Sunday, June 16, 2019

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Orphan squirrel buddy

A new guy came into my life on Thursday. 

Meet Chester.

He was huddled up next to a flower pot near my back door. 
By dark, mom had not come to rescue him. I brought him in, got him warm and hydrated, and promptly fell in love.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Old horse, new tricks

Last month, I was chosen as a finalist in the World Equine Clicker Games. Red Rabbit was not impressed, but I was pretty honored and excited to place among the Top Five Clicker Trainers in the world.

Here's a link to my new "Clicker Training Tips" book ($4.99 on Amazon) and a video from the competition.

From the "Horse Clicker Training" book:

Clicker training will strengthen your bond with your horse while opening the floodgates for equine learning. 

Using a clicker as a communication tool eliminates pushy and nippy behavior, improves your horse's attitude, socialibility and general horse manners around the barn--and in the saddle. Watch as your horse becomes your vet and  farrier's favorite and begins preferring your company over other horses.

This fun guide simplifies the jargon and science of operant conditioning down to easy-to-follow steps and tips for the ABCs of horse clicker training.

Get started on a conversation--and better relationship--with your horse today.

Kindle version $4.99 at:

Monday, December 26, 2011

New blooms

It's been a long year since I posted here: nothing seemed significant after losing Mister Purr on this day last year.  

These winter blooms are on the jade plant my godmother, Bege Clark, gave me when I moved to Texas. 

Six years ago, I flew from Atlanta to Texas in the backseat of a single engine plane, bringing only Mister Purr, one suitcase, and this jade plant. 

Since then, the jade has tripled in size and made several moves with me. But it's never bloomed. This year, it sat on the porch overlooking Purr's garden grave all summer. I brought it in when the weather turned cold. And it bloomed--profusely.

Maybe it's a reminder from Mister Purr (the blooms do remind me of his fuzzy white chin). This plant--which sat by his side all year--is now showing me the potential for blossoming into new life in the dead of winter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Goodbye, Mister Purr

My beloved companion of 14 years is gone. 
Mister Purr died at dawn, the day after Christmas,
 after a long battle with liver failure and hyperthyroidism. 

He was a kind and gentle soul and I miss his purring, loving presence immensely. 
I will be forever grateful he was in my life and believe I'm a better woman as a result of sharing so much time with him.

Thank you for your many lessons in love, Mister Purr. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frozen plant explosion

After the first frost here in Texas, these tiny, nature-created snowmen appeared around several plants in the pasture.

   They seem to be the stems of certain plants growing under the live oaksAnyone know what they are?  They're very delicate and beautiful, but short-lived, melting away in moments once the sun finds them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Newborn alpaca baby

A new alpaca baby was born two days ago at Kathy and John's Melody Moon Ranch next door. They've named him Rickenbacker (after the guitar). As you can see here, he's quite adorable--especially at the end when he walks into the sun. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Curtains for you

Okay, so there's no action here in terms of jumping deer or galloping gazelles, but I wanted to share the simple glory of tree bark in morning light. 

 As seen from my bedroom window, this particular live oak is like a curtain framing each new day.

Reason to wake up early

This handsome buck came along as I was having coffee on the porch this morning. His beauty took my breath away twice: once as he jumped the fence, then again when I saw I'd actually captured his fleeting visit on camera. 

Maybe I should wake up too early more often.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Clicker trained horse playing piano

Thanks to our years of horse clicker training, Red Rabbit has learned to play the piano. Not sure what song this is. He makes it up as he goes along. Maybe we'll enter his concerto in Hannah Dawson's World Clicker Equine Games for horse tricks...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Listen carefully

"Half halt? I remember how to do that!"

My horse, Red Rabbit, listens attentively to the neighbor, USDF Gold medalist Nancy Fair giving a dressage lesson this morning.

He stood alert this until the lesson was over, 
completely mesmerized by the voice from over the hill. 

Maybe he's taking notes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trick or treat?

The spider on my porch eaves finds a scorpion in her web. 

I wonder, does she see this as a threat or a treat?

The situation reminds me of the Taoist Farmer story: 
Chance encounters: good thing or bad?

Two nights later, the spider had built a new web, and the scorpion? My guess is he was cut from the web, free to pursue his dastardly ways.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

goodbye, sweet summer

At the risk of sounding prematurely nostalgic, 
I want to share a favorite view along my bike route. 

I love the contrast of the sharp stones with the lush lowland pasture beyond. Today, the cloud line seemed a perfect juxtaposition to the gray stone wall. 
This is huge part of why I moved here: long horizontal views of expansive green open spaces--all just a short bike ride away.

I'll miss these stunning sunny days and brilliant green grasses. Yes, it's nice to have a break from the heat, but for me, summer is the sweetest season.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Texas coyote on the run

This handsome coyote went running across the pasture after a scuffle with the two dogs next door this evening. 

It's the first coyote I've seen since I've lived here; he was probably after the jackrabbits in the front pasture. 

I'll be locking the gate at night to keep Mister Purr safe from now on. With all due respect to Charlie and Shreve, bad coyote! Stay away from my poor little cat.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

brazen grasshoppers

Fall is in the air, and this morning, it seems young 
grasshopper's fancy turns to acrobatic fence-post mating.

After getting several pictures (the amorous pair seemed oblivious) I spotted 
another grasshopper peeking over from the next post; a voyeur watching the exhibitionists. 
A fine example of the symbiotic nature of Nature.

It's been a glorious summer for the wildlife here...and for me. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

After the rain

After heavy rains, these white flowers pop up everywhere. 
I love how quickly they appear, so eager for life and sun.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wild Turkey Parade

Almost every day for the past week, this family of wild turkeys parades across the pasture feasting on grasshoppers. And every day, at least two of them wander into the corner between the fence and gate, newly perplexed each time about how to get out and rejoin the others. 

I can't imagine why Ben Franklin thought they were such smart birds. 
You've probably heard of a "flock of pigeons" and "gaggle of geese," but a group of turkeys is called a "rafter." 

Here's a list of collective nouns for birds. 
I particularly like "an ascension of larks" and "a storytelling of crows."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer moon

The summer skies have been glorious at dusk lately, 
and I love the way they make my moon mobile swing and glow.

Three months from now, I'll look back on these languorous days that linger into night 
and remember the sounds of cicadas humming in the trees, the breezes over tall grass, 
the redemption of salty, bare-skin sweat. And I'll miss it all terribly. I so love August.

"Summertime, and the livin' is are jumpin...and the cotton is high..."

Fix yourself a tall, cool drink, then click here  
and listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Satchmo sing it 
in this lush, languid orchestration.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Telltale poops

This morning, I noticed a plethora of persimmon seeds in some deer droppings along the road and realized there must be a persimmon tree in the area. So today's bike mission was to find it.

My horse loves persimmons, and I was eager to bring some back in my bike pouch for him.

I rode around off-trail, checking every small-leafed tree and at last, found one full of round, purple fruit. And then I started seeing them everywhere––including one growing right by the driveway I've ridden down every day for months.

It's amazing what you can find when you set out with intentional observation--and what you miss every day when you think you know your surroundings.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dog day afternoon

It hit 100 degrees today.  

I know there are lots of dogs in pens without water or shade, but this is the one I encountered on my Sunday bike ride:

No one was home.  Both buckets in his pen were bone dry. 

There was a hose nearby, but it was sretched far away, set up to water a tree they'd  planted, NOT where it might shade the poor dog, but way out front in their front yard. 

So I dragged the garden hose from the tree to the dog pen and filled a water bucket. 
The dog was incredibly thirsty, yet so grateful, he licked my hand before drinking. 
Then he stood in the water and drank for about 5 minutes, 
stopping only long enough to pant...

...catch his breath and start again. In between, he'd put his nose by the gate, 
politely asking to be let out. Water, freedom, shade. I don't know which he wanted most.

I hope the owners come home and are embarrassed to see that someone else had to 
give their dog water. It just kills me when people have acres of yard yet spend more money in landscaping than it would cost to put up a fence and give their dog a decent life.

My guess is that they were out enjoying the neighborhood pool 
while their dog sat roasting in the 100-degree August sun.

Bobcat girl

Today, I found a beautiful female bobcat hit in the road. I've always wanted to see a bobcat up close, but not like this. She was such an extraordinarily lovely creature, it was extremely sad for me to finally see one this way.

Some people find sublime beauty in death. I can appreciate that to some extent, but when a wild animal  is killed by a car, I don't see the beauty, only the horrible waste.

Still, I was mesmerized by her body, her huge ears and paws, her lush fur, and the way she felt exactly like my cat when I picked her up. She'd obviously just been hit: bright, thin blood dripped from her nose. Her eyes were still bright green and wide open. As minutes passed, those green, focused eyes turned cloudy, and then, oddly enough, went blue.

Soon after, the nicatating membrane advanced over her pupils. Mercifully, only then, the death flies came.

From what I could tell, she had been young and healthy. There was no sign of cubs or recent nursing. So I placed her body in the shady woods near where she'd been hit; if she does have family or a mate, they will be able to find her and know she is gone.

May she rest in peace.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gallivanting gazelles

I pass this herd of gazelles everyday while riding my bike, but I'm rarely close enough to get decent footage.

The boys seem to enjoy playing chase games while the ladies wander around flicking their tails and gossiping about who has the biggest horns.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

highway fatality

The movement caught my eye as I rode past: one butterfly had been hit––smashed to the asphalt, but still alive––as the other fluttered around trying to help.

When I got close with the camera, the healthy one moved a few feet away, watching while I pulled the stuck one off the pavement. Unfortunately, that action separated its abdomen and it died within seconds as I lay it in the grass.

As often happens, despite my good intentions, things do not always turn out well. 

I hope her mate realized I was trying to help. I suspect butterfly karma may be a powerful thing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Busy busy

Just a quick scene from this morning's bike ride. It's a lazy Sunday for me, but the bees are always busy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This morning, I found a surprise in my watering can. A frog had decided to get in there and set up camp. He looked quite happy, so I let him stay.

Although I'd like to see his exit strategy, he may be planning to hang out for a while.
He said something about signing a 6-hour lease.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scissors, please

I particularly enjoy seeing the Scissor Tail birds along the pasture fence. I got lucky today and got two sitting poses...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Horse torture

Today was worming day for Red.  He hates it, but knows 
he has to put up with it in order to get his breakfast grain.

Before clicker training, worming was nearly impossible with such a tall horse. When I first got him, he would panic and throw his head. It was a disaster. I was told his previous owner used to twist his ears to get it  done. My usually calm horse would freak at just the sight of a wormer tube.

To get him over this, I used equine clicker training and desensitization. I'd touch him all over with an empty tube. Once I could hold it against his face, I started hooking my little finger of the hand holding the wormer into his halter so even when he moved, the tube was still against him. When he finally relaxed, I would click, take it away and give him a treat. Finally, when it was time for the real worming day, he knew cooperation meant a reward. He's been a trooper ever since. 

In April, I used Panacur Powerpac, which has to be administered EVERY DAY for 5 days in a row. Red thought he was being punished or tortured, I'm sure. By day 2 he was suspicious when I put his halter on him before breakfast. By day 3, he was walking out of his stall. I had to wait him out until he chose to come back and be wormed if he wanted to eat. 
I think it was a very hard decision for him, but for me, it was worth the wait to finally have a calm, willing participant. Clicker training for horses is a great tool.

It will be a while before I worm him again, but when I do, I'll make sure the lighting and my technique are better.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An apple day

I spent most of the day at a bar.  The Genius Bar at the Austin Apple Store. 
It was worth it. They traced the problem to a corruption in my iTunes library (thank you, Limewire) and fixed it. 

So here's an apple in gratitude for the day. But in this case, it's not a MacIntosh, it's a candle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The bee's knees

This may be the biggest bee I've ever seen. 
He was sitting on the fence while I filled the horse's water tub this morning, adding an additional barb to the wire. His lift-off was like a helicopter: straight up, then curving out in a slow, wide arc with lots of noise. Quite impressive.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Texas skyscrapers

In just a few months, these yucca stalks along the trail 
have grown to nearly 20 feet tall. They're quite spectacular.  
Here's a perspective shot of the entire plant compared to my bike. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Serendipitous tomatoes

On my morning bike ride, I stopped to visit the palomino pony and his owners happened to be out in the yard.
They tell me his name is Biscuit and he loves snacking on tomatoes and figs. Peg and Gary invited me in for a cool glass of water, and shared these lovely home-grown tomatoes from their garden with me.
As soon as I post this, I'll try one. Thank you, Peg and Gary. And Biscuit for letting me out the gate with the bag intact.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Prehistoric visitors

I usually glace at the Sunset Tree when I go out, and today, it had a new surprise for me.

Talk about camouflage: at first, all you see is tree, right? The only reason I spotted this handsome guy is that he was silhouetted against the sky when I walked onto my side porch.

These Texas Spiny Lizards are plentiful right now and maybe too large (nearly a foot long) even for our resident road runner to catch and eat. Or maybe not--and that's why they're up in the trees watching the ground.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Red's new girlfriend

I used to think I was Red's best girl, but he's been seen with a new lady lately who's much better looking. I think they've been out on a few dinner dates, but it's not serious yet.

They make a nice looking pair, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

For you

I'm so pleased with my flower arranging and the afternoon light, I had to post this to share with you.

I hope my guest who's coming for dinner will enjoy them, too.

Comments anyone?

I haven't been getting any comments lately, and wonder why. 

Are the posts getting too boring? I feel like I'm just talking to myself lately. 

So today I'm taking it easy with a simple picture. I found this Walking Stick (Phasmatodea) on my wall before I put up the screens. When I learned they only eat leaves and not Daddy Longlegs (Harvestmen) he got transported outside where he can enjoy his vegetarian lifestyle.

BTW: Here's advice on how to comment for non-Google mail subscribers:
1. Click on "comment" at the bottom of a post and type a message into the comment box.
2. Click on "name/URL" underneath and just type in your name. 
3. Then click "publish your comment." Easy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Morning vision

On my bike ride this morning, I was admiring the stone wall in front of an old farm house when I spotted this vision in gold.   

The pony seemed curious about me and the bike, but would not come over. He did toss his head defiantly a few times; I got the feeling he was challenging me to a race.

Here's a quick glimpse of when I first saw him, tail flowing in the breeze:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Through a horse's ears

My bareback strolls on Red Rabbit are a nothing like the stunning beauty and grace of a Stacy Westfall ride, but I sure do enjoy them. 

This is one of our early Passenger Lesson outings. I'm videotaping, so the lead rope is laying on Red's neck. He's exploring the area around the house and pool (good thing he waited until the end to poop).

I'd love to have a hands-free helmet cam like this one to record my daily adventures, bike rides or even an exhilarating gallop on Red.

If anyone feels generous enough to donate one to the cause of making this blog WAY more interesting, I'll add a Paypal button to the right, just in case. I'd be forever grateful--and even show you how I taught Red to play the piano.

Meanwhile, I'll post more interesting footage as it develops. Red should be ready for his first piano recital pretty soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stop bugging me

I finally gave up on sleeping with the windows open.

Yesterday, I put up my screens, closed the windows and turned on the AC.
First time this year. Yep--I made it all the way to July 10 without air conditioning.

Some bugs want to leave but others are now more eager to get inside. This moth seemd to want to join me in my bedroom.

Although he's lovely, I'm happy to admire him from afar.