Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Hello, summer!

Photo of me having lunch outside in the middle of a warm, sunny day.

Cheers! (Photo: Michael Howell)

Hello, friends! It’s summer and at last I’m back. I have all kinds of thoughts on how my first year working in a library went that I can’t wait to share with you in the coming weeks, but first, let’s just enjoy the fact that as of 4 p.m. yesterday I am officially on summer break!

The scoop from our backyard

A stem of orange bell-shaped flowers has sprouted from what I thought was a simple green rose-shaped succulent.
The drought in our area continues to worsen, so instead of growing a vegetable garden this year, I am simply maintaining my succulents. They are rewarding me with all sorts of surprises, like these flowers. Who knew that would happen? (Photo: Shala Howell)

The last time we chatted, my backyard was leaning into its side gig as an urban wildlife refuge. The rabbits, squirrels (black, grey, and ground), the opossum, various and sundry neighborhood birds, and the adult male duck are all doing fine and enjoying varying degrees of welcome from the Howell family in general.

The ducklings, unfortunately, are no longer with us and haven’t been for some time. The 24 hours after my last post was… not great. If I’d known at the time that the average duckling survival rate is anywhere from less than 10% to as high as 70%, I probably wouldn’t have let any of us get quite so attached. Unfortunately, we here at Caterpickles Central had a front row seat to what a less than 10% survival rate looks like. After the last of her ducklings disappeared, our deeply unlucky mother duck spent a few very depressing days moping in our backyard, before taking herself off somewhere else. We haven’t seen her since.

The news from indoors

Somehow, my daughter is now fifteen and on track to be a sophomore in high school next year. That’s… astounding. We are going to have to start teaching her to drive soon. No, let me rephrase. Michael is going to have to start teaching her to drive soon. I think we can all agree that it’s best if I don’t do it.

In other news, I have loved my first year working in the middle school library. I’ve applied and been accepted to San Jose State University to get my masters in library science. Classes start August 1. I’m currently planning to continue working in the library while I work on my masters, so I guess next year’s posts will be full of self-reflection on whether my new lifestyle is actually sustainable. But for now, let’s just enjoy the fact that I’m getting to go back to school in the fall, and somehow won’t be the oldest person there.

Me, standing outside Boyce Gate at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. (Photo: Michael Howell)

In the meantime, my plans for the summer include lots of writing both here on Caterpickles and on some works-in-progress that I set aside during the school year, lots of decluttering, some exploratory baking/cooking, and of course, a ton of just-for-me reading while I still have time do it.

See you around the blog,


2 Responses to “Hello, summer!”

    • Shala Howell

      Thank you! Emotionally I’m swinging between very excited and OMG what was I thinking. There is no steady calm middle state. I’m either all in or looking for the off ramp (which Michael is valiantly blocking with his usual stubborn faith in my ability to do things).



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