Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Things Are Now

During the week that I was away, the purple milkweed, along with the butterflies that used to frequent it, entirely disappeared. On the other hand, the common milkweed is blooming, albeit half-heartedly.

The common milkweed is pushed up against the fence by competing poison ivy plants, so it is not thriving
There are no butterflies or bumblebees attracted to the blossoms, but I did see a couple of Japanese beetles who found the leaves inviting.

Japanese Beetles on the Common Milkweed

They seemed to make the leaf they were on bounce up and down.

The tall phlox is  just now starting to bloom.

Tall Phlox in Bloom 

A ladybug I saw seemed very attracted by some of the unopened blossoms.

A Ladybug on the Tall Phlox

It struggled against the high wind to climb up to that spot.

The blooming phlox always reminds my of my children's book, In Case There's a Fox.

Summer is in full swing and the grasshoppers are out.

The tree by the outer fence line that sports "service berries as big as cherries" has some ripening fruit on it now, turning a bright red color.

I suspect that these are neither service berries nor cherries, but I don't know what they actually are.

Some of my friends on Facebook think it is a jujube tree, but according to the Wikipedia, the distribution of jujube does not extend to the continental United States.

What do you think this fruit is? Leave a comment below.
Meanwhile, Bow continues to take an interest in YouTube music videos.

Watching Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance", Bow did not dance. He sat perfectly still and watched respectfully. He could tell this was family friendly material, so he was not excited, but happy and calm as he watched. He likes images of babies and young girls, and he responds very differently to them than to Lady Gaga, who clearly excites him.

Lawrence told me that while I was away, he kept trying to entice Bow to use his own computer, but Bow was only interested in what Lawrence was doing on Lawrence's computer. Finally, after a few days of Bow asking to use Lawrence's computer whenever Lawrence was using it, Lawrence realized that if he used Bow's computer instead of his own, then Bow would ask to use his computer.

Bow watched a lot of music videos. He preferred Lady Gaga to The Music Man. But he also was interested in reading Lawrence's email. He wants to do what he sees us doing.

Bow does not want to have a special computer just for chimpanzees. He wants to use the sort of computer all of us use. This is one of the reasons he has been resisting. I think this calls for a new strategy on my part. Maybe I should try to use the touchscreen more often myself.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bird Update

I spoke too hastily about the bird. Bow can see things that I cannot see, so whereas I believed the bird had flown off, I think he knew all along that it had merely hidden. So when he went back outside later this morning, the bird was still there, and he knew exactly where it was, and caught it again, and was rough with it. He did release it to me once more when I asked him to, and I took it immediately into the house to save it from Bow. Because, let's face it, Bow is not kind to smaller animals.

In the house, the bird got to feeling more secure, so it got away from me before I could release it, but I could see that one wing was injured and it could not fly.

I eventually cornered it in the bathroom and released it in the front yard.

I know that its chances of surviving out there with an injured wing are not wonderful, but it has a  better chance out there than in the house. It does seem to be healthy otherwise, and the problem may mend itself, given a little time. There is plenty of food on the ground for a small bird to eat out there, so it is just a question of avoiding predators.

As for Bow, he is quite blasé about the whole thing. Napping again.

A Bird in the Hand

So it's back to our normal routine.

Bow takes my pinkie and he spells out what he wants.

What he wants is often predictable, like asking for his blanket.

He wants his blanket so he can take a nap. No major headlines here. Just routine.

At other times, we go outside, where very unexpected things can happen. For instance, this morning there was a tiny bird inside the outer pen. I do not know how it managed to get in there.

Bow interacting with the bird
Bow just wanted to shoo it away. He does not like having intruders. But when the bird would not leave, he became determined to catch it. And catch it he did.

I'm sorry. I didn't get any pictures of that part. I was just too worried about the bird. Bow had it held, scrunched up in the palm of his hand, and the little bird's chest was heaving so fast, I was afraid it was going to have a heart attack.

"Bow, let Mommy have the bird," I told him.

Reluctantly, he handed it to me. I was afraid it might have been injured, but I think it was just so frightened that it remained in my hand without putting up a fight. I  released it into an area that is between the outer pen and the inner pen, and eventually it flew out somehow. It was a tiny bird, and I think that it could actually squeeze through the grid holes.

I later told Bow thank you for letting me save the bird, because I did not want it to die,  and he spelled "That's good,"    זה טוב.

I don't think Bow wanted the bird to die, either, He just did not want it flying in his space. Now he is peacefully napping again.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Visit to Grandma without Bow

My mother and Sword in my mother's house -- Sword's sixth birthday
I had not been for a visit to my mother's house in almost ten years, until this past week.

Bow and I watch Sword blow out the cansles
 The last time we were there, all of us, Sword had just turned six, and Bow was a little over three.

Bow remembers everything, and when I took out the album this morning, he insisted on looking at all the old photos himself.

My mother's house is full of beautiful objects, and you can imagine what a job it was to keep a three year old chimpanzee from touching anything, lest he break it.

However, I can truthfully aver that Bow did not touch anything he was not allowed to touch. At the table, he sat in his own high chair. At other times, he and I sat quietly in the corner, while Sword opened her presents. Bow was better behaved than most three year old human boys these days. He did not touch anything, and he broke nothing. Today, we are often told we have to make allowances for small children who have not been told how to behave around breakables. No allowances were made for Bow, and none were required. He was good.

He is still good. He can be trusted with a photo album, and when he is done with it, it is in the same condition as he received it. But he is too big for me to feel safe traveling with him, not so much  because of what he would do, but because I do not trust the behavior of other humans we might meet on the road. Every allowance has to be made for humans who have not been taught to behave well, and no allowance can be made for chimpanzees. So when I went to visit my mother this time, Bow stayed home.

This time, when Sword and I went for a five day visit, Bow had  Lawrence with him during our absence. My mother's house is like a museum. Above you can see one of my most ambitious paintings. I have not mastered perspective, so it is very flat. But the people are recognizable, because I like to do faces. If you know one of the people in the painting, chances are you can tell who it is, even though the features are somewhat distorted.

Detail: Walter Spitz

For instance, the figure dressed in the dull green shirt in this detail from the painting is Walter Spitz. He is no longer alive, but we went to grad school together. I worked on this painting at the same time as I worked on my dissertation.

Charcoal sketches by Yakov Minkowitz

Another artist whose works are enshrined in my mother's house is my late uncle, Yakov Minkowitz, who fell in battle during the Six Day War.

Self portrait by Yakov Miknowitz

This is my uncle's self portrait. His charcoal sketches are behind glass. which is why I was not able to take better photos of them.

This is a Chagall print that my mother owns. You can see Chagall's signature in Hebrew in the right bottom corner. Right above the Chagall, my mother has hung a reproduction of my painting of the Mount Carmel Massacre.

My mother is a talented painter in her own right. In fact, she has a lot more talent than I do.

This is a still life in water color that my mother did of an onion.  I think it's spectacular!

Photos of her children and grandchildren line one wall of my mother's living room. Over the mantel, there are photos of departed family members.

There is one section dedicated to the memory of my Uncle Yakov.

The memorial to my uncle spills over to the left side of the fireplace mantel as well.

In the middle of the mantel, there is a portrait of my mother's parents.

Further to the right is a portrait of my father.

On the far right, you can see a portrait of my paternal grandfather, Benzion Katz, who was the rector of the University of Tel Aviv at the time of his death.

My mother has a large collection of frog figurines. Above you can see some of them, along with a painting of hers of anemones and/or poppies. My mother loves red flowers.

Above you can see the delicate blossom that she grew from a plant found  at her brother's grave site,

Even though my mother lives in a condominium in an urban area, the number of different plants that grow in her small garden plot is astounding.

She has multicolored impatiens, and a beautiful flowering double hibiscus.

Locquat trees in her garden  stretch out high to try to catch the sun.

Her pomegranate tree is flowering.

There are fig trees bearing figs.

There is even a small palm tree!

Elephant garlic grows there.

Between other, bigger flowers, I even spotted a tiny, delicate wild strawberry.

My mother's garden has plants so unusual, I do not know their name.

This tall plant above grew in the yard of one of her former friends in Israel.

Every plant has a story behind it about how it was acquired, even if my mother does not know its name.

 And sometimes the names are deceiving. There are bluebells which aren't really blue.

There are petunias that remind me of morning glories.

But there are actual morning glories, too, which bloom only in the morning.

There are even ripe raspberries. Some of them have been picked and eaten.

I can't possibly post all the photos I took of my mother's garden, but you can take a quick tour via this low res video.

Overseeing all this growth in my mother's garden, there is a very small chipmunk who takes it upon himself to prune the trees and eat some of the fruit and flowers.

The chipmunk was very shy when I tried to get a snapshot, but you can catch a brief glimpse of him here, when distracted by the ringing phone, he scurried away.

There are also quite a lot of deer and rabbits in Bloomington, despite it being a big city, by my standards, anyway. We were on a city bus when we saw a deer placidly grazing on somebody's lawn.

My mother has very nice neighbors, and while I was there she had a beautiful flower arrangement on her coffee table that had been given to her by some of her neighbors.

Sword and I attended two musical productions while in Bloomington: Acis and Galatea and Hairspray.  Bow's uncle got us the tickets for Hairspray, which was very well produced.

My mother also has a large framed portrait of Bow on display in her house

We had a great time in Bloomington, but of course I missed Bow, and I phoned and spoke to him while we were away. Lawrence told me that the first few days, Bow enjoyed the special time they had together, but that as the time wore on, Bow began to be more anxious for me to return. Bow was kept apprised of my itinerary and knew when I was expected home.

When I returned, he first examined my new clothes, and then he gave me a big hug and a kiss! And now things are back to normal.