9/16/09 -- This is Kaew (pro: gow) I used to spell it Gao
This is the elephant I'm riding in my website's banner. I always refer to Kaew as "my" elephant because I spent three incredible days riding him, bathing him, and learning from him in my mahoot elephant training course in Thailand in 2007. This is a current photo of Kaew taken today --Sept. 16, 2009 -- by Supat, the young Thai man who runs Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Thailand. It was posted on their website. More pictures of Kaew under the ME tab.
I periodically follow Kaew on their website to keep up with how he's doing and see how the other elephants are doing. As far as I know, this commercial operation treats its elephants well. If anyone knows otherwise, please, please contact me. See my BLOG FOR CHANGE written today about elephant abuse in circuses. My website is having linking issues at the moment. Click here to go to the conservation website: http://www.changthai.com/
"Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?"
Our very existence on earth makes us face certain questions where there are no definitive answers. It stands to reason then, that in our lives we would have situations arise where we have questions for which we'll never gain answers. We can postulate theoretical answers; take our best guesses and think we've narrowed down the possibilities, but ultimately, we will have times when we are left forever without knowing for sure why certain things are said and done. I find that learning to let go of the need for answers and simply moving on is a healthier course, wherever it leads, than stewing, and brewing and beating yourself up over the' unaswerable'. (This is where "easier said, than done" must surely have risen!)
Be sure to check out my BLOG FOR CHANGE today. I've made 4 important MUST READ postings. One is about the new species just discovered...!
I posted this on my BLOG FOR CHANGE (under ABOLITIONIST in the first drop down box) this morning and felt it was important to reiterate. Goodall gives 4 reasons she has hope for animals and the their world: 1) The Human Brain 2) The Indomitable Human Spirit 3) The Resilience of Nature and 4)The Determination of Young People. Read more.. Her important point is that without hope, people feel helpless to make change. I think hope is vital to the art of living well.
"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the
When someone treats us rudely or incorrectly judges us, we feel disrespected. Lack of respect makes us feel unappreciated. Lack of appreciation boils down to feeling undervalued. Peel one more layer back and what we have is feeling misunderstood. No one likes that. Being misunderstood is wholly contrary to the core of being human. Even if we don’t agree with one another, we want to feel understood and we want to understand.
The desire and need to communicate are both inherent in our nature. And at the center of successful communication is establishing mutual understanding. So when something happens or something is said that dismantles, distorts, or disrupts “mutual understanding” the result is pain, often first experienced as anger.
Anger may be the mind’s defense mechanism to stave off impending pain the way adrenaline will strengthen the body and put it on high alert preparing for a fight or flight response. A healthy mind and body will let go of the anger and the adrenaline will subside in order to resume functioning in normal range versus a sustained ‘heightened ability’ range.
Anger is fed when emotions are ignored and by avoiding rational thought. Anger actually shuts down some of our brain’s ability to correctly process information, so rational thought isn’t an option in the heat of anger.
In a healthy person, anger is typically short lived. But some people intentionally buffer themselves from pain by focusing on their anger. (You might experience passive aggressive behavior versus outright anger, but anger is central to what they feel.) Others keep the pain continually at bay through a relentlessly tight grip on anger. This persistent anger is actually unprocessed pain. This is key. It’s key to understanding angry people and it’s the key point I want to make. So let me repeat that. “Persistent anger is actually unprocessed pain.”
I encountered an angry person the day I wrote this blog. I know him well. He is someone who has a lifetime of unprocessed pain. He has been a broken soul since childhood. When he unleashed his anger on me this morning, I did not feel a need to reciprocate. I immediately recognized that I was being “misunderstood” and misjudged and knew that his own brokenness was manifesting his anger. He has been an angry person most of his life, yet to the public eye, he has kept his anger often hidden. It correlated into being an unhappy person, but he also hid that through other emotional plays.
"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry
When he lashed out at me, my reaction was to bypass anger and go straight to my pain. I was momentarily stunned as he sped off in his car. We’d been at a gas station. I was standing next to my parked car when he yelled at me. At one point, he actually puffed up physically and got nose to nose with me, poised to strike, like I’d seen him do when he wanted the other guy to know he was prepared to make his point with his fist. I didn’t flinch because he’d never raised a hand to me. I just knew he was over the top with anger.
A witness to all this stood near my side as completely confused as I, knowing that I’d done nothing to provoke such a reaction and even tried to offer words in my defense but was also quickly shut down by his spewing wrath.
Amidst the proverbial dust left by his speeding tires, I began to tremble. Tears rushed like a flood, so quickly in fact, that they simply fell from my eyes without the normal roll down my cheeks. I’d collapsed into the driver’s seat, and sat engine off, eyes blurry trying to figure out what triggered his outburst and to make sense of what felt like a stopover in the Twilight Zone. A thousand and one things flew through my mind flashing like poorly edited movie trailers. I took a few deep breaths and exhaled with some loud guttural sighs and somewhere between the stream of consciousness and analysis, I found some composure and then came the strength. I never once felt anger. It never occurred to me to cuss him out. I never thought of vengeance. It was a crazy display of misplaced emotions. It doesn't excuse it; only partly explains it.
When I realized his anger was not my problem or I should say, I wasn’t going to let it become my problem, my pain subsided. Those thoughts aroused an inner strength and I stopped dissolving. I wasn’t going to let his dysfunction take me down. All this came in the first fifteen minutes following the explosive scene. I drove a couple of hours back to my home and even took a long route that I hadn’t taken in years. I photographed some birds along the way and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery. Letting go can feel like a gift we give ourselves on days like this.
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with
"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." Henry Ellis
I love that there are still a few dandelions in full bloom this time of year. I shot this a few minutes ago. During June every year, my whole yard is sprinkled with yellow.
Since the first part of August, I've been saying it "feels like fall" here in the mountains. (The lower elevations are still hot.) But now that it's nearly mid-September, I know that it won't feel like summer again until next year.
The clouds have moved in and colored the morning blue sky all gray and covered up the sun. It's cold enough to need a jacket. Sigh.... I'm not at all ready for the seasons to change. The first snow could come any day....
Taken Sept 12th
This seems to match my mood today...
Just a little color makes a change..
“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more
if only they knew they were slaves.” Harriet Tubman
From deep in the woods, my day has been spent uploading new human trafficking articles and starting BLOG FOR CHANGE under new sub-pages in the drop down menu under the ABOLITIONIST page.
Learn about child slavery in Uzbekistan and why you should BOYCOTT Uzbekistan cotton products ... READ MORE:
photo from The Last Resort in Nepal
The Bhote Kosi originates from the snow capped peaks of Tibet. Some would say it's among the world's best rafting and kayaking. I joined a terrific group of people in Nepal in 2006 and did a two day river trip with a stay over at The Last Resort. It was incredible rafting and great accomodations. I highly recommend this trip.
What made me think of it today was a news article about a bus plunging off a hillside outside Kathmandu into a monsoon swelled river. 11 people are dead and 20 more are still missing. Bus accidents like this are all too common in Nepal. I remember at the time, as we were taking the 3 + hour bus ride to the river, thinking that the bus was much more harrowing and risky than the river ever would be. We took blind corner turns on the wrong side of the road. The bus tires seemed inches from the cliff's edge at times. We narrowly missed oncoming drivers. I know other travelers can relate to what I'm talking about.
But when I traveled oversees something I often had to do was "let go" and allow myself to flow. Oddly, I wasn't terrified while riding in the bus even though I knew the reality of the danger it posed. I chose to accept the risk in order to ride the river. It comes with the territory of that kind of traveling. But every bus crash I read about, strikes a little close to my heart. I know the travelers on that bus probably were feeling the same as I did....
I'm not making a point. I'm just commenting on the tragedy and the mixed mindset that goes along with how it happens...
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." ~Hans Christian Anderson
It was a fun morning spotting this little guy. Unlike city squirrels, these mountain squirrels are very private. They don't like my pressence and are hard to photograph because they're usually running away.
Here he is before he sees me.....
Now he sees me....!
drops his pinecone
Because of his own nervousness, he dropped his pinecone and is chattering madly away at me!
He's really upset!
You can see him yelling here....
I realize I've seen this squirrel before and photographed him! See his right ear? It has a split in it. Very distinctive. But that's off topic. This guy is peeved at me. I'm able to get more photos than you'll ever want to see. He was up one tree and then another and would look at me like he wanted to jump on me. He came toward me and then would move back. I just clicked away!
He finally chattered himself silly and then left! So.. yeah! I get the whole "acting squirrely" thing!
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.”
George Bernard Shaw
One of our 1960's snowmobiles -- a little duct tape and we're good to go!
I got up around 3:30 this morning. Just couldn't sleep. My usual thing would be to add, "I had the weirdest dream last night." That might seem to indicate an anomaly, but it isn't. I've said that almost every day my whole life. But that's an entirely different story for another time. And I will go into it because my dreams are worth a blog or two, but not today. Anyway, I was contemplating today's post and stepped outside to see the moon and stars. The moon has been so bright this week it looks like I have outside lights on. And the stars at this elevation away from the city never fail to awe me. Stars are something I never tire of seeing. They're like sunrises and sunsets and rainbows. They always ignite powerful emotions. The whole universe is such a marvel. Quite suddenly, through all this great pondering, a thought popped into my head completely unsolicited and unexpectedly. I realized I misspelled "phase" in my September 5th posting. I wrote "faze". Grrr...!! I knew when I wrote it that something felt funny ... but I didn't stop long enough to work through and discover the error of my ways.
a 4th birthday gift
It must have been brewing in my subconscious though. My subconscious mind is amazing. It is always "on" and it has told me things -- important things, even life saving things -- my whole life. (Read the book BLINK if you want to be totally intrigued.) I've learned to trust it with my life. The word "phase" popped out of me like air in a balloon. It was a familiar feeling. It's like when you can't remember the name of something and then days later it just pops out of you like your mind just gave birth.
The Steller's Jay is back today. I saw a pair of them! Look at that face! Reminds me of a bearded old man with bushy eyebrows.
So... about Zeke. He showed up two days ago with a dirt covered little face. I haven't seen him since July. He's one of Chippy's babies. I recognize him because of a marking on his nose. He and Kid are now both around and I'm teaching them as well as I can to store their food. Zeke can pack his little cheeks, but Kid still eats one nut at a time like he has no care in the world. Every day I have three chipmunks around, five gray jays, two ground squirrels, and the past three days, the Steller's Jay. Oddly, Clark has not been around. I've been knock-free! (Ooops.... spoke too soon.... he just came knocking about two afters after I posted this...)
"The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class -- it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity."
by Anna Julie Cooper
Scaredy Cat - Sept 6th
I taught Scaredy Cat (in the CHIPPY blog there's the beginning story of this bird) to get on my finger as I walked today! I kept food in my right hand and she knew that. I would walk with her and then feed her. It was really cool! Those little dark feathers on her head make her so easy to spot from all the other gray jays, but as fall approaches she starting to lose the them...
Kid - Sept 6th
I was up early again this morning. My new wood - ponderosa pine - is burning hot. I love it. It crackles and pops more too. My stove was warming the cabin in no time. Out my window, Kid was perched atop my pile of wood that awaits being chopped. He's been doing this daily. He sits like this, still as a statue for a long time. He doesn't so much as twitch. Hmmm... leaves me curious...
I started my day on Change.org (great organization - have I said that before?) seeing what petitions I might want to endorse. Then I began reworking my website and getting back to the long over due task of updating my ABOLITIONIST section. There is so much information I want to gather and post. What is more important than securing freedom? I'm not talking about Iraq or Afghanistan. I mean the estimated 27 million slaves around the globe. 27 million! Think about that.Shouldn't that be the topic around the water cooler every single day? Or at least weekly. Come on! Shouldn't that be an outrage and attention grabber as much as if your next door neighbor's two year old was just abducted?
Slaves exist in every country in the world. They are right here in the U.S.A. I don't get how this issue is such a yawn. I don't get how it's there in the news but not really. To know that one human being somewhere in the world is being imprisoned and forced to live a life of hard labor, or forced sex, along with unspeakable abuse and inhumane living conditions is utterly incomprehensible. But 27 million? Where's the outrage! Where is it?? My god! How is everyone not asking, "What can I do?" And then doing it!
We can start by purchasing items with the Fair Trade stamp. We can be conscious of the companies known for poor labor practices and STOP supporting them! Nestle for one. They are rated "F" in the cocoa industry for not following fair trade practices. I've researched this. I'm not echoing something I read. I wanted to know. They are truly schmucks! (There has to be a better word than that, huh?) We can start reading up on the topic and choosing to take time to become informed instead of watching the latest reality show. Okay... I'm on a soap box now. Better step down and calm down.... and breathe..... (I'm going to publish this now and then keep writing...more to come...)
I'm going to shift gears for the time being and get back to nature for a bit. Nobody likes being preached at. I get that. So .... here's my Steller Jay! He was back today! Hopefully, he'll come again soon and I can get a better picture. I haven't seen Clark all day. (If you're new to this BLOG, Clark is a Clark's Nutcracker who has been around all summer and has picked up the odd and curious habit of knocking on my windows over and over and over...)
This picture has a bit more detail. He was puffing up at the time. What's that called? Anyway, I love it when they do that. Check out the color on his wings!
“I am always doing that which I cannot do,
in order that I may learn how to do it.”
My 4-yr old granddaughter took this of me
I don’t know if where I’m at in my life is some sort of phase or if it’s more permanent. I’ve been downsizing my life for the past decade. I’m not much of a consumer these days at all. I don’t have the want to buy ‘things’. I own a few pairs of shoes. They’re all comfortable. I’ve gotten very simple. My wardrobe is simple. I cut my own hair. (And color it myself.) I don’t have my nails done or get pedicures. (It’s very obvious too.) But that’s okay.
I drive a 13-year old car that just turned over 209,000 miles complete with dents, faded paint and seat covers that could use refurbishing, but it gets 40 – 43 miles per gallon on the highway. Imagine that! I LOVE that it gets such spectacular mileage for an old beater!! I don’t ever want to own a vehicle that gets less mpg than that.
Here’s something rather ironic. Mazda doesn't even make a car that gets the mileage this old 1996 gets! How can that be? How can they make cars after 1996 that would get LESS mileage?? It’s 14 years later. Come on! How can that be?!
On to some fun ....
I woke up to frost again this morning. I was up by 6:30. It was below freezing even at 8 a.m. I went camera hunting a couple of hours later and was focused on this Gray Headed Junco grooming (photo on left). Out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention....
I looked up the road to my right and it was this Mule deer grazing. It wasn't far from my cabin. He didn't notice me at first, but then my sound (perhaps the camera clicking away) startled him...
I've said it before... the animals are often curious about me. He not only looked at me he actually started walking toward me. I counted three steps.. ! The 3rd step startled me a little. I was wondering how far he'd go...
But he stopped and when his curiosity was satisfied he turned and hopped off...
Scaredy Cat went "walking" with me again this morning. She follows me the way a dog does. Sometimes she's hopping behind me, then other times she flies off and returns a bit later. She's getting to where she'll hop on my finger without the prompt of food. Yesterday I began to pet her a little. I find the whole experience fascinating. I don't take any of it for granted.
A before picture
In addition to cutting my own standing dead trees, I've had to buy some wood for the winter. I still have to split it, but not chainsaw it. I simply don't have the time or energy to cut it all by myself. Here's a pile of wood delivered last night. Should be two cords. I've split about 1/4 of it with my new wood splitter today. It's still a lot of work, but it beats chopping all of it by hand! How's this for a small world? The guy who delivered it (I found an ad in the newspaper) went to school with my son...
Here's Scaredy Cat after I split wood.... she's always watching what I'm up to....
Here's what Scaredy Cat had been watching me do. She was perched on top the log sitting on the splitter...
You can't see him, but Clark is on the railing and is heading for my window again! He knocks like he's a little whacko...
Clark was watching me with Scaredy Cat and for weeks now he just knocks on my windows. He often knocks on the second story windows. I coaxed him down with a nut but then he went right back up to knock some more.
I saw a Steller's Jay today in my yard. It was the most gorgeous blue. I used to have one that would also knock on windows for nuts, but then he would be fine once he got fed. He never did what Clark is doing. This summer, I've only seen a Stellar Jay 3 times. I went to grab my camera but he was gone before I returned. Darn! He was so beautiful. I hope I can capture him on film before too long.
Here's a photo I took in the fall when the Stellar Jays started coming around daily.
“If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from
others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh
This is a little bird -- a Gray Headed Junco
I love the way birds and animals are curious about me. It'd be fun to know what this little puff ball was thinking! If you read the blog where the deer just stopped to look at me, you'll notice how often it actually happens. In the herd of antelope I saw yesterday there was one in particular that just stared. Most of them wanted to run but this one just stood boldly examining me. It's all so interesting....
Sometimes (most times) to my own ears I sound like an elephant tromping through the forest. I wear mountain boots ... am wondering if I could wear something that would be quieter or if it's just me?
I'm getting more and more familiar with certain birds and even their songs and whistles and chirps.
Sept 4 - Gray Headed Junco
September 4 - A flower amidst the dying leaves
The other day I was feeling overwhelmed with some stuff going on in my life that redefines injustice and then a wave of relief washed over me when I brought some perspective to the situation. I thought about what a tiny spec I am in relation to the whole universe. I thought about how most people have such a tendency to get wrapped up in so many “man made” problems and issues and worries.
In the grand scheme of things, whatever that is, I don’t need to focus so intently on the things that tend to unravel me. It’s unhealthy to get entirely stressed out on all this stuff no matter how painful it feels. I can choose to let go of what I cannot control. Right now there’s a lot I cannot control in my life. I am not someone who needs vengeance to settle an unfair score. (I believe in karma for a lack of better wording.) When I view myself as just a tiny part of such vastness -- and I don't mean tiny as in insignificant - it brings calm feelings and feeds the inner peace I work at keeping. And it helps to be surrounded by nature and such purity...
I love this quote by Lincoln ... it's perfect to remember
when stress is abundant and worry has you buried...
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away."
I've shared this before, but it's worth repeating. When a fly is in my home, or buzzing around me and landing on me, I want to shoo it away. When it's in its own habitat, doing its own thing, it's something interesting to observe. It's all about perspective...
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you...
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
Sept 4th - This is Kid
Chippy, Punky, Jacob and the gang -- all the ground squirrels -- are all hibernating. Only the new kid on the block (I just call him Kid now) is still around. I'm afraid Kid is not going to be ready for the winter. (I think he's one of Punky's babies from this summer.) He doesn't grasp the concept of "stashing" his food yet. He only takes one nut at a time even if he's offered several. He doesn't know how to pack his cheeks and carry a supply of food to his den. I worry about him. I read about how difficult it is for young ones to survive their first harsh winter. I know... it's survival of the fittest and all that, but when you personally get to know the animals ... it's hard.. to just let what will be .. be.
This guy thought he was incognito watching me feed the birds and chipmunks and Kid. When he finally spotted me spotting him, he took off to a nearby tree just chattering up a storm. These squirrels always seem to have one of those mischievous "done something" grins.
I went down to my pond and creek this morning to see what might be stirring around. How cute is this?! Don't know what type of bird yet. If anyone knows, please email me!
This one was at my pond around noon today. I love those long, spindly legs!
Same bird (as above) before he flew to the log. I'm checking my bird book but not coming up with an exact match.
I don't know what kind.. anyone?
Birds move so fast and blend in with so well with the natural environment. It's tricky getting photos!
If you've followed this BLOG you might remember when I saw a yellow bird and got a blurry blob of yellow. This is a little better than that picture, but not by much! This little yellow guy is different than the other one I tried to photograph. This guy has a darker back and darker wings. The other one was solid yellow. Someday I'm GOING to get a clear shot of one of these yellow guys! This is a very small bird and flits around quickly from willow to willow. I've not seen them in the forest.
Clark was knocking frantically today. I called him to me and he came but then he flew right back to window and knocked in a tantrum sort of way. I'm totally puzzled!
This was my first time to see a chipmunk climbing sage brush and eating it.
This is Kid again. There's something so special about him. If I were to pin a word to my feelings, I'd say he's innocent. He's also very gentle and ... this may sound odd, but he isn't completely self absorbed. (Maybe he just isn't too bright...but it's actually kind of nice.) I've never had a ground squirrel or chipmunk not figure out a way to stuff themselves with whatever nuts or food is given to them. Even Chippy's babies in the first few days would naturally hoard whatever they could. Kid is different. Hmm..
“The Hopi Indians of Arizona believe that our daily rituals and prayers literally keep this world spinning on its axis. For me, feeding the seagulls is one of those everyday prayers.” Brenda Peterson
Scaredy Cat grooming herself on my hike
I explored a new area behind my cabin this afternoon. It was a nice, steady climb uphill. I was five or ten minutes out and was focusing my camera on some plant life when Scaredy Cat descended upon me out of nowhere and scared the bashzeebees out of me! (The story of this gray jay is introduced in CHIPPY. She used to be too afraid to come to me at all. For at least two summers she never had the nerve to come to me. Read more on CHIPPY.) She ended up following me for another ten to fifteen minutes from tree to tree. I stopped to watch her groom herself. Then she started picking up something off the trees. I couldn't tell if it was her "stashed" food that she'd previously stuck to the trees or if it was something new.
This is what she'd do and then she'd come away with a beak full of something... It was fun to have her companionship. I was surprised she stayed with me as long as she did since I had no food for her. Birds are amazing creatures...
Male Williamson's Sapsucker - click for cool facts
Finally, a semi clear picture of a woodpecker! It's funny how they don't like to be seen. They'll move around the tree to position themselves out of sight. Females look drastically diifferent. I haven't see one yet, but that's what the bird book says....
Or they simply fly to the next tree ... they don't seem fond of an audience at all...
From Wild Birds Unlimited, "So how do their bodies (woodpeckers) handle all that pounding? They are well equipped! They have two toes that point backward and allow them to cling to tree trunks. They have special stiff tail feathers that support their bodies. Air bubbles in their skulls act as shock absorbers every time they slam a tree trunk with their beak. And their super-sticky tongues reach into the holes they create to dig out the delectable insects." Read more...
Saw this antelope on the drive from the city to the mountains today. I've never seen them around my area. He just stared at me in what seemed like great curiosity...
Read more about Clark on CHIPPY
Clark is still knocking on my windows! And I still don't know what he wants! I was in the forest above my cabin and took this with a telephoto lens. I called him to me and he came. I gave him some nuts and when he finished them he headed back to knock on the windows again! He goes from one to the next...
Help me figure out what it is.??
If I don't know a breed or you think I've incorrectly labeled one, please shoot me an email or make a comment here. I welcome the input. Thanks!
I'm an artist, writer, photographer, private investigator and an activist in small ways.
"Turning indifference into making a difference."
A labor of love website devoted to animal and human rights, and better living. A place to be inspired ...
My LADYBUG book is filled with beautiful images & inspiring quotes. Click here for more info.
I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand & later found out it is under investigation for tiger trafficking and animal abuse. Read full story. In 2015 it was raided. More than 100 tigers and protected bird species in Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province were impounded by authorities following complaints that the temple was alleged to engage in illegal wildlife trading.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS helps people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from healthcare.
Read about life in the woods with Chippy & the crew...