We took our grandies, Lachlan and Zach to a petting zoo in Atlanta. 

              jumping 2

It was actually part of a "Pumpkin Patch" on a local farm, just happened to have lots of interesting stuff - and a petting zoo, which is what I'm aiming for.

            feeding goat  

                Very obliging goat - he was SO hungry.

   

Tad surprised in one cage to come across an Australian emu and a raddled old turkey  - and even more surprising, they were best friends. They stayed together all day, even slept together at night. How amazing, but how nice for each to have found friendship in a zoo.

emu 3  turkey 10

           emu plus turkey

Since then I've discovered such an odd friendship is NOT that unusual (thank you, Roger)

dog and crow

 

After spending a lot of time alone in the same room of the owner's house, a crow and a dog grew fond of each other. The crow is almost always on the dog's back. The dog even barks when people try to touch his friend, the crow. The owner gave in and built a custom harness for more comfortable rides.

 

 

    iguana and cat

                  Sobe the iguana, and Johann the cat were both rescued by a woman in Brooklyn, NY.  Every day when the iguana is let out of her cage, she seeks out Johann for playtime, along with a rescue rabbit.

              gorilla and cat 

Koko the gorilla is famous for having learned to communicate by sign language. For her birthday one year, she made signs to her teacher that she wanted a kitten. Koko's teacher wasn't surprised, as Koko's two favourite books were about cats. They adopted a kitten from an abandoned litter and Koko showed great care and gentleness.

  giraffe 1a  giraffe 1b

                   giraffe c

A giraffe and an ostrich have formed an odd friendship at Busch Gardens in Florida.

                    hippo and goat

Humphrey the hippo was a house pet that became too large for the household. He was moved to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in South Africa, where he was safe but very very lonely. A Cameroon Pygmy Mountain Goat climbed the fence into Humphrey's enclosure and befriended him. 

                  cat and bear

A stray cat wandered into this Asiatic bear's enclosure at the Berlin Zoo. It has been coming back frequently for 10 years to visit his friend.

   cat and dog 1

   After a family took in this stray cat, she grew fond of their elderly dog. Realizing the dog was blind, the cat took on the responsibility of leading the dog to his water, food, shade, and toys. She follows closely under his chin to guide him.

  fawn and 2

After a devastating forest fire, fire rescuers ran out of crates for the animals saved from the blaze. This fawn and baby bobcat were placed together in the office. Hours later, the firemen noticed they'd taked a liking to one another, and cuddled for the duration they were kept together.

   llama and dog 1   owls and dog 1

Can't tell you about the dog and the llama - except I know they are best friends. The owls (second pic) that hatched at a hawk conservatory were adopted by the park keeper, and became friends with his pet dog.

              polar bear and dogs 

A photographer witnessed a wild polar bear coming upon tethered sled dogs in the wilderness of Canada's Hudson Bay. Instead of devouring the dogs, they played and cuddled. The polar bear returned every night for the week they were there.

             dog and duck

A duck and a house cat were raised together by a family. Reportedly, the duck hates water and hasn't figured out yet that it can fly.

             dog and tiger

The Fernandez family adopted a tiger cub after it had lost its family. It has been raised with the family dog since infancy, and they are inseparable.

            fox 1 mix

            fox 2 mix

This unusual pair have been seen together for over a year in Lake Van in Turkey. They were first spotted by a local fisherman who witnessed them sharing a fish and playing together.

 

I actually have more - but I do think this post is plenty long enough. Love this topic - hope you do as well. 

However, it does make me wonder why it is SO difficult for humans and nations to get on together.

         Motto for today - Happiness isn't where you find it.

                                   Happiness is where you create it.

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But what a xmas it was !! 

Over the last few years, xmas has been in many different places. They've all been really really special, but this year for a change, it's at our house. 

  house lights 3

Which means, of course, No 85 had to be spruced up, and the xmas train parked at the front under the light tree (look hard, it's on the right)

tree 4  tree 5

First the tree - so many lights packed onto a very small tree - both the tree and I were groaning by the end. Unfortunately only had white white lights, so ended up bluish in pics. LURVE doing chrissy trees, worth every groan.

              tree 3

          The security guard - Harold the Hippo, did a mighty fine job of minding.

       streamers 12

Then the rest of the decos. Malkie got technical advice from Desiree, while he blu-tacked the streamers.

                xmas mix 1

Rest of decs were simply fun. Toilet deco left by a santa fairy from Ipswich, set the mood of the day.

Christmas Day had dawned COOL and cloudy - did you get that - cool and cloudy. Not hot and sunny as per usual. So on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is boiling hot and 10 is raining - we scored about a 6. Chance of rain, and not too hot. Whacko !!

The tables were set early, the ham in the oven, the salads made, the punch and champagne icy cold. The prawns were coming, the pineapple salsa was made, and the turkey was gobbling in soon. The air of expectation was wonderful, and the loot pile trembled and shimmered.

                       loot 8

The motley crew arrived,( some quite dodgy) settled in with drinks and noise and much laughter.

First round of pressies was followed with first round of food - prawns with hot rolls and pineapple salsa. Yummmm. Noni and Pops both said the blessing - and the feasting began.

                    games

Georgia scooped the pool with the first of the games - how did she draw a xmas tree, star on top, pressies under, decorations on -all with the plate balanced on her head? Definitely an artistic streak there.

                  guests jon mix

The loot beckoned again - and yes, Jonathan did want a pair of new slippers - what's more they fitted Thank you, Noni.

                 guests mischa mix

Not so sure about the assorted exotic beers - but then again, maybe Mischa was anticipating the taste (or something)

                 guests malkie mix

And I can guarantee Malkie LOVED his train book, and especially his inflatable toupee - he's promised to wear it regularly.

                guests noni mix

By this time, however, Stewie was getting restive - "Noni Noni Noni, this is fine, but when do we get to the real food ??" So we did - i.e. ate up a storm.

                guests together

                                     Yummmmm.

More games more pressies even a quiz or two - how do we cope ?? Let me tell you, it was not hard.

               guests mix desiree 

Desiree quite seriously held back from eating the whole chocolate tree - after all there was still dessert still to come.

Dessert ? Groan - who has the room for that ? But at the suggestion of a walk to shake it all down, we all found our dessert tums. 

Was a great day - noisy, rambunctious,nonsensical and over the top in every way - but surely that is the essence of an Aussie Xmas. One day out of reality is totally acceptable in my book. And thank you Santa for my lovely new basket, and specially the massive hamper of goodies from Atlanta, was wonderful. Oh and my new recipe book - complete with naughty words - still chuckling over that one.

 

 

How was your xmas day ? I hope it was a day of merriment and fun and nonsense, just like ours. Please tell me about it on - 

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Yes, we do live in bushland, but we're only 7km from the centre of Brissie. I hope our birdies never ever find out how close the hustle and bustle really is.

           channel bill 1    channel bill and crow

This sweetheart leads the chorus well before dawn - he (or probably she) is a channel-billed cuckoo that migrates from New Guinea for breeding purposes. He wakes us with the most god-awful racket - which is intended to distract the poor Mumma Crow, or Maggie, or Currawong,so she can slip an egg into their nest. Charming !! Then the baby cuckoo grows faster than the host littlies, demands all the food, and starves the other bubs. Not at all nice. (thank you, Ellen Jenkins, for these lovely pics) The second shot has a crow watching the cuckoo very suspiciously.

             koel 1    koel 2

Common Koel - dad on the left, mum the mottled one on the right.

This guy I like a lot better, but he also is a cuckoo, and migrates from south-east Asia for breeding, but he does it all with more panache. Then again, they do lay their eggs in some poor oriole or magpie lark nest, and the new chick does kick out any other bubs so it can hog all the food - so I guess he's not a nice citizen either.

We call him the rainbird, and his cry sounds quite plaintive "ko-el" - and it is incessant. The koel, once he gets going, calls for hours and with such gusto, I'd like to help him somehow.

                       kookaburra

The kookaburras that live in our trees are quite glorious in the mornings - love their laughter, so infectious but at the same time, quite earnest about their chorus - quite wonderful. Have a listen -    http://www.wimp.com/kookaburrabird/

 

My next noisy one is the crow -

            crow 3

Oops I should have said - the gang of crows that have their early morning club meeting in our trees. And after that, a noisy gossip session that requires much to and fro-ing, and argy bargy between the gang members. Finally, and with great gusto, they plan what they will do for the day - then off on their merry way and are not seen the rest of the day. (but they are heard !!) 

                    maggie 2

The Australian magpie - seems so common to us, but take the time to listen to his morning call - truly delightful. And once he starts, he just keeps chortling and singing so happily. Luv his early morning warble - the guy I captured in this pic of our bushland, was chortling his heart out in the sun. If I could capture that sound I would call it "Ode to the Sun"

                    oriole 4     oriole 5

Meet the olive-backed oriole, often heard long before you see him with his rich olive green back and red eye. He's supposed to be an excellent mimic and ventriloquist. However in the mornings it is his distinctive rolling call - "orry orry-ole" that makes him easy to identify. Nonstop calling, he does, but it's such a peaceful sound I do enjoy him. Actually quite similar to the peaceful dove.

 golden whistler 2   golden female 1

The gorgeous boy above is Mr Golden Whistler, while his mate Mrs Golden Whistler, is much more subdued - and isn't it good girls, to know that life in the bush requires much effort from the boys - if they're going to attract a female, it would help to be gorgeous.

Bonus - he has a strong, musical and varied call to go with his plumage - the one we hear in the mornings is usually - "we we we tu whit" - with the last whit almost like a whip crack. He is undoubtedly one of our vituoso songbirds.

 grey shrike thrush

OK OK the Grey Shrike Thrush is a bit drab, but again, he has an amazing repertoire with a wide variety of songs. Liquid melodius trills, clear whistles,  "cho cho weeee" - many sounds we associate with the Australian bush and love

           Think I'd better stop there. Many many more birdies contribute to our morning callers, such as butcher birds, all the honey eaters, even the noisy miners (yuk), currawongs, drongos, crested pigeons,  I could probably ramble on all day !!

 Then again, I'll most likely do them later as a full posting - there's certainly enough variety. We used to have wrens and silver eyes and thornbills every morn, but the lantana has been cleared out of the bushland, so they don't have shrubs to hide in any more. I'm really hoping the native bushes we've planted on our steep hill might bring them back.

 

         No wonder we come home from our trips OS and fall in love with our bush sounds again - we are so blessed at the richness and complexity of the various sounds that make up our morning chorus.

 

 

 

 

 

 However, I do have to tell you about one more birdie that comes to the bird feeder right outside our bedroom door - he is SO beautiful.

              pale headed  pale headed 3

10 years he's been visiting, and eating up a storm. We go away 2 mths at a time - only takes him a day to return. Often solitary, but in spring he's a twosome and very happy. He's like a caricature of a perfect bird, with his yellow and blues on top, then flashes of turquoise and red as he flies away - he is SO gorgeous. Still wild though - flies away if we go near the door - which is maybe why he has lasted so well.

We are so blessed with our birdies, want to tell me about yours ??

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                      skull 1

Just in case you thought Halloween was an American phenomenon - think again - the origins of this celebration go way way back - right back to the time of the Celts, 2000 years ago. For them, it was the celebration of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.They believed that, in this time between the end of summer, and the beginning of a long cold dark winter - the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead, became blurred.     

Segue through the years to Christian times, and Pope Gregory declared a holiday on this day, and called it All Saints Day. The evening before became known as All Hallows Eve, which evolved into Halloween over the centuries. "Trick or Treating" would seem to date back to All Souls Day parades, where hungry people would be given pastries (soul cakes) in return for a promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.

                                fam decos 14

Meanwhile in Atlanta, twas time to unpack the skulls, spiders, ghosts, scarecrows, fog machine, cobwebs and all manner of spooky accoutrements that allow the house to shout - it's Halloween!! Of course the boys treated everything with great respect !! 

family decos

       A witch flew in on her broomstick to help - oops, she miscalculated. Splaaat!

        hallow mix   

 

Poor witch. Now she must stay there forever. And the family battled on with the decos.

 fam decos 8  fam decos 3

      Fog machine was tested - at that stage Trooper said - I'm out of here.

                  fam decos 29

                                  Looked suitably eerie !!

      fam decos 23      fam decos 26

Lachlan did a good job consoling Trooper, but no way was Piper accepting a ginormous red-eyed spider on her letterbox!!

                          H 4 

                 All over the city, weird and ghoulish sights were appearing. 

     H 17    H 19

     H 8    H 10  

            halloween 101

            halloween 102

Connette organised for us to go on a bus trip to see the Halloween Decos - they were totally amaaaazing. Totally ghoulish, splendiferous, and when the lights came on, and the fog machines were fogging away - we were transported to a fairyland (for the dead !!) Unbelievably weird and wonderful !!

            The day dawned bright and cold - it was 31st October - Halloween.  

               family 24

We were a motley crew, indeed !! Train driver took the pic, witch growled suitably, and the wallaby (in his yellow onesie) chased the kiwi for revenge - it was the day we lost the Rugby World Cup - again. Then hey ho off to the parade we go.

          h 50

Fire brigade led the way and the hordes followed, shuffled, stumbled and wandered in the procession.

         h 44 crowd

  And what a sight it was - the most amazing otherworldly beings all following the big red truck.

        h mix 1

       h mix 2

Then it was "trick or treat" time - and the younguns roamed the neighbourhood in search of loot - they carried bags or baskets or even pillow cases - and they carted their loot off home with great glee. We settled down with steaming hot bowls of chilli and many suitable glasses of a red restorative.

 Halloween in Atlanta - whacko - was WONDERFUL.

 

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