Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tiger, tiger

Big cats (and little ones, too) fascinate me! These Siberian (Amur) tigers were on the move; playful and feisty. One would circle around and “attack” the other one. Then, the other would “return the favor”. Reminds me of how kittens play.




Siberian tigers are considered “critically threatened,” and are bred in captivity as part of the Species Survival Plan. They were almost extinct in the 1940s, but have made a come-back through the SSP. There are some that still live in the wild, but their habitat is shrinking and poaching is a big problem, even though they are listed as endangered.

One of the reasons these two were so active and playful on such a cold rainy day is that they originally come from eastern Asia and Russia where extreme cold and snow are common. So, like the penguins we saw that day, they were lovin’ it outside.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Penguins – but not on the telly

Been very cold here lately. When I walked after work today, snow and little ice pellets showered me at times. Not my favorite weather. But definitely penguin weather.

When we visited the zoo this weekend, the penguins were having a great time playing and swimming. Some of them “corkscrewed” through the water; others paddled. One stood sentry.

These are Magellanic Penguins, which are native to South America, mainly Argentina and Chile, and the Falkland Islands. They are classified as a “near threatened” species due to the decline in their population from oil pollution and commercial fishing.

Even though it was cold and rainy during our Saturday zoo trek, it was fun watching the antics of these little guys. As TV broadcaster Joe Moore once said: It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Zoo - too


Continuing our trip through the Boise zoo…

Kente cloth hangs in the schoolhouse in the African Plains exhibit. Kente originated in Ghana, and the patterns in the cloth, as well as the colors, have symbolic meanings. Love the colors and patterns...they seem like visual songs, images of rhythms.


Here’s a mama and baby Hornbill. The baby’s beak looks almost too large for its little body. I read that the first two neck vertebrae are fused together in Hornbills, and scientists think it is biological compensation that evolved over time to help the birds carry such a heavy beak.



Ring-tailed lemurs from Madagascar. I happened to catch them in a “lemur ball,” a typical behavior where several animals cuddle together. And here’s an interesting bit of info from Wikipedia:

“The males perform a unique scent marking behavior called spur marking and will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.”

Sounds like a group of warring politicians…

At the zoo


Yet another dreary day, so we decided to go to the zoo. Zoo Boise is a small zoo, doesn’t have as many animals as larger city zoos. But they seem to do a good job caring for the animals, and they participate in conservation programs, including the Species Survival Plans breeding program for threatened and endangered species.

They opened a new African Plains exhibit this past fall, which not only features animals, but provides information about the cultures of the people who live there. One part of the exhibit is a model of an East African village. There are more parts of this exhibit that will open later this year.

The frog above is from South America and has the ability to change skin color to match its surroundings.


This is an Amur Leopard whose natural habitat is in the Far East, in Russia and China. He/she was mellow, wandering about and watching squirrels that were scurrying through the trees in the enclosure.


I didn’t get the name of this bird, but I love the shades of colors.

I’ll be sharing more during the next few days.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Past play


Took this a few weeks ago when we had more sunlight. (Another gray day today, with a light dusting of snow this time). It’s a curious building, larger than a usual garage. Reminds me of a small barn. Probably from the days when people raised a few small animals on their property; chickens, goats, and had large gardens.

And some children must have lived there who liked to shoot hoops; a game of H-O-R-S-E. We had a hoop on our garage when I was growing up. But we lived in the country and the driveway was graveled. Dribbling shot the b-ball off in unpredictable directions. So we made up our own game instead.

What games did you play?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Evening


After a long day, finally
Home.

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
~ Matsuo Basho

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unity


Obama’s inauguration seemed to bring about a feeling of unity for many around the world. It was fascinating and encouraging to read about reactions of people from other countries, as well as those from the U.S.

In light of that, here’s another piece from the Fair Trade store that could tie in with yesterday’s events.

[Don’t worry though – I won’t mention the name of a certain song this image could evoke; one that is part of a ride at Disneyland/World. The song that -- once you hear it – embeds itself into your neural pathways and plays endlessly in your head at the most inopportune moments…]


So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.
~ Baha'u'llah

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My country 'tis of thee...

I couldn’t go to the celebration in Washington, D.C., so joined in online while at work – I didn’t want to miss this historic event.

And I took photos, like I would have if I’d been there.

Granted, it’s easy to find much better images of these same things online.


But these tell the story from my point of view, sitting in an office 2,400 miles from D.C., hoping not to be interrupted by work duties for just a little while…


Monday, January 19, 2009

Tree of life


Well, it’s still gray and gloomy here; continued invasion of the inversion.

So, this calls for more color – a Tree of Life I saw at a local Fair Trade shop.

For a different kind of Tree of Life, check out this great web project.

Another diversion from the gloomy gray is what’s going on in Washington, D.C. With all that has happened, it’s a great spirit-lifter to celebrate for a bit. I hope to watch Barack Obama be officially sworn in as our president tomorrow morning; put work aside for a few minutes so I can tune in online. Although he will be facing great challenges, I think he has the intelligence, courage, confidence, and energy to figure out ways to handle them. With that said, I think we need to understand that there aren’t any “instant fixes” to anything. It will take time -- probably years. It will take bridge-building and cooperation between our elected leaders. It will take people working together instead of fracturing into partisan grand-standing.

I have hope that we can pull together as a nation. Having a leader who is willing to “reach across the aisle” to the opposition sets a tone and example for the rest of us to follow.
For we are in this together; part of the Tree of Life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Down the hallway


Inner light.
Makes a long corridor – motel or otherwise – airy, inviting.

Someday perhaps the inner light will shine forth from us, and then we'll need no other light.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another view


Looking down the corridor, waiting…

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shades and lines


Study of shades and lines. Branches graphing the sunlight.

Taken at The Modern Hotel. (More glimpses to come in future posts).

To read between the lines was easier than to follow the text.
-Henry James

Monday, January 12, 2009

Color for a winter's day


It’s been misty and gray all day today; one of our famous winter inversions. So something colorful is definitely in order. Here's a closer look at some of the orchids I featured in yesterday's post.


Orchids are fascinating flowers; some varieties look more like creatures than flowers, or like aliens. The Treasure Valley Orchid Society has a show and sale every spring at one of the motels near the airport. These are avid orchidists, many of whom have greenhouses (since the desert climate here is not conducive to growing orchids). We’ve attended a couple of times and it was fun browsing through the exhibits. So many shapes and colors.

Sweet memories to lighten a gray day…

Sunday, January 11, 2009

En-lightening experience


Can you guess what kind of building this might be?


It’s a garden center. Built about two years ago, the building is stunning inside. It carries potted plants, deck and patio furniture and accessories, gardening tools, wind chimes, picnic things, etc. The first photo shows the dome, and there are skylights and windows that let in a lot of natural light. I love the airy expansive feeling it has inside.


And as we browsed, we came upon potted orchids sprinkled throughout the displays. Too bad our house isn’t very “plant friendly,” otherwise I would have gotten one.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

By the pages


January seems to be a good time for reading (especially with all the bad weather lately). And even though books can be downloaded into an e-reader or onto your computer, a lot of people still prefer being able to hold a book, smell it, feel the pages as they read. Easy to take with you, to curl up with on a stormy day.

Besides the two big chain stores we have in town, there are several locally owned bookstores. This photo was taken inside the Hyde Park Post Office and Bookstore. They sell used books and old sheet music, and, as you can see, have plenty to look through.

IMO, the best used bookstore is Trip Taylor Bookseller on 10th Street. He has a little of everything, including unusual and rare books. You can spend many wonderful hours browsing through the selections in his store. (He doesn’t have a website; I’ll take some pics of his shop next time I’m downtown).

And on the other side of town (from where we live) is Rediscovered Books, which features new and used books, and always has a lot of events and activities for book lovers.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.
~ Henry Ward Beecher

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
~ Groucho Marx

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Around sunset


The weather began to clear a bit around sunset tonight, casting long golden rays that turned treetops, houses, and Camel’s Back an exquisite pink-orange.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Catz Eyes


The weather has been cold, snowy, wet, nasty, icy, etc. for the last two days. So, I’m posting a photo from the weekend, when it was cold, but sunny (and we didn’t have to wade through slush past our ankles). Being a cat person, I was really drawn to this window display. It’s from Eyes of the World, a locally owned store that has eclectic items and clothing. I hadn’t been there in a while and it was fun to browse. We bought some scented candles, which we’ve been burning to warm our snowy spirits…


A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water
.
~ Carl Reiner

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, January 05, 2009

Inside my "mantelpiece"


Yesterday, Lynn at Cheltenham Daily Photo posted a photo of her mantelpiece – and suggested the rest of us do likewise. We don’t have a mantelpiece, so above is our slightly overcrowded china cabinet.

And a couple of close-ups…


Katie at Katiefornia is sans mantelpiece also; check what she posted.

So, what’s on your mantelpiece? Or in your china cabinet? Or on your fridge?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Nostalgia


Stopped by a new coffee shop yesterday. The d├ęcor is “nostalgia” and features old-fashioned signs -- kind of a funky, cluttered look.


We had coffee and split a scone. The windows and door face south, and the place filled with afternoon sunlight.


Remember Green Stamps? One of our “jobs” as little kids was to paste the stamps in the books. Then, when we had a bunch of books, we took a trip to the Green Stamp store in the City. I realized quickly that this was not something special. Instead it was a bit like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where they discover the great Oz is actually manned by a small man behind a curtain. All the work of pasting in those stamps just the right way would only get you some boring household stuff or cheap toys. My brother and I soon turned our attention to other things, such as building bridges of furniture all across the living room. Or sticking firecrackers in tomatoes from the garden and watching them explode.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Magical light

It was the last night. Cold, clear, crisp with a slice of moon hanging in a sky dotted with bright stars. Families and couples, bundled in heavy coats, walked up the small hill of frozen grass into the light – into a carnival of lights.

Every year the Idaho Botanical Garden creates Winter Garden aGlow during the holidays. Volunteers and staff decorate the entire garden with exquisite designs using over 250,000 colored lights. And then the magic begins…

One year we came in December before Christmas. Some Garden volunteers were setting up large speakers in the main walkway. People were milling around, kids were running and chasing each other.

Suddenly music came through the speakers – the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker Suite. As if on cue, the children began spontaneously dancing; arching their hands above their heads, circling and twirling. Soon there were about 15 little ballet dancers pirouetting, spinning, oblivious to the growing audience of adults. When the music finally ended, we broke into applause and cheers, to the great surprise of the children. With big grins on their faces, they bowed (numerous times) before running off into the garden.

The show is over for this year. But it will return during the next holiday season.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A banner day


Saw this as we took our walk today and thought it reflected an excellent wish for 2009.

N and I had a wonderful New Year’s Eve – among other things, we watched “The Big Easy” on DVD after a tasty dinner of pasta and meatballs, played music, watched the ball drop on Times Square, toasted with champagne and special chocolates from Goody’s, and checked out New Year’s celebrations all over the world (internet’s a great thing). Also, peeked at some of the neighborhood fireworks being set off down the street.

Today’s been mellow; gray and rainy outside. And it’s been a day just to do little things we enjoy. Hope it’s been a good day for you, too.