Wednesday, September 23, 2015

G-Funk Forever (Part 1)

I've been trying and failing to write and complete this for a few weeks now. It hasn't gone smoothly. I am absolutely heartbroken. Garfunkel, my almost 21 year old cat is in heaven.  It's almost been one month, and it hasn't gotten any easier like they say it does, and I haven't gone a day without an overload of tears. I am completely crushed.  He was part of my life for so many years and has offered so much love, I really don't know what I'll do without that little nugget.  Things aren't the same.
Garfunkel found me while I was in college in Flagstaff, AZ. I was volunteering at an animal shelter and Garf reached out to me (literally, through his cage) and started yell-purring at me. Apparently, he wasn't the friendliest feline (to other cats or people), and the employees were really surprised when he latched onto me. We fell in love real fast.
I went back every day that week and got completely attached to him. The same employee told me they were going to put him to sleep on Thursday, two days away, if he wasn't adopted by that time.  I proceeded to freak out and told myself I would come back Wednesday afternoon and if he hadn't been adopted, I'd take him home. (At the time, "home" was a dorm room...)
I went back Wednesday and was told they had put him to sleep. I immediately broke down and went into a dog's kennel and sat there crying for a couple hours. I finally got the nerve to go into the cat room and saw that Garfunkel was still there, looking so sad and stressed out. Sadly, they did euthanize a different cat, but Garf was still there, waiting for me. I didn't have a car, so I called a couple friends (I am still grateful to Morgan and Seth!) and I adopted FunkyG and we smuggled him into my dorm room (so sly!). I lived right across from the RA and was so worried she was going to find out about Garf and tell me I couldn't have him in there. She told me she knew about him on the day I moved out, a few months later. So glad she was a good sport about the situation.
G-Nugget lived in 7 different states with me and visited 19 of them. He was a ramblin' catboy and loved road trips. He was such a good little traveler. He was always an inside cat but loved rolling (flopping?) around in the sun when I'd bring him out on the porch with me. I adopted another cat (Hayduke, a stray who found me while I was living in a crappy trailer park in Corpus Christi) and when I introduced the two of them, I was so paranoid that Garf would be really mean and hate Hayduke, but the two of them fell into cat-love within days. I'm so sad for Hayduke because I know he misses his buddy like crazy. He's been extra snuggly and needy, and really doesn't like to be alone. He and Garf were ridiculous together. Cutest thing ever. True love.
Garfunkel loved mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, long road trips, short road trips, valerian root, asparagus, cucumbers, a nice IPA, a little red wine, chasing geckos that got in the house. He LOVED his best friend/cat lover, Hayduke, and his old dog buddies Sebastian and Abbey. I know he was absolutely in love with me. He loved my mom and dad. He loved a good whiskey, smelling the fresh air, rolling around in the sun, chattering at outside cats, chipmunks, and birds through the window (no way that guy was allowed outside unsupervised). He loved snuggling like a person, spooning me while I slept, nose kisses, being brushed. He loved biting metal stuff (goofball), bubble wrap. He really had a thing for bubble wrap.  He'd smell bubble wrap from miles (or at least rooms) away, seek it out and destroy that stuff. He had the most hilarious meow you've ever heard, also audible from miles away. Pretty impressive. He had a canine tooth removed years ago and had a snaggle smile which could put anyone in a good mood. He loved licking my nose, drinking my water (or whatever was in my glass), serious eye contact, bathing Hayduke for hours. He absolutely loved being brushed (Hayduke does too). He loved climbing the attic stairs, even in his old age.
Garfunkel was a super snuggler. He slept like a person and would crawl under the covers and spoon me all the time, wrapping his little cat arms around my neck and burrowing his head into me. He'd give me the guiltiest look when I had to get out of bed!  His spoons were one of the things that made me happiest. Without fail, he knew when I was sad and would always comfort me. I don't care if it sounds crazy, we had a real, intense connection and he was one of my soul mates. I am so unbelievably sad without him around.   I know he had the happiest life though, and I am so grateful that he was part of mine, and is still part of mine. I have so many happy memories with that guy, but I still can't stop crying.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why yes, I do wear my heart on my sleeve, yes.

YeeeOwls in yer face. I didn't get scalped while taking these photos, don't worry. Oh, you weren't worried? I didn't think so, really. Good for you. I sort of got a little obsessed with this nest because it was in one of the few trees in the area (sagebrush sea) and I was pretty much freaking out because I was worried they were too close to a main road. All was well in the end, but I really did lose sleep about this. Um, sometimes I would go check on them in the middle of the night to make sure the babies weren't hanging out in the road. 
I'm not sure what snapped in my head-brain recently, but holy hell. The last couple years, my attachment to ANYTHING animal, and anything remotely sad involving animals, habitat loss, etc...I just can't do it. I can't. I cannot. Ever since I was a wee goofball, it's always been a very emotional ride when animals are concerned. But I'm surprised I am not perpetually dehydrated (probably helps I drink 7 liters of water a day, but not the point) from crying constantly about all the sad crap in the world. It kills me. No really, I  think it might actually be killing me.  I've always been an animal lover and always been much more attached to them than most people, but whoaaaa, guys. I cannot keep my emotions in check these days (I'm too young to be going through menopause, so shut your mouth).

I cry when I see pikas (it's true! I've got issues!) - partly, because they are so goddamn cute. And also because, well, they are not thriving and that bums me out. Who wants to live in a world without pikas (or pandas, or...take your pick). The thought of this crushes me. It totally annihilates me. I do not want to live in a world without pikas or pandas, no thank you.
Here's a downer story for you (sorry): I recently witnessed an unfortunate member of society and his 11-12 year old grandson shooting rabbits while on their white trash ATV.  I'm going to save this entire rant for another post (because, I WILL GO ON AND ON), but this was almost a month ago now, and I have been having nightmares, pretty much every night, about this situation. I can't get over it. I won't get over it.

The Soda fire in southern Idaho? No. I just broke down earlier this morning because it's burning up so much sage-grouse habitat and it's at almost 280,000 acres and only 10% contained. The lion incident (excuse me, murder, I mean) from a few weeks ago? No.The fact that NPS shot and killed a grizzly and threw her cubs into a zoo this week? No no NOOOO. My need to curl up in the fetal position and just cry about all these things is out.of.control. I'm a Highly Sensitive Person (no, really, it's a legitimate thing. Click that link.). I know a lot of people are upset about these things, but I lose sleep over them every single night. I have nightmares, I wake up thinking about them. It's sort of taxing, really. I take all this stuff very personally. However, I'll take my insane emotions over apathy any day. APATHY! Don't even get me started on apathy. So gross, that apathy. Apathy has destroyed our planet.
But back on point. These great-horned owls fledged and they were fun to watch. They kept going back to the nest  at night, for about 10 days or so, but then I'd hear them near the trailer (about a mile and a half from their nest). There were also a bunch of short-eared owls around, who I worried about much more than the great-horneds because they would forage in the road at night and didn't flush from cars as easily as they should have. More posts on the short-eareds to come (I had some pretty fantastic close encounters with those guys!). 

Oh! Here's a link to a gofundme site, if you don't mind checking it out and maybe sharing it. I am still so grateful to everyone who helped with my car funds last year and know that site can be a game changer. A good friend of mine, along with some more wonderful people, helped rescue a circus lion in Argentina and the sweet thing just touched grass for the first time in 8 years, after being confined in a cage for years. Hopefully this link to photos will work:  Really, look at the before and afters- she is already so much happier and healthier! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

End of the Season Blues

Birds? I still like 'em, I still take pictures of them. I am now back in civilization, society. There are 2 positive things about this:  The internet, and my cats have a house to run around in again, not a wee trailer. I'm already feeling clausterphobic after less than 24 hours though.  Oh boy, not a good sign. Johnny just doesn't thrive in the city.  Gross. Hold me. (Above: Western Kingbird fledgie, below: Sage Thrasher stare down)
The field season was a good one, though I still prefer songbirds. Sage-grouse rock it, but the actual field work isn't quite as thrilling. Lots of driving, not enough wandering. I was pumped to do veg work this season because it actually meant I'd get to hike a few miles. Whaaatt? Bird people, you know what I mean. We don't necessarily get all gushy over veg measurements.  (Below: Western Meadowlark and Brewer's Blackbird fledgie)
I really love southern Idaho, much prefer over the Moscow area. Those wheat fields up here are a downer. The sagebrush world is underrated. Lots of wildlife sightings this season.  Off days were spent in a secret spot in the mountains, where I'm pretty sure I'm going to retreat and set up camp permanently as soon as I can get away with it. Drool, that place makes me drool. I'm definitely behind on the blog, as usual. I've got some ridiculously cute pika pictures coming your way. Wait for it. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rattle it

I am without the internets these days, so to keep you company, here's a big 'ol Western Rattlesnake. I've been seeing them EVERYWHERE! Four in a matter of a few hours the other day. Gotta watch your step out here in the sagebrush!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Daily Dose of Cute!

I've never seen a pika with brows like these. Good lord, I love these guys. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Red in Tooth and Claw

They're pretty cute right? American badgers? Lookit those cute little dirty faces. So innocent, so sweet. Or not.  The first time I saw the male, he was running along with a rabbit he had just killed. Well yeah, nature. Gotta eat, gotta feed those baby badgers. Watched him head to his burrow and then got lucky enough to see both male and female pop their heads out of the burrow. (excuse me, cute!)
A few days later, I saw the male throwing something around (violently, really violently. so violent.) in his mouth. I jumped out of the truck to see what was happening and noticed it was ANOTHER BADGER in his mouth. Brutal. It was about half the size of the adult male (who was pretty hefty himself). After he dropped it, we went to check it out.  It was a female who was very dead with badger bite marks all over her. She was a young female, and I am wondering if this was a case of infanticide. I found a link to an article about infanticide and cannibalism in american badgers, but don't have access to my Web of Science account right now, so I'll have to read it later.
This was probably a once in a lifetime thing to see, and as a biologist, I can very much appreciate witnessing this gruesome act of nature, and it was pretty cool (yet disturbing),  but as the overly emotional nutcase that I am, it was a little rough and obviously, there were some tears on my end.   The dead badger wasn't there in the morning and I'm guessing the male came back for her (ate her?? Oye.) (Top to bottom: male and female; female after digging; sneaky male; male with rabbit he had killed; the culprit before the storm)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

So plague-y, but so cute.

Lookit this little yellow-bellied marmot friend. Lookit! So what if he might carry the plague, he's freaking adorable. I've seen a few around here, but this is the smallest one I've ever seen (also, the least mangy).
Update kinda: I'm down in SE ID at the moment following sage-grouse and trying to learn all the vegetation out here for a couple months. YES! Getting out of the office has restored my sanity greatly, even though I am living with mice. So I'm either going to get the plague from this marmot, or hantavirus from the mice. Let's go with neither, yeah?