Thursday, February 26, 2009

Order of the morning

Drawing by Rachel Hoffman

Just after dawn, a squadron of magpies shoot up from the eastern sector of the sky, clear the stern peak of Dick's house, wings out in stunning formation and descend into the Bird Park, a black and white flash swirl touch down running breakfast grab, then are gone again in minutes. I like to think they wake up with the Bird Park on their minds, that it is first in the order of the morning. A bit later, two magpie return for seconds. I suspect they are the original 7 o'clock magpie and her friend. Generally, after the mob leaves, I tuck a few extra goodies in strategic out of the way places. They know where to look. But that's it. You may remember my neighbor Dwayne said he saw magpies eating quail babies. He ought to know. His giant, weeping Indian willow houses families. Must protect the babies so I had to revoke the magpie/crow all day pass. It's morning peanuts then they gotta go.

Soon after they leave, the starlings arrive. Then the pigeons. Then the sparrows and finches. The mild-mannered, yellow-breasted sparrows hit the yellow thistle seed sack in Quail Town over by Old Man Hills. They can pack a sack 15 deep without ruffling a feather. Share and share alike. However, fights are always breaking out among the finches in the main sector. They go for the sunflower seeds and, although there's plenty for all, constantly disagree over who eats where. They even argue standing knee deep in the very cool seed trough hanging from the fence. Trough. It's a trough of seeds. No one guy can cover the whole thing still they stop eating to run each other off.

There are the individual finches who come at off times to nibble and gaze over the park like genteel patron frequenting sidewalk cafes in the Champs Elysées afternoon. They are among my favorites and remind me of the little Buddha Bird who came here for a couple of summers. Just watching them, I feel peaceful. They enjoy the place as it's meant to be, a time out from hard scrabble, a haven of food and water, peace and quiet. Of course, even here there are predators but that's the irony of eden, isn't it? The occasional cat does appear, mainly Dwayne's drinking buddy, Clarence the Bastard, who is far too feeble to do more than reminisce. And the hawk. There is a hawk although, for the most part, he is stealth and, but for the strike, unobtrusive. Plus, he focuses mainly on Dwayne's.

Finally, last to arrival, the quail. They start the day at Dwayne's but hop up then down the fence later in the morning. They prefer almost anything to flying. They come after things are rolling, after the finch and sparrows have littered the ground with sunflower seed crumbs. Recently, at the urging of M. Lee, I started putting chick scratch out for the quail, in secret places of course, mainly Old Man Hills and under the lilac bushes, one of their favorite haunts in summer. I don't want the pigeons catching on so it has to be on the downlow. Don't get me wrong. I still love the pigeons. Did I already mention that they are members of the dove family? In good standing. Birds of peace. But...well, they are kind of huge in this small neighborhood and, not everyone shares my enlightened view, so nothing special for them although the little birds spill enough for everybody. And the pigeons dearly love cold tubbing so I make sure that there is water in the baths.

I'm trying out a tasty peanut replacement for the magpies, bite size dog treats. I'm running out of peanuts, thanks to the greedy asshole Stewart Parnell. His cue, Charlie the Town Crier showed up. The loudmouth. First crow of the winter. I'd know him anywhere, cigar dangling from his beak, wearing the Unrestricted Press Pass I immediately regretted a day after issuing it. He had plenty to say about Parnell, none of it good. Ever hear a crow swear? Oh and this year, a pair of robins joined us, probably down from Tahoe. I love robins. Two. Seems robins, once the unflappable auguries of spring, are also suffering under the boot of human sprawl and growing scarce so I'm delighted they are here.

But about the peanuts. Since the greedy idiot criminal asshole Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corp., and his morally bankrupt idiot drone plant manager, Sammy Lightsey, choose profit over honor and integrity, and ordered their salmonella infected nuts, "turned loose" on America, I can't find whole peanuts at a decent price anywhere! These unscrupulous dingbats, at the urging of company executives, even begged the USDA for permission to continue shipping peanuts after salmonella was discovered. People and animals died and they want "business as usual?" Now, my supply of safe peanuts for the magpies is dangerously low. In fact, it is very nearly gone. WTF, Stewart!?! I hate that guy. Money is NOT the bottom line, Stewaaaaart. And I can't find any my peanut butter Kashi TLC bars anywhere. WTdoubleF!?

Anyway, top o' the mornin or afternoon or whatever time of day it is to ya.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dance of the Dolphins

Warning: embedded autostart music*. Sorry. Can't disable it but I like the video but am posting it anyway.

As we enjoy a collective sigh of relief that at least three of the dolphins stranded in Newfoundland made it safely back to sea thanks to the help of the kind, brave townfolk of Seal Cove, here's that short (famous) clip of a dolphin sporting with bubbles. If you sent an email on their behalf, thank you.

So. Sit back and enjoy 01:06 minutes of this delightful underwater ballet.

Dolphins at play

Ps. Yes. I realize these dolphins are in a prison and, of course, that's a dreadful thing to do to any creature but for a minute, one minute and six seconds to be exact, I just want to believe that this dolphin is actually enjoying herself just as she would in the wild because she has wisely made peace with her situation. And after all, it is better than being trapped under ice.

*The music is "No One is Alone" from "Into the Woods" by John Williams; The Boston Pops Orchestra. From the Album Music of the Night: Pops on Broadway 1990 CD.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dolphins rescued, Newfoundland

Three of the five dolphins stranded off the coast of Seal Cove, Newfoundland were rescued yesterday by a brave group of townsmen in a speedboat and survival suits. Whether the other two survived, scared off by their initial approach, is unknown. The men rocked the boat back and forth against the ice, breaking it apart and working a small path 250 metres long into the enclosure where the three remaining dolphins circled around them.

Mayor Winston May said the remaining three realized what was going on and quickly became very happy and friendly.

"Two got out through the channel, but the little guy was too tired," said Brandon Banks, 16, who leapt into the icy water to keep him from drowning.

The dolphin wrapped his fins around Banks and rested his head on his shoulder. It was then Banks slipped a harness around him.

"I kept him up with my legs, keep his head up from under the water", he said.

He tied the rope to the boat and the boat slowly towed the dolphin through the ice. Once they hit open water, he caught his second wind. They freed him from the rope, and the dolphin swam off.

"He was just getting his energy back, and he was swimming around," Mr. Banks said. "It was pretty good seeing him go off free like that, in the open water."

"The dolphin just kind of attached to Brandon and wrapped his flippers around him, more or less like a friend or a mate," the Mayor told The Canadian Press. Mr. May called it "a real nice ending."

Full story here.
Photo by Norma Miller for Canwest News Service, as published in National Post.


Monday, February 16, 2009

CEO roast

Democracy is a participatory sport. Here's a delightful clip from last week's grilling of Wall Street CEOs. At the end of the day, Congress included Sen. Chris Dodd's amendment limiting executive pay in the stimulus bill. It passed on Friday.

Video via MoveOn, narrated by Rachel Maddow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Local news at 9:19

Humane Lobby Day was a blast but way too much went on to describe right now other than to say it was pure theater. The Senate and Legislature are in session and there is business_to_be_done. The actors are playing many parts: politician, lobbyist, staff, director, audience, page, stage hand, choir, and chorus, simultaneously in different plays, in different acts and rehearsals, overlapping lines and scenes and sets on numerous stages, in green rooms and cafes, and under it all, the constant, clandestine backstage whispers which everyone strains to hear. Then there was us. The animal people.

Nevada at night

I retired my other blog, Synesis, at least for the time being, and am in the process of moving some of the material to a new blog I've been fiddling with for a while. It's a place for my poetry. It doesn't fit here. And maybe a little flash fiction or a drawing here or there. If you're interested, it's here... Anna Sadhorse.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Koala Sam and local news at 9

Of course you've seen this photo of Sam, the koala rescued by firefighters during Australia's devastating brush fire. Why can't we humans always be this cool? For the record, I think the biblical "dominion over animals" thing is bullshit. I read today that Australia's fire was started by some guy with a taste for arson. We have a lot to make up for.

Koala Sam Mr. Tree Australian brush fire

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nigerian goat follow-up

Remember that goat in Nigeria who was arrested in January for witchcraft and stealing a Mazda? Well, yesterday there was a follow-up article on the incident in the Nigerian Village Square. Seems the charges were dropped and the goat auctioned off. Poor fellow. Here the goat was, minding his own business, then BLAMMO...a vigilante mob drags him off to jail claiming he's a witch and car thief, without ever being given the dignity of a name other than... goat. As far as I've read, the issue of animal rights never came up. Who would dare? Anyway, it's thoughtful article with some interesting suggestions on how to deal with superstition and arcane cultural beliefs, Nigerian or otherwise and, if only for that reason, is at least worth skimming.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Casa Lupita and Dog Helps Dog

First off, here's a bit of footage that will both break and gladden your heart. If you aren't a better and more humble person after the 52 seconds it takes to watch, then call your doctor. You may need heart and brain implants!

It's a dog helps dog world!
~via Animal Rights Blog via Metacafe

The long of it or, if dogs can do it, people can too.


Nicaragua update

In other goings on, I have been busy setting up a blog for Casa Lupita, a clinic in Granada, Nicaragua for street animals. The clinic is a project of an NGO called Building New Hope. I was inspired to get involved by the little dog in this photo. I call her Angel. She was stranded on the sidewalk with a broken hip right where you see her and completely unable to drag herself to a safe place, had there been one. People were walking around and over her as though she did not exist but she stopped me cold. I was stunned. I stepped to the wall and leaned back. A Japanese girl was standing there so, after a moment I said, "I can't go any farther. This is too much. I can't leave just this poor dog laying here on the street." She said it was the same for her, that she was a vet student and could not walk by and leave her suffering like that. Her friends, also students, were off looking for help. Eventually they returned with rumors of an animal shelter somewhere in the city (Granada) and coaxed the girl to leave with them to search it out.

I stayed a while longer with the little dog but finally decided to go back to our room to get her some food and water and tell Mr. Lee what was up. He remembered seeing a poster at the Bearded Monkey about an animal shelter so he went in search of information and I returned to Angel. Unfortunately, I didn't think to bring a bowl. That's why there's water on the sidewalk in front of her. It freaked her out. I instantly regretted pouring it, plus I felt like a total idiot. She was happy for the food though.

I wish I had gone to Casa Lupita that night. It's easy to care. Taking action is the hard part but I did go the next morning. Donna was there, along with a volunteer veterinarian from the US, a Dr. Terry Kane. He said no one had brought in a dog of that description but it quickly became clear that this would not be the end of it. This was Casa Lupita after all, where no one is too small or insignificant to be loved. Donna grabbed me. We jumped into her old black truck and headed off for Angel's last known place on earth.

She wasn't there, but as Angel had lain directly in front of an open door the day before, Donna asked the woman inside if she knew anything. Yes. She had witnessed the whole event and said the Japanese girls came back for her in the evening. Mystery not solved but, as we could do no more, Donna invited me to join her on her rounds. We fed a group of street dogs that live along the shore of Lago Cocibolca, (or Lake Nicaragua if you prefer). We distributed more food along the road back to town and stopped by her place for a minute where I met a couple of other street dogs recuperating from sever injuries and emotional trauma, then we returned to the clinic. When we told the vet how the girls had rescued Angel from the street, he realized she was the dog who'd been brought in the night before. He told us that in the states he could have saved her but, unfortunately, Casa Lupita isn't currently equipped for major surgeries. Her whole hip was crushed, not just her leg. Amputation would not be enough. He had to put her down.

Before we left on our trip to Central America last September, I prepared myself for the suffering animals I knew I'd encounter. Mexico drove me to distraction so this time I was determined to pace myself. Yes, I know there is so much human suffering that needs addressing but I feel a call to help animals. It's just the way it is. So I fed a dog here and there but kept reminding myself that that I couldn't drop everything every time my heart broke. Then I met Angel. So a week or two later, election night to be exact, while the US was choosing Barrack Obama to be President of the United States, and sweet hope hung heavy in the air, a bunch of us gathered at a local hotel lounge to cheer and celebrate and I promised Donna that, after we returned home, I'd set up a blog for Casa Lupita to help spread the word, a tiny contribution, but something I could do from afar.

That was nearly two months ago but last week, after coming across Angel's photo one more time, I got down to it and hammered a beginning. I scrounged up a little content but am not quite ready to tell Donna yet but here's the link, if you want to check it out. If you have any suggestions before I email her this coming week, I'd love to hear them.

So here's the short of it: Casa Lupita Nica

Last two photos of dogs and cats on the street by Finnegan Dowling, Nicaragua Redux: The Sarna Dog Chronicels. Thanks, Finnegan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Little mention

The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.

~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, February 2, 2009

Eye on Plain

Sarah Palin, enemy of all that is wild and free, is hot to stay in the public eye as she desperately wants to the America's first female president in 2012. So fine. Here's an...

Eye on Palin

Join the fight to save the wolves.

Please note: In the spirit of full disclosure I feel that is is only right to make it clear that I CAN'T STAND THE BITCH.