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by Wiley

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It’s a really good feeling to see some of my closest friends in an entirely new light. As I eavesdrop on Tawny rattling on about rotator cuffs, I remind myself that this is the same person that I bonded with 19 years ago (and just yesterday) about Calvin’s potato tattoo in Wayside School is Falling Down. As I read Walt’s paper about astronomical instrumentation, it occurs to me that the same guy who relishes playing peek-a-boo with two-year-olds and hiding behind furniture to give me a scare (hm, I’m starting to notice a pattern) is also singularly the most brilliant person I know. (No offense, everyone else I know.)

The last half of June was filled with transitions…and flowers!

It wasn’t until my last year of college that I started appreciating plants. Three of my closest friends (including Tawny and Ingo) were landscape architecture students, and I took a class taught by Robert Hass, a poet/nature lover who stressed the importance of “knowing the names of things.”

Over the years, I’ve become more appreciative of the elegance of a single peony, the heady fragrance of jasmines at dusk, the endless whorls of a field of ranunculuses. Nowadays, I love flowers…and these past few weeks were unexpectedly abounding in blooms that marked a time of transition, hope, and friendship.

The past two weeks were about…

…saying, “Goodbye”

The past nine months of working at a start-up have been an incredibly rich experience. Last week, I said goodbye to the amazing team that I’ve learned so much from, and they, in turn, sent me off with this gorgeous bouquet (sunflowers, Peruvian lilies, lilies, and irises) and their best wishes.

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One of my favorite girls even made a paper bouquet.

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…saying, “Hello” 

Exactly one year to the day that I’d turned in my letter of resignation at my corporate job, I received a delivery of Gerber daisies, roses, and lavender from the new company that I’ll be joining next week. I was stunned by the gesture. The new job is quite literally a dream come true (I’ll be an editor/crafter/blogger for an amazing company that makes activity kits for kids), and I’m thrilled at the prospect of joining a talented team with big dreams and people-centric priorities.

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…saying, “It’s nice to know you”

Walt surprised me with hydrangeas and chrysanthemums(?) last weekend to celebrate our two-year anniversary. Two years would seem like plenty of time to get to know a person, right? And yet the time has gone by in a flash…and it seems like at least once a week, even still, I learn something new and entirely wonderful about Walt. Recently, I found out that he once invented (and still uses) several alphabets, each with its own symbols, consonants and vowels, and usage rules. I feel so lucky to know someone who always surprises me with the depth of his kindness, curiosity, and wit.

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…saying, “Welcome home”

Tawny and Jonathan got this arrangement at the Durham Farmers’ Market to make me feel at home in their new digs. This is the first time that I’ve spent any extended time with just the two of them since they got married in 2010 and also the first time that I’ve been able to get a glimpse of the life that they’ve built for themselves on the East Coast.

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When we were in college, I used to wonder what kind of man would possibly be good enough for someone as inspiring, funny, and unforgettable as my best friend. When Tawny and Jonathan first started dating, I was cautiously optimistic about this guy whom I barely knew but who, by all accounts, seemed like a pretty good guy.

As their relationship grew more serious and as I learned more about Jonathan’s character and sense of humor, I knew that Tawny had found someone who could keep her on her toes—a guy who complemented her sweet yet feisty personality, and who would be able to support and challenge her in all the ways that mattered.

Over the years, I’ve seen that Jonathan is an awesome person in his own right who’s insightful, hilarious, and remarkably hospitable. Like Tawny, he’s become a cherished lifelong friend.

Besides being full of great food and great friends, this trip to Durham seems like a homecoming of sorts. It’s been a good reminder that with time and experience, we hopefully become a truer reflection of who we are and who we want to be…that with friends who touch our souls, we’re always on the journey together even if the road meanders or paths diverge…and that whatever the future has in store, you can always come home again.

by Wiley

What a way to start the week! This pretty pom was hanging above my desk when I got into work Monday morning.

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It turned out that my boss had made it over the weekend to celebrate the launch of a product that we’ve been collaborating on. As if that gesture wasn’t sweet enough, later that afternoon, one of my coworkers asked if I was expecting a package because something had come in for me. I wasn’t expecting anything, but she urged me to open the box. Before I knew it, there was a gaggle of girls behind her. I was confused, but I opened the box — and was so touched by what was inside! The box was filled with homemade and craft goodies — a hand-embossed card, fabric flowers, an adorable tea satchel, scrapbooking charms, and other treats. Everyone’s been working so hard to get to this product launch, and it was very unexpected to get singled out … and in such an incredibly thoughtful and heartfelt way!

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by Wiley

What’s your favorite childhood toy?

Mine’s the Transit of Venus Care Bear.

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More elusive than the furtive Yeti of the Great White North, more wanderlust-y than Nessie of the Scottish lochs, the Transit of Venus Care Bear only appears once every 105 years. But don’t look directly at him! The Care Bear Stare’s* so bright that you gotta wear shades.

Last summer, Walt taught an astronomy class. This sparked (what I think will be) a lifetime interest in star-gazing. When we’re outside, his neck cranes upwards as soon as darkness descends. He looks for familiar constellations and contemplates the wonders of the universe, as I glance upwards occasionally while also keeping an eye out for oncoming cars. This is a good metaphor for our relationship.

This Tuesday marked the transit of Venus, a once-in-a-lifetime (twice, if you’re a super ager) occurrence where Venus travels across the sun, Earth’s closest star. (It’s flabbergasting to consider that Venus is 3.5x closer to our planet than Earth is to the sun!)

People all over the world set up special equipment or donned cardboard glasses to see the spectacle, including at the Stanford Student Observatory where astro enthusiasts brought telescopes and projection solar sun spotters.  (Walt on his Care Bear-ish pic: “This has got to be the best photo of a concrete floor I’ve ever taken.”)

Here are some photos Walt took during the viewing:

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I wasn’t able to make it up to the observatory in time, so Walt set up his astronomical binoculars for me in the flatlands of Menlo Park during the last hours of the transit. Here he is projecting the solar image onto a lens cap he’d crafted out of a Fat Tire container. (“Hey kids! If you want to make a binocular cover, just grab the closest beer cans and…” Just kidding. :))

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Pretty extraordinary!

By the way, my second favorite childhood toy is Teddy Ruxpin.

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*If the Care Bear references didn’t make sense to you, you probably weren’t an American child growing up in the 80s. Here’s a writeup that might help, authored by some of the greatest literary minds in the world.

by Wiley

It’s the night before the night before the night before Christmas and all through the home, I’m the only one stirring because I am…uh….um……….on the hunt for a gnome! He was grumpy and frumpy and had big, bulging eyes. I tried to befriend him, but he donned a disguise. He used his gnome powers to grow a long beard; when I said it was ugly, he snorted and sneered. He stole my red jumpsuit and ripped open my bear. He glued cotton to his brows, then leapt to his lair. And that, kids, is how Santa Claus came to be.

Just kidding. Actually, I meant to just say that I was still up because I was procrasticrafting (rather than packing for my 6 a.m. departure) and then had the idea to blog about an inexpensive Christmas craft that involves a wonderful product I just found out about called Wonder-Under. But then I started thinking, “What rhymes with ‘home’?” and then I started thinking about Clement Moore’s poem and then I started googling “twas the night before christmas” but then for some reason Google started suggesting “twas the night before christmas grinch” so then I started thinking about how the Grinch stole Christmas and then I started thinking about Tim Burton and The Nightmare Before Christmas and then I started thinking about Jack Skellington’s gigantic nothing eyes…

…and now I’ve not packed even further into the night, so I really should pack before I do anything else this late evening. Also, I think I am a bit delirious with sleep deprivation right now. Will I regret this post in the morning?

by Wiley

A friend from college recently commissioned me for an art project. R. wanted to give her husband a gift she’d been thinking about for a few years. She asked if I could draw a map that commemorated her and her husband’s courtship during their student days at Berkeley. (She thought of me because of a journal I’d made for her in 2004 that featured the Phantom Tollbooth map as well as some personal projects I’d made in 2005 that were inspired by Stephannie Barba’s wedding maps.) She provided a list of symbols (as well as the story behind each), and together we worked through a few rough drafts.

I started the final draft at my housemate’s new art studio space in San Francisco’s SoMa district. (She’s got a wall of windows overlooking the Bay — and a Philz Coffee across the street to boot — a perfect recipe for creativity!)  That same day, my own beau and I worked on a birthday gift for our favorite seven-year-old.

Walt composed this poem while biking to work one morning, and, that Saturday, I penned/illustrated the story. We colored the poster together with the brand-spanking new set of Prismacolor pencils I got for Rebekah’s project.

This past weekend, on our way down to Santa Cruz, Walt and I stopped by San Jose to drop off the drawing in person.

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Drawing is an area where Ingo really shines (I’m more a crafter), but these projects were definitely fun to create and a great way to get the creative juices flowing. And it was fantastic connecting with old friends and collaborating with my best boy!

by Wiley

Once upon a time there were two creatures who moved in to a three-unit burrow in North Oakland. Wiley was a smallish creature who liked to gobble spaghetti and sprint around the neighborhood. (What she was chasing after, we’re not sure. A runaway meatball perhaps?)

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Ingo was an even smallerish creature who loved her pet praying mantis, finding small places to hide in her closet, and piloting vintage planes.

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When they first moved in, the burrow smelled like an unused library. When it rained, the closet leaked and ants paraded in.

But Ingo and Wiley worked hard to make their new house a home. They mopped, scoured, and disinfected. They salvaged furniture from a nearby junkyard and gave old chairs and treasure chests lots of TLC. They worked on art projects and decorated the living room with things that inspired them. Their place was tiny but full of love and good cheer. Great things happened while the two shared their burrow. They got to know their neighbors. Friends came over for pizza parties and pinata powwows. Ingo got engaged to an Endearing Dino and Wiley met a Cosmic Creature who was out of this world. A lot of yummy snacks were had.

But to every thing there is a season, and eventually each of the creatures moved out of their burrow and into new habitats. Ingo and Wiley stayed close friends though and one day, while Wiley was helping Ingo with wedding crafts, Quizzical Creatures was born.

Quizzical Creatures is a celebration of two of life’s greatest blessings: friendship and treasured moments. We’re inspired by the natural world around us (e.g., insects, animals) and when we hear encouraging stories about our fellow human beings — the most quizzical creatures of all.