Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bearly Breathing

   Well, I think I may have finally made it through the post-parental visit letdown. It always takes time to recoup after their visits, but this year hit me harder than it usually does; there's just never enough time together, is there?

   In any case... this week is all about animal adventures; more specifically, my odd 'adventures' with animals and reptiles over the years. Retrospectively, they are funny but didn't quite seem so at the time... I'm dedicating these to one of the Great Scot's cousins, whom I'll call 'Pike' since he's an avid fisherman. (One of these days we'll go fishing and swap stories Pike!) This first tale involves me, as a teen, and a black bear in the wilds of King's Canyon Park, in California...

   Known as Ursus americanus, the American black bear is a mediumish sized bear, although I can assure you that they seem much larger when you're eyeball to eyeball! How do I know? Well lemme tell ya:

                                         (image source)

   We were camped in a (at the time) remote area of King's Canyon, and just finishing our supper, when a pretty blonde ranger came through and warned folks to put all their food away securely as a youngish, 1 to 2 year old, male black bear was wandering through the campground. She also asked to be notified if anyone saw the bear, and warned all the folk gathered around her not to try to interact with the bear... and enjoined us not to run since that would trigger it's instinct to chase prey. Oh, well, that sounded pretty exciting, even to a 16-going-on-17 year old teenager trying desperately to cultivate a sophisticated boredom. Not that I've ever actually been successful at sophistication... or acting bored either.

   A few minutes passed as we tidied up the leftovers, and then it happened! We heard rustling in the trees across the road from our campsite and, sure enough, spotted the young bear meandering through the woods. I offered to find the ranger and walked down the road, only to realise that the rustling sound was following me; turning slowly toward the sound... You guessed it! The bear was walking just within the tree line, matching me step for step. Unsophisticated me was suddenly quite unbored, and started walking faster. Young Mr. Bear? Yup, trotting right along with me; no closer, but certainly showing no signs of leaving my side either. Forgetting all about the assumed sophistication of ennui, as well as the ranger's instructions, I began running toward the ranger and the knot of people gathered around her, (I'm pretty certain I broke a 1 minute mile that day) and my newly acquired 'friend' galloped right along... at least until the people I was aiming for spotted him, and began shouting and heading toward us. He headed away from the noisy group just as fast as I was heading toward them! Whew, safe!

   Later that evening a group of college-age boys settled into the camping spot next to ours, and I thoroughly enjoyed regaling them with the tale of the bear. I may or may not have flirted a bit, whilst thinking that a bear tale seemed just the thing for impressing them. Lovely end to the tale, right?

   Not so fast there podner! 

                                         (image source)

   Mom and Pop were safely tucked away in their converted van whilst I was holed up all snug in my wee pup tent, just beginning to get sleepy when I heard...... rustling, and heavy breathing. Okay, someone was trying to pull a prank on me! My money was on Pop, although the thought did cross my mind that it might be the college guys. Determined to catch them in the act, I pulled up the flap which covered the wee net window in the back of the tent, and found myself nose to nose with young Mr. Bear! I yelled and scrambled out of the tent. Mom and Pop piled out of the van. College boys, with a faint alcoholic haze hanging about them, charged over from their campsite... and me? I stood there watching a hairy black bum bouncing across the road and into the trees; fairly certain I'd heard a faint snigger drifting from the furry joker's direction.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Along Came A Spider

I had it all planned: I was going to do my blog rounds and say hello to my friends, but Blogger has decided that I can't see the blogs I follow, let alone visit. Ah well, I'll do a short post tonight and hope the situation corrects itself tomorrow; do forgive me?

You've already seen photos from the visit with Mom and Pop, all but this one:

A wee chalkboard sign I made as part of Mom's birthday gift. The kidling knitted her a scarf in green (her favourite colour) and got her a pair of gardening gloves... the Great Scot and I got her a new book, and bookmark. Since we seldom get to see Pop on his birthday, we decided that giving him a wee something was in order as well, so a new (blue and white, blue being his favourite colour) tea mug, tea strainer, and a packet of my homemade tea blend were presented to Pop. (Is it bad that I thought seriously of buying him 'Hop On Pop' too?)

So last night the kidling was taking her bath, and on getting out and reaching for her clothes she found a surprise visitor that made her squeal a bit....

This li'l lady is called the rabid wolf spider, and is one of the more common spiders in it's range, which spreads from the East Coast... from Florida to Maine.... and as far west as Texas and Nebraska. Whilst it's bite isn't poisonous to humans, it is painful and Wolfie is an aggressive spider which typically stalks it's prey. The female of the species can grow up to 1 inch in length, (the body, this doesn't include the leg span) whilst the male is generally about half the size of the female. The coin beside it is a quarter btw. (About the same size as a 10 pence piece.) It is carrying it's egg sac, which from the colour is relatively new, as the sac darkens to a dull brown as the young mature. The young live on the mother's back for 6 months (up to 350 of them!) until they are mature enough to survive on their own, and the wolf spider lives 2 years or longer. The one thing I like about them? They eat crickets, which I despise.

Just for giggles:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21, 193-

...that was the day this beautiful lady was born:

I'm sure you remember most of these photos.

And this most recent one...

Yes, I'm sure you'll recognise most of these photos... but it seems that whilst I've often mentioned the things I've learned from my Dad, as well as Pop, I've not written often about what I've learned from Mom. It's time to correct that omission.

When I think of Mom, I think first of strength. She is, by far, the strongest person I know; from her battles with breast cancer, to her determination to earn her GED, and everything in between. Mom was a very young mother, but her determination to do the very best she could for her children never lagged. She worked hard at whatever work she could find, and ensured that my brother was able to pursue his musical interests; that I had the ballet lessons I needed in order to walk properly. She also helped care for her mother, through my grandmother's many illnesses. Thus, she taught me the importance of family and simply being present when needed. 

Mom also taught me about love; real, messy, imperfect as it can be, it's still far superior to the half hour tv series kind of plastic love. Thus, she also taught me about loyalty. Not the kind of loyalty and love which wears rose-coloured glasses and pretends that the shiny surface is all there is; no, the kind of love that says "Okay, what's wrong?" or "How can I help?". Even, occasionally, the kind of tough love that says "Now listen...." 

How, really, can I list all the things Mom has taught me over the years... through words, but more importantly, her actions... in a (necessarily) short post? The truth is, I can't. What I can say, the most important thing to say, is this: "I'm glad you're in my life Mom, I love you."

This one is for you Mom:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Happy Time and a Sad Farewell

A sad farewell to Robin Williams (thank you to Mitchell for pointing this out.)

Pop, rocking away on the front porch, having a 'yack' attack... then again, he wasn't the only one.

Mom and I, we didn't plan it but we almost match, don't we!

Puppy pile on the Great Scot:

No, my sweetheart isn't enjoying it a bit. (Yeah right.) As you can see, they range from large to extra small. Oh, and of course we can't forget the cheeky boy!

Rest In Peace Mr. Williams:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Let The Sun Shine In

   Update on my great nephew G: He had to be at hospital 5:30 yesterday morning and, with surgery on the spine being delicate... especially in one so young... it took a while. Still, late yesterday afternoon my nephew, 'J', G's father, posted that surgery was done and went well, and G was recovering nicely. G is really looking forward to not wearing the body brace anymore, and I can't say I blame him... thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts!

   So, I think we all know that I am not... and probably never will be... a great photographer. That's okay, I still enjoy taking photos and one of the things I most enjoy is capturing, and playing with, light. Here are a few photos where I've done just that; hope you enjoy. (Click on any photo to embiggen them!)

These photos, for whatever reason, remind me of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.

The front of the old Indiana Theatre, and the play of light...

The peculiar light of almost... but not quite... daylight, and a frozen moon.

Light captured by a snowy tree.

Lensflares on Fowler Lake, and just for Tex... a fence at Fowler Park:

My birthday is Sunday next, and it looks as though Mom Nature is giving me a gift: a Super Moon! Just hope the clouds part long enough for me to see it. Have a wonderful few days my friends, I'll see you when I can!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Girls On Film #4 - Girls Of Film

     We think we know her, that beautiful lady on the screen, but perhaps we should take another look... (Remember, you can click any photo to embiggen!)

 (image source) Meryl Streep

(image source) Emma Watson 

(image source) Queen Latifah 

(image source) Jodie Foster 

(image source) Annie Lennox

(image source) Drew Barrymore

(image source) Lena Horne

(image source) Isabella Rossellini

(image source) Cate Blanchett

So these are my choices; who would have made your list? 

My great-nephew, G, is having spinal surgery today... he has severe scoliosis, and without the surgery his liver will be crushed. Please keep him in your thoughts/prayers today!

Remember her, and this song? It was one of the Great Scot's favourites. (And mine as well!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Boys of Summer # 4 - The Cause Celebre'

   What on earth would I be thinking if I forgot to toss in a few celebrities? Hopefully you'll find some new takes on old favourites today...

   If you don't recognise this celebrity, I'm going to accuse you of hiding under a rock...

                                   (image source) Elvis

                                                                               (image source) Lenny Kravitz

                                                           (image source) Michael J. Fox ... one of my heroes

                                                                            (image source) Tom Hiddleston

                                                                     (image source) David Bowie

                                                                        (image source) John Malkovich

                                                                       (image source) Mads Mikkelson

                                                                              (image source) Jason Momoa

   There you go, a midweek pick-me-up. You're welcome. Mom and Pop are heading up to Indiana today! After tomorrow, posting will be sporadic for the next couple of weeks.