Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kayaking at last

   Joni and I decided to beat the extreme heat today but getting out on the water. Being in, on, or preferably under water is about the only way to escape the oppressive Midwest summer.
   We went to one of our favorite area lakes, Smithville. Like Hillsdale, it is a man-made lake with lots of beautiful, weathered sunken trees to dodge. When we were out here a couple years ago, we discovered a couple clothes that were overtaken by them. The lily pads were as big as my wingspan, and the flowers were dinner plates.
   The flowers weren't yet blooming as we expected, so we will be back here in a few weeks to enjoy them. This little dude hitched a ride on my boat:
   [Laura & Anastasia: went kayaking today wearing my Aloha gear to celebrate our Hawaii anniversary!!! (No one would ever confuse Missouri for Hawaii, but it was a beautiful day nonetheless.)]
   Now, why on earth and my standing up in my kayak to take a picture, risking tipping the whole thing over?
   Joneys good camera captured what my iPhone could not: a very long, beautiful black rat snake! Hanging out in this old stump in the middle of the lake.
   We did find a cove full of lily pads that were beginning to get tall. When these are at their full-size, they will be well over my head, making me seem even smaller than normal.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Happy Hawaiiversary!

  A year ago, June 23, I was on my way to Hawaii to spend two completely incredible, awe-filled weeks of love and learning about conservation, in the company of some of the world's most welcoming and brilliant people.
   And today I am wishing I were right back there again. 
   The last 15 months have been quite the roller coaster, mostly good, but not easy. A year ago, during this time of travel and discovery and meeting new people, I had perhaps the strongest feeling I've ever had in my life that I was in "the flow." I felt very centered, very connected, and although uncertainty hung in the air, not an ounce of fear or doubt. I haven't felt like that in a while. Trying to sort out what that means for me.
   The ocean is a magical place and it is calling to me like a siren. Never in my life all I forget how it felt to dive with the mantis, and to swim alongside wild spinner dolphins.
* * * 
   The image above is a design I created for, the family I met on my first trip to Hawaii. I returned to work with them for a couple weeks in September. 


   Dr. Jane Goodall reminded me that today is a day to be celebrated. One of the things I love about working from home is that every day is "take your dog to work day." (And cat.)
   On the downside, however… these are some lazy beasts!!! Not a single one of them has lifted a paw to help me with all my work today!!!' 

Thursday, June 23, 2016


   Had a great conversation with my friend Brett tonight about taking care of yourself, particularly in times of stress. The trifecta of diet, exercise, and sleep is a powerful combination. (Some good whiskey also doesn't hurt.)
   And my friend Steph happened to share this quote on Instagram. Love!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wildlife be gone!!

   Generally, I think animals are pretty savvy. But I have to wonder about the common sense of wildlife that continues to enter my backyard, despite it being occupied by TWO HUNTING DOGS!!
   OK... one hunting dog. I rescued this poor raccoon from Killer (Aki). As soon as I opened the back door to investigate the noise in the backyard, Taylor ran inside, all the way up the stairs, and didn't come down until the trespasser was gone. 
   Very exciting evening indeed!
Ironically, due to his mask, I have had children ask me if Taylor IS a raccoon!!! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Happy birthday to Kelly and Dick!

   I love that two of my very favorite people on the planet share a birthday!!! Both with huge hearts-- supporting homeless pets in KC for longer than I've known 'em.
   Have a great one, Jon Kelly Green and Dick Jobe !

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Dog n Jog 2016

   Taylor and I went over to Petco to pick up our dog n jog packet this afternoon! Poor Aki is still recuperating and won't be able to join us for the race tomorrow. She's always upset when we leave without her, but in truth, she's not very comfortable and crowds. So if I was able to explain where we were going, she would be glad to stay home. She'll be with us in spirit! 
   The printer did a nice job with the shirts, and the pick up was busy, so I'm hoping for another huge turnout and some good money raised for the Humane Society of greater Kansas City.
   The event was great as always and very well attended, though it was already in the 80s and too hot for running. Taylor and I were spectators for the 2 mile run, though we usually run both distances. This year we opted just to run the 1 mile. 
   We earned our fastest time ever, 6:29, which was enough for fourth place. We just barely missed being on the podium! So the three of us have won first place once, second-place twice, and now Taylor and I have come in fourth place twice. Think we're due for third place next year, at least?!
   Gary and Sunny performing for the crowd:
   Big crowd! I always get so geeked up to see 1000 people wearing my T-shirt.
   Taylor saw a kiddie pool and dove right in. So much for Shibas not being fans of water--He loves it!!! Especially when he desperately needs to cool off.

Market to Farm

   Today was all about good food and good friends. Kelly and I walked up to the farmers market this morning before it got too hot. Well actually, that's not correct-- it was already WAY too hot for a 5 mile walk, but we did it. And although it was worth it to pick up all this gorgeous produce, dehydration wiped me out and I had to lay down when I got home. Taylor was really lethargic, too! I was really bummed to miss the Irish street fair at Browne's, but didn't think my body could take more hours in the sun. That'll teach me.
   After recuperating. I made some pickles with onions from my market haul, and ran them over to David's house so I could say hi and see the progress he's made in his garden has made since last visit.
   He had a nice Cab waiting and we toured in his garden. Everything had grown significantly and was looking delicious already. I should've counted how many raised beds he is up to… It grows every year. Lots of tomatoes and herbs, carrots, lettuces, eggplants, snap peas, peppers, and my personal favorite: brussels sprouts! And of course lots of beautiful flowers to attract the bees. A perfectly serene end to the day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Inspiration: Nat Geo

   Last night was the final presentation in the 2016 series of National Geographic live, with photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols. Initially his talk was planned to be about Yellowstone National Park, but somewhere along the way a change into a 40+ year retrospective of his work, as he retired recently. Which was even better, because he had completed so many projects in Africa.
   Like many of the other speakers I've heard from Nat Geo over this five-year series, Nick's work has had a palpable impact on conservation of species and habitat. His gift for capturing fleeting moments with his camera, the personality and emotion of individual animals, and sharing these incredible stories is changing the world. And it desperately needs changing, or at least the minds of its humans do. By the time my niece and nephews are my age, elephants and rhinos and coral reefs will likely be gone. Within my lifetime! 
   He showed a picture of a herd of nearly 1000 elephants taken in Chad. These herds grouped together and were fearful of humans because so many have been killed by poachers. Within two years, there were 300 elephants left--slaughtered for their ivory. Now that natives are beginning to understand that these animals are more valuable alive than dead, the numbers are beginning to rise once again. But until we convince consumers, many in China, that there is no medicinal value in ivory, or tiger bone, this won't stop. 
   If there's money to be had out in the open or on the black market, it will continue. It is the great shame of our species to believe that we are more valuable than the animals with whom we share this planet.
   One of my favorite questions during the Q&A was, "What projects do you wish you had been able to do during your career?" His answer was priceless (I'm paraphrasing here): "Nothing. I really did everything that I set out to achieve. It's a rough life traveling so much of the year, and now I can stay home and enjoy time with my family, and my dog, and I can grow tomatoes for the first time in my life." 
   We should all be so fortunate to achieve greatness in our careers, to have them intertwine with our personal passions and missions—and to retire and relax, knowing we made a TRUE impact. Bravo, Nick, for all your great work on conservation--and thank you for the inspiration!
   I always leave these presentations feeling a little melancholy, like I could and should be doing so much more with my life. At least I won't slip into complacency. I know I am destined for something big, just need to determine what, and how.