Little Birds

bird out the window

I was going to show you my progress on the lime lace project today, however, that project is in time out.  I’m mad at it.

Saturday morning I was working on it, starting a new pattern round.  The stitch count didn’t work. There was something wrong.  I counted, then recounted, and counted again.  Only after knitting and tinking 12 stitches, 4 times, did I see that there was a very small notation at the beginning of the chart on row 83.  “1M.Z.”  Oh. What the heck does this mean?

I remembered reading on Ravelry that on some rows you have to shift the start of the round 1 stitch ahead or behind.  I guessed that I needed to move 1 stitch backwards (zuruk) and indeed, once I did that, the stitch count came out perfect. On I went.

However, moving these stitches around means moving the stitch markers and somehow, I have no idea how, I dropped the stitch marker, went to reach for it, and pulled the stitches off the needles and dropped 3 stitches. And they fell. And fell.  This is at the mesh section.  You know, with double yarn overs and ssk and k2t stitches making a mesh.  I tried to recover and knit it back up, but it looked bad and I was not happy.

I tinked back 3 rounds. That took well over an hour.  Then proceeded to drop 2 more stitches and tinked back 2 more rounds.  And then when I tried to start knitting again nothing looked right.  It was, by then, 9pm Saturday night.  Screw you lace knitting.  I obsessed over this thing all day and couldn’t face it anymore.

I put it down at the end of the couch and there it has sat all day.  In time out.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone a day without knitting, but today is a break day.  Tomorrow will be better.

The above photo was taken out of our living room window this morning.  Isn’t he pretty?

Elephants

I started a new job in September.  The company I work for has offices and manufacturing facilities all over the world.  Since September I’ve been to Paris, Los Angeles and two cities in Thailand – Bangkok and Chiang Mai (the factory is actually in Lamphun, 30 minutes from Chiang Mai).  When I organized the trip to Thailand I made sure I had a weekend free so I could see a little bit of the country.  When you fly in on a Monday and work every day, you don’t see anything except highway, cars, hotel and work facilities.  I had never been to Thailand before.  Actually the only place in Asia I’d been was to Singapore and that was only for 2 days as layovers on the way to and from New Zealand.

Honestly, I was a little nervous traveling to Thailand on my own.  I was new and hadn’t met any of my colleagues there yet either.  All new and unknown.  By the end of the 9 days, I felt really comfortable and at ease and confident.  My Dutch colleague, HJ, calls Thailand “Asia-Lite” because it’s a very easy place for westerners to travel in.  Easy for him to say!  It was still a little scary for me.

My colleagues are incredibly nice and helpful and took great care of me.  I had lunch with them in local lunch spots and dinner at the best Japanese restaurant in Chiang Mai.  They made sure I had rides where and when I needed.  I hope next time I won’t be such a burden and can be more independent.  I loved touring the factories and seeing how people work.  I love factories in general anyway – stuff is really happening there!  Stuff is being MADE.  I’m a maker at heart – any kind of making I get excited and interested.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is to tell you about the elephants!  Before I left for Thailand, DB bought me a travel book.  I needed to find out what I could do on my free weekend.  I found a day trip to an elephant park.  Not just any park.  This is an Elephant Nature Reserve.  Elephants roam around free.  They form their own family groups.  They are not ridden or forced to perform stupid tricks for tourists.  Some are rescued from terrible circumstances and some were born on the park.  The center was started by an amazing woman named Lek Chailert.  They have a FB page of course.  Their web site is here.  You can book a trip in advance if you like.

On Saturday morning a van arrived at my hotel to pick me up.  I was the last on the route and there were already 8 others in the van.  We drove the 2 hours to the park and watched a short movie about the park while en route.  We got there around 10am which was feeding time.  All the tourists (there were probably 75 of us there on this day) were shy and hesitant.  The tour guides showed us what to do and how to feed them.  The elephants receive 60% of their food from humans and the rest they forage for themselves.

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Here’s our guide, and just some of the food that is prepared for the elephants.

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After feeding time we took a walk out into the meadow to a small group of females and a baby.  The baby was was about 9 months old.  One of the nannies is very old (60-70 years old) and the other nanny was injured in a logging accident and walks with a very bad limp.  Logging with elephants was only outlawed in the 1990’s in Thailand.  The practice continues in Cambodia and Myanmar.

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We were able to walk right up to them and touch them and talk to them.  It was pretty amazing.  We also walked by the little hospital they have there where they treat elephants from the whole area.  This is an elephant tooth.

elephant tooth

And this is an 80 year old elephant.

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After walking around a while it was time for lunch.  They set out long tables of hot food for all of us – very tasty.  I have to say, my tour group was not very social.  There were 4 couples and me and each couple really kept to themselves.  At other tables people were talking together and sharing travel stories.  Oh well.  I concentrated on the elephants.  I asked the tour guide lots of questions.

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After lunch it was bath time.  We went down to the river and elephants joined us.  Not all of the elephants are allowed to come to the river with us.  One family group is super protective of their baby and get a little crazy in the water when strangers are around.  Another family group has a 3 month old baby and no one is allowed to get near enough to touch them as they are extremely protective and the baby is too young to interact safely with people.  All completely understandable.

We splashed around, throwing water on the elephants to clean old dirt off them.  Of course after the bath they head to the dirt and mud area and cover themselves again, which is what they are supposed to do.  The dirt keeps them free of bugs and sunburn.

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After we washed some of the elephants, the family group that keeps to themselves came down to the river and we had to go up to the sky walk to be safe and keep them safe too.  After we watched them in the water, they all came walking towards the main building, where we were standing, and hung around like they were posing for photos.  In the end we were able to mingle with them and we all got used to each other.
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The only elephant we really had to look out for was the Naughty Boy.  He’s just a teenager and like all teenage boys he likes to stir up trouble.  Everyone scatters when he comes around.  He’s not that big yet, however, even a small elephant running at full force can knock you down and cause you serious physical damage.

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Here’s a photo of Lek with her elephants. There was also a guy with a big movie camera making a documentary for the Discovery Channel.  I’ll have to look out for that on tv!
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It was soon time for feeding again.  And then late in the afternoon we went to see the 3 month old baby, his mother and 2 nannies.  The nannie on the left had half her right rear foot blown off when she stepped on a land mine while logging in Cambodia.  The baby is so adorable.

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I made some short movies during the day.  It’s here on youtube.  If you watch to the end, you will see this family group with the 3 month old baby.  The nanny with the blown off foot is on the left of the screen.  You will see her thumping the ground with her trunk.  Only once do you hear it really well.  What an amazing sound!  And watch the baby try to imitate her!

You are welcome to look at all my photos here on flickr.

All in all, it was a great day.  It’s surprising to me how much of that day has stayed with me.  It had a big impact.  I want to go back.  I want to take DB there.  I encourage anyone who likes to travel or plans to travel to Thailand to go there and not go to the places where you can ride elephants.  We drove past one of those places and could see the elephants chained to cement pads waiting to be ridden around the roads.  This is not how an elephant should live.  And if you can’t get there but would like to help Lek save elephants (and water buffalo and other animals in Thailand and greater Asia), please donate to her organization.  She’s the real deal.

Youngins

I had my sporty bike tuned up this past week and have biked to the beach and back twice since then.  The first time I went was this past Wednesday and as I came to the small lake in the middle of our dunes running area I saw that the wild horses had had foals!  In the 5 years that we’ve lived here and I’ve been going into the dunes, I’ve never seen foals or calves.  They were laying down most of the time so it was hard to get a good photo, and I only had my iPhone with me.

Yes, I know, it’s hard to see them in this photo, but trust me, there are 3 foals laying there.  I also took photos of the ever present cattle.

The area around the lake on this day was crowded with animals.  Cattle, horses, bunnies, and all sorts of water fowl.  It was a busy and noisy spot that day!

Today when I biked past there, the cattle and birds were all still there.  There were more geese than ever, fattening up their young for the eventual trip south.  With the weather we’ve been having they are probably wishing they’d stayed in the south and not bothered to come up here!

The horses had moved to a much quieter spot much farther away from the bike route.  I saw them further up the trail, off in the distance.  I hope to see them again before the foals are all full grown.  I have also seen a fawn here in the dunes, which was also very special and hasn’t been repeated since.

By the way, after my fall down the stairs I’m a bit paranoid about falling, in any way.  Yesterday we bought me a bike helmet.  I will probably never need it (god I hope I don’t ever need it), but I feel safer and calmer wearing it.  I really like biking to the beach and through the dunes.  It’s the other crazy people out there that worry me – walking in front of me without warning or those crazy bike racers who think they own the road taking a corner too fast and taking me out with them.  I shudder when I think about it, but I get back on the bike and head out.  We live in a city on a busy street so this is my own chance for quiet and a little bit of nature.  I’ll take it.

 

Critters

While at Lake Almanor I tried to take some photos of deer and chipmunks and birds.  My telephoto lens was broken so all I had was my 50mm lens.  Bummer.

The deer were so shy and ran way at the mere sniff of you.  I managed to get this photo of one hiding from us, but watching us closely.  See her in the background?

No? Well, blown up maybe?

There were also chipmunks running around near our little cabin (and don’t get the idea this was a little cabin in the middle of no where; there were other cabins and trailers parked in a little neighborhood all around us).  I tried to get photos of them, but they were so fast and I was so slow.

Here’s one in motion.  Super Chipmunk!

I don’t have any decent bird photos to show you, but we saw redheaded woodpeckers and a meadow bird with bright orange under his wings and several other kinds of jays and hawks and pelicans and egrets.  Maybe next trip I’ll get better photos.

Things to Learn

Yesterday was Sunday and Sundays are always running days at our house.  This is our “long run” day, even if a “long run” consists of only several kilometers.  Sundays are always the longest runs of the week.

Lately I’ve been suffering, shall we say, age related issues.  I have headaches every day.  Hot flashes.  I can’t sleep.  I’m tired and fed up.  I’m always on the verge of a migraine.  I felt like this yesterday and decided that I just wasn’t up to running, no matter how far.  We went to the dunes anyway, DB ran, and I walked and took some photos.  At least I got outside and moved a bit.

I hope you aren’t tired of my dunes and polder photos yet, because here come some more.  I’m still learning about my new camera and trying out things.  One thing I learned is that those birds who sing so sweetly are almost impossible to take photos of.  They are fast and very small.  I started off taking photos of things that were barely moving.

My best tree photo:

My best flower photo:

My best animal photo:

My best bird photo.  Do you know what kind of bird this is?  I don’t.  I was following the sound of a woodpecker, but this doesn’t look like a woodpecker.  Please let me know if you know!

Just when we were about to leave the walking path suddenly there was a rush of sound, hooves pounding the ground and four deer ran across the path behind us.  I tried to get a good photo but they were very fast.  This is the best I could do.  There were two adults and two young ones still with spots on their backs.

They looked just like White Tail Deer that we have in the U.S.  They weren’t as big as Mule Deer and their ears weren’t that big either. Their while tails flicked up when they ran.

And that’s my story of my not-run from yesterday.  I have made a doctor appointment for this week to get my hormone situation sorted out.  I’m hoping for drugs and instant relief.