• Joan Carris

Updated: Jan 11

Imagine having an elephant for a pet/companion. Yes, this is nuts, but just think about it. I want only a modest-size elephant, a female African Forest Elephant—smaller than the big African Bush elephant—a first-time mom, near the end of her pregnancy. As an old-pro mom, I could be very helpful! I’ll name her Princess.

And when her tiny, 200-pound calf arrives, I will name her Minerva, after the Roman goddess of wisdom. She’ll grow up to be wise, like her mother, and for now she could be Mini, as a baby name.

Mini and I will have so much fun in our baby pool! Not big enough for Princess, of course. She’s used to the pleasures of an entire river…and sometimes I see her gazing pensively into the distance. She misses her home, and her herd, I can tell.

Okay, elephant-sized booboo. Princess has eaten most of our greenery by now anyway. I’ll ship her and baby Minerva back to the forest where they belong, and get a better idea.

Better Idea

How about a furry wombat from Australia?? Much smaller than an elephant. (Well, almost everything is.) Wombats are about the size of a badger, maybe 50 to 75 pounds, they’re marsupials, and they dig long, elaborate burrows. Unique in many ways, wombats have pouches that open to the rear, so that a baby (joey) doesn’t get dirt in its bedroom as Mom works on her burrow. Wombats are nocturnal and just laugh at fences, which are never a deterrent.

Another distinctive trait is their cube-shaped feces, arranged to mark territories or to lure mates. One industrious wombat can easily eject 80 to 100 pieces of poo each night—depending on its mood, I suppose. Wombat Day is October 22nd in Australia.

Way back in the Pleistocene era lived giant wombats—each the size of a rhinoceros. But as author Will Cuppy observed, that was “too much wombat and he was discontinued.” *

Hmm. A property full of underground tunnels and cube-shaped scat. I should get another, better idea.

To Be Continued

* How To Attract The Wombat, by Will Cuppy, 1935. A brilliant, hilarious book.

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A few books are perfect, even when they’re not. Right now I’m yapping about BAGGAGE, by Jeremy Hance, my newest Damn-Fine-Book that everyone should read. Its writer must be one of the bravest people on Earth—one who has followed his convictions with honesty and passion, all the while combating OCD and other forms of mental instability. (Any professional editor should have repaired the few minor flaws--the lie/lay problem, misuse of myriad, for example--- but ignore my pickiness here.) If you enjoy amusing (often hilarious), thoughtful memoirs, believe in conserving our planet, or have occasionally wondered about your sanity, then this is indeed a perfect book.

From p. 99-- “I have a lot of respect for animal activists. The science is wholly on their side. The more we learn about other species’ cognition and emotions, the more we realize how unspecial humans are…. We now know that fish feel pain, elephants mourn, octopi and puffins use tools, dogs learn hundreds of human words (how many of theirs do we know?) bees can count…and animals have personalities.”


From p. 123-- “Nature is magic…. When my depression is at its worst, I want to go to a little house on the coast or a cabin in the woods. That sounds much healthier than a psych ward. I can’t help but suspect that perhaps…what some have described as a mental illness epidemic in the United States—and around the world—may be partially connected to our alienation from, and destruction of the natural world.”


From p. 103— “Galibi (in Suriname) is an ecotone, an area of transition between two ecosystems…. But in a way, we all live in an ecotone, a transition state connecting two worlds. We live in the transition between our past and our present. A transition between our private and public selves. Humans don’t so much inhabit places as we inhabit the tension, the transition, between various selves.”

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  • Joan Carris

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Everything has a story.

Even peanut butter.

Our family considers peanut butter a staple, so I decided to learn more about it. After all, I’ve probably eaten PB in some form at least 5 times a week since I was two years old. Nearly 21,000 happy, sticky, oinky experiences with peanut butter. Already this research is a bit sobering.

It gets worse. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), peanut butter can have 30 or more insect fragments plus 1 or more rodent (rat or mouse) hairs per 100 grams. One 18 oz. jar of PB = 510 grams. THUS, our big jar is allowed to have 150+ insect bits and 5 or more rodent hairs.

Our brand of PB is made from peanuts, sugar, palm oil, a bit of salt, and molasses. Plus those insect bits and rodent hairs. It’s considered a high-fat food and is highly addictive, according to comments on the internet.

Even so… after all these years as a peanut butter addict, I’m still here, and I still love peanut butter. Like so many people, I am good at overlooking inconvenient facts.

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