Morton Salt, Campbells, and Flamingos in the Bahamas.

Recently, while in Chicago I happened to see the iconic Morton Salt sign. It’s so huge you can’t miss it. While it’s called a sign, in actuality it’s a roof on the old Morton Salt factory on Elston Avenue. As a child, this sign always reminded me of the Morton Salt Girl and the drawing of her carrying around an umbrella in the rain. I confess, I always wondered what she had to do with salt. If you look closely, you’ll realize she also carried a container of Morton salt that spilled behind her. The marketing slogan was When It Rains, It Pours. It must have been effective, as the company kept her as their mascot and updated her through the years. I even remember her as an animated character on TV!

Animated characters are something I’ve delved into, starting with my character Curtis Curly-tail. However, this time my thoughts drifted not to curly-tail lizards, but the island of Great Inagua in the Bahamas. 

A Salty National Park

For those not aware, I collaborate with the Bahamas National Trust in several of my books. I’ve also given multiple presentations on the benefits of using children’s books in science education. Then there’s the National Trust’s biannual Natural History Conference, which brings college students and teachers together with scientists working in the Bahamas. I especially enjoy checking in with the scientists to make certain my stories contain the most current information.

The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands, and I try to visit a few more on each trip. My goal is to visit all the inhabited islands and some of the uninhabited ones. One year, after the National History Conference, I jumped at the opportunity for a field trip to the island of Great Inagua. Why was I so excited to go there? Salt. You see, the major industry on Great Inagua is the collection of salt for Morton Salt!

With a dry climate, Great Inagua is perfect for salt production. Operations began in the late 1930s and continue to this day. Believe it or not, the island’s 300,000 acres produce about a million pounds of salt each year! Nature plays an important part in producing this salt. Energy for the drying is provided by the sun and wind. An algal mat in the reservoirs removes impurities. Brine shrimp eat the algae, which keeps the water clean. More importantly, the brine shrimp serve as food for Caribbean flamingos. The Morton Salt facility shares Great Inagua with the Inagua National Park. Established in 1965, the park is the site of the largest breeding colony of West Indian Flamingos, Phoenicopterus ruber, in the world. Once near extinction, the population of The Bahamas’ national bird is now growing.   

Sandy mounds with power poles and large piles of salt in the background.
Morton Salt facilities on Great Inagua
Flat field of white sale with a barely visible tree line in the distance.
Great Inagua Salt Fields

Along Came the Campbells

On this fascinating trip, I was joined by a gentleman named David George Campbell. When introduced to him by a mutual friend, Sandra Buckner, I was sure I’d remember his name, as I knew a George Campbell when I lived on Sanibel Island, Florida. George was a naturalist and a great inspiration to me. When I worked at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, George was also there. He kept an eye on our activities and the activities of others in his quest to protect the island’s special ecosystem, and I felt honored to know him. He wrote The Nature of Things on Sanibel. I treasure my copy and suspect he would be saddened by the damage later generations did to the island we both loved.

When mentioning George Campbell to David, I was astounded to learn that George was his father! It was intriguing to learn how intertwined our lives were. David grew up on Eleuthera Island, the location of the Leon Levy Preserve. Meanwhile, I wrote Grow Home, Little Seeds specifically for the preserve. To my delight, David shared that he attended Kalamazoo College. I lived in Kalamazoo while working for the Upjohn Company. In addition, in the seventies, David served as the Executive Director of The Bahamas National Trust. He worked on the conservation of the unique ecosystems in The Bahamas, the same ones I write about in my books. David wrote The Ephemeral Islands, the first natural history of the archipelago to be published since the 1800s. It seems that the islands inspired both of us to write.

It’s a Small World after all

They say it’s a small world and that everyone has only six degrees of separation from each other. The connections between David, George, me, a small island in the Bahamas, and that Morton Salt sign seem to add credence to these ideas. Despite these very diverse places and situations, they are all interconnected in my life.

Saved: Dragonflies vs. Gnats–No Contest!

One major difference between the hot, dry weather of a desert (Tucson, AZ) and the hot, humid weather of the Gulf of Mexico (Ft. Myers, FL) in July is the number of human-eating insects. I was reminded of this recently. As I obtained my parking permit from the machine at the beach, a cloud of gnats descended upon me. I flailed my arms and wiggled my body as I waited impatiently for the printer to finish. I grabbed the receipt and dashed back to the car.

Unfortunately, my bug spray was back at the house. I would have driven home for the spray, but the parking is timed, and I needed my beach walk to stimulate my creativity. I approached the beach with determination and the expectation of a rapid walk with lots of arm movements and pulling up the back of my t-shirt. Gnats are called no-see-ums, because they look like black specks, but they have a very painful bite.  Nothing subtle about gnats. They strike fear in the boldest of people. In fact, I wrote a spoof horror audio theater script, In the Swamp, No One Can Hear You Scream, about gnats.

photo of dragonflies around the beach

I approached the beach path at a brisk pace when I saw my rescuers, waiting for me in the sea oats. Dragonflies, a swarm of dragonflies! I walked confidently forward, believing that these predatory insects, symbols of awakening and transformation in Native cultures, would consume the tormenting gnats.

As I walked along the beach, the dragonflies accompanied me. I was confident that they were protecting me and they did. The swarm of dragonflies was present the entire length of the beach, rising from their perches as I went by.

photo of dragonfly on sandThank you, aerial protectors. And, it’s always the right time for awakening and transformation in my book.

I’m not certain of the dragonfly species (see pictures), but it may be Tramea onusta, common name Red Saddlebag.

cover of script

Book Note: Before I was launched onto my writing children’s fun-science books career, I had written several performance scripts (being an actor myself), including In the Swamp, No One Can Hear You Scream, as one of two scripts included in Mayhem in Swamp and Snow.
Do you participate in a performance group? Check out my scripts on my author page—performance rights are included with the purchase.

#elaineapowers

#lyricpowerpublishing

#BuncheBeach

#dragonflies

#gnatsinftmyers

#audiotheatre

#audiotheaterscripts

My, That’s a Really Big Tongue You Have!

I have learned a lot about horses in the past two years. But there is one ability that continues to amaze me: the agility of the horse’s tongue.

Above is a friend of mine, Simby. He has Cushing’s disease, which is treated with a small pill, Prascend.

I give the same medicine to my mare in a handful of pellets. She eats her pill, eagerly. I figure the tasty morsels hide the pill of similar size, and it readily eaten and swallowed.

So, when my friend asked me to give Simby his pill while she was traveling, I agreed.  After all, I’d just give him his pill in a handful of pellets, right? My friend warned me he would spit it out, but how could he with such a big tongue pick out a small pill from among all those pellets?

Well, big tongue aside, Simby had the dexterity to pick out the little pink pill from the midst of the pellets and spit it out!  He didn’t waste any pellets, either.

Their tongues do have twelve different muscles, and the top has protuberances called papillae to provide traction. This is important in moving food into the mouth and, apparently, in removing unwanted pills!

Every day is an adventure with horses.

Book Note: Kids on summer break? Why not give the gift of a fun adventure tale that weaves the science of the animals, plants and ecosystems into the story? Making science education fun is my goal as a retired-scientist-now-author, because science sticks when it’s fun.

Find out for yourself with a Curtis Curly-tail, Lime Lizards Lads or a Tabby Tale adventure!

screenshot Curtis books

#horsetongue  #horsepills  #elaineapowers  #lyricpower

 

 

 

 

How About a Big Bug Snack? It’s High in Protein!

Every seventeen years, the Brood X Cicadas emerge from the ground in the northeast US.  They climb and fly, singing their mating call, mate and produce the next generation.  With over a million per acre, there are a lot of big, very noisy insects out there.

Something different this year is the number of recipes being offered for cooking and eating these large insect morsels. After all, as part of the effort to conserve our planet, we are being encouraged to eat other more sustainable protein sources. And these insects are high in protein and low in fat.

A few years ago, at a Reptile Show, one of the vendors offered roasted grasshoppers and crickets for consumption.  If you were willing to taste one, you’d get an entry into a drawing for some nice prizes.  I am a curious eater, so I ate one of each. I discovered that the roasted insects were delicious, reminding me of pistachio nuts!  Most of the insects were still available at the end of the event, so I was rewarded with a full serving. Oh, and I did win the drawing for the grand prize.

Consequently, I was interested in the various articles about preparing and enjoying the plentiful cicadas: Recipes for eating them raw, roasted, boiled, grilled, and even smoked. There are instructions for making spicy popcorn cicadas from the Washington Post, cheese grits and blackened cicadas from Bon Appetit, on a nice asparagus salad or a cicada-nymph spring salad from the Brooklynbugs site. You can have them on a pizza, in tacos, or with chili guacamole from the AMNH. For dessert, you can have chocolate -covered cicadas or in a rhubarb pie. Yum!

Newly hatched cicadas, called tenerals, are preferred because the shells haven’t hardened. Storage is easy: use them immediately, refrigerate or freeze them. Choose the method that’s best for your recipe.  If the only cicadas you can find have hardened, females are best, because they’re filled with fat–males are hollow.  Remove the wings and legs, if you’re using the adults.  Unless you like the crunch, they’re not very flavorful.

photo cooked cicadas
Look fried to me. YUM!

I was curious to try this unfamiliar food item when the FDA squashed my desire. The cicada flavor is apparently reminiscent of crab and I shouldn’t eat crab. You see, I’m allergic to shellfish and the FDA warns people not to eat cicadas because they are related to shrimp and lobsters!  Oh, great, another food I’m allergic to!

Crustaceans are responsible for life-threatening allergies in many people. Insects and crustaceans are arthropods and share many proteins that might be the cause of the allergic reactions.  In addition, chitin, a complex carbohydrate involved in the body structure of arthropods, has been implicated in allergies.

Those of you who can, enjoy those cicadas! Please share your experiences with those of us who can’t in a Comment field.

Screenshot of Curtis Curly-tail books

Book Note from Curtis Curly-tail Lizard: Hi, friends, it’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! I’ve been busy over at my YouTube channel where all kinds of stuff is happening! But I thought I’d butt in here. Elaine, as wonderful as she is, hasn’t written any books about insects yet, but because she knows how much they mean to me, she includes them in my stories. If you love island life, you’ll love my tales! Summer is here and kids love to read fun books. Pick up a Curtis Curly-tail tale today! My adventures are irresistibly fun science books! Who makes science fun? Elaine A. Powers, that’s who! (Though I, yes, I, Curtis Curly-tail lizard, inspired her writing career! In other words, where would she be without me? You can read the true story here.)

My latest adventure was a doozy! Check it out here:

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.

P.S.–Boy, do those big bugs get my saliva going! Elaine, please prepare and ship me some Cicada salads ASAP, to:
Curtis Curly-tail Lizard, the
Most Famous Lizard Ever
My Perfect Den
Warderick Wells Island
The Exumas
The Bahamas

Thank you, my friend!

#elaineapowers  #lyricpower   #cicadafood

 

 

That Hurt! Where is a Bottle of Alcohol When You Need It?

A couple of years ago I rescued a Rhinoceros Iguana, Rango, who had bitten her owner and a guest too many times. I brought her into my home and, after quarantine, allowed her to free roam — until she started biting my feet. I finally figured out it was the color socks or pants that was attracting her. I hypothesized that I was wearing clothes that reminded her of food — you know, fruit and vegetable colors. So, I put her into a large open enclosure in the middle of her territory. The food preference attacks continued but she usually couldn’t get hold of me.

I still needed to get into her enclosure for feeding and cleaning. Some days she would ignore me, other days she would leap at me, mouth agape. Most times, I was able to avoid her teeth, but one day, my reflexes were a bit too slow, and I got bitten!

Iguanas have razor sharp teeth designed to rip and bite through fibrous plant material. Powered by strong muscles, iguanas can deliver a significant bite. Consequently, my skin was easily pierced.

photo of iguana bite on finger

I resisted the urge to pull my finger from her teeth, since she kept hold of me. Doing that would have shredded my finger’s tissue even more. Rango bit down a few more times, perhaps trying to show me who was in charge.

I had only opened one end of the enclosure door when Rango grabbed me. I stood there trying to decide the best way to get her to release my finger. I unhooked the latch on the other side of the door, thinking she might let go for the opportunity to roam about the room, but she clamped down harder. I re-latched that side of door.

I thought about trying to lift her up, since repositioning the body position might encourage release, but then I’d have to let go of the other side of the door that I was holding open because both of us were in the opening.

I knew alcohol would get her to let go, but the nearest bottle was across two rooms in the kitchen.

I’ve been told that any alcohol would work: rubbing alcohol or hard liquor. I had a green iguana who used to taste my food and drinks and he never liked any of my alcoholic drinks. The fumes near the iguana’s face or a bit in its mouth should be sufficient to release the captured body part. But don’t pour it down the iguana’s throat — you don’t want to pour the alcohol into its lungs.

Patience paid off and Rango eventually released my finger. I quickly latched the enclosure door. I really couldn’t blame Rango, since she is a wild animal and did what her instincts told her.  I did wonder, but only for a moment, if she’d like meat in her diet. She wouldn’t — she’s an herbivore and, very much, a folivore (leaf eater).

I suspect Rango will attempt to bite me again in the future.  I think I’ll prepare for the eventuality and strategically place a bottle of some kind of alcohol on her enclosure. Within easy reach, of course, for the next time Rango latches on.

Book Note: I generally write fun science books for children, but I do also write about issues important to me, such as my book about the disappearing Rock Iguanas of Cayman Brac, Silent Rocks, that can be used to teach principles of Conservation.

white book cover with rock iguana photo on cover
The endemic Sister Isle Rock Iguana of Cayman Brac is critically endangered. This poignant book shows why* and how we humans can help. Includes many photographs of these magnificent large lizards.
*Silent Rocks can be used to teach how humans endanger many species

 

image of workbook cover, all about iguanasAnd to supplement your child’s education during the summer, check out the workbook full of fun and interesting activity sheets called My Unit Study on Iguanasat Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.  The pages included in the workbook are listed on the cover.

#elaineapowers    #lyricpower   #iguanabite

Chorale, Cul-de-sac and . . . Chupacabra?

To maintain safe social distance, my chorus has been meeting outside in a neighborhood cul-de-sac.  We’re masked and standing six feet apart. We meet after dark and we each bring an illumination device, such as a clip-on light, or a head lamp or maybe even a wrap-around flashlight you wear on your neck. Whatever type we use, it only illuminates the music we are holding – even combined they do nothing to dispel the darkness around us.

One of the chorus members brings her service dog with her. He sits quietly at her feet, usually gazing into the darkness behind us. But every now and then, he’ll growl, sometimes barking at something unseen behind us.

phWhat is in the darkness? One of the usual nocturnal desert creatures? Perhaps a Great Horned Owl, a coyote or a Gila Monster.  We stop, look and listen, but the intruder is not identified.

photo of gila monster
Image courtesy of jessiegirl413 from Pixabay

Of course, my murder-mystery-writer’s-imagination suspects it isn’t merely an ordinary animal, but something much more sinister. Is it one of the infamous el chupacabra? Or perhaps a thunderbird? Maybe it is merely a ghost or evil spirit.

illustration of a dragon monster
Monster image courtesy of Eric Labayle from Pixabay

Chupacabra translates to “goat sucker.” The story goes that sheep and goats were found with puncture wounds in their chests with their blood drained out. Initially, descriptions were of a reptilian creature with spikes. Red eyes and fangs enhanced its fierceness. However, more recently the chupacabra is described as a breed of wild, hairless dog with a prominent ridge and, of course, fangs.

Or it might be a Thunderbird. I like large birds, but none of them, not even the golden eagle, can produce thunder from its wings and lightning from its beak. In some story versions, the feathers are knives. In the Sonoran Desert, my neighborhood, the thunderbird lived in a mountain cave. From its lair, the creature preyed upon Pima Indians, including men, women and children. Fortunately, the Pima warriors were able to defeat the thunderbirds.

So far, our chorus has emerged unscathed by the unseen dangers. But I’ll continue to be on alert, along with the canine chorus member. He’ll do his best to protect us, and I’ll fight by his side–even if it’s only a kangaroo rat.

#elaineapowers  #AZmyths  #Chupacabra  #Curtis Curly-tail  #LimeLizardLads

Book Note: I weave science into adventure tales, figuring if the learning is fun, the knowledge will stick. I’ve created three adventure series, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard, the Lime Lizard Lads, and Clarissa Catfish. The characters do not stay at home, they make mischief, and they have to face dangers–with the science of the animals and their ecosystems written into the stories. I hope you’ll check out these adventure tales today and weave some fun science into your children’s lives. See the book descriptions by clicking on the links below.

book covers curtis curly-tail
Four adventures so far! I meet Allison Andros Iguana in Curtis Curly-tail is Lizardnapped!
book covers lime lizard lads
Gene and Bony refuse to stay close to their den!
book covers clarissa catfish
All the humans get to see the wonders of the museums. So, Clarissa the Catfish decides she must, also!

 

Horseback Riding and Cougars Just Do Not Mix!

I recently had an encounter with a mountain lion while riding my horse. Button tried to tell me a big cat was near, but I couldn’t see it. I suspected she had seen the cat by the way she bolted. It was a wild ride but we got home safely (with much stomping and agitation) and the lion went on his way. As the fates would have it, an interesting article came up on my social media shortly afterwards.

A Canadian woman came across a cougar, another name for mountain lion, while hiking.  As the cougar approached, she yelled and waved her arms, causing the cat to stop but not back away. Keeping her wits about her, she pulled out her cell phone and played loud music to scare the cat away. Her choice was the loudest band she could think of: Metallica! The band’s hit “Don’t Tread on Me” did the trick. The cougar ran off.  Perhaps he wasn’t a heavy metal fan.

I really do like the idea of using loud music to scare off a lion. However, while riding a very agitated horse, I don’t have a spare hand to get the phone out of my pocket. Both hands are firmly on the reins. I’ll just have to sing loudly, instead. I know many operatic arias I could use.

There aren’t any videos of mountain lions . . . yet.

Note: If you like YouTube channels, please check out Curtis Curly-tail Speaks, where there are lots of videos about my children’s science books and my reptile family and friends, like the one about Roadrunner below that goes with my rhyming (fun) science book, Don’t Make Me Fly!

I happen to believe that science education should be fun! What about you?

 

November 6th is National Nachos Day. YUM!

November 6 is National Nachos Day, a day set aside to celebrate a delicious culinary delight. Nachos are crunchy with melted cheese, a perfect combination of taste and texture. Nachos were created by “Nacho” Anaya from Piedras Negras, Mexico in 1943.

Over the years, other ingredients have been added to the tortilla chips and cheese. Even though I regularly enjoy beef on my mine, my favorite is seafood nachos topped with shrimp and crab meat. I’ve found just about anything goes well with the basic chips and cheese.

Try being creative with your nachos.  Today, go ahead and nosh on some nachos!

(Above image courtesy of José Vanegas López from Pixabay.)

And when you and the kids are done with the nachos, check out the activity sheets and workbooks at my publisher’s website, Lyric Power Publishing LLC. They’re entertaining, educational and economical and were created to coordinate with my fun science books for children.

book cover illustration with two lizards
The Lime Lizard Lads, Gene and Bony, LOVE exploring their island home, where the bravest thing possible is to go see the Dragon of Nani Cave. An Adventure Tale For Readers Age 8+ 48 pages Fun and Colorful Illustrations by Anderson Atlas of the many animals they encounter, including the Dragon!
book cover for workbook "My Book About Rocks"
Forty-one pages of information, worksheets, and activity sheets that will give students in grades 2-5 an all-around understanding of rocks and minerals and how they are formed. Includes three word searches, a crossword puzzle, opinion essay writing, group chart activity, cut-and-paste the rock cycle, check lists for collecting rocks in the field and sorting and classifying them in the classroom. Homework project: How to build a sedimentary sandwich, with full instructions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve Been Blown Away!

Image courtesy of David Mark of Pixabay

In my book Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, I described Curtis and his iguana friends being caught in a hurricane. I’ve had personal experience in hurricanes from living along the Gulf Coast. My first week at Florida State University was delayed by a hurricane. I had to go to class on Saturday to make up for the lost day. When I worked at the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, we were out checking islands in Tampa Bay when a hurricane passed by. We were in a 16-foot boat in 16-foot waves! Fortunately, we made it back safely.

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.

But the hurricane that made the biggest impression on me was Hurricane Alicia in Houston. I was working as a bone marrow transplantation technician and a patient had been scheduled for the day of Alicia’s arrival. This was not a procedure that could be delayed. One of the team doctors had been trapped at the hospital due to the storm, but a technician was needed to prepare the cells. I was single and all the other techs had families, so I told them to stay home and I would go in. I had no doubt I could make it; after all I had a heavy-duty SUV.

The world was gray with rampaging rain and violent winds. Power lines snapped in front of me. Building pieces flew to the street, littering my route to work. I had to keep changing directions to get around the debris.  The power of the winds threatened to push in my car windows. I eventually worked my way to the parking lot of the hospital. I was very thankful I had survived the trip.

Comforted by the thought I had arrived, I opened my car door and stepped out. The next thing I remember is catching the bumper of my car as I was blown away. I might have been able to drive through 105 mph winds, but I couldn’t stand in them! I was contemplating how I was going to pull myself up my car from the bumper to the open door, when my savior arrived. The shuttle bus driver had seen me and positioned his bus as a wind block. I was able to crawl up my car to his bus and get in. He then shuttled me to the hospital.

I can’t remember now if I told him the importance of why I was there. He not only saved me that day, but the patient who was successfully transplanted with bone marrow. I hope I did tell him. I’m grateful to this day, because I don’t know how much longer I could’ve held on. I was almost blown away that day by very powerful winds. I have a great deal of respect for the might of hurricanes. In the case of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, the writer was writing what she knew!

Let ME Tell You How to Find a Lizard! by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

Hello, my friends! It’s been a while! I’m just getting back home after the hurricane on Beach Cay. Phew! THAT was an adventure! If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is now available at Amazon.com. But I’m back, and my friend, Elaine Powers, author, asked me to tell you how to find a lizard. I’d be happy to!

Some of my lizard cousins live “in captivity” with humans. This living situation has advantages and disadvantages. A caring person will provide hiding spots for young lizards, so they feel comfortable. We lizards retain all our survival instincts in captivity and like to hide from possible predators. And, young lizards are so very tasty. (I hear the seagulls talking about this on my beach. Shudder.)

There is one problem with good hiding places, however. On occasion, it becomes hard for the human to locate their reptilian family member.

The photo above is what Twizzler, a Spiny-tail iguana’s, human saw when looking for the young iguana. Is that a lizard body part? she thought. Or just another piece of the plastic rock formation?

Okay, yes, it was a body part. When she looked behind the rock, she saw identifiable parts of Twizzler, his snout and tail.

 

a rock from an iguana's enclosure
Can you see an iguana knee in this photo? Please comment below and tell me where it is. Thank you! Curtis

And what is the part of Twizzler’s body seen in front of this rock? His human claims Twizzler’s knee is in the picture. I’m a lizard and I can’t see it! Can you? Please make a note for me in the comments, if so. I’d love to know where it is. Thank you for your help.

I do have a clue if you ever need to find a lizard: Remember to look for the tail. We lizards often forget to pull in our tails. Of course, Twizzler could have felt comfortable enough to leave his tail out. After all, there are no predators in his enclosure, and he knows that now.

Now, back to me! Here is my latest adventure story. I just love being the star of Warderick Wells and having my friends see me on You Tube!

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.

Until next time, you all take care out there. Be good to each other–life is short.

Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is Now Available! by Curtis Curly-tail Lizard

illustration of curtis curly-tail lizard
It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard! Don’t you just love my perfectly curled tail?

Hello, everyone! I recently mentioned my latest book would soon be out—well, it’s here! The next Curtis Curly-tail adventure has been released: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away is written by, of course, my good friend and author, Elaine A. Powers. The gorgeous illustrations are by artist Monique Carroll, who also illustrated Grow Home, Little Seeds.

In this story, I join Allison Andros Iguana to warn the iguanas of Beach Cay about the impending hurricane. Low lying areas are particularly vulnerable to the storm surges, high rainfall and powerful winds of hurricanes. Small islands or cays here in the Bahamas can be completely washed over. Beach Cay, the setting of Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, has entire populations of endemic animals, such as the iguanas like Allison. One powerful hurricane could wipe out her entire species.

It’s not only animals that need protecting during hurricane season; people are also in danger. In this story, as in real life, people come together to help not only each other, but animals and the environment, as well. Along with the destruction caused by hurricanes, Elaine also discusses the positive effects in the book. (Yes, there are benefits from hurricanes. I’ll bet you didn’t know that!)

The title kind of gives the story away, but I hope you will grab a copy so you can find out what happens to the iguanas and if I make my way back home to my perfect little den at Warderick Wells cay. It’s a great story for all the kids at home these days, and helps them to learn about weather science and ecosystems. Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away makes learning science fun and is for sale at Amazon.

‘Til next time, take care of yourselves and each other. Together, we will get through this, just like my friends and I, who help each other survive and recover from hurricanes. Friendship rules!

August 7 is National Lighthouse Day

Image courtesy of the US Coast Guard

August 7th is National Lighthouse Day. Lighthouses have always intrigued, standing tall at the sea’s edge often high on a cliff. They have played an important part in history, making sea travel safer, indicating dangerous coastlines and reefs and rocks.

Two lighthouses have meaning in my life, both on islands. The first is the historic lighthouse on Sanibel Island, built in 1884. I grew to know it as a child visiting the island with my parents on annual vacations. The beach around the lighthouse offered excellent shelling and the mangroves had interesting wildlife.

An illustration of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse
An illustration of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse from my home

In 1949, the dwellings were turned over to the employees of the wildlife refuge. When I was in college, I worked for two summers with the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the J.N. “Ding Darling” Wildlife Refuge.  Their offices were in the lighthouse buildings.

The City of Sanibel assumed management of the lighthouse property in 1982, except the tower, which was later transferred to the city in 2010. In 2016, the lighthouse and dwellings were added to the City of Sanibel’s Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

a photo of the lighthouse on Cayman Brac
Photo of Cayman Brac Lighthouse courtesy of Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism

The second lighthouse in my life is on Cayman Brac.  This small lighthouse is perched on top of the bluff at the highest point on the island, 140 feet.  The view from the spot is spectacular, even if the lighthouse is not architecturally interesting. The first lighthouse was built in 1930 with a more modern one added in recent years. In addition to the ocean view, the lighthouse is a great place to observe bird life, including the nesting brown boobie birds and frigate birds drifting in the updrafts.

To learn more about the fascinating brown boobies of Cayman Brac (and only Cayman Brac), check out Bonnie Scott’s Brown Boobie Birds of Cayman Brac, and my own Fly Back to the Brac, Brian Brown Booby, which is fictional but based on the true story of a brown boobie bird that finally manages to fly and find his own kind. I love writing science into story and I hope you enjoy them. Both books are published by Lyric Power Publishing LLC.

image of book cover of a brown booby bird in cayman brac
“You can fly, Brian Brown Booby! Don’t give up!” Colorful Illustrations by Cayman Native Simone Scott Reading Level Age 8+ 48 Pages A fictionalized telling of the true story of Brian Brown Booby and the caring Caymanians who helped him. Brian Brown Booby was too young to fly but somehow ended up 80 miles from home. This is the tale of the many people who helped him get back home, fed him, and believed in him so that he could learn to fly with his own kind.

Meet the Brown Booby, a large sea bird which is a year-round resident only of Cayman Brac. They are not found at all in Grand Cayman or Little Cayman. These birds are a spectacular sight, soaring and gliding along the Bluff edge and the shore, diving for fish to feed their young, perching on rocks in the sun, then returning to their nesting colonies. With only about forty nesting pairs on the Brac, they are protected by Cayman law.
 

Adventure I Must! says Curtis Curly-tail

Living on a Caribbean island beach is wonderful (except for dive-bombing seagulls looking for a snack) but some days I do get bored. I love watching people come ashore from their boats, but when they leave, I wonder where the boat is going. Where do those tourists come from? Do they have an island, too?

Illustration of a green curly-tail lizard on yellow beach
“Shoes on the beach! Now’s my chance!”

One day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to find out for myself. I crept into a sneaker on the beach and traveled with its owner to the big city, delighting in the many sights and sounds a small cay doesn’t have.

Eventually, though, I wanted to go home. It didn’t take me long to realize that getting onto a tourist boat from my beach was much easier than catching a ride home would be. How would I find a boat going to Warderick Wells Cay and get on it? And I had no idea how I would cross the water between the boat and my beach again. I had acted without thinking–but I also knew I had to try to find my way home.

You can find out what happened in Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers, which is Elaine’s first book (inspired by me), published by Lyric Power Publishing and available at Amazon.com.