Friday, May 28, 2010

A Repeat Post: Lizard Love or How Sydney Met Rachael

This is my first repeat post. I have been absent from reading your blogs for way too long and I want to catch up. I also want to work on a couple of future posts. Plus the house is a mess and the outside is calling with the promise of another gorgeous day. I chose this post because it is about Rachael and her animal educational program, Sydney's Legacy. This is how it all began:

I'm holding Sydney and Rachael is holding her other bearded dragon, Adelaide, December 2008.

This story may not be for everyone and before I go any further, I want to say that I am not in favor of keeping exotic or wild animals as pets. I have been to reptile shows and seen all the cute little snake babies that kids and grownups get attracted to and bring home as pets, failing to do their research. And then they get surprised when they realize the snake can live for over 20 years and be 20 feet long. Many of these animals are released in backyards, the Everglades, and other inappropriate places, when they become too large to handle. There has been a 75% increase in the acquisition of exotic animals for pets since the 1990s. Since many people can't even take proper care of their dogs and cats, I feel these critters are better left in the wild where they belong.
That said, once they are here, many need to be rescued and people need to be educated. And this is where my friend Rachael is providing such a great service. She has rescued several abandoned exotic animals and her mission in life is to educate people about pets in general and what you need to commit to before bringing any living animal into your home.
Rachael has named her educational program Sydney's Legacy. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sydney. He's a Bearded Dragon, native to Australia and, I know, it may be hard to explain this to someone who's never been totally charmed by a lizard, but I fell hard for him. Sydney is one of the most charming animals I have ever encountered and he has, in the past, inspired me to write a couple of stories about him. I want to introduce him to you here, because in the future, I'll be writing more about Sydney's Legacy. Here is the story of how it all began.

A True Story of the Love of a Bearded Dragon

When Rachael met Sydney, the bearded dragon, he was mad, all puffed up, and displaying his black beard. He sat in his carrier and wouldn’t come out, threatening to bite anyone who ventured close. Rachael, who had been given Sydney by a lady who could no longer take care of him, sat patiently by, waiting for him to calm down. But he wouldn’t have any of it. The trip had been long and scary, even for a bearded dragon. And who was this red-headed person anyway? Why did she take him so far away from all that he was used to? And what kind of place was this? Who lived here? Sydney thought he he'd seen a snake. What a snake, I have to live with a snake? The whole afternoon went by. Rachael sat next to the carrier, talking in a soothing voice, and trying to make Sydney come out. “Sydney,” she said, “come out and I will show you your nice new home. It’s a fine aquarium, with sand and branches for you to sit on. And your dinner is there all ready for you.” Finally, Sydney realized he was hungry and decided to come out and get some food.
After that first day, Rachael explained to Sydney and all the animals that they would never, ever, be sold or given away. Instead, they would all be educational animals, teaching children how to take care of their pets. An educational animal is a fine thing to be, thought Sydney. When she was done taking care of the other animals, Rachael would pick Sydney up. She would pet his scaly back and coo into his ear, telling him how much she loved him, how he was her number one pet. Then she would take him for a walk. Sydney treasured his walks with Rachael and he wasn’t scared of any animals they met, but he always kept a weary eye on the sky. He was a little concerned about the very big hawks that would sometimes fly above. But Rachael would calm him down, speaking softly, telling him that she was protecting him and that she would never ever let anything bad happen to him. Sydney, the bearded dragon, finally realized that he had arrived at a very good home, where he had found his person and true love in a red-head named Rachael.
That was the story I wrote a few years ago. And Rachael has been true to her word and her promise to Sydney and the other animals in her care.
Here are a few of Rachael's animals:
Cleopatra, the Ball Python.
Cleopatra again.
Shackleton, the Savannah Monitor lizard.
Adelaide, the Bearded Dragon lizard.
Gulliver, the California Desert Tortoise, 70 plus years old.

I tried to rotate this photo but it didn't work. Also, please note that Gulliver is at an event here. At home he has a large, beautiful, garden to roam all summer long and a snug place to hibernate for the winter.
Note that Rachael names her animals after important historical or fictional characters, and in the case of the Bearded Dragons, after cities in their native Australia. She then never misses an opportunity to tell the kids about, for example, queen Cleopatra, who legend has it, carried a Ball Python around her wrist as a bracelet.

Rachael's animals are all rescues that will always be cared for and loved. She will take them to meet many kids and adults as well. They will all have a wonderful purpose in life: To help Rachael teach children and adults about compassion for all living things and the five things ALL pets need: A home, food, water, medical care, and LOVE! And a commitment from the owner to provide these things for the life of the animal. And there is no one I know of, or have seen on TV, or any lecturer at any zoo, who is better at this than Rachael. So I wish her all the best and I'll definitely write more about Sydney's Legacy in the future.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Got A Thoughtful Award – Thoughts On Blogging - The Friend Who Got Me Started - And An Update.

I got this award from Shirl whose blog can be found here:  

Shirl lives in Essex in the UK and I was touched because she forwarded this award to five blogger friends who are going through tough times right now. Thank you so much, Shirl for this fun award. It really brightened my day.

Let me give you a short update on my recovery: Today, the fourth week of healing begins and I feel so much better. Today will also be the first day that I will be completely off the pain meds. I plan to rest this week and then start walking and building up my strength next week. Yeah!!!

I have to tell everyone that I'm now, more than ever, so happy that I started this blog last summer. I was very hesitant and ambivalent about it. I like to write and take pictures, but I remember worrying about putting my life out there for any stranger to read. Little did I know I would meet so many kind, caring, and amazing people through my blog. And learn so much. Thanks to my blog, I'm visiting all the way from northern Sweden to Tanzania – at:  and most recently Namibia – at They are both so worth checking out and you can also find them in my sidebar.

I'm very grateful to my friend, Danni, who when I was hesitating last summer, sent me a long e-mail about her blog, what it had done for her, and how much fun blogging could be. That email was the turning point for me. In addition to that, her own blog:  is one of the loveliest blogs around. I would encourage everyone to check it out – it's in my sidebar also. And Danni loves donkeys and even has two of her own. So this award is for you, Danni, thank you for opening the door to the world of blogging for me. And thanks for your concern after my recent mishap.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Samson Learns A Lesson

Welcome to my blog Cindi, I'm looking forward to getting to know you.

Hi again everyone, it's me Princess!

It was a pretty boring weekend -- mommy with her busted shoulder and daddy mad 'cause it rained and snowed so he couldn't whack the weeds like he planned. And no walks for us. So to have some fun, us older dogs decided to teach Samson how to beg.
First: The old staring intently trick…
If that doesn't work: Let's try a smile…
Or staring intently and smiling at the same time.
If that doesn't work: Let's try to get closer, maybe daddy will get the idea. I want a taste, yes I do!!!!!
When all else fails: We try the old ganging up on him trick.
It worked: Daddy is getting out our biscuits now!!
But afterwards, Samson says: This is what I want to know, why do we have to work soooo hard just to get a little teeny biscuit? That's they way of the world, puppy dog, we tell him. You'll find out that there will be lots of things our persons do that you'll never be able to make head or tails of.

That's all for now, hope to see you soon again. But most of all I hope we get to go for a walk real soon. But then I guess we're spoiled with our daily walks and us dogs have to look for our patience too, just like mommy is looking for hers.

Thanks for visiting.
Posted by me, Princess!

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Award To Share

I got this award from Gunilla, who lives in northern Sweden. Gunilla has a truly great blog:
which translates to: garden of the northern lights, referring to the aurora borealis phenomenon that takes place in the northern sky.

Thank you, Gunilla, for this award.

Some rules come with the award:

1. Copy the award and place it on your blog.
2. Note who you got it from.
3. Provide a link to that blog.
4. Make some friends happy by forwarding the award to them.
5. Let those friends know they can pick up the award here.

I would like to forward this award to:

One old friend:

And my new friends:

Louise at:

Sharon at:

Linda May at:


Have a wonderful day everyone,


Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's May 23rd, So What's Up With That White Stuff?

Look what we woke up to this morning!
No, there isn't that much snow, but dark clouds hang around the eastern mountains and it's cold.
I actually woke up to loud noises as my husband was splitting wood to start a fire.
In the living room, I find Samson courting Angel. And how come they are both on my couch where they are not allowed? Probably has something to do with daddy being in charge.
Angel is not at all interested in anything but a distant 3rd cousin like relationship with Samson. This he doesn't understand at all, as you can see on his expression here. I'm too tired to get them off the couch, so I go back to bed and continue reading this wonderful memoir:

A Medical Update:
On Friday, we went to the orthopedic doctor in Bakersfield. The good news is that I really like the doctor and his staff. The not so good news: They took new X-rays and showed me how pieces of my shoulder broke off with one larger piece sort of floating around a bit away from the bone. They also told me that these breaks (3 or 4 of them) are close to my rotator cuff and certain moves could risk a break, in which case surgery will be necessary. And expected time to heal went from two months to three to four, maybe longer because of my diabetes. I have to be in the sling and I will not be able to drive for all that time.
So, the best thing I could have done was to begin reading Angela's Ashes, finally. Tragic as this memoir is, there is absolutely no self-pity in these people, and adversity is often met with wonderful humor. So an inspiration for me to keep my chin up. There are places where I'm actually laughing out loud. And what could be better for my healing than that?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Visit To A Swedish Animal Park -- Part Two

Welcome to Ninny, a new follower of my blog. 

As Inga and I walked around, we came upon a large meadow with an animal population straight from the African savannah.

I saw Swedish pine trees, tall and slender, in the background, but look who lives here: Rhinos, wildebeest, giraffes and antelope…all together in this large area. 

Soon the herd of rhinos started on a walkabout, around the pond.

As they approached, the antelope started to move away, except for one who was butting horns with a wildebeest. I was very pleased with myself to have captured that action with my camera.

Here's a giraffe off by itself at the other end of the large field.

This animal park also has a drive-through part where animals are separated, as appropriate, in large natural enclosures. Here she is, the moose, symbol of Sweden, resting right by the road where the cars go by, seemingly taking it all in stride.

It was my lucky day -- well, of course it was my birthday, and look who decided to stroll on by: A Swedish brown bear!   

Not only that, the bear decided to cross the road right in front of our car. That was a lot of fun for me to experience.

In the next enclosure, we came upon some giraffes taking a rest in the Swedish forest and a buffalo looking not too pleased to see us driving by.

The lions were wonderful, playful, rolling around in the tall grass. I was so enthralled, that I managed to mess up all the pictures I took of them.

But I'm posting them anyway. Hope you can get an idea of how much fun it was to watch them having a good time.

I don't know if you can see them, but lined up against the fence are about five lion cubs and they were the cutest of all in this animal park.
Let me end this visit in the Swedish forest. Can't you almost see a troll coming out of the woods? All the little bushes you see, growing close to the ground, are blueberries. I just had to take a picture.

A wonderful day, with a good friend, who every time I come to Stockholm gives me a place to sleep and, with her sister, always makes sure I have the best of times there. Thank you Inga and Christina for all you do for me when I come to Stockholm.

A report on my healing progress: After two weeks, the pain is much, much better. Yesterday, I had a very upset stomach and a splitting headache – so I took no pain meds at all. Today, I woke up to a glorious morning in the canyon and I know that I'm on my way to feeling better.

Thank you so much my wonderful friends for all your support. It means the world to me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Visit To A Swedish Animal Park -- Part One

Welcome Sophie and BlueRidge Boomer - two new followers.

First day of summer 2005 -- I was in Sweden and it was my birthday so my friend, Inga, decided that we should celebrate by doing something special. She treated me to a wonderful day that included a visit to Kolmarden's Animal Park south of Stockholm.
Since I have to rest for a while to heal my injuries, I looked through my photos to find stuff to blog about. And I loved this day so much, I thought you may want to come along as I remember it.
I had so many photos that I decided to make this a two-part adventure. At least I hope it will be an adventure.

We started out looking at the tame critters.

As always, I love to visit with goats and they had lots of them. Here's even a baby one.

Here are more goats and some mellow cows.

Before we set out into the park, we visited a non-denominational church that is built partially into a mountain. The architecture was interesting and the church was beautiful.

Several large boulders were left inside the church.

One boulder had a wreath of candles wrapped around it and it was truly beautiful. The church is oval or round, so there are no corners and very peaceful inside.

The views outside were gorgeous too.

The polar bears had a huge enclosure

where they walked around and swam in the pool.

These guys seem pretty content.

This looked a bit strange to me: A tiger, two, three tigers in a very Swedish-looking meadow.

There they were, walking down the path

checking out the water temp… after all it's early summer and it may be cold in there….

But no, look: A treat for me, the first time I've ever seen a tiger going for a swim.

We all know that a good swim makes for a good appetite…what magnificent animals they are, these large cats.

Part two will follow in a day or two and will include animals from the African savannah and two symbols of Swedish wildlife.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Old And New Friends Cheer Me Up

Welcome to Scribenbirder, Shirl, Sharon, Jabacue, and Cat who are new followers, new friends…how great is that?
Good news is: I'm feeling better for the first time this morning. I got Naproxen yesterday. It's an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant that broke the chain of pain right away. Since the Vicodin didn't do much for the pain, I assume I had a muscle spasm in addition to the hematoma in my left arm that hurt much more than the broken shoulder.
From Rachael.
My blog plans for the month of May were to talk about my progress with yard work and my garden. Instead of struggling with the dry summer heat, I wanted to focus on a few plants, like peppers, who like heat, and then have plenty of flowers in baskets and planters all over the place. I also wanted to repair and freshen up things, as needed, around here. I was so excited about all these projects and now with about six weeks of recovery left to go, I have to put all that on the back burner and find other things to do
A present from Rachael, who knows I need a donkey in my life.
I will continue to blog. Looking at the photos in my computer, I found some adventures from the past that I can share. I'm working on one from the great Swedish animal park at Kolmarden that I visited in 2005. I also have some animal stories I wrote for newsletters in the past, but didn’t think I wanted to include in my blog…now I think I will. Of course, if it isn't too boring, I can always write about my day-to-day recovery and let you know what I learned from this experience. If I ever find my PATIENCE, I will write about that too. One thing I know right now is that typing one-handed really fries your brain. It's not easy, but may get better with time.
A small part of all the grass Rachael cut for me.
Rachael came yesterday and was a huge help. She went grocery shopping and picked up more pain medicines in town. She also brought a lot of gifts, both practical and fun, and a huge bunch of flowers. Then she cut the front yard grass and weeds and helped me with a long list of things that I couldn't do myself, like changing the sheets on my bed. It's wonderful to have friends, who will drop everything in their own busy lives and just come and help you.

Rachael, thank you so much…this quote is for you:

Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.
St. Francis de Sale


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