Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everybody's So Jumpy Nowadays

Dear George,

I can’t remember a time when so many people were angry at the government. Sarah Palin used rifle targets to post bulls-eyes on congressman that Republicans should get rid of. Michele Bachmann encouraged her followers to be “armed and dangerous” about Obama’s global warming ideas. That’s not even mentioning the craziness by militia groups, Tea partiers, Klu Klux Klan members, homegrown jihadists, abortion clinic bombers, Florida preachers, etc.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when I went down to the Federal Building to apply for Medicare Part B. I’d never been there before. It’s a mammoth place, taking up a full city block on Main Street, with a modernistic silver eagle swooping down its side. I walked through the revolving door and immediately found myself in front of a metal barricade manned by four uniformed armed guards. One of them motioned to a bin on the table and asked me to empty my pockets. I took out everything containing metal. He pointed to my shirtpocket and asked me to take the pieces of paper out that I had there. “It’s just paper,” I said. He repeated his request and I complied. Then he asked me to put my baseball cap in the bin. I did that too.

The guard looked over my belongings. Along with the normal stuff, the contents also included a bright orange Napolean Dynamite talking keyring. I’d bought it at a yard sale to use at the fitness center. It was attached to the bar code strip that I use to check in at the front desk. While it sounds a little neurotic, I bought the largest key ring I could find so I could avoid any accidental finger-touching intimacy when I exchange it with the fitness personnel at the front desk. The security guard looked at the plastic object suspiciously. “What’s this?” he asked in a stern voice. I said it was a keyring. That may have sounded suspicious because there weren’t any keys attached to it. “It’s a Napolean Dynamite talking keyring,” I added. I immediately regretted saying something that might connote explosive ingredients. “I use it to check in at the fitness center,” I quickly added. The guard picked it up, turned it over, held it up to his ear, shook it, and looked it over again. I guess he finally believed me because he waved me forward.

I walked confidently through the metal detector, but, to my dismay, I set it off. Another guard hurried up with a wand and did a full-body scan. Not finding anything noteworthy with his wand, he asked me to pull my pants legs up to my knees. No weapons there either. The guard commented that probably my belt buckle had set the machine off. Then he asked me for my driver’s license. I showed it to him in my wallet, but he wanted it out, and I struggled to remove it from the tight-fitting leather compartment in which it was encased. It felt like it took two minutes. The guard looked at my photo, looked at me, looked at each one more time, then gestured that I could move on. I was glad to pass the inspection, though I felt some mild annoyance from being treated as a potential terrorist.

The Medicare office was on the second floor. There were two armed guards at the entrance to the room, one seated, one standing. I fantasized that if an elderly Medicare recipient tried to attack one guard, the other guard could gun him down. The seated guard asked me my purpose for being there, and I said that I’d come to apply for Medicare. He instructed me to touch box number 6 on his computer screen and take a printed number. My number was B246. I went and sat down in an empty seat in tenth row. The dozen or so clients all looked poor and oppressed, and I wondered if I looked that way too. I only had to wait about five minutes. I was relieved to see that the Social Security employee who helped me at his window wasn’t armed, though I don’t know what he might have had under his counter. I got done with my business pretty quickly. I nodded to all the armed guards on my way out. I wondered if they hated their jobs. Then I reluctantly concluded that it’s probably best that they be there. You’d have to agree, it’s definitely better than being blown to pieces.



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis S-S (4-29): Dave, When I went to apply for Medicaid they told us (those patiently waiting) that a few months prior to my visit someone had walked into a medicare office with a molotov cocktail and set it off - I don't think these things always make it into the newspapers. Best, Pss

-Jennifer M. (4-29): Quite a story. Did showing your license pass you through because your last name isn't Arabic? What kind of information was gained from that exercise? And what security is gained from all this "security?" It's craziness if you ask me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Campout at Bogue Chitto [J's Account]

First campfire, first smores

Hey Mom and Dad,

I'm gonna send a few photos of our trip to the Bogue Chitto State Park. It's a new state park 1.5 hours from New Orleans, just on the outskirts of Franklinton Louisiana which is where they hold the "worlds largest free fair". The campground was very nice for drive-in camping. I selected a site on-line right next to the bathrooms/showers. I had borrowed a 15x9 foot tent from a neighbor and once in place it was like the Taj Mahal of tents -- we could stand in it and even with three beds there was plenty of room to meander around. It was nothing like my memory of camping as a child -- and I mean that in a positive way. Space is a good thing. So the first thing I noticed upon arriving at Bogue Chitto was how slow everyone drove. The speed limit said 15 mph and most drivers, even those in big manly trucks, seemed to fall shy of this. Later that day I would find out the reason for this restraint.

Once at our campground, I got to the work of setting up our alternate world while K entertained the kids. It took about 40 minutes to unload the car, set up the massive tent, prepare the bedding and get our foodstuffs in place. We were ready for fun by around 11 a.m. Saturday morning, and our first adventure was to be a trip the "gorge trail". This was a lovely little "trail" on a wooden bridge going through a boggy swampy type terrain -- lots of cypress trees and dragonflies and spiders. The kids loved it as it was the perfect structure to run wildly on. They climbed small clay mountains, danced around screaming "Champion!", and learned how to walk on logs without falling down. We went back to the tent, tried to nap, and realized that with the light and sounds of the woods, the ritual two hour nap simply wasn't going to happen. K suggested that we take a drive to get the kids to sleep -- I agreed, we hopped in the car, and two hours later they were still wide awake with the excitement of a new environment.

Learning to balance on a log

Back at the campground K and I each drank a beer and decided that the next option would be to check out the water park where the pamphlet had promised 30 foot water spouts coming out of the ground and all kinds of gizmos the kids would love. We all hopped in the car. K placed her bottle of beer in the cup holder and I said something to the effect "Honey, please put that down, we're not in New Orleans anymore.” and she said "What do you think is going to happen out here in the woods?", to which I said, "I don't know, don't they have park rangers prowling around?" She laughed at my silliness but relented by placing the nearly empty bottle under a newspaper on the floor. I suppose you can see where this is going. About 2 minutes into our drive through the campground, a state trooper on a fricking golf cart starts driving behind us and flashing his lights for me to pull over. My fear of police has always been a major problem. The officer approached and the conversation went something like this:

Policeman: We've received a few complaints about you speeding already and I just saw you going about 25 mph in a 5mph zone

J: I'm very sorry officer. I had no idea I was going so far above the limit

P: I'd like to see your registration, license, and insurance card.

J: Yes sir (and amazingly, it was all there; the kids rummage through the car so often, I was surprised it hadn't "disappeared").

V (as the officer retreated to his car, V says repeatedly): "Why doesn't he have eyes?" He was wearing chips style sunglasses.

I start to push the beer bottle further down under the seat and K says: “Don't mess with it, he's gonna see you.”

J to K : “Stop smiling, do you think this is funny?”

K: “Calm down, it's going to be fine, no one's going to jail.”

And I realize that her window is down and he's about 4 feet away listening to this conversation

So the policeman comes back : “I'm gonna give you a warning this time. If you hit someone it's gonna be a whole different story though. You've got two kids and I know you don't want other people speeding around them.”

J: “Yessir, I take this very seriously. I won't do it again. Thank you for the warning.”

We drove off, and I felt simultaneously shaken by the interaction and vindicated that my complete paranoia had come to fruition. These kinds of thoughts occur all the time, but it’s rare for them to be realized. It’s like all the years of worry had paid off.

So we had a great time at the splash park after that, and then returned to our campground VERY SLOWLY, maybe 8 mph tops, to get ready for bed. I got a fire going and we did the whole "camping" thing -- smores, singalongs, bedtime stories, and snuggling in sleeping bags with the kids who were genuinely fascinated by these devices. V struggled to get to sleep but it was no problem, we were all so cozily ensconced.

Happy times

The next morning I awoke at 5 a.m. feeling completely frozen. Weirdly the bag I was using was hot enough that I was sweating but the sweat was then turning into ice crystals on my skin -- at least that was my impression. We all got up early and decided that the next best course of action would be to go to the well-heated McDonalds in Franklinton where cheap coffee was plenty and, to top it off, they had an indoor playground. At 6:30 a.m. in the freezing cold, this sounded like the Elysian Fields. We made it there, had a nice talk with one of the grill workers on break who told us all about the Franklinton Fair, again "the worlds largest free fair", and after this we actually headed to the fairgrounds to check it out. Believe it or not, a cop car started trailing us at this point, and it was at this moment that I realized that they run a very tight ship in small town Louisiana.

Finding treasures in the woods

So eventually we found ourselves back at the campground. The Bogue Chitto is a river that winds its way through both Louisiana and Mississippi eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. We decided to check out the beach of the Bogue Chitto State Park and we were surprised to find a huge 1/4 mile long stretch of sand decorated with rented beach chairs and umbrellas. And it was totally empty. An abandoned Riviera in the deepest part of Louisiana. Amazing. I imparted some wisdom to the kids regarding stone skipping, but frankly they didn't seem very impressed. L gave it a go and V seemed more interested in eating sand. The last time we were at a beach V was about 9 months old and when she ate sand then, we thought she'll definitely outgrow this yen. Apparently we were oh so wrong as you can tell by this very disturbing photo.

Help me – I can’t stop eating sand

After this adventure, we slowly crawled over to the water park again where the kids had a great time and then realized that the it was time to go home. My reputation was intact, I hadn't been jailed, the kids had had a great time, and we were going home. It was a total success.



Wandering down to the gorge at Bogue Chitto

King of the hill


Fun at the Splash Park

Race around the pool

Ooh that’s chilly

Skipping rocks on the Bogue Chitto

G-Mail Comments

-Ami G (4-24): Dear David: Thanks for sending J***'s story to us. You and he are amazing story tellers via e-mail, as well as great photographers. I'm so glad that J*** got out of there alive! Much love. Ami

-Vicki L (4-24): Hi David, Great letter from J*** - what a couple of gems (both parents and kids). Happy Easter. Sis

-Jennifer M (4-23): Great pics and a fun story. Thanks to J for sharing!

-Donna D (4-23): Thanks so much for sending this to me David. I loved it!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Dear George,

Finances have always given me the jitters, so fortunately Katja has offered to take care of our taxes over the years. When we first came to Cincinnati, she got the name of the city’s most prestigious law firm and decided we would give our business to them. I think their clientele is mostly CEO’s and top-level executives from Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and First National Bank, along with us. She got assigned to a young lawyer named Teddy N., and they’ve developed a firm friendship after decades of annual get-togethers. This year Katja was pleased because she’d gotten all the requisite forms and documents prepared well in advance, putting them all together in a box of papers in our foyer. Needless to say, when she went to get them last week and found them missing from the box, she went into a tizzy.

We ransacked the house for two straight days. We’ve never had an actual filing system, preferring to stack papers randomly in large colored boxes with lids. We went through all the boxes we could find in every room and closet in the house, sorting through tax returns and bank statements from the 1990’s, old pictures by our son J from grade school, out-of-date pizza coupons, etc. Katja went through each box first, and then I did them all over again. Then we looked in the kitchen drawers and cabinets, the pantry, the bed linen cupboard, the box of dog toys, the silverware drawer, the floor of the elevator, behind the TV, the bureau dresser, underneath the bed, in the liquor cabinet, the book shelves, and every other place we could think of. Katja searched the car, and I did too. I went through the trashmasher and the recycling bin and did find some valuable possessions to rescue, but not the tax forms. We didn’t bother to check our over-flowing basement or attic, because only deranged people would put valuable documents there. Katja went through every square inch of her office at work. Then we went through all the boxes in the house again. I entertained the possibility that one or another of the workers who had had access to our house in recent weeks had stolen the tax papers as part of an identity theft plot. At first this idea seemed a little paranoid, but it became more and more plausible as time went on.

Even though we were lacking most of the necessary materials, we kept our appointment with Teddy at his law firm on Thursday, Apr. 14. A jovial and personable fellow, Teddy seemed unflappable. I guess he’d seen it before. He said we’d need to request an extension, and he generated a list of tax forms that we’d need to obtain in the process. Then we talked for a while about Teddy’s daughter’s llama farm, Katja’s post-retirement ideas about traveling around the world to attend all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and my recent camping adventures. Teddy said he disliked camping, having last done so in a rainstorm at age sixteen. Katja wasn’t that enthusiastic either. Afterward we stopped at our bank where it took half an hour to get a statement documenting that we’d earned $9.84 in interest in the year 2010. I then spent an hour on the phone with customer service representatives from two financial organizations figuring out how to get K-9 forms online to document dividends earned from investments. I felt a brief moment of triumph when I succeeded in doing so. However, we still lacked a K-9 form from the institution which manages my retirement funds, and, because they would only make it available by snail mail, our efforts seemed doomed.

Sunday morning Katja made bacon and eggs, and I took the dogs out for a short walk. When I came back Katja said in a half-excited, half-morose tone of voice, “Guess what… I found the forms.” They’d been in a paper bag in the first-floor closet which contains our clothes washer and dryer. The moment she found them, Katja remembered having put them there for safekeeping. She’d actually searched that closet, but she had concentrated on digging behind the coats and piles of boxes on the floor and hadn’t noticed the innocuous bag sitting right out front. I hadn’t even thought of looking in the washer/dryer closet. We had mixed reactions. It was good to know that we hadn’t thrown out or shredded the tax materials and even better that they hadn’t been stolen by identity thieves. But it was depressing to realize that we might have filed our taxes on time if we’d found the documents two days earlier. I went to my office and faxed the missing materials to Teddy, along with a polite message hinting that we wouldn’t be upset if he decided we could actually file our taxes by Monday’s deadline. Teddy e-mailed me back on Monday morning and said it was too late; he’d already filed for an extension. It wasn’t the end of the world. Katja and I sat down and ate some rhubarb pie. We agreed we would start getting organized better for our 2011 taxes in the near future. And, who knows, maybe we will.



G-Mail Comments

-Vicki L (4-24): Hi David, What an ordeal. While I think most everyone in the world gets upset around tax time (your Uncle Sam picture explains this I think - he's a very unique projective surface) - I think it's too bad brother Peter isn't around to reassure you about the 'ways of the world'. As far as I know, there's no complication/consequence whatsoever in filing for an extension (so long as you do it on time) - except that tax matters stay on one's 'to do list' beyond April 15th. Anyway, glad you got them in… Happy Easter, Sis

-Jennifer M (4-19): Oh my goodness, I didn't see this ending coming. Glad you found the documents?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Winton Woods

Dear George,

Mike and Duffy and I are just back from an overnight camping trip, our first of the year. We went to Winton Woods, one of the two Hamilton County parks that we frequent. It’s a 2,554 acre park located in Cincinnati’s northern suburbs, close enough that it’s a short trip from home, but with sufficient forests and water that you can pretend you’re in northern Wisconsin. The campground is set in a large grove of sixty-foot northern pines, right along Winton Lake. Uncrowded on a mid-April weekday, we got our first choice of campsites (#49) on a hill right at the lake’s edge. We were serenaded by honking Canadian Geese night and day. The weather was in the mid-60’s by day, low forties by night (chilly for the human, just fine for two furry dogs). We took several hikes on the lengthy loop trail that encircles the lake. Here are some pictures of our campground and campsite, Winton Lake, and dog campers. After being cooped up during a long winter, it felt good to be out in the woods again.



G-Mail Comments

-Donna D (4-15): david, you make camping look absolutely wonderful!! donna

-Phyllis S-S (4-15): Dave, So glad you got to go camping. Phyllis

-Jennifer M (4-15): This is the best site! Glad you had a good trip.

Monday, April 11, 2011

World of Wonders

Dear George,

We recently went to the Art Museum to see the current exhibition on circus posters from the Strobridge Lithographing Company. It was wonderful. I can’t recall a more enjoyable art outing in a long time. Cincinnati, it turns out, was one of the largest commercial printing centers in the country in the early twentieth century, next to only New York and Boston, and Strobridge was the world’s greatest producer of circus posters. The artwork was created from hand-drawn images on blue Bavarian limestone, which was then etched with ink and water to produce glorious colored pictures. The Strobridge plant, located on Canal St. (now Central Parkway) in Over-the-Rhine operated from 1847 to 1960. It burned down in 1887, but albums of poster samples were kept in the company’s New York office and were donated to the Art Museum’s library 35 years ago. The current exhibit of 80 posters from 1879 to 1938 was put together from over 700 posters owned by the museum, plus contributions from the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota and a private collector. The exhibit gives a rich and interesting account of the history of the American circus, from P.T. Barnum’s 19th century galas to the early years of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey in the 1930’s. The circus was the most important form of mass media entertainment throughout this period. They were much bigger than contemporary circuses, more like a Worlds’ Fair exposition with mile-long trains and multiple tents and kinds of exhibits. Here’s a sample of the posters that we saw.

Barnum acquired Jumbo from the London Zoological Society in 1882 for the hefty sum of $10,000, and the big guy was a major attraction. When we next order a Jumbo sundae at the ice cream parlor, now we’ll know where the word came from.

Jumbo was tragically killed by a train in 1885, but Barnum, ever the astute showman, continued his legacy by exhibiting his skeleton.

Gargantua is one of my favorite posters. He was the lead attraction of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus from 1938 to 1949. Billed as weighing 525 pounds and possessing the strength of 27 men, his popularity drew in part upon the blockbuster movie King Kong from 1933.

Circuses traveled the country during an era when zoos were far less common, and they offered many Americans their sole exposure to wild and exotic species. I think the tiger poster is thrilling – scary, on the one hand; handsome and majestic, on the other.

Rose Matilda Richter, professionally named Zazel, began her circus career at age 4. She was shot from a cannon over a distance of 97 feet, truly a “death-defying” act. For risking her life, Zazel was paid the sizeable salary of $300 a week.

Bicycles and automobiles were incorporated into stunts to heighten their suspense and excitement. Women drove the autos in the “Thrilling Dip of Death.”

The first circus trapeze act was performed in 1859, before anyone foresaw that it would become the focal point of the three-ring circus. In 1906 Ernest Clark became the first circus performer to do the triple somersault. It’s said he did quadruple somersaults in practice.

The “freak show” featured people with physical or mental anomalies and people from foreign cultures: giants, dwarfs, individuals lacking arms or legs, extremely heavy or thin people, conjoined twins, sword swallowers, Hindus, etc. Millie Christine actually did have a single body and spinal column along with her four arms, four legs, and two heads.

Nearly all the circus performers before the 1890’s were men, but women had become much more frequent in the center ring by the turn of the century. Miss Katie Sandwina was 6 feet 1 inches tall and “the strongest woman that ever lived”.

Circuses offered new technology among their many wonders. Ads for the steam air ship promised airborne flights, but, in fact, the ship merely flapped its wings and sat on the ground.

The circuses made great use of spectacles, usually incorporating a ballet, a march, and one or more battle scenes. Many performances were ended by a chariot race around the tent’s Hippodrome track. This poster is from 1916.

Here is another of my favorites – a young girl’s dreams filled with wonderful memories of the circus. Barnum and Bailey used this poster on their European tour from 1897 to 1902.

I’ve gone to see the circus posters twice and plan to go again. It brings to life the amazing wonders of one’s childhood. If anybody’s near Cincinnati, we encourage them to take in this super-duper show (which runs till July 20, then moves on to Sarasota, FL).



Sources: Cincy Art Museum website; Google Images

G-Mail Comments

-Gayle C-L (4-11): Amazing Facts......very cool....)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bargain Lovers

Dear George,

Sometimes new acquaintances ask Katja and I about our secret for staying married for fifty years. At first glance, we seem like such opposites. Katja’s from a big city in the East; I’m from a small U.P. town. I like college basketball; she adores opera. She’s outgoing and emotional; I’m quiet and inhibited. My favorite vacation is camping in the wilderness; Katja dreams of fine hotels on the Riviera. Et cetera, et cetera. These, however, are mere surface differences. On the deepest things that really matter, we are like peas in a pod. The clearest example is our mutual attitude toward shopping and buying things.

In my case, I was excited to learn that a new St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop had opened in Western Hills. I do most of my clothing and bric-a-brac purchases at our neighborhood St. Vincent’s, so this doubled my thrift store opportunities. Before I went to the new store, I made up a list of items that I needed. Figuring that winter articles would be on sale, I decided to get a pair of warm gloves. Because I’ve bought my gym shorts at thrift shops, they are nearly always out of style, compared to the baggy knee-length versions that are in vogue. So I added knee-length shorts to my list. I needed a Santa Claus advertisement from a December 2010 magazine for one of my collectible projects. And I wanted a sturdy bag to hold tent stakes since my current stake bag had developed a hole in the bottom.

The new St. Vincent de Paul store was big with wide aisles and rows of colorful, inviting merchandise. In a matter of seconds I found a 50% off bin with winter hats, scarves, and gloves, and I picked out a handsome pair of bright blue gloves for only a dollar. They had a rack of used magazines for a quarter apiece, and I quickly found a December 2010 issue of Cosmopolitan which featured a Santa Claus ad. They didn’t have a lot of workout shorts, but there was one fluorescent violet pair in my size which were nearly knee-length. Then I found a zippered multi-colored cloth bag that was the perfect length for tent stakes. I couldn’t believe it. I had found everything on my list in less than ten minutes. There’s no way that you could have done that at Target or Wal-Mart. Then, to top it off, I found a line dancing instructional video for a dollar to add to my burgeoning collection. This entire cart full of treasures came to only $5.79. I figure I had saved at least $60 off the original list prices. I practically line danced out of the store.

Katja was pleased when I told her the story of my amazing success. While I was out shopping, she had gone downtown to Saks Fifth Avenue. Katja refers to the Saks’ saleswomen as her friends, and, though I keep insisting that they are not her friends, she always replies that they are. She does, of course, have more firsthand information than I do. Anyway, one of her best friends in the shoe department named Drue was helping her and a second customer. Katja started chatting with the other person and soon learned that she had been the co-owner of Smythe-Gladwin, which, before it closed, was Cincinnati’s most fashionable downtown women’s clothing store. Katja had loved that store and was thrilled to meet the owner. Drue showed both women the latest in women’s shoe styles. She advised Katja and Mrs. Smythe-Gladwin that they should discontinue the dowdy low-heel flats that they were wearing. The current “in” styles all had 5” to 6” heels. Mrs. Smythe-Gladwin looked them over and picked out a brown pair for $750. Katja thought they were very beautiful and picked out a pair for herself. She explained to me that the shoes were very well-constructed, so that, even though you had to stand tip-toe on the balls of your feet, the shoes provided full support.

I’m ashamed to admit that I lapsed into a temporary psychotic episode at that point. Katja had broken her right arm in a fall last Autumn, then jammed her left shoulder when she tripped in a parking lot a month or two ago. She’d also tripped a couple of other times in recent years, and each time we had speculated that her impractically designed women’s shoes were the cause of the accident. “You can’t go walking around in five-inch heels!” I exclaimed. Katja bit her lip and looked very sad, but finally she decided to agree with me. She said would return the shoes to Saks. She did show the shoes to me. They were made by Prada, and even I could see that they were top of the line. I knew returning them would not be an easy matter emotionally.

Katja, to her credit, did follow through. She took the shoes back the very next day. When she came home she said she’d picked up a present for me at Saks. She’d bought a very fancy silk dress shirt and striped tie, noting that this was what the business executives were currently wearing on Fourth Street. Still in my thrift shop state of mind, I thanked her very much, but added that, since I almost never wear fancy silk dress shirts and ties now that I’ve retired, this would definitely complete my wardrobe and I wouldn’t need any more silk shirts in the future. Katja said, “Mmm hmm.” Then she said she’d found something for herself too. She opened a small box and showed me a new ring. It was gold and was divided into four quadrants, each filled with diamonds. It was very attractive and tasteful, even more aesthetically pleasing than the Prada shoes, if that’s possible. Katja asked me to guess how much it cost. I offered the highest figure I could conceivably think of – less than a month-long trip to Asia or New Zealand, but not by much. Katja was amazed that I was so remarkably accurate. Then she explained that she had saved a small fortune because the ring was on sale for half price and she had a coupon for a couple hundred dollars more. I gulped, nodded, and agreed that that was totally amazing.

So now the reader can probably see the foundation of our marital compatibility. Even though Katja and I like to shop at different places, we are both driven by a common desire to seek good bargains. Katja, of course, saved a great deal more money than I did. But I got my record-breaking discount of over 90% at the thrift store, no small matter. We both wound up feeling pleased with our purchases and with one another. And that’s the secret of how to stay married for half a century.



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis S-S (4-12): Dave… Loved the blog about your and Katja's spending habits.

Best, Phyllis

-Jennifer M (4-3): :-)

-Donna D (4-7): beautiful reframing! i love it! donna

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yin and Yang

Akilah, Tessa, and Kimba at the Cincinnati Zoo (Feb. 2009)

Dear George,

We had a tragic event at the Zoo last November. One of their three Massai giraffes, a 12-foot-tall three-year-old female named Akilah, had gotten her horns caught in some netting designed to protect young trees in their enclosure. Apparently the stress of the event caused Akilah’s heart to fail, and she was found dead shortly afterwards in a sitting position. Akilah was the most popular of the three giraffes, the first to run forward to the children at daily feeding times. Moreover, her death came less than a month after a baby Rhino died at the zoo shortly after its birth. Our zoo is a major local institution, drawing well over a million visitors each year, and the losses were mourned in the community at large.

Then, quite remarkably, the two remaining giraffes, 4-year-old Tessa and 3-year-old Kimba, produced a new six-foot-tall baby yesterday morning just in time for spring. The calf was born at 9:40 a.m., started trying to stand at 10:00, and successfully nursed at 11:10. It was the first giraffe birth at our zoo in 26 years. Mother and daughter are both doing well. Because they’re being given a high level of privacy during this bonding period, staff still don’t know the sex of the baby. Zoo director Thayne Maynard said, “It’s been a long time, but well worth the wait. Just when you think you have seen it all, something truly amazing like this comes along (and) reminds me how special nature truly is.” Amen.



P.S. Here are some first day photos of Tessa and her yet to be named baby.

Tessa, Kimba, & Baby (Apr. 2, 2011)

[Sources:,,, Google Images]

G-Mail Comments

-Gayle C (4-3): Very cool. What a story :))). LOL