Category Archives: Animal Antics


In 1993, as some of you already know, I began a journey with a very special rabbit. He was originally a stuffed animal I made for our five children for Easter as funds were tight for store bought treats. But he was not content to be just any stuffed animal. He needed a name. Actually he had a name. “It’s Wellington,” he told me. He had a story. I must write it he told me. And so I did.

Thirteen books and a hundred plus illustrations later we reached the end of the book arc but not the story. World wide publishing has yet to come but it will. As I pull out paper Wellington files and dig into the computer for digital files because, even though his story reaches far beyond Easter and embrace no religion, Wellington is the Easter Bunny and spring is his season, I find this rare picture of the actual Wellington Rabbit and a few cards which I pasted below that he sent to us after he moved to Idaho. His story is in the preface to book  V, Lost and Found. Meanwhile ALL of the thirteen Wellington books are now online if PDF format for your instant enjoyment year around. Just click on the Wellington link at the top of my blog, or in the Pages list to the right.

And now Wellington has his own website!  He writes letters when the mood strikes. And all of the books are linked there as well as here.





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Filed under Animal Antics, blog, Chapter book, Children's book, Wellington Easter Bunny, Wellington Rabbit

Culper the Culprit

giphy culper

Coquina Beach with perfect waves and his parents home at last make for a happy pup. He’s in the right family, already a natural surfer.

The road from puppy, to pup, to grown up dog (does this even happen) is fraught with tales of mischief, wide eyed innocence and general mayhem as any caretaker can tell you. The stories are endless, most hilarious later, much later, but at the time not quite so much.

And so I enter the world of pup care for young Culper named after General George Washington’s highly successful spy ring. This group was so covert and shrouded in secrecy to protect the members that Washington himself did not know they names of all the spies. To this day no one knows for sure the name of female Agent 355. The name perfectly fits our sneaky clever pup, although autocorrect culprit possibly fits even better through his growing months.

exploded dog toy

How innocent is that face.

It is while his parents are on vacation that things get interesting. I am called in to pinch hit for the full time caretakers. I enter the house to find an explosion. A toy explosion. How many pieces of fiber fill can be in one small dog toy? Apparently when shredded apart by pup teeth the answer is countless. I know that his caretakers are taking excellent care of him but also have lives and demanding jobs and so I have already decided to take him on a field trip even before I walk in on the explosion. But Culper won’t get in my car. I can lift him in but not being really sure how the field trip is going to play out anyway I opt out.

The backyard will have to do to run off some energy. I am in the porch area stowing my phone to be ready to frolic with Mr. Energy. I don’t see him. But I figure that he is around the corner digging up plants, a favorite pasttime. Actually no, he is not around the corner digging up plants. He has spied a way out and escaped. I have visions of my charge running onto busy Colington Road, or just running free. Panic is setting in. I call Donny all the while calling his name and running toward the front of the house where I find Mr. Culprit investigating whatever in the side yard. I breathe a sigh of relief and lure him to me with apple bits I have in my pocket to reel him in when yard time is over.

broken fence

Freedom trail. Photo credit Donny Ball

Later Donny comes over to repair the fence, a feat unto itself since it was not attached to the house and at that only held up by imagination. It’s getting dark, cold and lack of all but the basic tools challenge this simple job. And rocks in the ground impede any deep digging for the post so Donny Rube Goldberg’s the entire repair using leftovers from Robert’s outside shower construction to create a triangle support system.

My next call of duty reveals plant parts scattered everywhere. Caretaker Ezra tells me that yes, everyday is a different disaster. (He sort of forgot to tell me that the fence was already downed by Mr. Busy. And that he too, temporarily, lost The Kid. “I panicked,” he tells me later. “Lewis would’ve killed me if anything happened to his dog.”) I reason that this pup needs some serious grown up dog chew toys and head to PetSmart for some destruction proof Kongs. They do the trick. He is well behaved the rest of parental vacation.

And then comes the coup de grace. At least in this dog’s life. In my opinion. So far. His parents are home. All is well. I’m asked to go put him to bed. No problem. It’s a short car ride or jog to their abode but I’d do it anyway even if the trip were longer. I arrive, let myself in and greet the happy pup. We head off to the bedroom where disaster has occurred. As Hilarey later describes, “It looked like a huge pile of confetti.” I do not have an incriminating photo but trust me one photo could not have covered the scope. A tasty paperback had been torn page by page. Thoroughly devoured.

genius of dogs

Culper digested, well almost.

Valerie has brought the pup home earlier in the day from his outing on the beach and after seeing how hungry he was for reading material elects not to put him to bed because she doesn’t want him to get into any more trouble. Surely she forgot that this pup, this adorable pup, will not get off the bed without help. He can. He just won’t. He’s afraid of most heights. He won’t get off of the couch. Anything with the slightest height to it. Not for love or food. Maybe Val thinks that Culper has unlocked the Get Down From Heights achievement badge. Nope. Not yet. He makes a few exceptions but the reward has to be high. Like a ride in the Prius for an outing.

So I know that putting him on the bed for a nap will not involve any more reckless recreation. I leave him surrounded by his literature litter. I would have made a photo attempt and cleaned up but couldn’t find the light. And what, you ask out of mild curiosity, might have been his choice of literature. Why, The Genius of Dogs of course.







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Yo, I GOT This!

cat“Ma’am you cannot be up there!” I’m in Harris-Teeter trying to get our favorite Liberte lemon yogurt from its top shelf banishment. The only way to reach it is to climb on the very sturdy bottom of the refrigeration door. The stock is so high up even Donny cannot reach to the back of that shelf. But I’m careful. I’ve learned my lesson about unreliable top shelf ventures so documented in a LiveJournal entry that recently surfaced.

I went on my daily Thanksgiving store run this morning to knock off the latest list which included one more glass pie dish.

All that were left were green glass ones. I don’t care that they are in that designer gal’s line, I did not want a green pie dish. It is not a good pie dish color even if you are making a key lime pie, which I am not. Resignedly I put the dish in my buggy but then happily spy clear glass pie dishes on a top shelf.

Excellent! Just what I want. But I cannot reach the top shelf without stepping on the edge of the bottom shelf. That works except for the fact that on top of the stack of pie dishes is a set of three glass mixing bowls nested together under shrink wrap. The entire stack is just a bit too tall for me to lift off the bowls and get a pie dish even with the aid of the bottom shelf.

Of course there is no one around to help. On the opposite shelf are boxes of dishes that look sturdy enough to stand on. I move one in place and carefully lift off the set of bowls. Perfect…until the set starts slipping…right out of my hands.

This happens in excruciatingly slow motion.

puppiesI have time, or so it seems, to consider options to make the save. I want to leap off of the box, snatch the flying bowls midair, and neatly land on my feet. I do not feel this will happen quite as I envision and thus abandon the plan. I really do not want the bowls to hit the floor but they pay me no mind and land with an extremely loud crash.

I jump off of the box as two sales ladies immediately appear from around the corner asking if I am okay. Sure, if you don’t count chagrin and mortification. The bowls are smashed beyond recognition but luckily 99.9% of the glass is still under shrink wrap.

I apologize as I hastily return the borrowed box to its shelf. The sales ladies are too concerned that I am okay to care about the box, the bowls or what I was looking for. Of course I am okay. I only dropped my dignity.

I woefully look up at the out of reach pie dishes. The ladies are busy cleaning up. I decide to stick with the wrong, wrong, wrong green dish and move on to look at CD players. So okay the green dish is not completely wrong. It is after all a glass pie dish.

kittenCD player acquired I suddenly think about the button batteries I have finally remembered to get for our clock army. They are back on the pie dish aisle. I must go back. It has taken me forever to finally complete this task despite numerous notes to myself and every reminder I could come up with, including leaving the dead clocks by the back door where everyone got to look at their sad faces for months on end. The batteries were my first stop in the store and as they were much too small to put into the cart, I had been carrying them around in my hand. When I decided to tackle the pie dish issue I put the batteries in a baking dish. I could go back to the watch counter for more but that would leave the baking dish batteries homeless.

Bravely I return. The ladies are gone as is all the evidence of my clumsiness. And there, is the path I have cleared to the clear pie dishes. I put the green one back, get a clear one, scoop up the patiently waiting batteries and go to check out.

At the check out counter the cashier asks if I want a warranty for my CD player. It’s only $7.99. I never use them, but I feel a tiny bit bad about the smashed bowls. Still I have gotten the right pie dish free and clear. Well almost, I buy the warranty.

So I get busted at The Teeter. My new strategy becomes to reach what I can every time I shop. Our supply stays steady but low. And then I see a different stock clerk using the same refrigeration door step plan as me. Yo! I’m back in business.

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Turtle Tales and Flippers TOO

loggerhead 2011

Loggerhead turtle nest boil Arch Street Kill Devil Hills August 2011

In mid-August 2011 just as we are leaving the beach two of the three original Camp OBX campers, Martin and Jake, and I get a real treat. The turtle nest that is due to boil any day begins to do just that. We have literally packed our things and are headed towards the steps when we look over at the nest carefully cordoned off by the hard working N.E.S.T folks. This is done from the time the eggs are laid until hatching, or boiling, in turtle lingo. As time for a nest to hatch approaches the volunteers also add a path to the beach carefully brushed smooth and blocked off with stakes and tape.

jake and martin 2011

Jake and Martin playing in the surf 2011

Most nests boil after sunset but before midnight. Because N.E.S.T volunteers are so protective of the new hatchlings no one is allowed to use a flash light to view a night crawl. The odd lights might confuse the babies headed to the more often than not moon lit sea. So on that rare occasion when a nest goes off in the day light hours witnesses get to actually see the process. We have come to play at this part of the beach every day of camp in hopes of seeing a boil knowing realistically that our chances are pretty remote. Lydia, the remaining original camper will be along next week. She is at German camp in Richmond this week or she would have been with us too. We really did get lucky.

aquarium turtle photoAugust 2015 brings another turtle adventure for Camp OBX. The aquarium on Roanoke Island is planning on releasing three green turtles that have been rescued and rehabilitated at their facility. Campers and I at various times throughout the past two years have seen all three turtles and Edward even got to chat at length with one volunteer about Augie’s broken flipper and how students at NC State made a custom cast using a 3-D printer.

The release is scheduled for Monday morning August 3rd at 8:30AM. Donald, Terri & Sebastian are at family camp and they decide that it is worth getting up and out for to witness. I drop them off and begin a search for a parking place. Car secure, I head to the beach access. There are already hundreds of people gathered on this pleasant overcast morning.

sea biscuit and info: augie info too crab info and augie cast augie in box AugieAs I cross the street to meet up with DTS, I hear an aquarium volunteer tell the Nags Head police officer helping everyone safely get across the beach road that the turtles are not here yet. Barely have I relayed this information to DTS when I spy volunteers with three plastic containers headed from the beach access to the area roped off a few yards north. The boxes are so small. Surely they cannot be holding the turtles. But they are. The turtles looked so much bigger to me in the hospital tanks.

goodbye augie

Goodbye Augie!

Sebastian and I wiggle our way to the front of the roped off section and watch while the turtles are paraded around for everyone to see. It is a well organized event and everyone gets a chance to see at least one turtle up close. We get a view of the special cast off of Augie’s flipper.

And then it’s time for the release. First Sea Biscuit all 6.16 pounds of him. After he is safely beyond the shore break, it’s Crab’s turn. He’s the middle child today, middle in weight at 11.88 pounds and middle to be released. And finally frantic to get out of the box is big bruiser at 13.64 pounds, Augie. It’s been two whole years. He’s grateful for the helping hands but he wants to get back to the sea.

And hour and a half from when we started our adventure we’re home getting breakfast. Should have been flipping pancakes but we settled for biscuits, in Sea Biscuit’s honor.


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It Was a Romantic Way for a Mouse to Die

Recently good friend Valerie had some troubles with a Mouse in the House thanks to girl cat Lila bringing her new toy inside before Val could stop her. For days Val heard and saw the critter scamping around in the kitchen and pantry. Lila was having no part of finishing up her mousing duties.

So Val gets a handful of humane traps and sets them. No luck. Next she tries Snap A Trap. Still no luck. She and Robert can hear the mouse finding all sorts of treats in the pantry. After a day or so all is quiet. Val figures the mouse has moved on. She gets a bag of pretzel chips like these from the pantry to have a snack.

mouse chips

She retrieves a handful from the almost empty bag. The second handful is more exotic. One dead mouse body. A rushed trip to the bathroom and then a call to Robert, who adores his amazing wife and would do anything for her. “Oh poor mouse,” he offers. Val is aghast, “Poor mouse? What about your poor wife? I called you for sympathy. I think we’re done here.”

This fun to hear not experience story brought to mind one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables scenes which goes something like this. Anne has made the sauce for the plum pudding but neglects to cover it instead using the cheesecloth to pretend that she is a nun. Marilla tells her that she is lucky no mice got into the sauce. Anne is gathering her courage to tell Marilla that a mouse drowned in the sauce when Miss Stacy, the local teacher, knocks at the door. It’s dinner time and Marilla invites her to stay. Anne tries to convince Marilla that the dessert puddling will be fine without the sauce but Marilla brushes that silliness aside. Anne reluctantly serves the pudding and then at the last moment screams, “DON’T EAT IT, MISS STACY!” Everyone but Marilla get a good laugh. Anne sighs and says,”Well I suppose it was a romantic way to perish, for a mouse.”

(PS If you don’t see the clip that follows try another devise. It’s short but fun. I never could figure out a way to get it back onto YouTube.)

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by | January 28, 2015 · 2:08 am