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Before Dumping Your Pets in an Animal Shelter, View This

If you think homeless people should give up their pets, please read this: Why Homeless People ‘Deserve’ Pets If you have ever surrendered an animal to a shelter (kill or no-kill, quality of life is more important than life) then watch this and identify which character you represent:
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My 3rd Monsoons: Kissing Bugs, Ticks and Pack Rats oh my!

Where pack rats go, so go bugs that bite and suck around the nose and mouth – or anywhere – at night. Big nasty kissing bugs. I found one IN my bed when I shook out my blanket this week. I killed it. It was so full of bright red blood (human? canine?) that it’s probably permanently stained the piece of clothing I killed it with. The day before I found a tick crawling up the tent wall. The wall against which my cot is pushed. One foot above the mattress. Dwyn was sporting a cozy collection of four small ticks on his forehead, all huddled together. I’ve pulled out ticks swollen beyond belief...
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Living Outdoors with Chiggers, Season Two

It started with ant bites swelling into red bumps on my foot and thigh. As if they sensed that a party had started, the chiggers joined in the next day. First my left arm, which I scratched raw a few times before buying Calamine lotion, which only helped a bit. Then something — a deer fly? Some other flying critter that specializes in sharp, fast stings or bites? — discovered the inside of my right ankle. I swatted it, it hurt, I swore, but thought nothing of it. Bug bites are so common as to not merit inspection. Until the next day, when my right ankle displayed a bruise — yes, a bruise —...
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Tent Living: Spiders, Ants and Snakes – Oh My!

Psh psh psh. The dogs jump up and bark. At my command they sit and listen as I sit up from the cot and strain my ears. The soft but distinct noise was paced like footsteps, nearby. I zip open the tent window and look. Carlos looks. Dwyn peers through another screened window. Nothing. Then I see it: A two-inch in diameter spider poised just above (and inside) the window I opened. I sigh. A spider that big could make a ‘psh’ noise moving on a loose flap of nylon window cover. I let the dogs out and sit back down on the edge of the cot just in time to grab a tissue...
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January 2014: Mold Slows Me Down

It’s early August and I’m catching up blog entries by posting monthly summaries: * January: I’ve been here close to two months when I notice my health starts declining. As wonderful as this camp site is, it is close to a creek, full of dying mesquite trees covered in lichens, on top of fertile soil covered in two kinds of mushrooms — a giant type with dark ‘dust’ inside and a smaller button-sized species. Plus, the site used to be an animal corral, so every day I walk over old horse manure. A pig, chickens and other critters also lived here. An old stock pond at the edge of camp is dried out now...
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The last of the summer rain

I took this a couple weeks ago (or whatever, sometime in later September). It had just stopped raining, I’d put the window down, and Dwyn was ready to go. In the last week of the monsoons the sky cleared of clouds but it stayed humid a few days. I remember rejoicing the day it was finally both clear and dry. That’s the Arizona weather I love. Especially now, living in my car, with two dogs who track mud into the car — i.e. my bedroom.
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September Critter Parade

Carlos Says: Gotta Gotta Gotta GET IT!

This is Carlos up to his ears digging after some critter he spied and smelled.
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Dwyn Gets a Haircut

Even after eight years of living with Dwyn (which is the name of the Celtic god of love and mischief), I still can not look at him without thinking how CUTE he is! He was overdue for a haircut. He doesn’t like me trimming his facial hair, but the rest of it he puts up with pretty well.
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My Car, a Spider’s Lair?

Leaning into the car I saw it. Perched at the intersection of windshield and dashboard. The hugest spider I’ve ever seen within three feet of my bed. I did not stop to take a picture this time. (See “Do NOT Crawl Through That Open Window!.”) A while earlier, I had placed a folded towel just next to the frozen wolf spider’s position. It was the best “squisher” in sight. I slowly eased into the driver’s seat, positioning my hands, rolling the end of the towel, calculating how much terry cloth it would take to kill without providing too much cushioning. “I only have one chance,” I thought. I struck. I slowly pulled back the...
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Sleeping With Carlos

Normally my big dog, Carlos, sleeps outside and the smaller terrier, Dwyn, sleeps in the front seat. That gives me the full back of the wagon for my bed, with both back seats pulled down. On occasion a reason presents itself that merits Carlos sleeping in the car. The usual reasons are a) Carlos is driving me crazy barking (actually he does this much less now, having learned greater discretion in distinguishing between a threat and an interesting noise); b) it is raining and I’d rather have him in the car than getting muddy and wet; c) a threat presents itself, such as a bobcat cry, a neighborhood known for mountain lion activity, or...
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Carlos Finds a Snake Skin

Confirmed: Cows ARE Everywhere

Last night a young man employed by a large local ranch and a woman equally informed about ranching gave me a good education about cattle and land management. First, my impressions are correct: Right now cows are everywhere. In fact, the young man works for the ranch that is running cattle through the area in which I’m currently camping. They’ve just gotten started, he says. There are many more cows to come. So, I asked, trying to find a place to camp on public land that has no cows is impossible right now? Yes, he said, at least within cell phone range. (I need cell phone reception in order to continue working. Plus it’s...
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Displaced by Cattle AGAIN

Cattle are EVERYWHERE. I saw them in the area (i.e. between cattle guards) driving to the site two nights ago. The next morning about a dozen ambled by 50 feet from the car. I piled the tents and the outdoor rugs I use for dog beds on top of the army cot someone gave me. “Cows will walk over everything,” someone pointed out recently. Last night, after the heavy rain that left both dogs wet and me curled up around Carlos’ seat, I opened the door to let Carlos out and he immediately barked. I swore, called him back in and closed the door. A while later I opened it and Carlos exited without...
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