northern elephant seals along the california coast

I was looking through old Wintersong posts today looking for a post I thought I’d written about elephant seals along the California coast. I cannot imagine why I didn’t, but apparently I forgot–and that was even before the chemo brain I blame everything on now!

In our quest to view northern elephant seals two years ago at this time of year, Hubby and I found ourselves at California’s Año Neuvo State Park, which is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. I was there several years prior while visiting my daughter, then a graduate student at Stanford University in Palo Alto. It was during the winter breeding season and I remember being immensely impressed with the rituals and lengths to which the male elephant seals go in order to attract a willing female. Seeing as how much larger than the females they were I can understand why the females did not seem altogether interested. While the females grow to 9-12 feet and weigh between 900-1800 pounds, males grow to 14-16 feet long and weigh in at 3000-5000 pounds or more. I remember watching and being very thankful I had not come into this world as a female elephant seal!

By early March most of the adult seals are gone, leaving the weaned pups behind until around the end of April when they all return to Año Nuevo’s beaches to molt and grow new skins.  So, while it might not be as exciting watching elephant seals shed their skins rather than witnessing their mating rituals, I felt certain Hubby would enjoy seeing them interact.

If you’d like to go see for yourself sometime if or when you’re in California, be advised that in order to reach the rookery site, you should be in fairly good shape for hiking, as you’ll have to walk a long distance over fairly flat ground that varies from this nice rock path near the beginning . . .

and slug through sand that makes you remember those quicksand scenes you saw when you were a kid in jungle and desert movies. At that point you just focus and think how strong your ankles are getting and put one foot ahead of the other . . . !

Finally, if you can stop lollygagging–as I always do taking pictures of all the flowers and stuff yards behind Hubby–you’ll see glimpses of the shoreline. And the seals’ napping area. Interacting, they are definitely not!

While they’re in the ocean, seals spend most of their time alone. Naturally, when they come ashore they seem to need a little contact with others of their kind . . . and you’ll nearly always see young pups looking for a warm body to lie on and being rebuffed. Apparently molting and making new skin takes a lot out of you and you don’t need some kid to come along looking for cuddle time.  Actually I felt downright sorry for them, but couldn’t do anything because visitors of the human ilk are not allowed to get close enough to touch them, much less cuddle. But how would one accomplish such if such were possible?

Probably you’ll never need to know. But should you ever find yourself on a beach in south Georgia, (that’s the state that Russia still thinks it owns, not the one in the U.S. southeast) where apparently you are allowed to be up close and personal, here’s an instructive video you should watch. Even if you never plan to cuddle a seal, but love animals–especially baby versions–as much as I do, then you’ll want to watch this. I think it might make it to the top of your list of favorites as it has mine.

Happy a great weekend, everyone! 😀

eddie who?

It almost pains me to show this one for a Sunday Snapshot memory. Buried deep in my old photos archives and ignored for years, I decided at my age I should face the ghosts of the child I was without looking over my shoulder, so here it is in all its beauty. To set the scene, it was around the fall of the year at  school picture-taking time, not long after school began in 1953, so that makes me 11-years-old.

I was already in that awkward space between childhood and teen hood, too old to play with dolls and too young to have boyfriends. At least that I would talk about. I’d secretly liked the same boy (his name was Ronnie) for about four years but he would  crush my feelings sometime the following year when he made a nasty comment towards me at the behest of one of the known nastier-than-most boys on the bus.  I was so disappointed in him that I cut him from my heart and thoughts immediately! And all those years I wasted thinking he was different from all those other farm boys!

My dishwater blond hair was getting darker every year, and look at those ski slope shoulders! Another nasty boy–the brother of the nastier boy already mentioned–had gripped the area at the base of my neck on the left with his whole hand and pinched really, really hard–so much that not only did it hurt like hell but was swollen for days, up to and including picture-taking day. It was something he did often, but I forgave him the year he gave me a milk-filter bed doll (a small plastic doll in a dress made with white milk-filters and yard bows. His grandmother made them every year during the holidays and all the girls around school coveted them. (If you’re curious how they looked, here’s a link to a blog with a photograph of an all-white one made by the blogger’s grandmother. It’ll help you understand how a doll bought my forgiveness so easily.)

After that first heartbreak, and sometime not long after when Daddy bought our first television set, I soon developed a new crush–another that I never told anyone about–until now. My crushes were always secret affairs, the better to hide any humiliation that might have resulted from unrequited affairs. I would allude to them in my poetry at the time but my lips were sealed! You see? I have it all figured out now that I’m so smart!

I had quite forgotten this chapter of uncertainty about the men in my life until last night when I was floating about on YouTube looking for old music productions. I chanced across a Spike Jones rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is Eddie Fisher.” Now those are two really old names from the past. Spike Jones and Eddie Fisher. Seeing all those old videos and hearing those echos from the past really took me back to the time I was in love with Eddie Fisher. Now I’m afraid if you ask most people if they remember Eddie Fisher, they’d very likely respond “Eddie who?”

Eddie Cantor (another Eddie who? I’m afraid) discovered Eddie Fisher in 1949. Fisher went on to become a singing idol for teenagers during the pre-rock and roll ’50s, just as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra were in the ’30s and ’40s swing era. He had an hour-long “Eddie Fisher Show” (’57-’59) on NBC, but I believe it was the 15-minute “Coke Time With Eddie Fisher” show (also NBC)  in ’53-’57 that I first saw and heard him sing “Oh My Papa.” That’s all it took for me to forget about any of the local yokel boys forever.

I was so enthralled by him that in 1955 I forgave him for marrying Debbie Reynolds. She was so cute and loveable and they made such a beautiful couple. But when he dumped her and the two kids a few years later to marry Liz Taylor, it was time to–YUP!–dump him and dump him I did–just as fast as I’d dumped Ronnie for saying something nasty to me. It wasn’t long before he faded both from public view and my thoughts as well.

It occurs to me now, as I compare Eddie and his career and woman problems with that of Tiger Woods now, that one day about 50 years from now, someone will be blogging or twittering or whatever it’ll be called about Tiger the golf wonder boy and someone else will say “Tiger who?”

For those who actually do remember, and I’m guessing a few of us are still around, here’s Eddie Fisher singing “Oh My Papa.” I’m not young nor so romantic anymore and it just doesn’t capture my emotions as it did when I was 11, but that’s the way things were during the angst of my pre-teen years and loves. In this version (2 min. 29 secs.) there are interesting news clips of the Eddie-Debbie-Liz debacle that are nice to see, ’cause 😥 we were all young once. This post proves it. Sigh.

alice’s restaurant is closed today

Day 26, November daily post challenge.

It was hard to decide what to say today since it is a national holiday here in the U.S., and a favorite one for a lot of people. I won’t try to say all that meaningful stuff, because most everyone else is far better than I at that style of writing. So here goes with stuff you probably never needed or wanted to know.

According to Thanksgiving facts gleaned from an internet sweep,  over 535 million pounds of turkey will be consumed today, those apparently coming from 45 million brave turkeys who had no other choice but volunteer for the occasion because that’s how things are. And because of lots of other things that will appear alongside whatever the cook has planned for your dinner table today, the average American will probably have consumed 4,500 calories by the end of the day. It might be good to be thinking about a long walk after dinner or tomorrow first thing.

Now these facts could be easily disputed; it depends on the source you go to, but one of my favorite sources is the funny paper. They have about the same shot at accuracy as anybody else in my book, so I thought it might be fun to throw one more fact at you, this coming from Grand Avenue (Steve Breen & Mike Thompson). It’s estimated that Americans will consume ten million pounds of turkey today . . . and due to turkey’s high sulfur content, Americans will also produce enough gas to fly a fleet of  75 Hindenburgs from Los Angeles to New York in 24 hours.

While I was contemplating these fun facts, Hubby played a Youtube video of Arlo Guthrie singing Alice’s Restaurant. Apparently it has become a tradition for radio stations to play this every Thanksgiving at exactly 12 noon. It also seems to be catching on in blogs, and even the ABC network today will be featuring it.

The original Arlo Guthrie video that started all this runs 18½ minutes and the sound quality isn’t that good on the ones I saw, so I shopped around and found this one instead. It only runs a little over a minute so if you have time to read this, you could probably spare another minute or two to enjoy this guy. He’s a real treasure I’m glad I’ve discovered, another thing to be thankful for.


Alice’s Restaurant, the one Arlo Gurthrie wrote the song for, was located down an alley behind a grocery store at 40 Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It was roughly six miles from the church, and true to the song’s lyrics, just half a mile from the railroad track. It ran the length of the building from front to back along a side alley. It was only owned by Alice for a year and then she and her husband Ray divorced. Since Arlo’s song became so popular, Alice’s Restaurants have sprung up all over the country, and I’m sure you can find one today if you know where to look. Also, I hear the original Alice is still out there somewhere too.

One further note, I can’t accurately count the number of strings on his guitar, but it sounds much too good to be the standard number of strings (six?). I think it might be twelve, which leads me to mention a post I have planned for tomorrow–to introduce a new blogger to my blogging world. She’s MountainWoman Silver, an artist and woman of many talents–one of which is playing the 12-string guitar–but that’s tomorrow. I hope you’ll come back for that.

As for today, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, because if you’re able to or just plain have time to read this, then that means you have access to a PC so that means you have a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 🙂

birds on a wire inspire music composition

I’ve been catching up on my blog reading (again! or should I say STILL?!) and came across a really nice post written by one of my favorite, Grandma Henke (on the Blogroll). I always get a kick out of Edna’s stories, she’s a great storyteller and has such weird things happen to her that I enjoy reading. But today I liked one of her posts so much that I decided to blatantly steal it to show it to you here. That said, may I suggest that if you have a poetic (or romantic) bone in your body, after you watch the video from youtube, you should read Edna’s post (where I first saw it),  God’s Gifts.

The story behind the video:  a man named Jarbas Agnelli saw a picture of birds sitting on electrical wires in a newspaper. I’m sure we’ve all seen similar views ourselves–I always refer to the birds in conference–but Mr. Agnelli took a few extra steps rather than just admiring the photo op. He cut out the photo and wrote out a musical composition translating the location of the birds on wires to the lines and spaces of a music tablet. He sent the resulting music to the original photographer, Paulo Pinto, who told his editor who told a reporter and–as these things go– ended up as an interview in the very same newspaper. (If you can read Spanish, you can read the original article here as published.)

Enjoy the short video made with the photo, the music and the score (as inspired by the random arrangement of the the birds on the wire). Music made with Logic, Video made with After Effects. It lasts about a minute and a quarter, and is a great way to begin (or end) your day.

By the way, Edna really knows how to tell a funny tale! If you do go to her blog to read God’s Gifts, back up a few posts (to slightly more recent ones)  to have a look at “This couldn’t be happening to me!” about her adventures (she has them everywhere!) sitting in a car in a supermarket parking lot . . . reading a mystery and . . . and innocently putting herself in harm’s way. It could happen to any of us. Thanks Edna, and please forgive me this indiscretion of mine.

arrogance, ignorance . . . or just plain stupidity?

Although he doesn’t tell me what to write about, my husband has emerged over the past years to become my number one adviser and editor of not just the family cookbook I wrote several years ago, but now some of my Wintersong posts. In fact I respect his intelligence and ability so much that I’ve asked him several times to be a co-writer of Wintersong, but he always refuses. So you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather last night when he asked me if I would publish a guest post from him. Of course I agreed immediately because I knew that it concerned an issue of great importance to him. After seeing it, I agreed wholeheartedly, and am very pleased to present a guest post by Hubby.


I stumbled on to this video through one of the blogs I scan read most every day.  My initial reaction was one of incredulity.  Daughter # 2 thought it may be a satire but I think that it is real.  Some people may find it offensive but considering the ages of the girls in the video, I was sorry for them.  I also think it is real because I still have vague recollections of hearing similar arguments from a couple of nice young missionaries some 35 years ago in CT.  Besides, these girls make as much sense as some of the Townhall screamers we have seen recently.

The girls titled their YouTube video “Don’t let the devil win!” Now for the scary part, they will be voting in the next presidential election in 2012.

canadian health care professionals share information on single payer system

In the last several months we have heard all kinds of lies about the proposed “Obama Health Care Reform.” Many of the comments are about how President Obama is trying to change us into Canada with its single payer “socialized” medicine. Claims repeatedly mention how terrible the Canadian health care system is.  Those who spread these lies have not once acknowledged that President Obama has taken the single payer program like Canada’s “off the table” from day one. Here is a video message to all Americans from the doctors and health care experts from Canada. After you see it, you might–like me–think that wasn’t such a good thing after all.

Most of the time I put these videos up, and it doesn’t really matter to me how many people watch them, but THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT! If you are one of those skeptics who fear what will happen if health care is reformed in this country, PLEASE watch this and pass it on. Let’s hear how the system works from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Listen to what the doctors and other medical professionals say about how things really work in Canada. I’d like to add that these people have nothing to gain from how the medical system works here, and thank goodness not everyone is profit motivated.

it’s hard being forgotten and left behind

Because I love spending time in YouTube, I find so many things to admire about the creativity in this world. On many levels I adore this one, the text of which was written and directed by Steve Baker. It was the 2007 winner of Tropfest, which is pegged as the world’s largest short film festival and widely regarded for its support of new filmmaking talent. Here’s something for all of you who encourage and value imagination as well as those who had childhood friends no one else could see. Have you ever wondered what happens to them when you grow up and move on? It runs 4 minutes and 55 seconds, and well worth the time.