Inspired by the Harvest Moon

Credit: Harvest Moon by DebAnne70 Via Creative Commons

Ever since I started my blogging experience with WordPress not so long ago, I have “met” some wonderful people in the blogging community. They inspire me with their blogs and kind comments. I love reading other bloggers’ posts as much as I enjoy writing my own. Just recently, I read a beautiful poem titled “Under the Harvest Moon” by poet Carl Sandburg that was posted by another WordPress blogger. It was a very beautiful, inspirational poem. For those of you who are not familiar with the actual “Harvest Moon,” it’s a full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. It appears orange due to the way light scatters in the atmosphere. In other words, the Harvest Moon is low in the sky near the horizon where the atmosphere is thicker, which absorbs blue light and allows red light to pass through. Just to point out, I’m not an expert on astronomy, so I needed to do a little research on that. Nonetheless, as a result of reading that beautiful poem, I decided to take some time to enjoy the real “Harvest Moon” on that very same evening that I read the poem. I first commented that I had planned to enjoy the experience later that evening. After my “Harvest Moon” experience, I posted this second comment:

“I thought I would give an update on this evening’s beautiful “Harvest Moon.” Not long after sunset, I went outside with my husband to enjoy the view together. We looked to the evening sky, and much to our surprise, we could not find the moon at all. We looked east, west, south and north. Yet, there was no moon to be found. However, the sky was clear. We saw numerous stars. I said, “How could this possibly be?” So, we decided to take a stroll down the road to look for the elusive “Harvest Moon.” After a short walk, we looked “low” in the east sky. And low and behold, shining through the swaying palm trees was a bright “orange moon.” I have not seen anything quite like it before. I have seen many moons, but nothing at all like this. It really was breathtaking! The color was as crisp as an autumn day. Just stunning! Anyway, we both loved it. We will cherish the memory. Seasons will change, but memories will last forever. Thanks again for the reminder! I would have completely missed it otherwise.”

I wanted to share my comment with you for one very important reason. To be specific, I wanted to show how other WordPress bloggers could inspire or enlighten us with their blog. It may be something as simple as sharing a beautiful poem. As in this case, the poem served as a reminder that the “Harvest Moon” was to make an appearance. I thought that I might have been too late, but soon realized via a quick internet search that I had not yet missed it.

Life is full of stunning natural wonders that we have yet to experience. The “Harvest Moon” is one such natural wonder that I am now familiar with more than ever. My beautiful experience with this natural wonder has given me a wonderful memory with family that I will cherish forever. As I wrote on my comment, “seasons will change, but memories will last forever.” And so will all of our wonderful experiences with family and friends.

As much as I enjoy writing what I am passionate about; I also love reading other bloggers’ posts. Other bloggers can inspire us, enlighten us, take us on exciting journeys, make us laugh, or even make us cry. Most of all, they are like a distant friend. Yet, the distance doesn’t weaken the blogging bond that we all share together. And as “The Island Traveler” so eloquently wrote on his blog, “It’s not about numbers, but it’s building meaningful connections.”

Here is the link to the poem that inspired me to learn more about the actual Harvest Moon: http://www.ingebrita.net/2011/09/12/under-the-harvest-moon/

For me personally, this learning experience turned into a beautiful, memorable moment in time. Why not enjoy the many natural wonders that Mother Nature has to offer with family, friends, or even experience them solo? It may be too late to enjoy the Harvest Moon this time around, yet there are so many other natural wonders that await your arrival.

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Embracing Compassion for All Living Things

Each one of us is uniquely different. Yet, in spite of our differences, we share a similar bond. Specifically, we are passionate about what is “important to us.” In other words, we may not share similar interests, ambitions, or beliefs in life. However, that is exactly what makes us so uniquely special. It is our individuality that makes life more interesting. Wouldn’t life be boring with a big “B” if we were all alike?

For most of us, we are driven by more than one passion in life. For instance, I have always loved helping animals, but I have other passions as well. My degree is in psychology, which has served me well in working with children and families. Plus, I also enjoy working with elderly people. For me personally, I am happiest when I feel that I am making a difference.

My true friends have been very supportive of my passions in life. By the way, it’s easy to decipher who are your true friends. They will “show interest” in your passions too. Nonetheless, having a blog is a wonderful way to “see” if your friends are interested in what you have to say! Moreover, the blogging community has been pretty awesome too. I have met some really cool bloggers who have just been phenomenal! Also, I have a loving husband who supports me in all of my endeavors. Plus, he just happens to be a vegetarian who loves animals. So, I guess it’s fair to say that I have been blessed in so many ways.

Now for the “pet peeve” part of this post! After all, we don’t live in a “purrfect” world (pun intended). As wonderful as people have been, every so often when I mention that I am advocating for animals I will hear comments like, “what about people or the kids?” On the other hand, I often get lots of praise from people because of my work with kids and families, which I appreciate. Yet, it’s not unusual for people to not be as “enthusiastic” when I tell them that I am an animal advocate. It’s not uncommon to hear negative comments. They’re not intentionally mean-spirited, but it’s more of a lack of understanding of why animals are important too.

Interestingly enough, I am not at all surprised by their comments. After all, kids and people in general are pretty important. As a matter of fact, at one point in my life, I was a kid too! So, it’s clear that I happen to adore people and kids too. However, what’s puzzling to me is the comparison that is made between the two. To be specific, does there need to be a competition between animals and people? Besides, who says that we can’t care about animals and people too? Is there a finite limit to compassion? Should we only care about people? Is compassion limited to only people? Maybe for some it is.

When I decided to start this blog, I knew that I wanted to have a voice for animals. I wanted to balance my passions in life. I have always been an animal advocate, but I wanted to devote more time to it.  For me personally, I do not put a limit on compassion. That is, I extend my compassion to animals too. Besides, it’s no surprise that most people do not put “animals” on their list of top priorities in life. So, why not make caring about animals a top priority? They need a voice too. If everyone felt that animals are not as important, who would be there for the animals?

So, that’s my pet peeve. I personally believe that there are some people who have less compassion for animals. I refer to this as “selective compassion.” In other words, their compassion is “person-centered.” It is difficult for those people to empathize beyond the human race. Furthermore, there are some people who say that they have compassion for animals, but their behavior does not match their words. For other people, compassion is shared equally with people and animals.

So, where do you fit in? Do you have compassion for animals too? Is there a limit to your compassion? What are some of your life’s passions?

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City Plans to Kill Ducks: People Outraged

Lucky ducks pictured here. These ducks are not located in Ocala, FL Credit: Raymond Gobis Via Creative Commons

One of my fondest memories as a child is when my parents would take me to the park to see the ducks. It was a relaxing way to spend quality family time together. Moreover, it was also a wonderful way to bond with nature. Nowadays, in this fast paced world in which we live, our connection with nature is more important than ever. Unfortunately, enjoying nature is not as easy as when I was a kid as a result of over development and other human causes.

Being an animal lover, I was absolutely shocked and horrified when I heard the news that the city of Ocala, Florida is planning to kill about 110 ducks that are living in several of the city’s parks. Specifically, the city plans to pay the USDA over $8,000 to euthanize the ducks. First, the ducks will be sedated. After sedation, they will be driven to another county that is located hours away. The reason for the long drive is that is where the gas chamber is located. The ducks will be placed in the gas chamber and killed.

Why the death sentence for the ducks? According to city officials, the ducks are contaminating the ponds and recreation areas. In other words, the city sees the ducks as a nuisance to area parks. Needless to say, there has been a huge public outrage as a result of the city’s decision. Specifically, there have been protests and petitions in an effort to save the ducks. As a matter of fact, there have been organizations that have offered to take the ducks, but so far negotiations have been unsuccessful. According to city officials, federal law has made relocating the ducks difficult. At the end of this post, I will leave a couple of links for those who would like to get involved by signing a petition to help save the ducks.

Some of us are animal lovers–and some are not. No doubt, we all have different passions in life. After all, that is what is so beautiful about life. We are all uniquely different, but most of us share a common bond. That is, we want to make a difference. We want to make the world a better place before we leave this world. We want to live our lives with purpose. That being said, what gives us the right to take another life because we simply view that life as a nuisance? Moreover, do elected city officials have that right? Morally speaking, does anyone have that right?

Before long, at the pace we are going, will there be any wildlife left? Interestingly enough, our own human population is growing at a rapid pace, but have we addressed the issues involved with that? Do we want a planet that is void of nature? Are we just going to build parks for baseball diamonds and snack bars? Are we so focused on ourselves that we have lost our way?

Being an optimist, I believe that most people are compassionate. However, not all of us share a compassion for animals, but I do believe that as our society evolves that people will have more empathy. As for ducks, often times people will minimize their significance by arguing that they are just plain stupid. I personally disagree with that, but let’s say that they are stupid for the sake of discussion. Does having less intelligence give people the right to kill? If anything, we should have more empathy for a life that has less intelligence than we do. In other words, if we are truly the “smart ones,” then shouldn’t we understand right from wrong?

As for the ducks, I personally believe that they deserve to be here as much as we do. If for whatever reason the ducks cannot be relocated, why consider killing them as an option anyway? It doesn’t sound at all humane to me. Besides, we need to learn how to coexist together. And if we can’t learn to coexist, perhaps it might be time to look in the mirror. After all, when people actually start thinking that killing innocent ducks is acceptable behavior then perhaps the real problem here has nothing at all to do with ducks. In my opinion, we cannot say that we are compassionate if we don’t have compassion for animals too. How we treat our animals (ducks included) says a lot about who we are.

By the way, I have just heard some hopeful news on this story. According to a city official, there may be some revisions to the federal law that would make relocating the ducks easier. Yet, it is not clear as to what those revisions will be. So, let’s be hopeful, but let’s also be “involved” in helping to make a difference. It’s all of us working together that can raise awareness to bring about change.

Here are the links for those who want to sign the petitions to help save the ducks:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/nokillducks/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/save-the-ducks-from-death-from/

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Tour de Turtles: A Race for Survival

Credit: Sea Turtle Kona Hawaii by K Johansson Via Creative Commons

Most of us are familiar with the Tour de France whether we are avid bike riders or not. However, I’m guessing that not too many people are familiar with the “Tour de Turtles.” That’s right, not exactly a household name yet, but the Tour de Turtles is an event that is quickly gaining recognition. Interestingly enough, I was not familiar with this event until I read about it in my local newspaper here in Florida.

So, what exactly is the Tour de Turtles? Well, this event is an annual migration marathon that started back in 2008. The “marathon” tracks sea turtles at sea in order to learn more about their behavior and migration habits. In addition, the marathon aims to raise awareness about the various threats that sea turtles face. Also, the Tour de Turtles encourages positive stewardship to the sea turtles ocean and coastal habitats. All of this benefits the sea turtles by helping them survive.

The sea turtles are tracked through a method called satellite telemetry. Basically, this involves attaching a transmitter on the back of the sea turtle. When I first heard about it, I was a bit concerned about the transmitter being attached to the turtle. Also, I wasn’t sure if the transmitter was going to be attached permanently, but the transmitter is temporary. It falls off safely in about a year or two. So, the good news is that the sea turtle is not living with a transmitter attached to her back forever! And the transmitter does not interfere with their movement. Plus, the researchers learn lots about their behaviors, migratory patterns, location of their habitats, etc. In turn, this information will help protect sea turtles. In addition, the information is uploaded to interactive maps located on the Tour de Turtles website. This gives people the opportunity to track the sea turtles. So, for anyone who has kids (or for the inner kid in you), nephews, nieces, or grandchildren, this is the fun part (and very educational). The link will be provided at the end of this post.

Sea turtles face many challenges that affect their survival with an estimated one out of a 1,000 to 10,000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood. Not surprising, many of the problems are caused by humans. These “threats” are emphasized during the marathon. Each turtle is swimming to raise awareness for a cause. For instance, Bubbles is swimming to raise awareness about the problem of plastic debris in the ocean. Many sea turtles are killed due to ingestion of plastic bags and fishing lines. On the other hand, Crystal is swimming to raise awareness about poor water quality. And Squirt is swimming to raise awareness about the threat of oil spills. These are just a few of the sea turtles that are swimming in the marathon. There are a total of fifteen sea turtles, representing four different types of species swimming for various causes.

This is an awesome short video (about two minutes long) that shows Bubbles being released into the ocean (click onto You Tube directly to watch). The kids are so happy to see the turtle being set free. Each sea turtle is released at different locations at various times. However, the race doesn’t start until all turtles are released. This gives each sea turtle an equal opportunity to win the marathon. Whoever goes the furthest distance wins the race.

These are some of the problems that threaten the sea turtles:

  • Commercial Longline Fisheries
  • Water Quality
  • Invasive Species Predation
  • Plastic Debris
  • Light Pollution
  • Turtle Hunters (Meat Consumption)
  • Climate Change
  • Commercial Trawl Fisheries
  • Sea Walls
  • Oil Spills
  • Egg Poachers
  • Illegal Sea Turtle Shell Trade
  • Native Species Predation
  • Beach Renourishment

For more information on these problems, click onto the link I have provided below to the Tour de Turtles official website. The official race start date is Monday August 15, 2011. If you have kids nearby, don’t forget to get them involved. This is an opportunity for kids to learn all about the many issues facing sea turtles and our environment. However, this is going to be fun and educational for folks of all ages! This is not a one-day event, so if you read this post after the start date, be sure and check out the site anyway. As a matter of fact, the race will last about three months! As previously mentioned, whoever swims the furthest distance will be the winner. Moreover, we will all be winners when we have compassion for our environment. It will benefit everyone. After all, if we destroy our marine life and oceans, we destroy ourselves. Thanks for caring.

The link to the Tour de Turtles website is: www.tourdeturtles.org

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Addicted to Our Cars: Can We Break the Habit?

Credit: epSos.de Via Creative Commons

Top Five Signs That You Might Be Addicted to Your Car

5. You talk to your car. This includes using expletives.

4. You drive your car to visit your neighbor who lives next door.

3. You love sitting in traffic jams. It gives you more time with your car.

2. Your car has a name.

1. You have seriously considered installing a bathroom in your car.

Ha! Ha! Now for the post………

In this day and age, cars are a way of life for most of us. We use our cars for getting to work, the store and for leisure activities. Most people would agree that their car is essential to “survival” in this modern world that we live in. In other words, our cars make our lives more comfortable. We can get places faster and easier. Besides, drive-thru windows would be nonexistent if it wasn’t for our cars. Nowadays, people no longer have to get out of their cars to pick up fast food. Isn’t that pure heaven? Truly, the drive-thru is the essence of convenience.

We have become dependent on our cars for all sorts of things. After all, why walk or ride bicycles when we can cruise along in our cars? The “suburban lifestyle” is more than the American dream realized. Suburban living epitomizes the laidback lifestyle. And whether we drive a sports car, family sedan, or sport utility vehicle, it’s sure to exude convenience without even starting the engine. Plus, lots of extra luxuries come along with that shiny new car. Where else can people crank the music up to decibels that vibrate an entire neighborhood? Not exactly a way to connect with your neighbors in a meaningful way, but I bet they know exactly who you are!

It’s not like there isn’t any consequences to living a life on easy street. Obesity is becoming the “new norm.” Of course, there are lots of health issues that come right along with that. I don’t need to list them all here, but my point is, we are becoming a society that is no longer interested in the “quality of progression.” Simply put, we are progressing in a way that makes us “lazy.”

I think that we can agree that most all of us depend on our cars for a means of transportation. This varies to some extent depending on location. Some people rely on public transportation for getting around. At any rate, is it possible that we have become too dependent on our cars? Do we rely on our cars too much? Have we become addicted to our cars?

Our dependency on our cars doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to give up driving altogether. That’s probably not a practical solution for everyone. Yet, that doesn’t mean we can no longer walk or ride our bike like we did when we were kids. If we live close enough to work, why not ride our bikes on nice days (or not so nice days)? For those of you who are retired, why not enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride? It’s great for our health and good for the environment. Likewise, there is always the gym as a way of getting exercise. However, for me personally, there is nothing like being outside and connecting with nature while I exercise. I love the fresh air! And living here in Florida, there is nothing like the aroma of fresh orange blossoms during an evening stroll or bike ride. Pure bliss at its finest.

My Pink Cruiser on the Beach

A Bike Path by the Waterfront

Interestingly enough, many cities and small towns are not bike or pedestrian friendly. Moreover, there are not enough “bike paths” to support a bike friendly community. That being said, this is slowly starting to change. Some communities are making significant strides by creating more bike paths that expand from suburbia to downtown. This means that riding our bike can be a viable form of transportation for getting to work. Designated bike paths provide a safer alternative. In addition, they help create a bicycle friendly community that everyone can enjoy.

It’s not like we all need to be professional athletes to enjoy a bike ride, or to take a leisurely walk. It can be very invigorating for anyone at any age. It’s a great way to get exercise, bond with family, or as a means of transportation. Plus, I’ve met many of my neighbors this way. Also, it is a wonderful way to connect with nature. One of my favorite reasons for biking or walking is that it’s kind to the environment. Zero emissions!! Isn’t that a nice incentive?

My Bike and "Me" at the Pier

So, have you considered a bike ride lately? Any bike will do. It doesn’t have to be an expensive bike. And if not a bike ride, why not a relaxing stroll among nature? It is a wonderful way to naturally lower stress, connect with our spirit and with each other. Besides, it gives us a reason to get out of our car.

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Heartbreak, Happiness, and a Hero

Each day is exciting to me. Some days are not as exciting as others, but still exciting. It’s not like everyday needs to be an adventure, but it sure makes life interesting. However, there are those days every once in a while that life throws a curve ball. Fortunately, I don’t get too many of those.

Like any relaxing weekend, there are errands that still need to get done. So, off I went to get some bird food for my backyard bird feeder. Not exactly an adventure, but the birds are important to me. With bird feed in hand, I proceed to pay for my bird food when the cashier decides to share some horrific news with me. It’s not like I personally know the cashier. Apparently, she just wanted someone to talk to about her horrific experience.

To be specific, she told me that she had seen a man abusing a dog. There wasn’t much time to get into the details with her as others were waiting in line behind me. However, she did mention that the man repeatedly kicked the dog in the head. She continued with the horrific details in the brief time that I was at the checkout. In addition, she proceeded to tell me that she went over to the man and confronted him about the abuse. At that point, he told her that it wasn’t his dog. She then took the dog away from him and contacted authorities. Nonetheless, I don’t think it made a difference as to whether or not it was his dog anyway because the dog needed help. Fortunately, she mentioned that she took the dog to a veterinarian where the dog was treated for his/her injuries.

Credit: Addicted Eyes Via Creative Commons

Luckily, it appears that the dog is going to be okay. Who knows whether or not that man owned the dog, but the cashier did mention that the dog has found a new home. It was great to hear that someone cared enough to get involved and called authorities. Otherwise that dog may never have made it.

The bad news is that there are people in the world who harm animals. The good news is that there are people in the world that care about animals. In my opinion, this woman who took the time to get involved is a hero. Not everyone would have the courage to get involved. After all, anyone who abuses animals can also harm people. However, it sounded like it was a very fast-moving situation in which she needed to respond right away. Moreover, it probably would have taken authorities some time to respond. By that time, the dog could have been dead from a head injury.

I admit it gets a bit frustrating when I hear heartbreaking stories like this one. Actually, I read about stories like this in the paper often, but I have never actually been told one in person. And as bad as it seems, there is a good side to this story.

There are heroes that live among us. We may never know who they are, but they are out there. They are the people making a difference like the cashier at the store. I’m sure there are those who may say that she must be financially poor working as a cashier. Yet, the truth is she is richer than most people may realize. Her heart is proof of that.

I did get a chance to thank her for helping that dog in need. Even so, I’m guessing she didn’t need a thank you. She seems like she thrives on not what people think, but what difference she can make.

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America’s Wild Horses: Can We Save Them?

Credit: Wild Horses by RickC Via Creative Commons

Here we go yet again. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the US Department of Interior plans to resume another roundup of wild horses this coming winter. According to the BLM, the roundups are needed in order to control the horse population. The roundups have taken place numerous times, and have resulted in the deaths of over 100 mustangs in Nevada last year alone.

So, what exactly takes place during these roundups? To be specific, the roundups involve the use of helicopters that drive the horses into corrals. Needless to say, this is not a pleasant experience for the horses as they are forced to run to the point of exhaustion. They are chased for miles to a designated area where they are then picked up by truck and driven to various holding facilities. The horses could remain there for several years if not adopted or sold. Moreover, as much as ten percent of the horses are killed as a result of stress or injury that occurs during the roundups.

And what happens to the horses when they are sold? Unfortunately, there have been times in the past that these beautiful mustangs have been sold to “killerbuyers” around the world and slaughtered for financial profit. And even if the BLM makes every effort to assure that the wild horses don’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous buyers, there is no guarantee that these beautiful horses will be sold to a loving family where they can live the rest of their lives in green pastures. The fact is that many of these wild horses have ended up dead when they could have been still roaming free on public lands.

Interestingly enough, the BLM does not own the horses. They simply manage the herds on public lands. The American people are the owners. It is our tax dollars that are being spent for these roundups. And the amount spent is well into the millions. For example, the cost to manage these wild horses is at $75.6 million this year, and that number will increase to $79.5 million for next year!

As previously mentioned, the BLM says that they do these roundups in order to control the horse population. According to the latest BLM statistics, the wild horse population is 33,692. In addition, there are another 4,673 burros roaming freely. Moreover, these numbers are the total number of free roaming horses that are on BLM ranges in 10 Western states. And if the total number of free roaming horses seems like a lot, it in no way compares to the number of wild horses that used to roam free. For instance, there were an estimated two million wild horses roaming free in the year 1900! Yet, that number has been drastically reduced over the years as a result of human intervention.

Isn’t it interesting that in 1900, there were nearly two million wild horses roaming free, and yet the land could sustain the large number of horses. Yet, today with a far lower population of horses, the BLM says that there are too many of them. In addition, there is a huge controversy over what number is considered reasonable. By the way, do we decide what number is reasonable for the human population? Does 30,000 or 40,000 seem reasonable? Surely, one can see just how ridiculous this level of reasoning can be when we look at it from a “human” perspective.

There is an array of hope among what seemingly appears hopeless. In particular, there has been some progress made to establish wild horse “ecosanctuaries” through private-public partnerships. At this time, all of the details have not been worked out yet, but if the proposals allow for the horses to roam free, it certainly would be welcoming news. In the meanwhile, the roundups will continue. As a result of the roundups, some of the horses will not survive.

And how did we get here in the first place? In other words, why are the wild horses being managed in such a way that put the horses at risk for injury or death? Is chasing the horses with helicopters in order to capture them a humane way of managing the horses? Be sure and watch the short video clip to see an actual roundup, so that you can decide. In my opinion, one needless death is one too many.

Perhaps we need to refocus our priorities, and start managing ourselves a bit more responsibly. At the rate this country is being developed, will there be any space left for horses or humans? Do we have enough shopping malls, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, etc.? Does the number of strip/shopping centers exceed the number of wild horses? What’s a reasonable number of shopping centers? Did we consider that in the plans? Do we have enough entertainment complexes to keep us busy for the next several generations?

Never mind how all of this living a life of excess is depleting our natural resources. After all, we do not have an endless supply. How are we managing ourselves? Do the choices we make on a daily basis impact only us? Are we responsible for creating a competition for our natural resources? The more demands we make on our environment; the bigger the consequences we all face. Nonetheless, our beautiful wild horses are not immune to the strain “we” put on our natural resources.

Do we want to just speak of the wild horses in the past tense? Do we really want to share stories of what it was like when the wild horses once roamed free? Are they going to put wild horses in the zoo in order to show kids what they look like, but will the kids learn anything about the wild horses natural behavior?

For me personally, I would love to know that our wild horses are not just a part of history. After all, do we want to think of the wild horses as “what once was?” Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the horses will still be here roaming free for many generations to come? And why not forever free as nature intended for them to be?

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