Llamas Hum–Who knew?!

On our recent hike in Meyer Ranch Park, Colorado, my aunt, daughter and I snapped pics of the pretty wildflowers, breathed in the piney fresh mountain air, listened to a grasshopper click-click-click as it flew around us, pet many dogs, and witnessed an elderly man with a cannula and portable oxygen hike uphill (to which my daughter said, “Good for him! We have nothing to complain about!”).

Heading to the parking lot, we spotted…

…two llamas in the meadow! A man and a woman each led a llama and a chihuahua.

The tiny dogs’ names? Ruth and Charlie. Guess the llamas’ names?! Just guess.

Stardust and OnFire!

Aren’t those the best names?!

Stardust likes people so much that if she doesn’t encounter any, she hums. I didn’t know llamas hum! When I stopped scratching Stardust’s neck she said Hmmmm. Hmmmm.

When I commented that OnFire needs a haircut, her “dad” told me she won’t let him trim her bangs. Too funny!

OnFire needs a haircut.
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Second Snake Sighting and Top Ten Cool Rattlesnake Facts

Eastern Garden Snake found in front of my house.

Another Snake Sighting!

I’ve seen many different animals while living in New Jersey, especially since my house abuts the South Mountain Reservation. Want to know what I’ve spotted? Check out Animal Kingdom in the Suburbs. But, I’ve never seen skunks despite smelling them, and I’ve never seen a snake…until last week.

While walking Lucy, my neighbors (shout out to Jeanne and Jim) said there was a snake on the road ahead. I kept an eye out, but it must have moved on. I returned home to see our cat Midnight batting what looked like a small branch. It wasn’t a branch? It was a small snake! I figured it was a harmless garter snake so, you guessed it hon, I picked it up! So cool! It was smooth and surprisingly warm. Another neighbor (shout out to Heather) was walking her bear–umm, I mean giant, black, fluffy dog Gracie–when she said, “What have you got there?” She thought the snake was cool, too.

You know who wasn’t that interested in this exciting finding? Lucy and Gracie! They were all like sniff, sniff, done. But Midnight stayed half hidden in his “jungle” (the garden in front of my house), watching. Why? Because he wanted to finish the job he started! That poor, little snake had an injury–a wound on its underside with a spot of blood. Midnight wasn’t just playing with it. ūüė¶

I nestled the little snake in dense brush. I hope its’ wound heals and returns to doing whatever it is Eastern Garden Snakes do.

How strange that I go for years without seeing a wild snake, and in the span of a month, there are two in my path? Hmmm, is it a sign or coincidence?

The other snake I came upon was, you may remember, coiled and rattling in New Mexico. Hon, of course I wanted to know more about rattlesnakes! Wouldn’t you?

Top Ten Cool Rattlesnake Facts:

  1. “Rattles are segments of keratin that fit loosely inside one another at the end of the snake‚Äôs tail. These segments knock against each other to produce a buzzing sound when the snake holds its tail vertically and vibrates the rattle. Each time a rattlesnake sheds its skin it adds another segment to the rattle.”(Source: Madison, Wisconsin herpotologist Sara Viernum.)
  2. In addition to rattling, rattlesnakes warn by hissing.
  3. Snakes do not communicate with each other by hissing since they’re deaf to airborne sounds. Their hiss is a warning for animals that can hear.
  4. There are 32 different species of rattlesnakes.
  5. The snakes can are found everywhere from sea level to a high elevation of 11,000 feet (3,353 m).
  6. Several generations of rattlesnakes will use the same dens.
  7. “Mothers can store sperm for months before fertilizing the eggs, and then they carry babies for about three months.”
  8. “Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous, which means that eggs incubate inside the mother‚Äôs body. Babies are born live, encased in a thin membrane that they puncture after being born.”
  9. “The digestive process can take several days, and rattlesnakes become sluggish and hide during this time. Adult rattlers eat about every two weeks.”
  10. Rattlesnakes most distinctive features are their triangular heads and vertical pupils.

Sources: Rattlesnake facts: Live Science and Reptiles Magazine; Photo of Western Tanager: South Dakota Birds and Birding

Rattlesnake Sighting!

Unexpected Adventure

There me and my childhood friends were, on our Girls Weekend in New Mexico, walking along a path in Bandelier National Monument, discussing the pretty bird we’d seen (Western Tanager), crossing over water (Rio Grande), and wondering why the trees looked burnt (prescribed burns), when we turned a slight bend in the path and came across a rattlesnake!

My first thought was COOL! I wanted to stop and look, but a) more hikers were coming up behind us and b) Cindy hurried us along saying rattlesnakes can strike far. According to North Dakota Game and Fish, “Rattlesnakes can, at best, strike a distance of¬†two-thirds their total body length. For example, a three foot long snake may be able to strike a distance of two feet.” The snake did look big. COOL!

We were on the opposite side of the path, approximately 6 feet from the rattling rattlesnake. (I’d rattle, too, if a group of giants stopped to gawk at me.) I took some quick pics and we moved on. A second later, we were wondering where Laura was. We looked back and saw her dragging a huge branch that looked like half a tree towards the snake!

“Ha! I get ‘yelled’ at for not walking quickly enough, and she’s approaching a rattlesnake with an enormous branch?!” I said.

“What in the heck are you doing?” Cindy called to Laura.

Talk about provoking an unhappy rattlesnake that was innocently cooling itself off in the shade before being discovered by a group of giants AND scraping the ground with branches and leaves!!

While Laura called back that she and another hiker were attempting to block the path as a warning to other hikers, I wondered if you can die from a rattlesnake bite (I wasn’t worried, just curious.), if you have to cut a bite out (My mini-Swiss Army Knife was confiscated years ago at the Statue of Liberty), or if you can suck out the poison (is that real)?

The Mayo Clinic: First Aid says,

Most snakes aren’t dangerous to humans. Only about 15% worldwide and 20% in the United States are venomous. In North America, these include the rattlesnake, coral snake, water moccasin and copperhead. Their bites can cause severe injuries and sometimes death.

If a venomous snake bites you, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately, especially if the bitten area changes color, begins to swell or is painful. Many emergency rooms stock antivenom drugs, which may help you.

If possible, take these steps while waiting for medical help:

  • Move beyond the snake’s striking distance.
  • Remain still and calm to help slow the spread of venom.
  • Remove jewelry and tight clothing before you start to swell.
  • Position yourself, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of your heart.
  • Clean the wound with soap and water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing.

Caution:

  • Don’t use a tourniquet or apply ice.
  • Don’t cut the wound or attempt to remove the venom.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol, which could speed your body’s absorption of venom.
  • Don’t try to capture the snake. Try to remember its color and shape so that you can describe it, which will help in your treatment. If you have a smartphone with you and it won’t delay your getting help, take a picture of the snake from a safe distance to help with identification.

Who knew? If you are unfortunate enough to get bitten by a venomous snake, DO NOT drink a cup of caffeinated coffee or soda!

As soon as we returned to the Visitor’s Center, Cindy and Laura alerted the park staff.

Their reaction? YAWN.

Travel Bug Part 2, Crayon Box Burano, Fishing Village

Burano, Venice, Italy
Burano, Venice, Italy

This is a re-post of the 2nd part of Crayon Box Burano in honor of travel!

Hubby and I are off to England and then France for a whirlwind anniversary trip. We’re not the only ones in the family who will be abroad. Morgan’s¬†¬†going to direct a music video in Tokyo and is there now! She packed up and left within 48 hours of finding out. (“Mom, I guess you can do that when you’re 25 years old.” My response, “True, true.”)

Shout out to our amazing children along with my dad and Hubby’s mom, who are treating us to this vacation.

Hon, happy and safe travels whenever and wherever you go.

Crayon Box Colored Homes

Burano, an old fishing village in the Northern Venetian Lagoon, is famous for its brightly colored homes as well as its lace-making. Legend has it that fisherman couldn’t recognize their houses through the fog, so they painted their homes bright colors. ¬†It’s said that house colors have been with families for centuries. Today, if someone wants to repaint his house, he must send a request to the government, who will let the him know which colors are permitted for that lot.

When we toured the islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano, I’m glad our vaporetti, or water taxi, stopped at Burano last. It was definitely the jewel-in-the-crown.

Previous Post:  Crayon Box Burano, Venice, Italy (Part 1)

Striped curtains match house colors.
Striped curtains match house colors.

Many houses and buildings are adorned with religious wall plaques.
Many houses and buildings are adorned with religious wall plaques.

Laundry lines are a common sight.
Laundry lines are a common sight.

Pink up close.
Pink up close.

Colorful canal.
Colorful canal.

Honoring Memorial Day and My Son, Deployed

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial

Progression of Time and Career

I am re-posting this Memorial Day post with an addition–an amazing photo! It’s my 1st Lieutenant son’s United States Army Infantry platoon. They are deployed to the Middle East, and we are anxious to find out when they will return.

Re-post:

In 2005, my brother took my almost twelve-year old son to Washington D.C.  I came across these photos of their day together and thought they were a fitting send-off to my son who is in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for the United Stated Army while he studies at a university.

He’s leaving today for mountaineering training in a country very far from home. ¬†I could say how anxious I am about this trip, how world events and politics are sad and disheartening, how I get nauseous thinking about his future, and how much I love him and want him safe and happy. ¬†Instead I’ll ¬†leave you with these photographs.

the Capital
United States Capitol

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue

military helicopter
Military helicopter

Almost twelve-years old.
Almost twelve-years old

high altitude rescue training
High altitude rescue training

contracted
Contracted.

My son with proud dad and sister.
Proud dad and sister at an Army function.

And now, for the amazing photo…

United States Army Infantry Platoon.

I Turned Into An Elephant Seal

Elephant Seals resting in Big Sur.
Elephant Seals resting in Big Sur.

On a recent trip to California, Hubby and I stopped at Elephant Seal Beach¬†in Big Sur where hundreds, if not thousands, of Elephant Seals snoozed. It was an amazing sight! A guide informed us that the beach was covered mainly with young males, who were resting after spending months in the ocean. He said¬†seals swim 24 hours a day and dive to great depths in search of food but, when they stop on the beach, they don’t eat anything at all. ¬†Which brings me to why…

…I turned into an Elephant Seal after Thanksgiving!

You know I love to cook and entertain, and I was thrilled to have all of my kids under one roof, ¬†in addition to my parents and a daughter’s friend. It was wonderful to see sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpa, nieces, nephews and cousins. I was on adrenaline overload. So, at the end of the holiday, when I collapsed on the couch for an entire day, all I could think was, I am¬†beached like an Elephant Seal! I¬† could not move. One big difference between me and a seal, however, is that I still ate.

Hon, there was leftover pie.

Isn't this seal adorable?
Isn’t he adorable?

Two snoozers. They scratch themselves with their flippers.
Two snoozers. They scratch themselves with their flippers.

Have you been to Elephant Seal Beach? What month did you go? The Elephant Seal Beach web-site says what the seals are doing on the beach each month. Fascinating!

Serene Sky

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine

Blue is my favorite color.

I was in a happy, red mood the entire time I was pregnant with my fourth child.  I sewed red, gingham curtains for her room, bought red, checked crib bedding, and have always dressed her in red, wool coats.

Something about a yellow house says “cheerful, warm and welcoming,” so it’s no surprise my historic Victorian house is painted yellow.

I only miss a weekly bike ride or run in the nature reserve nearby house if I’m out of town. The rich green foliage and mottled green river are truly meditative. ¬†

White feels uncluttered, clean and calm.  Pure white feels like summer.  Winter white thumbs its nose at the frost.  What color I wear depends on my mood.

But, I’m always in the mood for blue.

In this first post in a¬†Series of Blue, the contrast of hard, earth-tone rocks set against sun-saturated sky, a sail billowing with the breath of an other-wordly being, and a lone raptor looking for a meal captured my attention. ¬†And then there’s the indigo sky. ¬†Entrancing, tree-silhouetting, deep, mysterious indigo¬†transitions the day as it slips into night, provides a background for bats flitting amongst the pines, and implores me to take a deep breath and soak in the sky’s dye.

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine
Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine

Indigo sky in my backyard.
Indigo sky.

What’s your favorite color? ¬†Why?

The Empty Sky After 9/11

Flags fly at Liberty State Park.
Flags fly at Liberty State Park.

One of my favorite places to bike is along the promenade in Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Across the Hudson River, bikers, walkers, fishermen and picnickers get an amazing view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. I’d been there many times, but hadn’t seen the¬†Empty Sky¬†memorial, dedicated on September 10, 2011, until last weekend.

Each of the memorial’s walls is 210 feet long, the width of each side of the former World Trade Center Towers. Their height reflects the proportion of the former buildings as if they were lying on their sides. The names of the 749 victims from New Jersey are engraved into the twin walls. ¬†“The walls channel visitors to the location in the Manhattan skyline where the former World Trade Center towers once stood.”

Inscribed on the twin walls are these words:

“On the morning of September 11th, 2001, with the skies so clear that the Twin Towers across the river appeared to be within reach, the very essence of what our country stands for ‚Äď freedom, tolerance and the pursuit of happiness ‚Äď was attacked. This memorial is dedicated to New Jersey‚Äôs 749 innocent loved ones who were violently and senselessly murdered that day at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA.

Let this memorial reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, that their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society. Their unique qualities and characteristics enriched our lives immeasurably and through this memorial, their stories live on.”

Empty Air memorial bisected by a steel beam.
Empty Air memorial bisected by a steel beam.

Steel and concrete.
Bent steel and broken concrete.

Reflection.
Reflection.

 

Father and son.
Father and son.

The Freedom Tower.
The Freedom Tower.

Sun saturated hibiscus.
Sun saturated hibiscus facing Lower Manhattan.

Flags Fly on July 4th

Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park
Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park, New York City

Happy July 4th!

Did you ever wonder why the American flag is nicknamed Old Glory? Here’s the story behind it.

Sea Captain William Driver (March 17, 1803-March 3, 1886) named the American flag he flew on his ship Old Glory. His flag was sewn by his mother and a group of young, female admirers from his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.

“Driver was deeply attached to the flag, writing: ¬†‘”It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?”‘*

Driver retired from seafaring in 1837, bringing his flag with him to Nashville, Tennessee.  When the Confederates tried to seize the flag during the Civil War, Driver saved Old Glory by sewing it into a coverlet.  It remained in hiding until 1862, when Nashville fell to Union troops.

Driver’s original flag and another one he owned were fought over by his daughter and niece. ¬†In 1922, both became part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Hot Air Balloon Festival, NJ
Hot Air Balloon Festival, NJ

Flags along Fifth Avenue, New York City.
Flags along Fifth Avenue, New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle Sam in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Uncle Sam in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Statue of Liberty in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Statue of Liberty in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Flag Cow Statue.

Do you know which state this flag represents?  Answer at bottom of post.
Do you know which state this flag represents? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Do you know which state flag is pictured above? ¬†Hint: the answer lies in the name of this blog. ¬†Okay, I’ll tell you. ¬†The yellow/black and red/white flag is the Maryland flag.

Hon, what are your plans today? I hope they include fireworks!

*Source:  Wikipedia

 

 

Memorial Day 2015

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial

Memorial Day 2015

This is a post from 2013 with a few additions.

IMG_7423

One of the 9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools in Manhattan.
One of the 9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools in Manhattan. 

In 2005, my brother took my almost twelve-year old son to Washington D.C.  I came across these photos of their day together.  My son is in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for the United Stated Army while he studies at a university.

the Capital
United States Capitol

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue

military helicopter
military helicopter

My son with proud dad and sister.
Proud dad and sister at an Army function.

Me and my son.
2015:  Me and my son.