Sunday, August 31, 2008

Black Tea Cuts Risk of Parkinson's

Findings from a collaboration between the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) and NUS have revealed for the first time, that drinking black tea (but not green tea) reduces the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease among the Chinese population in Singapore.

The findings, which are published in the on-line issue of American Journal of Epidemiology (Dec 2007) suggest that black tea may exhibit neuroprotective effects on Parkinson's Disease. The findings, presented at the 1st Asian and Oceanian Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Congress (Oct 2007) won the second prize for Best Research Presentation Award.

Read the entire article.

Free Family Fun

Choose one tree in your yard to be your family tree. If you don't have trees, choose a tree at a park, school, library or other place that you visit often. Make a family tree scrapbook to record the things you do and learn as you get to know your tree each year. If you don't know what kind of tree it is, take a clipping of some leaves and identify your tree at this interactive website. Be sure to include those leaves in your scrapbook.

Take photos or make drawings of your tree in various seasons. Make a list of the animals and birds that need your type of tree for their own family's habitat. What parts of the tree are used for food and who eats it? Trees are very important to our earth and knowing more about why they are so valuable, makes us appreciate them more.

Each year you can choose another type of tree and learn a lot about the natural world while having fun family time together.

Another option if you have space in your yard and enjoy gardening is to add trees to your landscape for energy conservation and pure enjoyment of watching a tree grow. You could go through the same process as above keeping a scrapbook for each tree you plant.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Faith Walking

by Donna L. Watkins

Do you remember the story of the ten lepers that Jesus healed? Luke 17:11-19 tells it:

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Female Great Curassow
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him -- and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

How often Jesus said "YOUR faith" made you whole or well, or "only believe" and what you want will happen! It shows us that walking in faith is a key to our success, whether in healing or any other avenue of life that appears to be a challenge. Got a dream you want to fulfill? Only believe! Want a retreat in the mountains? Only believe! Will you use these things to honor and glorify God? Of course you will. When you've had enough faith to bring into your life all that God promises for having that faith ... you will glorify God with your abundance, unless you allow pride to enter in and think that it's only you that achieved it.

Back to the ten lepers ... lepers were rejected by society and isolated to fellowship only with other lepers. I'm sure that they felt rejected by God also, so when Jesus approached they probably did not have much hope, so they "stood at a distance and called out" to Jesus, not being acceptable for the crowds. But Jesus told them to go "show yourselves to the priests." That was a necessary step to returning to society.

The Bible says, "as they went, they were cleansed" and one of the ten returned to glorify and give thanks to God. It was a Samaritan, a race not well accepted by the Jews. How often do you see somebody blessed by God that isn't accepted as a Christian? Does it make you angry and envious? God's laws work for the saved and the unsaved ... the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

It appears that the law of faith operates no matter whether one is a Christian or not. Jesus told this one leper that returned to "rise and go; your faith has made you well." What does that say about the other nine? Jesus healed them also and it appears they all needed to put faith into His words and believe that what He said was true. They faith walked towards the temple and were healed.

Are you focusing on faith walking? Sometimes it's a step-by-step process. Healing can come in layers. It would be much more dramatic and exciting to have God just zap you well, wealthy and happy, but it was the walking with faith added that cleansed the lepers and it will be the walking in faith that cleanses our lives of the sin that creates disease and misery in our lives. So keep walking! And don't forget to add praise and thanksgiving when you see results.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
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Starwood Hotels Building Green Choices

In July 2008, Starwood Hotels & Resorts will open its first hotel designed to appeal to environmentally conscious travelers.

Located in Lexington, Massachusetts, the hotel is part of the new chain of Element hotels, each of which will earn LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council's portfolio program.

"With the launch of Element, we're creating a new way to build hotels and guest experiences through the lens of environmental responsibility," says Frits van Paasschen, Starwood's chief executive officer.

Starwood plans to open 20 Element hotels by the end of 2009. Another one already on their site is Irving, Texas.

Visit the hotel website.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Making Healthy Smoothies

How familiar does this smoothie scenario sound: One overripe banana, a few frozen strawberries, a splash of apple juice, and ice cubes? Not a bad concoction–but you can do better. By adding more exotic fruits and vegetables as well as nut butters, different proteins, and even spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, you can tailor smoothies to fit your mood and health goal.

Whether you want to lower cholesterol or boost bone health, strengthen immunity or build muscle, smoothies can meet your needs beautifully. Read the entire article with recipes

Here's another website with more healthy smoothie recipes.

Healing Awareness Of Nature

There is a healing quality to nature, which has been known for centuries be it taking time to smell the roses, meditating on a mountain, lying in a wildflower field, strolling by a meandering stream, or hiking in ancient redwood groves. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, recognized this powerful attribute in his humbling statement: Nature cures — not the physician.

Here's a wonderful set of articles on healing at the Journey Of Hearts website:
Part I: The Healing Qualities of Nature
Part II: Coping with Loss using Nature

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pet Pampering Gone Wild

Extreme gadgets, accessories for animals and their over-the-top humans. From GPS tracking to bacon-flavored bubbles, now we have the extreme.  Tattoos for pets.

Red Admiral Butterfly

by Donna L. Watkins

The Red Admiral Butterfly belongs to the vanessid group of butterflies. All vanessid butterflies have special taste organs located in their feet.

It feeds mainly on flower nectar. It also feeds on nettles and clover in the Spring and Summer, as well as on common flowers such as buddleia, Michaelmas daisy (New York Aster), and ice plant.

It particularly likes daisies of the family Asteraceae because each flower contains a high concentration of nectar. The Red Admiral also feeds on ivy flowers and the juice of rotting fruit such as apples, which it shares with wasps.

The female Red Admiral Butterfly lays up to 100 eggs per day, one at a time, on a wide range of food plants, generally choosing nettle, or occasionally the hop plant, on which to lay them. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars pull the leaves around them to form a protective enclosure and then spin silken threads around themselves as protection from predators as they feed.

Many gardeners have found these types of leaves and removed them from the plant not realizing that they are destroying butterflies in progress. Inspect leaves of favorite plants from May onward for eggs.

The Red Admiral caterpillar has spiky extensions on its body that deter most birds, except the cuckoo. They are also vulnerable to attack by wasps and flies.

Once fully grown, the caterpillars move to a hidden spot on the plant where they shed their skins and spin a cocoon (chrysalis) with gold-colored markings. It only takes 4-7 days to go from egg to chrysalis and 2-3 weeks from chrysalis to pupation. During the time of pupation, the adult structures of the insect are formed. The wingspan of this butterfly is 2-3 inches.

Although this butterfly is commonly seen in temperate areas, it is actually a migrant from the Mediterranean regions of Europe, Guatemala and the Antilles.

It flies north each Spring to its breeding grounds and the offspring remain at the breeding grounds through Summer and into Winter, lacking the instinct to return south as cold weather approaches.

It attempts to hibernate in tree hollows, rocky crevices, or among plant debris, but the cold weather soon kills it. The lifespan is about 10 months. They fly at 5-9 miles per hour.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bird Leads To The Bees' Nests

From Creation Moments

"But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?"

It has long been known that an African bird known as the honeyguide leads badgers to bees' nests, where the badger tears the nest apart to eat the honey. The badger always leaves more than enough for the honeyguide.

Now it has been learned that the honeyguide has a similar relationship with the Boran people of Kenya. When the bird has found a bees' nest, it will alert the Boran, bidding them to follow it the honey site. On the other hand, if the Boran want to know where honey is, they know how to whistle and call for a honeyguide.

The honeyguide also calls to the people so that they know which way to go. When the Boran reach the honey, they always make sure that they leave some for the honeyguide. Researchers also reported that they saw honeyguides scouting out bees' nests at night so that they had good sites to lead the Boran to the next day.

While the honeyguide does get its reward of honey in return for its help, the intelligence of the honeyguide in establishing these relationships with human beings is impressive. But while the honeyguide can help teach us that the creation is the Work of an intelligent Creator, it cannot teach us how to have a relationship with Him. For that we must go to the Bible.

References: Honey Hunters Follow Bird to Reach Bees. Science News, vol. 135. P. 172.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Calling All Book Worms

Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Eight (8) million tons of trees are used each year in the production of catalogs. You can control the catalogs you want coming to your home at

What about books? I've added a link to the Kindle Wireless Reading Device to this website navigation bar. It's to books what iPod is to music. Some people can't imagine giving up the touch and smell of a book (by the way, that smell is toxic since it's all about glues and inks), but if you just can't retrain your the smell area of the brain, there's now BookSwim, which is to books what Netflix is to movies.

You rent books online as you would movies. With over 30,000 titles to choose from, no late fees and no shipping costs, BookSwim might be an excellent personal solution for you.

Fall in love with a book and want to keep it? No problem! You can pay for it online and then immediately receive another book from your list. It’s that easy and BookSwim plans begin at $14.99/month.

Update: 11/14/08 - New prices start at $9.95.

Kids Get High Cholesterol Prescriptions

Some kids as young as 8 will need drugs to keep them from getting heart disease, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The groundbreaking new advisory tells parents and pediatricians to screen high-risk kids for signs that they've already begun to develop heart disease. The screening test, called a fasting lipid profile, measures a child's levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, "good" HDL cholesterol, and blood fats (triglycerides).

Treatment may be needed for kids found to be at high risk. The blood test will take a number of other risk factors into account: overweight or obesity, family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Normal and too-high cholesterol and triglyceride values for children differ from values for adults. But the AAP advisory comes with charts to help doctors understand children's results.

The initial treatment for kids at risk of heart disease is weight management and improved diet. But some kids as young as 8 will need to start drug treatment. These drugs include the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. One of these drugs, Pravachol, already is FDA approved for children born into families genetically predisposed to high cholesterol.


Another post on natural approach to cholesterol.

Pet Poop Offers Clues To Health

As much 'fun' as it is to clean the litter box or pick up the 'land mines' in the back yard, the clean up provides you with an opportunity to monitor your pet's health. The trick is to first learn what normal elimination behavior is, and then any changes in normal are an early alert to a possible problem.

Busy lifestyles often prevent dog and cat owners from knowing exactly what their pet might snack on. Finding popsicle sticks, crayons, or anything else in the 'deposit' gives you information of what needs to be removed from their access around the house. And learning what you need to keep them away from could save you an expensive vet bill and possibly their life.

Read the entire article.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Faith or Folly

by Donna L. Watkins

Have you ever seen somebody who uses their faith to excuse themselves from making decisions?

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Chestnut-sided Warbler
They may be out of work and say, "I'm just waiting for God to provide me work." Like it will come out of the sky like hail and drop in his lap.

Many times Christians who are afraid to make a decision use faith as their reasoning. Fear of failure can be strong enough to blind us. There must be a careful balance between faith and proper planning. If somebody is out of work, they need to be fine-tuning their resume and maybe taking the time to add to their job skills.

When you need a job, you should be looking everywhere and mentioning everywhere what you are looking for. God still does miracles, but a miracle is something that we can't do for ourselves, and many times we expect miracles rather than putting our own hand to the plow.

We must do all we can to prepare, while at the same time understanding that it's the favor of God that blesses our endeavors and produces fruit from our labor. To walk by faith doesn't mean you stop planning, thinking, asking for advice and improving our weaknesses on the topic.

We can trust God for our finances, but not if we're blowing the budget every month. We can ask for health and healing, but you can't smoke and overeat or live on junk food and expect health. Expecting God to bail us out when things get messy isn't faith, it's presumption.

Wisdom says do all you can and trust God to do what you cannot.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

The Story Of Stuff

Click here to view this amazing video.

It can change your health and the health of your family and pets. It can totally change your lifestyle and has the ability long-term to add peace and true joy to your life. Living simpler lives will bring many rewards you never thought of.

Update (5/11/09): The front page of New York Times covers the video. Goes Green

Not only does Amazon have these green product categories:

• Automotive

• Books, Movies, TV, Magazines & Downloads

• Certified Organic Grocery

• Electronics & Computers

• Health, Beauty & Personal Care

• Home & Garden

• Home Improvement

• Shoes

• Sporting Goods

• Toys & Baby Products

They also have Green Guides, which present information on various green topics, such as these:

• Recycling Electronics for Fun & Profit
• Green Tips for Your Lawn
• Composting 101
• Greening Baby's Room
• Greening Your Child's Playroom
• Tips for a Greener Bathroom
• Tips for a Greener Bedroom
• Tips for a Green Home Theater
• Tips on Green Cleaning
• Tips for a Green Kitchen
• Greening Your Laundry Room
• Greening Your Office
• Greening Your Car
• Green Wedding Guide
• Waste-Free Holidays

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fingernails - Window To Your Health

If eyes are the windows to the soul, then fingernails are the windows to your health. From simply looking at changes in the compressed keratin that sits atop our fingertips, doctors can sometimes identify the first signs of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, lung disorders, liver and kidney problems, as well as certain vitamin deficiencies. Watch for changes in previously healthy fingernails, and bring up any concerns to your health care provider. Read the entire article.

Grow An Herbal Tea Garden

A tea garden is a delightful hobby that can complement the rest of your herb garden and will provide you with the joy of fresh herbal teas, more properly known as herbal infusions or tisanes, at a moment's notice. Creating a tea garden in a container can also make a perfect gift for somebody. Get the how-to steps.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Opossum Eating At Our Feeder

We have a gourmet nut company a few hours from us and when we are near (it's a mile off of I-95), we stop in to get some critter food. They have 25 lb. boxes of mixed nuts and dried fruits that they sell for $8.00. It's a great way to provide special treats to the birds and wildlife here in our backyard.

The other night we had a opossum visiting and got a decent video of the youngster chowing down. View video on YouTube.

Save Energy By Saving Water

Though many states and localities are waking up to their water shortages and taking steps to plan for “peak water”, people generally continue to waste water and to ignore the energy-water link.

In 2004 the Natural Resources Defense Council did a study in conjunction with the Pacific Institute called “Energy Down the Drain” on how saving water saves energy. We need to do more to spread the word. Here are seven ways to save energy by saving water.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Toxic Baby Products

Environment California Research & Policy Center purchased 21 products intended for use in a baby’s nursery and hired a professional laboratory to test them for toxic chemicals. The results of the lab tests are in. There's also a link to an article on creating a healthy crib. Read the entire article.

Are You Addicted To The Internet?

Medill News Service reports that the Internet has become an out-of-control habit for more and more people. In fact, experts say that Internet addiction is a growing psychological and behavioral problem.

It's estimated that 5% to 10% of Americans may be addicted to the Internet – that could mean as many as 30 million people. And, it's an even bigger problem in other parts of the world. As many as 30% of the people living in China, Korea and Taiwan may be hooked.

There are now even special centers to treat this growing problem. Call it Internet rehab. Experts say some patients need 30 to 90 days in-patient treatment, followed by additional care. Like any other addiction, they say it requires lifelong treatment.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's Heaven Like?

by Donna L. Watkins

Ever wonder about where you go when you die, or where your loved ones have gone? As a Christian, we have God's Word to tell us about it.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Orchid - Costa Rica
Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled, Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3)

One of the devotions in "The Word For You Today" tells us about what the Bible says about Heaven:

It's an exact square of 1400 miles. It stretches from the Carolinas to California, and from Canada to Mexico. It's 40 times the size of England, 10 times the size of France, and larger than India. And that's just the ground floor; it's as tall as it is wide; 600,000 stories, more than enough space for billions of people to come and go. And come and go they will. The gates never close. Why shut them? The enemies of God will be banished, leaving only a perfect place of perfected people.

Heaven has been on my mind a lot lately since my friend, Louise, died. I'm a very visual person, so I like to picture things and, of course, Heaven is a difficult place to picture since we only have glimpses of it provided by God's Word.

As we lose more loved ones that go to Heaven, it does make our hearts glad to know that we will see them again. Paul had the privilege of visiting Heaven, and wrote, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." (Phil. 1:23). Life on earth can get pretty cushy at times, but we must always keep our eyes and thoughts on the fact that we are only in preparation for the real Kingdom we belong to.

Joni Eareckson Tada says, "What makes home is not a place, but who lives there."

It's been such a blessing to "meet" so many of you via email through this mailing list and I often think about how we will have one big tea party in Heaven one day. I also picture my butterfly bench there. After all who gave Charlie the ability to make it? He had never done anything that artistic before, so God probably has butterfly benches all over Heaven .... or maybe that's what Charlie will be doing in Heaven ... making butterfly benches. We will all have tasks to do and as much joy as that bench has brought to my life and others, it wouldn't be a bad "job" to have.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Free Kibble To Dogs and Cats

Mimi Ausland, a 12 year old girl from Bend, Oregon, wanted to help feed the hungry dogs at her local animal shelter. "There are 10's of thousands of dogs in animal shelters across the country, all needing to be fed a good meal."'s primary mission is to provide good, healthy food to dogs and cats to those shelters who are working so hard to see that none of them go hungry - they need our help. If a young girl can come up with the great idea, we should join in and lend a hand ... or a few fingers, since all you need to do is answer one trivia question a day to have food donated.

You can sign-up for the daily email reminder and feel good about at least one email coming to you Inbox. At the same time you'll be learning more about dogs and cats. Visit Free Kibble now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Healing Weeds In Your Yard

Many of the lawn-and-garden weeds that people kill with toxic herbicides actually contain health-giving properties and vital nutrients often missing from foods grown in depleted soil.

A weedy lawn is often a goldmine of healing and health! Find out what four of the most common weeds growing in your yard may offer you in this article.

Imperial Moth

by Donna L. Watkins

The Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) has a wingspan of 4-6 inches with yellow wings with purple-gray marks and dark speckles.

© 2006 - Ken Bushell - Imperial Moth
Adults often fly near lights basking in the glow until dawn when not feeding. Unfortunately, many of these moths remain on walls by the lights and are eaten by birds, so they are becoming more rare in areas where a lot of artificial lighting is used.

Females lay large yellow eggs singly or in small groups on upper or lower surface of host leaves. It will hatch in two weeks. The tiny caterpillars begin life with huge heads, spikes and long fine hairs. Some common hosts in our Virginia area are oak, sycamore, elm, hickory, walnut, maple, basswood, honeylocust, and pines.

The larval (caterpillar) stage of this moth is a solitary feeder and is usually found in late Summer and in Fall. Large, colorful, and armed with horns and spines, the caterpillar may look fierce and dangerous; however, it is harmless and does not "sting" or stab man.

Full-grown, it is 3-4 inches long and may be green or brown. They consume a large amount of foilage, but are seldom present in sufficient numbers to cause any serious damage. When they are fully grown, about 42 days, they leave the foliage and pupate in the soil. The large, hard, brown pupa has a flattened forked tail. In the Spring they emerge as adults to begin the process all over again.

Life seems so simple in being a moth.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maybe It's Not Alzheimer's or Parkinson's

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, many Americans over the age of 55 may suffer from a condition that is often confused with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia or simply old age.

"What we're really dealing with here is something called Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus," said Dr. Brett Osborn, a neurologist with Aventura Hospital.

Osborn said N.P.H. can be the result of injury or infection but in many cases the cause is unclear.

"What happens is fluid begins to build up in the brain cavity causing a variety of symptoms," Osborn said.

Symptoms include changes in a person's stride and the ability to walk, memory loss, apathy, dementia, and urinary incontinence, all of which may become progressively worse.

"In other words, the earlier you get to these patients and recognize it the better they're ultimately going to do," Osborn said. Read the entire article.

Home Depot Recycles Fluorescent Bulbs

Home Depot has just announced a couple of important green initiatives. First, they will now be accepting all compact fluorescent bulbs for recycling in their stores in the U.S. and Canada. This is be offering in over 2,100 stores, so it’s a major step in the right direction.

At each Home Depot store, customers can simply bring in any expired, unbroken CFL bulbs, and give them to the store associate behind the returns desk. The bulbs will then be managed responsibly by an environmental management company who will coordinate CFL packaging, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.

In addition to the CFL recycling program, The Home Depot has also launched an in-store energy conservation program to switch light fixture showrooms in U.S. stores from incandescent bulbs to CFLs by Fall 2008. This is another great sustainability measure and they believe it will also save the company $16 million annually in energy costs.

And another important public service message: please do not give up on CF bulbs because they contain mercury!

Lots of people seem to have been unnecessarily scared off of these energy-saving bulbs because of mercury. They contain only trace amounts and are SAFE for use in your home. Read more on this topic.

Fluorescent Bulb Cleanup

Monday, August 18, 2008

Spin Like a Spider

by Donna L. Watkins

God created the natural world not only for our enjoyment, but for many lessons of life that can be seen in His Creation. Consider this spider story from The Word For You Today:

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Spider
Everything a spider needs to survive and succeed in life, God put within it. Swipe it with a broom and before it hits the ground, its fall is broken. It just reaches inside, releases another protein-filled silk-like thread, slides down, finds a safe place, then comes back stronger than ever and builds a new web.

What's the message of the spider? Everything you need, God has placed within you!

The Bible says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness ... He has given us His very Great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).

What has God given us? "Everything we need." What has God made us participants in? "His divine nature."

Wow! We've got what it takes! You do and so do I! We can make it no matter what life has thrown at us. Finance problems, divorce, death of loved ones, diseases, depression, fires and violence. Within us is the power to regenerate the cord of strength to glide on to some place else. A quiet and peaceful place. A place of peace, grace and joy. It's within our grasp - it's within ourselves!

Your future is not determined by your past or by your today. It's determined on how you choose to react to all of the past days and today's circumstances. We will shrivel up and become bitter about the rest of our lives because of the sour candy that's been handed to us while the rest of the world moves on not even recognizing your pain?

Grief and pain are necessary in life, but we can't choose to remain there. God has provided so much more and getting into His Word to absorb, memorize and apply our own faith to it is that special place He's created for us to have a place of "peace, grace and joy." It's the ONLY place! Nothing the world offers will ease the pain of your loss.

But within you .... is the power! Do what it takes to remain in faith. Spend time in the Bible, in Christian books, in biographies about people who have overcome. Go to the library and take a big bag to carry home your choices. Use the time you would spend moaning, groaning, whining and kicking at what's been dealt you. It's a great temptation to wallow. It's rather comfortable, but the mental torment will literally eat you alive.

Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

You're choice! You've got the way of escape. Spin your thread and move on -- stronger, wiser and more faith-filled than ever. And then ... help somebody else to see the value of spinning. You still have what God put within you. You CAN make it. The battle is over your future. Take it back!

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Pets For The Environment

Did you know that pets in America are polluted with all kinds of toxic chemicals that the government doesn't regulate? When Eddie found that out, he became a mutt on a mission. You can learn more about this furry crusader and his mission by following these links.

About Eddie and Pets For The Environment
Eddie's Healthy Pet Tips - Download Available"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dandelion Alternative For Rubber

Discovery News is highlighting an interesting development in the field of rubber. According to new research being done in Ohio, dandelion root sap could be made into a rubber of equal quality to traditional rubber from trees, at a lower cost.

Scientists from Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC) recently received a $3 million grant to design and build a processing plant that would turn sticky white dandelion root sap into quality rubber for less money than current methods, say the scientists.

Read the entire article.

Plant: Elephant Ears

From Creation Moments

There are a wide variety of decorative and ornamental plants that go by the popular name "elephant ears" because of their very large leaves.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Elephant Ear Leaf - Costa Rica
Compare with my size 8 shoe. This is underside of a fallen leaf.

Elephant ears are among the 2,500 known species of plants that generate heat in much the same way as warm-blooded animals. Some flowering elephant ears actually raise their temperatures close to human body temperatures while in bloom!

Even more amazing is the relationship between many elephant ears and the scarab beetle. It has only recently been learned that many elephant ears depend completely on the scarab beetle for pollination. Elephant ears produce a flower stalk, called a spadix, which has three different kinds of flowers, male, female, and sterile.

The beetles live to eat the sterile flowers and on the process of crawling around the spadix the beetles pick up the pollen from the male flowers and pollinate the female flowers. Incidentally, while the male and female flowers look exactly like the sterile flowers, they are never eaten.

This close dependency between totally unrelated creatures which have special features perfectly suited to one another bears witness to an overall plan and Planner for all the creation. And if our Creator has made such detailed provisions for these plants, which are here today and soon gone, you can rest assured that He has made many more provisions for you and all of mankind. Listen to this radio episode of Creation Moments.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Keep Kids Healthy In School

It's much easier and least expensive to do prevention than treatment. You can keep children healthy. They don't have to catch everything that goes around if their immune system is strong enough to do what it was designed to do. Cut out all the junk foods to keep more nutrition going in and supplement with immune-building supplements.

Solid Nutritional Support for Growing Kids
by Jody Taylor

As the new school year approaches, parents everywhere are gathering the supplies their kids will need when they head out the door. This fall, arm your kids not just with backpacks but with the nutrition that will help them perform their best.

Nature’s Sunshine has a variety of products designed to help kids stay healthy, happy and ready to learn. Highlighted here are a few favorites.

Set Your Child’s Sights on Success with Focus Attention
Focus Attention combines powerful nutrients that help the brain maintain a healthy, balanced level of stimulation. By supplying the brain with the vital nutrients it needs, Focus Attention may help improve your child’s concentration so he or she can thrive at school. Available in capsules and a great-tasting powder drink mix.
“My 9-year-old, Jonathan, has trouble staying on task. After receiving a bottle of Focus Attention Powder from a family member, I decided to try it. I can’t say enough how wonderful this product is. My son has gone from being almost out of control and making horrible grades, to the wonderful child I knew he was. He has made the A/B Honor Roll. Thank you.”—Diane T., San Antonio, Texas
Start their Day the Herbasaurs® Way!
Herbasaurs products are designed specifically with kids’ nutritional needs in mind. While mass-market vitamin supplements can be loaded with sugar and other extras kids don’t need, Herbasaurs products are sweetened naturally and contain no artificial colors, flavors, sucrose or starch. So you can feel confident giving them to your kids every day.
Chewable Multiple Vitamins and Minerals
Getting your kids to eat their fruits and veggies might be a struggle, but you’ll never have to beg them to take their vitamins! This great-tasting chewable, naturally sweetened with xylitol, fructose and citrus flavors, contains 12 essential vitamins plus minerals and iron.

Liquid Multiple Vitamins Plus Iron
Recommended for children who prefer a liquid, this formula has a pleasant orange flavor. Each dose equips kids with a full day’s supply of 12 essential vitamins plus iron and zinc.

Chewable Antioxidants with Grapine®
Herbasaurs Antioxidants help young, growing bodies fight the damaging effects of free radicals caused by oxidation, pollutants, the sun and even exercise. Each lemon-lime flavored tablet offers antioxidant protection with beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, Grapine and licorice flavonoid extract.

Chewable Elderberry Plus
With a host of germs out there just waiting to be shared, it’s nice to know you can strengthen your child’s defenses before sending him or her off to school each day. Chewable Elderberry Plus contains elderberry, reishi mushroom and astragalus for immune and respiratory system support—in a great-tasting lemon-lime Dinotab®.
Great Taste Makes Vitamin C an Easy Pill for Kids to Swallow
Kids and adults alike can enjoy the protective benefits of Vitamin C. Nature’s Sunshine chewable wafers are made with vitamin C and whole orange juice, along with rose hips, orange and natural lemon-lime flavor. Each tablet delivers 410 percent of the Daily Value to keep kids’ immune systems strong.

Keep Kids’ Digestive Systems in Balance with L. Reuteri
A healthy intestinal tract is home to billions of delicate microorganisms that aid in the digestion process. Stress, environmental conditions and antibiotics can destroy them, but NSP probiotics—including L. Reuteri—help repopulate these tiny friends. This strain of friendly flora is chewable, suitable for young children and requires no refrigeration—making it a great choice both for travel and daily use at home.

Safer Antibiotic Still Works

© 2008 Creation Moments.

In Genesis 1:28 God tells man to subdue the Earth. That command implies that God has placed, within the creation, many tools that man can learn to use for his benefit.

After sin entered the world and sickness and death became a reality, God’s remarkable foreknowledge then became evident. One of the first antibiotics ever discovered by man has been in use for thousands of years.

Modern researchers are just beginning to appreciate the wonder of this natural antibiotic that kills some 650 different strains of disease organisms, and is virtually non-toxic. Best of all, disease organisms don't become resistant to it.

What is this miracle antibiotic? The metal silver.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used silver containers to keep liquids fresh. American settlers often placed a silver dollar in milk to delay souring. Most of the world's airlines today use silver filters on board to prevent dysentery.

After testing 23 different methods for purifying water, NASA selected silver water filters for use on board the Space Shuttle. Japanese researchers have found that silver is even able to detoxify some poisons.

Isn't it striking that even the inanimate world is filled with things that are so carefully designed to fit into the overall picture of reality painted by Scripture? And who says the Bible isn't a book of science?!

Visit Creation Moments for more Bible science articles.

Read more about Silver Shield, one of my favorite items in my supplement program.

Be sure to read the patent information that lists all the positive reports of the diseases and types of microbes that this product worked for in research before approval.

AquaSol Technology makes Silver Shield safe and more effective. Read scientific information.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Supplement For Cats

From Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece". That's what Leonardo da Vinci once said and I couldn't agree more.

That is why I am so happy to announce that I formulated a new and improved supplement for cats called Life's Abundance Wellness Food Supplement For Cats.

The more I learn about the way bodies function, the more amazing they seem to me. There is a growing amount of anecdotal evidence that suggests a mammal’s body has a highly complex, natural intelligence. As a holistic veterinarian, I review such evidence, interpreting it within the context of established scientific knowledge.

Based upon these observations, it seems that a cat’s body “prefers” nutrients as they exist in foods, in their more natural state. On a cellular level, their bodies are familiar with the nutrient components and therefore the body knows to absorb and assimilate exactly what it needs. That is why I believe that small amounts of nutrients in foods can have a profound affect on a cat’s body. In light of this information, I formulated a new approach to add to the overall nutrient intake, creating Life’s Abundance Wellness Food Supplement For Cats.

This new supplement is formulated with a wide variety of naturally-nutritious ingredients to help maintain overall health. The proteins in this superior supplement are sourced from high-quality chicken, herring, chicken liver, salmon and pork meals. We have also included chicken cartilage, a natural source of glucosamine and condroitin sulfate. This supplement also contains other nutritious ingredients such as alfalfa sprouts, tomato pomace and fish oil. And last but not least, even the most finicky of felines will enjoy the savory taste of these nutritious nuggets!

Supplementing a cat’s diet can play an important role in maintaining overall health, and I hope you will allow your cat to try this new and improved supplement.

Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

Frankincense and Arthritis

An herb known as "Indian Frankincense" can reduce the symptoms of arthritis, US researchers have suggested.

Extracts from Boswellia serrata, a similar species to the variety famous for its role in the Christian nativity, were tested on dozens of patients.

Those who received it reported better movement and less pain and stiffness.

The herb has been used for thousands of years in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, reports the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.

Read the entire article.

If you'd rather take the natural herb route, rather than a drug created from one active constituent in the herb, Nature's Sunshine produces an Ayurvedic formula called, JNT-AV.

Personally, I use frankincense essential oil diluted in a massage oil. This particular oil is great for aging skin so I use it on my arms and the properties are absorbed through the skin for the additional health benefits I desire for the arthritis.

Essential oils are wonderful products for a variety of uses. Get more essential oil info.

Don't underestimate the importance of quality and purity.

Gardening Tidbits

About 37% of U.S. Gardeners consider themselves primarily organic gardeners.

The Netherlands, which is half the size of Maine, produces about 9 billion flower bulbs every year, which is about two for every person on Earth.

Among the list of easiest annuals to grow are Cleomes, Sunflowers, Zinnias, and Marigolds.

Among the easiest perennials to grow and maintain are Black-eyed Susans, Coneflowers, Daylilies and Hostas.

Don't deadhead plants that are self-seeding. They need to resow themselves. Birds often enjoy the seeds also, providing natural food for them. Our Goldfinches enjoy the seeds from Heritage Petunias, Cleomes, Coneflowers and Salvias.

Begonias, impatiens, coleus, and fuchsias are good plants to grow in shade.

Most herbaceous plants (those that grow by increasing in diameter) can be divided.

Jewelweed, a wildflower native to eastern North America, is a relative of garden impatiens.

To start biennials outdoors, plant the seeds in midsummer.

Rabbits dislike foxglove and any plant in the onion family, like chives.

Spread a layer of crushed eggshells around plants to keep slugs away.

Before placing hard stems of a cut tree or flowers from shrubs in a vase, smash them with a hammer. The stems will be able to absorb water more easily.

Birch trees grow best in areas with cool summers.

In Biblical times, mint was used as money.

After the Boston Tea Party, Bee Balm tea quickly became a favorite among the colonists.

Fall colors start with the reds of sumacs and end with the yellows of willows and larches.

Reference: Birds and Blooms Magazine

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Focus On The Future

by Donna L. Watkins

Too often we live our days in the past reviewing in our minds all the mistakes and things we can find to feel guilty about. It becomes a habit. Don't you know somebody that never has anything to say that's not negative? It's a rut!

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Squirrel Cuckoo - Costa Rica
If you're beginning the foundation work for a rutty life, give it up now and focus on the future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD , "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope hope and a future."

Focus on the future! The Bible talks about ants preparing for the winter while it is yet summer. We have a plan and purpose in life and that needs to be our focus. Not all the things going wrong. Life is full of unhappy circumstances. What we do with those circumstances is what makes us or breaks us. We get better or bitter. Which path holds the most promise? Getting better. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God."

Notice there is a prerequisite to this promise. We must love God. Loving God means we must trust and believe in His will for our lives and that even the worst of times has a good purpose for us. Our life on earth is not only for our enjoyment, it's for our training for eternity in Heaven. How we go through bad times will determine the kind of life we live while on this earth.

There's something you're passionate enough about to take you out of the negative aspects of your life. Get your focus on the future. Can't seem to find your purpose in this world? I'm reading a wonderful book right now that lays it out so simply and yet direct. Max Lucado's Cure For The Common Life - Living In Your Sweet Spot tells me that we are each custom-designed for a one-of-a-kind assignment and it helps you discover how your ability unveils your destiny.

It's right there ready to hit us in the face when we look at it, but it all seems to easy to truly be God. Like life has to be difficult for it to be our purpose or calling. Living in our purpose is living in the "sweet spot" of life. God wants us to be happy and fulfilled and he made us so unique with talents and skills that will honor him. As author Laurie Beth Jones says, "This book can cure whatever 'blah' that ails you!" It's certainly revving me up to move forward and grab everybody around me and take them along!

Ever see an ant carrying something three times its size? Sometimes we don't dream big enough. We don't allow ourselves to believe that what makes us happy and passionate about life is actually our life's calling. It's our way to glorify our Father, by being exactly who He made us to be. He gave us our traits, dreams and abilities to live life in a sweet spot that only we can fulfill in His Master Plan.

The sooner we stop whining about what we can't be and have, and focus on what is truly us and what we're naturally passionate about, the sooner we'll be able to move beyond any bad circumstances in life because our focus will be on something more. If something seems to big
for you to accomplish alone, ask for help. Ants are great individual workhorses, but there are times when it takes a team to move something to completion.

"Glory be to God who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we could ever dare to ask or even dream of." Ephesians 3:20

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
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Carbofuran Finally Banned

The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will no longer allow residues of the toxic pesticide, carbofuran, on domestic or imported food, a decision that effectively removes the chemical from the U.S. market.

A neurotoxin that threatens animals as well as humans, carbofuran is known to have killed millions of wild birds, including golden and bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and migratory songbirds. But it is the particular risk that residues of the chemical on food and in water could pose to young children that triggered the agency to act in this instance.

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Health Map Tracks Infectious Disease

Scientists are searching within the virtual world and finding real viruses.

Every hour, HealthMap, an infectious disease-tracking Web site, culls through news Web sites, public health list servs, the World Health Organization's online pages, and other Web sites in six different languages to pinpoint outbreaks of disease that real-world doctors can then act on.

"We were originally thinking about how we could expand disease surveillance and pick up outbreaks earlier than traditional methods," said John Brownstein of Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, who created HealthMap in September of 2006 with Clark Friefeld, a software developer at Harvard Medical School.

Read the entire article.

Give A Dog A Bone

Corinne Dowling is the Founder, Director and Primary Dog Handler of Give a Dog a Bone, a non-profit program that serves the needs of dogs in long-term shelter care. Give a Dog a Bone was created in 1999 to relieve the isolation, boredom, stress, and suffering of dogs in enforced custody and medical isolation.

Whether you call them "custody" animals, long term shelter guests, or by any other name, Animal Control Agencies around this country face a real challenge when trying to care for these animals. It's an unfortunate fact that such prolonged confinement often causes severe stress, loss of appetite, poor hygiene, diminished motivation, depression, aggressiveness, and in some cases, self mutilation.

Many of these dogs have been rescued from neglectful and cruel situations, others are being held for "vicious & dangerous" dog hearings and some are there because their owners have been victims of eviction, in jail, or some other disaster in their lives where they can't take care of their animal(s) right now.

Our criminal justice system might be the envy of the world, but it's not unusual to hold an animal for up to a year until the courts decide disposition. Although seen as evidence, animals are not inanimate objects that can be put in a brown paper bag and left in a locker until their case has been adjudicated.

Whatever the outcome, the "Give a Dog a Bone" program goes beyond life saving. It affords every dog in this program "life enrichment activities", which include spending time with the animal, providing treats, attention, exercise and love - all the ingredients that these sentient living creatures need and deserve. For all too often, they themselves are the victims of irresponsible and uncaring owners.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Granite Counters Radioactive

Some of the traditional granite countertops emit high levels of radiation.

It sounds pretty crazy at first glance. However, the earth’s crust is filled with minerals that emit small amounts of radiation, and granite is one of the types of rock that contains radioactive elements.

Uranium deposits, for instance, are often found at the boundaries between igneous rocks (such as granite) and other layers of rock. As uranium decays, it emits radon gas. In fact, much of the radon gas that seeps into homes in certain parts of the country comes from the decay of uranium in underground granite deposits.

Granite quarried in the US is most likely safe because of better testing and sourcing, but with today’s explosion of granite options from all parts of the world some less-than-safe choices have slipped in.

Read the entire article and find green options.

Leave Some Flowers For The Birds

Dead-heading will give the plant more energy and resources to produce more flowers, but one thing I consider is whether the bloom that will turn to seed is one that will benefit the birds.

We have feeders placed around our yard in the summer, but I know that the variety of native flowers have important nutrition for birds that they don't get in the feeders, so I like to leave some seed heads for the birds. When Fall is drawing near, I leave them all so the migrating birds will have food. They remember where they found food on their last migration so each year we see more and more species because our yard is full of dietary choices.

Here's a few links that give you information on which plants birds like so you might choose to plant more that will benefit the birds.

Flowers For Birds
Top Plants For Birds
Planting For Birds

We especially enjoy the American Goldfinches eating our seeds as you can see from these photos:

Upright Verbena
Heritage Petunias
Green-headed Coneflowers

We really enjoy gardening for wildlife.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Green Home Upgrades & Home Values

With many cities experiencing a real estate “slump”, homeowners around the country are looking for ways to stand out from the slew of homes on the market, while improving their home’s resale value. Other homeowners are planning for the future: a future of ever-rising energy prices.

Regardless of your situation, you may be asking yourself if green home improvements increase the home’s value. The answer isn’t as straight-forward as some might hope.

Read the entire article.

Cell Phones Track Birds

Humans may not be the only animals using cell phones in the near future.
Ornithologists and engineers at Oregon State University are planning to strap tiny mobile phones to songbirds and monitor the birds' migration with unprecedented accuracy.

The devices attached to the birds will share unique identification numbers with cell towers as they pass within range. Network service providers will record the ID numbers, the towers contacted and the times when contact was made.

Read the entire story.

My concern is whether the bird will have the same negative health effects of cell phones that humans have.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

12 Babies Die In Vaccine Trials

At least 12 babies who were part of a clinical study to test the effectiveness of a vaccine against pneumonia have died over the past year in Argentina, the local press reported Thursday.

The study was sponsored by global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and uses children from poor families, who are "pressured and forced into signing consent forms," the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals, or Fesprosa, said.

"This occurs without any type of state control" and "does not comply with minimum ethical requirements," Fesprosa said.

The vaccine trial is still ongoing despite the denunciations. Those in charge of the study were cited by the Critica newspaper as saying that the procedures are being carried out in a lawful manner. Read the entire article.

Monarch Butterfly

by Donna L. Watkins

Perhaps the most popular or well known of butterflies is the Monarch (Danaus plexippus). Here at Lake Monticello we get to see these beautiful creatures arrive in September as they migrate south to Mexico to winter over.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch on Butterfly Bush
Their incredible migration is what has made the Monarch so well known. Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains travel to small groves of trees along the California coast. Those east of the Rocky Mountains fly south to forests high in the mountains of Mexico.

In all the world, no butterflies migrate as far as the Monarchs of North America. They travel up to 3,000 miles and are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration every year.

Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same Winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is similar to some birds or whales; however, unlike birds and whales, individual Monarchs only make the round-trip once. It is the fact that their children's grandchildren are the ones that return south the following Fall that fascinates the mind.

As the days grow longer, they begin to mate and they leave their Mexican roosts during the second week of March, flying north and east looking for milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs. These are the only Monarchs left that can produce a new generation. If they return too early, before the milkweed is up in the Spring, they will not be able to lay their eggs and continue the cycle.

The migrating females each lay hundreds of eggs on the milkweed plants they find in the southern United States before they die. The eggs hatch about four days after being laid and the first Spring caterpillars hatch, consume the milkweed plant which is the ONLY plant that Monarch larvae will eat.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch and Chrysalis
Within 30 days of the eggs being laid, you will have an adult butterfly emerge from the chrysalis as is shown on the photo here one taken one morning on my way to the mailbox.

Butterflies are not like humans, who grow in size as they mature into adults. When an adult monarch butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, it emerges at its full size and its wings do not grow larger. While there is some variation in the sizes of adult monarchs, they measure around 4 inches wide with wings open.

It is these newly emerged Monarchs that recolonize their parents' original homes. Summer Monarchs live a much briefer life than the overwintering generation. Their life span as a butterfly is only three to five weeks compared to eight or nine months for the overwintering adults. The summer produces three or four generations of Monarchs, depending on the length of the growing season, until once again there are millions of Monarchs all over the U.S. and southern Canada.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch on Butterfly Weed
If you'd like to help the Monarchs survive, planting various species of Milkweed (such as Butterfly Weed) would be very beneficial as hosts for the eggs/larvae and also for nectar for the adults. Other favored nectar sources are verbena, zinnia, purple coneflower, buddleia, and Mexican sunflower.

You can get involved in many Monarch projects shown on the website. We participate in the Monarch Waystation Program by providing habitat that includes plant sources for all stages of the Monarch's life.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Snuggled Up

by Donna L. Watkins

This morning I took an early stroll around the garden with scissors in hand. I enjoy dead-heading plants that don't have seeds that benefit the birds. Right now that's mainly the butterfly bushes and we have plenty of those. Dead-heading also keeps them from being invasive.

If I get out early enough as the sun is rising, I get to catch the overnight nappers. Mostly bees snuggled under a bloom or leaf. They always hang upside down which puzzles me, but I guess they want to be protected in case of rain during the night. When it's chilly, bees don't have the energy to fly about, so they need to choose a dry place to remain for the night.

I'm amazed at how much I can rattle a branch they're snuggled on without a stir from them. I can trim all around them and they just sleep on through. It makes me nervous having my scissors so close to them at times, but I'm one of those people that likes to be thorough in completing a task, so I go about my work, while the bee goes about his rest. No thoughts of the danger around him. In its body's time clock it's time to sleep and trust that tomorrow will bring a new sunrise and the necessary "daily bread."

This morning there was a moth feeding on the same white butterfly bush, not caring about my camera lens only two inches away any more than the bee did. It was busily drinking since its proboscis that sucks up the nectar was extended.

This bush seems to be favored as the best BB B&B (Butterfly Bush Bed and Breakfast) in our yard. I often find things on this particular bush so maybe the word is getting around or maybe there's some wisdom being shared from The Creator.

I never see butterflies sleeping on the plants they feed on. I've read they sleep in trees. I guess it's a safer spot since they can rest under the leaves to be unnoticed.

The bush does provide a great breakfast in the morning (as any of them would), but this bush is in the corner of the yard where the sun breaks the horizon and directs its light right onto it, so there's some thinking and planning going on in the insect world. Seems they know how to listen better than we do. Consider this information from an issue of Creation Moments:

Researchers at Princeton University decided to find out whether bees were smart enough to find their food source if it was moved. The researchers moved the prime food source 50 meters farther away from the hive. They found that it took the bees less than one minute to locate the moved source. Being precise scientists, they then moved the food source another fifty meters away. The bees still took less than a minute to find the food source. Two more moves, each a precise 50 meters, produced the same results. However, the bees had also been studying the researchers. Before the researchers could finish moving the food source yet another fifty meters, they found that the bees had discovered the pattern and were already waiting at the new location!

What about you? Where do you snuggle when the dark comes into your life, storms threaten and danger (scissors) is all around? Do you snuggle into our Father's lap, get positioned and hang on till the sun comes up again? Do we trust God to take care of things while we sleep? We are told not to worry. Max Lucado. says, "Worry is to joy, what a vacuum cleaner is to dirt; you might as well attach your heart to a happiness-sucker and flip the switch."

Jesus said, "Don't get worked up about ... tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (Matthew 6:34)

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
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Give Your Kitty A Woods Box

Our Squeek is a feral cat ... I'd like to say "was" but she's still not always comfortable even around us after living with us for 8 years.

When the weather isn't freezing, she spends her days on the screened porch. We've converted her from an outdoor feral (get how-to ideas) to an indoor kitty and the screened porch was a wonderful asset.

She lived in the woods as a feral, so it's nice that she gets to see many of the animals she knew with the safety of the screen. We have raccoons, skunks, opossums, rabbits, deer, squirrels and all kinds of birds so she is well entertained. With a feeder right in front of the porch, all the wildlife come to see what's available each night. I also toss our veggie and fruit scraps nearby.

The only thing missing is the ground beneath her feet and the freedom to wander where she chooses. I can provide the earth and leaves and some of the scents she'd have exploring the woods by making up a 'woodsy box' for her to lie in. Then she can dream that she's wandering through the woods while she cat naps.

She loves it! My neighbor had a lid to a holiday sheet cake container so I filled it halfway with dirt and added some leaves I scooped up from the woods and put in a couple of small fallen logs.

You can use a litter box like I did last year or any container about that size. I like to swap out the contents every year to make it different for her. Last year's box had one of her favorite grasses.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Toxic Shower Curtain Alternative

As part of an ongoing campaign against polyvinyl chloride, a Virginia-based environmental advocacy group today called on manufacturers and retailers to phase out its use in shower curtains.

To buttress its case, the group, the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, released the results of a small study indicating that PVC-containing shower curtains are capable of emitting scores of volatile organic compounds, as well as phthalates, lead, and other potentially harmful materials, into people’s bathrooms. A previous study, conducted by Environmental Protection Agency researchers, also found that plastic shower curtains can emit toxic compounds into the air.

There are alternatives which can be purchased at Target, JC Penney, Bed, Bath and Beyond and other places. Read the entire article.

Japanese Beetles Life Cycle

Amazingly this year, we've not had many Japanese Beetles. We've had a much longer Spring here in Virginia and a much cooler summer with nighttime temps being in the high 50's at times and almost always in the 60's. Until the end of July we didn't really have any high temps in the afternoons.

Japanese Beetles love hot weather. They're most active in the full sun of afternoons. That's why you can effectively control them by picking them off the plants in the morning hours before it warms up. Not a fun thing to do, tossing them into a bucket of water. I don't like taking any life away, so my method of dealing with them is to use a natural spray from Gardens Alive that repels them.

Regardless, this year there have been few of them and our Rose of Sharon blooms have been gorgeous. As you can see from the photo, the bees are very happy.

The University of Wisconsin offers this information on Japanese Beetle life cycle which helped to explain why we had so few:

Japanese beetles have only one generation per year. In mid-June, as soon as they emerge, adult females mate and begin laying eggs. The adults are most active in the afternoon in full-sun.

Females leave ornamental plants where they feed and mate, and burrow two to four inches into the soil (under the turf) in a suitable area to lay their eggs. Eggs hatch in about two weeks, after which grubs begin feeding on the roots of turfgrass.

The grubs grow quickly and by late-August are nearly full-grown (about one inch long). Mid-summer rainfall and adequate soil moisture are needed to prevent eggs and newly-hatched grubs from drying-out. Adult females instinctively select areas with higher soil moisture content to lay their eggs to ensure survival of their offspring.

Older grubs are more drought tolerant and will move deeper into the soil if conditions become dry. Grubs can also withstand high levels of soil moisture, so excessive rainfall or irrigation will not effect them. As soil temperatures cool in the fall, and the first meaningful frost occurs, grubs begin to move deeper into the soil. Grubs overwinter in the soil about two to six inches below the surface, although some may be a deep as 20 inches.

They become inactive when soil temperatures fall below 50°F. In the spring, when soil temperatures reach 50°F, the grubs begin to move up into the root-zone to resume feeding for about three to five weeks. Thereafter, the grubs stop feeding and begin creating an earthen cell whereby they transform (i.e., pupate) into adults.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nuclear Power - Cancer In Kids

Children's risk of cancer goes up substantially the closer they live to a nuclear power plant, according to a German government study.

Researchers studied the occurrence of cancer in children under the age of five who were living within five kilometers (3 miles) of one of 21 nuclear reactors in 41 districts of the country between the years of 1980 and 2003.

A total of 4,735 children without cancer and 1,592 children with cancer were included in the study population.

There were 77 cases of cancer among the children studied, which came out to 60% more than the national average for childhood cancer. When only leukemia was examined, the rate was 117% higher: 37 cases of leukemia, in contrast to the expected 17.

The chance of contracting cancer went up the closer a child lived to one of the reactors.

"For the first time, exact data on the distance of a residence to a reactor could be taken into account in a case-control study," the office said. Read the entire article.

Wind Energy Controversy

We need alternative energy sources and harnessing the power of the wind is seemingly a great idea. However, there are considerations to consider relating to birds, bats and the loss of forest habitat with placement on mountain ridge lines.

Wild Virginia released a statement on this topic and I think it provides some succinct thoughts on the subject regardless of which state you live in:

Wild Virginia Position Paper: WIND ENERGY
June 23, 2007

Wild Virginia recognizes the need to shift to renewable energy sources for producing electricity in the United States. The environmental benefits of moving away from fossil fuels, nuclear power and other common sources of generating electricity are numerous and significant. We support many of the efforts now in place to make such a shift. In fact, Wild Virginia joined many other organizations in signing the Renewable Electricity Statement of Principles that was sent to all members of U.S. Congress in June, 2007. The statement calls for renewable sources of energy to produce 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2020.

Wind energy should, and hopefully will be a major component of America’s renewable energy portfolio. As with almost any large scale development, great care should be taken in the planning process before projects are undertaken. This is true of potential wind energy development in high elevation areas of the Appalachian Mountains generally, and the George Washington National Forest in particular.

The need for caution is due to the number of uncertainties and potential environmental problems associated with wind farms and large turbines. Some of these include:

Impacts to birds. Very little reliable data exists on how much direct mortality may occur (i.e., collisions between flying birds and the turbine blades) and the effects on bird populations. The ridge lines (where the turbines would be sited) often serve as flight paths for migratory birds.

Impacts to bats. Even less is known about potential impacts to bats than is known for birds.

Forest loss and fragmentation. The presence of turbine sites, transmission line corridors, and access roads results in the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of forest habitat. Given the often harsh environmental conditions along mountain ridgelines, these forest communities may be more sensitive to disturbance.

There are also concerns beyond environmental issues. Some of these are:

• Privatization of public resources. The concept of private developers using public lands for personal gain is objectionable to many citizens. Wild Virginia generally opposes the idea in the absence of a compelling need for it. Private lands should be the site for private developments.

• Practical and logistical issues. Questions have been raised about the utility of building wind farms in the Appalachians. Coastlines and other areas closer to population centers that have already been compromised with significant human activity and are closer to high voltage power lines are preferable. They are also where the need and demand for electricity is greater.

A wind energy project, like any industrial scale development on public lands, must be fully reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act. Each wind energy project is unique and must be considered on it merits on a case-by-case basis. All of the issues listed above must be fully addressed. In addition, some areas of the George Washington National Forest should be off limits to wind energy development projects entirely. These are Wilderness areas, Roadless Areas, Special Biological Areas, and drinking watersheds. Wild Virginia supports renewable energy production and a shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power and wind power is an important part of that shift.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Clay Cat Litter Blocks Intestinal System

There's plenty of information online about the problems associated with Clumping Clay Kitty Litters. There are also some articles saying there is no problem. I think prudence and caution is the rule of the day when it comes to our pets. There are too many alternatives to continue using clay litters.

Recently a friend of mine had a cat who was not able to have bowel movements. After using everything possible recommended by the vet and some herbal laxatives, there was still no results.

In her own words about her cat, Doodle:

It wasn't a hairball but two other issues. The Vet first did a manual evacuation with her finger, then an enema. She did a really good job and Doodle was a trooper. The Vet said a bowlful came out.

There was a pouch that had formed just after the pelvic bone, and stuff got into that and stayed there. She does not know whether or not it will go back to normal but I pray that it will. We have to keep her on that lactulose for now.

Second issue that really shocked me is that there was a 5 or so inch piece that came out that was very clay-like. In other words, it wasn't about to go anywhere. I have always used clay kitty litter. Little Doodle has long hair and likes to be clean, which meant she was always licking the clay dust off of herself!

I figured it out pretty quickly and went straight to the pet store to buy something else. Talking to a couple people who work there, they said they have heard of that before. So now I am trying "Yesterday's News" which is made from old newspapers and not possible to ingest and it doesn't stick to the fur and there is no dust. I've used the pine pellets before, mixed with clay, but they did not like it. I loved it and it gave off a nice smell. It did disintegrate and track on the floor though, which meant it also sticks to fur somewhat.

The Vet told me she got all of it out of her, and she's completely clean. However, as soon as we got home, she went straight to the box and dropped two, inch and a half rock-hard pieces, and just now she went again and and deposited a 3/4 inch soft log. So long as it keeps coming out, we'll be fine.

Choosing Cat Litter can be good for the environment also.

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