Friday, June 29, 2012

Moment of Nature by Mike Petherick

Big do'ins at the zoo! Last night Penelope Skunk moved her 4 down into the canyon (we think and hope) and Rosey Raccoon brought us a treat--her kit. She seems to have only one. High mortality of these little ones from other critters, including male raccoons. Rosey immediately covered her/him when she thought the skunk was threatening. Skunk was headed down into the tunnel when Rosey was coming up. 

by Mike Petherick

I've been working on a story about our local Humane Society under a bit of a deadline. I will share it when it's finished. In the meantime, enjoy the moment of nature from the Mendocino Coast. GR

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guest Blog by Katy Pye

Learning Acceptance by Example

Ginny’s blog piece about the gay-bashing video struck a deep chord. Bigots hate by dividing a person into irrelevant parts of genetic coding, like skin color or sexual nature. Parts unrelated to the quality and life of the person carrying the DNA. The only counter to mob hatred is the truth, often one example for one child at a time.
Ed and Bob

I’m the product of a 58-year, gay union between my father’s brother, Ed, and his partner, Bob. While not our parents, “The Uncles” loved my brother and me as if we were their own children.

My parents were physicians but they never talked about sex. Nor about Uncle Ed and Uncle Bob living together, year after year. If their relationship, or what it implied, bothered my conservative parents, they never said. We were family. Inclusion was a value.

We celebrated family birthdays and Thanksgivings, chorused, “Christmas gift!” as my uncles disembarked in our driveway each Christmas Eve. My brother and I stayed with them in San Francisco once-a-year, delighted by exotic charms of the big city: toy shopping on Union Square, dinners in Chinatown, classical music, Grace Cathedral for Sunday service, rides in the Fairmont Hotel’s glass elevator with its stunning views. Dull for today’s kids, but it was a chance for us to be special and safely away from home.

When Ed and Bob grew up there was no “Out and Proud.” Gays and lesbians lived quietly and carefully. Ed was almost 80 when the dam broke and he came out to his sister, then the rest of us. He and I collected the family’s history. My uncles’ lives bulge the files, but there is little about being gay. Living openly was BIG for Ed and I was proud of his coming out and their new activism. He and I talked about his sexuality, but more important was their model of love and commitment.

The gay backlash my uncles faced was from the ignorant and socially frightened. Early in Bob’s psychiatric career, his boss announced he and Ed must live separately so any scandal in their lives wouldn’t reflect back on the institution. I’m not alone in claiming shy, gracious Bob rarely said an unkind word to, or about, anyone. He told his boss to, “go to hell, ” and retired 30 years later, an honored and beloved emeritus professor and director of Clinical Services within U.C. San Francisco’s Medical School.

During World War II, Ed knew being outed meant dishonorable discharge and an end to his career in social work. His first, post-war job, ironically, was with the Veteran’s Administration, counseling emotionally damaged soldiers. In the late 1950s, he pioneered state legislation, securing short and long-term support for struggling parents and their developmentally disabled children. For eleven years he was their advocate as the first director of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Regional Center. When he retired, his involvement in the Episcopal church kept him busy. He started a one-stop-shop at Grace Cathedral, helping the elderly navigate confusing government programs. He devised weekly, senior-centered markets where children from the Cathedral boys’ school sold bread and produce to local elders, some of whom had no family.

In the mid 1980s, Bob and Ed applied for an apartment in a San Francisco retirement home. They were rejected. No one used the word “gay,” but two men living together wasn’t allowed. They were turned down twice by an Episcopal home in a nearby city for the same reason.
            “What happens if you split up?” they were asked.
            “What happens when any couple splits up?” they answered.

Bob gardening at the nursing home

{Eventually accepted}they became the home’s first gay couple. Initially, shunned by some, Ed and Bob did what they’d always done--be themselves. They gave parties, inviting singles, couples, the whole darn building at times. Bob’s green thumb transformed the dull garden outside the large dining room windows so, three meals-a-day, everyone looked out on beauty and life. He gave tours and wrote in the newsletter about what was growing, volunteered to take care of residents’ plants when they went on vacation, even diagnose ailing greenery. Ed joined the home’s boards, rousting residents out of complacency. He helped start the first LGBT, low-income, retirement home in San Francisco, giving the “non-straight” elderly a decent place to spend their declining years. When Bob fell victim to Alzheimer’s in the early 2000s, he and Ed helped the hospital unit be more responsive to these patients’ needs.

Uncle Ed & Katy
Uncle Bob passed away in 2005 and in 2010 Uncle Ed created The Pye/Harris Legacy Project to continue funding their interests in the environment, developmentally disabled minors, and the gay and lesbian community. The first project is a set of four “Coming Out” films, each a series of interviews by gay and lesbian students with gay and lesbian elders. The purpose is to “reassure young, gay people they are not alone and that living with pride and dignity creates a powerful political statement.” The pilot film, “Coming Out in the 1950s,” ( premiered to acclaim at the Frameline Film Festival in 2011. DVDs and a teacher/counselor curriculum were distributed to 130 middle grade and high schools throughout California.

Pye/Harris Legacy Project: 

A month ago, I sat by my Uncle Ed’s side as we eased toward his death and the end of 62 years, accepting and celebrating who they were, and we were as a family.

Hyperlinks to use or not:

California’s Regional Centers:

OpenHouse-LGBT senior resources and housing project:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baby chimp adopted

I'm sure some of you have seen these pictures but if you haven't I consider your life incomplete.



This baby chimp, born in a Russian zoo, was taken home to be raised by one of the keepers after its mother died, (or in a different version of the story, she abandoned her infant.) The keeper's mastiff had recently given birth and adopted the baby chimpanzee, too. 

(I will say the world needs another baby chimp born in captivity like it needs a hole in the ozone. . . however these pictures make it a better place.)

B692chimpanzee mastiff dog friends 23 A baby chimpanzee is adopted by a Mastiff dog    Amazing (25 Photos)

Thanks, Chet and Sherri

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cat Love

I'm home from a lovely, relaxing week at my friend's 'cabin' near Yosemite. My computer is all clean, virus-free and happy.

The cats only threw up twice on the carpet I had shampooed two weeks ago, but they left me a half eaten rat to let me know they were sorry, or maybe was it to welcome me home. At least that's how I plan to interpret it. They could just as easily mean, 'leave us again and it will be a disemboweled possum.'

 This link is to a blog post I did for my friend Norma Watkins. She's the author of the prize winning memoir, The Last Resort.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Adorable children singing in church: What could be wrong with that picture?

I grew up in the segregated south, the daughter of parents who believed whole-heartedly in the separation of the races. If this video used the n-word instead of "homo," there would hell to pay. There should be hell to pay.

I'm sure these whooping, cheering and hollering adults consider themselves Good Christians when, of course, they are neither .


Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other' doesn't make sense
any more.

Mevlana Rumi

You can go to YouTube by following this link, subscribe, then flag this video as offensive. They say they review daily, so if enough people complain, perhaps they will remove it. I'm actually torn between having it removed, or letting it stay and hope it creates a backlash. 

The Bible contain 6 admonishments to homosexuals and 362 to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision. ~ Lynn Lavner

Homosexuality is god's way of insuring that the truly gifted aren't burdened with children.  ~Sam Austin

You could move.  ~Abigail Van Buren, "Dear Abby," in response to a reader who complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and wanted to know what he could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood

War.  Rape.  Murder.  Poverty.  Equal rights for gays.  Guess which one the Southern Baptist Convention is protesting?  ~The Value of Families

What is straight?  A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains.  ~Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1947

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Odd couples
See the crab's eye stalks?

One of the first classes I took when I went back to school was Biology 101. That was 1978, and I still remember how the professor opened the class. He told a gee-whiz biology story, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

It was an example of a symbiotic relationship between two unrelated organisms—in this case a hermit crab and a sea anemone. A symbiotic relationship is one that is often, but not always beneficial to each organism. Sea anemones, which are related to coral and sea fans, are usually found attached to rocks. Hermit crabs, on the other hand, scuttle about wearing someone else’s abandoned shell.

 A Symbiotic relationship is a close association of animals or plants of different species that is often, but not always, of mutual benefit

Mutualism advantageous relationship between species: a relationship between two organisms of different species that benefits both and harms neither. For example, lichens are a fungus and an alga living in mutualism: The fungus provides a protective structure, and the alga produces a carbohydrate as food for the fungus. The relationship between the hermit crab and the sea anemone is likely mutualism.
Commensalism is symbiosis between unrelated organisms: the relationship between organisms of two different species in which one derives food or other benefits from the association while the other remains unharmed and unaffected.

Sea anemones are named after the terrestrial flower because they look like flowers, but they are meat eating animals. Anemones have a central mouth surrounded by tentacles with stinging cells, called nematocysts, that entangle and paralyze small marine animals that drift into reach of its tentacles. They do have some mobility, moving a few inches an hour.

My professor told how the hermit crab, using its little pinchers, teases an anemone off a rock, then lifts and places it on its shell. It needs to be gentle and careful not to arouse the anemones defenses.(I think there is a YouTube of everything. I couldn't believe I found this one of an anemone eating a hermit crab.) 

another of a hermit crab acquiring an anemone

Once suitably situated, my professor told us, the hermit crab feeds itself by plucking bits and pieces of this and that from the rocks, but every so often, it tosses a little something up to the anemone. A true symbiotic relationship: the hermit crab wears a hat of stinging tentacles; the sea anemone gets fed on a regular basis. And who knows, maybe it enjoys the faster pace, waving its tentacles joyfully at its grounded cousins as its busy little ride trundles about.

Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Actiniaria

Postscript: I have to take my computer in for maintenance and will be offline for a week or so.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Clyde's Story

The school year is ending and I'm lucky enough to still be doing 2 or 3 classroom interviews a week. (Lucky because Hurt Go Happy was published in 2006--a long life for any book.) The calls come from teachers around the country who continue to teach it in their classrooms. This morning's call came from Ms. Romeika's 4th grade class in Pennsylvania. One of the questions asked during the hour we were on the phone was do I still like chimpanzees? I told them about this blog, and that if it were up to me every story would include either a chimpanzee, a horse, or a dolphin. Of course, it is up to me, but after awhile, who would read it?
Clyde's home
for 40 years

However, since you asked . . . I've been saving Clyde's story. This was sent by Patti Ragan, Executive Director of The Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, FL.

"It's hard to believe that chimpanzees are kept in such horrid conditions, but last week we rescued a 44-year-old male who has lived in an indoor dungeon-type cage in the Midwest for decades.

"We heard about Clyde a couple years ago, but did not know much about his owner or his situation until the owner himself, a man in his 80s, asked us to take him to our sanctuary. We agreed, and with the help of our colleague April Truitt and her husband Clay Miller of Primate Rescue Center, Clyde was moved to Wauchula last week.  

"Clyde is skin and bones. His cheeks are so sunken in that they are hollow. With very little muscle and no fat on his legs, you just see bones and tendons when he walks. Clyde is covered with bedsores, and every protruding bone where he sits or lies down has a large sore on it. And, a surprising thing is that after spending four decades indoors in a very small garage cage, his skin is mostly white. . .

"When our staff carried his shipping crate into our quarantine area, he was calm, almost motionless. For a long time he wouldn’t come out of the crate into the bigger nighthouse area. When he finally did, we saw that he was very shaky and could not walk well.

"The next day, we opened the door to the outside enclosure, and he slowly came out and sat for a long time before he walked unsteadily around the small area. He tried to climb up on a shelf, but could not do it. 


"Only one week here now, we have started to see changes in Clyde. He is fed 5 small meals a day, being careful not to overdo it with his starvation condition. He is beginning to walk with a little more fluidity, and he allows the staff to put ointment on his sores. Our maintenance team built staircases for Clyde so he can now walk up the stairs to get on the shelf and lie on a thick bed of blankets.
"We are finding Clyde sweet and intelligent, and his eyes are beginning to show a little more life and interest in his surroundings. In fact, just a few days ago, he “head-bobbed” to the caregiver (a sign of play) and put a blanket over his head while he kept bobbing. This was momentous for us! 

"Not since we rescued Linus, the orangutan, have I seen a great ape in such deplorable condition, but miracles happened for Linus, and I believe they can for Clyde, too. With a change of diet & nutrition… and with physical therapy, sunshine, and lots of patience Clyde can experience peace, dignity, contentment, and better health for however many years he has left." Patti Ragan

 To read more about Clyde and Linus and the other apes at the Center for Great Apes, follow this link

Clyde making a nest

a nap in the sun
 End note from Ginny. Clyde was a wild-caught chimpanzee. A question I often get during these interviews is would I like to own a chimpanzee? I did not hear that question from Ms. Romeika's students, which means they understood why I wrote Hurt Go Happy, and the suffering owning a chimpanzee would cause the chiimpanzee.

Lost in the River of Grass is the July selection for
to join and get in on the free book drawing, please follow this link. I'm honored.