Travelers Take Heed: Wildlife Poses Dangers For Those Unaware

As the summer travel season begins, many tourists head to outdoor destinations that bring them into contact with wildlife they don't normally encounter back home.

Locals might be aware of a problem with alligators, bears, or lions, but if there are no warnings posted, someone from out of town may not know they’re potentially in danger.
One woman, Susan Mattern, learned this through painful experience. She witnessed a mountain lion attack her 5-year old daughter in a local Southern California park.

“The lion came out of nowhere,” she says. “As we stood in the ankle-deep stream, I glimpsed behind me a blur of matted fur, short round ears, a long tail. And then they were gone ¬¬– that fast – the mountain lion and my daughter.”

Mattern detailed the attack in a book, “Out of the Lions Den,” (, which also recounts her daughter's recovery and the long legal battles afterwards. Mattern’s faith as a former Catholic nun was severely tested.

Mattern has some tips for tourists heading to outdoor destinations:

• Research the area before you go. Just like you read about the interesting sights, research the local wildlife. Ask locals, check news outlets for any recent wildlife attacks. And know what to expect in the outdoor areas you'll be visiting.

• Don't go hiking or camping alone. But if you do, make sure someone knows exactly where you are going, and when you will return.

• Small children and animals are simply prey for any large predator. If the animal is hungry or defending its young, it will attack. Don't let your children run ahead on trails or get out of sight.

• Always carry protection with you, such as bear spray, or a sturdy walking stick.

“There are a few things the experts still say that just aren't true.” Mattern says.  “One is, ‘If you see a lion, make yourself look tall and threatening – make lots of noise.’  That's good advice if you actually see the lion. But in reality, as anyone who has watched their own pet cat sneak up on a bird, the attack will almost always come from behind, stealthily and quietly. You will never even see it.

“And the saying, ‘Animals are more afraid of you than you are of them.’ Not in our case.”

Mattern points out that people are encroaching on wildlife's habitat.

“Animals are protective of their territory and can attack before you know what's happening,” she says. “People have to be protected, and even though cities and counties should warn people if there is danger, that doesn't always happen.”

In her daughter’s case, she says, it took a lengthy lawsuit and trial before the county where the attack happened even put up warning signs in its parks.

“Remember, in spite of all the amazing programs on TV showing the majesty and beauty of these creatures – bears, alligators, mountain lions, snakes, elk, wolves, bison – they are wild creatures,” Mattern says. “They are not your cute dog or domesticated cat, eager to be petted and fed, or approached for a great photo-op. They are unpredictable and sometimes very dangerous.

“If you do see wildlife, leave it alone in its own natural environment. Let them be the wild creatures they are.”
About Susan Mattern
Susan Mattern, author of “Out of the Lion’s Den” (, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and was a nun for six years before moving to California, where she met and married her husband, Don. They have two children, David and Laura. In 1986, Laura was attacked by a mountain lion in an Orange County park, and the family spent years helping her recover and fighting the county in court.

4 Money Issues Couples Should Agree On

Spouses often harbor different opinions on a variety of subjects. From the style of clothes and haircuts they like on each other to the TV shows they watch every evening, marriage requires plenty of compromise.

While frivolous things such as choosing between Monday Night Football and Dancing with the Stars might conjure up a minor squabble, when it comes to arguments over money, respective differences can lead to more than just mild disagreements. 

“Income and spending are at the heart of any partnership – family as well as business,” says Al Jacobs, an entrepreneur, real estate investor and author of the book Roadway to Prosperity (

“Just as business partners need to be on the same page when it comes to spending company money, spouses need to come together to avoid creating a crisis situation that could ruin a marriage.”

Jacobs says there are four basic issues that would put families in better financial shape if both spouses could be in accord on them:

• Life insurance.  Every family provider should arrange financially for his or her survivors in the event of an untimely death. A common way to accomplish this is with life insurance. This is where controversy arises. You want an inexpensive and unadorned 20- or 30-year level benefit term policy, of sufficient face value (normally no less than 10 times the insured’s annual income). Spouses must agree on a policy and not waiver once it is purchased.

• Credit cards. No single implement has led to greater misery for more families than the credit card, Jacobs says. These should be used as merely a convenience when cash is not available, and account balances should be paid in full each month before any interest is charged. Both spouses must conduct their lives by this rule. If either cannot do so, Jacobs recommends destroying the credit cards.

• Transportation. The car constitutes the typical American’s single most important fixation. No other product is more forcefully marketed, and far too many people succumb to its allure, Jacobs says, forfeiting a substantial portion of disposable income. He says no one should drive a leased or financed vehicle. Instead, Jacobs recommends paying cash, even if that means you drive a 1984 Toyota Corolla.

• Education. The educational establishment has convinced the nation that a university must appear prestigious and be costly for it to be worthwhile, Jacobs says. The result: Untold numbers of college graduates and their parents are in hock big time, some never to emerge from debt. Jacobs suggests that unless a student is able to earn a scholarship, freshman and sophomore years should be spent at a community college, commuting from home, and the junior and senior years at a reasonably priced local state university.

“The social and psychological pressures brought to bear on customers are more than many people can resist,” says Jacobs. “But if two people hope to prosper together, both spouses must avoid the impulse to make purchases unwisely.”

About Al Jacobs
Al Jacobs, author of Roadway to Prosperity (, has been a professional investor for nearly five decades and holds a degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Real Estate Certificate from the University of California and a Certified Property Manager designation (CPM) from the Institute of Real Estate Management. He organized his own investment firm in 1968 and has since specialized in development and management of real estate, and has a deep involvement in corporate securities. He has written for several newspapers near his hometown of Monarch Beach in Orange County, Calif., and also writes a weekly column for his website.

Mark Your Calendar: Vegas Baby

From Academy Award® Nominated Director Amanda Micheli
and Executive Produced by Morgan Spurlock

Examines the Emotional and Financial Gamble of Infertility

National Television Broadcast Premiere
June 27, 2017
8 p.m.
on PBS World Channel's AMERICA REFRAMED 



While exposing private pain online to win a contest is a brutal proposition, IVF is rarely covered by insurance, so many infertile couples consider this a gamble worth taking. Within the exploding world of reproductive medicine, the US is the most expensive and least regulated country in the world. VEGAS BABY navigates the complexities of America's burgeoning fertility industry and paints an intimate portrait of the diverse individuals from a devoutly Catholic Latino couple in Texas to a lesbian Lady Gaga Impersonator in New York determined to have a baby against all odds. 

Despite the fact that 1 in 6 couples worldwide struggle with infertility, for fear of judgment or heartache or both, would-be parents tend to keep their infertility stories secret. VEGAS BABY breaks the silence around this often misunderstood medical and social issue, and through her intimate lens, Micheli explores universal themes of desire and loss. 

Visit for more info 

VC Andrew's Bittersweet Dreams Giveaway + Prequel's E-Novellas Reviews

 The four Girls of Spindrift e-novellas together form a prequel for Bittersweet Dreams—available now!

V.C. Andrews®, the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Flowers in the Attic and My Sweet Audrina, delights readers Book One of theGirls of Spindrift, CORLISS (Pocket Star EBook; June 12, 2017; $1.99). Here begins a haunting new series featuring highly intelligent teenage girls who struggle to survive a specialized high school and find their place in a world that doesn’t understand them. Such is the burden of being brilliant.


Corliss is not like the other girls at her Los Angeles high school. Incredibly intelligent, shy, and a loner, she has difficultly in fitting in. What’s worse, a clique of girls is out to get her because she’s not down with their games.

On the night of a school party, her refusal to take drugs with the girls leads them to take matters into their own hands—spiking her drink. Quickly, Corliss’s entire life is turned upside down and no one—not even the handsome valedictorian who had agreed to go out with her—looks at her the same way. Just when she’s wondering if she’ll be able to return to her high school, someone mentions a new place: Spindrift. Could that be her way out?

About DONNA:

The second book in The Girls of Spindrift series is DONNA (Pocket Star EBook; August 14, 2017; $1.99). Being gifted is not something Donna ever wanted. It’s difficult enough to have a Latino father and Irish mother, and her genius only separates her even more from the other girls. They don’t say it, but they blame her for everything that goes wrong, just because she’s different.
And on the precise day she tries her hardest to fit in, everything turns out a disaster. A fight breaks out, and somehow Donna ends up in the middle. It’s not her fault, but it’s her word against theirs, and this time, the other girls aren’t going to stay quiet. The only solution might be to escape to the mysterious school her counselor is telling her about: Spindrift.

The 411:

These two novellas are perfect. Just enough to give you a taste so you are ready for Bittersweet Dreams that brings together the girls of Spindrift. 

Corliss is a smart girl. She is smarter than anyone else and it causes her grief. There were great parts of the book like her she deals with the people in her life and the bullying that follows her. I loved her revenge plot and how it really didn't hurt anyone. I didn't like how at times things felt rushed (it is only 80 pages) and for a smart girl I felt she didn't protect herself which left her vulnerable to pathetic bulllies!

Donna is also a "gifted girl" and is kept apart from the other students at her school taking class in a completely separate area from the rest.  She finally finds some normalcy when she is asked out by Greg. Unfortunately for them, their first date ends up in a hospital stay and a permanent disability for Greg.  Donna is also given the opportunity to attend Spindrift where she meets Coraliss. LOVED this.  

I am excited to see what is really going on at Spindrift. I feel that there is some set up and these very "gifted" young woman will be used for evil. I am excited to read Bittersweet Dreams and hope to start it this weekend. One lucky reader will win a copy of V.C. Andrew's Bittersweet Dreams.

In Bittersweet Dreams: 

Mayfair Cummings is young, beautiful, and brilliant. But her intelligence makes her the outcast of both the private school she attends and the broken family she hopes to salvage. When she catches the eye of both a popular senior and her handsome English teacher, not even her brilliant mind can help her navigate the explosive new relationships she is forming, or a scandal that is brewing…


One lucky reader will win a copy of Bittersweet Dreams
The giveaway is open US Only, ages 18+
The giveaway ends 7/7

About the author:
V.C. Andrews® has been a bestselling phenomenon since the publication of her classic Flowers in the Attic. That blockbuster novel began her renowned Dollanganger family saga, which includes Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Since then, readers have been captivated by more than seventy novels in V.C. Andrews’s bestselling series. V.C. Andrews’s novels have sold more than 106 million copies.

Disclaimer: No monetary compensation was offered or received.  I did receive books for my honest opinion.  All opinions are my own.

Paw Pods Make It Easier to Say Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

Paw Pods are bio-degradable pods allowing owners to bury their pets at home with a dignified, beautiful memorial. The pods can be decorated with paints, markers or stickers giving children and adults a way to express their grief in an expressive and therapeutic form. A seeded leaf of perennial flowers is included with every pod. Its annual blooms create a living memorial to a treasured friend.

Paw Pods recognizes that beyond the unconditional, pure loyal love and joy pets give us, their carbon footprint on our planet is next to none, so their afterlife should follow suit. All pods and urns are eco-friendly and made of bamboo powder, rice husk, and corn starch, designed to respectively degrade in 3-5 years after being introduced to the environment.  Additionally, pet owners sometimes mistakenly flush what they believe is a dead fish down the toilet, when it’s in fact, very much alive. Those fish often wind up in lakes and rivers where they can introduce diseases to native fish and water sources. Paw Pods’ Fish Pod offers a safer way to lay pet fish to rest.

Paw Pods are extremely affordable, ranging in price from $9.99 to $149.99, a fraction of what traditional pet caskets cost.

Paw Pods Come in a Variety of Sizes:
Fish Pod – The loss of a fish may be a child’s first experience with death. These small fish shaped pods can help them avoid the trauma of seeing a pet flushed down the toilet. This also may serve as an important teaching tool for parents, death can be very difficult to explain, let alone comprehend for young children, make them a part of the process.


Medium-Sized Pod – Accommodates medium-sized pets including rabbits, cats and smaller dogs. This size pod is the most commonly used.
Additional Sizes - They love all animals, from a tiny hermit crab to a majestic Great Dane,  Paw Pods offers sizes for almost all pets.

Heart Shaped Urn – When burial space is limited or cremation is preferred, the heart shaped urn is a lovely option and can also be used as a display. 

Anyone that has ever owned a pet, sought out on that adventure for companionship, to expand their homes and to open their hearts, find solace in knowing you are reciprocating that unequivocal love and friendship.  

A bit about Paw Pods – Paw Pods is a company of pet owners and pet lovers dedicated to helping other pet owners navigate the painful experience of losing a treasured animal friend. It was started as a way to help its founder deal with his own grief after losing two of his cherished dogs and being severely disappointed in the way in which they were returned to him.  

You may not need them right now; but they want to be there when you do. Visit for more information
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Dear Readers: At this time all giveaways on Maria's Space are for the United States unless otherwise noted.