Lions and Hippos

There are two animals that live in the plains and jungles of Africa– lions and hippos.

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Lions
Lions are the warriors of Africa.  They are beautiful, lean, muscular.  There are movies about lions, musicals about lions, and kings have been named after lions.  The “Ghost and The Darkness” is a horror movie about man eating lions that lived along the fledgling railroad being built in the 19th century in Africa.  “The Lion King” is a beautiful animated film, and live action Broadway musical about the life of a lion.  It begins at the infancy of a small lion named Simba, and finishes when Simba becomes the King of Pride Rock.  The musical and the movie won awards and accolades.  The English King, King Richard I, was known as the Lion Heart.  He was born in 1157 and died in 1199.  He was considered brave.  He led armies at the age of 16, and used his position as king to raise one of the strongest armies throughout Europe.  He was fictionally portrayed in various “Robin Hood” productions as the cousin of Maid Marion, the love interest of Robin.  He was seen as strong and the heroic king, who fought in the first Crusades.

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Hippos
Hippos are the polar opposite of lions.  They are not brave, they are not dangerous, and they are not portrayed kindly in most movies.  There are no kings named after hippos.  Rather, they have become the representation of a joke.  Hippos are seen as lazy, demanding, diva-ish, dependent, and fat.

The Reality

Hippopotamus are one of the largest animals in Africa.  They are rarely hunted by lions, or any other animal in the water or in the land, because they socialize in large herds upwards of 40-50 animals.  Though the animals are slow on land, they are very fast, and aggressive in the water, and can swim up to 5-6 miles per hour (by the way, that’s faster than a man can swim).  They are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and are responsible for more wild animal inflicted deaths than any other animal in Africa, they are considered the most dangerous animal in Africa.  Hippopotamus can live up to 50-60 years old in captivity, and in the wild 40-50 years in the wild.  Zulu warriors prefer to be called Hippopotamuses, since even Lions don’t match them in bravery.

Lions are the largest cats in Africa.  They weigh up to 550 pounds, which is considerable less than the Hippopotamus.  The Lion life span is considerably shorter than the Hippopotamus, males generally live 10-15 years in the wild, and 20 years in captivity.  A Lion’s pride usually consists of 20-30 lions.  Most of the pride is female, with 1-2 males.  Female lions are considerably smaller than the males, and are faster and more aggressive.  When male lions turn 2-3 years old they are turned away from the pride. They either become nomadic lions, or they form their own pride.  The males sleep over 20 hours a day.  The females do hunt, but ironically, most of their diets are from scavenging rather than killing the animals themselves.  Often a pride will steal the kill from hyenas or cheetahs.  Many of the animals they consume die from natural causes.  The males will sometimes eat offspring that do not belong to him, to preserve his blood lines.  Lions do not normally kill, or consume humans.  Historically there are two instances of male lions killing and consuming humans– the first was the inspiration of “The Ghost and The Darkness” and occurred in Tsavo, and another instance occurred between 1995-2005 in Tanzania.   It is estimated that there are 200 Africans killed by wild animals in Tanzania annually, lions are only responsible for around 70 of all those who are killed, the rest were killed by Hippos, Rhinos, or Elephants.

Recently, the hippopotamus has become the mascot for military spouses.  It is meant as an insult by those that see themselves as the warriors, or lions.  It is meant primarily to put some people down, while building others up.  The funny thing, the animal that’s perceived as the most dangerous, beautiful, and king of all beasts, is actually not seen as all that brave or heroic in the native culture in the area where both lion and hippos roam.  Tanzanians and Zulu see hippos as the heroic and brave creature.  Lions are seen as scavengers and lazy.  Africans both fear and revere the animal meant to be an insult in American Culture.

If I were asked which animal I want to represent me, I would not pick either a hippo, or a lion.  I am not technically considered a hippo, and since I left the service, I don’t really consider myself a lion.  Rather than a hippo, lion, cheetah, or any number of other animals in Africa, I would pick a dentist.  Recently, a dentist killed both a hippo and a lion, and honestly, I’m more afraid of dentists than I am of anything else.

Caveat:  This piece in no way advocates the hunting of any animal.  I believe that the only thing an animal should be shot with, is a camera…

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippopotamus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion

I Love The Zoo

My dad always followed his dreams.  One of my big dreams is go to on a photo safari.  It has been a dream since I was younger and used to visit the Minnesota Zoo.  The Minnesota Zoo was one of the first zoological parks to institute realistic animal enclosures.  Since we are honoring my dad the last few weeks, I took some decidedly wonderful photographs of the animals of the Animal Kingdom Safari ride and subsequent Jungle Walks…

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Lent Day 23-30: Big News…

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I have not written in over a week, and there is a very good reason for this.  On March 12th, I left for Miami.  I spent a short stint in Orlando, with my parents.  Then I drove on to Miami by myself.  It has been awhile since I drove by myself, and it’s been even longer since I have gone somewhere to further my career.  That is precisely what I was doing, furthering my career…

Let me start from the beginning, before the Air Force, photography, and almost before writing (I started writing in high school).  When I was a sophomore in High School, I was taking a Life Fitness course, and my teacher made me a deal.  She would pass me on the physical fitness part of the class, if I would join High School track.  That was when my love affair with running started.  It was almost 24 years ago.  Fitting that next year I will be doing the 40th Grandma’s, the year I turn 40, and my 25th Anniversary of running.  Anyway, I have run a LOT during the waning years of my childhood, and now as an adult.  I have completed 10 marathons, over 30 half marathons, and too many shorter races to even count.  And now, I will have the opportunity to share that love and passion I have had for running with others.  Yesterday I completed my test.  A few weeks ago I was CPR certified, and now besides my NASM personal training certification, I am a certified running coach.

This is not a certification I intend on hanging on my wall without actually doing anything with it.  I am happy to say that I am opening my own business.  I am in the process of writing a business plan.  I am pricing out insurance policies, building a new website, setting my prices, and making business cards.  My coaching business as of right now is going to be called Buff Chick Running.  The name has two distinct meanings.  The last 18 years I have either worked with, or have been married to an airplane.  It is the B-52.  One of the oldest airplanes in the military.  This word is paying homage to the fact that I am both a Veteran and Military Spouse. These are two hats I wear proudly.  I also consider myself in shape, and buff is a word we used to use to describe someone who is fit.  Chick simply because I am a woman.  I don’t take myself too seriously, and I don’t seeing as calling myself a chick as something insulting or demeaning of my sex.  I see it as a cultural term– akin to Chica, which is Spanish for woman.  I don’t remember much Spanish from High School, so I shorten it to Chica.  I was tossed as to whether to call myself Running or Coaching.  I elected Running, because coaching implies that I want to focus on all forms of coaching rather than just running.

I intend on opening my doors in May or June.  Though I will be doing some coaching of friends and family in the next few months just to practice.  What does this mean for everything else I enjoy like running, photography, etc?!  I will be probably dropping my photography right now.  I will always write, just will be my “night job” instead of my “day job.”

Lent Day 22: Super Photobomb…

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I went for a walk during my rest day.  My neighborhood is full of beautiful flowers.  I now know why everyone in my family is suffering from allergies this morning.  I only know a few of the flowers pictured, so please pardon my lack of knowledge and labels.  I was attempting to capture the doe and fawn that I have seen during runs, I also wanted to capture the Ospreys and Pelican.  Unfortunately, I missed the two deer, but here are some of the shots I got…

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Jasmine often grows as a weed out here.  Right now, you can’t really smell it, as there is a few trees that smell strongly.

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Flowering trees in my neighbor’s yard.  These are the most fragrant trees right now, and they have a musk-y perfume, unlike the Jasmine in the area.

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This is the roadway to a mansion that’s currently for sale, the list price is $7.1 million.  It has 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a ballroom, an indoor and outdoor pool, it’s over 5,000 sq. ft., and has 17 acres.  There is over 18 feet of beach front.

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Pineapples and manatees adorn much of the properties in our area.

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Squirrels are everywhere.  They can be aggressive and bite, but so far no deer.

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This is another flower that has a strong odor.

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Sea Grass…  The water was not great today.  There were no birds on this side of the bridge.  I saw them swimming, fishing, and diving on the other side of the bridge.  I could not cross the bridge.

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And finally here’s my photobomb.  Here I was trying to take a picture of this beautiful creature, and this flower goes and jumps into my picture….  Oh well, hopefully it doesn’t ruin the picture too much.

Lent Day 17: The sun is finally shining today!

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I got outside to take pictures today.  I went to my normal spot, Turkey Creek.  First, thing in the morning, I ran 6 miles on the treadmill, and then walked another 40 minutes to get in my 15,000 steps.  All told, I walked an additional 3 miles at Turkey Creek.  The first picture is a picture of the reflection of the sun in the creek.

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The path is raised above the swamp.  They are currently refinishing and redoing all the wood on the pathway, here is a section of the path that’s brand new.

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The trees around here are starting to bloom.  Despite the below normal winter temperatures yesterday, there are little white blossoms on trees throughout the forest.

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New leaves are budding on some of the twigs.  No wonder my allergies are pretty bad these last few weeks.

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Even though this tree is dead, there is always still life :).  Fungus always grows everywhere with the moisture in the air.

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Moss growing on a fallen tree.  Even on dead things life grows.

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More reflections on the water.  I used both ATV and MV formats on my camera.

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Another dead tree sitting in mud, I seem to think that dead things in the forest are beautiful.

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Water lilies and other buds are forming near the water.  I keep coming back to the creek to see if they have opened up yet.  Once the flowers start budding this will be an absolutely beautiful and fragrant area to walk in.

Lent Day Nine: Through The Ringer

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One of my favorite things to photograph is textures.  I haven’t gotten out much the last few weeks because of weather, and now I am modified bed rest until Friday.

I slept most of the day yesterday after the surgery.  I was awake enough to write on the blog, but other than that I slept.  I slept too much actually.  I didn’t sleep much last night.  I just took a pain pill, so I might fall asleep again.  It’s funny though, I was looking at the mirror, and it looks like I was in a street fight.  My right sinus is swollen.  I have the beginnings of another sinus infection– this is par for the course for me.  I normally get 3-4 of them a year.  I was told that I could have my sinuses fixed, but I was told that the surgery is only 40-50% effective.  They cut my lip during the extraction, so I have a huge bottom lip.  After a morning nap, I might shower and try to clean.  My parents are coming for a visit.  My mom, daughter, and I are walking the Seaside 5K.  I mostly do it for the Vera Bradley coupon you get at the end of the race.  I hope to snag both mine and my daughter’s coupon.  I am eyeing a wallet and purse.  I have done this race every single year for awhile.

I plan on walking tomorrow as long as I am feeling better.  The doctor told me that I could run as soon as I was off pain medication and the swelling is down.  Which should be Monday or Tuesday.  I’m up to running 6 miles or so now, and I feel great.  Next week I’ll be running 6-7 miles this next week.  I am trying to get a free entry to the Destin Marathon, which is debuting next April 2016, it’ll be the perfect warm up race for Grandma’s 2016.  After I am cleared from Physical Therapy (next week), I’ll start going to the gym 1-2 times a week to work out.  I’m looking forward to being buff…

P.S. If you have managed to read this blog, I applaud you.  The Percocet has taken effect, and I’m not 100% sure that I’m coherent…  I don’t plan on working on the novel today, as I don’t know how I will be writing…

Lent Day Four: I Made A Huge Decision…

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Water Lilies are about to bloom, despite a few nights with record lows, Turkey Creek is teeming with life.  I cannot wait until they start blooming.

I made a large career decision yesterday.  I decided to self-publish my books.  The first novel will be available on Amazon.com in April.  I’m finishing up the final stages of editing, and my husband (who happens to be brutal when it comes to editing) will be doing a final look at the novel.  Once the editing it complete, I will be building an author’s page on Amazon, and the book will be for sale for $6.99.  I plan on actually self-publishing any books I write from now on.  With so few books getting picked up by big name authors, it makes more economic sense to publish self-publish the books and save the time and money on trying to find an agent, editor, and publisher.

Lent-wise, we had my son’s Cub Scout Pinewood Derby initial race today.  Sad to say that Mater did NOT win.  After we got back from the Pinewood Derby, I went for a nice run.  The weather is getting warmer and it was quite windy.  When I got back, my daughter wanted to go on a run as well.  I went for another 1.5 miles with her.  Now, we are getting ready for the first baseball game of the season.  Tomorrow should be a much easier day.

Lent Day Two: Why Facebook?

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I have been asked why someone who is working on establishing themselves as a professional author would take themselves off of social media, when the best way to advertise and gain readership is to maintain a social media page.  First of all, I am quite reclusive, and the only social interaction I will get often for days will be off of social media.  Even though I am socially awkward as a result of having Aspergers/ADD/whatever social dysfunction is the diagnosis di jour.  I still crave social interaction, so removing myself puts me in the uncomfortable position of having to seek out social interaction with out the crutch of having a phone.

However, I sight happiness as my number one reason for going off the social media grid.  I am loads happier being disconnected from what’s going on in my social media world.  Sure, I miss positive news– friends finishing races and getting PRs, announcements about babies, birthdays, and other fun stuff, but I also miss a lot of the negativity.  For example in my feed, there has been a lot of discussions on the vaccination debate.  I will not go into detail on my opinion of vaccinations, but I get very tired of the constant negativity strewn by both sides of the debate.  There have been studies linking internet use and depression.

I have been off of social media for two days, and the biggest difference I have noticed is time!  The sheer amount of time I have spent checking statuses, updating my status, taking pictures, and posting comments is unfathomable.  Since stopping all social media interaction, I have so much free time.  There have been times during particularly busy days that I sit and wonder now what do I do with myself.  I even have gone so far as to go to Facebook, and then I realize that my husband, who is at work at the time has my new password, and the only way to get it would be to call him while, and it seems silly to call for something as silly as a password, so that I can feed an addiction.

Fortunately, today was not nearly as bad as yesterday as far as my desire to go on the Internet.  I was up at 5:00 AM and ran 5 miles, then sent my kids off to school.  I went to my physical therapy appointment, where I endured torture from a sadist (if you want to do the whole “50 Shades” thing without demeaning yourself sexually, just go tell a physical therapist that you are a marathon runner and would like to get back into training shape after an injury).  Grocery shopped, had lunch, and surface cleaned my home for the babysitter.  Then taught art, picked up the kids, went to speech, violin, and then a work function for my husband.  Hardly time to miss Facebook..

Unfortunately, I didn’t accomplish all my daily Lenten tasks (namely, one thing daily I enjoy for myself and finish a home improvement project).  Better luck next time.  (The picture was taken a few days ago at Turkey Creek Park).

Lent Day 1: Ash Wednesday…

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I didn’t actually get out today to take photographs.  It’s Ash Wednesday and per the tradition I am fasting.  According to our Pastor, you can have a light meal in the morning, a small meal at lunch, and then a normal meatless dinner.  I have done a 24-hour cleanse starting last night, and tonight I had intended on going to a dinner with my husband, but life had different plans.  I feel rather mopey regarding the whole ordeal.  Basically, my husband has work functions that go well into the night all night, and because I can’t find a babysitter, I’m stuck at home with the kids.  I’m little angry about the situation.  Not that my husband has work functions, or the work functions are kid-free.  I’m more angry that I can’t be like other parents.  If I had a typical child I would not hesitate in going to the function tonight, and let the kids stay home by themselves for a few hours.  I would feel comfortable calling back to the house to make sure everything was going alright, and maybe my kids would be over at other kids’ houses playing with friends. But my situation is hardly normal.

I know that many autism self-advocates will yell and scream about me “hating” my children, but this is a little known fact of my life.  I don’t get date nights.  I don’t get to go out and get my nails done when my kids are at home.  The reality is that I have a child who is 11-years-old, and functions at around a 3-year-old. It is difficult finding people to watch the kids for the sheer number of things that are planned.  Life would be so much easier without autism, but it would be so much less enjoyable.

Anyway, I am amazed at the amount of time I have when I am not checking my Facebook status.  I got home from church and dropping the kids off at school, and then thought to myself, “now what?!”  I watched part of “Silver Lining Play Book,” while finishing up my 15,000 steps, I wrote in my blog, and I started a new home improvement project.  Namely, I am finishing our kitchen remodel.

A Walk In The Woods

I got some new lenses for Christmas.  Since I was in the Air Force, photography technology has changed.  Even though I used DSLR cameras, they were a LOT bulkier, and everything was manual.  So in order to get used to some of this new technology, I go out for walks at our local park– Turkey Creek.  It’s a boardwalk positioned above a swamp area.  The area is teaming with wildlife.  It’s winter, so there’s not much there, but in the summer you can often see Manatees, Alligators, snakes, and the most amazing animals.

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Here are some of the photos I took with my Telephoto lens

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Wide Angle Lenses

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Fisheye lens

After playing with my lenses, I decided to show some of the life and texture that exists at Turkey Creek:

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I noticed that the sunlight was shining through the trees and reflecting on the water.

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The color was also amazing (please note, I did not use any color filters):

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