Wildlife/animals


Have You Seen the Painted Ladies?

     “The painted ladies are migrating.”        Puzzled looks prompted our biology teacher to describe the butterflies he’d noticed.        Sure enough, as I drove home that afternoon, I glimpsed a smallish orange and black butterfly wafting along. Then a few more and a few more, all fluttering north. Unreal! As a lifelong Puebloan, I’d lived in the path of the great painted lady migration for 35 years and never noticed. That evening, I shared the news with my mother. She’d seen no signs of a butterfly migration in her area of Colorado’s Grand Valley. […]


From Hero to Rat-Bit Crack-Up 2

After my Mile High Lab Rat book launch, we wheeled the scientist photo props back toward the van. Unfortunately, one of the cart wheels hung up on a sidewalk crack and upset the load. The crash was gentle, thank goodness. Nothing broke, but one of the live rats in the terrarium bailed. The rats were breeders on loan from a raptor center and highly replaceable—I’d guess, but I didn’t want to find out. Also, the college staff had been so accommodating in hosting my book launch party. Introducing a rat infestation to their campus seemed seriously shabby. I’d tried not […]


How Pueblo Community College Metamorphed a Lab Rat into an Author

Not long after becoming Pueblo Community College’s science lab coordinator, I saw a notice that the Packard Foundation was offering small grants to boost preschool learning programs. I’d just left a preschool teaching job, and I’d been admiring the lab gizmos and thinking how much kids could get out of experiencing them, so I had a brainwave: wouldn’t it be cool if we could check kits out to teachers, so every kid in class could have a set of bottles full of magical but harmless chemicals to explore? I talked to my bosses Regis Opferman, who approved the project, and […]


Great Read Coming Your Way 2

In 2002, I started a mystery novel set in the science lab where I worked. I wrote and rewrote so long and hard, it got stuck in my computer and wouldn’t even try to find its way out. Finally, lockdown gave me time to coax it through the maze, and Mile High Lab Rat will launch on March 31st. After all my efforts to make it thrilling, it needs readers to thrill, so I hope you’ll try it, love it, and spread the word. 


Mystery in the Mud

Outside Yuma, Arizona—not far from the Mexican border—my husband and I got lucky in finding a dispersed camping spot along the Senator Wash lake front. The reservoir water level had receded, leaving extra beach space, and I spent hours soaking in the view while walking a swath of dried lakebed. Strangely, the mud had dried into zillions of baseball size pockmarks. I wondered if some special property of the soil caused it to dry with depressions. Had some aquatic species somehow excavated indentations? Too small for people tracks…dog, coyote, bobcat, deer? Maybe, but probably too small, and anyway, that many […]


Best Thanksgiving Ever

A few years ago I managed to gather our family in a beach house on North Carolina’s Emerald Isle for Thanksgiving week.  I’m still overjoyed when I think of it.  We walked the beach, played in the waves, collected lost treasures, watched dolphins, danced, cooked, explored the island, and bonded.  Some met our baby granddaughter or new son-in-law for the first time.  Our three-year-old grandson met the ocean.  He ran 50 yards to escape an incoming wave.  How was he to know how far that wave would chase him?  My mother, who was still adjusting to life without her husband […]


Celebrity Vendor

Kevin Costner introduced himself to me as I waited in line for the train to Machu Picchu.  He was amazingly well disguised as a Peruvian jewelry vendor, but he couldn’t resist leaking the plan for his upcoming sequel. He and Julia Roberts were going to start filming Dancing With Llamas the following week.  That was about five years ago, so I expect it will be showing anytime now.


Critter Fix

Inches from my head was a critter scratching, skittering, gnawing, hellbent on creeping me out and doing a fine job of it. I wondered if it was looking for a secret passage through the propane tanks, storming the storage compartment under our bed, or using the headboard as a jungle gym. Wherever the intruder was, it was not the nature I’d come to commune with. Other pests we’ve picked up  over the years have been more considerate-except that mouse that built a nest on our pickup’s engine and started a family overnight. The festive looking light strings I noticed under […]


Civil War and Plague Isolation Survivor 2

When the American Civil War broke out, Jacob Evans joined the northern army, hoping to help save the Union. He was a teenager when he marched off with his regiment. They were rugged men battling fleas and lice in huts made of logs and dirt.  Worse, when officers weren’t savvy enough to order the latrines to be dug downstream, sewage leached into the men’s drinking water. Many of the soldiers came from isolated farms and had little immunity against diseases we now immunize for. One sick soldier could wipe out a camp in short order. Ninety-five men died of disease […]