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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Don and I have this lovely large backyard (lovely, in terms of size, I mean) but no time to do what we want with it.  We've had a couple of false starts with some nice plants, but watering regularly isn't something either of us has time for.  We only sporadically keep up with the front yard.  What Don dreams of for back there is creating raised beds for herbs and veggies, with maybe some space still left over for an English garden.  Let's just say we are currently reserving it for that.  And in the meantime we treasure it as a blank slate-- a birdland, punctuated by gophers.....oh yeah, and most recently, it seems to have produced a couple of bicolored (cap & mantle) Fairy cats; Tinkerbell, and her kitten, Pixy.


Mommy and Kitten



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Don and I went to Lakeside to visit my Dad, Stewart, and Step Mom, Julie (and her Dad, Tom) this weekend.  Dad's birthday is Monday, so we wanted to celebrate.  We landed at their doorstep at 7:30 a.m. and all headed to Perry's for breakfast.  We then went back to their house where we sat on the front porch to chat and watch their new puppies play.  These are red Poodles.  The larger one with the trimmed facial fur is a girl who goes by the name of Sparkle--although I believe her real name is Sparkler. The smaller bundle of fur is "Dazzler", but he prefers, "Dazzle".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific

 I just love the leafy sea dragons at the Aquarium of the Pacific.  Don and I actually went to photograph the new Penguin exhibit, but of all the photographs I took this morning, I had the most fun with the sea dragons. After returning to Don who was taking a break in the food area, and telling him how exciting they were with their pretty eyes and their grace, I decided to take Don up on his suggestion that I use his camera and video them also.  So here are a few of my videos of them.

Don got really great videos.  Here's a few of his Penguins: 

And I can't leave without sharing Don's really cute videos of a seal:

There's more but I'm not even sure these will all fit so I'd better stop for now.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Carolina Turtledoves or Carolina Pigeons

(Scientific Classification: Kingdom-Animalia; Phylum-Chordata; Class-Aves; Order-Columbiformes; Family-Columbidae; Genus-Zenaida; Species-z. macroura.)

Okay, okay, probably only Carolinians still call these birds either of those names in the title.  Most folks refer to them as Mourning Doves because of that cool call of theirs that someone with the clout to bestow names, thought sounded mournful.  For the longest time I thought the name was “Morning Dove” which seemed happy enough.  Not so with “Mourning”.   But perhaps it’s name was what granted me my sighting of these fine feathered creatures at the Fullerton Arboretum, as a foretelling of the news I would get the next day of my Uncle Harry’s passing the previous day (of my sighting). 
Other sobriquets for the Mourning Dove are Western Turtledove, American Mourning Dove, Common Wild Dove, and Rain Dove. (
There are five subspecies of Mourning Dove:
  • Eastern Z. m. carolinensis (Linnaeus, 1766)
  • Clarion Island Z. m. clarionensis (C.H.Townsend, 1890)
  • West Indian Z. m. macroura (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Western Z. m. marginella (Woodhouse, 1852)
  • Panama Z. m. turturilla Wetmore, 1956
    ___  (

In Scientific speak Mourning Doves are Zenaida Macroura (hence, the Z. in the above list).  It came from a zoologist, Charles L. Bonapart who named the birds after his wife, Princess Zenaide.
“You see that gnat down there, George?  Should we get that for the kids?  You think that’d be good with some milk?”
“I don’t know, Martha.  Maybe we should stick with seeds—let them decide for themselves when they're older if they want to be carnivores.”
“Good point.  Sunflower or Safflower? And would you like to do the milking honors or shall I?

Wait George.  Just look at that gnat.  It's asking to be eaten.

Frankly, I've got my eye on that snail over there.

How about; you have the snail, I'll have the gnat, and then we'll feed the kids?
Martha!  That gnat is hardly 20 % of your body weight!  I do hope you plan to have seeds with that.  I swear, you eat like a bird!

As you know, "eating like a bird" is an unscientific phrase we have come up with under the assumption that because they are so tiny, they can't eat much.  Contrarily, like most birds, the Mourning Dove must eat an amazing amount to sustain energy for flight and what-not.  Mourning Doves are said to eat 12 to 20 percent of their body weight daily. ___ (the percentage figure is from )
Mourning doves eat a wide variety of seeds, waste grain, fruit, and insects. They prefer seeds that rest on the gound. Occasionally they eat in trees and bushes when ground foods are scarce. Their diet is typically 95% seeds or plant parts. Mourning doves eat agricultural crops, especially cereal grains such as corn, millet, rye, barley, and oats. On rare occasions mourning doves can be seen preying on grasshoppers, ants, beetles, and snails. (Basket, et al., 1993; Mirarchi and Baskett, 1994; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007)   ( ) 

Both male and female mourning doves share in incubating and feeding their young. Incubation lasts 14 to 15 days. Young mourning doves are fed regurgitated food by both parents. For the first 3 to 4 days after hatching the young are fed only crop milk, an energy rich substance that is produced in the crops of both male and female parents. After that time, parents begin to add more seeds to the regurgitated food until they are fed only regurgitated seeds by the time the young leave the nest. Female mourning doves feed the young most during the first 15 days after hatching but after that males take over the responsibility for feeding the young. The young continue to stay near the nest and beg for food after they have fledged, but can survive on their own after 21 days old if there is food nearby. (Basket, et al., 1993; Mirarchi and Baskett, 1994; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007)  ___ ( )

The Mourning Dove is found, according to Peterson’s “Western Birds” Field Guide, in Se. Alaska, and from S. Canada to Panama, and throughout the Western States of the U.S..  (Hence, my spotting it here in the Fullerton Arboretum’s “California Nature Meadow” area. I also have a pair that hang around our house in Westminster.)   
The Mourning Dove is a medium-sized, slender dove approximately 31 cm (12 in) in length. Mourning Doves weigh an average of 4 to 6 ounces. The elliptical wings are broad, and the head is rounded. Its tail is long and tapered ("macroura" comes from the Greek words for "large" and "tail"). Mourning Doves have perching feet, with three toes forward and one reversed. The legs are short and reddish colored. The beak is short and dark, usually a brown-black hue.
The plumage is generally light gray-brown and lighter and pinkish below. The wings have black spotting, and the outer tail feathers are white, contrasting with the black inners. Below the eye is a distinctive crescent-shaped area of dark feathers. The eyes are dark, with light skin surrounding them. The adult male has bright purple-pink patches on the neck sides, with light pink coloring reaching the breast. The crown of the adult male is a distinctly bluish-grey color. Females are similar in appearance, but with more brown coloring overall. The iridescent feather patches on the neck above the shoulders are nearly absent, but can be quite vivid on males. Juvenile birds have a scaly appearance, and are generally darker.   ___

Mourning doves are monogamous partners.  Besides sharing the feeding task, they also share the nesting task. The male brings the materials and then stands on the females back passing them to her  as she creates the nest with them (no wonder the nest isn’t too elaborate!).  A clutch generally consists of two eggs. 
Perhaps it is the speed at which they can fly that attracts hunters,
The mourning dove is well known for being a fast erratic flyer in comparison to other species of migratory songbirds. Record "level-flight speeds up to 55 miles per hour have been witnessed from an automobile (Bastin 1952)," and although "normal" flight speeds are near the lower end of the range, "37 to 40 miles per hour have been registered by radar (Schnell and Hellack 1978)" ___
Or perhaps it is their palatability:
The flesh of these birds is remarkably fine, when they are obtained young and in the proper season. Such birds become extremely fat, are tender and juicy, and in flavour equal in the estimation of some of my friends, as well as in my own, to that of the Snipe or even the Woodcock; but as taste in such matters depends much on circumstances, and perhaps on the whim of individuals, I would advise you, reader, to try for yourself. These birds require good shooting to bring, them down, when on wing, for they fly with great swiftness, and not always in a direct manner. It is seldom that more than one can be killed at a shot when they are flying, and rarely more than two or three when on the ground, on account of their natural propensity to keep apart.  __John James Audubon ( )
A few points of interest:
·  Perhaps one reason why Mourning Doves survive in the desert: they can drink brackish spring water (up to almost half the salinity of sea water) without becoming dehydrated the way humans would.
·  The Mourning Dove is the most widespread and abundant game bird in North America. Every year hunters harvest more than 20 million, but the Mourning Dove remains one of our most abundant birds with a U.S. population estimated at 350 million.·  The oldest known Mourning Dove was 31 years 4 months old.  (So sorry—now I can’t figure out which website I grabbed those little facts from.)
According to one website (Emiley, A. and T. Dewey . "Zenaida macroura" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 02, 2012 at , the average life span of Mourning Doves, however is 1.5 years in the wild, but one wild mourning dove lived to 19.3 years old. Some areas of the United States allow hunting of mourning doves, in these areas average lifespan is lower than in areas where hunting is not allowed. “

Another interesting factoid, is that the Mourning Dove is a “related species to the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), which was hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.[31][32][33] For this reason, the possibility of using Mourning Doves for cloning the Passenger Pigeon has been discussed.” .  
Reading about the Passenger Pigeon in Wikipedia, I came to this bit about the last known specimen:
“On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, Ohio. Her body was frozen into a block of ice and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was skinned, dissected, photographed and mounted.[54] Currently, Martha (named after Martha Washington) is in the museum's archived collection, and not on display.[23][55] A memorial statue of Martha stands on the grounds of the Cincinnati Zoo.[
I read that, after naming my pair of Turtledoves here at the Arboretum, Martha and George.
And, now on to the symbolism and legend portion of our discussion.  First this bit from Wikipedia:
The Eastern Mourning Dove (Z. m. carolinensis) is Wisconsin's official symbol of peace.[26] The bird is also Michigan's state bird of peace.[27]
The Mourning Dove appears as the Carolina Turtle-Dove on plate 286 of Audubon's Birds of America.[8]
References to Mourning Doves appear frequently in Native American literature. Mourning Dove imagery also turns up in contemporary American and Canadian poetry in the work of poets as diverse as Robert Bly, Jared Carter,[28] Lorine Niedecker,[29] and Charles Wright.[30]
And from “BIRDS: A Spiritual Field Guide  Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers” by Arin Murphy-Hiscock:
Interesting Facts:Doves produce a milky substance in their gullets with which to feed their young: to eat it, the chick puts its head inside the adults mouth.  The typical call of the dove is a low coo, sometimes characterized as a mournful cry.
Myths, folklore, and cultural associations: Stereotypically, the dove is portrayed as white [I believe the white birds of the pigeon family are actually homing pigeons] and gentle, sweet and loving. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Christian iconography.  Some iconographers show Mary being blessed by a dove at the moment of Annunciation, and Jesus was blessed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at his baptism.  The dove is said to be so pure that it is the one form into which Satan cannot transform himself.  Doves and pigeons were the only birds suitable for sacrifice by the Hebrews, as stated in Leviticus 1:14. The dove appears as a symbol  of purity on the Holy Grail in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur.  In Muslim lore, a dove murmured the words of God into the ear of Muhammad. 
Today the dove is a symbol of peace, often portrayed with an olive branch in its mouth.  This iconography is taken from the story of Noah releasing the bird to bring back proof that there was land again somewhere and that the floodwaters were receding.  The dove is also seen as representing love; it was a symbol of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and of Venus, her Roman counterpart.  Lovers are said to “bill and coo” like doves.  The dove is a monogamous bird, which may be the source of its connection with romantic and eternal love.
In Salvic folklore, doves were believed to conduct the souls of the dead to heaven.  For the Celts, the mournful call of a dove meant the peaceful passing of someone.
Omens and divinatory meaning: Doves call you to regain your serenity.  Do you feel off balance, or out of step with the world?  Are you harried or frazzled?  The dove reminds you to take a deep breath and release all your tension and stress.
The dove also urges you to look at your relationships with your partner(s), romantic, work related, or otherwise.  Are you in harmony with them?  Is there friction?  Reach out and smooth over any rough spots.  Seeing a dove may be an omen of a new relationship, or a shift in an existing one.
Doves are also associated with purity and innocence.  Do you feel as if life has jaded you?  Try to recapture a sense of innocence, of wonder and love for the world around you.  Operating constantly with a cynical worldview is exhausting.  In a situation that is frustrating or upsetting to you, a dove may be encouraging you to wipe the slate clean and start again.
As a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the dove is associated with the mystical fifth element of spirit.  Let your sighting of a dove remind you to reconnect with the spiritual aspect of your life; accept it as a blessing.
Associated energies: Peace, love, blessing, patience, grace, hope, marital happiness, purity
Associated Seasons: Year round
Element associations: Air, water, earth
Color associations: White, ivory, buff, brown, grey   

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crystal Cathedral Update


On August 26, 2007 I posted photos of the Crystal Cathedral here, and wrote about my history with and multiple (somewhat remote) connections with the place, from my Dad’s involvement with selling the founder a painting, to living next door in my 6th grade year, to later having a Supervisor in the late 1970’s, Pat Powell, who lived across the street and attended it (her daughter was involved in the annual “Glory of Christmas” events), to having an administrator of another job, Jan Halverson, leave to join the fund raising efforts there in the early 2000’s, ending with my visit there with my work colleague, Tanya Cao.   Subsequent to that posting, another former work colleague, Roger Hiles, having seen my post, noted that the architect responsible for the “Tower of Hope”, Richard Neutra , was the father of the architect for the building in which we’d worked together at the Huntington Beach Public Library, Dion Neutra .
So this is the update.  My newest, equally remote, but still interesting connection with the Crystal Cathedral Ministries at 12141 Lewis Street in Garden Grove, CA (92840)  is that the University I work for, Chapman University in Orange, CA , nearly purchased it when it went bankrupt last year.  They were out-bid, however, by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange  who has this to say about their new purchase:
 “Our goal is to preserve an already cherished religious landmark and to enhance its worship use for Orange County Catholics and all people of faith who may be inspired by this wonderful, now Catholic, Cathedral,”
- Bishop Tod D. Brown

A couple of Sunday’s ago Don and I visited the cathedral.  I took these photos with my 85 mm lens and hope to return for some wide angle shots and a listen to this monstrous pipe organ that Wikipedia says is one of the largest in the world.  The gentleman we bumped into there, a church elder by the looks of him, said the Crystal Cathedral Ministries will be staying there for three years before they move up the street to the church that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange included in their payment for the grounds.  He said they are doing better financially which lead Don to think there might be some chance of their keeping the cathedral.  Time will tell.


The Crystal Cathedral Ministries had it's origin in 1955 when Reverend Robert Schuller (Protestant), began the "Garden Grove Community Church” on a piece of property that used to be a drive in. Robert Schuller became well known after building the first church that he called "The Tower of Hope", with his televised "Hour of Power" that began in 1970. His dream of the "Crystal Cathedral" materialized in 1981 and seats 2,736 people. When Reverend Schuller retired his children managed the Ministry, until they fell into bankruptcy in October 2010 (their total debt was said to be 55 million). They sold the Cathedral and grounds to the Orange County Catholic Diocese for $57.5 million. There is more information at ,  where the dates and numbers in this paragraph came from.











Saturday, May 12, 2012

This cockatoo has found a friend.

I'm guessing the cockatoo belongs to the gentleman.

The acrylic dinette chair has wheels.

Isn't this a pretty tea set???

I especially like the sugar bowl.

Here's the set from the other side of the shelf, for a better look at the tea pot.
Occasionally, on a lunch break, I will walk down the street a few blocks from where I work at Chapman's School of Law on Glassell in Old Towne Orange (CA) to the Orange Circle (the intersection of Glassell and Chapman circles around a small park with a fountain in the center.).  My actual mission had been to get some money at the bank--but once I had it, I just had to make a quick run to the Salvation Army Thrift Shop--particularly enticing since it's recent renovation.
I snapped a couple of quick shots of the sweet cockatoo seen here on it's new friend's arm, found a great pair of two dollar shoes in the shop, and headed back.  I hadn't intended to visit the antique shop this time but the acrylic dinette chairs caught my eye. I'm pretty sure the tag said they were $45.00 for the set, as was this nearby tea set, which I would have missed had the shop not been playing a Jim Croce album which bade me linger--at least until the current song (something about "one less set of footsteps at your door") had finished. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Well, it's been awhile since I have posted anything. I've been focused on Flickr--uploading images and occasionally identifying them.
Anyway, today I thought I'd come back and pay a visit here instead. Don and I went to Dana Point yesterday in hopes of seeing the promissed Polynisian (sp?) canoes. I think 7 of them were expected to arrive and stay the night. I guess we were too early, so we took a few shots from the bluff above and West of the harbor.
It was great to get a little excersize, enjoy the sun and ocean breezes.