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Archive for December, 2010

Monk Seal Surprise!

There is a beach up on the North Shore where you can almost always see Hawaiian green sea turtles. There are about forty (I think) that live in the area and usually one or two are up on the sand, basking. It’s an ideal place for them, and an ideal place to take out of town guests who want to see the native wildlife.

Yesterday afternoon we stopped up there even though the weather had been cloudy all day and it was still overcast; the weather had cleared just enough for a little sun to peek through the clouds and I hoped that a turtle or two would take advantage of the warmth.

Were we ever surprised at what we found!

She was lying in the middle of a group of three turtles, very near to “Brutus,” the big male we’ve seen several times. We stood and watched her for the longest time, and it was so interesting to watch how she moved across the sand, and wiped the sand out of her eyes with her front flipper. She kept looking at the turtle with one eye, unsure if he was going to come closer, and when the tide came in and tickled her, she scooted up the sand.

It’s the first wild monk seal I’ve seen since we moved here. Isn’t she pretty? ^_^

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Stoneware and muddy rhinos

…but not at the same time… ^_^

We recently acquired four of these little soup bowls and I am thoroughly pleased with them. I wouldn’t normally broadcast a kitchen purchase (especially a small one), but these stoneware pot-style bowls are wonderful and if you’re near a Crate and Barrel you should go look at them. They’re good serving size, are microwave, dishwasher AND oven safe, and have two handles– which means I can make individual casseroles and bake them IN the bowls! This makes me very excited. Their inaugural use? Chili. ^_^ Tonight I had macaroni and cheese in one of them and it was nice to be able to hold the bowl while I ate.

Okay, maybe I’m a little too excited about the soup bowls… Heh.

It’s been raining for four days, and finally let up some this afternoon. It’s still overcast, though, so I’m thinking the rain will be back tonight. I guess this means it’s officially rainy season. The only reasons this isn’t a good thing are A) zoo exhibits tend to flood and B) we have company coming soon and I don’t want it to rain the whole time they’re here. There’s a lot more good about the rain than bad, though.

Happy rainy things… Diamond Head (and various other places) have almost magically transformed in the last week to be lush and green and beautiful. I’ll have to take a photo for you. Not that Diamond Head isn’t normally pretty, but when it’s the dry season it looks like layers of rock. Check out the park website, though, and you’ll see how green it can get. ^_^ This is Diamond Head before rainy season from last November:

You can tell there’s a difference. The other thing I like about rainy season is the return of the waterfalls on the Ko’olau mountains. The start at the tops of the peaks and carve the accordion-like ridges as they run down the windward side of the mountains. In heavy rain you can see that they are water, but in light rain (or for a while just after), they look like silver ribbons laying across the green forest. I also like how the clouds roll down the mountains and sink into the valleys and how flowers bloom and how the temperature at night is cool enough for jackets and maybe sweatshirts and how the sky looks so much closer. I walked around by the new (under construction) zoo entrance and looked out at the ocean and thought that the horizon looked closer, like I could almost see it bending down to touch the water in a slate gray dome. I like that. It makes the world feel smaller, but not in a bad way.

Oh, and the muddy rhinos? Well, even though flooded zoo exhibits can be difficult (nearly impossible sometimes) to clean, the rhinos have a ball splashing in the mud, so that makes another happy rainy thing on this otherwise sopping wet week. ^_^

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In Defense of Soup

I feel that there should be a book called In Defense of Soup.

I have no idea what the plot would entail, or even why soup needs to be defended, except that soup is a very nice thing to have, especially on days when you are congested* and therefore cannot taste much except soup, which somehow maintains most of its flavor in the face of seasonal allergies and the like.

Besides, shouldn’t something like soup have a champion? There are all sorts of health benefits to soup, and when I go a Google search (which is, after all, the preeminent research tool when it comes to hastily composed blog entries) there are people defending all sorts of specific soups (Split pea! Parsnip and Leek! Alphabet!), but no one seems to be championing soup, in and of itself.

I don’t want to become the Soup Champion myself, I just feel that there should be one. Someone should write a Soup Apology akin to Plato’s oh-so-famous one and then spread it around so the whole world could enjoy the soupy fun.

And really, that’s all I have to say on the subject.

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More Cat Antics

This one will be quick, but I wanted to share with you…

Last night, before bed, I looked outside to check that The Interloper had water and was under the porch cover since it had just started pouring rain. I could hear him out there, but couldn’t see him, and as my backyard is, well, TINY, I was a little worried. I went out on the porch, called my “Here, kitty kitty!” and could hear him yelling even louder.

I opened the door in the fence and called again, looking up and down the side yard and starting to get pretty wet…

Then I looked up.

The Interloper had somehow gotten himself ONTO THE ROOF. I am NOT KIDDING.

If it hadn’t been raining, I’d have taken a picture.

Anyway, we got the ladder and I climbed up and fished him off of the eaves and gave him a snack and put down a towel for him to have a bed that would also keep him dry.

It did make me wonder what I would do if I woke up in the middle of the night to find a kitty outside our second floor bedroom window…

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Cat Drama

My h0use is full of cat drama today and not a cheezburger in sight.

Not only did we find a Santa hat to put on Caspian and Leena, but we’ve had an interloper!

After a trip to our vet, we’ve determined that he doesn’t have a microchip so I don’t know who the owner is, but he’s definitely a pet. He’s friendly and jumps in your lap if you sit outside and rubs against anyone and is very vocal. Oh, and he went right into the kennel when we put it out there.

The problem is I don’t want to send him anywhere that might destroy him, and I’m afraid to give him to someone else as a pet because the last time I gave away a spare kitty he was abused at the new house and we got him back in bad shape.. and then he had kidney failure due to the stress. So I’m worried about this little guy.

My goal for the next two weeks? Find a good kitty home. Know anyone who’s looking?

And to end with a funny: Angry Santa!

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A Cheetah’s Favorite Spots

Yesterday I participated in an animal behavioral study. Specifically, we were keeping track of how often during the day the zoo’s two cheetahs were visible to the public.

Have you ever had to study animal behavior? It makes for a long day. A long day during which my view was mostly this:

Nice, empty exhibit, right?

My job was to sit in front of this viewing area and write down every time I saw a cheetah (or both, there are two of them in there) and how long each one was in view. I couldn’t count the times when I knew where the cheetahs were if I thought the average zoo visitor wouldn’t see them. This meant that for long chunks of time while the cheetahs were laying up on the hill I couldn’t count it because people don’t have the patience to look behind the rocks. People pretty much just cruise right by and if there’s not an animal plainly in sight, they assume the exhibit is empty and keep going.

Anyway, there were a couple of long, empty periods that were punctuated with a flurry of activity. It’s fun to see a cheetah pounce another cheetah and then to see them both go tumbling down the hill. So cute.

What I found was that the cheetahs were most active for their first hour or so on exhibit (which is normal for zoo animals– if you visit a zoo, go in the first couple of hours to see the most), and then after 1:30 in the afternoon when it cooled off a little. In the meantime, they hung out in the back, out of view (they’re shy animals!) where it’s cool and shady. I forgot my camera, and was busy writing the times I saw them anyway, so there aren’t any good photos from that vantage point. Here’s what the other observation point looks like, though (old photo):

I don’t know which of them this is, but after watching them for seven hours I can, in fact, tell them apart. They have different spot patterns on their faces and necks.

So what was the point of this whole endeavor? Well, the cheetah exhibit isn’t set up to encourage them to run right now, and they are, after all, running animals. By figuring out how often they come to the front (so people can see them) and where they go, the zoo can make the exhibit better for the cheetahs. They’ve also got a rig they’re going to install to encourage sprinting. Exciting!!

Other news? We’ve got a baby (born in May) fennec fox on exhibit now! Meet Puka!

The pictures aren’t great quality, but I’ll get some better ones. She’s very energetic and I couldn’t get one until she held still, and then she curled up for a nap, so this is about it. She was pretty adorable washing her face before sleep, though, and then fell asleep halfway through cleaning her ears. D’awwwww!

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