Posted in Editorials, Writing

Be The Voice: Part One

I sit at my computer, coffee by my side, as Aurora still sleeps. My screen may be blank, but my mind is not devoid of thoughts. Rather, thoughts have been swirling in my head for a few days now and I have been wondering how to let the demons out. The frustrating thing is, I cannot just outright say what I want to say at the moment, as there is a pending prosecution for what is on my mind. Believe me you, as soon as all this dirt is brought to light and justice is served, I WILL be exposing all of that dirt, because it should not be swept under the rug. 

What I am referring to is child abuse. The numbers of reported cases of child abuse a year are alarming, and that’s just the ones that are reported. 

You can read more about the American Society for the Positive Care of Children here and be forewarned, the statistics are quite alarming, at least to me. 

Part of the reason why child abuse happens is because of it not being reported, for whatever crazy reason people have. Perhaps they are afraid of the perpetrator, after all, one who would beat a child, nothing would stop them from beating on anyone to report it. Another thing that perpetuates abuse are those around the victim that lie about it, or just don’t say anything about it, even if it’s been brought to their attention.

I was once that child, being abused and no one being held accountable for it. I was afraid to report it, for fear of being beaten worse. I know there were a few that were aware of it, and still said nothing. I urge you, to be the voice for the victims you may know. Do not be afraid to stand up to the abuser and do what’s right! Be the voice that you would want if it were you in that child’s shoes! I for one, will be a voice, and being a writer gives me a positive platform to do so. Like I said, when all is said and done, things will be exposed and brought to light, and all the ugliness that comes with it! I have the perpetrator(s) in my crosshairs and I’m ready to fire back at this abuse! I have warned people that if they are not with me, they’d better duck, because I will NOT be silent to protect the abuser! NOT ONE BIT! I know how that felt to not have a voice, and that’s helpless, lost and lonely, not to mention, scared for my life at times!

The right thing to do if you are aware of abuse is to REPORT it. The child abuse hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453 Assault on another is a criminal offense. Call the local authorities where the abuse happened so that the abuser will be held accountable for their actions. Child Protection Services cannot initiate an arrest, they just investigate the abuse part of the report, the police need to make the arrest and they can’t if they don’t know what is going on. Be the voice for the voiceless, be the strength they need during tough times, and whatever you do, DO NOT REMAIN SILENT! 

Part 2 of this post shall ensue when all is said and done and I can be free to totally speak my mind! It was actually very hard for me to “bite my tongue” to write this post, but I promise you, my readers, that I am in the process of shaking out that rug from everyone’s feet and exposing all the dirt that has been being swept under it! 

 

Posted in Flower photography, gardening

9/10 of the Law Realized: Star of the Show!

Just over a month ago, I posted about lilies that were in our flower bed last year and how the old neighbor came back 9 months later to retrieve the bulbs that she had asked me to help her dig up when she moved last year and never came back for. My new neighbor and I had dug the bulbs to spread them out and not two days later the old neighbor came back demanding the bulbs back. 

I was irked to say the least, being that I am taking care of the flower bed this year, and I let my disdain show as I begrudgingly dug up the bulbs for her. I purposely did not give them all back because as far as I’m concerned, she should have chalked that up as a loss that she didn’t come back the next day after she moved last summer to retrieve them. 

Well, those “forgotten” bulbs have grown and tada! We have our first flower this year!

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I am absolutely in LOVE with this dappled pink color and have been smitten since first sight last summer! I have been waiting with bated breath to see them bloom this year and finally we have our first one! Aurora was the first to notice when she looked out the door yesterday to say good morning to the garden and she exclaimed with glee, “LOOK MAMA! A FLOWER!”

This flower is definitely the star of the show, even in a sea of 10,000 wildflowers that are in the midst of growing!

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There are several other lilies in the process of growing and blooming and I can’t wait to see them all! They add such nice color to this sea of green that we have going on, and I couldn’t be happier. My patience and hard work have paid off as we now get to enjoy the benefits of what we sowed.

Do I feel guilty that I didn’t give all the bulbs back? Absolutely NOT, because if the neighbor had come back the next day like she had said, I wouldn’t have considered them mine now! Officially, I can say they are mine now that she came and took some of the bulbs back. There were about eight that I gave her back, and we have five lilies in the process of growing now. I just may take a bulb or two with us when we move out of here, just to be able to have in our indoor jungle if need be! 

Life is what we sow, like these flowers. The effort you put in is the result you get back. With patience and perseverance you will get the results you want. It takes time but it is worth the effort in the end. I almost feel guilty that this is the one flower I have been looking forward to, knowing beforehand the incredible beauty that comes with it. Not that I don’t love the 10,000 other flowers that are in the process of growing, but for me, these lilies were worth my effort to keep, to make our garden even more beautiful! I hope you enjoy the beauty of this lily as much as I do!

 

Posted in nature, Uncategorized

Monarch Caterpillars: Rescue and Relocation

I had a different post in mind to write today, but this morning as I sat down to write, a more pressing matter presented itself. The town went by with their side mower thingy that they trim the sides of the road with. Personally, I don’t see the point of that, being that the greenery on the side of the road does not block the view of the road and it provides plants for wildlife like butterflies, and also, that money could go to fixing the crappy potholes everywhere! While I wouldn’t care about them cutting down the plants on the side of the road, there are milk weeds along some parts that I hate to see cut. Last year, just as Aurora and I found some monarch caterpillars on the side of the road, the town cut them down just a few days later and it really upset me. I vowed that I would help rescue them this year. When Aurora and I saw the mower drive by this morning, we hurried through our breakfast, grabbed our bug container and dashed out the door on a rescue mission.

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We braved 80 degree sun and hordes of man-eating bugs (the freakin deer flies were AWFUL) just to find a mere 2 caterpillars, 2 eggs, and a cocoon. At least, I hope it’s a cocoon and not a spider nest!


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I feel like our effort was futile, to only find 2 caterpillars, but at least we tried. We are going to go set the caterpillars free in the field that we have been frequenting, and we’re going to mark the plant we put them on so that we may visit for further observation. The cocoon and the eggs will be kept for further observation at home until they hatch and we set them free.

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The eggs are so miniscule that I almost missed them! I have never seen a butterfly egg before, so I’m excited to see these two hatch and witness the very first stage of monarch life, the 1st instar of their caterpillar stage. 

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The two caterpillars seem to be in the 2nd or 3rd instar phase of their growth, and they are tiny, about an 1/8 of an inch. They appear much bigger in my pics. They were both found on very young milkweed that had no blooms yet. As for the cocoon, I doubt it’s a monarch, being that it too was on a young milkweed that we hadn’t found any caterpillars on or any signs of the leaves being eaten like any had been there yet. It will be fun to see what emerges and like I said before, hopefully not spiders! I don’t think spiders would build an egg nest on a milkweed, but I’m not an expert on spiders. 

To see Aurora cry this morning with concern made me a proud Mama. She is already on the road to compassion for other living creatures and that makes me happy. On our walk to the milkweed this morning, I suggested to her that she could be a conservationist, being that she loves nature so much. She said an animal doctor and that would be awesome too! With her kind and caring nature for others, I think she will do well to have a career caring for others, be it humans or animals. I hope she keeps that compassion throughout her life, to think of others before her own self. 

I can’t wait to write my blog tomorrow that I was going to write today, because it’s something I have been waiting with bated breath for, for about two months now! I bid you all to have a great day, and if you know of milkweed on the side of the road that will be cut down, please follow our example and rescue the monarch caterpillars, because that is the only plant that they can survive on! 

Posted in nature, Plant Life

Ten Minutes of Peace

Top of the morning to ya! What’s ten minutes of peace, you ask? Watch my video below! It was actually a whole HOUR of peace, sanse bebe because Aurora decided to skip science class yesterday to stay home. I was not going to argue about having some alone time where I didn’t have to be in mom mode, being that I am with Aurora 24/7, 365 days a year! Do I feel guilty? NOPE! I deserve an hour of peace to collect my thoughts and do what I like most-being out in the calm of Nature, chasing butterflies and taking pics.

My main objective over the past week has been to find some monarch caterpillars. They will ONLY be found on milkweed, as that is the only place a monarch will lay her eggs and the only plant that the larvae can eat. The adults, however, will feed on a variety of different flowers. You can read more about the life cycle of the monarch here.

I was ecstatic to have found a caterpillar that appears to me to be in the 2nd or 3rd instar of the larva stage. Isn’t it a beaute?

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While I was a bit disappointed to find only one monarch caterpillar and see maybe four or five adults, (who were clever at not coming anywhere near me so I couldn’t shoot them) I was delighted to document several hummingbird hawk moths who were not bothered by my presence one bit. In fact, they flew right in front of my phone like they were checking it out. 

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I was able to get a few still shots of these marvelous creatures feeding away. Once upon a time I only seen them a couple of times over several years, and now I have seen several at once. 

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In the midst of chasing butterflies, I was surrounded by a conundrum of other insects: house flies, horse flies, deer flies, (surprisingly they were leaving me alone, some appeared to be sleeping) bees and what I think might have been wasps of some sort. I’m not a bee expert but I do know that for the most part, if you leave them alone, they leave you alone. I had a close encounter with a yellow jacket in the video which you can’t see, but that was the only time I got worried. 

I never thought I would say that I was thankful for any of my kids skipping class (they better not!) but being that Aurora and I home school , she has that freedom to skip if she wants. I appreciate the hour that I got to spend among the field of milkweed (which was a field of Lupine Love not too long ago) chasing butterflies and smelling the sweet aroma of the blooming flowers. I felt refreshed after that hour, to be able to have been free to chase the wildlife for some pictures and videos with my undivided attention.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed making it. Nature is my therapy, and it can be yours too, if you only open your eyes to see it. Do you like to be out in nature? What is your favorite thing to do while being outdoors?

Posted in Homeschooling, nature, Plant Life

Homeschool Observation

Top of the Saturday morning to you all! I hope that today finds you alive and well and if you are not well, I wish you to get better. We woke up to a mild 35 degrees this morning and at the moment, it’s 43 with 100% humidity and a real feel of 52. I’ll take it, at least it’s not 90 like the beginning of the week. My heart skipped a beat though when I woke up and saw how dangerously low to freezing that it was. I wouldn’t want my jungle to freeze before it had its chance to shine! 

After I write this post, Aurora and I are going to go do some “sciencing”, a word I made up a while back. I home school her, at least for now, and we do our science stuff out in the field to learn about the world around us. At breakfast this morning, I mentioned to her that we should get a couple of field notebooks, as scientists take notes on what they observe. When I told her that the notebook would be to write notes in, she lamented that she doesn’t write (yet! that’s for us to start in a couple of months) but then she perked right up and said she can draw. That is certainly true that she can draw her observations, for that is part of a field notebook. I can’t draw worth a crap but I can illustrate with words, so we will make a good science team in the future. 

Our first year of homeschooling has been lax since September, and by lax, I mean that I have no clue what I am doing and we are winging it! I must be doing something ok because she knows her alphabet by sight, sound and sign (she learned to spell and sign her name the very 1st day!) and I was told by my eldest daughter’s old Head Start teacher that I am doing excellent and that she was impressed that Aurora could spell and sign her name so quickly. We are homeschooling year round, which leaves us the freedom to do what we want, when we want to learn, without any pressure. I feel that children can learn better in a freer environment, to learn at their own pace. For example, I had tried back in September to teach Aurora to start writing her letters, but she was not very interested in it. I put it on the back burner to start for this September. I am finding that she is more of a visual learner, so we’re going to go with that. Part of the reason why I chose to teach her year round is because of the flexibility. During winter, we did more of the general concept learning letters, numbers, etc. and I have been waiting for spring and summer for us to learn some science hands on.

Our main science mission to observe this summer is the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. They are dwindling in numbers and I think it is important to teach Aurora to try to help conserve them. Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed and when people cut them down, it hurts their population. We are blessed to have a bunch of milkweed near us to observe monarchs and their life cycle, in a place where they will not be disturbed.

The past couple of days we have seen a few monarchs, but they haven’t sat still long enough for us to observe them. We have, however, been finding hummingbird hawk moths that have been a bit more cooperative with our observations. I saw my first hummingbird hawk moth several years ago, and only a few times since before moving here last year. They may seem elusive but you just need to know where to look. Being that we have all the time on our hands, Aurora and I have learned where and when we can find them, which also helps teach her about life cycles. 

Here’s a clip of our adventure yesterday. We did see a couple of monarchs for a few fleeting moments, but we got good footage of a hummingbird hawk moth. We embrace any learning opportunity we get! I am a firm believer in being self-taught, but that is a post to be written for another day. Right now, we have some sciencing to go do! I bid you all to have a wonderful day, and to go out and observe something!

Posted in Writing

Rescue and Rejection

Yesterday was a good day overall, despite the skin melting weather we’ve had for a week straight now. I know, I know, stop complaining Jenn, it’s hotter in other places (though maybe not so much) and others don’t want to hear it. Ya ya ya I get it, you like the dry heat where you live ( I can’t understand, this “dry heat thing”) but I just don’t get how people can love the heat. It gets humid here, close to 100% humidity at times in my neck of the woods. I have always been of the mind that in the winter you can put more clothes on if you’re cold, but in the summer, you can only take off so much and still be sweating to death! If I could have peeled my skin off to be cooler in the past week, I probably would have! Or, been arrested for indecent exposure! I sunburn easily, which also makes being outdoors miserable for me, and the bugs, don’t even get me started on THEM! The few months that we have decent weather up here commandeered by biting bugs of every sort- No See Ums, black flies, deer flies, horse flies, flies that bug the shit out of you that I can’t even name, ticks and let’s not forget good ol’ mosquitos! 

I had three of my four brood with me yesterday which is rare (story maybe to pour my heart about another time) and a nice time was had by all. Games were played, laughter rang in the air and a bug dodging walk was had. Let’s just say that all of us were cursing the bugs, especially by my eldest. A walk down the street in blistering heat was taken afterwards on a quest for some ice-cream at the local stand in attempt to cool off a bit. 

I submitted a story for an anthology contest last month, one that actually pays if your story is accepted and I have been waiting with bated breath for results. The pessimist in me expected rejection because that’s just how it goes in the writing world. I felt like maybe my story had a chance, because it’s a powerful story (at least to me) and they were looking for stories about women being strong. 

Yesterday afternoon I finally got an email that I have been waiting for. Excitedly, I gathered my kids around so I could read them what I received. I wanted them to share the excitement of the moment, being that I am trying to inspire them to pursue their dreams.

I burst into tears, right in front of my kids. I was crushed and even though I expected rejection, it hurt nonetheless. I am trying to lead by example to follow your dreams and I felt like I failed. How could they want to pursue their dreams if they see me failing at it? Why would they even want to bother if they know that there is rejection out there wherever you go? 

I tried not to let it get to me much and after my older two kids left, Aurora and I braved a buggy walk to take a video for a sick friend of mine who has been in the hospital. I can’t be there with her being that she is a state away, but she likes my shitty photography. Well, my videos are shit but mostly because YouTube compresses the hell out of videos and I only have a cell phone to shoot with. My photos make her smile and I wanted to cheer her up. I came across this hummingbird hawk moth in search of monarchs. He was stuck, by a spider web I suspect (there was an entangled ant right next to him) so I helped free him. It made me smile to be able to get so close and my rejection was soon in the background of my mind. Whatever I was feeling about that letter could not have been as bad as how scared that moth must have been being entangled by a web.

Thankfully, the heat seems to have let up a bit, being that it was 70 when we got up this morning. Normally that is the temp of a typical summer day around here but we are not having typical weather lately. Aurora is giving me Play-Doh treats of cake and tea while I write and that makes me smile. She sees me writing my blog, plugging away at the keyboard, practicing my writing and I hope that inspires her to work hard. Yes, there is a lot of rejection out there, but that only sweetens the success when it finally happens. I shall keep at it with the tenacity that rears up in me from time to time. I got my first rejection letter but you know what, you can’t get the rejection letters if you don’t at least try!

I wish you all a lovely (cool) day, and whatever you are doing, I hope you are pursuing your dreams! 

Posted in Uncategorized

Early Bird gets the Video

 

I’ve never been much of an early bird! I’ve been awake for over a half an hour already, and it’s not even 5 yet! The party birds kindly woke me up so I shot them! I wait with bated breath to see my babyson in a couple hours, who turned 14 a few days ago. Now the question is, do I want to make coffee or try to catch a few more winks!

Pardon the shitty video but I was just trying to capture the noises since I can’t share just an audio. Hope you all have a fantastic day!