Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Connecticut Mountain Lion in the Biologists' Court

The mountain lion or cougar or puma:  in the not so distant past they prowled the wooded hills and valleys of New England.  In the 1930s the last Eastern cougars were reported killed and in the 1970s the Eastern cougar was declared extinct.  In recent years there were reports of cougars by people who saw bobcats or large house cats .  A few probably saw an occasional escaped pet cougar.  Some may have seen wild cougars but couldn't prove it, of course.  Sightings were usually dismissed by wildlife biologists.  

Then there was the beautiful mountain lion killed recently by a car in Milford, CT.  It was not a wistful figment of someone's imagination; there was the dead body in the road.  A pet, people said, an escaped illegal pet.  Or maybe it was released by an owner who could no longer care for it.  Since humans are what they are, these things happen.  But this was no pet.

Wildlife biologists had been tracking this particular mountain lion all the way from the Black Hills of South Dakota.  How did they know it was the same animal?  They were able to collect hair and scat samples and the occasional photograph taken by people crossing paths with the cougar.  This was no pet, released or escaped.  This was the real, wild deal.  What was it doing in Connecticut?

Mountain lions will travel a very long distance to establish their territories.  They need large territories, too, to maintain a sufficient prey base.  Male cougars, especially, are known to travel considerable distances to find a new home.  In South Dakota there is a fair population of cougars so job opportunities, so to speak, would be limited for a young animal.  Opportunities to find a suitable mate would also be similarly limited.  It's easy to understand why a young guy would hit the road.

What drew this animal to travel so very far?  No one knows.  Surely there was good environment somewhere along the way; the woods of Wisconsin, perhaps.  So why Connecticut? No doubt the biologists will come up with a theory.  What I have is not so much a theory as a feeling.  Nature was trying to re-establish something we humans thought was lost forever.  Nature can do that.  We are surprised to find snow leopards in Afghanistan, mountain lions in Connecticut.  We thought we had destroyed them.  Not quite yet.  We should give nature a chance.    I suspect the biologists will concur.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Typo Demon

"Daughter of the Desert" is now out in Kindle format on Amazon. I am bedeviled by the same concern I have for "The Sword of the Land" and "The Blood of the Land" in their kindle formats, namely, has the Typo Demon run amuck?  

The Typo Demon is well-known, of course.  The Typo Demon attacks anyone's work, from the term papers of students to the software of NASA engineers.  (If you don't believe me, just google "typos".)  When print books become e-books there is even more opportunity for mayhem.  Now the Typo Demon has an added title: Format Demon.  

I'm sure anyone with an e-reader has stumbled across the Format Demon.  Why is there a line break here in the text that makes no sense?  Why is there an extra space there for no reason?  Or even worse, why are those extraneous, html-like characters inserted somewhere else?  You know the answer, of course.  It's the Format Demon.  The Typo Demon, at your disservice.   

I hope my e-books are relatively demon-free, even though I know there is no escaping the Typo Demon entirely.  It seems that no matter how often you try to proofread something, mistakes always escape into the wild.  Know what I maen?

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I suppose I should glow in the dark.  Either that or transform into some super-human mutant like Spiderman.  I have had far too much radiation in my life. Yesterday I had a CT scan for what turns out to be, not the dreaded diverticulitis but maybe just a a virus.  I had to drink lots of revolting contrast material for this scan and then get it intravenously as well. There are very, very interesting side-effects from this.  I'm still waiting for the super-human powers, though.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Catbird and the Cat

I have a stone bird bath on the metal garden table right outside my sliding glass door.  The bird bath is of concrete formed to look like an enormous shell.  I keep it filled and the water fresh.  The big shell is surrounded by by potted plants.  Above it hang three flowering fuchsias, which the hummingbirds love.  Several birds love the bird bath but the most dedicated user is a catbird.   When the catbird wants to use the bath, he will scold any bird that happens to be there ahead of him.

Nothing in the garden - or the house - or the world - would run right if it weren't for the catbird.  How do I know?  The catbird told me so.  It started on the day part of our roof fell in (yes, really, but that's another story).  The catbird showed up to make sure the contractor did the repair right.  The catbird would sit on the guy's foot and comment.  The catbird follows me around the garden and gives me advice.

Back to the bird bath and on to the cat.  The cat in question is my big Cal Meepers, a non-pedigreed Maine Coon type, and the sweetest cat in the world.  Cal does not go outside but he does sit on his side of the screen door on occasion to watch the garden life.  It wasn't long before the catbird and Cal discovered each other.  The catbird takes a bath and talks to Cal.  Cal sits fascinated.  He is alert but not in hunting mode.

"Trill squeak squeak!" says the catbird.

"Mrr! Meep!" says Cal.

Translation isn't really required.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I have no idea what I'm doing

I never wanted to blog, but people keep telling me I should.  The whole thing makes me nervous.  Nonetheless, here goes.  This first post is really just a test, to see if it really works.