Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Reckless Determination

Ever since the return of the full moon dragon a few days ago, Silkworm has been trying to prove our theory right once and for all by getting himself into various sorts of pickles and peril. These past couple days, I've been leaving Silkworm home while I go to work, and I've come home to a semi-disaster both evenings. Below is a shot of yesterday's plot, when he mixed together a rare and complicated potion that turns into a puff ball upon being finished, which, within 100 seconds, will kill whoever consumes it. Luckily, I caught him when he was uttering the number "84", and I got him to cough it up.

He's even tried things while I was home and simply had my eyes off him for more than three seconds. So far, he hasn't managed to attract the dragon, though all of his plans did seem to have a high potential for fatality. However, I'm holding onto a little inkling that our theory could still be right, because the dragon didn't show up when Silkworm had Murky Blech until the very last couple minutes, similar to the time frame during which Reptilian Rescuers in the land of Zamonia (which we read about in the novel, The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear) swoop down whenever there's any deathly situations. They always wait until the very last second so their rescues seem more grand and incredible; perhaps that's what our dragon is up to. None of Silkworm's disasters have grown too big to control, as I always seem to arrive just in time to put out the fire, so to speak (pun intended, as I did put out a fire on Sunday). I had a little talk with him to try to discourage his reckless behavior, but I doubt I got through his persistently occupied head. Thus, I'll be taking him to work with me today, where hopefully he won't have the means to make a mess of anything. I don't think I'll be able to keep an eye on him, but I don't think that'll matter since there'll be so many non-believers around that he won't be able to act like the living stuffed bear he is.

While I don't hope we find ourselves in a near-death situation anytime soon, I can't help hoping we get to see the dragon again soon. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Raising Sensitive Plants: Take 2, Days 32-65

Day 32
One of Plucky's last days in yucky soil in that cheesy plastic pot.

Day 51
Several days after being transplanted into proper gardening soil (peat moss, pearlite, etc.) in a lovely terracotta pot.

Day 57
Sporting his newest very long stem with leaves as big as my finger tips.

Day 65
Relocated to my room, where he now sits on the windowsill soaking up real sunshine as opposed to UV rays from the plant lights he was under before.

We are proud plant parents.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Murky Blech

Yesterday morning when I woke up, it appeared Silkworm had come down with a cold, but as the hours progressed and early morning became late morning, it was obvious this was no cold. On top of a fever and nausea, he developed the most unusual symptoms that didn't fit any human disease I was aware of: purple slime leaking out of the pores of his fabric, sneezing at the sight of shadows, irrational fear of anything perfectly circle-shaped (particularly the plate I was going to eat my breakfast on), et cetera et cetera. I was simply thankful it wasn't a work day for me, because this seemed like something that certainly needed my undivided attention.

We contacted a few magical acquaintances for advice and did some of our own research, and by noon, we'd come up with a diagnosis. Silkworm had fallen victim to Murky Blech Disease, a 24-hour sickness that's virtually harmless, so long as one drinks a special antiviral brew every five hours precisely or else the disease will have time to start mutating its victim into a pile of cloudy goo (hence the name). Supposedly, it can take only minutes for victims to be mutated once the disease has an opportunity. By the time we'd figured it out, we barely had an hour left before the disease would start melting Silkworm at 1:00 PM--or so we told ourselves when we learned Hour 1 is always 8:00 AM sharp--so we had to find the ingredients for the brew recipe fast. We re-contacted a few of those magical acquaintances again to ask about griffin's milk cheese, ground jackalope meat, and bleached ghost dust, and they were all able to spare us enough to make the recipe, but we were still missing just one thing: a dragon's tooth. We don't know any dragons, nor any magical creatures brave enough to snag a dragon's tooth from the mouth of one of the enormous beasts, and with only three minutes left, we were beginning to panic.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a clash on the window. It sounded as if a rock had been thrown, and when we walked over to inspect it, we were thoroughly flabbergasted. In the cloudy sky outside our house swirled the shadow of a dragon as big as the car in the driveway. It seemed to notice us when we opened the window, almost like it had been waiting for us to do so--and it had.

We raced outside and the dragon landed in the very tiny strip of woods behind our house, to which we followed it, praying this wasn't a trap of sorts and we weren't about to be lured into the woods and swallowed whole. Luckily for us, 'twas not the case at all.

There in the woods sat--on top of a few bushes and small trees it has knocked over and crushed--a huge sage green dragon, looking not much in the mood to kill us after all. In fact, it appeared it'd come to help when it spit out a tooth at our feet. The dragon glared at the both of us so deeply we both swore it knew something we didn't--and suddenly, the color of its scales was awfully familiar. I could practically feel Silkworm thinking the same thing--but then as quickly as it came, the dragon took off.

Silkworm and I looked at each other (no time for purging our curiosities), then the tooth, then the door to our house, and before we knew it, we were scurrying back inside as quick as my feet could take us (Silkworm had been on my shoulder the whole time). The minute we arrived back in my room was the same minute the brew had been thrown together, and we took it outside to boil it over a fire, like the recipe we'd found read.

We were able to brew the potion in less than a minute--it melted rather quick--and Silkworm chugged down a cupful without hesitation to add even another millisecond. It was hard to tell if it worked, because #1, we weren't sure how close it was to 1:00, #2, we weren't sure if a cupful was enough, and #3, the potion didn't seem to ameliorate his symptoms much less clear them up. Nevertheless, we had to assume everything was okay after a few minutes passed and Silkworm didn't look anything like a pile of mush. Another five hours later, Silkworm sipped another cupful, completely aware of the horrific taste since he wasn't focused on anything else, this time. I had to force-feed him the next one last night.

In between the doses, we got to talking about the dragon that gave us the tooth, and we've come to the solid conclusion that it had to have been the Valentine's Day full moon dragon, the one that hatched from the tiny egg Silkworm coughed up. It had to be; there was simply something in its gaze, and, well, it wore the same sage green scales! Naturally, he'd grown like a weed since we last saw him for hardly five seconds, but it was him. We're absolutely positive.

What we're not so sure about is how he knew we were in a pickle and exactly what it was we needed to get ourselves out. We wondered if perhaps the full moon last week had anything to do with the dragon's arrival; perhaps Silkworm, under the control of the moon, knew he would be getting sick (that is to say, the disease could have been in its incubation stage) and let out that roar as a call to alert the dragon? As silly as we feel saying it out loud, we've been thoroughly considering the fact that we might be the designated protectees of a guardian dragon. That seems like a reasonable explanation, but we feel so small and insignificant to simply assume such a huge thing. I don't know. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if our theory is proven a fact.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Life Motto Bunting

Yesterday morning, on a whim, Silkworm and I decided to cut out, from paper, all 74 letters in our life motto. I'm sure we've brought it up before. It's a popular quote by Charles Bukowski that goes:

"We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."
We've never stumbled across a bunch of words that did anything close to what those words do to our insides. I think it pops into my head at least once a day; I'd even venture to say twice, or even thrice on certain days. I would love for Death to be so afraid at the thought of whisking me away from Earth. That's the ending we strive to live our lives for.

Anyway, we strung up a piece of twine zig-zagging from wall to wall in the corner of my room next to my closet, where the bare paneling had been begging for decoration, and then we glued on those 74 paper letters in order. Instantly, we fell in love with the shadows that were cast onto the wall. Those were unexpected and only added to our adoration of our new garland. Now, every morning when we wake up, we'll be greeted by our motto so it'll be floating fresh in our heads for the rest of the day.

Please oh please, I beg you to feel obligated to share your life motto in the comments, if you do have one! And if you're fond of ours, adopt it for yourself. The butterflies that fluttered in your stomach when you first read it will thank you every time it washes up in your head again.

Suggestion: If you're not a fan of mottoes, perhaps a daily reminder would be a better idea, something like "go on an adventure" or "go outside" or "your insides are pretty".

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Uncustomary's Monthly Marvels

A few days ago, I was surprised by a particular email in my inbox telling me I'd been secondarily picked as the winner of Mary's Monthly Marvels giveaway. A squeal slipped out, though I'm sure Mary could not hear it all the way in Baltimore. Yesterday, that package I'd won made it's appearance on my front porch. Madre found it and brought it in for me, and the minute I heard of it's arrival, it was all I was waiting to go home for.

This month's box was themed something along the lines of "the extraordinary in the ordinary", and 'twas delightfully filled with all kinds of goodies that made Silkworm and I ooh and aw, like the adorable umbrella socks I'm wearing on my feet right this very moment (the same pair I cooed over when I saw them in Target a week or so ago).

Oddly enough, but perhaps appropriately in tune with the theme, our favorite goodie happened to be the neon pink tassel tied around the Clueless DVD. I took it off and tied it around my neck as a necklace for the night.

In a word--marvelous. Thank you so so much for everything, Mary--and a special thanks to Chewy Tulip for the cutesy clothespin! It's currently holding my favorite photo I've ever taken on my string lights in my bedroom. I can't say it enough: thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 14th's Full Moon

With the full moon's peak planned for 3:16 in the afternoon, Silkworm and I pretty much woke up, watched the sunrise to calm down and prepare for the day ahead, ate breakfast, packed my lunch for work, and his consciousness was kidnapped just as I was leaving. I had no choice but to take him with me.

Unfortunately, when Silkworm is under mind control of the full moon, his hiding instinct seems to be turned off, so I had little hope in being able to keep him hidden while doing my job. The only thing I could think to do was lock him in my work locker and check up on him every now and then. I know the both of us once said we were too afraid to lock him up during full moons, but with no other brighter ideas to try out, I went ahead and did just that.

The whole morning was one big worry-fest, but when I first checked up on him at my lunch break, he was still there, babbling nonsense and rolling around, and it didn't look as if he'd developed any superpowers or anything of the sort. I wasn't going to let our seemingly good luck tear my guard down, though.

The next time I checked up on him was right before the peak, and still it appeared as if this full moon had nothing extraordinary planned--but then, come 3:16, Silkworm froze and let out the most bizarre sound I'd ever heard. It was somewhat of a growl and a siren mixed together in perfect cacophony. Almost instantaneously after the sound had faded, he gained his own consciousness back with a shake and a shiver. It was curiously early for the moon to be dropping its grip on his mind. Silkworm said he felt funny, and oddly perturbed. He stayed in my locker for the rest of the work day and nothing strange happened.

(We couldn't photograph the moon last night because it was too cloudy to see it, so this is an old photo from July 2013)

When we got home, I finally got to tell him what happened over dinner. We talked about how nervous we both get when there's no distinct finale to let you know the show's over, but at the same time, we agreed it was best not to waste our time worrying about it, so we snuggled up to get lost in a book instead.

One uneventful full moon was enough, but two rather boring ones in a row is certainly unnerving. Next time a full moon comes, it'll be here on my birthday at 12:12 AM, on Friday the 13th. Every time we look at the calendar, we're intimidated. I hope this full moon has nothing sinister to do with the next.

Read about how full moons affect Silkworm here, and read more full moon stories here!

Rattie Piñata

There was no reason behind the party other than the urge to celebrate Hadley and Quibble's existence, on top of having always wanted to see how they would react to a piñata full of goodies. We dumped a pre-breakfast snack into the colorful tube and hung it on the wall, and instantaneously, they pounced on it, shredding and pulling and quickly ripping a hole in the bottom from which tiny pieces of cashews poured out. I suppose you could say they went nuts!

For any other rattie owners out there, or other small animal owners, Silkworm and I wanted to share how we made our piñata.

Only give piñatas to small animals that know the difference between food and tissue paper, and ALWAYS SUPERVISE your animals with such toys! Also, if your animals have food aggression, DO NOT let them play with the same toy at the same time! Make them separate piñatas and/or give them turns.

Toilet paper tube (or paper towel tube)
Tissue paper
Single-hole puncher
Elastic-y string

Step One: Glue a square of tissue paper on the edges of the bottom of the cardboard tube. Cut or rip off the excess tissue paper.

Step Two: Pour treats and goodies into your piñata.

Step Three: Cut out a rectangle of tissue paper long enough to wrap around your toilet paper tube and about two inches wide. Paint a line of glue on one end of the rectangle only halfway down the edge, and glue it to the tube. Wrap the rest of the rectangle around, and glue the other edge down in the same fashion.

Step Four: Cut 1-inch-long fringes in the tissue paper.

Step Five: Add another layer of fringes the same way you made the first layer. Keep adding layers of fringes like so until you get to the last fringe, which will be made out of a narrower rectangle of tissue paper (about 1 1/4-inch or less).

Step Six: At the opening of your piñata, hole punch two holes on opposite sides. Thread elastic-y string through one hole into the next, and tie a knot with both ends.

Step Seven: Glue a square of tissue paper on the edges of the top of the cardboard tube, like you did with the bottom in Step One. Cut or rip off excess tissue paper.

Hang your piñata up for whatever critter you made it for and let them sniff out the goods, thus subsequently biting and clawing at the tissue paper 'til the floor is happily garnished with colorful shreds.

Quibble and Hadley's piñata hardly lasted a couple minutes.

Monday, May 12, 2014

10 Things to Do Once a Day

Silkworm and I have taken it upon ourselves to write a list of daily recommendations suitable for every human on Earth, as well as magical stuffed animals. Make these your habits, and you'll be waking up excited to get on with the day in no time.

1. Peek at the sky.
It doesn't matter when or where or what color it is when you do. Murky grey can be just as satisfying as glowing orange or star-speckled black. While you're looking upward, let your mind wander. Sometimes you'll think of yourself or the people you know, and sometimes you'll think of everybody in the world, or even the world itself, or problems, or happy things, or the universe, or the unknown. Looking at the sky does that to people.

2. Let something hypnotize you.
Get lost in a happening motion. Focus your eyes on something specific, like a fan or a cloud, and lock your gaze for a minute or two. Zone out.

3. Say "thank you" (preferably out loud).
It doesn't have to be said to another person. You could say it to a tree, for giving you oxygen. Really, you could say it to anything; there's always reasons to be thankful for virtually everything, even the things that at first glance appear poisonous to your well-being. You just have to have an optimistic bias, and then you'll realize even though wasps buzz around with their stingers prepped for unprovoked battle, they're controlling the populations of caterpillars and flies. If you're struggling to think of something, I find there's always a reason to thank nature: rain, birds, flowers, the astonishingly synchronized harmony of it all. Focus on this thing you picked and let it engulf you in hope and joy.* Being thankful has been proven to be a very important and beneficial factor of happiness, so you'd be wise to do it once a day!

*This doesn't mean you're not allowed to be upset; it simply means when you are upset, remember that whatever is bothering you isn't the only thing the world or your life is made of.

4. Play a game.
As impossible as it may sound to play a game every single day, you'd be surprised how easy it is. A "game" doesn't have to classify as a board game or something along the lines of hide-and-seek. You could simply play Premonition Bingo while on errands. There's always room for fun, and if you're not having it once a day, you're missing out!

5. Take such a deep breath that you're reminded of your privilege to do so.
Steal as much air as you can fit in your lungs and hold onto it for a moment before spilling it back where it came from.

6. Go outside.
Eat a meal out there sitting in the grass. Stay out as long as you possibly can. Soak up the sun and make some vitamin D. Listen to the birds; maybe you'll hear a call you've never heard before. Even if it's raining, get outside and don't go back inside until you're drenched.

7. Quote yourself.
Pick something you said today and write it down somewhere. It's the easiest journal to keep, and it holds more memory than you'd think. When you look back at them, the vague quotes will spark memories in your head about particular days.

8. Continue a perpetual scavenger hunt.
Each day, pick something to search for. It could be an object (a balloon), a phrase of words said ("thank you"), a piece of clothing being worn (a sequin shirt)--anything! If you make it simple enough, you'll win the hunt several times every day.

9. Have an adventure.
And let me be quick to clarify, an adventure is not always or necessarily some extravagant journey. Adventuring is being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone, even if you only stick your pinkie toe out for the hokey pokey. Having one adventure a day keeps the icky feelings away--you know, the ones that keep trying to tell you you're boring. Nobody who steps out of their comfort zone once a day is boring.

10. Surprise a stranger with kindness or creativity.
"Everyday?" Sure, why not? They don't get enough of either. If you're thinking it's too much work, you're over-thinking it. Bring sticky notes with you wherever you go so you can leave inspirational quotes on people's cars. Leave a quarter in a candy machine. Send someone a nice anonymous message on Tumblr. Leave message stones around in the store or at the park. I think it's the unconventionality that throws people off. We're not trained to prioritize bringing smiles to other people's faces, but it's easier to make someone's life magical than most people immediately believe, and gosh, is it rewarding to be the reason for someone's happiness!

If you don't think you've got enough time on your hands to fit all ten things into your daily schedule,  you're wrong. You could potentially squeeze everything into a ten-minute time span, if it means a lot to you and you try hard enough. Go on, I dare you. Savor life for ten minutes a day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Catching Nightmares

After allowing Silkworm to help me make our dream catcher yesterday, we didn't notice anything enchanted about it until just before we fell asleep. We had tucked ourselves in bed all comfy cozy when all of a sudden, the dream catcher sort of...turned on.

It hummed a kind of white noise and glowed faintly blue. Silkworm and I stared, mystified. Seconds passed, and then suddenly, the blue light pulsed, along with a sharper buzz, like a bug zapper electrocuting an unfortunate moth. It was catching dreams.

Usually, Silkworm's powers don't enchant things in a predictable manner, so we were quite surprised to see our dream catcher doing the expected job of it's design. Perhaps it wasn't even his magic that enchanted it; perhaps all dream catchers really work. We stayed up for a couple hours to watch it. I counted sixteen pulses before I lost count, and Silkworm said he counted twenty five without losing count. A few were more exaggerated than others, and one even temporarily turned the blue light to green. We were intrigued to see how many nightmares were around to be caught and wondered what happens to them when there's not a net around. Do all of them get inside our heads and we just don't remember them? Do they ever get in our heads? Is there a filter in the dream catcher, and do we have to clean it out regularly to keep it working?

Though it was more of a show than a lesson on dreams, knowing we've got nightmare protection over our heads while we're sleeping from now on is certainly comforting. We did have our doubts about what the dream catcher would do while we were sleeping, but a good night's rest seemed to be enough to prove its innocence. We're still weary about it, since it's hard to be sure of anything that's been exposed to Silkworm's magic, but nonetheless, there's nothing we can do now, so we might as well enjoy it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dressed Up Dream Catcher

Silkworm and I seem to be magnets for bad dreams, lately. We're not sure if it's a magical fluke or what, but whatever it is, we decided it's time to at least try to do something about it. Sleep is supposed to give your mind and body a rest, not provide optimal nightmare cultivation conditions.

Fresh flexible vines
Twine or some kind of thin string
Thin wire
Wire cutters
Feathers, beads, ribbons, yarn, etc.

Step One: Wrap the vines into a circle of whatever size you'd like. Two or more vines twisted together will work best. Wrap the ends tightly together with wire to finish your dream catcher base.

Step Two: Weave your twine the way the pattern shown in the photo below demonstrates, so as to make the netting of your dream catcher that's meant to capture bad dreams like a spider's web catches foolish dinner. If you've got beads you'd like to string onto the netting, you should do that as you weave the pattern (unless you'd rather string them onto a separate thread and simply weave the second thread on later). You can use an embroidery needle if you're having trouble getting the beads on the twine.

Step Three: Tie a piece of string onto the circle in two places to use to hang the dream catcher.

Step Four: Add decorations galore. Cut up old fabric and tuck it in the holes, tie strips of ribbon onto the circle, wrap the circle with yarn--anything you can think of! (We wrapped ours with art yarn from Madre's spinning adventures.)

And there you have it! We've never had a dream catcher before, so we can't speak for the truth in their fabled powers just yet. We'll have to see how it works tonight.

I should note that I did let Silkworm help me out a little bit in the making of our dream catcher, kind of on accident and kind of on purpose at the same time. I've been feeling bad that he hasn't got to make things with his paws for a while, so when he reached to add a feather onto one of the strings, I didn't stop him, and then when he hesitated himself, I encouraged him with a nod. Perhaps it was a mistake, but sometimes you just gotta take a risk. Naturally, we're expecting it to show off how Silkworm's magic has enchanted it, but it hasn't done anything out of the ordinary yet--and I guess if something does happen, we'll never know if it was Silkworm's magic or the dream catcher working its own magic. Anyway, we hung it up over my bed and we've been keeping a close eye on it, fingers crossed for harmlessness. We'll let you know what happens!

Friday, May 9, 2014


We woke up to a foggy morning, and after reading a bit of The Night Circus, the fog was accompanied by a drizzle, which commanded us to jump out of bed, because naturally, to us, rain means miniature sailing adventures, and we haven't had enough of those lately. Even better, we took the opportunity to try out our newest nutshell boat, an alleged hickory nutshell, which we decided not to build a sail onto simply because we thought it would make a nice row boat instead.

And it made a very nice row boat indeed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Document a Day with a Dispoable Camera

This is what a particularly slow day at work looks like.

(Note: The camera had 27 exposures, but 3 could not be developed, and I left out a couple for privacy.)

I think people feel more obligated to document exciting days than boring ones, but then you miss out on the magical charm of the ordinary. When you've got a camera in your hands with limited exposures to shoot and a quest to turn those exposures into meaningful and relevant exemplary snippets of your entire day, you start to look for and recognize what's so special about a typical day in the life of yourself. You'll find yourself snapping a photo of the sky at the precise moment you had some kind of epiphany, just so you can remember what it looked like in that moment. Plus--though I don't think it needs to be said; it's said quite enough and you can see it for yourself--there's something a film photo does to your heart. I've tried and tried to explain it, but I don't think words can do justice for the feeling. Film makes a memory look like it's from a long long time ago, and you were only a character in it's simple little story.

Perhaps a further challenge might inspire you. Don't develop the film for yourself. Decorate the camera and leave it somewhere for a stranger to stumble upon. Humans can't resist peeking into other humans lives. If you want a copy of the film for yourself, use duct tape to secure two cameras side by side and just press both shutters simultaneously (one with your left hand, one with your right) whenever you take a picture. Personally, I (and Silkworm) have an idea with this technique in mind, but we'll tell you all about that later once our plans have been properly executed.

In the mean time, try this for yourself. Document a day with a disposable camera--and keep us in mind when you get those photos developed; naturally, we wanna see. We're nosey; you understand?
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