Stone walls and steel bars, a love on my mind, I’m a three-time loser, I’m long gone this time…

Judging from the attention these bunnies gave to the holes in their cell door, I think they were longing to try a jailbreak.  The Easter Bunny tradition came to the US with German immigrants, though back in the old country it was the Easter Hare.  The rabbit has long been associated with renewal and rebirth, thanks to its status as a prolific breeder.  In a single breeding season a female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grand-children, and great-grand-children!  While that’s impressive, consider the following:
– infant aphids are pregnant before they are born
– male seahorses are the ones that give birth
– a termite can produce up to 30,000 fresh house-eaters in a day, but hold on…
– each section of the tapeworm’s body can grow up to be a new tapeworm, and can produce a million baby tapeworms a day! We have a winner!  We saw the bunnies in the image below while hiking in the hills above Lake Como…their house may be a bit snug for their liking, but their view is spectacular.  (12 September, 2011  Lake Como, Italy)

Here’s a little tip I would like to relate, big fish bites if ya’ got good bait…

They’re called stockfish, and for centuries this was mostly what Norway had to trade with the rest of the world.  These guys were hanging around on our tour of the Hanseatic Museum in Bergen.  The Hanseatic League (we were told by our comely German tour guide) was an organization of German merchants who set up enclaves in mostly Northern European cities to serve as trading outposts.  They had a pretty good deal going there while it lasted, though required to live a bachelor existence, embrace celibacy, and endure a number of other restrictions of the “no more fun of any kind” variety that were popular in the Middle Ages.  The game plan was to go abroad, get rich buying from and selling to the locals, and then hand off the business to the next Hansa and go home to live happily ever after in the big house with the good German girl and raise the next generation.  They prospered for several hundred years following this formula, but you know what happens to all good things in the end.   My title comes from a song by the great blues musician Taj Mahal…if you like the blues at all and aren’t familiar with his work, get with the program!  (16 August, 2011  Bergen, Norway)   

Here’s looking at you, kid…

Bogie and Bacall were a bit before my time, but I certainly heard reference to them and eventually checked out some of the old classics.  Bogart came up through the studio system, back when actors did what they were told when they were told or they got shut down…which means fine actors often made dreadful films because saying “no” wasn’t an option.  Not all of Bogie’s films are captivating today, but when he was good he was very good.  African Queen with Katherine Hepburn is still great, as is Key Largo, The Caine Mutiny, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre…but I have to go with Casablanca as my favorite.  His expat existence resonates with me, and Bogie has so many classic lines in his role as the soft-hearted tough guy Rick Blaine.  My favorites include:
“Here’s looking at you, kid”,
“We’ll always have Paris”, and my favorite
“I remember every detail.  The Germans wore gray, you wore blue”
Regarding the flying fox below, I’m not a bat-hater by any means but I think that speculative look its eyes combined with a three-foot wingspan and the proximity of 20,000 of his closest friends was a little creepy.  (12 March, 2011  Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, Australia)

Jelly, jelly…

With no disrespect intended, I think God listens to the Allman Brothers when He’s looking to unwind.  You can find Jelly Jelly, along with six other southern rock/blues gems, on Brothers And Sisters.  Dicky Betts really picked it up after Duane’s untimely passing, and he is just cookin’ on this album releasing in 1973.  If you’re not familiar with this music, it’s worth your time.  The photo below is of some beautiful and no-doubt exceedingly venomous jellyfish at the National Aquarium, in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  (17 July, 2011 Baltimore, MD)

Cool, clear water…

Nothing quite hits the spot like a cool drink of water when the heat is on.  St. George’s fountain in Rothenburg ob der Tauber was built to supply the people of the walled medieval city in Franconia with drinking water, but the pigeons seem to be the only ones tippling at that particular watering hole these days.  The town stopped growing after a visit from the Black Death, and fortunately never got around to tearing down its gorgeous medieval walls which help make it one of the most picturesque and essentially “German” towns in existence.  (20 April, 2011 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Franconia, Germany)

You have my undivided attention…

The ability to truly focus on the task at hand is a rare gift indeed, and Pearl is gifted.  She lives with some neighbors back home in Tennessee near a lonely and lovely hilltop where I used to put in many an hour in an ultimately futile “tame the wilderness” project.  Turns out poison ivy, ticks, and broom sage have more patience than I possess.  Many times as we labored in love up on the hill Pearl would come to visit and inspect our work, and she returned any attention in spades.  Love is often uncomplicated for dogs, at least I have found that to be the case with Pearl…when she is with you, she is all-in.                           (10 November, 2007  Nashville, TN)

It’s not my cross to bear…

I like to do a little woodcarving when I get the chance, in this case a celtic cross.  One day here in Oslo when the weather was cooperating and I was banging away in the courtyard, I had a little helper come work with me for a while…seems I’m not the only one who likes to see the chips fly.  He hung out with me for a bit, being helpful in the tradition of his kind, and then moved on to greener pastures when he tired of the game.  I’ve found that people in Oslo don’t readily approach strangers, but apparently the sight of some nut carving religious icons out in the open is simply irresistible bait…Night Fury in the photo below was not the only one who stopped to chat while I whittled away.  Below my helper is the finished product.  (23 May, 2011 Oslo, Norway)                                  

It’s a good thing ants are small…

This big guy was on a beach along the Great Ocean Drive in Australia, 2011.  If you’ve ever had a painful ant bite, then you’re familiar with formic acid in one of its natural forms.  It was first isolated by distilling the bodies of ants, hence the name, since the Latin for ant is another term you probably have heard…formica (the good old inexpensive countertop material of my youth).  Ants tend to be highly organized socially creatures, given to segregating their societies by the individual’s job, making “war” on other colonies, and even taking slaves from other colonies and keeping large numbers of aphids in their nest to feed off their secretions.  There’s a lot going on with ants, you just have to look closely to realize it.  And while you’re at it, be thankful they aren’t a whole lot bigger!  (29 March, 2011  Robe, Australia)