Hungry?

Just a hungry scrub jay hanging out on the deck. They LOVE raw peanuts. I still find a few empty shells hidden in the garden nine years later..

One of my favorite photos from September 2011.

First there was one, then another, and for a while, there were about four jays who hung out and let me hand feed them.

Did you know that scrub jays are very intelligent?

From Wiki: Recent research has suggested that western scrub jays, along with several other corvids, are among the most intelligent of animals. The brain-to-body mass ratio of adult scrub jays rivals that of chimpanzees and cetaceans, and is dwarfed only by that of humans. Scrub jays are also the only non-primate or non-dolphin shown to plan ahead for the future (known as metacognition), which was previously thought of as a uniquely human trait Other studies have shown that they can remember locations of over 200 food caches, as well as the food item in each cache and its rate of decay. To protect their caches from pilfering conspecifics, scrub jays will choose locations out of sight of their competitors, or re-cache caches once they are alone, suggesting that they can take into account the perspective of others. According to new research from the University of California @ Davis, scrub jays also summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can last for up to half an hour.

#ThrowbackThursday 

One Tree: Two Hawks

From 2017 for #throwbackthursday

It was a great day to spend time in my garden with these two hawks. Do you know what they were looking at? Me, taking photos of them.

The Same Day I Saw a Bald Eagle and a Raccoon

fullsizeoutput_e33The eagle was sitting on that branch waiting for everyone to stop pointing at him so he could swoop down and take a better look at a huge dead fish that washed up on the shoreline.

My neck hurt because I couldn’t believe that I was actually in the presence of an eagle, my very first ever sighting, and I wouldn’t look away until he was gone.

Now I can cross that off my mental list….I’ve seen wolves and mountain lions and bears and of course, my favorite: coyotes.

Not all at the same time, but these are the special pearls in my necklace of life experiences, memories strung together since most of them happened so fast and were such brief encounters that I didn’t have time to take photos.

I wish I had brought my big lens in addition to my iPhone, but it’s good enough as it captured the special moment.

These are admittedly crappy photos, but it’s most definitely a Bald Eagle. I know they’re considered a nuisance in parts of Alaska, but this wasn’t a common occurrence at this location. I didn’t even try to look for an eagle feather because I’m aware that under the current language of the Eagle Feather Law, “unauthorized persons found with an eagle or its parts in their possession can be fined up to $250,000.”

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“There’s a raccoon. Look at that!”

I thought he was joking because it was the middle of the day and we were on a sandy beach so I continued to keep my head down to look for seashells.

“LOOK!”

When I finally looked up, there he was.

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He scampered up the bluff and was gone.

What an amazing day! An eagle and a raccoon.

Random.

Was it a lucid dream or a visit from beyond?

I don’t know if it’s caused by all the current planetary behavior (as above, so below) but lately my dreams have been excruciatingly real and detailed. Some of them are so vivid that I’m able to retain enough of them to journal before they disappear like a mirage in a puff of ephemeral smoke.

Anyway…

THIS particular dream went beyond the limits of what my brain can comprehend. (If goose bumps and hair standing up on your arms is any indication)

I was exhausted but satisfied by the completion of a tough garden project, replanting a flowerbed from where I had moved about 150 pounds of white rocks. What once was a cool mini desertscape had devolved into a tangled mess of climbing aloe and not very happy succulents and cacti. I removed them all, raked up the truckload of small white rocks that were all dirty and sad looking, and planted Bird of Paradise and Clivia I dug up from another part of the garden. Both have orange-y flowers and will look so pretty against the house.

The next day was going to be full of stress and anxiety because oral surgery was scheduled and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Thinking about the impending pain triggered all kinds of panicky ruminations.

I must have fallen asleep when I felt Bandit, my cat, jump on me, landing hard like she would do to wake me up (she was the real princess around here), and she curled up next to my stomach just like she always did, and I actually put my hand out to pet her and that’s when I freaked out and woke up.

Bandit spent her nights sleeping with me; most often would end up under the covers near my feet.

Nothing too strange about that, right? That’s what cats do.

Only…

OMG. The fact of the matter is that this is 2020 and Bandit went over the Rainbow Bridge in 2010 from complications due to chronic renal failure.

Bandit has been dead for ten years. She was thirteen-years-old when she died.

IT WAS SO REAL.

I looked at the clock. It was 3:00 a.m. I was now completely awake; my heart was racing. I never could get back to sleep. I still felt the warmth of her body, the silky feel of her fur tickling my arm. I felt her presence and it was REAL. I miss that little girl so much. I really really need her love and her comfort.

Was I in a lucid dream state or did Bandit really and truly visit me from beyond?

All I know is that I was so stressed when I was at the surgeon’s office today,  I  hyperventilated and my blood pressure was too high, so I started to visualize my beloved Bandit and it brought down my BP almost immediately. She was able to offer comfort even though she’s no longer physically on this earth. Her love for me transcended everything that my logical mind has a hard time comprehending.

Have you ever experienced a dream like that?


Lucid dreaming is when you’re conscious during a dream. This typically happens during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the dream-stage of sleep. During a lucid dream, you’re aware of your consciousness.

My darling Bandit.

“Dear Deer, I’m so very sorry.”

In the blink of an eye. 

It’s true. You never know when the unexpected will occur.

We get up in the morning, drink our coffee and make plans for the day. Those plans NEVER include an auto accident or other unforeseen catastrophe.

I love to make lists:

-Traders for tofu, coffee, ginger tea…
-Go to the nursery
-Pick up prescription
-TJ Maxx
-Dentist @11am

Nowhere on any list does anyone ever pencil in, “be involved in a freak accident on a mountain road”. Or is that just me? Maybe a fatalist WOULD include that in a daily schedule. I dunno…maybe now I will.

I wasn’t the driver so I was literally paying zero attention to the road.

I was looking at all the photos I took and remembering how I got altitude sickness on the way up the twisty windy road and vomited everywhere (ick), but now we were relaxed and dusty and exhausted but happy to be heading back home after a few days of camping and hiking where we saw lots of deer and other animals.

I was startled to hear, “Oh, shit!” and the car swerved a bit and then we felt two large bumps that tossed us about and a large crash.

We pulled over to the narrow shoulder on the two-lane highway. Doing a quick triage, I determined that everyone was unharmed.

I turned around and saw a large piece of a car that we had apparently smashed into, but didn’t see a car. At that moment, a highway patrol car pulled up about fifty feet behind us. I ran out of the car and flagged down the patrolman. Fortuitously, he had been driving that way as part of his routine.

That’s when I saw it.

The deer.

The poor dear deer.

The poor dear dead deer.

When I wasn’t paying attention, this was how the scenario unfolded.

A deer ran across the road, the big truck in front of us hit the deer which caused his front bumper to fall off. That horrible man kept going; he never even stopped. The impact must have killed the deer instantly. We were unable to avoid hitting it as there was traffic all around and nowhere to go. So the two bumps we felt was us running over the already dead three hundred pound deer.

The patrolman said that was the third one that day. (There are lots of deer and not enough natural predators.)

Our vehicle was pretty messed up but it still ran and was OK to drive the rest of the way home but it was in the shop for three weeks.

After the poor dear deer was moved to the side of the road, I kneeled down and petted his head and told him how very sorry I was that he died.

I guess the moral of the story is that you never know when something bad is going to happen. As much as I like to predict all outcomes, sometimes it’s not possible to gaze in a crystal ball and see the future.

Honestly though, what kind of a horrible person hits an animal and doesn’t stop???

Out of respect for the deceased, I won’t post a pic of him, but here are other deer enjoying life.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate the life and death of a gentle mourning dove

What does it mean to see a dove?

“The dove represents peace of the deepest kind. It soothes and quiets our worried or troubled thoughts, enabling us to find renewal in the silence of the mind. … The dove’s roles as spirit messenger, maternal symbol and liaison impart an inner peace that helps us to go about our lives calmly and with purpose.” (http://www.pure-spirit.com/more-animal-symbolism/602-dove-symbolism)

Walking up the steps to the third level in my garden, I came upon this sad sight, a pile of dove feathers. It was obviously the work of one of our resident hawks.

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As I mourned the loss of the mourning dove and pondered on the circle of life, I thought I should gather the feathers and create something to honor this little bird’s life.

It’s been quite a while since I felt crafty, but I found my beads and shells along with a perfectly delicate piece of latticed wood that I had brought back home from my last camping trip. I plugged in my trusty glue gun and got to work.

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Almost finished. Now I need to figure out how to hang it up. Delicate and sweet, just like the sad, plaintive song of the dove.

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The completed project.  I LOVE the way the feathers create their own shadow on the wall.

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Sleep softly in the breeze, little one.

 

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Birds of North America online

Cats, Rats, and Bats

Sorry, no pics to share ‘cos the video is grainy and black and white, but these were my three visitors last night at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

In that order. The first video shows a cat sitting on the steps, looks to be dark gray and I’ve seen him before. The next is of a very large rat running down the steps, and the third one is a bat flying directly across the camera lens.

It sounds like it could be the start of a joke…”A cat, a rat, and a bat walked into a bar…” (Although I have no idea what kind of a punchline to write. Maybe Mrs. Maisel or Suzie could help.)

Or a children’s book, “The Tall Tale (Tail) of the Cat, the Rat, and the Bat”,

Or as Theo would say, “Grandma, that rhymes!”

Since I don’t have any decent pics of last night’s guests, here’s our beloved Bandit who ruled us all for thirteen years before she died of chronic renal failure.

The bat is from one of my favorite books, Stellaluna, by (my friend) Janell Cannon.

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And the rat, well, this gif says it all…

(There were no coyotes this time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been seeing TWO beautiful creatures in the garden, which is awesome as coyotes mate for life. I would be even happier if one day they brought some little ones to visit. It would be a dream come true. I could be their grandma, too!)

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see

Right this minute, there’s nothing to see here except for a fence and a pine tree.

Not a bad view as far as views go, but it’s what happened seconds BEFORE I snapped this pic that makes it memorable.

For me; sadly, not for you.

So it’s a memory stored somewhere in my hippocampus and now hold on a sec, I need to save this draft and swiftly do some research to make sure I’m right.

OK, I’m back and here’s what Google taught me…

Deep inside the medial temporal lobe is the region of the brain known as the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus, the amygdala, the cingulate gyrus, the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus, the mammillary body and other organs, many of which are of particular relevance to the processing of memory.

I’m right; memories are stored in the hippocampus.

Use your imagination because I’ll try to explain what you didn’t get to experience:

In the photo, if you pretend you can see what you can’t see, the bottom of the fence that you can only see about half of, there’s a potting table.

I was standing there planting lavender that I had propagated myself. I’ve been doing that for years with a decent amount of success, and it was time to birth another lavender baby.

I wasn’t making a lot of noise, but I wasn’t quiet, either…I was fully immersed in the whole procedure, enjoying the blueblue sky and eighty-five degree weather.

There was a cooling mug of ginger tea next to me and next to that was my phone.

I looked up as two doves flew out of that pine tree.

At almost precisely that same exact time. a HUGE redtailed hawk (who must have been stalking the doves) perched himself on the the fence.

He was LITERALLY INCHES AWAY FROM ME.

I mean, if I had longer arms, I could have reached out and touched his beautiful feathers.

REALLY REALLY.

His golden eyes looked right at me and they widened, as if he was surprised-like WTF human–but he wasn’t nearly as astonished as I was. I froze. We stayed that way, eye to eye, gazing at each other for an eternity of probably less than five seconds before he launched himself off the fence and flew away. There was no fear, simply the connection between the hawk and myself.

It was a MOMENT.

I am not at all kidding; to look into the mystical magical gaze of a hawk and see the recognition that he was trying to make sense of the encounter as much as I was–is HUGE.

Moment-ous. Important.

Regretfully, no pics to share. But I’ll never ever forget the way he looked at me. Eye to eye.

I read that November 11, 2018 is a memorable time in this Universe. If you believe in things like this, it’s SIGNIFICANT.

And I believe that my hawk experience was significant, too. And if not, it was so so beautiful and made me happy and joyful and grateful. All good stuff.

Happy Sunday, y’all!

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Jungle Jack Hanna says, “Touch the mind, teach the heart.”

****I don’t really agree with Jack’s philosophy which is one reason why I wanted to meet him. His passion for animals is real and I admire him for that, but his ardent defense of SeaWorld is something he and I disagree about.***


A couple weeks ago, I was savoring a cup of perfectly brewed French Roast while watching Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, on Saturday morning television. (As an aside, his ability to connect with dogs seems truly amazing.)

I forgot the TV was on, scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I heard an advertisement about Jungle Jack Hanna coming to the San Diego area. In a sparkle of synchronicity, when I looked up, there was an episode of Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. You know who he is, right? He’s been around forever on all the late night talk shows. Often with his wife by his side, attired in his khaki uniform, he’s a virtual fountain of animal knowledge.

John Bushnell “Jack” Hanna is an American zookeeper, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He was director of the zoo from 1978 to 1992, and is viewed as largely responsible for elevating its quality and reputation. He’s the host of TV’sEmmy award winning Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.

We have a bit of a difference of opinion about Seaworld and zoos in general, and while he concedes that certain things about Blackfish were a real portrayal of what happened with the whales, he’s a staunch and passionate supporter of their rescue skills and education programs.

Some of the conversation I jotted down as we were talking, with his approval:

He is involved as a person who supported Seaworld since the beginning.
Blackfish is trash.
Very big proponent of Seaworld’s conservation efforts.
Manatees were going extinct –and Seaworld saved them.
Disappointed with people who hate Seaworld.

He asked me a rhetorical (in my opinion) question, ‘How do we learn about the animals?”
He doesn’t agree with anything that might harm the animal.

He made a point I have to agree with. There are no real completely wild places left in this world. When he’s filming, his guidelines are to respect the animals, don’t teach them to do anything unnatural. Back off, or don’t interfere or interrupt the kill.

I know that he works with the critically endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda and they hold a special place in his heart. I was recently at the zoo in Seattle and took my grandson to see the gorillas (a favorite animal), and it was heartbreaking to see them. They looked completely depressed to me, and desperately need their habitat improved. There were blankets strewn about on the dirt ground and it looked as sad as a homeless encampment.

I had plans to ask him more questions, but there wasn’t time as he had to prepare for his flight to San Diego.

Here are the topics I didn’t get to broach with him:
What do you think about the current admin’s decision to reduce the size of our national parks?
*Ditto: Killing of hibernating bears
*Ditto: Drilling for oil
*Ditto: Delisting wolves

The show started at 6pm and I made sure I was there in plenty of time to get a little backstage time, if possible. I was pleasantly surprised that it was a packed house with so many people interested in learning about animals.

Jack was very hospitable- a complete gentleman- and made time to take a selfie with me:

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Unfortunately, something went wrong with my Canon Rebel T3i , so all I have are the pics I took with my iPhone.

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***These were all rescued animals, none were taken from their native habitat.***

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It was pretty funny when the kangaroo got to run around the room but it happened so fast, I didn’t get any video.

While we don’t completely agree on several issues, I have mad respect for Jungle Jack Hanna’s passion for wildlife conservation, as well as his very obvious love for his wife of 47 years, his children and grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Months: Toddler Time

Lucky lucky me got to spend another week with Angel Boy 2.0.

AB 1.0 asked me to bring some of his favorite childhood Christmas tree ornaments that his grandma and I had collected over the years so they could continue the tradition.

We brought home a seven-foot Noble fir and spent my first night decorating the tree with Theo. It took a while, but he finally understood the concept of leaving the ornaments ON the tree and not pulling them off and throwing them like a major league pitcher.

Although it had been raining for a few days, while I was there, the weather was beautiful but FREEZING, at least for this SoCal girl. I was wearing about a dozen layers, perfectly suited for Pacific Northwest arctic temps.

The next morning Mr. T and I went on a walk to the marina. He was all bundled up and you can see the snow on the Olympic mountains in the background.

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On the way to Ballard Locks.64F334D4-FE48-441F-9658-D72E7951B705

After a power nap, Theo and I made a pizza, helping me roll out the dough and scattering sliced zucchini, green peppers, and broccoli over tomato sauce.  With lentil soup, it was a perfect winter lunch.

For some reason, I became his sole choice for ALL diaper changes…AmmahAmmah had to do them all, and there were NO complaints from mom or dad. Besotted as I am with this little human, even THAT melted my heart and I gladly complied with his request.

These moments are so fleeting – one minute you’re changing a diaper and the next you’re sending them off to college. I learned a long time ago with the original Angel Boy to appreciate each and every detail along the journey. Even diaper changes. Yes, even that.

When he was here for Thanksgiving and we walked to the park and he was kinda balky, I created the game of “Puppy” with each of us holding something (or a pretend something) as a leash to encourage him to keep moving, and he remembered (!) which meant there was lots of puppy play and kitty play. And tea parties.

Yes, I am the ULTIMATE playmate. Laser focused attention. HEAVEN. BLISSFUL. JOY.

EF00EA0F-55A4-43BB-9777-2D1BEB561D83As the sun set in the evening, he’d choose a few books and we’d snuggle on the sofa and wind down with Peppa the Pig or Postman Pat or his new Hannukah book or my favorite ones about animals.

He’s memorized so many stories that have already been read to him a billion times.

It’s an important interactive pre-reading experience.

To engage a bright young mind with a lifelong love of learning and reading is a goal we all share.

One of those priceless moments I’ll forever savor and never forget is the heavy weight of a perfectly relaxed little boy nestled in the curve of my protective arm, feeling his excitement as he points to the picture of a wolf when prompted and howls when asked, “what does a wolf say?”

The next day we went to his Gymboree class, which was so cool for me because I had taken his dad there when they first started franchising in the 1980s.

It was amazing to observe Theo’s interaction with the instructor and other children. He is so much like his daddy was at that age, it’s a great response to the debate of nature versus nurture. When my son was very little, a brilliant woman told me “he sees the world in his own way” and I saw those very same characteristics in Theo. He’s not shy, he’s exceptionally self confident, but like his dad, he’s reserved; a thinker and an observer, absorbing everything and filing it away in his mind to process in his own way, but he’s not much of an active participant, although he very much enjoyed himself and helped pick up and put away the musical instruments when it was over. This week was the culmination of Beatle’s music, so when we went back home, I played the same songs that we heard in class, Yellow Submarine, All You Need is Love, and Hello/Goodbye. Theo sung along and shook the maracas exactly the same way he had paid such close attention to. With all children, it’s a great idea to take their lead in situations like this and let them guide their level of participation.

His verbal skills are on fire now, parroting dozens of new words and learning sentence structure. I call it the Helen Keller moment. Two-word directives like “Theo down” …Choo choo loud” “Daddy home” is being expanded upon. DIL and I both heard him clearly say “I want Abby’s cake” when we had a little birthday party for a friend. OF COURSE he was rewarded with the cake that he wanted. OF COURSE. It’s all about positive reinforcement, right?

My brother came to visit from Portland for a couple of days and one of our excursions was the zoo. As you might imagine, I hate zoos. I hate caged and captive wild animals. I hate that their very existence is used to make money as entertainment. I HATE seeing them in their unnatural habitats. But I figured that if I went to the zoo, later on at the appropriate age, I could begin a discussion about all of that, so I did. Theo especially loves gorillas and flamingos, so that’s what we saw. I can’t tell you how sad it was to watch those magnificent gorillas who should have been SOMEWHERE ELSE and I actually thought they seemed depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Tragic.

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The very best part of the day was on the way out.

I noticed a woman crouched on one knee pointing a camera into a tree. I looked up and saw a magnificent OWL, also one of Theo’s fave animals. When he followed my gaze and saw the owl, he was transfixed. We stayed there for a bit and he called it Daddy Owl because it was so large. The sun was going down, so this isn’t the best pic, but it was a spectacular sighting.

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Although he gifted me with a nasty sore throat and the beginnings of the flu or some type of upper respiratory infection, it was once again a magical time; although flying home to vicious Santa Ana winds and out of control fires, loss of homes, dozens of horses perishing, and emergency notifications from the city to prepare for possible evacuation brought me right back to reality. The winds have died down for now but are forecasted to be gust at 50+ mph on Sunday.