On Creating a Roadkill Kit.

The cliché “You Snooze, You Lose” has never been truer than it is with regards to roadkill.

I sadly lost both a raccoon (would’ve been my first!!) and a beautiful armadillo last week because I put off for tomorrow what I could have done today.

These two sad misses occurred for two reasons:

1. Both creatures were very close to the road on main thoroughfares and I don’t want to die while shooting dead things, and

2. I didn’t have a clear idea of how to stage the precious creatures. Their memories must be properly preserved, after all. No hurried, personality-less photos here.

It made me start to wonder if I could make a deal with Streets and Sanitation to drop off all fully-in tact critters on my road for 24 hours…would a $20 bribe be enough?

My neighbors already love me so much…


The cliché “An Ounce of Preparation is Better than a Pound of Prevention” has never been truer than it is with regards to roadkill.

So I decided that it was high time I had a roadkill kit in the back of my car. Ready for swerving stops on highways and biways. Ready for many scenarios, poses, and carcasses.

So I swung into my children’s Favorite Place in The Whole World, The Dollar Tree.

(It’s the children’s favorite because they didn’t know it existed until Noah’s Godparents took them there and they were astounded at an entire store of items for the same price. Every time they stay with them they make a glorious visit and gleefully come home with random trinkets such as front desk bells, fly swatters, and very roughly hewn washcloths.)

The kids were thrilled with this deviation from my normal shopping habits and couldn’t wait to see what exactly had prompted this delightful outing.

“What are you getting Mommy? Huh Huh Huh?”

“You’ll see…”

I walked down the aisles, grabbing various and random items such as leprechaun hats, toy soldiers, and energy drinks.

“WHAT are you doing with all this?”

“You have to figure it out…”

“What do baby pacifiers and Easter eggs have to do with each other?”

“Think about it…you can get there.”

“Are these sharks and balloons for someone’s birthday?”

“Of course not…”

“Get Well Soon Cards and a toy gun??? I don’t get it, Mom…”

“Keep thinking…”

They proposed all sorts of wrong ideas. Each one I shot down and encouraged them to continue using their powers of deductive reasoning. It was a school day, after all. And kids these days don’t do nearly enough thinking.

Finally, as we were checking out and surrounded by other human beings, Ali said, “I think I figured it out. Is this all for your roadkill note cards?”

“Ding ding ding!!!”

I happily took my purchases, added them to a box with a few pairs of rubber gloves and a pair of Squirrel Underpants I was gifted by a blog reader, and am now driving around ready for whatever comes my way. Or rather, whatever doesn’t come my way.

Roadkill Kit

Because the cliché “Life Comes At You Fast. {And So Does Death}” has never been truer than it is with regards to roadkill.

It was days after creating my One of a Kind Kit that I finally had a chance to use it. It’s not that I hadn’t seen any roadkill – I’d seen plenty, but I’m very particular. I’m a Roadkill Diva, if I’m being honest. To be classified as @happyroadkill, you must be still mostly in tact and recognizable. No intestines can be visible. The more lifelike, the better. And, if you ask my kids “Where does your mom draw the line?”, they’ll be quick to tell you. “She draws the line at former pets. Because that’s sad.”

Saturday night gifted me my first qualified opportunity.

We were in two cars and driving from the park to dinner. I spotted a new friend and quickly did a U-Turn to pull over. Chris drove past me, puzzled and confused. I was sad that he wasn’t observant enough to know what was happening.


(Those last two texts were later in the evening when Noah was taking his very melodramatic once-a-week poop. It has nothing at all to do with this story except that one cannot possibly crop out such goodness.)


There was indeed a squirrel. I parked and began rummaging around in my box, as the kids excitedly inquired as to my plans.

“What are you going to use, mom? Huh? Huh? Huh? The balloons? The soldier?”

“Hmm…let’s see. I really want to use the leprechaun hat but when is Saint Patrick’s Day? Hey Siri! When is Saint Patrick’s Day?”

“Saint Patrick’s Day is on Friday, March seventeenth, two thousand seventeen.”

‘Yeah…not time for that. He looks like he was going out for a long pass. Let’s go with the football.”

“Oooh, yay mom! Good choice!”

staged roadkill“Verne, I think we’re going to need to see the instant replay to know if that was a catch or not.”

Poor guy. Definitely looked like a victim of targeting.

A car was coming up behind me so I hurriedly jumped in the driver’s seat and carefully scooted around Julio the Squirrel. I watched in my rearview mirror as the car slowed and observed my art installation. Meanwhile, the kids were horrified.

“WHY did you LEAVE the football??”

“Because it was touching a dead squirrel…”


“That’s why we went to the dollar store. So that we could create our art and leave it for others. And also so that we could not carry around dead-thing-touched-props. It’s okay. We have plenty more.”

“When you run out of things in your box, will we go back to the Dollar Tree?”

“I imagine we will.”

“YAAAAAAY! Thanks for leaving the football, Mom!!”

Because the cliché “Waste not, want not” has never more false than it is with regards to roadkill.

What a Homeschool Mom’s Therapy Looks Like.

It was the first day back to school after the holidays.

Not only after the holidays, which included two 3.5 day weekends with Daddy at home, but also after a “snow” weekend, full of frolic and laziness.

There was no way this would go well.

And indeed it did not. No one was prepared for academic pursuits, and the dunking of all three of us back into the books was traumatic, to say the least. By 8:54am, everyone had cried. Including nearly almost myself.

My amount of thankfulness I experienced when Not-Crazy-Renee texted me is indescribable.

possum text

She was on her way out of our neighborhood to fly out of town. Yet she had the kindness, thoughtfulness, and compassion to think of me in the midst of her travel flurry.

(Unlike my husband, who had seen the possum on the way to work earlier that morning, but forgot to mention it. Forgot to immediately inform his wife that there was a dead animal just down the road! Inconceivable.)

I attempted to focus on school for a bit longer, but then decided I needed an outlet. Stat.

So I grabbed some supplies, left my children home alone (for my half-mile drive up the street), and set off to find my happy place. My therapy. My mood lifter. But not before appropriately thanking Not-Crazy-Renee.

possum text

I drove slowly up the referenced road scouring the area for a good looking possum. Finally, I spotted her. She was indeed a lovely specimen.

(Except that her eyeballs already being eaten out by a greedy crow, but I could work with that.)

I turned around and parked on the hill. Why do possums always die on hills? Maybe they’re slow like semi-trailer trucks on an incline. Perhaps I should launch an investigation.

I waited for the cars to pass, realizing that I parked in just the wrong spot that forced all the passing cars to straddle my new friend. I hoped they didn’t hit her again in the process.

The area cleared out and I toted my supplies, took some shots, ran most of the supplies back to the car while another car passed, then took one prop back, and shot again.

Photo Shoot #1:

First-Day-Back-to-SchoolThe first day back to school will be the death of us all.”

A dead animal acting out a commentary on my immediate circumstances. Could there be anything more therapeutic?

I think not.

And then the second shot, with a book picked off my shelves specifically for her…

Possum-Reading-Naked-Mole-Rat“Quit trying to be what you’re not.”

I went back to my teaching pursuits with a bounce in my step, happy that I had accomplished something meaningful that day.

But what I couldn’t figure out is what this model’s name is. She now joins the ranks of Buck Skywalker, Crunchy the ‘Possum, Sloppy the Squirrel, Sunset the Armadillo, and Sleepy the Chipmunk, but she herself is currently nameless. Please help.

Who. Is. This. Little Lady.

Now taking suggestions.

I swear this blog isn’t just becoming a roadkill blog. I think. I don’t know. Is it? My apologies. My writing subject matter tends to meander through many various fields of study – from denim to poop to chocolate to roadkill. Follow me on Instagram at @HappyRoadkill. I’ll begin moving my stories over there. Maybe. Unless you want them kept here? I just don’t know what the future holds. 2017 may just need a roadkill blog.

The Tale of Buck Skywalker.

Noah’s most prized gift that came out of Christmas was his very own Noah-Sized Darth Vader.


Darth wasn’t from us or from Santa, but from Tanya, who knew JUST what Noah was missing in his life.

Noah, who has been wearing a Stormtrooper costume daily since his birthday.

Noah, who told me pre-Christmas as I was putting him to bed, “Every morning when I wake up I have to fight Darth Vader for practice, because I’m just a Stormtrooper in training.”)

So clearly he needed a real Darth in his life. A Darth that is motion sensing and talks every time something moves. A Darth that has a friend mode and a foe mode. A Darth that was ready for the most adoring fan.

I mean. LOOK at that giddy grin.


LOOK at those toes curled in with excitement!


It was a match made in heaven. Or on the Death Star. Whatev.

But I didn’t go without observing that Darth could potentially be very beneficial to my own interests as well….

Which brings us to the day after Christmas.

I got a text from my ex-neighbor-still-friend Marliese.


I did not currently have a deer in my collection. My checklist currently consists of:

Sloppy the Squirrel
● Sunset the Armadillo
Crunchy the ‘Possum
● A Lizard
● A Bird Head (With Spine Sticking out Mortal Kombat style)
● A smashed Vole on a Tortilla chip.

So far, I hadn’t repeated any animals. And I clearly and desperately needed a deer in my collection.

And what a better time for a large animal to show up. …For such a time as this, Darth. For such. A time. As this.




It is both a terrible and wonderful gift to have friends that encourage me in my most disturbing of hobbies. It is even more terribly wonderful when they provide me tips on where I can go to fulfill my darkest dreams.

It took a couple times driving up and down Highway 119 to find our new friend. Ali was the look out for the right side, Noah the left. Ali felt very concerned about what would happen next.

“Hey Mom, if I see him, you’re not going to slam on the brakes, are you?”

“I promise. I will be very careful.”

Finally, we spotted him. As promised, I carefully pulled into the neighborhood right around the corner – the neighborhood that even possessed an empty lot at which to park – as if it was made for a roadkill photography crew to set up shop.


I grabbed my camera, and I gave the children their marching orders.


Darth’s motion sensing dialogue was in full-on manic mode as the children lugged him along the busy highway.

“Your destiny lies with me.”

“Join me and together we can rule the galaxy.”

“Your skills are complete. Impressive. Most impressive.”

“You have learned much, young one.”

“Your destiny lies with me.”

“Join me and together we can rule the galaxy.”

“Your skills are complete. Impressive. Most impressive.”

“You have learned much, young one.”

“Your destiny lies with me.”

“Join me and together we can rule the galaxy.”

“Your skills are complete. Impressive. Most impressive.”

“You have learned much, young one.”

“Your destiny – your destiny – your destiny – your destiny – your deh your deh your deh your destiny lies with me.”

We reached the deer and did a general inspection of the scene. Marliese was right – he was perfect indeed. And he was a he – the tiny antlers that looked more like devil horns gave it away. We took a minute to be sad for him, then began the wait.

Thankful for the generous shoulder and some nice shrubbery for the children to play in (and me to partially hide Darth while I hoped for the amount of passerby to lighten), we waited and watched.

(Because I’m a wuss. I don’t want to be seen taking a picture of roadkill. Maybe I was scarred by the whole Crunchy incident.)

While I worked up my courage, the children slathered me with their usual onslaught of questions.

“Why are his eyes open?”

“He doesn’t look dead. What killed him? Where’s he hurt?”

“Can we get sick just from being near him?”

Finally, just to escape the Inquisition of Children, I braced myself and ran Darth to his prey. I placed him where I wanted him, I knelt in my photographer’s position, and started snapping.

I got all the angles. You never know which one is the one you want to end up with – even the Dark Lord of the Sith can have bad angles.

I ended up with two shots that meant the most to me, and quickly named the deer.


Buck Skywalker.


Ali was DONE carrying His Majesty, and left it up to Noah to gracefully escort Darth back to the car.

IMG_3059 2

We shoved him in the trunk and quickly left the scene, forgetting that it might have been a great idea to switch off his motion sensor before leaving. All the way home we were gently, yet repeatedly, wooed to The Dark Side.

“Your destiny – your destiny – your destiny – your destiny – your deh your deh your deh your destiny lies with me.”

Oh Darth, if only you knew.

p.s. Yes, note cards are already printed and available.

note card Buck Skywalker

p.p.s. That night, still basking in the glow of the christening of Buck Skywalker, I decided it was finally time to create an Instagram account for my Dark Side. And so, @happyroadkill was born. It won’t get updated nearly as often as my main Instagram account, but when it does, I promise it will be worth it.

p.p.s. All of this occurred approximately 24 hours before the passing of Carrie Fisher. From what I know about her personality, I hope she would find it all amusing.