Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hawaiian Life

Sea Turtle
When I went to the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the coolest things about my visit was seeing so many different creatures there. The coolest being the sea turtles. I first met them while I was snorkeling in a little bay, with a lot of other people. It was on the Kona side of the island, near the resort that I stayed at. I was bobbing around, looking at fish, when I felt something bump against my leg. I assumed that it was another snorkeler, so I moved away a little bit, angling out toward a reef, so I could see more fish. However, I kept feeling the bumping, and with a somewhat annoyed glance, looked over to see who was crowding my space. It was a sea turtle! It was calmly munching on sea grass, which was growing around the rocks and the reef. I was amazed! It didn't really seem to be too aware of my presence, choosing to feast on it's wild grasses rather than swim away. As I looked around, I noticed other people's reactions were similar to mine, as several sea turtles had come around us and were all munching on sea grass in our midst! How lucky we were!! So many photographs were taken of sea turtles that day! It was so cool.... everyone was being nice around the turtles, which made me really happy. All the kids there were pointing and exclaiming, and no one was doing anything ridiculous. It was a great day!

Mongoose family
 The other interesting animal I saw were the mongoose. Originally brought to the islands to take down the rat populations, it turned out that rats are more nocturnal, and mongooses eat more than rats. In fact, they pretty much eat everything that they can reach. They devastated populations of birds, insects, and other native species, causing extinctions and endangerment of many of the native creatures. So sad! They at least ate SOME of the rats... but unfortunately, not enough to justify the reason that they were brought to the islands. Currently, all islands but Lana'i and Kaua'i have mongooses. The thing about them, though, from a tourist point of view, is that they're actually really cute at a distance! And the mothers travel about with their pups, taking care of them. It's cuter if you don't know the whole story! It's really just never a good idea to introduce a foreign species to a land. You'd think that people (especially native people) would know that by now. Natives have been pushed out of all their lands by foreigners for millenia!

Another of my favorite creatures on the island is the gecko! They have a reputation for good luck, which I think is because of their bug eating proficiency. You won't have too many mosquitoes buzzing around you if you have lots of geckos in the house! They are adorable, too. Their toes look like little flowers, and they come in the smallest of sizes. I saw a gecko in the condo that was about 3/4" long! So minuscule! The biggest one I saw was maybe around 3" long. Every time I saw them, though, they made me so happy! I've only seen geckos in Hawaii and Mexico. I don't know if we have them in the states, but if we imported them, we'd probably run out of some cool butterflies or something! No importing! Ha ha. Anyway, the geckos were all over the island, and thriving so far, despite the mongoose.

Determined mouse
The day I went to Green Sand Beach, I had a package of Nutter Butters in my pack. It wasn't the smartest of foods to bring for snacking when it was hot and I had limited water, but it was better than nothing. I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye, and not until the little rascal actually grabbed one of my cookies out of the pack did I see what it was: a little mouse! He had grabbed a cookie and was taking off when I snapped the photo. It's blurry, as he was a quick little guy! But it was kind of funny, too. He was the only creature I saw at the beach, other than a couple people who left before I got there. It was totally worth the 3 hours it took to get there, although had I known it would take so long, I would've brought more water and maybe a lunch or something! It was quite a weird hike, but the ocean was off to the right the whole time so I couldn't get lost, and I was determined to get there and back before the sun went down, so I trekked on. This is what I saw once I got there....

Green Sand Beach
Talk about hidden treasures, right? It was gorgeous. And the few dots representing people on the beach were gone by the time I got down there, so it was like being on a private beach. That's the great thing about the Big Island... it's so big that you're never crowded! I love it. By the way, those waves down there are MUCH bigger than they seem in this photo. They were huge and scary, and I got pommeled before I wised up and got away from the surf. I had to walk back the whole 3 hours with sand in my suit and it taught me a big lesson: always have a towel if you think you might go into the water. It's too humid in Hawaii to dry naturally. It just doesn't happen!

Pallid Ghost Crab
  On the very last day I spent in Hawaii, I saw several of these ghost crabs. They were very elusive, and this photo is zoomed in quite a bit. It's very small, the body being around an inch or so wide. But they were so cute! They live by burrowing in the sand and running about to catch their food, and running back into their burrows. It was right around dusk when I saw them, but apparently they run about during the day a lot. It was the only time I saw them, however. That was the night of the most amazing sunset I've ever seen. I'll close with a photo of it, completely unmodified. It was the most gorgeous sunset... completely awe-inspiring! Hawaii is a magnificent place. My favorite island is the Big Island. There's just so much diversity and it's so much bigger, so you have more to see. If you can choose one of the islands, I know everyone says Maui is best, but I have to disagree and say that the Big Island towers above them all!

Kona sunset

Monday, August 30, 2010


Me with Segoni
I just want to share with you a little about wolves. They are amazing creatures. They are predators, like us. However, despite popular beliefs, we are not their prey. They prefer the same type of creatures that humans have always enjoyed hunting and eating, which is why they have been persecuted by our species. Wolves have intricate social interactions. They work together, as a pack (a family) to survive in the wild. They are not dogs, nor do the have the same requirements as dogs. They're not meant to be pets, as they are not domesticated. This doesn't mean that they aren't bred with dogs. I used to have a dog, Jake, who was 1/4 wolf. He was a brilliant creature, very wise, whom I loved for the entire time that we were together. He was so smart and at times very moody. He didn't bark like dogs do, unnecessarily. He only barked when there was a reason. This is a very wolf-like trait. Wolves mature, like people, whereas most dogs don't mature past what we'd consider a teenage mentality. Wolves require all the bones, organs, etc, of their prey. They can't survive on dog food, or just beef, or just meat of any kind. They need the bones, etc, to help their digestion. They need pack life to feel complete. Anything else would make them less than what they are meant to be.

When I visited the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary the first time, I was brought into the main wolf compound with the woman who runs this non-profit wolf rescue site. She told everyone who was visiting that the wolves needed to be introduced to us by her. She's considered part of the pack, and only when she brings people in, are they considered "okay" by the pack. Then each of the wolves greets us, starting with the Alpha, and working their way down the pecking order. Dakota and Durango were the male and female Alphas, and they each had to sniff each person. If they liked you a lot, they would rub themselves against you, getting your scent on them, and theirs on you. When the wolf in question weighs around 150-200 pounds, this can be quite an experience!

Tanya and Dakota

Wolves are really misunderstood creatures. You really understand that when you visit and spend a day with the wolves, which I've been blessed to have done twice now. The second time I visited, it was really interesting because the wolves I had met the first time all remembered me by scent! They gave me a cursory welcome, and then were immediately comfortable around me. I was allowed to be in the compound without Tanya, the care-giver, along with others who had visited before. It was wonderful! The wolves each have very distinctive personalities and quirks. Istas was just a puppy the first time I met him, and he was very mischievous and funny. The next time I met him, he was older, but just as mischievous and with the same sense of humor as before! It's really amazing!

If you are ever in Southern California, near Lucerne Valley, you should call up the sanctuary, and schedule a visit. They ask for donations in order to go in and see the wolves, as they need the money. They don't get any money from our government for caring for these wolves. Some of the wolves were rescued from drug dealers, who were using them as guard dogs. They were in sad shape! Tanya brought them back to health, and introduced them to the other wolves, helping them to find their place in a pack, and become healthy wolves again. Once you go, you'll want to return. Being around the wolves is a real spiritual experience that I think everyone should feel at least once in their lives. It will connect you to the universe in a new and special way. Believe me.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pennsylvania Bunnies!

So one of my favorite things to do here in Bethlehem is go for walks through the historic neighborhood where I live. There are cool Victorian homes, gorgeous yards and bunnies!

I'm sure that the people who have little gardens in the back don't appreciate the bunnies as much as I do, but they're just so adorable! I love catching sight of these little fluffy-tailed creatures! In California, I would see Jack Rabbits, and occasionally a bunny rabbit or two at Hobo Camp, but nothing like the number of bunnies I see just while I'm walking down the street here! It's really a happy circumstance when I find more than one bunny, too. Which happened one night out by the old pottery buildings.
Apparently they like to eat the clover in the grass... so if you have clover in your lawn, then the bunnies would be a GOOD thing! This little guy at right wasn't scared of my close proximity. He kept nibbling away at the clover while I was trying to get a good shot of him. He didn't like it when I crouched down, though, and took off.
Historic ruins
  At left is what's left of part of an old building. I believe it was a flour mill. There are native flower gardens around it, which are really pretty. This whole area was completely filled with tents and people during Musikfest, and I'm sure that the bunnies had to find another home for a while. But luckily, it's only once a year, and only for a week, that the local residents have to put up with so many people, traffic and noise! And by local residents, I mean the animals that live in the woods around town! 

Finally got the three bunnies posted!
I tried to post the picture of the three bunnies that I took in the evening, but the blogger won't allow me to post them in their edited format for some reason. And without the editing, you can't actually see anything more than a few pairs of reflective eyes in the dark. Ah well, maybe one day I'll come across another gaggle of bunnies before it's too dark to get a good photo of them. I've got my fingers crossed!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Day in the Life of J Boo & Beckham

J Boo on his kitty condo, thinking of things I can't even imagine. 
 Beckham (a.k.a. Mownie) finds comfort in sinks and bathtubs, for some reason. However, I didn't have a bathtub at this apartment, only a large shower, so he opted for one of the sinks.
And as you can clearly see, they also sometimes play together! Mostly it's just Beckham beating up J Boo, but every now and then, J Boo gets to pop Beckham and get away with it! (Though not this time.)
This was one of the times that J Boo had to hide out for a while. It wasn't always easy for him to be a 5 lb. cat with a 20 lb. tormenter.
 And every now and then, it was peaceful. After all, they're brothers, and they love each other. Plus, they needed to rest up for the next round!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Dog...

Okay, she isn't my dog anymore. This is Miss Smartypants. My best friend had given her to me when they had a pregnant Rottweiler come into their yard. They fed her, cared for her, and she birthed 13 puppies, but only five survived. Miss Smartypants was the runt of the litter, and she came to me and my ex-husband. She stayed behind in California when I moved to Pennsylvania, and she's very happy in the home she grew up in, with her dad who takes her to the dog park all the time! 

True to her name, she is a brilliant and mischievous dog! It took quite a lot of work to potty train her, but she figured out how to get her treats out of her Kong in about a day. She had several ways of doing this, and it always took her around 1 - 5 minutes, depending on the difficulty of the type of treat that went into the Kong. She learned so many commands and dog tricks, as teaching her was simply a matter of outstaying her stubbornness. That's no easy thing, really. She always KNEW how to follow directions, it was just a matter of making her understand that it was in her best interest to do so! Thus, many treats were distributed, and her toys kept out of reach until she behaved properly! If you've ever known or had any Rotties, you'll know what I'm talking about!

I miss her a lot, even though she's a very independent soul who didn't much care for a lot of outward displays of affection. She just wanted to play games, run around, chase other dogs, or the cats, and maybe chew on a bone for a while. She is a sweetheart! I hope to see her again someday....  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Cats

Almost a year ago, I was given a feral kitten that was hiding out in my friend's garage. I named her Jilly Boo, because I had just read some of the "Skippy Jon Jones" children's books, and thought she reminded me of one of Skippy's sisters. She hid out under a bookshelf in my craft room for three days, and wouldn't come out when I was in there. Every day that I came home from work, I noticed that she was eating the food I left out for her, drinking the water, and using the litter box. She would be fine. I tried to give her Temptations cat treats, but she'd just look at them. On the fourth day, she actually sniffed the treat and ate it while I was still crouched down in front of the bookshelf that she hid under. On the fifth day, she took it from my hand! I was so happy and excited. We were becoming friends!  On the sixth day, when I reached in to hand-feed her a treat, she bumped my hand with her head and proceeded to rub her face against my out-stretched fingers. I was sooo happy! On the seventh day, she came out from hiding and rubbed against my legs as I sat at my computer. After that, we were hanging out all the time! After taking her to the vet for her kitty shots, I found out that "she" was a "he" and had to rename her, um-HIM, Jimmy Boo. He was already responding to the sound of "Jilly Boo." Jimmy Boo turned out to be the sweetest cat I have ever known, including being more affectionate than Markos! Although he and Markos were fast friends, too. 

Beckham (who you haven't met yet) wasn't as fond of Jimmy Boo. Beckham is my big black and white panther. He hissed at Jimmy Boo for the first week that he was allowed access to him. Jimmy Boo didn't seem to mind, he just stayed curled up in a ball, as small as he could get, while Beckham voiced his opinion on the situation. After a while, they actually started to fight/play with each other, sometimes with Beckham chasing Jimmy Boo, and sometimes with J Boo chasing Beckham! It was happy news for me that they were getting along! There wasn't really any other option, as I wasn't going to let anyone go. These two go at it until the fur flies! But later, I'll see Beck grooming J Boo, and I know it's okay. For now. :-)  

Friday, August 13, 2010

A New Blog

Hi Everyone and Anyone!

I started this new blog as a way to express my love and respect for animals in a dedicated forum. I have two cats, and live in a neighborhood with all kinds of wildlife around, that I will happily share with you! I would also like to share any special or cool stories about animals that I catch wind of.

I have always been an animal lover, ever since I can remember. I grew up with dogs around the house at any given time. I don't actually remember a time without animals, except for the sad span of time after my dog, Jake, had passed away and I was too heartbroken to get any other pets. In fact, I ended up with a cat as my next pet because the Universe wanted me to have one. The house I bought had come with a cat that was left behind by the previous owners, so I accepted him into my life, and was able to share my love with him. He recently passed away, as he was quite old. His name was Markos, and he was a Seal Point Siamese with blue crossed eyes. He was a sweet-natured cat that everyone in the neighborhood loved, too.
Before I had decided that I would accept Markos into my life, he knew he was going to be a part of it already. He waited for me on the front porch, every day that I came home from work. He learned to come when I called for his dinner, even though I found out that other people were feeding him then, as well. He was a very special cat, and I dedicate this blog to him.

I hope you'll enjoy my new blog, as we learn more about the awesomeness of animals together!