Category: Critters

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Flickr a Day 107: ‘Snowy’

When choosing photos for this series, I weigh many considerations, such as: Image quality and appeal, composition, and story behind the image or the one about the shooter. Today’s selection is soft and doesn’t represent the high IQ typical of Matt MacGillivray. But it’s a great shot superbly composed (or cropped) that is interesting. Bird and bricks? WTH?

Matthew works for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a web application system architect. But birds are a passion, as his photography shows. He shot self-titled “Snowy” on Jan. 4, 2009, using Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi and Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6 lens. Vitals: f/7.1, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, 400mm.

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Luna Moths

On the afternoon of June 14, 2004, something quite remarkable happened in my Kensington, Md. backyard, about which I briefly posted on that day. My wife urgently called me from my basement office. Beautiful butterflies had taken up residence on my daughter’s snow sled, which she had dragged out and left for some inexplicable reason. I immediately recognized them as something better: Luna moths.

I was an amateur bug collector in my youth and teens (someday I should tell you about raising praying mantids). So interested, I came a hair’s width from majoring in entomology (e.g. study of insects) in college. I dissected a good number of animals during anatomy and physiology classes, but nothing grossed me out more than cutting open a cockroach. But I digress. 

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Say, Hello, Sammy

Happy Caturday! For months, I have wanted to introduce you to the kitty who resides at local Mac dealer DC Computers. But Saturday comes, I forget, and is gone. Finally, I remember, while the sun still shines brightly overhead and Modest Mouse blasts form Chromebook Pixel LS. Mmmm, cat and Mouse (song “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box“, BTW).

Sammy is about four years old, and she amazes me for her territorial confinement. During hot summer days, DC Computers cracks wide the doors and circulates the breeze blowing from the ocean, just 9 kilometers away. Sammy may sit inside, nose held up sniffing the air, but she doesn’t cross the threshold into the bustling parking lot. She never ventures outside.

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Flickr a Day 82: ‘Portrait of a Snail’

Macro photography can be hugely satisfying and express something about the shooter’s inner self. Yesterday we saw how Kristina Alexanderson stages stormtrooper figurines to create familiar parent-child poses. Mark Seton uses the same camera and lens, Nikon D800 and 105mm prime, to shoot closeups. The two photographers’ styles and subjects couldn’t be more different.

Mark, who joined Flickr in December 2006, generally shoots things, which include landscapes and nature. I flip-flopped between choosing self-titled “Portrait of a Snail” and its companion, both captured on May 1, 2014. He is from Leeds, United Kingdom, but lives in Great Dunmow. I picked this pic because the colors are so vivid that they evoke rain forest more than an English homestead. 

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The Bear Cub

On an autumn evening in November 2005, I recalled true story “Somewhere Between Dickey and Rivière-Bleue“, which gives glimpse of Aroostook County hunting lifestyle. In August 2013, I greatly expanded the tale into the “The Bear Cub”, which I submitted to Amazon as consideration for a Kindle Single. Unlike my previous, and only other submission, the retailer didn’t dignify the nearly 5,000-word story with a rejection email.

Last year, I had planned to expand the vignette into a short book with other stories, and some family recipes. that reveal something about Aroostook culture then and now. That project sidelined, like several others, because of blurred vision problems that are in 2015 remedied enough to return to serious writing. I hope to finish the book, tentatively titled Growing Up Aroostook, sometime this year.

For today, I share the text as submitted to Amazon—for your reading education and entertainment. Please note: Because of its length, the Henry David Thoreau book excerpt is italicized rather than put into block quote. Enjoy! 

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Cries by Day, Cries by Night

For Valentine’s Day, I present a sad song of lost love written in early 1979. Lyrics are same, but I made an alternative melody in 2014 that is lighter than the original’s more somber tone.

I wrote this song back in my cat-despising youth. If you asked why, I could present no answer for the attitude. Regardless, it is what inspired the verse, to which I soon after put to melody. I knew little about romantic love and nothing about loss then.

“Cries by Day, Cries by Night” is the fifth lyric posted since the new year. The others: “Dank Deep Eyes the Darkness“, “Disco Queen“, “Empire State“, and “Surrealistic Pillow“. More will follow. 

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Remembering Kuma

This date, three years ago, was a Sunday. Kuma loudly meowed, demanding to go outdoors, earlier than usual. He was untypically agitated, pacing around the front door and sliding glass that opened onto a small balcony. I usually let him out after first light—sometimes as early as 6:30 but usually not before 7, and I started the trek with him into the back alley.

But this day, I broke routine, letting him out at six, into darkness. He went alone. I vividly recall the majestic Maine Coon looking up at me, making eye contact—as if to say “You’re not coming with me today?”—before slipping out our apartment complex’s back gate. I never saw him again.