Category Archives: The Baboon Congress

Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?

Not Feeling It

Today’s post comes from littlejailbird.

A couple weeks ago my friend from Vermont stayed a few days with me. The first full day she was here, she took the light rail over to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul to do some research for a book she is writing, but the rest of the time (Tuesday mid-morning to Friday evening), we spent most of our time together.

Those of you who know me at all know that I have a strong tendency toward introversion, which means that I get tired out by spending lots of time with other people, even people I like. So you may not be surprised to learn that, after planning our activity for Friday, I went upstairs to bed and moaned to myself, “I really don’t feel like going anywhere tomorrow.”

But, because she is my friend and because one of the things we’ve always liked doing together is take walks, in the morning off we went to Wood Lake Nature Center. We saw some egrets and either two great blue herons or the same one twice, a turtle, a muskrat, and some egg masses that my friend got very excited about (one of the books she has written is about salamanders). So I ended up being glad I went, especially since one of the egrets was close enough that, even with my not-very-long telephoto lens, I was able to get a couple decent shots.


Also, the great blue heron flew in close enough that we got a good view of it in flight. I snapped some shots of it, not expecting to get anything very good, because I’ve never been able to catch birds in flight, but I just couldn’t not try and sometimes it’s fun to try even if you’re pretty sure you won’t succeed.

When have you been glad you went somewhere or did something when you didn’t really feel like it?

Photos and Pizza

A little while ago, I got an email from Jacque. She needed a “decent, professional photo” for a guest post she had submitted to a therapy blog.

Now I don’t think of myself as a “people photographer” but I thought that I could do an okay job. I have no studio lights or flash, much less a studio, and Jacque didn’t want a studio photo anyway, so we arranged to meet in her backyard.

I consulted with Steve, the photography expert in our baboon community, and he gave me some tips and suggestions, several of which confirmed things I had learned through photography classes. I made a list, using Steve’s tips and my own ideas:

  • Shoot in burst mode (in order to capture fleeting expressions)
  • Background should be contrasting, dark, and uninteresting
  • Jacque should be far enough away from background so that it is out of focus
  • Subject does not have to smile – she can look thoughtful, serious, intelligent
  • Subject should be in the shade, never the sun
  • Bring a stepstool since I am short and Jacque is not and a portrait pointing up at the face is not very flattering
  • Focus on the EYES
  • Meter the brightest part of the face and then set f/stop and shutter manually so there are not blown out highlights
  • In each new area where I shoot, make the first shot be of a gray card so I can easily get the white balance perfect

When I woke up the morning of our “date,” I was thrilled to see that it was an overcast day. Bright sunshine is the enemy of good outdoor portraits and a cloudy day would make it easier to get a good shot.

When I shot the portraits, I made a few mistakes.There were some stray rays of sunshine (that I hadn’t noticed while shooting)  on her neck in some of them that wrecked an otherwise good picture. I had her too close to the background on some shots, so there were distracting details behind her. But I ended up with enough good shots for her to choose one with which she was happy. And I enjoyed the process, which mostly had to do with how easygoing and nice Jacque is and a little with the realization that I that I could do this.

A week later, Jacque treated me to lunch at Black Sheep Pizza. We ordered the Oyster Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella, Rosemary & Garlic Pizza and, man, was that good. Even better was a chance to sit and talk. I feel that I had the better part of the deal: I got to shoot pictures of a beautiful person and then enjoy a meal with her.

When have you done a favor for somebody and felt that you benefited more than the person you helped?

Take My Watermelon…. please

As anyone who entertains these days will tell you, the RSVP is a hit-or-miss art. I lucked out on my party last night – everybody who showed up had RSVP’d.  There were a few folks that I didn’t hear from at all, but for planning purposes, I assumed they were not coming.  But even so, trying to figure out how much food to prepare for a large group can be a little like trying to figure out how many jelly beans are in the jar. Advanced degrees might help, but just a little.

Last night I did pretty well. There is a little potato salad left, a few helpings of the ramen salad and enough of the 7-layer dip for a lunch or two. There are still quite a few goodies left, but to be fair, we started with A LOT (the peanut butter cup cheesecake bites that YA wanted were extremely rich so I cut them into small pieces – a lot of small pieces)!

The one place I didn’t estimate well was the fruit salad. I made a watermelon bowl, which means on top of the fruit salad, I have all the watermelon that I had to remove to make said  bowl. And I made a huge amount of fruit salad as well.  Even if you freeze the leftovers for smoothies, it’s still quite a bit.

Normally when folks leave one of my gatherings there is the usual exhortation to take a small plate of food home; last night it was watermelon. I sent home at least six containers of watermelon – but I wonder what people think when the last words they hear from their hostess as a begging “take some watermelon… please take some watermelon”!

What’s your favorite leftover?


Today’s post is from Barbara in Rivertown

I found out early this morning that I have Lyme’s Disease. It is a relief that there is a reason for the red blotches, headaches, fevers, and lethargy I have been experiencing for the past few weeks. I will start a series of antibiotics this evening with dinner.

You’ve probably heard plenty about Lyme borreliosis and the ticks that carry it, often the tiny deer ticks. But just in case you don’t know much detail of what to look for, here are 11 of the common symptoms, according to a site called Daily Health Lifestyles:

  1. Rash
  2. Fever
  3. Headache
  4. Pain in extremities
  5. Lethargy
  6. Pink eye
  7. Memory issues
  8. Arthritis
  9. Droopy face
  10. Insomnia
  11. Heart problems

Wikipedia has this to add:

“Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks of the Ixodes genus.[6] Usually, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before the bacteria can spread.[7] … The disease does not appear to be transmissible between people, by other animals, or through food.[7] Diagnosis is based upon a combination of symptoms, history of tick exposure, and possibly testing for specific antibodies in the blood.[3][9] Blood tests are often negative in the early stages of the disease.[2] Testing of individual ticks is not typically useful.[10]

I am glad there is an antibiotic to help me deal with this disease.

Do you have a tick/insect story to tell?

Garden Updates

Jacque, VS, LJB,  submitted garden photos.  I added some, as well.  All I can say is that I have garden envy.  There is a lot to be said for warmth and rain.

From Jacque, we have:


















Here are VS’s bales:


While LJB sends these beauties:

 Black Currents
















 The herb garden



Twin Two’s Marigolds




It has been cold and dry here In ND, and the garden is behind.  Some things are coming along, though.  The roses in the feature photo at the top are some Morden roses in our front yard. It has been a good year for roses.

 The peas


 Red Currents


Iris (Beverly Sills)


The beans and their extraterrestrial poles


How is your summer shaping up?




Football Camp

I took the photo for this post from my office window earlier this week.  Our building looks out on the college football practice field where a high school football camp was in session.  It is always rather entertaining to see them run around, skip, hop, and tackle while the instructors scoot around on golf carts.  I can hear the grunts and sounds of  tackle impacts all the way up to my fourth floor window. There must have been a hundred players.  Their buses fill the college parking lot.  Many come from little towns from Montana or the eastern part of North Dakota, and get to stay in the college dorms for the duration of the camp. We can hear them clatter past our building in their cleats on their way to the practice field.

You can always tell who the local campers are, since they drive their own vehicles, park along the drive up to my building, and then strip down to their skivvies while they change into their football uniforms.  We drive past them on our way to our parking lot. Some have the decency to go behind the large spruce trees that line the drive, but most just stand there in their shorts while they change.

I never went to a sports camp in high school, but trips for speech and music were both fun and stressful at the same time.  I hope the boys at the camp had the same sort of experiences.  I have worked at my agency for 18 years, and I have seen the local campers  in their underwear every year. They sort of signify the arrival of summer, just like the return of the swallows to Capistrano.  I think, though, that I would find the birds more interesting.

What are some of your high school camp and activity memories?