The other day I was so tired that in the middle of my morning routine I switched to my bedtime routine (I took my contact lens out of its case, looked at it, and my brain said, “you definitely just took that out of your eye. Put it in the case and brush your teeth,” and my body was like, “mkay”) and ended up 5 minutes late for work. This morning I got to to work 5 minutes early but it was because I forgot to put on makeup. It’s been a long week.


The circus

Don’t go. Husband wanted to go to the Shriner’s circus and bought tickets. I thought, “surely in this day and age they don’t actually have animals in their circus.” I was wrong, and it was so, so sad. Even Husband agreed. The elephants clearly had open wounds on their backs, the tigers looked lethargic. It was awful. Just don’t go. Don’t support shows using live animals that belong in the wild.

Wild Animals as Pets

For two years I have been a volunteer with my local wildlife rehabilitation facility and this year they have made me a part-time paid staff member. This means I get to participate in more complicated procedures, handle a wider variety of animals, and learn more about rehabilitation, but it also means I am exposed more and more to the harder side of things. Euthanasia, specifically. The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to rehabilitate wildlife so they can continue to live a full life, in the wild, as they were intended to do. One thing that really hampers this effort, I am learning, is what people do to the animals before they bring them to us. Take, for example, a young squirrel I had to euthanize yesterday. Continue reading Wild Animals as Pets

Eagle and three eaglets, from the MN DNR Eagle Cam

Nature is Harsh

In most workplaces the “water cooler” conversation tends to revolve around the latest episode of Game of Thrones or the most recent workplace gossip. Not where I work. I work for an industrial manufacturer and oddly enough the topic that comes up the most in conversation is the DNR’s Eagle-cam and the three little eaglets born in early March.

I find that as a volunteer wildlife rehabber I get a lot of questions from co-workers about various animal-related topics but lately the questions I get the most are about these fluffy little nestlings. One co-worker in particular is very concerned that the parents keep flying off, leaving the newborns (at this point about 3 weeks old) alone for extended periods of time. She also feels that one of the nestlings is always getting less food than the others, crowded out by its siblings and ignored by its parents. She’s a mom and she gets angry about the unfairness of it all.

All I can say is, nature is hard, man, and it’s all about survival from day one. Continue reading Nature is Harsh

Don’t trim those trees yet!

Squirrels and birds are having their babies and that means there are young ones in hidden nests in that tree you’re about to cut down or prune. Squirrels reproduce about three times a year so it’s safest to trim your trees in late fall and winter.

“But squirrels are pests,” you say, “and they eat all my bird food. I don’t want them around anyway.” Ok, I get it. To that I would first recommend learning to see the beauty, wonder and hilarity that are squirrels and to appreciate them just as much as the goldfinches, but I understand a lot of people are just not going to come around to that point of view. Still…

Babies. You must be able to at least admit that babies have done nothing to deserve being thrown from trees or more likely, hauled away with the tree and forever separated from mom. They’ll die unless someone finds them and gets them to a rehabber immediately, and even then it’s no guarantee. Helpless, innocent babies.

And the same goes for bird nests too! They are hard to see sometimes and you might not be aware they even exist.

In any case, spring is not the best time to trim your trees or cut them down. Wait until the snow flies, when the new birds have fledged and migrated, and the squirrels have slowed their reproductive pace to conserve energy. Not only will you be helping the newborn critters in the tree, you’ll be saving the rehabbers a lot of headache. So many of the young animals we admit are orphaned because of yard work. Did you know baby birds require feeding every 20 minutes without fail? That means someone has to be there all day and all night, feeding every 20 minutes.

Now I’m not complaining… well, kind of I am. It’s worth it for wildlife rehabbers to do that much work. Will we single-handedly impact the animal population by saving these babies? Nope. Not even a little. But to the one bird or one squirrel that we save by going the extra mile, it means the entire world.

Please help us out by waiting to trim your trees until winter.

A Weekend of Hiking and Snowshoeing

Husband and I have started an annual tradition of heading up the shore for a weekend getaway in the winter. With no holidays (for which we get off of work) to look forward to until the end of May, we decided to make our own. This year we extended the weekend to four days and spent 3 of them hiking and showshoeing some amazing sections of the Superior Hiking Trail. Continue reading A Weekend of Hiking and Snowshoeing

2015 Book List

I pledged to read 20 books in 2015 and I did it! Here’s a list of all the books I read, and the rating I gave them (out of 5)

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris (5)
Witty, sardonic short stories and poetry. Hilarious to the sarcastically (and liberally) inclined
White Fang – Jack London (4)
Beautifully written. Difficult to read sometimes because of the abuse White Fang suffered, but a lovely story survival and hope, and the difference one compassionate person can make
Don’t Point That Thing At Me (Book 1 of the Mortdecai Trilogy) – Kyril Bonfiglioli (4)
Full of wit and humor, though sometimes difficult to really grasp because of the ’70’s British slang. The second and third books are not as good and become increasingly sexist and racist. I only finished the third book because I couldn’t read the first two and only part of the third… it would feel… unsymmetrical.
After You with the Pistol (Book 2 of the Mortdecai Trilogy) – Kyril Bonfiglioli (3)
Something Nasty in the Woodshed (Book 3 of the Mortdecai Trilogy) – Kyril Bonfiglioli (2)
The Book Theif – Markus Zusak (5)
Haunting, beautiful. Told from the perspective of Death. He tells you how the story ends right away, but you still want to find out how the characters get there
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen (2)
So many people loved this book. I just didn’t. The writing was not very engaging and the author even used the line, “please let me be inside you,” during a love scene.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating – Elisabeth Tova Bailey (3)
Wanted this to be better than it was, but still worthwhile. The main character is bedridden and has a single snail as a companion. Reads a bit like a text book on snails, but there were enough personal moments to keep me mildly interested
Thruhiking with Break Your Heart – Carrot Quinn (4)
Want to know something about what it’s like to be a thru-hiker? This book gives you one girl’s perspective. Engaging, but far too focused on sex.
Pines (Book 1 of the Wayward Pines Trilogy) – Blake Crouch (4)
All three Pines books were great. They suck you in and the reading goes FAST. Lots of plot holes, but I just didn’t care. The series is for pure entertainment. Read my full review
Wayward (Book 2 of the Wayward Pines Trilogy) – Blake Crouch (4)
The Last Town (Book 3 of the Wayward Pines Trilogy) – Blake Crouch (4)

Read my full review

If I Stay – Gayle Forman (3)
An ok story for a teenager, perhaps, but definitely not for this adult. The main character seemed self-absorbed and was difficult to relate to. Read my full review
House – Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker (3)
Another one that I wanted to be better than it was. I picked up the book and put it back down many times over the past few years. Finally committed to finishing it. It was predictable. Read my full review
Wild – Cheryl Strayed (3)
True story of a girl who made a mess of her life, went on a hike and magically got all better. No wonder it was made into a movie. Like the last book about hiking, this one focused a lot on sex.
As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner (4)
Not a quick read for those of us unfamiliar with 1930’s southern vernacular, but a very good book about how each member of a family deals with the matriarch’s death.
Animal Madness – Laurel Braitman (4)
I expected far more scientific study and empirical evidence regarding animal psychology, but it was almost purely anecdotal and most of it read like an ASPCA ad (of course an animal will go berserk when faced with endless abuse). Still a good book and worth the read for the epilogue. Read my full review
Divergent (Book 1 of the Divergent Trilogy) – Veronica Roth (5)
Great things to say about this series. Holds its own against Hunger Games. The only negatives: one of the main characters, Tobias, is not very well developed and isn’t terribly complex. Also, just like the Hunger Games, the “second ending,” as I like to call it – the one after the main action and story is over – is weak and out of character for the rest of the books. The authors should have stopped writing several pages before they did.
Insurgent (Book 2 of the Divergent Trilogy) – Veronica Roth (5)
Allegiant (Book 3 of the Divergent Trilogy) – Veronica Roth (4)
The Giver – Lois Lowry (3)
A book about a community that has embraced “Sameness” at the expense of love and compassion. Honestly, most of the characteristics of the Community sound kind of nice to me. Read my full review