Category Archives: Animals

Waxing Gibbous?

“Waxing gibbous”…. This expression made me think of a group of gibbons depilating themselves. After all, the hairless chest is the look these days (in some people’s opinion).

But no, waxing gibbous refers to when the moon is waxing (growing) towards becoming fully illuminated by the sun.

I learned a new word today when I finally looked up “gibbous” instead of just using the word ignorantly. It means “convex or protuberant” – sticking out, like bulgy eyes. I think they used that choice of words because the gibbous phase of the moon is when it is more than half but not quite full.

I grew up with the phrase “the man in the moon” and I still see two eyes and a mouth when I look at the moon.

However, while visiting in Baja,  I met a friend there who told me they call it the rabbit in the moon, “el conejo en la luna.”  Sure enough, when I looked for a rabbit, I saw it. There he is in the photo below. He’s facing to the left with his long floppy ears streaming over his back. Do you see him? They even have a legend about how he got there.

Quetzalcoatl was tired and hungry. He had traveled far, so he sat down by the side of the road to rest. A little rabbit came along and chatted with him. When the rabbit learned that Quetzalcoatl was hungry, he offered him vegetables to eat, but Quetzelcoatl said he didn’t care much for veggies. He needed something more substantial.

“But I’m only a small insignificant rabbit, and this is the only food I have to offer,” the rabbit said.

Quetzalcoatl was moved by the humility and generosity of the rabbit and he rose up to the moon with the rabbit. He said, “Now you will no longer be insignificant, but be seen and admired by everyone forevermore.”

My own opinion about this legend is, that’s all very nice, but no one asked the rabbit if he wanted to spend the rest of his life up there on the cold lonely moon. It reminded me of people who help blind people cross the road when all they wanted to do was stand on the street corner.

So what do you see? The man or the rabbit? Or both?

Whichever you see, as of this morning’s full moon, it is no longer waxing, but will start waning. Sigh, now I should do a post about Wayne….

Bird’s Eye View

I looked out at the sunny (cold) day this morning. Someone else was also looking. Do you see him at the top of the fir tree? It’s a good place to spot potential targets for food — maybe a crippled duck, or some small creature in a field, or even a  victim of overnight road kill.

I stepped out onto the deck and took about 30 wiggly photos. I leaned against a deck post and tried 20 more. Finally I managed to get a photo that was recognizable, if not sharp. The camera has a 43X zoom so this is the best it can do without a tri-pod. I often wish for a BIG telescopic lens but then there is the weight to consider. Also, these subjects don’t often hang around long enough for me to get set up.

But we can see his “eagle eye” and the sharp tearing beak. It must be breezy up there, judging by his feathers being ruffled on the windward side.

It is a lean time of year for the eagles. They work hard to find some unsuspecting, usually sick or starving, bird to feed on. But soon, the herring will be coming close to the beach to spawn, and then the eagles will be “living off the fat of the land” (and sea).

Toasty Coasties

We’ve been warned for a week or two that  north winds are coming to give us one last icy kiss before we waltz into spring. What a blow to us west coasters who are mostly used to (relatively) warmer temperatures and wind and rain.

The night before the chill was to hit,  our one sunny day disappeared as our prevailing southeast winds brought in more rain clouds. It almost had me doubting the weatherman’s prediction.

But overnight, the skies cleared and the stars sparkled like crystals over frosty lawns.

The next day the clouds moved in again, but this time from the north. They sat heavily on the hills, waiting for night when the sneak attack was to occur.

Sure enough, in the wee hours of the morning,  a biting cold wind blew flakes in every direction. Some flakes even spiraled upwards as if to undo the snowfall. A coat of white fluff barely covered the ground, but more is on the way.

I rushed out to refill the birdfeeders and put suet out for the fussier birds. When I went out onto the deck later to take this picture, the birds scattered into the shrubs, and I was too chilled to stand there waiting for them to return.

Across the street, my neighbours’ lovely willow is calling for spring, but with this ugly turn of events, the fuzzy buds are lucky to have a fur coat. They’ll need it to weather the chilly week ahead.

 

So  it seems that no one in Canada, not even this Toasty Coasty, is escaping the deep freeze  after all.

Three Cheers for the Weather – “Raw! Raw! Raw!”

I thought it was pretty at first, the way the fog rolled in over the bay and completely hid the water from view.

Foolish girl!

It rolled onto the lower beach areas and the land close to the water.

Smugly, I thought, “How pretty it looks, and how lucky am I to be living on higher ground in the clear blue sky.”

But pride comes before the fall. You might be able to see the mist lifting ever so slightly, rising up, looking for me.

Here it comes…

and here it stays, full of tiny droplets of ice water that almost freeze the air.

Carl Sandburg’s Chicago poem, “Fog,” made an impression on me the first time I heard it. He says it so simply, so “on the mark,” and with beautiful imagery.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

But …

I’m sorry, Carl. I find that very often, the last line of your poem doesn’t work for me, so I’ve had to change it.

 

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and stays and stays and stays and stays and stays… .

Anneli Purchase

New Year’s Outing

A trip to the beach? There’s no better way to start the New Year.

Emma and Ruby were happy to get out of the house.

“Yahooooooo! It’s so much fun,  so much to see.”

Ladies and Gentlemen  we have “Liftoff” (with all four feet).

Emma thinks she’s Superdog. She’ll just swim out to the ducks and bring them home to “Dad.”

But she has forgotten that ducks can not only swim, but also fly. The ducks on the other hand, seem to know that dogs can’t fly.

“Any second I’ll have them, ” Emma bleats.

And any second, the ducks will take wing, after which, Emma does the sensible thing and turns back to shore.

Refreshed and well exercised, she comes ashore, looking for someone to shake by.

Not one to give up easily, she’s already scouting around for more targets.

No ducks were harmed in the making of this blog post. Fa-a-a-a-ar from it!

 

The Dreaded Post-Christmas Pounds

People are not the only ones who put on a pound or two over the holidays. It happens to our pets, too.
This morning the Captain took Emma, our field cocker spaniel, to a nearby farm to hunt for ducks. This photo is from yesterday, when we were just out for a walk. Ducks were everywhere.
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Ruby, the springer spaniel, was upset that she didn’t get to go. Nearly 12 years old, she’s almost completely deaf now, but she still knew she was being left behind. She felt better after I gave her a little treat and pulled  her doggie bed right beside me by the laptop.
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Last night when the Captain was getting things ready for this morning’s outing, he hauled out the little neoprene vest I made for Emma a couple of years ago.
“You’d better try it on her,” I said. “She’s put on a couple of pounds.” (After all, it’s just after Christmas).
Sure enough, it was VERY snug.
“You can’t have her wear that. She won’t be able to breathe.”
I looked high and low and luckily found a piece of left over neoprene  (from the old wet suit that I had used to make the vest).
I cut a 1 1/2 inch strip the length of Emma’s suit. It didn’t take long to cut the suit and sew in the strip. With a zigzag stitch and the piece butted up to the edges it was easy to insert a strip. No need to overlap neoprene to make a seam. Just laying the edges snugly side by side and zigzagging them together works fine.
You can see the post I did about the original vest a couple of years
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Here she is in the original vest.
I was going to take a picture of Emma in her expanded vest to put at the end of this post, but I was shocked to learn that she came home without it.
It’s lost! Somewhere out there in the brambles it got hooked up, the velcro parted, and there the vest stayed.
In the next day or so we’ll have to launch a search party for it.

Wind and Rain

Yesterday, on a rare sunny day I was coming home from town when I had to make a quick photo stop. The mist and cloud formations across the bay were ominous, warning of the next weather system coming in.

*Warning* Wet camera lens was an ongoing problem.

I turned the camera back towards town. The spread of the clouds stretched along the far hills. In the water is a long row of posts that has been there ever since I can remember. Not sure what purpose they once served, unless it was a  navigation guide. The posts still stick out at high tide and warn boaters of the bar.

As you can see below, some posts still show in places where the bar is farther below the surface, and the trunk of a long-dead tree is hung up on the gravel. This is not where you want your boat to end up. Seagulls and a heron sit on the log like sentinels warning of hazards to navigation.

After a slightly deeper stretch of water, the bar comes up again and continues into the bay. A river flows along the side of the bar that is closest to us (at the bottom of the photo), while the water beyond is a shallow bay that is a mudflat at very low tide. If you want to bring a boat up the river, you need to know where the channel is or end up with seagulls sitting on your hull.

The sandbar is a popular place for birds to dabble and sun themselves. Sometimes you’ll find ducks and geese there; sometimes, like this day, seagulls.

The sun came blasting through the clouds for one last look at me. I clicked the camera as I looked back into its blinding light, knowing I might not see this light for days ahead.

This morning I see that I was right. Looking out my living room window, I saw what was behind those first clouds I saw yesterday – a blast of southeast duck weather.

It’s a good day to stay home while the Captain goes duck hunting.

*****

Winter on the coast is wet,

Wind and rain is all you get,

Sometimes there’s a glimpse of sun,

Just five minutes, then it’s done,

Back we go to wind and rain,

Hope by spring I’m not insane.