Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Real rabbits - Minefield

This is typical of what greets me most mornings when I first get up and head out onto the sunporch to feed the bunnies before work. Missy and Freckles live in the white lattice pen that you see there, but Boomer and Cricket are loose at night. I used to have a makeshift fence to keep the big bunnies from getting too close to the other pen, but I got tired of hopping over it and bruising my shins so I took it down. This is the result of that choice. Instead of hopping a fence I have to walk this minefield, sleepy and barefoot.

Rabbits are territorial and those that live close together, like mine do, need to mark their territory, just like a dog does outside. When I had the barrier up, the Flemmies would mark the *fenceline* but that was easy to control by placing a litterbox in front of it. Despite the two litterboxes in this tiny area, the Flemmies still feel the need to leave poops everywhere else.

Thank goodness they're easy to clean up and make good fertilizer. I always have plenty of it! Bunnies are very efficient recyclers.

Just so you don't get the impression otherwise, these bunnies are box trained, just not on that side of the room! They keep their own pen very clean. Peeper, who lives alone in a different room, has perfect litterbox habits, and never poops anywhere but in one of her boxes. The key to that is that she doesn't feel any competition or the need to make a point of her ownership of the space. It's all hers and she knows it!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Surprise at the feeder and questions

Because it's still mostly dark when I get up and dark again when I get in from work I have to do my feeder-watching in stolen moments when I should be paying attention to other things. This oriole very nearly made me late for work this morning! I've never drawn an oriole to the feeders, most certainly not in January! This bird should be down Mary's way in North Carolina. It was still darkish when I took the photos and that top one is through the window screen as well, but I guess it must be a Northern Oriole, because Orchards should be real far south in Florida now. If I saw this bird in the spring I would call it an Orchard, though. But I've never been good at identifying birds in their in-between plumages. Maybe someone can help? Would one of you bander folks that check in here be able to help me out with some ID tips?
It came in with a small group of starlings and poked around in one of the sunflower feeders before finding the suet log. I took a few minutes to cut open an orange left over from Christmas and put that out in a basket feeder, although by that point the flock had moved on. I've seen photos of orioles feeding at orange halves and sugar-water feeders, but I've never been able to lure them down from the locust tree blossoms in spring or the mulberries in late summer. That I should get one now I guess is proof that the bird is having a hard time finding food, right? Something else for me to worry over. ;-)

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In case you're paying attention to that *What I'm Reading* thingy over in the sidebar - I've finally updated it. I can't really call what I've been doing lately *reading* - it's more like perusing 5 different books at the same time - but I'd left that book about the Pine Barrens up for months after I finished reading it actively because quite a few folks have clicked on it. I've replaced it with another of Joanna Burger's books that I *read* years ago, but now I'm just *perusing* for ideas and some inspiration on where to spend my free time. It's a good book and one that I think most anyone that lives near the shore would enjoy.

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The other night I read about the Brant that winter in Barnegat Bay here in NJ (approx. 50,000 according to Burger) and how they prefer to feed on eelgrass, but if that becomes unavailable due to ice, they'll switch to sea lettuce that grows along the margins of the marsh. If the bay freezes and the ground is snow-covered, often they are caught by surprise and many will starve. But... why not just fly farther south? Why is the oriole I saw this morning hanging around here where the weather is suddenly cold and snowy? Why not just go? Anybody know?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Born to run

This story touched me today. I'm not sure why it should; I don't know anything about racehorses, other than enjoying the ones I see boarded and pastured locally. There's two racetracks nearby to my home, but I've never been to see a race and don't gamble anyway.

For a few years when I was first married I used to like to ride my bike across the river and past the stables where the racehorses are kept. In the very early mornings sometimes I would see them out being walked and the sounds and smells of the stables marked the half-way point of my ride.

I hadn't been following Barbaro's recovery, but was reminded of him this morning when I heard a somewhat-hopeful-sounding piece on NPR on my way into work. By lunch time I had heard that he was put down. It came as a shock considering what I'd heard just a few hours before.

From the reading I've done this afternoon it seems as if Barbaro had quite a fan club out there. I have to wonder why so many people can hang their hearts on an injured horse. Racehorses are injured all the time. It seems almost destined to happen when you consider the way they're bred to have such delicate long legs beneath an oversized frame. And trained and raced so hard when so young and still growing. It seems like such folly that we should be surpised when one's injured doing what they're born to do; to run for the sake of our entertainment.

I think his owners are to be commended for giving him the chance to recover against impossible odds and I'm glad that his vet had the compassion and the courage to put him down before his condition got any worse.

A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open. ~Gerald Raferty

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Detours

The contented person enjoys the scenery of a detour. – Author Unknown

I headed out of the house late this afternoon with scope and camera and no real plan about where I might end up. I was hoping to find the large rafts of scaup and goldeneye than I'd heard mentioned on the bird hotlines; the river had begun to freeze during the last few days of cold weather so I thought they might be hanging out in the bay, but there were only the usuals there.

I know of one other spot on the river where large groups of scaup often settle and set about trying to get there. The problem is access. While I live in an area surrounded by rivers and marshes and the ocean, it's near impossible to get to any of them because of the multi-million dollar homes that line the shores of every waterway. I swear those views are wasted on the wealthy! We commoners have to settle for the view from the one public dock along the river or the bridge that spans it, but of course the ducks were nestled in that little cove beneath the castle on the far shore. The dead end street that runs beneath some of those mansions on the water is often a good place to see ducks close, but when I finally found my way there today and got ready to set up my scope - along came two fire trucks with sirens blazing, followed by a few police cars, and then the blue-light yahoos and off the ducks went to the far shore of the river.

But I did have this view from the day - from the bay side at Sandy Hook with the company of gulls and a few cold fisherman.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Good Planets 1/27/07

It may only be late January, but the bluebirds have Spring on their minds. Mary sent this lovely photo of a bluebird who was thinking about setting up housekeeping on the college campus where she works in North Carolina.
Sarala sent this photo of trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Pacific Beach, Washington State.
Lynne at Hasty Brook sent this photo she likes of a quiet lake in the Superior National Forest. She says, "We happened upon this spot while exploring the Gunflint Trail in the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota. The fall colors were just starting."
Even though Liza calls her blog Egret's Nest, she has an affinity for the Ravens that frequent her neighborhood; she especially likes the way this one has fanned out its tail.
Carolyn at Roundtop Ruminations writes, "Here's a photo I took during what is so far this season's only snow here on Roundtop Mountain in southern Pennsylvania. I took the photo as I was looking back up the lane towards my cabin early in the morning."
Next month's Good Planet host Susannah of Wanderin Weeta sent this photo of Spring daffodils, gone wild among the rocks at river's edge.
John at A DC Birding Blog shares this photo of ice formations at the eastern approach to the Paw Paw Tunnel on the C&O Canal in western Maryland.
From ice to the sunny coast of Spain - KGMom sent this photo overlooking the Mediterranean in Costa del Sol.
Cathy at Left Curve shares this snowy winter scene from her hometown in New England.
Pam at Tortoise Trail sent this photo of a male Gambel's Quail by special request of the host. Aren't they just the most handsome of birds?
This image of a bare, wind-gnarled tree on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia, Maine was sent by Ann - aka Bunnygirl- from Diary of a (Slow) Triathlete.
Jayne from Journey Through Grace sent this lovely pic of tulip magnolia blossoms taken at her parent's last spring. How many weeks left of winter? ;-)
For all the starkness of winter, their is delicate beauty also. Ruth at Body, Soul, and Spirit sent this frosted vision that the night had left on her windowpane.
Pam at Tortoise Trail also sent this study in contrasts: desert flora (barrel cactus, prickly pear, palo verde trees and fallen mesquite branches) after Arizona's rare snowfall of January 21.
Robin from Dharma Bums shares this pic from a walk along Port Townsend Bay just this week. She writes, "Often the skies here are filled with these incredible clouds as they break up over the Olympic Mountains, and then reform as they head east toward Seattle. This was just one of those skies."
Cathy from Looking Up sent our final pic for this month: a sunset from Sanibel Island. She writes, "A cold front had just passed through. My kid sis is a Floridian and said that this was pretty unusual looking."

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Hosting these last few weeks has been great fun and an inspiration for me. I hope you might consider giving the Good Planet show a home at your place for a month sometime. Next Saturday, visit Wanderin Weeta for your weekly dose of the Earth's majesty. Send your photos to susannah AT dccnet DOT com.

Remember that all previous photos are archived at the Good Planets flickr gallery.

Many thanks to all who submitted photos this week and throughout the month. Please continue to be as generous in sharing the beauty you find around you.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

No room for more

I came home from my brother's this past weekend with a humongous tub of family memorabilia that had been in storage since we sold my dad's house after he passed away. I'm having a good time going through all the old photos that I haven't seen for quite a few years.

Most of the stuff in the huge tub had been kept forever in the bottom of the china cabinet in my dad's dining room - that's where my mom always kept the baby albums, homemade cards from us kids, the report cards and graduation certificates and all the other stuff of a family's memory.

My brother being the pragmatist (and the one paying the bill for storage) has decided that we need to finally figure out what to do with the things we haven't been able to bear to throw away or to give away. None of us has the room or the need for a dining set, or two bedroom sets, or another side chair and end table.

What do we do with these things that we grew up with; what do we do with the sentiment attached to them? Throw it away? Give it away to some faceless stranger that has no sense of the lives and stories that are a part of each piece of furniture? Will the little girl who ends up with my canopy bed care about the dreams that visited me in that bed, or how I used to hide beneath it when my parents had an argument? Will another family share Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner over our dining set and know how my mother loved that table or how my dad re-tooled it in later years as his computer desk? Do these memories matter to anyone but us? Of course they don't; they're just things after all. But knowing that doesn't help with the feelings of guilt.

My mom liked to pose photos like this one, with us lined up from eldest to littlest. According to the date on the back of the pic I was 3 and Kevin, the eldest, 13 and Brian in the middle at 11. I'm guessing it was taken at Holmdel Park where we used to go sledding and I think the dog may be Rufous (or is it Fritz?), who I don't remember but for pictures of him.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

1/24/07 Mid-week bunny fix

Name the bunny part.

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So I got this nice closeup lens for my camera from Santa. Only there's no flowers or bugs for me to practice on. And I do need lots of practice. It's a fixed-length lens, which means that I have to move, rather than the zoom moving in and out. There's also a really, really narrow range of focus. So I'm taking these oddball pictures of rabbit parts and still life shots of the clutter on my bookshelves until the garden wakes up. Most of these pics remind me of those puzzles that used to be in the back of magazines that would show an ordinary object magnified 50 times until it was unrecognizable. Remember them and how you had to guess what it was in the photo?

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Last call for photos for this Saturday's edition of Good Planets. Email your beautiful pics to me at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net by sometime on Friday. This is the last time that Good Planets will be appearing here, as it will have a new host for the month of February. Don't miss out on the chance to participate!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tree sampler

I tried finding a photo online of the cross-stitch sampler that I would like to do and came across this one which is a fairly close match. The design style is very similar, but the one I have is about half the size.

I photocopied the chart out of a 15 year old embroidery magazine and went to the craft shop and bought the linen and floss before really thinking about the hours of torture this design on 28 count linen would require.

It's probably been 10 years since I bought any new projects and my eyes have changed in those years, for sure! I simply can't do it - can't see the holes in the fabric to know where to put my stitches.

I may try the design on a 14 count evenweave fabric instead, but I don't know that I will like the results so well. What makes embroidery on linen so nice to my eye is the level of detail that's possible and the variety of stitch shapes that are possible when stitching on a fabric that has a little *give*. Every stitch on evenweave fabrics looks the same and that takes some of the charm away.

If you're not a stitcher and don't have a clue why I'm going on about how tiny 28 count linen is - think of it like this - I'm stitching over two threads in the linen - so on a 28 count piece there will be 14 stitches across and 14 stitches down in an inch - a total of 196 stitches in a square inch of fabric! The design I'm following is about 18" by 15" so that's how many stitches? Anybody want to do that math?

I did 6 stitches last night and decided that I'm out of my league. I took a photo of my handiwork with the macro lens and only then did I realize that I made a mistake already! See that last stitch on the left in the bottom row - I crossed it in the wrong place. I could get one of those magnifying glass things they sell, but I don't think that will make stitching any more enjoyable for me. I need to stick with the big clunky stitches that I can see easily.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Idleness


"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour." - John Boswell

I'm going to spend a few idle hours this evening with a new cross-stitch project that I bought the materials for on Friday night and haven't looked at since. You know how on Friday night with the whole weekend ahead anything seems possible? Well, here it is Monday evening and the fabric and threads and chart are still sitting in the bag where I left them at the start of the weekend.

We had a dusting of snow overnight. Not enough for my husband to be called in to work to plow, but enough to make the everyday scene above look a little special, to me, at least. This is a tiny wooded tangle that separates my office building from the police academy that is situated behind the slight incline and closer to the road. I want to believe that a pair of Red-Tails nest here, because I see them perched in these branches so often, but I've never been able to spot their nest.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Divine Design"

Walking in the woods or along the beach at any season reveals an endless variety of forms. Nature is full of delicate colors and intricate shapes - the mosaic of a butterfly's wing, the coordinated movements of a flock of birds or school of fish, the patterns of seashells, the architecture and symmetry of a beehive.

These patterns in nature captivate the naturalist and photographer in me. To those with an inquisitive mind, not content to just gaze in wonder, nature's complex patterns may provide the added appeal of mystery surrounding artistry.

"And while I stood there
I saw more than I can tell,
and I understood more than I saw;
for I was seeing in a sacred manner
the shapes of things in the spirit,
and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being."
Native American, Black Elk

Vicki left that quote on the comments to this post a while back. Also in the comments to that post, my brother Kevin made reference to the idea of the divine in nature which he reminds himself of by displaying a few found objects from nature on the shelf in his cubicle. He sees similarities in all apects of nature's design and believes that if you can't find God in a pinecone, you won't be finding Him in church.

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A co-worker of mine also likes to display found objects from nature in her cubicle. She is a budding naturalist (whether she knows it or not, Linda!) and rather than seeking the divine in nature, I think the variety of colors and textures are what most appeal to her. Linda is the Martha Stewart in our department, and generally serves as cruise ship director and party planner. She's good at what she does. She loves baking and interior decorating. She's also a bit.... I would call her ditzy, but that might sound mean... let's say instead that she is easily distracted. Vicki did a post about a particular food channel celebrity which contained a description that I think is hilarious and that I like to apply to Linda when her social tendencies are particularly annoying to me on a Monday morning - Linda prides herself on her advanced degree in tablescape architecture. (You'll just have to go and read Vicki's post before you'll understand the reference - go ahead, I'll wait 'til you're back).

So the other day I picked up the pinecone you see above from Linda's cubicle-top menagerie. Turning it over and round and round in my hand I noticed the pattern and turned to Kathy, who God-Bless-Her-Sits-Next-to-Linda, and remarked that it looked to me as if someone had actually taken a sharpie marker and drawn the design you see on each of the scales. Linda was only half-listening at this point, which is her usual state with any conversation. Kathy wondered aloud that anyone would go to the trouble to do this and I said that I thought that, yes, someone had actually gone to the trouble to design it that way. "Really?" Kathy asked. (Kathy and I talk this way all the time - on the surface very mundane, but we both know what we're really discussing). "Sure," I told her, "that's divine design at work".

At that, Linda's ears perked up.

"I love Divine Design! Candice Olsen is my absolute favorite! Her designs are so innovative and inspiring. Did you see the last episode when..."

Linda. Gotta love her.

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If we keep our minds and hearts open to it, nature's creations may delight the imagination and challlenge our understanding of the world around us. How do these patterns develop? What rules or guidelines shape the world we live in?

What draws you to nature - the mystery or the artistry?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Good Planets 1/20/07

"Step out onto the Planet
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.

Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands, and, maybe
nobody's ever really seen.

How many can you find?"

--Lew Welch quoted from "Earth Prayers"


Liza from Egret's Nest sent this photo of redwoods in her backyard -- they are examples of why Redwoods are called Sequioa Sempervirens -- the last part means everlasting. She writes, "Redwoods are amazing and beautiful trees and when I am in a redwood forest, I feel at peace!"
I found this peaceful scene at Peirce's Park in Longwood Gardens in Pa. - my husband and I enjoyed a few quiet moments together beneath these towering old trees.
Sarala sent this photo and wrote, "This is a tangle of kelp I saw on Pacific Beach, California. I think of kelp as nature's floatation device."
Cathy at Left Curve wonders what this strange-looking plant is that she photographed in Key West. Anyone know?
KGMom sent this photo from her travels to Labadi Beach, Accra, Ghana just before sunset. She writes, "The boat in the foreground is a typical fishing boat, although it doesn't look like it is in working order. However, Ghanaians are very resourceful; they may very well use this boat."
Bunnygirl shared this pic of her *own private peninsula* at Chapin Beach on Cape Cod.
She also sent this photo of the Abó Pueblo ruins - one of the Salinas pueblos.
Robin at Dharma Bums writes, "I've been trying for weeks to photograph a Golden-crowned or Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Because they are *continuously active* it is very difficult to get a good shot. They hop and flit in the bushes, making focusing very tricky. But persistence paid off, and I did get a fairly reasonable shot of this Ruby-crowned Kinglet just the other day. One of North America's smallest birds, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet can be recognized by its constant wing-flicking. The male shows its red crown only infrequently."
Kerrdelune of Beyond the Fields We Know shared this photo of the tattered remains of a milkweed pod.
Laurie from Dont Make Me Get My Flying Monkeys sent this photo taken near the headwaters of the Stillwater River above Nye, Montana.
Dawn shared two beautiful pics; this one of Mt Rainier from White Pass...
... and this gentleman who joined her hoping she might have a snack or two to share.
John at A DC Birding Blog sent this photo of the sunset on 1/15/07 at the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The domed building visible on the horizon is the National Museum of the American Indian. The branch at the top is part of a large willow oak that stands about 30 yards from the Senate wing.
Evan writes, "This is a Tufted Titmouse taken in my backyard in Fairfax Va."
Sky writes, "Recent snowfalls in Puget Sound, Washington covered our giant sequoia in glittering white crystals where she stood regally dressed for our pleasure for 7 days! This photograph is cast in the blues of the afternoon light joining sky and snow. She is my favorite evergreen here where she overlooks one of our perennial rock gardens filled with spring's tulips, hyacinths, and iris followed by a summer festival of lilies, fuchsias, dahlias, coreopsis, liatris, and lavenders."
DivaKitty sent this photo taken while looking down on Carson Valley from Kingbury Grade in Tahoe, Nevada.

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Many thanks to those who submitted photos this week. Is it just me, or are they more spectacular each time?

My hope in hosting Good Planets is that the beauty shared here will cause someone to pause and consider all that we stand to lose if we continue to take this planet and its many wonders for granted. Step out into the world, draw your small circle and see what you can find within it that will bring you joy. Share that joy and do your part, however small, to see that it endures.

Everyone is invited to particpate in the Good Planets Show. Send your photos to me, lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net for inclusion in next Saturday's edition. If you're prone to procrastinate, send your pics for February to Wanderin Weeta (susannah AT dccnet DOT com). Maybe you'd like to host Good Planets on your own blog? Think about it and contact Robin at newdharmabums AT yahoo DOT com.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Take my picture, please?

Last weekend while I was driving around looking at *fancy* ducks at some of the coastal ponds in the area I was approached by this pretty lady(?) and her companion. I was trying to take some pics of a pair of canvasbacks from my car. All of the ducks were in the middle of the pond - too far away even for the long lens - but these two saw me stopped at the roadside and swam over, got out of the water, and climbed up the bank and stood beside the car eyeballing me. I felt bad for not appreciating their more common beauty, so I switched lenses and took a few photos while they posed so nicely. Why can't the canvasbacks and hoodies be this cooperative?

I'm kidding, of course. This duck wasn't interested in having her picture taken - she was looking for a handout. I didn't have a single thing to offer her, not that I would have anyway. There's a reason the ponds are posted with "no feeding the waterfowl" signs.

All of the ponds the ducks frequent (both migratory and domestic) are in residential areas, surrounded by homes. Most are passive-use municipal parks and often attract large numbers of Canada Geese and Mute Swans. People using the parks like to feed them and that attracts more of the beggars and probably drives away the migrant waterfowl. It also dirties the water, and in the case of Wreck Pond, which is tidal, creates a significant environmental problem.

Better just to tell her how pretty she is and go on my way.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fresh faces

I met my new students for the first class of the Spring semester last night. I'm less nervous as the years go by, but it still makes me pretty anxious. I don't think I'll ever forget the way my knees shook the first time I faced a group of students ten years or so ago. It's not that bad anymore, but I teach semi-adults now. I think a group of 6th graders, like that first class years ago, would have that effect on most anyone.

One plus for me as a college instructor is that I get a new crop of students every few months. Just when we begin to get tired of one another and have each other figured out - the semester ends!

For all the nerves involved in the first class meeting, I have a good time with it. I get to pretend that I'm very strict and likely to be a difficult teacher - for a few hours anyway. They see through that act pretty quickly in the weeks to come.

They seem like they'll be an interesting class. There's a few culinary school students, and a dance major, and a girl in the automotive program. All of them claim to be good readers, but hate reading, and most couldn't name the last book they'd read.

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A gentle, but late reminder to anyone planning to submit a photo for this week's Good Planets on Saturday. Please email to me at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net sometime tomorrow. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1/17/07 Mid-week bunny fix

Peeper's favorite perch is my hope chest by the window. I'm not sure what she's watching out there, other than traffic, but she loves to sit there watching. A car pulling up or someone walking along my neighbor's driveway just outside the window sends her racing back to her cage with a Thump! Once I tried to sneak a photo of her in this pose from outside the window and she totally freaked out and Thumped! at me for a couple of hours. Silly rabbit! She insists that the window be open, even in this morning's cold, otherwise she will paw and scratch at the window until I open it. If you have a sharp eye you might notice that the dangly things on the mini-blinds have been *altered* by somebunny's teeth.

and for Suzanne from PetBunny, who died today:

DEDICATED TO ALL THOSE WHO CARE FOR ANIMALS
I Am an Animal Rescuer
My job is to assist God's creatures
I was born with the need to fulfill their needs
I take in new family members without plan, thought or selection
I have bought rabbit, dog, & cat food with my last dime
I have patted a mangy head with a bare hand
I have hugged someone vicious and afraid
I have fallen in love a thousand times
and I have cried into the fur of a lifeless body
I have Animal Friends and friends who have Animal Friends
I don't often use the word "pet"
I notice those lost at the road side
And my heart aches
I will hand raise a field mouse
And make friends with a vulture
I know of no creature unworthy of my time
I want to live forever if there aren't animals in Heaven
But I believe there are!
Why would God make something so perfect and leave it behind?
We may be master of the animals,
But the animals have mastered themselves
Something people still haven't learned
War and abuse make me hurt for the world
But a rescue that makes the news gives me hope for humankind
We rescuers and lovers of animals are a quiet but determined army
And making a difference every day
There is nothing more necessary than warming an orphan/stray, or surrendered
animal
Nothing more rewarding than saving a life
No higher recognition than watching them thrive
There is no greater joy than seeing a rabbit, cat, or dog play
who only days ago, was too weak to eat
I am an Animal Rescuer
My work is never done
My home is never quiet
My wallet is always empty
But my heart is always full
In the game of life, I have already won!
~ Annette King Tucker ~


Rest well friend. May your reunions at the Bridge be joyous.

Suzanne helped many rabbits find new homes. The 3 bunnies that she's left behind have been adopted, sight unseen, by other members of PetBunny, and will be transported from Suzanne's home in California to various points in the country by other members of PetBunny who volunteered to drive or fly them there. Suzanne volunteered for a few trips like this herself to get a bunny to a new home.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A sweet pastured place

"Somewhere in time's own space there must be some sweet pastured place, where creeks sing on and tall trees grow, some paradise where horses go..." -Stanley Harrison

Some of us (not me) will be busy tonight with the season premiere of American Idol. I have work to do to get my head together to teach the semester premiere of College Reading Skills II tomorrow night. So I'm sharing just this pic of some pretty horses that I pass by on my way to work in the morning.

Just up the road from this peaceful scene there was a car crash last week that killed four people - 3 of them high school students. Friends and family have already begun to erect the sad roadside memorials that seem to take on a life of their own and become the focus of a community's mourning. Why people should choose to remember a loved one in the place where they met a fiery death is beyond my understanding. I didn't know these kids and sort of resent being reminded of their passing with sodden football jerseys and crooked homemade crosses stuck in the mud at roadside. I should think they deserve a more dignified rememberance.

They're young adults just learning to deal with grief and, I suppose, haven't yet learned to mask it and make it more palatable to others, like we grown-ups do. Their pain of loss is raw and they feel the need to do something to demonstrate how much they're hurting. I understand that.

Me, I keep my eye on the horses as I pass by. I see the beauty and tranquility of this place and think of a few young boys in too much of a hurry to do the same.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"One more time"

Naturewoman invited us to share pics from our childhood, so I'm posting this one that I scanned a while back for another post that I never got around to putting together. I'm the goofy-looking kid in the hat, my mom and grandma are there with me. The pic was taken outside the church I grew up attending; maybe it's Easter Sunday and I think the year was 1976, so I was six years old.

My mom in this picture looks exactly the way I remember her; tall and shapely and pretty. She passed away five years later with that nice figure. My grandma died while I was in college. She was always a robust woman - made of good German stock - but with age she became thin and frail.

We used to go on vacations with my mother's family to Maine and we spent all the holidays at my grandparent's in North Jersey, but I don't remember much of that. I do remember as a teenager going to visit and sometimes spending a weekend with my grandparents. My grandma and I drank tea together and played cards. I always wanted her to teach me how to crochet and play canasta, but we never got to that. I grew up and she got old and then she was gone. I do think of her whenever I fix myself a cup of tea or sing *Happy Birthday* to someone. We always had to sing *Happy Birthday* twice when grandma was there, because just as the song was finishing grandma would say, "one more time" and we sang it again. Silly! My brother Kevin reminds me of this now, because his voice is the one saying, "one more time" in a perfect imitation of grandma's voice.