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Safari Sunday: zebras in the tall grass

Posted by barb on Dec 10, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

These are, by far, my favorite zebra pictures from our entire trip. We stumbled upon them while driving around looking for the big cats one morning at Kwara. We were closer to them than anywhere else.

The cattle egrets look like friends of the zebras, though they really are just capitalizing on the fact that the zebras kick up a lot of bugs as they walk through the grass.

Zebras

Zebra

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Safari Sunday: A silly cheetah for International Cheetah Day (tomorrow).

Posted by barb on Dec 3, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

While we were watching this dignified cat, he decided to roll over, and I was lucky enough to capture a few shots of his belly.

Cheetah belly

Cheetah belly

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Safari Sunday: a Nxai Pan sunset

Posted by barb on Nov 26, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

The evening of our full day in Nxai Pan, we found a couple of kori bustards – the national bird of Botswana. Our guide explained that there were a few birds up for that honor, and the kitty bustards was chosen because of it’s association with royalty. It was generally reserved for the chief’s table. It is also the largest flying bird native to Africa.

Sunset kori bustard

Sunset kori bustard

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Zephyr

Posted by barb on Nov 20, 2017 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Zephyr in the grass

Zephyr crossed over the rainbow bridge today. We’re not sure how old he was – we’ve had him for almost 6 years, and he may have been 5 years or older when we brought him home. We were certainly expecting him to be part of our family for longer than 6 years, but I’m so glad he picked us for his forever home.

When we first got him, it was clear he’d had some hard times. He had some kind of eye injury that caused his eye to water frequently – we tried to treat it several times, but could only alleviate the problem, not get rid of it. He also had a chipped canine tooth. We finally removed that tooth, but only when it was clear it was giving him problems – our vet didn’t believe in doing unnecessary surgery.

Despite all that, he was a very cuddly guy. He fit right in at our house, finding his place first with Aurora and Artemis, and then as we added Maia, lost Artemis, and brought in Sirius. He was always easy-going, mostly just looking for a comfy pillow or warm beam of sunshine.

Looks like there's a lot of trouble to get into here!
Zephyr on his first day in our house

Inauspicious beginning

In early 2012, we were in search of a black cat – our house felt a bit empty because we had lost Duncan and Ares in 2011. We had just Aurora (the dog) and Artemis (the cat) at that point. The search took us to an adoption event at the PetSmart in Tyson’s Corner in search of “Pinwheel.” We found him at the event, and the rescue volunteer let us hold him to get to know him a bit. Before too long, he took a swipe at me! The volunteer was horrified, telling us that he wasn’t usually like that and that his foster family had no issues with him. I didn’t mind – he had been in a cage all day with people gawking, kids poking, and dogs walking by. Of course he was cranky. I was in love and he came home with us.

Showdown in the kitchen
Zephyr and Aurora in the kitchen

He let me sniff him!

Our first introductions between Aurora and Zephyr were done with her on a leash until we were comfortable that she wasn’t going to go after him. The first time we allowed them together with her unleashed, he walked right past her. She sniffed his butt and then looked up at us as if to say, “Hey, this one is letting me sniff him!” He was the first of our cats who didn’t seem to mind Aurora. They didn’t exactly become friends, but they also didn’t actively avoid each other like our other cats.

Kitty tongue!
Zephyr’s tongue

What a talker

We were warned by the rescue that Zephyr was a bit of a talker, but they really couldn’t prepare us for how much he liked to talk! Until the last few months, he was terrible at sneaking up on anyone because he would announce his presence! I found the best way to deal with it was to just talk back 🙂

And it wasn’t just with us. Whenever someone new would come in the house, he would have to check them out and announce his presence loudly.

Sunggly Zephyr
Zephyr conquering my leg

Pet me!

He was fairly sure that a human’s purpose was to pet him. If a person wasn’t petting him when they should, he would let them know. We weren’t the best at clipping his claws, which he would use to his advantage. His usual tactic was to put his paws on your leg and ejecting his sharp claws until you pet him. And, of course, it wasn’t just Andrew and me who were object of his demands, but anyone in the house.

Sirius and Zephyr almost getting along
Sirius and Zephyr almost getting along

Curly ribbon

He was already older when we got him, so he wasn’t too big on toys and running around. However, we did have one toy that could get him going for a little while – it was one of those toys on a stick, where the toy looked like curled ribbon. I could walk around the house for several minutes, and he would follow trying to get at that pesky ribbon.

Snuggling Zephyr
Snuggly Zephyr

Prowling in the great outdoors

The one thing Zephyr did love, even this morning after his body had started shutting down, was to prowl in the backyard. We would put a leash and harness on him and walk around. Eating grass was a favorite, but he also just liked walking around, watching, and experiencing all the things. We took him out this morning, and Andrew grabbed a number of pictures – a few memories of my guy doing his favorite thing.

Prowling Zephyr
Prowling Zephyr

Zephyr tongue!
Zephyr versus the branch

The house is going to feel quiet without him. And I’m not sure where I’ll get my kitty-cuddles from anymore…Sirius has chosen Andrew as his person, and Maia isn’t much for cuddling.

Snuggling Zephyr

Adoption date: January 14, 2012
Names: Zephyr, Zeph, Mr. Pants, Big Guy
Favorite feature: He had a tiny patch of white on his chest that looked like a little tie.
Known for: Talking all the time, snuggling

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Safari Sunday: a nursing baby elephant

Posted by barb on Nov 19, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

One of the big groups of elephants we found at Chobe had a couple of babies – this one stepped under its mama to nurse for a quick minute.

Nursing baby

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Safari Sunday: a picturesque reedbuck

Posted by barb on Nov 12, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

We spied this handsome reedbuck on our of our evening drives at Pom Pom Camp. We were told that reedbuck are designed for hiding in the reeds along the side of the water. They are good at jumping, and can bounce off crocodiles, so they don’t worry about hanging out along the side of the water. I have no idea of this is true, but sounded good to me!

Off to the right, that’s a termite mound, which is exactly what it sounds like. I have no desire to get close enough to figure out if it’s an active mound or not.

Reedbuck

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Safari Sunday: Hello giraffe!

Posted by barb on Nov 5, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

On our first full day drive in Chobe, we spied a group of giraffes. I was constantly surprised by how they were both taller than I expected and not as tall as I expected. This beauty was right where I expected – just above the nearby tree!

Giraffes

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Solo Play: Elder Sign, Omens of the Deep

Posted by barb on Nov 3, 2017 in Entertainment, Games

Broken amulet card

We just bought the Omens of the Deep expansion for Elder Sign, so I thought I’d try that for my Elder Sign solo play through. Omens of the Deep is another story-driven expansion with new adventure cards, new entrance, and the addition of missions (which are tossed in with the original monsters) and Deep Ones Legion monsters which are spawned separately from the regular monsters.

In this expansion, the investigators are on a ship, trying to prevent the awakening of the ancient one. The expansion has new adventure cards and as with other recent expansions the game is played in two phases. In the first phase, the investigators are seeking out the pieces of a broken amulet and advancing an omen token. In the second phase, the investigators concentrate on getting elder signs and preventing the ancient one from awakening.

Deep One Legion

In the solo game, it’s not clear if I should just play one investigator or more, so I played a couple of different ways – once with two investigators, once with three, and once with four. I played that if I lost an investigator, I added a doom token to the doom track and did not replace the investigator.

Active adventure cards

This expansion is HARD. I played three times, losing each time with only a handful of elder signs. I think I needed to concentrate on moving to phase 2 faster, but it’s not easy when you are just trying to keep your investigators alive. It feels like there are a lot more “sanity” penalties in this one than “stamina”, making high sanity characters much more desirable.

In the solo play-through, I miss the player interaction, and it feels like an awful lot of set up just for one person to play. However, I enjoyed it enough to play through three times, so I guess I couldn’t have been overly annoyed.

My investigators and adventure cards

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Safari Sunday: Lounging leopards

Posted by barb on Oct 29, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

The leopards we saw were…um…in the midst of an extended intimate encounter. However, between each session, they would separate and rest. The rest wouldn’t last long, but it was long enough to snap some pictures of them looking relaxed.

Leopards

Resting  a moment

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Safari Sunday: a maned lion ready for his close up

Posted by barb on Oct 22, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

This lion is one of the two brothers that was holding the area around Pom Pom Camp when we visited. Our guide pulled the truck to be about 10 feet away from them. Being this close brings home how hard their lives are. Flies swarm their faces. His canine is chipped. Their faces are crisscrossed with scars and a fresh cut or two. Such a contradiction to the power they emanate and the fear they evoke.

Lion

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