Sunday Glory

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Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Gail

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A Girl and Her Duck

I saw this On the Road with Steve Hartman segment on the CBS Evening News yesterday and it was just one of the best things I’ve seen in a long, long time!  What a sweet and  beautiful story.

Gail

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Things I’m Loving These Days

Early spring walks

Hubby and I went to our favorite place to walk at a nearby state park a few days ago.  It has a nice little 2 mile paved trail around a small lake.  We just about always see wildlife of some sort at this park– deer, wild turkey, Great Blue Herons, turtles basking in the sun, etc.  We weren’t surprised to see that our favorite trail had been recently flooded with all our recent rains.  There were barriers up at the entrance to the trail with warning signs that said: Walk at your own risk.  Lots of hikers were out and we were told the trail was passable, just a little messy in places.  The water was  high and some of the observation piers along the trail were completely submerged under water.  Parts of the trail were muddy or filled with debris and there was lots of driftwood.  At one part of the trail it appeared the flood waters had actually gotten up underneath the pavement, lifting it and moving it several feet.  So there’s lots of work to do on our beloved trail and signs said work would start around March 22nd. Today!!

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Briarwood Lane Outdoor Rubber Doormat Tray and mat inserts

I ordered this doormat tray from Discount decorative flags.  I’ve ordered garden flags and mailbox covers from them for years and have never been disappointed.  I love that they have the mats organized by seasons or holidays.  Just add a new insert at each new season or holiday.  They are so colorful and cheery and they always have a good clearance section!  All of the mats I’ve found have been on clearance.

Briarwood doormat tray

The Doormat Tray

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new spring mat insert

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This is the mat I used during the winter.  Just packed it away until next year!

America the beautiful doormat

Loving this one for the Fourth of July!

Fireside Cozy Slipper Socks

Fireside cozy slipper socks

Hubby put a pair of these in my stocking this past Christmas and I absolutely LOVE them.  He found them at Academy Sports + Outdoors.   They are so warm and wash easily.  I will definitely be getting another pair or two of these!

Watching April the Giraffe’s new baby on Animal Adventure Park’s webcam

Baby G is just adorable and he is growing so fast!  He will be a week old tomorrow and has already gained 10+ pounds.  I have so enjoyed watching and learning about giraffe behavior from this park and watching sweet April mother this little calf.  As you can see, I’m not the only one in our family who watched his birth.  Yes, Nugget and Dakota were very much into the whole birth too!  Dakota was also very interested in Oliver, the nervous pacing daddy giraffe in the next pen, but Nugget was totally in midwifery mode watching April, and I swear he wanted to help her.  I tell you, animals just melt my heart sometimes.

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Dozen Roses Necklace

Hubby surprised me with this ruby and diamond pendant necklace on Valentine’s Day.  The ruby is my birthstone.  Isn’t it beautiful?

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Educated- by Tara Westover

Educated

I’m not quite halfway through this memoir but let me tell you, this book has captivated me!  Have you read it?  It’s been on my to-read list for a long time.

Book summary from the book cover

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

I recently saw the author on The Ellen Show (and found her and her story very interesting which made me run out and get this book).  Here’s the interview.

I’ll warn you though, the book is hard to read at times as the abuse the author suffers at the hands of her brother gets quite violent at times.  It’s leaving me with a lot of questions as well but since I’m not quite halfway through the book, hopefully, those questions will be answered.

Gail

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It’s Another Boy for April the Giraffe!

Have you heard the news?  Yes, April the giraffe had her baby this morning!  Isn’t he adorable?  I was up watching the live cam late last night and into the wee hours of the morning as April began pacing and licking a lot.  Her behaviour was definitely off.  I slept a few hours and then got up just prior to the hooves appearing so was very happy to witness baby G’s birth live on YouTube.  This birth moved along a little faster than her birth of Tajiri back in 2017.  But April did just fine (she’s a pro at this) and she is just the best mother.  Baby G is very curious and nursing well and April is very attentive to his needs. He has shown a lot of interest in his daddy, Oliver, who resides in the next pen. It will be pure joy to watch Baby G grow over the coming days and weeks.  

I so love this sweet little giraffe family!!  Congratulations to April, Oliver, and the wonderful people at Animal Adventure Park!  

And now, I think I will go catch up on some much-needed sleep!!

Gail

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Ed Sheeran- Can’t Help Falling in Love

Ed Sheeran performed this well known 1961 Elvis Presley song  for the Elvis All-Star Tribute.  Music students from Belmont University right here in Nashville, Tennessee sang the background vocals and I thought they did a superb job (as did Ed of course).

Gail

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What I’ve Learned From Watching a Giraffe Cam

Are any of you watching and awaiting the birth of April the Giraffe’s fifth calf?  She’s due at any time.  I’ve been glued to the Animal Adventure Park live cam AGAIN and swore I’d never let myself get addicted to it like I did for the birth of her calf, Tajiri, back in 2017, but alas, I think  I’m just as bad this time around.  I’m so sleep deprived.  I’ve been so convinced she was going to have her calf “at any moment” for about four days now.  A friend keeps telling me, well you can watch it on video if you miss it, but I want to see it live.

April watching on TV

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April and Siri

Who is April the giraffe you might be asking? 

April is a 17-year-old reticulated giraffe at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York who became an internet sensation back in 2017 when the park allowed the world to watch the late stages of her pregnancy and birth via a live giraffe cam.   Oliver is the bull giraffe you see in the other stall behind April, who fathered Tajiri and this current calf  (this is April’s fifth calf– she had three calves previously before coming to Animal Adventure Park).  I did watch Tajiri’s birth live two years ago and it was such an amazing experience.  There were 1.2 million people watching the day April gave birth to Tajiri live on YouTube!   I was emotional and got all teary-eyed when that giraffe was birthed just like I had given birth to it myself.  I had prayed many prayers for April’s safety and for her to deliver a healthy calf.

I didn’t know a whole lot about giraffes prior to watching April and family back in 2017.  While in veterinary school, I did an exotic animal rotation which meant we followed the exotic animal medicine veterinarian around the Knoxville zoo for two weeks.  The Knoxville zoo (now call Zoo Knoxville) did have giraffes, but we didn’t ever interact with them on any of our rounds.  They were happy and healthy.  We observed them some but that was about it.  I remember a giraffe calf being born at the Knoxville Zoo while I was a veterinary student which was sorta exciting and made the news.  They named the new baby ET and he was sure a cute little bugger.  I also remember a giraffe dying at the zoo when I was in veterinary school and I remember it being brought to the veterinary hospital for an autopsy and how it was stretched from one end of the giant necropsy room to the other.  That was a real eye opener for me and it made me appreciate just how huge these great beasts really are.

April- Dr. Tim

 

April and Oliver

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April lying to Dr. Tim

You can learn a lot about people and animals by watching a giraffe cam (they also have a live chat going that provides a lot of entertainment (and sometimes a lot of frustration).  Here’s a few interesting giraffe facts and a few of my own observations:

  • There’s something peaceful about being in a barn (whether in real life or on a web cam).  In real life, I always love the smell of fresh hay, sweet feed, the soft lighting, and the quiet peaceful lurking of animals.
  • Giraffes are very curious creatures.
  • Giraffes only have 7 vertebrae in their neck which is the same number we have.  Theirs are just a whole lot bigger!
  • Each giraffe’s spots (or coat pattern) is unique to them as our fingerprints are to us.
  • Giraffe’s tongues are about 18-20 inches long and are bluish-purple in color.  The purple color is to protect their tongues from sunburn while they’re browsing for food.
  • A giraffe’s gestation can be anywhere from 15-17 months, hence predicting a “due date” as we do in humans can be next to impossible.
  • April the giraffe viewing has brought peace and contentment to so many suffering people.  I’ve read countless stories about people suffering from cancer and other chronic illnesses, going through horrendous surgery and chemo treatments, or people who are going through divorces or experiencing grief from the loss of a loved one, who say April took their mind off of all that and brought them much-needed joy.  Thank you for that April.
  • I’ve heard people say watching April is the only happiness they have in life.  That makes me really sad, but I’ve seen that comment countless times.
  • For me, watching April is a welcome break from all the mean, hate-filled unkindness being spewed on the Internet and Social Media, and a welcome break from the political divisiveness our country is experiencing.
  • You will see all kinds of people on the chat site.  There’s the giraffe experts, the complainers, the worriers, and of course the usual trolls.  I’ve learned when a commenter on the chat says, “Is it me or do I see a bubble?” (referring to the amniotic sac), that there is never a bubble.  The same if someone says, “Is it me, or do I see hooves hanging out of April’s hoohaw?” that there are never hooves hanging out.  So yes, it’s just you!!  People get really excited and worked up on this chat site.  Fights break out at times and that keeps the moderators on their toes, but I’ve mostly found the chat to be a fun and loving place to be.  There’s a common denominator found there– love for our April girl.
  • Giraffes are not monogamous.
  • Male giraffes only care about three things: eating, sleeping, and breeding.  But wait, isn’t that most males?  Sorry guys, I couldn’t resist.  
  • Female giraffes have an estrus cycle every two weeks.
  • Males determine if a female is in heat by tasting her urine.  He’s looking for special hormones called pheromones put out by the female.
  • Males fight for dominance with other males by “necking.”  To better understand this behaviour, watch a YouTube video of male necking behavior in giraffes.  It can be just gentle rubbing of the necks together or it can appear to be pretty violent but thankfully, it doesn’t usually end in injuries, just bruised egos!  It made my head and neck hurt just to watch it.  And oh, that sound!
  • Giraffes are super good at hiding their labor.  In the wild, this is very important so as not to attract predators.  Giraffes are particularly vulnerable to predation during the birthing period.  This is instinctive behavior so yes, captive giraffes like April will hide their labor too, even though she doesn’t have predators to worry about.
  • Animal Adventure Park calls active labor in a giraffe when they see actual hooves coming out.
  • Signs of impending labor in a giraffe are restlessness, pacing, swelling of the vulvar area, licking the vulvar area, licking or biting at the flank area, star-gazing behavior, zoning out, raising or lifting of the tail, a vaginal discharge, and shedding of the wax caps of the teats.
  • Giraffes give birth standing up.
  • The calf drops about 6 feet to the ground during birth.  This drop usually breaks the amniotic sac, severs the umbilical cord, and gets the baby breathing on its own.
  • Care of the calf is done entirely by the female.  The male’s part is done after breeding.
  • They are usually up and walking within about 20 minutes of birth (this is important in the wild as newborns are very susceptible to predators).
  • Newborn calves usually nurse within the first hour of life and are usually able to run within a few hours.
  • Weaning age is about 6-17 months and they are usually independent at two years of age.
  • Only about 25% of newborn calves in the wild survive (due to predators).  This astounded me when I first read it!
  • Calves are usually around 6 ft. tall at birth and weigh between 150- 220 lbs.
  • Female giraffes have a longer lifespan than male giraffes.
  • In captivity, giraffes can live up to 40 years (that is the longest recorded age).  The life in the wild is shorter due to poaching, predation, etc.  In the wild, they live about 15-20 years.
  • The major predators of giraffes are lions (#1), hyenas, leopards, crocodiles, and wild dogs.  And then we always have illegal hunting (poaching) by humans.
  • Giraffes have huge hooves which are about the size of dinner plates…. about 12 inches wide!
  • Their strong legs and large hooves are their main defense against predators.  They can easily kill a lion with one kick to the skull.
  • Why doesn’t the staff of AAP go into Oliver’s stall and interact with him like they do April?  Because Oliver is a bull and as Jordan, the park owner, says, “A bull is a bull is a bull!”  Bulls have a tendency to be unpredictable and aggressive.
  • Giraffes can sleep standing up but do lie down for short periods.   They need very little sleep and get by with only 30 minutes to 4 hours of sleep a day.  They usually keep their neck up while lying down but do occasionally curl their head and neck over their belly for a short time.  We see April do this often when she is resting.
  • April has a funny, cute little quirk where she tosses hay up in the air over her body.  AAP said she has always done this.  The chat people call it April showers, or hay showers. It’s quite amusing to watch.
  • Most giraffes have to spread their front legs to bend over to get a drink of water or to eat off the ground.  April bends over while lifting her left rear leg and dangling it.  Another little quirk of April’s.

According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, giraffe numbers have plummeted across Africa by ~40% to <100,000 individuals in the past three decades.  This decrease in numbers is due to a number of factors including habitat loss and degradation, human population growth, and poaching.  This is why education and awareness are so very important.  

Thank you Animal Adventure Park for all you do for Giraffe Conservation!  And thank you for sharing this beautiful giraffe family with the entire world.

April is resting comfortably now so I think I’ll go get some sleep myself and say a prayer for a safe delivery for my favorite giraffe.  Sweet dreams, April.

Gail ♥ 

Posted in Animals, giraffes, Love, Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’ve Created a Monster

Back in early winter when we first started getting some colder weather, I was in the bathroom blow drying my hair.  Both cats were outside on the screened in porch.  Hubby let them in and Nugget, the blonde tabby, ran straight to the bathroom.  He began rubbing on my legs and his cold furry body sent a shudder up my spine.  I said, “Brrrrrr, buddy, you’re as cold as a popsicle!”  I put the blow dryer on its gentle setting and I started warming him up.  Now, this is a cat who is terrified of the vacuum cleaner but loves the blow dryer.  Go figure.  He loved me blow drying him.  And I mean LOVED it.  He rolled around purring loudly and kept wanting more.

Ever since then, when it’s cold outside, we open the door to the porch and Nugget comes running in and heads straight for the bathroom because, well, you guessed it, he wants to be blow dried.  If it’s warm outside, he’ll head straight to the kitchen for his treat, but if it’s cold, he wants the darn blow dryer.  And if you don’t come right away, he’ll peek his head around the bathroom door as if to ask, “Are you coming or not?”  So mommy blow dries him while daddy just shakes his head and rolls his eyes during this entire winter escapade.

This was kinda cute at first but now it’s rather annoying.   Hubby tells me that I’ve created a monster.  Yes, I have and yes, my cats are spoiled.  Nugget will NOT let you forget to blow dry him.  Our other cat, Dakota, is scared of the blow dryer and wants no part of it but he dearly loves to watch me blow dry his brother.  He watches from a safe distance of course.

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The monster.  He’s a daddy’s boy (even though we don’t have daddy properly trained in the fine art of cat blow drying).

Do you have a pet that likes the blow dryer?  I’ve heard of some cats and dogs who like to be vacuumed.  Do you have one of those pets?

Gail   

 

Posted in Animals, cats | Tagged , , | 4 Comments