Saturday, July 29, 2006


Bears are a wonderful critter to have running through your local forest. I am very pro-bear. When allowed by law, I am pro-hunting bear. Hunting keeps animals wary of people and is good for the long-term survival of the species.

I love my teddy bear.

I viewed a film about a bear expert, eco-warrior and con-artist Timothy Treadwell. Called Grizzly Man, it chronicled his life with the massive Brown Bears of Alaska. Much of the movie footage was shot by Timothy himself. He was no doubt an expert in bear behavior, to a point. The last point being that a bear attacked and ate him and his girlfriend in October 2003. At various times he believed he'd never be attacked, as well as he couldn't think of a better place to die than in this beautiful National Park on a peninsula off the south coast of Alaska. The tragedy is not that he died doing what he loved, but that it happened the day he and his girlfriend were to leave for the season, and she had no plans of returning because the bears scared her. Treadwell crossed the line with the bears, anthropomorphizing them, naming them, touching them. The native people there have always maintained respect for the bear as a bear. But the Grizzly Man felt he had a kinship with them. We are human beings, most of us reading this, and as much as we love animals, they are not just furry people. I understand the need many people have to protect animals. Humans don't have a very good record of taking care of wildlife over the centuries. But they need to stay wild, and out of human dwellings, garbage, and food caches. Timothy Treadwell had fabulous film footage of a family of foxes. They acted like pets around him. He fed them. Big no-no! Eventually he fed himself to a bear. I'm sorry we lost such a great advocate for the bear, but eventually his careless closeness with the Ursidae closed the book on his experiment.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Odds & Ends

Today I have to go the dentist. Is there anything more pitiful? I will pay a large amount of money to open my mouth and receive pain. I think only a dentist's spouse likes a dentist.

We had rain, lightening and thunder last night, just as I was trying to go to sleep. I could see the flashes of light even with my eyes closed. Yes, we need the rain. But could it rain a little quieter, please?

People in the Netherlands and Germany have received my postcards, so I guess postcrossing really works! The "airmail" is really slow though. I must be patient!

Read about a stable that had 24 horses die suddenly. Their feed was poisoned by accident. I can't imagine the sorrow there. First of all, they had to get rid of the dead bodies. You can't leave a 1200 pound corpse laying around for too long in the Texas summer sun. It makes for fast good-byes and "see you in heaven". The dead included a breeding stallion, mares, foals, and riding horses that were boarded there. I hope they had insurance or it will be a worse disaster for them. They were trying to kill bugs (weevils) in the horse's grain and the poison contaminated the feed. Sad, sad, sad.

I do not feed grain to my horses in summer, but in winter only. Even then there can sometimes be bugs in the grain. Mankind is always struggling against the bugs. Flies and food, mosquitoes and bare arms, crickets in the house and their singing driving you crazy. I won't even mention cockroaches. Bug splatter on your car windshield, hard to wash off. Ants in a line crawling to a sweet spot in your kitchen. Insects will inherit the earth.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Worlds

I watched a movie last night that I really liked. Called "The New World" it recounts the story of the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith, etc. I believe the majority of the "Indians" in the film actually were Native Americans, from many different tribes. Even the young lady who played "Pocohontas". Something to ponder: one of the Indian actors said at first he thought the title of the movie was impudent, after all, his ancestors were here for centuries. America wasn't a "new" world to them. Then he started to see there was more than one layer here. The clash of cultures was a new world for everyone involved. Something else: after a short time, the native people realised the English were not going away and they sued for peace. Today there are descendents of both English and Indian people still living in Virginia. If they had not made peace, there would only be English.

In Israel today it is a new world for those who lived there prior to 1947. Without peace, both natives and newcomers will suffer and decline. And the Israelis are not going back to where they came from.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mineral King, California

Mineral King, California
Originally uploaded by edification.
Here is a cool, peaceful scene to contemplate on these hot summer days. Can't you just feel the cold air flowing down from those peaks? More peace, less war.

Accepting Reality

It has been, what, two weeks since Israel and Lebanon have been going at it? This is no six day war. I had hoped that Lebanon would continue to grow and return to being the jewel of a country it was once before. But it was not strong enough to keep out the Hezbollah.

It would be like in the US letting a population of people, not necessarily Americans, who are vehemently opposed to Mexican people, take over the border patrol and looking the other way if they sent a few explosives over the Rio Grande. What could the world expect? Yes, there are a lot of civilian casualities. Name me a war that had none. But if you are going to let terrorists operate out of your neighborhood, you have to expect fireworks. Actually my example is not very good. Israel was not sending immigrants over into Lebanon illegally. All they want is security in Northern Israel. They just want to stay in Israel without having terrorists just over yonder. But the fanatic's mind cannot handle still the presence of Israel even after all these generations.

I hate to be so obvious, but Israel is for real and they are staying. I can just hear the Native American wise man saying something similar in the 1850's to his tribe as he watched the covered wagons go by. These white men are real and they aren't going away. Things must change or you will die. Unfortunately, too many young Moslem men are willing to die because their elders will not change.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Soft Approach

A horse is a prey animal and we must always keep that in mind when we work with them. Pat Parelli said at the horse seminar in Albuquerque that people who are good with dogs are often not that good with horses. Now I know why my dogs are wild things and my horses are tame. I've always had a soft approach to horses and other animals. I guess that is why my dogs can take advantage of me. Well, anyway, I learned more about how to be a better horsewoman last weekend. Plus had a great time with P, and met a new friend, B, which is always nice.

The weather in New Mexico was warm but not hot. Turns out it was one of the few states that did not have 100 degree temperatures over the weekend. It was a hot one for most of the country. Even Wisconsin had 100 degrees! Wisconsin for goodness sakes. Maybe there is something to this global warming. It is hard to tell here in the desert. It is supposed to be 100 degrees here.

I am not a person who cares for hot temperatures. What, you may ask, am I doing in the Arizona desert? Well, for 9 months out of the year it is pretty dang nice here. And even in summer, in the morning, for maybe a couple hours, it is pleasant. I would not do well in the Phoenix area where they have overnight lows of 93 degrees. That is just plain insane. But here in the mid-level desert, I can survive the days of tarantulas (summer), I just need to hold on a few more weeks...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Horse Topics

I'm going to Albuquerque, New Mexico this weekend to attend a 2 day clinic on natural horsemanship. I'll also see and stay with longtime friend, P, and her family out on her little ranch north of the city. I haven't been there in years. I hope I don't get lost in the rolling juniper hills.

I keep reading about Barbaro's plight in the newspapers. He's the colt who won the Kentucky Derby and then broke his leg in the Preakness. His recovery is still in doubt. I can't imagine why a big, strong, well-trained horse like that can break its' leg. Something mechanically must be wrong with the breed. You can understand if a mustang steps in a gopher hole in the wilds of Nevada and breaks its' leg. But these racetracks are groomed like your living room carpet. I was cantering an Arabian once and he stepped in a woodchuck hole and sent us both tumbling. But neither of us were hurt. Poor Barbaro. I wish him luck. He is already lucky as the run-of-the-mill horse would already be humanely destroyed. It'll be interesting to see if all these heroic measures (multiple surgeries) will save him in the end.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Today I signed up on a service that promises that I will get postcards from around the world. It is called "Postcrossing" and I've been assigned to send a postcard to Finland and Germany. I hope it works. I like postcards. Whenever I travel I send at least a dozen. And I frequently receive them from a traveling cousin. This postcrossing is random and has a sense of suspense about it. Will I really get a postcard back? Will they be decent, respectable people?

I love to receive personal mail and have a pocketful of penpals that I write. Many are turning to email these days though. It is faster, and cheaper. But I can't hold it in my hand when I open my mailbox out on the road. I'm not challenged to puzzle out their handwriting. What stamp is on the envelope? Is there a sticker or other art attached? Are there pictures I can savor~ instead of "save" in my cyberspace file? Is there a Friendship Book enclosed? Used stamps to add to my collection? A newspaper clipping enclosed? How is it folded? Is the paper plain or fancy? No doubt about it, real paper mail is more personal than email. So I am hoping, hoping that postcrossing really works.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Texas Ranger

Texas Ranger
Originally uploaded by edification.
Purple flowering shrub suited to desert climate. This young one is in my side yard.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Originally uploaded by edification.
People are drawn to water. Do you think I'll get any extra hits on my blog?

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Case For Heaven

I have 5 horses, 2 dogs and a house cat. Most are not what you'd call young. Some day there is going to be a lot of weeping when illness, injury, old age, or euthanasia come knocking, an unwelcome guest, over and over again until the slate is washed clean for the next generation. In earlier years I have watched my horses, dogs and cats go to the beyond. Nothing about any of this mortality thing is very nice. One of my best friends just had her precious feline friend put to sleep. My brother has a dear elderly and infirm dog of nearly 17 years of age. Death comes when expected and when it is not. That they are merely animals, or that their short lives give us "practice" for the real losses, human losses, does not hold water with me. People are made with an instinct to become attached to things. We may get over having to hold that teddy bear, but as we age there are new things to get attached to. Members of the opposite sex (or not, depending on the person I guess). Our careers. Our children. Our home. And, our animals. Along with human attachments, I think the bond we have to our animals is unusually strong. Witness the folks flooded out of their homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They wouldn't leave without Fido. And those who were forced to, they often entered a depression, not for their bricks and mortar and boards and furniture. No, they mourned the loss of those eyes looking back into theirs. A case can even be made that spouses, children, and friends can be replaced (and often are), but not another soul can replicate that animal friend that you nurtured, trained, loved. He or she that depended upon you every day - utterly. In their final hour, you know that there must be a heaven or no life is worth living.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

California mule deer

California mule deer
Originally uploaded by edification.
She didn't seem all that worried that a visitor to her home in Sequoia National Park was stepping close to her to click digital images. I'm glad she wasn't camera shy.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I used to think that monsoons only occurred in far away lands with unpronounceable names. That belief changed when I moved to Arizona. Most of the year the wind brings our weather from the Pacific. But a change takes place in late June, early July. For then the wind comes wheeling out of the east, carrying the moisture of the Gulf of Mexico over the Sonoran Desert. Every desert dweller hopes for a good monsoon, one that brings enough rain, but not torrents of it in a few short minutes. Today the Double Barrel Ranch was blessed with a good monsoon. The thirsty earth responded to each drop with a whiff of perfume. It is hard to describe smell. But the desert smells good after a rain. Not the clean smell you'd expect, but something more primitive.

If you've never experienced the Sonoran Desert monsoon, you may think I'm being poetic. In summer it is like this: day after day we see the bright sun staring straight at us, with no water vapor in the way. Day after day we see high temperature records break. Wildfires seem to overwhelm we mere mortals. Then there is a rumble in the east. Some years later, some years earlier, but eventurally comes the rain. Monsoon. A holy word.