Nyala sparring

Nyala

Nyala are beautiful antelope found in South Africa. Their light striping of white, long black hair underneath, different colored legs, white hairs all the way down their back… They strike quite an image in the African bush.

The males strut with all their hairs raised, eyes locked, sizing each other up. It’s all stance and dance, and then they slowly walk off. I don’t know how they decide who the winner is.

These two bulls skipped that. They just locked horns right away, pushing each other around, dust around their ankles… The antelope and baboons, and warthogs at the waterhole didn’t much care about this sparring match. One we did as we sat in bird blind watching all the action.

This was in Marakele National Park in South Africa (it’s part of SAN Parks) during the end of the dry season. The rains were just a few days away and you could tell they were needed. The small waterhole that the blind¬† is over attracted a plethora of animals during the afternoons.

I don’t feel that Nyala are as famous as they should be…

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Crushed 4Runner

I’m a car guy. I love my vehicles. Drive the shit out of them.¬†Name them. Get way too attached to them.

My daughter, Zoe is the same. When this happened to her little Otis, she was (still is) devastated.

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It was crushed by a tree in the PNW. Her and her friends happened to be standing outside of it when a tree snapped, fell, scattered them, and pounded the top of the Runner. They are all okay. Zoe was the only one that got hit by the tree, but she walked away with just a slight headache.

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We love this little truck. It’s rust free, (was) pretty straight, and very reliable. Now we hae to make the decision to restore it or total it. Right now we’re looking for a donor roof, then we’ll decide. The A-pillars, fiberglass top, and doors survived. The roof is toast though.

She has some decisions to make, and then some work to do…

 

Giant Kingfisher in the Kruger

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I completely missed this shot. My camera and I weren’t getting along with bird shots where the bird was sitting on a branch against an overcast sky. Because of this shot and a couple of others, I have taken the camera wherever I go and have really pushed it to avoid missing one the best I can…

I rescued the shot the best I could in AfterShot Pro 3.

These birds look really cool with their speckled wings. This one was sitting next to a bridge in the Kruger National Park, looking for fish to snag in the water.

Three cats… in the cabin?!?!?!?

Yes. Three cats in the cabin from Seattle to New York, each in their own soft sided bag. Crying babies on a flight? Ha! Imagine three cats, who had already been at the airport for hours, taken out of their bags for a TSA inspection of their carriers, dragged around SEA-TAC, and then forced to wait at the gate…

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We booked the flight from Seattle to New York with Delta. They allowed the cats in the cabin as long as we had one person per cat. My in-laws were flying with us, so I took Toby, Natasha had Oliver, and Ella flew with Natasha’s mom.

And… It wasn’t so bad. Ella travels well because she just closes her eyes…. No meow, no crying, just curls up. Toby was quiet as long as he was on my lap or he could see me. If I slid him down by my feet, he’d start meowing. Oliver though! He yowled and cried and cried. We kept hoping his voice would give out. It didn’t. He’s a mommy’s boy, and anytime Natasha looked at him, he just increased the volume.

Ella!

We spent the flight with Toby on my lap sleeping calmly, Ella on Natasha’s lap, Oliver on the floor with a jacket draped across Natasha’s legs to block his view. And nobody on the flight seemed bugged by them (even at his loudest volume, Oliver was no match for the noises inside the plane).

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They did pretty well on whole trip over all. Landing in New York, waiting for bags, and getting an Uber to the Air BnB… They had been in the soft bags for hours. But when they got out, they weren’t stressed at all.

Part of that is because we prepared them for this trip in the months before we left. If you have to travel with your pets in crates, either on the ground or by air, here are some things that worked for us:

  • Find out what kind of crate you have to have for them and buy them at least a couple of months in advance; for us, we had the hard crates for flying in cargo to go international and the soft bags for the domestic trip.
  • Assemble the crates and leave them with their doors open in house wherever you spend the most time with the pets. We left them in the living room that the family spent the most time in.
  • After a few days, all three cats started going into them on their own. Sometimes I would close the door behind them and leave them in for a bit. Then I’d let them out while praising them of course. It made the crates something safe.
  • Taking them on short trips and then start extending the time. We did this: load them up, go to coffee or something, return home. Next time, we went more than half an hour, and then back. We’d get home, let them out of the crates, but we always left the crates in the living room.

Every trip Oliver screamed, Ella hid her face in the back of the crate, and Toby alternated between screaming and sitting quietly. They never fought us putting them in the crates though. You’d have to push a little, but there wasn’t any freakouts.

When it came to New York, they settled into the Air BnB like nothing had ever happened. They explored the apartment, and quickly settled and had a decent time for the three days that we stayed there.

Next: To Johannesburg! And the how we went about exporting/importing them…

Our three cats!

The next few posts are going to be about our cats and moving them halfway across the world. They went from Seattle to New York (in the cabin), stayed in NYC for a few days, then flew to Johannesburg, South Africa in cargo. In cargo!

But, before we get the story of their flights and how went about the permits and tickets, let me briefly introduce the three purr monsters.

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Ladies first, of course! This is Ella. AKA Miss Ella, Ella Bo Bella:

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She is a rescue kitty. Natasha (before me met) already had Oliver. Her vet recommended that she get another cat so that they could keep each other company. She was a teacher at the time and the vet worried that, as a house cat, Oliver would become difficult and potentially mean if he was left alone for long periods of time.

Little Ella had a skin condition; she wasn’t allowed to be adopted until it cleared up so she was already 6months old when Natasha adopted her.

She is our cat of routines. Every morning she screams and cries until I get out of bed. She starts early, around 5am. The second I am out, she curls up next to Natasha and sleeps in the crook of her arm. If I don’t get up, she pouts.

At night, she does the opposite. Anywhere from 9 to 10pm she looks for me and screams for me to go to bed. I have to lie flat on my back and she curls up on my chest and purrs for about half an hour before she is satisfied.

She has a whole bunch of quirks like this. She is a cat of rituals.

Mr. Oliver the love muffin:

Oliver was found in a box in a field; he was with all his siblings. The family that found them got them ready to adopt and put an ad on Craigslist. When Natasha got there he was the only one left!

This cat loves nothing more than kisses and attention. He will sit in my lap for hours while I work on the computer, only to get up and curl up with Natasha wherever she is. If you want a cat to pet, just call Oliver and he will come running…

Yes, he is a polydactyl cat. It looks like he has mittens on. He uses his “thumb” to grip toys, pick up things, and he drinks his water out of his paw.

He is honestly the sweetest cat.

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Toby the striped menace:

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And this little shit is my cat. He was given to me when he was a kitten. We moved him from Alamosa, CO to Seattle, WA to be with Natasha and her cats.

He is always an arm length away, just close to enough to be with you but not quite close enough to pet. He runs around the house caterwauling, hides in things, knocks things over, gets into things, and generally raises hell. Unless he’s napping, which he does a lot.

Yes, they get along!

We get asked sometimes. They are best friends. Sure, there is an occasional fight (never anything serious though). Ella grooms the boys (too much actually, which is what causes the fights), Toby and Oliver roughhouse all the time, and they always seem to be in the same room. You can often find them curled up on a chair or sofa together. They sleep side-by-side-by side at the foot of the bed; and when they’re scared, they hide under the bed with each other.

Up next: What we had to do to take them out of the country.

Shooting patterns

If you’re a beginner, or intermediate. at photography and you want to practice and enhance your skills… One of the most fun things you can do is look for and take pictures of patterns.

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I walk around the house and in the yard just looking for repetitive patterns to shoot; trying to fill up the whole frame with them.

Note: I am using a Canon Rebel SL1 (not the sexiest piece of gear in the world). I shoot mostly in Av (Aperture Priority) or TV (Shutter Priority) mode. I let the camera pick the ISO and the shutter or aperture to get the exposure right (hopefully).

In the above pic, that plant was shot on a partly cloudy day: Focal Length 37mm ISO 160, Shutter Speed 1/50sec., Aperture f/5.6.

This photo is my spare tire that I rendered B&W in AfterShot Pro. Focal Length 42mm, ISO 320, Shutter Speed 1/80sec., Aperture f/5:

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This one is an AC unit up on a wall; that is why the point of view is the way it is. This photo looks really cool in B&W actually. Focal Length 50mm, ISO 320, Shutter Speed 1/60 sec., Aperature f/5.6:

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My favorite of the patterns I’ve shot in the last few days is this one of a plant growing out of the side of a brick retaining wall. Focal Length 50mm, Shutter Speed 1/80sec., Aperture f/7.1: Pattern4

Go out, practice! If you don’t think there is anything out there you want to shoot, look for patterns to take photos of.