Birth Announcement

The Birch Aquarium is throwing a baby shower!  They have just welcome two very rare babies – weedy sea dragons.  Apparently sea dragons  are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and the aquarium has been trying for years.

Sea dragons, as you can see, look like little flotsams of seaweed and are actually distant cousins to the seahorse.  The Birch actually acquired their first sea dragons after years of successful work with other sea horse varieties.  In the wild, most sea dragon species call the waters of Australia home.

The two new additions are about an inch long and will feed primarily on shrimp, like their parents.  At this point, it is now known the gender of the babies; according to the Birch, they “likely won’t know until they reach sexual maturity in a few years. “This bit of sea dragon news caught my eye because we have sea dragons at the Minnesota Zoo; we’ve had them for years, so I didn’t realize they were rare.  In fact, while YA is joyfully trailing her hands in the shark/ray pool (which she can do for a LONG time), I almost always wander over to watch the sea dragons.  Their alcove is kept dark and they are mesmerizing as they float through their habitat, their “weeds” floating gracefully around them.

Do you have a favorite exotic animal?

Felix or Oscar?

Today’s post comes to us from Minnesota Steve

The Odd Couple was a popular play that then became a hit movie and then became a television series that ran for five years. The original play, written by Neil Simon, features conflict between recent two divorcees who room together. Felix is a neat freak; Oscar is a slob who is comfortable being a slob. Essentially, the two characters are defined by their very different positions on the OCD scale. I particularly liked the movie. In it, fussy Felix was played by Jack Lemon, an actor who could do crankiness well. Oscar was played perfectly by Walter Matthau.

One reason I found the jokes appealing was how they mirrored my relationship with my favorite hunting and fishing partner, Bill. Bill was Felix; I was Oscar. Bill used to wear suspenders and a belt to keep his pants up; by contrast, I’ve been known to wear neither, with predictable results. We have been pals for over fifty years. Bill has gradually grown less uptight, while I have become somewhat more prepared. It has been the best friendship I ever had.

I was shocked to learn, when I was in my sixties, that I had slight OCD tendencies. One night I sat behind a woman during a small theatrical production. The tag on her blouse was sticking out. I found myself seriously tempted to tuck the tag out of sight. I didn’t, of course. Men who rearrange the clothing of women they don’t know might suffer harsh consequences. I couldn’t wait for that play to end because that loose tag was like a bit of grit in my eye.

When I moved to Michigan, a family friend helped set up in my new apartment. She donated glasses, silverware and furniture so the place would be livable when I arrived. To my disgust, I found myself freaked out by having “mixed” flatware. I lived for 48 years using nothing but the lovely Dansk flatware my erstwife and I got when we were married. After Nancy’s intervention, my elegantly stylish flatware shared a drawer with all kinds of alien forks and spoons from Walmart or who-knows-where. Every time I opened the silver drawer I was disgusted by the clash of styles. When I moved back to Minnesota I secretly dumped all the alien utensils.

So I’m still Oscar, but have a carefully hidden streak of Felix that only my best friends see.

How about you? Are you more slob or neatnik? Do you have enough OCD in you to be slightly bothered by it from time to time? Sitting in the doctor’s waiting area, did you ever straighten up the stacks of magazines?

Frenzy of Pie

It’s a pie trifecta here (hope I’m using that correctly).  Stuck in the house, a little blue (working at home is not growing on me yet) and have lots of pie ingredients hanging around.

Last weekend I made a blueberry pie for YA and a pear croustade (fancy way to say pears in puff pastry).  Then a couple of days ago, a blender lemon pie (SO easy).  Yesterday I made a peanut butter cream cheese whipped cream Reese’s pie… not sure what the actual name is.  Over the weekend, there is apple crumble to be made and I might make another of the blender lemon (it went fast and I still have lemons).  My neighbors on either side are benefitting from this frenzy.

Of course, I’m also doing other dishes for comfort.  Made a pizza on Monday, roasted cauliflower on Wednesday, hash brown parmesan “cups” last night.  YA has requested tomato soup… I still have tomatoes in the freezer from last summer so that’s do-able.  Might have to make a quick run to the store for onions and garlic.  I think I might do ramen pad thai too.

I know we’ve talked about comfort food before, but anything you’re craving this week?

Has It Sprung Yet?

Today’s post comes to us from our Ben!

The ducks have separated. We have 9 white ducks and four brown ducks that all hang out together. But last week, two browns and one white were off by themselves. It happens as the weather warms. A young ducks fancy turns too….?

And now that one white duck is totally by itself. At first, I thought maybe it had hurt its foot that it was sitting there all alone. But the next day it was toddling along just fine. Except alone. Occasionally I will get a couple mallards that we raised come back for a visit and maybe a pair or two will stay in the area, just not with all the other ducks. Sometimes we see them flying over and land in the swamp just over there. So home, but still independent like all good kids.

Also, the door on the chicken coop has been getting easier to open. It’s just a plain home-made wood door. In winter, presumably as the ground heaves with the frost, it gets harder to open as it drags on the ground. But the last week it’s started to open easier. Meaning the ground is settling again. And sometimes, the sliding doors on the North end of the shed will also get hard to open, again, because of the ground heaving. It helped that I shortened them a few inches. But when they open again, I know spring is coming.

I mentioned the other day I was ready to order baby chicks but the tank was buried in a snowdrift. Got that out. I’m thinking another sign of spring may be when the chick raising tank emerges from the snow.

What signs of spring have you seen?

It Hits Home!

It says a lot about you when you really decide that there is a crisis going on.  Work from home? Concert cancelled? Dog class postponed? Even the decision to stay away from Target for now didn’t bring it home to me until this:  Tuesday morning I got a note that the Hennepin County Library is closed until at least April 6.  Oh, the inhumanity!

Of course, it’s ridiculous to think this will have a serious impact on my life.  First off, I still have 14 books checked out; the library computer generously changed all the due dates to April, even the interlibrary loans.  Second off, there are tons of audio books online and I could always break down by reading books on my phone or pc.  Then there is the third off; I probably have 50 non-library books in the house that I haven’t read yet either.  I don’t think I have to panic.  Matbe Funny Planet by Ken Jennings (the Jeopardy guy) will be my next read.

What’s up next on your reading list?

The Razzies 2020

The Razzies are out!  They did an online reveal this year and here are the winners:

  • Worst picture: Cats
  • Worst actor: John Travolta for The Fanatic and Trading Paint
  • Worst actress: Hilary Duff for The Haunting of Sharon Tate
  • Worst supporting actress: Rebel Wilson for Cats
  • Worst supporting actor: James Corden for Cats
  • Worst screen combo: Any Two Half-Feline/Half-Human Hairballs in Cats
  • Worst screenplay: Cats
  • Worst director: Tom Hooper for Cats
  • Worst remake, rip-off or sequel: Rambo: Last Blood
  • Worst reckless disregard for human life and public property: Rambo: Last Blood

Looks like Cats took a licking this year.

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?  Have you ever walked out of a movie?

Sticking Point

Yesterday was my first mandatory day to work from home. My office went from a surprising “you can work from home all you want” on Wednesday to “we strongly encourage you to work from home” on Thursday to “why are you here?” on Friday. I’m bright. I can take a hint.

So for the first time in 30+ years, on Friday afternoon I packed up my computer, my binders, my headset, my little box of pens, got a ream of paper for printing and headed out. Then promptly went back in and got my plant.

Over the weekend I thought about how my day would be different working from home. First, I would gain close to an hour by chopping off my morning and afternoon commutes. Then there would be my lunch hour, which I normally speed in my cube, sometimes working, sometimes reading. I decided that I wanted to put that extra time to good use – intentionally.

So today, I read a little longer in the morning, worked on a project during “lunch” and then at 4:30, took Guinevere for a little walk. Nothing big or earth-shaking, but at the end of the day I didn’t feel quite so stuck in the house. I’m not sure yet what other intentional things I will do in the next couple of weeks; I don’t want every day to be the same. But I do know that yesterday felt good and I wasn’t nearly as unhappy working from home as I thought I might be.

How do YOU get “unstuck”?

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