Solbit says use your powers of observation

Dear Nicalai,

Nona, Papa, and I practice looking a lot.  You wouldn’t think that looking — or observing — takes practice, would you? Yet, the more I practice, the more I realize that I miss seeing what’s right in front of my face. I need more practice to be good at looking to see what’s there.

Here’s an example.  So, I’m riding along in Nona’s pocket looking down at the ground as it passes by. What do I see?  Dirt. Stones. Nona’s foot moving. Then Papa says, “Stop, did you see that?” Nona stopped. What?  “Look down there below you.”

What I had missed but what was clearly there for me to see was a laboring ant moving a big piece of food — big compared to the ant. What a strong ant!

I would have missed the ant with its vegetable burden payload, if Papa hadn’t pointed it out.  That’s another thing about looking: we have to help each other to see things.  Also, we need to pay attention when someone points out something to see.

On the one hand, looking isn’t easy, but, on the other hand, it doesn’t hurt and can be fun, and you can learn things from what you see and others miss.

When we walked the pathways nearby San Pedro House, not far from our place in Sierra Vista, Arizona, we enjoyed looking at this pond.

Pond water, reeds, maybe some algae, that’s about it, right? Wrong!

Well, we heard something.  Water doesn’t make that sound. Neither do reeds, not even in a strong wind. Algae doesn’t either. Papa knew that sound from the days when he had grown up on a farm.  “That’s a frog. Maybe we can find it if we look really hard,” Papa encouraged us.

There’s a dispute who found the frog first, Nona or me. She used her binoculars, and I didn’t, so I should get the credit. Nona put that circle on the picture though.

We had to keep pointing to the frog because Papa just couldn’t find it. It kept croaking away, and Papa kept asking “Where is it?”  I wonder if maybe he needs glasses for distance?

You can see that the frog is well designed to be very hard to find.  That helps the frog escape predators, like hawks, snakes, and people.

I think we were able to look for birds and find them more easily than the frogs. Often, we would hear the birds singing first. Then we’d look in the direction of the sound, and then we might find them.  That’s how we found this bird. Isn’t it interesting how ears help our eyes?

The lark sparrow kindly posed so that Nona could get a good picture of it.

So, our ears helped us to look. A birds sings, peeps, or squawks, and we hear it as, “Look at me. Find me.” Our ears tell us which way and how high or low to look, and then, if we’re lucky, we see the bird.

By the way, some birdwatchers are so good that they don’t have to look to know what bird they will see.  They know each bird’s calls, so all they have to do is hear it. Nona and Papa aren’t there yet.  I don’t want to discourage them, but, I doubt they ever will identify birds just with their ears. Still they do enjoy looking for birds. Enjoying what they do is what’s important.

Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

April 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

A Gulling Experience

Dear Nicalai,

Greetings from the Beach! We’re in San Diego.  How is it here? Well, you might say that we’re having a “gull-ing” experience, but that could mislead you.  We’re just having a good time observing the behavior of a certain type of beach bum, the gull.

We’ve learned to watch our food around gulls.

These juvenile western gulls just heisted someone’s apple from a lunch bag!

Another behavior trait that I have observed among these gulls is that they like to make noise together. Maybe they think they’re singing, but their “vocalizations” hurt my eardrums.

Squawking, squawking, squawking, they’re driving me crazy!

I was beginning to think that gulls are just another kind of pest. Just when I was wondering how to get rid of these pests, I discovered this gull performing an important service at the beach.

A lifeguard gull! Amazing.  Now I’m wondering how does a gull save lives lost at sea? I can’t imagine, but the sign is very clear, isn’t it, identifying this gull as a “lifeguard”?

As we strolled the beach, Nona said, “Solbit, look there, even gulls dare to be different.”

Sure enough, a Heerman’s gull — looking different — stood there proudly and apparently comfortable with the many western gulls sharing the beach with it.

Well, squawking gulls still jangle my nerves, but I admit that a lifeguard gull and a gull that dares to be different have both taught me to appreciate gulls — even those little apple thieves amused me.

Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

 

 

 

Solbit

March 2017

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Cranes Her Neck on A Ducky Day

Dear Nicalai,

How long is your neck? Did you ever think about that? Me neither. Not until today.  Today I met somebody with a really long neck. Her name is Greta Sandhill, but everyone just calls her “Red.”  Can you tell why?

I love that red on the head of sandhill cranes!

I love that red on the head of sandhill cranes!

She’s a Sandhill Crane. When she moved her head, stretching and bending her neck this way and that, she got me to wondering about my own neck. So, I tried moving my neck the way she did. That’s when Nona asked me, “Solbit, why are you craning your neck like that?”  Is that where the word “craning” comes from, the bird that we call a crane? Who knew?

Isn’t Red a pretty bird?  I think I would go out of my way to see a Sandhill Crane again. Have you ever seen one? Oh, here’s another pretty bird.

The lines and colors of the Wood Duck amaze me. How can feathers do that?

The lines and colors of the Wood Duck amaze me. How can feathers do that?

This is “Woody” the wood duck. Guess what, she isn’t made out of wood–just beautiful feathers, flesh and blood, and webbed feet, too! Woody and Red were in the same lagoon that we walked by today. So many ducks paddled around in the lagoon that Papa said they were having “a ducky day.” I guess we’re were having a ducky day too, seeing wood ducks, shovelers (they’re ducks too), mallards, and my list could go on, but I can’t. I have to finish this and go to bed in Nona’s pocket.

I wonder if ducks sleep on land or on water, or both? Do you know?

I wonder if ducks sleep on land or on water, or both? Do you know?

Don’t these two ducks — Gadwalls — look content, maybe even happy?  That’s how I feel when I’m with Nona and Papa walking in the woods by a lagoon and looking at ducks. Papa reads a lot of science articles, and he says that studies have found that those kind of walks actually help to improve people’s health and “state of mind” whatever that is. I thought states were defined spaces on a map. Aren’t they? Sometimes Papa confuses me with things he says. I’m learning to be patient, and all will be revealed to me, eventually.

A funny thing happened as we were leaving the woods today. Papa and Nona saw a bird in the water. They got excited because they had never seen a duck with coloring like this duck has. They could see a new bird being added to their bird list today!

Some ducks are made to fool us.

Some ducks are made to fool us.

When they looked through their binoculars, their spirits drooped. “Oh, that’s not a duck. That’s a decoy. I guess some hunter left it here last year.”  Well, a duck decoy looks like a duck, but it isn’t a duck. Nona and Papa shouldn’t feel bad about mistaking it for a real duck, because even real ducks get fooled by decoys.

OK, Nona’s going to put me into her purse now. I’ve gotta close. Remember, look out for the decoys, don’t be fooled, but please do have a ducky day. Bye.

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

August 2015

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit exclaims, “It’s almost a family reunion!”

Dear Nicalai,

This letter may sound depressing, but, if you read all of it, it has a good ending.  I promise.

Maybe Papa or Nona have told you that I’ve been down in the dumps lately.  Don’t misunderstand, please.  I love them and you, but I kinda wish I had another family.  Oh, I want to be in your family.  What I mean is, I’d also like to have a family that, well, that looks more like me.  Sadly, as Papa explained, dinosaurs have gone extinct.  So, that’s not going to happen.

When he said that, I just crumbled. Not really crumbled, of course.  I’m a plastic jurassic, and plastic doesn’t crumble. No, I mean, emotionally, I crumbled.  Nona said, “Solbit, you look like you need a good walk.  Let’s go to Tule Lake!”  I replied that I’d rather just stay home and mope, thank you.

Of course, when Nona decides that you’re going to do something, you’re going to do something.  Off the three of us went to the lake.  I put on a good pout to show her that I was not pleased.

Almost as soon as we started walking at Tule Lake — that’s near Klamath Falls, CA where we’re staying, now — we started seeing different birds.

Lower Klamath NWR and Tule Lake NWR

First, we saw the long-billed dowitchers, pictured here. They are common at Tule Lake, but they were new birds for Nona and Papa. Me, too.

Lower Klamath NWR and Tule Lake NWR

Then we saw the American coot and the white pelican.

“Solbit, did you know that scientists think that these birds are modern day dinosaurs?” Papa asked me.  I glumly grumbled, “No way, Papa.  You’re making that up.”  Nona jumped in to back up Papa,  “Yes, Solbit, the scientists now think that today’s birds have a common ancestor in the dinosaurs.”

Then I understood what Papa said. It’s called an “Ah, ha!” moment.  I literally said, “Ah, ha! Does that mean that I could be related to these birds?”  Papa told me, “Yes, Solbit, you could say that, and guess what.  Some scientists now think that maybe some dinosaurs even had feathers.”

Well, my spirits soared. By the time we saw this American avocet, I blurted out, “Wow, coming to Tule Lake is sort of like a family reunion for me!  Isn’t it?”

Could the American avocet be a distant relative of mine?

Could the American avocet be a distant relative of mine?

“You could say that, I guess,” Papa answered. So, the next thing you know, I’m talking to Nona and Papa about planning another family reunion here for me, real soon. “Can we please come out here to the lake for another walk?” I asked.

Lower Klamath NWR and Tule Lake NWR

This bird is called a kildeer, but I’m sure it doesn’t hunt deer.  It’s too small and delicate. Wonder how it got its name?

The sun was setting on the lake, and we had to leave, but we could see more and more of my distant relatives flying into the lake to spend the night.  To see them flying in from different directions to spend the night here gave me a good, warm feeling, and I realized then that Nona was right — as she often is — what I needed was just a good walk to lift my spirits.  I’m glad I went on the walk with them today.  Bye.

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

 

Solbit

May 2015

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit wonders, “What strange places are you taking me?”

Dear Nicalai,

I feel like we’ve been traveling and traveling north and away from you guys in California.  And we have, but, can you believe – we’re still here – in California that is.  What a big state!

No complaints though. Look at that beautiful bridge. It’s called the Sundial Bridge.

I don’t think the Sundial Bridge looks like a sundial, but, then, I don’t think Turtle Bay looks like a turtle either.

I don’t think the Sundial Bridge looks like a sundial, but, then, I don’t think Turtle Bay looks like a turtle either.

We’ve been driving in Nona and Papa’s old beat up Honda Civic, that’s an automobile, you know. It’s 20 years old. Don’t tell Nona and Papa that I said this, but it looks like junkyard material.  The air-conditioning is broken. No problem for me, I’m plastic, but Nona and Papa are old and the car gets hot. I asked them, “Why don’t you get that fixed?” Papa said, “Costs too much.” Nona said, “Have to stay within our budget.”  I’ve got a word for that: “penny pinchers.”

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The views as we drive north in California are great, but, oh, girl, the car is hot without air conditioning.

Oh, hey, here’s a question: What are Red Bluff, Weed, and Klamath Falls?  If you said, a red cliff, a plant nobody wants, and a place where water falls over a cliff, then you would be WRONG! They are towns we’ve stayed in along the way. Strange place names, huh?

I wondered, “Why go to these towns?” – but then overheard them talking excitedly, “60 species today and 5 that are new to us! Wow!”  Well, you know what they’re excited about: birds.  Just say the words “White-fronted goose” or “Bullock’s Oriole” and binoculars materialize in front of their eyes before you can say “Stop It.”  They like watching birds.  I heard someone call them “Twitchers” when we were in Australia.  Yes, I did.

Well, birds are ok, but, for me, I like the long view, like this one of Mount Shasta that we got to see as we drove up the road toward Oregon.

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Sitting in our hot car looking out to that cold snow covered mountain peak.  Ah, so good.

We’re almost at our next stop, something about “a dead volcano.” Do I want to go see “dead” things?  I’ll let you know next time.  Bye.

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

Solbit

April 2015

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Wants to Know “Just How Dangerous Is Australia, Anyway?”

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

The moment I heard Nona say, “Oh, Papa, there goes a helmeted friarbird!,” I thought “Get me out of Australia!”  Hey, I don’t want to be in a country where birds have to wear helmets.  I mean, don’t you think that kind of a country has got to be too dangerous?

DSC05168

Nona and Papa just take too many risks.  Sometimes they just don’t think.  When I pointed out that this country is so dangerous that friarbirds are wearing helmets, they insulted me by laughing.  They laugh in the face of danger. OK, if that’s what they want to do, but not me.

After we saw that bird in Port Douglas, they took me to the Great Barrier Reef.  We had a wonderful cruise ride to the far eastern side of the reef, a place named Agincourt Reef.  We went snorkeling.  Have you ever done that?  You wear a facemask, put your face down in the water, and breath through a little tube that sticks out above the water.  Suddenly, you see all kinds of sea creatures, wonderful colors, coral, sea plants.  Wow! I thought it was great, for about five minutes, and then this:

DSC05284

You know how small I am, right? Well, this big boy’s mouth could have swallowed about five of me at once.  Did you ever try to yell under water?  Take my advice.  Don’t try it.  It doesn’t work.  I had to quickly swim under Nona’s armpit and hide from “Big Gulper” or whatever this fish is called. I call it, “Dangerous.”

I have to admit that the cruise back to Port Douglas was good, though. I even had time for a nap, while Papa drank a beer with some big, burly, bearded guy, Frank, and Nona chatted with his wife, Tina.  Nona and Papa had a good time with them.  So, Australia is not all bad.  But let me get back to my point.  Australia is dangerous!  Listen to this.

We get off the boat, walk back to our AirBnB place, and as we’re walking into our courtyard, I have to scream, “Look out! BIG SPIDER in your face!”

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Yeah,  I think it’s called a golden orb spider.  It’s big.  That thing might not eat me for lunch, but I don’t want it gnawing on my neck for some red blood cells.  Wait a minute, “Nona, do I have red blood cells or are dinosaur’s blood cells different?”  She doesn’t know, and Papa is taking a nap.  Let’s presume that my blood cells are red.

By now, Nona and Papa think I’m alarmist, overreacting, and a scaredy cat.  They tell me to calm down, and they will take me out to supper at The Surf Club.  Hey, I’m no scaredy cat and supper at The Surf Club sounds good, so, stupidly, I let my guard down. “Yes, let’s go to supper!” This is what happened.

As we’re walking up to The Surf Club, I see this sign:

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Even the sign says “danger!”  I say, “No way I’m going any farther. Take me home for supper, now!”  Nona and Papa have no choice.  Look at that sign. It confirms everything I’ve been saying. Australia is a dangerous place.  They say, “OK, Solbit, we’ll go home for supper, but we have to stop at the grocery on our way home, if we’re going to make supper.”  Fine by me.

We walk into the grocery.  Nona and Papa take me over to the seafood deli area.  They’re going to look for fish or something.  Nona leans over to see something and I’m looking down from her pocket right into these monsters.

 

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Oh, yeah.  Girl, you should have heard me scream.  I rattled the crushed ice, for sure.  I finally calmed down, after the nice fishmonger lady told me that these local lobsters were actually vegetarian just like us iguanodons.  (You remember that I’m an iguanodon, don’t you?).  So, these lobsters and I are sort of family.  Whew!

Well, maybe Australia isn’t as dangerous as I thought, but, take my advice, think twice about coming here.

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

May 2015

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit Asks, “When Is a Bottle Brush Not a Brush?”

*New reader? Get oriented below.

Dear Nicalai,

Big news:  Nona says that today is the 500th day of our two-year around the world trip!  That’s not what’s on my mind though.

Don’t you wish people would name things right?  I get confused by names.  You’d think that names would tell you what something is, but, no, sometimes they trick you into thinking they’re something that they’re really not.  How’s a girl supposed to know what’s what?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  Papa told me that we were going to see some “bottle brushes,” so I figured that we’d either be in a bar or someone’s kitchen.  OK, or maybe one of those stores that has everything you need for a kitchen. Wrong!  Off to the woods (I mean the bush), again! Here’s me with what he calls a “bottle brush.”

trip to Blue Mountains, National Pass Hike from Wentworth Falls

No, it’s not a bottle brush. It’s a tree, Papa!  Everybody knows that this is a Banksia TREE.  Even I know that, and I’m a plastic Jurassic. Banksia is not the bottle brush tree, although, I have to admit, its flower does look like a bottle brush.  Doesn’t it? So, I can see why Papa called it that, but he’s wrong.

The Australian “bottle brush” isn’t even banksia; it’s Callistemon. (I’ve been googling plants since our last trip to the woods and learning things Papa doesn’t even know.) See how confusing this can get.  Well, let’s not dwell on what Papa doesn’t know about plants.  Let’s switch to what he doesn’t know about birds.  OK?

So, we’re walking further down the trail (I mean down the track), when, he says, “Solbit, keep an eye out for rainbows.”

What?  The sky is clear, we haven’t had rain, and he thinks we’re going to see rainbows—plural?  Hey, we’re not even going to see one rainbow, today.  Then he points to a tree and says, “There, there in that bottle brush! See the rainbow!”  He meant in the banksia tree, and he meant a bird.  See.

Rainbow lorikeets

The bird is beautiful and is a lorikeet, a rainbow lorikeet.  Well, I have to admit that they do have all the colors to make me think of a rainbow.

Then, as we’re looking down on the ground, Papa says, “Hey, look at the sulphur crests!”  I’m thinking chemistry 101 and maybe the chemical has crystalized into crests or pyramids.  Nope.  Again, the old man is talking birds.  This time he should have said, “Look at the cockatoos!”  Here’s a picture of them.

DSC03406

These cockatoos are big and mostly white.  They are loud and sassy, too.  They are not “sulphur crests;” they are “sulphur crested.”

I like their style, their assertiveness, but a lot of people say they’re a pest.  I can see why, because, when Papa yelled out “Hey, look at the sulphur crests!” they started to squawk and strut toward him.  They weren’t making friendly squawks either.  I imagine they prefer that he call them cockatoos, or at least get the name right, “sulphur crested cockatoo” not “sulphur crests.”  On the other hand, everybody else calls them sulphur crested cockatoos.  Maybe that’s why they’re so unfriendly? Well, you can see how this naming thing can be confusing.

Hey, Nona is calling me over to look at today’s pictures, so I have to go.  Bye! Remember, I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

May 2014

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”