Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Second Look--November 18, 2014


The cold is finally here. After teasing for a week or so, there is no doubt--it is cold.  It's been very windy and in the 20's F today, so when I went outside to do my Second Look, I only made it part way around the house. Then I decided that it was time to go inside. However, Ward says that weather like this is refreshing, so if he ever gets home from work before it's dark, maybe I'll send him out to see what he can see. In the meantime, I did get a few pictures.

Here's what I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

The view out of my kitchen window. Doesn't it look cold?

I'm going to have to do something about the ice in the bird bath if I want them to be able to use it.

The cold-hardy mums haven't quite disappeared, but they are looking a little scraggly.

The buck visited again this week, but this time he was alone.

The red-bellied woodpecker visited today for the first time since spring.

The downy woodpeckers have also been enjoying the suet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Special Trip to the Zoo--Part 2

The O-line lets the orangutans travel from one house to the other.

Last week, I told you about a special trip we had to the National Zoo. During this trip, we got a behind the scenes tour of the great ape house (orangutans and gorillas). Here a few more details of that tour.

The tour took place in the back of the exhibit. We were seeing the same things that we had seen as regular visitors to the zoo--just from a different perspective. We were seeing the back instead of the front. Speaking of the front of the exhibit, there are several layers of glass there that make things virtually sound proof for the animals. So the bad jokes and gorilla sounds the public are making aren't actually heard by the gorillas and orangutans.  The back of the exhibit is covered by a strong mesh.

We learned during our tour that first and foremost is the safety and well being of the animals. Thus there was a line that we could not cross that kept us an arm's length away from the apes. Also, we had to wear masks so that we could not pass on any colds or other illness we might have. The keepers also have to wear these when they are sick.

Lucy, 41, the oldest orangutan there.
The animals were very happy to see Eddie and us, and as described in the last post, some of them started to show off. Also, they started to push pieces of bamboo out of their enclosures. Eddie said they were tidying up for him. He said that one of the enrichment activities they do is to have them clean up their houses. This included getting rid of clutter. They love to do it because there's usually a tasty treat waiting for them at the end. I wish my kids, or me, for that matter, could be motivated so easily to clean up.

And speaking of tasty treats, they do get some (usually fruit), but their diet is very carefully controlled. Gorillas are herbivores and get a variety of vegetables and fruits every day. They had already been fed that morning and the only thing left was kale. They're just like us. They go for the "good" stuff first and leave the "good-for-you" stuff for last. Also, the day before, Eddie had cooked them some beans with stronger spices in them. The animals also enjoy some spicy food occasionally.  In addition, the keepers use spices sometimes as enrichment for the animals. For example, they may spread some cinnamon around the exhibit just because the apes enjoy the smell.

We also saw how they were training one of the gorillas to be a mother. They wanted to breed her, but wanted to make sure that she was up to the task because she hadn't been raised by her mother. She was improving because she no longer ripped the head off of the doll they were using. However, she still had a ways to go. :)

As you can tell by the way I'm going on and on, I was very excited by this trip. Actually, I could continue to go on and on but I think that's enough for now. Let's just end it with, life is good for both these apes and for me because I got a chance to meet them.

Pictures courtesy of the National Zoo.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thankful Sunday--November 15, 2014

I am thankful for simple but well made things.

This is one of the first pieces of woodworking that Ward's brother did. (He has since gone on to become a master woodworker.) First it resided with their grandmother for decades and when she died, it came to live with us. After putting it to good use for many years, it is time for it to move on to live with my son. And the beat goes on... (Everyone knows that Sonny and Cher song, right?)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Food Waste Friday and True Food Confessions--November 14, 2014

It's time for Food Waste Friday, when the Frugalgirl and Jo at Simply being Mum encourages us to post pictures from the previous week of wasted food from our household. This accountability hopefully will help us to be more careful with our food and maybe save some money. Also, I am using this public forum to encourage us to eat out less which includes better meal planning. You can follow how we are doing in this endeavor by reading True Food Confessions. Occasionally, if our eating is going okay, I'll talk about some other food topic.

This Week's Food Waste

I'm very happy that I got to this week's food waste before it exploded all over the refrigerator. I had a sealed bag of pineapple that I was going to eat with cottage cheese (one of my favorite combos). However, apparently I didn't do that soon enough because when I took it out yesterday the bag had expanded to a tight pillow shape. I think some good fermenting was going on in there. So away it went.

This Week's True Food Confessions

This week included the rescues of a butternut squash and French toast from some old bread. We also had a blast from the past with hamburger rollups. Haven't had those in years.

Despite great urges this week to default to the old system (eating out or take out), we ate at home all days except one. And that was a special day when we visited Wally and took him out to his favorite hamburger place.

So Hooray!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Special Trip to the Zoo

We like to go to the zoo. We like watching the animals. We like the plants. And Ward likes the gift shops. We like to visit them wherever we're traveling as we did in Philadelphia last month. Recently we went to another zoo--the National Zoo in Washington, DC. We had been there before but not for many years. The last time we went was when Wally and Theo ran from exhibit to exhibit and climbed all of the animal statues.
Mischievous Lucy
This time, Ward and I went with a grownup Theo, and besides enjoying the various large and small animals, we got a behind the scenes tour of the large ape house (orangutans and gorillas), courtesy of Eddie, my nephew who is a keeper there. He took us for a private tour at the back of the exhibits where he told us about the general traits of the apes, and we got to individually meet each of them.
Baraka, the very laid-back silverback
And what a group they were. There was the very laid back silverback gorilla who only got excited when he thought he might be able to steal a piece of fruit from one of the females. (By the way, silverback means no more than the gorilla has reached full maturity. Before that, their back is black.) There was the orangutan, Lucy, who filled her mouth with water when our back was turned and was ready to spray it on us just for fun and a bit of showing off. Fortunately, we moved on before she got a chance. There was a very cute orangutan that pulled a sheet around herself and was playing hide and seek with us. (The orangutans make a nest in hay at night and then they like to pull a sheet or blanket over themselves while they sleep.)
Then there was the very mischievous teenage male gorilla who waited until our backs were turned and made a very loud sound hitting a metal door. It had the exact effect he was looking for because we all jumped. Then once he had our attention, he ran large barrels into the sides of the enclosure making very loud sounds. Eddie told us that he was showing off for our benefit. Some how that just seemed right for a teenage boy.

I could go on and on because this was one of the most interesting things I have done for a long while. But I'll save some of it for Part 2. Stay tuned.

Kwame. He and his brother Kojo were the male, showoff teens.
Pictures courtesy of the National Zoo website. None of my pictures turned out very well because of the lighting.