Friday, February 10, 2017

Tropical Staycation

I have fallen for a fish. This arapaima is beautiful and enormous. You can learn more about him here:


As part of self-care, I have to get out of the house. I need the distraction from my own pain and worries and the escape from social media constantly reminding me that America is in danger. (I also need to escape social media so I don't buy more political t-shirts--of course I have been donating to LDS Humanitarian Aid instead.) 

I long to travel, but my body objects, finances are carefully controlled, and my first plan to mooch a trip with my parents is in May.

But I have found a solution. I can now take mini vacations, so far weekly, to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper, Utah. I bought a membership which will pay for itself after about two more visits. 

It is a large, two story building divided into five main environments: Utah, Ocean, Antarctic, Asian Rainforest, and South American Rainforest. There is really too much to see in one visit, but attempting to see it all took my family two hours. 

The biggest draws are the otters (three from Utah, two from Asia) and the gentoo penguins. Getting to pet starfish and stingrays is pretty awesome too.

But South America is my favorite. It takes about a quarter of the building on both stories, with a full wall of windows and rainforest heat and humidity. There are no mammals in this exhibit, but there are free-flying birds, jungle plants, caimans, piranha, poison dart frogs, and a fifteen-foot-long anaconda. There is also a waterfall and a series of little streams with fresh water rays and tiny fish you may have in a home aquarium. 

Though I am a desert girl in my soul, my skin disagrees. What little humidity we have out here has been frozen for months. My whole body itches. I have not been without coldsores since before Thanksgiving.

South America makes me feel better. My muscles relax in the heat. Humidity softens my skin. Even the noise helps. The combination of piped-in drums and bird song mixed with children laughing or crying apparently matches the ambient sound level I got used to while teaching middle school. I think better there. 

Thinking while there is particularly nice because I am trying to write a novel set in the Orinoco river area of Venezuela. What I know comes from books and television. I can now add the aquarium to my sources.

 Good thing this is a horror novel, so the need for accuracy is limited. (Don't expect this novel any time soon. I started months ago and am beginning chapter 2.)

There is also gentle exercise involved. I walk up a ramp through the penguins, then down a ramp in South America. If I feel lively, I can walk both or either ramp twice. There are stairs if I get really ambitious and elevators if things become desperately bad. No matter what, there are plenty of benches and other perches (throughout the aquarium) where I can sit to rest or write. 

The aquarium is mostly inhabited people-wise with mothers and grandmothers herding toddlers, but this weird blue-haired lady with a notebook is now a regular too.

(I'm having trouble with captions today, but all of my pictures come from the aquarium website linked above. That weird mammal you are wondering about is a binturong from the Asia exhibit. You can learn more about each of these creatures on-line or at the aquarium.)


Hats sell best in my shop, so I decided to make a few more, starting with my best-selling Space Invaders,

and then a couple of lizards inspired by the aquarium.

I have a couple other projects on needles right now, in particular one from a yarn subscription through The yarn is gorgeous, but I had a different idea from the patterns they sent. I'll let you know if it works out next week.


So, I have another state-sponsored doctor appointment tomorrow for disability assessment. The info said it might take up to two hours!?

 My husband has been home sick, so I've tried to devote some of my feeble nursing, or at least hot-beverage-making skills on him.

I'm tired. I'm not sure the human condition is ever not overwhelming. Nevertheless - - -


Though the commentary is aimed at women, I think men, at least the introspective men I have lived with, face a similar sort of confusion. There are so many voices, inside and out, judging us and telling us what to do. I'm adding my voice as well because 

My opinion is that you should be kind to yourself this week. I'll try to do likewise.

Here is a link to a project that could help you be kind to yourself and someone else  It is a bit chaotic, but also a chance to do something kind for a stranger.


  1. I have often wanted to write a children's book about a family of ducks. I have gone so far as naming them. Now i just need to write the darn thing.

    As for Elizabeth Warren? Thank God she did.

  2. Ducks often choose to nest in the atrium of the school where I worked. It's a great safe place for a next, but not for finding food, so on quiet days without students the custodians and secretaries carefully herd duck families through the halls and out the door closest to a canal. I'm sure your ducks will also find an interesting adventure.