Walking the WPA on Sunday Morning

I got up around 6:30 again this morning, and saw to it that my brother Marty’s dog Waukegan got her morning antibiotic pill (so Marty could sleep in) before taking Sergeant Margie with me over to the WPA Rock Garden for our walk.  There wasn’t a lot going on, but I did get some praying mantis and damselfly photos.  We also got to see some mama ducks with their babies at the duck pond, along with some big crayfish.  One of the ducklings had an open sore spot on his back and I couldn’t imagine what might have happened to him… Then I saw the second mother duck come over and try to bite him as he entered the pond.  Poor little thing…  The dog and I walked for about 2 hours and then headed back to the car.

Walking Through the Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA.

This was the day my brother Marty chose for his “day of birthday fun” (his birthday is actually on the 31st, but that’s a Wednesday and we both have to work), so I treated him with a visit to the Crocker Art Museum and linner (the meal between lunch and dinner) at the Tower Restaurant.  We found a parking spot right in front of the museum in the shade (score!) and spent a little over 2 hours in there.  There’s sooo much to look at in the place that we’d need to go back several times to see it all.  It seemed like every time we turned a corner there was another room with more stuff in it!  I especially wanted to see the Origami exhibit they had going and luckily we were able to find it quickly and easily.  It did not disappoint.  Actually, I was blown away by some of the creations!  Animals, clothing, masks, globes, free-forms… and a velociraptor skeleton.  Some of the stuff was just amazing.

We also saw Africa art pieces, charcoal sketches, paintings (some of them so large you had to stand on the other side of the room to see them properly), collages, classical to super-modern sculptures, some pottery and jewelry…  The museum is broken into two parts: one part in a totally modern building and the other in the Cocker mansion (the two sides connected by gallery bridges).  On the mansion side there was a grand gallery with sweeping staircases and gloriously ornate furnishings… and the ceilings were even gorgeous.  We didn’t know what to look at first.

Of the stuff I saw, I think the three pieces that stood out in my mind the most were: (1) a blue broach I took a photo of because I thought the stone was so pretty.  It wasn’t until I got the photo home and enlarged it that I realized there was a FACE inside the stone! (2) A portrait of George W. Bush made up of large stone “dies”.  When you step up close to it you realize that each stone has a horrific image craved into it: bombs dropping, atomic clouds, brick walls, the prisoners at Abu Ghraib, skulls… What a powerful piece!  And (3) then there was another wall sculpture called “Trust” done in large squares.  Each square was painted in the same color pallet, but had different elements in it — including one with bottles of pills and others with a face and a foot…  When we read the description of it we realized the face and foot were actually life-casts from a man who had died of AIDS.  Two days after the man’s death his friend made the casts and incorporated them into his art as an on-going tribute to his friend; another powerful piece…  One of Marty’s favorite pieces was a monolithic disk of steel that when you looked at it from the side it looked like a flat shallow dish; but when you looked at from the front, it had an optical illusion rubbed into it that made it look like it had 3-D layers folded into it.  I tried getting a photo of it, but it all sort of flattened out…  Marty also like the art glass pieces we found in the museum shop…

We wanted to keep looking and looking, but our old bodies just couldn’t take more than a couple of hours, so we found our way out and headed off to linner.

Oh, and CLICK HERE for a video of one of the first things we saw when we entered the mueum.

Animals at the State Fair

I had today off so I slept in a tiny bit and didn’t get up until about 6:30 am.  While Marty headed off to work, I had some breakfast and worked on my mid-term paper for my on-line Litigation class until about 9:00 am.  I then took a shower, and headed out to California State Fair.  I have actually never been to any State Fair anywhere before, so it was kind of an “adventure” for me.  All I was really interested in seeing were the animals, so before I went over to Cal Expo where the Fair was, I checked out a map online on where everything was situated in the fairgrounds.

There was hardly traffic all the way there, and I was about 4th or 5th in line when the gates opened around 10 o’clock.  I had purchases a parking pass and entrance ticket online, too, so I didn’t have to wait to get checked into the parking lot.  I found a spot right near the east gate — in the shade, no less — parked there and walked to the gate where, once again, my on-line ticket got me in without having to wait.  I walked through a corner of the kids’ zone, and then right in front of me were the Livestock Pavilion, Nursery, and Petting Zoo.  Yay!  In the Pavilion and Nursery, I got to see more llamas and alpacas than I’d ever seen in one place before, along with some Longhorn cattle (some with their calves), goats, sheep — including some 4-horned Jacobs Sheep — several lambs, several large milking cows (one who was just about ready to pop with a calf; she was due today), and two huge sows with their piglets.  One set of the piglets, 9 in all, had just been born yesterday: 5 boar babies, and 4 gilt babies.  They were all pinky-pink, sleeping in piles on top of one another.  Awwww…  In one part of the Pavilion there was a station where kids could come up to milk the cows, another area where the sheep were being sheared, and another area where a group of ladies were spinning wool from the sheep into yarn.  I also got a glimpse of some of the judging for the sheep and the llamas.

I then walked over to the Petting Zoo and let all the critters chew on my clothes and try to steal my purse from me.  The deer were little pickpockets!  Hah!  In there were chickens, potbellied pigs, goats (including a pair of white pygmy goat kids with blue eyes, several deer, a tiny fawn (who had her blue blanket with her), more llamas and alpacas… and several wallabies.  Wut?!  I wasn’t expecting those.  One hopped right up to me and let me hold his little “hands”; so cute.  I was in heaven being able to pet all of the critters, scritch the piggies, and hug some of the larger llamas… I think I enjoyed that more than some of the kids in there.

I wanted to see the Cavalcade of Horses, and the California Forest Center, but I spent so much time with the animals — almost 2 hours — that I was too tired to walk any further.  Monica had also suggested that I visit the Extreme Zone where a family-friend of hers was operating a zip-line ride… but that was on the other side of the fairgrounds; no way could I walk that far… I needed a scooter!  So, I stopped at one of the food vendor places and got some fried catfish and strips of fried zucchini and found a table in the shade to sit and have my lunch.  The servings were very generous — I bet there was almost a whole fish in there and half of a large zucchini — and even though it was very good, I couldn’t eat all of it.   I also got myself some cotton candy and a small California Golden Bear toy before heading back out to the parking lot.  It was a fun morning.

Flowers, Bugs, Baby Birds, and Eggs…

I got up around 6:30 this morning and went out with Sergeant Margie right away so we could take a walk while it was still cool outside.  (It’s going up to 108° today.)  Before we left the house, though, I threw my laundry into the washing machine so it could clean while we were out.  We went over to the WPA Rock Garden.  There were quite a few people out with their dogs; we all had the same idea, I guess.  When I got out of the car with the dog, I noticed a long thick line of seed in the gutter along the road… and the seed were “jumping”.  I think they must’ve had moisture in them, and as the sun was coming up and they were warming up, they bounced all over the place.  It was like watching solid “effervescence”.  So weird and so kewl at the same time.  I got a little video of it: http://youtu.be/jRKOuez8fTY.

            During out walk I got some flowers photos, but we also saw a dead crow, four Green Herons (I’d never seen that many in one place before; I wonder if they’re nesting pairs), a couple of female Mallards with their ducklings, and Small Milkweed Bug (Lygaeus kalmia) having sex.  We also came across two kinds of bug eggs.  Some were plain white and laid on the underside of a mullein plant leaf; and then we found some black and white striped ones along with some juvenile Harlequin Bugs (Murgantia histrionic).  All of the bugs were in their second instar (shed), and were eating the old skins they’d left behind.  Creepy and interesting.  Later we came across a big Daddy Long Legs.  I didn’t know this, but Daddy Long Legs are actually called “Harvestmen” and aren’t classified with other spiders.  “…The most obvious difference between harvestmen and spiders is that in harvestmen the connection between the cephalothorax and abdomen is broad, so that the body appears to be a single oval structure. Other differences are that Opiliones have no venom glands in their chelicerae. They also have no silk glands and therefore they do not build webs…”  Neat, huh?

We walked for about two hours, and then headed back to the car.  On the way out of the garden, we saw a big crayfish sunning himself by the side of the duck pond.  Hah!