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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Butterfly Returns

I ran across the butterfly today by chance. It had not really gone away. I thought when it disappeared that it might have found a way out of the house. But today it was wandering on the carpet by the window in the dining room and looking very weak.

I took it to the kitchen and tried to make artificial flowers for it, filling paper cupcake liners with sugar water, lemonade and orange juice.

The butterfly seemed to have trouble getting to the substitute nectar, so I placed a few drops within close reach.

The prognosis for the butterfly did not look good, but that was the best I could do. Then I returned to Bow in the pens, and I uploaded the videos. I thought Bow might like to see the butterfly close up in the video. He has a view of the kitchen from the pens, so he was watching me the whole time and knew what I was up to. But seeing the video might interest him, I thought.

Bow watched the video of the butterfly twice, very quietly and serenely. Then Youtube suggested some other videos to watch. Bow seemed interested, so I selected one about migrating Monarch butterflies. The narrator in the other video said that butterflies arriving in November were considered to be the returning souls of the dead. Bow began to rock. Another speaker came on, and Bow was clearly displeased, rocking and making raspberries. I paused the video and asked Bow if everything was okay now. He seemed much more calm, but then he started to try to type. I did not see this at once, but on the screen it said: "Leave a comment." However, there was no place to leave a comment on the current screen, so Bow's typing did not show.

After he tired of this activity, Bow asked to go outside.

When he was outside, Bow was much less quiet and restrained. He used his outdoor voice and displayed at the dogs. There is a time for all things, and for every thing a season. A time to listen and a time to talk. A time to scream and a time to be silent. But our poor butterfly, I'm afraid, picked the wrong time to emerge form its pupal stage. The odds are against it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Grooming Lawrence on a Cold but Beautiful Day

It started with the most gorgeous sunrise that I have ever seen. The pink sky surrounded us in the pens this morning. I could not help but notice, so I rushed outside to take a few pictures.

The sun was rising up through the barren trees in the woods behind our house.

The woods are due east of our house, so that's where the greatest amount of light was shining. But if you looked in the other directions, there were also some spectacular displays of color in the sky.

To the southeast the cloud formation was regal in its display of pink, yellow and purple.

Due south, the colors were more muted and less festive, but dignified in their splendor. See that giant twin cedar in the distance?

To the west it was still somewhat gloomy, and the bare limbs of the oaks reached out to one another with against a pinkish, blue sky.

In the northeast the clouds towered over the woods and the ribbon of our private road.

Today is a Thursday, and Lawrence was just here yesterday. But our generator needs to be repaired, because there is something wrong with its starter, so Lawrence volunteered to sit a while with Bow, as the repairman was in the backyard working on the starter. You can see how dreadfully cold it is by how bundled up the repairman is in this picture.

When I told Bow that Lawrence was coming, at first he remarked that it was the wrong day. But he was happy when Lawrence arrived and did not display at him at all. Since Lawrence had just been here yesterday, he had still not become a stranger. Stay away a whole week, though, and you get an extra long display!

Whenever we have a repair person over, Bow is usually a little excited and agitated. This time was no exception. Bow insisted on going outside to see how the repair job was progressing, and he was out there with no clothing, his teeth chattering, and yet he did not want to go in, and it was hard to persuade him. Bow was afraid he'd miss out on something. I brought out the red shirt to see if Bow would let Lawrence put it on him, but Bow refused. It was only when the repairman went back in for a moment that Lawrence was able to persuade Bow to go back in. After that, they stayed in, even though the repairman went back outside to work on the generator.

To warm up, they walked in circles for a while, and then Bow settled down to a serious grooming session with Lawrence. When Bow starts to groom someone, it could go on for hours. Bow is very intent on his task.

Eventually the repairman had to leave, and so did Lawrence. But Bow and Lawrence certainly had a nice time together this morning, on this cold, but beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Butterfly Behind the Curtain

Today was by and large an uneventful day. It was cold, but not as cold as yesterday. Bow went outside briefly a couple of times, but most of the time we stayed indoors. Bow groomed me.

We took pictures in the sunlight streaming from the windows.

It was a nice day, and we were both happy. But despite all that sunshine, I was still wearing a jacket indoors.

And Bow spent more time communing with his blanket than he usually does.

Around three o'clock Bow asked for an apple as a snack and I went to the dining room to get one. I noticed a strange fluttering behind the window curtain and went to check it out.

It was odd to see a butterfly in January. I was not expecting that!

I went to give Bow his apple, but returned to see that Leo, in the backyard, was barking at the butterfly in the window.

Normally, when I find an insect in the house, I catch it and let it out. But what would the butterfly do outside? It is still quite cold out, and there are no plants in bloom. 

I decided to leave the butterfly alone and let him stay there. But by the time my daughter came home from school, the butterfly had disappeared. It was not by the window, nor anywhere else to be seen.

So we've had an uneventful, peaceful day. Nothing unusual. Except for one butterfly that appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When ...?

Life is good. We have good food. We have nice things. But chimpanzees do not live by bread alone. Bow does not talk about this much anymore, but today he broached the subject.

When Bow vocalizes in a high pitched voice, he sounds very agitated. It is usually also when he is trying to speak. He can make sounds in a lower pitch, of course, but they are not the sounds that he is trying to overlay with consonants and vowels. Do I understand what Bow says out loud? Sadly, I don't. That's why he has to spell things out for me.

Aya: ?מה  What?

Bow: שקר Lie.

Aya: ? שקר. מה
        A lie? What?

Bow: מתי קופה
        When a female-chimp

Aya: ?מתי תהיה לך קופה
         When will you have a female chimp?
        ?האם זה מה שאתה שואל, קשת
        Is that what you are asking, Bow?

Bow: כן

Aya: אני לא יודעת
        I don't know.
  ? אתה נותן לי את השטיח
You're giving me the rug?

Bow:  יש
           There is

Aya: ? יש מה
        There's what?
      (He persists in giving the rug to me.)
        טוב תודה
      Okay, thank you.

I just happened to be taking pictures when that exchange transpired. I know it looks as if I am holding Bow's hand, and with the way he is vocalizing in a high pitch, some naive viewers might think this exchange is happening against his will. Over and over again, people have commented that it looks as if I am holding Bow's hand and guiding it, but really it was his doing. I was just going to film him playing. He took my hand. It would have been very hard to withhold my hand from him. He insisted.

Bow is much stronger and more agile than I am. I cannot take his hand without his consent. And in this particular case, he was the one who was eager for the exchange.

Bow will turn twelve on February 16. I know what he wants for his birthday. It's not a rug or a cake or anything that I can afford to buy him. In fact, it's one of those things that people euphemistically say money can't buy.

I sure wish I could arrange a visit from a female chimpanzee, if only for a day.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Title about Behaving Badly Appeals to Bow

It has been a long, cold day. I had a fire going in the fireplace.

On the agenda for me to research was what to do with raw milk.  Bow was restless, however, and his raspberry sounds made it hard for me to listen to the instructional videos by Sarah Day. Bow was happy to drink some milk, but not so happy to hear a stranger lecture to him.

In the afternoon, I took out the magazine article about Bow that came out in the Canadian Journal. Bow looked at the article briefly.

He leafed through the journal and saw many things that interested him more than the article about his own life. The piece he found most engrossing was the one about misbehaving mayors. He paused and looked at the lead picture and the caption "Mayors Behaving Badly" for a long time.

I could tell that he identified with the subject. If Bow were a mayor, he would probably misbehave, too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Warm Enough for Snakes

Today is a beautiful day. Bow has been out in the sunshine on and off all day. He really loves sunlight, even when it is not that warm. But today was warm enough.

In fact, it was warm enough to wake the snakes. I found this black ratter in the woodpile in the garage. Fortunately, the snake was still half asleep from the long cold spell, and it was not a long way to transport him to the outside.

The snake was awake, but not very active when I left him out there.

He still had his tail curled around the stick I had used to transport him outside. I showed Bow the footage of the snake, but he was not impressed.

He just wanted to go back outside.

After all, playing with the dogs is much more fun than looking at a video of a sleepy snake.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Passing the Time with Renoir

Yesterday, it was too cold to play out. Bow and I needed to find something to do indoors to pass the time. I brought in an old art book that I inherited from my grandmother. It is a big book, and I am sure it must have been expensive, but most of the pictures in it are black and white reproductions, with only a few in color. Those that are in color are sort of pasted in loosely -- they were not printed with the others. I imagine that today, if you buy an art book, it is not like that.

I put the book on the table on my side of the glass and did not bring it in for Bow to look at until he asked for it. It is very important for it to be Bow's idea, because otherwise he might not be nice to the book. Bow gets to decide who and what is permitted to enter his domain.

When Bow started looking at the pictures, the book was propped up on my knee, and we were looking at it together. But eventually he took it away from me to look at by himself. When he did that, he was pretty gentle with the book, but it's true that one of the front pages got folded under the wrong way.

I did intervene just a little, to save the page from being misshapen. Bow was about to be a little miffed with me when he thought I was taking the book away prematurely, but he calmed down when he saw that I was just straightening it up and he could continue to enjoy the art appreciation experience.

For Bow, who flips through the pages rather fast, one viewing is not enough. He likes to look at the same pictures over and over again.

Bow pauses longer on some pages. I think he prefers the color reproductions.

When Bow really likes a painting, he does not merely look at it. He likes to touch it, too.

Bow's favorite Renoir painting is called Baigneuse. The English title given in the book is "Seated Bather." Bow returned to this picture again and again.

Unfortunately, though he was very gentle, Bow did leave tiny scratches on this print. I probably need to get him another copy, one that is laminated!

However, in searching for this exact painting online, I found a lot of bathers by Renoir, and even a seated bather, but none was this exact painting. Renoir seems to have painted many bathers, and practice makes perfect!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mission Accomplished: Bow Breaks the Wood

Today there is snow on the ground, and there are occasional flurries of snow. But yesterday, Bow went outside. It was cold, yet not too cold to play.

Even though the piece of wood was there on the floor of the pen, Bow studiously ignored it when he first went outside.

Since nothing much was happening, I went in,  and a little while later I could hear Bow breaking the wood. He had picked it up and dashed it against the cement a few times. By the time I got back out with the camera, the deed had already been done.

I thanked Bow for breaking the wood, gathered up the pieces and added them to the fire.

Bow took my praise of his wood breaking skills in his stride. It's as if he were saying : "no big deal."

But the wood was broken, and that was good.


For a retrospective article about Project Bow, check out page 54 of this Canadian Journal.

It's actually a glossy print journal, and this is a pdf file of it, which is why it takes so long to load. But if you have started reading about Bow recently, my article might give you much needed background information.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No to the Wood

I did not forget about gradually getting Bow used to having a piece of wood to work on and cut down into smaller pieces. However, so far all attempts have failed, as Bow has not even wanted to go out and try playing with the wood.

Notice in this video from yesterday that Bow shook his head to indicate that no he did not want to break the wood. That was in the morning.

For lunch, Bow had a nice salad with a flour tortilla and cream cheese made from sour cream. You can read all about it and see Bow enjoying his salad on The Feast Before Us.

A second attempt in the afternoon to get Bow to play with the piece of wood was also unsuccessful. Brownie was chewing on a board he found in the yard. But Bow would not set foot out, eve though the piece of wood was on the floor and not the bench. It's possible that it is just too cold out to play right now.

Lawrence will be here this afternoon to stay with Bow, and the wood is still out there in the outer pen. Maybe Lawrence will have greater success in coaxing Bow to play with it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

To Break or Not to Break

During the long snowy period, one of my chores was to bring in logs every day to burn in the fireplace. The smoke billowing out of my chimney demanded a wood sacrifice.

While the fire was going, I used it to burn unwanted papers and boxes that I had around the house. There is a pleasure in seeing things burn. There is a thrill in destroying, annihilating and taking out of existence. This is a kind of destructive energy which is at the very heart of life.

Taking a piece of wood from the woodpile and turning it into fire is the ultimate destructive act. But it is strangely also a reaffirmation of life.

The difference between a civilized and an uncivilized person is in the things we destroy. Good people destroy things belonging to them. Bad people destroy things belonging to others without asking permission. But all life is ultimately destruction of one thing for the sake of another. That's what eating and digesting and burning fuel are all about.

After the thaw, Bow enjoyed some free time in the outer pen.

Leo tried to engage him in play, but Bow was mostly contemplative. I, on the other hand, was still preoccupied with burning things. Once the snow was not covering all the ground, I discovered big sticks and wanted to turn them into smaller sticks. Some were harder to break than others. And it suddenly occurred to me yesterday that maybe Bow could help. He is so very strong! And he takes such pleasure in breaking things. So I brought out a stick for him to break.

Bow would not break the stick! I had spent so many years trying to teach him not to break things, that now when I wanted him to break something, he would not do it!

There is a danger in building up inhibitions against destructive behavior. I have been thinking about that this morning. We teach our children not to pee on the floor, and then years later when we take them camping and tell them it's okay to use the great outdoors as their toilet, they don't believe us. We teach our children not to hit and not to hurt others, and then one day when they need to defend themselves, they may not know how. We teach people not to kill, when really we ought to teach the difference between killing and murder. Because without killing there could be no life.

Years ago, the interns used to argue with me that every time Bow was destroying something, he was being creative. This was not true. He was just giving way to the pleasure of destruction. But there is nothing wrong with giving way to mindless pleasure every once in a while, if it serves a purpose.

Bow and I need to work on that distinction. Maybe we will practice some more with other pieces of wood.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Just Say No!

It has been very cold. It snowed yesterday, and school was canceled for today.

I built a fire in the fireplace.

The snow did not seem all that uniformly high.

But there were drifts of snow that were quite deep.

This morning, even with the heat on, it seemed a little cold. When Bow asked for a shirt, I took him at his word and brought one out that I thought he might actually like to wear.

At first, I thought that he might like to put the shirt on himself. But when he just stared at me, I decided I would help him. Coaxing did not work. Pretty soon he had me chasing him around the pen. Then finally he took my hand and spelled לא. No is no. I accepted his answer and stopped pestering him.

It's a good thing we have language. There is no need to be coy. When someone makes you an offer of something that you do not want, you can just say no. It's amazing how well that works!

Bow later also told me that a guy does not wear clothes. דוד לא לובש בגדים. As a general rule, I might disagree. But this particular guy stopped wearing clothes the moment he got free run of the pens.

So in the end, Bow asked for his blanket, and he seems happy, even though it is cold and there is not much to do.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Moment of Sunshine in a Snowy World

We have been having unusually cold weather, but yesterday there was a sunny interlude. It was warmer out, the sun was shining and it seemed as if the snow was about to melt.

Bow asked to go outside. There was still snow on the concrete, but Bow had a plan how to sun himself without setting foot on the ground. .

He stayed there for a good long while before he asked to go back in.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Snow in the New Year

It's the second day of the new year. And it snowed last night. It's not as much snow as we had in December, but still everything is covered with  snow.

Even the swing is covered with snow.

Bow spent the early morning hours just snuggling with his new Christmas blanket.

He left his flank uncovered, but his face half-hidden.

A little later, though. he gave me the blanket and asked to go outside. I warned him it was cold out, but he said he wanted to go out just a little. But when it came time to get into the airlock, he decided not go out after all.

So when he returned from the aborted mission, Bow asked for the blanket again.

And now he is resting on top of it, taking it easy.

We have a pretty good life here in the pens. We're just worried about the people in Ohio. They do need all the help they can get.