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The Poinsettia
I’m killing it. Slowly . . . hour by hour. The poinsettia sits on the floor of the basement utility room. Its once festive red petals, now wilted from lack of water and sunlight, torment me. Back in December, with the promise of the holidays, the plant’s cluster of tiny yellow flowers surrounded by bright red petals (called bracts) had been so appealing. Now, though, I’m desperate for spring. I want to decorate with leprechauns, bunny figurines, Easter eggs, and my pastel-colored ceramic tulips. Oh, tulips . . .   I’m going to stop at the flower store and pick…
The Creepy Marsupial
At 7:15 p.m. my dog dashes from the living room to the back porch barking. I follow, egging her on. “Is the marsupial coming in for the night?” My dog woofs back. I grab the flashlight I keep handy and shine it outside. The creature waddles for the safety of our deck. Female, I guess. Seeing her pink pointy nose and ratlike tail makes me shudder. I need to stop putting treats out on the top of the woodpile. I’m only encouraging her to stay. The fact that her ancestors lived during the age of dinosaurs should make seeing the…
Looking for Romance?
Seductive bird songs filter in through my office window. It’s Valentine week, and love is in the air. If you’re looking to add romance to your date, use these ten tips from nature. Tip #1 is to take advantage of music and song. Many species besides birds rely on their voices to win a mate. In the spring, the male frogs living in the swamp near our cabin are so loud I’ve had to wear earplugs to fall asleep. Other vocalists include the male whales who attract mates through slow, deep “jamming sessions” either performing solo, or with a group.…
Pura Vida
Pura Vida by Amy Laundrie   Tired of the sub-zero temperatures and shoveling snow? Take a mental break and journey along with me through the hot, humid jungle. Wake up to freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee. Stroll along the emerald green ocean beach. Inhale the honey and vanilla scented tropical orchids. Watch as a scarlet macaw flashes by and listen to the booming howler monkeys. Enjoy a few minutes with Costa Ricans, the people National Geographic Magazine deemed as one of the happiest in the world. Costa Ricans stay active and live longer, partly, I believe, because they spend a…
Swinging with Tarzan and Jane
I stepped carefully onto the swaying suspension bridge that would take me 300 ft. across a stretch of misty northern Costa Rican jungle. Towering trees dripped with moss and dangly, snake-like vines. The man ahead of me carried impressive photography equipment. His heavy steps made the bridge bounce wildly and sway. Thoughts of cables breaking or a sudden wind gust causing us all to fall flashed through my head. I gripped onto the steal railings. To make matters worse, the photographer had stopped to take pictures. I couldn’t pass him on the narrow bridge. I was stuck here. I didn’t…
Love of the Country, Heritage, People
Scarlett O’Hara had her Tara, Heidi had the Swiss Alps, I have my midwestern corner of America, and my Norwegian relative has his beloved Brønnøysund. When my husband and I visited my 80-year old relative, Per Moen, and his American wife, Joan, during our trip to Norway, I took many vivid photos of the land and people. One, of the ice blue Norwegian fjord framed by majestic rocks, is the background on my computer screen. Another favorite shows me riding an Icelandic pony along the Norwegian seacoast. The afternoon was misty, and I felt like Catherine in Wuthering Heights riding…
Josie the Cockapoo Gets Her Say
Finally! I’ve been asking Mom-Amy if I could write a column and after three months of whining, she finally gave in. I’m Josie, a cockapoo, and head of the Laundrie household. My parents picked me out because my tail never stopped wagging. But I have to tell you—snort, snort!—now that I’ve lived with them for 8 years, I have a few complaints I’d like to get off my furry chest. Mom and Dad-Frank have gotten crabby in their old age. They get mad when people come to the door and I respond with my high-shrilled bark. Don’t they realize that…
The Power of Story
“They did what?” I leaned closer straining to hear my elderly aunt’s thin voice. “Your dad and Uncle Wally took three young great horned owls from a nest and raised them.” I shouldn’t be surprised. Wisconsin farm boys in the 1930’s hadn’t yet read the “Keep Wildlife Wild” billboard. Capturing wild critters continued to intrigue my dad. I recalled him bringing home a six-toed, feral kitten which we named Copy Cat. It became a beloved pet. He also tamed a crow and taught it to say “hello.” It hung out with him anytime he worked in the garage. And once…
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