If you read this story, I hope you find it a fun read.
What would happen if a guest was purposely misdirected (by a malicious cousin) and ended up in the wrong room—where the host's daughter was sleeping? Those thoughts led me to write Betrothed in Haste to the Earl. Although...they do manage to maneuver around the betrothal quite well until it's time to seriously consider it.
If you read this story, I hope you find it a fun read.
In my area, a cat left outdoors is called a barn cat. One night we noticed a cat sneaking around, and the next thing we knew, a young cat was staying outside. She was little more than a kitten. Of course, we started feeding her.... just regular cat food. Over time, we did a good job. She started looking chubby.
It wasn't long until we discovered she'd had three kittens. I think they were born on April 1st. A birthdate I can remember.
Yes...they weren't exactly barn kittens, they were hollow tree kittens. Cookie, Otis and Barney.
Of course, I adored watching them grow. And little Cookie more than held her own with her two brothers.
(In the past, I have found unexpected feathers in the yard. I suppose it is all the hawks in the area.)
But, while I was sitting outside, watching the birds a week and a half ago, Cookie sped by me, in a straight line, heading for the woods. It was strange but I didn't really connect that something bad had happened. My husband went to investigate. Her two siblings were on point, and a copperhead was in their sights.
A lot of shouting ensued as my husband tried to get the other two kittens away —and hollow tree kittens are not trained to respond to commands.
I didn't know what to do. My husband directed me to get him a nearby shovel. This was a short shovel. Not one with a long handle. I did, and I saw my husband stabbing at the venomous snake, trying to keep the cats away. From my view, he was practically on top of it. Husbands don't respond to commands either.
He killed the snake.
By this time, Cookie had struggled back into the yard. Her eyes were shut, and she was quivering. She'd been bitten. She opened her eyes, and I was flooded with relief. It seemed she could still see. But she was terrified of us and everything else.
We tried to catch her. She ran into the woods again, half-hiding in the leaves.
A friend had taken a dog to the vet after the dog was bitten by the same type of snake, and another friend had been bitten himself. Anti-venom is usually given to people. But pets are more likely only to receive antibiotics on the bite site, and perhaps an over-the-counter-type allergy medication.
And I said a prayer for her. Copperhead bites are not usually fatal to humans, but...she was not even five months old. And the snake wasn't far from where I'd been sitting. She could have saved me from having a venomous bite.
The next morning, my husband took food outside. Little Cookie popped out of the woods. One part of her face was slightly swollen, and she ate like the little champion she is.
My guess is that the snake only got her with one fang because we could see one mark just below the ear and the swelling was around that area. She appears to be completely over it now.
Barn cats may keep mice away, but tree stump kittens are my favorite.
I can't believe I complained about my husband feeding the kittens tuna along with their favorite cat food.
And when my husband said he forgot to buy more canned cat food, and would be going back out for it, I said, "Can't you give them tuna?" Luckily, he remembered the sardines I asked him to get for them.
A few things I did right on my second trip to Yellowstone.
For me, it was the adventure of a lifetime.
But I must admit, the first time I went in 2022, it was nice, but it didn't work out well. I had very little information because the trip started when I heard myself telling someone I was going to go to Yellowstone, and I had no idea those words were about to leave my mouth. Then, I heard about someone else having an adventure and I decided I should try to make my goal of going to Yellowstone come true. A short time later...about the time it took to text a friend and ask if she wanted to go with me, I was thinking seriously about the trip. I looked up flights and soon was booking airline tickets.
The first visit was more of a chance to dip my toes into the river (which is legal and safe at the location where I stopped.) I planned to get reservations for a hotel and a rental car and let my whims guide me.
That didn't exactly work out as expected.
The park had flooding and I wasn't sure what to do. I had been planning to go in through the North Entrance—which was closed.
I travelled around the upper edge of the park after driving that direction on a whim...and went in through the West Entrance for a few hours. I was fortunate that I found my hotel again, and that the allergies which went mountain-high at the dinosaur museum (in Bozeman) waned soon after I left, that the hail didn't damage the vehicle, and that I wasn't involved in the horrific dust storm... I could go on...
It was one of those vacations that I was thankful didn't involve paramedics. I kid you not. The number of near misses made it a vacation I don't expect to forget.
Yet the hot springs fascinated me, and I wanted to go back, even though a foot in a shoe had been found in the park a few days after I left.
The second visit was much more of a vacation and less of a survival experience.
Hot springs. Animals. Waterfalls. Photo opportunities at almost every turn, and not the kind that end up on the Tourons of Yellowstone posts.
Yellowstone isn't a theme park. It's perhaps the best of nature, and it can be the worst of it. And it is hard to remember common sense when a grizzly is in front of you. Or when you're seeing a landscape beyond anything you've ever seen before.
So glad I took a second look and was able to experience Yellowstone.
Part of the antler arches in Jackson, Wyoming and Moose Falls in Yellowstone.
What I did wrong and think I would do differently if I were to return...
FYI: I used a long lens for the photos. But for many pictures a cell phone will work just fine...or even better than a camera. But remember, if you upset the animals or fall into a thermal pool, you might not get a chance to repeat the experience.
Be safe, and keep the wildlife happy!
The Wichita Wildlife refuge was something I didn't think I'd like, but after I went, I knew I would want to return. And I did—again and again. It gives me the feeling of stepping back in my nation's history.
Plus, I'm seeing parts of nature that I'm not familiar with. I knew that elk shed their antlers, but didn't think of them growing a new set of antlers each year.
I knew that bison could be dangerous to people, but I didn't expect them to fight each other, and use their massive heads as battering rams. Many times.
I knew that Rio Grande Turkeys could strut and preen, but I didn't know they would also disagree.
They were loud and so involved in their battles that they didn't see me.
But The dove peacefully waited as the temperature rose, and their breakfast appeared.
These photos were taken on the same day—but if not for the person with me who was trained in wildlife management, I wouldn't have seen the turkeys or many of the elk. The grassland prairie ecosystem is about 3 1/2 hours northwest of Dallas, Texas, and 1 1/2 hours southwest of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the South Central USA.
I'm glad I discovered the refuge, a place which has been home to different animals for thousands and thousands of years.
Imagine stepping out of a vehicle. And imagine a call I didn’t have to make but could have: Hello. I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up. There’s ice. I am in fact…lying on it. I’m actually melting it with my body heat. Apparently, my boots are better for hiking than ice. I’m not hurt because I was able to hold onto the vehicle door as I slid to the ground. Didn’t dent anything. But this ice is cold, and I almost stuck to it there for a second. I can’t manage to pull myself back into the vehicle because my feet keep slipping out from under me, and I’m still lying here. Yep. Can’t get up. I’m kinda sliding around on the ice. Yes, I did wait to go out after it warmed up. Yes, it’s 25 degrees, well, 24, but it was colder this morning. And, my clothes are getting wet because I’m melting the ice but I can’t seem to slide myself up as well as I slid myself down. I was just running an errand important to me. Perhaps essential. Don’t worry, I’m fine now, I scooted myself across the ice to a spot where a patch of grass gave me some traction. I’m on my feet, and I have help now. Why was I out? Well, I’m at the lake. Taking pictures.
Sadly, the above really did happen, and I didn't get the photos I'd hoped for.
What is referred to as "writer's block" is closing in on me and I'm not sure of what to do, but I plan to step back, take a break, and then I'll be able to see the road in front of me.
Almost like coming to a roadblock, enjoying the pause, and then going forward to a place you've not seen before.
The trick may be not to call it writer's block, but a pause before inspiration strikes. And sometimes you just have to enjoy the view in front of you even if you can't go forward at the moment.
Photo Note: The bison are at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
If you have to ask, the answer’s usually…no.
Am I singing in tune?
Am I dressed warm enough?
Does this make me look thinner?
Did you read my message?
Perhaps it will change, but that question about singing in tune has never been answered with a yes when I've asked it.
Photos: The dickcissel photo was taken at a nature preserve after a rain when the birds seemed happy to be out, and the 700-pound grizzly is a rescue animal originally from Alaska whose photo was taken from a safe distance.
Luckily, all these photos were taken in parks or other areas designated for wildlife. But it is fun to have traffic congestion not caused by people congestion.
The skittering tiny creature is a prairie dog.
And the buffalo always get the right of way.
Photo 1 and 4 taken at Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Photo 2 and 3 taken Wichita National Wildlife refuge. Central USA.
When I walk by the Partridge Pea on my acreage, I usually just keep moving. One or two plants and a few blooms. Weeds more than wildflowers.
But when I was exploring a Nature Conservancy area near Pawhuska, OK, one year i saw the Partridge Pea blooming with a vibrancy I'd never seen before.
Even though I've been walking many of the same trails for some time now, the changes from year to year amaze me. Just because I see one wildflower blooming abundantly one season, I know I'm not promised to see the same blooms next year.
There's an old saying, "The only thing constant is change." I didn't realize how true that was in nature.
This autumn, the pollinators have again found the blooms growing best for their needs.
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