Tuesday, July 29, 2008

i give up

Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp
Bees on lavender at Green Gulch Zen Center Farm, Sausolito, CA.

I give up. I officially suck at this cleanse thing this time around. I've done the Master Cleanse about a zillion times now, ranging from 10-18 days and never once "cheated" or had any food (well technically in the last one on the last day before my transition I did eat a few chocolate chips...). However I have been on this now since last Friday (over a week ago) and besides the first weekend I've had some sort of food I think every day! Right now I'm sitting on my back patio, eating a piece of veggie pizza and earlier I had a few bites of blueberry lavender sorbet. I am hopeless, utterly unforgivably hopeless.

Every day I'm like, ok this time I'm going to be serious, I'm going to go for the rest of the week doing my lemonade thing. Well today I had it, I give up! I'll just have to try again another time. I started my transition veggie soup earlier but not even sure if I need it given that I just ate a piece of pizza... well I guess it's healthy and delicious so I'll go with it and eat lots of veggie soup during the next few days. I don't know what it is, I think maybe I miss the kids. And today was a crap-ass day, so what can I say? I must renounce my crown from the lemonhead sisterhood.

One positive thing about this is that Thursday night when Mysteries of the Shark Coast comes on I can have a glass of wine with my friend Melody while we watch it!! We're having a viewing party on Saturday but I'm afraid everyone will be talking and I won't be able to hear anything!

Monday, July 28, 2008

REI rocks

Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp
A chubby prairie dog in the National Zoo, Washington DC

The lazy days of summer are here, I'm getting into a routine that is nice. The nice thing is that it changes daily but it involves working on my laptop outdoors in the mornings when it's cooler, heading to the gym at some point during the day often with a friend - whether doing weights and bicycle or treadmill or that kick-your-ass stepmill, and sometime pilates. Then the steam room - ahhhh. Sometimes I go walking in the evenings, with Amy or others who join in. And then I work some more, researching articles, interviewing people and sometimes writing. Writing is the killer part!

Now that I've gotten into a sort of routine, even if it does change daily, it's time to mix it up! And none too soon, there's just a week before I leave for Australia!! Holy moly mackeroli, I'm so excited, I can not wait. I'm due for another adventure and need some time with friends. Actually I plan to really focus on my book while I'm overseas. I am making some small, slow progress in the book front, but it's not near as much as I'd like. One word of wisdom I've learned long ago and need to heed -everything takes longer than you expect!

Am I the only one that must start packing like a week ahead of time? If I don't, I inevitably forget something. But if I have that suitcase out and start tossing in things I know I'll need, things that I don't use every day (like my SCUBA mask, or my US-Australia electrical converter) than I don't forget them! Actually I'm not sure if I'm going to dive this trip but I might snorkel at Mission Beach. And I bought a killer Mask when I was there before! You can actually see it in the post a few below... it's all clear, and has a big glass viewer (whatever the heck it's called). Lots of room to view the kaleidoscope of colors undersea.

Oh, I bought a new rolling duffel at REI. I LOVE that freaking store! Some people haven't even HEARD of it which shocks me but man it rocks. It stands for Recreational Equipment Inc and they have this membership thing that's only $20 for a lifetime and you get 10% dividend paid back to you at year's end - off every single purchase (not sale items though, I think). But the best part of all is that anything you buy at that store ever for any reason, any length of time after your purchase, you can take back and return even without a receipt (well if you're a member they have a record of every purchase) and they'll give a full cash refund or a store exchange. I've taken back pants I just decided I didn't like the way they fit after wearing them in the rainforests of Peru and a year later. I bought a North Face backpack once and then decided it was sort of scratchy on my shoulders so took it back and exchanged it for this totally amazing Osprey pack that is made from recycled materials!! And the cool thing, nothing is wasted. Four times a year they have a "garage sale" selling all that used stuff!!

So, I have a lot of trouble with luggage breaking. I have awful awful luck in that department. I'm telling ya, every single piece of luggage I've bought in the past 3 years has broken. Yes I travel a lot but sheesh, luggage is supposed to be MADE to travel with! One time the whole plastic frame just got crushed. Usually the seams just bust (am I guilty of overstuffing??). I usually get moderately priced stuff at like TJ Maxx or Marshalls and even though it may still be under warranty you have to mail the darn thing back. Like who the heck is going to pay $40 in shipping for a piece of luggage that is only worth as much? So I decided THIS time I am going to buy a luggage at REI! That way if anything ever happens to it, I can return it no questions asked! Hallelujah! So I got this rocking brick red rolling duffel and I love it! It has all these compartments and it is just really cool. We'll see how it works for me in the land down under.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

working working

Copyright (c) 2004 Wendee Holtcamp
Rose Island, Bahamas.

I went here with Daline on my first Christmas without the kids, and wrote a little online tribute to the getaway, and saying goodbye to a decade of marriage. It was my first flight in many years, and a first step in overcoming my fear of flying, which I've now accomplished. No more fear! At all! I chose this photo because I miss the beach, it is calling to me, and I can not wait to see the ocean again...

Not much news here, I've just been trying to drum up some new work, and am working on articles on Seaworld's behind-the-scenes conservation efforts, as well as a piece on the rare Louisiana pine snake. I've also had some bursts of inspiration related to my book - hallelujah! I've scribbled a few stories in a journal that I plan to include in the book and have been doing reading related to the book (the one about making peace between evolution and Christianity). I am getting worried that all the reading material, books, papers, etc will make my suitcase too heavy when I travel!! I plan to work on my book while in Australia! That's the plan...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

cassowaries and sharks

Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp
My adorable kids under a ginormous staghorn fern in the rainforest in the center of Australia's Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island - and a World Heritage Site.

I'm starting to get excited about my upcoming trip to Australia! I leave August 5th for a couple days in L.A. and then on to Australia. I am going to spend a few days in Mission Beach and talk to people who are working on cassowary conservation. Cassowaries are an endangered bird that lives in the rainforests. They are relatives of emus and ostriches, and really cool. And there's only around 900 left in the wild! The recent Cyclones that have struck the Australian coast have wreaked havoc on their habitat, and many people started feeling sorry for them and started leaving fruit out to feed them. Well that turned out to not be such a good idea... it led to a lot more car strikes and dead birds. So feeding cassowaries was recently made illegal. There's a rehabilitation center led by the Australian Rainforest Foundation that works with injured birds, and I'm trying to also meet with some biologists studying the birds.

I first learned about cassowaries when I was at the School for Field Studies (SFS) Center for Rainforest Studies in Fall of 1990 as a college student, and was fascinated that they're the only bird that can "scarify" certain rainforest seeds. Many seeds must pass through the gut of an animal to germinate, but some rainforest trees have fruits with seeds so large that only the cassowary can eat them. There are not any large mammals in Australia and the cassowary is the biggest animal there! So if it goes extinct, many rainforest species may go extinct also.

Speaking of SFS, remember how I went back to the Center when I had a couple extra days at the tail end of the first trip in April, after the shark blog work, and I gave a talk to the current students? Part of this "Visiting Alumni" program was that I also write a short article about the visit and my career for their Alumni newsletter, and you can read it here, Wendee Finlay Holtcamp: Return to Warrawee.

Also mark your calendars, the documentary that was being filmed during my shark blog work, Mysteries of the Shark Coast (formerly called Expedition Shark) airs in the U.S. during Thursday of Shark Week which is July 31st at 9pm EST, and that is 8pm my time (Central)! We're having a viewing party!! Unless I got cut out, I may be in the documentary background as the "shark nurse" handing biologist Richard Fitzpatrick tools as he surgically inserts the radio transmitters into the whitetip reef sharks at Osprey Reef.

Last year during the 20th anniversary, Discovery Channel got a lot of grief because they focused so much on shark attacks. This year they changed their tune and focus much more on conservation and the ways we humans have attacked sharks!

(Image Copyright (c) 2008 John Rumney)

Last but not least, check out the new Sharkrunners Game Season 2: Australia - the Great Barrier Reef, which I wrote the "facts" for... it is all based on the actual data Richard et al collected on real sharks, their movements are tracked from the transmitters that were put in while I was at Osprey Reef! (they put some in at other times too, but... still! Cool!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a prayer

Butterflies on the San Saba River in the Texas Hill Country
Copyright (c) 2005 Wendee Holtcamp

My dad sent me this the other day and I really liked it.

A General Thanksgiving From the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Also this video will make you cry! What an amazing story of a wild lion reunited with people who raised it as a cub.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

days in the life

Last night I went to a Class of 1970-1990 Cy-Fair high school reunion at Tin Hall in Cypress. My actual 20-year reunion was just a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't go... But my friend Nikki came down from Dallas and had wanted me to go for months, and I wanted to see her so she roped me into going. Tin Hall is NOT the type of place I ever hung out in high school. I was more of a Numbers kind of girl. I only saw a couple people I knew, including my high school boyfriend's sister, and her husband (they were high school sweethearts). My good friend Suzanne came out also. Here are a couple photos of myself, Suz and Nikki.

Me, Suz and Nikki. I should have some more pics soon when Nikki sends me the ones from her camera!
Julie, Nikki and I.

Here is a photo of Sam feeding a dolphin at Seaworld.

The dolphins come right up and take the food out of your hand and you can even touch them. Sam didn't think it was as cool as at Tangalooma on Moreton Island, Australia where we got in the ocean and got to feed the wild dolphins that come up to the shore every day.
Savie ALWAYS makes faces whenever I try to take pictures and so I told her I'd put it on the web anyway! :)

Shamu! I just thought these are the most incredibly beautiful animals. There was one female animal trainer who seemed to have a particularly close relationship with one of the orcas. It was just a cool thing to see how we can have such close bonds with these wild animals.

I'm doing an article on some of the conservation work being done by Seaworld. They actually have breeding programs for some endangered species, similar to some zoos, including Attwater's prairie chickens which are almost extinct. Seaworld breeds them and releases them back into the wild at a couple of locations around Houston. They live in coastal prairie, which is now mostly gone. They also took on some sea lions that were causing repeated problems in the Pacific Northwest where they were eating endangered salmon and despite attempts at relocation they were "repeat offenders." Washington State officials were going to euthanize them, but Seaworld apparently said they'd take them in. So they got them in April and they are in a pool together and will be transitioned back into where the other sea lions are. One of them was so incredibly overweight because of all the salmon it was gorging on. It weighed like 800 pounds or something! It had lost 200 already being in Seaworld on a low-fat fish diet. Ha! Isn't that a hoot.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp
Iguana lovers

This photo of these two marine iguanas in the Galapagos (Fernandina Island) reminds me of two lovers. Notice how the one is looking at the other and has its hand on the other (if you click on it, it shows a bigger version). The looks in each of their eyes is priceless (you can't really see unless you see the bigger version). The ocean is roiling away in the background but they're oblivious. Of course they are probably not really lovers, but it just reminded me of that image!

I have often whined about not liking it here in Texas, and in suburbia, and not fitting in, etc. That is still pretty much true but I've started to notice a shift inside my soul a bit lately. Maybe it's because of reading A New Earth and how he talks about living in the present moment and appreciating what IS, and appreciating the Now. I've kept a Gratitude journal on and off for many years. I actually am not keeping it now, but I still try to nurture that daily gratitude and thankfulness in my heart - and with my kids too. I've just been feeling abundantly blessed, thankful, grateful, happy. I adore my friends. I am incredibly grateful that over the past couple of years I've gone from really not having many friends here in Texas (or the ones I had abandoned me, left because of the divorce or various other supposed "reasons") to having a bunch of really amazing, joyful, kind, generous, spontaneous, funny, progressive-minded, awesome friends. I love that I have people I can call and put together a girls night out in a couple days and lots of people come! And this goes for my friends all over the world, too. I love that they say kind things to me, are supportive and comforting when I need it and make me feel good, but also give wise and sage advice and can call me on my stuff when I'm being irrational. It's all just life and love and amazing. They are part of my pocketful of sunshine.

How did this happen? God knows our desires, but sometimes it seems to help to voice them and then turn them over to Him. I am just really thankful for this wonderful change in my local environment. I went for a walk around the neighborhood with Amy last night (which we do on a regular basis), after having gotten an awesome spa pedicure (love physical touch) and was just thinking about all these things and how I have my own home, the kids are so grounded and smart and wonderful, and I feel so blessed and lucky. My career is doing wonderfully. Yes it can be a struggle, as a single mom, financially - more than I can explain - but God always provides. Always comes through. Yes there has been some turmoil over the past months but right now, things are great! I am really at peace, now, this day, and this moment. Going with what happens daily, and loving it. I just hope that I can give back to my friends and to life and God as much as He has blessed me with.

I'll put some pics from Seaworld up soon. I loved the behind the scenes Save a Species tour we went on, and I was impressed by how much they do for conservation! I'm writing an article on their efforts there. I also took Savannah to see Mamma Mia yesterday, which was a really great feel-good movie. I love those Abba songs! Dancing Queen - ya baby!

My gorgeous friends Trish and Amy! Taken with my cell phone camera so a bit grainy! :) Elise - peace out!

Friday, July 18, 2008

sunshine in my pocket

Diamond waves, Juno Beach Florida
Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp

Sometimes you're so angry deep inside at someone that you think you don't feel a thing anymore. And then other people come and go and the days pass on and a memory surprises you with its poignancy like a tangerine. Sadness, sweetness, longing, wanting, wishing it were different. Wondering whether dark clouds shielded or the animal within took over or just that is the way it is to be. Battles and swords and words and stones and pain and running and hiding and saying goodbyes. I never liked them, never could take them, just say for now so long, until our path should cross again. True love never ends, it runs through the blood and the marrow and the soul. Parting like the oceans waves crashing into the shore, a peaceful place. - WH

Do what you want, but you're never gonna break me.
Sticks and stones are never gonna shake me.

I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine.
I got a love, and I know that it's all mine.

Wish that you could, but you ain't gonna own me.
Do anything you can to control me.
Oh, no.


There's a place that I go,
But nobody knows.
Where the rivers flow,
And I call it home.

And there's no more lies.
In the darkness, there's light.
And nobody cries.
There's only butterflies.

Take me away: A secret place.
A sweet escape: Take me away.

- Pocketful of sunshine, Natasha Bedingfield

I love that song because, well besides the fact it's got an infectious beat and is fun, the message isn't about love like I initially thought (one lyric is "I've got a love and I know it's all mine") but it's about having an inner joy, inner sunshine that no one can take away.

Monday, July 14, 2008

try #2

A wooden cross at Owl Mountain Retreat Center in Abiquiu, NM. What a magical time those two weeks I spent there were!
Copyright (c) 2005 Wendee Holtcamp

We didn't end up going to SeaWorld yesterday because my friend's son threw up! Oh no! We originally rescheduled for tomorrow, but he is still under the weather so I'm going with just my kiddos on my own tomorrow. We leave early in the morn and then will be back on Wednesday. I had a really great birthday. I was supposed to get some work done, since I'm going and playing at SeaWorld but... ah the best laid plans of mice and men. I took the kids to Hancock (which was really good! Though a lot of bad language...) and then we went out to dinner with a friend at Olive Garden.

One benefit of staying home today was that we got to the Rock Wall climbing class I'd signed up for at the gym - me and the kids. Learned how to put on the annoyingly tight harness and climb. I tried this once in the Bahamas when Daline and I went, and I was no good at all. The kids did so great! They scaled nearly to the top. But today I did much better than I had in the Bahamas so it was good fun. So that's all the news that's fit to print... :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

happy bday to me!

Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.

- Eleanor Roosevelt.
I love this photo, it is really what life is all about. Laughter, joy, the beach, enjoying the moment, and my beautiful amazing children. Everything I do, these kiddos come first! I love them so much.
M and Sam at the beach looking at seashells.

S&S picking blueberries. That was a bumper crop year!

Working on pottery using clay from our backyard. :)

Today we went to church (can't think of a better way to start my new year) and then went to the gym, and I'm going to spend the day with the kids. Probably go see the movie Hancock. Then tomorrow we are going to SeaWorld in San Antonio with a friend and her kids! I'm so excited. We haven't been in about 5 years, and had a blast back then. We're going to go for 2 days and spend the night. I'm actually doing an article on a new Save a Species tour that they just started there.

Last time we went, I took both kids on the Steel Eel, this loop de loop roller coaster and they were HORRIFIED! Savie screamed bloody murder - at the top of her lungs - the entire time of the ride, and Sam was white as a ghost. Needless to say, I think that experience scarred ME for life! I felt like an awful mom! I used to love roller coasters as a kid but after that I'm not so sure, so we'll see if I go on it this time. Savie, ironically, wants to go on it!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

just the way it is

Passionflower in East Texas
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

I love the passionflower. It's so complex and beautiful. Passionfruit totally rocks too! I ate lots when I was in Peru... yummy.

Passion. Love. This is what I think. I think a person can love someone very much, and that does not mean that's the best relationship for them at the time. I think that it can be complicated and entangled and that there are sometimes spiritual battles being waged, and psychological and emotional issues needing unentangled within our own hearts. It can be so hard sometimes to determine God's will.

I have one of those Portals of Prayer things that I get at my church which has a little daily bible lesson, and today's passage was from the story of Gideon (Judges 6:1-8:-33) and how he asked God for a sign that he and his tiny army was to subdue the massive Midianite army which had been oppressing the Israelites. He laid down a piece of fleece on the ground and said God if this is your will, in the morning have dew on the ground but keep the fleece dry. And that is what happened. But that wasn't enough for him, he said, God if this is really right, please tomorrow morning have just the fleece covered in dew and the ground dry. And that is exactly what happened. A friend asked me why I asked for signs like I did or do. I don't often. This story is the basis for doing so for me.

This is the problem I'm having right now. I got all these answered prayer and things are not going the way I would have thought given the answered prayer. What my friends say is all over the map. Some say, maybe you were looking for what you wanted to see. Another said it worries me that you needed to ask for signs at all. I felt I had a lot at stake. So now, things are a bit going down a different path than I would have thought. I am ok with this. But it's confusing. It's confusing why God would answer multiple prayers and there would be so much synchronicity and, then, this?

The only thing I can think of is that there was a reason for these two souls to meet, that I know for sure anyway. It may mean that it's the right person and the wrong timing. It may just mean there were other purposes for the meeting and that the full reasons will be revealed in time. I'm trying to live in the Now, the present. As my friend Trish said last night in an update to the Edward Clark advice, "Imagine if for one day, everyone decided that nothing was 'wrong.' That everything was fine, just the way it was."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

too much fun

The two birthday girls - Stinky n me! Our tongues were blue from cake Amy brought! I don't know what we were doing here - getting cake off our teeth?!

Lovely Smurfette, I mean Georgia! :)

These are pics from my birthday gathering last evening, which was a blast as always. And when we got done, guess what we did, with two margaritas in me and totally stuffed with Mexican food? We went walking! Aren't we ever the energetic ones?!

Gulf Dead Zone

My latest article is out! Dead Zone. When fertilizer-laden runoff from the Mississippi River empties into the gulf, algae thrives — and marine animals die.

It opens:

I'm in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico on a modified shrimp boat, the R/V Sabine Lake, and a trawl net's worth of ocean catch has just been unceremoniously dumped on board. A pile of slimy, silvery things squirm and flip around a square tray, but the large iridescent eyes of a dozen or so little squid enthrall me. I watch as small dots on their whitish-clear bodies pulse and expand as they turn rust-red. The pulsating dots are called chromatophores, TPWD biologist Kirk Blood tells me as he picks through the catch, counting and measuring each organism.

And later down in the piece when I define the dead zone:

Also known as a zone of hypoxia, the dead zone is an amoeba-like blob of oxygen-deprived water that stretches down the Louisiana and Texas coastline and has blighted the Gulf of Mexico for at least the past half-century. Hypoxia sounds like a Harry Potter killing curse to extinguish ocean life — Hypoxia kedavra! A pox on your ocean! A pox on your fish! All those things that lie on the ocean floor — your clams and sea stars and polychaete worms and freakishly colored nudibranchs — death to them all! And that is pretty much what it means.

This piece is for the Annual Water issue (July) for Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, which focuses on The State of the Gulf of Mexico. Last year they did The State of Lakes, in 2006 they did The State of Wetlands, in 2005 they did The State of Springs and in 2004 they did The State of Rivers. I've had one or two features in every water issue since 2004. I've been writing for the magazine since 1998, and it's had a series of editor turnovers but my current editor has been there for some time now and he's really been a dream editor, that editor who really gets - and likes - your unique style and allows your voice to shine through, and who champions you as a person and writer. He's a great guy.

I have a second piece in this magazine also that is a sidebar to Elaine Robbins article "Hidden Giants" on sperm whales. My sidebar is "More Unusual and Elusive Gulf Creatures" and you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see it. But in the magazine it's got a lot of cool color photos!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

messengers from the night

A bee on a false indigo flower, Mississippi
Copyright (c) 2000 Wendee Holtcamp

My son just came in from playing outside on the cul de sac with his friend.

"Mom, there's ths HUGE moth outside! Come look at it!"

"Is it a Luna moth?" I ask, knowing we see a lot of them here.

"No, come look!"

So we walk down the street to our neighbors yard and there is a big brown moth, about the size of a Luna (which is about 4 or 5 inches across) with spots on its wings. Next to it is a piece of a wing of the same species.

"I don't know if that is one of its wings? It seems like it has all 4 of its wings. Maybe it's another one?" Sam says.

"I think it's a shed wing," his friend says.

"I think that is probably the wing from another moth, probably its mate. A lot of times moths mate, and the female lays her eggs and then she dies. Is it dead?"

"No it was moving, walking across the grass a little bit ago."

I poke at it a bit, and it wiggles. "I think it's dying. I think it's on its last leg."

I go back inside and Sam follows, bringing in the extra part of the other wing to put on his bookshelf. He heads back and outside, then comes running into the house not one minute later.

"Guess what?! Mom! While I was inside, T (his friend) saw a cardinal eat the moth! It just ate it right up! One second it was there, and the next it is gone!"

A friend of mine has a book, "Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small" by Ted Andrews and she tells me the meaning of some of the animals I come across. Nothing specifically about the moth, but it reminds me of a harbinger of the night. Night represents darkness. And the appearance of the night-creature in the day is interesting, especially since I've had a real nightmare of a struggle of a month. It's not a nightmare like some people I know of going through real and serious struggles, like the death of a spouse, or cancer, or serious illness or loss. But in the midst of my pretty darn good life right now there has been some incredibly intense struggle. A struggle to make a decision and to know God's will and to know my own heart and mind and just general struggle and mild depression rendering as lethargy and lack of motivation. Back and forth. Struggle. I'm ready to be free and happy.

The cardinal represents "Renewed vitality through recognizing self-importance" and "To remind us to add color to your life, and remember, everything you do is of importance." It's interesting that the cardinal came and ate up the harbinger of night.

So tonight is yet another girl's night out - this time to celebrate Stinky's birthday TODAY and my birthday Sunday! We're going to have $2 margaritas at this Tex Mex place around the corner we went to the other night. And then this weekend I'm taking the kids to Sea World!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

words of wisdom

Me holding two Louisiana black bear cubs. Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana.

Sorry you can't define me, sorry I break the mold
Sorry that I speak my mind, sorry don't do what I'm told
Sorry if I don't fake it, sorry I come so real
I will never hide what I really feel
No way, oh

- Christina Aguilera, Stripped Intro

My friend Trish recently went to a master yoga class from Edward Clark and passed along some tidbits from his class that I thought I'd share with you all with her permission. Hope something here speaks to you like it has for me!

* Maintain an even-ness of flow in your breath. Note when the rhythm changes and becomes more forceful/strained and bring it back to easy flow and an even quality.

* Whoever you are, BE IT FULLY! Life is so short, BE WHO YOU ARE!

* See the journey along the way with your full attention, not just your destinations.

* If something challenges you, do not beat yourself up/criticize yourself. Do not laugh at yourself either, just keep up the steps you need to take to achieve what you are going for. Observe what doesn't work and move along - don't get wrapped up in it. So, if you fall down - oh - I fell down! Guess I'll brush myself off and try again!

* Take deep breaths in of what you are in order to become MORE of what you are!

* There is a connection between the tiniest space and the vast universe and we are in the middle trying to make sense of that connection. They are the same.

* I am you and you are me.

* Let go of Fear. Fear will hold you back from the complete expression of yourself, from your complete commitment and truth in a situation. With fear in place, you can never fully realize yourself. You will always be holding back something. Fear prevents you from being completely you.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

friends rock

Texas madrone berries, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp

It's amazing the many emotions I can go through in a day, truly. I think today I've felt sorrow, hope, regret, happiness, peacefulness, joy, mercy, hopelessness, frustration, anger, and rage. To name a few. I also am amazed at how my friends completely lift me up and I just love them! I went to work out at the gym with "stinky" (she knows who she is!) and just being around her always lifts my spirits. We're going to go celebrate our July birthdays Wednesday - Cancers Rule!!!

So-What am I not s'pposed to have an opinion
Should I keep quiet just because I'm a woman
Call me a bitch cause I speak what's on my mind
Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled
When a female fires back suddenly big talker don't know how to act
This is for my girls all around the world
Who have come across a man who don't respect your worth
Thinking all women should be seen not heard
So what do we do girls, shout louder
Lettin' them know we're gonna stand our ground
Lift your hands higher and wave 'em proud
Take a deep breath and say it loud
Never can, never will
Can't hold us down

Nobody can hold us down...
Never can, never will...

- Christina Aguilera, Can't Hold Us Down

Damn I'm grooving on this song right now!

Friday, July 04, 2008

urban wildlife

Louisiana black bear cub during a relocation project I wrote about for Defenders Magazine. Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana.
Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp

I keep having wildlife-in-the-city experiences lately. There are (or were) the cutest pair of mourning dove babies in my backyard. They must have fallen out of the tree in my backyard because mom's nowhere to be seen, but they're fully feathered and they just couldn't fly yet. They would sit on my back porch and when I opened the back door they waddled off.

Then came the call that Matt saw a two-headed raccoon. Yes, he was utterly convinced! It was in a fig tree in his yard which is not very tall so he got a good look at it, and he's pretty good with knowing his wildlife, so the kids had me in the car ready to drive over and see this unusual two-headed racoon. Then he realized, oops, no, it's really two young ones entangled up, play-fighting. The kids got to see them but I didn't. I'll never forget though the time when I was still living there and we had a plastic garbage can on our porch (which is on the 2nd floor since the house is sort of on "stilts") and the can lid had a hole chewed in it by squirrels. Well one night I heard something out there in the garbage can so I turned on the porch light, and out pops the head of a young raccoon from the garbage can hole! I thought, how cute! And so I shut the door and peered through the window to see what it would do. It scurried out of the hole and sat on the stairs. Then came another one out of the can and to join its sibling. Then another one. Then ANOTHER one!! Four young raccoons were inside that garbage can and managed to get in and out of a hole that was no bigger than 4 inches across!

So yesterday I was driving down a road near a pond that is known to have ducks and ducklings when a mama duck started toddling across the road with her 10 or so adorable as anything ducklings. It freaked me out because I'd been barreling down the road and would have hit them had I not slowed down, and there were cars behind me, so I stopped and pulled over and they turned back toward the pond and away from the road. Then another car came plowing down the road. I waited until it was clear and let the ducklings pass. But they probably get mowed down all the time because they regularly cross these roads where drivers go 40-60 mph! I snapped this photo with my cell phone. :)

I love wildlife. I really do. I've loved it since I was little. I used to love insects and snakes and salamanders. In high school I used to love to watch Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall documentaries. And also - my favorite animal - mountain gorillas and the Dian Fossey National Geographic documentaries were my absolute favorites.

That project where I was relocating Louisiana black bears was really amazing. My favorite section of the article is this, though:

At BBCC [Black Bear Conservation Committee] headquarters, Paul Davidson regularly fields calls about nuisance bears, and he relates a story from a few years back. "A guy called and said, 'there's a bear on my porch with his head in a pen I have some baby chicks in. He's eating the feed.' I asked him, 'Is he hurting the chicks?' The guy said, 'No, the chicks are standing on his feet.'"

Once again, our fear of wild animals contrasts with the reality of most encounters with these amazing animals.

Happy 4th of July! This was always my favorite holiday since it coincided with my birthday and summer and time at my daddy's cabin in Oregon. This year, the kids are off with their dad at a friend's lke house so I'm home working on an article. Joy!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

the adventures of Muffy and Hellion

Red-and-green macaws feeding on a natural clay lick near Blanquillo, Peru on the Rio de Madre de Dios. Known as geophagy or "earth eating" macaws feed on clays to counteract poisons from the seeds in fruit they eat. We sat there across the river for hours watching them. They're very shy, and will come down from the trees only very slowly after "scouts" check it out to make sure it's safe. Several different species eat the clay, and smaller ones come down first and only later do the larger macaws come.
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

I was just making banana-blueberry muffins while Savie ate lunch, and she says to me, "Can I come up with a nickname for you"?

I replied, "Well that depends on what the nickname is. It has to be something nice."

"What about Muffy?"

"MUFFY?! MUFFY?!!!! You are NOT calling me Muffy."

She meanwhile is snickering. "What's wrong with Muffy?"

"That is like the most obnoxious bowhead twit girl name I could think of" (My apologies in advance to anyone named Muffy out there! It's just the association I have with the name).

"What was the name of that dog you hated?" she asks.


"Ah that's right."

"Tell you what, you can write a book with a character loosely based on me and you can call her Muffy. And I will write a book with a character loosely based on you, and I will call her Hellion."

"Hellion? What does THAT mean? You're calling me a HELL-lion?"

"You don't know what hellion means?!"

She runs in my office and looks it up on the computer. Then I hear this loud voice emanating from the other room. "UGH! I am NOT a Hellion!!! MOMMMMM!!!"

Later, I said, "Maybe we have those titles reversed. Maybe YOU are the Muffy and I am the hellion?"

Oh, I guess I should already say that my ex has a nickname for me: Doonbury. Don't ask how he came up with that one, I don't know... He didn't want to call me "Mommy" to the kids when we first split, and it didn't make sense for him to call me by my first name to them, so he started calling me Doonbury. Or Doon-berry? Dune-berry? ;)

Yesterday was a good day. In the afternoon, I went to Fiesta Azteca with some girlfriends for a few ritas (they have $2 margaritas from 2-7pm on Wednesdays and they're strong!) We told stories and laughed, and then decided to head back to Dawna's hot tub. I love love love hot tubs so this was great. We stayed at Dawna's for a couple hours, and then I headed home.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

an ordinary day

Sea lions lounging on Espanola, Galapagos Islands Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

The link above goes to my Galapagos Islands Photo Gallery. I like its layout and there are some decent shots in there, I think. Now if I can only start to sell more of my photos, like I do my writing! :)

Today I took my friends' girls and my kids to play mini-golf in a glow-in-the-dark place, and then we went to Movie Tavern to watch Kung Fu Panda again. It was fun to see them all together hanging out. They don't all know each other super well so they were getting to know one another, which was cute. I love kids.

I am still feeling a bit mellow and actually quite tired having just given up the caffeine (I hope the energy returns soon!). I've been enjoying lounging around a lot and working in my bed, or outside, or at Starbucks rather than in my office. In fact, I've decided I absolutely HATE having a desktop computer because it chains me to my desk, and we all know this free bird hates to be chained in any way shape or form!! I bought this desktop last year with this big fancy flatscreen monitor - which I do love - but the problem is, I love to move around the house and work and I can't do that with a desktop! I can move stuff back and forth between this and my (old old piece of junk) laptop, but it's a pain in the patootie. Plus my Outlook email is only on my desktop, so that is the thing I often like to catch up on while (multi-tasking) watching a video or sitting somewhere else besides in my office! I'm seriously going to have to buy a new laptop soon.

However, I also want to buy a Sony PD-150 videocamera to start shooting some random footage for a documentary. Where is all this money going to come from? Should I willingly choose to go into debt?! Ha ha!