Wednesday, September 17, 2008
san gimignano was crawling with tourists! it must be a pain to actually live there. after we wandered off the main streets, it was sunny and delightfully quiet and the corners of town had the most amazing views of the surrounding countryside. heaps of towers, too, but we didn't go up into any of them. there was even a nice looking winery (surprise, surprise - it is italy!), but we opted to pick up some cheap bottles at the grocery store instead. the most entertaining part of the day was our last stop for coffee at a cafe with an incredibly cranky and confrontational lady behind the counter who yelled at everyone headed in the direction of the bathroom 'buy first, THEN use toilet!!'
arrived in siena just as the sun was getting low. we picked out a nice, big plot and proceeded to cook dinner on our charcoal grill. luckily when one of the staff walked by he just warned us not to burn anything down since they were technically illegal. we made friends with him before when we needed to open up a bottle of wine so he seemed to trust us.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
david replica #2 - nearby the uffizi galleries is the palazzo vecchio, outside of which stands another of the david replicas in florence. also some other very excellent marble statues that we tried to appreciate while the throngs of tourists packed the piazza della signora on their way to the uffizi.
il porcellino - a bronze statue in the mercato nuovo where you rub the nose and put a coin in its mouth that drops through the grate below so that you may return to florence! very fun if you can get your turn with the pig!
carousel ride - on our wanderings we stumbled across a piazza with a carousel and we couldn't resist the entertainment for a few euros.
officina profumo farmaceutica di santa maria novella - a really old perfume and pharmaceutical store, it smelled amazing.......
uffizzi galleries - the guidebooks said it was impossible to get through these galleries in one day, but we figured we would try. and we did manage as we only had a few hours to complete the place before it closed. when we had passed by earlier in the day there were lines out the door and down the block, so we came back later in the evening and it was not so severely crowded.
more gellato - this was a place of many, many flavours and i think i got pistachio and coconut :)
Monday, September 15, 2008
the markets - our first stop in the morning and once we actually found them, they were good fun! lots of people and merchandise and i finally found a purse! it turns out that these were the best markets we would experience on our tour of italy. possibly the nest part was the food: roasted boar sandwich!! stuffed with lots of spices and served in cold slices on a plain long crusty bread - absolutely delicious!
car - with much drama, the car was sorted out in mostly working order....
david #1 - he handsomely stands in the middle of the piazzale michelangelo overlooking the city. we had a look at the great panorama at sunset before heading down to the city for dinner.
dinner with the boys - scott, reuben, marie and i headed back down into town in a direction that the boys had seen some restaurants during their day out in florence. we settled on a nice little place on the corner where we sat outside and enjoyed a relatively mild evening with wine and pasta and relaxation.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
now it was on to the sites! we headed toward the cathedral of santa maria del fiore and as we were getting nearer we started to drive by some street markets. marie and i quickly jumped out of the car and let the boys park so we could oggle the streets and streets of goodies. there was leather everywhere!! and also piselli - mostly david's :)
after about as many ciao bellas as we could handle for the day, we made it to the duomo to meet scott and reuben. only reuben and i climbed the dome because marie is afraid of heights and scott had seen enough in rome. what seemed like 4000 steps later, we had a great view of the dome and then even farther up - the city. unfortunately, like pretty much every church in italy, it was packed with tourists, who really take the fun out of doing a lot of things with the pushy attitudes, loud voices and obligatory 'i was here' photos.
after such grueling exercise, i got my first real italian gelatto! despite it being outrageously expensive, mine was quite tasty, though certainly not the best i would have on the trip. as time was running out on our parking, we decided to head back to the campsite, grab some groceries and whip out the charcoal bbq for the first time.
marie and i wandered to the coop market and stocked up on cheese, veggies, sausages (successfully using the italian numbers we learned on he way down to order), bread and drinks. despite finding out later that bbq's weren't allowed at the campsite - we fired ours up.. slowly, but eventually we (and by we i mean marie because all i did was chop tomatoes) made an amazing sizzling meal... which we ate all by ourselves since the boys were busy drinking at the bar.
it was an interesting night trying to balance on a single air mattress with a drunk reuben next to me, but at least it was nice and warm!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
we didn't have much of a plan for the day - just driving to see how close we could get to florence. once to florence, we were aiming to meet up with scott and reuben, who were making their way up from rome. we were making such good time that arranged to meet them tonight at a camping ground a bit outside of florence.
on the way, we passed by milan, mostly because we hadn't read about anything we were dying to see there and anyone i've talked to who has been there said it was unimpressive and didn't live up the hype. so we kept heading south!
that is until we needed to stop for gas. we decided to grab a quick bite to eat at the rest stop so we could keep driving and make it to florence before dark. and it just so happened that the fast food at this stop was macdonalds. certainly not our first choice cuisine, but we knew it would be quick and easy. or so we thought. turns out we stopped at the only major rest stop macdonalds in europe that didn't speak english. or at least didn't know the menu items in english (despite the fact that they are all printed in english). now i am not a language snob thinking the world should know english for my convenience, but this was just unexpected! after struggling with our orders for a bit, an italian woman next to us finally came to our rescue. such drama just to get a dumb hamburger - how disappointing.
but eventually we made it back on the road and into firenze just at dusk! by the time we made it up to the campsite it was pretty much dark and we had our fingers crossed they were still open. they were, but apparently the man behind the counter wasn't very happy about and here was our first encounter with the ever pleasant and friendly customer service in italy. aaaaand i'm being complately sarcastic. what is it about people who work in customer service in italy?? at least once a day i feared i was going to get my head bitten off or my coffee thrown in my face. the attitudes were a bit shocking at first, but once we accepted it and got used to it, it was just normal.
anyway, reuben and scott arrived in their little car and we all piled into the big tent to relax for what was left of the evening.
Friday, September 12, 2008
in zurich it rained... alot... but that didn't stop us from dragging our stuff up to rafael's (huge) apartment, with a few hugs along the way of course! after some catch-up chatting, we decided to head outside and see what sights we could through the fog and drizzle. first stop for me was to buy an umbrella. then we were on our way to the shopping area and lakefront. apparently it's quite gorgeous on a nice day, with the glistening water and mountains in the background. but today was pretty gray.
we decided to head back to the apartment as we were all feeling cold, wet and tired. i personally was a bit under the weather already, which is no fun for sightseeing. while everyone piled upstairs to dry off and get warm, i decided to go for another short wander by myself in order to find a purse - something i had been lacking the whole trip so far. for some reason, however, zurich didn't like my money as both of my credit and debit cards were rejected in three different stores. eventually i was headed back when i stumbled upon a familiar store - bang-on! this was the little t-shirt shop that was my very first job in nyc in the east village, which ultimately led me to meet a good portion of my nyc friends! small world..
after getting back to rafael's and changing into warm clothes, it was dinner time! dinner was a fairly big event with two of rafael's friends and even tanja (who is now living a bit outside or zurich) joining us! it's amazing that five of us who met in a little town in new zealand were now all together in the middle of switzerland.
the rest of the night was quiet, just hanging out in front of the tv, napping, chatting and staying warm.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
at this point marie is frantically on the phone with her dad to see if he can diagnose the problem. which left me to go direct traffic away from our exit lane before more people got stuck behind us. notice the fluorescent safety jackets we packed, thinking we would never need.... finally, after many frantic phone calls and the eventual generosity of strangers, marie was able to arrange a tow truck to come pick us up.
the tow truck finally comes and the guy identifies a problem with one of the breaks that he has apparently never seen before. fantastic... we make our way to the garage in who-knows-where-ville and wander inside to wait. there we see two other guys who had been waiting two days for their car to be fixed! oh yeah, it was also friday afternoon, so we were getting a bit worried we would be pitching our tent on the grassy patch nex the garage and waiting..
luckily, we weren't waiting for nearly as long as we thought we might be and we were free to get on our way!
that night, our destination was freiburg to visit aaron. the lady navigated us into town pretty poorly, but eventually we found his apartment. we hadn't gotten his apartment number, so i was hoping his name would be on the buzzer, so i trotted up to the door, found his apartment and buzzed up. just as he was buzzing me into the building, the door opened and an elderly couple stared at me suspiciously. they were probably asking me who i was and why i was looking like i was heading into the building, but i speak no german whatsoever, so i just babbled a bit and asked bishell?? a few times until aaron finally made it down the stairs and explained that i was a friend of his. apparently they were the overprotective landlords.
after getting the tour of aaron's place, having some horrible coffee and just generally catching up, we decided to head out to dinner. aaron took us to a buzzing little local restaurant where we shared some tasty lamb steaks, had some big pints of beer and did some more chatting. after dinner, we went on a little walking tour of the town before we sat down for a cocktail at a busy corner bar.
as we were pretty exhausted from a stressful day, we turned in relatively early, stuffing our two air mattresses into the free space on aaron's floor and making quick plans for our trip to zurich the next day.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
12:00 we were really off! the trunk was stuffed and the back seat was pretty full - mostly of food (like yummy homemade sausage rolls!), so we were fully loaded and excited! not too long afterwards, we made it to the ferry. by the time we finished our sausge roll and faxe kondi meal, we were in germany!
and you know what? there wasn't even a welcome to germany sign! the radio stations, however, were all german, so it took a lot of flipping through the stations to find something we could listen to. after hearing 'i kissed a girl' about 20 times, it was finally getting dark so we decided it would be time to start looking for a campsite. unfortunately, the gps (a.k.a. the lady) didn't list any.
and here starts our first travel adventure! we stopped at a gas station and decided to ask. luckily the woman behind the counter spoke english and told us just head to niederbeisheim, next to oberbeisheim. yeah.. that easy! after leaving the station, desperately clutching the piece of paper with the two myseterious names on it, we punched them into the gps. after winding through some country roads, we finally did see signs for the campingplatz. we pulled up at dusk to the bar and peeked our heads inside to see about half a dozen elderly guys staring wide-eyed at us. this is where i nudge marie to do the talking and we find the guy behind the bar does speak some english and he shows us a spot to put our tent and something about the balcony of the building next to it. i thought he said don't go there if it rains and marie heard something completely different... we will never really know. in fact, i opted not to talk because anytime i said anything he just stared at me...
so the first time we put up our tent was almost completely in the dark, but even then it only took about 15 minutes - pretty good for a massive 4(or 6?) person tent! within a half an hour we were sipping asti from our oversized wine glasses at the foldout table in the middle of our two sleeping compartment tent and snacking on (more) sausage rolls by soft candle light.. how romantic.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
ok, we didn't really get too far on our first day, only as far as marie's parents' house in næstved. here we had to pick up all of the camping stuff and i had to meet her family, of course! i also met the two hedgehogs and stary cat that hang around the house :)
an uneventful but pretty day.
onsdag is wednesday in danish. tomorrow is torsdag and the day we really get going!
Monday, September 8, 2008
we started the day bright and early at noon by watching the changing of the guards. this put us right near the waterfront where the little mermaid sits on her rock. in the 5 minutes we spent there, attempting to apprecite the sculpture, no less than 3 tour buses pulled up, snapped their pictures and waddled back onto the bus. we were only just able to get a photo of our own before i wanted to throw the middle aged, pushy, obnoxious tourists off the rocks. little did i know this would be an ongoing theme throughout the vacation...
by this point in the day, we were starving (also a theme on the vacation) so i got my first danish street vendor sausage. it was a unique experience, ending in some very spicy mustard that may have made me cry just a little.. then it was onto the (very clean and new) subway and heading for carlsberg brewery, because what better way to get to know about the danes than to learn about their brew? it was actually a pretty extensive place, but self-guided so you could skip to the good parts: the stables (to see all the massive, special beer horses) and the bar (for the two free drinks). we tried two wheat beers, but were generally unimpressed with the lack of flavour. i'm a little bummed i am missing tuborg's famous christmas beer, too.
after a few pics with the giant stone elephants, we were off home to start dinner for the hall, where i chopped lots and lots of tomatoes for a taco/burrito-like meal accompanied by lots of chatter. unfortunately, i didn't understand 98% of it, but it was still good times.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
now i haven't seen marie in over a year, so we had a bit of catching up to do - you know the kind of stuff that you just never get around to communicating by phone or email or chat.
after hanging out at marie's hall for a bit, we headed out for a night at the tivoli gardens. we actually came on a perfect evening - not too crowded, not too chilly and there was one hour of free rides! so we made a mad dash from ride to ride and managed to just make it through each one, even this one, which i thought might make acrophobic marie wet her pants. successfully staying dry, we washed down our adrenaline with a tasty steak before heading home.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
come in black and sell for a lot in japan
should not be refrigerated for the greatest health benefits
and some recommend eating it with sake or a rose (though i quite like the saturated with vodka technique)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...
You scored 86% Beginner, 93% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 87% Expert!You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!
Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
i have been doing a lot of proofreading lately and it just reminded me of this poem..
The the impotence of proofreading
By Taylor Mali
Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the word's liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.
This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And that's all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldn't be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged dentally.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal collegue.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).
So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.
But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can't can't catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer won't put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
You're the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.
Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
I'm not joking, I'm totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.
So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.
Friday, August 1, 2008
my week has been ridiculously busy ever since i got some captive institutions agree to lend me their kiwis! it's been a bit of a blur, but on tuesday i got my first kiwi dropped off by the vet from wellington zoo - puia. i am borrowing lots of equipment from my friend wayne's school so i gathered all of that up and after about 4 hours of setup my first kiwi was on the treadmill! he went pretty well and was due to go home the next day. but then heaps of storms moved in on wednesday so i decided to keep puia for one more day. which meant we got to run another set of trials on the treadmill and another run with the fluoroscope. thursday wasn't much better than wednesday - still lots of rain and the roads down to wellington were a mess with all the uprooted trees and slips. but, despite bad weather and bad drivers, puia made it safely home yesterday. bright and early this morning, i had my second kiwi. this one was from mt. bruce, but about as successful as the trial chicken that didn't know how to walk. we were a bit discouraged with a dud kiwi so early in the morning, but luckily we had a third bird arriving from wanganui. she was a big, hardy kiwi with a limb deformity, but she certainly walked well. couldn't quite get her running, though. then it was off to mt. bruce to drop the kiwi back. and it was raining - surprise, surprise!
and while i gained a new piece of hardware (500GB external hard drive - wahoo!), i also lost (a.k.a. dropped) another important piece of technology - my cell phone :(
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
my dress was a short, silky black thing with a gold belt and jewelry - not really my style, but it was fun nonetheless. around 1:30pm we walked down to the convention centre where some rounds of the competition had already started, so we watched and waited - i was in the women's cut event.
finally the event came around and the stylists had 40 minutes to do our cut. after hte cut was done, we had to pose while the judges came around. then we took a short walk down the room for the photographers and back for another pose and done! but not done really as i had to wait around another 3 hours for the prize-giving. my stylist won 3rd place for the up-do she did on her other model, but none for mine :( the salon had lots of other winning stylists, though, which was exciting. hopefully we make it into the newspaper!!
and if you think that's strange - it hailed and snowed in palmy and the north island the other day!!
Monday, June 30, 2008
while it is a bit bright, it isn't as crazy as getting a bull semen treatment. it's odd, but sometimes odd activities are fun!
check back next week to see the final hair product.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
after tonight's ihc volunteer recognition party, i decided to have a glass of the random chilean wine i bought while at woolworth's with dom last night. how can you resist a name like monkey puzzle??and its not too bad! i blame the priers for my new love of the evening glass of something.
and i made a quick little toast to my wrist piercing, which is no more. loved it, but it was finally growing out. that doesn't work well with cold weather and sweaters...
and as i sip, i am posting pics of the things i need to sell or give away before i leave, so check out the list and photos otherwise i will be stuck with a bunch of stuff i won't know what to do with!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Weeks 8-the end
The weekend I was gone turned out to be the weekend from hell for WRR. First, three interns, including myself, were gone. Second, Destiny threw out her back the first day I was gone at WalMart picking up the produce we get donated everyday. Third, John, the guy who primarily works below the gate, was attacked by a lemur who put a huge gash in his leg. So not only were we down three interns to start with, Destiny couldn’t move and John couldn’t walk.
Also over the weekend Destiny had Pm phones (every night from 11pm to 6am one of the staff members or interns gets the phones forwarded to them so we have someone answering phones 24 hours a day) and at 4 am she got a call from someone who had hit a very large animal. No one knew what it was so she got everything from a water buffalo to an ox. Finally we were able to coordinate getting Suki and Jarrod out to the animal with the trailer to find that it was a kudu, an African plains animal about the size of a large cow. Unfortunately, soon after getting our trailer out there and picking the kudu up, he died. For weeks afterward he sat in the walk in freezer (he took up most of the space) until we finally got our meat guy to carve him up. Theresa and I helped to pull out all the organs for the carnivores and they were massive! The stomach itself probably would have filled two five gallon buckets and the heart was the size of a football.
One Wednesday the Executive Director/Founder decided to take all of the interns on a tour of the facilities, mostly below the gate where the larger permanent residents were, to tell us some of the stories on how those animals came to be at WRR. She definitely has a soft spot for the primates, as we spent most of our time talking about the macaques. She informed us that while several were ex-pets and from closing zoos, most were from research facilities, including Harvard. Two of our bears were from a local university whose mascot is a bear. They thought it would be a good idea to have a live bear at the university and then realized a bear was more work than they wanted. Twice. The third bear was one who was raised from a cub by someone who also decided having a bear wasn’t the best idea and turned the bear over to a rehab facility in the Northeast. Twice they tried to release the bear into the wild and twice she made her way back to the facility. The third time she was released she seemed to have finally gotten the idea to be a bear and stay in the wild. Or so they thought. It turns out that a family from Manhattan had gone camping and somehow managed to close the curious bear up in their camper and make it all the way back into the city. Upon opening the camper in the middle of the city and finding a bear in it, the rehab center decided she needed a permanent home.
As the season died down, we had fewer animals in the clinic, so we began to cut back on the shifts to only 2-3 people working all day, which meant one person would open in the morning and one would close in the evening, with the occasional shift in the middle if there were enough people that week. Since it was also getting quite cold in the evening, the closing person also had to go do heat checks around the property to make sure all of the heaters were working and all of the animals were using their heated facilities. The first night I was learning which heaters to check, I tagged along with one of the older interns. The primary concern were the primates so we went into the macaque house, which of course woke many of them up. One macaque was particularly upset about our presence and starting peeing all over my shoulder.
My first shift closing by myself went fairly smoothly until I got a call about a half hour before closing time from a woman who had found a yearling whitetail deer hit by a car. She was good enough to volunteer to bring it in with one of her friends, who in turn donated his flashlight to us because he witnessed the one functional flashlight we had on the entire property, which was hardly brighter than a candle.
In order to get the interns more involved with more of the animals on the property, like those below the gate which we rarely worked with if at all, we were trained to the ‘feed-out’ shift in the evening right before dark. This involved feeding many of the nocturnal animals as well as double-checking some of the more sensitive animals and handing out snacks. First stop was topping off the outdoor cats’ bowls, followed by feeding the fennec foxes. Next: treats for the macaques and capuchins, which included high protein things like nuts, monkey chow, dried fruit, cereal and even dog treats. After the primates we threw the juvenile bobcats’ food over the fence and if you were lucky you would catch a glimpse of them. They were experts at hiding in the tall grass tufts. Plates of cut-up mice and chicks were next for the owls, followed by all of the animals that happened to be in native mammal. Native mammal held the guys that were pretty much entirely acclimated to the outdoors and were soon to be released. These enclosures could include raccoons, squirrels, skunks, opossums, bobcats, vultures, or pretty much anyone else who needed some temporary space. Next stop: Asian lions. These girls were pretty old and skinny so we needed to feed them some extra treats, like chicken, to try to keep their weight on. After that, it was on to the guys above the gate. The sugarglider was first, then the deer were checked on. Since most of them were in somewhat critical condition, we tried to keep an eye on them often during the day. Next were the coatis, my favorite! They are crazy beggars and they were climbing all over the gate into the enclosure when we drove up. In order to keep them from climbing all over you, the best method was to throw one bowl in to distract them while you put down the rest of the bowls elsewhere. Their meals were gone pretty much instantaneously. Last up were the raccoons and the geriatric bobcats. The raccoons were pretty much always asleep, but the bobcats were pretty much always at the door and hungry. One girl was more shy and would walk away when you opened the gate to the enclosure, but the other guy would stand right next to you until you put the dish down[see picture].
Because I was interested in working with some of the administrative aspect of WRR, I requested working on a new intern manual with Suki. One day she scheduled me to work with her and Petra so we could work on rewriting the employee and intern manuals. I spent this day working on the new manual since we were having a new intern coming in the next week. I enjoyed the work a lot, as I was able to do some research, as well as learn some additional information by working one-on-one with Suki. That evening I went with Destiny into San Antonio to drop off a sick vulture who had been in the clinic for a few days with an unknown illness to the vet to get some testing done. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, he had died. We did do the evening pickup from the animal hospital, which included a rooster who had been mauled by a dog and three red-eared slider turtles. The turtles were perfectly fine so we just slipped them into the Blanco River on our way back. The rooster was pretty badly beaten up, with puncture wounds in his rear end and missing most of the feathers on his back end.
Another night closing on my own proved to be busy due to incoming animals. In fact, I got 8 different animals in that evening, including a rattlesnake and a bobcat. The rattlesnake was in an aquarium and had been someone’s pet for the past five years, but that someone had to move and couldn’t keep the snake any longer. The bobcat was a juvenile who had been raised since a kitten by a guy who also felt he could no longer take care of him. The worst part about it was that the bobcat’s diet for who knows how long had been wet dog food… Luckily, he quickly caught on to eating red meat and didn’t act friendly with us one bit.
The bobcat was kept under observation for a few days since he had the potential for a lot of problems, including nutritional deficiencies, but he was acting well enough to move out with the other juvies. The three juvies are due to be released in a few months, once the weather starts getting warmer again. The rattlesnake actually moved into our trailer with Merande because she was the most experienced with snakes other than John. She was in charge of beginning to acclimate it to the outdoors so he too could be released once spring came. When he actually came out from under his rock, he was a very impressive diamond back who enjoyed the live mice we caught in the clinic for him. The rooster who lost most of his rear end feathers to a dog actually healed very well and got a bit of an attitude in the clinic. We eventually moved him outside with some others chickens so he could strut around without us interrupting him.
Way back in the end of summer, we starting getting calls from a woman in San Antonio who lived near a community who had let the artificial pond in the development dry up, despite the fact that a population of at least 30 muscovey ducks were living there. Despite us assuring her that the ducks would move on and take care of themselves, she took it upon herself to try to feed and water them all and call us every week to try to get us to do something. Some flew away and some died, but by November, there were still about 20 ducks who had moved under a truck at a cleaners across the street. Finally, they asked me if I would go out there and try to catch the ducks to bring back to WRR. I went and spent several hours with the woman and her daughter chasing after the ducks. In the end, we were only able to get about 7 of the slow ones, since the rest figured out we couldn’t fly and got away pretty easily. The worst part was that the woman had tried to contact the homeowners association for the community so that they could deal with their dried up pond, but nobody cared about it, and she was even threatened by people in the community to stay away. Right at the front of the development, however, was still a giant sign boasting ‘Eden’s Water Sanctuary’, the community’s little piece of land ‘built for the wildlife’.
The weather around Thanksgiving was still pretty warm, in fact, it was warm enough to have bees and they were everywhere in the nutrition center, including crawling up my pants leg and stinging me once on the shin and then once on the fingertip. I took some homeopathies for the swelling, but my leg still ended up blowing up so big it hurt to wear pants over it.
- There was a freak hail storm coming in on what otherwise seemed like a bright and sunshiny day. This sent us all frantically rushing around the property to open up the shelters we usually put the animals into at night so that they had somewhere to take cover from the falling balls of ice. I had to rush out and get all of the parrots inside, which I wasn't looking forward to, since some of the parrots had major attitude. Just as I was inside one of the enclosures - which means I had two locked doors between me and freedom - the hail started. I could see the parrots looking out at me, wondering what the hell I was doing outside in their enclosure when they were snug and safe inside. Finally I made it into the aviary, after a good battering with the hail. Unfortunately, the aviary has a metal roof, which meant it was so loud inside I couldn't hear my radio going "Where is Erica? Are the birds inside??". Luckily the storm only lasted a few minutes and everything could stop panicking about losing animals (or interns) to a freak hail accident.
- There was a particularly cold day that Destiny was on Above the gate shift and it took her long into the night to finish up. She came home for dinner before needing to go back out again to fill the shelters up with hay for the sheep and horses and goats and emus. Except by then, it was also sleeting and completely miserable, so I decided to help so she could get home at a reasonable hour and so the animals could be nice and warm, too. So we get severeal bundles of hay and head to the pastures, only to find the first shelter completely empty. We fill it up anyway and move to the next one, where only a few animals are hiding. The last pasture and the same story! Completely wet and chilled, we finish emptying the hay, grumbling because apparently the animals knew a way better place to be hiding in the cold and our hay mission was completely pointless.
- Last, but not least, and probably one of the most memorable, was a day I worked in the clinic with Adele. I remember this clearly because she laughed at me more than she helped me. I had R4, which just so happened to have a cranky little skunk in it that needed meds. I had successfully handled the skunk before, which isn't easy to do because you have to wear big leather gloves and manage to wrap their back end up in a towel while also giving the multiple medications. Only this day, the skunk managed to jump out of the towels. He didn't escape, but jumped straight back into his cage, firmly planted his feet in the ground and sprayed. Directly into my eye. Now, I couldn't tell what was worse, the smell or the stinging. When I rushed out into the clinic, blindly fumbling for saline solution, Adele nearly fell over laughing. While I had my face under the faucet, she managed to open up a bottle of saline. After another good wash and giggle and change of clothes, it was back to work. From then on, we were all required to wear goggles when working with the skunks.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Weeks 5, 6, 7
I lost my notebook that had all of these days in it so I am just going to have to go off memory and relate the things I do remember.
The Open House on October 8th meant a long, hard week right beforehand, with pretty much everyone working 6 days and many hours trying to get all of the animals taken care of, as well as any extra cleaning projects to make the place look spotless. One of the least desirable projects was cleaning out the Nutrition Center where all of the permanent residents’ food is prepared. The worst part: the walk-in cooler. About 200 pounds of meat (mostly chicken and deer carcasses) go through that cooler everyday, as well as about a dozen boxes of produce. You can imagine the bloody, sticky mess that leaves. Several hours later, and many pots of boiling water, we the interns had the Nutrition Center looking about as spotless as it could get.
We all got trained on the food prep shift right before the open house, which was a welcome change from being in the clinic everyday doing much of the same thing. There are three main groups we have to prep: carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores (mostly primates). The carnivores include a jaguar, lions, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, hawks, owls, caracals, and vultures. And lets just say, preparing their diets involves a machete. The omnivores include the bears, raccoons, foxes and opossums. They are the most fun to prep for because it’s a nice mix of meat and veggies and no chopping of carcasses involved. The primates take the longest to prepare because we have so many. We end up preparing about 10 5-gallon buckets full of fruits and vegetables. The remaining herbivores (sugar-gliders, squirrels, and reptiles) are pretty easy.
We got in a kitten from the humane society that they were planning on putting down because of a broken pelvis. He was prescribed cage rest, which basically meant he meowed all day long, so we brought him to our trailer for some company. A few weeks later he is climbing up legs and furniture even though he is still super tiny. And we named him Elvis the Pelvis, Elvis for short.
There is something eating some of the fowl in our domestic fowl yard (called Garyland after a former resident turkey named Gary). One of the newest residents, a one-legged mallard (who had his leg amputated) was found with his head bitten off. Not two days later another duck was found the same way. We think it is a raccoon, nick-named Slasher, who did the same thing a few years ago. We installed electric fencing around three or four enclosures with slow-moving resident birds and mammals as a precaution and so far no more decapitations.
I finally got my last rabies shot, so I can officially work with all of the vector species. Raccoons are general antisocial and even aggressive when they are adults, but babies are needy and want to be held all the time. We have a baby in the clinic right now who makes little coon noises and cries until we socialize with her. We let her walk around the clinic yard with us a little bit so she can get some exercise and relieve some of her boredom.
We also had to bring several of our opossums out into the clinic yard for some exercise three to four times a day as part of their physical therapy regimen as three of our juvenile opossums weren’t fully using their back legs. They didn’t like it but we had to chase them around for a while as well as do stretches and other exercises to encourage them to use their legs to walk and run. I even ended up bathing one of them with a severe flea problem who wouldn’t use his legs to walk but just to scratch.
My favorite squirrel died. He was a bit of a runt when he came in, and always a character. We called him the bald squirrel because he had thin hair all over, but especially on top of his head. He walked around like a puppy, all wobbly but with his tail up and looking for somebody to pay attention to him and when he was in his cage he had his nose pressed up against the bars so he could nibble on our fingers and play. He was finally starting to grow in a nice coat and get fat from all the solids he was eating, but one day he just went down hill and the next day he was gone. It’s possible it was one of the respiratory infections that was going around, or maybe he was just a sick squirrel to begin with and his death was due to something developmental. Maybe his mother kicked him out of the nest (as it is common for squirrels to do) because she had some sixth sense knowing he wasn’t going to survive. It is just very disappointing to nurse and care for an animal for over a month, only to have him die in two days without warning. Luckily we all loved him and he will be missed by everyone who worked with him.
Three little coons moved from the clinic to one of the outdoor day cages, but not a few weeks later did they start to show signs of having parvovirus. We had a big outbreak of parvo at the end of the summer, and now it is back and hit our last few little coons. One was euthanized because he was in such bad condition, being severely dehydrated and having constant diarrhea. The other two are currently in the clinic getting medicine and fluids. One is worse off than the other, so she was separated from her sibling and he has been crying pitifully ever since. Hopefully we caught these two early enough to save them.
The lemurs in the cat yard have been giving us trouble because they are so friendly. Several are ex-pets and they just want to crawl on you every time you enter the enclosure, unfortunately, they have big claws and can hang on and scratch pretty easily, even if not intentionally. The funniest thing when you enter that enclosure, all of the cats start meowing and the lemurs join in making a sound almost identical to the meowing. So cute!
Nearly all of our squirrels have moved to Native Mammal, our outdoor enclosure, where they stay for a few weeks before being released on their own. We only have a few tiny squirrels left, but even those are well on their way to growing up, as it is a bit late in the season to be so small.
Baby, the vulture, has taken to strolling into our house when we leave the door open. He generally doesn’t go much farther than the kitchen but sometimes he will come pick at the carpet to see if it is edible. He also likes pecking at toes. We generally kick him out before he poops on the floor. Fact: vultures’ legs are really black but they always look white because they poop all over them.
Only about three of my acquaintances outside of Texas know what it means to ‘dress a deer’. For the rest of you, it basically means cutting up a deer carcass into carnivore-edible-sized pieces. That is legs, ribs, neck and head. And organs, of course. We learned on a deer that was killed by a car.
Opossums generally are not confrontational animals, they just like to open up their mouths and look scary. Occasionally there is a grumpy opossum that lunges or growls but they usually give plenty of warning before they bite. Tonight a new opossum came in from one of our drop-off points and when I was in the process of moving him from one tiny to cage to a larger carrier, he turned around and bit my wrist. Hard. Adult opossums have the strongest jaw muscles of pretty much everything we work with. They can easily bite through turtle shells and he easily put a large puncture in my wrist. Luckily for me, opossums don’t have very sharp teeth. Although they do eat meat, they don’t have the sharp teeth of a carnivore because they are scavengers so most of what they eat is not difficult to tear apart.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Most of the squirrels are growing up enough that they are eating solids, and some refuse to eat formula altogether. I gave one such ornery squirrel, who squealed and fought every time a nipple came near him, a big piece of strawberry and before I even put him back down in his cage he was going to town on it. I put in three more pieces of melon and apple and he ate them up too. If only I could get the rest of the squirrels to catch on to this.
Castle West brought in a big animal delivery today, the coolest being an African Spur thigh tortoise, even bigger than the last one we got in. He must have been an ex-pet because he was in such good shape.
Also brought in was a newborn rodent of some sort. Petra and I spent nearly a half an hour looking it over and trying to figure out what it was. We think it might be a rat because it’s too small and dark to be a squirrel.
An adult opossum also came in, who was severely emaciated and nearly naked because her hair had thinned out or fallen off so badly. Petra and I brought her into the clinic to check her out and saw that she had a horrible flea infestation as well as cataracts. We inspected her pouch to see if there were any babies, but all we found were maggots. Then we worked on cleaning out her ears (also a common place to find maggots) as one of them was severely swollen. It was infected and we spent a good long time flushing out puss and more maggots. To make it even worse she had bloody prolapsed intestines which we couldn’t get to stay in. That will probably require stitches if she makes it through the night.
Tonight, or rather early this morning (3am), was my night to give the late squirrel feeding. I went in a bit early to go work on cleaning the refrigerator (my project) and then got to feeding the few guys that needed a late feeding, which were just the smallest guys and the sick ones. The only thing about the late feeding is that the clinic is actually kind of creepy at night with all of the mice running around and other nocturnal animals all stirring, so it is actually kind of noisy in a dark night time creepy way.
One of the three little skunks is a little fatty and is not using his back legs, mostly because he can be pretty lazy and just eat all day. So we have to do some physical therapy to get him moving his legs more, which mostly consists of stretching and exercising his legs like little skunk aerobics.
The emaciated adult opossum that came in last night is actually doing much better now that she has fresh food and she got all washed up. We think she is a pretty old lady so hopefully we can get her healthy enough to live a little while here.
We decided the mystery rodent was a field mouse.
The six little opossums that came in a while back are doing very well, in fact, we offered them a dish with their formula in it to see if they would start lapping. A few of them figured it out while the others just walked through the dish and ended up licking it off of each other.
The little skunks were finally starting to eat their way through their net cage so we had to put them in one of the outdoor cages. They looked so tiny in such a huge cage!
In our effort to fix all of the (not so little) pigs that were born this summer, I helped one of the other interns Ankur catch some pigs in one of the day cages. They are rough and mean so I really just helped corner the pigs while he grabbed them.
Tonight was my night to wash dishes in the nutrition center and one of the cats that wanders around the property sat and watched me the entire time. He was probably upset that I still had the lights on in one of the best mouse-catching buildings on the property.
Fourteen new squirrels came in from Houston from a rehabilitator who was hit by Hurricane Rita. They are different type of squirrels than around here, fox squirrels, who are much more active as opposed to our squirrels who are much more docile and friendly.
Because of the extreme heat the past few days, we decided to bring a few of the large snakes inside. There were three huge ones all about 5 feet long in one of the IC rooms so they could be in the air conditioning.
Also brought in from an outside cage was a sugar glider with an injured eye. I had never seen one up close before and it looks like a fuzzy E.T.
As I went to feed the R1 squirrels, I realized that one of the little squirrels was missing. I looked all over the room and in every cage but nowhere to be found. I told Noelle and she suggested looking in the laundry basket, apparently a lot of escapees find their way there and just end up going to sleep. And there he was, curled up and loving the freedom.
The sugar glider died :(
A few cats were dropped off earlier in the week by someone who was evacuating from the hurricane and all of them were in pretty rough shape. In addition, we suspect that they all have FIV.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The squirrel room is finally getting a bit more manageable now that many of the little ones are growing up enough to be upgraded so that they don’t have to be fed every 2 hours. Also having a volunteer there to help with feedings is a blessing.
Having more time away from the squirrels, I was able to do all of the piglet’s meds and treatments, one of which included taking his temperature (rectally), the duration of which he squealed like... well, a pig. He doesn’t really like people touching him unless it involves food.
I got to tube feed the baby opossums, too, for once. They are so cute when they are little, but they have such strong jaw muscles, even when they are tiny, that it isn’t too easy to pry open their mouths and put a tube down their throat. Once the tube is there, though, the rest is easy.
After our crash course on phones yesterday, I had my first shift answering phones today. The man who used to do all of our phone work left this week so it is all up to us now. Most of the calls were people who had injured wildlife, unfortunately not many are willing to travel to deliver the injured animals to us, nor do we have very many volunteers who are able to pick the animals up for us either. Several people actually got very angry at me when I explained there isn’t anything we can do for the animal if it isn’t brought to the facility because we do not have the funds to run a fleet of rescuers all around Texas. One woman actually said we should get better volunteers because it doesn’t seem like they are very dedicated to saving wildlife. As if that isn’t ridiculous enough, there were dozens more who wouldn’t believe me that they wouldn’t get the plague if they picked up an injured bird with a towel. Some people think that because we work at this facility we have some special super powers that make us immune to every disease, because obviously all wildlife is diseased and contagious… And yet we all work here everyday. Some people just don’t make any sense.
When I wasn’t answering phones, I was sifting through mealworms, as three new boxes arrived today (via FedEx, in case you were wondering how to ship live insects).
As I sat out on the porch talking on the phone, something big came flapping down behind me, which pretty much scared me half to death until I turned around to see it was one of the resident vultures, Baby. He came to sit by me and see if I would play. I pet and scratched him for about a half an hour while I was on the phone and when I finally went inside, he stayed perched on the railing and then hopped down to tap on the glass sliding door to get my attention. I’m sure he would have come in and hung out if I had let him, because he wasn’t done socializing.
Later on in the evening one of the staff members, Petra, showed up to see if anyone could help vaccinate some of the outdoor raccoons. They needed their last series of distemper shots and some homeopaths. We picked a cage of five first. Since I have only had my first round of rabies shots I couldn’t really help capturing them so basically it was up to Petra to tackle them and hold them while I gave the distemper shots (subcue) and some other meds (PO).
It was a quiet night shift working with the squirrels, except for getting six new little ones in. Most were pretty healthy, but one took a bad enough fall that her face was pretty bloody as well as bleeding from the nose. Luckily she doesn’t seem to have any neurological trauma even if she did have some severe head trauma.
Since I have had a rabies shot I can start working with the vector species so Petra took me into the coon room and I helped her bottle-feed some of the babies. They are super cute, but some of the juveniles are already starting to get cranky. We have one adult who had a back leg amputated and he is the crankiest of all.
Squirrels again on the night shift, but they are going by a bit more quickly since many are only QID (fed four times a day as opposed to the little ones at six times a day).
I also was in charge of the IC rooms. Nobody in them is under intensive care, they are just being used since they are smaller spaces to keep some of the guys who don’t fit into the other rooms. Right now there are two juvenile coons, one baby/juvie coon, and three little skunks. Everyone was all on solids, but I did have to weigh and give meds to the skunks. They are very fat, friendly little guys, but one has an attitude and likes to spray. He didn’t spray until I had to poke him with a needle to give him his meds and it didn’t get on me. Luckily they don’t spray much when they are little and the other two are very nice.
Today was a day of getting rid of animals. Forty-six fawns to be exact. One of the organization’s friends owns a thousand acres of protected land somewhere out here in the hill country and it is on his land where we do most of our releases. He drove a big cattle trailer over here and the fawn-herding began. I was asleep for most of it because it happened early in the morning and I was on the evening shift, but I heard it was an adventure and kind of sad to have to capture these guys and hear them bleating the entire time. However, we emptied the fawn yard so these guys have a new home and a new life. I think I will miss the axis deer, though.
A little screech owl came in the other day with a head injury that is causing him to twist his head way around to the side. I got to feed him today, which was a challenge because he is so disoriented and defensive. This little guy definitely was packing more of a punch than the great horned owls that are three times his size as he was attacking my glove every time I got near him. He is on physical therapy and some homeos right now to try to get his neck back the right way before the muscles start to atrophy.
We work with an animal hospital in San Antonio where people can drop off the wildlife they find and then a volunteer brings everything up to us every evening. Tonight Castle West (the hospital) brought us several of the usual (squirrels and pigeons) but also an adult porcupine and a baby bat. I have never seen a porcupine up so close and even then I didn’t get a very good look since I didn’t help check him in. All I got to see was the box he came in – very small – and then how huge he was. With quills he was about the size of a small dog. I am not sure what was wrong with him, however. The bat died soon after he came in.
Second rabies shot!
The piglet finally moved to the day cages, or the outside cages. He was making too much noise inside because he was squealing about being hungry for the better part of the day.
Each one of the interns and staff members was assigned to a particular area in the clinic or one of the nearby buildings to clean up and create a system of organization for that area. By tomorrow at 10 am, we have to have a proposal for the area’s maintenance typed up and given to Suki so she can approve them all by next week. However, very few computers and printers that we all can use exist on the premises. And so it was like being back in college on the night before a final paper is due for one course because we were all in the clinic cramming in our cleaning and organizing and then trying to find a free computer into all hours of the night. You would think that we (every one of us college graduates) would have learned not to procrastinate, but alas, we are just keeping in touch with our youth and using adrenaline to get things done.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
On squirrel duty again because I felt bad for Destiny (one of my roommates and fellow intern), who had been stuck on squirrels for the past two days. From now on we’re paper-rock-scissoring for who gets the squirrels. For once, however, I finished the Group A squirrels (the smallest ones that need to be fed every two hours) before the morning meeting at 10:00.
When I walked into R1 this morning to check everyone out I noticed an empty opossum cage. And a big hole in the side. They chewed through the mesh, as they like to do once they get older. I found one just slipping out of the hole, another had fallen into a cardboard box below the shelf where his cage was and the third triumphantly standing on top of an incubator a few cages down. They moved into a carrier and several were due for release.
The best part of being in R1 today was the piglet! He arrived a few days ago, being taken straight out of one of our resident sows. He is all black and snorts and squeals but doesn’t really like to eat, mostly because he doesn’t know how. Finally today he started to get the hang of the bottle and eats, well, like a pig. He even started to wander around a little since he was being fed on the floor. He wandered right up to an opossum cage where one feisty little opossum was pressed up against the bars watching the whole feeding process and when the piglet went to sniff the opossum snapped and sent the piglet squealing back for ‘mom’ a.k.a. Carly who had the bottle.
I was kept company by one of the resident vultures while cleaning cages outside today. He is very friendly and likes to burrow his beak in your hand (probably looking for food) and have his head and chin scratched. He was a bit too friendly though, as he kept trying to drink all of the water I was using to clean, including the bleach water. After I shooed him off a few times, he finally got insulted and pouted by the door to the clinic until I was done.
Songbirds and R4 today. R4 is smaller and quieter than the other recovery rooms and filled with some pretty random animals, including a tortoise, seagull, ducks, ducklings, juvenile squirrels, and a gerbil.
Ducks and squirrels were rather uneventful, but the seagull was a character. He has a droopy wing that needs to get cleaned off everyday so I had to pull him out of the cage and dip part of him in warm water. Well, adult seagulls bite! I taped his mouth shut but in the process he scraped up a few of my fingers.
Squirrels again and I am still no faster. We had to euthanize one little squirrel who had a severe breathing problem and was basically slowly suffocating to death.
Six new baby opossums were dropped off, and they were tiny babies so we have to tube feed them. Luckily they are much more cooperative than squirrels. And also a lot cuter at this age.
I got to feed the piglet for the first time, now that he has gotten the hang of bottle-feeding. In fact, he is limited to 20cc per feeding every 2 hours so he lets us know when he’s hungry (which is pretty often) by squealing at the top of his lungs. You wouldn’t think a few day old pig would be so loud, but he is. He even spooks some of the squirrels into not wanting to eat.
One of the big rabbits that hang outside our trailers was taken into the clinic to get his teeth trimmed. Rabbits’ and squirrels’ (and rodents in general) teeth are continuously growing so sometimes they grow too long if they are getting worn down quickly enough by their diet. The vet tech anesthetized him and dremmeled them down. One of the few uses for power tools in our job.
Fawns and birds today! A lot of the fawns are getting too big to be eating formula, but many are still begging so we have to get all the little ones into one of the sheds to feed them so they don’t have to compete with the others. The big ones bump noses, kick, and are generally big bullies with the tiny ones. The cute axis deer followed me everywhere as usual.
The two great horned owls were part of my rounds today as well. Upstairs in the clinic we have a large flight room for the raptors with two small rooms off the sides for each. One of the owls is suffering from some sort of head trauma because one eye is huge and dilated compared to the other. It’s surprising how intimidating their huge yellow eyes are. The other owl came in recently with a broken wing. He had to be force-fed, not something that is very easy to do when you are wearing big thick leather gloves, in case he gets his talons on you. Luckily the head trauma owl would take the food (chick pieces) out of the tweezers if you dangle it near his mouth.
This evening, I saw my first armadillo since I got here. Live one, that is. They are the most popular road-kill, it seems. This one wandered up by the back of our house so I went around the side to get a good look at him. I thought I would scare him away but I walked up within a few feet of him and he just looked at me and turned away to keep looking for food.
This morning Destiny and I went to get our first shot for our rabies vaccine series. Not too bad, just a little sore. Luckily there are only three shots for the pre-exposure. If you get bitten, however, there is a series of five shots.
This was my first closing shift and I must say it is much more relaxed than the opening shift. For one thing, closers don’t have to do as much cleaning since the openers are responsible for all the cage-cleaning. However, there are more animal drop-offs in the evenings because volunteers from some vet clinics we work with bring animals that people have brought into the vet that day. I checked in 3 baby cottontails with small puncture wounds (probably cat-caught), one adult cottontail with multiple severe puncture wounds who was euthanized, a juvenile squirrel who didn’t have anything wrong with him so was completely freaked out that he was in a cage, an adult white wing dove who also had nothing wrong with him except being hungry, and a 5 year old African Spur Thigh tortoise which was surrendered by it’s owner who no longer had the space for him.
Three large opossums were released! These guys mostly came in as juveniles/adults with injuries but they were all healed up and ready to go.