But I love her and she’s my wife. I expect you to treat her with courtesy.”

Hillary blew a raspberry in disgust.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 1? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please leave your comments below.

I’ve previously shared an introduction to the story, descriptions of Hillary and Robin, and an excerpt from Chapter 2.