This summer, the monsoons in the Tucson area failed to develop. In order to save our plants, we’ve been watering a lot. Despite the water, several of my trees have died. Watering by hose just isn’t the same as rain. Rain has many benefits that artificial watering can’t replicate. I noticed that, after the single rainstorm we had this monsoon season, the plants responded spectacularly even though it was only a few tenths of an inch of rain. I can give them a gallon of water and not get such an enthusiastic response.
What is it about rain that plants crave?
It’s what rainwater contains that isn’t found in tap water. Rainwater has more oxygen, which is carried down into the soil. More importantly, rainwater carries down carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is needed to produce the carbohydrates to fuel plant growth. Also, carbon dioxide makes the rainwater acidic. This reactive water helps release micronutrients (zinc, manganese, copper and iron) in the soil that plants need. Unfortunately, in some places, pollutants in the air make the rainwater too acidic, which damages plants.
Have you noticed how fresh and clean plants look after a rain? Another important purpose of rain is to wash the dirt off the leaves. Plants photosynthesize much more efficiently when sunshine isn’t filtered by a layer of dirt.
Hopefully, our watering will help the plants hang on long enough until the rain once again falls from the sky.
The monsoon rainsalso play a part in the blooming of the Night-blooming Cereus every year. These amazing Sonoran Desert cactus plants all bloom together on one night every summer. You can read about them in my book, Queen of the Night, The Night-blooming Cereus.
In my spare time, around caring for my companion animals (including a horse!), I write fun science books, mostly for children, but a few for all ages. My writing career started after an encounter with a small lizard, a curly-tail, on a beach in the Bahamas. I wrote my first children’s book inspired by him, Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, and have gone on to write books for preschoolers, all the way to including adults, such as, Silent Rocks.
I very much enjoy my unexpected second career as an author. I hope you will check out all of my books here, and the workbooks inspired by them–which are wonderfully fun yet educational.
Thank you for stopping here at Lyric Power Publishing LLC. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look at the books by all of the wonderful authors published here.
Authors are frequently asked where they get their story ideas. Often, the response is, “Where don’t I?” Story ideas can come from any location and any activity.
For instance, I was riding a placid Button (my horse) when I decided to practice ducking under tree branches. On trail rides, Button frequently cuts a little close to the trees, giving me a new understanding of why Western riders wear long-sleeved shirts. The spines on those trees are rough. Blood-letting used to be popular in days of old but not today.
Back to my ducking practice. A lovely mesquite grows next to the arena. I sit under it when I let my horse out for some free time, a turn-out. My plan was to ride Button under the branches, leaning forward, low on her neck. I successfully cleared the first branch, the ends scratching gently over my helmet.
Branch ends catching in the helmet can be a problem. I know this because there was that time when the branch end caught in the groove of my helmet and yanked me backwards. This time, the branch ends flowed over my helmet. I was happy.
Until the second branch wrapped around my neck. I thought I could push through it, accepting that I would lose some skin to those mesquite spines—but, “No!” The branch tightened on my neck and pulled me off my horse! It was as if it had looped around my neck. I grabbed onto the bars of the round pen to try to make my descent to the desert floor more graceful . . . Ha! My horse stood over me, snickering.
What does this have to do with story ideas? This experience not only makes for a good blog post—right?—it inspired me to create a new kind of tree for a story. This tree has tentacles instead of branches. I came out with a new term for it, too: “Twigentacles.” If Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll can make up their own words, I figure I can, too. I thought about “tangletwigs” or even better, “entanglewigs,” but settled on ‘twigentacles.’
Which one is your favorite?
I think as long as the new word’s meaning is obvious, I’ll keep making them up! Wouldn’t it be fun to add a new word to my new books?
During the worst of the summer heat in the Sonoran Desert, I ride my horse in the mornings around the stables. I enjoy trail rides through the brush, around the washes. In some areas, trails have been worn in the sand by a multitude of hooves. This becomes important later.
In the evening, Button and I take a walk and she has an opportunity to roll in the sand. Lots of nice sand in the area. It was a hot evening with a lovely breeze, so we walked some the trails through the thickets. I’m always looking around for dangers, real and horse-imagined. We were almost back to the arena, when I decided to ‘power walk’ back. Button was in the rut and I was walking on the trail’s edge. I looked up, then with a sudden start saw two white stripes move on the ground in front of me. A Western Diamondback Rattlesnakewas nestled in some dead branches alongside the trail. The reptilian gentleman was looking at the large mammal about to step on him.
Realizing my mistake, I threw myself forward over him and in front of Button. She, fortunately, didn’t step on me or panic at the presence of the rattler. Button went into the arena for her roll and I went back to get a photo. The rattler posed nicely, slowing his amazing rattles, so that I could count all 12 of them. We each went on our own way.
The next morning, the snake wasn’t in the same place, but had moved over to a yucca in the path between the two arenas. Several riders were afraid to pass him, but Button and I strolled by, wishing him a good morning.
The third day, I couldn’t find my new snake friend anywhere. I hoped he had moved to good hunting rounds.
The fourth day was Button’s day off from being ridden. We were taking a quick morning walk so we could both stretch our legs because we wouldn’t have our usual exercise. The plan was the cross the wash, circle around the bush on the other side, then back up to her stall. We plowed through the deep sand, reached the bush, heard the rattle (the first time we’d heard his rattle), said a hasty good morning, circled wide and headed back down the wash in the other direction. I hate it when I hear bushes rattle.
I mentioned these encounters and one person suggested that the rattler was stalking me. Actually, it could be said that I, and Button, were stalking the rattlesnake! He was quietly minding his own business and the two of us came into his area, invading his personal space. It’s all in the point of view. Sadly, I haven’t seen this magnificent fellow again.
If you’d like to learn more about rattlesnakes, I recommend Don’t Make Me Rattle, in which I show all the reasons we should respect these beautiful reptiles, rather than be afraid of them. They do so much for us and many people haven’t a clue. Grab a copy today and then pass it on so that others can learn all about them, too, including how to avoid contact on the trail.
NOTE: Lyric Power Publishing LLC offers supplemental educational and fun workbooksand activity sheets. One of them is 46 pages and jam-packed with fun activities that teach all about this magnificent creature.
I’ve always been a reptile person. I operated a reptile rescue in New Jersey for several years. I’m a retired biologist and, while writing science-based children’s books was inspired by a tiny curly-tail lizard, I do love the big lizards. My Don’t Series of rhyming “desert books” are the most popular, followed by the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series, but I’ve written a book about the endangered rock iguanas of Cayman Brac called Silent Rocks and The “Dragon” of Nani Cave is actually an iguana. Maybe someday I’ll write a story that includes Stella, a green iguana, who came to live with me in New Jersey many years ago. Today, I’m remembering her.
A vet in PA had contacted me about taking in an iguana once he had her stabilized. I ran a rescue with the philosophy that I would always make room for an iguana in real need of a place to live. This included healthy iguanas who would need new homes, and being a long-term home for iguanas who needed a forever home.
Stella was found in a neighborhood known for drug business. Her tail had been chewed by dogs, probably a drug dealer’s guard dogs. She was taken to a local vet, who wasn’t convinced she would survive her injuries. He amputated at least three feet of her tail and put her on antibiotics. Once she was ready to be released, she came to live with me. She must have been a magnificent specimen in her prime, at least six feet long and a vibrant lime green.
She was left with a stump the vet had sewn shut. He didn’t believe she would regenerate her tail as iguanas are capable of doing, but she did, squeezing out a thin tail between the sutures. Unfortunately, this made the tail very flimsy and eventually it snapped off. She didn’t miss it.
Her health improved under my care. She even produced eggs the following year, which I found annoying. She wasn’t healthy enough yet to handle the stress of producing and laying eggs, but it did show that her body was healing and trying to do what iguanas do. The eggs were infertile, of course.
I provided forever homes to special iguanas and decided that Stella would become a permanent member of my household. She was a regular at my educational talks, always popular with the audience. When I moved to AZ, she of course came with me. She continued her outreach activities.
Sadly, a few years ago, the nictitating membrane on her eye become swollen with blood. This is a transparent eyelid that protects iguana eyes. I was afraid it would rupture and she’d lose her eye or a lot of blood. The vet diagnosed her with high blood pressure and she was put on medication. Sadly, the swelling continued so she couldn’t be used for outreach anymore, but she lived a happy life, next to her BFF, Ezra. Since she had high blood pressure, the vet decided to try a new instrument on her, a tiny sphygmomanometer. Yes, a tiny blood pressure cuff like those used on people. It worked! It showed she did have high blood pressure.
Stella was a do-her-own-thing type of gal, but every now and then she’d want to cuddle and I treasured those moments. A few times, I was certain her adventuresome life was coming to an end, only to have her rally and continue on for a few more years. She was estimated to be thirty years old when she recently passed peacefully in her sleep.
Stella’s body is being donated to an educational program that prepares skeletons from reptiles. She will continue to teach and her story shared. Stella would be pleased.
Rest in peace, dear friend. You are missed.
From the Curtis Curly-tail Series mentioned above:
What language do you speak and write? I was raised in Illinois in the U.S., so I write in the English language. However, some of my books are set in the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations, where they also speak and write English. But the British spell certain words differently than we do in America. For instance, here in the US, we spell the word “color” without the “u” used in the Commonwealth countries, where it is spelled “colour.”
I’ve always been a pretty competent speller, but I often wonder what I should do about the differently spelled words. After all, my books are for children, who are still learning their language. When the books are set in the Bahamas, should I spell color, colour? That is I where I assume the greatest market for my books will be. Or should I write in my native English and assume the readers will correct the spelling to their version of the language?
For now, I write in American English and ask the readers to substitute their preferred spellings. We will see what happens in the future.
There is another issue with British spelling which has to do with pronunciation. For example, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard, my inspiration for the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series, lives on Warderick Wells Cay. How would you say “cay?” Does it rhyme with “day?” No, it is actually pronounced “key.” In the US, we would also spell it “key,” as in the Florida Keys. Some experts say they are just different spellings of the same word, while others suggest they have different linguistic roots, despite meaning the same thing: small sand island.
Languages are evolving things and, perhaps, the Englishes spoken in Great Britain and the US are growing away from each other. “In America, they haven’t used it for years!” says Professor Henry Higgins says in the musical “My Fair Lady” in the song “Why Can’t the English Teach Their Children How to Speak?”
It is my hope that in the Commonwealth countries, it is not too difficult to translate the US English I write with into the English that they understand!
Note:I’m happy to announce that the fourth book, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away!, in the Curtis Curly-tail series, is now for sale at Amazon.com. It is an adventure tale for ages 8+. The gorgeous illustrations are by Monique Carroll. Curtis Curly-tail wants to help his friends survive a hurricane. But Curtis is blown away! What happens to the iguanas on Beach Cay? (Pronounced “key,” of course!) Will Curtis be blown back home to Warderick Wells?
Pick up a copy today for your child who loves adventures–and you’ll love the environmental science woven into the story!
Hello, everyone! It’s me! Curtis Curly-tail! Lyric Power Publishing asked me to write a guest post about Elaine’s new book about–tah dah!–ME, of course! The fourth Curtis Curly-tail adventure has been released: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is written by, of course, my good friend and author, Elaine A. Powers. The gorgeous illustrations are by artist Monique Carroll, who also illustrated Elaine’s seed-adventure story Grow Home, Little Seeds.
In this fourth story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.
It’s not only animals that need protecting during hurricane season; people are also in danger. In this story, as in real life, people come together to help not only each other, but animals and the environment, as well. Along with the destruction caused by hurricanes, Elaine also discusses the positive effects in the book. (Yes, there are benefits from hurricanes. I’ll bet you didn’t know that!)
Don’t Call Me Turtle is Voted 5-Stars by the Preschool Crowd, Which Shows the Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises *** Colorfully Illustrated by Nicholas Thorpe *** Written in Rhyme * * * 20 Pages. There are many differences between tortoises and turtles, and the wise tortoise who narrates this book tells us about ten of those differences–in rhyme.
What surprised me were the number of comments from people who didn’t know that tortoises could feel anything on their shells. Shells are a living part of a tortoise or turtle and continue to grow throughout the reptiles’ lives. As they grow, turtles shed the upper layer of their scutes, the sections of the shell, while tortoises insert more keratin between the scutes. Keratin is a protein that also makes your hair and fingernails.
Because shells are growing, breathing parts of tortoise and turtle bodies, they shouldn’t be damaged by being painted or etched. Not only does this hurt the animals, it can kill them.
Yes, my tortoises have itchy backs, too. They scrape their backs, or carapaces, on table legs, the edges of the refrigerator door—or their favorite, scratching my metal bed frame . . . in the middle of the night.
If you run across a tortoise or turtle in the wild, please leave it alone. Interaction can accidentally harm them. But, if you have one as a family member, they just might appreciate a gentle back rub.
In my stories and picture books published here by Lyric Power Publishing LLC, I include the scientific names, along with the common names, of the animals and plants I write about. Sometimes, I have to use different common names because each locale has its own unique twist. Like the gumbo limbo tree is also called red bird, and the banaquit is the banana bird.
I learned this doing my research while writing my children’s story called Grow Home, Little Seeds, which is a tale of friendship and of establishing one’s own home, told from the point of view of a bundle of tree seeds. I weave science into story because it makes the science fun and it tends to stick that way. The seeds have a great adventure finding their way together, and they are sweetly illustrated by artist and illustrator, Monique Carroll. Her beautiful botanical illustrations of the trees are featured in the Seed Appendix in the back of the book, which lists both the common and scientific names of all the trees. The book is a great tool for teaching children about trees and the need for their own micro-environments.
Scientists prefer to use taxonomic names because common names are often different from each other, while scientific names are consistent around the world. Scientific names consist of the genus and species, with a descriptive term from Latin or Greek. The genus comes before the species level. Members of a genus are species with common features. Members of a genus can interbreed and produce fertile offspring.
A species is defined as a group of organisms that can reproduce with each other in nature and produce fertile offspring. It is the most basic category in the taxonomic system. When writing an organism’s scientific name, the genus name is capitalized, and the species name is written in lower case letters.
But scientific names can be changed as well. The fish, the guppy, that I did my master’s research project on was originally named Poecilia reticulata but was also known as Lebistes reticulatus when I was doing my research. Things can get confusing when the taxonomers can’t agree if a group of fish are the same species. Fortunately, DNA identification has helped clear up some of the confusion.
I encourage you to take the time to learn the scientific names of the living organisms all around you. It’s actually lots of fun once you get started learning them. I’ll start you off with an easy one here, the green iguana, Algae, pictured below, whose scientific name is Iguana iguana.
You can learn all about iguanas in the Lyric Power Publishing workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas. The scientific name for the Grand Cayman blue iguana featured on the cover is Cyclura lewisi. Theworkbooks and activity sheets published by LPP are fun and interesting and help support educational goals at school and at home. They are downloaded once, and you can print as many copies as you’d like.
MY UNIT STUDY ON IGUANAS is thirty pages of iguana information and fun activity sheets for grades 2-4. Includes coloring pages, fact sheets, T/F about reptiles, parts of an iguana coloring page, compare animal traits, name matching, count and classify, reptile spelling page, life cycle of the iguana cut-and-paste activity, ecology word problems, iguana word problems, creative writing prompt, opinion writing exercise, mean, mode, median, and range worksheets, counting iguanas, histogram worksheet, grams-to-pounds worksheet, trace the words and color, short i sound, and create an iguana puzzle.
August 2nd is National Coloring Book Day. Coloring books have been around since the 17th century and have been popular ever since. Though coloring books are thought of as primarily for children, today many are published for adults for relaxation purposes. Early on, coloring pages were painted, but nowadays, you have many choices of coloring implements: paints, crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, felt markers, etc.
Coloring books can be fun and relaxing and interesting and educational. Lyric Power Publishing, LLC publishes 24 workbooks, which include coloring pages. Several are coloring books, though on some pages, equations must be solved to learn the correct color to use. Below are sample pages from the workbooks shown here. Many of LPP’s workbooks coordinate with author Elaine A. Powers’ science-based children’s books, which she makes fun!
“Science should be fun. It’s so interesting to learn what things are made of and how they work. Science IS fun when it’s properly presented,” says author Elaine A. Powers. “Grab some economical and fun science education today with one of Lyric Power Publishing’sworkbooks!”
This delightful coloring book is designed with the Pre-K to Kindergardeners in mind. Students color 16 animals that live on Cayman Brac and learn the name and first letter of each animal. Also includes a simple word search page.
To learn about our latest science-based children’s books and workbooks, to read our latest blog posts about reptiles, birds, cats, and gardening, in a variety of locations, and about how the books come to be, what inspires an author to write, and many more interesting aspects of the publishing business, fill in the box below and we will add you to our email list.
Science-Based Books in Rhyme and Critter Adventure Stories, PLUS Workbooks & Activity Sheets that Make Learning Fun! Dismiss
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