A is for…

I was thinking about the upcoming Alaska trip and it hit me that after Alaska I will still have 2 more states that start with A to visit.
Arizona
Two visits to Arizona gave me memories of the Grand Canyon, Montezuma’s Castle, Meteor Crater to name just a few of the sights.

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On my second trip I even got to share some of those experiences with my sister.

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There’s still so much more to see there as well.

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Slot Canyons and Monument Valley to the north and Saguaro National Park and Tombstone to the south and much more. I could plan return tips every year and not see it all.

Alaska

Coming up in just a couple of weeks is another “trip of a lifetime” but this one is to Alaska. From Vancouver to Anchorage by sea and the interior for a stay in Denali. We have a full schedule but once again we’ll only be scratching the surface. I’d love to see the bears of Katmai especially during the salmon run and  the aurora borealis.

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Alabama

Museums, battlefields, botanical gardens and nature trails. I’m sure there’s more. Usually when I start looking at a state more and more places of interest crop up. When we went to South Dakota the most common question I got was “What’s in South Dakota?”. Way more than you’d think but I’ll save that discussion for “S”.

Arkansas

And the 4th state starting with A is Arkansas. The thing that comes to mind first is The Clinton Library. National Geographic lists a drive through the Ozarks as one of the “Drives of a Lifetime” . Blanchard Springs Caverns  are ranked among the most beautiful underground discoveries of the 20th  century. National Parks, a diamond mine, civil war battlefields, even a restore antebellum town to explore, seems like Arkansas has  a lot to offer when its turn come up.

So tell me, have you been to an “A” state? Do you live in one? What can you share about any of the “A’s”?

Some Things Just Need to get Done

Yesterday was a beautiful day but instead of “going fishing” I ended up throwing open the window and sliding door to the deck to air out the condo. I started my spring cleaning. Seems like things really got out of hand this winter.

My condo is little, only 1 bedroom and with 3 cats it can seem pretty crowded. Since I moved in 6 years ago I’ve been trying to adapt the deck so that the cats could use it too. The problem is that the deck runs along the back of building from one end to the other. About 5 condos have sliders that open onto this deck and in the middle are the stairs to the 3rd floor and the fire escape to the ground.

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I can’t just close off my section because the condos on the end from me need to be able to get to the fire escape by crossing my deck area and the condo by-laws prohibit anything from being attached to the exterior. That includes screens and TV dishes or antennas.

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One of my favorite TV shows is “My Cat From Hell”. First of all the cats on this show are really out of control but the owners usually aren’t anything great either, still I do pick up some tips now and then  and “Catios” are big suggestions. Based on some of the things I’ve seen on the show I’ve gotten some ideas.

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I’m thinking of screened sections that could be folded up and moved out of the way when the deck is not being used. I could also go low and use the lattice fencing with an lightweight screen attached at a 45 degree angle. I  think that might be more trouble than the screen scections. But one thing is for sure if I don’t want a run-in with the condo association…it has to be attractive!

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The problem is I’m not sure I am up to the task of making this enclosure. I’m hoping that I am back to work quickly with a regular paycheck again and that maybe I can get a handyman/ carpenter to create this enclosure.

I did look into some of the “training area” fences and they are geared more to dogs and too low. I also looked into cat fences and they need to be attached to the deck and they were kind of ugly as well as expensive.

Anyone else have any ideas? Has anyone else created a “catio”?

Springtime at the Pond

It’s a beautiful spring day. Even the breeze carries a hint of warmth. Buds are starting to appear on most of the trees. Some plants are even flowering. Robins made their appearance a couple of weeks ago but even more birds are arriving daily. The previously frozen landscape is awakening.

A visit to the Grist Mill Pond in Plymouth, Ma reflects the rhythms of spring as well.

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Mr. Majestic patrolled the pond with his typical aggressive enthusiasm. His usual targets, the Canada Geese, were on the pond in force keeping him busy posturing and chasing. They approached Mr. Majestic’s end of the pond like a noisy armada.

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He’s truly beautiful when he fluffs out his feathers . He’s King of the Pond! The geese didn’t stand a chance and retreated back to the far end of the pond. Far from Mr. Majestic’s domain.

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All this warfare is tiring and soon Mr. Majestic took a nap floating right on the water.

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He kept one eye open for sneak attacks but the geese had other things on their minds.

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The Pond Crier, a gull, was busy guarding some stale bread. He would sound the the alarm for sure if the geese made any adverse moves.

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Nearby a male and female duck rested on the new grass.

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But back to Mr. Majestic, what had inspired him to be so territorial so early in the season? A search of the far bank soon revealed the reason. There was Mrs. Majestic snoozing on a nest.

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Mr. Majestic shook off his nap and checked his reflection in the water. (Mirror, Mirror?)

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Satisfied with what he saw in the water he was soon escorting the Mrs. to dinner. What a lovely couple.

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I wonder if there will be little majestics  later this spring.

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Barn Babies

About a week ago I had the awesome honor of photographing my friend’s daughter.

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You saw one of her pictures on the Mother’s Day Card posted on my card  page. Dawn was a great little model for one so young doing everything I asked of her and hanging in until I was done. Such patience in a young one deserves a reward so Nancy, Dawn’s mother suggested we take Dawn to see the Barn Babies at the Westgate Mall.

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Now my little friend Dawn is as much of an animal lover as I am so that was easy to agree to and off we went.

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Set up was inside the mall with hay bales to sit on and plenty of plastic to cover the floor. The lamb wore a diaper and the puppies and tiny little pig were in mini enclosures. There were plenty of Barn Baby staff to assist and parents or adult friends were also allowed into the enclosure. I’d be lying if I said it was quiet. It was not ! It was crowded and all of the kids were excited but the staff had it down to a science.

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Each child had a sticker with the time they came in. Every half hour or so a bell was rung and the children who had been there the longest had to leave to make room for a new group. A child could get back in line to go in again but had to wait their turn.

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The children could hold bunnies and kittens and chicks. Each baby animal was swaddled in a blanket by a staff member before being placed gently in the child’s hands. The children were then told to sit down quietly. To my surprise none of the babies seemed to be nervous or upset.

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I asked the staff about that as I held a bunny that was dozing in my arms. They said the swaddling gives the babies a sense of security and keeps them calm. If they get stressed they burrow into the swaddling cloths and that keeps them from scratching the child by trying to get away. They also watch for signs that a baby is getting stressed and if so rotate them out for a time so they can calm down.

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After we left I got to thinking about all the baby animals I saw especially the kittens and chicks and bunnies. I know how many cats are abandoned and need homes and how around Easter the Humane Society and other rescue groups beg the public not to get bunnies and chicks as pets because they are so often abandoned or surrendered shortly after they are brought home for the holiday.

So I wrote to Barn Babies and asked them what happened to these animals after they were too big for the traveling zoo. I was gratified to get a quick response. Having witnessed their gentle care in the chaos of the mall and with the quick response I feel comfortable giving them a hearty Thumbs Up.

So here in their own words is was I was told:

Barn Babies works closely with local farmers and breeders. Many of the babies you saw on Tuesday already have “furrever” homes, which are families that we approve to adopt them after they retire from Barn Babies. We socialize them so often that many families are attracted to our pets.

We are a USDA licensed business as an “animal exhibitor” which means many things, but relating to your question our USDA license means that we must track where every baby comes from and goes to, the state keeps track of all our babies & where they end up (as well as how they are taken care of when they are with us).

Please let me know if you have any questions.