Sunday, November 11, 2012

Drawn Like a Bear to Peanut Butter?

Mexican Gray Wolf

Today was an experience I will never forget.  I joined my photography group, AZ Photographers Group, on a photo shoot at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.  Now, while the fences made quality photography quite a challenge, the most challenging part of the day was having these animals stories told to us. 

This is Karma, a wolf who's mother was intentionally killed so that a poacher could grab him as a cub.  He was locked in a tiny shack outside with no light, no room to roam, little food, and a captor who kicked his ever-exposing ribs.

Horned Owl

Bobcat eating a mousecicle (ie...frozen mouse)

Spirit and his sister Giselle were left alone after a rancher killed their mother here in Arizona.  They were then separated, each being raised in a home with negligent caregivers. As quoted from the SWCC website: "He [Spirit] had metabolic bone disease, just like his sister, but much worse. Spirit’s bones were so brittle that he had multiple broken bones including a crushed pelvis, three broken legs, a broken tail, and a deformed spine. In addition, Spirit was covered with feces from chronic diarrhea."

This kitty-cat is Spirit's sister, Giselle.  She, too, suffered from metabolic bone disease but you sure couldn't tell by watching her!  She was full of energy...meowing, pacing, and even jumping. 

She had a cat toy that looked just like my cat's toys but larger...made of a feather duster with colorful feathers and ribbons. 

Cinnamon was being fed by humans in Tucson and quickly became quite the troublemaker.  AZ Game and Fish was about to trap and kill her, but Cinnamon got lucky and is now living out her life at SWCC.

Two brother bears who were being raised by humans and fed peanut butter sandwiches.

While their diet has improved since living at SWCC, they are still drawn to the peanut butter!

This quiet kitty is Maya.  Probably one of the saddest stories of the day.  She was purchased over the internet by a single mother of 3 small children who lived in an apartment here in the valley.  What kind of mother buys her kids a COUGAR?!  Maybe she was thinking of her children's safety when she had this beautiful cat declawed at the age of 2 months (shaking my head in utter disbelief).

 Because she was declawed at such a young age, Maya has a difficult time getting around.  She is bunkmates with Giselle, who has enough energy for the both of them.  The happy ending to Maya's story is that the human mother who bought her was put in jail for child endangerment...but not before placing an order for another cougar to replace Maya. 

Mexican Gray Wolf  

And finally, I got just a glimpse of this stunningly beautiful leopard before he had to be moved to a more private enclosure.  You see, he's not very fond of people because people were not very nice to him.  He was part of a performing act in Vegas for a while, and then sold off to a road-show circus where he suffered abuse.

It's a sad thing, to think of these poor, innocent creatures being abused.  Thank you to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, to Arizona Game and Fish, and to all the like-minded organizations who help care for these animals once rescued. 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Mahatma Gandhi

 “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day of Birth

I have always found it interesting how differently people look at birthdays.

Some lie about their age.

Some celebrate it as if it's an obligation...just another "Hallmark Holiday" in their year.

Some dread the day and ignore it altogether.

Myself?  Well, ever since I can remember I have celebrated the day of my birth with complete joy...only to become more joyous each year!

Basically, throughout the years I have used my birthday as an excuse to get my best group of friends together.  To me, that's what it is all about.  There's nothing more important to me than family and friends.  However, everyday life creates so many obstacles that keep us from connecting; so what better reason than someone's birthday to come together?!

And as I get older, and I have moved across the country, and friends have moved all over the globe, birthdays have become even MORE important to me.  Today, I can't even tell you how many people sent me well wishes on Facebook.  Hundreds.  Now, I'm not going to pretend that each one of these produced a sentimental feeling in me.  But you know what?  MANY of them did.  I heard from people that I haven't seen in over 10 years.  And even though it's been a long time, they are people who I will ALWAYS love.  If it weren't for FB I may not even still be in touch with... (what do guys call it??) wing man?!  Vickie and I were inseparable in our 20's!  If our stories ever got out we would be pretty embarrassed !  LOL!  Flash forward to present day...Vickie is happily married and the mother of an adorable, bespectacled 'Bing'. Godsend of a coworker/friend on my first job in the "Big City" of Indianapolis.  I worked in the construction business on the accounting end.  Edra held the same position on a job in Kokomo.  We became fast friends over the phone and then in person.  Flash forward to present day...we rarely communicate.  Although I'm a big FB user, Edra is not so much.  But today she sent a wonderful private message.

And as a final example, I will reference my more recent friends I made during my previous job of Corporate Trainer.  I was lucky enough to travel all over the country and meet SO MANY wonderful people whom I now count as friends. It was so nice to hear from so many of them today.

In summary, I am blessed to have made so  many friends throughout my 41 years.  And if it's something as simple as birthdays or Facebook (or both) to remind us of those friendships...well, then to me that makes my birthday worth celebrating!!!

And I would be remiss to not comment on my friend, B, who is fighting for her life as I type this.  I'm sure she would give anything to be guaranteed another birthday.  So THAT is a great reason to celebrate!!!

Thanks to everyone who sent me sweet messages.  I miss and love you.  XoXoXo

Celebrate the day that you were brought into this world...each and every year.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Remember This Feeling!

Why does it take something huge to remind me just what life is all about, and how precious life is? And why is it so easy to lose sight of, even after having just been reminded?? It was only 5 years ago that I lost my father after a double lung transplant. Losing a parent, especially at such a young age, changes your life forever. These are the only people who have known me my entire life..through good and bad. And now one of those people is gone from my life forever. I can never again say to him "Remember when I was 6 and would ask you to marry me when I grow up?" I can only share those memories with others now

He passed, I was sad for a long time; but, then life moved on. Everyday life keeps us all busy. The stresses of work, relationships, money, politics, car problems, etc. It becomes so easy to push to the back of our minds how we intended to change our lives after losing a loved one. How we wanted to embrace life more fully and not get bogged down with the everyday bullshit. 

Until another tragic event occurs.

A sweet friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer this year. She was going through chemo like a trooper! Honestly, her emails of her progress were INSPIRING! I eventually emailed her and told her that it was okay to feel pissed off every now and then. But she responded by saying God was good and she was feeling great and had found a new calling in her help those going through this once she herself got through it. Amazing. But then she was dealt another blow. A virus has attacked her brain and she is in the ICU for over 2 weeks now.

I visited her last night. And it has left me with that feeling once again of how precious life really is. She is unable to talk, has lost all of her hair, has a feeding tube in her nose, but, I swear, she still has a fight in her spirit. We locked eyes and I know that she knows (has ALWAYS known) how precious life is and she is NOT finished living hers.


I cried all the way home. I implored myself to live my life differently. "Self, stop letting people at work get to you. Self, stop nagging Eric about little things that don't amount to shit. Self, don't get so worked up over politics. Self, stop living your life obsessing about weight!!! Self, DO the things your heart desires no matter what it takes. Self, live your life for TODAY. Brittany, please, please don't lose this feeling. Don't let it go. Remember how precious each day is; fat or thin, Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, house clean or dirty. NONE of it matters in the end."

Nothing matters in the end except that I was loved and that I gave love, and that I lived my life to the fullest...whatever that may mean for me...for each of us.

Please help me to remember this, friends. Let's help one another remember this.

And lets all please say a prayer for B. She still has a lot of life to live.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wannabe Yogi

I'm very fond of calling myself a 'wannabe'.  I have a nice little list.  Wanna hear it?!  Here it goes:

Wannabe photographer

Wannabe oenophile

Wannabe foodie 

Wannabe writer
(hopefully you don't need help visualizing this one, friends)

And, most recently, a wannabe yogi.  I know I must be on everyone's nerves with all of my yoga talk.  Sharing poses.  Sharing positive mantras.  But I'm sort of a yoga-geek at the moment!

What great yoga hair!

In my very first blog I mentioned that I'd like to go to pay someone to listen to me bitch.  However, I think that I have found my 'inner' counseling in yoga.  I love the spiritual lift it gives me.  I love how it reminds me of what is important in my life and what is so unimportant.  I love that I can almost do the splits again!  I'm like...THIS CLOSE!

Marilyn...always inspiring to me

My dilemma lately has been with exploring different forms of yoga.  I'm really missing Bikram.  I think what I like about the "torture chamber" of Bikram is knowing what comes next.  I know that Pranayama Deep Breathing is always first, I know that Half Moon Pose comes next, so on and so forth.  I'm finding that in other forms of yoga I'm always looking around trying to figure out what this new/next posture is.  Maybe it just comes down to practice.  I'm sure I'll get it figured out.

I want to look this good doing yoga!!

I look forward to 'mastering' wall yoga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc.  However, at this moment my heart lies with Bikram.  I look forward to getting back to a Bikram class as soon as my wallet can afford it!

 Until then, Namaste, my friends!

 “Have only love in your heart for others. The more you see the good in them, the more you will establish good in yourself…” ~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lasagna For One?

So, Eric is back in Denver dealing with 'He Who Shall Remain Unnamed So That I May Avoid the Use of Extreme Profanity'.  While I do miss him, I also enjoy a bit of time to myself.  Sadly, most of my time has been spent cleaning.  But, I like a clean home so it's a win/win.

Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

I contemplated going out to dinner on my own tonight.  With all my traveling for my previous job, dining alone is something I'm used to and rather enjoy.  However, I thought it would be a nice gesture to cook something that Eric could enjoy tomorrow when he gets home.

EVOO and 4 cloves of garlic

So, lasagna it is.  

Eric's Garden


Fresh basil from Eric's garden

I don't cook on a regular basis.  And when I do cook it is QUITE rare that I use the same recipe twice.  I look at cooking as a challenge and I don't find it challenging to make the same thing more than once.

Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Fontina = Cheesy Goodness! 

So, while this is not the healthiest lasagna I've ever made, I'm hoping it is delicious.  It's currently cooling on the counter.  Therefore, I must make this a short tummy is rumbling!

Simmering tomatoes, basil, sausage, garlic 

Assembled and ready for the 400 degree oven

Eric...I hope this gives you FOUR things to look forward to, Grace, Cyrus, and homemade lasagna with ingredients from your garden!

I hope it tastes as good as it looks!  Ciao!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

'When Harry Met Sally' and Other Reminisces

I was asked today if I had any male friends, and if so, if it was a problem for Eric.  My response?  "Yes, I do!  Er...I did.  Back in Indiana."  And in a saddening voice I replied that, to my knowledge, Eric had no issues with it.  And the sadness has gone on from there for the remainder of my day; missing my friends; missing my youth. 

Greg T and Me at Average Joe's
I suppose it's a combination of getting older (not OLD...just oldER) and now being across the country from my "first" friends.  The longer I am in another state, the further apart we grow.  Blame can't really be placed on anyone (for the most part).  Life happens.  Time differences hinder the matter.  And typically the once a month phone calls or weekly FB check-ins or bi-weekly e-mails suffice.  But then there are days like today,  where I would love to own a travel machine that could transport me to Indianapolis in the blink of an eye.

Robbie and Me at Average Joe's after Indy 500

What I wouldn't give to have the old crew back at Average Joe's, my local hangout.  Robbie behind the bar, Greg T and Greg D and myself bellied up to the bar with NTN boards in front of us...serious competition.  We would sit there for hours as others flitted in and out through the night.  Me and my boys. 

Robbie behind the bar on St. Patty's Day

Greg and I had been playing NTN and Lisa and Stacie joined us

I met two of my best girlfriends right there at that bar...Lisa and Angela.  Friends for life, I can promise you that.

Angela and Me at Average Joe,s (Robbie flipping us off!)

Myself and Lisa at Average Joe's

Everyone who worked there became friends to me.  Cowboy, Happy Lisa, Hot Candice, Dana, Bruce, Dave, Austin....too many to name.  We all took a trip to Vegas one weekend...I think myself and the two Greg's were the only two non-employees who went!  LOL!  It was my first time to Vegas and I couldn't have picked a better group to go with.

Angela, Kassie, Lisa, and Me at Average Joe's

Then there were the nights that my girls and I would get gussied up and go out dancing.  Curly, Lisa, Angela, Sandy, Pamela, Taylor, Blonde.  We had some WILD nights in Broadripple!  Oh, to be that age again...just for a weekend!  The secrets we all have on one another are so fun!!  Those were the best times of my life.  I wouldn't change any of it for anything.

Me...singing and much fun!!

Me, Curly, and Angela celebrating my birthday at Average Joe's

Me, Sandy, Curly, and Pamela heading out on Halloween

Of course, I also can never imagine moving back to Indiana.  I love Arizona so much.  And I love the friendships that I'm (finally) building here.  Karen, Kristi, Jennie, and Danielle have been Godsends...true friends.  I really needed to find that here, especially after my horrible, unspeakable "friendship" with Randie.  That one about did me in on making real friends here.

Karen, Jennie, Kristi, and Me at Narcisse Champagne Lounge

Danielle, Karen, and Me on Spa Day!

I am looking forward to bringing (some of) these two groups of friends together in a couple of months in Napa.  I hope my Curly can make it!!  I look forward to creating new memories and sharing new secrets.  Wine country may be a far cry from the college bars, but we must age gracefully, right?!

As for my male friends back in Indiana, I miss being your little sister.  I keep hoping you'll come out for a visit.  I hope you know how much I love you Robbie and Talley.  And, to answer that age-old question, we were always 'just' friends.  Even better, we were/are family.

Me and my Big Brother, Talley

Just a few of my friends who came to my AWESOME going away party held at Average Joes

**And now, going through photos on my computer, I realize that most of my memories are printed and in albums...back before digital!  I must work on that!**

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I own a bag that says "I Love Not Camping".  I took it on my first ever camping trip...just a few short years ago. 

I still love not camping!  But I have come to dislike it less.  Okay, maybe I actually kinda like it.  Or aspects of it.  For ONE night...please...let's be clear.

Wine, camera bag, Betsey Johnson bag, crackers and fresh goat camping necessities!

This weekends camping trip was actually my idea.  I wanted to try to capture some shots of the Perseid meteor shower.  We found the perfect camping spot just north of Pine and Strawberry that had an opening in the skyline to allow for great meteor viewing. 

Before setting up camp, we stopped at a little goat farm / creamery and visited the goats and llamas and bought some fresh goat cheese and crackers to enjoy by the campfire.

Goat Scratch Fever at Fossil Creek Creamery in Strawberry, AZ

Once settled, I set out to photograph the wild columbine and mushrooms while Eric prepared a wonderful salmon dinner.  The temps dropped enough to warrant sweatshirts and a campfire...a nice reprieve from the 90+ Phoenix nights.

My favorite flower - the columbine

Eric's salmon dinner

After dinner we crawled into our sleepingbags in our tent, Cyrus included, and slept for a couple of hours until my "meteor alarm" went off at 1:30am.  We got up and went to the clearing where I already had my camera set up.  The night sky is, I have to say, one of the very best parts of camping.  I have never in my life seen so many stars as when camping.  And we could hear the elk bugling in the near distance which just added to our little adventure.  Unfortunately, I didn't have luck with getting ANY good sky shots.  I did see 4 meteors streak across the sky, which was cool.


In the morning Eric made some coffee and I went to try to get some shots of the wild mushrooms in the morning sun. 

Mushroom or toadstool?

At one point, I was lying on my stomach photographing a mushroom and I heard a very loud snapping of branches.  I knew immediately there was an animal nearby.  I stood and looked and saw an unidentifiable black animal between two trees.  My first thought:  "Oh shit!  A black bear!"  My second thought: "Do I run or risk a photo?!!"  THAT should prove my dedication to my photography!  :0)  Third thought: "Are there even black bears in this area??"  And then, the black animal revealed itself:

Scary BearCow!

Yes, a cow.  But, seriously, it was a very large cow that COULD have been a bear!


I love not camping!