Sunday, September 30, 2012

Seen in Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary in Peru

A common shrew opossum
An enigmatic long-spined porcupine
A new, unidentified type of night monkey

The Weekend

It's been an odd weekend - I feel disconnected from life at the moment. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't had any sugar in 2 full weeks. Maybe it's because my cousin has been told that " the PET scan did find a tumor in her lymph nodes "suggestive of metastatic malignance."" and I'm worried about Missy. Maybe it's because Lovey has oral surgery on Tuesday, and I'm worried about her. Maybe it's because I'm spending 11 hours at my house, and 11 hours at the Clark house, and 2 hours in transit in between them (and it goes on until Thursday afternoon). I don't know why....
   The Gators didn't play yesterday. I watched the South Carolina Gamecocks on TV, and they won. The CU Buffs game was at home, against UCLA, and they lost - 50-something to 14. The pre-game radio-cast for UCLA was broadcast live from the Millennium Harvest House, and was heard by everyone within 5 blocks, unless they were totally deaf. (Too bad they lost power for 30 minutes in the middle of the live broadcast...)
   The Jets just couldn't get anything going today - They let Tebow touch the ball three times, plus using him 3 times as a blocking back, and as a blocker when punting. Of course, the coach called the plays; the first time, a hand-off gained one yard; the second time, Tim threw a pass, which was (a) caught for a first down, but (b) the receiver dropped the ball when tackled, the ball bounced, and the 49ers grabbed it (I have no idea if that went down as an interception or a fumble); and the third time, Tebow handed it off for a 2-yard loss. Why they didn't let him try to quarterback the team during the last seven minutes, when the score was 34 -0, I don't know. Even the commentators were asking why not let Tim try his magic? But Ryan stayed with Sanchez, and only a very nice politic slide by the 49ers second-string quarterback kept the score from being even more....
   The Broncos pulled it off against the Raiders. It's the first time we've beaten them in the last 5 meetings, so it was nice. And RGIII managed to put together a last-minute drive, so Cundiff could kick a field goal, and the Redskins beat the Bucs 24 -22. I was rooting for both the Saints and the Packers, who played each other, with the Packers winning by 1 point.
   I enjoyed the season premiers of NCIS, Vegas, Person of Interest, and Blue Bloods. The two CSI's were OK, and I'm afraid that Elementary bored me. I'll have to see if there's anything worth watching on the other channels...
   I hope your October is good!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chincoteague Scenes

Chincoteague Bay, 1978
A stallion arriving on the shore of Chincoteague Island, Pony Penning, 2012
Barry Abell and his hand-built Chincoteague scow.  Boat, trailer and motor to be raffled off for a life-size waterman's statue in Reed Park.  See previous blog for details.

Horses & a New Chincoteague Memorial

This will be a bits and pieces blog today, because I find that I am still very upset regarding yesterday's regarding the BLM, Tom Davis, and over 1,000 missing mustangs. After all the campaigning and fight that Wild Horse Annie Johnston did in Washington, and all the letters sent to Congress regarding the fate of the wild horses of the West, I find the shrugs of the BLM mucky-mucks makes my blood boil. I wrote letters to my Congressmen in the late 1960s and early 1970s, trying to express my love and caring for the mustang. I don't know if they helped to sway any politician - but I remember putting my heart and soul into those letters, pleading for the lives of the symbols of the Wild West. I am completely disappointed in the BLM's handling of this situation.
   Lovey is sitting between me and the keyboard, as usual. Nedi is peeking under the back fence at all the tail-gate partiers in the Millennium Harvest House parking lot. This is a home CU Buffs game, against UCLA, and the hotel is 100% booked for tonight. I just hope the wildlife take it easy tonight - otherwise, we'll lose a lot of raccoons, rabbits and deer. The Gators don't play today. Buffs kick-off at 4 p.m. (MDT), with the Gamecocks kick-off at 5 (MDT) on ESPN2. I can listen to the Buffs game, since I'm less than 2 blocks away from the stadium, and I'll watch the Gamecocks. Sasquatch and Tugger are doing well, but they miss their "real" people. And I was able to take the Rs to Kathy and Jim's yesterday, as there was only a test trench dug for the perc test in their back yard. Of course, Rosie wanted to climb down into the hole, but I kept my eye on her and called her anytime she got too close to the edge.
   There is, once again, an up-turn in odd thefts out here. People are shearing show horses of their long manes and tails. A good false tail at a horse show can cost $400 to $500 dollars. It's a shame. Horses are like people - they have their own "hair" patterns: some have beautiful, long, full, flowing locks; and some are follicle-ly challenged. Judges should not be looking at the length and quality of a horse's mane and tail in a horse show. If the show is about equitation, or the way a horse handles itself under saddle, then the judges should be looking at the rider and the horse; if it's a conformation class, again, the length and fullness of a mane or tail should not be considered - just the way the horse is put together and how it has been turned out for the class. Some breeds are known for having a short, wispy tail; a lot of draught horses' tails are docked. My comment is - "Get over it!" and never falsify your horse.
   Today, the island of Chincoteague is celebrating the opening of the bridge to Assateague 50 years ago. I can remember going to Assateague in a scow, before the bridge was installed. Wylie Maddox bought the original bridge near Atlantic City, New Jersey, and had it transported, section by section, to Chincoteague and placed across the Assateague Channel. I remember riding Princess, a palomino pony, across that bridge many times. There will be all sorts of celebrations - games, a picnic, dancing, and a parade across the bridge (the newer, replacement one, that is).
   And, finally, again, back on Chincoteague, the Museum of Chincoteague Island and the Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial have teamed up to host a raffle with all proceeds directly benefiting the construction of a life-size bronze statue dedicated to watermen, their families and those lost at sea. The memorial statue will be located at a site provided by The Town of Chincoteague at Reed Park overlooking the Chincoteague waterfront. The winner will receive a new, 16 foot Chincoteague Scow with a 50HP Mercury Outboard (4-stroke, Tiller-handle, Electric Start, Power Trim & Tilt), and Load Rite Trailer.
   On most weekends this fall, the scow will be on display at the Museum of Chincoteague Island. The scow will also be featured at boat shows and events across the Delmarva Peninsula over the winter.The wood and fiberglass scow was hand-built using traditional methods by Chincoteague Island native, Barry Abell, who developed the new design based on those of the original Chincoteague Island boat builders, including Herbert Jester, Charles Ralph Turlington, Louis Hancock and Shreves Wimbrow. Abell spent 18 months designing and building the scow to benefit the Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial Project, which he founded in February 2006 to raise funds for a waterman’s statue.
   All the funds needed to purchase the outboard motor and trailer were donated by 50 Chincoteague Island watermen, businessmen and residents who also believe that a statue should be built to commemorate the work and sacrifice of all those “Who Go Down To the Sea in Ships.”
The raffle will officially begin on Oct. 6 at the Oyster Festival at Tom’s Cove, sponsored by the Chincoteague Island Chamber of Commerce. Tickets will be for sale at $10 each or $50 for a book of 6 tickets. This will be a limited raffle event with approximately 4,000 tickets for sale. After the Oyster Festival, tickets will be available at the Museum of Chincoteague Island and businesses around the island.
   The raffle winner will be announced a year from now at the 2013 Oyster Festival. Additional cash donations by those who wish to support the memorial project are welcomed. Make checks payable to the Museum of Chincoteague Island. In conjunction with the memorial project, the organizers are seeking information about watermen lost at sea, survival stories, any material related to local boat builders, and photographs of vessels and watermen from Chincoteague Island and surrounding areas that would be entered into the museum’s archives and form the basis for a special waterman’s exhibit.
   Contact the Museum of Chincoteague Island at 757-336-6117 or Barry Abell at 757-336-3595 for any information regarding the boat, tickets, donations or the Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mustang Mystery: Homes or Slaughter Houses?

This is a reproduction of a report in the e-edition of today's The Denver Post newspaper.  This report was produced by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that focuses on investigative journalism. To learn more about their work, which currently includes tracking the millions spent on political campaigns, visit

   The Bureau of Land Management faced a crisis last spring. The agency protects and manages herds of wild horses that roam the American West, rounding up thousands each year to keep populations stable. But by March, government pens and pastures were nearly full. Efforts to find new storage space had fallen flat. So had most attempts to persuade members of the public to adopt horses. Without a way to relieve the pressure, the agency faced a gridlock that would invite lawsuits and potentially cause long-term damage to the range.
  So the BLM did something it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler, Tom Davis, who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head.
BLEAK LANDSCAPE. Today, only one in three captured horses finds a home. The rest go into a warren of taxpayer-funded corrals, feed lots and pastures collectively known as "the holding system" that federal officials describe as unsustainable. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)

  The BLM has sold Davis at least 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009, agency records show — 70 percent of the animals purchased through its sale program. Like all buyers, Davis signs contracts promising that animals bought from the program will not be slaughtered and insists he finds them good homes.
   But Davis is a longtime advocate of horse slaughter. By his own account, he has ducked Colorado law to move animals across state lines and will not say where they end up. He continues to buy wild horses for slaughter from Indian reservations, which are not protected by the same laws. And since 2010, he has been seeking investors for a slaughterhouse of his own.
   "Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt," he said. "What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?"
   Animal welfare advocates fear that horses bought by Davis are sent to the killing floor.  "The BLM says it protects wild horses," said Laura Leigh, founder of the Nevada-based advocacy group Wild Horse Education, "but when they are selling to a guy like this, you have to wonder."  BLM officials say they carefully screen buyers and are adamant that no wild horses ever go to slaughter.
Mustang buyer Tom Davis

    "We don't feel compelled to sell to anybody we don't feel good about," agency spokesman Tom Gorey said. "We want the horses to be protected."  Sally Spencer, who runs the wild horse sales program, said the agency has had no indication of problems with Davis and it would be unfair for the BLM to look more closely at him based on the volume of his purchases.  "It is no good to just stir up rumors," she said. "We have never heard of him not being able to find homes. So people are innocent until proven guilty in the United States."
  Some BLM employees say privately that wild horse program officials may not want to look too closely at Davis. The agency has more wild horses than it knows what to do with, they say, and Davis has become a relief valve for a federal program plagued by conflict and cost over-runs.  "They are under a lot of pressure in Washington to make numbers," said a BLM corral manager who did not want his name used because he feared retribution from the agency's national office. "Maybe that is what this is about. They probably don't want to look too careful at this guy."
   At the turn of the 20th century, wild horses numbered in the millions, but most were rounded up, slaughtered and used for pet food or fertilizer.   By 1970, there were only 17,000 mustangs left.
Wild horses in the Sand Wash herd management area located 45 miles west of Craig, Colorado, in the Sand Wash Basin. The Bureau of Land Management attempts to place as many animals as possible each year into private care through public adoptions, but adoptions have been declining in recent years because of higher fuel and feed costs. There are no fences within the HMA, allowing horses to run wild within the confines of the basin. . Joe Amon, The Denver Post

   In 1971, Congress stepped in, passing a law that declared the wild horses as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West," and made it a crime for anyone to harass or kill wild horses on most federal land.
In a sense, the BLM — the part of the Interior Department assigned to oversee the wild horse program — succeeded in this a bit too well. Protected horses naturally began to reproduce, and by 1983 there were an estimated 65,000 horses and burros on the range, competing for resources with cattle and native wildlife.  In the name of maintaining a sustainable balance, the BLM began removing horses from the wild. It now rounds up about 9,400 horses a year, which has kept he wild population at around 35,000 (the count is per the BLM).
Sand Wash herd

    The captured horses were put up for adoption, and almost anyone could have one for as little as $125 as long as they signed a contract promising not to sell it to slaughter.  Over time, restrictions to ensure that horses were well cared for discouraged adoptions, a problem compounded more recently by a bad economy and soaring hay prices.
   Today, only one in three captured horses finds a home. The rest go into a warren of taxpayer-funded corrals, feed lots and pastures collectively known as "the holding system" that government auditors and wild horse welfare advocates have long warned is unsustainable.
   There are now more wild horses living in captivity than in the wild.  Driven by the cost of caring for unwanted wild horses, the annual price tag of the program has ballooned from $16 million in 1989 to $76 million today.
  Cost pressures prompted Congress to pass a last-minute rider to a 2004 law directing the BLM to sell thousands of old or unadoptable wild horses for $10 a head without restrictions — even for slaughter — but the agency has not done so, fearing public outrage.  Instead, since then, the BLM has been selling horses, but requiring buyers to sign contracts saying they will "not knowingly sell or transfer ownership of any listed wild horse and or burro to any person or organization with an intention to resell, trade, or give away the animal for processing into commercial products."  Violating the agreement is a felony, but there are no compliance checks similar to those done when horses are adopted.  Even when priced at less than a few bales of hay, these horses had little appeal: Sales dropped from 1,468 in 2005 to 351 in 2008.  As the wild horse program's situation grew increasingly dire, a new option came knocking: Tom Davis.
   Davis, 64, a plain-spoken man with a sun-beaten brow, makes his living hauling livestock, but he says reselling wild horses now accounts for a substantial part of his income.  By his own account, he has worked around horses all his life — on racetracks and ranches, and even rounding up wild horses for slaughter before the 1971 law put a stop to the practice.  For most of that time, he has lived in the tiny town of La Jara in the San Luis Valley, just down the road from Ken Salazar, the former U.S. Senator who now heads the Department of the Interior.  "When my dad was alive, we farmed their land," Davis said of the Salazar family. "I like them. I do business with them. I do quite a bit of trucking for Ken."
   Salazar did not respond to repeated interview requests for this story.
   On a warm morning in May, Davis gave a rambling two-hour interview on the 13-acre spread of corrals and truck lots where he lives.  Leaning against the fence of a muddy corral where a half dozen horses nibbled hay, Davis, wearing dusty overalls, gave a simple reason for becoming the BLM's main buyer.  "I love wild horses to death," he said. "It's like an addiction. For some, it's drugs. For me, it's horses."
  According to BLM records, Davis first contacted the program in January 2008. Documents obtained from the agency show he filled out the application to become a buyer over the phone, aided by Spencer, the BLM's sales director.  Under a question concerning Davis' intended use of the animals, Spencer wrote "use for movies." He later told other BLM employees he sold the horses to Mexican movie companies to use on film shoots. Under a question about what type of horses Davis preferred, the application noted he would take males or females, so long as they were big.   At the bottom of the application, Spencer wrote that she and Davis had "discussed goal of providing a good home and making sure none of the horses end up at slaughter plants." A few weeks later, the BLM sent Davis 36 wild horses from its CaƱon City holding corral.
  That was the only load the BLM sent Davis in 2008, records show. But in 2009 the agency started sending him truckload after truckload, from all over the West. Soon he was, by far, its biggest customer.
   Davis bought 560 horses in 2009, 332 in 2010, 599 in 2011 and 239 in the first four months of 2012, agency records show. While most BLM buyers purchase one or two horses at a time, Davis averages 35 per purchase and has bought up to 240 at a time.  Davis has paid the BLM a total of $17,630 for the animals, far less than BLM has expended to provide them — the agency estimates it costs $1,000 to round up a wild horse, and records show it has paid as much as $5,000 per truckload to ship them to Davis.
   Some BLM corral managers said in interviews they felt uneasy shipping so many horses to a single buyer, and one they knew so little about, but they said such decisions weren't up to them.  "That all happens in Washington," one said, echoing the comments of many. "We are just peons. We do what we are told."
   Davis said BLM employees occasionally asked where his horses ended up but said he tells them it's "none of your damn business."  "They never question me too hard. It makes 'em look good if they're movin' these horses, see?" he said. "Every horse I take from them saves them a lot of money. I'm doing them a favor. I'm doing the American people a favor."
   So what happened to the wild horses Davis purchased from the BLM?  The agency can't say for sure. Officials have no process for following up to make sure buyers use animals as they claim they will in applications. In the interview at the ranch, Davis said he had found most of the mustangs "good homes" on properties mostly in the southeastern states. Asked whether he would provide records of these sales, he responded, "Ain't no way in hell."
   Other people who find homes for rescue horses in the region say they rely heavily on advertising and websites to connect with buyers. Davis does not appear to do so.
   "I've never heard of him," said David Hesse, who runs Mustang and Wild Horse Rescue of Georgia. "If he said he is finding homes for that many old, untamed mustangs, I'm skeptical. The market is deader than dead. I have trouble finding homes for even the ones that are saddle-broken. Wild ones? No way."
   On some sales applications, Davis said he sells horses to graze on land used for oil and gas drilling in Texas, but oil industry experts contacted for this story said they had never heard of such a practice.
According to brand inspection documents required by Colorado when livestock is sold or shipped more than 75 miles, Davis and his wife say they have sent 765 animals with BLM wild horse brands to a sparsely populated stretch of arid brush country in Kinney County, Texas, along the Mexico border.  It's impossible to confirm that the horses actually arrived there or to know where they might have gone next, however, because Texas is one of the few Western states that do not require brand inspections when horses are moved or sold.
   Just south of Kinney County is Eagle Pass, a border town that is, for hundreds of miles, the only crossing for horses going to slaughter in Mexico.  There have been no horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. since 2007, when Congress barred funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture horse meat inspectors. Since then horse slaughter has been outsourced.  In Eagle Pass, as at other crossings, slaughter horses are checked by USDA veterinarians. A USDA spokeswoman refused to make veterinarians available for interviews but confirmed that vets sometimes see wild horses bearing the BLM brand in slaughter export pens.
   Brand documents leave almost 1,000 of Davis' wild horses unaccounted for. That means they should still be within 75 miles of his residence — if he has complied with state law.  Asked if this was the case, Davis first said the horses were still on 160 acres of land he leases from the state of Colorado. Then he said some had been shipped out of state without brand inspections, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  "Since when is anything in this country done legal?" Davis said in a phone interview.
Sand Wash herd in Colorado

    Had BLM officials inquired further about Davis, they might have found reason to question his plans for wild horses.  Davis is a vocal proponent of slaughtering wild horses in the holding system, which he considers a waste of resources. During the interview at his home, he said he would purchase far more horses if the BLM allowed him to resell them to so-called "kill buyers."   "They are selling me mere hundreds now," he said. "If they sold me 50,000, I guarantee I could do something with them. I would go to Canada. I would go to Mexico."
   Despite the obstacles that impede U.S. horse slaughterhouses, Davis said he has been trying to drum up investors to open a slaughter plant in Colorado.  He said he had approached pet-food companies to buy the meat and asked John Salazar, who is the head of the state Department of Agriculture, to help him get a grant to finance the business. John Salazar declined to help Davis, and so far the slaughterhouse venture has not gone forward.
   "How can the BLM say with a straight face they are protecting wild horses when they deal with this guy?" said Leigh, of Wild Horse Education.  Internal agency e-mail shows the BLM repeatedly turned to Davis to take horses so they wouldn't end up in the holding system.  In March, a BLM corral manager e-mailed Spencer to say he had 92 "nice horses" just rounded up in California, and to ask if Davis could take them.  A day later Spencer replied that Davis would take all of them.  "Are there any specifics that he is looking for?" the corral manager asked. "No specifics," Spencer replied.
   Spencer said in an interview she is under no pressure to approve buyers and feels confident that "we do not sell to people we feel are going to do bad things to the horses."  When asked about Davis, she said he had been thoroughly checked out and she had confidence in him. More generally, she said that if there were problems with a buyer, she would know.  "People watch where our horses go and the brands are very distinctive," she said. "If things were going on, we would get a call."
   Animal welfare advocates say the agency's reliance on Davis is just another indication of how the wild horse program and its overburdened holding system have been mismanaged. 
   "He is just a symptom of the train wreck that is the Wild Horse and Burro program," said Ginger Kathrens, director of the horse advocacy group The Cloud Foundation, based in Colorado Springs. "They just warehouse more and more horses and create their own crisis. Then, after they run the program into the ground, they have to find ways out of it. It is a whole unnatural ridiculous system run amok. And who pays the ultimate price? Wild horses."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Bee, a Butterfly, & a Sumatran Elephant

European Peacock Butterfly

Catmint and a bee
A two-day-old Sumatran elephant

Yea! NFL Referees Return

I was extremely happy to hear that the NFL and their referees had reached agreement last night.  Tonight, the "regular" referees are working the Ravens - Browns game.  The officials received a standing ovation from the fans in the stands when they appeared on the field.  -  My only question is, what will happen to the three games already played, which all had at least one contested officials' call?  I still think this season will have an asterisk in the record books, with the asterisk designating disputed calls by the replacement referees....
    There was a large black bear in Kathy and Jim's back yard last night/evening.  It upset the dogs quite a bit; Mona, who was bred to hunt bears, wanted to go out the back door and attack it.  We thought it might have been drawn to the still-producing raspberry bushes, but they were untouched.  Most of the wind-fall apples have been picked up, and there are few left on the trees.  We walked the entire fence line this morning, which has barbed wire for a top strand (except at the gate), but couldn't find any evidence of the bear climbing the fence.  The only thing it left was a big pile of scat in the yard, which was full of berry and apple seeds.
   Potesta, the three-year-old filly who broke her foreleg in a breeze, is apparently doing well.  Not having heard anything about her for a couple of weeks, I was, honestly, expecting the worst.  However, word of her popped up today.  "Walking well and able to put pressure on the leg," was how Mitchell, owner, described the 3-year-old filly's progress via Twitter Sept. 27.  Potesta underwent surgery at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in California to stabilize the injury, which occurred high above the ankle in a six-furlong breeze under exercise rider Adalberto Lopez.  She will become a brood mare, if she continues healing well.
  And, looking back to the Eastern Shore:  a 30-foot-long juvenile humpback whale was washed into the shallows of Wallops Island yesterday.  It had suffered extreme damage from propeller blades along its back - from behind the eyes all the way to the dorsal fin.  After being evaluated by a team from the Baltimore Aquarium, it was decided the young male was too damaged to survive on his own, and was given huge doses of sedatives to euthanize him.   ....   And, another study has come out regarding the Chesapeake Bay; it states that the true Bay oyster is almost extinct, mainly due to over-harvesting, and, secondarily, due to pollution and sediment.  Less than 1% of the oysters now in the Chesapeake are descended from the oysters that were there 100 years ago.  That's a sad report.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Critters Around the World

Dolphins leap off Bondi Beach - Sydney, Australia
A baby African Crested Porcupine
A baby Siberian Tiger cub

Washington Wolves, Andy Williams & Traffic

So, so happy I live in Boulder and not Denver, and that I'm staying home and not trying to see the Presidential debate in person next Wednesday.  Obama and Romney have their first debate at the University of Denver then.  The Colorado DOT just announced that a 6 mile stretch of I-25, in both directions, will be closed down for 5 hours.  Ouch!  All the side streets near UD will also be closed, as will the Light Rail, and RTD buses.  Just glad I don't have to even think about that madness.
  We've had almost 24 hours of light rain here in Boulder so far, with more expected tonight and tomorrow afternoon.  The kits outside scooting around in the damp - last night he came back inside absolutely soaking wet multiple times, and I toweled him dry.  Lovey has wanted to be held, and sitting on top of me since yesterday evening; she's now parading between my face and the monitor, and she smells like nasturtiums.  And I have to remember Lovey's dental-oral surgery appointment next week, and that she's NPO after midnight...
  I walked the red kids in between rain showers late this morning, and spent the day with Sasquatch and Tugger.  We're currently reading Susan Wittig Albert's The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose.  I like all of series that Mrs. Albert (and her husband) have penned, both separately and together.  It will soon be time for me to re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; the weather is making me want to curl up with those books and ignore the outside world.
  I grew up watching the Andy Williams' holiday specials on TV, and listening to him on the radio and seeing him on TV.  It doesn't seem possible that a man with such a smooth voice is gone.  He passed away last night after a year's fight with bladder cancer.  His voice will be missed. 
  In Washington state, where grey wolves have been reintroduced to the wild, two wolves from one pack have been shot dead, and the other six members are tagged for death for attacking a cattleman's herd.  This particular cattleman is not following the recommendations of the DOW on how to better protect his herd - but is saying that the wolves were brought back to stop the cattlemen from using BLM grazing land.  This is the same argument that is killing off the wild mustangs, because cattle and sheep men claim the horses are eating all the grazing and drinking all the water.  Soon the wolves in Washington state will once more be fair game and will never be able to resettle in their original habitat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



NFL Referees

I miss having decent referees for professional football games.  I have to admit that I haven't read up on the NFL's and the referees' disagreement;  I am not sure what the problem is between the two parties.  I do know that I (a) feel sorry for the replacements - they are performing a task they are not truly trained for, in front of an audience of millions, and are making gross mistakes; (b) I would like for the replacements to quit - but, then, with no referees, there would be no games; (c) I would like for the real referees to be able to return, but I understand the NFL won't even talk to them.  Hey!  Here's a thought - get all the ex-players who are in the booth calling the games put on the zebra-stripes and let them run the game....   The season will go down in the record books as the season to ignore because of the incompetency of the referees...  Titles will not matter because the officiating is so horribly grotesque and erratic.  Four weeks of pre-season, and three weeks of the "real" season, and we still have replacement referees....   What's going on NFL big-wigs?  How much of a kick-back do you want from the official referees?
    It's been gray all day - and it's just begun to rain.  Supposedly, we'll get about 3/4 inch of rain through midnight tomorrow.  Here's hoping for a wet Wednesday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

A nest of baby rabbits (cotton tails)
A gray joey and mother
The foal is Jetsa Joak, the dam is Shesa Sheik

Usual Critters and a New Telephone

I saw the sun for the first time today at 5:40 p.m. - it felt kinda weird, because the high temperature was 82, but there was thick cloud cover all day.  We had a few spits of rain throughout the morning - not enough to even get my shirt wet while walking the Rs.  Remy's hind legs are getting worse: he usually stumbles (toe knuckles under) two or three times on the way to the Snow house; he did that eight times this morning, and his legs gave way twice while he was in the yard.  It's not pretty - and he knows that something is wrong, and he looks at you so apologetically when he falls...  Nancy and Joel will have to make a very hard decision soon, I'm afraid.  But, on the bright side, I did see Brandi and Peach today - they are both still chugging away; and 22-year-old Ooch was sitting in the bay window at his house this morning, too.
   My telephone died yesterday.  I knew something was up, because for the past three days the volume has been extremely loud, and I couldn't lower it.  Last night, the star and pound buttons gave up the ghost - and I have to press both buttons to retrieve my voice mail.  So I bought a new phone today - "an old fogey's phone" was the way the employee at the store described it, when he thought I was out of hearing range.  I wanted to laugh out loud in his face, but I didn't.  It's a phone that is a land line, and it will work even if the power goes out.  It has Caller ID, and it also has four sets of rings, each louder than the other, which I keep on the lowest sound.  The Caller ID screen tilts, so I can always make the screen viewable, and it has 10 audio levels.  It's almost exactly like the one it replaces, which was 17 years old....
   I just had to go outside and rescue Nedi.  Lovey was sitting on the cat tree, looking out, and I heard the unmistakable howl of a territorial cat.  I thought it was Lovey, and that the raccoons were advancing.  I looked out, and Speedy Taco, the cat from the end of the building, had poor Nedi cornered, and was howling and growling at him.  Nedi had no idea what to do - he was just trying to make himself into a smaller black ball.  I gently got Speedy to leave, then collected Nedi; at which time Lovey decided to chase Speedy, so I had to go after her, as well...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Disappointing Pros & the Hambone Award

The pro football teams were mostly disappointing today - the Jets won and the Raiders beat the Steelers - but the Broncos lost again.  With all the hyperbole regarding the acquisition of Peyton Manning, I thought a perfect season and a trip to the Super Bowl were givens...  Gee, Elway, it looks like Peyton Manning is human, too.  ....   A sorrowful note to today, as the folks at the National Zoo in Washington found that the week-old baby giant panda had died during the night.  ....  My kits are out playing in the dusk; and I killed 3 yellow jackets today, while sweeping 11 out the doorway.  Sasquatch and Tugger are still being very loving and attentive.  After I finish writing this, I need to walk over to the grocery store and get canned food and crunchy treats, so I can satisfy Lovey and Nedi when it's time for bed tonight.
   And, the Hambone Awards:  Will it be a showdown between the Labrador who shattered a 55-gallon aquarium and the dachshund-terrier who was nearly buried alive by a skunk?  Those are just two of the nominees for this year’s Hambone Award, given out annually by Veterinary Pet Insurance to the most outrageous pet insurance claim it receives all year.
There is one nominee for each of the 12 months, and the winner is decided by the public, which can vote online for this year’s contest beginning today.  (See  )  All of the nominees have recovered from their injuries and experiences, living to bark, oink, or purr about it.
   The contestants include Bayley, a 14-month-old Labrador puppy owned by a couple in Lothian, Md., who was playing around with the family’s other animals and went flying into a 55-gallon aquarium full of turtles.  The dog smashed the aquarium, suffering a two-inch gash on the chest, which had to be closed with surgical staples.

 You can cast your vote for Bayley, who went flying into his family's 55-gallon aquarium full of turtles.

 “We’ve had turtles and dogs for many years, and the aquarium has never been a problem,’’ owner Carol Richardson told VPI. “However, none of the dogs have been quite as strong or rambunctious as Bayley. The incident has certainly taught us to re-evaluate what we keep within their reach.”
   Then there’s Peanut, a dachshund-terrier mix from Sicklerville, N.J., who scuffled with a skunk and had to be rescued by firefighters after being buried alive at 2:30 in the morning.  Rescue workers had initially given up their search for the dog when owner Christy Wolfram grabbed a shovel and started digging in the dirt underneath the family’s backyard deck to find the dog.  “When the firefighters saw Christy continue to dig, one of them decided to take a last look,” Wolfgram’s husband, Keith, told VPI. “I remember him shouting, ‘I see her paw!’ and my heart just sank. By the time they got her out she was barely moving. I couldn’t believe she was alive.”
  In another wild-animal encounter, Nathan, a miniature dachshund, tussled with a muskrat in the backyard and lived to bark the tale.

Crispy Bacon knocked over a table full of pills and then overdosed on human meds while her owners were at work.

    Other nominees have had close encounters of the human kind.  A pig from Las Vegas  named Crispy Bacon knocked over a table full of pills and then overdosed on human medication like ibuprofen and beta blockers while her owners, Teresa and Ian Praus-Choe, were at work.  After three days of suffering from drug toxicity, the pig was able to return home.
   Beretta, a Labrador puppy from Bryan, Texas, almost hung herself when the curious canine got her collar stuck on the backyard grill.
   Pebbles the cat sneaked out of her house and wound up in the engine of a car, ending up 15 miles away from home with serious injuries from the car's alternator belt.
   The Hambone Award, which was first given out in 2009, is named after a dog who ate through an entire Thanksgiving ham while being stuck in a refrigerator.

Pebbles the cat rode 15 miles in a car engine block, and survived serious injuries from an engine belt.

   Last year’s winner was a Chinese pug who ate and then, finally, pooped out over 100 rocks.  Other winners include a Labrador retriever who ate an entire beehive and a bulldog who chowed down on 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and part of a basketball.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Even More Young Critters

At first glance, I thought these were weirdly-colored flowers; then I realized it was 13 hatchlings - 10 have their mouths open for food - in the nest of a Big Tit (that's a bird in England, folks).
A young bobcat exploring a rocky area
A pair of young raccoons
A year-old red fox stretches and yawns in the sun

We Won, Won, Won!

I root for several college teams, as long as they aren't playing each other.  With Mizzou moving to the SEC, I had to make tough decisions today.  So, far, my three "chosen" teams have won - the Florida Gators beat the Kentucky Wildcats  (I watched that on Altitude Sports); South Carolina's Gamecocks defeated the Mizzou Tigers (on CBS - sorry, Mizzou, but I had to cheer for the Ol' Ball Coach); and, wonder of wonders, the CU Buffs beat Washington State by 1 whole point!  I now have the LSU - Auburn game on, and have been amazed by the tenacity of Auburn; it just became half-time, and Auburn leads 10 to 9...   who'd'a thunk it?
   We are continuing to have beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but it's due to the haze we still have from the wildfires.  The weather folks are calling for rain on Tuesday, so it might help to clear the air.  I did a double-take at Sasquatch and Tugger's today, but then realized the "knocking" I was hearing was that persistent red flicker again.  And I killed 12 yellow jackets this morning.  While i was watching the South Carolina game, I was eating baby carrots, and was suddenly buzzed by another yellow jacket.  The poor thing didn't live long after that.  I usually have a very definite "live and let live" policy toward everything - but since a yellow jacket sting can kill me, I have no compunction killing them first.
   Bits 'n' pieces -  The idiot man who jumped off the monorail at the Bronx zoo and into the tiger area did it on purpose: he wanted "to become one with the tiger."  Too bad the tiger didn't eat him and make his wish come true.  But, then again, he probably would have poisoned the tiger.  The tiger could easily have killed the man, but was happy to just play with him, even though the idiot is in serious condition.  This is the fault of the man, not the tiger!  ....  Paynter, the 3-year-old colt who finished second in the Belmont Stakes this year, has overcome his bout of laminitis, but is still fighting colitis (for the third month).   And, we lost a champion.  Deputed Testimony, who won the 1983 Preakness Stakes, died at the age of 32.  He had been the oldest surviving Triple Crown Classic winner.  ....  I have to figure out the new TV schedule - I know NCIS is on at 7 on Tuesdays, and Person of Interest will re-appear at 8 on Thursday; but several other shows that I like have been moved to different days and different times, so I need to do some investigating.  A couple of the new shows have looked interesting, from their preview teasers, but I'll have to watch a couple of episodes to see if they are worth my time.
   Pro football tomorrow, and I'll be revved up and ready to cheer on the Broncos against the Texans, the Jets against the Dolphins, and the Redskins against the Bengals.  I'll be rooting against the Bears, the Chargers, and the Patriots.
   Hope your weekend has been great so far, and that it's even better tomorrow!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Young Critters

Baby porcupine
Mustang mare and foal
A young snow leopard
A black bear cub

Autumnal Equinox

Fall begins tomorrow; the autumnal equinox will occur at 9:49 a.m. (MDT).  It's been cooler here in the morning - today I wished I had either a sweater or light jacket while I was out and about, travelling between houses at 5:30, an hour before sunrise.  But we bounce back into the 70s and 80s in the afternoon, and I'm back in shorts and a T.  The kits are happy that I'm home tonight; they run outside, and then run back in, meowing, and jump up onto my lap.  They are sweeties.  I made a lemon pound cake last night, using a natural sweetener that, supposedly, has no calories; at least it tastes good.... I kept the equivalent of 3 small slices, gave the majority to Kathy, Jim and Mike, and also gave slices to Bernie.  I left six slices at Alexy's for her and Patience to eat.  Luckily, I well remember how to cook and bake without sugar, thanks to my hubby....
   The house where I'm staying during daylight hours has an infestation of yellowjackets, which I'm allergic to.  The owners have placed plastic over the window that the insects are "oozing" through, in hopes of keeping them out.  I killed 11 of them today; in the first two days I killed 28.  I think they have nested in the wall of the house and are coming in through the window's soffit. They then fly into the kitchen, where there is a sliding glass door; some manage to get out, the rest I kill with a fly swatter.  I have been startled by a couple of red flickers at the house - I was reading during my first day there, and someone knocked on the front door, three times.  I ran downstairs - the house is built on 5 levels - and opened the door.  No one was there, or even in sight in the yard or street.  It took me three trips downstairs before I realized it was a flicker "knocking" on the door jamb.  And I was able to see him do it the next time.  Then I had the back sliding door in the kitchen open; I kept hearing what sounded like one of the cats picking with its claws at the screen door - but both cats were with me on the sofa.  I finally managed a peek, and saw a red flicker clinging to the screen, and eating the yellowjackets that were on the outside of the screen.  The only problem was that the flicker ate the 8 bugs on the outside, and was then trying to grab the bugs on the inside.  I had to shoo the bird away.
   College football tomorrow!  I'm happy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Young Critters

Fisher cat kits
Fox kits

Dead Pump; Stuff

Lovey is stropping my chin and jaws (with her chin, back and tail) as I type this... so my thoughts might be a little disconnected.  I've walked Rosie and Remy, and Lucy, and have cared for Cloudy and Shady, and Sasquatch and Tugger.  I've had lunch, and am now awaiting the opening secenes of Rawhide.  The Snow family's water pump died in the middle of a shower this morning; Kathy had to rinse off soap and shampoo with 3 gallons of cold water from the garage.  I guess Jim was going to look at the pump and see if he could fix it later this morning...  I've offered them the use of water at Alexy's tonight, and at the Clark house tomorrow.  And, tomorrow night, I get to sleep back at home once again. 
   Bits and pieces today -  I'll be rooting for the Giants tonight, playing against the Panthers.  ....  Still haven't heard any further word on Potesta, the 3-year-old filly, who broke her leg last Friday.  One of the two-year-old colts, Spurious Precision, who won the Saratoga Special last month, was galloping this past Tuesday and his exercise rider felt the colt step wrong.  The colt fragmented his knee, and the cannon bone below, as well as the ends of the bones above the knee.  With the X-rays showing irreparable damage, the colt was put down.  .....  The dermatologist I saw yesterday said the spot on my face was probably the beginnings of another cherry angioma (one of those blasted red spots that pop up on me), and that I had "picked at it" and caused the problem.  He told me to just keep my hands off my face - "and no pickin'!"  But, if and when I have another bout with the shingles, I need to see him right away.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Young Critters

A silvery gibbon baby, born 19 August 2012
Tonka, a baby red river hog
In Shangqiu, China a painted puppy is for sale on a street corner

Happy Birthday, David McCallum!

I have been serenaded by crows since sunrise today - and I don't know why.  It started at Alexy's, then moved over to Sasquatch and Tugger's, then on to Kathy and Jim's, and now, at home.  Do I smell like carrion?  Or is Jeffrey following up on his threat to haunt me as a crow or raven?  I do have an appointment to see a dermatologist this afternoon, but I don't see the reason for a murder of crows to sing to me...
   The kits are running in and out - they've both gotten a good bit of love from me, plus being fed.  I stopped at the "other" grocery store this morning, and found they are selling the kit's favorite food for much less than Safeway.  I just might have to start walking a couple more blocks for the meat shreds in gravy the kids like...
   Last night I watched the season finale (from May) for NCIS, and even though I know that David McCallum is returning in his role as Dr. Donald Mallard (aka: Duckie), I was again anguished to see him topple over, onto his knees, and then his side in the incoming Florida tide.  Now I will be eagerly awaiting the renewal of my favorite CBS series next week - NCIS on Tuesday, and Person of Interest on Thursday.  - Oh, and, happy birthday, today, David McCallum!
   I feel badly for the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton Windsor.  It does seem as if the paparazzi are trying to do the same thing to her as they did with Princess Diana.  Why is there such an interest any one?  In this day and age, I like my privacy; and if I had to be in the public eye 24/7, I think I'd be a goner.  I am a normal person (kind of) - I have my likes and dislikes, my allergies, my illnesses; I cough and sneeze and belch and fart.  So does every human being on the earth...  Kate is a very nice-looking lady; she has a nice sense of style; she is married to Prince William, and one day may be the consort of the King of England.  But every single person needs, and deserves, "down time" - when one isn't on display.  Please, paparazzi of the world, let Kate (and the entire Royal family) be normal people some of the time.  Vacations are vacations - breaks from the real world.  Let Kate have a true vacation, please.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ponies of Wales and Scotland

A Scots Highland pony - this breed has been ridden for over the last thousand years and more in Scotland.
Kar Mar Buck, a 12.1 hand Section A Welsh pony
 A Welsh Cob stallion at the 2008 RWAS; photo by

From the Same Romney Fund-Raiser:

I cringed when Romney made the gaffes he did when he visited Europe this summer at the beginning of the Olympics.  In this new video, Mitt Romney tells donors the Middle East will "remain an unsolved problem... and we kick the ball down the field".  The video is from the same event as a clip released on Monday, in which Mr Romney says almost half of Americans "believe that they are victims".
** The leak comes seven weeks before the US presidential election.**
The new footage was posted today (Tuesday) on the website of the liberal investigative magazine Mother Jones, which said it was taken at a fundraiser in May in Boca Raton, Florida.  Mr. Romney is shown saying that Palestinians are "committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel".
"The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace," he says, adding that "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish".
   Mitt Romney's unguarded and undiplomatic remarks may reinforce the perception that he is an ingenue in the art of foreign affairs, with harsher views than he dare express in public. Still, what he has said is more likely to provoke reactions in the region he is talking about than at home, where many conservatives may share his views.
   It is still his suggestion that nearly half the American people he seeks to represent are losers living off the government, that will continue to resonate here. Again, it is about image - he has played into the hands of Democrats who want to portray him as rich and out of touch.
   It has been widely reported that there has been panic in his camp because of the post-convention Obama bump in the opinion polls. Under 50 days away from polling day, no candidate wants to be hastily refocusing their campaign amid a barrage of stories about catastrophic gaffes.
   In another clip, the former Massachusetts governor is shown discussing Iran's nuclear program, and warning that America itself could come under attack.  "If I were Iran - a crazed fanatic, I'd say let's get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we'll just say, 'Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we're going to let off a dirty bomb'."
   This person wants to lead our country?  Where all persons are created equal (except females)?  I'm sure the timing of the leak was considered closely by the folks at Mother Jones - and I must say they held their cards close to their chest for a good while.  Romney frightens me even more, now.

Recorded at a Mitt Romney Fund Raiser -

Yesterday we learned that Mitt Romney said this about Obama supporters to fellow millionaires at a closed-door fundraiser:
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax ...
 "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
 The man who spoke these words -- who demonstrates such disgust and disdain for half of our fellow Americans -- wants to lead our country.  I think that kind of thinking on his part is frightening.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Aspens Are Changing

It snowed up high today...
Trees are starting to change colors...
...particularly, the aspens are going gold already.

Snowing on the Continental Divide Today

I turned on the TV when I got up this morning, and the local channel immediately went to a split-view of the Eisenhower Tunnel at the Continental Divide - it was snowing on one side and raining on the other.  What a wonderful sight!  It was cool down here in Boulder - temperatures in the 60s, and a cool breeze, with partly cloudy skies.  I have been bummed about the loses of my two pro teams yesterday, and it looks like tonight might be even worse.  The Broncos turned the ball over 4 times in the first quarter; there's 4.5 minutes left in the first half, and the Falcons lead 20 to 0.  The officials in tonight's game have been awful - it took over 60 minutes to actually play the first quarter because of bugaboos with the referees.  This game totally stinks.
   The kits are inside, here at home, even though the door is open.  We're expecting a low of about 40 tonight, and I already have the window closed.  I laughed last night, as both the kits came in, and stood just inside the patio door - and both of their tails were slashing.  I peeked out, and the mother raccoon was about to lead her four kits back into the Devine diner.  I stepped out, and she stepped forward.  I stomped my feet and hissed, and she retreated off the patio, so I closed the patio door for the night.  In talking with Chris, my neighbor, he told me that every time he steps out, momma raccoon advances toward him and it totally freaks him out.  The raccoons have eaten almost every one of his tomatoes....
   I know that there will be horses entered in the Breeders Cup races at Santa Anita in November.  But I really wonder who will be entered from this years three-year-old colts.  Hansen has definitely been retired, Union Rags and I'll Have Another are retired; Paynter, who ran second in the Belmont to Union Rags, has been off track with diarrhea and a temperature, which turned into laminitis - luckily, he is expected to recover.  Potesta, a three-year-old filly who won the Hollywood Oaks last month, was taking an easy gallop on Friday morning when she suffered a condylar fracture of her left foreleg.  Surgery was scheduled for either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, in hopes of saving her life, and her becoming a broodmare.  There has been no word of her since Saturday morning.  What is wrong with our racing horses today?  Supposedly, we have better medicines, better veterinarians, better testing equipment, better feed, better trainers, better track surfaces -  why can't three-year-olds finish a second (sometimes a first) full season of races?  I still think we (Americans) are doing irreparable harm to the thoroughbred horse in breeding for speed, speed, and more speed....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Assateague Island Sights

A misty morning on Assateague Island
Assateague Island beach sun rise
A chestnut stallion and a buckskin mare, both Chincoteague ponies, on Assateague Island beach