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It's that time of year again: The National Wildlife Foundation's yearly photography award winners. As always, they solicited 'wow's!' and gasps from me!  
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Even if the new one has funny ears and big feet.

... This post is in reference to this crazy book I'm reading, about Jesus and the Peacock Angle. It has cool moments. But then it has bald-faced sentence about Lemuria and beings from Venus. It leaves me gasping sometimes, Melek Ta'us references or no!
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http://coilhouse.net/2010/02/inside-of-tokyos-cat-cafes/

Rent a kitty, in their home. I kidna wonder how they 'train' these felines to be so laid back. ?
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Fascinating excerpt about what happens in "taming". I also read a piece in the NYT today about the intelligence of dogs. Cool to see more science on the critters we live.

for [livejournal.com profile] inflectionpoint and all the dog people n science people...


lobolance: (Earth)

It's good being back on the bicycle. After a couple months off, those muscles are a little less strong. It's a good tired as I ride again.

Today, I rode towards the reservoir. I stopped for a breather on the return trip; totally admiring the quiet of the scene. The world has been gray for days it feels like. Many varieties of birds were in the water; big white pelican, gulls, bright ducks, all the locals. In winter and spring the landscape here is Irish in feel; green and gray and mild. Looking out, I could totally imagine the stories and myths I might create if I saw this day after day, in silence. But I have moments, with the freeway roar not so distant. Still, stories are possible...

Walking this afternoon, I heard a lot of starlings, those fascinating invaders. They'd taken roost in a tall thin bare tree. I saw a crow perched on top; very photogenic. As I got my iphone out, I noticed the next tree over; equally naked, a few starlings, the tree topper crow, and a *giant* bird of some type on a lower branch. So I took a few pictures of it too. A buzzard? A turkey? Hopefully I can crop in far enough to figure it out.

I turned and walked on, and caught a glimpse in the creek of something... a great gray heron, bigger than most I've seen. It had dark markings and dark legs, like an outline... very cool. As long as I kept moving, she was still. When I turned to get the phone back out, her great wings swooped and away she went, darker gray over the gray waters, behind the gray trees and shrubbery. A marvel. Unfollow-able. Another candidate for stories.

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There's an area where I often see the turkey flock, when it is turkey time of year. Like now. Been wanting to stop and look for feathers. Why? For crafts, for my fondness of wild feathers.

Today is Friday, a good day for a slightly longer bike ride. Very warm out, but a brush of coolness now and again. Water is being released from the little dam; I don't know why. Rain in the Sierras I haven't heard about? Last year's snow pack making its way down at last? 

On the way back, I stopped at the area, just past an underpass, on a steeper area of bank. Shade and deep leaves to hunt through. Did require leaving my bicycle alone as I disappeared over the bank edge, but not many folks are out there, let alone getting off their bikes. Safe enough.

I was quickly rewarded with a couple interesting squared-off feathers; slightly iridescent at the tip, which surprised me. And lots of downy feathers. Oh yeah, and a subset of the flock of turkeys! They walked off in a brisk but not terrified fashion. 

I kept looking, and was rewarded with a couple of long quills. Both are of the brown striped variety.

Interesting how beautiful the feathers are, away from the silliness of turkeys. :-)  
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joy.

this is rather sweet: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/slideshows/animal-pleasure.html
as well as new science.

I've never understood people who don't understand animals. :-)
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Took my morning walk a little early. Very quiet. On the way back, I spotted a buck, essentially across from the gate to the trail (well down the incline, across the little stream, and on the deer path on the other side). I would guess he was a few years old, looking strong and healthy. Two points on his antlers.

After a couple minutes of standing sideways, watching me, he turned full face (then I could actually verify the number of points). His black nose was shiny as he stood in the sun. Another couple minutes, and he moved away.

I did take a couple iphone pictures, including ones with the new Griffin case lens (supposed to be good for far away as well as up close I believe).
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Spirit Rock is a meditation retreat located in Marin. The facility is beautiful; a huge three level temple, some residence halls, and community centers nestled in the hills. 

The deer are unafraid of humans. A young buck danced across the road five feet in front of me, showing how butch he was. Another time a few seemed to be headed toward the food hall. Regularly, one could watch them settle in for the night (and find many deer hollows), or move from location to location, in little herds of five or eight.

Hawks. Turkey vultures.

A lot of poison oak, pretty red with autumn. Oaks, giving way to firs. Wild oats and short thistles. One morning I found a zillion spiderwebs, highlighted by dew in the dawn light; invisible any other time.

And then there was the cougar. One morning, after our 7:15 am breakfast (which was after the 6:30 a.m. sitting practice) I went hiking (mindfully) up the hill behind the residences. Found a cool top of a hill crossroads. Near there, another hiker just ahead of me (who had started out behind me, but whom I let pass ;-) ) had stopped. I looked where he was looking, and saw a mountain lion. Long tawny body, square head and tight ears, looking right at us.

After a few moments, he crouched. The other hiker and I made ourselves big, as the cautions all say to do. I felt myself rooted into the earth, ready to kick ass. I wasn't afraid per say, but I sure was going over options in my head. I was wearing flip flops (neither those nor my motorcycle boots made for good hiking shoes... though I did get complements on the boots after the retreat ;-) )... I could throw them. Run. Or the two of us could beat the cougar up...

After a few minutes, the lion opted out, and went back down over the ridge.

The interesting thing was, we had no way of knowing if he'd gone 'away', or was paralleling just out of sight.

The retreat was silent, but I broke it, quietly, on the way back down, warning about four other hikers of what I'd seen, so they had the option to continue or not.

I of course was bursting with excitement when I got back down into the retreat. But, no talking! but! I wanted to tell Abe who I'd gone there with (we saw each other maybe a dozen times in the entire weekend), but... And guess what, he came trooping by, and I leapt up and mouthed the words. lol Hand to his heart. We did exchange a few words. I was so happy.

And later he came up to me... yep he'd gone up the hill, and, astonishingly, seen the cougar. :-)

 
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I was cycling along. Had just come under the freeway overpass. And at the far end, in the new sunlight, a flock of turkeys began to cross the road. One at a time, single file. So I waited while 15 turkeys crossed the road. It seemed the polite thing to do.

Saw signs of the wild pigs down from the hills; crazed rototilling of the green land at the edge of the park bordering the reservoir; all dark lumps with their green grass on the wrong side.

Encountering a cougar, at Spirit Rock, was very unlike encountering a bobcat on my local trail. Broad tawny face and focused eyes. The very thought of it enlivens my whole body. Walking back towards the residence halls, not knowing if the cougar was pacing me just on the other side of the ridge.  A vulnerability Californians don't feel too often. Pretty 'wild'. ... Not that being close to a bobcat puts me to sleep. :-)
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A bobcat came bounding across the bicycle trail-lovely to see the body of the cat fully extended, big shoulder and thigh muscles working, pale underbelly long. I managed to follow her train of vision, and saw the fleeing ground squirrel, tail curled up high.

Didn't see the conclusion of the hunt.

A unicorn

Jun. 11th, 2008 03:06 pm
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Indeed. Though of course it's also a deer. Pretty cool!
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/06/11/unicorn-deer-italy.html
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http://www.livescience.com/animals/061116_homosexual_animals.html

Good article, both because it discusses the variety (that is, a sampling of many species) that engage in same sex behavior, and because it mentions how the imposition of homosexual/heterosexual as categories is artificial, and talks about how many scientists don't do the research because they don't even want to be associated with anything smacking of homosexuality (my rephrase ;-) ). Which I find sad.

I also find it sad that the 'findings' in this article are supposed to be somehow new. For decades now, assorted sciences have discussed the many uses of non-reproductive sex (heck this article doesn't even get to all of the proposed uses, though I celebrate that it mentions pleasure!), as well as variety of behavior and yes gasp intersex/hemaphrodite in the animal kingdom. I am very happy to have this info passed on. That it's 'new' again speaks about the lack of biological science info everywhere, mostly because of the we-dare-not-talk-about-it stigma. Sad again. To say the least.
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On my late morning walk today:

I was on the trail, heading north. Heard a scrabbling; looked down, saw a duck taking a bath in the creek below; not the source. Kept looking. It got closer. After a moment, a doe stuck her head up over the edge of the bank. We looked at each for a good two seconds. I started to take a small step back... she turned and fled. I moved to watch her run, and instead saw a buck bounding away. Very cool! I know they weren't happy... yet I think it was for the best, as late morning was not the time for deer to be heading up into people (and cars) territory.

More and more acorns scatter the paths (as well as [livejournal.com profile] kingwyatt's pool cover). I was talking with a Native American friend (a local tribe) awhile ago, and mentioned I'd always wanted to try acorn flour (yeah I am a nature boy geek from way back). She gave me hot tips on how to short cut the make-it-edible process: Grind the acorns, then run hot water through them in a drip coffee machine a few times (and don't then plan on using that coffee maker for making coffee). I can do that!

So now I look at the acorns. Most are still in the oaks, the same color as the leaves. But more and more fall, ranging in color from light tan to nearly black. I picked up a black one today and it cracked easily... clearly too ripe, judging from the mottled look of the nut. Does it matter how brown the acorns are? Probably not, probably just need to be brown and not green. Mostly, I am probably way over-analyzing. Now just have to figure out if I'm actually gonna harvest acorns. :-)

Meanwhile, back in the building, Taiwan has shipped us blank manual cds (to the customer? we think not), and Ops wants more parts numbers (pubs and marcom say nay)... etc etc.
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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/science/22deep.html?th&emc=th

check out the slide show. Makes me wanna write stories with aliens based on some of these deep sea animals!
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Just had my first taste/chew of sour grass of the season.

It first appeared just about two weeks ago, along with the equally yellow mustard (why are yellow flowers first to bloom here? Why do trees tend towards red/pink/white?) There is only a scattering of each still; it gets very cold at night.

The grass is grows inches each night it seems! Today I walked by about seven ovals pressed into the grass along the path; three sets of two, and one with a third, smaller one of to one side (the right). I am guessing deer, and a fawn (it's amazing how sweet that smaller oval seemed). I could see where the grass was less pressed; easy to imagine forelegs and a chest creating space/less compression.

I've been seeing the flock of turkeys upon occasion. Even took some photos with my phone (someone wanted to know how big they are), but it's a real pain to get the photos OFF of the phone, so that hasn't happened yet. Anyhow. The male stands in the middle of the bike path, all dark feathers and red head. The females graze off to one side, generally down the side of the hill. The male just stands there til I get within about twenty feet, at which point he wanders off to the side away from the flock. I guess distraction is his only defense. It's very cute (says the big, not- hungry-enough-to- leap-on-wild-turkeys predator/scavenger).

It is the hungry time of year. Winter stores about gone, no fruit to be found. The (eco-friendly soda-bottled based) bird feeder I hang at home empties in about two days. The birds sit on the little bar, and squirrels below scavenge their scoot-overs. I'd fill the feeder a lot more often if I had time!

I've been seeing the red tails fairly often lately, as well as the turkey vultures. Flying in their big spirals, calling. Sometimes the crows reply. I keep thinking about a red tail tattoo. Or a peacock feather...

- Which muchly translates into light, really. I noticed today the red dawn was near its conclusion rather than before its very beginning when I looked out the kitchen window, on my way to feed the cat. Huzzah!
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Thanksgiving was good. Worthy of more than I feel like writing right now. :-)

Today, I bicycled on the creek trail near work. It had rained, but the trees kept the trail itself from being too wet, so it was worth going. I got sprinkled on VERY briefly.

Lots of animals are out lately. Smallish white pelicans were hanging out on the reservoir, in addition to the usual waterfowl. Saw a redtail flying about with a fish in its beak! A turkey vulture was circling nearby, maybe lazily hoping the hawk would drop its lunch, but it didn't, so the turkey hawk went on its way.

Then, the strangest thing... I've seen bobcats multiple times on the trail. Today, I saw a black form bound out of the bushes on the parking lot side of the trail, and across, to disappear waterside. The black form looked and moved like a cat, mountain lion sized, rather than bobcat, which is possible, though never sighted down here that I know of. The silence was nearly eerie; the bounds were light and quick and quiet. I guess it must've been someone's big black dog... but it sure didn't seem like it. I don't know of any all black cats (tho yes cougars can be, but then they're panthers, and not living in CA). Mysteeeeerious!

A friend is moving into what I would call shamanic healing. I gave her permission to check me out. She 'saw' a big salamander guide or guardian with me. This is a new one for me! I guess I will see if I can initiate a conversation.
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Not that Harry (though I love Harry Potter, too), Harry Dresden, of the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. The current novel is Dead Beat, book 7 of the Dresden Files.

I still find myself entirely enchanted by this fantasy detective series, and the detective himself. The mixture of whimsy and reality delights me. I like how magic works in this universe; it's purely a power thing (not religious), and has very definite rules. Plus there are ghosts and vampires and all kinds of things that go bump in the night. Harry himself is wonderful self-deprecating, very powerful, yet seemingly young as wizards go. I also think he sounds pretty hot... I like how he's masculine AND has a sense of humor.

I guess the plots and some of the structure aren't exactly groundbreaking. But for often amusing, sometimes heart pounding fun, you can't go wrong with these books.

About the cows (possibly squicky)... Read more... )

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