Category: Art

Earth Day 2017

We must have a better relationship with our one and only planet!

There’s a part of me that sadly wonders why we, as in Jean and me, and undoubtedly countless others, bother with recognising ‘Earth Day’!

For in so many ways our Planet is screaming out that we humans are not doing enough to care for it! (Yes, I know that’s an emotional outburst from me!)

It could be argued that we don’t have a friendship with our planet. For if we cared for and loved our home planet as so many of us care for and love our animals what a difference that would make.

My way of introducing this recent essay from Mother Nature Network this Earth Day 2017.

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The power of unusual animal friendships

Studying odd couple animal friendships can help researchers learn what goes into normal human relationships.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

April 20, 2017
A ferret and a cat take a nap together. (Photo: Best dog photo/Shutterstock)

We know that sometimes animals have unlikely friendships. Whether it’s circumstances that throw them together or they just happen to find a friend from another species, animals will occasionally become pals, creating an unconventional alliance.

These unusual relationships cause a certain amount of double-takes — and they’re often incredibly adorable — but there’s also a scientific benefit to studying odd animal friendships.

“There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,” Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, told the New York Times.

An African elephant and a giraffe have become unlikely pals due to the confines of a zoo. (Photo: Glass and Nature/Shutterstock)

Cross-species bonds typically occur in young animals, and they’re also common among captive animals that have no choice but to seek each other out.

“I think the choices animals make in cross-species relationships are the same as they’d make in same-species relationships,” Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, told Slate. “Some dogs don’t like every other dog. Animals are very selective about the other individuals who they let into their lives.”

And when predator and prey become buddies, that requires serious trust from the animal on the prey end, Bekoff points out.

The polar bears at SeaWorld San Diego in happier times. (Photo: samantha celera/flickr)

Animal friendships — whether in their own species or outside — can be very meaningful. Consider the story of Szenja, a 21-year-old polar bear who died at SeaWorld San Diego in mid-April after an unexplained illness including loss of appetite and energy, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Szenja had recently been separated from her long-time companion, Snowflake, who had been sent to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for a breeding visit. The pair had been together for 20 years. The polar bears made headlines in March when more than 55,000 people signed a petition not to separate the “best friends.”

In a statement, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Remain said Szenja died of a broken heart.

Humpty the hippo and her friend Sala the kudu are orphans who became friends at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. (Photo: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Here’s a look at some animal odd couples that have forged lasting bonds.

A llama nuzzles its sheep friend. (Photo: Katriona McCarthy/flickr)
This squirrel and wren are backyard BFFs. (Photo: Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock)
A pigeon hangs out with its rabbit friends. (Photo: Marina2811/Shutterstock)
This kitten and bearded dragon can’t get enough of each other. (Photo: ohheyitsnikki/imgur)

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Dear people, make a promise to improve the relationship we all have with our planet.

No place for amateurs!

Offering up a tribute to the work of a professional.

Many, many years ago when I was in business on my own account (1978-1986) I had the pleasure of getting to know Frank Tijou. He was running his own very successful business. But more important than that, Frank had this wonderful ability to explain what he had learned over his years of being an entrepreneur. One such learning was stick to what you really know and don’t try and do things that are best left to other professionals. In other words, don’t be an amateur when it comes to important matters.

Thus when some weeks ago I was strongly recommended by some local authors to have an author website, I looked around for a professional. I quickly came to find Christy Kiltz of Design! by Kiltz Internet Solutions.

Talk about finding a true professional.

Forgive me, I’m not coming at this in terms of an ego trip. I just want to promote what a wonderful job Christy did. (And not forgetting Emily’s grand design work.) (And most certainly not forgetting my darling Jeannie who did the image of the man in a flat cap with the dogs!)

Please go across to my new website: Paul Handover – Life Traveller.

The home page banner image from my website.

So in the words of American playwright Garson Kanin:

“Amateurs hope, professionals work.”

Thank you, Christy!

Happy Easter Days

Learning about happiness from our animals as new parents!

Spring is most definitely in the air with this recent post published over on the Mother Nature Network site.

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Happy animal parents show off their babies

Animals feel happiness (and maybe even pride) in their new offspring.

Mary Jo DiLonardo April 12, 2017.

These golden retriever parents appear quite pleased with the new arrivals. (Photo: reinederien/Reddit)

When animals have babies, we often ascribe human feelings to what they’re likely going through. They must be proud and happy showing off those sweet, little babies, we figure. After all, look how adorable the wee ones are.

But as proud and as happy as they might look, do animal parents really feel that way?

We checked in with Jonathan Balcombe, the director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science, who has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior, as well as several books including “Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good.”

“Having researched and written two books on animal pleasure, I feel well qualified that say that animals clearly know happiness,” Balcombe says. “Bearing and raising young surely brings many forms of satisfaction and joy for animal parents, as we know it does for us.”

The idea of whether animals experience pride may not be so clear.

“Whether they feel ‘pride’ is an interesting question, and a rather anthropomorphic one in that it is an emotion that we egocentric humans know well, but one that might not apply to non-humans,” Balcombe says. “I don’t think that matters though; what is important to recognize is that other species have lives that matter to them and that is not just because they have an interest in avoiding pain and suffering, but because they also seek pleasures and rewards.”

With that in mind, here’s a photo roundup of some animal parents with their new offspring. (They certainly seem happy!)

‘Yep, I made these.’ (Photo: yasmapaz & ace_heart/flickr)
Sweetie looks awfully happy with her new puppy. (Photo: SmileLikeAKat/imgur)
They’re just so teeny. (Photo: mjconns/Reddit)
Sophia, an orangutan at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, holds her new baby. (Photo: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)
This bulldog dad hangs out with his son. (Photo: STARER_OF_CAMELTOES/imgur)
This Australian shepherd mom has a little guy who looks just like her. (Photo: Techdestro/Reddit)

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Yes, Spring is most certainly Sprung.

I have used this line before and will now show my age by sharing the full ‘poem’.

Spring is Sprung

“Spring has sprung,
The Grass has riz,
I wonder where the birdies is?
The bird is on the wing,
But that’s absurd!
The wing is on the bird!”

I don’t know the origins of this silly verse but suspect it may have been The Goon Show, as described (in part) on WikiPedia:

The Goon Show was a British radio comedy programme, originally produced and broadcast by the BBC Home Service from 1951 to 1960, with occasional repeats on the BBC Light Programme. The first series broadcast from 28 May to 20 September 1951, was titled Crazy People; subsequent series had the title The Goon Show, a title inspired, according to Spike Milligan, by a Popeye character.[1]

The show’s chief creator and main writer was Spike Milligan. The scripts mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, puns, catchphrases and an array of bizarre sound effects. Some of the later episodes feature electronic effects devised by the fledgling BBC Radiophonic Workshop, many of which were reused by other shows for decades. Many elements of the show satirised contemporary life in Britain, parodying aspects of show business, commerce, industry, art, politics, diplomacy, the police, the military, education, class structure, literature and film.

We can never have too much laughter and happiness in our lives!

Further travels with Natalie

Natalie returns with her second travel installment.

Almost a month ago, the 18th March to be exact, I introduced Natalie Derham-Weston:

Those who take a close interest in this place (you poor, lost souls!) will have noticed from time to time me posting items that have been sent to me by Bob Derham. He and I first met when we were both based in Larnaca, Cyprus in the late 80’s/early 90’s and we have remained good and close friends ever since.

Natalie is Bob’s beautiful daughter and recently contacted me to ask if she might offer a guest post on her traveling experiences. Natalie has ambitions to be a travel writer and, as you are about to see, would make an excellent one.

On that day Natalie presented the first installment of her travel blog. It was very well received by you good people. Many of you left great comments.

Thus it is with great pleasure that I present Natalie’s next travel  installment.

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Travel Blog: Installment 2: Laos

After having set the standard so high in Thailand, there was a lot riding on our following section of the journey. However before moving on to Laos, the logical next step and easiest route to take, we had a few metaphorical “bridges” to cross. Looking back, the process seems an enormous chore but at the time we didn’t question the operation. Although tiredness did sometimes set in heavily, Hannah and I had to mentally overcome this and remind ourselves how this beat office day jobs hands down.
Our last evening in Thailand was spent in Chang Mai. After some deliberation and consulting of maps and Google facilities, we booked a slow boat trip down to Mekong to take us into Laos. The evening was then free to be spent at our leisure. Pre-travelling I was naïve, and perhaps still am. Though even I had heard tell of the Thai “lady boys” and we had the greatest pleasure of spending an afternoon in their company after having looked lost and forlorn at a cross roads and took up their offer of a pool side beer. They spoke openly about their choice to change gender and what they had to undergo. This meeting was purely circumstantial but very memorable all the same. After this curious incident we caught up in town with a friend I had been to school with in South Africa. Carmen was in Thailand teaching English and had an evening to spare, which was such a lovely chance to assemble and to chew the fat as some may say.
On our wander back to our hostel we happened to bump into Nadine, a girl we had met previously on an overnight train. This is one of my most favourite parts of travelling, crossing paths with friends, having had no plans and no inkling of the others location.
The following morning consisted of some organising, dollars had to be sourced for the Laos border and check out was an early evacuation, drying our towels on the outside of our bags and heaving them downstairs to be left for the later pickup. In the meantime, we bought up some supplies to support us through the epic bus journey that we had to embark upon that afternoon. Fortunately, these snacks barely amounted to anything, and certainly made a welcome change to our expensive sandwiches and bottles of water back in the UK!
Our bus was a 7 hour journey, taking us through minute villages and stopping at temples along the way. One in particular stood out, which was pure white. The only colour was a singular red nail on a hand protruding from a statue of swarming limbs surrounding the building.
That night was our first sighting of the vast Mekong, a fast flowing murky, brown mass of water with grassy banks and elephants grazing alongside. Children were running down to the shore to bathe and play and generally splash around as much as was possible.
Our accommodation had been part of the ticket and so was basic to say the least. Dinner went untouched due to the extensive family of flies feasting on it. In the morning, the pre stated time of 8:30 got blown out the window and there was a quick panic to depart at 8. After yet more busses, there was a process in place at the border for visa stamps and signing of papers. The long queues were hot and felt much longer than they probably were.

At another stop we convened with a load of other tourists. At this point it dawned on us that neither Hannah nor I had any local currency, which was apparently an issue. So the solution to this was for me to jump on the back of a bike belonging to a tour guide within the group and find the nearest ATM and hope for the best. I sauntered back with 500,000 kip, the equivalent of about £50, and felt very wealthy! 12 of us were stuffed into an open tuktuk, with our bags precariously perched on top and sent down a steep slope to a load of boats tied up, surrounded by pigs in baskets, goats running lose and a huge swarm of blue butterflies milling around the general vicinity.

Nobody seemed able to direct us to the correct boat so after half an hour of debating and questioning, we finally got some sense out of someone and all started to engross ourselves into a comfortable fashion on a long boat. The seats had previously been in a minibus by the looks of them but made for a relatively pleasant crossing. We exhausted every possible game we could think of, including eye spy and cards and took to gazing out the open windows at the scenery, with our legs dangled over the side, dozing in the sun.
Late afternoon time saw us arriving at our overnight spot, a very small village, running solely on the likes of us, temporary tourists. Our newly made friends were mainly from Europe and we stuck together choosing a hostel on the hillside and later all enjoyed a joint dinner out. I remember this being 79,000 kip = £6.50 and what I thought was fantastic value! The shower back at the hostel was nonexistent so I made do with crouching underneath an outside tap arrangement. As it was Easter Sunday, I took some time to have a phone call back home and caught up on the news of England.
The next day entailed an 8 hour boat journey further down the Mekong into the town of Luang Prabang. Still in our group, we found a local bus into the main high street and found our hostel. We ended up in a mixed dorm with a Japanese man we had shared a bus with a few days prior, who made us endless origami frogs, two Dutch girls we had met in Pai and some others from the boat.
We had a quick nap and were out again that evening to try out the local foods and to witness the night market. I added to my collection of foreign art work with a bright Buddha head painting and some more elephant trousers. These really are the way forward, they are light, don’t crease, are breezy and make long journeys far more pleasurable. The food stalls were a sight to behold, full of black eggs, chicken intestines, heads and feet so I opted for some fresh looking fruit. Later we sat as a huge group at a popular bar called Utopia and as happens when travelling, skipped the polite introductions and befriended each other quickly. This is another part of the whole “travel” life that I appreciate. Nobody judges on mundane things that don’t matter, people just seem to mould more easily and quicker.
In the next couple of days we visited waterfalls and woke up at 5 am to witness the “Giving of Alms”. This is a procession of monks who come to receive gifts of food. We found bookshops and read on recliners overlooking the Mekong. It felt like a world away from parents and friends back home.

Collectively, our group made the decision to bus to Vang Vieng shortly after. The main attraction of this town is “tubing”, an activity for the brave and resilient. An all day drinking marathon down the river in rubber rings. I can’t deny, it was fun. The weather was glorious, and everybody was in good spirits. At each stop down the river, we were pulled in by event staff and were given bracelets (this became an obsession with some of us over our travelling time. Some sort of victorious achievement was to have as many travel bracelets as possible.)
The quick interlude in this popular backpacker location included much watching of ‘Friends’, a tradition even cited in the Lonely Planet books. Although after a couple of days, we craved some more brain stirring activities and more cultural action. So again, we took a bus to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, holding up the piles of bags in the back of the bus and awaited our next mode of transport into our next country…

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Please, all of you, wherever you are, have a wonderful weekend.

Rebecca’s Ode To Her Dog

What a wonderful postscript to yesterday’s post.

There was an exchange of comments yesterday to my post This Is The Dog.

Rebecca offered:

I just wrote an ode to my dog…. she is everything.

I responded:

Rebecca, please share your ode with everyone.

Rebecca then provided the link:

Here ya go 😀
https://myfacesoflife.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/ode-to-my-dog/

If you go to that place, you will read this.

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Ode to my Dog.

on March 21, 2017

This is Raya.

She is perfect. Even with her imperfections.

 

Wherever I go, so does she.

For 11 years she has been in my life.

For 11 years she has comforted me through my troubles.

For 11 years she has filled me with love.

For 11 years she has loved me.

For 11 years I treasured every moment.

For 11 years now… and I am fully aware that we are running out of time.

Here she lies, sleeping next to me on the sofa.

Dreaming a dogs dream with all paws moving.

She is perfect.

How will I ever do this without her sleeping next to me on the sofa?

This is Raya.

She is perfect. Even with her imperfections.

She keeps me safe when I am scared.

She watches over me as she sleeps on the foot of my bed.

This is Raya.

She is perfect. Even with her imperfections.

When she is happy, I smile with her.

When she is hurt, I fix her pain.

When she needs help, I stop what I am doing and I help.

When I am sad, she comforts me.

She makes what I do possible. She makes the bad days good. She makes the good days fantastic. She makes the horrible days bearable. Through every move, through every fight, through every depression, through every tear, through every laugh, through every moment of joy, through every moment of peace, through every moment of serenity, through every nightmare, through every feeling of desperately wanting to run away, through all of the times that I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, through all of the times I prayed for death, through all of the times my insides were screaming so hard it made me feel like I was going to burst, through all of the times I felt my heart break, through all of the times I felt my heart mend again. She was there. Depression has many faces and she has seen them all and helped me overcome. She has given me reason because her love deserves attention.

….. and we are running out of time. The possible will become impossible.

This is Raya.

She is perfect.

She is mine and I am hers.

I am hers and she is mine.

We are equal in love, in pain, in joy, in life.

I am proud to be her human. All of the mistakes I have made in the past… with Raya, I did it right.

She is perfect.

When you look into her eyes you can see her soul. Her character, her goofiness, her lust for life, her love, her mind, her cleverness. Her loyalty. I sometimes wonder what she sees when she looks back into my eyes. Does she see everything that I see? Would she also call me perfect? All I see in that connection is love.

She is perfect.

My Raya, my girl. All my love. We will live forever.

 

~ Becca ~

 

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Stunningly beautiful and, yes, perfect!

Picture Parade One Hundred and Eighty-Six

Stay Happy Good People!

With enormous thanks to ‘Captain Bob’ who sent these to me.

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Another set of these wonderful antidotes to grumpiness in a week’s time.

Many thanks, Bob!

P.S. Don’t forget the clocks go forward in many US States in two hours time!