Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cookie Beach

Window display in Annapolis
Yesterday we took a trip to the County office of wells and septic fields where all the information on every property with these is kept. Piles of reports were given to us about Moose and Squirrel. A very knowledgeable interpreter was on hand to translate. Most interesting was the 20 year old soil feasibility study, 7 years before the house was built. Yep there is the clay common to our area but ten feet under is pure sand, good for fields. Bottom line: a new field would solve all of M and S's issues. We were ready to pursue this house yet again but no, they accepted the back-up offer and it probably will go through leaving me very sad and angry at our realtor for not having us go to this office in the first place. (he didn't know about it though he keeps telling us about all his years of experience. He should have asked someone in his office that knew).

We drove by Steve's idea of a back-up house, which fit some of my criteria. One issue: I do not want to hear the expressway. He insisted that one could not hear it. Well maybe he can't but I sure could. This is someone who could never hear the invasion of the chimney swifts twittering away in our chimney night and day.

And later, a series of little incidents, too embarrassing to recount, added to this big disappointment and resulted in a big pity party for Sue with just me attending. Despite my occasional online whining, I usually am in a good mood and not the least depressed so I was surprised about my reaction. I do feel better today so yay for that.

And the very last of the trip photos, I promise:

Most of the following are from the National Gardens trip

Town square in Rockville: while Soulmate was off buying shoes, I sat in the shade talking to Josh about a big decision in their lives though a few days later, things are going to remain the same for them

Ruskin, my early morning companion. He is very aloof as dogs go but still wanted to be where I was keeping ten feet away at all times. I have no photos of my MD friend's two cockapoos who definitely were not aloof. I wish I had a video of the early morning feeding frenzy that would ensue. All their food would be gone in 15 seconds. Never saw this before.

View from my window at Soulmates. Red and lavender myrtle

Night time in Annapolis: Big Fat Crab sign obscured by glare (BFC almost describes me)


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Galah pink

The galah parrot sitting in a tree ten feet above me. Steve's collection of good lenses would have been useful here
My Australian blogging friend Elephant's Child recently posted a photo of the dawn sky entitling it Galah pink as its colors were identical to the galah bird that regularly visits her feeder. Indeed in the photo associated with her blog, there's a galah. Do we have any pink birds? Can't think of any.

The National Aquarium's claim to fame in part is its huge Australian exhibit chock full of Australian avian and water creature life. The only mammals displayed are its huge fruit bats hanging around 4 stories up. No photos of them. A guide followed me around especially proud of the bats. All the animals exhibited are male as the Australian Government was mindful that anything here could be an invasive species if it escaped (nice of their government to care but I suspect it was our government). So lots of pretty birds, many I have become familiar with as part of EC's feeder photos (and all I have are hummingbirds). The sulfur crested cockatoo was represented too. More on those later.

Batman continued to regale me with Australian creature facts. Cool turtles especially the snake necked one. Then on to the rays skimming the faux lakes, which were freshwater. Didn't know of fresh water rays. He went off topic on to Stingray City in the Caymans and said he kissed a stingray there that was male. Now I know Batman was blowing smoke (call me Precious Ramotswe) as I have been there myself with the stingrays. Any sting ray that would have been within reach would have been female. The males are there, tiny creatures the tenth the size but the aggressive females keep them from surfacing to get at the squid the tourists were feeding them with. I went there before Steve Irwin's demise (also an Aussie, cause of death: sting ray barb to the heart). Batman, macho as he is, went after. It would have given me pause to be in a swarm of sting rays with barbs at heart level. We were told, just don't step on them and keep your thumbs in your fist (no teeth but the rays have powerful suction cups for mouths).

While I was away, I was free to read papers in detail that I have no time to do here (so much for all that extra time I was going to have..spent it reading all about septic fields). One interesting article was opium farming for the drug industry. Where do they get all that raw material for Vicodin and Percocet and its ilk? Tasmania! Plusses for the Tasmanians. They can keep secrets, never travel, never talk, perfect weather for poppies. Only Icelanders travel and emigrate less (though I have run into a few Icelanders who have fled the motherland). Minuses: all their eggs are in one basket. Only one kind of poppy is used leaving it vulnerable to perhaps a rare poppy fungus in the future and a bad growing season could leave us all with no Vicodin. Plus the sulfur crested cockatoos like to eat the drying pods before they are ready for harvest. Solution: genetically modified species that produce more of the drug precursor and give more variety. Also, let's bring these poppies to  Australian's mainland. Lots of resistance all around.

Back to the problems at home. Aside from the massive fix up job our house needs to put it on the market (baby steps are underway), various rental neighbors make the neighborhood look undesirable. I was going to have to get the city inspectors after them. Problem house right next door has a pool that hasn't been cleaned in 2 years so it is black and slimy and full of insect life. Very disgusting and a health hazard. I never got around to photographing it to post so you all will feel sorry for me and also to show the inspectors. We didn't complain because it was so disgusting, it kept the residents inside and thus quiet (loud pool parties all night were NOT fun to listen to) You pick your poison. But the residents are vacating and the pool needs to be clean to entice new renters so that's in progress. Problem house two is right across the street. For the past few years, it has had grass and weeds up to ones hips. Indeed, my friend and neighbor had trouble selling her house as that disgusting yard down the street stopped some potential sales and lowered her price. Of course having 3 foot weeds is illegal but needs to be reported.

Yesterday I was out supervising the 4 grandbabies on all the riding toys I accumulated. I noted that not only was the jungle cleared, the house was For Sale!!!! Yay! So it will no longer be a rental property. The realtor came over to apologize for the years of neglect the house had (now I have a contact number to complain to if the house doesn't sell) and told me the string of renters who were professional people who potentially were capable of keeping things clean and manicured but in fact lived like animals and I should have seen the inside if I wanted to be totally disgusted. The owners want to recoup their purchase price so the house has an unmarketable high price tag associated with it so the realtor has her work cut out. I did share with her my attempt to escape this neighborhood (and thus I am especially hopeful she will be successful) with my septic field problems. Here she was useful again. Before any house can be built, a septic field feasibility test is performed and is a matter of public record as are all those past reports that my realtor and their realtor were unable to come up with. She told me where this treasure trove can be found so this is Steve's new job. Now if the other house next door would just get sold, that would be great. More doubts rise about my realtor. He should have known this (as she repeated several times).

More photos:

The aquarium in the background. Crab restaurant in the foreground

More Inner Harbor

My friend and me

aquarium sculptures

4 story waterfalls

Australian snake necked turtle. Bad photo as it doesn't show full length of neck

ray and unknown sea monster

red shrimp

I love sea horses

turtle that looks like an armadillo

2 story jelly fish sculpture

the real things

On our way to Little Italy

My dinner: not sure how Italian it was but it did taste good

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bubble Nets

Bottle nose dolphin tank with them begging for food

We called her Bob as she kept bobbing up and down emerging with even a bigger smile than the usual dolphin fixed smile much to the amusement of this one year old girl who would chortle with delight every time she bobbed up.
Ah a chance to sit down after negotiating crowds for the past few hours! A plus: watching the dolphins go through their paces and then play between shows. They segregate the sexes: it was the girls turn while we were there. One was named Maya. Aside from the usual dolphin tricks; jumping in unison, going through hoops, throwing balls back, they explained the many tricks they have in the wild to hunt in packs. Lots of their strategies are similar to those of wolves (corralling and then coming in for the kill) but they had some tricks particular to them such as making bubble nets. In unison, they blow a bunch of bubbles into their water confusing their prey and making it difficult to see. On command the dolphins demonstrated this: pretty cool. Also the ability to swim in just inches of water does not keep fish safe from dolphins. They can skim along in just an inch of water despite their size.

Well I am back from a grueling ride. First a late start that at least kept me free of traffic except for the construction zones around Pittsburgh, then my new route was way longer and contained toll roads I was not aware of. And my lunch stop did not have the restaurants I was told it had. And at sometimes, it rained so hard, visibility was a real issue so I had to go down to a crawl. But I am alive though still tired. So many little things that need to be done! I did edit my posts as the crappy Blogger ap does not let me edit after I post, can not control the size of the photos, can not place them where I want, on and on. So for my past week of posts, please revisit to see things in greater clarity. And we still have Maya. No rest for the wicked.

I also edited my many photos. I will put some of them in over the next few days. In the mean time, there are these:

crepe myrtle again

art museum mounds

Soulmate headed into the light at the end of the tunnel

More van Gogh

cherubs and severed head

Forgot this artist's name. He specialized in painting chiefs of various tribes 150 years ago

Eastern market: Capitol Hill


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