To each his own. To me my own.

Animals

The Snake Whisperer

Snakes in general terrify me, and I hate them. I don’t want to hear about how beneficial black, corn and king snakes are – or the fact that they’re non-poisonous. They’re the stuff my nightmares are made of, and I could definitely see myself having a coronary over one. About five years ago, I stepped on a baby copperhead in my house **YES I SAID IN MY HOUSE** and I’m still not over that. Did I mention I was barefoot?

My boyfriend has had several recent encounters with black snakes which I think he rather enjoys. In each instance, he’ll ‘rescue them by moving them (by hand) to a tree or another part of his yard.

Last week’s instance (these are his pictures… I told him that second one was Nat Geo material):

Lo and behold, Saturday night here came another one (a different one) on the wrought iron railing of his porch. Once again, K gathers it up and places it ‘safely’ back in a tree. The thing was obviously looking for some eggs or baby birds, as it was about 4 feet from both when he happened upon it.

Sunday morning, we woke up to this in the kitchen window (taken through a screen with my cell phone, so it’s grainy):

Upon further inspection outside, he’s pretty sure this is the same one from his porch Saturday night. Now, I’m telling the truth here when I say that snake was gazing at K adoringly, almost lovingly; as lovingly as a snake can look, anyway. It’s almost as though it was thanking him for not killing him the previous night.

Right before camping out by the pool for the afternoon, he saw a mockingbird chasing another one away across the back yard. Ugghh.

All I can say is, word’s really getting around throughout the snake community that this is the yard to go to. C’mon over, buds!! Plenty ‘o bird life, and Massa’ won’t kill ya here…


A beautiful heart…

K found him on a jobsite, lying on his back. He picked him up, turned him over, and inspected him for injury. The little guy appeared to be okay… his little head and arms moved ever so slowly, but he was alive. He kept him safe until the workday’s end and decided to take him home. He made a little temporary aquarium with about 1″ of dirt and mulch, water, and made a little igloo for him to hide in from a half a naval orange peel he cut with a little ‘door’.

My boyfriend had found a endangered box turtle. This little thing is tiny – only a tad bigger than his own thumbprint. He likely would never have survived, as he was stuck on his back beside a fence in the middle of nothing but red dust.

When I drove up Saturday, he directed me over to his birdbath to ‘meet’ him. Little Autobot had been placed in the birdbath, along with his little ‘hut’ to hide in. He proudly told me he had just eaten for the first time, a large worm K had just caught and put in the container for him. So far he’s been ‘catching’ his protein for him (worms and insects).

Sunday we drove over to PetSmart, since he wanted to secure Autobot a more permanent home. He found a nice little aquarium along with a watering stone, a permanent hut (igloo made from a coconut) and some food for when insects or other veggies aren’t available.

This is yet another reason I have found to love him even more, which I didn’t think was possible. I’m continually being reminded of the enormous and beautiful heart this man has.


The Squirrel Whisperer

To some, squirrels are menacing little creatures who monopolize your bird seed and tear up your flowers by burying their nuts in your beds. I’ve seen people take drastic measures to reduce the squirrel population – including that of my own father-in-law. He used to set trap cages in his back yard, then take them on a 20-mile or so trek via car and release them to new territory. Somehow though, he always ended up with ‘new’ ones. lol

Well, they aren’t menacing to my Mother. She has this certain understanding and sense when it comes to them – this is why I call her The Squirrel Whisperer.

I don’t know when it all started, actually. She’s always loved animals, besides her pets I mean. That of the wild. Birds and bunny rabbits – and squirrels. I remember several years back when she called up on a early Saturday afternoon. “Something is in my fireplace” she said. I went over there, and during the course of the afternoon it became apparent that there sure WAS something in there. It was a squirrel – holding on tight doing a spread-eagle on the rounded flute!! It was the funniest most pathetic sight I ever did see. Fast-forward through many attempts to free the creature, to no avail. They ended up calling this rodent-control/removal service (that assured them they would do everything humanely possible to save the animal). To make an already long story short, you’d have thought the guy was killing the squirrel. Of all the screaming, it was terrible. All the sudden, one big YANK o’ the hook and here comes the soot-stained squirrel running out from the fireplace, straight out the storm door which we had propped open. Out he goes in true Christmas Vacation fashion, leaving Mom and I standing there –  one of us holding a broom, and the other holding a blanket to shoo the squirrel towards the door like some wanna-be matador. We’ve laughed about this ‘rescue’ many times.

In her own back yard that I call little Utopia, therein resides a bird/squirrel/bunny sanctuary. Obviously all these animals talk to each other, because word has gotten out that this is THE backyard to come to. There are feeders, houses, birdbaths, little benches, flower gardens, and plenty of mature trees. If I was a bird or squirrel, I’d surely pick Mom’s back yard to live and I’ve told her so on many occasions. She just smiles.

Unfortunately Mom’s come in contact with some little orphans – in particular, one that she calls Junior. A couple of years back, there was an adult squirrel smashed out in the road. Not long after that there was a baby squirrel laying on a tree branch in her back yard, crying. Now if you’ve ever heard a squirrel cry, whether baby or adult, it’s heart-wrenching. It sounds just like a baby’s cry! Even though many things come naturally to an animal (building nests, flying, mating, hunting) a squirrel’s nest-building skills aren’t one of them. The little orphans are pretty much clueless as to how to build their home if they aren’t lessoned by a parent. After a little time, they’ll throw together a makeshift nest – though not carefully constructed enough to last. It usually always ends up back where it originated – the ground.

The first time Junior’s nest fell he was still a young lad, and he laid up on the branch and cried for a couple of days. After that he went a long stretch of time without a nest, and Mom worried about him so. Months later, he built again. Just last week after major storms, Junior’s mess of a nest was once again on the ground.

So what does his Mom do?

She gathers the nest up, puts it in a new wrought-iron basket and attaches it as high up in the tree as she can get it (barring a broken neck) near where he originally had it placed. This little squirrel loves his Mom. I see the way he looks at her when she takes pictures of him. Mom has told me when she pulls in the driveway, the little thing comes running from the back yard, up the driveway towards the car.

These little animals are lucky to have a Mom like her. And, I know how they feel. 🙂

Click here for Mom’s blog today.


Easter Seal

It’s Easter Sunday, and He Has Risen. I thank God for sending his only son down to us to die for our sins – and for giving us this beautiful day to serve as a reminder. My faith in this most generous and selfless act is forever sealed.

It’s been the best weekend of the year so far for me, and Ima happy girl. 😆 I was off Friday, so we got up that morning and headed to the (still somewhat new) indoor fleamarket in a neighboring town. After that I went to see my Dad for his birthday since they had plans the day before. That night, I packed up myself and Camille and headed to my guy’s house for the weekend. Saturday morning he cooked a feast of a breakfast including hashbrowns, then suggested we walk some of it off by visiting the new IKEA store in the University area. He had been there before, first time for me. Simply put, that place is massive.

Camille has been one trip of a cat this time around. She’s enjoyed the many springtime birds that taunt her through so many open windows. The weather’s been just perfect.

I’m currently laying out in the sun watching him wax my car. Life is good, and I don’t want this weekend to end.


The Red Velvet Ant

I’ve witnessed one. And I’ll never forget that day. Nor will I regret killing it.

I was telling a couple of friends of the story yesterday. It still tops the chart of the most interesting insect I’ve ever seen, and I told them had I been blogging back then there would’ve certainly been a 4-5 page blog about it. I figure, better late than never!

Several years back when I still lived at my old house, I pulled up our steeply inclined driveway and there it was. A little over an inch long, there was this monstrous-looking bright red and black striped segmented body taking a gingerly walk on the driveway. I got out of the car and immediately ran inside for the bug killer (sorry folks – if I had a do-over I’d reach for the bug-killer again). Back outside, this ‘thing’ had made it’s way over to the edging in between the driveway and our well-manicured lawn in an attempt to hide.

The monster’s coloring was so bright it looked fake, but I was quickly reminded wasn’t once it started charging me. The hairs were long and fine, and looked so soft, like velvet. I dared not get to close because the thing ran so fast towards me, I would’ve probably had a coronary if it had reached me and stung. I had to get closer to even start spraying, and when I did what I heard about made me faint. The thing was screaming. Later, upon reading up on them I found they do this when threatened. Well, I was threatening it all right – I’m just glad this thing didn’t know how scared I was. I finally got close enough to start spraying the bug killer – at first it didn’t phase the creature.

Once it started working, I didn’t let up. (All God’s creatures? Nuh.)

The ‘red velvet ant’, also called a ‘cow killer’ is actually a wasp, and is a member of the Mutillidae family. The female is wingless, which is what I encountered. They range in size from 1/8″ to a little over 1″. The two largest ones are the Satan’s (appropriately named, wouldn’t ya say?) one being black with a yellowish-white abdomen and the other red and black. The males have wings but no stingers, while the females have stingers but lack wings. Don’t let the looks deceive you – even though they look soft and silky, the heavy outer covering of body functions as a suit of armor and can only be penetrated with great difficulty.

These ‘ants’ (remember though, they’re wasps) vary in color. On the west coast, they are generally white, central America, they appear orange and black, and on the east coast (primarily the southern states) they are bright to crimson red and black.

Cow killer


The Shark Whisperer

I love marine life. Sharks in particular amaze me – seriously, every single thing about them. I’ll get engrossed in a tv special about them in a split second. For this reason, I wish I’d done better in school and went on to excel in marine biology. Either that or writing, my two true loves in life. 😀

I watched what was actually a rerun of a special the other night where CNN’s Anderson Cooper had the amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of free-diving with professional “Sharkman” Mike Rutzen. Free diving. This means cageless. With Great White sharks.

The Great White is by far the most dangerous and powerful shark known to man. It always blows me away to see how massive these sharks were, so witnessing a human being free-diving with them is quite remarkable. Click here to see the 13-minute special aired on CBS’s 60 minutes.

It seems that I’m always learning something new about sharks – guess I can attribute this to the interest factor in that I’m always paying attention! First, contrary to what some people believe, they are not blind or even partially so. Mike said that they actually like to make eye contact with humans! Can you imagine making eye contact with a Great White up close and personal? Also, a sharks eyes are not black, they are actually blue. As he and a great white swam past each other while making eye contact, he pointed the color out – and you could even see the sharks eyes turn to him. The sharks seem to ‘like’ him. Um again, these are Great Whites – the same predator depicted in the movie Jaws!

Mike searches for curious sharks... which he calls 'players'.

Now, he doesn’t just free-dive into any old Great White infested waters, mind you. He ‘feels out’ the sharks beforehand – deciphering their ‘personality’ or ‘current mood’. This is how he will decide if the shark is what he calls ‘a player’, an endearing term he uses to describe a curious shark. With all the criteria in place – in he goes.

Mike “Sharkman” Rutzen owns and operates his own dive company off the coast of South Africa called Shark Diving Unlimited. For a nominal fee you’ll be able to cage-dive, allowing you to safely observe the sharks for yourself (you’ll just need to travel to Africa to do it with him). I can’t think of a single thing in life more awesome than the opportunity to do this. Along with his faithful and professional crew, he operates the business with his vessel Barracuda – a 12.5 meter Lee Cat specifically built for Great White shark cage diving. Her twin hull makes her extremely stable… admittedly by SDU, a good thing to keep in mind if you’re prone to sea sickness! With a maximum of 21 clients each trip, the back deck is spacious with an upstairs viewing deck that offers a great vantage point to watch the action. All diving equipment, towels and picnic lunch are on board, as well as all required safety equipment including two 15-man liferafts.

Michael believes that he is able to decipher the body language of great white sharks – and proves his theory by altering his own body language to maintain control of the interactions. By making his body smaller, he can attract a curious shark; by making himself bigger in the water he can deter a confident shark. His golden rule is to ‘stand your ground – because everything that swims away from a Great White shark is potential prey’.

German filmmaker Ralf Kiefner made a wonderful film about Michael free-diving with Great Whites. The film is called Beyond Fear and was broadcast on National Geographic. Since the release of the film, Michael has become known world-wide for his unique understanding of Great White shark behavior.

By free-diving with these magnificent creatures, Michael hopes to increase awareness of the many shark-killers out there that still exist, as well as promote the ‘gentler’ side of sharks. He believes this to be a crucial step in the right direction in changing the public’s negative image of these majestic predators.

In his native South-African accent, Michael jovially states that he’s always felt he will be one of  those who die at a younger age. When asked why, he replied, “Well you know… I smoke too much, drink too much, and I like to drive my car really fast.” AC asked, “But it won’t be from a Great White?” to which Michael replied with a sly grin, “Naw”.

Information and photos derived from www.sharkdivingunlimited.com


Dirty Dreams

Another night with very little sleep. Seems like I was up every hour. And these damned dreams, I’d like to have a night or two without them.

Last night I dreamed I was in a station wagon with an old girlfriend, who happens to be the mother of one of my daughter’s friends. She was driving erratically, and took a course off the road and down an embankment into a nearby field of sorts. We almost flipped going down it. Once we got to the ‘field’, we were stuck – we got out and noticed there was mud literally everywhere. We were then greeted by a couple of little dogs, fortunately they were friendly. Thick, heavy, orange mud abounded all over the place. I was barefoot, and everywhere I stepped was this mud, going in between my toes. The saving grace was there were also puddles of water here and there, they were muddy as well but held enough water to rinse off – albeit temporarily. I was then introduced to four ladies who are the sisters of a dear friend of mine (a different friend, not the driver of the car).

Obviously the key word in this dream is Mud. I didn’t like the interpretation of it.

  • To see mud in your dream, suggests that you are involved in a messy and sticky situation. It also suggests that some internal cleansing is needed.
  • Walking in mud interpretation #1: To dream that you are walking in mud, suggests that you are feeling weighed down by a situation, problem, or relationship. You are feeling frustrated.
  • Walking in mud interpretation #2: To dream that you walk in mud, denotes that you will have cause to lose confidence in friendships or relationships, and there will be losses and disturbances in family circles.
  • To dream that mud has gotten on your clothing or body, signifies that your reputation is being attacked and called into question.

Well, enough already of the dream stuff.

I heard something that was absolutely a scream on the news this morning. There’s this new ‘company’ out there called Eternal Earth-Bound Pet, completely founded, operated and ran by atheists. For a nominal fee, this ‘company’ promises lifetime care for almost all domestic pets if their owners are transported to heaven within the next ten years. All of the atheists who are signed up across 20 states are self-professed sinners and blasphemers, and guarantee they will be left behind when the rapture comes and the chosen are lifted.

Earthbound Pets Website

The group insists that this offer is real, as real as we christians believe the coming rapture to be. The founders are striving to assure us believers that our animals will “live in loving homes, not in animal shelters or pet mills”.

You’ve gotta be kidding me. These idiots have no idea how their very own quality of life will suffer after the imminent rapture (that they are now monetarily profiting from) occurs. There will be catastrophes of epic proportions everywhere. Pain, grief, sorrow, depair, desperation….you name it. Do you think they’re gonna worry about living up to some contract for pets of the persons who will now be considered lucky and blessed in their eyes? It’s gonna be a job for them to be able to keep their own pets alive and intact.

So, thanks for the offer, atheists – but no thanks. I’ll continue to rely on the fact that my dear Lord has a plan implemented for our dearly loved furbabies, as he has a plan in place for everything and everyone. I will make no deal with the likes of you. The Lord created them, and upon his return for us I trust and believe our dear pets will be taken care of in a way mannered by Him.

And Him alone.


Group Effort

Nature fascinates me, I think that’s obvious. All of us at the office have this in common. It’s my opinion, I know but – it’s a wonderful thing to have in common. We’re blessed with huge windows that span approximately 12′ wide or more, enhancing our viewing pleasure to begin with. It’s all way too inviting.

About 10am on a Tuesday morning, from the hallway window most of us had already noticed more than a herd of Canadian geese headed our way from down the road. Okay, I know Canadian geese aren’t usually a favorite, and are often considered a hindrance. But, we’ve more than adopted all of the wildlife surrounding us and, well – I have stories. Some funny, some sad. On this day the group consisted of many more than I was able to get in the picture – more up on the hill to the left… and MANY more to the immediate right of me, on our lawn.

Amazingly enough, even being geese, these little guys were truckin’ quickly down the road. I ran back to my spot for my camera, then came the long sprint to the front door, and outside to the road even further. My coworkers stood guard from the front window. 🙂 Once I got within snapshot distance, it was SO funny… out of that long line of geese (so much more to the left and right of the camera that I couldn’t capture) they just STOPPED, with each of them turning their profile view to me. They were moving along so quickly…. but they just halted. It was hilarious, and this is how they appear in the picture.

This afternoon, I was talking to my 21-yr old daughter who was running a 100 degree fever, sick with a bug at home. I spied 6-7 deer outside my window (once again). Our ‘code’ at work for a mass deer sighting consists of yelling ‘DEER… DEER… DEER… DEER…’ until all the other employees have safely made it to the window. I ended up interrupting my daughters conversation to sound the deer alarm. I do think she understood our outlandish antics. 🙂


Good morning, deer

This year I’m having even more trouble getting into Christmas than last year, and that’s saying a lot. The push to get myself started shopping yesterday ran into about 4 in the afternoon. Needless to say, the stores were jammed. I could swear that this one crying child followed me literally everywhere I went. ‘Tis the season.

By the time I got home I was, um, feeling my age. I just don’t remember being so tired after shopping last year. I excused it by reminding myself that I don’t go out and shop for long lengths of time regularly anyway, that this was a ‘shock to the ole body’. Shock the monkey.

Still, I’m constantly reminded of the fact that Christmas is over commercialized. This makes it tougher by the year, for me anyway, to ‘get into’ the season. Just for once I’d like to plan a trip to leave on Christmas Day or even New Years and just get the hell outta Dodge for a couple days. No responsibilities, just leave it all behind. I know a couple of people who do this. One year I’ll do it myself….

I just went by the hallway window at work where five very graceful deer stood grazing on the front lawn. I stood motionless (for a second anyway) before running back for my camera. I returned with camera in one hand, cam-phone in the other – and right away notice that they’re onto me. All five were staring straight at me – it was so funny looking, an intoxicating moment to have an entire herd of wildlife looking straight at you. I managed to get a shot of two with my regular camera, but not the entire pack (sad face). I’ll post it when I get home to my cord. The deer just made my day, quite possibly my entire week. 🙂

I’ll letcha know on that.

Two of the five