this thanksgiving, i got to meet my new nephew, kyle.
he was born in july, but lives roughly 1600 miles away.. so i braved the arctic (okay, 30-degree) temperatures to come to wisconsin to meet him and eat girl scout cookies.
kamille wouldn't let me wake him up (she's not even his mom! apparently she doesn't know about the just-keep-'em-alive rule when it comes to aunts), so i had to go take pictures of him and try my best to "accidentally" be loud. he slept through it, though. you can tell he's related.
this is kyle and me, during one of our few waking-in-common moments.
he wouldn't look at the camera for anything.
he has a very pretty little face. i love the nose part! and i really thought dooce was goofy when she said she wanted to eat her leta's cheeks, but i found it hard to keep my mouth off his.. despite all that drool. :)
he's a very smiley little fella.
it makes me pretty sad that i won't know kyle well.. i have just one other n-person (niece/nephew), and she and i are buds.. maybe kelli and her little family will come to florida sometime, though, and i can be the aunt that takes him to the ocean.. rather than the aunt who comes to wisconsin and sniffles a lot and complains that it's cold. let's hope. :)
that stacey is such a pretty girl!
and mature too!
photo credit: niece, amanda
oceanwatch fish id, 11/21
ok, so the thought of writing about sunday's dive gets me a bit grumpy, but here goes..
sunday eddie & i went to a class offered by oceanwatch
at the nova university center at john u. lloyd state park. there were two other people present, ron, and a girl named toni, who i later figured out to be a scubaboard
member. her "scubaboard" t-shirt was probably
my biggest clue. oceanwatch's rose gave us an introduction to the organization and program, then started us on our fish lesson, which concentrated on grunts and snappers. i'm definitely an animal lover, but fish are typically "pretty" or "goofy-looking" and that's as far as i can distinguish. it was great to learn about the differences between this grunt and that grunt.. just really looking
at the fish makes a big difference.
the class went from 9:30(ish) until noon, at which time we adjourned to the local publix where we got yummy subs and went off to meet our boat, the ibis.
coincidentally, it's the same boat i was certified on.. and therefore one-half of the dive boats i've been on in my entire life.
after eating in the car and somehow changing into my bathing suit behind a towel, we boarded the boat and met lauren, our group's second fish expert. then, we were out on the water...
a not-at-all accurate depiction of sunday's waters
let's see.. first tank. what embarassing thing happened during this leg of the trip? ahh yes! i think our bottom time was planned to be around 50 minutes.. we were to head up when the first of our six divers hit 1000 psi. which i did, after about 20 minutes. considering my air consumption has been average so far, this completely freaked me out in the water. i alerted ed and rose to my air-depleting condition and then hung about, not sure what was going to happen.. as i watched my air go to 700 and dip ever lower.. poor ed and rose had to come up with me, wasting the air left in their tanks and cutting a dive in half. on top of that, i was to follow the line up with ed and rose behind me.. i was trying.. but rose was right behind me.. if i kicked my fins, i felt like i was kicking her. if i didn't, i wasn't moving up. i still don't know what i should've done. pulled myself on the line? would that have dragged the flag down? i felt awful and apologized to rose when we surfaced.. she said it was okay but i felt like a huge asshole.
on the bright side, i did manage to ID a few fish. and a moray eel, although he was laying on his side looking not-quite-right.
so we're on the boat again. some of the students never made it into the water; despite the fact the seas were pretty calm, they got sick. one looked just like larry the cable guy
, complete with southern drawl. "poor things," i thought, not knowing i'd be joining them soon.. but then i gagged. next thing, i'm running for the trash can. then made a dash for the side of the boat. i've only been seasick once before, but it was baaad
.. so i immediately started crying (better said: bawling) thinking it'd be like that. poor ed, dealing with his crying-in-public girlfriend. luckily, after a few minutes of purging, i felt up to getting in the water for our second dive.
this time, i was sans pencil.. little bastard got away from me, despite the velcro.. and without making notes, i felt pretty useless as a fish identifier, so went back to my usual admiring-the-seascape routine. i saw a little puffer
and figured i should try to stop hovering 10 feet above everything i want to look at.. and was proud to get down in its cute little face, following it around the reef.
soon after, however, i started to float up.. (((FLASHBACK FROM CERT. DIVE))).. i managed to get my shit together and made it back down, where ed was making a gesture that i took quite clearly to mean, "WTF?!" ruh-roh.
the group was beginning to surface when i made it down, so we sloooowly went to the surface. slowly slowly.
by this time, i'm feeling like a huge asshole
in about 10 ways (i kicked rose in the face, got sick, ruined 2 divers' dives, STARTED TO FLOAT, etc.) and just trying to get my equipment undone without crying. and then
the seasickness returned. the messed-up part was that i didn't even feel sick.. i just had to puke. the seas weren't even rough! i've been out in rougher and been fine! blah.
thank god ed was there, giving me pats on the back and comforting words (ie "aww, my poor baby" and "puker!"). jerk. :)
ed and i had a talk when motoring back in about me and my seeming inability to stay with the group.. which, i swear, i hadn't really even noticed. which is even worse! i make sure i have wetsuits nearby and go about my business. i thought it was okay.. but that's just me not thinking, i guess. me too busy looking at puppy-dog fish to be as aware as i should be. apparently i had messed up in a way i hadn't even realized - ON TOP OF ALL THE WAYS I HAD REALIZED, and by the time we got to the car, i was crying. ed didn't understand why, so i explained: maybe i'm just too fucking airheaded for this, ya know? i love seeing all this amazing life under the water, but in doing so, i'm this huge jerk to people just by being me.. not knowing what to do in certain circumstances.. being oblivious in others.. i dunno.. everything was fine when it was just me & ed in key largo, but i left sunday feeling like complete shit. ed gave me a pep talk, explaining that i was new and was off to a great start, but i still just felt like diving -- despite the fact that i loved it -- maybe just wasn't something i was going to be able to do. a frown and a sniffle accompanied me for the rest of the evening.
i've had time to relax about it, to think some and resolve to be better.. and am anxious to get back out there, to replace that experience of my last time diving with something involving a bit less messing up, pissing people off, and having to have ed answer for me during roll call because i was too involved with crying/puking off the side of the boat.
regardless, sunday shook me up pretty bad.. if anyone has any advice here, i'd greatly appreciate it. i feel like i'm a burden on a dive.. and maybe all new people are.. but that makes me feel awful.
btw - i'm in wisconsin right now and it's 19 degrees outside. 19. degrees. wtf?
here's the kitten and her shaved little belly. she's feeling quite a bit better.. eating, playing, all that. the only change i've seen so far is that whereas she used to cry when we were holding her, now she cries if we look too intently at her. yeah, it's reeeeal cute.
please do note in this picture how gorgeous florida is. it's november 20 and 80 degrees. :)
yes, those are little wires poking out of my poor little kitty's shaved little belly. awwww.
kitten surgery update
alright, so the kitten is fine. she mostly just sleeps, but she made it through fine. i rushed home after work.. "rushed" meaning it took me an hour (gotta love s. florida traffic).. to see her and hold her and all she'd do is cry. so i made her a nest under the coffee table with blankets and left her alone.
ed about fell on the floor laughing when he saw how disappointed i was. "i was thinking about this all day!" he said. he knew i would want to comfort her and think she'd want to be held and petted on and knew she would want nothing to do with me. he keeps saying i don't know cats and finds it amusing when i expect them to be more dear than they are. he's mostly right.
at bedtime, i couldn't leave her downstairs so i brought her into the bedroom and made a new nest for her behind the chair she likes to sleep under and try to dismantle. i put her in her little kitty bed and covered that with a fleece throw.. as i said goodnight, she sat there blinking at me from inside her coccoon.
this morning, i sat up in bed to see if she was still sleeping soundly or if she'd move her little kitty ass to the closet just to make me feel silly for making her a comfy bed to sleep in. she wasn't there.
where was she?
by my feet. cuddled up in the blankets.
my baby got her groggy little ass to her wobbly little feet and made the huge leap onto the bed to sleep with us.
so like i said, ed is mostly right. but not all
reintroducing my turtle
you don't see or hear much of my turtle these days.. he's a damn good pet, though. unlike, say, my tortoise, he reacts when i walk in the room (by jumping off his basking log in terror). and unlike my kitten, he doesn't make me sneeze.
i got turty, as he was named, at the (depressing) swap shop in 2001 or so. i actually got two little turtles, but the other barely made it through the night. turty was tiny at first.. he even had his little egg tooth. hatchling! i kept him in a little tupperware container and he ate tiny itty bitty pellets. i remember how cute it was when he tried to bite. "oh, whatcha gonna do, TRIM MY NAILS?"
he used to be really cute. he used to sleep on me when i had him in wisconsin and the winters were cold. he's been in an airplane and driven with me cross-country. well, i did most
of the driving. he just fiddled with the radio and pooped a lot.
five years (and many enclosures) later, the turtle has grown from quarter-size to bigger-than-my-hand size. his pinprick nostrils that i used to think were so cute are now cavernous, gaping holes. instead of tiny pellets, he eats the grown-up kind. or goldfish. he prefers the latter. and yeah, it's not so cute when he tries to bite now. luckily, that's not often. mostly he just hides.
see why they call them "turtlenecks"?
turty was definitely an impulse purchase, but never one i regretted. even though i'm pretty sure he'd eat me if he could.
after a week with molly, i have to acknowledge some decidedly un-cute habits:
so while i am now really happy that i found a cat in a bush a few months ago rather than a dog, i am going to be sad to see molly go tomorrow.
- eating kleenex. used kleenex. out of the trash can. you can't turn your back on her if the bathroom door is open. how foul is that? the best part about this is now when she poops kleenex, eddie is going to get in trouble for letting her eat it!
- stealing my bathing suit/shoes/underwear and running around with them, hoping i'll want them back enough to chase her.
- jumping on people at the pet store.
- jumping on people at the beach.
- sniffing aforementioned people's dogs in places we don't like to talk about.
- capping off a session of horseplay by.. humping me. repeatedly.
- grabbing my hand off the gearshift in the car. but it's just because she wants to lay her head on it, so i guess that'll fly.
this is ed's parents' doggy, molly. we may as well call her ed's sister.
suki and lucy already know her, luckily. the poor kitten, however, is traumatized. she's spent her time since molly's arrival on sunday hiding in the bushes, in the neighbor's porch, and under the guest bed. she's warming up a little, though - she only hisses when the dog gets close now rather than just when the dog is in the same room.
unfortunately, molly is a mama's girl and is taking their week away pretty hard. we'll find her laying in the bed, alone, in the dark. i've tried to engage her by feeding her spaghetti & meatball (she only wanted the meatball) and playing fetch with wine bottle corks. poor girl.. she's still doing a lot of this:
depressed or not, i love having a dog in the house, even if it means my eyes are a little itchier than normal. :)
the kitten eating ice cream
as you can see, the kitten has grown so much since i found her. actually, i probably shouldn't really call her a kitten anymore. this no doubt has something to do with the fact that she eats twice as much as the grown-up cats. this is the funny part.. she'll eat ANYTHING that i'm eating, including many things no self-respecting cat would be seen eating, including:
ice cream (as you can see)
veggie lo mein and rice
string cheese (actually, she just kinda makes it wet and mushy and then gives it back. yeah, it's just as cute as it sounds.)
fake meatballs, burgers, corndogs, etc.
triscuits! (crunch, crunch, crunch)
and the funniest thing to date? a pepper from my homemade pasta sauce (which she also liked).
she got all excited the other morning when ed opened a starbucks frappuccino. pathetic! but hey, don't feel too bad for her - ed does give her sushi.
saturday's chick dive
i did my first beach dive off of hibiscus street in fort lauderdale on saturday. since it was free, i figured it would be too much of a good thing to actually have it be interesting (using the same reasoning as when i refuse to buy something fat-free as i'm sure it'll taste awful). when we were swimming out, i saw a shoe. "oh, i'd better remember that shoe since it'll probably be the only thing to add to my "species seen" list in my divelog." yes, i'm an optimist.
much to my surprise, though, it was actually a good time. the reefs were covered in sand and looked more like rocks made of concrete than anything else. i guess this is thanks to our lovely hurricanes this season. but there was some coral left exposed and the fish that live in the corals. i saw the biggest, prettiest parrotfish i've seen yet.. lots of little pretty aquarium-worthy fish.. lots of boxfish (hi, goofy looking).. and the dive's highlight? a HUGE, adorable porcupinefish! it had to have been two feet long. i saw its back half disappear behind a rock so followed it, finding it tucked under a ledge. i got down on the sand and saw it, looking at me with eyes worthy of a japanese cartoon puppy. i stayed until i realized i could only see one of my fellow two divers.
we were down for about 45 minutes before we swam back to shore, intending to go out again in a bit. unfortunately, the clouds covered the morning's perfect sky and the blue, flat ocean became green and rough. however, the day wasn't wasted -- a small group of divers and i sat around talking until 5 in the afternoon. pretty nice day. :)
no, those are not flowers
i was driving to coconut creek the other day when i noticed this tree. for those of you in the area, it's by where coconut creek parkway and lyons meet, in a little industrial, under-construction area. for whatever reason, it seems that every bird in the area has chosen this tree out of thousands to roost in. it is truly a sight.
the tree is so full of white birds that it looks as if it's flowering. they were mainly ibises, but there were also egrets (including a fluffy-headed baby), herons, and one little anhinga sitting at the top of the tree. as i stood taking this picture, groups of four and five birds were constantly coming in for a landing, squabblng with one another for perching space. you know, as if there isn't another, empty
tree 20 yards away.
i've driven by in the evening since i took this picture and it would appear this is a nightly phenomenon. sorry i couldn't get any better pictures -- it was dark and the birds were far away.
alley cats, pound puppies
this weekend i went to the broward county animal care & regulation department to volunteer for the first time. there's a place nearby named the wildlife care center
that has more exotic animals i could tend to, but i recently fell for a pretty grey cat for adoption at pet supermarket and decided, since i really shouldn't get any more
cats (one is enough when you're deathly allergic, i figure), i should do something to help.
after an early friday night, i woke up in the 8's on saturday to get to the shelter by 10. me being me, however, i got lost and didn't get there until 10:30. the coordinator said she was overrun with volunteers that day (one walking the dogs, one helping the public, one older one who hugged and kissed all the animals, and one playing on a computer is apparently what "overrun" means) and sent me on my way to do laundry. yes, laundry. "oh great," i thought. "i get to do busywork." but, as we all know, laundry isn't a full-time job, so after i put a load in, i took to wandering the shelter.
this is the sweet grey kitty that needs a home.
if interested, check out the pet supermarket at atlantic & federal.
dogs are entirely too depressing in a settling like that. first of all, they're barking madly. a shelter soundtrack is constant barking, which you can tune out unless you're walking right by the dog pens, in which case the big, scary dogs make you jump. second, the ones that aren't
barking are sitting quietly, either facing a wall and looking depressed or looking at you, looking hopeful. usually the ones that are facing the walls will look back at you, hopefully, as you pass or you stop to say hi. that's the saddest.
you can't really reach the dogs in their pens anyway, so i didn't spend much time with the dogs. on top of that, i'm pretty allergic to them.
i did, however, spend three hours in the two cat rooms. one area is for adoptable cats and the other is for strays, which have to be held for five days before they are put up for adoption. the back area of the strays room seems to be reserved for cats that would eat a person if they got the chance. they all looked pretty much like this:
so, between checking on my washing/drying loads of towels, i cleaned out cat cages. probably more than they needed it (you know, if it poops once in its little litter box, it's probably not necessary to change it.. but after all, they are
cats and much cleaner than your average person). i replaced tipped water dishes. changed newspaper. replaced spilled food. and when all that was done, i could indulge the cats and myself by petting them. as a former non-cat-person, i'd guess that the way these cats were behaving would shock a lot of people. i had a whole wall of cats rubbing against the sides of their cages, just dying to get some loving by that blonde thing with THE HANDS. and, reasoning that they would need to be socialized to humans, i held the little wild kittens quite a bit. now that
shit was ridiculous.
picture something this small and this cute, hissing at you with all its might if you approached its cage:
it's hard to not just take them home. much easier when you remember, however, that they're kittens and their furry little paws and big eyes will be snatched up just as soon as they go up for adoption. it's the older cats that need homes. sad, sad. there were some real sweethearts, too, including a couple of cats that spent their day nestled in their metal litter "box" (bowl) but would perk up if you opened the cage door. another tomcat, found on the street, was just about the worst-condition animal i've seen in my life.. both its ears had been attached and were a mix of scabs and open sores. poor thing was just horrible looking, but not that he realized it.. he rubbed that scabby head all over my hand, loving on me and loving the attention. i can sleep after meeting that little guy because someone told me one of the shelter workers is going to take him home and get him back to being healthy.
i want to go back soon, if only to not lose the tiny bit of progress i made with the little fluffies. see, the one still hisses when i go over to the cage, but she'll stop when i'm petting her. another kitten went from pissed off to indifferent when i was around, although his little sister still steps all over him when i walk by, hissing and staring at me with her cute little wide kitten eyes.
if anyone needs assistance in finding a new pet, come to me. i'm told i'm good at picking out animals, since that one i found in a bush doesn't count. and anyone, as long they don't have any pet lizards they would mind finding sans tail on the kitchen floor, can have a cat. that whole cats-are-snobs things becomes much less annoying the first time you have one in your lap, purring and pawing at the air like a kitten. or the first time you wake up with one curled up beside you and realize, "ohmygosh, it does like me. or at least it likes that i'm warm!" hey, good enough.
so yeah, if anyone (ahem, B.) needs help picking out a cat, i'm your girl. don't be too surprised if you get one with less than the optimal amount of limbs, however.