Compassion begins at an early age #WATWB

We Are the World Blogfest

On December 1st, here is November’s We Are the World’s Blogfest post. 


Hatred must be learned–it’s not genetic. What about compassion?

Two children holding hands, walking up to the school door
Black and White, one consoles the other in Wichita

CNN offered this from affiliate KAKE on two young boys who became friends:

The first day of school can be nerve-wracking. Especially when not everyone has such supportive classmates.

Two elementary school boys in Wichita, Kansas, set an example from which we can all learn: a lesson in kindness.
Courtney Moore dropped off her 8-year-old son, Christian, for the first day of school and watched as he sat down on the ground with another boy who was crying in a corner, she told CNN affiliate KAKE.
“He was consoling him,” she told KAKE. “He grabs his hand and walks him to the front door. He waited until the bell rang and he walked him inside of the school.”
Christian’s gesture, though, was exceptionally kind. The other 8-year-old boy, Conner, has autism.
And while he was so excited for his first day of school, he just got overwhelmed with all the commotion, his mom, April Crites, told CNN.
Conner decided he wanted to take the bus for his first day, but it arrived a little early. The doors to the school weren’t open quite yet, so everyone was waiting outside. It was noisy and there was a lot of chatter.
“He gets overwhelmed pretty easily,” Crites said. “And he’s very emotional. Tears come when he’s sad, tears come when he’s happy.”

Co-hosts for November’s WATWB are:
Damyanti Biswas Lizbeth Hartz Shilpa Garg

Peter Nena Simon Falk

An Impossible Agenda

It’s not impossible, just challenging—getting that second short story collection out in December. Especially when there’s much still to be written!!!!!

Here’s a tiny tidbit on a short piece—The Cytherians. It’s not done yet.

“Thar, is that you?” Drax asked uncertainly, gazing at his own reflection. “It’s Drax.”

“Why yes, Drax,” Thar chuckled, offering his typical wiggle of first the left and then the right hand. “Where are you off to?”

Drax grabbed his elbow, pulling the arm half way across his body, “Off to the market. Jarry needs ingredients for the party. You know she can’t serve just anything,” he said, drawing a smile in the air in front of his own face.

“Ah, the party. We will be there of course,” Thar returned the smile signifier. “Anything we should bring?”

“Oh, just that wine Zandy makes. Everyone loves it you know,” Drax said. “I better get on with it, the sun is getting higher in the sky.”

“Right you are, Drax. Waste no time then. See you then.”

The Cytherians, by necessity, are a shiny sort of people. The planet is very near its sun. The surface is very hot–too hot for more than a brief visit from the underground cities of Cytheria. With a thin atmosphere, the UV rays could be fatal. But at times, the residents have reason to emerge in daylight hours. When they do, any exposed skin must reflect all rays which touch them. Of course they could wear protective garments to do the same, but they evolved before resources to create them were developed. So most continue to rely on their nude bodies, wearing clothes only for ceremonial occasions.

The mirrored surfaces pose a challenge when meeting one another face to face. A reflection of oneself is what each sees on the other. Only the distinctive shape of the other’s head, torso and limbs differentiates the image seen. Words and gestures make the most important tools for communicating. Body language works well enough for discerning residents of Earth but only in a limited fashion on Cytheria.


In case you missed the Eagle Peak Annual from September–here’s a link to the Works in Progress Article, with many more previews of the short story collection coming soon. 

BTW: this weekend is a wedding anniversary–so I may not be as quick as usual responding to comments. 

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

#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.”