Wild Things Are Among Us

Bobcats, Snakes and Spiders

They were here before us and live here still. The cats, reptiles and arachnids mind their business and we mind ours. There are others too–the roadrunners, the quail, the elk and the deer–to mention just a few.

The spiders have been with us all along–the occasional tarantula climbing the stucco-covered walls and once approaching the front door. It didn’t gain entry–couldn’t squeeze beneath the weatherstripping like the ants or the little lizards we found sunning themselves before the dining room wall unit.

I am the spider whisperer, gathering those within the house gently with a tissue or sometimes barehanded. “Have a nice day,” I may say, as I bid them farewell out of doors. Only once, a month ago or so, have I killed one. A black widow in the storage/work room. Likely as not, had I relocated it nearby it might have found its way back inside. A risky proposition, putting us at risk of serious harm. A fly swatter did it in.

A dead Black Widow spider on a fly swatter

The bobcat visited only a month ago as well. Perhaps 35 pounds or so–nearly the size of our dog Max. He offered an aggressive warning, from a 100-feet away. Happy was I that I had leashed Max before going out!. We haven’t seen the cat again–or maybe we have. My wife said she saw glowing lights in a tree two nights last week. Reflections of eyes too wide-set for a raccoon (which we have never seen here anyway) but not so large as those of a bear. Again a 100-feet away, to the north past the fence separating our property from a neighbor’s land. Besides that, we did see a paw print, two or three feet from the house–it might have been the cat’s. That’s the tip of a size 10 winter Croc to the left for size comparison.

Perhaps the track of a bobcat, to the northeast of a Croc tip

The snakes, too, are common enough. The rodent-eating bull snakes, three to four feet long, that don’t bother people. A variety of others live here too, of varying sizes and colors–striped and not. Over six years, we have seen just three rattlesnakes. Never as close to the house than this year. The year of bobcats and black widows. Three-feet-long and as thick as my wrist–some might say a splendid specimen. The black-tailed rattler crawled from below the great room window toward the knee wall across the patio. It curled itself around a roadrunner–a metal sculpture of one, to be precise, awaiting a hard rain to cease. Ironic–those birds eat snakes. Not ones the size of this one, of course. As the rain stopped, the rattler went on it’s way. We haven’t seen it since. Of course the photo is a zoom. It had the characteristic wedge-shaped head–all the better for venom-filled fangs.

Rattlesnake coiled next to metal sculpture

The elk are nearby now. We hear their surprisingly high-pitched voices. More will be here soon. October is mating season. The agave blooms are gone, but there are other things for them to eat. They will co-exist for a time with the grazing cattle, who will come at weeks-end, perhaps for three weeks this year. Careful driving and a closed gate keeps them and us from incidents, docile though they are.

The frantic flyers are fewer in number now. The brightly-colored hummingbirds travel farther south as the cold comes calling. Fifties at night now. That’s OK with them. Forties not so much. We filled the last bottles of sugar water yesterday. They’ll last as long as the visitors do.

Yes, the wild things are among us. Perhaps it’s we who are among them. We love them all. Perhaps they care not so much for us. We try to enjoy them, not harm them. Except for the few dangerous ones we cannot avoid–a scorpion or poisonous centipede in the house. And now the Black Widow. Worth the price of admission to our dream house.

 

#WATWB–Foster Otter Moms

We Are the World Blogfest

It’s that time again–the end of the month when we celebrate good news via the We Are the World Blogfest.

This one’s a little different inasmuch as it’s otters doing the good deeds, albeit with the aid of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Two sea otters in the water, hugging
Sea otters act as surrogate moms to orphaned pups at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Randy Wilder/© Monterey Bay Aquarium
Rosa and Selka get lots of attention in their starring roles at the public daily feedings at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, especially during Sea Otter Awareness Week.
But some of their most important work is behind the scenes, serving as foster moms to abandoned pups in the aquarium’s one-of-a-kind program to rescue, nurture and return sea otter pups to the wild.
Rosa and Selka are part of a group of surrogate sea otters who can’t be released back into the wild, either because of injury or inability to stay away from humans. But they still can teach these rescued pups how to be sea otters.
They show them how to eat crabs and crack open clams and mussels; they protect and guide the pups during interactions with other otters; and they allow the pups to imprint on their own species, teaching them that they are sea otters.
Lest you think this is a money making venture showcasing captured wild animals, far from it. It’s a nonprofit engaged in rescuing and restoring a population decimated by fur hunting long ago. Fitting for a WATWB post. See the full story on CNN Travel.
WATWB co-hosts for the month are: Sylvia Stein (@sylvia_stein07) Eric Lahti (@ericlahti1) Shilpa Garg (@shilpaagarg) & Lizbeth Hartz (@LizbethHartz)

Find more ways to be contribute to others by checking out this section of a larger article from the Eagle Peak Annual.

Back from hiatus

It’s been TOO long! Been busy getting together the first Eagle Peak Annual–formerly a quarterly that last saw the light of monitors, tablets and phone screens in May of 2018.

Eagle Peak Annual went live September 20! Read it here

Here’s a taste of one of the six articles (most are very long)

The Third Age–Living it and Loving It

Finding Your Dreams

Don’t just live it—love it! Let’s start with the easy (we hope) part—finding your dreams. You can actualize them no matter your financial circumstances. We will illustrate that more when we discuss money. Here’s some things you might love to do—things that you didn’t have enough time for until now. You may have entirely different aspirations or objectives. The tips will probably work for some of them as well.

Art—drawing, painting, photography, quilting, etc.

Writing—novels, memoirs, fiction or nonfiction stories/articles

Travel—those places you’ve always wanted to see (as exotic/expensive or frugal/first class as you want or can afford)

Teaching—you know plenty you could share with others

Grandkids—spend more time with them (or others if you have none)

Here’s what’s in the Annual jump right in via the links 

The Climate Crisis
It’s no longer climate change–it’s now a crisis. That means the change is serious—and getting worse. We need to deal with it NOW. Why? Because of the accelerating change and the trend line. You probably already believe it’s happening. This article will help you inform friends, family and others of the facts–and what needs doing.

The Third Age–Living It and Loving Ita little more on the one above
Are you retired or will be soon? Are you living your dreams? Enjoying your golden years? Got a plan if you’re not there yet? We have the info you need–money, travel, staying involved, health and more. You don’t have to be rich, you just need ideas. We have some, plus a guide to finding many more.

Perspectives on the Eternity of Life–and a Remembrance
We all will die someday–that’s a certainty. How we live our lives will make a difference on what happens thereafter. Heaven, hell, rebirth–your faith and your choice. If nothing else, a life lived well offers an easier death and good memories of you by others. Read on for perspectives on a different view of eternity.

More Writing Tips–New and Revisited
If you’re a writer–aspiring or otherwise, tips are always welcome. You can never know too much about the art or craft of writing. More tools, more ways to connect with a reader. We get so many, so often, it’s hard to keep up with them. Bookmark these. Then try them when you have the time.

Images from Here and There–Landscape and More
A photo gallery from our own home–outdoors. Southwestern New Mexico may be arid but it’s not a desert. Lots of beautiful flowers bloom here–even if they are atop cacti. The rocks are pretty in the West as well. So too further north. We love it here but we’re going more places in the Third Age.

Works in Progress–Coming from Eagle Peak Press
We have an ambitious schedule for the next several years. Lots of books coming–short story collections, Sci-fi, mysteries and more. Read all about it in this compilation of works in progress. PLUS read excerpts or samples of the new short story collection coming for the 2019 holidays. The stories range from flash fiction to traditional.

#WATWB August 2019–The Carter Center Liberia’s Mental Health Program

We Are the World Blogfest

Liberia’s Growing Mental Health Workforce Gives Greater Access for Youth and Young Adults Seeking Care

A news release  from The Carter Center reports:

Eighteen clinicians specializing in child and adolescent mental health graduated today at the Deana Kay Isaacson School of Midwifery in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County in southeastern Liberia. The class training was developed by The Carter Center’s Mental Health Program in partnership with the Liberia Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. These graduates, the sixth cohort of clinicians focused on children and youth from the partnership, will provide mental health and psychosocial care in schools, clinics and other child and youth-centered settings.

“Liberia is making a brighter future for all of its citizens by investing in the mental health of adults, children, and adolescents,” said former U.S. First Lady and Carter Center Co-founder Rosalynn Carter.

These graduates are trained through a collaboration between The Carter Center Mental Health Program in Liberia and the Liberian government to improve access to mental health services. The clinicians work in primary care facilities, hospitals and other settings children frequent, like daycare and schools, across all 15 counties to provide much needed care as the country seeks to strengthen its mental health services.

The Carter Center, founded by Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter (America’s 39th President, 1977-1981) in 1982 has a worldwide mission to promote health, peace, democratic elections and more. Carter, now 94, gave up the reins of running The Center several years ago to his grandson. After surviving brain cancer and a recent broken hip, Carter is still active teaching Sunday School and helping erect buildings for Habitat for Humanity. 

Cohosts for this month’s WATWB are: Susan Scott, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese, Damyanti Biswas

#WATWB Solar Cooking–Reducing Carbon Footprints

We Are the World Blogfest

Many challenges in July–continuing into August. Yet here we are with a good news post. A reference to the source of this post is included in a feature on the world’s climate crisis in the delayed first edition of the Eagle Peak Annual. (Formerly a Quarterly)

The point for this inclusion is the fact that even developing countries can aid in battling the climate crisis. That’s even as they wish for more modern amenities.

Instead of trying to find or buy wood to burn–or using other fossil fuels, inexpensive solar cookers can be employed.

Solar Cookers International (SCI) helps lead global efforts to promote solar cooking. Solar cookers have no-emissions and use free solar energy accessible worldwide for cooking and water pasteurization. By spreading solar cooking knowledge and awareness through the Solar Cookers International Association and this website, SCI helps achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Here’s just one story from this site telling more about SCI:

NEW: June 2019: Solar Cookers International has recently brought life-saving solar cooking to more than 300 people in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Before you stepped in, women were often forced to sell their precious food rations for cooking fuel, putting their children at risk of malnutrition. If they dared to journey outside of the camp to collect firewood, they risked violence.

The image below is from the SCI site but is NOT from the Kakuma Refugee camp. Rather, it’s from a section on the why of solar cooking.

Image from https://www.solarcookers.org/why

#WATWB June 2019

We Are the World Blogfest

Didn’t get the reminder this month, but here’s something for the We Are the World Blogfest–that monthly message of  good news. No politics, no crime, no pessimism–just people doing things to make others happier or healthier. Or making the world a better place.

Here’s a new one on me, culinary arts therapy.

I’ll have to confess, I’m not all into cooking or cooking shows. I only found this by chance looking at the mobile version of CNN early this morning. Had to search for it on the desktop version.

Anyway, here’s a snippet from the story with the essential link for more.

“Whenever Grandma Dolly cooked, we all would come running,” Mikki Frank reminisced while mixing pancake batter in a ceramic mixing bowl.

Her therapist Julie Ohana asked, “What about your grandma’s buttermilk pancakes made them so special?””Her love,” Frank replied.

“That’s a big part of any recipe,” Ohana affirmed.

Over the past few months, Frank has been exploring culinary arts therapy, one of the latest trends in self-care. The practice combines cooking with traditional therapy, Ohana’s specialty.

“The method is relatively new within the counseling field and has proven helpful for those with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. This is due in part to its meditative aspect.

“It’s really an exercise in mindfulness,” Ohana said. “When you’re lining up things, cutting things in a certain way, you really get into a groove. You’re really able to focus on what you’re doing, be in the moment, let other things go.”

#WATWB Aiding Disabled Pets

We Are the World Blogfest

Because I once or twice contributed to a Go Fund Me campaign, I occasionally get announcements of success stories. This is one of them that fits nicely within the monthly WATWB post.

A large black lab sitting next to his person
Gunnar and Jason (from a GoFundMe story)

Gunnar was hit by a truck on February 16th of 2014. . . On that cold winter day in a rural Wisconsin vet clinic, Jason Parker made a decision that altered the course of his life. His black lab had a spinal injury, and the vet offered euthanasia. Instead, Jason chose to fight for Gunnar.
Jason is a volunteer firefighter, so he knows how to stabilize patients with spinal injuries. He and his wife, Stephanie, strapped up Gunnar and hit the icy roads for the two-hour drive west to the University of Minnesota.

That’s where they discovered Gunnar’s two broken vertebrae. His lower body was paralyzed, and his chance of recovery was only 50/50. Again, they offered to put Gunnar down. Again, Jason refused.

Gunnar needed a wheeled support system to move. After the surgical bills, the price tag of $600 was too much, but friends chipped in to fund that expense.

Inspired by his friends’ kindness, Jason decided then and there that one day he’d pay it forward. He started a GoFundMe to collect donations to buy used wheelchairs for dogs and so far has sent out 100 loaner carts to 30 states and three countries. When a pet no longer needs the device or has passed away, it’s returned for use by another animal in need.

Read more about Jason and the 501 (c) organization he started at this link.

Please visit the sites of this month’s WATWB cohosts  for more posts of good news. They include:

The Hidden Spoon

Another one of those phrases that originated from my real home life generated this snippet. Looks like something that could be a short story in the third collection (a few years out; mysteries) after editing and development. 

Alice had hidden the spoon as she always did. Her special spoon. Only she could use it. For her tea. It went in the back of the drawer, behind other utensils seldom used by anyone–George that is. It wasn’t there that day in May. A day when she most needed her tea. The day George passed away unexpectedly.

He arose at his usual hour. Alice knew this because she always preceded him first to the bathroom and then the kitchen. Like clockwork, claws clicked on floor as Dixie bounded from the bedroom, eager for her morning walk. George followed, offering his typical greeting on the way out, “Morning, Alice—back in a jiff.” On his return, he gave the usual report on the quantity and quality of Dixie’s deposit at her favorite spot. He headed to his easy chair, carrying the morning Gazette. Coffee always came later for George.

Alice heard the newspaper snap open, then nothing. She called out to him, “George, you want eggs this morning?” She got no reply.  A thud was the only response. She took a peek around the corner. That’s when she saw him face down on the floor.

“Perhaps a stroke—or a heart attack.” That’s what the EMT said. “The medical examiner will let you know.” He offered his condolences as he and his partner wheeled George out. So sorry, Mrs. Andrews. Is there anyone we can call for you?”

Alice just shook her head and smiled, “No thank you young man. Just take good care of him, now.”

Spring Soon Becomes Summer and WATWB for April

We Are the World Blogfest

A twofer–#WATWB and Spring

“Care granted to the sick, welcome offered to the banished, forgiveness itself are worth nothing without a smile enlightening the deed.”

So says Antoine de Saint-Exupery in Letter to a Hostage. Maria Popova has a wonderful piece about the short-lived author (1900-1944) of The Little Prince in her Brain Pickings site. While a journalist covering Spain’s civil war, he was captured by a group of anarchists. He feared death at their hands but they seemed less violent than bored. Popova’s excerpts begin with the blockquote above. She details how he survived this incident. Asking for a cigarette from a captor with a simple smile and a hand gesture sufficed. You will be gladdened and saddened at your reading of the full post. If you aren’t familiar with her site, you will want to read more.  Over how many millennia did we humans evolve the effect of the smile–which we perhaps learned from our fellow primates?  

Spring Continues Its Bloom of Life

On April sixth, I shared a photo taken on March 27th–an agave beginning its ascent. Four weeks later it reached a peak of nearly 14 feet. Now its pods are popping out from the center stalk. First they must ripen. Then their golden blooms will appear. The base of this particular mystical plant is challenged. Leaf blades were already dying before the stalk began climbing. Bites from the local herbivores left chunks in the leaves. The base hung precariously on a ledge cut more deeply by a mason for a wall made from the limestone. From where does the enormous stalk come–and so quickly? The roots are shallow. We get an average of 16 inches of precipitation per year here in southwestern New Mexico. It’s certain the stalk doesn’t grow below and then rise up fully formed.

 

It is the insentient will of these succulents to send towering beauty into the air. A stalk with sweet, juicy pods that nurture birds, bees, insects, deer and elk. Leaves that feed cattle and the same deer or elk. Such a powerful expression of life–of overcoming adversity. It will bloom just once. It then will die. But it’s memory lingers and serves as inspiration to us humans. Don’t give up–show what you are made of. Here’s a picture from today. Compare it to 4 1/2 weeks ago.

 

Putting Yourself In Someone Else’s Shoes

It’s a good thing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes you have no other choice. She can’t wear hers at all for another few weeks. The foot surgery March 20th ensures that. So I’m relearning tasks we used to share when we both worked and had kids at home.

  • Laundry
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cooking–up to a point

Since we both retired, we have devised a division of labor that works for us.  It’s more efficient that way. I do the driving, banking and financial management, vacuuming and home maintenance tasks. She does the bullet point items above. Yes, it sounds like typical male/female roles. That might seem a sexist thing–but only if we came to it from a gender defined choice and not one that works for us. Still, it’s informative and refreshing to revisit those choices when circumstances force it upon us.

We are grateful and appreciative of one another’s respective contributions. It’s a more powerful experience when we must wear the other’s shoes. It could happen that I have some incapacity for a time. It has happened. She steps in for me as I am stepping in for her. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be looking forward to a 40th anniversary next year.

It’s a humorous topic on sitcoms (we don’t watch them but still see promos for them) and in movies–men can’t cook, clean, etc. Women can’t work on cars or do home repairs. It’s not really funny–it’s stupid. Do single men–think college students, etc., have mothers or girlfriends to do their laundry and eat out all the time? No, they don’t. If women can lead corporations and be CPAs, they can handle a family budget.

We have our roles by choice. No matter who does what in a marriage, occasionally wearing the other’s shoes will help it last.