Mutts Say “Yesh!”

Cartoonist Patrick McDonnell Gives Animals A Voice

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

Cartoonist Patrick McDonnell’s popular syndicated comic strip Mutts does more than entertain. It gives a voice to animals and builds public support for protecting them.

Started in 1994 to capture the joyful spirit of McDonnell’s beloved Jack Russell terrier Earl, the comic strip has expanded to include a host of animal and human characters – most notably, Mooch, Earl’s inquisitive cat friend.

McDonnell says he “had hoped the storyline (introducing Mooch) would be good for a few weeks’ worth of jokes. But, Mooch, like every cat I’ve known, walked into my life and took over.”

Mooch and the other Mutts characters have staked a place in SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel’s life, too.  We are huge Mutts fans and love the comic strip’s heart, good humor and sense of wonder.

As Earl and Mooch explore the world around them, interacting with their human companions, other animals and the characters in the Mutts universe, this gives McDonnell the opportunity to showcase the duo’s friendship and remind readers of the bond we have with the animals in our lives.

It also lets McDonnell shine the light on all the dogs and cats in animal shelters. For the past 20 years the comic strip has devoted two weeks a year to Mutts Shelter Stories about the pets in shelters who need homes.

 

Since 2000 McDonnell has been a member of the board of directors for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and is a strong advocate for the organization’s work.

McDonnell says being on the HSUS board has been “life-changing” for him, giving him an even greater opportunity to help make the world a better place for animals.

 

One of McDonnell’s cartoons “Sweet Dreams” particularly sums up his wishes for animals – showing their dreams of being free, happy and loved.

Its a dream McDonnell has for all animals and one we all can share.

As Mooch would say to that, “Yesh!”

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Listening To A Continent Sing

Book A Tribute to Joyful Bird Sounds

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In our modern age, filled with the harsh sounds of sirens, leaf blowers and loud radios,  it’s a welcome relief to hear the joyful sounds of birds celebrating the wonders of life.

Now, thanks to Donald Kroodsma, you can hear those birdsongs in his remarkable book (with recordings) Listening to A Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Kroodsma, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, set out on a 10-week/10-state, 5,000 mile journey with his son, David, bicycling on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail from Virginia to Oregon, recording the songs of the birds they encountered along the way.

And what a pantheon of sounds it is – 381 recordings – of every type of bird from sparrows and wrens…

to talkative jays and hooting owls.

Riding on deserted country roads and well-traveled thoroughfares, from early in the morning until the fall of night, the bicycling duo listened to and chronicled the birds of a nation.

The book is beautifully formatted with illustrations depicting the scenery and birds spied during their travels. (QR codes embedded in the pages bring the birds to audio life when scanned.)

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are amazed at the magnitude of the book.

Like Sacajawea interpreting the Shoshone Indian language for explorers Lewis and Clark, Donald Kroodsma has archived and interpreted the language of birds – opening a wondrous door on the sounds of nature for us all to enjoy.

This is a father-son road trip not to be missed.

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Viva La Vaquita!

US Navy Dolphins Called to Rescue

Endangered Porpoises

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

If you haven’t heard of vaquitas before, that’s no surprise. The vaquita, whose name in Spanish means “little cow,” is the world’s rarest marine mammal.

 

A little porpoise that wasn’t even discovered until 1958, it is now on the verge of extinction with its numbers steadily falling from an estimated 600 in 1997 to a small fraction of that today.

 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that in the past two years the vaquita population has dropped by half.

Scientists say there are less than 30 vaquitas left in the world.

Wildlife experts are desperately trying to save the remaining vaquitas, who are falling victim to illegal fishing gill nets used in the Gulf of California.

As they say, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” In this case, the US Navy has even been called in to help in an unexpected way.

It is deploying teams of bottlenose dolphins, which are equipped with sonar and trained to locate underwater mines, to find some of the vaquitas so they can be taken to a safe spot where, it’s hoped, that they will breed.

Under the Navy’s program, vaquitas left in the wild could also be tagged with transmitters and tracked for research purposes.

In June 2017 the Mexican government instituted a permanent ban on gill nets. Dr. Anna Hall, president of the Porpoise Conservation Society, says, “If we remove the gill nets, we will likely save the vaquita.” She and other marine scientists and conservationists are calling on world governments and organizations to speak out against the nets and to support conservation efforts to protect the ocean and sea life.

Journalists know that -30- is the notation you put at the end of a story. It means The End. If we don’t take action now for the less than 30 remaining vaquitas, it will also mark The End for this species.

Don’t Write Off the Vaquita!

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Vans US Open of Surfing 2017 – Definitely Still Off The Wall

So Many Sights to See!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

 

You never know what you’ll see at Vans US Open of Surfing (July 29 – August 6).

 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel love watching the surfing competitions and everything else. Whether you’re hanging off the Huntington Beach Pier or at the water’s edge, there’s always something going on.

Just ask HB local Rick “Rockin’ Fig” Fignetti. Fig has been the announcer at 19 Opens! And when surfers are in town they always stop by his surfboard shop on Main.

The top surfers, skate and BMX stars will be out in force to show their best stuff. Plus there will be games and activities for everyone.

 

To see the surfers of tomorrow, head North of the Pier for the annual groms Stoke-O-Rama hosted by Vans and the surfing Gudauskas brothers.

 

Surfrider Foundation members will be there sharing the stoke and helping to keep the beach clean.

There’s always something new at the Open…with the surfing community, organizations and businesses joining in.

 

One year a new company with a cool, action camera showed up to wow the crowds – it was GoPro!

McDonald’s introduced its McCafe at the Open, too. Its pop-up Cafe on the beach was a big hit.

And when Fiat wanted to showcase its mini Fiat 500s it made a gigantic splash – with the cars floating on the water!

Everybody – well, almost everybody – wants to be at the Open.

Who knows what you’ll see at this year’s Open?

To put your best foot forward, step out in Vans Custom Shoes.

It’s easy to design your own signature shoe. Just click: Shoes

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Vans Custom Shoes

Vans Shoes – The Perfect Artist’s Canvas


Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

When it comes to choosing the best artist’s canvas for your creative vision, sometimes you need to think outside the box. The shoe box, that is!

And, choose a Vans canvas sneaker or hi-top.

 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel had fun navigating the Vans Custom Shoe website to see all the different ways you can design your own signature shoes just for you.

Take a look at all the options. You’re sure to find the purrfect fit!

 

Red shoes, blue shoes

Hot shoes, cool shoes

 

Shoes with stripes and stars

Shoes with Hula girls and cars

 

 

Draw a flower, wave or squiggle

Something to make you gasp or giggle

 

 

These shoes are made for more than walkin’

They definitely will get people talkin’

 

 

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.
– Marilyn Monroe

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Bikinis, Boardshorts and Blue Jeans!

Jeans are Classic Beach Favorite


Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Blue jeans are as much a part of the beach scene as bikinis and boardshorts. And they’re definitely California cool, no matter where you wear them!

 

Created in 1873 when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis made them for California’s gold miners, the rugged pants were an instant hit.

Their unique construction – with rivets at key pressure points – made the jeans last longer. Virtually indestructible, they were even granted a patent (#139,121) by the U.S. Office of Patents and Trademarks.

From casual to couture, ripped to rhinestones, boot-cut to bell-bottoms, blue jeans are as versatile as we are and go everywhere we go…especially the beach! Whether it’s foggy mornings, sun baked afternoons or starry nights.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that 2017 is turning out to be the Year of the Blue Jeans. Designers are adding new styles and going retro with new spins on the classic flower power jeans of the 60s and 70s.

Fashion brands from Gucci and Valentino

to Citizens of Humanity, and Volcom are on board with new salutes to all things denim.

This year’s jeans aren’t just blue, says Glamour magazine. Add white and sand-color jeans to the mix. Or, make it a wave of color – orange, purple, lime green and turquoise!

Whether we call them Levi’s, blue jeans or denims (Levi’s original fabric came from Nimes, France – de Nîmes),  jeans are a classic beach favorite.

More than that, jeans are part of the fabric of our lives. Just ask Elton John, who’s even put them to music.

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady

Dreaming of my Chevy and my old blue jeans

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Earth Day 2017 – Friendship Blooms!

Ed Acosta – Master Gardener

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Earth Day (April 22) is the perfect time to “stop and smell the roses.” Better yet, why not plant a garden!

Now that spring is here and rain and snow are giving way to brightly-colored flowers, no one knows more about creating a beautiful garden than Ed Acosta.

SurfWriter Girl Patti and Greg Kishel found this out for themselves when their neighbor Ed showed up one day with tools and plants to transform their garden. A retired pharmacist and avid gardener, Ed knew that Patti wanted a more colorful garden. So, he decided to give her one.

 

 

Since then their garden has been in Ed’s hands…with Patti – and especially Greg, who loves to garden! – as his assistants.

 

 

Ed, who’s also a photographer, is always adding something here or changing something there, planting and pruning until their garden is picture-perfect.

Now, it’s just what the doctor ordered!

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti can’t think of anyone who embodies the spirit of Earth Day more than Ed.

Ed Makes the Roses Red

There’s no one like Ed

to make your roses red.

Ed knows what every garden needs

and all about plants and seeds.

There’s no one like Ed

for a blooming flower bed.

“Color is the key.

Yes, indeed!” says he.

So, our special neighbor

went about his labor,

using his trowel like an artist’s brush

to make our garden green and lush.

After all is done and said,

There’s no one like Ed!

SurfWriter Girls are always eager to visit Ed and his wife Marty. Not just to see their lovely garden, but to share in the warmth of ohana – the sense of family that comes from being part of each other’s lives.

Everyone should have a friend and neighbor like Ed Acosta to help them create a beautiful garden. And, in a way, we do – the non-profit Surfrider Foundation!

Its garden specialists will not only show you how to turn your landscape into a garden that’s beautiful to look at, but one that’s ocean friendly, too, and doesn’t pollute the environment with toxic pesticide and fertilizer water runoff that gets into our waterways and oceans.

For Ocean Friendly Gardening tips and ideas, click on: OFG.

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California’s Iconic Forests At Risk

Trees Dying Off At Unprecedented Rate!

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886 – 1918) admired the beauty of a “tree that may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair,” noting that “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

 

Seemingly strong and invincible – some as old as 2,000 years – California’s ponderosa and sugar pines, giant redwoods and sequoias are falling victim to years of drought, fires, beetle infestations and other perils.

Since 2010 over 102 million trees have died in California. In 2016 alone the state lost 62 million trees. Most were in the Sierra Nevada mountains at elevations between 5,000 and 6,000 feet.

 

Even Northern California’s famous 150-ft-tall “drive-thru” Pioneer’s Cabin Tree, estimated to have been more than 1,000-years-old, died this year. Carved into a tunnel in 1880, when people weren’t aware of environmental issues, the giant sequoia finally toppled over.

Environmental researchers are calling the trees’ demise “shocking” and “scary.” Replacing the lost trees would take centuries.

 

This winter’s heavy rains won’t be enough to undo the drought-caused damage to California’s forests. What’s more, the loss of these majestic trees extends beyond the state, potentially impacting climate patterns and ecosystems on a global scale.

Along with hoping for continued rainy weather, scientists are focusing on ways to enhance forest-management techniques that emphasize sustainability and biodiversity. This includes conserving the quality of the soil that trees depend on for nutrients and minerals and as a stable base for root expansion.

Oceanographers say that building up the Pacific Ocean’s pastures of plankton might help save trees, too. Plankton – the bacteria, algae and other floating organisms that drift in the sea – give off tiny aerosol droplets that create moisture-giving fog and rain.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hope that man – and Mother Nature – can halt the devastation to California’s trees. In addition to their beauty, trees provide shelter and food for wildlife, combat soil erosion, clean our air, cool the environment, and benefit the planet in many other ways.

But, like the tree in Shel Silverstein’s beloved children’s book, The Giving Tree, trees can only give so much.

If we want them to be there for us, we need to give back.

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Fly, Fly, Birdie!

Saving the Northern Bald Ibis

waldrappteam

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The Northern Bald Ibis was a common sight throughout Europe until the 17th Century when widespread hunting made the large migratory bird, known for its red face and curved red bill, virtually extinct.

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profile

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But the Ibis is flying high again as part of the European Union’s mission to “rewild” Europe and create natural spaces where wildlife can flourish. It’s doing this through a series of Reason for Hope: Life + Biodiversity Projects designed to stop the decline in various wildlife species, including the Ibis.

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SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel were excited to learn that the Ibis population is now up to 80 birds with a projected goal of 120 birds by 2019.

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This wouldn’t be possible without the Austrian-based conservation group Waldrappteam, which is breeding Ibis chicks in captivity at the Salzburg Zoo.

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Made up of scientists of all types – zoologists, environmental engineers, avian medicine specialists, and more – plus researchers, technicians and volunteers, the team raises and nurtures the chicks, getting them ready to be introduced into the wild.

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The group’s work isn’t easy, by any means. Especially since the new chicks need to be taught to migrate from their home in Austria to wintering grounds in Italy…a journey of 800 miles, flying over the Alps.

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Without adult birds to show the fledglings what route to take, their human “foster parents” at Waldrappteam have taken on the task, bonding with the baby birds and building trust until it’s time for the migration.

Then, in August – in a feat that’s amazing to accomplish and even more amazing to see – the foster parents literally guide the Ibises to Italy, leading the way in paraplanes (motorized ultralight planes with parachute canopies).

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It’s hard to imagine – the human guides, literally floating in the air high above the mountains, unprotected from the elements, surrounded by the birds. With the Ibises flying in formation and the brightly-colored parachute keeping the open-structured plane aloft, the trip takes 20-days.

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birds-migrating

It’s incredible what can happen
when birds of a feather – and man – flock together.

kalender20171

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Kevin Nelson – Environmental Activist

Working to Conserve Nature’s Magic

kn-3-a-2-b

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Environmental activist Kevin Nelson supports the causes he’s passionate about, such as keeping the 401-acre Banning Ranch in Newport Beach, California as a protected area for endangered wildlife, including the Burrowing Owl, California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren.

banning-wetlands

This led him to found the non-profit Nature Commission in 2014, an organization focused on “sustainability, local habitat conservation, and wilderness preservation.”

nature-comm-logo

kn-4The commission has been working to protect fragile ecosystems throughout California in Orange County, Riverside, San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Nelson knows these places well.

Many times he slips away from the confines of the city to get close to the natural landscapes he loves… Sometimes he just goes where his feet take him.

Recently he was drawn to the desert and “simply picked remote pieces of land to explore and photograph. To me there is no better pastime. Not even close.”

california_desert

dsc06630-3abSurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know that Nelson isn’t one to sit by when there’s a job to be done. Like protecting the habitat of this little burrowing owl.

kn-1Nelson, who grew up in Newport Beach, says, “As a life-long surfer and wanderer of lesser-known corners of the west, I founded the Nature Commission as a way to pay back for the many inspiring moments wilderness has given me.”

He notes that “many of those priceless experiences are due to the wisdom and work of individuals in government and the private sector who acted with immense vision to conserve large swaths of nature’s magic.”

banning-ranch-in-spring-nature-commission

The Nature Commission is “working towards greater preservation of nature for its own sake, as well as the rights of future generations to their fair share of the planet.”

Banning Ranch (a former oil field where migratory birds stop now) and the San Mateo Creek wilderness area bordering Orange and San Diego County are just two of the sites that Nelson is trying to save from bulldozers and developers.

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Economists since the 19th Century have talked about the value of land in terms of its financial use and economic productivity. But, what about the natural and esthetic values of land?

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Growing up near the ocean in Orange County, Nelson appreciates the region’s raw, undisturbed coastal landscapes. Calling them “magnificent,” he’s worried about the damage “a few more decades of development like the last few will yield.”

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In a Los Angeles Times Daily Pilot article Nelson writes, “The relentless pressure for more development has been allowed to rule while other priorities and values are left to struggle.” He knows the Internet can bring people together and is “interested in using this platform to host issues, citizen activism, personal insights, great stories and big ideas” in support of the environment.

Ultimately, Nelson hopes we all become “Nature Commissioners” – people who care about protecting the environment – and help turn the tide against the drive to pave over the world’s wilderness locales.

earth-moving-equipment

In 1865, when the West was mostly a vast, uncharted region, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley wrote these famous words: “Go West, young man, Go west and grow up with the country.”

horace-greeleys-quotes

Now that the West has grown up we need to ensure that some of those open spaces where a man or woman can have room to dream and plants and animals can thrive are protected.

Kevin Nelson is just the one to fight for that!

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Thanks to the Nature Commission and other contributors for photos

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