You might not think tortoises are very smart, but I have one who proved she is. I have a young native tortoise as a foster. Her name is Flipper. Last summer she was big enough to roam outside and it was relatively cool for Tucson. When it came time for her to brumate as winter approached, she was not making good den choices. (She thought a bucket on its side would be sufficient protection from the winter cold.) I brought her inside until spring. Several weeks ago, once the nighttime temperatures came up, I put Flipper back out into the yard.
It has not been cool this year. May 6th it was 105 degrees. (It was 111 at my house today.) Though I love hot weather, in the early afternoon, even I thought it was a bit much.
I supplement the tortoises’ grazing with the vegetables and fruits I feed the indoor tortoises. Flipper would come over every now and then but seemed to be doing well outside. Recently, as I put out the plate of greens, Flipper came running over. She must be really hungry! Nope, she ran right over the plate, up to the door sill, and tried to climb inside. It was too high for her short legs, so I helped her up and over. I soaked her in the bathtub in case she had been dehydrated in the hot, dry weather (nine percent humidity).
After her bath, I gave her a plate of greens, which she “wolfed” down. Apparently, she needs to work on her transition to wild tortoise a bit more. I planned to have her go back outside when it cooled down to the mid-90s, but she beat me to it. A few days later, she somehow knew the temps were back in the 90s, and she rushed out the door.
As we humans expand our footprint into the natural environment, the wildlife often suffer—but some do adjust. Usually, the presence of people and their structures, poisons, etc., is detrimental to the populations of owls. But in my neighborhood, one species has found a way to co-exist: the Great Horned Owl. Being generalists (having many food prey), Great Horned Owls can live in a variety of habitats, including urban areas.
The owls pictured here live on top of a cellular telephone tower. They have a nest on it where they have raised several broods of young. During the rest of the year, they use it a convenient observation post. The owls don’t seem to mind the activities of the humans below. Maybe we are their entertainment, and they’re enjoying watching us as much as we enjoy watching them.
It’s wonderful to share our lives with local wildlife.
To see Lyric Power Publishing’s books about birds, go to Our Books. You’ll see such fun, science-based books like this one:
Welcome to Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, where we believe science books should be both educational and entertaining. Our children’s books illustrations are unusual in the marketplace: They are vivid—to attract the reader to both the written word and the fascinating world of science. Science is interesting and fun when presented in delightful rhymes or engaging adventures. No dry textbooks here! But don’t think these stories are only for children. Our fan mail indicates adults enjoy them equally and have also gained new knowledge while reading them.
We have recently added books for adult readers at LPP, though they could be enjoyed by some older children. Silent Rocks by Elaine A. Powers falls in our Conservation Category and is about how to help save the endangered Rock Iguanas of Cayman Brac. Queen of the Night: the Night-Blooming Cereus, also by Elaine A. Powers, is found in our Plants Category and is about the mysterious Sonoran Desert plant that blooms one night every summer–all of them at the same time! Brown Booby Birds of Cayman Brac by Bonnie Scott is filed in our Birds Category and is about the last forty pairs of these large sea birds that are found only on the island of Cayman Brac. Time and the Garden by Jo Busha is also in Plants and is a book of essays from her life and experiences in the garden. Please check them out by clicking on the titles.
We may be a small publisher, but we have a mighty mission: Science education should not be boring! To that end, in addition to our fun, science-based books in print, we have developed our own activity sheets and bundled them into 12 to 47-page study-units. Our affordable, printable activity sheets, workbooks, flannel-boards and standups for Grades K-5 provide creative and fun opportunities to learn about ecology, reptiles, birds, mammals, habitats, predators and prey, plants, rocks, maps and directions. They include coloring pages and lessons on anatomy, life-cycles, crossword puzzles, cut-and-paste, word searches, spelling, vocabulary, math, and story-writing, and more. Wouldn’t your children rather count iguanas or bats than apples and oranges? Our workbooks can be viewed at the Workbooks tab and are downloaded by you to be printed and used as many times as you’d like.
We hope you will enjoy all there is to see on the Lyric Power Publishing, LLC website. You can meet our authors and illustrators under the Home tab and see all our books at the Our Books tab.
Thank you for joining us as we discuss our work and our insights on this blog, Tails, Tales, Adventures, Oh, My! If you’d like to receive updates in your email, use the subscription box in the right column of any page but the Home page. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Little spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) were just starting to bloom as I went up the trail into our woods to pick a supper’s worth of ramps. These wild onions, Allium tricoccum, which are native to Eastern US, are the first wild food of the year to find a place on my table. Ramps are called by many names, including wild onion and wild garlic. They are pungent and contain qualities of both.
Where the trail turns to the right and levels out, the ramps come into view, at first small clumps of six or eight plants, then in colonies of hundreds. I chose a comfy seat on a moss-covered log in the soft April sunlight. I pulled out the asparagus knife (also called a dandelion digger) and dug up robust looking plants.
Ramps grow in a variety of settings, though they tend to proliferate in damp spots. I have read advice about picking them that states they are shallow-rooted. That may be the case when they grow in sandy stream banks, but here in a woodland in rocky New England, I have to dig deep to extricate the whole bulb from the tangle of maple roots and buried rocks. It is rare that I get the bulbs out intact. Soon, though, I have harvested enough for the ramp and potato soup I am planning for supper (recipe below). I will come back in a few days to pick more for mushroom lo mein.
The name “ramp” is said to derive from an Old English word “ramson,” a common name of the European bear garlic (Allium ursinum). As often is the case, English settlers applied the common name of a familiar plant from home to a similar plant they found in the new world. Ramps were also known to and used by the native people of Vermont. That connection is still visible in the name of the state’s third-largest river, the Winooski. “Winooski” is an Abenaki word meaning “place of the wild onions.”
Using ramps to cook a simple soup that might have also been made by the farm family that lived on this land several generations ago is very life-affirming for me. It is the taste of early spring when new growth is just beginning and hope blossoms.
Here’s the recipe I use for the ramp and potato soup:
6 medium potatoes
1 cup cooked ham, diced (optional)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
3 Tablespoons flour
1 to 2 cups fresh ramps
Peel and dice the potatoes. Dice the bulbs and stems of the ramps and slice about 3 inches of the leaves into ribbons.
Cook potatoes with the diced ham (if using), salt and pepper until they are just tender in 3 cups of broth.
Add the ramps and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes.
Whisk the flour into the milk and add to the soup. Bring just to the boiling point, stirring constantly until the soup begins to thicken.
Serve hot with a small pat of butter in each bowl.
Jo Busha is the author of Time and the Garden, a collection of essays written over a ten-year period about gardening, life in Vermont, and observations of the natural world. It is arranged by season, but not all the essays have a specific seasonal connection. It will appeal to gardeners, readers seeking a strong sense of place, and people interested in rural living, even if they aren’t able to live it. This place, where Busha has lived for 45 years, has played a huge role in her life. While not a how-to book, gardeners may find the essays instructive. Booklovers are likely to feel this a cozy read, warmth for a snowy day.
When giving talks to people about reptiles, a question is asked of the audience: How many eyes do iguanas have? The majority quickly respond “two.” An obvious choice. However, when asked if there are other answers, a tentative “four” is offered? People then look uncertain. The correct answer is three!
The third eye is located on the top of the iguana’s head is and is call the Parietal Eye. It doesn’t have an eyelid nor is it able to focus but it responds to changes in light and can detect movement.
People have on these “third eyes” as well, but the skull is in the way. It’s called the Pineal Gland. The iguana’s third eye helps with Circadian Rhythm and danger from above. It’s helpful to have a warning when a hawk or snake is coming down. Everything eats an iguana.
The next time you are fortunate enough to be near iguanas, or other lizards, look at the top of their heads. You might see an interesting dome. Now, you’ll know it’s the very handy “third” eye.
For more information about iguanas, check out the iguana workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas. LOTS of fun, educational activities in this 30-page workbook.
My sidekick, Elaine A. Powers, introduced me to Zoe, a Sonoran Desert tortoise, who lives with Elaine. Zoe is a female who knows her territory and stands her ground. You can see her here, chasing Duke out of her yard!
The Oxford Dictionary describes an adjective as “a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it.”
Okay, an adjective can add descriptive information to a noun. This can be very useful in writing. However, over the years, I heard what I considered inappropriate adjectives used in descriptions. I enjoy oceans and the animals that live within them. I confess, I find it irritating when waters are described as “shark-infested.” Infested refers to a large number of animals present to cause disease of damage. However, the presence of sharks in ocean waters is not an infestation; it’s their native environment, where they typically live. Infestation creates the illusion that all those sharks swarmed to the particular location only to attack people. Nope.
Recently, as we all struggle with the COVID-19 virus, I heard the virus referred to as “vicious.” A virus can be virulent, and vigorous, but not vicious. Being vicious means that the virus was intentionally cruel or violent. A virus is not a thinking organism, but a piece of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Consequently, a virus cannot be vicious. There’s even debate on whether a virus is a “living” organism. That characteristic is reserved for organisms that reproduce on their own. A virus requires the cellular machinery of another organism to reproduce.
Adjectives are very important tools in the English language. Being powerful, they should be used appropriately and wisely!
One aspect of writing science-based books is doing research, which is perfect for me because I’ve always loved reading about different subjects. As a child, I read the encyclopedia. I wonder sometimes if younger people know the joy of pulling out one of the many books in a set of encyclopedias and flipping through those pages packed with information? When I needed details, I would go to the reference section of my local library and search through the many pages in the reference section.
Nowadays, we merely search the Internet. My projects cause me to search for many subjects, such as the Night-Blooming Cereus and the Hickatee Turtle. I type in words that might lead to the desired topic, then branch out depending on the results. It’s truly amazing, the information you can find on the World Wide Web. I learn all sort of things. I find details about the animals and plants I am writing about, along with photographs. That way I can guide my illustrators.
It’s easy to spend hours following one line of investigation to another, but I don’t consider it time wasted. Any time you can learn new information is time well spent. I searched “time well spent” and this is what the Internet says: “Time well spent” is any time that brought you fulfillment, comfort and satisfaction, energizing you for your life goals (writing books, for me) with enthusiasm and drive.”
I hope this is as true for you as it is for me.
For some fun “time well spent,” please see our interesting and inexpensive workbookschock full of fun activities and coloring pages.
I was at a meeting where book publishing was discussed. One of the final touches to every book is the “blurb.” A blurb is defined as a short promotional piece for a creative work, like a book. I refer to the tease on the back of the book as a blurb. The blurb can be written by the author, publisher or reviewer (a positive review is the best kind of blurb). Traditionally, blurbs are printed on the back or rear dust-jacket but today, they are also put on websites.
I found it amusing that at the publishing discussion, the presenter came up with a new word: blurbist. We all laughed at this creation of a new word.
However, it turned out that blurbist really is a word. As you might suspect, it does mean the “writer of a blurb.”
So, despite my friend, Gene, thinking blurbist was a new word, it wasn’t. I still think blurbist makes a great vocabulary word of the day.
Learn about our latest science-based children’s books and workbooks. Read here about reptiles, birds, cats in a variety of locations. Read the blog to learn how the books come to be, what inspires an author to write, and many more interesting aspects of the publishing business.
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