One of my favorite things during our time in Oregon was visiting the Zoo Lights. I used to visit zoos regularly. During college, I had a zoo membership with a guest pass; trips to the zoo were a fun distraction from studying (and sometimes in addition to studying when I went for class!).
My parents have a zoo membership, and we decided to visit. Not all the animals are visible during the zoo lights, so we visited a little early to check out a few exhibits. One of the highlights of the night was getting to see a 3 year old baby elephant at the zoo! I also got to see my favorite duck, the bufflehead:
By far, though, was the magic of seeing all the decorations. The zoo was much more decked out than it has been in years past. I only took a few pictures -- light conditions were challenging -- but I wish I could have taken many more. Definitely worth a visit.
Winter is approaching here in the Great Frozen North, and that has been abundantly obvious in our house. After last year's mild winter, we're not quite as prepared as usual. This year, for the first time in our 2-some years in our apartment, we have had mice.
I suspect it will be a cold winter, because the mice have never visited before. We used to think that Lucy, our cat, just did an excellent job keeping the mice away. Now, we know that she is not a good mouser. We were storing bird seed in a bag in our hall closet, and I cleaned out the closet to discover evidence of the little nibblers. I might further add that mice are my second least favorite visitors after rats. I don't mind mice outdoors, but they don't belong in my house.
I have since put the bird seed into a bin and set traps in the closet. We moved the stove and stuffed steel wool in a hole there, but we were still catching mice in the closet trap. Ahh, the sink, we thought. I'll post this in a separate post (the pictures are on my phone), but our sink had a huge, gaping hole. We got maintenance to completely fix the sink, but still the mice were entering.
The last frontier? The fridge! We moved the fridge, and we discovered that the access panel for our bathroom plumbing was behind there. The board was only loosely duct-taped against the wall. Not effective for mouse prevention.
Matt has since screwed the board into the wall, and we haven't seen evidence of a mouse since. I'm hoping that was the last hole, but we continue to keep the closet trap set, just in case. And that's all the news from small-town Minnesota, at least for tonight.
Perhaps I am the only one who has never seen this, but I am compelled to share Calming Manatee with you all. It is lovely.
I first discovered manatees in third grade. Linda Vondra, my excellent teacher, made us write a weekly report. The report had to be on a composer, artist, or animal. As I recall, she hung up a picture of each every week, and we had to pick which report we'd do. I learned so much that year.
While I have moved on to loving other animals most, the manatee still holds an early claim on my heart. I am powerless to resist their sweet, docile charm.
Lucy wanted to say hi to the blogosphere, but then she got distracted by a bug on the ceiling. In fall and spring, we get an amazing number of box elder bugs and Asian lady beetles that flood our apartment. Lucy has a fabulous time chasing them, so we try not to worry too much. The only big inconvenience is that our ceiling light fixtures get filled up with fried little bug carcasses, but that's a small price to pay for cat entertainment.
Speaking of cat entertainment, we got our first wedding packages this week. Matt's cousin sent us some lovely dishes from Crate & Barrel. Of course, Lucy greatly enjoyed all the wrapping paper and bubble wrap. We are saving the packing supplies (waste not, want not) for some potential future shipping of some craft items Matt's family members are making. Lucy decided to have some fun dragging bubble wrap around the apartment, so I had to do some more tidying this morning.
In other news, Matt and I have begun to visit the gym again. We renewed our membership starting in November. We have to go 12 times a month, at a minimum, to get partially reimbursed by our health insurance. It's been good to be forced to be active. Tonight, we went to the lap swim. I haven't been properly swimming in ages, but I still managed to stay in the pool for almost 25 minutes slowly plodding my way along. It was wonderful to remember how good the frog stroke (aka breast stroke) feels. I hope we can make pool visits a regular part of our workout plan. Being active definitely helps calm my addled brain.
I've posted a few other things, so I hope none of you think I'm turning into the crazy cat lady. Wait, what am I kidding? I've always been a bit crazy and in love with cats. I can't even fully enumerate how much joy little Lucy brings into our lives.
For example, she loves to help out when we're on the computer. The other day, she also helped me by dialing a friend of mine on the cell phone (still unclear quite how she managed that).
And she exercises her maternal instincts (or her playful instincts?) by pulling our plastic bags out from under the sink and distributing them around the house.
And she absolutely, positively lives to chase bugs (when she isn't bird watching). Who knew that we adopted such a budding naturalist?
A week or so ago, Matt and I picked up a shepherd's hook and a finch feeder. We've had quite a bit of action from chickadees, gold finches, chipping sparrows, and more. The bird book is getting plenty of use. Matt thinks we may have seen a purple finch a time or two.
Surprisingly, Matt and I are not the most avid birders in the household. That award goes to Lucy, who spends hours each day sitting on the back of the couch while observing the wildlife.
She seems content to sit and watch. Lucy does prefer an open window. When she isn't sitting there and hears the birds chirping, she comes running. So far, she doesn't seem to faze the birds. We're hoping to get another type of feeder to attract a wider variety of birds. We live right next to woods and a ravine, so there is plenty of wildlife to go around.
Do any of you feed the birds? What is your favorite bird to watch?
A super wonderful, delightful, and delicious Happy Birthday to my dear dad. I wish I could be there to celebrate with him; one of the hardest things about living in the middle of the country is being so far away from my parents. If I were there, I would bake a pie to celebrate both my dad AND Pi Day (nerd alert, much?).
I did think about my dad on my South Carolina vacation. And for my dad, my first pictures of the vacation will be of something I know he truly loves. I hope you all enjoy! There's a few here and more under the cut. And, yes, I did narrow it down. There's just too many good pictures of this fabulous subject! If you want to see more (or see any of these larger), click on the pic to go to my flickr site.
As I mentioned in the last post, we went up to Lutsen approximately a month ago to go skiing. I'll post a few more pics sometime this week (school has been extra busy!) when I get time. Just want to share a quick pic of a nifty encounter I had. On the second day up on the North Shore (local vernacular for the north shore of Lake Superior), I decided to go cross-country skiing while the rest of our group did a second day of downhill skiing. I drove up to Oberg Mountain, which was 10 or 15 minutes away from the resort we stayed at. On the road, here's what I saw:
For those without eagle eyes, here's a close up:
As I was driving up, I saw two canines jogging up the road ahead of me. At first, I wondered why two dogs were off leash way up in the woods. As I looked closer, I realized that I was seeing wolves! I managed to snap just a few pics, and this was the best of the bunch. So beautiful.