Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Katie, I want to watch Princess Tiana!"

I am watching my niece while my sister and brother-in-law go apartment-hunting. We've gotten many of their things here and the rest is sitting in storage until they find a place. So while they're off apartment-hunting, I have my niece.

She is a tiny bundle of adorable things wrapped up in a little girl's body. We watched Sesame Street and Word World while her mama was still here, and now it's just us! So of course we both voted to watch The Princess and the Frog, which we both love. Of course I think a two-year-old and a 24-year-old love the movie for mostly different reasons, but let me tell you, some of them are the same.

We both like to sing along, somewhat off-key.


I love this movie. I love the return to the 2D form, the vibrancy of colors and movement that you can see is just different than computer-generated animation. Don't get me wrong, I am a big Pixar fangirl, too, but Disney needs to return to some of the amazing things you can do with 2D animation!

So we are watching "Princess Tiana", Delainey and I. We both are dancing along with our favorite songs and singing, too!

"He's mean," Delainey tells me when the Shadow Man comes onscreen (the villain). "He needs to be nice to his friends." Or when the food falls on Tiana and her friend Charlotte comes to help her, "She is nice to Tiana. Tiana doesn't want to dance, though."

This is the cutest thing ever.

Have I mentioned I love kids? Especially this particular kid. She is two years old, this child, and she is telling me, sometimes in full sentences, about everything in this movie.

Now we're eating lunch. I stole a fruit snack when she wasn't looking... I don't think she's noticed yet.

"STELLA!" my niece just yelled along with Big Daddy onscreen.Of course she doesn't know it's a reference to A Streetcar Named Desire, but part of me is just giggling madly at her yelling "STELLA" so loudly like that.

Er... I might just have to reiterate how much I love this kid. Because I really, really do.

Yay this movie. It's quickly-paced, but still funny... and most important, funny in a way that doesn't go over kids' heads, but also doesn't talk down to adults really either. There aren't a ton of modern references that make the movie not really work in its own time period. The colors are beautiful and I love the design for the bayou and New Orleans and Mama Odie and everything about this movie.
Not as much as I love The Liong King, though. That's still my favorite.

And not half as much as I love the little girl watching this movie with me.

"Princess is Tiana isn't scared," Delainey tells me as alligators threaten our main characters. "She's not scared!" And she sticks a fruit snack in her mouth. "She's not scared of the alligator!"

That is all.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Friday, Saturday Sunday

A concise history of my weekend, in facebook status form:

Friday, June 28:
Traffic purgatory in MN thanks to construction. We're moving, but I'm pretty sure snails are laughing at us. at 3:18 PM
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Traffic purgatory takes us crawling past a town called Hope. Seems fitting. at 4:02 PM 
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In mankato with a tornado over my head. In the basement of a fancy restaurant drinkin' my beer. Well, i said i was off on an adventure... at 7:04 PM
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If we're going out, we're going out in style... at 7:30 PM

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Back at the hotel preparing for sleepytime. At least J.W. had an exciting birthday? at 11:01 PM

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Saturday, June 26th

It's 8:25 AM and according to my father, we're already running late. :) at 8:25 AM

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Tornado warning AGAIN. Two in two days. Oh this spontaneous trip to minnesota was a GREAT idea... at 8:57 PM

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I meant it when I said I'd go out in style... at 9:08 PM

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Of course today is the day Jason forgets to turn his phone on. My husband really needs to call me right now. at 9:31 PM

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Sunday, June 27th

I am back at my parents' house at this point.

I think I just need to admit I can't be awake anymore. But my brain is wired, even if my body is so tired... at 12:01 AM

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So that's a select history of my weekend. My sister, brother-in-law, and my niece now have a lot of their things here at my parents' house, the niece is being adorable, and my sister and I are about to go get some groceries to help out. An exciting weekend, right? Two tornado warnings in two days!

And I get to watch my niece be this adorable chatterbox for days.

This is a fun vacation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

At Art Words Again

About to leave for Minnesota with the parents on our grand movin' adventure for my sister, but before I go I wanted to let you know that I've got another poem featured on At Art Words! This one is 'Where Is Your World', a poem I wrote about a friend of mine in 2004 when I first got to college, but that I've continuously tweaked since then.

Where Is Your World, 2004.

Enjoy!

Off to the Great, Slightly Colder Than It Is Here North!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So... no.



Well, in the last entry I talked about considering going up to McLean Sunday or Monday, a couple of days before my original schedule. Turns out I'm actually going in about... twenty minutes.

I'm going to help my sister, brother-in-law, and my niece move back to IL from MN! It'll be an exciting whirlwind adventure. I like adventures.

I should be able to update, but I sure can't promise any pictures for at least a while. So we'll see!
Jason and I slept in a little this morning, until 9-ish. He doesn't work until 4 PM, so we had some free time to ourselves today, and he got paid today, which meant we had a little extra cash and could go out to eat for breakfast and get some groceries. Hit up Longbranch, my second-favorite place to get breakfast food in Carbondale (my favorite being Mississippi Flyway right now: the different is that at Longbranch you get vegetarian food (eggs and cheese still included) and at MF you get good ol' meaty stuff).

Then off to get groceries, then off on a walk, and now Jason is napping before work while I try to plan out my evening and what I need to get done with it. It's blessedly ten degrees cooler today than it was yesterday. I can tell the difference between 90 degrees and 101, let me tell you.

I really, really can.


Our pepper plants are blooming! Finally! Perhaps we'll start getting tiny bell peppers... y'know, right before we move. But we're takin' the bell pepper planter with us, so maybe it will survive the journey intact. The cilantro and basil, however, will not be making the journey. This makes me sad.

On our walk today, we noticed that with all the speedy growing the corn in the field down the road has been doing, we're seeing some serious tassel action going on here.



"Knee-high by the fourth of July", huh? This stuff is way over my head by now.


If you look at the mud, you can see the raccoon tracks down by the creek. Our clever little boy's been out there every day lately, I see new tracks all the time. I hope he doesn't run out in the road at the wrong moment or anything... I've seen a lot of animals, snakes, turtles, and frogs run over this year.

We saw turkeys in the grass, but they must have had their babies with them, because they were being very skittish. Oh well. No turkling pictures.


You can put up a fence-post, but the wild things will take it as their own eventually.

I think I have mosquito bites on my back. That's... that's not really a romantic part of the existence of wildlife, is it?


Another view of the creek, the other side of the bridge. I really love this creek... I'm sad to see how down it is, since we haven't had any rain in a while. Oh well.


To end today's update, one more close-up  vine picture. I love this stuff...

That's... that's all I've got.

I am debating going up to McLean to see my family Sunday or Monday instead of Wednesday like I'd originally planned. I can't decide if I would just be in the way of all the moving-around stuff that will be going on at the time.

Hmmn.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A problem

Readers may recall when I wrote about having packed up all my books (in about fourteen boxes), except for a select few I kept. Those select few include an incredible book about China I got when I worked at Blockbuster and they had it for an amazing discount. My China, written by Kylie Kwong, is amazing.The author takes a trip through China and the book is full of her story, photographs of all the places and people she visited, and incredible recipes for fresh Chinese food from all the different corners of the country.

Technically, that this did not get packed was an accident, since I had been paging through it at night before bed and had sort of, kind of forgotten it in there. But I'm glad I kept it out, because I've been flipping through it again.

Other than that, I have Hallelujah Anyway, a book I mentioned some time back by an illustrator whose work I am falling head-over-heels in love with... and I kept out two brand new People of the books, the newest in the series, that I had only just recently gotten last time I visited my folks in central Illinois. (For a rambling discussion of my occasionally questionable taste in books, see this entryI specifically kept them to get through over the course of June and July, figuring I wouldn't need to buy any more books until August, right?

Sigh. Wrong.

A couple of days ago, I picked up People of the Weeping Eye, as I was bored and nothing quells my boredom better than books. I finished it in two days. And of course as soon as I was done with that, I picked up its sequel, People of the Thunder. That was yesterday afternoon. As of 5 o'clock today, I am done with that book now too.

Well... darn.

What am I supposed to do now? All the other books are packed up tight! Ready for the move! Ready to be loaded into the truck!

I don't know why I thought two books would hold me for a month. Clearly, I've gone mad.

Well... I won't stand for this. I'm going to have to sneak a couple of books out of the boxes and hope the temptation doesn't overtake me and I don't end up sitting on the floor, surrounded by unpacked books.

Well...

darn.

This clearly is a sign that I don't yet own enough books.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not the Weightiest of Concerns

My hair is too long.

My hair... is too long. In the summer-time, that means my hair is pulled back every single hour of the day that I am not in bed actively trying to sleep. During the night, I try to sort of flop my excess of hair onto the pillow so that it doesn't stick to my neck even then.

This is a problem.

I like having long hair in the winter, when it can kind of fall gloriously around my face or whatever reasoning I have at the time. But I definitely do not like long hair in the summer. Especially long hair that's about a month past needing a hair-cut. At least.

In a week or so, I'll be heading up north to visit with my family for the 4th of July. This will be my last big visit before the move, so it's going to be kind of bittersweet for me. One of the sweeter parts being that I am going to go see the hairstylist who started cutting my hair when I was a very little girl. She cut my hair through the entirety of my teen years, while my mother put up with this hair whim or that (oh yes, I had a pixie cut at 14. Let's just say it wasn't a good look for me).

I have been a tomboy since I was a very small child. I am a tomboy still today, as far as I am concerned. Hair, to me, is just hair. It grows out of my head, and it's there to cut or let grow long as I will. If it's long, I pull it back in a ponytail. If it's short, I do basically nothing at all. This is the extent of my daily hair beauty ritual: I shampoo, I condition, I comb. The end.

So having a hairstylist who understands that any haircut that might need actual upkeep is immediately out of the running is very important to me. In all my years living in Carbondale, I have been unable to find a hairstylist who really gets that.

This lady, though? She gets it.

She's the hairstylist who knows exactly what I mean when I come in, vaguely gesture at my head and make a pleading expression, and say "Layers, chin-ish, please help me." So she gets out her scissors and lo and behold, it's exactly what I have no idea how to articulate I wanted.

I have no idea what I will do when I'm living in South Carolina and she's so far away. Probably get my hair cut exactly once a year when I'm visiting my parents.

Also, it's hot.

It's so hot I'm drinking.


Okay, so I'm drinking tea, but I had you worried there for a second, didn't I? Come on, admit it. You were worried.


It's Sweet Tea, with green tea bags and spearmint tea bags. It's Sweet Tea because we make it the southern way: you make a kind of simple syrup to sweeten with, none of this sugar-after-the-fact stuff. I was raised on sugar-after-the-fact, but my husband was raised in the south. In the south, they make it sweet first. The very first time I visited his family, his mother offered me real sweet tea out of their fridge. One sip and I was hooked.

Then I discovered, this stuff is everywhere in South Carolina. His Nana made it, his mom makes it, everybody makes it. Now I make it.

I'll turn into a southern lady yet, just you watch.

Just one nature photo today. In an earlier entry, I had this photo of a pine tree with juniper berries, all pale dusky-blue and pretty. Well, the photo below is what happens to those berries, over time.


I have never looked this closely before, so this is new to me, too. Look at the little spine-y bits!

Oh yes, I have all the technical terms down.

That's all for today. I'm going to go collapse in the shade somewhere while my husband plays video games. His days off are exciting, right? Today involved cookies, so I'm marking it a winner.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day


My father and I at my wedding in August, 2008.

I am not the most traditional of people. My family can be fairly traditional, and my father definitely is. When the planning for my wedding was going on, my dad and I had a couple of arguments. One of them was over my insistence on not using a preacher: instead, my brother-in-law, who is a fantastic writer and someone I deeply and dearly respect and love like he's a blood relative (which, in my family, once you're married to one of us you ARE one of us, that's just how it is) got himself legal to officiate and did my wedding. Dad is a traditionalist, and he's a Christian, so the lack of a preacher made him a little uneasy. I can understand that.

One thing that I had generally been uneasy with, myself, is the concept of someone's father walking them down the aisle and 'giving them away'. I've never considered myself my father's property, and that is what the 'giving your daughter away' thing always kind of looked like to me. I considered, for all of a heartbeat, not having anyone walk me down the aisle.

Really, it wasn't about anyone feeling like I was anyone else's property. It was about acknowledging that my father has been a tower standing tall in my life. Once I really thought about it, the choice became an obvious one... or really not a choice at all. To not acknowledge how important my dad was and still is and always, always will be in my life would have been to do him a great disservice.

We had a couple of disagreements, for sure. But I am my father's child, and one thing we do very well when we're in the same room is disagree on basically everything.

Another thing I inherited is that I am stubborn as an angry mule when I decide something is a big deal to me. So I got my brother-in-law officiating, and my dad got to walk me down the aisle. By the time the wedding day came, I would not have gone through with it if he hadn't been there to do so.

Honestly, this story really isn't going anywhere. I just wanted to tell everybody that I love my dad.

So... the end.

Happy Father's Day.

I just realized I didn't do one of these for Mother's Day, did I? I am a bad daughter. I WILL FIX THIS. Give me time to come up with a fun Mom story.

Mine is an evil laugh.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Layout change

I don't know. I'm messing with it. I might end up changing it back to something else. WE SHALL SEE.

Just barely


She didn't see us. She's actually looking towards the sound of a car going past off to the right of us.


She let her guard down more than I've seen any of them do so far.


We were very carefully hidden behind some bushes.


Still, all these moments must come to an end...

In other news, I put the anti-flea stuff back on the cat's neck. She hasn't shown too much sign of having fleas, but since we let her outside under our supervision occasionally, it's best to keep it on her just in case. She is now very angry at me for the indignity of it all and is stalking around the house twitching her tail and occasionally sort of flopping down on things loudly, as if trying to make sure I know she's not happy about it.

Believe me, dear kitty. I know.


You make it abundantly clear.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Grandma VanHoorn

I told you I was working on this? It's not great, it's rough, it doesn't really work that well. I can't really work on it much more, though. This is what I've got, for now. I need more time.


Audra VanHoorn

My grandmother was tiny, at the end
at 79, after nearly sixty years
of marriage
but I can recall a time when
I craned my head upwards to ask if I could
have cheese
and crackers, please
for my snack today.

A single scoop of ice cream, eaten on a TV tray
with one half-hour of Nickelodeon on their old
television
if I was very good. No matter how I begged,
no more than that single scoop, with a little syrup on top.

Well, maybe two scoops just this once.

I remember pouring cat food into a metal pan
in the garage, seeing the cats come running to her
even as they danced anxiously away from my
outstretched little-girl fingers.
Her call to them one I’ve never heard anyone else use
except myself, of course.
That’s how I learned you call the cats to you:
A high call, sweet-voiced, “kitty-kitty-kitty!”

And there they scrambled out from under
ancient machinery I didn’t even recognize
hid their kittens until she found them
lapped up the water and the milk
and let a little girl learn about love
for all things great and small

I remember balancing precariously on my hands
on the edge of the library counter
while she showed me how to check a book out
to myself.
A swelling pride I took in being able to do it on my own
reflected in her indulgent smile.

The sheer joy in discovering a new box of library books
delivered to her house, my little hands
pulling out and looking for the new ones
before she’d even put the sleeves inside of them
while she let me pick out “two, just two”
she’d set aside for me.

Or ‘helping’ her put away library books
I never noticed then but I’m certain
now
she followed behind me
taking each book carefully from the shelf
and returning it to the place it
actually belonged.
If it bugged her, she never said a word,
she just smiled and said “of course!”
the next time I asked if I could help.

The best days were the puppet shows she gave
The children, a spotted dog
a smiling frog and
those times I got to help her. I’m sure
I was a terrible actor: giggling behind the curtain
forgetting lines
looking the wrong direction.
But still she said she was proud of me
and glad I wanted to help.

I ate strawberries warm right off the bush
in her garden
until she told me I had to be careful not to eat too many
I helped her snap green beans, once or twice
I withheld my burning curiosity at all the strange things
upstairs, these toys and photos and memories that belonged
to an age I was too young to even grasp:
The idea of my father, my uncles, my aunt having childhoods
learning all these things
from her and my grandfather, the idea of a world
where these people had once been
the age I was now.

My father was diagnosed with diabetes when he was barely a little boy. 
I asked her once
what it was like to give injections to her son
to keep him alive. She gave it a moment’s thoughts, and
replied, “It was just what I needed to do.”
And that was that, her practicality a mother’s earned right
confusing to a teenage girl
who had no idea.

A hug to greet me at the end of every time away
as if I'd never left, a music box
to play
"You are My Sunshine"

as if I'd never left.

A child’s memories of their grandmother are selfish. It’s always
what I felt, what I experienced, what things were said to me, what moments
I shared with her. I wish I had been better
at asking the right questions, that
I had asked about her photo albums then
when she could narrate them.

I wish I had been better at asking the right questions.

After she died I had an unanswered e-mail in my inbox
from her, I had eyes I kept carefully as dry
as any grieving granddaughter could during
visitation, during the funeral, because if I lost control
I wouldn't hear what everyone was saying and I had to
I had to hear what they had of her. I think I did a good job.
I laughed, I joked, I spoke to so many people
my head’s still a blur when I try to remember, and each of them
had a different
side to her.

So many versions I didn’t know, because
I didn’t ask before.
I wish I had asked.

Really,
I am fine except for the moments
when I remember an ancient calico cat rubbing against the palm
of my hand or holding tiny kittens with closed eyes
while her voice murmured,
“Careful, Katie, careful,” at my ear and their little hearts
beat fast against my fingers.

Then I curl up on the bedroom floor
and cry
my heart beating fast against my chest
with my calico cat rubbing her head
against the palm of my hand
my love for all things great and small
little comfort when it comes to loss

I think about that tiny woman
all these memories, all the sides of her
I only got to see
afterward…
 I wish
I had answered that e-mail.
I wish I had asked more questions.

I wish I was better at saying goodbye.

Maybe she's born with it

What I think about when it is storming hard and Jason is gone and the cat is hiding under the bed:


When the sun comes back, they're going to grow so fast...

Okay, okay. So what I really think is "I HATE STORMS I HATE STORMS stupid thunder lightning is awful I wonder if I can fit under the bed with the cat will Jason laugh at me if he comes home and I am covered in dust? Do I care?" and the bit about the fields comes later when they're all gone and the sun peeks back out at me again.

But isn't the picture and its little caption a lot more poetic than that?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy


It's been really pretty today. Sunny, but not nearly so hot as it was the last couple of weeks, with a nice breeze that keeps air moving. Jason and I actually went for two walks, so I am very happy with my walkin' percentages, as it were. And the cat is sleepy. So everyone is good!


These berries were on a tree. The Animal Control man for Jackson County, who drove by while on the lookout for a dog that had broken loose, stopped to tell us this particular tree we were taking pictures of was a type of dogwood tree, one that they plan ta lot to help with the reclamation of wildlife areas.

Neat.


This tree had a big piece cut out of it, which it obviously had not really survived very well. Jason informed me that woodworkers will cut big, interesting burly areas out of trees to work with. The woodworkers probably assumed the tree would live. Sadly, it appears to not be the case.


Dragonfly! They're everywhere, they fly around us constantly on our walks. It's a little magical, except for all the annoying bits where I keep almost walking into them.


You can thank Jason's awesome vision for this, because I didn't see it until he pointed it out to me... it's a tadpole! Look, he's got little legs but he's still got his tail. This is... this is cute, that's what this is.


So here! Thank him!


More seedy wild grass... it's getting these neat red stripe-y bits all over it. I wish I knew more technical terms about nature... I'm sure "stripe-y bits" isn't helping anyone.


Wild garlic, fully bloomed. It's so pretty, close up.


And last... a moth on a tree branch! I am really proud of this one, I got amazingly close to get this shot. Yay Katie!

That's all. I don't have much about my day, overall... it wasn't a day wherein much happened or was accomplished. But at least I had a great day with my husband on his day off, so, I am calling this a success.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Got some rain today


We actually got the kind of rain that really means it, though only in short bursts a couple of times. But when it did rain, it was just pouring. It was definitely nice to feel the breeze become cool and to feel those cold-ish drops on your skin. If I had not been 24 years old and on my way to eat dinner with my husband, I would have gotten out of my car and danced in it.

I'm sure the plants are as much as dancing right now. We had a dry week and a half or so, really, and I was starting to see the plants showing it. We saw a raccoon digging for mudcrabs by the side of the road tonight, though he took off before I could get a picture of him. He was a smart little thing.

I've always liked raccoons. I've got a soft spot for animals who are clever and have a sense of humor. Probably why I like cats so much.


Cats who get very tired of me taking their picture.

Jason and I decided to have a (very rare) "date night" tonight. We finally saw Iron Man 2, which so far as I can tell is simply a movie about introducing Tony Stark (the main character) to the comic-book universe he really inhabits. I can see why a lot of people I know didn't like it now: it was very much a comic book movie. The first movie was a high-tech action flick with a lot of comic-book feel to it: the sequel is a comic book brought to life, and is basically making way for the movies Marvel will be putting out very soon (Thor, Captain America, the Avengers, etc).

My favorite characters, as always, is the guy that represents S.H.E.I.L.D. in the first movie and shows up in the second, too, the very kind of secluded quiet agent who is dry and hilarious.


After the movie, we had dinner at Pagliai's Pizza & Pasta, a kind of Carbondale 'must-see' place we'd never been to. No good reason, we just never had. I feel that we missed out on some very awesome pizza by not having gotten there sooner. The pizza was delicious, the side salads were delicious, the glasses of water we had to drink were incredibly large. Our waiter was a cool guy and pretty nice. All in all, things went very well. I really liked it.

I have a single piece of pizza chillin' in the fridge. It will be the breakfast of champions.

Right now I am calling out fervent Hallelujahs for the gift of rain and a cool breeze and falling headfirst into Hallelujah Anyway, an art book by illustrator Patrick Woodroffe, who does these incredibly detailed fantasy scenes with funny verses alongside.


I love this book. It's very inspiring, too, since I am most clearly an illustrator before I am anything else. The lines between these labels are pretty blurred, but I come down strongly on the side of illustration, I think. I am hoping to find more books of his in the future, when we have money for me to search for potentially expensive out-of-print books.

It's helping me get through a kind of art block I've been having, hence the lack of updates at The Giant's Eye. At first it was more my grandma's death had a nasty effect on my ability to do anything but just observe things, not create them, and now it's more that I'm so worried about the move and everything, it's kind of messing with my focusing skills. Oh well. Best way to get over an art block is to find inspiration to start back up again.

I am also drinking some of the last of the Berry Mint Tea. It is very, very good.


So... that's it for me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lazy Sunday

The weather.com desktop thing I keep up tells me it is 93 degrees Farenheit outside, and feels about 101. There is, however, a breeze, which automatically makes this easier to deal with than yesterday. Also, Jason is here all day, which makes this 1,000 times better.

So, being reasonable individuals, we go for a walk... in the heat of the day. At 2:15 PM.

Oh, we are just a-drownin' in common sense in this house, aren't we?


I can't get over Illinois wildflowers and weeds. They're just so pretty. I wish I had been paying attention earlier.

I know this picture looks weird, I was playing with saturation and contrast stuff for fun and accidentally saved over the original. But I like this picture anyway, so nyah.

When we were coming back past the bridge, Jason whispered really quick to stop and look over behind some trees by the creek. I looked up and was eventually able to see a deer watching us!


We've never seen them in the middle of the day before. I'm guessing the rest are all asleep in the shade and this one was keeping watch.



And, of course, the cat.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Turkey babies!

I realize I have already posted once today, but I think this is worth an update.

Tonight, we saw turkey babies. Baby turkeys. Tiny turkey hatchlings. I am not kidding.

Add to that, we saw them very close up.


TURKEY BABIES. WITH THEIR TURKEY MAMA.


Uh-oh, Turkey Mama saw us.


Turkey Mama has another Turkey Mama with her who just came out of the brush right then where we could see her. Turkey Mamas 1 and 2 begin to herd their brood back into the woods.


Goodbye, Turkey Mamas 1 and 2.


Good-bye, Turkey Babies