Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

East Africa! I went there!

Saturday, August 28th, 2021

I haven’t blogged in a month and that is because I went to East Africa, a place I have never been before. I’ve done the bottom bit of the continent a bunch because I have family there but the sides, no. The Moomins wanted to see the massive herds of wildebeest and zebra wander from Kenya to Tanzania and she’s recently become a widow AND she’s been cooped up avoiding the Covid (truly magical year, everyone) so off we went. We splurged big time because The Moomins has earned it with the everything listed above. It also allowed us to have a private tour. Like, our own private guide and a car. Alone. No one else. It was pretty great. I’m going to go on a whole crusty rant shortly but before we get into The Great Unpleasantness let’s enjoy some of these teasers of the magic The Moomins and I got to experience.

Artists I am feeling right now.

Sunday, May 16th, 2021

Heather Penn. If you ask me you will learn that I can draw many things, and many things very well, but I can’t draw rocks. Cliffs, piles of rocks, I suck at them. I mean, I can draw them, they just don’t look like rocks. Sometimes they look like pillows, sometimes they look like potatoes, it varies. Therefore I am smitten and not a small bit envious of Heather Penn. Look at her lush artwork. It draws you in.

Heather sells calendars and is starting to get into 3D, I think she’s creating a game studio. https://www.instagram.com/heatpenn/?hl=en

 

Kazuma Nagai.  I first learned of this Japanese artist when I saw the silver slugs.

I dug a little deeper into his work and he gets weird. I love it.

I don’t where he sells his work but you can follow him on his instagram as well. https://www.instagram.com/slughorse/?hl=en

New rotting fruit art!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

I’ve spoken about the amazing work of Kathleen Ryan before. It appears she’s made new fruit and I love them.

I assumed the fruit was larger than life but I had no idea how much larger. It makes me wonder how big her beads are. My beads, even my biggest ones, would not cut it.

Growth and knowledge via the Internet.

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

I went to Mexico! To look at art! And Oakland California! Where I ended up looking at art! Now I’m back. While I go through my gross dirty laundry and my stack of photos please enjoy these informative treasures.

 

1. This is a long read but it’s totally worth it. I was blown away.

https://pricklylegs.tumblr.com/post/188456524966/synebluetoo-costumersupportdept

 

2. There’s a man who makes things and I delight in watching him work. His name is Bobby Duke and not only is he talented as hell, he is also charming and has a Southern accent. I do love me an accent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkbJemDY-00

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBcjGlXuQAI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSFPG1ACz5g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taF0nY9GqMg

 

3. I saw a video where a gorgeous male elk walked reeeeeeal close to some men who I think were fishing. The elk was so majestic. He turned his face toward the camera and made his call which sounded… piercing and otherworldly. I don’t know what I expected an elk call to sound like but it wasn’t this.

https://pricklylegs.tumblr.com/post/188374421161

I thought this elk might have been an anomaly but apparently not

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20PET6-Hr_c

I think it’s pretty amazing. People compare it to the sound the undead tormented nazguls make in Lord of the Rings but now that I know it comes out of such a cool creature I don’t find it frightful at all.

 

4. No one think of the cameraman.

https://blizzardofjj.tumblr.com/post/188492221581/nobody-thinks-of-the-cameraman

 

Update: Apparently EVERYONE knows the sound an elk makes except me. I am disappointed in myself for not knowing the calls of antlered mammals but I guess you can’t know everything. Hopefully this disappointment will ebb.

Update on the update: It has not ebbed.

Deer Skull 2.0.

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Remember Blinged Out Deer Skull? Cricket gave me a deer skull he found in his backyard and I decided to cover it with beadwork. The finished product looked like this:

I was content with Deer Skull for a while but the I found the box of supplies I used for it and I decided to fix some things that bothered me.

1. Those daggers on the bridge of the nose. They don’t match anything and since they’re so protuberant they tend to fall off, requiring me to glue them back on regularly.

2. The bead-woven sections. I was a bit precious with those, not allowing anything to cross over or overlap with them. That makes them look like they’re not integrated with the piece as a whole and I don’t want that.

3. Those sequins and pin on the forehead beaded panel. Not doing anything to improve the piece.

Here is the skull with the updates:

I’m much happier with it now. That’s how it goes with art: You make something and then after some time has passed and you’ve lived with it for a while the piece can evolve.

Treasures from the internet.

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Seriously, how much garbage-y garbage do you see on an average day whilst surfing the web? I found a example of what most of my blinking ads look like:

It’s annoying. But there’s some great nuggets to be discovered under the detritus. Let’s delve together.

1. Ask a Mortician. Have you been watching this on YouTube? I mentioned the channel back in 2013 but only now have I truly sat down and watched many many oh so many episodes. Caitlin Doughty is incredibly informative and charming and I love her and would want to be her friend if she lived in NY (sadly, her home base is LA). I love the opening credits that feature her now-deceased Siamese cat The Meow fluttering like an angel.

The episodes I liked best so far:

Closing Mouths Postmortem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8RtdsKQYZg

What is the Oldest Mummy in the World? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF4vL7p-jI0

Vultures, Forensics and Border Policy – Why Migrant Bodies Disappear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNow5soA714

Adipocere aka Corpse Wax: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi0Gi0sqXwg&t=360s

Exhumation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0cvVyIEfHI

Iconic Corpse – Eva Peron: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIwj0ybenmM

Caitlyn has some books and a blog and she runs a very nice mortuary, I like her. I know I mentioned that earlier but I feel the need to reiterate.

 

2. I have a HORRENDOUS sense of direction. Before map apps if something was happening below 14th Street I refused to go because it was off the grid and I would get lost immediately. I’ve gotten lost in my hometown, the place I lived in for the first eighteen years of my life, a town that is nine miles square. It is not a cute quality. But I would venture into all the wilds if penguins would guide me on my way.

https://www.geek.com/apps/japanese-aquarium-uses-penguins-to-make-the-best-ar-app-ever-1599745/

Hey, computer inventor folk! Penguin guides for everything! I will accept not-penguins but I still want animals to lead me places. Waddling animals preferred. Get crackin’.

 

3. Additional item that’s not really internet-related but I want to share it anyway: When I went to Mexico for my beading class I saw some truly stellar alebrijes. Click here for explanation and examples. The most drool-worthy artists are Jacobo y Maria Angeles, a community of artists who make the most phenomenal alebrijes. If you saw the movie Coco by Pixar you may remember the alebrijes, specifically the rabbit-frog who spoke to me on a deep level.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8wpoIZj9iM

Pixar got much of their inspiration from the Angeles art community.

The whole point of this recap is that I saw a piece by them and I want it. I want it bad. Three words: Gold leaf eyelids.

And the pattern. And the tail that wraps around the body. It’s all the greatest. After I spend all my money on this I will live in a cardboard box with my beloved… lizard? and it will be glorious.

San Francisco, Part 7.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Cricket and I went to a game reserve near San Francisco and we’re going to delve deep into that but first! Art! Really good art!

We went to the Museum of Design one of the days we were in San Fran. Important information: The Museum of Design is TINY. It’s one and a half rooms. That’s it. We walked there twice – the first day we walked three miles and got lost and the second day we walked three miles and made it to the museum. Which, due to them changing out the exhibitions, was only one room. One room. Cricket started laughing so hard I had to walk away from him so I could silently fume in a corner. However, all was not lost. The one exhibition was a clay artist I had never heard of, Gustavo Perez. His work was amazing, very fluid but also mathematical. It reminded me a little of the design style of the atomic age. Perez had a display on a shelf.

And one that covered the entire floor.

I did research into his work and I have a new favorite clay artist. Perez manipulates the clay in a way that makes it abundantly clear that he is in complete control of his medium. If there’s an exhibition of Perez’s work near you I recommend you checking it out.

Okay, game park. The climate in the hills outside of San Fran is very similar to the savannah in South Africa. So there’s a game park with no major predators, some cheetahs but nothing bigger. Lots of antelope (which I love, a vastly underappreciated ungulate group). I took a bazillion pictures. Get ready because here we go.

Did you know there were different types of giraffe? Most people do not. This place had two types. The dark one was a Maasai giraffe, very big, and another was a Rothschild’s giraffe, he was fourteen months old and he had a massive crush on the Maasai giraffe who was almost twice his size. He kept coming over and gently hitting his head into Mrs. Maasai’s neck and eventually she would get irritated and saunter off.

There were three rhinos. In one pen was a male and a female rhino but they were just friends, not mating like the game park would like them to. So off to the side in a smaller pen was a male they had brought in in the hopes that the lady rhino would find him sexy. The female had a straight horn which is something I’ve never seen before (but to be honest I don’t look at many rhino horns). It has to do with the way she rubbed her horn on various surfaces. Since it’s compressed hair it wears pretty easily.

And here’s the new male. Look at his sweet little hairy flower ears.

There was a herd of ankole cows. You’ve seen them before. They have crazy huge horns. They live with the Watusi tribe and were bred to look like this. There’s no real purpose. Let’s quickly go through the different between antlers and horns. Antlers are solid and fall off every year. Horns are permanent, filled with spongy bone and are used mostly to cool down the blood before it reaches the brain. It’s also useful for scratching your rump.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpY7S1N3Kg8

Neat fact: Santa’s sleigh is pulled by reindeer, right? And all the reindeer who pull the sleigh are assumed to be male, right? Nope. Males shed their antlers in the fall and females shed theirs much later in winter therefore the reindeer pulling the sleigh are all female.

Okay, back to ankole. When they get up and walk around they make a great bonking noise as their horns tap one another.

Near the ankole was a solitary black angus cow (which looked super-small next to these massive-horned bovines) with a solitary black angus calf. Hanging out like they were part of the herd.

The story I got on that was that one day this black angus female showed up from a ranch nearby. The game park keepers called the ranch-owner and he said he would come pick his cow soon. But he never did. And when she wandered over she was pregnant and now she’s part of the ankole herd. So that’s that.

Way over on the other side was more ambling herbivores. There were eland which is the heaviest antelope in Africa. A full-grown male can be 2100 pounds. Big boy. The male looks weird with hanging skin and lumpy humps. The females are pretty and sweet-looking. They lived in an enclosure with zebra and a few waterbuck. We arrived at one of their feeding times so everyone sauntered over to the feed bowls.

 

This is a picture of a mother waterbuck with her baby. This picture is exciting because this is the first time the baby had been seen.

All the above-mentioned herbivores were herbivoring when someone massive and imposing started approaching the food bowls. All of a sudden everyone had something important to do somewhere else.

It was a male cape buffalo. Cape buffaloes are a notoriously skittish and aggressive. Rhinos, when you approach them, will run away and rhinos are tanks. Cape buffalo will start crap for no reason. That explains why when the single solitary buffalo walked up to a bunch of animals that weighed forty times what he weighed they all left. Look at the zebra’s body language. “Nope.”

There was a herd of cape buffalo. The guide clearly said, “If you drop anything like a phone or glasses don’t get out of the vehicle. I will get them for you. Except if you drop it in the cape buffalo area. If you drop it in the cape buffalo area it is their possession now.”

We saw other land critters as well. There were wildebeest:

And a gemsbok:

And some red river hogs (and a tortoise). Team Red River Hogs forever. Big fan.

Next entry: Birds and the end of San Francisco.

San Francisco, Part 6.

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

More California Academy of Science! You thought we were done? Not even close.

In addition to Claude the albino alligator the academy has Methuselah. She is, uh, beautiful on the inside I’m sure. Here is a video of Methuselah.

https://www.calacademy.org/explore-science/meet-methuselah-celebrating-a-longtime-academy-icon

One of the best aquariums I’ve ever seen was the Philippine Coral Reef. Cricket has gone on a ton of scuba dives and he said it was spot-on. I spent a real long time sitting downstairs staring at the fish, probably too long. I do not regret creeping people out.

There were great smaller tanks behind the giant tank and I saw an animal I thought I would never get the opportunity to see. Appropriately, I freaked out.

It was a flamboyant cuttlefish.

Here is a video of the flamboyant cuttlefish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51jB8YljliM

Do you appreciate how amazing this is? Do you see that with the stripey-stripeys? It helps to know he is very wee, like the length of my thumb pad. I made a short gif based on a video I took of my wee sweetie.

Since this is a natural history museum they do have a small area of taxidermied animals. It’s pretty small but it has all sub-Saharan animals which is my jam. They had a lot of antelope and a bushbaby and a steinbok. One of the most surprising things was how close you could get to the stuffed giraffes. Every time I’ve seen a giraffe it has been far away. I got to get right up next to one and I never realized that I can walk right under it and the top of my head would not come close to grazing the bottom of the giraffe’s belly. I’m five foot six so that’s pretty high. And that’s just the bottom of the stomach. There’s a ton more midsection above that and only after that the neck starts. The giraffe is massive. At the end of the short dead animal area was a penguin exhibit, live penguins. But because the California Academy of Science is smart as hell the penguins are behind a thick plate of glass because penguins STINK. They stink so hard because, you know, they eat fish all day and then they poop and there you have it. Vibrant, nuanced. But the CAS has installed plate glass which is glorious.

Now here comes the coolest part of the Behind the Scenes tour. We got to go to the specimen rooms. Specimen rooms, in case you don’t know are rooms filled with jars and drawers of nearly organized dead things, a.k.a. my dream place. Here’s an article with all the examples.

https://www.businessinsider.com/museum-of-natural-history-behind-the-scenes-2016-3#and-inside-the-museums-paleobiology-collections-are-approximately-40-million-fossil-specimens-that-span-25-billion-years-of-life-on-earth-including-more-than-1500-different-dinosaurs-11

I only saw the wet specimens and dry specimens. The wet specimens are natural elements in jars filled with ethanol. That prevents the specimens from decomposing. I mean, none of them look good, but they’re still vaguely shaped how they’re supposed to be shaped. The ethanol strips them of all their color so all the animals are gray or brown or black. You can see a picture of wet specimens in the article above, it’s the room filled with amber-colored jars. I didn’t take too many pictures in there but I did take three of significance. One, a big jar full of vampire bats. Suuuuuper dead bats.

A fact I found amusing was when the academy started the jars weren’t big enough so some of the specimens are clearly in former mayonnaise jars.

Here’s the most important pic of the day. In one of the jars was an anglerfish. I had resigned myself to never seeing an anglerfish due to the fact that they live at the bottom of the ocean and when they get to the surface they die because their bladders cannot handle the lack of pressure. Now I was being presented by one, in its entirety, directly in front of me. Aaaaaand for a change of pace, I freaked out. Cricket took a photo of me. The reason my hands are all curled up is because I am making every effort to not grab the jar of anglerfish and run away forever.

I know it’s really dark in the jar so I put that photo in the upper left for reference. You can kind of see her lower jaw in there. I know it’s a lady fish because anglerfish have a very unique way of procreating. Because it’s very hard for one anglerfish to find another, when a male finds a female he latches on to her underbelly (he’s very small compared to the female). Eventually his mouth parts fuse to her body and her blood flow goes through him, but whenever she needs sperm there he is, a parasitic testicle. You could see her fishing lure on her forehead. I loved her. Some of her transparent scales had fallen off so when the jar was moved it was like she was in a snow globe with glitter. I asked the tour guide why it was like that and he said, “She’s fabulous.”

One last photo from the Academy: some scary baby birds.

Here’s another pic that really captures the weirdness.

Coming up next: Ceramics and live beasties. Two things I am very fond of.

San Francisco, Part 5.

Monday, January 7th, 2019

The best thing ever! But first, other things.

An orchid I saw at the Conservatory of Flowers. I’ve never seen an orchid that looks like a hand.

At first I was pissed at the Conservatory of Flowers because it was clearly a “crystal palace” which is like the big ole greenhouse. Here’s the one in NY and London.

See? Clear. Clear glass. Now, at the San Fran building they painted it white. I was confused and displeased.

Uhhh, what the hell is that? So the first thing I did upon entering is ask the ticket dude what possessed them to paint a magical glass facility. Ticket Guy explained that this conservatory’s collection is made up of forest floor plants so if they left the building clear the plants would die. He said once the paint had to be scraped off and repainted and during the time that the panes were bare some of the plants got burn marks on their leaves.

Huh. Well then. I apologize for my ignorant and unwarranted grumples. The plants can have all the shade they want.

The plants were lovely but the facility is small so don’t plan to spend more than 45 minutes total in there until you’re really into pitcher plants. Lotta carnivorous plants. I asked the docent if they need to bring in crickets for the little meat eaters and the docent said no, the plants find enough buggies to feed themselves.

Okay, get ready. We’re going to see the greatest thing I saw on this trip. I was walking to the San Francisco Museum of Art and Design (more on that later) and as Cricket and I turned a corner there it was on the sidewalk chillin’ like nothing.

That’s an owl. An owl. Oooowwlllll. Holy crap, owl. That’s my favorite animal in the whole world. I handled it pretty well, considering.

Closer photo of one of the best things that happened in San Francisco.

I was concerned that Mr. Owl was out during the day so I very slowly walked up to him so I could collect him and we could hang out and go on adventures forever but he flew away. I promptly contacted Snorth and she told me it was a Burrowing Owl. I don’t know all the owls, there are a lot of owls. I know like 25.

Which is correct because Burrowing Owl are diurnal as opposed to nocturnal so it was completely normal for Mr. Precious Angel to be hanging out during the day.

Okay, onto the California Academy of Science. Guys. Guys. If there’s one place you go while you’re in San Francisco, go to this. Most Museums of Natural History have a ton of dead things. This museum have a ton of live things. And take the Behind-the-Scenes tour. Phenomenal. Totally worth it, every penny. You want an aquarium? They got an aquarium. You want a botanical garden? They got some of that. Allow me to take you through some of the exhibits they have there.

1) Let’s talk about the building itself. Apparently the old place fell down during an earthquake and was rebuilt to be crazy environmental. There’s no heating or cooling system, the BTUs of the visitors’ heat and the windows and skylights maintain a controlled, comfortable temperature. Cricket and I were taken up the living roof. The roof is covered with the indigenous plants of the area and it’s someone’s job to go up there and pull out the plants that don’t belong. There are rock paths that provide drainage. And there are big humps with windows on them which help control temperature as well.

In addition to the beautiful flowers there were also whale bones. Why, you ask? It’s because when whale bones arrive at the museum they are greasy and the scientists don’t want to work with them. So they leave them on the roof to bleach in the sun and when they’re done bleaching their not greasy anymore.

The other cool thing is the building is built on four concrete blocks that have springs underneath them so if there’s another earthquake each block will move individually.

2) The rainforest. It’s a 4-story space inside a big dome. There are butterflies flapping around. There are poison dart frogs. There are lizards. There are birds. There are fun facts on plaques. It’s built like the Guggenheim Museum in New York where you walk up a circular ramp that leads you to the top and you take a elevator down. From the top level you can see most of the rest of the museum.

3) The swamp. Claude lives in the swamp. Claude is an albino alligator. He can’t live in the wild because the prey would see him immediately and he’s blind. He was born in 1995. He has been at the museum since 2008. Claude had a girlfriend but they had to be separated because she bit his toe off due to him constantly bonking into her (he blind). There are also large snapping turtles in his enclosure but they don’t bite him much.

That’s it for now. Coming up: More California Academy of Sciences and a bunch of art.

San Francisco, Part 4.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

We’re going to delve into Muir Woods! But first, not Muir Woods.

I got my first coffee with a fancy pattern! And it was at a profoundly hipster coffee shop! I was delighted.

Continuing with the consumption theme I went out for dim sum in San Fran Chinatown. It was awesome. Look at this sampler platter.

I rotated the sampler so you could see the bunnies.

The plants in San Francisco are better. They have a far more temperate climate so they can have bougainvillea, and palm trees, and hibiscus. Their Roses of Sharon look more hibiscus-y than ours.

Okay, Muir Woods. I’ve spoken about it before (you have to scroll down quite a bit, it’s there) but I have new information this time. Let me share this new information with you.

I was in California during the horrible fires in Paradise. It was horrendous to see on the news and people in San Francisco who probably have friends and family in the affected area were distraught, justifiably. The air was filled with smoke. People were wearing bandannas and painter’s masks in an attempt to curb the smoke inhalation but none of them took the major gaps of either approach into their judgment. While a good thought they were useless. The reason I’m mentioning this is my pictures at Muir Woods are particularly beautiful due to the particulate in the air but it’s a bittersweet beauty because you know how much suffering is associated with it.

The trees be old.

I admired their aggressive will to survive. For example, this tree was struck by lightning or burned or something, it’s black and dead. Look in the middle, you can kind of see it. So it made children with its roots and sent them up all around it. I think it’s called a Family Tree.

I also was impressed by the trees that fell over with their roots out of the ground and were like, well, I’ll just grow vertical trees out of my horizontal branch. Send roots down through it. Problem solved.

Look at the size of these clovers! They match the trees in beefiness.

In case you don’t have a sense of the size of the trees, this hole at the bottom could accommodate four or five full-grown adults sitting. Big. Very big. And large. And also tall.

And now the beautiful / sad photos. No photoshop of any kind.

It was nice to see that Muir Woods has signs about conservation and the environment and when you get to their gift shop and cafe they actually walk the walk.

Next post: Art and the bestest thing that happened to me on this trip.