Author Archives: Erin Willett

About Erin Willett

Photographer, writer, and environmental educator.

August Mystery Photo Revealed

Congrats, Lisa! You were right – the critter up in the tree was a raccoon. The sun was long gone and we were finishing up an afternoon of birding at Sweetwater Wetlands. So, the only other photo I have is not a very good one either but at least you can see that distinctive mask.

The photo I used for the Challenge was taken with my flash on (worth a try) and I was rewarded with a classic case of eyeshine.

Eyeshine is pretty common in nature since most creatures (except humans) have tapetum, a special membrane behind the retina that reflects light back through the eye. This light recycling feature helps nocturnal animals see better in the dark.

One of the neatest things about eyeshine is that the color differs between species. So, it could help you identify just exactly which critters are going bump in the night. As we saw in the Challenge photo, raccoons eyes glow yellow, deer eyeshine is white or bright yellow, cows and horses glow blue-green, coyotes and mountain lions shine greenish-gold, rabbits and bears reflect red. Obviously, you will need to consider other features such as size when using eyeshine. I would hate to mistake a bear for a rabbit, if you know what I mean.


Mystery Photo August 2014

Here’s a blast from the past for you on Throwback Thursday – a Mystery Photo Challenge!

Your task is to identify the critter in this picture. This photo has not been doctored; it is the glorious combination of two things, my lack of ability as a photographer and the subject’s stubborn refusal to be photographed.

Enter your guess in the comment field. Please be as specific as possible. We’ll announce the winner next week.

Good luck!


Heart Attack Inducing Email from Chase Bank

What a special day this has been… here’s the email I received from Chase earlier.


What?! I haven’t overdrawn an account in about a decade. And, I’ve never overdrawn my account to just shy of 100 Billion dollars! $-99,999,998,719.99 to be exact.

Panicked, I immediately called my local Chase branch. I was told not to worry, that they sent me that message since I had put the account on hold.

Seriously?! In this day and age when fraud and identity theft are rampant, that’s the way Chase notifies customers of an account hold?! And the amount – more than some country’s entire annual budget?!

Seems to me that a simple “This email is to verify that your account has been put on hold.” would’ve sufficed.


Passing of a Generation

My amazing grandmother:

Eileen Edith *, 98, of Portal, AZ passed peacefully surrounded by family on July 10, 2014. Born in Bexley, Ohio on February 9, 1916 she was the first of Donald W and Edythe M’s three daughters.

Never wealthy she was a giver who only asked that gifts be paid forward. Kind, gentle and patient she accepted life’s challenges with grace. Her smile brightened our lives.

Preceded in death by three husbands David A, John M “Jack”, and Edgar R “Frosty”, long-time partner Tom, sister Betty L, eldest son Adrian D, and great-granddaughter Megan L. Survived by sister Joan E “Jo”, son Lance, daughters Lynne and Paula, nine grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Eileen will be buried in Savannah, Ohio with a private family memorial in the fall. In her memory, the family simply requests you pay it forward.

*Last names withheld for privacy.