Squirrel vs. Chipmunk: Tomato Thieves on Trial (or The mistrial of Banana Bread Squirrel)

The trial date: Immediately

Courthouse: Patio garden

Let’s just say this wasn’t a fair trial from the beginning because right away we, my husband and I, blamed the chipmunks. The little striped critters were frequent flyers on our patio, and I was sure that our tomatoes were part of their summer vacation package. They had already built a lovely summer home under our three-season porch. Would a dip in the pool be next? The chipmunk theory held fast for days that is when the little cherry tomatoes were the only ones going missing. Then the big Beefsteaks started to go…

When I say go, I mean – go – gone – ready to file a missing tomato report. No pieces left behind, no half-eaten tomatoes with little toothy impressions in them. The big boys vanished. Our tomato plants left naked and afraid. Who are these Houdini-critters *&%?

Then I remembered an old friend – from a summer reunion of the past-a.k.a. Banana Bread squirrel. A squirrel that had literally gone “nuts” (sorry couldn’t resist) and tried to break through my kitchen window screen to steal a banana bread that I had cooling by the window.

This case was getting bigger, the suspect list longer. So I went undercover: PJs, coffee, cell phone camera, sunglasses…casually stalking the patio. Until one day, the crime went down… sneakysquirrel

Now this could be any squirrel of course, but it’s not. I know in my heart – it is Banana Bread squirrel. As I’ve said, we have a history.

So how to stop this tomato stealing crime? My research didn’t provide me with any answers I want to live with. Here are some: Get a cat, a Border Collie, make some hot pepper concoction, and cage the tomatoes in a chicken-wire prison.

It turns out I am an enabler, and I am just not that attached to my tomatoes. Yes, Banana Bread squirrel, you’ve won – this time. But wait, soon – very soon – I will be baking blueberry muffins (insert evil laugh:)










Of Cephalopods and Dragons

Photo credit

Fighting with dragons while writing a middle grade fantasy novel…

One of the things writers try to avoid are the old played out tropes – unless you can make them fresh- for me I wanted to avoid a classic of many fantasy novels- dragons. Why, because I didn’t think I could make a dragon anew, or if I tried, I would need a huge dose of “dragon Febreze,”(choose your favorite air-freshener here:)  Of course, so many writers had done dragons well in fantasy books for ages. But dragons simply weren’t for me.

In fact, to some degree, I was purposefully avoiding dragons – not wanting to get “tropey,” with my work, yes, but imaginatively speaking, I felt a bit trailed by them, LOL. I was born in the year of the dragon, work in a school that has a dragon mascot and my father worked for a company that used a dragon as its figure head.

Then as often happens when you try to avoid something it comes to you.

My dragon came to me, in the form of Science Friday Cephalopod Week. My writer’s brain billowed in the fascinating  watery world of octopus eyes, jeweled suckers and beautiful brains and whoosh, my water dragon was born. A different dragon that felt fresh to me with a dose of octopus and science air-freshener.

I recently saw the author Elizabeth Gilbert, in an art forum, discuss her book Big Magic Creative Life Beyond Fear. I am a believer in the type of creative magic she describes. Simple connections that creative thinking morphs together when one regularly puts butt in chair.  Who knew the dragon I did not want to include in my middle grade novel would be born on National Cephalopod Week?



Summer Reading A-Z

Summer reading A-D

As a librarian, I am good friends with alphabetical order. I am having fun creating my summer reading list of 26 books – in alphabetical order by title or author – LOL.  Excited to start summer reading – today:)

Here is the top of the reading pile, A-D: 

All middle grade titles (ages 9-12)

Audacity Jones by Kirby Larson  Hoping indeed that “everything will turn out splendid in the end” as the book blurb entices…

The BFG  by Roald Dahl (again- yes, because of the movie)

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (on audio so I can tangle  – see other part of this blog if you are interested in finding out what tangling is… I started this novel some time ago, but so many kids wanted it from the library – I had to let it go… excited for the audio version.

DiCamillo, Kate  Raymie Nightingale  Because it is by Kate DiCamillo:) 

Hope your summer reading is off to a good start too:)