Hunter the Owl

Once in a while, an injured cat makes his or her way to the adoption floor at the animal shelter where I volunteer. If I lived in a bigger apartment, Olive would have a sibling who was blind or cross-eyed or three-legged by now.

So it’s no surprise that I’ve fallen in love with a blind owl.

This is Hunter.

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Hunter was hit by a car and can no longer fly because he is vision impaired. Hunter lives at Wild Wings, a sanctuary for birds of prey near my hometown.

I went to Wild Wings for the first time last weekend, while visiting my family for an early Thanksgiving. My dad and I arrived right when it opened to the public for the day, so all of the birds were not out and about in their enclosures yet. But we saw plenty of birds, all of whom were injured in some way so they could no longer fly.

Can you imagine being a bird who couldn’t fly? Does your heart wince at the thought?

Wild Wings is home to a number of different raptor species, including hawks, eagles, and owls. I’ve always loved owls, so I gravitated toward Hunter, especially when we heard him whoo-ing. The sanctuary also rescued a bobcat who was bred for the exotic pet trade and declawed by the breeder. 🙁 Tara was shy, but we got a glimpse of her. She is a beauty.

Wild Wings is a special place and I look forward to supporting it as much as I can. All of the animals can be “adopted,” so I will ensure that Hunter is well taken care of. Here are a few more of the residents:

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Baby Animals and Lion Hugs

It’s raining baby animals at the animal shelter where I volunteer and I can’t stand it! I’ll start with the most exciting baby animal:

Baby guinea pig
Pup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, a baby guinea pig. Apparently called a pup. My brother and I had a guinea pig named Patches when we were kids. Unfortunately, I have a feeling she was not long for the world under our care. Mom, do you remember?

Kittens?
Kittens?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to this website, baby rabbits are called kittens? Whaaa… We also had a rabbit, named Bunny, who either froze to death in her outdoor hutch or Grandma left her hutch door open so she escaped. Mom and I remember different final chapters of Bunny’s life.

THESE are kittens.
THESE are kittens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kittens! So cute, but so much work. We had two kittens while growing up, Tiger (whom we immediately started calling Kitty after we named him Tiger) and Kiwi. I don’t remember all of the work, probably because Mom was doing all of it.

THESE are pups.
THESE are pups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three or four other pups hiding in the back there. So adorable. Well, I seem to have turned this post into a history of my childhood pets, so might as well mention Pooka. I didn’t know her when she was a pup. She was middle-aged by the time I was old enough to understand what a dog was. She was cute, but I don’t remember playing with her much. All I recall is her limping around the house and peeing on the living room rug a lot.

Soooo…while we are on the topic of animals, let’s look at some videos of lions hugging people. Just because I am obsessed with the story of Christian the Lion.  If you haven’t seen the viral video of Christian the Lion, grab some tissues. Every time I watch this video, I practically break down in sobs.

Recently, a friend showed me this video of a lion hugging a woman who rescued him and nursed him back to health.

And then I came across this lion whisperer chap, Kevin Richardson:

Isn’t it incredible to watch these huge predators return the love they received from these humans? You needed the tissues, right??

 

Block Island

 

“I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.”

—Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

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I spent three nights on Block Island last week. I wish I had been able to stay at least three more. But I enjoyed the time that I had. Block Island is tiny, a mere 10 square miles. Within the first day and a half, I had “done” the commercial district. So the remainder of my time was spent visiting the historical society museum and the Southeast Lighthouse, and walking for miles by the ocean, lakes, and ponds. Forty percent of the land on Block Island is conserved or protected, so there is much natural beauty to discover.

The view from the deck outside of my room
The view from the deck outside of my room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and the animals. Every day I visited the awesome animal farm across the street from my bed and breakfast. This is not your ordinary animal farm. This is a yak, an emu, a zedonk, llamas, alpacas, kangaroos, lemurs, tortoises, geese, ducks, chickens, goats. I can say that I pet a kangaroo on my birthday—how cool is that?

 

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Other highlights were watching the sunset every night, having an amazing buffet breakfast every morning, and spending an afternoon in the sun reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. She wrote it in 1955 during a solo trip to an island off the coast of  Florida. Even though she wrote it 20 years before I was born and was married with children, while I am single, I could relate to a lot of what she wrote about being a woman and “getting away from it all” by one’s self.

This was my seventh solo birthday trip. I’m the type of traveler who wants to see as many cultural and historical attractions as possible during a trip, but I always carve out a bit of time for relaxation and reflection.

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I’ve now been to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Block Island. I’ve liked each island, but I believe Block Island is special because of its size. These islanders, and all of the residents before them, seem that much “scrappier” and friendlier. I can tell when my vagabond heart has fallen for a place when I am eager to plan a return visit. Until next time, Block Island…

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No Man Should Have Power Like This

 

I know I’ve already posted about the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, but I’m so excited about it, I’m posting about it again. There are now more than 75,000 backers and the total is up to $3.5M. If you love reading, if you love supporting literacy, if you love LeVar Burton, if you love Reading Rainbow, donate $5!

And check out the Funny or Die spoof of the Reading Rainbow theme song.

I will post about my birthday trip to Block Island this weekend…

Here’s a teaser: a photo of Cindy the zedonk.

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Birds and Waterworks

 

Last weekend I checked off two birthday list items: visiting an art exhibit with live animals and visiting a local waterworks museum.

I read about the Peabody Essex Museum’s exhibit From Here to Ear in the newspaper. The Peabody Essex is a great art museum in Salem. I hadn’t been in a few years, so was looking forward to seeing Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s exhibit with live birds and electric guitars.

 

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Cindy and I visited the exhibit during its last weekend. The exhibit was so popular that patrons had to buy timed tickets in advance and there was a standby line when we arrived. Around ten electric guitars were set up horizontally around a room that 70 zebra finches were temporarily calling home.

The birds flew around the room at random and often landed on one of the guitars, striking a chord when they landed. A few of the birds I watched pecked at the strings with their beaks, so I assumed they had made the correlation that they were producing the guitar sounds.

The birds were domesticated, so they were comfortable around people. It was fun to watch them interact with people, the guitars, and each other. I was reminded of visits to butterfly gardens as they zoomed to and fro. Hearing their chirping among random guitar chords was definitely a unique experience.

The following day I visited a local waterworks museum. The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum has only been open for three years and I was quite impressed with my visit. There wasn’t a ton to see—the majority of the museum is in one large room—but the small exhibits were interactive and informative.

The museum is in a beautiful Beaux Arts style building. It was built in the late 1800s, when Bostonians thought that even a municipal building deserved to be grand and elegant.

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The Chestnut Hill Pumping Station housed the huge steam engines and water pumps that supplied Boston with its water. It was the first municipal water system to employ biologists to monitor the water supply to make sure it was clean and didn’t carry water-borne disease.

As the Boston population grew, a bigger reservoir was needed. Today Boston gets its water supply from the Quabbin Reservoir, but the Chestnut Hill Reservoir is available for use in emergencies.

My visit made me stop and think about how lucky we are in the States to have access to clean water. All we have to do is turn on the tap. We don’t have to gather it from wells like my grandmother did in Pennsylvania, or walk to a dirty supply like people in developing countries do.

If you haven’t seen any recent documentaries on the current and future state of water, I encourage you to. Water is going to be more precious than oil someday. Conserve water whenever you can and don’t buy bottled water! In most cases, it’s not any purer. And the huge companies (Poland Spring, Coke, etc.) basically take the local water, bottle it, and then sell it back to residents at an exorbitant price. And don’t get me started about fracking.

I’ll get off my soapbox now and leave you with some photos of the Waterworks Museum.

 

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