Saturday Surprise — A Short One

Good Saturday morning, folks, and welcome to the … w-w-weekend!  I won’t ask if you have big plans, for obvious r-r-reasons, but I will try to give you a smile … how’s that?


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I bet you didn’t know that in Northern Canada they hold hair-freezing contests! frozen-hair-2

From Atlas Obscura …

Even in the dark, subarctic winters of the Yukon Territory, hot water flows from the depths of Earth’s crust into Takhini Hot Springs at the toasty temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. The natural hot tub, which attracts hundreds of locals and tourists annually, lies just outside the city of Whitehorse. For most of the year, visitors spend hours relaxing in the mineral-rich and odorless waters, which are privately owned by the company Takhini Hot Pools. But much more is at stake during winter months, when the pools become heated arenas for the world’s only frozen-hairdo competition.

The Hair Freezing Contest is a challenge of both art and science. Participants dunk their heads underwater, emerge into the frigid air, and style their locks into stiff, eye-catching sculptures. Depending on one’s creativity and luck with the elements, the results range from frosty, mop-like tangles to dramatically manicured spikes.

According to co-owner of Takhini Hot Pools Andrew Umbrich …

“All this rising steam collects on your hair and freezes really quickly when it meets the cold air. You can get good results within 15 minutes if it’s cold enough.”

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Er … um … thanks, but no thanks.  I cannot imagine my head being frozen.  Things contract in the cold, and if my head contracted much more, I’d be a pinhead.  Still, looks cool … literally.


Guess what it is

I bet you can’t guess what this is …stage

Hey, don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover, or in this case a stage by its finish.  This stage, folks, is going on the auction block on April 10th in an online auction and is expected to fetch as much as $20,000.  Do you know who once played one of their first concerts as The Silver Beats on that stage?  C’mon, some of you die-hard fans must know this one.  Ellen?  David?  Okay, I’ll give you a little hint.  The band consisted of Stuart Sutcliffe on bass and Tommy Moore on drums, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison on guitars. Lathom-Hall-ticketIn addition to playing at Lathom Hall, they were also there to audition for local concert promoter Brian Kelly.  They did so well that they were invited back the next Saturday night, but at the last minute they declined and that was it for them and Lathom Hall or any of Kelly’s concert venues for several months.  As their popularity gained traction, eventually Kelly invited them back.

Silver-BeatsOn April 10, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the band’s breakup, California-based Julien’s Auctions will offer a slew of Beatles memorabilia (with live online bidding available), from the handwritten lyrics for “Hey Jude” to corduroy trousers worn by John Lennon himself. While it may not look so illustrious, this set of wooden planks pulled straight out of the floor are in fact witnesses to history, and a marquee item that could fetch as much as $20,000.


Just a few ‘toons and things I found over at Phil’s Phun

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Th-th-that’s all I’ve got for today, friends.  Try to have a p-p-peaceful weekend.

Note to readers:  I apologize for my negligence these past 2-3 days in responding to comments.  Sometimes life throws more at a person than they can field, and one struggles to catch up.  I always operate under the philosophy that if you, my friends and readers, can take your precious time to leave a comment, the least I can do is reply.  I have let that ball drop in recent days.  I promise to do better starting today.  Please forgive my negligence.

Saturday Surprise — This ‘n That

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the …weekendI wonder what this weekend will bring?  I imagine the crowds will be much thinner in restaurants, malls and the like.  Whatever you do, wherever you go, take your little bottle of hand sanitizer with you and keep safe.


I got my own Friday Surprise yesterday afternoon!  My friend Anne Lawson of Anne Lawson’s Art  had emailed me a couple of weeks ago and generously asked if I would like a piece or two of her art.  Well, of course I would … she does beautiful work!  I tried to offer to at least pay for the postage, for having shipped packages to the UK, I know that it can be quite expensive, but she wouldn’t hear of it.  So, yesterday afternoon when I was diligently mopping the kitchen floor, Miss Goose came in from taking out the trash and checking the mail, and announced that I had a package from Australia, so I knew immediately what it was!

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Aren’t these just beautiful!!!  Miss Goose took the photos for me, but left them in the plastic sleeves Anne sent them in, hence the reflection.  I’ll post another after I frame them and hang them.  Thank you so much, Anne … you have brought a huge smile to my face!  I already have the perfect frames for them and the perfect spot to hang them this weekend!


I would like to introduce you to a critter that crossed my radar last night.  Meet Xherdan …Xherdan-1Xherdan is a six-year-old Canadian Sphynx who lives with his owner in Rüti, Switzerland.  Xherdan is covered in wrinkles from head to toe which has earned him comparisons to aliens, brains and dumplings.Xherdan-2Though he often sports an angry-looking frown, his owner says he’s “cheerful” but also “cheeky”.Xherdan-3Here’s what Xherdan has to say about himself…

“My skin is light pink, soft and warm – everyone always wants to touch and pet me. I love it! If you hold us in your arms, you’ll never want to let us go. Did I say I love it?”

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“At home, my people love me, and I am allowed to cuddle soooo much with them. I love to play and jump around the apartment. Sometimes they’ll laugh at me because I’m obviously very clumsy. That makes me happy. Laughter is the language of the soul, and I am grateful for the gift of making people laugh.”

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“I also like to purr, trill and prowl curiously. But I prefer to dream and be lazy. I curl myself up into arms, on legs or bellies, and nestle my pink, wrinkled body against my human family.”

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Xherdan even has his own YouTube video … take a look!


And, since I seem to be on a critter theme today (surprised, aren’t you?), here’s another.  Bats get a bad rap … I think it’s because when they are flying toward your head, wings flapping loudly and screeching at a high pitch, they are a bit off-putting.  However, up close and personal, they are really quite adorable … even if they do sleep upside down in musty old caves.

This little guy is a fruit bat and seeing him eat this banana is just too darn cute!  Take a look …


Just a bit more humour before you go …

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Okay, friends … go forth and have a fun weekend.  Please take extra precautions and keep safe.weekend

Saturday Surprise — A Hodgepodge

I haven’t done a Saturday Surprise for the past two weeks, for other things have been occupying my mind and time, and I almost skipped it this week, as I am a bit under the weather with a respiratory ‘thing’.  But … I am told that a certain young man named Benjamin, who hasn’t been able to be here for quite a while, will be checking in today, so I wanted to do something!  So, I have just a couple of things to kick off the weekend with a smile!


Take a look at this and tell me what you think it is …cake-1I bet you think it’s a nice, healthy salad, right?  Wrong … look again …cake-1-aYep, it’s actually a cake decorated to look like a salad.  Some years ago I did a post about uniquely decorated cakes that looked like something other than cakes.  I have found a whole new batch and I thought you might enjoy looking at a few.

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Oodles of creativity there!  I don’t think I could eat the hand, though.  There are a ton more – if you’re interested, head on over to Bored Panda and check ‘em out!


I’m sure to people in Australia, the current toilet paper, or loo paper shortage is no laughing matter.  But I couldn’t help but chuckle at a few things I saw.

The Northern Territory News, or NT News, based in Darwin, Australia, printed 8 blank pages on Thursday.  Why?

“Run out of loo paper? The NT News cares. That’s why we’ve printed an eight-page special liftout inside, complete with handy cut lines, for you to use in an emergency.”

The editor of NT News, Matt Williams, said in an interview with the Guardian Australia that it was “certainly not a crappy edition.”

And then, of course, there have got to be memes …tp-meme-1tp-meme-2

One store is reported to have imposed a 4-roll purchase limit … pity the family who has six children! tp-grocery-lines


How would you like to get up to your house looking like this one morning?ice-1It happened on the New York side of Lake Erie last weekend when gale-force winds and 15-foot waves from the lake encased the structures in 1-to-3-inch-thick ice.  In some places, such as rooftops, the ice can be up to 3 feet thick, so of course there is concern about structural damage among homeowners.

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And to end this post with a big smile, meet Pim, the Skinny Pig from the Netherlands …


Now, go forth and have a fun & happy …weekend

Saturday Surprise — A Bit Of This ‘N That

Good morning and welcome, at long last, to the weekend!!!  I think I’ve found a few fun surprises to get your weekend off to a fun start!


I’d like to introduce you to Herman and Lundy.  The two are a living example of overlooking superficial differences and bonding with ‘other’.  You see, Herman is a pigeon and Lundy is a Chihuahua puppy, yet they are best buds! Herman-Lundy-1Herman the pigeon was rescued from a car dealership in Hilton, New York one year ago. The hapless bird, which turned out to be suffering from some neurological condition, had been found sitting on the pavement for three days before his rescuers realized he was unable to fly.Herman-Lundy-2After wildlife specialists declared Herman untreatable, they prepared to euthanize him—that’s when Sue Rogers stepped in to save him.  Over the course of the last year, Rogers has cared for Herman, keeping him in a crib when not on daily outings to stimulate his little legs.Herman-Lundy-3And then there was Lundy, whose owners, realizing that he was disabled, could not move his legs and therefore could not walk, decided they could not keep him.  Now, Sue Rogers is the founder of The Mia Foundation, a Rochester-based nonprofit dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating animals with physical defects and deformities.  Just so happened that Lundy’s family sent him to the The Mia Foundation, and it was there that Herman and Lundy met.

Herman-Lundy-4Rogers had only briefly placed the two critters together in a bed before they started snuggling. They have since become virtually inseparable.  After Ms. Rogers shared some pics of Herman and Lundy on the internet, suddenly donations began pouring in!  Says Sue Rogers …

“I never imagined the pictures of Lundy and Herman would touch so many people! Almost 5 million people in a little over 24 hours!! Their little story is being shared all over the world! And thank you also for the donations coming in. We really do need them as we have a few surgeries coming up soon! It brings me to tears to think that our little Herman (the pigeon) is known worldwide now! I’ve been called crazy for keeping Herman alive and trying to make his life a happy one. And Lundy… well, who wouldn’t love that sweet little nugget?”

Herman and Lundy even broke into the bigtime already, with a write-up in People Magazine!   Don’t they just melt your heart!  But wait … there’s more!  When I went to The Mia Foundation’s Facebook page tonight, seeking more pictures, I found this …Herman-Lundy-5

Yep, Lundy’s got herself a mobility machine!  An organization called Walkin’ Wheels donated this cart.  Sue says it will take him a little while to grow into it, but once he does … look out world!


Now here’s a new one!  I’ve long said that we (myself included) are entirely too reliant on technology.  Don’t get me wrong … I think technology is great, but … we shouldn’t let it replace our ability to do things for ourselves, to survive without it, if necessary.  Kari Paul learned that lesson the hard way.

Ms. Paul rented a car from car-sharing service, Gig Car Share, which uses an app to book a vehicle, unlock it, and drive away.  But, when she stopped briefly along side a mountain road in a very rural area of California, she had no cell service and … guess what?  Bingo!  She couldn’t start the car, for of course the app wouldn’t work without the WiFi!  Apparently, the car — like ET — needs to “phone home” every few hours to be re-set.

Now, apparently as a backup in case of this very scenario, the car comes equipped with something called a “gig card”, but as luck would have it, that didn’t work at first, either.  Night was approaching, and it was at this point that the company suggested to Ms. Paul that she just sleep in her car!  Eventually, she managed to get the gig card to work, but then Gig Car Share informed her that she had used all her “allotted restarts”, and she would have to keep the car on until she reached her destination.

Ms. Paul tweeted (later, after she finally arrived home) …

Six hours, two tow trucks, and 20 calls to customer service later apparently it was a software issue and the car needed to be rebooted before we could use it @internetofshit

If this is what they mean by ‘smart cars’, then no thanks … I’ll keep my stupid car!


Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No … it’s Dracula!  Meet the Dracula Parrot, a unique parrot endemic to the rainforest in New Guinea, famous for its resemblance to Count Dracula. Dracula-parrot-1Its official name is Pesquet’s parrot, but is also known as the Vulturine parrot because of its distinctive vulture-like head. It feeds exclusively on figs (not blood), and it’s head is bare to avoid feathers matting from the sticky fruit. It’s a large parrot with a total length of approximately 18 inches. Dracula-parrot-2


Those of us who share our home with furry family members (no, I’m not talking about Uncle Harry … I mean the four-legged sort) know who’s really the boss of the house, and it surely ain’t us!  This short clip shows exactly who rules the roost in one household!


Well, folks, it’s a beautiful day here, the sun is actually showing it’s face for a change, so it’s time for you to get out there and enjoy your weekend!  Keep safe and have a wonderful weekend!sunny-day

Saturday Surprise — Critters

koalaCome in and welcome to the weekend, my friends!  This has been a strange and unsettling week both in the U.S. and other places as well … something in the air, perhaps?  But, we’re not here to re-hash the gloomy week, but rather to relieve the angst it has caused us.  And what better way to relieve angst than critters?  It’s my go-to when I want to be cheered!


This week the Natural History Museum in London announced the LUMIX People’s Choice Award for Wildlife Photographer.  With 48,000 entries from 100 countries, obviously I cannot show you all of them, but I thought I’d share some of the top 25!

First place went to Sam Rowley for this one titled “Station Squabble” pic-1Sam discovered the best way to photograph the mice inhabiting London’s Underground was to lie on the platform and wait. He only saw them fight over scraps of food dropped by passengers a few times, possibly because it is so abundant. This fight lasted a split second, before one grabbed a crumb and they went their separate ways.

pic-2“Matching Outfits”, Michel Zoghzoghi.  Michel was in the Pantanal, Brazil photographing jaguars. One afternoon, as he was on the Três Irmãos River, a mother and her cub crossed right in front of his boat. He watched mesmerized as they left the water holding an anaconda with a very similar pattern to their own.

pic-3“The Surrogate Mother”, by Martin Buzora.  Elias Mugambi is a ranger at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. He often spends weeks away from his family caring for orphaned black rhinos like Kitui here. The young rhinos are in the sanctuary as a result of poaching or because their mothers are blind and cannot care for them safely in the wild.

pic-4“Spot The Reindeer”, Francis De Andres.  The conditions for photographing at the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard are extreme, but wildlife has adapted to the environment and its freezing temperatures. Francis found this composition of white arctic reindeer, which were observing him, both curious and charming.

pic-5“A Suitable Gift”, Marco Valentini.  Marco was in Hortobágyi National Park, Hungary when he spotted these kestrels displaying typical courtship behaviour. Here the female has just received an offering of a young green lizard from her suitor and in this touching moment she tenderly took hold of his claw.

pic-6“Big Ears”, Valeriy Maleev.  Valeriy was on a summer expedition to the Mongolian part of the Gobi Desert when he happened upon a long-eared jerboa. As blood moves through the ears of these usually nocturnal animals, excess heat dissipates across the skin and so the jerboa is able to stay cool.

pic-7“Bon Appétit”, Lucas Bustamante.  Night hikes through the Ecuadorian jungle are one of Lucas’ favourite activities. With a keen interest in herpetology, he was overjoyed to spot this labiated rainfrog which are abundant in the region. It had just caught a baby tarantula and its comical expression said ‘caught in the act!’

pic-8“Mother Knows Best”, Marion Vollborn.  While on a bear watching trip to the Nakina River in British Columbia, Canada, Marion spotted a grizzly bear and her young cub approach a tree. The mother bear started to rub against the tree trunk and was followed shortly by the cub, imitating its mother.

pic-9“What A Poser”, Clement Mwangi.  In Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, Clement spent time observing this beautiful leopard as she soaked up the last warm rays of the setting sun. Clement is mindful to remember to take pleasure in life’s simple moments – being all too aware that sometimes, as a wildlife photographer, you can miss the exceptional while looking for the unusual.

pic-10“Beak To Beak”, Claudio Contreras Koob.  Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in the state of Yucatán is home to Mexico’s largest flock of Caribbean flamingos. This chick is less than five days old – it will stay in its nest less than a week before it joins a crèche of other youngsters who wander around the colony searching for food.


Zoo Miami is the oldest and largest zoo in Florida and the fifth-largest in the United States. But despite the fact that it opened 72 years ago, it only recently acquired four meerkats … well, make that six now.

8-year-old meerkat Yam Yam started the year by becoming a new mom. Yam Yam, who came to the zoo from Busch Gardens Tampa, gave birth to two beautiful babies on the 18th of January.  Yam Yam shares her living space with three non-related males: Gizmo, Joe, and Diego. Just one of them is the father and only a DNA test could reveal who’s the biological dad. However, the whole gang is raising the pups together.meerkat-1meerkat-2meerkat-3meerkat-4meerkat-5meerkat-6


It was August 2014. Amber Isaac knew something was amiss when one of her pregnant alpacas started going into labor at 11 months, when alpacas typically remain pregnant for a little over a year. When the baby finally arrived into the world, she was “barely bigger than a fetus.” Sadly, these are the types of health issues that can result from alpaca breeding.

Cody, who lives on an alpaca ranch in Castle Rock, Colorado, only weighed 6.5 pounds when she was born. The average newborn alpaca weighs anywhere between 18 and 20 pounds.  The odds were against Cody from the start, but Isaac refused to give up on her.  She took Cody into her home to look after her and bottle-fed her like clockwork, determined to have her gain weight and become the healthiest she could be. An infection almost took the young alpaca’s life when she was only three weeks old – but she survived, proving that no matter what came her way, Cody had the spirit to tackle it head on.

Take a look at Cody today, as she is about to get a new bedroom!


I hope you’ve found the critters both humorous and relaxing, a break from it all.  Have a fun, safe, and happy weekend, my friends!

Panda

Saturday Surprise — Minis & Critters

Good Saturday morning and welcome to, at long last …weekend


I came across something the other night so amazing I just had to share it with you!  I’d like to introduce you to Chris Toledo …Chris-ToledoChris has three things that I don’t have:  unlimited patience, artistic talent, and lots of time.  Chris has had a love of art and architecture ever since childhood, and he has combined the two to do some amazing miniatures.  Says Chris …

“Each model I create starts with extensive research of the era and time period I’m trying to recreate. Over the years I’ve collected home plans and building guides from the early 20th century to make sure my pieces are 100% accurate representations of the past.  The process for building my pieces is much like building an actual house or room. I start with simple layout drawings to make sure everything flows cohesively and harmoniously.

From there, I create a more detailed blueprint which I eventually construct on a 3D computer modeling program. This helps me visualize each project and allows me to make any changes before I begin construction of the actual piece.

I remember going to Disneyland as a child and being totally fascinated with the miniature buildings along the Storybook Canal Ride. About that same time, I discovered the world of dollhouse miniatures and I loved the idea of being able to build these tiny creations myself. I began with kits that I would find at local hobby stores and eventually moved onto creating my own designs,”

Take a look at some of his work …art-1art-2art-3art-4art-5art-6art-7art-8art-9art-10art-11art-12

Isn’t that just amazing?

I checked, but could not find what his pieces sell for, nor where he sells them, though he has a presence on both Pinterest and Etsy.  I’m sure it’s far out of my price range, whatever the price!  But isn’t this man super-talented?


So many tragic, heartbreaking stories of loss of wildlife have come out of Australia in recent months, but every now and then there is one with a happy ending.  Such is the tale of seven wallaby babies who lost their moms in the fires and are now in the tender, loving care of a non-profit organization, Agile Project, whose efforts are to rescue and care for wallabies.

According to project manager, Shai Ager …

“They’ve pretty much ‘bunny hopped’ from carer to carer up the coastline because we put a call out saying we’re here to help and take on joeys if needed.  When they first arrived in our care, they were very stressed as they’d all experienced some type of trauma. A few of them had some minor injuries but considering what they had been through, they were still in high spirits.”

wallabies-1As the joeys settled in and made themselves comfortable, their rescuers decided to give them all names — and wanted those names to pay tribute to all the people who have done so much to help Australia during this crisis.wallabies-2The two boy joeys were named Andrew and Geoffrey, after two firefighters who lost their lives. The five girls were named after Chris Hemsworth, Ash Barty, Margot Robbie, Celeste Barber and Rebel Wilson, to acknowledge the celebrities who have helped during this time of great need. Everyone at the Agile Project hoped the gesture would show how grateful they are for the support and showcase exactly who all that support is helping.wallabies-3The seven babies have since been placed with different carers through the Agile Project and are getting the help and healing they need. They’ll be released back into the wild once they’re around 14 months old, in an area that’s safe from the destruction of the fires. In the meantime, they’ll have lots of space to relax and tons of blankets to keep them cozy.


And speaking of those Australian bushfires …

Magpies are Australian birds who, rather like parrots, are known for mimicking songs and sounds that they hear in their environment.  Take a look at what this magpie has learned …

It’s sad that the bird has heard so many sirens of late that he’s got that act down pat.


And … I cannot end a Saturday Surprise without a cute animal video, now can I?  This one is actually a short compilation from back in 2016, but cute nonetheless.


Now … go enjoy the heck out of your weekend, for Monday will be here all too soon!

Saturday Surprise – There Be Dragons!

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the weekend!  Thursday, as you know if you saw my music post that day, was ‘Appreciate A Dragon Day’, or AADD.  I hadn’t thought much about it at the time, other than playing PP&M’s Puff the Magic Dragon, but then Ellen piqued my curiosity in her comment, telling me about … well, you’ll see in a few minutes.  But first …

I want to wish a special 🎈Happy Birthday! 🎈 to our special friend, David Prosser.  Now, I’m not about to tell you how old David is, but I’ll give you a little hint.  If he had started counting his years backward in 1986, today he would be celebrating his 1st birthday!  And, today’s theme fits in with his birthday (sort of), for David is a Welshman and is rather fond of the iconic Welsh dragon!welsh-dragon

Penblwydd hapus


And now about those pocket dragons …

According to our friend Ellen, Real Musgrave met Muff (a nickname derived from a childhood moniker spun from Little Miss Muffet) whilst both were in college in Texas, he an art student drawing life size dragons at the time.real-muff-1

They married in 1968 and at some point, he began drawing small dragon pictures based on poses of their dog “Flower”, that fit into the pocket of his tweed coat, hence the name “pocket dragons”. The spirit of this little creature was, as Real said, as if the world was viewed from the view point of their little dog, Flower, and how Flower would respond to or interpret situations. The dragons took on aspects of Flowers persona from gesture to the floppy ears.

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The flat artwork eventually led to figurines that Real sculpted and the first set of 27 figurines went on sale in mid-1989 after being produced in Stoke-on-Kent in England.

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Real and Muff retained almost complete creative control over the growing line clear up to their retiring in 2005 to their home at Flower Mound, Texas and the retirement of the Pocket Dragon collection that became effective on December 31, 2006.

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Dragons had provided a significant monetary income that allowed them to travel all over the world as they promoted their creations. As of 2006, thousands upon thousands of the over 400 different Pocket Dragons had been released and found loving homes around the world, as well as games, books and hundreds of other products.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed the pocket dragons today, and many thanks to Ellen for leading us down this fun path!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Big Things!

I am rather an idiot.  I had more than half of a snarky post written for this morning when to my dismay I realized it was Friday night.  And, if it was Friday night, than I should be writing Saturday Surprise, not snark, right?  So, I considered making my apologies and skipping Saturday Surprise, for that was written into the contract when I first started the feature, but … it’s been a hellish week and I figure we are all ready for something more fun.

Australia has been plagued by massive bushfires for the past several weeks … remember, it’s summer down under.  So, when I came across the ‘Big Things’ of Australia, I thought it was the perfect thing for this week’s Saturday Surprise!  So, what are the ‘Big Things’?

Australia’s ‘Big Things’ are a roadside symbol, an obsession that turned into a tradition and now a popular tourist attraction. These are sculptures of everyday items that have been recreated in gigantic dimensions and littered across the country. It has been estimated that there are over 150 such objects around the country.

It started back in 1964 when a local banana grower John Landl decided that a visible gimmick would help him sell more fruit. So he built an 11 meter long, 5 meter high fibre glass banana, based on the precise measurements of the winner from the recent agricultural show.bananaThe Big Banana, one of the first big things, is a walkthrough banana in the city of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Banana-related products are shown or sold, and the grounds of the building are a banana plantation, a souvenir shop and restaurant.pineappleThe Big Pineapple is located on the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland, Australia. It is 52 feet high and was originally opened on the 15 of August 1971. Inside the fruit are two rides: one on a Nut Mobile, the other on a small train that takes passengers on a tour of the plantation and lets them optionally disembark at a small zoo situated on the property.guitarThe Big Golden Guitar is located in Tamworth, New South Wales, in front of the famous Longyard Hotel on the Sydney Road. It was unveiled in 1988 by Australia’s most popular country music artist, Slim Dusty. The monument is one of the best-known points of interest in New South Wales and is also a major attraction during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.beer.jpgThe Big Beer Can is located above the entrance to the Grand Hotel in Cobar, New South Wales. It stands about five meters tall and is two-and-a-half meters across. Built in 1990, it entered the Guinness world record for the largest beer can anywhere in the world.koala.jpgThe Giant Koala is situated midway between the Victorian towns of Stawell and Horsham at a small town called Dadswells Bridge. The Giant Koala was erected in 1989. It’s 46 feet high and weighs just over 13 tons, set on a steel frame and a paste of fiberglass and bronze was used to create the exterior. Inside is a restaurant and souvenir shop.crocodile.jpgThe Big Boxing Crocodile is located outside the United fuel station (formerly known as the Bush Shop) on the Arnhem Highway, in a town called Humpty Doo. This humorous attraction is a reference to the large crocodile population in the area.  Humpty Doo … don’t you just love that name!antA bull ant sculpture designed by artist Pro Hart, which was erected in 1980 and originally stood at the Stephens Creek Hotel. It was moved to its current location, next to the Tourist Information Centre in Broken Hill, after being donated to the city in 1990.spiderThe Big Funnel Web Spider was built at Jamberoo Action Park located 20 minutes south of Wollongong and is a steel, fiberglass and concrete structure 420 times larger than a female Sydney funnel-web spider. It was awarded a Guinness World Record as the Largest Spider Sculpture in August 2015.scotsmanThe Big Scotsman, affectionately known as ‘Scotty’, was erected in 1963 and thus predated the Big Banana by a year. Located at Scotty’s Motel on the corner of Main North Road and Nottage Terrace in the inner-city suburb of Medindie, the Big Scotsman was designed by Paul Kelly, who later went on to build the Big Lobster.
wineLocated in the Hunter Valley which is home to some of Australia’s best vineyards stands the Big Wine Bottle. Thousands of tourists flock ever year to sample some of the best wine in the region. It was built in 1998 and the neck forms a chimney for an open fire contained within.crabLocated at the Shell petrol station and roadhouse on the corner of Dougall Street and Roe Street (Bruce Highway). Created by proprietor Lex Milner, who owned the service station at the time and wanted to promote his tasty mud crab sandwiches. Mud crab sammies?  I’ll pass on that one.  mangoThe Big Mango stands at the tourist information centre in Bowen. In February 2014, the Mango was temporarily “stolen” by restaurant chain Nando’s as a publicity stunt.melonIn 2018, the town of Chinchilla won a national competition run by Wotif to create a Next Big Thing as a tourist attraction. The melon was installed next to the town’s information center in November 2018.

Obviously, I cannot cover all 150 of the Big Things, but if you’re interested, Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive section listing most of them.  This video had some interesting information on a few of them, too.

As I mentioned in the beginning, much of Australia is afire, so let us hope the winds die down and they get some much-needed rain … soon!  To our friends in Australia … keep safe!!!

Okay, folks, that’s a wrap … now go enjoy your weekend!

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Saturday Surprise — A New Year!

Good Saturday morning, my friends, and welcome to theweekendSince the new year is right around the corner, I thought we should have a little bit of fun with it. new-year-costume

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new-year-costume-3Here in the U.S., the big televised celebration takes place in New York City’s Times Square, where an estimated one million people, many wearing funny hats ‘n glasses, pack themselves into the square to watch a big ball drop over a 60-second period, reaching the ground at exactly midnight EST.  Now, I found a bit of interesting trivia about the ball drop.  The Times Square ball drop dates back to 1907 when the ball weighed 700 pounds and had a diameter of 5 feet. It was constructed out of wood and iron and had one hundred light bulbs on it. new-year-ball-1907This year, the ball is a geodesic (whatever the heck that means) sphere, 12 feet in diameter, weighing 11,875 pounds, and covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size, and range in length from 4 ¾ inches to 5 ¾ inches per side. It will have some 32,000 LED lights.  Personally, I think the 1907 ball was just fine … no, I wasn’t around then, but I just like simplicity, and all those lights and Waterford Crystal seem like overkill to me.new-year-ball-2020The celebration at Times Square drops over 2,000 pounds of confetti on a million people each year. Needless to say, these people make quite a mess … such a mess that it takes 200 people to haul away the 50 tons of trash, rendering the square spotless again by 8:00 AM the next morning.

So, we know that people in the U.S. celebrate mainly by drinking too much, making lots of noise in whatever manner they can, whether it’s fireworks of banging pots ‘n pans.  But, how do people in other countries celebrate the new year?

  • New Year’s Eve in Greece has many traditions. During the day, children sing the New Year’s carols to be given money or treats. Then, it is time to have family lunch or dinner. In the evening, people cook a pie named “King’s pie” or Vassilopita, which is actually a cake flavored with almonds. Following tradition, they put a coin wrapped in aluminum foil inside the pie. During the family dinner, the hostess puts some of her jewelry in a plate and serves it in the side of the table, as a symbol of the coming year’s prosperity. After the dinner is over, the dish is not washed until the next day. The reason for that is that Saint Vassilis (Greek Santa Claus) is awaited during the New Year’s Eve and it is considered common courtesy to leave some food for the traveler who visits the house to bring the presents during the night. When midnight arrives, the families count down and then they turn off all the lights and reopen their eyes to “enter the year with a new light”.  After the fireworks show, they cut the Vassilopita and serve it. The person that gets the wrapped coin is the lucky person of the day and he is also blessed for the rest of the year. Gifts exchanges may follow.

  • In Italy, New Year’s Eve (Vigilia di Capodanno or Notte di San Silvestro) is celebrated by the observation of traditional rituals, such as wearing red underwear. An ancient tradition in southern regions (rarely followed today) was disposing of old or unused items by dropping them from the window (I rather like that idea!). Dinner is traditionally eaten with relatives and friends. It often includes zampone or cotechino (a meal made with pig’s feet or entrails), and lentils. At 8:30 pm, the President reads a television message of greetings to Italians. At midnight, fireworks are displayed all across the country. Rarely followed today is the tradition that consist in eating lentil stew when bell tolls midnight, one spoonful per bell. This is supposed to bring good fortune; the round lentils represent coins.

  • In Portugal the New Year celebration is taken very seriously. The tradition is to drink champagne and eat twelve raisins – one for each month of the year, making a wish for each. Another Portuguese tradition is a special cake called Bolo-Rei (literally: King Cake). Bolo-Rei is a round cake with a large hole in the center, resembling a crown covered with crystallized and dried fruit. It is baked from a soft, white dough, with raisins, various nuts and crystallized fruit. Inside is hidden the characteristic fava bean. Tradition dictates that whoever finds the fava has to pay for the Bolo-Rei next year. Initially, a small prize (usually a small metal toy) was also included within the cake. However, the inclusion of the prize was forbidden by the European Union for safety reasons. The Portuguese brought the recipe of the Gateau des Rois from France in the second half of the 19th century. To this day, this recipe is a very well-kept secret.

Although many people make resolutions for the new year, rarely are they kept past the second day of January.  I haven’t made a new year’s resolution in probably 40 years, for I learned early on that resolving to do something is the surest way to ensure it won’t get done.  If you want to do something to improve yourself or your life … just do it.  There’s no need to talk about it or write it down … just do it.  That said, I thought these were humorous …

  • My New Year’s resolution is to be more optimistic by keeping my cup half-full … with either rum, vodka, or whiskey.
  • My resolution was to read more … so I put the subtitles on my TV.
  • I was going to quit all my bad habits for the new year … but then I remembered that nobody likes a quitter.
  • At the beginning of this year I made a New Year’s resolution to lose 10 pounds … only 15 more to go!
  • My New Year’s resolution is to break my New Year’s resolutions. That way I succeed at something!

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Not all of the New Year jokes are about resolutions …

A New Year’s Wish

On New Year’s Eve, Marilyn stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living. Well it was kind of embarrassing.  As the clock struck – the bartender was almost crushed to death.

Lecture Tour with A Difference

On New Year’s Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home.  As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman.  ‘What are you doing out here at four o’clock in the morning?’ asked the police officer.’I’m on my way to a lecture,’ answered Roger.’And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year’s Eve?’ enquired the constable sarcastically. ‘My wife,’ slurred Daniel grimly.

How to Quit Smoking

Peter, at a New Year’s party, turns to his friend, Ken, and asks for a cigarette. ‘I thought you made a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking,’ Ken responds. ‘I’m in the process of quitting,’ replies Peter with a grin. ‘Right now, I am in the middle of phase one. ”Phase one?’ wonders Ken. ‘Yeah,’ laughs Peter, ‘I’ve quit buying.’

A Bad Dream?

Jemima was taking an afternoon nap on New Year’s Eve before the festivities. After she woke up, she confided to Max, her husband, ‘I just dreamed that you gave me a diamond ring for a New Year’s present. What do you think it all means? ”Aha, you’ll know tonight,’ answered Max smiling broadly. At midnight, as the New Year was chiming, Max approached Jemima and handed her small package.  Delighted and excited she opened it quickly. There in her hand rested a book entitled: ‘The meaning of dreams’.

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And that wraps up today’s Saturday Surprise!  I hope you found something to bring a smile to your face, and now … get out there and enjoy the last few days of 2019!!!

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Saturday Surprise — Holiday Humour — Redux

I confess right up front that I am cheating a bit today by re-playing last year’s Christmas Saturday Surprise.  I have many things calling my name tonight — some are holiday-related chores such as wrapping presents, and others are simply things I’m behind on because … well, because it’s been a lousy week and I seem to be dysfunctional.  Still, I don’t feel too badly, for last year’s was a fun post, and I’ve forgotten most all of it, so hopefully you have to, and it will seem as new to you!


snowball-eeyoreSnowball
~ Shel Silverstein

I made myself a snowball,
As perfect as could be,
I thought I’d keep it as a pet,
And let it sleep with me.

I made it some pajamas,
And a pillow for its head,
Then last night it ran away,
But first – it wet the bed!


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snowmanOnce There Was a Snowman
~ Anonymous

Once there was a snowman,
Who stood outside the door,
He wished that he could come inside,
And run about the floor.
He wished that he could warm himself,
Beside the fire, so red,
He wished that he could climb
Upon the big white bed.

So he called to the North Wind,
“Come and help me, pray,
For I’m completely frozen,
Standing here all day.”
So the North Wind came along,
And blew him in the door,
And now there nothing left,
But a puddle on the floor!


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Xmas-toon-8And my very favourite one of all …

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