Yellow Index Cards: Duck Nappers Anonymous

Right now I’m pretty sure the look my dog is giving me is saying, “Remind me why you’re doing this again?”

“Because, Bird,” I say. “This was funny once, so it must be funny now. In fact, I just laughed out loud, and this was 13 years ago. What?”

Birdy continues to look at me quizzically, which is an expression she seems to reserve for particularly perplexing moments. At the sound of the flatbed scanner sweeping, she retreats into the other room. She would normally be at my feet and has exited to protest the futility of her life, with her head on her crossed paws. From the futile padding of her pink reclining chair. Gazing dolefully at her favorite futile play-thing.


Mrs. Robertson’s 1995-96 AP Biology class was simultaneously the most boring and the most entertaining class of my day. I was terrible at science, so I didn’t pay that much attention. But I have always been committed to finding creative forms of self-entertainment and looked forward to the 90 minutes I had every day to practice that. It’s an only-child thing.

The neighborhood kids thought there was something wrong with me because I never came outside. They knew I was in there and imagined me (they told me later) perched in my second-story dormer window, hoping emphatically I would be asked to join in.


I was more likely sprawled blissfully on the gray fox shag carpet in the living room floor, listening to Beatles records on my dad’s hi-fi with his expensive padded headphones over my miniscule ears instead of the tinny $10 Sony Walkman headphones that I owned.


Or I was digging holes under the backyard holly tree to give a proper burial to the most recent prey of my two fat orange tabby cats. (Two of the more pitiable victims were two tiny identical gray mice, who I named Eeeky and Squeeky and carved an epithet for, into the smooth green bark of the holly on its eastern side.)


Or I was perched on the smooth, flat riverstone that lay at the entrance to my mother’s pastel azalea grove on the north side of the house, writing poems and stories in a journal and imagining myself as a famous writer, imagining herself in such an idyllic spot.


Me (L), Jenny. Yes, we are still that cute. Though not nearly as tan.

My fellow only-child buddy and AP Bio lab partner, Jenny, understood this entertainment-of-oneself fascination and encouraged me to explore it during class, for her own entertainment. She aided and abetted by providing me with the very art supplies used to create this frivolous series of sketches. Jenny always had yellow index cards in her backpack. I’m not sure why. I think because she was organized enough to have index cards, but if my gut instinct is correct, she always had yellow ones because it was her least favorite color, and she used the cards in order according to color preference. Okay, really, that would be me. Jenny will have to tell us herself.


For those of you who don’t remember, this is a scene illustrating the story Mrs. Robertson told us one day prior to doing an experiment of some sort on water fowl, about how she had come to obtain the birds we were about to test. Do I remember what we were testing them for, or what the result ended up being? Of course not. I don’t even remember if they were alive or dead. We could have been testing feces or feathers or skin cells. Who knows? But because I documented it, I remember the story of the ducks’ provenance.

In the sketch, Mrs. Robertson is crouched beside the lake at Isothermal Community College, in the next town over. She is there under the cover of night, flashlight and fishing net in hand. Her car is shown parked in the one parking spot available at the lake, waving a flag that reads “Duck Nappers Anonymous.” Near the beam of her flashlight, we see a duck who is obviously freaked out, and a thought bubble by her head explains, “Heh. Heh. Heh. They just THINK I’m getting pond water!”

A second later, a diabolical afternote: “AP Biology SUCKS!”

In the distance, approaching on an access road, is a blue Nissan campus security truck, ego inflated by a flashing light supported by its roof. This type of vehicle was notorious for busting the secretive activities of high school students, whether we were trying to make out or trying to smoke pot on the college’s soccer field, which happened to be surrounded on three sides by thickly forested pine groves. (It was appropriately located on Piney Ridge Road. I like it when things like that make sense.) More than one of us carpet burned our knees in Clark Griswold station-wagons, eluding at high speed on back roads the tin-can, pseudo-po-po in our tanks with the faux-woodgrain accent trim. As if they were Homeland Security. Oh. Wait. That was before Homeland Security existed. I suppose rather than Guantanamo, we feared…not arrest (they weren’t real cops)…not our parents (they probably would have just laughed)…but perhaps embarassment, which is really one of the only things teenagers have to fear in small towns.

Anyway, when Mrs. Robertson mentioned this caper, off-handedly in the build-up to the duck experiment, Jenny and I looked at each other, and then around at our classmates, engaged in their own personal little bubbles of distraction. We shared an expression that we still share often — a sisterly acknowledgement that something is happening here that only the two of us are appreciating. This is a connection on which I still base a part of my evaluations of friendships. Nowadays Jenny lives about a mile and a half from me with her husband, in an actual city, hundreds of miles from where we grew up, and on occasion, we still share that expression. And whenever that happens, my heart just leaps with the excitement of being “in on a secret.”


Crafty Update: Patchwork Panel Pants

My friend Jenny says I should post more stuff about my craft projects, since my blog is called “She’s Crafty.” The problem is that I always forget to take pictures of my projects. Since she made that comment, I’ve been trying to become more diligent about it. These are some slightly ill-fitting (though for $3.50, ill-fitting can be worked with) Goodwill  jeans I altered for her by sewing patchwork panels down the sides. This can also be done with corduroys, chinos, and what have you. Also, skirts. If anyone wants some, let me know. As I always tell Jenny, I enjoy being needed and sharing my crafty skillz, and I am fine with being paid in beer and/or Mexican food. (And so on.)

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Crafty Update: Cosa Verde


Happy to announce that Dote Handmade Goods are now featured by Cosa Verde, a juried site that “connects independent and emerging artists
with environmentally-conscious consumers.” I am proud to be chosen as a marketer on this site, primarily because they planted 10 new trees in my honor. Yay!

Thoughtful Thursday: Special Topics in Calamity Physics


One of the NY Times’ Top 10 Books of 2006. Best book I’ve read in a couple years at least. This is a great description and interview with author. She grew up in Asheville, and those familiar with the town will recognize many things she describes, from schools to shoe stores to neighborhoods.

The story at first glance seems like your typical pretentious-high-school-clique-wreaks-havoc…but there is so much more to this than a dust jacket blurb could convey. Murder mystery, political subversion, lots of twists and turns, great character development. The author has a very innovative writing style that will either annoy the crap out of you or make you want to send her flowers. I personally wanted to beg her to mentor my (nonexistent) writing career. No character or situation turns out to be quite what you think, and I love unpredictable. I was so sad to finish this book, and that doesn’t happen very often.

They’re making a movie, but I highly recommend reading the book before it’s released.