So long, dear pup!

This past Saturday we had to say goodbye to Teddy Bear, my pup who almost made it to age 17. Wow – can you believe he lived that long? He’d been having health problems for a while, but in the end I think it was the arthritis in his back and hind legs that got him – he apparently slipped and injured his legs and yelped every time he tried to sit down. I feel confident that it was the right time for him, and I’m so grateful that my mom, Nik, and Uncle Danny were there with him to the end. I’m sad that I could not be there. So, just for the Tedster, here’s a little poem to send him on his way:

Ode to Teddy Bear

O’ Teddy Bear, my geriatric pup
When we first met you were quite a hiccup
For my life was simple with two easy cats
Then you came along with your high maintenance combats
You whined and you followed and begged and were rude
All in the hopes of a morsel of my own human food.
But I realized soon that you just needed care,
So I walked you, fed you, and groomed your shaggy hair.
It was not long before you were my dog
Or I was your person (who remembers in this fog?)
You were ten years old when I brought you along
With me to SoCal – I didn’t think you were so strong
That you would survive all these several last years
But you did it, you lived through the blood, sweat and tears.
Sometimes I resented having you but now I’m glad
That I gave you more than you would’ve otherwise had.
I wish I could’ve given you a fuller life
Because you deserved better than days of dull strife.
My saddest moment came when I left you with Mom
But it was also the best because she helped you along
And she gave you attention, walks and love
And treated you with the softest kid gloves.
I hope you enjoyed your last several months
In doggy retirement, on all relative fronts.
I hope that your final journey was peaceful in pass –
And that your soul is sunny, playing in grass.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you in the end
But you’re in my heart, my short, furry, doe-eyed, devoted dear friend.

Swift Watch at Chapman School

All during the month of September the Vaux’s swifts roost in the chimney at Chapman School, which is just a few blocks from my apartment. Mid-month I walked over to watch the flock aggregate and enter the chimney for the night and I can tell you it was pretty freakin’ amazing. This is the largest flock of Vaux’s swifts in the world, and they’ve been roosting in the chimney every year since the late 1980’s – in peak years, the flock was up to about 35,000 birds! Typically it’s around 15,000 – I’m not sure how many there were this year, but it seemed like a lot.

The swifts start circling the chimney about an hour before sunset and the flock grows bigger and bigger as individual birds join in. Just after sunset, all of a sudden, the birds start diving into the chimney all together – it takes a while for them to all get in there, and it is a prime opportunity for hawks to come swooping in for a meal. Apparently, the hawks will not only dive through the flock (which then scatters – it reminded me of the way a pool ripples when a stone is tossed into still water), but they’ll also sit on the edge of the chimney and even enter the chimney to grab birds. Interesting thing about the swifts too – they don’t perch – they cling to the inside of the chimney like a bat would. Anyway, here are some photos and a video for you to see what I’m talking about (the Portland Audubon Society also has some great information about the swifts here).

Chapman School and the chimney.
Up to 1000 people will gather on the lawn each night in September to watch the swifts!
Finally, the swifts start going into the chimney for the night.

They Finally Let Me Outside for Good Behavior (or Something…)

In the past two weeks, I’ve actually gotten to go outside three times for work. Wow! Imagine that – a biologist actually being allowed to go outside…since I have no window in my office, I’d practically forgotten what sunlight is like. Which may explain the pale, pasty complexion and vitamin D efficiency that I’ve fallen prey to lately…

Anyway, I spent two days looking at project sites on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, which is my new turf. On the first day I got to see my first endangered arroyo toad, along with some of the beautiful beaches and heavy amphibious vehicles the Marines use in their water-to-land assault operations (guess which I was more excited about).

On the second day, I assisted one of our office ornithologists in his weekly endangered least Bell’s vireo nest surveys. Which was really cool – we found several nests with eggs and chicks, and lots of other cool critters as well. I’ll put a link to some of the more interesting photos to the right so you can view them all!

The following week I participated in searching for endangered light-footed clapper rail nest surveys at the Tijuana Estuary just south of San Diego. It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work! We were walking around in boot-hungry mud and cord grass trying to find nests with eggs, but not step on them. We only found three nests with eggs, and they all appeared to be viable (I checked the fetal heartbeat with the Egg Buddy) so we didn’t collect any of them for contaminants analysis. We did take one egg back to the refuge to be incubated, as it appeared to have been abandoned by the parents. We saw several clapper rails, but they’re very speedy so I didn’t get any pictures of them. But I did get lots of other photos, so take a look at the slide show link to the right. I was completely filthy and muddy and sweaty and sore, but I also had a really great time – I think I might have even got a little sun on my neck. But just a little…I was wearing a big hat and plenty of sunscreen. I’m still working on keeping up that pale complexion and vitamin D deficiency…

Hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the spring!

Can You Believe Teddy Will Be 16 Tomorrow?

Who would have thought – sixteen years old! When I took this dog in, I thought he’d maybe have a couple of years left in him, but he keeps on ticking. He’s doing pretty well – still whiny, loves to eat. I put him on a diet and he lost about five pounds, which I estimate will add at least another year to his life. On second thought, maybe I’d better fatten him back up…oh, I’m sorry, was that mean? Teddy knows I love him, even though sometimes he’s a pain in the ass. Such a geriatric pup…but cute (this picture was taken last year, but it’s the most recent I have, and he looks pretty much the same, except for the full-body mohawk I’ve given him).

Also, a couple weekends ago, Mom, Nik and I went to the Escondido Renaissance Faire. Nik and I dressed up – go ahead and take a look at the pictures (there’s a slide show link at right). Yes, I know I’m a dork.

Nope, Nothing New Here…

Just wanted to write a quick post to let you know I’m alive. Bored, but alive. You see, nothing of interest has happened over the past month, so I haven’t wanted to subject you to any tedious details (of which there are none). It is raining now – it seems like rain has been frequent during the past few weekends – which I like.

Zoe is not doing well. I think we’re nearing the end of the line for her – a few more weeks maybe. Surprisingly, it is not her cancer that is the problem, but our inability to regulate her diabetes. She has lost so much weight, but for now, still seems happy. I’m trying to be aware of the day when she gives me that look…and will try not to ignore it out of my own sadness and need to keep her around longer. My poor kitty.

Teddy continues to be a pain in the ass. We had been doing really well with not peeing in the house, but starting on Friday, he has gotten it in his head that it is ok to both pee and shit inside. At least a couple of times each day. I’m thinking his days are numbered too…but for different reasons…and he *is* almost 16.

Jesse, of course, is fat and happy. Oblivious, aloof. Ah, the typical cat.

I hope you are all well, staying warm in February, whever you are. I’m enjoying today’s holiday, staying in bed and catching up on my blogging. I just wish I had more interesting things to share…oh, and if you haven’t joined facebook yet, maybe you should. I’m a bit more active there than here lately!

Last Post of 2008!

Are you ready for this stupid year to be over? I am. So get the hell out of here, 2008; don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. I actually can’t believe that 2008 is gone – I remember being a kid and time seemed to goooo bbyyyyyyyy sssssoooooooooooo ssssllllllooooowwwwwwwlllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…and now (that I’ve probably gotten Alzheimer’s as a result of extreme boredom; see previous blog) time sms to go bi 2 qwik. I can’t fathom that I’ve been in Southern California for over four years now – what the hell??? So, for those of you who haven’t been reading my blog (or who have just been reading about the good times), here’s a little recap of my 2008 for you (in no particular order):

  • Teddy Bear is still alive. Slower, more insane, more needy, more apt to urinate on the carpet, and apparently immortal. I suspect that he is surviving by consuming my soul and happiness.
  • I spent vast quantities of money to keep Zoe going. She seems to be happy and active.
  • Related to the above, I pretty much broke even in my attempts to work down my debt. I haven’t really decreased it, but haven’t really added to it either.
  • I only noticed about half a dozen visits by the cops to my apartment complex. This ‘hood is really cleaning itself up!
  • My ceiling collapsed zero times.
  • I failed (yet again) to procure an acceptable boyfriend, as all men in SoCal are either gay, taken, or total assholes.
  • I developed secret crushes on my cat’s vet and one of the vet techs, at two different offices. Zoe has all the luck! However, there are complications which prevent me from pursuing either of these as potential relationships (see above point).
  • I watched my arch-nemesis perfect her rimming skills and be rewarded for it with a promotion and office upgrade.
  • I devised an airtight excuse to visit Las Vegas.
  • I managed to lose almost 15 lbs, which includes the mole I had removed from my face.
  • Although, in the past week I probably gained about five of those pounds back (but the mole is still gone, so I’m psyched about that).
  • I perfected the fine art of applying liquid liner to my upper eyelid, with the results not completely appearing as if I stayed up for three days smoking crack with Amy Winehouse (see new year’s resolution discussion, below). Additionally, my hair finally realized that I mean business when it comes to straightening, armed with a split-end inducing arsenal of flat irons and straightening gels.
  • My brother spawned, so that alleviates the need for me to breed in order to make a genetic contribution to future generations. Ok, so I realize that it’s my brother’s kid which means that my genes will not be represented as much as if it was my kid, but I don’t have to get pregnant and squeeze a small human out of my vag. So it’s a fair trade-off, I think.
  • With minimal effort and a little bit of practical application, I vastly improved my nick-name generating and limerick-writing skills (just try me sometime…).

That’s all I can think of for now. Actually, that’s not completely true – I can think of a lot more. But I don’t want to rehash ALL the super fun times I had; I’d like to keep many of those moments private, just for me to own. Anyone have any resolutions? I’m generally against those – “I resolve to lose weight, stop drinking, quell my road rage, kick the crack habit, etc.” But this year I think I’ve come up with a good one – I’m going to stop eating factory farmed meat. I haven’t really eaten red meat in over ten years (with the exception of critters that friends have hunted, or that was raised organic and free range – yeah, buffalo, I’m talking about you), but it will be difficult to cut out the chicken and turkey. I’ll eat it occasionally if I can get the free range variety, and I’ll still eat fish. But I just can’t stomach (literally) anymore the thought of supporting those massive henhouses that cramp chickens in shoebox-sized cages for their entire lives. I think my decision was made when I saw the video of Sarah Palin at the turkey slaughterhouse, with turkeys getting killed right behind her, saying she was having a “great time”. Blech.

Anyway, happy new year, y’all. Have a good one.