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!

 

What Do You Call a Group of Animals?

Image courtesy of Markéta Machová from Pixabay

Hello, Friends!

It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail! How is everybody out there? I hope you are staying strong and well.

Are you familiar with collective nouns? I knew they existed. They’re the words that describe a specific group of animals, like a flock of birds or a school of fish. Lizards like me are found in a lounge, i.e., a lounge of lizards (like in the photo above). Other reptiles have fun collective nouns, too. Alligators are found in a congregation, while crocodiles collect in a bask. Cobras form a quiver, while rattlesnakes, a rhumba! That’s one of my favorites. One I have a hard time understanding, though, is an army of frogs. Where did that come from? How threatening would an army of frogs be? (Although, from a reptile point of view, it does sound a bit slimy.)

Mammals have some interesting collective nouns, like a leap of leopards, a horde of hamsters, or a sneak of weasels. That one made me laugh. Then, I learned a collective noun I had never heard of: Fluffle. What is a fluffle a group of, you may ask? I certainly did. A fluffle is a group of wild rabbits. A fluffle of wild rabbits. Can’t you just imagine a group of fluffy, jumping rabbits? I thought this was the perfect collective noun.

Well, it’s time for me to return to my lounge and pose for some pictures on the beach. I just love showing off my perfectly curled tail!

Until next time, take care and please, check out the Curtis Curly-tail series of books, especially my latest adventure when I was caught in a hurricane: Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! I think you’re gonna love them. After all, the stories are about my adventures, and Elaine A. Powers, my friend and the author, sneaks science into them. She always says, “Science is fun! Let’s show them!”

I say, “Sure! As long as it’s about me!” She just shakes her head and smiles.

The show must go on! And that reminds me, please come on over and watch me in my starring role on my YouTube page. Lots of fun and interesting things there to learn about really cool (literally) reptiles.

One Thousand Pounds of the Unexpected!

One year ago today my life changed significantly.

Growing up, and as an adult, I’ve had only reptiles as companion animals. I never wanted a mammal. Okay, I did think about getting a hedgehog at one point, but they are nocturnal and I’m definitely a diurnal type of person. After I retired from my work as a biologist, I began horseback riding lessons so I’d be more comfortable with the stirrups on commercial trail rides.

Even though I enjoyed my lessons with my trainer, Tali, I wasn’t interested in leasing a horse and, of course, I had absolutely no interest in owning a horse. For my lessons, I alternated between Lady, an easygoing horse, and Button, who was stubborn and outspoken about her fears.

Despite Button being a challenge, I sought out every opportunity to ride her. As the saying goes, “calm seas do not a skilled sailor make.” Button provided me with the opportunity to improve my riding ability. Having spent many years wrestling large iguanas like Rango pictured below, I could be stubborn myself. If I was paying to ride Button, we were going to do what I wanted to, whether she agreed or not.

elaine a powers with rhino iguana rango
Here I am with Rhino Iguana Rango. Isn’t she a beauty? We’re both pretty good wrestlers.

Somewhere along the way, Button grew to like me. Well–she claimed me as hers. It is a very special feeling when another being wants you around. One night, completely unexpectedly, I decided that if for some reason Button ever needed a new home, I’d be willing to take her. The next morning Tali asked me if I was interested in owning Button!

A couple of months later, I moved Button to a stable near my house. Now every day, just like I do with my house reptiles, I spend time with this very special horse. We work on our skills and take trail rides in the wash.

It’s been an eventful year. I’ve learned a lot about horses, about Button and about myself. I have found an unexpected peace when I am with her. Maybe it’s because you have to be focused when hanging out with a thousand-pound, independently-minded creature.

photo of the back of a horse's head
My favorite view!

Happy Anniversary to my quite large mammalian buddy, Button!

Selfie of Elaine Powers with her horse Button
Have you ever tried to take a ‘selfie’ with a horse?

Note: Though I’ve yet to write a tale about horses (sorry, Button!), I’ve weaved science into adventure tales, hoping to make science education fun, which kids seem to really enjoy. (Why not make science fun?)

children's book cover about Curtis Curly-tail lizard and a hurricane in the Bahamas
In this fourth story of the series, Curtis joins 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.

Please see the Curtis Curly-tail Adventure Series here and the Lime Lizard Lads’ Adventures here.

book covers lime lizard lads

Gene and Bony, the Lime Lizard Lads, love exploring their island home! Come along on their adventures today!

Workbooks and activity sheets to supplement science education like the one below are also available at Lyric Power Publishing LLC/Workbooks.


image of a book cover, My Book About Bats and Rats

47 pages of captivating activities that kids from kindergarten through 3rd grade are certain to enjoy! Includes spelling pages, two Venn-Diagram activities: bats vs. parrots, and bats vs. rats; math pages, reading comprehension pages for both bats and rats; a teacher-driven felt board activity; rhyming words, less than-greater than coloring sheet; two word searches, and MORE! Students will gain a deeper understanding of the Caribbean Fruit Bat and the rats that live on Cayman Brac and how they affect the ecology.

Desert vs. Island Temps 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?

Since I’ve been staying in my den more, I’ve been tuning in to old TV shows. I enjoy the old Westerns set in the US Desert Southwest—maybe because that’s where my good friend and author, Elaine A. Powers, lives! The dry climate there is so different from my humid island weather. Where I live in the Exuma Island chain in The Bahamas, the temperature only varies between 28.0° Celsius (82.4° Fahrenheit) and 20.0° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit).

I mention this because I was watching the show, The High Chaparral, which is set in the Sonoran Desert, outside of Tucson, Arizona. In one episode, the character Manolito complains that the desert is very hot during the day, but so cold at night. Summer temperatures can exceed 40°C (104°F) during the day, but fall to around 20.0° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) at night!

That’s a huge drop! I wondered how that happens, so I asked Elaine, of course. It’s due to the lack of water. No humidity! The sun warms the ground during the day, which raises the temperature. The lack of water in the ground means all that heat is lost after the sun sets; and the lack of vegetation helps in the loss of heat from the ground, too.

I realized it’s the humidity here in the islands that helps maintain our temperatures, so we don’t heat up too high during the day and lose as much of the sun’s warmth at night. Our temperatures stay within a narrow range, while those in the desert swing wildly.

photo of ocean wave coming in, below an orange sunset
Image courtesy of RUBEN EDUARDO ORTIZ MORALES from Pixabay

I’m glad I live here, in this perfect place, here on Warderick Wells Cay in the Caribbean. It could be the most perfect place in the world. Well—except for one thing. The hurricanes. I’d love it if you picked up a copy of my latest adventure/survival story, Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away! The kids will learn all about how my friends and I work to survive the hurricanes and how the people of The Bahamas help each other to rebuild. It’s an adventure tale with a happy ending—and environmental and weather science woven into the story. That’s Elaine’s specialty: making science books fun! Check her books out here and click on the amazingly fun workbooks to see the educational supplements associated with her books, published by Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.

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.

If you’d like to learn more about the science of islands, check out the complete Curtis Curly-tail Series. If your children need to learn more about desert science, they should read Elaine’s Don’t Series, as well as the amusing How Not to Photograph a Hummingbird, which shows how dangerous that can be in a desert (in a humorous way) and includes a glossary of flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert.

Really! Check out Elaine’s books! She loves making science fun to read, in the hopes budding scientists will be born. And don’t forget about me! I have my own YouTube channel, where you can learn about Everything Reptiles! Come visit me today at Curtis Curly-tail Speaks. See you next time!