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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkin Masterpieces

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Yes, I love him. I love those hick shirts he wears with the boiled cuffs and the way he always has his vest buttoned wrong. He looks like a giraffe, and I love him" ~ Ball of Fire, 1941.

A few weeks ago, Marsh, Daron and I were heading home after an extremely long day at the office. Volleyball season was dragging on as it often does this time of year and deadlines for Yearbook assignments weren’t helping either. Add to that, finals for the first quarter loomed on the horizon. We had started to dream about the days we could go home straight from school without hanging around for the extra four to six hours per night the season sometimes brings.

Coming home any time after five o’clock is a challenge what with traffic behaving even more ‘trafficky’ than usual and we soon found ourselves hung up at a light with cars backed up for what seemed like miles. Dinner and homework would have to wait as we inched along at a snail’s pace towards home and the remainder of the day. About the time the vehicles started to move, Daron (seated traditionally in the backseat) exclaimed,

“Is that a GIRAFFE in the woods?!”

A giraffe? Too late, and wisely not slamming on the brakes, our sedan proceeded and the moment was lost.

Let me mention before we go on any further that the ‘woods’ in question are off Mitchell Hammock Road in Oviedo, not the Serengeti. In the next few weeks, it became a joke to tease Daron with, “Is that a GIRAFFE over there in that parking lot?” or “I think I just saw a GIRAFFE behind the McDonald’s!” And of course, every single time we passed by the ‘spot’ where she first saw the giraffe, Marsh and I made a big show of looking for it once again. Daron, a good sport as always, but clearly not amused. Weeks passed.

Saturday, Daron and I dropped in to our neighborhood post office way out here in east East Orlando. A private road runs alongside the parking lot for the post office and the property abuts the edge of few acres of private property. 'Do Not Enter' and 'Trespassers will be shot': I have never in 18 years seen anyone on the premises. Not a human, not an animal, not a car, not a mobile home. NOTHING.

“Daron,” I said. “What in the world is THAT?”

Closer inspection revealed, you guessed it, a giraffe. Staying on our side of the fence, Daron and I took pictures.

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a cud-chewing, cool looking, hoofed mammal from Africa, the tallest of all land-living animal species. The giraffe has keen sight, smell and hearing. Giraffe can see miles away, communicating with distant friends. Giraffes can inhabit savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands and prefer areas enriched with Acacia growth. Giraffe are able to spend long periods of time in dry, arid areas, but when searching for food will venture into areas with denser foliage.

The average male is about 17 feet tall and weighs around 3000 pounds, the female is slightly smaller. Giraffe only sleep about two hours a day. The giraffe is related to deer and cattle and its closest relative is the okapi. Its range extends from Chad to South Africa.

A Giraffe In Peking: Painting of a giraffe taken from Africa to China by Admiral Zheng He in 1414. The giraffe spent the remainder of his/her life in a Ming Dynasty zoo.

The Gathering of Manna, 1540, by Francesco Bacchiacca, depicts the first living giraffe to be seen in Italy since the days of Ancient Rome. "The Medici Giraffe", as it was known, was presented to Lorenzo de Medici, Florence, Italy in 1486.
The Nubian Giraffe, by Jacques-Laurent Agasse, 1827, depicts one of three giraffes sent to Europe by Mehmet Ali Pasha. In her lifetime, the giraffe seems not have been given a name, but was referred to as "the giraffe". Now she is known by the name Zarafa, Arabic for "charming" or "lovely one. When she was presented to the King at the chateau of Saint-Cloud in Paris in July, 1827 over 100,000 people came to see her ~ approximately an eighth of the population of Paris at the time. Honoré de Balzac wrote a story about her, Gustave Flaubert (then a young child) travelled from Rouen to Paris to see her. French hair was arranged in towering styles 'à la girafe', spotted fabrics were all the rage, porcelain and other ceramics were painted with giraffe images. At her death eighteen years later, Zarafa’s corpse was stuffed and displayed in the foyer of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris before being moved to the museum at La Rochelle, where it remains to this day.

Other famous and not so famous giraffes:

Geoffrey Giraffe, the Toys "R" Us mascot

Longrack from Beast Wars

Girafarig from Pokémon

Melman from Madagascar

Books about giraffe:

Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffe by Lynn Sherr

Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys by H.A. Rey

The Medici Giraffe by Marina Belozerskaya

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith and Adjoa Andoh

Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris by Michael Allin

Did you know there is a giraffe cam at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO?

After seeing his picture on a milk carton, our giraffe has decided to go back home after months on the lam.

Why a giraffe? Why not a panther, or a black bear, or maybe a cow, or a gator or a white-tailed deer? What are the chances?

What are the odds?

This post is for Miss Macy D, sweet friend and giraffe devotee.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why My Cats Sleep Outside

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

"If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?" Vincent Lombardi

Double click the picture to see it better. From left to right: (seated) Rachel, Jenna, (standing) Sammie, Christine, Daron, Emily, Zoe, Victoria, Katie and Coach Conley.

This past weekend, the The Master's Academy Lady Eagle JV Volleyball team participated in the Circle Christian School JV Volleyball Classic.

Not dropping a single game, the TMA JV took the place by storm, winning all five of their matches and walking away with the tournament trophy. Daron served 35 aces for the day and was awarded an all team tournament trophy.

"We've won some matches and we've lost some matches.
Winning is better!" ~ Mom

Friday, October 19, 2007

My Daughter Went to Afghanistan and All I Got Was A T-shirt

Recently, I received what is perhaps the highest honor ever bestowed upon me. I was made an honorary member of the PSD and I have the t-shirt to prove it.

As you might remember, "the PSD" (personal security detail) is made up of the young men (and Heidi) who served together in Afstan. Most of them were together the entire 16 months they were deployed to the sandbox. Thick and thin.

MSG Leslie designed the shirt and did the artwork. As far as I am concerned, MSG was, and still is, Heidi's Guardian Angel. My friend, Chris at Florida Design Images, Inc., printed it up. Chris also did the shirts for the Gardez Volleyball Club way back what seems like years ago. Double click the picture to see the shirt better.

All the members of the PSD got one of the shirts, but I bet mine means the most to me. That's me up there, "Kiwi". MSG says it's for 'service to my country'. He has no idea what he and the boys mean to me.

Heidi's Mom

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Truth be told, I never sailed a day in me life. I figure I should get out, see the world while I'm still young"~ Pirates of the Caribbean, 2007.

Roadtrip, Summer 2007

The day immediately following Heidi's arrival in O'Town, she and her dad went car shopping. I restrained myself and refused to go, leaving the job of haggling for the best price to the experts ~ Heidi and David. Ten hours later, both returned, bloodied and bruised, but Heidi now the proud owner of a new Corolla (or 'the Motorola', as her friends Cameron and Montana call it).

When the decision to purchase the car in Florida came up, it was also decided Heidi, Marsh, Daron and I would pack for a roadtrip and help Heidi take the new car home. Didn't want her driving the roughly 1,000 miles back to NY on her own, did we? Not that she hadn't traversed thousands of dangerous miles in the sandbox or anything. Not like she doesn't have an EXCELLENT head for directions or couldn't get herself out of a pickle should she need to....

All smiles at the beginning of the trip, I believe we got along really well for such tight quarters. A pub in Savannah, GA.

The requisite horse and carriage trip ~ later in the evening, we took a "walking ghost tour", but didn't see any apparitions.

The Kehoe House, 'haunted house'built it 1892 and purchased by Joe Namath in 1980. Rumor is that ‘Broadway Joe’,planned on turning the Kehoe House into a nightclub and disco. Locals threatened to burn it to the ground if he did. Namath sold the house in 1989 for $530,000, making a profit of roughly seven times what he paid for it.

As we had seen D.C. recently, the three of us opted for a nice morning in Alexandria, VA instead.

King Street Blues, Alexandria. Perhaps the best meal we ate the entire trip.

Daron got a picture of each and every one of the 'welcome to' signs from Florida to New York. I risked my life to get a couple of the shots.

One of my favorite parts of the trip, a riverboat ride in Alexandria Bay, NY. The boat takes you up in to Canada, the only way we could go without a passport.

Marsh and Daron enjoy the view.

Boldt Castle.

Total Strangers.

Crazies from out of town.

A dire warning.

The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia.

The kids and Tony, our travel guide with the Philadelphia Duck Tours. If you haven't heard the song "Philadephia Freedom" sung in awhile, you need to go see Tony.

Meet me South of the Border, the Twilight Zone of 'theme parks'.

One of Daron's friends at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

In 2006, The National Aquarium won a Best of Baltimore award for "Best Over Priced Destination for Families." We think this is a little harsh. I had a great time.

A 'glass' of sweet tea at Phillip's Restaurant at the Harbor.

Next Time: "It's Niagara, Like the Falls"