Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The once and future cygnets

Last month, I wrote about the swans we encounter along the Forth & Clyde canal. One pair had produced a clutch of nine eggs. I expressed my misgivings about the safety of the young, whether as eggs or newborn cygnets.

When we got back from Paris, we found seven new cygnets with their mama and papa! Seven out of nine eggs was an excellent survival ratio. The wee ones stuck close to their parents while touring their section of the canal. All seemed well.

Mama and papa kept close watch over their new babies.
The cygnets followed mama as she looked for food.
They got noticeably bigger in just a few days.
And then they were gone.

All of them.

We've been told that year after year the cygnets along this stretch of the canal don't survive. But the ducklings on the same stretch of the canal do. No one knows why.

Although a few folks venture guesses like disease, my theory is predation. Whether those predators are land-based or waterborne, I have no idea. The sudden disappearance of all seven at the same time with no trace of feathers, entrails, etc. gives me pause. A dog or a fox or a snake might get a couple of cygnets at a time. All seven at once? Without a trace? I worry the predator is human.

The mama and papa carry on. They show no sign of fear, readily approaching for food.

The male approaches to see if food will be offered. Sorry, buddy. Just an unpaid photo shoot.
If the swans stay true to form, they'll have another clutch next year. And the cygnets will then disappear. I wonder if the Queen's royal Swan Marker has interest in her Scottish swans. We could use his expertise along the canal.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Adieu, Paris

Notre Dame.
Yesterday, we returned from Paris.

To borrow a phrase from Pepé Le Pew:

Le sigh.
We had a wonderful time. Of course. Who goes to Paris and doesn't find something probably many somethings to love?

Even our two year old exclaimed every day about visiting the Eiffel Tower.
I've been lucky to visit Paris three times, at ages 18, 25, and now 40. Three different stages of life: just out of high school, on a honeymoon, and as a new(ish) parent. I'm sure I'll be back again.

The best part of this trip was the opportunity to introduce my parents to Paris. We rented an apartment in the Marais, just two blocks from the Seine and only a few minutes walk to the Île-de-France. Took them to all the major sights, and some minor ones, too. There aren't many chances in life to share a true "wow" or hear "I've never seen anything like this" from your parents. I helped them stretch their boundaries a bit, and we'll see if they're inspired for some further European travel.

As you can see here, I came across a fun app called Waterlogue, which transforms photos to look like watercolor-esque paintings. Kinda addicting.

Not quite to the level of Monet's Rouen Cathedral series, but fun nonetheless.
Here are the above photos in their original forms:

As always, I promise to post much more about our travels. And, as you know, I'll be extraordinarily slow about doing so.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

You don't know Jack (#3)

Like all toddlers, Jackson provides the occasional nuggets of observation or wisdom or humor. These are generally unprompted, often silly or nonsensical, and usually come out of the blue with no context. Here are some recent ones:

He'll eat a bowl of mussels by himself.

  • "I have a booger. I put it right there."

  • "Get off the seat. You're too big and too old. {Pause.} Dad, can you get up?"

  • "Mommy, I don't like those options."

  • Jack:   "I love Monkey so, so much!"
         Brian:  "I love you so, so much."

         Jack:   "Yeah. Sorry about that. Excellent work. Keep going."

  • "I'm NOT going to throw Rudolph's head at the television."

  • Upon being told Daddy was still asleep at 5:30 am: "I will be quiet. And I will not breathe fire or roar."

Driving in the Transport Museum in Glasgow.

  • Kate:  "Isn't Mommy awesome?"
         Jack:  "No. Daddy is awesome."

         Kate:  "What am I?"

         Jack:  "A doctor."

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?  "Gonzo!"

  • "Daddy, you're so very cute. Just like me!"

  • Kate: "Mmmm, you smell good."
         Jack: "Yes, mom. I do."

  • Intentionally throws Mattie's ball over the fence. Puts his hand on her head. Looks deeply into her eyes: "I'm sorry. It was not my fault."

  • "Go have a beer, Mommy and Daddy. Please. Go have a beer, and then come back and get me. Please."

  • "Daddy, this is awkward."

Speaking of awkward... Where are your pants? How did you get the seasoned salt? What happened to the glasses? What's up with the duckface?