Saturday, July 23, 2016

I try not to be political in public...

In April of this year, four friends and I did a houseboat on the St. Johns River in central Florida. It was too warm to see many manatees: they congregate in cold weather in 74 degree springs, but disperse when it's warm. We saw one and were thrilled. A few weeks before we went to Florida, there was a huge die-off of fish south of where we were going. According to a CNN article, this was due in part to an abundance of El Nino rains in January, rainwater that eventually picked up fertilizer and other pollutants on it way in the Indian River estuaries. This, coupled with a warmer than usual winter, allowed toxic algae to bloom, deleting water of oxygen.
fish kill in the Indian River
This breaks my heart, but what pisses me off is it gets blamed on Obama by Florida's governor, Rick Scott.
"The same suspect (toxic algae) has been linked to the mortality of more than 150 manatees in the area over the past four years, as well as the deaths of brown pelicans, bottlenose dolphins and many species of fish. Earlier this year, an algae bloom in the same waters caused the area's worst fish kill in memory — yet another chapter in the horror story." 

"While dike repairs are years overdue, the pace on the project depends on funding set by Congress, not by the president or the corps. And the condition of the dike would be less critical if state leaders did more to reduce pollution in the water entering and leaving the lake (Okeechobee), along with other waterways throughout the state."Orlando Sentinel Star

The above are quotes from an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel Star. Perhaps, if you're not in Florida, or from Florida, like I am, it won't mean much to you, but it should. Florida may be the canary in the coal mine. But I, for one, am sick and tired of the politicians, like Florida Governor Rick Scott, switching blame for their politically motivated actions to Obama. We are going to be the ones paying the piper for the leadership we select.
In Florida, it gets worse.

Take precautions to prevent deadly bacteria infection  from Florida Today 7/15/16

And how about Climate Change. Even some Republicans, with the exception of Marco Rubio, are getting on board in Florida, and with good reason.

Where's Marco?  From Newsweek

"While the Greater Miami area’s mayors cast around for a big mascot to lead the community on climate change—maybe someone like a pro wrestler—their junior senator has been a no-show, and was so even before primary politics took him away from home and the Senate. Area civic leaders, facing the greatest threat in history to the future of their community, if not their state—rising sea levels—are asking, Where’s Marco?"

“This is an issue for people in our party that takes some courage and some coming to terms with, because for so many years it’s been expected that Republicans disregard these concerns,” Curbelo says. “But members are getting there. A few have even come to me with suggestions. More Republicans are coming around to our side. Unfortunately, time is not.”  Newsweek

  In June, Trump, was in California. 

From USAToday "Trump said state officials were simply denying water to Central Valley farmers to prioritize the Delta smelt, a native California fish nearing extinction — or as Trump called it, "a certain kind of three-inch fish.”
Crap like that might actually be given credibility by FOX News buffs, but I, and 37 million other people, live in California. I live on the north coast where we are least affected by the drought, now in its fourth year. I'm on a well. To conserve water, there is a bucket in my shower to catch what would otherwise go down the drain. There's a jug in my sink to keep rinse water from being wasted. I'll spare you the rules on toilet use. But the Donald said, no such dry spell exists.

Trump said, “We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea. . ."

I sure hope that BS seals Trump's fate in California, and that the next gubernatorial election, Florida finally comes to its senses and gets rid of its buck-naked emperor.





Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Guest Blog: Jill-Michele Lewis, photographer and poet



Life leaves it marks, all sizes and shapes
Some are hard to see and some you notice at a glance

Some are by nature and some are by hand
Some are deliberate and some are by chance

The Eagle on my shoulder is the freedom I crave
The Ying Yang below is the hope I long to save

The one on my knee is from a slide into third
it’s a jagged line from side to side

The one on my calf really hurt,
but oh what a ride

The dolphin tail on my back began as an escape
that lead me to find true love

The peace I yearn for shines from the sun
artfully scribed just up above

The scar on my soul is vivid but ensconced
It was left by my stolen youth

The symbol on my hip resembles a butterfly in flight
It is a reminder of the truth

The scar on my heart reminds me that you’re gone
Poignant and permanent, like the words of a song

The design on my stomach is fire and words
Consumed by passion and flame is where I belong.

What keeps me going after so many markings
Is the hope and light I see in you

It’s the desire to know the who or the what
That will design the next tattoo


So long as I am of this earth
A beat left within my heart
Whether from near or from afar
There will always be someone that loves you
Heart and Soul, more than life itself

But when my time is done here
If it is to the sky that I do fly
There will be an angel watching over you
I’ll be the flicker of light from up high

But if in heaven they don’t want me
If it is the fire that calls me home
I’ll be the breathe of heat upon your neck
You feel when you’re alone
The tepid breeze at your back
That always keeps you warm


Jill-Michele Lewis was born April 1969 in Florida.  Although she left Miami to further her education, her love of the ocean brought her back.  No matter how far she travels or resides …  She will never be too far from the Florida shores.

She loves sports; softball, swimming, jogging, any and all forms of exercise (although her two left feet keep her from dancing anything more than a VERY SLOW sway) and will pretty much take on any sport that requires a racquet.  She practices martial arts, Tae kwon Do and Jujitsu, as a means of exercise, self-discipline and self-defense. 

A lover of words:  Since she was able to talk, the freedom of expression was always a key point in her life.  The spoken word, words that were sung and eventually the written word.  Recently her love of expression and the desire to communicate on an even larger scale led her to the study of the Spanish language.  Although still not perfect, this is now another language of words to choose from as means to express herself.  Words are like butterflies.  They are cocooned until they mature to full thoughts and sentiments and then long to be set free and to share their beauty with the world.


Mientras que yo sea de esta tierra
Un latido aun dentro de mi corazón
Ya sea de cerca o de lejos
Siempre habrá alguien que te ama
Corazón y alma, más que la vida misma

Pero cuando mi tiempo aquí ha terminado
Si es para el cielo que yo vuelo
Habrá un ángel que velara por ti
Voy a ser el parpadeo de la luz desde lo alto

Pero si en el cielo no me quieren
Si es el fuego que me llama a casa
Voy a ser el soplo de calor sobre tu cuello
Que sientes cuando estás solo
La brisa tibia en la espalda
Que siempre te mantiene cálido


La vida deja que marca todos los tamaños y formas
Algunos son difíciles de ver y algunos que notan a simple vista

Algunos son de naturaleza y algunos son a mano
Algunos son deliberada y algunos son por casualidad

El águila en el hombro es la libertad que anhelan
El Ying Yang a continuación es la esperanza me largo para ahorrar

El de mi rodilla es de una caída en la tercera
es una línea quebrada de lado a lado

El de mi pantorrilla realmente duele,
pero oh qué un paseo

La cola del delfín en mi espalda comenzó como un escape
que me llevan a encontrar el amor verdadero

La paz os añoro brilla el sol
ingeniosamente descrito justo arriba

La cicatriz en mi alma está viva pero ensconced
Se dejó por mi juventud robada

El símbolo en mi cadera se asemeja a una mariposa en vuelo
Es un recordatorio de la verdad

La cicatriz en mi corazón recuerda que te has ido
Conmovedor y permanente, como las palabras de una canción

El diseño en el estómago es el fuego y las palabras
Consumido por la pasión y la llama es donde pertenezco.

Lo que me mantiene después de tantas marcas
Es la esperanza y la luz que veo en ti

Es el deseo de conocer el quién o el qué
Eso será diseñar el próximo tatuaje


Jill-Michele Lewis nació abril 1969 en Florida. Aunque salió de Miami para continuar su educación, su amor por el mar la trajo de vuelta a Miami. No importa lo lejos que viaje o viva ... Nunca estará demasiado lejos de las costas de la Florida.

A ella le encanta el deporte; softbol, ​​natación, correr, cualquier y todas las formas de ejercicio (aunque sus dos pies izquierdos le impiden bailar nada más que una influencia muy lento) y sin lugar a dudas jugara cualquier deporte que requiera de una raqueta. Ella practica artes marciales, Tae Kwon Do y jiu-jitsu, como una forma de ejercicio, la autodisciplina y la autodefensa.

Amante de las palabras: Desde que era capaz de hablar, la libertad de expresión siempre fue un punto clave en su vida. La palabra hablada, las palabras que se cantaban y, finalmente, la palabra escrita. Recientemente su amor por la expresión y el deseo de comunicarse en una escala aún mayor la llevó al estudio de la lengua española. Aunque todavía no es perfecto, este es ahora otro lenguaje de palabras para elegir como medio para expresarse. Las palabras son como las mariposas. Están en capullo hasta que maduran a pensamientos y sentimientos completos que luego ansían ser puestas en libertad, para compartir su belleza con el mundo.

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."