Saturday Surprise — Beards, Beards, Beards!!!

Hey folks!  Here it is, the weekend once again.  I have something fun in store for us today!  We are going to the Great American Beard and Moustache Championship that took place on September 29th in Richmond, Virginia.  Yes, yes, I know that was two weeks ago, but that’s the cool thing about the Filomobile … we can go backward, forward, or whichever ‘-ward’ you wish!  Personally, I like beards on guys and there was a time I wished I had been a guy for that sole purpose – so I could grow a beard.  But some of these beards … well, I have trouble imagining cuddling with some of them. The event is sponsored by the RVA Beard League, of which I’ve never heard, and all proceeds are donated to the Humane Society of the U.S.  Hop aboard and let’s go take a look …

beard-1.png

Beard-2

beard-3.png

Beard-4

beard-5.png

Beard-8

Beard-9

Beard-10

Beard-7

Beard-6

Aarne Bielefeldt

Aarne Bielefeldt took 1st Place in the Freestyle Category.  Last October, Mr. Bielefeldt’s home burned to the ground in the Redwood Complex wildfire that swept through Northern California.  Gone was the barn, the workshop, the garage, the biodiesel generator, the old trucks, the vegetable garden. Gone were the little cabins he’d built himself the old-fashioned way — with hand tools and 27 years of sweat equity.Aarne burnt homeWorse yet: He had no insurance.  He was devastated … but before he knew it, along came his bearded buddies to help, and this humorous piece turns now into part ‘good people doing good things’!

The RVA Beard League in Virginia set up a PayPal donation site. Wisconsin’s Brew City Beard Alliance held a beard contest in Bielefeldt’s honor and gave him the proceeds. In England, the Wessex Beardsmen sold T-shirts with a drawing of Bielefeldt’s face on them. Bartender Mark Beneda, of the Omaha Facial Hair Society, donated a night’s worth of tips.  Billy Braker, of Michigan’s Bearded Sinners club, organized a raffle and sent catnip for Bielefeldt’s cats (I just loved this one!).  Most of Bielefeldt’s tools perished in the fire. So tools the beardsmen sent.  Bryan Nelson, president of the Austin Facial Hair Club, set up a GoFundMe page.

For months, guys from various beard clubs across the country have been driving up to help Bielefeldt rebuild. They fix broken waterlines, repair solar panels, clear debris. They assist Bielefeldt with the gnarliest of the backbreaking tasks.

“Every two weeks, I have two beards show up here with a camper or a trailer. They don’t ask for anything. They drive a distance. They say: ‘We don’t need a guest room. We have our own bathroom.’ They spend some days here and help me.  They helped me with shoveling here, shoveling there. They have taken down endless burned trees.”

Awesome camaraderie and a great bunch of people, even if their beards are rather strange.  Just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover or a man by his beard.  I must say, though, that I don’t think I would risk cuddling with some of those beards … a few looked positively lethal!

Well, folks, I hope you enjoyed our trip the the Great American Beard and Moustache Championship and seeing the fun facial fur!  And now, get out there and enjoy the weekend!  Weekend

 

 

 

Saturday Surprise — Weighing In

emocleW ot eht DNEKEEW  …

Let me try that again …

Welcome to the WEEKEND!  I seem to be a bit dysfunctional this morning … a bit backward.  But anyway, finally we have survived the muck of the past week and can now take a few deep breaths and try to find some fun in our lives, yes?  You guys have big plans?  No?  Me either … going to try to get some spring cleaning done on Saturday while daughter Chris has a band commitment out of town.  I’m in the mood to minimize, so I may need to call for a Goodwill truck to come pick up what I pitch!

A few nights ago, I came across a series of fun pictures titled How to Weigh Baby Animals, and I saved it for today, because a) you know how I adore critters, and b) it is the perfect way to put a smile on your faces to begin the weekend!

There are a couple of ways to weight a baby cheetah …

 

It takes a special kind of person to weigh a baby giraffe … one that doesn’t mind getting on the scale himself!giraffe

This little guy doesn’t need any help …

hedgehog.gif

Here’s how the baby jaguar and koala get weighed …

 

The koala is heavier than he looks!  And how about weighing a baby lemur … isn’t he too adorable?

lemur

And how about weighing a baby meerkat and orangutan?

 

That orangutan looks about like I feel this morning!  Are you smiling yet?  You know I just had to include a baby panda, didn’t you?

panda

He’s just a-chillin’ … not worried ’bout nuthin.  This baby penguin looks a mite confused, but I am glad I’m not the one to have to lift that baby porcupine in and out …

 

This red panda doesn’t seem to mind too much …

red panda

And the river otter seems to think the whole thing is pretty funny …

river otter

The man weighing this baby zebra looks like under the smile he is in some pain … I think I may see why …

zebra

And last, but not least … how does one weigh a baby aardvark???  Watch …

I really, really hope I’ve helped bring a smile to your face this morning.  Now go out there and have a wonderful weekend, okay?weekend

💥 Saturday And Wednesday Collided 💥

Is it Saturday?  Or is it Wednesday?  There seems to have been a collision on this blog of Saturday and Wednesday … what shall we call it?  Satnesday?  Wedurday?  Friday evening, I was pondering whether to even do a Saturday Surprise post, as my heart truly wasn’t into it.  The blue light began flashing on my phone, indicating a private message from a Facebook friend who sent me a link that he ‘thought I might find interesting’.  I did, and my initial reaction was to flag it for Wednesday’s ‘Good People’ post, but as I was trolling news and pondering deep things like whether to have another cup of coffee or not, the article kept popping back into my head.  And then a thought hit me … this is such a heartwarming story about such a beautiful person … and we are all in need of something happy after this past week … so … who says I can’t feature a ‘good person’ for Saturday Surprise?  After all, it’s my blog and I can do what I want with it, yes?  The only rule about Saturday Surprise is no politics!  And so … without rambling any longer, please allow me to introduce you to a great man, Mr. Todd Kirnan!

Todd was born in 1972, and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with autism.  His mother was abusive, frequently tying him to his crib for hours at a time. Eventually the law intervened and Todd spent time in foster care before his father, then separated from his mother, assumed custody.  Now Todd lives in the town of Gresham, Oregon, population 111,523, where he is known to all as Mr. Gresham.  For twenty-plus years, Todd has dedicated his life to doing little things in the town to help out small business owners and others.  He delivers coffee and food, makes trips to the post office, empties trash cans, and other odd jobs, but most of all what he gives is smiles and hugs.  He spends some twelve hours a day meandering the downtown streets of Gresham, seeing if there is anything he can do to help merchants.

Todd now lives with his younger sister, Suzette Rackley, who says of her brother, “Todd is really miraculous. He is the love of everyone’s life.”todd-with-sister-e1538196166915.pngTodd attended special education classes at Gresham High School, where he became best friends with Shane Bemis, who was serving as a student-aide to the special ed classes. Bemis became a mentor for Todd, who says, “Shane would always stick up for me against bullies.” Today, Shane Bemis is the mayor of Gresham and he and Todd remain friends.todd-with-mayor.pngThe reason this story is in the news today is that last week, the town of Gresham threw a parade in Todd’s honour, culminating in the unveiling of a Todd Kirnan statue!  Right on main street!  Hundreds of people turned out …

the-crowd-e1538196643459.png

Just look at the crowd that turned out to honour Todd!!!

Well, y’know what?  I am going to let you see for yourself … this is a short clip, and it is so very heartwarming … Gronda, get your tissues!

I think that Todd Kirnan is the antidote to the week we’ve just had, and I also think the townspeople of Gresham deserve a round of applause, for they are some pretty special people. This, my friends, is what ‘community’ is all about.  I hope you all enjoyed meeting Todd and the good people of Gresham, Oregon!  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Saturday Surprise — Italy!!!

Well, folks, we’ve survived yet another week and starting a brand new weekend! And … today is the first day of FALL!  🍂 It’s been a week, alright, and I’m half tempted to bury my laptop and phone in the backyard for a few days, just to have some peace, but we all know that won’t happen.  But for this morning, we will step back from all the angst … in fact, let’s just leave the country for a bit and head somewhere different.  How does Italy 🇮🇹 sound to you?

Hop aboard the Filo-mobile, for we are heading to Montecatini Terme in the province of Pistoia, Tuscany, in central Italy.  The town is best known for its spa, but that is not where we are going today … for we have but a short time, and who wants to waste it sitting in smelly ol’ water twiddling their thumbs?  Instead, we are going to ride the funicular railway to the medieval village of Montecatini Alto. funicular-1The funicular was inaugurated on June 4 1898. Celebrities, including famed opera star Giuseppe Verdi, attended the grand opening. The celebrated attraction ran safely up until September 2, 1944, when retreating soldiers set off explosives that damaged parts of the tracks. Service didn’t resume until 1949.

The funicular closed again in the 1970s. It reopened again in 1982 and has been continually charming passengers ever since. Take a ride in one of the classic red cars, and you can sit upon rustic wooden benches or stand on the balcony to take in amazing views of Tuscany’s countryside.funicular-2.pngWave!  Just a short ten-minute trip … look at that view! Breathtaking, isn’t it?breathtakingAnd here we are … the village of Montecatini Alto!  Let’s take a stroll down the streets of this ancient village, shall we?  At one time there were gates all along these walls, with a “porta” or door corresponding to each one of roads that entered into the castle. Today many of these roads bear the name of the door or gate. Some of the 25 towers have remained, built into more modern structures such as the main square, S. Maria a Ripa’s convent or the bell tower of the church and the fortress.village wallsSee that clock tower in the back?  That’s the De’ Lemmi Tower, one of the more interesting towers with a 19th century clock in the style of “Roman Clock” with only 6 numbers on the face. Here you will see displayed 12, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.De' LemmiAnd lets pop into this café for a cup of coffee before we head to our next destination, shall we?  Now wasn’t that a peaceful place to be … I already feel better.villageWell, there are still several things I want to see here in Italy before we head back, so let’s go to Cappanori, for there is a tree I want to show you.  Yes, Joe, I said a tree.  Yes, I know you have trees in your backyard, but not like this tree!

oak-of-the-witches

Oak of the Witches

According to one local legend, witches once gathered at the 600-year-old oak. They danced wildly atop its gnarled branches, transforming the plant into a stage for their chants and ceremonies. Supposedly, their rituals stunted the tree’s growth and warped its shape, causing it to reach outward rather than upward.witches-oakThe old oak inspired another story, too, this one more familiar to children around the world. Carlo Collodi once sat beneath its behemoth branches while penning several chapters of The Adventures of Pinocchio. It inspired the scenes where the famous puppet meets the Cat and the Fox and where he is later rescued by the Blue Fairy after being hung. As such, one of the tree’s other names is Quercia di Pinocchio (Pinocchio’s Oak). Now, it just so happens that within this area there are other sites related to the story of Pinocchio.  And since, for some strange reason I seem to have a fixation with Pinocchio these days, let’s go visit them!pinocchio-park-1Welcome to Collodi, home of Pinocchio Park!   Although Disney’s version from 1940 featured the same basic premise as the original, Collodi’s Pinocchio was a dark fantasy tale that presented an entirely different world than the story that was embraced by families and children throughout the 20th century.

In 1951, the concept of creating a monument to Pinocchio was presented, and 84 artists from around Italy submitted works for approval. Although only a few were chosen, the Pinocchio Park was born. In 1956, the park opened its doors, featuring a wide range of artistic expressions of the classic story. As the park evolved, artists added a number of mediums, working with mosaics, statuary and even fountains.

The most popular work in the park is the fountain of the Terrible Dogfish, a creature envisioned by Collodi and portrayed as a whale in the Disney film.pinocchio-whaleAnd last, but not least, I want to show you one more thing before we begin our journey home.  Here in Collodi, stands the tallest wooden Pinocchio in the world! tallest-pinocchio-1He stands 63-feet-tall, and this statue is very special.  Constructed in 2008, it is dedicated to the UN convention on the rights of a child, an international human rights treaty that protects, among other things, the cultural rights of children. The occasion was marked with a written call for the European Constitution to include the principles from UN Declaration of Children’s Rights, particularly its concerns about education and culture.tallest-pinocchio-2Well, folks, it is time to say ‘good-bye’, or more appropriately addio, to Italy, for it is Saturday morning and I know you all have plans.  But we will be back!  I love Italy, don’t you?  I hope you all had fun today … I certainly did!  And to keep you occupied on the journey home, here’s a bit of fun …

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Jolly Takes Over

Hey Y’all!  It’s me, Jolly!

jollyGwammie got stuck in a wabbit hole dis week, and she tol’ me since I keep disappearin’, it’s my turn to write Saturday Surprise ‘cause she ain’t here to write it.  I tol’ her not to eat so much an’ she wouldn’t get stuck … but does she listen?

So anyways … I found dese funny aminals tonite an’ I bet you’ll laugh!  I even maked up some o’ da captions!  Captions is words at da bottom o’ da picture, in case ye dinna know.

Owl

Whooooo … Me???

lions

Not tonight dear, I’ve got a headache

mooses

So there!  pbthhhhh

komodo.jpg

“Shall we dance”, said one komodo dragon to the other

bear

I know it’s in here somewhere …

lemur

You DON’T SAY!!!

squirrel

Step away from the nuts and nobody gets hurt … Step BACK!!!

deer.jpg

I’m WAAAAAY taller den you!

owls

Stop me if I’m boring you …

deer-2.jpg

WHOA Dude!

bird

I’m so ashamed …

elephant

Ha ha ha ha ha … they’ll never find it here!

jollyDat’s all I got today.  I hope you liked it, but if you dinna, will you tell Gwammie that you did so I don’ get in twouble?

** Note to readers:  All photos are finalists in the 2018 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, sponsored by the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife conservation organization.

 

 

Saturday Surprise — Animal Myths

Good morning and welcome to the weekend!  In all honesty, I almost took a pass on Saturday Surprise this week, for my humour is dark and I wasn’t in the mood for light-hearted or humorous.  But then, I came across this file I tucked away a week or so ago for future use, and it seemed perfect for this morning.  The topic, of course, is animals, but not just cute little animals.  Today we shall look into some of the ‘myths’ surrounding animals, like an elephant’s memory, or lemmings suicidal tendencies, and find out, as Paul Harvey used to say, “… the rest of the story”.

The story, from ThoughtCo, is titled …

12 Animal Stereotypes and the Truth Behind Them

… but in the interest of time and space, I am only sharing 7 of the 12.  However, you can see the whole lot here if you feel so inclined!


Are Owls Really Wise?OwlFolks think owls are wise for the same reason they think people who wear glasses are smart: unusually big eyes are taken as a sign of intelligence. And the eyes of owls aren’t only unusually big; they are undeniably huge, taking up so much room in these birds’ skulls that they can’t even turn in their sockets (an owl has to move its entire head, rather than its eyes, to look in different directions). The myth of the “wise owl” dates back to ancient Greece, where an owl was the mascot of Athena, the goddess of wisdom — but the truth is that owls aren’t any smarter than other birds, and are far surpassed in intelligence by comparatively small-eyed crows and ravens.


Do Elephants Really Have Good Memories?elephant“An elephant never forgets,” goes the old proverb — and in this case, there’s more than a bit of truth. Not only do elephants have comparatively bigger brains than other mammals, but they also have surprisingly advanced cognitive abilities: elephants can “remember” the faces of their fellow herd members, and even recognize individuals whom they’ve met only once, briefly, years before. The matriarchs of elephant herds have also been known to memorize the locations of watering holes, and there is anecdotal evidence of elephants “remembering” deceased companions by gently fondling their bones. (As to another stereotype about elephants, that they’re afraid of mice, that can be chalked up to the fact that elephants are easily spooked — it’s not the mouse, ​per se, but the sudden wriggling movement.)


Do Pigs Really Eat Like Pigs?pigWell, yes, tautologically speaking, pigs really eat like pigs — just as wolves really eat like wolves and lions really eat like lions. But will pigs actually gorge themselves to the point of throwing up? Not a chance: like most animals, a pig will only eat as much as it needs in order to survive, and if it does appear to overeat (from a human perspective) that’s only because it hasn’t eaten for a while or it senses that it won’t be eating again any time soon. Most likely, the saying “eats like a pig” derives from the unpleasant noise these animals make when chowing down their grub, as well as the fact that pigs are omnivorous, subsisting on green plants, grains, fruits, and pretty much any small animals they can unearth with their blunt snouts.


Are Lemmings Really Suicidal?lemmingsTrue story: in the 1958 Walt Disney documentary “White Wilderness,” a herd of lemmings is shown plunging heedlessly over a cliff, seemingly bent on self-extermination. In fact, the producers of a subsequent meta-documentary about nature documentaries, “Cruel Camera,” discovered that the lemmings in the Disney picture had actually been imported wholesale from Canada, and then chased off the cliff by a camera crew! And we thought Disney was kind??? By that point, though, the damage was already done: a whole generation of movie-goers was convinced that lemmings are suicidal. The fact is that lemmings aren’t so much suicidal as they’re extremely careless: every few years, local populations explode (for reasons that haven’t quite been explained), and rogue herds perish accidentally during their periodic migrations. A good — and extremely miniaturized — GPS system would put the lie to the “lemming suicide” myth once and for all!


Do Crocodiles Really Shed Tears?crocodile.jpgIn case you’ve never heard the expression, a person is said to shed “crocodile tears” when he’s being insincere about the misfortune of someone else. The ultimate source of this phrase (at least in the English language) is a 14th-century description of crocodiles by Sir John Mandeville: “These serpents slay men, and they eat them weeping; and when they eat they move the over jaw, and not the nether jaw, and they have no tongue.” So do crocodiles really “weep” insincerely while they eat their prey? Surprisingly, the answer is yes: like other animals, crocodiles secrete tears to keep their eyes lubricated, and moisturization is especially important when these reptiles are on land. It’s also possible that the very act of eating stimulates a crocodile’s tear ducts, thanks to the unique arrangement of its jaws and skull.


Are Sloths Really Lazy?sloth.jpgYes, sloths are slow. Sloths are almost unbelievably slow (you can clock their top speeds in terms of fractions of a mile per hour). Sloths are so slow that microscopic algae grows in the coats of some species, making them virtually indistinguishable from plants. But are sloths really lazy? No: In order to be deemed “lazy,” you have to be capable of the alternative (being energetic), and in this regard sloths simply haven’t been smiled on by nature. The basic metabolism of sloths is set at a very low level, about half that of mammals of comparable sizes, and their internal body temperatures are lower as well (ranging between 87 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit). If you drove a speeding car straight at a sloth (don’t try this at home!) it wouldn’t be capable of getting out of the way in time — not because it’s lazy, but because that’s how it’s built.


Are Hyenas Really Evil?hyenaEver since they were cast as the heavies in the Disney movie “The Lion King,” hyenas have gotten a bad rap. It’s true that the grunts, giggles and “laughs” of the spotted hyena make this African scavenger seem vaguely sociopathic, and that, taken as a group, hyenas aren’t the most attractive animals on earth, with their long, toothy snouts and top-heavy, asymmetrical trunks. But just as hyenas don’t really have a sense of humor, they aren’t evil, either, at least in the human sense of the word; like every other denizen of the African Savannah, they are simply trying to survive. (By the way, hyenas aren’t only negatively portrayed in Hollywood; some Tanzanian tribes believe witches ride hyenas like broomsticks, and in parts of western Africa they’re believed to harbor the reincarnated souls of bad Muslims.)


And that is all I’ve got for today, folks!  I hope you all have a terrific weekend!happy dog Saturday

Saturday Surprise — Puffins (& beer)

Hello friends!  Thanks for dropping by before starting your weekend!  Today is the first day of September already!  Can you believe it?  Where has this year gone?  Here in the U.S., it is a 3-day weekend, for Monday is Labour Day.  My Iraqi friends asked me last week, “What is this Labour Day”, and I had to explain that while it was once a day to honour the working people, now it is pretty much just an excuse for a beer-fest.  Then, of course, I was left to explain “beer-fest” to people for whom alcohol is forbidden.  I fall into these traps often … you’d think I would learn, yes?

I know you all have big weekend plans, but I am still taking you on a short journey today … I promise to have you back in plenty of time to carry on with all your weekend plans, but this is just the perfect weekend to make this little jaunt!  Well … actually it’s not all that perfect, because where we are going is to be rainy and the high temps only around 55° F, or 10° C.  But still … we’ll have fun, I promise.  We can pick up some light jackets along the way … apparently the heat wave missed Iceland.  Oh … didn’t I tell you?  Yes, we are traveling to Iceland!Iceland-forecastWhat do you mean, “Why on earth are we going to Iceland?”  We are going to Iceland to see … PUFFINS!!!  You know … puffins … cute little birds … look sort of like miniature penguins?  Oh, c’mon … it’ll be fun … just hope onto the Filo-mobile and let’s go!

The puffin population in Iceland has been decreasing in recent years.  Though some puffin colonies are prospering, in Iceland, where the largest population of Atlantic puffins is found, their numbers have dropped from roughly seven million individuals to about 5.4 million.  The reasons are many:  fickle prey, overfishing, pollution, and climate change, which is diminishing food supplies like the silvery sand eels, which dangle from the parents’ beaks as they bring them to their young.  In addition, since they are considered to be very tasty, they are hunted as game birds.  No, we will not be trying them!

We have arrived, so let us check out some puffins, shall we?puffin-2.gif

The puffin is not the official bird of Iceland – that would be the gyrfalcon.  But puffins get far more attention, especially from tourists.  Did you know that puffins are only on land for about four months a year?  Right … they will soon be taking themselves back out into the cold Atlantic sea, where they will spend the next eight months or so hunting for fish.  They really only return to land in the spring in order to mate and nest.

Puffins-kissing

Awwwwwwww

Puffins choose partners for life, and while on land, they even share parenting duties, but once they go back out to sea, they go their separate ways until next spring.  I’m pretty sure that is the male’s idea.

puffin-chick

Puffin chick

Puffins are great little swimmers and divers, but when it comes to flying … meh, not so great.  So, watching them take off and land is rather hilarious!

puffin-landingAnd did you know that their gorgeous, colourful beaks aren’t always so colourful?  Puffins molt during their time at sea and shed all the colourful portions of their beaks as well as the black markings around their eyes in the process.

puffin-fish-in-mouth

Lookee what I caught!!!

The joint of their beaks are notched so that the birds can hang on to their catch even while diving back in, open-mouthed for more. One little puffin can carry up to 10 fish in its muzzle at any one time!

Okay, folks … it’s getting downright chilly here, and the rain has soaked through to the skin, so I think it’s time to bid adieu to the puffins.

puffin-1puffin-2Before we head back home, though, there is one last stop I want to make.

Welcome to Akureyri, home of the giant beer can! beer-can-1.jpg

From 1915-1989, beer was banned in Iceland. Although it seems completely counter-intuitive compared to the image of the beer and mead-swilling Viking sailor, the malted beverage was outlawed for most of the 20th century. Today, Iceland has begun to embrace the drink, and a giant beer can at the Viking brewery in Akureyri marks that change.

beer-can-2.JPGStand over there … facing the beer can, to the left, near the corner of the building.  See that pipe?  No, no, no Hugh … do NOT drink what’s coming out of the pipe … they say it isn’t potable, but its sole purpose is to add a nice beer smell to the area.  Okay guys … I’m ready to head home now, where the temps should be in the high 70s and the ice in my hair can melt!20180419_141127.jpgWhew … this is better!  Okay, folks … keep safe and have a great time this weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Strange Animals

Hello friends and welcome to the WEEKEND!!!  I know, I know … I’m retired, and every day is a weekend, or so you think.  Let me clue you in … being retired is hard work!  I swear I work harder now than I did when I worked and got paid for it! This week has been the week of mishaps.  First, while I was cleaning the intake vent to the furnace, using the hand vac, it decided to eat my hair, travel up to my head and smack me in the cheek, right under the cheekbone.  Then, the next day two of our Significant Six got into the worst fight, wouldn’t separate just by me yelling and spraying water, so Miss Goose and I were injured in the process of separating them.  Then today, as I was trying to get a new furnace filter from the storage rack upstairs, my hand slipped, and I ended up with a two-inch gash on the top of my wrist.  No, I am not typically accident-prone, but this has just been one of those weeks.  I’m glad the weekend has finally arrived, for I was considering, upon the suggestion of a friend, wrapping myself in bubble wrap!

Remember last September when one of my Saturday Surprise posts featured really strange and unusual animals? I enjoyed doing that one (you know I love anything with animals!) and you guys got a kick out of it, so last night I went in search of some more strange critters and guess what?  I found some!


Now this first guy reminds me of my late Aunt Mildred who always wore entirely too much lipstick … bright red, of course, and always insisted on giving everybody big kisses!

red-lipped batfish

Red-Lipped Batfish

Found on the Galapagos Islands, this fish is actually a pretty bad swimmer, and uses its pectoral fins to walk on the bottom of the ocean.


I’m pretty sure I would not like to run into this critter while paddling about in the sea …

goblin shark

Goblin Shark

This rare shark is sometimes even called a “living fossil”, and “is the only extant representative of the family Mitsukurinidae, a lineage some 125 million years old.” Goblin sharks inhabit around the world at depths greater than 100 m (330 ft), with adults found deeper than juveniles. Given the depths at which it lives, the goblin shark poses no danger to humans.


I swear this one does not look real, but looks like a creation from the mind of an artist or sci-fi writer. I like bugs fine, but if I saw this one in my vicinity, I don’t think I would stop to chat.

umbonia spinosa

Umbonia Spinosa

These thorn bugs are related to cicadas, and use their beaks to pierce plant stems to feed upon their sap. Their strange appearance still poses many questions to scientists.


And you thought you were having a bad hair day?

Streaked Tenrec

Found in Madagascar, Africa, this small tenrec is the only mammal known to use stridulation for generating sound – something that’s usually associated with snakes and insects.


I love shrimp, but … I really don’t think I would want to eat one of these.  However, they certainly are colourful!

mantis shrimp

Mantis Shrimp

Also called the “sea locusts“, “prawn killers” and even “thumb splitters”, this is one of the most common predators in tropical and sub-tropical waters; little is known about them, however, because of how much time they spend hiding in their burrows.


This one is definitely not for snuggling!

thorny dragon

Thorny Dragon

Coloured in camouflaging shades of desert browns, this lizard has a “false” head, which he presents to his predators by dipping the real one.


Isn’t he just too cute?

naked mole rat

Naked Mole Rat

There are many different kinds of mole rats. The best known is probably the naked mole rat, whose hairless, tubular, wrinkled body makes it appear a bit like a tiny walrus—or perhaps a bratwurst with teeth.


You’ll never guess who this big guy is related to …

dugong

Dugong

These enormous vegetarians can be found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific. Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance and behavior— though the dugong’s tail is fluked like a whale’s. Both are related to the elephant, although the giant land animal is not at all similar in appearance or behavior.


How ‘bout a little kissie?

star-nosed mole

Star-Nosed Mole

If you were to come face to face with a star-nosed mole, you might think its head had been replaced by a tiny octopus.  Though nearly blind, this mole is astonishingly speedy: The world’s fastest eater, it can find and gobble down an insect or worm in a quarter of a second.


Last but not least, I will do the un-thinkable and repeat one from the post last year … the Aye-aye … because I just think he is so adorable, in a funky sort of way.

Aye-aye-2Aye-aye-1

Due to its bizarre appearance and unusual feeding habits, the aye-aye is considered by many to be the strangest primate in the world. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate. Unusual physical characteristics include incisors that are continually growing (unique among primates), extremely large ears, and a middle finger which is skeletal in appearance, and is used by the animal as a primary sensory organ.


Okay, folks … there are more, but I shall save those for another day, another post.  I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend.  Keep safe and be happy!

Saturday Surprise — Critters!!!

red-panda-e1534572781553.pngHi Friends!  The weekend is finally here, we all survived another week, and now it’s time to have some fun!  I had a great idea for today’s post … 🤔 … 🤔 … but it seems to have slipped my mind.  Drat!  I knew I should have written it down, for these days my mind is like a sieve, and even when I talk to myself, I forget what I was saying! forgetfulWell, let’s just have a few cute/funny animal stories, then, for I am in the mood for cuteness.  First, let me share my own bit of cuteness.  Remember back when I wrote about the Significant Seven (now the Significant Six) and I told you how Izzy is so skittish that she spends most of her day under the sofa, and won’t let any but Miss Goose near her?  Well, a few days ago I was deeply engrossed in my writing when I sensed that I was being watched. I glanced up to see this little face about 4 inches from mine, staring intently.

20180816_150646.jpg

Isabella, aka ‘Izzy’


Recently, Bored Panda did a piece about the ten rarest dog breeds.  Most of them didn’t look much different from breeds that we are familiar with, but this one, the Lagotto Romagnolo, stood out.Lagotto

According to the article …

Lagottos are affectionate, devoted and not at all demanding. Combine that with how adorably fluffy these dogs are and you’ll want one — if you can find one. The Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient breed originating in the Romagna region of Italy, according to the Lagotto Romagnolo Club of Canada, and are not only efficient water retrievers but they’re best known for being the only purebred dog in the world recognized as a specialized truffle searcher. And sticks, apparently.

A specialized truffle searcher!  Who knew?  But isn’t he adorable, in a strange sort of way?


Vizsla is yet another dog breed I’ve never heard of until today, but they originated in Hungary, and are known for their loyalty, as well as their hunting skills. Murray and AJMeet Murray … a Vizsla housemate of human AJ Allee.  Now, I remember the last dog I shared my home with, and when I arrived home from work I was greeted with wet sloppy kisses and knock-down hugs from my 130-pound Rottweiler-Border Collie mix who thought he was still a pup.  But AJ comes home to a slightly different sort of welcome from Murray …

Yep, you got it … Murray keeps watch for AJ’s return from the highest point on the house – the roof!  The first time it happened …

“We didn’t realize it until neighbors came and rang our doorbell. It was terrifying because we were afraid he would jump or fall. He moved so quickly on the roof and ran to the edge, then stopped.”

AJ says he tried to find ways to block Murray’s access to the roof, but he always found another way to get up there, so after three days he finally gave up.  Periodically passers-by will stop to inform AJ that there’s a dog on his roof!


I have heard of Silkie Chickens before, but had never actually seen one.  Well, technically I still haven’t seen one up-close-and-personal, but … meet Marshmallow, the Silkie Chicken …marshmallowAccording to Marshmallow’s housemate, who is known only as WyrmsWorks, Silkie Chickens are …

“They’re bred to be less physically capable so they’re easy to contain, and they’re also bred to be very calm and trusting, with no emphasis on maintaining normal survival capabilities. They are very easy to catch and don’t try to run from predators soon enough because they’re just too calm. Silkies can not free range, they will get themselves killed one way or another. They are special needs as far as chickens go. As long as they’re kept safe they make perfect pets, though.”

One day, Wyrm (hope he doesn’t mind the nickname, but I don’t feel like typing his full ‘name’) couldn’t find Marshmallow, so, he went in search of and found her …Silkie in trashYep, in the trash!  Since the height of the trash bin would have made it impossible, Wyrm was puzzled and couldn’t figure out how she got in there … and better yet, WHY!  So, a bit later, he watched from a distance, and found that she was … trying to escape from a barnyard rooster named Waffle who was attempting to … well … you know!  Has Waffle never heard of #MeToo???  Turns out that poor Marshmallow was so frightened that she jumped atop a cat stand near the trash, from there tried to perch on the ledge of the trash bin, but instead, being not very well-balanced, fell in!  Poor Marshmallow.

And then another day, Marshmallow decided to play in the dirt! Silkie in dirtDirty silkieWhich made a bath a necessity.  When a Silkie Chicken gets a bath, this is what they come out looking like …Clean silkie


And last, but not least, what would a post about cute critters be without a fun video?  Watch this kangaroo try to get on a swing!


Okay, folks … time for you guys to go attend those weekend chores, go shopping, throw some burgers on the grill, take the family to the zoo, or whatever is on the docket for the weekend.  Just make sure you have some fun, take some time to relax and enjoy life, for Monday will be here soon enough!

Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh … I just remembered what I was going to write this post about … automobile genders!  Well, there’s always next Saturday.  In case I forget, remind me.weekend

Saturday Surprise — Birds, Birds, Birds

Hey friends!!!  It’s finally the weekend and I bet you all have some really fun things planned, yes?  Me?  Oh, who knows … I just rather go along with whatever the girls decide on for the most part … as long as it includes a meal and a trip to either the library or the bookstore, I’m happy.

I get daily emails from a site called ThoughtCo.com, and each day is something new, fun and different.  I usually give them a quick scan, then delete, but sometimes one warrants a closer look.  This particular one definitely deserved a closer look, and I thought it would be perfect to share with you for our Saturday Surprise!  Now, I admit I felt a bit cheated, for there were supposed to be 10 … the subject line of the email read “The 10 Most Adorable Birds You’ve Ever Seen”, but when I opened the article, there were only 8!!!  What happened to the other two?  Did they become extinct between the time they sent me the email and the time I opened it a day later?  Still, it’s fun and I wanted to share it with you.

The people at ThoughtCo ranked these guys in a slightly different order than I would have, but I will stick with the order in which they presented them, and you can pick your own favourite.

#1 – Eurasian WrenEurasian wrenAt the top of our cute bird list is the Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), a charismatic “little brown bird” that can fit in a teacup. Eurasian wrens are found throughout Europe and North America as well as in parts of Asia. Their cuteness is in no small part due to their slight stature and their plump body shape, which is further emphasized when they fluff up their feathers. Eurasian wrens are light brown and have a delicate, dark brown pattern of bars on their wings, tail, and body. Eurasian wrens weigh a mere one-quarter to one-half an ounce and full-grown birds are just 3 to 5 inches long, from bill to tail.

Personally, I thought this one was a bit ‘average’ looking, but perhaps their cuteness lies in their tiny size.

#2 – Atlantic PuffinAtlantic PuffinNext up on our list of cute birds is the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), a charming seabird that nests in large, gregarious colonies along the rocky coastlines of the North Atlantic. Outside the breeding season, Atlantic puffins spend their time at sea, hunting for fish over open water. The Atlantic puffin owes its cuteness to its small, rotund stature and distinct coloration. It has black plumage on its back, wings and tail, and bright white plumage on its belly and face. Its bill, its signature feature, is large and triangular in shape. It is a bright orange-yellow color with a blue base and groves at the base.

Now this one I really adore … reminds me a bit of a junior penguin!

#3 – Black-Capped ChickadeeBlack-capped ChickadeeThe black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is the next species on our list of cute birds. No such list is complete without this little charmer. Black-capped chickadees are often regulars at backyard feeders throughout North America. They are hardy little birds that remain residents throughout their range, even during the coldest winters. To cope with the extreme cold they often must endure, black-capped chickadees lower their body temperature at night, entering a state of regulated hypothermia and saving lots of energy in the process. As their name implies, black capped chickadees have a black cap, bib, and white cheeks. Their body plumage is more subtly colored, with a greenish-gray back, buff colored sides, and dark gray wings and tail.

Definitely pretty … but I’m not sure about ‘cute’ so much.

#4 – Northern Saw-Whet OwlSaw-Whet OwlNo list of cute birds is complete without an owl. And northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) are arguably among the cutest of all owl species. Northern saw-whet owls are small owls that have a round facial disk and large golden eyes. Like many owls, northern saw-whet owls are secretive, nocturnal birds that hunt small mammals such as deer mice and white-footed mice. Northern saw-whet owls occupy a range that stretches from coast to coast in North America. They breed in the boreal forests and northern hardwood forests of Alaska, British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, and the Rocky Mountain states.

Now THIS little guy has my vote for #1!!!  Isn’t he just adorable?  Look at the intelligence in that cute little face!

#5 – Adelie PenguinAdelie PenguinFor the next bird on our cute bird list, we travel to the world’s southernmost latitudes, where we find the Adelie penguin, a species that like the black-capped chickadee, pairs its cuteness with toughness. Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) inhabit a circumpolar region along the coastline of Antarctica. Adelie penguins are the classic penguins, with black plumage on their back, head, and the topside of their wings and white plumage on their belly and the underside of their wings.

I adore penguins, but their cuteness comes from seeing them walk … er, waddle … so I am including a short video clip … watch the little guy – what a little bully!!!

#6 – Costa’s HummingbirdCostas HummingbirdAny list of cute birds is lacking something if it does not include a hummingbird. Here, we include the Costa’s hummingbird (Calypte costae), a small hummingbird that lives in the deserts of southwestern United States and Mexico. Costa’s hummingbirds are nearly as light as a postage stamp, with an average mass of just over one-tenth of an ounce. Costa’s hummingbirds feed on the nectar from flowers such as those of the desert honeysuckle and the saguaro cactus.

Cute, but I like seeing the in action best … hovering in front of a flower while they devour the nectar.

#7 – Blue-Footed BoobyBlue-Footed BoobyThe blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) is equal parts cute and awkward -looking. Their most notable feature is their turquoise webbed feet. Like many seabirds, blue-footed are rather clumsy when moving on land, but they are graceful when flying over open water. The blue-footed booby belongs to the same group of birds that includes pelicans, cormorants, and tropicbirds. Blue-footed boobies are found along the western coast of Central America and South America and various coastal islands in that region, including the Galapagos Islands.

Now what’s not to love?  I adore those eyes, the expressions … they almost look like a toy or a drawing!

#8 – DunlinDunlinThe dunlin (Calidris alpina) is a widespread species of sandpiper that inhabits a circumpolar region in the Arctic and Subarctic. Dunlins breed along the coastlines of Alaska and northern Canada and over-winters in more southern coastal regions around the world. The species is quite diverse, with some 10 recognized subspecies. Dunlins feed on clams, worms, and other invertebrates. During the breeding season, dunlins have a distinct black patch on their belly, but outside of the breeding season their belly is white.

I’m still not sure what happened to #9 & #10, but that’s okay, for it’s getting late and I know you’re eager to start your weekend!  So, which bird was your favourite?  I hope you enjoyed the birds and maybe even learned something new!  Have a lovely weekend, my friends!