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Oxidative Stress Happens to All Animals by Elaine A. Powers, Author

a green colored iguana lying on a tree branchToday we hear about oxidative stress and anti-oxidants. One of the parameters measured on animals in field research is oxidative stress. Reactive oxygen species are quantified, or measured. Do you know what these terms mean and why they are so important?

As we learned in science class, atoms such as oxygen are made up of a nucleus with protons and neutrons, with electrons spinning around it. But oxygens don’t keep tight control of their electrons and they tend to bind to other atoms. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons.  This uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation.

Oxidation is a normal process in bodily functions. Free radicals help fight off pathogens which cause infections and damage to fatty tissue, DNA and proteins. Oxidative stress happens when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. An antioxidant is a molecule that is able to donate an electron to a free radical without destabilizing itself.  The donation stabilizes the free radical, so it becomes less reactive.

But it’s not just humans that get oxidative stress – all animals do.  Nowadays, along with measuring an iguana for the usual length and weight, they are often examined for oxidative stress. Are our human activities increasing the oxidative stress in the native animals around us?  Sadly, yes. And it’s having negative effects on their health, as well.

I’ll be including some of these negative effects in upcoming books, such as Curtis Curly-tail Goes to the Doctor. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn about the what is being done to save the endangered Sister Island Rock Iguana, please read my book, Silent Rocks. It is for sale at Amazon.

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline. These vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. The reduction in population is the result of human activity on their habitat and the threats can only be eliminated by human action.
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January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

a gray and brown squireel sitting on a tree branch
An Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis in Corkscrew Swamp

I think squirrels are often maligned unjustly. People spend a lot of time and money trying to thwart them, but have you ever stopped to consider their ingenuity at overcoming the obstacles we put in their way? After all, they are just doing what they need to do to survive.

Squirrels are small to medium-sized rodents. They are native to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa. They live in almost every habitat, from tropical rain forests to semiarid deserts. They are predominantly herbivores, eating seeds and nuts, but many will eat insects and even small vertebrates, as well.

Many of us interact with local tree squirrels, trying to prevent them from getting into our bird feeders. It’s amazing how much effort we put into attempting to out think these rodents—and then failing. The industry producing supposedly squirrel-proof bird feeders in quite sizable.

Here in the Sonoran Desert, I enjoy my ground squirrels, as well as tree squirrels. I think of their extensive digging as aerating my soil. I often head into my yard when I take breaks from writing. The little ones sitting up on their hind legs to greet me always makes me smile. I don’t discourage them from sharing in the feeders’ contents. I simply add a bit more for them.

I’ve written books about turtles and fish and tortoises and lizards and snakes and birds and plants—and even a fairy!—but not any mammals. No, wait! There is a mammal, a hutia, in Curtis Curly-tail Hears a Hutia, but I can’t think of any others. (A hutia is an endangered rodent native to the Bahamas that has endangered the local ecosystem. Readers of this Curtis-tale tag along on his adventure and then must decide how to solve this conundrum.)

Tomorrow, please join me in appreciating squirrels, those adorable, ingenious rodents. And consider picking up a copy of Curtis Curly-tail Hears a Hutia for the budding scientist in your family.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a Hutia, a rodent
Curtis Curly-tail and Horace Hutia become friends after declining hutia are brought to Warderick Wells. But when the hutia damage the cay’s ecosystem, what will the scientists do? You, the reader, help them decide.
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January 18 is National Thesaurus Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

 

photo of a page of a thesaurus
A page from Roget’s Super Thesaurus (c) 1998

What would we do without the Thesaurus?

Before the age of the Internet, we used a thesaurus made of paper that we held in our hands. (For you younger folks, a thesaurus, despite its spelling, is not a kind of dinosaur.)

When writing, we often search for just the right word to convey our message. Or we find ourselves using the same words over and over.  In situations like these, a writer would pull their thesaurus off the bookshelf.  A thesaurus lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts.  A synonym is a word that means exactly or almost the same as another word, such as writer and author. These books were invaluable or indispensable to writers.

Nowadays, of course, thesauruses or thesauri are still used, but they are on found online. Whether hard copy or digital, the thesaurus is still necessary for composition. The English language is a diverse collection of words and it’s fun to learn them. As an author of over 25 scripts and books, I am grateful for the thesaurus that allows me to fully utilize, employ, or exploit as many interesting, informative, and appropriate words as possible.

a green book cover with illustrations of a hickatee and a sea turtle
Thesauruses do come in handy when writing! I don’t like to repeat words when I write about wonderful reptiles in nature. The turtles above are found in the Cayman Islands. Learn all about the differences when these two battle it out in Hickatees VS. Sea Turtles.
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Lots of New Science Fun with Four New Books at Lyric Power Publishing!

Lyric Power Publishing LLC is proud to announce the arrival of four new books! Here at LPP we love weaving science into adventure tales and rhyming books. We love colorful, exciting illustrations. We hope you will enjoy three wonderful new additions to our book catalog and a special guest listing for Ricky Ricordi.

olive green book cover with illustrations of a hickatee and a sea turtle
The Cayman Islands have turtles that live both on land and in the sea. Hickatee lives on land and doesn’t belong in the sea, like the sea turtles. Do you know the differences? Come inside and learn about turtles, especially the marvelous hickatee.

 

A book cover with a blue sky, white clouds and brown booby birds on the beach
Meet the Brown Booby, a large sea bird which is a year-round resident only of Cayman Brac, They are not found at all in Grand Cayman or Little Cayman. These birds are a spectacular sight, soaring and gliding along the Bluff edge and the shore, diving for fish to feed their young, perching on rocks in the sun, then returning to their nesting colonies. With only about forty nesting pairs on the Brac, they are protected by Cayman law.

 

A golden orange book cover with a green catfish on the cover
Clarissa Catfish liked her new home at the Peoria Playhouse Children’s Museum, but she couldn’t see the exhibits or the children in her tank. How can a catfish see the sights when she needs to stay in the water? Come inside to find out and join Clarissa as she explores the marvelous museum.

 

a book cover of boy in jungle with iguana on shoulder
When Lorenzo finds an iguana in his garden, he has loads of fun bonding with his new pet, but soon realizes that the animal belongs in the wild.
Dominican children’s author Nelia Barletta recently released a second children’s book, RICKY RICORDI: THE ADVENTURES OF AN IGUANA, which educates children about conservation and the protection of endangered animals of the Dominican Republic. The book focuses on the Ricordi iguana, an endemic species of the Caribbean island and features illustrations by Argentinian artist/children’s illustrator Juan Manuel Moreno.
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It’s National Bird Day Today and Who Doesn’t Love Birds? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

National Bird Day on January 5 was created to promote avian awareness.  You can participate in celebrating birds in a number of ways.  You can go outside and do some bird watching.  You can learn about birds, either your local feathered friends or birds of the world.  You can learn about the decreasing populations of birds and what you can do to help preserve them.

A copper colored book cover featuring an illustration of a Roadrunner bird
“With vibrant illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe, this picture book is jam-packed with scientific facts about roadrunners, delivered in verse form to keep the narrative lively. Roadrunners “…grab their victim/behind its head/And bash it on/the ground until it is dead.” Want to know how to swallow a horned lizard? Keep reading!” AZ Daily Star

I live in Southern Arizona and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy sightings of one of my favorite locals, the Roadrunner. Talk about a fascinating bird! I write interesting facts about Roadies into a picture book called Don’t Make me Fly! Kids love the rhymes and illustrations, but I am a biologist and everyone learns something about roadrunners in this book. Science education is important to me, and I love making it fun.

a book cover with blue sky and white clouds, with Brown Booby birds on the beach next to a bush
All about the Brown Booby Birds of Cayman Brac by Bonnie Scott

 

 

I highly recommend a newly released book by my friend, Bonnie Scott. We share a love of conservation, iguanas, and the animals of Cayman Brac.  She recently published her book about the brown booby, Brown Booby Birds of Cayman Brac. It’s filled with her marvelous photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I loved the island story of a lost juvenile brown booby and featured him in one of my books, Fly Back to the Brac, Brian Brown Booby, which is based on the true story of “Brian,” who was finally able to learn to fly and find his family. He’s pretty famous in the Brac.

book cover, blue sky, bird a brown booby is on beach near ocean
Brian Brown Booby, a young resident of Cayman Brac, finds himself stranded on a beach on Grand Cayman. It’s too far back for a booby to travel, even if Brian could fly, which he can’t. Does Brian make it back to the Brac? What happens to a booby that can’t fly? Based on a true story.
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Looking Forward to the 2020’s! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Welcome, 2020!  It’s a new calendar year.  It’s also a new decade.  Wow! I like to contemplate what I want to accomplish in the coming years, as well as review the difficulties that could occur.

a gray, foggy ocean scene

Looking into the future is like looking into the fog, though.  You know things are there, but they are obscured. You can’t see any details! I have learned not to try to predict where life will lead me. A second career as an author – no way!

Yes, way.

A gray, foggy day at the ocean, with white waves rolling onto the beach against black rocks

Of course, there will be rocks to avoid as we travel into the coming years. I hope we can see them to prevent any collisions. But sometimes we do crash—hopefully, we’ll pick up the pieces, sweep aside the debris, and continue forward.

I know my goals for the year will evolve as the months pass and I suspect yours may as well.  That’s okay; be flexible and adaptable. And rejoice in your accomplishments, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Each one leads to the next, so they are never insignificant.

My new year’s resolution is to live each day as fully as I can and not to take tomorrow for granted.

Happy 2020!

A graphic with blue background and the words Happy 2020 in green

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Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! By Elaine A. Powers, Author

infographic of Elaine Powers with large hybrid iguanaWith the start of the New Year, we tend to establish goals for our productivity, and things we’d like to change or improve.  According to the Gregorian calendar, January 1, 2020 starts a new decade. My goals for the new year and new decade are to dedicate my efforts to both furthering science education (in a fun and entertaining way, of course!), as well as increasing awareness of conservation. I enjoy sharing science with others, whether it be through my books or taking my reptiles into schools and other places.

If you live in a cold climate, may I suggest while inside, where it’s warm and comfy, reading a few of our books or completing the activities and coloring pages in the workbooks? Check them out here and at elaineapowers.com. If you’re in a warmer climate, I encourage you to take a walk outside and then finish the day with reading one of our colorful and rhyming books to a young one, or whipping out the crayons and markers to color and complete one of our interesting workbooks.

One of our goals in 2020 is to add the national education standard codes to the wonderful workbooks created for Lyric Power Publishing by Marilyn Buehrer. Our workbooks are comprehensive, interesting and fun, but they aren’t labeled with the standards, which home-schooling parents and teachers need to know.

If there are other ways that Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, can assist you in meeting your educational needs, please contact me at iginspired@gmail.com.

I can tell already that 2020 is going to be an exciting year.  There will be more books, more talks, more videos, and many more posts at the blog. Please follow along as life unfolds with my multitude of reptiles, one horse, and an occasional visiting dog, on this merry journey of mine.

May 2020 be a happy, healthy, fun, and educational year for you and yours!

 

 

infographic about "Don't" series books

a light green and dark green book cover with the image of a duck in water

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a fruit bat and a common rat

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Dec 31st is National No Interruptions Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A desk with paper, pencil, pen, cell phoneBack to my Writing! (Desk Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay)

Sorry, I don’t have time to talk.  Tomorrow, December 31, is the last day to complete all the writing projects I told myself I would complete by the end of the year.  They’re not all done! Of course, most of these deadlines are self-imposed but that doesn’t make me any less eager to finish them.

I hope you have been more successful than I have in achieving your goals.  I also hope you have enjoyed this year’s many blog posts–I have certainly enjoyed writing about subjects near and dear to me and life’s adventures. Maybe you’ve also enjoyed one or two my science-based children’s books.  I thank you.

12 children's books published by Lyric Power Publishing

Happy New Year! Have a happy and healthy 2020!

Now–you guessed it–I have to get back to my writing.

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The Honduran Bay Islands Iguanas Need Protection by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Infographic with woman holding Spiny-tail Iguana
My all-time favorite Spiny-tailed iguana, Krinkle, who died earlier this year. He is greatly missed.

Attending an IUCN ISG meeting, I had the chance to visit the Bay Islands, in northern Honduras.  The endemic iguanas need protection there.  I had previously been told that is was safe to visit the Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahia), and that most people spoke English in a country whose first language was Spanish.

The primary islands of Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja are located in the Caribbean Sea. The Bay Islands were first noted by Columbus in 1502 and were settled in 1642 by English buccaneers. Great Britain annexed them in 1852 but ceded them to Honduras in 1859. Many tourists visit the islands today for scuba diving.

Roatan Spiny Tailed Iguana
Roatan Spiny Tailed Iguana

My interest is, of course, iguanas. All the iguanas found in Honduras need protection. Roatán Spiny-tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaura oedirhina) are found only in one place in the world: on the island of Roatán. On Utila, there are three native iguanas, but only one is endemic: The Útila Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri), or “Swamper,” as it is known locally. Swampers are the only iguana that live in mangrove swamps. They prefer the black mangroves, (Avicennia germinans), which have crevices for hiding.

Swamper Iguana
Swamper Iguana

Hopefully, people within and outside of Honduras will work together for their conservation.

To learn more about these fascinating really big lizards, why not download our workbook full of fun and educational activity sheets, called My Unit Study on Iguanas?

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

See all of our comprehensive workbooks here.

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Enjoy the Holiday Season! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

metal coast guard lighthouse decorated with red bows against blue sky
Coast Guard Lighthouse at Sanibel Island

Where are you spending this holiday season? I enjoy spending the holidays at my mother’s house in Ft. Myers, FL, in an RV park across from Sanibel Island. I have very fond memories of Sanibel. My family spent many vacations there, back when the ferry took everyone across to the island before the causeway was built.

During my 2018 holiday stay, I went to visit the lighthouse where I had worked with the Youth Conservation Corps. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge had its office on this Coast Guard lighthouse site. The Fort Myers area, including Sanibel, had the typical Christmas and holiday decorations. Even the lighthouse had been festooned. But I always preferred the decoration that nature provided, the magnificent osprey!

ospreys in nest
Osprey Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

The authors and staff of Lyric Power Publishing would like to wish all Happy Holidays–a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Blessings, Happy Yalda Day, Happy Pancha Ganapati, and Blessings of the Winter Solstice!

desert Bird ornament
Happy Holidays from Lyric Power Publishing!