Gratitude


Bowhead Blessing 1

I wanted baleen bad, but I didn’t want to go to jail over it — especially in the middle of giving a whale lecture. So when Steve and I set out for Anchorage, I called NOAA and asked how I could carry a piece of a protected species around the world without risking handcuffs. No problem, actually. If a member of a Native Alaskan tribe inscribes the baleen with artwork, it is no longer taboo. Better yet, the agent I talked to, had a few illegal pieces that were cluttering up the NOAA office, and he was happy to gift […]


Travels with Mom

  In the fifties, Crater Lake was overrun with bears. My parents watched a man taking a picture, go rigid when he realized that a bear was using him as a leaning post. A less friendly looking bear tempted Mom to try for a bear-on-the-attack photo. She popped out of the car and waited for the bear to rear up and threaten her. When it did, she lost her nerve and sprinted around the car. She kept trying, and she might have pulled it off if a cranky ranger hadn’t got involved. In the sixties, tattoos weren’t for “nice” people. […]


Library Cruise

I spent much of last year begging people to listen to programs I’d slaved over for months.  I got a few takers here and there.  Then I got my foot in the door with half a dozen libraries and the Colorado Springs Senior Center, and life is good! This year I let their schedulers know I’m rolling out my Whales presentation, and I’ve got five speaking date just like that.  I’ve always appreciated libraries—Steve says I’ve never seen a library tax I didn’t like—but now I am profoundly grateful to libraries, not only for speaking ops but for so many of […]


Mile High Snorkel 2

It was the most pampered snorkeling trip I’ve ever experienced.  Kim got me rigged up in top of the line gear, including a wetsuit that floats, then had me sit with my feet in the water while she slipped on my flippers! No waddling across the beach like a duck in clown shoes, no getting queasy in the waves, no fear of, drowning, drifting out to sea, animal attacks or boat strikes.  No worries period.  Any time I lifted my head, Kim was there with a float to steady me, answer questions, adjust my gear.  Much as I love the ocean, […]


Solstice New Year

New Year is celebrated on the first day of spring along the Silk Road from Persia to Mongolia and such parts.  The holiday is called Norooz, and it’s the biggest, brightest, eatingest day on that culture’s calendar.  Traditional foods symbolize wishes for the coming year.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make life go our way by feasting? I spent the day with my Silk Road son-in-law, greeting spring along a Chesapeake Bay shoreline.  Daughter and granddaughter joined us for an evening feast as we wait for spring to bring a second sweet granddaughter to this much-blessed family.  I […]


What’s it Mean?

This flag on South Padre Island, Texas kept me puzzling for some time. I came up with several ideas, none of which were correct. Thanks to the Historical Flags of Our Ancestors website for providing an explanation: “Thin Blue Line Flag…a testament to the valor of police officers across the country. The courage exhibited by officers in the line of duty is represented by the Thin Blue Line in the center of the flag. The solemn black background acts as a memorial to the lives lost while shielding citizens from danger.” I’m glad I asked.


Dolphins Boosting Wounded Warriors

Since 2009 the Dolphin Research Center in Florida has been partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project to ease severely wounded heroes into healthy civilian lives.  Project Odyssey, named for Homer’s saga of a hero’s journey home, helps brain injured and PTSD warriors work through challenges and improve their outlook.  The warriors participate with peers in a three day retreat which includes dolphin dock interactions and a dolphin swim.  The atmosphere and activities are designed to invite warriors to connect with their outer world in a stress-free, nurturing environment. In addition to core goals of bonding with others on similar journeys, connecting with nature, and learning new skills in a novel setting, the program supports the warriors […]


Bridging 4

I’m a bridge walker which is nothing like a street walker.  I just love bridges. I’ve walked the Brooklyn, Sydney Harbor, Royal Gorge, Multnomah Falls, London (in Lake Havasu) and pretty much every other bridge I could get my feet on. But until Steve and I walked the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge outside Taos, New Mexico, I’d never seen a bridge equipped with a phone offering on-the-spot suicide counseling. Ten of those hotlines were spaced along the Rio Grande Gorge’s span. Why is suicide such an issue there?  A Taos Pueblo tour guide told us that young American Indians are two to three times more […]


Quest Blessing

The Denver Aquarium seemed like a good place to find audiences interested in hearing my Stirring Sea Secrets presentations, and it is, but when I contacted the education manager there I found I’d stumbled on a motherlode. Colleen Shipley’s standards for volunteer enrichment programs are stringent. Every driblet of information in my hour-long talk had to be cited to respectable sources. My terminology needed updating too. Starfish and jellyfish are now sea stars and sea jellies because they aren’t fish–the very sort of nitpicking I needed to bolster my confidence and credibility. Colleen’s passion for education keeps her running hard, but […]


Heavenly Weather

In a valley of the Peruvian Andes, our guide, a descendant of the Incas demonstrated his people’s ceremony for making offerings to the sacred mountains. He arranged three coca leaves in a fan and held them to his lips while he faced each mountain in turn and spoke its name then placed the leaves on a boulder. The timing of our late-April visit was suggested by our agent, an attempt to sidle between the rainy and hot seasons. The weather did cooperate nicely for our trip, but who’s to say whether that was luck, professional timing, or because we’d paid […]