There’s more to the zoo than big cats!

There is so much to see in St. Louis, and I am behind in posting both stories and photos. I just returned from my second trip to Missouri’s Gateway to the West, and of course the first place I (re)visited was the zoo.

The St. Louis Zoo is tucked into the southern end of a nearly 1,400-acre marvel called Forest Park. A walk through the zoo is free; parking costs extra, but if you don’t mind the extra walking, there are other areas in Forest Park where you can park at no cost.

My main goal in returning to the zoo was to visit the big cats, and as I stayed for most of the day, I was not disappointed (except by the shy and sleepy snow leopard, which I will talk about in another post).

I missed a lot last time, so chose first to ramble through the River’s Edge. (A cheetah was in there somewhere.) I found some hippos, a rhino, and a Malayan sun bear, which has an exceptionally long tongue, which it uses to capture both insects and honey.

hiding hippos
You’d think it would be hard for hippos to hide, but these two figured out how.
I captured this rhino soaking up the sun.
I captured this rhino soaking up the sun.
Malayan sun bear, mid-yawn.
Malayan sun bear, mid-yawn.

Unfortunately, the cheetah was occupied elsewhere. But I did manage to find a baby elephant.

Baby elephants are still quite big!
Baby elephants are still quite big!

I meandered around a few other areas before making my way over to Red Rocks. Once I see the giraffes, I know I am getting close.  The weather was warmer than my last visit, and the giraffes were much more active.

I am always amazed at how tall giraffes are. Newborn giraffes are six feet tall, and weigh about 150 pounds!

I have more photos to share, but I’ll end this post with one of my other favorite animals: a polar bear.

No visit to the zoo is complete without seeing a polar bear!
No visit to the zoo is complete without seeing a polar bear!

Reflections on the Infinity Dreams Award

One of my favorite bloggers, the author of  DearLilyJune, was sweet enough to nominate me for the Infinity Dreams Award late last year, and I have been slack about fulfilling my obligations to accept it. I was thrilled to be recognized, as I started my blog just last year. Thank you, LilyJune’s Mama, for your kind words and nomination. I have been a slacker long enough, so here is my reply:

img_0468The rules for the Infinity Dreams Award are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back.
  • Post the award badge and rules.
  • Tell 11 facts about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and set questions for them.

11 Facts About Me

  1. I have been writing most of my life. The reason most of my elementary school teachers wrote, “Debbie is SO quiet!” on my report card, is I was busy drafting four-line poems, sketching, or devouring my latest book order those teachers were silly enough to give me mid-morning instead of waiting until just before school let out.
  2. I love taking pictures, and think capturing something on film, or digitally, and being able to share it with others is almost magical.
  3. If I had been any kind of smart in math, I would have been a scientist. My first choice was to be a biologist, but I really think I would have been happier as a geologist. If I had been really good at math, though, I might have been an astrophysicist. I also find quantum mechanics fascinating, although trying to actually understand it kind of makes my brain hurt.
  4. In preparation for my non-existent career as a scientist, I took Latin in college. I do wish, however, I had learned a language I could actually use. (My apologies to my Latin professor and her G.A.)
  5. My ideal vacation/trip would be exploring Yellowstone National Park. I do realize Yellowstone has a huge magma chamber beneath it, just biding its time. I will be sure to plan my trip around any suspicious, larger-than-usual rumblings.
  6. I used to be a night owl, but having to work for lo, these many years, cured me of that. I did spend the better part of the last five years working evenings, which has totally messed up my sleep schedule/circadian clock/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Some mornings I get up at 6; others, “Well, hey! Is it lunchtime already?!”
  7. When I was young, I loved horses, and asked for one just about every Christmas. I got horse books, horse collectibles, and many other nice gifts, but never a real, live horse. I have, however, forgiven my parents for this, because, I am sure I would have been allergic to horses anyway.
  8. I absolutely love cats: big ones, small ones, wild ones, tame ones. Snow leopards are at the top of the list, followed closely by tigers. And, of course, house cats, of which I will likely have no more, because, after spending so much time with them, I am now allergic.
  9. If I had a choice between getting cured of allergies and having perfect vision, eyesight would win, hands down. Why? Because I really like to see.
  10. It’s kind of difficult to think of 11 random questions I want to answer.
  11. I really, really, can’t think of another question to ask myself right now.

8 Questions I Have Been Tasked by DearLilyJune to Answer

  1. What are your feelings about infinity? Do they scare you? Excite you? Annoy you? Or do they create a combination of those feelings? Infinity is both exciting and confounding, as I have only been here x amount of years, and infinity is, well, forever.
  2. What is the biggest irony of your life? I have worked for newspapers off and on for years, and each time I leave, I say I will never go back. Guess where I’m working now.
  3. In the battle between pizza and coffee, which wins? If I could actually eat pizza or drink coffee with no problems, it would be pizza, no contest. But, since I can’t, I’m substituting hot chocolate. Life without chocolate is awful.
  4. What do you worry about? I don’t worry nearly as much as I used to. But I do worry about my family.
  5. Who do you love? See Question 4.
  6. What do you fear? If you stand me up to speak in front of a crowd, you will probably hear my knees knocking.
  7. How would you complete, No matter how old I am, I am still? Skittish.
  8. No matter my current age, I will always . . . Be curious.

My 5 nominees (yes, I chose only five) for the Infinity Dreams Award are, in no particular order, as follows:

  1. theseeds4life.com, for ongoing encouragement and inspiration.
  2. writescience.com, for communicating scienc-ey topics to everyday people like me.
  3. theanxiousgardener.com, for its feel-good posts about gardening, and those beautiful pictures.
  4. incidentalnaturalist.com, a nature blog with great info and stunning photos.
  5. rockbottomreminders.com, for the author’s skill in writing, humor and our shared fear of Excel spreadsheets.

My questions for the nominees are:

  1. If you didn’t have to work for a living, you would . . .
  2. What is something even your friends wouldn’t guess about you?
  3. What do you do best?
  4. Describe yourself in three words or phrases.
  5. What do you like about blogging?
  6. What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
  7. If you could go back and change anything about your life, what would it be?
  8. How many books do you read each year?
  9. Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
  10. If the new ninth planet turns out to exist, what would you name it?

Surviving the in-between

peonies.jpg
Walks to a neighborhood park rank high on my mood-boosting list

What’s on my list today? Completing and turning in the last assignment for my online class, cleaning house and filling the fridge for three active and hungry grandkids, and getting some exercise and sunshine before I talk myself out of it. For most folks, that’s probably a week-end, or at least an evening, kind of list.

What I’m trying not to do is think too much about the situation I find myself in right now, which is stuck. In-between. Not bringing in a paycheck, and not happy with what I was doing when I earned one. Wanting to move forward, and feeling like the wheels are spinning, and the car’s making lots of noise, but it’s not leaving the driveway.

I know that’s not true. I’m working on new skills, starting a new project, reconnecting with family, and enjoying hobbies I’ve long neglected. If I really think about it, the way I should think about it, I realize we’re all in transition – all the time, even when we feel like we’ve got everything coordinated in our calendars, all under control.

We’re starting a relationship, or ending one. We’re preparing for a new job, or project, or assignment, or completing one. We’re getting ready to leave a place, or an idea, or a dream, and preparing to embrace a new adventure. We’re moving away from something old, and toward something different.

We can plan all we want, but we still don’t know how things will turn out. I’m on a new journey, but I’m not sure where it’s going, or where these next few steps will take me.

Well. I’ve checked most everything I need to do off my list for today, and the weekend’s coming. A blank work week, for me, now includes an empty weekend, ready to fill, with family and fun. I won’t look at this time as in-between, but as an opportunity. The sun, the pool, and the grandkids are calling. We’ll see what this weekend holds.

Windows

I keep dreaming about windows. Long, wide, enclosed porches or rooms, with dozens of windows, lined up in a row. I am concerned about the locks on the doors. Or maybe it is the windows themselves. They stand naked, and bare, unadorned with curtains, or drapes, or even blinds. I see them, lined up in regimented rows, and feel unsettled. I am supposed to do something, but I don’t know what it is. I awaken, still feeling confused.

I think the windows must be a metaphor. I have been somewhat adrift for the last five or so years, trying to figure out where I fit; hoping to discover my purpose. It hasn’t been clear. I took a different career path; I tried on different shoes. They did not fit. And so I stand here, nervous and uncertain, wondering what could be on the other side of all those windows.

I know what my passions are. My family, my God, writing, photography, the wonder of nature and the glory of the Universe. I know that I am reinventing myself, day by day, and I want to be better, stronger, more at peace. And I want to be useful. I do know how to put pen to paper. (Or fingers to keyboard.) And so I will. At this moment, I choose a window. It looks small, and smudged, and I must squeeze myself through it. I don’t know, yet, what is on the other side. But it is my window, and I am jumping through.

Follow my journey on my new blog: writerdiljak.wordpress.com.