No Easter Pets, Please

March 30th, 2018

Have you seen those blue or pink baby chicks that appear in some farm or pet stores around this time of year? Well, if you haven’t, pretty please don’t go in search of them.

They make terrible gifts, even if they aren’t dyed pink. The same goes for ducklings or rabbits bought on the spur of the moment.

Many of these Easter gifts end up homeless, or let loose for predators. According to the CDC,  Easter chicks aren’t good for kids as they may carry Salmonella, which could be dangerous to children who don’t wash their hands properly after touching the chickens.

farm-adoption

To help prevent the suffering of discarded Easter pets and overcrowding at local shelters, the nonprofit Farm Sanctuary encourages parents to help promote a new compassionate tradition by sponsoring a rescued farm animal in need rather than buying an animal.

Many of the animal residents at Farm Sanctuary’s shelters were rescued after being given as presents for Easter, and they now depend on adoptive “parents” for their care.

If you believe the best Easter treats are chocolate, not live pets, share this blog post with others. Please have a great Easter and flower-filled spring!

This post was updated from an earlier version published on this blog in 2010. 

Help End Plastic Pollution on Earth Day 2018 and Beyond

March 25th, 2018

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, but the lessons of Earth Day last 365 days a year, as long as you’re open to that! This year, Earth Day Network is focusing on ending plastic pollution.

Plastic is everywhere. Since plastic was invented in the 1950s, we’ve produced 9.1 billion U.S. tons, and 91 percent of plastic isn’t recycled. By the year 2050, there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish! Right now, there’s more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in our Milky Way. (Sources via Earth Day Network)

Besides its invasive nature, why is plastic the enemy? Plastic items are clogging waterways and injuring or killing wildlife. Plastic pollution is also endangering human health in complex ways we’ve only begun to understand.

I’m not trying to depress you. We can change all this. Consider your own plastic pollution footprint. One of the most important things you can do to lower your footprint is refuse plastic. If there is no other option, recycle the plastic you have.

Learn more about ending plastic pollution with the Earth Day Network Toolkit.

One Minute Low Fat Mock Apple Pie

March 25th, 2018

When you have to avoid fat, but still want something sweet, turn to the mock apple pie! Because I detest long introductions to recipes, here you go:

One-Minute Low-Fat Mock Apple Pie Dessert

  1. Pour 4 ounces of unsweetened natural applesauce in a bowl. I like Mott’s.
  2. Mix in a dash of ground cinnamon.
  3. Add a very small dollop of Truwhip Skinny on top (very optional), or make your own whipped cream. I usually just enjoy this without the cream.
  4. Get in your hands on four water crackers (they serve as a “crust”).
  5. Dip the water crackers into the applesauce mixture, and be surprised at how good this low-fat, easy apple pie tastes!

I came up with this treat after learning that I needed to stick to low-fat foods because of gallbladder issues. Those have, I think been resolved by a recent surgery, but I’m going to stick with this healthy, fun dessert.

If you need to know exactly how much fat you’re consuming, please look at the fat content of your applesauce, water crackers and whipped topping (if using). Low-fat dishes contain less than 3 grams of fat per serving. And, of course, you’d be wise to have just one serving.

The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape

April 20th, 2017

Photographer Diane Tuft traveled to places few human eyes ever see. By plane, boat and helicopter, she explored Norway’s mountain glaciers, the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice and Greenland’s icebergs and ice sheet.

book-cover-arctic-meltIt’s important, hard work! As we’re all living life in our neighborhoods, sipping coffee or walking the dog, we don’t really think about all that melting ice in the planet’s northernmost regions.

But we should. The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape allows you to sit back all warm and comfortable in your favorite chair with a cat on your lap while you explore vast glaciers and frigid seas.

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book.) It’s a big book – 10×13 and 176 pages. I felt like a kid with it in my lap. But it’s not a hernia art history book.

arctic-tuft

The book can grace your coffee table, and insert itself into many conversations. After all, how many photography books out there feature dramatic icebergs?

No, you won’t find any cute animals in this book, but that’s good. It gives you more brain power to quietly contemplate the austere beauty of ice and snow and meltwater.

Plus, do you like a good haiku? Tuft, who photographed melting ice for you relentlessly during the summers of 2015 and 2016, has also composed haikus to help readers better understand her impressions of the regions she photographed.

thearcticmelt

Is there a lesson among all these photographs? Yep. And it’s that we can’t ignore those things we can’t see. Plus, now you see them….

From the Foreword by Joe Rome, Ph.D., “It is vital to tell this story because the most important ice on the planet is far away from where most people live so they can not see what is happening to it firsthand. It is important because it is not too late to save most of that ice and because failing to do so would destroy civilization as we have come to know it.”

disappearinglandscape

While that sounds ominous, it’s also hopeful.

Keep shouting out that you believe in action against climate change.

More information about the book:

The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape by Diane Tuft with Foreword by Joe Rome, Ph.D., will be published by Assouline in April 2017.

ISBN is 9781614285861.

All photography in this post is from The Arctic Melt, Images of a Disappearing Landscape.

Stop the USDA Blackout

February 21st, 2017

Why has the USDA website gone dark on important information that is used to save the lives of animals?

Earlier this month, animal inspection reports and enforcement actions were abruptly removed from the USDA website. No warning. Just dark.

Without providing much explanation other than citing a vague privacy concern, the U.S. government has made the USDA website radically less useful to animal welfare advocates, journalists, investigators and concerned citizens. The privacy concern is obviously bunk as the USDA redacts any sensitive information anyhow!

beagle-illustration

Is the “privacy” of commercial businesses really more important than animal welfare and the free release of information? After all, we the people own this information. These reports are the work of government employees, and we pay their salaries. It’s not classified information, so the mysterious reasons for removing it from the USDA website can’t possibly be honorable.

Information about the inspections of labs, zoos, breeding facilities and factory farms has been available on the website for decades. We don’t know the true reason why it was removed, but we do know why it should be put back.

rabbit-drawing

Why is it important to repost the deleted animal inspection reports and enforcement actions on the USDA website?

Gone is the quick access to information that can be used to help protect animals, and this could embolden animal abusers.

If animal rescue groups don’t know about animals, such as dogs, being released from laboratories, they can’t offer to rescue them and find them homes.

People purchasing dogs from breeders no longer have quick access to inspection reports. Puppy mills must love this.

Animals could potentially die, or endure suffering longer than they otherwise would have suffered. The same information that was for many years freely, quickly available online can now only be obtained via an official request under the Freedom of Information Act. Once the request is made, it can take months to receive the information!

cat-drawing

What can you do to end the USDA blackout?

Sign petitions, and hold your government representatives responsible for restoring the reports! Complain, complain, complain to anyone who will listen. Make this a big deal, because it is.

Here are a couple of petitions you can sign to end the USDA Blackout:

ASPCA petition : https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/usda-puppy-mill-reports-petition

Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) official White House petition : https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reverse-usdas-blackout-information-related-animals-labs

Happy signing and complaining! You’re doing it for the defenseless.

Image credits: Dog drawing from page 276 of “The foxhound of the twentieth century: the breeding and work of the kennels of England” (1914); rabbit drawing from page 439 of “St. Nicholas [serial]” (1873); cat drawing from page 99 of “Our domestic animals, their habits, intelligence and usefulness” (1907).

Feature: Tides, The Science and Spirit of The Ocean

January 27th, 2017

Those wondrous and sometimes frightening tides. Why do they act so? It’s time to take a little mystery away from them, but love them all the same.

What’s the book, and where can you get it?

Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White will be released from Trinity University Press on February 21, 2017. It’s to be available at bookstores everywhere, if there are still actual physical bookstores in your area, that is! If not, visit the usual suspects online. I received an advance copy of this book at no charge, but I’m only writing this feature because this is a worthwhile book.

Who is the author?

Jonathan White is an active marine conservationist, a sailor, plus a surfer! His has also written Talking on the Water: Conversations about Nature and Creativity. This guy has really spent a lot of time studying tides, but he’s also a good writer, not a boring science guy. No offense to science guys on this planet. We need you more than ever. March on.

A little alert for literary nerds: The foreword is written by Peter Matthiessen, co-founder of The Paris Review.

Why read it?

Tides takes you to the Arctic, China, France, Chile, Scotland, Panama and Italy. On your journeys you’ll learn about tides, yes, but some parts of the book cover a very important topic, one that’s being ignored by many right now – climate change, specifically how the threat of sea level rise is changing the culture in Venice and Panama. Yet, in Chile and Scotland, you’ll learn about a rising alternative energy source: tidal power! It’s not all wind and solar these days.

Go on, flip the switch on your tidal knowledge. You won’t get lost. There are maps and everything.

Shed Some Light on the North Pole with New Book: The Arctic

October 26th, 2016

Let’s be honest: Not many of us know much about the Arctic! It can feel mysterious and far away. This book, The Arctic, changes that, but in a good way.

arctic-cover

The Arctic: Reflecting the Landscape, Wildlife, and People of the Far North was written by Sven-Olof Lindblad with Elizabeth Warner. It gives the reader 200 amazing color photographs, along with stories about the land and sea, native peoples and wildlife.

Giant icebergs along the coastline of east Greenland before sunrise.

Giant icebergs along the coastline of east Greenland before sunrise.

Greenland, Disko Bay, Ilulissat, wooden house with large iceberg in background

Greenland, Disko Bay, Ilulissat, wooden house with large iceberg in background

Right now, the Arctic is transforming rapidly. A lot is happening in the North Pole, including the swift melting of ice caps and glaciers, and the disappearance of sea ice. All those things mean rising sea levels. But The Arctic isn’t a book that only focuses on climate change or other issues like mining rights.

Adult Brünnich's Guillemots, Uria lomvia, on ice at Cape Fanshawe, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway

Adult Brünnich’s Guillemots, Uria lomvia, on ice at Cape Fanshawe, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway

So, what is The Arctic all about? It helps you discover the magical Arctic for yourself with incredible images that will make you want to grab the next flight to this wild spot full of natural beauty. It’s a place like you’ve never seen or even imagined. Expect incredible images of animals like the polar bear, walrus and guillemot, along with unbelievable landscape photographs and portraits of Inuit people going about their lives.

CXRCR6 Dogsled guide, dog sledding trip to Ilulissat Fjord, Greenland flag, Greenland, Arctic North America

CXRCR6 Dogsled guide, dog sledding trip to Ilulissat Fjord, Greenland flag, Greenland, Arctic North America

 The Arctic also allows the reader a window into indigenous Inuit communities. Remember: The Arctic has a frozen ocean, but the land is more inhabitable. The Inuit people maintain their traditional way of life inside the stunning, yet harsh Arctic.  

Atlantic Walrus (O. rosmarus rosmarus) and blue ice berg, Franz Josef Land, Russia

Atlantic Walrus (O. rosmarus rosmarus) and blue ice berg, Franz Josef Land, Russia

Do these images inspire you to explore the Arctic in real life?

Practical Info about The Arctic

All images featured in this post are © The Arctic: Reflecting the Landscape, Wildlife, and People of the Far North by Sven-Olof Linblad, Rizzoli New York, 2016.

ASPCA Rescues Pets Affected by Hurricane Matthew Flooding

October 12th, 2016

Hurricane Matthew has left many animals in need, and members of the ASPCA disaster response team are currently assisting with animal rescues and sheltering work in Lumberton, N.C.

The pictures in this post will both break your heart, and warm it at the same time. All images are credited to the ASPCA.

hurricane-matthew-rescues-aspca-dogs

Lumberton is suffering from massive flooding bought on by Hurricane Matthew.

aspca-rescues-north-carolina

“Local officials estimate hundreds of animals may be affected in Lumberton at this point, and we will assist them with sheltering displaced animals in the community and animal rescue requests,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team.

aspca-cat-rescue-nc

“For many, pets are members of the family, and we will do everything we can and continue to go out into the field to search for lost pets and hopefully reunite them with their owners,” added Rickey.

aspca-matthew-dog-rescues-nc

The ASPCA is also working in other areas affected by the hurricane. In the last few days, the ASPCA has assisted almost 950 animals through pre-evacuation, field rescue, transport and sheltering needs in Georgia and South Carolina.

ascpa-matthew-rescues

You can help by donating to the ASPCA.

All images in this post credited to the ASPCA.

Plastic Straws Are the Enemy?

September 22nd, 2016

There’s a lot of iced coffee being served. And have you ever seen anyone take their own reusable straw to a coffee shop?

It typically doesn’t happen unless said person is also taking along a reusable coffee cup. And I don’t see that often either.

Image by Horia Varlan flickr

Image by Horia Varlan flickr

Is it a big deal? According to a new post at treehugger, How to banish plastic straws from your life forever, yeah, it is.

Did you know that we use 500 million plastic straws daily? That’s just in America. Read more about the numbers at the National Park Service.

Image by Dann Toliver

Image by Dann Toliver

There’s no recycling number on plastic straws either. Most people don’t recycle them. And I have to admit that I still haven’t checked with my local recycling center to see if they’re accepted.

What’s the answer? Check out the treehugger plastic straws resource to learn more about alternatives (reusable straws or even pasta straws), and catch up on the growing movement against plastic straws.

Perhaps giving up the plastic straw will be a New Year’s Resolution. Hmm?

Christmas with Terra Cotta Pots

September 21st, 2016

I didn’t make this Santa and elves, but I did take the image while leaving a restaurant last year.

Also meant to take a picture of a similar terra cotta nutcracker I’d always see on walks, but you get the idea.

terra-pots-christmas-crafts

While I haven’t laid eyes on terra cotta snowmen, gingerbread men, reindeer or Christmas trees,  I know you can make them too!

The truth: I’ve never made one of these. I’m a lazy admirer of the terra cotta arts. Yet, I’m also a lazy holiday decorator. It has something to do with having two cats who attack anything that can be broken.

If you’d like to tackle the terra cotta arts this year, here’s where you can go for inspiration and directions:

Snowman Candy Jar

Terra Cotta Santa and Terra Cotta Snowman

Terra Cotta Pots Wreath

Flower Pot Reindeer Bell Ornament

Before you get to work, make a pot of hot chocolate, and enjoy. Seriously, make hot chocolate, not hot cocoa. You’re celebrating the holidays, after all.

hot-chocolate

Image by Jason James flickr

Bonus inspiration: Make non-holiday themed terra cotta projects to give as gifts. Look at what you can make:

Garden Mushrooms

Watchdog

Lighthouse

Wind chime

Merry making of stuff.