Thursday, April 30, 2015

Clouds and Amazing Animals

 I took photo's of deteriorating buildings on a beautifully cloudy day. 

  I am currently reading a book about animals which led me to learn about an interesting animal character: David Greybeard. I love his name! David Greybeard was the first chimpanzee to let Jane Goodall observe him. One thing amazing that Jane Goodall observed David Greybeard do was that he used a tool to retrieve termites from a termite hill. Before this, people thought one of the things that made us unique from animals was that we make and use tools. But it turns out we are not alone in this skill. Sometimes it seems like people are too invested in finding the things that make us different from animals, often in the attempt to prove humans superiority to animals. But it seems as we learn more about animals, we learn either that they are similar to us in more ways than imagined, or we learn about their superiority. For example, raccoons have an amazing sense of touch. There paws have a hyper-sensitive sense of touch. Their paws are protected with a thin, horny layer that when wet is pliable. They are able to understand an object with their sense of touch in a way that humans understand objects by looking at them. The way they understand the world is even more amazing then just their hypersensitive paws. They can sense objects before they even touch them because of hair or whiskers called vibrassae located above their claws. Cats whiskers are another example of vibrassae. Whiskers are used for tactile understanding of the world.
   Another example of an animals with amazing abilities that we lack are bats. Some bats use echolocation to understand their world. The bats make sounds that bounce of the objects around them, and from that they can understand the objects through sound alone. And what about the sea star? In some cases, a sea star can have it's limb amputated, and from that amputated limb, it can grow back it's entire body! Basically, the raccoon, bat and sea star have super hero powers. I think it is time for people to just give up on trying to prove their superiority over animals. Anyhow, it is more fun to live in a world where everyone is amazing, rather than just humans.


Information about David Greybeard: "Kasakela Chimpanzee Community" Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 27 April 2015. Web. 30 April 2015.<>

Information about Raccons: "Racoon" OneKind. 2010. Web. 30 April 2015.

Information about Whiskers: "Whiskers" Wikipedia:The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 February 2015. Web. 30 April 2015.

Information about Bats: "Fact Sheet Bats" Defenders of Wildlife. 2015. Web. 30 April 2015.

Information about Sea Star: "Starfish (Sea Star)" National Geographic. 1996-2015. Web. 30 April 2015.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cherry Blossoms and Dinosaurs

   One Spring day, I walked around my neighborhood and took pictures of all the beautiful cherry blossoms. After the gloom, gray and bare branches of Winter, cherry blossoms are quite a wonderful treat.

   Besides the reemergence of flowers in the world, there is more exciting news I've heard recently. After years of persuading the world that the Brontosaurus never existed, experts may have finally relented. The Brontosaurus existed after all! Well, at least some paleontologists believe so.
    The Brontosaurus, a charmer of a dinosaur who's good qualities include it's long neck, appreciation for plants, enormous size and fun-to-say name, has always been one of my favorite dinosaurs. And it's not just me, the Brontosaurus has long been a favorite prehistoric creature of wide-eyed and wonder-filled children everywhere. But, along with the loss of innocence comes the stark 'truth' that the Brontosaurus should be shuffled to the side along with unicorns and Easter bunnies. Instead, we were all told to be happy with the Apatosaurus. The Apatosaurus isn't all bad. But after a childhood of high-regard for the mighty Brontosaurus, the Apatosaurus feels like a second rate compensation of a dinosaur with a name the inspires the imagination to halt.
 A long time ago, scientists mulled over the fossil evidence and decided the Brontosaurus was too similar to the Apatosaurus to be considered a separate and unique dinosaur. Because the Brontosaurus name came second, the paleontologists kept the name Apatosaurus and left behind the name Brontosaurus. But now, a team of true dinosaur heroes, led by scientist Emanuel Tschopp from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, have done an intensive scientific investigation that is chalk full of evidence that the Brontosaurus was indeed a real creature! We may never have Pluto back in the ranks of 'planet', but maybe we will finally have the Brontosaurus back in the ranks of true dinosaur! 

(Information about the reinstating of Brontosaurus as a real dinosaur found at: Brusatte, Stephen. " Why Brontosaurus Is No Longer A Dirty Word For Dinosaur Hunters" IFLScience! April 7th, 2015. Web.  April 22nd, 2015.) 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Honest to Goodness

Here is a picture I finished recently.

  Honest to goodness, this strange creature survives on sunshine and flounders.

  It happened a long time ago. The bees came in massive swarms and covered the sea with pollen. For a hundred years, the sea swirled with pollen, and when the pollen cleared, the creatures in the sea were different. They were no longer just animals, but they were plants too. Every Spring the animals blossomed and bloomed. Every Summer, they soaked in the sunlight. Every Fall they withered and every Winter the animals were bare and dreary, waiting in anticipation for the sun to return. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rain in the Woods

  Living in Washington State, one must learn not to let the rain deter them from outdoor adventuring. Here are some pictures from a rainy day hike. It wasn't just sprinkling either, it was pouring! But it was fun wandering though the woods on a rainy day. The poor weather made the woods seem extra atmospheric and gloomy. A place full of mystery!

   Part of what makes the forest feel full of mystery is that it looks like it could be full of mysterious creatures. The only animals we saw on our hike were birds and a dog that was with a fellow hiker. I love seeing animals on hikes, unless it is a brutal or intimidating animal such as a mountain lion! I am reading a book right now about animals called "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin. I am currently reading the section on wild animals and I just read interesting facts about mountain lions. Mountain lions are especially scary predator animals to me because I live with an adorable, yet feisty gray kitty. My little guy could do a lot of damage if he tried and he is just a small house cat. I can't imagine what he could do if he had the strength and size of a mountain lion!  
   The book tells the story of a jogger's mangled body discovered in 1991. On witnessing the body, police thought they had an evil serial killer in their midst... the type of grotesque serial killer you'd read about in a disturbing mystery novel. The body  did not look like the careless savagery of a hungry animal. The horrible death looked more thought-out and purposeful. But it turns, out the poor jogger's death was due to a mountain lion. 
   In the past, people thought that mountain lions didn't kill people because it had not happened in such along time. In 1991 when the joggers body was discovered, there hadn't been any known mountain lion deaths for over 100 years. At that point, more people were probably dying in the woods from tripping and falling off the mountain rather than actual mountain lions. But something was changing in the mountain lion community. They no longer stayed in the darkened corners of the forest but were exploring further into common human habitats. The mountain lions behavior started changing because they were learning something new. They were learning that humans could be prey. According to Temple Grandin, it is our behavior that is leading to the mountain lions change in behavior. We are acting like prey when we go jogging through the woods. People use to walk in the woods, but jogging in the woods is much more common now then it use to be. When mountain lions see humans acting like prey (running away), it triggers there predator instinct.  This makes a lot of sense! It shows once again how much our actions impacts animals. And although I will always be nervous about mountain lions, discoveries about their inner thinking like Grandin's actually makes them less scary. They are not malicious when attacking humans, they are responding to some deeper instinctual urge. It is their urge to stalk prey that has led to their survival as a species. 
(Information about mountain lions learned from this source: Grandin, Temple and Catherine Johnson. Animals Make Us Human. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print. Pages 247-248)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Searching for Hobos by a Modern Day Railroad

    Here's a group of pictures I took all in the same area near the railroad.
    I use to think it would be fun to be a 1930's style hobo. The way I imagined hobo lifestyle is that you get to jump aboard a moving train and let it take you wherever it might go. It would be a grand adventure full of exciting surprises. While on the train, there's lot a wanderer can do. You can stare off through the open train door and day dream while the scenery passes you. You can make songs using flimsy but beautiful old guitars and banjos with your other hobo friends. If I were a hobo, I'd want to travel with a dog companion. The dog companion would be a fellow traveler who I met while train hopping. Of course, the real, non-romanticized hobo lifestyle was probably quite different. It would definitely be full of adventure, but it would also be scary, stressful and dangerous. It is more fun to think of living in the romanticized version of any historical era. Think about the medieval era! The romanticized version of castles, dragons and unicorns is way more exciting then having to worry about the plague and not living in a place with plumbing. 

  I remember hearing a long time ago that the word 'hobo' was short for hoe boy, because hobos would carry hoes around with them while looking for work. On Wikipedia, it says that the word also may have derived from a greeting of "Ho Beau" which was a railroad greeting. Another theory is it could be an abbreviation of homeward bound. Whatever it's origins, it is a fun word to say: has a nice bouncing beat to it. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Jellyfish Brings Lana Gifts From The Sea Man

  Here is a new illustration I made of Lana and The Sea Man. 

    A long time ago, Lana was on holiday by the seashore. After a day of eating salt water taffy and chowder in bread bowls, Lana wandered to the edge of a wharf to watch the sunset. It was a spectacular sight, watching the sky illuminated with orange and red and pink. She felt so peaceful as she watched the colorful lapping water slowly fade to dark. After the sunset, Lana decided that she should head back toward the stability of land. Even though the moon was full, it was hard to see. Lana tripped over an anchor and went flying off the edge of the wharf. She plummeted downward and landed in the water. It seemed like the ocean floor was a living entity, a monster with many arms. The kelp seemed alive as it wrapped it's slimy limbs around Lana. Lana thrashed and tried to move back toward the air. She could see the moon like a bright bulb wavering above her. But she couldn't move toward it. But then she saw a strange figure in the murky water. It was a strange sea man. He tore the kelp free from Lana. The Sea Man grabbed her around the waste and swam her back up to shore. Lana got a wonderful breath of air, just in the nick of time!

  When Lana told her story, no one believed her. She didn't mind their disbelief or their pity. She knew that somewhere under the sea lived a kind sea man. She waited at the end of the wharf for weeks afterward in hopes she would see The Sea Man. She never saw him, though. But as the years went by, it was her greatest regret that she never properly thanked The Sea Man.
  Years later, Lana lived by the ocean. She had befriended all the local seals. Her closest seal friend was a kindly lass named Jolly. After hearing Lana's story, Jolly offered to take Lana out to the sea to further search for The Sea Man.

  But there was something Lana did not know. When sea men are sea children, they don't look at all like small versions of their grown up form, like land humans. When The Sea Man was a child, he looked like a common starfish. One day, an especially large wave knocked him from the sea and onto the hot sand, with the sun simmering above him. The Sea Man could feel the sun leach the moisture from his limbs. He was slowly drying up and dying. But then a young girl came toward him and picked him up. The young girl inspected the starfish with much curiosity. She saw that the creature that she though was a starfish was dying. She ran toward the ocean with starfish creature cradled in her arms. Just as the water was being sucked back toward the rest of the sea, the young girl tossed the starfish creature back into the water. The Starfish Sea Man was returned to the water with no time to spare. The girl, who of course was Lana, had saved his life.
   So when The Sea Man saw that he had a chance to save Lana's life, he was grateful that he could return the favor. He had always wanted to thank the girl, but didn't know how to. And now that Lana had come searching for him, he sent his jellyfish to give her a gift of thanks. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Adventures in Gardening

   Last year, I had my very first fruit and veggie garden. It was very exciting to see my plants start off as tiny little things and then grow, grow and grow until they were producing food that I could eat!
Here is what I grew:
  • Strawberries. One of the most delicious fruits ever! My plant only produced small, mutated looking fruit, but it was exciting!
  • Cucumbers. The cucumbers were delicious. However, I did learn that you should not let them hang out on the plant too long or they will taste quite bitter. Make sure to pick those suckers before they start turning yellow. 
  • Corn. My parents had a couple of veggie gardens when I was a kid, and I remember being delighted by the corn plants. At the time, they grew to be much taller than me which was part of the joy. But they were fun to watch grow as an adult too.
  • Tomatoes. There is no getting around it. Homegrown tomatoes are at least a million times better.
  • Raspberries. I like Raspberries even more than strawberries. Unfortunately, the plant did not produce any actual fruit.
  • Blueberries. My blueberries didn't produce either, but I still have the plant, so maybe I'll get some blueberries this year.
  • Red Bell Pepper. This plant also did not produce.
  • Peas. The peas were delicious!
  • Pumpkin. Two things I remember the most from first grade: having pet silk moth caterpillars and growing my own pumpkin. Based on my fond memories of growing a pumpkin in first grade, I knew I had to try it again. The pumpkin plant was one of the most fun to watch, because it started so small and ended up growing super long. It stretched out at least ten feet from the base of the plant. It was fun having a home grown pumpkin during Halloween and eating homegrown roasted pumpkin seeds. 
  • Watermelon. I almost forgot about the watermelon plant because it died almost immediately. Maybe Seattle isn't  the right climate for watermelons. I was pretty disappointed since watermelons are some of the most delicious fruits in all existence. 

I also had a separate herb garden in which I grew basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and dill.

Here are pictures of my plants in action.

  This year, I live in a new apartment. I love my new apartment, but one of the few downsides is that I no longer have a spot to have a small garden. But I've learned there are other ways to grow food in a small scale fashion. For Christmas, I got David a mushroom growing kit in which the grower grows there very own, edible mushrooms. Here it is in action! Part of the fun is watching the mushrooms grow so rapidly from day to day.

   Now that it is Spring, I have other idea's for small scale edible growing. I am thinking of starting a miniature herb garden. Something else I've always wanted to try is growing sprouts. A friend of mine did this in college, and she grew delicious sprouts. She grew them in a big jar underneath her sink. I remember being very impressed by her sprout growing skills. But now that I have a whole vegetable garden under my belt, I think it is time to try growing some sprouts in the kitchen.