Sunday, February 21, 2016

Makes me ashamed of my attempt to grow my own potatoes

Snow Crab
Last night a group of friends got together for an Alaskan snow crab dinner. Here on the north coast of California it is dungeness crab season, except it isn't. Because of domoic acid poisoning, a deadly neurotoxin, this year's crab season remains closed. I brought all the shells home to compost. This morning, I read this story about a family raising 6000 lbs of food on a tenth of an acre. They make their own gasoline out of cooking oil and only use $12 a month in electricity. I was already feeling ashamed about how much crab I ate last night, then wake up to a reminder of what we each could do to become less of a burden on the planet. I'll be out composting the crab shells while you enjoy the video.

Dungeness crab

 "Domoic acid, which can cause seizures or death in humans, began showing up in crabs after colossal algae blooms caused by unusually warm ocean waters started disgorging the neurotoxin in April. Recent state testing still detected it in a few northern areas such as Fort Bragg, and it’s those test areas that commercial crabbers are hoping will come up clean soon so the season has a chance of finally starting." SFGate story  By Kevin Fagan and Jenna Lyons


story by Seth M

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Left to Starve

If you've read this blog even once, you know that I come down on the side of animals whether it's to rant against the horrors we inflict when we lock them in cages to test our drugs, cosmetics, pesticides, and chemicals on them, or make them do tricks for our amusement. If any of these things make your stomach turn, you're my choir. I can only hope that once in a while a potential new member stumbles upon one of these posts and wants to help. And it's why I write for children, who are our last best hope to make us a more moral species.

Left to Starve
"Ponso is one of dozens of chimps who were stranded on a string of abandoned islands after the New York Blood Center (NYBC) finished years of painful testing on them."

Chimp Abandoned On Island Welcomes Rescuers With Open Arms

 By Ameena Schelling for the Dodo

 "The decision was met with widespread condemnation. At the time, Jane Goodall called the announcement "completely shocking and unacceptable." Duke University primatologist Brian Hare told the New York Times, "Never, ever have I seen anything even remotely as disgusting as this."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oddball and the Fairy penguins

From my friend, Molly, in Australia
Adding this to my bucket list.
"Tomorrow we are going camping to a little island called Phillip Island. It is home to these cute Fairy penguins  There is a movie called Oddball that I watched. It's a true story (that takes place on a different island near us). All the penguin were getting eaten by foxes, which had learnt to swim over to this island. So the sent a dog called Oddball to scare away the foxes. Oddball did that and he loved those penguins. I don't know if you have heard of it before, but it was really cute. I found this picture for you of Oddball the dog with a penguin and, of some fairy penguins too."

I looked on Netflix w/out luck.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Parrots and PTSD

Exciting news (for me anyway.)
How to Speak Dolphin is an

Parrots and PTSD

I've lived with a Yellow-naped Amazon parrot for 35 years. I bought Hopi in a pet shop in Winter Park, Florida, in 1981. I'd been looking for a parrot for some time, but it had to be hand-raised, not captured in the wild for a number of reasons:  
  • the practice has decimated wild populations worldwide.
  • many are smuggled into the country and most die on the journey.
  • a wild caught bird rarely makes a good pet. 
When the pet shop owner called to say he thought he had what I was looking for, I flew up from Miami to meet her. She didn't hesitate and neither did I--in spite of the size of her beak. She walked up my arm and nestled down on my shoulder. We've been together ever since.

Hopi'd had another owner, a man who worked nights and slept during the day. Not a good mix. She knew how to say Hello, Bye-bye, T-Th-That's Nice, the Wee-Wee-Wee part of "this little piggy", and I love you, Bird. About a month after I got her, I left for a pre-planned two week vacation. Since then I've always had someone come visit and feed her every day, but I didn't have anyone back then, so I left her at my vet's office. He gave her a nice big cage which I filled with her toys, and left him a supply of pistachios, still her favorite.

Hopi is able to add inflections to her bye-byes. There have been times when I was sure, if she could, she would add, 'and don't let the door whack you in the ass on your way out.' That day, her repeated bye-bye had a devastatingly sad tone. I'm sure she thought she was being deserted once again. I was in tears as I walked to the door with her pitiful bye-byes echoing across the room. When I turned to tell her once again that I'd be back. She hooked her beak and feet around the bars of the cage, pulled herself against them, and called out loudly, "I love you, bird." 

I was a Pan Am flight attendant back then, so over the years, she got used to me leaving and reappearing once a week. She liked the young man in my apartment building whom I hired to come in every day to feed her. Her bye-byes, when she heard the zipper on my suitcase, were cheerful. She even learned to associate my rare use of the vacuum cleaner with an imminent departure, usually for a vacation. She'd see the vacuum come out and cheery bye-byes ensued. She was fond of my house-sitter, too.

A few days ago, a friend sent me this article from the NY Times. What Does a Parrot know about PTSD? It's long, but worth the read. I Googled Serenity Park, which is a home for unwanted and abandoned parrots, or parrots, whose owners have died. When I got Hopi (pronounced Hoppy) I knew parrots were long-lived--possibly as long as 85 years--but 35 years ago, I didn't give much thought to my own mortality.  I've since arranged for her to go to a close friend, who is considerably younger than I am. And now, there is this safety net in case that friend can't take her when the time comes.

My novel, The Outside of a Horse, is specifically about the therapeutic benefits of a relationship with horses, and honestly, our kinship with animals is the underlying theme of nearly all my books. It's odd, that it didn't occur to me that parrots count.

As for Hopi and me, other than screaming her head off when I'm on the phone, I think we  have a good relationship. Thank heavens she can't weigh in.