nurturing thursdays: beating the odds and opting for life

Our instinct to survive motivates us to do whatever it takes.

As we all know, humans aren’t the only ones wired for survival. What we might learn from other species, however, is…to never give up…no matter what.

Taken down by two peregrine falcons, this owl coolly swam back from the brink.

… i’d better practice my swimstrokes…

………hugmamma.

For more inspirational thoughts, visit…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/nurt-thurs-no-accidents/

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friday fictioneers: running from ourselves…

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright-Sandra Crook

With environmental catastrophes occurring the world over, it’s no wonder we’re running for the nearest exit.

Folks are finally getting wise to global warming. 

Will we succeed in turning back the clock? Probably not. Nature has a way of forging ahead, regardless of mankind’s agenda.

There’s no fixing the holes we’ve burned through the ozone layer. 

There’s no fixing the erosion we’ve caused by stripping the land of its trees.

There’s no bringing back the wildlife forced into extinction because of our greed.

We will pay for our sins…unless we come to our senses.

Question is…are we too late?

Maybe.

…a thief in the night…

The night had a thousand eyes, or so Bunny imagined. 

“Dare I chance her wrath again?”

Throwing caution to the wind, Bunny made his move.

Seeking cover as he made his way in the dark, he paused frequently to peek from behind…blooming hydrangeas…giant hostas…feathery ferns…and towering sedums

“Be still my thumping heart.” 

Bunny’s nose perked up as he neared the nasturtium, its abundant growth cascading over the rock wall. Droplets of saliva glistened near the corners of his mouth.

Eyeballing the distance to the sweet-scented blooms, Bunny lurched forward.

Lights! Screams! Hugmamma!

Busted!!!

Bolting!!!

...bunny's favorite...

…bunny’s favorite…

...survived another night raid...

…survived another night raid…

100 Word Challenge writing prompt

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springtime…when all things turn to fanciful-ness

I tend to decorate to the nines.Imported Photos 00154 What I can’t fit inside my four walls…is relegated to a space in the great outdoors.

Lazy summer days in our backyard...

Lazy summer days in our backyard…

img_1665.jpgApril 2011 00038Not only does my yard abound with the normal tchotckes, like bird baths…trellises…and statuary, but there’s a vintage iron headboard nestled under the shade of a maple tree.

img_2036.jpgBroken-down, painted benches with which I can’t bear to part company have put down roots alongside the house, as well as on the front and back decks.

img_1784.jpgStep ladders, too short to be of much use, are content to prettify a spot bereft of sunlight, or serve as a backdrop to pots draped to overflowing with petunias, sweet pea, heliotrope and alyssum.

IMG_1549IMG_4433 IMG_4436Neighbors comment, and have for years, that our yard serves as eye-candy for them. So hubby and I are encouraged to slave away during the warm days of spring, summer and fall…making sure  we keep the neighbors happy

IMG_1869IMG_1964The wildlife don’t seem to mind either. In fact, hummingbirds…well, at least one…monarchs and smaller butterflies, finches, sparrows, blue jays and red-breasted robins…flit and fly about the yard, owning every inch of it.

And then there are those critters that annoy, the ones who chew their way through the garden indiscriminately…the slugs, the deer, the bunnies.

IMG_3302Slugs dine at night, while the deer and bunny rabbits feast all the day long. Both stand their ground, daring me to…”Come closer…I dare you.” Only when I shout and wave my arms like a psychopath, do they get the message. Glancing at me furtively over their shoulders, they seem to say…”Sheesh! What’s all the fuss about?”

Squirrels test my patience as well. They act as masters of all they survey, taking control as it suits their fancy. They pay no mind to my attempts at shooshing them away.

IMG_1864IMG_1865The little, black squirrel in particular sizes me up as though he’d like to chew me up and…spit me out. I’m sure if I got in his face, that’s exactly what he’d do. I don’t think I’ll tempt fate.

I got to thinking about all this after reading about Thierry Ehrmann, a Frenchman. It seems he fancies decorating his outdoor space as well. Have a peek at his genius at http://www.cvltnation.com/abode-of-chaos/

Scattered around the garden are a giant silver skull, a crashed helicopter and a model of the jagged steel remains of the World Trade Center. On the outside, the house is decorated with big black-and-white portraits of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, George Bush, Bashar al-assad and Mitt Romney. Old computers and hard drives hang from a tree in a net.

A sign reads: “Chaos in progress.”

You can imagine Ehrman’s neighbors aren’t pleased with having a rock star of a garden artist living among them, mere mortals that they are.

The ‘Abode of Chaos,’ which is his name for the museum, attracts hundreds of visitors on weekends. ‘They come in droves and look at us as if we were strange animals,’ says neighbor Boris Perrodon.

A 45-year-old schoolteacher, Mr. Perrodon says he has considered moving away but when he tried to sell his house, he says, he didn’t get a single offer. Other neighbors say they are in the same predicament.

Pascal Paysant, who runs a real-estate agency in nearby Fontaines-sur-Saone, says there is no rush to acquire property near the Abode of Chaos. ‘Perhaps we lack artistic flair, but the fact is this house depreciates real-estate value in the town,’ he says.

Even the local mayor is on the verge of collapsing under the weight of Ehrmann’s Abode of Chaos.

The village mayor Ms. Revel, who has been pursuing the fight against Mr. Ehrmann undertaken by her predecessor, says the protracted legal battle has left her on her knees. She says she is exhausted physically and mentally because dealing with Mr. Ehrmann’s mail is ‘a full-time job.’

‘It is unbearable,’ she says, showing off piles of letters on her desk sent to her by Mr. Ehrmann.

I guess I could spiffy up my garden…just a tad more.

thierry Ehrmann le 112 ème est Jorge Mario Ber...

thierry Ehrmann le 112 ème est Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis), painted portrait DDC_7831 (Photo credit: Abode of Chaos)

…what do you think?…

………hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: whole

This little fella thinks he owns my whole garden…birdfeeders and all.

In fact, he has know qualms about squaring off with………hugmamma.

But of course you know who’s the boss? Moie, of course. Except that Mr. Squirrel’s probably eating at night…when I’m asleep.

…that little bugger!

air…give me air…although…

That seems to be my dog Mocha’s daily plea. Wish there was a spot of yard for her to roam unattended, like she does when visiting with our friends Sylvia and Jim and their dachschund, Gretchen. Living in a retirement community, they have a charming, enclosed backyard where the dogs can relax on the patio, luxuriating in the outdoors unchaperoned. When they’re indoors and want to “go potty,” all they need is a helping hand to open and close the door.

I must admit when I exited our yard a short while ago, heading out into the neighborhood, Mocha pulling ahead on her leash, it felt good to breathe in the great outdoors. Viewing the lush foliage everywhere as a result of our area’s penchant for rain, Mother Nature never fails to overwhelm me with wondrous awe. Towering evergreens, hence Washington’s other name, The Evergreen State, dwarf the homes that peak out from verdant landscapes, some neat and orderly, others wild and overgrown. Mine is somewhere in-between. I’ve been going for the English garden look, not always with success.

Mocha pays no heed to anything above ground level, maintaining her focus at what’s at the end of her nose or under her paw. None of which satsfies my aesthetics, except that whatever makes Mocha happy, makes me happy. Well…not everything.

I’m definitely against her desire to chase down dogs taller and heftier than her, or small ones with teeth as sharp as razors. I’ve had to pick Mocha up once or twice, transporting her, and me, away from the snarling grins of unleashed dogs who looked ready for their next meal. In such situations my heart is pounding looking to escape its confines, while my brain is willing me not to move a muscle for fear that I’ll become mincemeat in seconds. More often than not, a yell emanates from deep within, finally tumbling forth from my mouth with a venomous “Get away! Shoo! Get out of here!” As if our transgressor could care less, staring me down without so much as flinching a muscle.

Scared? Me, scared? You bet your life I’m petrified of untethered dogs wandering about. I can’t tell whether they’re friendly or not. Nor is it obvious whether or not they’ll start something with Mocha. Just as I don’t want her torn to shreds, I don’t want to get caught up in the milieu either. A year or so ago, when I was out running errands, a neighbor who regularly walks his dog, came under attack by 2 dogs living in the house above mine. His dog was badly injured, requiring surgery that cost $1,000. He had a commendable attitude, saying that “dogs will be dogs.” Of course the owner of the attacking dogs expressed great remorse and paid the vet bill.

A German Shepherd Dog.

Image via Wikipedia

There is a leash law in our city, but not everyone heeds it. The Center for The Preservation of Wildlife has also erected a sign in our neighborhood, and elsewhere, stating that dogs should be kept on leashes so that they don’t attack the wildlife. There are hiking trails at the end of our road. The warning sign stands at that juncture, and so do 3 houses whose owners allow their dogs to wander freely pretty regularly. One of them looks like those I’ve seen on the Discovery Channel, that live in the African wild. Its owners were present once when their dog confronted Mocha. I told them how I felt, which seemed to upset them. They didn’t smile back at me when I saw them later. I understand people don’t like criticism, but when it involves my safety, and my dog’s, well…so be it.

Port-a-Potty on My Land

Image by joanna8555 via Flickr

My next door neighbors have always allowed their labradors to run freely through the neighborhood, even when they use to walk them. I didn’t appreciate the dogs making my yard their personal “honey pot.” Still don’t. Fortunately, the fence we erected, and the hedge that grows between our side yards have kept their pets from trespassing. But recently when the owners were combing the neighborhood in their car in search of one of their dogs, I advised them that it had wandered through my yard and then scared Mocha and me as we went around a bend. Standing taller than my waistline, the labrador, growling,  circled Mocha, nudged my backside with its nose, pushing me forward, before it wandered off. That was a first for me. That was one nervy dog, I thought, before I collected my wits, and Mocha her’s, and moved on.

I love pets, cats and dogs, of which I have 3 felines, Sunkist, Sitka and Juneau, and my Mocha. But there’s no telling what will set an animal off, domesticated or not. They’re not human, and no amount of wishing will make them one of us. So when they act out of character, I have to hold the owners accountable when an innocent bystander, or a restrained pet, is injured. I don’t really put a lot of stock in the words “But he’s such a sweet dog. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.” My thought is, there’s always a first time. So why take a chance…

Dobermann Dog

Image via Wikipedia

I think my fear began when a Doberman Pinscher raced across its yard, as I walked by pushing my daughter’s stroller. Gnashing teeth within inches of us, it’s owner finally heard my yells and came to the front door to save my toddler and me from being mauled. That feeling of dread remains embedded in my subconscience. But I try my best to suppress it, when Mocha wants…  

…a breath of fresh air…hugmamma.  

“aloha,” the meaning

I don’t claim to speak for all Hawaiians, only myself and perhaps a handful of others I know who may share my sentiments. The uproar over a mosque being built near Ground Zero seems to be growing the ever-widening gap among people, in our country and abroad, but particularly here in America. Republicans and Democrats have always been on sparring terms, but added to the mix now are the “Tea-Party” supporters with Sarah Palin seemingly at the helm. An uneasy coexistence among us began when the streamers and champagne glasses were tossed out, after President Obama’s inaugural. Did civility and tolerance get thrown in the trash as well?

Wanting and needing to live a healthy life going forward, for my sake and that of my husband’s and daughter’s, it’s been essential that I adopt a more compassionate, positive outlook toward myself, and others. Diseases, like Alzheimer’s breed on negativity. I’m certain, as survivors of cancer would agree, that dwelling upon the bad aspects of the disease doesn’t help in the fight against and may, in fact, promote its spread. So why would we want to encourage more vitriol amongst ourselves, families, friends, neighbors,co-workers,communities and fellow-worshippers of the same Being whom we all believe as benevolent? Might we not share that same benevolence with our fellow-men and women?

Opponents of both views  in the brouhaha over mosques being built on U.S. soil seem unwilling to share the land, let alone compassion ( “a feeling of sympathy for another’s misfortune” according to Webster) towards one another. Yesterday’s Journal cited several ongoing conflicts around the country. In Temecula, California “Local officials will consider in November plans by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley for a 25,000-square-foot mosque.” Pastor William Rench of Calvary Baptist Church, potentially neighboring the proposed mosque, is concerned about extremist sentiments expressed by one American Islamic leader.  The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, plans to build a new mosque and school. Darrel Whaley “A local pastor at Kingdom Ministries Worship Center…has spoken at county meetings against plans for the mosque and recreational facilities.” Meanwhile plans have been approved to build a mosque in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. President of the Islamic Society of Sheboygan, Imam Mohammad Hamad says “The issue here is not the issue of a religious building, it is an issue of the Constitution.” A supporter Reverend Gregory S. Whelton, pastor at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sheboygan felt President Obama’s controversial remarks “articulated the same issues of religious tolerance that were at stake here.”

Since Lincoln’s stand against racial prejudice, which cost too much in the loss of human lives, our country has struggled to rid itself of the taint of human degradation, slavery. But it seems to be our lot on earth never to achieve equality for we always keep our hearts and minds closed to others, who are unlike ourselves. Perhaps we fear they will take what we have, leaving us nothing. 

I struggle too, I’m not above the fray. But for the sake of our children and their children, it’s my sincerest hope that we continue fighting for equality of ideas, beliefs, cultures. Politics, it seems, carries the day suffocating our values, our humanity.

Tourists and others comment on the “Aloha spirit” among Hawaiians. It is spoken of as a beneficent state of mind. For the most part, it is. Native Hawaiians under the rule of King Kamehameha wanted for nothing. He owned the land, and the people were granted its use for their daily needs. I think because of this, Hawaiians are not hoarders by nature. Unfortunately this inherent openness toward sharing the wealth and beauty of the islands has enabled others to historically take whatever they wanted, leaving the natives very little to share of their inheritance.

Despite their own dilemma most Hawaiians continue to welcome visitors to their Paradise, the thought being we all need one another to survive. So they continue to share the thunderous waterfalls, the white sand beaches, the warm waters of the blue Pacific, the green canopies of local foliage, the migrating humpbacks and other wildlife that still abounds, the hula dancers telling stories with their hands, their eyes, and melodic voices rising on soft breezes evoking reminiscences of Hawaii’s past, wonderment at Hawaii’s present, and promises of Hawaii’s future.

Hawaiians are not exempt from the trials and tribulations of others, they  would just prefer that everyone get along. There’s an old saying my mom use to pass along when some wrong was righted “No mo pilikea.” We knew then there would be “no more trouble,” “no more worries.”

that’s what I wish for us all…hugmamma.

bear bells

Our neighborhood backs up against a mountain where wildlife abounds. We’ve heard of black bears raiding bird feeders in back yards and garbage cans left at curbside. I’ve spoken with a few neighbors who have had sightings or encounters. Fortunately, I’ve not had the pleasure; nor do I want to. I admit the hair at the back of my neck does bristle when I’m walking my dog. With an abundance of mature landscaping, bears, and cougars, can be lurking anywhere.  I don’t mind if they look; I just don’t want them to touch…me.  Knowing my dog, she’d run straight for the animal, barking all the way, dragging me behind her. Stopping right in front of it, she’d drop down on her belly, not hesitating to offer me up as sacrificial lamb. My defense? Bear bells!

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Bear bells hang on the leash my dog wears when we’re walking outdoors. They’re suppose to warn bears, and cougars, that I’m coming so they’ll clear out. I guess they work; I’ve not crossed paths with a wild animal…yet. And I’m not planning to test the theory either. I don’t hike in the woods, and I’m not about to start. So where did I learn about bear bells?

When she was 15, my daughter traveled to Banff, Canada for her first summer dance program. I accompanied her, booking us a room at the exquisite Banff Springs Hotel, where we would stay for a couple of days prior to the start of the program. We had a great time sightseeing, but the day arrived for me to escort her to the dormitory where she’d be living for 5 weeks. We went by taxi because of her luggage, but on my return trip to the hotel I decided to walk.

Uncertain about directions, I asked someone who pointed me toward a path behind one of the dormitories. I proceeded as directed, trodding on a wooden walkway hidden on one side by tall shrubs. As I was about to descend a short flight of steps, I heard loud shouts from above and to the rear of me. Turning to look through the thick forest of tall pine trees, I barely made out the figures of people waving their arms and screaming. Unable to make out their words, I turned back thinking they were calling to someonelse. Pausing on the landing at the bottom of the stairs I looked up. On the path ahead of me, some 30 feet or so, a humongous black bear had turned toward the shouting. Sitting on its haunches, I could see his snout. I didn’t know if he saw me, but I wasn’t going to wait to find out. I slowly turned on my heel and climbed back up the stairway. I imagined the bear would be on my back in seconds. My heart seemed to be in my feet. Drained of adrenalin or numbed by it, I’m not sure, I was able to get behind the tall shrubs at the top of the steps. I unexpectedly met a man walking toward me. I explained the situation, wondering what we should do. Off in another direction we saw another path leading away from us. I fantasized we’d take it together and if the bear caught up with us, I’d jump on the stranger’s back letting him fend off its attack for both of us. Of course, I didn’t tell him what I had in mind. He’d have thought I was crazy, and I was. I was crazed with fear of being mauled and eaten alive, while my daughter sat unsuspecting in her dorm room. What would she think if I didn’t come to watch her in class the next day as promised?

Well I was amazed that the stranger barely paused to consider the circumstances before continuing in the direction from which I had just come. I wasn’t sticking around to hear what happened. I booked it back up toward the dorms and located a couple of campus security guards who pointed me down a road that exited the grounds.  They were aware of the bear’s presence, so went off in search of it. As I walked on the paved road, I saw a police car which stopped alongside me. The policeman asked if I’d seen a bear and I gladly explained my encounter. He too left in search of the animal. As I continued on my way, my heart finally returned to normal, pounding fiercely in my chest. I wanted to talk with someone about my experience. Since I knew no one in Banff, I got on my cell phone and called…my husband, who’s always there, when I need him, in his office in the U.S.

Unable to do much else, my husband asked if I was okay, and so on, and so forth. It was comforting to hear his voice, but I still wanted to talk to someone in person who would share my fear, and my excitement. I walked about the small town, amongst hundreds of tourists. I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs “There’s a bear! Run for your life! Hurry, get away!” But of course I remained cool, calm and collected…on the outside; on the inside I was “jumping out of my skin!”

I wasn’t sure how I would defend myself against a repeat encounter, since I planned to walk back to the campus the next morning. Wandering in and out of shops, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. On my last stop, a bookstore, I found the answer…bear bells. Accompanying literature explained that they would forewarn bears of my coming, so that they would escape in another direction. No weapon, no mace, no pepper spray, just li’l ole bells.  Paying for them, I related my story to the salesgirl who “burst my bubble” when she proclaimed that bears in town were not an unusual sight. In fact, walking to work one morning, she’d seen a bear huddled in a tree right in the midst of town. “So not a  big deal,” I thought to myself and left, making my way back to my hotel.

The next day as I wend my way through the campus where my daughter was ensconced, I jingled my bear bells. The only animals I passed were a couple of huge elk, one standing and one reclining on all fours. I eyed them across the street, and they eyed me. I wasn’t sure if the bells would repel, or attract the elk. They didn’t run, and their gaze never left me. It was disconcerting to say the least. Being trampled by elk would have the same outcome as being attacked by a black bear. I would be no more.

After watching her ballet class,  I told my daughter, and anyonelse within earshot, about my adventures. In turn she told me about the elk and deer that would wander near the dormitory, a couple settling down to rest outside her window. Needless to say she had a unique summer in Banff, the only American dancing with, and learning from, exceptional Canadians. Add to that wild animals; what could be more perfect?

not sure if I’ve seen my last bear…hugmamma.