Sunday, March 02, 2008

Miniwether and the Critters

You ever have one of those weekends that just rocked front to back? Man, that's what my last 48 hours has been like. It included three birthday parties (4, 5, & 35), a Nature Day celebration, Miniwether catching her first fish, and an afternoon spent hanging in the woods with the guys. Of course, I'm running on four hours of sleep coupled with two and a half pounds of birthday cake flowing through my veins, but hey, that's a small price to pay!

So, why Miniwether and the Critters? Well, this past Saturday was "Nature Day" at Jesse H. Jones Park. Pretty much every Houston area group that spends time in the outdoors, from the Audubon Society to the Woodlands Hiking Group was there with information and displays. The most wonderful Misseswether took Mambowether home from the first birthday party on Saturday so Miniwether and I could head straight over to the park. A short hayride took us squealing (well, Miniwether squealed, I made more of a manly "woo hoo" sort of cheer) up to the main event.

Enter the critters.

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Rehabilitated possom. Okay not to be harsh, but I have to wonder a bit about people who spent money nursing injured possoms, raccoons, squirrels, etc back to health. I mean, it's a very kind thing to do, but it's not like the world is running out of these particular beasts. The lady maning the booth seemed very sweet and sincere, so I just kept my mouth shut. Plus Miniwether thought the possum was pretty cool and nice to pet. Truthfully, it was kind of a cute beastie.

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Now this is more my style, a baby alligator! Miniwether was a little cautious at first but after a bit she tried to get the conservation officer to let her hold it. Alas, insurance issues prevented this and so Miniwether had to content herself with just stroking its sides. The gator seemed to like it.

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On to the Texas bull snake. Miniwether shocked the lady holding it when she asked if it was venomous. The lady was suprised that Miniwether had such a word in her vocabulary and asked where she learned it. Miniwether replied matter-of-factly, "Daddy takes me on lots of adventures and teaches me stuff.". Oh man did I puff up with pride!

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Miniwether and the zookeeper had a long talk about his ball python (any inappropriate comments will be met with very heavy firepower!). He was very patient as Miniwether asked , "Could the python eat a rabbit? Could it eat an alligator? Could it eat a cow?" and so on until she had asked about every animal she could think of. The zookeeper was great as he explain why or why not the python would eat the animal she listed. Miniwether now knows a full-grown cow is too big but the python can dislocate it's jaw so that it could eat a goat. She thought that was pretty cool and asked to see it. Luckily, I'm pretty much used to the look the zookeeper gave me at that point.

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The saltmarsh tank was Miniwether's most favorite spot. We spent over half an hour there as she caught hermit crabs and blue crabs. She has always had a special fondness for hermit crabs (you should see her imitation of one, it's hysterical!) but the blue crabs scared her a little at first. Soon though she had mastered grabbing them from behind. The conservation officer at the tank taught her how to tell male blue crabs from females. The pincers on the female are orange and she has a big, circular disk on her belly. The male blue crabs have blue claws and on there belly is a mark which looks like, er...the Washington Monument. Yeah, that's what the shape is...

Now I've talked to Miniwether a lot about fishing but hadn't taken her yet. We both became excited when we saw they had a Kid Fish pond. I explained the proper way to fish with a cane pole then we went at it. Miniwether did great but the fish weren't very hungry that late in the day. Luckily one of the guys in charge managed to catch a fish and passed his pole over to Miniwether.

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Fishing

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Caught!

Miniwether was estatic when she pulled the fish in. She wasn't the least bit afraid of the big catfish and grabbed it to keep it from flopping around, then released it back into the water after it was unhooked. She's going to be a great fisher!

Yep, I'm still beaming! Sure this all took place in a metal tank stocked with catfish, but she had all the mechanics down. I think that was the most still I've seen her stand all weekend. She kept the right tnesion on the line and jibbled the bait just tiny amount to get the fish's attention. She loved it.

She slept in the car on the way home, had a snack then it was off to another birthday party for actor-neighbor-friend of ours. Their house was filled with other friends/neighbors and all the children (five boys/seven girls all under ten). It was a wonderful madhouse of beer, juice boxes, Cajun food, and more birthday cake. We left at 10:30pm but the party went on until almost 2:30am, which, in our neighborhood is a pretty early time to break up. The main reason was we all were going to another neighbor's party Sunday morning. They'll be moving away soon so we all had to shower their daughter one more time with gifts and love. In return we got more cake!

Now, as much as I love my family the stresses of work have been very high lately and Misseswether knew this. Sunday afternoon I Clark and I were going to take our assorted daughters to meet up with other members of the Piney Woods Primitive Skills group to show a Canadian visitor the wilds of Spring Creek. This is when Misseswether stepped up in a burst of incredible (but not suprising) wonderfulness offered to watch all four girls so Clark and I could hang with the guys unencumbered with a young mass of double-x chromosomes underfoot. Note to readers: I have the absolutely best wife in the world!!!

So, Sunday afternoon was spent around a campfire along Spring Creek shooting the bull with Clark, Doc, and "Mike of the Woods". Mike's an ex-Canadian military man big into wilderness survival. We compared knives, scars and tall-tales while watching the wood burn and the water flow by...

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Mike, Doc, and Clark.

Damn, my life rocks!

Adventure! Excitement! Critters!

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