Monday – dead bird blogging

2005 Fernbank, Turkey
Turkey at the Fernbank, 2005

Everyone else blogs pics of pretty live birds sighted from their lovely home environ which has the kind of things (trees, food) that attracts avians other than asphalt-nibbling pigeons. But there’s no point my missing out on the prom, so I dug up a date. At the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The one that got away from Swanson. Which says something about life if you’re a cynic. Which I’m not. If I was a cynic I’d have gone over to the Fernbank Science Museum and shot a pic of the stuffed vulture.

Has a distinctive woodlands, pre-puritan look to him, but looks are as deceiving as Edward Curtis.

The Ground Hornbill makes a gift of a magnolia cone

Went to the zoo and took along my not very good digital when I should have taken the good one, but I’ve pics I’d not yet downloaded from the other camera. The not-as-good camera is fickle and there was a moment I was assuming had been recorded but came out blurred. I’ve written before on how I used to dance with the one of the two Ground Hornbills. Then it and its mate were moved into a neighboring pen without the length of frontal expense it previously had that gave it the opportunity to get a good run. The length of the front of the pen is just enough that a good running start would have it catapulting into the fence. This has seriously cramped our ability to dance together, which always involved the Hornbill picking up an object that it would proudly display, sometimes seeming like it would make a present of it, and then celebrating by dancing and running back and forth.

For a while we let our zoo membership lapse, and now have started it back up again as H.o.p.’s interest in the zoo has resumed. The Ground Hornbill has worn a new path around the edges of its pen, but its dancing ability, at least along the front length of the pen remains cramped.

The Hornbill continued to act as if it is cramped and even a bit forelorn as we stood in front of each other today at the zoo, ready and wanting to dance as we once did but unable.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other.

I believe it remembers me. The Hornbill is known to live to an age of 50 years. A good memory is its essential friend.

I approached and the Hornbill was ready and and came over to me and began its dance. It ran and got the requisite object. Put it down. We hopped up and down before each other in greeting. It picked back up the object. It seemed to ready itself to make that old famliar run back and forth but faced the end of the fence, only a few steps away, and remembered that run was impossible. There’s some length to run in the other direction but it’s away from the arc of visitor walkway into a area hidden by foliage and that’s no fun if your guest can’t run with you.

I’ve written before about how the Hornbill would seem to want to make a gift to me of these objects. The below picture shows today’s object, a magnolia cone. It wandered back and forth with me a bit and seemed extra earnest today about the object, like it really really really wanted me to take it. Like, “Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you. It’s good to see you again. Have a magnolia cone, please.”

Below is the picture I wish I’d gotten but for no reason at all came out blurred. (The camera was having a particularly tough time.) As I was saying, after our not seeing each other in a while, the Hornbill seemed extra eager for me to finally take a present. And this time (a first) the Hornbill was persistant enough that it finally pushed his beak through the fence and since I didn’t take it, it pushed its beak as far as its could and then (which you can’t see here) craned its head from that position as far up as it could toward me, stretching with the offering in its beak, and waited, waited, waited for me to take the magnolia cone.

Not being able to take the cone I felt some conflict about it as the Hornbill was so insistent. Truth is, even had I been able to take the cone (and I could have if I had really reached for it) because I fear promoting the bird reaching out toward visitors. Like visitors feeding animals is harmful to their diet and encourages harmful behavior. Poking its beak out the fence towards humans, offering gifts, isn’t, I imagine, safe for the Hornbill. So I felt bad about what the Hornbill perhaps viewed as a failed interaction.

One of these days there will be a zookeeper around who is familiar with the bird and I will be able to learn more about this particular one and its history.

It was late afternoon by the time we were done riding the train and carousel and finished with the reptile house where the snakes were active today and most of them in constant motion, winding all around their enclosures, stretching up the length of the glass fronts, tasting air with their tongues.

An orangutan rested in deep shade close to the dry moat that separates it from visitors. It slowly munched a slice of apple, playing with its hands, testing one against the other, opening them and examining the digits, then closing, opening and examining, then closing.

Almost all the gorillas had retired to a secluded area with the exception of one young male that patroled toward the front.

The elephants were enjoying a meal of hay as we left. When we arrived they were being exercised, their keepers cajoling them to stretch and run.

Ruby Falls

Apparently there is only one possible photo you can take at Ruby Falls at Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is it. You will notice that it was taken in 2003 and that it doesn’t bear my name. But it’s the exact same photo I took at Ruby Falls, except mine had a couple of water spray dots on the lens.

When we started on the trip we’d no plans of going to Ruby Falls, but when we hit Chattanooga it suddenly seemed the thing to do. Well, driving up the mountain seemed first the thing to do, which was cool (comparatively) and piney. Roll down the windows and breathe in deep. Ah it suddenly felt like a vacation and when we saw the sign for Ruby Falls we dutifully followed. We weren’t fully committed to the notion of spelunking as we were waved by a friendly man into a parking lot that was two-third’s empty. But he was friendly and friendliness can convince of a number of things when you’re giddy with two weeks of travel time ahead of you, and his broad circular waving motion I knew was branding us with dedication when we accepted direction and pulled into the lot.

Continue reading Ruby Falls

Not that Hobo Joe’s

There is a little place in Cottonwood, Arizona called Hobo Joe’s Coffee Shop. 660 E Mingus Ave. My dad, Marty and H.o.p. and I were pointed to Hobo Joe’s by my mother who had never actually eaten there.

I ordered the green chili omelette with cheddar and hash browns and biscuit. “Good choice,” said the blond waitron, whose name I forget but she is one of those few with the personality to make you feel that every customer she’s ever waited on was a friend frequenting the establishment for as many years as she’d been working there, the kind of waitron who if she ever changes jobs and goes to wait at another place, the customers pick up their chairs and follow her. She made me feel special by saying, “Good choice.” And she didn’t look at me cross-eyed though I was covered with hundreds of flaming red hundreds of hives.

They have the biggest biscuits in the world. Cross my heart, poke a needle in my eye if it isn’t the truth (don’t challenge me on this, please). The biscuit needed its own chair. It was about 4 inches in height. Who needs to be eating a Babe and the Blue Ox sized biscuit, I don’t know, but I was on vacation and vacations are for things you don’t normally do, even if it’s as mundane as eating a really big biscuit, and I was ready for it. And it was just right. I should have taken a picture but it didn’t occur to me until I was done eating it. The call to eat that biscuit was too strong to wait for a photo.

Marty had country-fried steak and hash browns, a couple of scrambled eggs, and his way of describing the biscuit is to say it was about the size of his head. He says the steak, was different from the southern style he’s used to, not quite as spicy, but he was pleased with it and devoured it all.

While we ate, late-morning stragglers, another table with a man in a wheelchair (easy access!) congratulated her and the cook on something they were eating which they said was the best of whatever it was that they’d ever had. I don’t know whether they had her call out the cook or whether the waitron brought him out on her own initiative but he appeared in his long white apron and soaked up the praise. I’m not certain the cook was the owner of the coffee shop but he sounded like he was. Appearances and feel indicate that Hobo Joe’s is a mom-and-pop coffee shop.

There was a mural and dozens of framed hand-drawn pics on the walls that I didn’t examine and wish that I had.

There was another Hobo Joe’s, a long defunct chain, based out of Scotsdale, Arizona, begun by Robert Goldwater, a brother of Barry Goldwater. A man named Applegate hooked up with Goldwater and a guy nmaed Martori in the 60s and Hobo Joe’s was born, each establishment apparently graced with the statue of a hobo. The Humpty-Dumpty Coffeeshops were also gratis the same team, and eventually Applegate birthed Applegate.

The Hobo Joe’s of yesteryear is mentioned in the 1977 book, “The Arizona Project”, by Michael Wendland.

It’s an old saying in Arizona that what money won’t buy, sex will. And the saying is not without merit. For in almost every aspect of the state’s business dealings being investigated by the visiting reporters, sex-in the form of well-paid prostitutes or carefully kept mistresses-played a major role. Without seeking it out, the reporters kept stumbling across example after example: a couple of extremely prominent lawyers who staged weekly sex-party poker games for their well-heeled business clients; a land fraud huckster who bought a Phoenix tavern for his mistress; a Tucson drug dealer who kept two Las Vegas hookers on annual retainers; an elderly judge whose vice was young girls; and a well-known Phoenix politician and businessman whose kinky sex habits were paid for in diamonds, thus earning him the nickname “Diamondman” in the trick book of almost every madame in the Southwest.

I would imagine that the owner of the Cottonwood Hobo Joe’s is aware of the legacy the Hobo Joe’s name carries with it so I am curious as to why the name was chosen.

If I lived in Cottonwood I’d be down at Hobo Joe’s several mornings a week, I think. As a shooter for every catastrophe in life I know I’d be down there.

Politics? What politics?

We’re back and our fish are still alive. My husband’s father has been battling ALS the past five years and landed in the hospital a couple of weeks before we were to set out on a long-planned vacation to the Ioway Fall Encampment in Kansas and then down to see my mother in Cottonwood and my father in Phoenix, Arizona. When the doctor said things were not critical, we set out on our first real vacation in I’m not going to tell you how long, but it’s been a very long time since we’ve had a vacation.

And man was it grand.

I checked email once, a week into the trip, and discovered that despite my setting the website not to allow trackbacks or comments by individuals not previously approved, the casinos had managed to find their way in anyhow and I had over 700 comments and trackbacks that I wasn’t going to be able to delete for another week. So tonight I deleted about 1200 trackbacks and comments total…

Now I’ve started transferring pics from the digital cameras to the computer. Am hoping I came up with a few good shots.

We hit (gasp) Ruby Falls! Indeed, the same that has long called for my presence from multiple tin roofs for many years but to which I’d refused to answer until a seven-year-old was in the car and I decided it was time, young son should see Ruby Falls, and though the cavern made me want to run screaming the first few minutes I preserved a brave, cheerful appearance for sake of young son and was soon enchanted by the tour guide who had the most profound southern accent I’ve ever heard. And we saw the Grand Canyon (not very many Americans this time of year, lots of Germans) where–unlike some tourists I saw who climbed out onto a rock ledge and encouraged their little boy to sit with his feet dangling over the chasm for a photo op–I kept yelling at young son, who wanted to throw rocks in it, not to get to close to the edge, and most of the time had a firm grasp on his wrist as the blustery winds made me nervous. We toured the Heard Museum in Phoenix and Frank Lloyd Wright’s western studio at Phoenix. And visited he International Museum of the Painted Desert (the private one).

We watched only enough news to know that returning by I-20 might not be the best idea after Rita and instead took the I-40 route back.

I managed to read a couple of books and start another, none of which had a thing to do with politics, but every so often stopped in front of a newspaper box when buying gas and coffee (do not purchase coffee ever in Oklahoma City because it may be guaranteed as hot and fresh but it ain’t coffee) and this AM Marty dropped in my lap the news that Tom Delay was indicted.

Just to show I was thinking of you, I whipped out the camera when we were buying coffee Wednesday evening and a Halliburton truck pulled up next to us somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the panhandle of Texas.

To prove I’d been on vacation, here’s a pic of me I permitted to be taken at Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo.

Continue reading Politics? What politics?

Catch 22

Catch 22 waving bye to me not long before I fled the theater my first viewing

Several times last week I had an almost, not-quite exchange with laizzes-faire “well, this is unacceptable so certainly it will be taken care of blitheness”, variation of a too nonchalant “this too shall pass” which left me disoriented, sapped of strength, as if the words were an invisible red-and-white striped straw that had unexpectedly found vein, tapped, then breezed along. My outrage over the murderous sadism of naked bodies suspended from and dying on Terror War chains, or the routine stripping of stateside prisoners for purposes of police state humiliation and dehumanization distanced with words of a tourist casual aloofness. I was in horror of the routine humiliation of real people with names and lives, easily imagining my flesh and person in their place, when around the corner strolls a mind that touches my own and I find myself in a place where velvet crowd-control ropes direct the traffic through medieval death dungeons, the victims are historical artifacts that make the price of the ticket, the chained a perpetual fact of life, the essential oddity that makes the attraction, but quickly and ultimately a prison cell is small and boring so move along. The lack of interest embraces and seems to want to win me over to its view and carry me with it. I become detached and disoriented. So this then has no meaning? Belongs to a world of shadowy “other” that has no relation to the tourist basking in the sun. They go to find something to eat and I am left in a state of slight, mute shock. Hollowed.

It’s been a long time since I read “Catch 22”. Just thinking of it now I realize that we probably no longer have the novel. A disintegrating paperback I’ve not seen around in a long time, which means it must have fallen apart and turned landfill sometime between then and now. Had the paperback already when I was 18 or 19, but I’d not read it before I went to see the movie, “Catch 22”.

Continue reading Catch 22