Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The line between wildness and domestication

I vicariously explored the line between wildness and domestication today. One of the four resident swan babies decided to pay an up close and personal visit today. I fed him bread bits in order to get some fantastic photos... he's still gray, will get his white adult feathers very soon and fly away for the winter where hopefully he will learn that humans are dangerous and that he should keep his distance.

In the meantime, here is documented proof of this wild encounter:

That white thing in the photo is my knee... for perspective...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Leslie's been here

My life has been a whirl of busy the past couple of weeks.

First I went with Lori to Lilith Fair at the beginning of August. We had seats on the lawn. It was lovely. And then they upgraded us to row 6 for the Indigo Girls and Sarah Mclachlan. I mean, wow. We were up close! But the people around us didn't like me... they wanted me to sit down (??!!!). Ummmm... it's not the symphony, guys, it's a ROCK concert. And I love the IGs. I didn't sit down. Instead, I sang my little heart out (no one could hear me anyhow) and danced the night away.

Then I went to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. This is an annual trek made by my family on my father's side. For the past 20+ years our family (usually around 25 of us) have hiked Mt. Leconte outside Gatlinburg to stay at Leconte Lodge on the first Thursday in August. This year my 82 year old grandfather hiked it for his 21st time!

I on the other hand did not hike this year. I spent the day with my grandmother, my dad and his wife, and my little nephew Timothy. And when the hiking group got back the next day, I got to hang out with my totally awesome cousin Katie, who has worked the last 2 summers at the top of Leconte and is an amazing woman.

After I returned home from the Smokies, I had a week to recuperate before Leslie flew out to visit. She left yesterday :( But while she was here, we had some super fun!

We went hiking after picking Leslie up from the airport, back to Bluff Point with Tag:

The rest of the week went quickly! On Sunday we went to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk and found a sheltered beach where Leslie experienced her first "Horseshoe Crab rescue" (for additional references, please see previous blog posts).

Monday, we ran a bunch of errands (I know, exciting... but we rode a carousel!).

We played Settlers of Catan nearly every evening. On Tuesday, Leslie and I grabbed the train to NYC. We bought tickets to Phantom of the Opera for the following Saturday and then proceeded to the Central Park Zoo by way of Shakespeare on the mall, and Balto, who is my new favorite statue in the Park.

The sea lions were in rare form at the zoo that day.

As were the snow monkeys:

On our way home we heard this awesome band in the subway. I wanted to show you the video here, but the web goblins are preventing me. I'll see what I can do about that.

Leslie is so awesome. She helped me barn-shop on Wednesday. We went to 3 barns, 2 of which are fine prospects for me to resume riding. The first one was in Ridgefield. They didn't have a huge lesson string, but the woman we spoke to seemed to think she could come up with something. They just hired a new dressage coach, so I'm definitely interested. The barn was beautifully situated, with lots of grassy, green pastures, willows and stone walls. It seemed like a very laid back kind of place.

The second barn was further away... Sunny Brook Farm... yes, I am a Shirley Temple fan :) The actual barn looked like a bunker, made out of cinderblocks and set into the hillside. They had a lot of horses for lessons, and the trainer believes that you should ride as many different horses as possible, because each one has something different to teach you. We watched her give a lesson, and I liked her style. I liked the people there, too... my only problem with the place was the distance and tiny roads... oh, and the almost non-existent indoor arena space. Winter will make both of those items into major issues for me.

So much to contemplate.

By the end of that day, Leslie was pooped!

On Thursday, Leslie and I loaded up into Subaruby and drove back past Groton to Mystic for a day at the Mystic Aquarium. It's been 20 years since I went to the aquarium and I was so excited to be able to go back with my friend and explore!

The belugas were by far my favorite!

Leslie got to pet a shark and see her second shark feeding of the week!

It was strange being back at the aquarium, since I have some pretty solid memories tied to my experiences there. They don't do a dolphin show there anymore. I'm not sure why they decided to change that, though I'm glad they did. The dolphin habitat was way too small. But walking back into that arena, I had some serious deja vu. As a child, I did a report on being a dolphin trainer and got a private session at the aquarium. I got to ask questions and watch a training session. The memory of the arena is still very vivid!

Now they do a great sea lion show. We were very entertained.

Friday Lori came, too and we went on another hike with Tag, this one at a nature area close by. And Saturday was our big day in the city. We went to the Strand bookstore (18 miles of books, new, used, and rare!), ate lunch in view of the Empire State Building,

and then went to see Phantom!

Phantom was great. The plot line runs a bit thin, so I was glad I knew the story beforehand. The music and the theatrics were spectacular. As usual, the swell of the orchestra during the Overture brought tears to my eyes. What a great time.

Yesterday it rained all day. I think Connecticut was sad that Leslie was leaving. Lori stayed with us, too, and we played Settlers of Catan and Quiddler all morning/afternoon. Then we drove Leslie to the airport.

Today I'm pooped. It's gray and cool out, and will probably rain later. The bird feeder is alive with action. Chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, and tufted titmice, not to mention a swarm of field sparrows, have been fluttering about and providing me and the cats endless amusement. I hope that by the end of the week I will have come up with something constructive to do.