Kangaroo Rats are Desert Ninjas

I saw this on Instagram today and couldn’t believe how fast these rats are. I always saw them hopping around when we lived in Arizona and felt sorry for them having to contend with the rattlers but now, after watching this a few times, I can’t imagine how the snakes ever get a meal at all. What you see the first time through honestly won’t make sense until they show you the slow-motion capture. Prepare to be impressed.

Desert Rat link: https://instagram.com/p/BX1RGc8ABvY/


Happy Summer!

Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21 this year. The word Solstice is Latin in origin and translates as, Sol =the Sun, + stitere =standing still.

On that day, the North Pole tilts most directly Sunward. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere experience this as the longest day and shortest night of the year. Around December 21, the Winter Solstice, the North Pole points away from the Sun giving us in the Northern Hemisphere, our shortest day, and longest night. This tilting of the Earth’s rotational axis gives us our seasons. During each Solstice, the Sun appears to both rise and set at the exactly opposite spot on the horizon. The Solar Calendars like Stonehenge and the Sun Dagger in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico operate by indicating this point.

Symbols of Summer:

The rose, bees, the fast-growing vine and the bright sun. Modern symbols include flip-flops, Outdoor weddings, icy pitchers of lemonade, beach umbrellas and baseball games!

Foods of Summer:

Fruits, fresh picked vegetables, pickled salads, cold soups, tomatoes, and iced tea.

Colors of Summer:

Brights: lime green, lemon yellow, sunny orange, sky blue.

The Zodiacal Signs of Summer:

The solstice is the first day of Cancer – July 22, Leo from July 23 – August 22, and Virgo from August 23 – September 8 this  year.

The Stones of Summer:

Cancer resonates with white stones like shell and pearl. Leo with gold stones like citrine and tiger-eye. Virgo with blue stones like sodalite and sapphire.

Activities of Summer:

picnics, gardening, parades and festivals, fireworks, weeding, swimming outside, long walks in the sunshine.


The Farmer’s Almanac’s Solstice Page

The Empire of the Sun a Museum exhibit from Denmark, roughly translated into English

Lose weight by walking: an article and tips from the Health Ambition Community

The Chaco Canyon Sun Dagger petroglyphs

The Solstice Project: A Research Project about Fajada Butte

An interactive model of the Sun Dagger


It’s Easter!


Easter was a big deal when I was a little kid. Grandpa would prepare in advance of the holiday by making the traditional pink horseradish. This is the Polish version of the Paschal bitter herbs and it’s called ćwikła, and even though Grandma made him grate the horseradish in the basement, the fumes would still linger in the house for a whole day. I guess if we had lived somewhere more temperate, he could have done it outside but this was Chicago in April where the crocuses hadn’t even bloomed yet so a dirt-floored basement had to stand in. Grandma would have prepared by picking up sausage from Norbie at Avondale Sausage and a challah and lamb-shaped butter from Augusta Bakery.


We made colored eggs, the Easter Bunny (my parents) hid them at our house and then I’d find those before we drove to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I would check the snowy porch to see if the Easter bunny had come because he always left a chunk of carrot and a few droppings (raisinets) in the snow on the porch. Once we got to Grandma’s, an Easter basket was always waiting for me on the coffee table. The 60’s Easter basket was different than today’s, less mass-produced and brand oriented and simpler and more ephemeral. I think Grandma got them at the bakery. It had Excelsior rather than plastic grass, a sugar egg diorama with either a village or religious scene in it, things like paper cut-out sheep and lambs, or a small puzzle or game, a packet of cross buns, and of course, a chocolate bunny, preferably solid, not a hollow one. Grandma was proficient at finding chocolate bunnies with cute faces.


I was never good with chocolate bunnies. I’d put ribbons around their necks, take the Excelsior and pose them on it on the coffee table with the paper sheep but I couldn’t bite them. All through Easter brunch, I’d be in a panic wondering how I was going to protect my bunny once everyone settled in for whatever old movie was on Family Classics and the conversation turned to “ears or tail.” They’d tease, I’d protest, and finally, when she couldn’t stand it anymore, Mom would sneak it away to the kitchen to be chopped up and distributed.

Did your family celebrate Easter? How did you celebrate?

Recipe for Polish Horseradish (Chrzan)

Spring Equinox 2017

Spring is the dawn of the new zodiacal year in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t you just love the word “equinox?” I have to decide each time whether to say it with a short or long “e”. The equinoxes are the two times during the year when the dark of night and the light of day are in balance or equal. Another name for the Vernal Equinox is Ostara, from the name of a German Goddess of fertility, Oestarae.

She is the deific equivalent of the Greco-Roman goddess, Aurora, the personification of the sunrise. Consider that the Sun rises in the East and her name is where East and Easter both come from. The Christian Easter date was decided by the Council of Nicaea to fall the first Sunday after the first full Moon occurring on or after the March Equinox. This effectively removed its observance from conflicts with either Ostara or Passover.

There are many holidays and customs associated with March besides Easter. Click here to browse a few.

Signs of Spring:

Aries (Mar 20-Apr 19), Taurus (Apr 20-May 19), & Gemini (May 20- Jun 19)

Symbols of Spring:

Baby animals, rabbits, lambs, colored Easter eggs, robins, crocus and tulips

Foods of Spring:

Asparagus, artichokes, strawberries, apricots and fresh greens

Colors of Spring:

The pale green of young leaves, white of apple and pear blossoms, pink of camellia, azalea and cherry, yellow of witch hazel and forsythia, and all the colors of tulips.

Stones of Spring:

Ruby, diamond and red jasper are the traditional stones for Aries.  Amethyst. aventurine and rose quartz are traditional for Taurus, agate, moonstone and tiger eye for Gemini.

Activities of Autumn:

Walk in the arboretum under the cherry blossoms, go to the garden show and purchase plants and seeds for next year, make camping reservations for Summer!

Ostara’s place in the The Wheel of the Year.

Click these links to learn more about Spring and Equinoxes:  Rites of Spring or March Equinox Explained.

And… Since you know how I love this kind of thing, are some more dates from Wikipedia:

The Babylonian calendar began with the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the day after the Sumerian goddess Inanna‘s return from the underworld (later known as Ishtar), in the Akitu ceremony, with parades through the Ishtar Gate to the Eanna temple, and the ritual re-enactment of the marriage to Tammuz, or Sumerian Dummuzi.

The Persian calendar begins each year at the northward equinox, observationally determined at Tehran.[5]

The Indian national calendar starts the year on the day next to the vernal equinox on 22 March (21 March in leap years) with a 30-day month (31 days in leap years), then has 5 months of 31 days followed by 6 months of 30 days.[5]



Love birds?

Have you ever wondered how many animals cats actually kill?

That exact question was the topic of the Kittycams UGA study by the University of Georgia, and the results have been published by the National Geographic Society.

Karin sent me an infographic explaining and summarizing the results of the study, click the link below to see it: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cats_actually_kill



A New Look!

 Is this exciting, or what?

I think this is the first theme change in about twelve years. I decided to try a new theme, new colors, the whole thing! The picture above is the one I chose, in case you are interested. The hard part was getting the sidebar to load correctly since this theme assumes you won’t want one. Mine is on every page but the first page.

The other challenge was to get the pages in the menu at the top to display in only one line, yes, I am picky that way and I don’t like multi-line menus.

What made me keep the old theme so long is that 1. It loaded lightning-fast, and 2. It was easy to read. So far this is even easier to read because of the way it makes more posts available without scrolling while still allowing me to retain a font/reading-pane background color I like.

Call me old-fashioned but I prefer black type on white or cream paper, and the graphics-design types don’t see that as a priority. Now as far as page loading speeds go, we’ll see. What do you think?

Hummingbird feeders in Winter

I noticed the Anna’s hummingbird buzzing around the camellia a couple of days ago but the only flowers we have to offer this early are the crocuses that came up this week. The camellia doesn’t usually bloom for a while yet and the poor thing must be tired of eating gnats, spiders and whatever else he can find in the Winter.

Hummingbirds in the Winter? Yes, the Anna’s hummers stay here all year and usually in the Summer I have at least three, two males and a less flashy female, all buzzing around the roses and heliotrope near the front porch. They keep the Rufous hummingbirds away from the front garden and they hassle the bees and dragonflies. They used to like it when I had the little fountain out there but the raccoons broke the fountain so many times that I put the heliotrope in the spot instead.  I’ve never put hummingbird feeders out before but apparently they are asking for food now.

I picked this feeder from my local Wild Bird store because it looked easy to fill, hang up and clean. I have some hooks on the porch from wind chimes and a lantern and the birds are used to things there. The proprietor said it might take a while before they noticed it but I hung the feeder up at 11:00 and at 3:00 I opened the front door to take out some recycling and startled a hummingbird. Only one at a time is ever in the feeder but I think I have seen a brighter male and a duller female at different times, it is hard to compare when they are so tiny and I am seeing them only one at a time against the dark green of the camellia leaves. One even came at dusk to drink by the light of the porch light.

The feeding instructions are really clear: 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water, mix well and replace every 4-5 days. Studies show that 1:4 sugar to water most closely mimics the sucrose they get from flowers and provides the water they need so don’t be tempted to add more sugar or honey or anything else or you can cause them problems.

Here are some links:

Hummingbirds and how to Attract Them

Anna’s Hummer Fact Sheet

Wild Bird’s Unlimited Shops

How Hummingbirds Drink Nectar

Plants that attract Hummingbirds

Here is an article (it starts on page 7) about a study determining exactly how much nectar actual flowers contain: Newsletter of the Louisiana Ornithological Society






Personal & Planetary Transformation

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