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Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

Raccoons

Places I’ve seen them

1.  In the drainage ditch a block away from our house.  (Last night.  A whole fambly of ’em!)

2.  On a two-story window ledge outside of my former office.

3.  On the Stanford campus.

4.  Infesting the home of ‘Big Edie’ and ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale, in the documentary Grey Gardens.

Things we call them (thank you, wikipedia!):

1.  ‘raccoon’, from the Algonquin roughcoune: ‘he who scratches with his hands’.

2.  The Spanish mapache, from a Nahuatl word for ‘that which has hands’.

3.  Procyon, the genus name, from Greek for ‘pre-dog’.  (Or is the dog ‘post-raccoon’?  You decide.)

4.  In many languages, the equivalent of ‘washing bear’.

And what do they call us? Well, probably one of these five words.  (via a great website from Island Creek Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia.)

And a bonus: otters holding hands.

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Here are some things that have made me laugh lately. It’s a good medicine, laughter. So if you’ve got the sniffles or the snuffles or the gruffles or the griffles, click on a few of these.

  • I can has cheezburger? I won’t try to describe it.
  • Penelope from SNL. I’m slowly growing out of the Saturday Night Live demographic, but Frank and I have recently fallen for Kristen Wiig, the latest in a long series of talented female cast members:
  • Nuns singing the Hallelujah Chorus:
  • Pachelbel Canon deconstructed:
  • Deciphering the lyrics of Anglican hymns:

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This story has a prehistory:

One day when I was an infant (and I depend entirely on what my parents have told me, since I remember nothing of what follows), I became one of those urban legends that you read about in collections of funny stories. My sister even gave me this book, knowing that I was the title character. On this site, the story – though more exaggerated and nail-biting than my own – even occurs in the correct U.S. state (although in the wrong region). What happened was this: we were preparing to take the two and a half hour drive to visit my grandparents. My youngest aunt was twelve years old (or so) at the time, and she had dibs on carrying me out to the car (since my legs didn’t work yet, and because I was the newest addition to the extended family and therefore too cute to resist). After reaching the car, she put the baby seat – with me in it – on the roof of the car so that she could slide into the back seat easily. Presumably, she had counted on someone to give me to her once she was seated. Well, that never happened, and after my parents and older sister all had situated themselves, we began the drive. After a few minutes a woman with a frantic look on her face pulled up next to our car, rolled down her window, and told my parents that there was a baby on top of their car. (I like to think that the woman said this with the same tone one would use to tell someone that there was, say, a dinosaur on top of their car, or a pinball machine.) My parents were understandably Freaked Out, and my mom says there was much shaking and trembling and sweating. Apparently, though, I was as calm as I would be in a rocking chair or in my mother’s arms. And for the record, I harbor no ill will toward anyone involved.

Now for the story:

Two weeks ago, we made plans to celebrate Frank’s birthday by going to an Ethiopian restaurant in town. As is often the case, our silly cat Marcel – we often call him Silly ‘cel, or ask him if he has Silly ‘Cel Anemia – came trotting towards us from across the street as we got to the car. (We have no idea what he does all day, but we have it on good authority that much of it involves sneaking into other people’s houses.) He even jumped into the car for a moment, until we deposited him back onto terra firma so that we could get on our way. After driving for a few blocks, and just before reaching a busy intersection (this one, for you Google-map users), I saw something brownish fall from on top of the car, and at first I thought it was a piece of cardboard, or a piece of wood that someone had thrown at the car. Looking in the rear view mirror, though, I saw that it was an orangish cat. After first thinking that we had hit some poor random tabby, I realized that it was Mr. Marcel, who had apparently jumped on top of the car roof just before we left the house, unknowingly beginning one of the rides of his life. We turned around to look for him, found him hiding under a parked car (with two innocent bystanders looking curiously at him), and returned him to his romping grounds. (He was undamaged, as far as we can tell.)

I like to think that this is an instance of reverse karma, and that Marcel was somehow involved in getting my infant self placed on top of that car in 1973, to punish, in a harmless but jolting way, the driver that forgot to check for loose cats on the top of another car in 2007. If anything can get away with a time-traveling retributive act like that, it’s a cat. Especially Marcel, who still has – according to our best calculations – seven lives left.

Marcel in the tub

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The best of small animals

I heard a blurb on NPR this morning about Thumbelina, the world’s smallest horse. There are lots of images and news stories about her out there in cyberspace, but this is my favorite, probably because it’s pretty clear to me that the dog totally wins that contest.

As proof that all small animals are not ‘awww’-inducing, check out this news report. You only need to watch the first 40 seconds or so.

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