The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 29th, 2015: Let’s Get Away From It All

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This ought to take your minds off of the insanity of the Republican “presidential hopefuls”, if only for a little while.

The Weather Channel has posted the finalists for its 2015 “It’s Amazing Out There” photo contest. So enjoy some cool photos and forget about Teh Stupid.

Here’s one of last year’s photo finalists, a cool shot taken by Dwayne Kear:
2014 Its Amazing Out There photo submitted by Dwayne Kear

So go ahead, refresh your sense of wonder at something other than jaw-dropping idiocy.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy!

Sunday Roast: Day trip

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The day started a bit hazy…but cleared up nicely.  My eldest likes to take the Otter Crest Loop byway, and in the few minutes it took to get there, the day became crystal clear.

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Photos by Zooey

So it was another beautiful day on the Oregon coast — and there were FAR too many people who agreed with me.

This is our daily open thread — Hey look!  I didn’t forget and posted on time!

The Watering Hole; Friday May 22 2015; Cool Critters v. Clown Car Creepoids

In these days where political insanity seems to rule the world in which we’re stuck, it’s most enjoyable to head out and commune with critters that have never heard the word ‘Wingnut,’ and most certainly would head for the tall weeds if ever they should happen to encounter one — a concept with which I happen to be totally sympathetic.

Ergo, whenever the opportunity shows itself, I grab at the chance to turn my back on the ‘madding crowd’ and head for a more peaceful surround — assuming the weather cooperates, a rare happenstance so far this year (I could make some sort of snide comment concerning the science of climate change, but won’t because I don’t want to come across as really arrogant).

So here are a couple of critters that share the lake with the local flock of Canadian Geese. First up is what I’m guessing to be a Western Painted Turtle. He likes to hang out on an old bleached beaver-felled log that lies in the shallows very near the shore. He’s a fairly good sized fella, shell about 12″ in diameter, plus or minus one or two. He’s also a very peaceful dude; was sprawled on the same log on both days last week that we spotted him. We watched him for close to a half-hour each day, and he was the most statuesque critter I’ve ever seen — never moved a single muscle.

Beckwith turtle 1197Beckwith turtle 1227In the turtle’s general neighbood we spotted this other fellow as well. S/he is one half of a mating pair of Great Blue Herons which appear to have set up houskeeping at the lake this year. At least they’ve been hanging around for several weeks — time will tell if they choose to settle in. They are, however, very elusive, very secretive, and quite skilled at avoiding people. I got lucky with this one — spotted it standing near the shore a hundred yards or so distant. Fortunately, the camera’s 60X zoom was ready and willing to do its job!

Great Blue Heron 1192In the immortal words of Robert Burns,

“Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

That’s a very fair summation of what rolls about in the back of my mind every time I leave “we the people” behind and venture out for a mingle with the Higher Animals. The main downside to the whole process is the inevitable return to “civilization” and all of the noise that keeps it operational. Such as current political news, even little tidbits thereof. I think it was just yesterday morning, for example, when I heard that Rick Perry is going to announce on June 3rd or thereabouts that he’s decided to become the first Presidential candidate in US history to enter the race while under criminal indictment. WOW! He’s also just recently made it clear that nobody will worry about jade helm-type conspiracy theories when HE is president. Double WOW! For some odd reason, those two headlines, along with recollections of his brief candidacy in 2012 B.G. (Before Glasses),  reminded me of an old joke which, if based on genuine fact, would explain a lot of that WOW stuff:

A few decades back, a Texas family – mom, dad, and son – moved to another state. Come fall, mom and dad enrolled their son in first grade in the local school and told him that from the first day onward they wanted to hear all about what school was like, how things were going, etc. Dad said, “Son, always remember one thing: we’re from TEXAS and proud of it! And being from Texas means we got a heads up on everybody else, cause that’s what happens when you’re born in TEXAS!”

Son nodded and smiled. “Yes, daddy, I know. We’re from TEXAS!”

Over supper the night after the boy’s first day in school, dad asked, “So, son, how was school today? What’s it like?”

“It was ok, daddy. We all got told by the teacher where we should sit and I’m in the front row! Then she asked if anybody knew the alphabet and I raised my hand and she called on me, had me go to the blackboard and write it out, and I did! And I got all the letters wrote just right and teacher said I was the only one in first grade that ever knew all the alphabet on the first day! Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, son, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS!”

The next night at supper, daddy asked again how school went. The boy smiled big and said, “It went great, daddy. Today the teacher asked if anybody could count all the way to twenty, and I raised my hand and she had me stand up and do it, and I done it! She was really happy, cause most kids can’t even count to ten and get it right. Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS, son.”

On the third night, daddy again asked the boy how school went.

“Well daddy, today we went to the gym and they gave us shorts and a shirt to wear when we learnt how to do exercisins on the gym floor.”

“How’d you do, son?” Daddy asked.

“Oh, I done good. But afterwards we all had to take a shower get cleaned up afore we went back to class, and in the shower I noticed that all them boys had little bitty weenies compared to me.” The son paused, then asked, “Why is that, daddy? Is that cause I’m from Texas?”

Daddy thought a minute, then finally said, “No, son. It’s because you’re seventeen.”

The following year the Perry family moved back to the cotton farm in TEXAS.

Yep, that would pretty much define the Rick Perry with which I’m familiar. And I should add that while I’m definitely NOT a Democrat who has ‘sold my soul’ for immigrant votes (in spite of what one of the potential Clown Car Creepoids proclaims), it remains a FACT that I’d happily vote for either a turtle of a Great Blue Heron — immigrant or native, no worries —before I’d vote for ANYONE in said Clown Car!

Ok, that’s enough for now. The OPEN THREAD  is now . . . ummm . . . open.

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 21 2015; “Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections,
predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal.
Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

Alfred A. Montapert

About two weeks ago, I posted here a series of ten photos, taken on May 2 and 3, of a Canadian Goose “family” which included three newly hatched goslings, probably out on one of their very first forays into their new world.

3 sibling goslins 1126-cr

Then a week ago and for no apparent reason, those three little guys were nowhere to be seen. I noted here our fears that the “odds against them being somewhere — even in the nest — unsupervised are quite high. Dare we hope? In any case, time will tell if they’re still around or gone for good. We do intend to keep a close eye on the situation and will report back if anything happens to pop up.”

Later that same day, fellow bird-watcher Woody-the-Goose-Guy stopped by late in the afternoon to say he’d spotted the little ones in another corner of the lake. So last weekend when the weather finally cleared up long enough for us to go take a look, we got lucky. There they were!

Here’s the “family” as of May 16, pretty close to exactly two weeks since the goslings first left the nest (note that the newbies have grown a bit in those two weeks — apparently there’s adequate chow available!).

Goose and goslings 1231Goose family 1235Goslings 1237crGeese & gosling 1233Goose family 1245So all is well, at least with what appears to be the ONLY local Canadian Goose family that has managed to reproduce this year, and that’s out of an overall population where potential mating pairs likely number in the hundreds. Also curious, there are only three goslings; usually in years past the number is typically more like six, maybe seven goslings per family. So what’s up with that?

I asked Woody-the-Goose-Guy the same question, and he explained that “they” (Homo sapiens sapiens) who monitor and control the local goose population are sending their people out during spring nesting season with instruction to locate eggs and coat them with vegetable oil. That prevents the embryos from developing (by disallowing the eggs to “breathe”), and when most eggs don’t hatch there are obviously going to be far fewer goslings and, as a result, far less goose crap on the lake’s paved walkway come late summer/early fall — which means far less complaining by people who are offended by goose crap. Problem solved. More or less. Humans are SO clever, aren’t we?

One thing I have to wonder when I ponder these human-inspired “lower” animal birth control agendas is highlighted by this pair of recent ‘headline’ links:

Trent Franks: 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Make Americans Realize Legal Abortion Is Like Slavery

Anti-Choice Leader Admits Rape Exceptions Are ‘Political,’ Goal Is To Outlaw All Abortion ‘From Conception’

So “fundamentally” it’s OK to control birth rates in (and numbers of) every other species of life on the planet, but it’s NOT permissible to allow the same or similar privilege to fellow humans? Why the difference? Just curious.

Stephen Jay Gould once wrote,

“The fundamentalists, by ‘knowing’ the answers before they start examining evolution, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science —
or of any honest intellectual inquiry.”

I think I agree.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 14 2015; Of Geese and Goofs

The day was Monday, May 11, 2015. Springtime, right? I was up early, and when I first looked out the window this is what I saw: the endpoint of an overnight snowstorm, some five, maybe six inches of heavy wet stuff. Looked like the middle of January out there, and certainly not like a happy time for springtime’s nesting bird life. Early AM snow May 11 1161A few hours later the temp had climbed into the low forties, and the clouds had begun to break up, revealing this view of the Front Range where, according to reports, as much as two feet of snow had fallen. Mojada breaking clouds 1181The following day, the PM temps returned to the low seventies where they typically reside this time of year. That afternoon, we decided to take a walk around the local lake, see if we could again spot the Canadian Goose family that had been busily exploring its corner of the lake during the week before the storms came.  The photo below was taken on May third, very near the day the goslings first left the nest to explore their new world. Goose family 1126So on Tuesday the twelfth we returned to their corner of the world and eventually spotted the mating pair of Canadians (Branta canadensis) relaxing near the shore of a small island that lies about a hundred yards out. They were, as usual, in the company of the only remaining pair of Chinese geese (Anser anser domesticus) in the lake’s current goose colony. 4 geese 1183In the photo above, note the absence of goslings — they were nowhere to be seen, which is most unusual as the days approach the middle of May. Where were they? Normally if they were nearby, either the Canadian mating pair or the Chinese geese would be supervising, watching carefully. Such was clearly not the case, so the first assumption was that something had gone awry. Were they victims of the sudden snowstorm? The recent weather had certainly been goofy enough to be assumed a possible threat to days-old chicks. Or maybe a fox stopped by? Or a cougar? Dog? Feral cat? Take your pick. One thing I did notice — later in the day while reviewing the above photo — was what appeared to be a battle wound of some sort on the neck of the white Chinese goose: Chinese goose neck injury 1183Chinese geese are a popular domestic breed, well-known to be an efficient watchdog that is typically very noisy when anything unusual is around. In this local semi-wild setting, the two of them are always and invariably in the company of their Canadian ‘friends.’ They are, in fact, extremely protective of Canadian goslings. They seem to watch from a distance, but whenever another critter pops up in the neighborhood (humans included) they immediately start honking loudly as they hurry over to offer whatever help might be needed. My first glance at the neck wound above, therefore, definitely made me wonder if maybe the goslings had indeed “gotten got” by one or another of our furry critter locals. The odds against them being somewhere — even in the nest — unsupervised are quite high. Dare we hope? In any case, time will tell if they’re still around or gone for good. We do intend to keep a close eye on the situation and will report back if anything happens to pop up.

Meanwhile, back to the human world where the idiocy continues unabashed, as evidenced in these few recent headlines:

Poll: One-Third Of Republicans Think Obama Wants To Invade Texas

Conservative Pundit: ‘Major Outbreak Of Violence’ Against Obama Administration Imminent

And finally, this absolute GEM!

Beck: Free Community College Is A Government Plot To Enslave People Through Student Loan Debt

OPEN THREAD

Sunday Roast: Happy Mother’s Day

Mom on a pony

Awwww, it’s my Mom… on a tiny pony.  She looks to be about three years old, which dates this photo to the WWII years.

I’ve always wondered about this photo — why was such a photo taken, when her parents weren’t country people?  They lived in the big city of Cleveland, Ohio!  Then I remember that, of my maternal grandmother’s many pregnancies, my Mom was her only living child.  So when the opportunity arose to put her only baby girl on the back of a pony for a photo-op, you know that was totally happening.

I never met my maternal grandparents — my grandmother having died of breast cancer when my Mom was 13, and my grandfather having died suddenly when Mom was in her last year of high school — but I like to think they were nice people.  She didn’t talk about them much.  They gave her a good foundation, and she made the best of it.  Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do?  Especially on a shortened time frame…

Miss you bunches, Mom.

This is our daily open thread — Call your Mom!  Or spend time with happy memories.

The Watering Hole; Friday May 8 2015; First Day In The Life Of . . .

Around these parts at the foot of Colorado’s Front Range, the first week in May is the typical time of year when Canadian Goose (Branta canadensis) chicks first show up on the scene. I’m not sure exactly which day they actually hatch, but this year the very first little guys out of the nest appeared on the afternoon of May 2, and though there were only three in the company of their parental mating pair, they were each and all very busily exploring their new world, learning the ropes, etc.

Following is a series of ten photos which I assume pretty much portrays various moments of the goslings’ first full day of real life outside the egg and beyond the nest. No need for captions, the images themselves pretty much tell the familial tale.

Goose family 1084Goose family cr 1085Goose and goslings 1092Gosling 10983 sibling goslins 1126-crGosling pair 1133Gosling 1136Goslings 1143Chow time 1112Sack time 1118Party’s over, but tomorrow’s another day! Yay!                                   (all photos by frugal)

OPEN THREAD