Good Morning, Zoo!

Most mornings, I am on the early shift. It’s my responsibility to open up our department and get us ready for the day. Every morning has its familiar faces and routines. Sometimes I have to stop what I am doing and take a moment to appreciate how lucky I am to spend my time with amazing animals.

Remember Al? He's a bit sleepy in the morning. That makes sense because he is essentially solar powered. He's most active once he has warmed up a bit.

Remember Al? He’s a bit sleepy in the morning. That makes sense because he is essentially solar powered. He’s most active once he has warmed up a bit.

Our outdoor turtle marsh bustles with activity on a warm spring morning.

A wood turtle peeks out from his night-time hiding place under the leaf litter.

A wood turtle peeks out from his night-time hiding place under the leaf litter.

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An eastern box turtle hits the snooze button in her leafy bed.

And sometimes we find a surprise guest.

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Hey, you’re not a turtle! A five-line skink takes advantage of a sunny spot and basks in the warmth of the morning sun.

 

I have some surprises to share with you in a week or so. I can’t wait! As soon as I can tell, I will. Until then, I’m keeping secrets…

Happy Monday! I have not drawn the winner from the giveaway. I’ll work on that later tonight. In the meantime, you can still go here to vote if you’d like. Entries are closed, but I’d still appreciate the vote. Unless we just won. Which we might have done. I’ll keep you posted!

I’m signing up for Camp NaNoWriMo, it’s a little less crazy than the November event because we set our own goals. I’m starting my first new project since getting my full-time job. Anyone want to join me? Go here to sign up! 28 days until the writing begins. I can hardly wait!

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Today, I Remembered

I hit a rough patch a bit ago and kind of ran off the road..  You may have visited that particular ditch in your travels as well, the place where things that would ordinarily slide off like water from a duck’s back instead bring you to your knees, and even the chocolate doesn’t taste good anymore.  I won’t bore you with details, but at the beginning of this week, watching my plans and efforts crumble to dust, I wondered why I bother at all. It was a low point. But not today. Today, I remembered.

Today, Phyllis came to visit my camp and pooped on the floor, and I remembered how to laugh.

Phyllis the Polish hen. She never stopped talking.

Phyllis the Polish hen. I can’t look at her without smiling.

Today, my new friends met my old friends, and I remembered why I love them both.

Rex, meet campers. Campers, meet Rex. Want to go to a movie?

Rex, meet campers. Campers, meet Rex. Want to go to a movie?

Today, an elephant played me a harmonica tune, and I remembered how to sing.

I don't even care that I have to clean the harmonica.

I don’t even care that I have to clean the harmonica.

Today, an otter caught a snack, and I remembered there is wonder in the world.

I wonder how she bends like that.

I wonder how she bends like that.

Today, there was a splash pad and ice cream, and I remembered how sweet life is.

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Today the water stopped, and I remembered I can make my own magic. Someone reminded me. Thanks for that, little buddy!

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Today, I remembered why I love what I do. Today was a blessing.

Nekkid Chicks

No, you’re not in the wrong place. It’s still a family blog.

Look what I found yesterday in a cooler on my back porch.

What a strange bundle of leaves. And a strange location. That's the cooler where I feed my snake.

What a strange bundle of leaves. And a strange location. That’s a little soda cooler.

A closer look? Okay, then.

Click to enlarge. The gallery pics show up tiny, but the photos themselves have some great detail. I love my new camera!

My mother has a great deal of experience with birds, and she believes that they have just hatched, and she’s probably right. There’s not a single feather on these little nekkid chicks! I am trying to figure out the species. It’s a tiny one. I know because mother bird and I scared the poop out of one another, and she flew right by my head.

I love that she has built her nest inside a cooler. The temperature will stay nice and cozy without getting too hot. Who says they are bird-brains? And here’s proof that most birds have a poor sense of smell. I use that cooler to feed a snake.

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On a totally different note, I am preparing my first review post for our awesome children’s book club. It should go live on Monday. If you have already done a post about a favorite kids’ book, send the link to me so I can include it in the post. If you want to do one, include a link to Monday’s post somewhere in yours, and a link to your post will appear as a trackback. That way we can all find each other’s awesome children’s reads.

Also, you are welcome to click the Goodreads widget in the right hand column and join the club On Goodreads. Until that site is completely taken over by Amazon Zombies same diff a huge, multinational corporation and we are forced to hold meetings in my playhouse. I’ll make the gingerbread.

Nearly Wordless – Wait, What Day Is It Again?

I always get a little discombobulated when we have a holiday. In my mind, it’s Saturday, which normally means no post at all. But I’m a giver.

I know it says nearly wordless, and look! Words! Bear with me. I got a new camera. It isn’t super-expensive or anything, but it’s my first dSLR, and it is intimidating. The how-to guide is 400 pages. I tried it a few times with little success. I hate things that prove that I am make me feel stupid, so I put it back in the box and continued to use my little camera. Until yesterday. I sent my little camera with my daughter on her mission trip and picked up the 400 page manual. I made it 25 pages, and then I gave up and just started taking pictures. I am in love.

Click to enlarge.

And then there are these. Click to enlarge them, too.

And we went to see my friend’s puppies last night. I’ll leave you with this.

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Nature Is Weird

Remember my best decorating scheme ever? Things are happening there.

Click to enlarge. It’s insane!

My kid has the coolest teacher. Look what else is growing in her classroom!

Note the egg tooth on the end of its beak. The kids got to watch them hatch, too!

Note the egg tooth on the end of its beak. The kids got to watch them hatch, too!

Would Time Stand Still

The biggest surprise is that it comes as a surprise to me at all. I’ve known how it all will end, that it will end, and sooner rather than later. I’ve even said it out loud in my most grown-up and matter-of-fact voice. And yet  I am rocked to the core of my being.  One soon, she’ll be gone.

Looking good for an old lady.

Looking good for an old lady.

 

It may come as a surprise to some, but I can be very logical, even practical. Her body has begun to fail her. A diagnosis of kidney failure was our first reminder that time, as it is with all of us, was limited. “She’s an old cat,” I said. “She’s lived a good life.” We held her, I wept. I had always imagined fifteen years with her, but you get what you get, right?

Time passed. Her organ failure did not progress, and she thrived. And when she approached the magic age, when she turned 15, I thought I must be ready. I said “This may be our last Christmas with Piper.” And we gathered around to fuss, to pet her, to appreciate her for a moment. Fifteen turned into sixteen, followed much too quickly by seventeen. With each passing year, the ritual becomes less meaningful. For awhile we could believe that this scrappy cat would defy all logic and the limitations of biology and live forever. I believed it.

But time doesn’t stand still, and nothing, no one, goes on forever. She is failing still more. My wake up came three days ago as I watched her struggle to climb the stairs, her back end swaying as she tried to keep her legs under her, an issue she has never had before. That was the moment I was struck by the weight of inevitability, the moment my heart heard truth. We are going to lose her.

No matter what I said before, how logical and detached I could be, I did not believe. I believe now. Borrowed time takes on new meaning when it comes to someone you love.

She still has some fight left, her paws tapping out a playful cadence as she tries to catch the string on my jacket. She purrs. It takes little to make her happy. A warm lap, a soft stroke. She eats, both our biggest victory and our greatest fear. When she quits eating, we will know that it is time.

She is living the dream now. The cold is hard on old bones, so I heat a rice sock to warm her. She experiences privilege unknown, the lone animal invited into the inner sanctum; my bedroom. I ignore these self-imposed restrictions and my ensuing allergy attacks, and invite her under the blanket to curl up on the electric mattress cover. Her preferred perch is on my lap as I write. Not only do I comply, I insist. I take her with me when I change rooms if she is not already sleeping comfortably. I need every stolen moment I can get. To prepare.

But how do you prepare? How do you say goodbye to someone who has shared your life and your adventures for going on 18 years? I am at a loss.

Advantages to Keeping Reptiles

1) No one takes your ice cream. Because it’s resting on a bag of frozen rats.

2) You have a use for all of those college text books. 

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The more weighty the tome, the better. I recommend something other than the Twilight series. Not only are they rather lightweight in a literary sense, trade paperbacks aren’t heavy enough to hold a rosy boa in its cage.

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3) Overnight visitors are rare. Buy one snake, and suddenly all the out-of-town family is piling into a hotel. And they invite you to swim in the pool. Double score!

4) All the neighborhood kids think that you’re the coolest parent in the entire world. What kid doesn’t want to share a room with a python?

5) Your bad-itude level increases exponentially. People will not mess with you when they hear the words “Yeah, I’ve got to go home and feed my boa.” There is no need to add that said boa is five inches long.

BIG, SCARY BOA! Do not be messing with me.

There may be a few disadvantages, too.

1) Cages can’t be kept too near a window. Not because of drafts, but because their red night bulbs give the neighbors (and the cops) the wrong idea.

2) It’s extra sad to open the freezer and realize the only thing you have to eat is a bag of rats.

3) It’s hard to find a house-sitter. 

4) Reptiles have no respect for the saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” 

5) People who live in the same house don’t appreciate nearly drinking a mouse that is thawing in their favorite cup. There might be an entire blog post on this particular topic. Sorry, sweetie! I’ll try to remember to quit using your cup!

Easing You Into Monday

It’s me here! Ready to make your Monday a little less awful!

Last Monday I featured something you never thought you’d see on my blog. MAMMALS! We visited with a litter of newborn English cocker spaniel puppies. Guess what? They’ve grown like little monsters. Don’t believe me? Check it out.

At two weeks of age, their eyes are opening.

LOOK! Peepers!

And they’re taking their first wobbly steps.

She’s still pretty unsteady on her pins.

But they still do a lot of this:

Look at how much pigment has appeared in their tiny little noses. Their heads are lovely. They have potential to be wonderful show dogs.

 

Hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago, the puppy on the right looked like this:

So tiny.

Jill  requested an update when they started playing. I aim to please, you know!

 

and then there’s this one:

 

Happy Monday, friends!

 

 

My Lucky Day!

Tortoise day was even better than usual this week. Remember the baby bog turtles? They’ve been released into the indoor enclosure that will be their home for the next year or so. They’re tiny. We’re talking the size of a quarter. And they’re shy. When you’re that small, the list of predators that can eat you is fairly long, so they stay hidden. In the wild, they hide for years. I knew it would likely be Christmas before I caught a glimpse of them again, so imagine my surprise when I looked in their enclosure and saw this:

Look at that!

Right there in the open, too! What? You don’t see it? Hmm. How about now?

They blend right in. Every drop of water has a highlight exactly like that neck ring!

And then I got even luckier, and I saw the other one, too!

Don’t tell me you can’t see it!

Shall we zoom in?

You can see it now, right?

Still not sure? Let’s get really close…

I love their serious little faces.

If you’re a baby tortoise fan, be sure to tune in tomorrow. I’ve got some pics to share of some other favorites, and maybe another belly button shot.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Never Too Old to Learn!

At ZooCamp this week, we have animal visitors, a different one each day. It’s really fun. Though I’ve been at the Zoo for eleven years, I am learning stuff at camp, too. Today, our visitor was a chicken named  Agnes.

Guess what I learned today! Toddlers can’t say “Agnes.”  Ladies and gentleman…

Yes, it’s a chicken. They’re surprisingly soft. And tasty.

meet “Anus.”  I wonder what I will learn today. I can hardly wait!

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