Happy Earth Day 2015 at the Desert Museum

Happy Earth Day 2015 at the Desert Museum

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Happy Earth Day 2015!

We visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum this weekend and in honor of Earth Day,  we have some pictures to share with you.

Can you see the first animal?

sheep earth day

Who’s there?


It’s the Bighorn Sheep!

sheep earth day

This little lamb was born on April 1st. You can read more about her on the Desert Museum website. How cute is she?

sheep earth day

A Bighorn Ram sticking his tongue out at us.

sheep earth day

Another new addition to the Museum is this thirteen-month old Black Bear cub.

bear earth day

Her name is Strawberry, as recently determined by fans of the Desert Museum. Read more about her on the Museum’s website.

bear earth day

And here is our final picture: the Museum’s Mountain Lion, lounging in the shade. You can read more about the Desert Museum’s Mountain Lion here.

lion earth day

It is wonderful to spend a day appreciating the beautiful world we live in. We hope you had a magnificent Earth Day!

Paper Airplanes

Paper Airplanes

posted in: DIY & Crafts, Entertainment, Home and Garden, Photography, Poetry | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The Enchanted Paper


Fifteen more minutes until the bell,

What shall we do after show and tell?


In a folder, lies an old worksheet,

Maybe we can fold and pleat


To make the paper into something more:

An agile airplane that will soar.


Like the birds that fly above

Like an eagle or a dove


To take us off the ground in flight

A nine year old becomes a Brother, Wright.


-Z.Y. Doyle



This poem was inspired by:

Swallow Paper Airplane


Favorite plane that really looks like a bird.

Instructions HERE.


Nakamura Lock

Nakamura Lock

Made this after reading about it in Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger.

Instructions HERE.

Take special note of Step 3. When folding wings, the edge of wing must be even with bottom of the plane.


A Word on Paper Plane Technique

Successful flight depends on a gentle release!

Throw it like you are launching a baby bird into flight. Throw firmly, but tenderly.


What is your favorite type of paper airplane? Do you have any fun paper airplane stories? Please post any comments or questions below.


Enjoy “Enchanted Paper”?

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Tucson Festival of Books: Longmire

Tucson Festival of Books: Longmire

posted in: Entertainment, Fiction, Our Work, Television | 7 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

In my earlier post about the Tucson Festival of Books, I promised to tell you about the ticket process at the Festival and my time at the panel, “Longmire and Me.” Here is the low down:

Presenting…Ticket Time!

During previous years (when there were no tickets), we had observed the long lines of people waiting to see famous authors speaking in the largest venue at the Festival, the Student Union Ballroom. We just shook our heads and said,

“That will never be us. No one could be worth waiting to see in that long line.”

But when we heard there would be tickets available for the largest venues this year, our interest was piqued. Maybe, just maybe, we could see a famous author or two.

When we heard that Craig Johnson would be there with Walt (Robert Taylor) and Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), we were ready to log onto the Festival website and reserve the tickets as soon as they were available. While we were at it, we also reserved tickets to see a panel featuring Lisa See, Jean Kwok, and Amy Tan.

Ticket Reality…

So Saturday arrived and we were excited to try out the new powerful tickets. These magical tickets surely meant that we could bypass the never-ending line of misery…

We arrived to the Lisa See, Jean Kwok, and Amy Tan panel twenty minutes before the start, just like the tickets had prescribed. We saw the line stretched down the hallway and sighed. Then we started to follow it.

It just kept going and going and going and going.

The line snaked in and out of rooms and down hallways. By the time we reached the end, they had already merged the ticket line with the non-ticket line (25% of the seats were reserved for walk-ins) and we just gave up. Instead, we decided to attend a different panel of two animators turned illustrators, Molly Idle and John Rocco. It was excellent and no tickets were required.

Newbies No More!

With this experience in mind, we decided more drastic measures were required for Sunday’s Longmire session.

We arrived at 10:15 (even though the panel was not set to begin until 11:30). There were already about fifty people in line! We were surprised, but pleased that we were at least assured a good seat. We had brought sandwiches with us and chowed down on a nice brunch while waiting.

(Side note: The lines for food at the vendors for lunch are SO long during the peak lunch hours (11-1). It takes at least an hour out of your day if you buy your lunch. The breaks between panels are only half an hour. We bought our lunches our first year attending the festival, and have brought our lunches every year since.)

The time went by pretty quickly because we had our phones. Whenever you have your phone, you will never be bored. The Internet was practically invented to cure boredom. I spent most of my time on StumbleUpon. My favorite stumble was a post: “15 Before-And-After Photos Of Cats Growing Up.” Click it! You know you need some more cute cats in your life right now!

At about 11:15, they opened the doors and we began to file into the ballroom. The first three rows in the middle section were reserved, but we snagged seats in the sixth row, which were not too shabby (especially since the tickets were FREE!) On the whole, the ticketing system was a brilliant idea by the organizers of the Festival. The process was extremely smooth and all the volunteers were kind and informative.

Walt, Henry, and The Creator

We settled into our seats and waited for the hundreds of others behind us in line to do the same. There was a gentle buzz of excited conversation filling the ballroom. (We are here to see a famous writer AND actors! How lucky are we?) A couple people proudly sported “The Red Pony Bar & Grill” shirts, which we admired with envy. We found them later as being available for purchase on Craig Johnson’s website.

Here is a picture of their empty seats.

Empty Seats

Finally, they arrived and the crowd erupted.

Please Be Seated

Confession Time

We have not read a single Longmire book. Pretty terrible, right? We have however, seen every single episode of the Longmire television show. We own the first book by Craig Johnson, The Cold Dish: A Longmire Mystery, but just have not found the time to read it yet… but hopefully that will change soon.

The show is absolutely fantastic! We happened onto it during the second season on A&E. They were playing a marathon before the new episode that evening.

The first scene we saw was of a black horse running free, mane ripping through the wind, nostrils flared as the beautiful creature drew in each ragged breath. The sky was so pure blue, like lapis lazuli, and the ground was golden brown, dust flying in a haze behind the horse. Then this rugged cowboy appeared on screen, raising a lasso above his head. It was like a painting!

I mean, COME ON!

How could you not be hooked? This show captures the very essence of the romance of the West. I could next go on a rant about how ridiculous it was of A&E to cancel Longmire, but no matter. We will definitely be watching season 4 on Netflix. And you should too! It is an AMAZING show.

Highlights of the Panel

Lou Diamond Phillips (Henry Standing Bear) is a very engaging and funny man! He was excited to be back in Tucson because the last time he had visited was for filming Young Guns II, released in 1990.

  •      Prior to auditioning, Mr. Phillips read all the Longmire books to get a sense of his character. He knows Henry so well that he has pointed out to the writers that Henry Standing Bear doesn’t (does not) use contractions.
  •      When Mr. Phillips joined Longmire’s cast, he visited with Cheyenne elders in Montana. He had played Native Americans before, but never a Cheyenne. He wanted to go the extra step to really make sure he was faithfully representing the Cheyenne Nation.

Robert Taylor (who plays Walt Longmire) is a man of few words. He didn’t have much of an Australian accent that day, but he did give a little sample for the audience.

  •      He admitted he was a bit nervous as he looked out across the hoard of fans. (We must confess that this surprised us. He seems so calm and collected, on TV and in person.)
  •      He told us a bit about how he got into acting in Australia: He saw an ad for an acting school in the newspaper. When asked how his character, Walt, has developed over the seasons, he remarked in an understated way, “Not much.” He really is just like Walt!
  •      On a separate note, we recently saw Mr. Taylor on PBS on an Australian show, Mr. and Mrs. Murder (specific episode: “A Flare for Murder”). It was great to hear his Australian accent in all its glory. Also, did you know he was in The Matrix?

Craig Johnson is a well-spoken and down-to-earth guy. He talked about how he used to be precious about his writing time. He had to be at his desk, sitting in his chair, drinking from his coffee cup. But in the past year, he spent more than two hundred days on the road on a global book tour. Now he writes wherever he is, be that in his hotel or waiting at a train station. He commented that no matter where he writes, whenever he writes Longmire, he feels like he is home.

We shall close with an excellent story about Craig Johnson and Lou Diamond Phillips.

Recently, Mr. Johnson was invited to give a graduation speech for a high school on a local Native American reservation in Wyoming. However, he found out he was scheduled for a book tour stop elsewhere on that day. He was really bummed that he couldn’t give the speech. Then he mentioned it in passing to Lou Diamond Phillips, who promptly offered to give the speech for him. Craig Johnson accepted, Lou Diamond Phillips did as promised, and the high school had the biggest turnout ever for a graduation ceremony. What a heart-warming story!

If that doesn’t make you want to support the Longmire franchise, what will? Plus, there is a wonderful community of Longmire fans on Twitter, lead by the supreme Longmire Posse. You should follow them! While you’re at it, follow Craig Johnson and Lou Diamond Phillips!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Flower Friends

Flower Friends

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I hope you enjoy this collection of flowers from my garden.



“In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”
― Okakura Kakuzō, The Book Of Tea



Happy Spring!


Bonus Material:

Read more about Okakura Kakuzō

Read The Book of Tea on Project Gutenberg

Learn how to collect pansy seeds on The Paper Gardener


Tucson Festival of Books: Weirdness, Memoir and YODA!

Tucson Festival of Books: Weirdness, Memoir and YODA!

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The Year of the Bobcat. That’s what 2015 was at the Tucson Festival of Books. Our fourth year attending the festival was our best yet!

This year was also the first year the festival has offered tickets for the most popular panels. We attended one (Longmire and Me) and it was a very smooth process. However, we will be writing more about that in a later post.

The rest of this post is full of highlights and nuggets from MG and YA authors who generously shared their time and expertise with festival attendees.


“Story Interrupted: Moving In and Out of Time and Space in YA”

E. Lockhart, Jo Knowles, Andrew Smith



1. Jo Knowles emphasized the importance of writing from the heart and writing what speaks to you. (So true!!!) She also discussed how she frequently writes (much to her chagrin) a “discovery draft” in which she writes the story in a different tense and point of view from what the story eventually ends up being.


2. Andrew Smith usually wakes at three in the morning to write. He can do this because he does not watch television. (How is this possible?) He writes from beginning to end and then presses send (All in one draft! Wow!).


3. E. Lockhart often writes fifteen to twenty full drafts with “global changes” (big plot or character additions or deletions) before she gets to the story she wants to tell. She also said my favorite quote of the panel, “I only have the weirdness in my own head to work with.” (That’s true for everyone!)



“I only have the weirdness in my own head to work with.” -E. Lockhart



“Memoirs Matter: Our Lives as Story”

Jacqueline Woodson, Marilyn Nelson, Katherine Paterson



1. All three panelists stressed that when writing a memoir, there are many ways to tell the story of your life.

2. You have the power to leave things out. It is your truth to tell.

3. Also remember to “talk to the old folks,” because they won’t be around forever.


On Jacqueline Woodson:

The main reason we attended this panel was to see Ms. Jacqueline Woodson. We first discovered Ms. Woodson’s work while perusing audiobooks at the local library.  Miracle’s Boys looked interesting and was read by Dulé Hill. That book made me cry several times! Highly recommend it. I am currently reading After Tupac and D Foster and find it just as captivating and insightful. Ms. Woodson has a gift!

Here are two points Ms. Woodson made during the panel that we found particularly insightful.

1. In fiction, you write characters from the outside-in. As you write, you get to know them better. In memoir, you already know the characters, so you need to write them inside-out. (Brilliant way of describing it!)

2. Ms. Woodson also said in her writing, she always tries to provide the reader mirrors to see themselves, as well as windows to see others. (That is so spot on! Even though I am a twenty something woman, I felt all of Lafayette’s pain and confusion in Miracle’s Boys. Laf, Ty’ree and Charlie were all mirrors and windows for me as a reader.)


The "Where's Waldo" Scavenger Hunt was a fun attraction at the festival.
The “Where’s Waldo” Scavenger Hunt was a fun attraction at the festival.


“Girl Power: Stand Up! Take Charge!”

Ally Carter, Jenny Han, Sarah Mlynowski



1. Ally Carter: Always ask yourself “How can things go wrong?” and “What’s the worst that can happen?”


2. Jenny Han: Be honest and truthful to the characters and the story. Always ask yourself what feels realistic to the character? Won’t work if it sounds contrived


3. Sarah Mlynowski: It’s ok to mess up. It may even end up being a better situation. (This applies in Whatever After series and in real life). Also, she said that she writes a full outline of the book. Whenever she gets stuck, she moves to a different part of the outline.


“Art2-D2: An Origami Yoda Folding Workshop”

Tom Angleberger



We are huge Origami Yoda fans. We first saw Mr. Angleberger at the Los Angeles Festival of Books in 2013.  It was a pleasure to see him again this past weekend.

I have no idea how many times we walked straight past his books at Costco and Barnes and Noble, but I now regret that lost time- especially since the series has ended with Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus. The books capture the exact essence of my middle school experience. Just amazing!

Here are some pictures from the session:

An Ewok named Larry
My very own Origami Yoda!!!
Origami Star Wars Galaxy and Tom Angleberger





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Life is not an exact science

To be analyzed, poked, and prodded

It will laugh as your best-laid plan

Comes unknotted


Life rollicks and frolics

Dazes and amazes

Watching you go

Through all of your phases


Straining and aging

Waxing and waning

Then one day, we vanish

Simple matter, ever-changing

-Z.Y. Doyle


Enjoy “Ever-changing”?

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