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Monday, March 31, 2014

A Fine Day for Llamas

Even though Bow is confined to the pen system, he is very much aware of everything that goes on on our ten acre property and beyond. He can see better than I can and hear better, and so he notices things that I don't.

A couple of times today he thought there was someone out there, and when I went out to look there was: it was a rabbit under the forsythia bush, who scampered away so fast that I could not even take its picture.

Before lunch, Bow started looking out to the road, and he gestured to me to look, too. He can see a long way through the window of our front door. I saw something odd, but I was not sure exactly what it was. At first I thought it was a vehicle of some sort, but something told me it wasn't motorized.

It turned out to be a llama wandering on the road. Bow gave me permission to go out and look at it. When I arrived close enough to take a picture, it was in the front yard of our neighbors across the street. But earlier it had been wandering close to my mailbox.

I took this picture from the road, so it is not very close up or clear. Then I went back and showed the picture to Bow. Sometimes Bow gets very upset if there is a man or a dog or a cow wandering too close to our property. But in the case of the llama he was not upset. He was just very interested.

Bow did get a little upset when it began raining and there was thunder not too long after we saw the llama. He vocally protested against the noise. In the afternoon, after lunch, I went to check if the llama was still there. It wasn't. It had continued on its travels unmolested, apparently.

Bow told me he was sorry the "animal" did not come closer. Then he asked to go outside.

He climbed up into a high corner to survey the property.

But then he decided that something was going on up front again.

Bow climbed down and asked to go in and encouraged me to check out the activity in the front yard, while the dogs in the back yard barked up  a storm. I was hoping it would be a llama, but it was just that rabbit under the forsythia bush. It hopped away as soon as I approached.

I wonder what business the rabbit is conducting under that bush!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Playing and Grooming Indoors

Bow has been in and out today. It is nice enough outside, but this also makes him more playful when he is indoors. 

This afternoon, I spotted Bow playing ball with his rolled up blanket. I came in to film that, but before I had locked the door, he tagged me lightly and invited me to a game of chase, with the blanket serving as a ball.

Then the blanket unraveled and Bow had to take some time to turn it back into a ball. He took especial interest in the white tag affixed to the blanket.

After that, Bow affectionately shook my leg a little, stuck out his tongue, then decided to groom my face. After that, he took an interest in the camera, and it was time to stop filming. 

He wanted to see the video we had made and watched it with interest several times.

After he had watched the video, Bow also groomed my hand a little.

Here is a  very small snippet of a hand grooming session.

All in all, Bow had a good day. He was very patient all day long with any delays or inconveniences he had to put up with, because when you are happy, it's all good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gloomy Day Yesterday

Yesterday was a rather gloomy, dark day. Hawks circled over our pasture, and clouds blocked out the sun.

Bow wanted to go outside, but when he did it started to sprinkle a little, and he did not stay out long.

It rained during the night, and Bow woke up and vocalized loudly to protest the weather. But today the sun is out, and it looks to be a beautiful day. Bow danced happily around the pen several times this morning for no reason at all.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Lady and the Girl

Lately, Bow has not been saying that much. On the average day, he tells us what he wants to eat, asks to go outside, spells the names of all his foods and asks for his blanket, but there is not a lot of spontaneous communication about much else.

This is different from how it was at first when he started spelling. In those early days he used to talk more about his feelings,  or he would tell very tall tales about the neighbors and people prowling around outside or kidnappers who came to get him when I was away and he was alone with a sitter. In time, all of that died down, because he realized nobody believed him, and since the lies made no real impression, he just went into routine mode. "Give me an apple... I want my blanket."  When the things he says are that predictable, we sometimes question whether he has language at all.

People who start reading this blog can go for a long time and not even know that Bow can write and that he has language, because I just tell about our day to day experiences.

Well, yesterday was a Wednesday, and in addition to telling Lawrence what he wanted to eat, ("I want an apple"),  Bow also spelled: "And the lady is coming to see me."

There is a woman who makes deliveries here, and she and her little girl have been coming on Wednesdays around noon for the past few months. The little girl is very interested in Bow, but Bow usually hides in a corner and refuses to interact when they come. You would think he didn't like them, the way he has been acting.

Today, they were late. I was waiting for them after lunch, and since Bow had Lawrence, I thought I would meet them outdoors so as not to disrupt Bow's lunch.

Bow, seeing me outside, and having the idea that I was planning to intercept them before they came in, spelled to Lawrence: "Tell Momma to come in. I am done eating, and I want to see the lady and the girl."

Lawrence told me, so I asked them to come in and talk to Bow, and this time he did not stay hidden in a corner. He came to the door and interacted with them through the grid, being sweet and gentle and showing an affectionate interest in both of them and especially in the little girl.

Bow can surprise us. He does say spontaneous and unexpected things. It just doesn't happen every day.

This picture has nothing to do with the story I just told you, but it helps to always have an image in every post!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cool Weather, Exercise and Daffodils

The cold weather we have been having is a good time for exercise. This morning Bow went outside and shivered a little in the cool air.

Then Leo invited Bow to come and play. Bow was reluctant at first, but then he finally agreed.

After getting his fill of exercise, Bow did not feel as cold anymore. He yawned, all tension released from his system.

This afternoon on my walk after lunch, I saw that the first daffodil of the season has bloomed. Yesterday, it was still shut, but today it has opened.

When I came back from my walk, Bow asked to go outside again. It is still quite cool out, but Bow decided to enjoy what sun there was and spread out on his bench.

Life is good!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bow and Baylor Magazine

The flowers are continuing with their plans to bloom. Yesterday the daffodils were all shut tightly in their casings. And today one of them already looks like this.

Bow has been going outside many times a day, but this morning it was still quite cold, and he did not stay long. When he came in, he asked to look at my Baylor Magazine.

Looking at Baylor football players, Bow puffs himself up to look bigger

Because I graduated from Baylor Law School many years ago, I keep getting Baylor Magazine. I usually don't find much that is of interest to me there, but this time there was an article about C.S. Lewis, and so I settled down to read it. But Bow insisted that he needed to see the magazine first.

Bow took a very long time with Baylor Magazine, not even allowing the dogs outside barking to distract him from the task for long. Highlights for Bow included baby pictures in  the birth announcement section for alumni, the Baylor Bear Cub Corner. Here he is pointing at one of the cute babies.

I never throw away magazines that I receive in the mail before Bow gets a chance to read them.No matter how mundane or uninteresting I think a publication is, Bow finds depths of interest in unusual places.  He seems to value those things that the rest of us take for granted.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring at Last!

Yesterday was the first day of spring. With the snow a little earlier this week, you would think the flowers would have delayed their blooming. But there were flowers, if you knew where to look.

I had to move aside some dead leaves to find them, but there they were in all their glory.

Bow went outside many times yesterday. He enjoyed the sunshine.

This morning the birds were chirping, the grass was visibly sprouting in the backyard, and the dogs were frisky. But Bow thought it was still too cold to come out.

Later Bow asked to go out again and did venture forth.  He had a great time interacting with Leo, who has an interesting presence in this photo. Now that the pen is dry, Bow has his feet firmly planted on the ground. But Leo is still up in the air!

This picture makes me think of a line from "Send in the Clowns": 

Isn't it rich? Are we a pair? Me here at last on the ground, You in mid-air.. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wiping Off the Rim of the Bench

The weather changes so fast around here! Yesterday morning, we could not go out because of the snow, and Bow had to amuse himself with fashion magazines, instead. But by early afternoon, the temperature outside was so high that the snow was rapidly melting. Bow asked to go outside, and when he did, he found that the rim of the back of the bench, where he wanted to lie, was still a little damp.

Even though Bow hates getting his feet wet, he opted to use his feet to wipe the bench, so that his back could stay dry when he lay down on it. I was not sure if this expedient would be good enough, so after Bow lay down, I waited a little to see if he would like to go back in right away.

He turned his head back and gave me a smile to let me know he was quite happy there and I was free to go.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bow Skims through Spring Issue of Harper's Bazaar

By the time yesterday's snowfall was over, the outer pen looked like this.

There was no possibility of going out. Even the top rim of the bench was piled with snow. The swing and every place where Bow likes to perch were snow-covered.

At sunset, the front yard looked like this.

And this morning it looked like this.

With no possibility of going outside to play, I broke out the fashion magazines. Bow loves to look at pictures. The spring awakening issue of Harper's Bazaar seemed appropriate.

Bow can flip through magazines for hours, given half a chance.

His face shows how serious and engrossed he is by the task.

Once he has gone through the magazine three or four times, cover to cover, Bow will start to focus on images he particularly likes for a more detailed scrutiny.

Harper's Bazaar offers not only a visual and a tactile experience, but also appeals to the olfactory sense. Bow knows all about those flaps with the perfume samples.

Notice how gently Bow opened the flaps and how brief a whiff he took of the sample. Bow has a very strong sense of smell, and it does not take much for him to get the gist of a sample. This time, Bow did not seem much impressed.

Eventually, after a very thorough reading, Bow lost interest in the magazine, and he started to wonder what the dogs were doing outside.

Spring is bound to come, sooner or later. In the meanwhile we have plenty of indoor distractions to keep us occupied.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Snowing, Again!

Only yesterday it felt like spring. Bow enjoyed many uninterrupted hours out of doors. The grass was seen sprouting from under the blanket of dead leaves in the back yard. Birds were chirping everywhere. I even spotted one of my front yard flowers getting ready to show.

But today it is snowing again. How confusing it must be for the plants and the birds.

This was the front yard earlier this morning. In the backyard, the snowflakes were so large, that they even showed up in a still shot.

I had to let the dogs in. Bow stood with his blanket and watched the snow coming down through the window of the front door.

There will be no possibility of going outside for Bow today. The outer pen a while ago looked like this.

And it continues to snow.

Bow got this look on his face, seeing all that snow.

He sat up in the corner of the pen. He could look to the right and see the back yard where the snowflakes were swirling around in the air.

He could look to the left and see the front yard through the window of our door.

Everywhere he looked the forecast did not look good.

What can you do when the weather is like this? Bow finally decided to take a nap. He hid his face under his blanket to block out the sight of all that snow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

When Bow is Dreaming

This morning, Bow and I went outside to play. We could see the sun streaming in through the woods behind our house.

It's nice to be outside on a pleasant clear morning.

Bow did the usual things. He vocalized and displayed.

Between displays, Bow would pat me on the back in a friendly manner, just to let me know that his acts of self-assertion were in no way intended to reflect on his deference or regard for me. He was just letting the world know how he felt. Then he would invite me to join him in a game of chase. This happened several times.

But when he was done, Bow signaled that he wanted to go back inside, asked for his blanket and settle down for a nap.

While he was napping, I noticed that every once in a while Bow's toes would wriggle. Can you spot the wriggling toes in this video?

I watched the toe wriggle event happening more than a couple of times, and I wondered what Bow was dreaming.

When you spend twelve hours a day with a chimpanzee, you get to know him really well. But there are some things that Bow may never tell me. Such as why he wriggles his toes when he's asleep.

Friday, March 14, 2014

In the Swing of Things

Bow does not always use his swing to swing. Sometimes he just stands there holding onto it, to steady himself in a bipedal position.

In the picture above from yesterday, can you spot Leo in the air? It may be hard to see him through the grid, but that dog can jump! Bow is standing there, interacting with Leo, while Leo is three feet in the air, interacting with Bow at eye level. It is quite a sight to behold.

Bow has been enjoying his many outings now that the weather is a little warmer. It is not that warm, but warm enough. While Bow enjoys exercising and displaying, there are also many mellow moments.

Bow and Leo are good friends, and they interact often through the grid.

They seem to have a lot to say to each other.

But there are also the moments when they turn away from each other, each occupied by his own, solitary activity. Sometimes Bow remembers what a swing is for.

Bow can swing quite hard and fast and high when he wants to, but not when he is mellow.

When he is mellow, then the swing is like a hammock to lounge in.

Chimpanzees can live for well over forty years, and there is even one who has made it past seventy. Recently I spoke to someone who has been raising chimpanzees all her life. When I told her Bow was twelve, she remarked that this can be a rambunctious and somewhat difficult age. But, she said, if you stick it out with a chimpanzee past adolescence, they actually mellow out quite a bit! They become easier to get along with, but most people do not find this out, because they give up too soon.

Bow and I are not giving up. Our journey has just begun. Already, we have many fine, quiet moments together. It's all a matter of getting into the swing of things. When Bow needs his space to be rowdy, I let him. And when he is ready to be mellow, then I let him do that, too. This is a policy that seems to work pretty well.