Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Happy Hunters

Years ago, my friend Teresa and I took her then 15 year old son, Robbie, to kayak the Johnstone Strait in British Columbia. We had two desires: to see Orcas and to see a Spirit Bear. Orcas we saw in abundance, once so close it was nearly heart-stopping. And we saw a black bear, but not a Spirit Bear, the unique white subspecies of the black bear.

Here's a link to more information on Kermode, the Inuit name for the rare white bear. This is a quote from

"Due to their special color and rarity, the kermode bear is revered by local Native American culture. They are referred to as the spirit bear or ghost bear. According to Native American legend, the spirit bear is a reminder of times past, specifically the white color of ice and snow. The master of the universe created one white bear for every ten black bears as a reminder of the hardships during the ice age. During this period glaciers and cold blanketed the planet. The spirit bear also symbolizes peace and harmony."

The odd-looking bear killed by a hunter last month is finally identified.
A week or so ago, I saw the story about hunters killing what they thought was a cross between a polar bear and a grizzly bear. My first thought was they had killed a Spirit Bear. It turns out, according this article, that they had "harvested" a blonde grizzle bear.
Odd-looking bear killed by hunter isn’t a grolar or pizzly after all  

I'll leave it to you to be sickened or not. 

Spirit Bear video 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Where do all the Horses go?

My novel, The Outside of a Horse, was published six years ago. It's the story of a daughter's struggle to help her war veteran father deal with his wounds through their shared love of horses. It met with some success and though it was a Scholastic Book Fair selection, the publisher decided it was too dark for middle-grade readers, and would not be of interest to the dystopian-loving, vampire-reading, age-appropriate, young adult audience. It never came out as a more affordable trade paperback.

Doggy-Dog World: Dystopia & Utopia

Premarin: The horses, the drugs, the women | TUESDAY'S HORSEI don't write for the fun of it. I write to inform. There are millions of animals living real dystopian lives: Captive dolphins and Orcas, chimpanzees in research, elephants is circuses, dogs in puppy mills and research facilities, and thousands of horses--like Premarin mares. (The hormone replacement drug Premarin is made from Pregnant Mare Urine.)

This article from USA Today makes it clear nothing has changed. When I was researching The Outside of a Horse, the number of horses slaughtered annually was 100,000. It's now 150,000. The number of organizations that rescue them has also increased, but there are too few and the few there are are always strapped for funds. This USA Today story is about a guy who makes his living either selling horses to slaughterhouses, mostly in Mexico, or ransoming them. If you've got the stomach, it's below.

"The USDA tracks horses that are shipped to Canada and Mexico but does not identify the reasons for the export, which could range from slaughter to sales to equestrians.The numbers indicate the(US) slaughter ban only shifted the industry: In 2006, when the United States still housed slaughterhouses, about 36,000 equines crossed into Canada and Mexico. Those numbers have steadily ticked up, and in 2014, more than 105,000 horses crossed the southern border while 45,000 went north."

picture by Patty Joslyn at the Circle of Horses   

Circle of Horses

What can you do? Donate to an Equine therapy center, or one of the many rescue facilities. And if you are post-menopausal, DON'T USE PREMARIN as your replacement hormone drug.

Bodybuilding Couple Starved, Abused Horses - ...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Something to Cluck about.

until now has been an oxymoron.

In all the years I've been writing this blog, I've never written about a commercial establishment, but this got my attention and I think it's worth sharing. They are also paying their employees between $14 and $17 an hour.

The link above it to their website, but here is their story.  Lucky California. We have the only two locations SO FAR: San Francisco and Pleasanton.

Leading and inspiring change with the first certified organic fast food.

Every part of the Organic Coup’s business is built and inspired by our years working at Costco Wholesale. The philosophies learned at Costco have become our foundation at The Coup. We are a business filled with passionate people pushing for social change.

What’s the story behind our name? Truth be told, it started out as a typo when spelling the word “coop” while first hatching out the plan (pun intended) for an entirely new fast food concept. But, this typo actually captured the spirit of our mission and we knew we had our name.  A “coup” is a takeover – and that’s our vision: an organic takeover of the fast food industry. Totally disruptive and bold. The Organic Coup represents a new day and a new attitude about fast food – fast food can be good food.

The Coup believes in food that is raised within the Organic USDA standards.  These standards do not allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), toxic chemicals and pesticides, or the use of antibiotics or added hormones in livestock.  We believe in sustainability, not just for the quality of life today, but also for the future.
We believe in “Team Coup” (our employees) and we are investing in them with a livable wage that sets a new standard in fast food.

We are building an army of Coup Nation Ambassadors as the food movement is at its tipping point. Coup Nation Ambassadors – people like you – are changing the status quo by transforming the conventional and unsustainable food system through vision and action. The simple act of buying a certified organic sandwich makes you an agent of change.

We are seeing the future of food come from people with deep courage, powerful voices and unwavering vision who want to make a positive impact.  Please join us at The Organic Coup in eating your everyday peaceful protest.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bird Safety

Luckily, my cat, Blue, isn't interested in birds. He's hell on chipmunks, but not birds. This morning, I received this email from a friend. 
"Talking about cats, Luna had become a bird killing machine (one, sometimes two, a day). In desperation I went on line and found a site - “Bird be safe.” Apparently birds can see bright colors - I bought a simple cotton collar from the site and- voila- no more dead bird gifts. I mean none. She seems almost proud of her collar and, although she can take it off easily, she generally doesn’t. If you have friends with a similar problem you might want to pass this along." 
pet cat kills between one and 34 birds a year, while a feral cat kills ... 
It's well known that cats kill millions of birds a year--Estimated at 3.7 million. If there is something that works to cut down on that number, it has to worth a try.
Want to Stop Your Cat From Killing Birds? Dress It Up Like a Clown
 If any of you try it, I'd love to hear back.

P.S. I got this from a bird-rehabilitater of the first order.
"That bright collar sounds like a fine idea. Yes, songbirds and many others can see ultraviolet light, for one thing, which creates a kind of neon glow. For another, most diurnal birds have at least four types of color cones in their retina, RGB and violet. We have three - RGB. Other non-primate mammals, most of them, have two- blue and green. Birds react strongly to color for display and possibly territory protection, and in hunters, in getting food. What a simple solution!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Case of the Pot calling the Kettle Black

Bumble bees pictures (1)
A few years ago, on one of our many chilly mornings, I found five or six bumblebees all snuggled together in a single flower. Though it was pretty obvious they were bundled  for warmth, I wanted to know why they'd chosen this method. I called my go-to person on all science questions, botanist Teresa Sholars. She said some species of plants actually increase their metabolism at night to attract bees. Bumblebees shiver to keep warm. A bunch of shivering bumblebees inside a flower insure they will become covered in pollen, and insuring pollination for the flower. How bloody cool is that!
 I, unlike bees, love sleeping in cold room with lots of blankets. This morning, I found a very numb bumblebee in my bathroom sink. At first I thought it was dead, but when a leg moved, I edged it onto a piece of toilet paper and carried it outside.

Nearly every morning, I'm awakened by ravens gathering to follow my animal-loving, but rather peculiar neighbor, who goes by, rain or shine, just at dawn, pulling a cooler full of stale bread, which she drags to the top hill to feed the assemblage. 

This morning, I'm on my upper deck trying to encourage my bee, which has crawled off the toilet paper and is now on my fingertip, into a nasturtium bloom, when I hear my neighbor coming along the road, talking to the ravens, which are flying along behind her, and I think aloud-- "Charlotte, you poor old thing, you're not all there," --then I catch sight of my reflection in the sliding glass door. Staring back at me is a seventy-plus-year-old woman, in her pajamas, with a severe case of bed-hair, and a bumblebee on the tip of her finger. 

P.S. I ended up carrying the bumblebee downstairs, put it on a piece of paper near a lamp, gave it a drop of honey, and covered it with plastic lid with a breathing hole. It drank the honey, and when it warmed up and started to buzz, I took it outside and let it go.

"The bumblebee is either sick, too old or too cold to fly. If it is sick or infected with a parasite then I'm afraid there is not much that can be done. However if you find a grounded bumblebee early in the year, just at the start of the first warmer days, then it is probably a queen. She may have been caught out in a sudden shower or a cold spell. If the temperature of the thorax falls below 30 oC the bumblebee cannot take off (see temperature regulation). The best thing you can do it pick her up using a piece of paper or card, put her somewhere warmer, and feed her. When she has warmed and fed she will most likely fly off. You can feed her using a 30/70 mixture of honey and water in a pipette or eye dropper, or just a drop of this on a suitable surface within her reach, but be careful not to wet her hair or get her sticky. By saving a queen you may have saved an entire nest. If the weather is really unsuitable for letting her go, or if it is getting dark, you can keep her for a day or so if you are willing to feed her."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pretty Bird and then some, revisited.

 I wrote this post last month then came across this video today. Too cute not to share.

As someone owned lock, stock, and barrel by this parrot for the last 35 years, I found this article a fun read. It was sent to me by Bill Bonvie, a fellow writer and author of Repeat Offenders.

Parrots Are a Lot More
Than ‘Pretty Birdfrom the NYTimes by Natalie Angier.

‘Feathered Primates’ 

"Parrot partisans say the birds easily rival the great apes and dolphins in all-around braininess and resourcefulness, and may be the only animals apart from humans capable of dancing to the beat."


"The most celebrated dancing parrot is Snowball, a sulfur-crested cockatoo with a trademarked name whose YouTube dance performances to Queen, Michael Jackson and the Backstreet Boys have been viewed some 15 million times."


Hopi was hand-raised and came from a breeder. India, Mexico, South Africa are the source of many illegally imported parrots, none of which, if they survive, will ever make good pets. The stress alone can cause them to sicken and die. If you want to own a parrot, please get one that is hand-raised, preferably by you, and purchased from a breeder. Also recognize, it will be lifelong commitment. They can live 80 or more years, and are messy to a fault. Ask any of my friends.

 Parrots make up for almost 50% of bird trade in India, experts say


  Unsustainable Grey Parrot Trade in South Africa | National Geographic ...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Elephant Love


wonderful video of Lek Chailert
 Lek Chailert, founder of Elephant Nature Park, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

the story behind this picture.