Welcome Corporalchef!

I love finding new blogs to follow and it’s especially nice when I know the person behind the name. It makes me feel like I know a celebrity.

Anyway, one of my former co workers from my “old job”, whom I hold in very high esteem for the job he has always done there, has a habit of posting the most delicious, yummy looking things on Facebook. It appears that he is quite a cook.

To everyone’s delight he has decided to share some of his creations on a new blog along with his comments on some of the celebrity chefs that rule the airwaves today. Look at this mouth watering chicken dinner he recently posted.

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Want the recipe? It’s on his blog.

Whether you agree with his observations or not you can’t fault his home grown recipes. I expect his blog will generate some lively discussions.

I hope you’ll check out his blog  http://corporalchef.com/

If you like what you see let’s pass it on so he can grow his audience. After all, who doesn’t like food. And maybe we can all say we had a hand in helping the Next Celebrity Chef!

It’s A Furry, Furry World

It’s been quite awhile since I updated everyone on my 3 cat home life. What brought it to mind was the chaos being reaped this morning. I heard a series of loud bumps and bangs and then a horrible crash. No sleeping in this morning! (For me anyway)

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I dashed into the living room to see what had been destroyed this time only to see 3 innocent looking faces staring at me. No one was at war, everyone sitting calmly. Hmmmm maybe a bit toooo calmly.

As I began to get their breakfast together I began to see the signs. My electric  fry pan that lives on my counter when not in use was still on the counter, but it hung precariously.

009 copyThe small cat tree that arrived with Buddy was tipped over.

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OK nothing broken. I fed them breakfast, refreshed the water and headed in to clean the kitty litter. My life revolves around mundane kitty chores before I can take my shower and have my breakfast.

Before I even started the first scoop a cat ran between my legs, nearly tripping me and bolted back toward the living room…Buddy. Right on his heels came an orange streak that nearly bowled me over….Rocky! Up over the back of the couch, a leap past the TV and the 2 raced to the dining room where Rocky bolted to the top of the china cabinet. Buddy wisely refused to try !

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A few minutes later Rocky jumped down with a thud and the two crazy cats plopped down in the middle of the floor  to groom.

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Back to the chores I went. Then into the shower.

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When I stepped out dripping wet there was Buddy making himself at home on my clean towel. Although I got him off the towel he wasn’t leaving. This cat is addicted to the hair dryer. In his little kitty mind he’s figure out that shower = hair dryer. So another ritual has been born.  I just can’t take a picture when I have the hair dryer in my hands.

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Finally I’m ready to sit down to my breakfast. So that means it’s time for Smokey to get in the act. His “thing” is to sit and stare at me as I try to enjoy breakfast. It’s his hope that I’ll drop something he can grab.

With the hot weather we’ve been having Smokey is a walking fur factory. He leaves a trail of kitty fur where ever he goes. Constant vacuuming (the rug)and brushing (his hair) has not seemed to make much of a difference.

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Smokey is the referee. Buddy and Rocky get into some major tussles and if they get out of hand the clawless wonder (Smokey) jumps in an breaks it up. Hard to believe but the smallest, oldest and the only declawed cat in the household is the one to break up the fights that get out of hand. Give him a striped shirt!

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Most of the fights seem to be play fights but every now and then it gets intense. That’s when Smokey jumps in and hits them with his paw! I try not to laugh. But they both pay attention and “stand down”.

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Never a dull moment! But don’t they all look so innocent?

The Butterfly Place

The Butterfly Place in Westford, MA is located at 120 Tyngsboro Rd. It’d been a long, long time since I’d been there. From where I live in Taunton it’s about 70 miles and should take about an hour and 30 minutes to get there, depending on traffic.

I was making good time until an RV and an SUV decided to mix it up at the junction of RT 90 (Mass Pike) I was about 2 miles from the “Pike” when traffic stopped. The WB ‘copter floated overhead so I had an up to the minute report. According to them we weren’t going anywhere soon.

I shut off the car and open the windows and doors. Soon everyone was doing the same. People wandered around at the side of the road or up and down between the cars. Several ambulances and tow trucks went by but I didn’t see any Med flights so that was a good sign.

The hour we waited actually passed pretty quickly and I arrived at The Butterfly Place at 2:30 instead of 1:30.

The rules are simple, No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact..no wait, that’ the Dog Whisperer but it was similar. To protect the fragile inmates there was a no touch policy. If you are caught trying to attract a butterfly to your hands you are asked to leave.

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It’s smaller than the Magic Wings venue in Deerfield but the principle is the same. There’s a coi pond, paths through greenery and little benches. Butterflies are everywhere. This is a family owned business so I don’t know if the staff was family or “hired help” but they were very nice and quite knowledgeable. They laughed when I told them I wanted to take pictures (Turns out so did everyone else) and challenged me to get a picture of one of the blue butterflies  showing the blue. When they land they close their wings and look like a drab , brown butterfly.

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They were the challenge, for sure.  When they lit on the ground they did spread their wings…for a second and in spite of trying forever I couldn’t time it right so imagine my surprise when one landed right next to me and spread its wings as if to say “take it now, you only have one chance.”

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Although we finally had a pleasant day outside, it was 80+ and humid inside. Just the temps the butterflies love.

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You’ve already seen my favorite pictures on Wordless Wednesday.

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Like Magic Wings, there were little Quail running every where. You had to be careful not to step on the tiny birds. The attendant called them Chinese Painted Quail.

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Don’t let the small size fool you. They are fully mature. More than one pair were intent on making little quail. I got a chuckle when I heard a small voice ask his mother “What’s Mating?”.

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I also spotted a pretty little bird. I couldn’t place it but something was tugging at the corner of my mind so I asked. It’s a Zebra Finch. I must have seen them at a pet store as they are domestic birds. She said there are 3 but the most I saw at once were 2 and I couldn’t tell them apart.

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Butterfly wings closes at 5pm so about 4:30 I picked up the camera and headed home. The timing would put me right in rush hour traffic but it was worth it. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

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Perishing Puffins

Ah Puffins, those cute, colorful and comical sea birds , full of character and playfully known as “sea parrots” or even “clowns of the sea”.

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I chased them last year in Maine on 2 different occasions. It was an educational experience. Before Maine my exposure to these funny little birds had been National Geographic photos, close ups of the colorful beaks loaded with herring or eels.

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With their bright colored beak, white breast and black back, these birds look like a cross between a parrot and a penguin. They are a major tourist attraction since being brought back to the northern Maine Islands about 40 years ago.

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I was surprised about how small they are. It makes getting an iconic photo like Nat Geo’s almost impossible. You need access to the islands, not a rolling deck on a tour boat. You need a large telephoto lens and a tripod but I don’t think you need a lot of luck. I saw many puffins and many had the fish hanging from their beaks but they were tiny and distance made capturing that “money shot” a long shot.

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Fast forward to this year and a cruise to Alaska. On the maps showing our cruise route were places marked with Puffins. I was hoping that I’d get to see some of the little birds here, maybe sitting on an iceberg or two but if any were in the area they got by without fanfare and I missed them.

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Puffins have been on my mind lately. I still want to find a way to get that special photo. The Mass Audubon Society (of which I am a member) had an overnight excursion with special access to the Puffin Colony but the cost was too rich for me at the moment so I let the idea pass so it was with some concern that I watched a news clip today on the state of the Puffins in Maine.

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According to the release young puffins died at an alarming rate last season because of a shortage of herring, leaving adults to try to feed them another type of fish that was too big to swallow. Some chicks died surrounded by piles of uneaten fish.

Parent Puffin feeding baby puffin chick. (have a look at my other puffin photos, click on my name). Image shot 07/2008. Exact date unknown.

I  didn’t hear any of this last year. Maybe it wasn’t shared with the tourists as we tried to line up the perfect shot.

This summer, the chicks are getting plenty of hake and herring, said Steve Kress, director of the National Audubon Society’s seabird restoration program and professor at Cornell University but the report went on to say that researchers are still concerned because occupancy rates in the nest burrows are down this year. Puffins were nearly wiped out in Maine about a century ago. Reintroduction was begun only about 40 years ago.

Puffins raise only 1 chick, known as a Puffling, in an underground burrow. Puffins are less adaptable than many other seabirds so the health of a puffin colony is a good indication of the health of the sea and certain fish stocks.

I hope the colonies recover fully and continue to grow. After all, like so many tourists to Maine, I haven’t got my perfect photo yet!

(The wonderful close ups came from the web. I can’t offer credit for them as the photographer wasn’t Identified nor were the photos watermarked. But these are exactly what I want to take!)