Nature verses the local grocery...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Critter Trails: Dugong and Manatee

While researching Walrus information, I learned about a Dugong – that belongs to a species called Sirenians.  Though they may resemble Cetaceans they are more closely related to elephants, hyraxes, and aardvarks.

According to Sirenians are special animals:

“While there are about 78 species of cetaceans (whales & dolphins) and about 235 species of primates (monkeys, apes, chimps), there are only 4 species of Sirenians living on earth today, three manatees and one dugong. A fifth species, Steller's sea cow, was hunted to extinction by explorers in the 1700s….”

The website writers explain that the remaining three species are “…primary consumers of sea grass and freshwater vegetation.”  “…they are the ONLY marine mammal herbivores alive today.”

These docile, unique-appearing sea creatures are in danger of extinction.  Causes include global warming related to waning habitat, human intervention, (boating) and the length and frequency of gestation. Wikipedia explains:

“Despite the longevity of the dugong, which may live for 50 years or more, females give birth only a few times during their life, and invest considerable parental care in their young. The time between births is unclear, with estimates ranging from 2.4 to 7 years.”

Wikipedia says, the Sirenians may have existed as early as the Eocene Epoch (50 to 55 MYA), but their main fossil record includes the Miocene Epoch (5 to 23 MYA).

The following chart of animal facts can be found at

Dugong facts

Life span (maximum longevity -
most dugong die at a younger age)
70 years
Age before breeding (females) 6-17 years
Age before breeding (males) 4-16 years
Gestation period 13-15 months
Number of young 1
Lactation length 14-18 months
Time between breeding 3-7 years
Maximum possible rate of increase
(e.g. low natural mortality and no human-induced mortality)   
5% per year
Estimated natural mortality rate 5% per year

The World Wildlife Fund has many Sirenian gifts available with proceeds of course, supporting conservation and research. has a reference list of reading material to assist your knowledge of these interesting but waning ocean creatures.

The Amazon book site list on Sirenians is long with some books available for as little as $0.10.


For the 'littler' visitors to this site, please enjoy this youtube on the Dugong and Manatee:

NOTE:  According to my research, unlike the reference to the contrary in this video, the Dugong and Manatee are two different species.

As always...Nature prevails.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Memory Trails

As I watch my Mom visit more frequently in my bathroom mirror...
As I watch my used-to-be sharp thinking, begin to slow,
As I walk a little bit slower navigating my steps.

As some of my family and friends turn more gray than not...
As the PBS specials hire these elderly - once famous singing group 'look-a-likes',
As my 'just reading' glasses become more necessary and less fashionable.

When I recall the heavy work of my youth...
When I realize I no longer need an Abacus to count my remaining moon-lit nights,
When that picture of my child begins to show maturity as opposed to youth.

For the many friends and some family who have left this planet for parts unknown...
For the aches and pains that seem to be replacing my used-to-be boundless life energy,
For the wrinkles and long-term effects of gravity in all senior faces.

To the memories that now fill reams instead of pages...
To the babies I held...who now hold their own,
To the passage of years that are marked by memories.....

I dedicate this heart-touching song by Mary Travers, from the esteemed and ageless group, Peter, Paul and Mary.

Please review the following interesting series on aging

Nature the corners of our memories.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life Trails: It's a Dog's Life

I had an interesting conversation with my 70 something friend this week.  We discussed the usual we’re gettin' worn out trivia that we 60/70 somethings throw back and forth at times.  When you’re at this point on the life trail, and you stop to enjoy the lookout point, what you begin to see can be increasingly disturbing!

-When did the children get to be so old?
-Oh my god, that can’t be so and so on my PBS screen who sang whatever it was that hit number 1 on the charts in ‘65‘ cause she certainly didn’t look like that!
-I thought my mother passed away…but now she’s in my bathroom mirror ! 
-I used to run to the mailbox, now it’s so far away it takes twice as long to get there!  When did the Post Office move it?
-I know times are hard but do ALL the companies that produce food for our shopping…have to make the print so small on their labels?!
-Have you noticed that all manufacturers are making the clothes smaller – including the shoes?!
-I think I recall when the young guys used to give me a certain kind of second, slightly longer look; now, they tip their hat, hurry to open the door for me and say things like ‘yes Ma’am’…did I miss something???
-The manager at a Loaf ‘n Jug’ told me the other day that the reason I had to pay first before pumping was due to a fella’ running off with a full tank of gas a few days before - without paying…’he was around your age..’, he said, looking at me with that similar certain look I get from the young guys.

So this morning, my 70 something friend gave me some words of wisdom – and I listened – ‘cause there’s no generation gap here!  “When your plate gets too heavy…just put it on the floor"! 

Now that…has possibilities…

Nature prevails, at least for a little while longer…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stress Trails: OverwhelmingNESS

You wake up and your head is cloudy with pervasive fog throughout your body. You can’t seem to believe that living this day is on your priority list – or even worth the thought.  You can’t imagine one positive item in your life, and to boot – your wallet will soon be empty – yet again, ‘cause the car just went lame, the septic tank is acting full and, well…maybe…it’s time to just jump into it because the smell out here is just about unbearable!

How is it that we can be gung-ho one day, running around like Congress just adjudicated 8 more hours to Monday through Friday, and the next day, well, you know; any clues?

Consider this: our brain is like a gargantuan, multi-sided room with doors on every side.  Most days, the connected locking system is carefully controlled by a complex matrix that electrically runs all ‘processes’ with the smoothness of a new computer – at least for the sake of this argument. And for the sake of this argument, we’ll name this matrix - what’s-his-name.

But as with all electrical systems, sometimes a ‘short’ occurs, a wire crosses, what’s-his-name falls asleep at the wheel.  (We can’t ALL be perfect, after all!) He is normally quite in charge of which doors to open; why, when and how long are all part of his well-oiled job description that he does so well, we’re usually not even aware he’s on the job.  But, he is…most days. 

But today, ALL the doors got opened; every project on the planet has entered and OVERWHELMINGNESS just dropped in!

What to do?!

I know many wives and Moms who will smile when they read this and their every husband and teenager will groan.  But the truth must prevail.  Enter, the almighty list/ plan.  But before you run out the door screaming in your ‘jammies, hear me out.

The solution wasn’t needed yesterday because the little guy, what’s-his-name was awake.  So what does that really mean, in terms of the fog, the overwhelmingness that leaves us in park mode for hours, sometimes days?  How do we wake up the poor little snoozer?

You don’t need to ‘cause he’ll be awake before you know it, (we all need a nap!).  And secondly - you are more than capable of doing his job for a little while; after all, you hired him, remember?  Oh yeah.

His job is complex, yes, but doable, manually – in the short term anyway. Get out a paper and pencil – or fire up the old Gateway on your office desk and pull up a new Word doc.  Here goes…

--Start jotting down the names of all those projects that are running around in your brain playing overwhelmingness with your brain cells; write those suckers down in a list – one by one.  I know, they are hard to find ‘cause they’re moving too fast, but stick to it for a few minutes – you’ll catch a glimpse – one by one.

--Okay, when they are ALL accounted for, down on the LIST, chase those suckers ALL back out their doors and re-lock those guys out from the inside!  Remember that you’re on manual control for now, till what’s-his-name wakes up from his snooze – which usually doesn’t last long. It’s a hard job, running around your mind, locking doors, but, the highlight of this cure is – it works! And don’t be too hard on what’s-his-name when he wakes up; if it wasn’t for him, you’d be doing this 24/7!

Now – the other 4-letter word, plan.  Yes!  A plan.  This isn’t rocket science; what’s-his-name does this 24/7, remember?  That’s how you can manage to pick up the kids after school, run one to basketball practice while you text your wife who’s picking up your boss’s wife for dinner while you plan to pick up your other kid from the store where you asked him to get the dessert for dinner.  Oh yeah, and then you’ll put the garbage out for the trash guys before bed, call your co-worker with the final outline for the 10 am PowerPoint you’ll finish before breakfast! Get the picture? 

--Start prioritizing the names on your new list.  This is the hard part.  But keep in mind that what’s-his-name will pick up these pieces in a little while; your task at hand is simply to make a general plan. 

--When that plan is to the point that you can’t seem to get it any better than it is, please take notice of your brain fog, your overwhelmingness…it will be just about cleared – cleared enough that you can close the septic tank cover, go inside, eat a few chocolates, turn on your favorite CD and start your day.  You will soon notice that the sun really does shine in and on your little life and that your little life…is pretty special!

--One more item: you will now plan to pat what’s-his-name on the back when he wakes up, plan to buy him a box of chocolates on the way home from work next week – in between the cleaners and the grocery store.  Getting overwhelmed that you’ll forget?  NOT TO WORRY; what’s-his-name will remind you; that’s his job and he does it well!  Most times.  Like I said, no one is perfect; remove that nasty word from the list AND the plan.

Don’t forget the chocolates.

As always, Nature prevails, even in the deepest recesses of our brain.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

National Chicken Trails: Free The Prisoners...

Found this informative article - great news to millions of caged chickens in our nation who never get any semblance of appreciation for putting breakfast on our tables.  Now, though not a complete chase the birds out to play, this movement truly builds a solid beginning for more humane chicken-care for more than a few, very hard working hens among us.

Check out the chicken sites online; the 'keeping of city chickens' is a solidly growing movement across our nation.  You will be amazed at the cities that are bending to the pressure from an increasing number of people who want fresh eggs to supplement their grocery store filled fridges - not to mention the learning and enjoyment garnered from chicken-keeping.

Chickens rock!

As always...Nature prevails.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trails of Greener Grasses

Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence?  Sometimes, I wonder...

Have you ever noticed the cows and horses as you drive along the road, leaning hard over the fence to eat the green grass on the outside edge of the fence - most times when that same green grass covers their expansive pastures...inside their fences?

Through my younger years, I thought the reasons might include foul-tasting sub-irrigation in the pastures or inappropriate crops, etc.  But, with aging, it occurred to me that we mammals on planet earth have numerous similarities, one being that the grass sometimes does seem to taste a bit better...on the far side of the fence. Looking inside my heart, I realized I too, overlook my many blessings.

-Family that travel 2 hours to visit me when I can't go the whole distance
-Friends that meet me to not only share their lives but to delve into my journey and it's travails and high spots of the week
-Children that smile and share hugs and warmth of heart and mind
-A little house that consistently cocoons me from storms and wind and the eyes of the world
-A little red car that still purrs down the road -even with 360,000 long and weary miles under her cute little hood
-A spouse whose halo continually and Lovingly absorbs and understands my north wind personality that sometimes, forgets to respect sunshine, seasons, and the differences within human nature
-Possessions that allow for abundant crafting and clothing and filling of my unending myriad of daily hungers, needs and desires
-Living in a country that - though far from perfect, still allows my free travel within its boundaries, provides mostly good roads on which to move about, still provides a fairly safe environment within which I can walk my neighborhood at night with minimum fear, and within which there are any number and types of public parks and conservation areas to enjoy Nature's unlimited wonder and soul-filling beauty. The list, given adequate thought and intent, is more fit for a book-series than a small blog post.

We don't often bump into this notion of blessings until life gives us a slap and we are then forced into the moment.  Maybe your partner, family member or friend is hospitalized or facing a deadly or life-altering disease.  Maybe your job or spouse leave you alone. Maybe the water heater died; maybe you're having one of those moany-groany days when life seems skewed and foggy, your aches and pains kept you awake last night and -of all the possible things that could happen to you, the mail is late!

No matter the cause, standing still enough to face our blessings, feeds us in a manner nothing else can.  It costs nothing - yet fills our emotional bank account to overflowing. It energizes our heart and mind as no caffeinated drink ever hoped.  Blessings fill us with gratitude, warm our hearts and soul, work the smile muscles instead of the frown ones, lower our blood pressure and pulse rate, connect with endorphins and just plain make us least for a little while.

My thoughtful and profound friend mentioned today that..."Moments are forever!"  That said, spend a few moments today to tally your inventory; spend those moments embracing the positives in your world.

-Watch a bird sing its song on a fencepost - and be grateful for your vision and hearing
-Listen to the wind in the trees - and be grateful for your home
-Watch the evening news - and be grateful your address doesn't include Afghanistan
-Walk the perimeter of your property - and be grateful that walk isn't occurring under a cold and lonely bridge
-Call your child, your friend, your neighbor...and be grateful you are still alive.
 -Look up at the stars later this evening, consider the awesome wonder that is our universe

Nature prevails..all over and around our lives.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Recipe Trails; Muffin Magic

This is not a recipe site; but life sometimes makes exceptions...for good food!

Try this so-called muffin recipe and you decide whether you're eating muffin...or cake. Please let us know your verdict.  Original recipe taken from

Yield: 2 dozen muffins

1 2/3 C flour (I use 1 C. whole wheat and 2/3 white)
1 C sugar (I use 2/3 C brown sugar)
1 TBSP pumpkin Pie Spice (I use 2)
1 TSP baking soda
¼ TSP salt (if you’re watching your salt, skip this)
¼ TSP baking powder
1 C canned pumpkin
½ C butter or margarine
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled and finely grated/chopped

1 TSP Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 TBLSPS sugar

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.
Combine pumpkin, butter, and eggs in another bowl and add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. 
Fold in chopped apple and spoon into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full.  Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; sprinkle evenly over muffins.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Original author’s tip: if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, use the following; ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ground cloves.

NOTE: The recipe in the above photos has an added glaze made with a mixed fruit juice, powdered sugar and vanilla.

Nature prevails!  In every yummy ingredient in this recipe!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trails of Yesterday: Today

I found this in an e-mail this morning; it sounds awfully familiar...

I just wanted to mention that it is Wednesday. I have no clue exactly how it got to be Wednesday because the last I checked, it was Monday morning.
It is also sinking in that it is winter, another of life's mysteries to me since I still feel the September sun on my neck and recall the tomatoe plants struggling to set fruit (which they never did!)
My mother is hiding behind my bathroom mirror - absolutely without my permission! 
And those funny-looking guys on PBS, singing my favorite 1970 and 1980 songs - must be impersonating the original singers, 'cause I am CERTAIN none of them looked that gray and wrinkled when they were singing those songs...a few years go.
But then, my sainted husband looks, sounds and feels the same as he did 20 years ago.  So I guess all is right with the world.
Nature prevails! (At least SOMETHING stays the same!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mule Trails: Along The Backroads of Yesterday

Being 60 something has its moments, some of them with regrets, some with sadness.  But mostly I'm thrilled to have another day, to be blessed with all the Love in my life from from family, friends and neighbors, and the multitude of 4 legged friends that allow us to share their lives.

Truth be told, the 'good old days' seem to pop up a bit more often in my mind and heart these days.  Today I heard a song by Walter Brennan which brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with not only Love and memories, but the reminder of my friend, Oris Reed (who sometimes writes as Oris George), and his new book.  Oris has written in numerous and varied publications for over 40 years and is currently, the director for zone 3 of the North American Saddle Mule Association. In case you hadn't guessed, my friend has a Love affair with donkeys and mules and they proliferate his most recent book, Along The Back Roads of Yesterday, a must-read for any mule-lover!

Along the Backroads of Yesterday is all about the 'good old days' - lots of 'em, from the 40's and 50's when 'ole Oris looked and felt a bit like the kid in Mr. Brennan's song, Old Rivers.

Swing over to Oris' website and enjoy lots...of the 'good old days', from someone who lived, played, learned and enjoyed them.

As always, Nature prevails.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tuscany Trails: Cruise Ship Aground

Sometimes, vacations can be risky.  And such was the case for the cruise ship Costa Concordia late Friday, night. According to an early morning report by CBS News, "...Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground in the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012."  CBS sited that about 4,200 people evacuated with three people dead so far.

In their 10:03 AM report, 69 people were unaccounted for.  "By morning Saturday, the ship was lying virtually flat off Gigio's coast, its starboard side submerged in the water and the huge gash showing clearly on its upturned hull."

By 6:51 this evening, CBS had some updated statistics: "At least three bodies had been recovered, and rescuers searching for the missing heard the shouts of a man and a woman coming late Saturday from the wrecked cruise ship. The Coast guard was bringing in a specialized search team to find them, while close to 40 others remained unaccounted for."

Captain Francesco Schettino has been detained while his attorney claims his client performed his job admirably.  'Bruno Leporatti told the agency: "I'd like to say that several hundred people owed their life to the expertise that the commander of the Costa Concordia showed during the emergency."'

Miami-based Carnival Corp. issued a brief statement Saturday. "Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the grounding of the Costa Concordia and especially the loved ones of those who lost their lives. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the wake of this tragic event."

Though details of the event seems somewhat unclear until a complete investigation is completed, 'Coast guard Cmdr. Francesco Paolillo said "...the vessel "hit an obstacle," that tore a 50-meter (160 feet) gash in the side of the ship and started taking on water...It wasn't clear if the obstacle was a jagged, rocky reef or something else," he said. "The captain...then tried to steer his ship toward shallow waters, near Giglio's small port, to make evacuation by lifeboat easier."

CBS Photo

According to this article, "Five helicopters from the coast guard, navy and air force took turns airlifting survivors still aboard and ferrying them to safety."

ABS News interviews a passenger who recalls her panic and fear.

If the captain did purposefully steer the ship closer to shore after recognizing the impending disaster, he may be truly responsible for saving thousands of lives!

I am sure there are a few persons counting their lucky stars as they put their heads to a pillow tonight.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writer Trails: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Bradbury Flavor

As a sci-fi aficionado, my nose may occasionally be found welded inside an old, yellowed paperback copy of Isaac Asimov's "The Great SF Stories 14".  'Early' this morning, as I savored the taste of several of Asimov's better short story choices, "The Sound of Thunder" came to life in my old and tired brain.  For a few minutes, I wasn't quite so old and tired - thanks to Ray Bradbury's knack for pulling readers through his tall tales! Enjoy the excerpt below.
"It came on great, oiled, resilient striding legs. It towered thirty feet above half of the trees, a great evil god, folding its delicate watchmaker's claws close to its oily reptilian chest. Each lower leg was a piston, a thousand pounds of white bone, sunk in thick ropes of music, sheathed over in a gleam of pebbled skin like the mail of a terrible warrior. Each thigh was a ton of meat, ivory, and steel mesh. And from the great breathing cage of the upper body those  two delicate arms dangled out front, arms with hands from which might pick up and examine men like toys, while the snake neck coiled. And the head itself, a ton of sculptured stone, lifted easily upon the sky.  Its mouth gaped, exposing a fence of teeth like daggers. Its eyes rolled, ostrich eggs, empty of all expression save hunger. It closed its mouth in a death grin. It ran, its pelvic bones crushing aside trees and bushes, its taloned feet clawing damp earth, leaving prints six inches deep wherever it settled its weight. It ran with a gliding ballet step, far too poised and balanced for its ten tons. It moved into a sunlit arena warily, its beautifully reptillian hands feeling the air."

Oh but to be a fly on the geological wall as Pangaea was moving around on a malleable earth crust and  animals of sizes beyond our worst nightmares, roamed the planet. To be able to watch our planet as Nature took her through her different phases...asteroids landing in the arctic, the tropics and other places; ice ages growing and then melting as oceans ebbed and waned, swallowing up shorelines and then leaving bare continental shelves as the temperatures plummeted...for centuries!  Would we learn from such fantasian knowledge?  Would we build a better society?

Maybe these questions are better left to talented writers who roam through an easier world of make-believe...with realistic overtones. Today, we can instead, read National Geographic articles about the ancient geologic epochs and merely 'consider' this information.

I can attest to the fact that it WAS very comforting - at 2 AM, to know I could put my book on the night table, turn off the light and sleep safely through the  remaining hours of the dark-time.

Thank you Mr. Bradbury, for your talent, your vision and your imagination.

As always...Nature prevails, particularly, sixty-million years ago!

...Was that the sound of thunder?