Saturday Surprise — Funny Critters

I haven’t done a Saturday Surprise post for a couple of weeks, but since most of my posts have been pretty dark this past week, I thought I owed you guys a break from the darkness.

For the past two years in September (2018, 2019) I have posted pictures from the Comedy Wildlife Photography finalists … so let’s make it an annual tradition, shall we?  These critter photos are so fun they are bound to bring at least a bit of a smile to even the most curmudgeonly face!

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards is a global photography competition founded in 2015 by Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam. It was established with the goal of promoting the conservation of wildlife and their environs through the use of positive and upbeat imagery. Through the use of humorous images, the competition has gained a global following, and offers a new approach to building conservation awareness. The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have had 3 bestselling books published, working with Natalie Galustian, Joel Simons and Blink Publishing. In 2019 Michelle Wood was brought in as the third director. In 2019 the 40 finalists were showcased at the annual Wildlife & Safari Travel Show. The competition has annual exhibitions around the world and recently launched another competition: The Comedy Pet Photography Awards in association with Mars Petcare.

I hope you enjoy this year’s finalist selections …

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Surprise smiles, Lake Bogoria, Kenya.  While walking on trail at the southern side of Lake Bogoria, the photographer spotted a group of dwarf mongooses Photograph: Asaf Sereth/CWPAs 2020

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The race, India ‘My friends and I walked in the centre of the small town of Hampi in India. There was bicycle parking nearby. Suddenly a flock of langurs jumped on these bicycles and began to frolic. We were afraid to frighten them away, I started taking pictures from afar, but then we came very close to them and the langurs continued to play with bicycles’ Photograph: Yevhen Samuchenko/CWPAs 2020


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So hot, Japan A monkey soaks in natural hot springs Photograph: Wei Ping Peng/CWPAs 2020


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I had to stay late at work, Chubut, Argentina ‘South sea elephant in Patagonia (Isla Escondida) They adopt very curious gestures!’ Photograph: Luis Burgue/CWPAs 2020


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Lamentation! Spitzbergen, Norway Photograph: Jacques Poulard/CWPAs 2020


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Having a laugh, Caithness, Scotland ‘A young common seal chills out on a rock in Sinclair Bay, its thick layer of blubber moulding into the contours of the rock. Looking as if it is enjoying a really good joke, the seal is, in fact, yawning’ Photograph: Ken Crossan/CWPAs 2020


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Hide and seek, Devon, England ’As this azure damselfly slowly woke up, he became aware of my presence. I was lined up to take a profile picture of his wings and body, but quite sensibly the damsel reacted to the human with the camera by putting the marsh grass stem between me and it. I took the shot anyway. It was only later that I realised how characterful it was. And how much the damselfly looks like one of the muppets’ Photograph: Tim Hearn/CWPAs 2020


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Smiley, El Hierro, Canary Islands Photograph: Arthur Telle Thiemann/CWPAs 2020


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Seriously, would you share some? Scotland ‘Atlantic puffins are amazing flyers and their fishing talents are, well, as you see, some do better than others! I just love the second puffin’s look: can I just have one please? Photograph: Krisztina Scheeff/CWPAs 2020


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It’s a mocking bird! Near Kirkcudbright, Scotland ‘I was hoping a kingfisher would land on the “No fishing” sign but I was over the moon when it landed for several seconds with a fish. It then flew off with its catch. It appeared to be mocking the person who erected the sign!’ Photograph: Sally Lloyd-Jones/CWPAs 2020


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Social distance, please! Kaudulla national park, Sri Lanka ‘This is the beginning of a scene which lasted approximately one minute and in which each of the rose-ringed parakeets used a foot to clean the partner’s beak. While the whole scene was very informative, this first photo with the male already holding his foot high in the air was just asking to be taken out of context’ Photograph: Petr Sochman/CWPAs 2020


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Wait up Mommy, look what I got for you! Kaziranga, India ‘At the Kaziranga national park, this elephant mother and calf seemed completely oblivious to our jeep and went about their stroll through the pond. The mom seemed to be giving her calf lessons on eating the hyacinth: select a lush green bunch, rip them out from the root, pound the stems against the trunk to remove the mud and then swallow whole. The calf looked like she was thoroughly enjoying the lesson and duly followed her mother’s every move’ Photograph: Kunal Gupta/CWPAs 2020


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Tough negotiations, Israel Photograph: Ayala Fishaimer/CWPAs 2020

 

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I could puke, Falkland Islands ‘This picture was taken at sunrise. A group of gentoo penguins went to the shore to go fishing when one stopped and vomited’ Photograph: Christina Holfelder/CWPAs 2020


hippos

Laughing hippo, Masai Mara national reserve, Kenya ‘The baby hippo whispered to the mother’s ear: “I had a wonderful dream. Alex invited me for tea so I went to his tent. He pointed to the empty chair and invited me to sit on it. I did so and suddenly the chair broke. I was on the floor. Alex started laughing and went to the adjoining chair to sit down. As soon as he sat down, I heard a loud crack. His chair also broke and he was thrown on to the floor. We both started laughing with tears coming from our eyes.” Then I woke up and started smiling’ Photograph: Manoj Shah/CWPAs 2020


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O sole mio, Hungary ‘It’s like he was just “singing” to me! She had a very nice voice’ Photograph: Roland Kranitz/CWPAs 2020


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Faceplant, Namibia ‘This elephant calf in Namibia was slow to notice when his mother started to move away. When he tried to hurry and catch up, he tripped over his front feet and faceplanted. His mother heard the commotion and immediately came back to help him up, and the calf continued on his way with no damage except to his dignity’ Photograph: Tim Hearn/CWPAs 2020

Saturday Surprise — Critters!

Saturday Surprise almost wasn’t again this week … I thought I couldn’t find a smile, couldn’t find any humour.  But a voice inside my head kept whispering … “You got this.  Your readers depend on you to help them smile.  It isn’t all about just you, y’know!”  And finally, after the voice, one of my two alter-egos, invaded my thoughts one time to many, I set aside what I was working on and went in search of … something fun.  Actually, it didn’t take me long to find several things and the hardest part was deciding which was the most fun!

Now, most of you who have followed Filosofa’s Word for any time know that if I’m looking for a pick-me-up, it’s almost certainly going to involve critters, and today is no exception.  Living in a world populated only by the human species would be, to me, the worst nightmare imaginable!


Remember I told you a couple of weeks ago in a Jolly Monday post about Tucson the dog, who kept hanging around a Hyundai dealership until finally they adopted him and gave him a job?  Well, in Richmond, Australia, a similar thing happened, only this time with a cat … Elwood, the cat!  He hung around the Epworth Hospital so long that they finally gave him a job as a security guard, complete with his own badge!Elwood

According to his co-worker, Chantel Trollip …

“He is lovely and friendly, but not overly affectionate. He enjoys a good pat, but likes to keep things short and move around a fair bit. He is on the security team, after all, has to make sure everyone coming and going gets checked. I think any potential criminals are thwarted by his sweetness when passersby see him! He has a very sweet chirp of a meow and I think anyone with any ill will would automatically change their plans upon hearing it and so I assume this is his way of getting the job done.”

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I bet most of you have never heard of the Somali elephant shrew!  In fact, I hadn’t until last night when I was digging around for fun critter things.  This little guy has been considered extinct for the past 50+ years, since 1968, and was just found safe and sound in Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa, by a group of scientists.shrew-1According to Steven Heritage, a research scientist at the Duke University Lemur Center …

“We did not know which species occurred in Djibouti and when we saw the diagnostic feature of a little tufted tail, we looked at each other and we knew that it was something special. This is a welcome and wonderful rediscovery during a time of turmoil for our planet, and one that fills us with renewed hope for the remaining small mammal species on our most-wanted list.”

shrew-2In order to catch these Somali elephant shrews, researchers set up more than 1,000 traps at 12 locations. To lure these cuties in, they used a mixture of peanut butter, oatmeal, and yeast.

At first sight, it looks kind of like a mouse. But there’s also this tiny trunk-like nose that resembles an elephant’s. Apparently, some of the Somali sengi’s closest living relatives are the aardvark, elephant, and manatee.shrew-3shrew-4shrew-5


Foxes are known for being friendly and curious, and they aren’t above paying a visit to people’s homes and gardens on occasion.  I came across some fun pictures of such fox guests, invited or not …

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Snack Time!!!

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Our Humane Officer Was Called Out To Ocean Beach Yesterday Because A Resident There Reported A Critter Had Gotten Into Her House. The Resident’s Dog Was Playing With An Unknown Animal, Who Ended Up Running Into The House


Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for this Satur …

jolly  What, Jolly???  What are you doing up this early on a Saturday?  Huh?  Oh … that’s right … I can’t believe I almost forgot the cute critter video you picked out last night!  One of the cutest animals in the world is the quokka …


Okay, now we’re finished!  Have a happy weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — International Cat Day!

Hello dear friends and welcome to the …weekendBig plans for the weekend?  Relative to the last 20 or so weekends, we do actually have ‘big’ plans, for this evening.  We are having a cookout with our friends/neighbors Maha, Ali, and their three sons.  We haven’t gotten together to share a meal and an evening for quite a while, largely due to the pandemic, but it should be fun.  They are from Iraq and grill a number of interesting dishes, while we will provide such mundane things as potato salad, pasta salad, homemade cranberry sauce, and a dessert or two.  The best part, though, is just spending an evening in their company, lots of love ‘n laughter!

Today, August 8th, just happens to be International Cat Day!!!  As one who shares a residence with five cats, I dare not ignore this day, else I could end up in shreds!  International Cat Day was created by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2002. The IFAW has existed since 1969 and was founded in Canada.

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A few interesting and fun facts about cats to kick off the day …

  • Over 30% of U.S. households are shared with at least one feline family member. We don’t refer to ours as pets, and don’t consider ourselves ‘owners’, for really, they are furry family members, not an object to be ‘owned’.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln was once asked if Abe Lincoln had any hobbies? And her reply was “cats.”
  • Charles Dickens once said, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?”
  • John Lennon was also a big fan of cats. Over the years, he had cats named Salt and Pepper, Major and Minor, Tim, Sam, Mimi, Bernard, Sally, Elvis, and Jesus.
  • The British Government employs over 100,000 cats to keep mice away—that’s almost double the population of Greenland.
  • The mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, is a cat named Stubbs. He is now responsible for the town’s steady stream of around 30-40 tourists daily, which is pretty good, for a town of just 900 people.
  • In the 1870s, a Belgian village trained 37 mail cats to deliver letters. Conceived by the esteemed Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat, the plan was to wrap waterproof mail bags around each feline’s neck. The plan failed.
  • Tom, of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, was originally named Jasper.
  • The wealthiest cat in the world is Blackie, a feline who inherited its owners’ near $13 million estate after their death.

toon-2While all our kitties, past and present, have been average tabbies or tuxedos, there are a number of rather unique cat breeds in the world.  Rather than me telling you about them, this video presents an array of ten of the most unique ones in the world …

The purpose of International Cat Day, besides giving me an excuse to post some fun cat pictures, is to encourage people to adopt a cat from their local shelter, and also to help educate those who live with cats about such things as feline health, grooming, care & feeding.  With that said, how about some cute & fun kitty pics?

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black-catYou’ve all heard the myth that black cats are bad luck, but did you know that in the UK and Japan, black cats are considered good luck!  In the English Midlands, new brides are given black cats to bless their marriage, and the Japanese believe that black cats are good luck—particularly for single women. Meanwhile, the Germans believe that a black cat crossing your path from left to right is ominous, but if the feline switches directions and goes right to left, it’s fortuitous.  Who knew?

Let’s finish our celebration of the cat with a cute kitty video, yes?

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s short ‘International Cat Day’ celebration!  Remember … cats are people too!  If you are lucky enough to share your domicile with a cat … be sure to hug him/her today, and maybe splurge and give them a bit of catnip, or just a tiny bit of tuna … or tuma as our own Miss Izzie calls it!  I hope you have a fun weekend, whatever you do!toon-3

Saturday Surprise — Strange Architecture

Good Saturday morning and welcome to the weekend!  I’m so excited about my Saturday plans I can barely contain myself!  After my shower and morning routine, I’m gonna throw a load of laundry in the washer, then spend the next 15 hours in front of my computer!  Whoo Hoo!!!  {Sarcasm very much intended}  I hope you have fun plans, as well!

I was at a loss for a topic for Saturday Surprise … I trolled my usual sources, but nothing jumped out at me, and I was ready to give up, but I also didn’t feel like writing yet another political post just at the moment.  And so, I let my mind meander for a while and came up with something …

While I’ve never had any desire to become an architect, I’ve always been fascinated by different {read weird} buildings, so I went in search of, and found, some weird buildings I thought might make for a fun way to kick off the weekend.

bldg-1This is a residential complex located in Darmstadt, German, called the Waldspirale, which translates to “forest spiral” in English.  On the outside, some of its most notable features are the tower that resembles Russian onion domes, an absence of straight lines and sharp colors, and the multicolored painting of the building.  I was more intrigued by the appearance of uneven layers, as if someone had tried to squish it like a sandwich!


bldg-2This is the Krzywy Domek (Crooked House) in Sopot, Poland.  It is actually part of the Rezydent shopping center. It was designed by Szotynscy and Zaleski, who were inspired by fairy tale drawings.  It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of some buildings in San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906 … or it makes me think of a huge giant coming along and just squeezing the building from the sides.


bldg-3Here we have the Casa do Penedo, located in the Fafe Mountains of Portugal.  This is a private home built between 4 large boulders. The property includes many amenities, including a fireplace and swimming pool.


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I think this one, the Lotus Temple in Delhi, India, isn’t weird so much as beautiful … it somehow reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.   Its renowned flower-like shape has won it numerous architectural rewards.


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Needless to say, this one captured my attention.  It is the Kansas City Library in Kansas City, Missouri.  The “community bookshelf” runs along the south wall of the parking garage. The book spines measure 25′ by 9′ and reflect a variety of reading interests, all suggested by Kansas City readers.  Several of my readers are huge “Lord of the Rings” fans, so you’ll be pleased to note that is one of the books featured on the wall!


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What you see here is a Low-Impact Woodland House located in Cynghordy, Wales, in the United Kingdom.  Using only £3000, a chisel, a chainsaw and a hammer, Simon Dale and his father-in-law raised this cozy, woodland home up from the ground in just four months.  Built in 2005, the house is set into the earth, giving it the appearance of a hobbit home.  The design allows for increased energy-efficiency, keeping the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.


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This is the one building in today’s collection that is not yet built, but is still in the planning stages.  Still, I thought it interesting enough to include.  It is a Rotating Tower that is to be built in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and once completed, all 80 floors will rotate independently, spanning 360 degrees every 90 minutes.  While that may not be a dizzying speed … you might never know which direction to walk when you exited the building at the end of the day!


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The Nautilus House in Naucalpan, Mexico, is shaped like a sea shell (on first glance I thought it was a snail shell).  Built by architect Javier Senosiain, it was constructed to be a livable home and features smooth surfaces, spiral stair cases, and natural paintings.  According to Senosiain it is both earthquake-proof and maintenance-free.


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The Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna, Austria, appears to have had a house dropped on it!  Somehow this reminds me of “The Wizard of Oz”!  Artist Erwin Wurm is known for his unusual, sometimes humorous, and occasionally puzzling work. While his “House Attack” piece could fall into any or all of those categories, it’s at the very least intriguing. It was completed in 2006, but I read that the house atop the museum has since been removed.  Still, I thought it deserved inclusion here.


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This is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandrina, Egypt.  It is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It resembles an angled discus or giant sundial. It was created to reincarnate the famous ancient library of Alexandrina, which held the largest collection of manuscripts in the world but burned down in the 3rd century.


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bldg-11-bKubus Woningen, or Cubic Houses, are located in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  They were constructed by architect Piet Blom in the 1970s after he was asked to solve the dilemma of building houses on top of a busy road.  With 38 regular units and two “super-cubes”, each slanted cubic residence is held up by a hexagonal pillar, some of which are located atop a pedestrian bridge spanning the four-lane Blaak Street. While it solved the urban planning problem, it created some highly odd residences in the process.  Although each cube house contains about 1,080 square feet of floor space, only a quarter of this, approximately 270 square feet, is usable due to the sharp angles of the architecture. Even worse, this 270-square-foot area is spread out across four floors. After entering on the ground level, residents must take a narrow staircase to reach the first floor, a tiny, triangle-shaped room which features a living room and kitchen. A flight of stairs up are two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the top floor is a small free space, typically used as a garden.


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Wonderworks is a local attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains. It’s primarily an entertainment center focused on science exhibits. It was designed to look as if the building was picked up by severe weather and dropped upside down on an existing building.  And once again, I am reminded of the “Wizard of Oz”!


The header image is Casa Terracota, or Ceramic House, located in a mountain village of Colombia.  It is known by locals as the Flintstone House.  The house is is entirely built by hand with clay and parched in the sun, freely shaped to look like a cottage.


I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of a few of the worlds oddest buildings.  Now, have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Teeny Tiny

The weekend is here at long last … I know you all likely have big plans for the weekend, like … um … well, you can watch the grass as it grows, or … ooh ooh … I know … you can finally wash the walls you’ve been promising yourself you would do for 15 years now!  Chafing at the invisible bonds?  Moi?  Nah, only in jest.  In truth, I’m rather content to stay home.  And … it gives me time to dig up some fun things like I have in store for you today!


Fanni Sandor of Hungary is a miniature artist.  No no … she isn’t teeny-tiny, but her art is teeny-tiny, yet in a huge sort of way!  I’m just confusing the heck out of you now, aren’t I?  I tend to have that effect on people sometimes.  Take a look and you’ll see what I mean …12

See what I mean now?  Look at the detail there … everything just perfect.  Ms. Sandor is a biologist who worked with nature conservation projects until she had children, but now she is a full-time miniaturist.  Sandor started making her first miniatures at the age of 6, but only much later in life did she turn that passion into a profession.

“In my twenties, I saw professional miniaturists’ work for the first time through the internet. I was completely fascinated. I realized there are a lot of miniature lovers who live around the world, and some of them are making miniatures at an artistic level. That was the point when I decided I wanted to be a professional miniaturist and I wanted to make art with my works.”

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“I’m used to drawing, painting, and sculpting, so I had the basic skills which are needed for this art form. I practiced a lot until I showed my first new generation of miniature work for an audience. In my work, my most important aim is to produce realistic and detailed representations.”

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“The first step of making miniature animals is collecting a lot of pictures of the animal species I want to sculpt. After that, I make a few sketches of the animal. The drawing is very important, because it’s much easier to sculpt if you do some study drawings of the subject. After that, I make the sculpture. For sculpting, I use paper embossing tools and pin ending tools. After baking, I add more details to the sculpture with my carving tools. The next step is painting. It’s very important for me that I paint the finished sculpture very detailed; however, the fur or feather coat will cover the paint. And the last step is the furring or feathering. I attach the fibers or feathers to the body with a strong glue. The legs are made of wire.”

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“In 2014, when I thought my miniatures were good enough, I applied for the IGMA Artisan title in the animal figures category, and I got it. (IGMA—International Guild of Miniature Artisans was founded to promote fine miniatures as an art form.) It was a great honor. After two years of hard work, in 2016, I was awarded the IGMA Fellow title (this honor is given to those whose work is the epitome of excellence) and I was over the moon.”

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Aren’t these just amazing???  This woman has so much talent … I am in awe.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, whatever you do!!!

Saturday Surprise — It’s A Surprise!

Good morning my friends and welcome!  Have you noticed that weekends aren’t quite what they used to be?  Even so, though, we will celebrate the beginning of the weekend in style this morning, and with hopes that this weekend will bring joy in one form or another.  For me, it means that at least I don’t have to cook, for daughter Chris cooks on Saturday night, and Miss Goose on Sunday, so I do get a break.

The folks at the San Antonio Zoo in Texas did not waste their time while the zoo has been closed due to the pandemic!  These folks played with Lego building blocks!  Take a look at some of the things they built …

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mantisAmazing, aren’t they?  I used to build with Lincoln Logs when I was a kid, and managed to do a windowless log cabin a time or two, but that was the extent of it for me!  This Lego zoo is awesome, and … the icing on the cake is that you don’t have to mingle and mix, but you can see all the Lego-critters from your car as you drive through.

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butterflyThe “Wild Connections” exhibition of animal sculptures was created by famous New York artist Sean Kenney, who is also a certified Lego professional. Who knew there was such a thing as a ‘certified Lego professional’???  These animals are entirely made from Lego bricks and will be on display until September 5th. The exhibition features over 30 LEGO sculptures, created with more than three million LEGO pieces, of animals like pandas, lemurs, tortoises, birds like peacocks and bald eagles, and even insects like bees and butterflies.

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dragonflyEach sculpture is unique and took a lot of time and patience to make. For example, the sculpture of baby pandas took 405 hours to make and the artist used 53,460 bricks to build it, whereas the sculpture of a bald eagle took 184 hours and 42,198 bricks to build. It’s good to know that artists like Sean Kenney used the global lockdown to create and shed some light in these uneasy times!

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calfSays Tim Morrow, President and CEO of the San Antonio Zoo …

“LEGO bricks have been a large part of many childhoods sparking curiosity, ingenuity, and creativity. Now they can be experienced larger than life, in nature by families visiting the zoo. These giant plants, animals, and bugs are the perfect complement to a zoo visit.”

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I hope you enjoyed seeing these amazing creations!  Hopefully, by next summer, we can see the animals up close and in person, but for now, aren’t these grand?

Have a fun weekend, whatever you do!

Saturday Surprise — Short, Fun Critter Tales

I almost skipped Saturday Surprise this week, for I had another political post ready to go for this morning and really couldn’t seem to get in the mood for anything light-hearted and fun.  And then, something crossed my radar that led to something else, and before long I realized there was something not quite right with my face … the corners of my mouth were turned up instead of down … I was actually smiling!  And thus came the idea for Saturday Surprise that had eluded me earlier in the evening.  So, get ready to smile at these very short, but fun critter tales …


Big cats are kitties too

ArwenJill Hicks was driving home from work when she saw what she thought was a cat run towards the road. Worried that it was alone, she scooped up the little “kitten” and took her home.  After making “Arwen” a cozy bed, she posted a picture on Facebook, asking if anyone would adopt the “bobtail kitten.” It didn’t take long before her neighbor helped her realize that it wasn’t just a kitten with a bobtail, it was actually a bobcat. “Thank the lord for her because I sure was about to put that baby in the sink and give it a bath and put it in bed with me!” Hicks joked on Facebook. Hicks took the soon-to-be-much-bigger kitty to a wildlife rescue who cared for her until she could be released into the wild.


And speaking of big cats …

mr-bMeet Mr. B.  Mr. B. is a big cat, but not a bobcat, leopard, panther, tiger or other wild cat, he’s just a big cat.  My best guess, knowing a bit about felines, is that he is a Maine Coon cat.

“OMG, big boi Mr. B is a CHONK. He’s a chonk of a chonk. He redefines the term. Can you guess how much he weighs? More importantly, can you give him a home?”

When the Morris Animal Refuge posted the above message, alongside a picture of said Mr. B., they were unprepared for how viral the big boy would go. So many people were touched by the massive cat and wanted more information about adopting him that he crashed the shelter’s website. “Mr. B. apologizes for crashing our website. We have our team working to get it back up as we speak. Unfortunately, they’re all cats, so it may take a little while,” they wrote. Happily, he’s since found his forever home.


A deer who is a real dear

It almost sounds like the opening to a fairytale: A lonely old woman who lives in a secluded cabin in the woods is visited every day by a magnificent stag who rewards her for her unselfish deeds. But this is 100 percent real life!deer-1Mette Kvam, 81, of Norway, had recently suffered the loss of her husband and was trying to adjust to living alone when one day she noticed a deer at her window. She fed him a piece of bread and immediately a friendship was born. “Flippen” now comes to visit her daily. She makes sure to always keep his favorite bread on hand and he keeps her company. She says he has saved her from loneliness and she loves nothing more than to feed and visit with him.


And speaking of animal buddies …

Buzz-1Tough, tattooed, and burly, Mark Cardenaz is probably the last person you’d describe as “Dr. Doolittle” but that’s exactly how friends describe the ex SWAT officer. So, no one was surprised when he took in an injured hummingbird he found on his back porch, nursing “Buzz” back to health with Pedialyte and sugar for six weeks. But that’s not where the story ends. After he released Buzz back into the wild he thought he’d never see his little buddy again but every year the bird flies from South America back to Cardenaz’s home in Georgia and lands in his hand. This year, Cardenaz worried something had happened when Buzz didn’t show up at his usual time but several weeks later, there he was, flitting around his head and begging for pets.


Seeing-eye cat?

After Terfel, an eight-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever in North Wales, U.K., developed cataracts in 2012, he began to bump into walls and furniture. Soon enough, the once-energetic dog was spending most of his time in his dog bed, unable to find his way around.

TerfelOn a whim, Terfel’s owner Judy Godfrey-Brown let a stray cat, whom she named Pwditat (pronounced Puddy-tat), into her home. The feline made a beeline for the blind dog and began using its paws and head to herd Terfel into the garden. Now the unlikely friends sleep together, and Pwditat helps Terfel find his way everywhere.


An inseparable bond

toldoA sprig of acacia, paper towels, and a plastic cup are just a few of the gifts that Toldo, a devoted gray-and-white cat, has placed on his former owner Iozzelli Renzo’s grave in Montagnana, Italy, every day since the man died. Renzo adopted Toldo from a shelter when the cat was three months old, and the two formed an inseparable bond. After Renzo passed away, Toldo followed the coffin to the cemetery, and now “stands guard” at the grave for hours at a time, says Renzo’s family.


Now to wrap up with a cute animal video about a baby squirrel who adopted a human family …


I hope that at least one of these stories, all of which, except the video, came from Readers Digest, by the way, has brought a smile to your face this morning.  And now, as I bid you adieu, I wish you a fun and happy weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Avian Humour

I must admit that I nearly forgot that today is Saturday.  There’s a reason for this … no, I’m not losing all my marbles, only a few of them.  See, daughter Chris was off from work yesterday (Friday), which made it feel like Saturday all day, for she’s never home on Friday.  So, since I thought it was Saturday all day long, when I sat down to write this morning’s post, I wasn’t thinking about Saturday Surprise, and I had another post about half completed when a little birdie tapped into my mind and said, “Yo!  It’s Saturday, not Sunday!”  And so, I changed gears, but with some difficulty.  Since it was already midnight and I had no plan, I must settle for some funny bird pictures I found over at Bored Panda.  Hopefully, they will at least make you smile a bit.

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Proud momma bird with newly hatched baby

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A warm place to be

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Eh … not even big enough for a snack

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Caught one of those alien drone birds!

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Photobombed by an owl!

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Bees???  What bees?

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Oh that’s gonna hurt!

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Apologies for such a short Saturday Surprise, but I do hope that you enjoyed the birds!  And one last treat … I love owls, and I came across this video of some really adorable owls!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!!!Weekend

Saturday Surprise — National Pollinator Week!

Saturday Surprise has been on hiatus for a few weeks, and likely would have remained so this week, but for our friend Ellen who gave me a heads-up that this week, the week of June 22 – June 28, happens to be National Pollinator Week!  Once I knew that, I felt compelled to share it with you, and I thought it might be fun for us all.

bumblebee on flowerIf you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘pollinator’ is the bee.  And rightfully so, as there are 20,000 bee species in the world, many of them hearty pollinators without whom our food supply would be in serious trouble.  But they aren’t the only animals moving pollen from the stamen of one flower to the stigma of another. Earth is home to a host of weird and unusual pollinators that ensure both food crops and wild flowering plants complete their life cycle.  Let’s take a look at a few …

Take the chocolate midges — small flies no bigger than poppy seeds, and the primary pollinators of cacao plants. The intricate petals of the dime-sized flowers curl down over the plant’s stamen where the pollen is made, making it difficult for larger pollinators to access. It takes many midges to gather pollen and fertilize another flower. They toil away at dusk and dawn and prefer dense shady rainforest habitats like those in the Amazon basin. Without them, chocolate would be much harder to come by.

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Chocolate Midge

Or how about the clearwing hummingbird moths that hover in front of long-necked flowers, where they unroll their long tongues, insert them inside and sip the nectar, collecting pollen as they go. With their yellowish-brown or green and black bodies, and (often) clear, red-framed wings that sound like their namesake, people are sometimes confused by what they are looking at.

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Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

But insects aren’t the only pollinators.  There are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds worldwide, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. With its bright green, red, blue, orange and yellow plumage, one that really stands out is the rainbow lorikeet, native to Australia and Indonesia. While sipping nectar from flowers like those of the yellow gum, pollen attaches to their foreheads and throat, and even to tiny fingers on their tongue called papillae where it hitches a ride to the next flower.

And mammals can also be pollinators.  Now, a lot of people don’t like bats, and admittedly I don’t like anything flying into my face, or getting tangled in my hair, but I think bats are cute.

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Bats are responsible for pollinating over 500 plant species, including types of mango, banana, durian, guava and agave (used to make tequila). Bats work at night and are attracted to pale flowers, unlike many of their daytime colleagues. Some, like the Mexican long-tongued bat, are really specialized for the job with a long skinny tongue that can reach into tube-shaped flowers.

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Mexican long-tongued bat

And then there’s the ruffed lemur, a black and white primate from Madagascar, that gets pollen on its snout while gorging on nectar from traveler’s palms.

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Ruffed Lemur

Even lizards pollinate. The sleek Noronha skink of the island Fernando de Noronha off of northeastern Brazil appears to pollinate mulungu trees, known for their fabulously weird orangey-pink flowers. Pollen collects on its scales when it’s sipping nectar and brushes up against the flowers’ stamens. The same is thought to be true of snow skinks in Tasmania, who get pollen on their scales after tearing apart the peachy red flowers of the Richea scoparia plant.

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Noronha Skink

The list of non-bee pollinators goes on and on, including slugs, butterflies, wasps and many species of beetles. And those are just the ones we know about—scientists are still discovering new connections between plants and the animals that help them reproduce. And with bees so vulnerable to environmental change, a better appreciation of all pollinators and the roles they play will be essential to better crop management and the protection of wild plants in the future.

Now about National Pollinator Week.  In recognition of the significance of a stable pollinator population, the Pollinator Partnership (formerly the Coevolution Institute) collaborating with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, established the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) in 1999.  Their goals were to …

  • coordinate local, national, and international projects in the areas of pollinator research, education and awareness, conservation and restoration, policies and practices, and partnership initiatives,
  • aid communication among stakeholders, build coalitions, and leverage existing resources,
  • demonstrate a positive measurable impact on the populations and health of pollinating animals within five years.

And in 2006, the U.S. Senate passed a Resolution to protect pollinators and designated the first National Pollinator Week as June 24–30, 2007.  The U.S. Postal Service even got in on the act and issued a “Pollination” stamp series released in June 2007.

So, what can we do?  Bees are still the most common pollinator for most of us, and the bee population, as I have written before, is in serious trouble.  Miss Goose and I have planted bee-friendly flower seeds in our tiny front yard, and there is a flower/plant that just popped up a couple of years ago in the front of our yard that is home to both caterpillars and bees.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a list of 7 things that most any of us can do to help the pollinators:

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  1. Use pollinator-friendly plants in your landscape. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, plum, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
  2. Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and fall. Different flower colors, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and even window boxes.
  3. Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly.
  4. Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  5. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
  6. Leave dead tree trunks, also called “snags,” in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  7. Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about other pollinators and enjoyed the pictures.  Now, get out there and plant some bee-friendly flowers … it’s not too late!  Have a great weekend, my friends!bee-thumbs-up

Saturday Surprise — Creativity!

I couldn’t decide on which of two things to do for today’s Saturday Surprise:  balloons or sand.  So, I decided to give you a taste of both!


Andoni Bastarrika discovered his talent ten years ago, in the summer of 2010 while at the beach with his two daughters.  He was playing around, trying to sculpt from sand a little mermaid for his girls, when he discovered he had a gift for sculpting with sand, a unique fluidity of his hands.  Says Bastarrika …

“They knew what they were doing. I devoted myself to developing this gift and have spent the last 10 years doing just that.  The sand fascinates me because no matter how you look at it, it will always teach you things if you are willing to learn. In order to create a sculpture, an unthinkable number of sand particles participate, hugging each other tightly through humidity, so that someone could model their union. And once the artist steps back, its piece will remain at the mercy of nature, meaning that sooner or later the wind will dry them up and release each particle, slowly consuming all the individuality and authenticity.”

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“The time it takes to create one piece largely depends on its size. The elephant, for example, took me 2 days, while the horse and the bison took 12 hours each. The dogs, which were smaller, needed about 6 to 8 hours.”

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“There are a lot of reasons why I like to make animal sculptures as well, but one is the fact that animals are free spirits. Humans can reflect and learn from them.”

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Now, those of you who say you’re bored these days, being confined to quarters with nothing much to do, here’s something for you to spend some time on … balloon art!  We’ve all been to a fair or street carnival where there’s a man blowing up narrow balloons and turning them into rather simplistic dogs, or other critters, but Japanese artist Masayoshi Matsumoto has taken balloon art to a whole new level.

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Like the sand artist Bastarrika, Mr. Matsumoto has been perfecting his craft for about ten years now.

“My creations are one hundred percent balloon-only. I don’t use any adhesive, marker pens, or anything else.”

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“A lot of my work revolves around nature because I’ve been fascinated with it since I was very young.”

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Matsumoto says his sculptures aren’t products of spontaneity; they’re the offspring of careful and deliberate planning. Once he’s done designing a particular piece, Matsumoto usually spends 2-5 hours blowing and twisting the balloons.

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Okay, folks, get some balloons and let’s see what you can do!  I’ll feature any and all pictures that you guys send me … c’mon … you can do it!


Okay, friends, time for you to get to those weekend chores … mowing the yard, and after all of last week’s rain, the gutters probably need cleaning!  Whatever you do this weekend, keep safe and find time to enjoy life.