Animals etc.


I detest fruit flies. They multiply so quickly and easily that they feel like a plague invading my living space.

Since Saturday, I have been intensely focussed on getting rid of them from my apartment. Found the source yesterday in an unlikely place: in a basket of dry goods. Someone accidentally dropped a couple of blueberries there … they oozed through the weave of the basket, creating a hidden breeding ground. Yuck.

I had some people over for breakfast on Saturday–blueberries were served. I suspect that some baby or toddler might have randomly made the drop.

Last night, I amazingly noticed a dried dark spot on the serving table resulting from the ooze. I say amazingly, because the spot looks like a knot in the wood. I picked up the basket and noticed another more gummy spot of the same purple-blue colour … this was where the eggs were being laid. Double yuck. I salvaged the basket by running hot water through the affected areas to melt the sugary goop away.

Then I set out a couple traps … one with balsamic vinegar and the other with red wine. The fruit flies loved the wine. I called Dot to see how she was dealing with her fruit fly problem. She uses banana peel, and her landlord upstairs uses rum.

My mom swears by Heinz vinegar. She tried using President’s Choice vinegar as a cheaper alternative, but it is apparently not the same.

My traps caught a couple more tonight (a recently finished bottle of red wine with a smidge of liquid at the bottom works well), and I am only too aware of at least one remaining somewhere in my apartment. I am paranoid that the flies have found another breeding ground unbeknownst to me. I really hope that’s not the case though.

Ooohh, I feel so grossed out.

My friend Dot was looking into suitable programs for field trips at the Vancouver Aquarium and came across this promo for a Valentine’s Day event called “An Ocean of Love”:

There’s some seafood on the menu, which I found not a little bit ironic. Call me unadventurous or narrow-minded (or simply ungracious), but I had much rather be taken to Tojo’s for some good sushi without sea life overlooking my shoulder.

At any rate, I suppose it’s an unusual (and likely an unforgettable) way to spend time with your own honey. And I imagine the proceeds will go to a good cause.

This morning, Simon, Jen and I went to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, out on Westham Island, just SW of Ladner. It was a chilly fall morning, but we were able to brave the cold outdoors by dressing warmly and nourishing ourselves each with a Breakfast Sandwich from Tim Horton’s.

On the way in, I was hoping to see flocks and flocks of snow geese from Russia that winter in this part of the Pacific Coast, but to my disappointment, none were to be found. There was no staff at the Sanctuary to confirm this theory, but with all the weird weather we’ve been having in the Lower Mainland recently, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have either left early or are arriving late.img_2236.JPG

As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by a few opportunistic mallard ducks, hoping to be fed. The mallards in the Sanctuary are incredibly sleek and healthy, in much better shape than the ragtags ones that live in Stanley Park. “So plump!” Jen kept on saying, and visions of duck for dinner flitted across my mind.

We picked up a few packets of birdseed at the entrance of the gift shop. Because I was carrying a lot of things, it took me a bit of time to streamline. By the time I was ready to go, a group of ducks had gathered around us, hoping for a throw of birdseed.

There were a LOT of ducks, and most of them were pretty shameless in following us around for food. Mischievous Simon kept throwing gobs of birdseed at my feet when I wasn’t looking, causing me to be swarmed and temporarily trapped by pecking ducks. He thought it was really funny and giggled like a school boy. Thanks a lot, Simon!

In addition to mallards, we saw Black-Capped Chickadees, Loons, an Eagle, Eared Grebes, a flock of big, white birds in flight (possibly Egrets), Wrens, a few Red-Winged Blackbirds, Housefinches, and American Coots. But my favourite sighting took place on the way out of the Sanctuary.

Spotting a flock of some other big white birds feeding in fields, I asked Simon to pull over for us to take a closer look. At first, I thought they might be stragglers from the snow geese migration, but they were in fact Trumpeter Swans!! I was so happy to see them finally with my own eyes! And they really do sound like trumpets!

… I find this clip so funny, but I do:

I have a thing for birds. In case you’re wondering if I’ve gone loony and eccentric, let me assure you that I have not. I have no intentions in getting a Tilley Endurables hat nor a pair of binoculars.

Simon recently observed to me that my family is into birds. That’s sort of true. When we were kids, my mom regularly took my sisters and I to go feed the ducks and swans at Stanley Park. In the summer, my mom watches birds in Dad’s lovely, lush garden. I also have fond memories of watching hummingbirds feed on honeysuckle with Mom in the summertime.

Anita likes to watch birds all year round from the windows at home; she has spotted quite a few species over the years, to the point where she’s bought books to help her identify them. I like visiting the Reifel Bird Sanctuary a couple times a year, and can stay there for hours watching birds. I like to go especially when the snow geese from Russia stop by, in the late fall.

I don’t think I developed an interest in birds directly from my family (it’s not like my mom is a diehard birdwatcher), but I suppose we do feed off each other’s interests in unconscious ways (e.g. my dad likes to watch nature documentaries). Anita is definitely more into birds than I am, and recently recommended The Life of Birds with David Attenborough. I have been dying to get my hands on this series (which recently came through on hold for me at the library) ever since she told me about the superb lyrebird, whose vocal and mimicry abilities are so … well …. superb, that it can imitate the click of a camera shutter and the screetch of a chainsaw. See for yourself an excerpt from the series featuring this amazing wonder of nature:

The one bird I really want to see sometime in my life is a Trumpter Swan. This bird was first brought to my attention when I read E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan as a child. It remains one of my favourite children’s novels because it is essentially an underdog story.

Anyways, enough of birds for now, although I’m starting to plot how to make it out to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary this weekend or the next. The sancutary is located on Westham Island so I need to find someone with an SUV and crazy enough to go with me, especially in this weather.

I love my job. I love getting paid to read. I love the lifestyle the schedule allows me to have. No evenings. No weekends. And because I work on a compressed schedule, I get a long weekend every other week. This past weekend was one such weekend.

Typically I use my Mondays off to run errands, do chores, and catch up with friends. Yesterday, I ended up doing a LOT of catch up, with 4 different people, and a dog (like a real one)! It may sound tiring, but my day was well-paced, and I kept up surprisingly well. After meeting up with Andrea (who works a compressed schedule that coincides with mine), I bussed out to Kerrisdale with meet up with Sandy. She brought along Polo, her adorable golden retriever. It was weird to see Polo active because I have ever only seen him loafing about at Sandy’s house, entreating visitors to pet him.

We took a seat by the front window at Cafe Artigiano so we could keep a watchful eye on Polo tied a bench on the sidewalk. Polo has been kidnapped before, so Sandy is very protective of him. After our coffees, Sandy invited me to come along to a nearby off-leash dog park. This is the infamous park where Sandy has met some very interesting people, so I was curious to see this piece of important geography in Sandy’s life.

We got there late in the afternoon, and it was quite the sight to behold! I counted 18 frisky dogs, big and small, zipping around the field. It was a bit unreal, there was so much energy and excitement vibrating from the dogs. I don’t know all my breeds, but there were a couple yellow labs, a bulldog, a dalmatian, a husky, and a border collie mix out there. I have never seen SO many dogs in one place apart from the Superdog show at the PNE.

The dog owners were a bit unreal too. Noticing that they greeted each new arrival on the scene, I was amazed that everyone knew each other’s names as well the dogs’ names. It was also amusing to see many of the owners milling about, carrying a chuck-it, like it was part of the fashion of being in a dog park. I asked Sandy about this evidently tight connection among the group, and she acknowledged that it does seem a bit cultish.

If you are ever looking for an unusual but social and fun place to be, I highly recommend visiting the dog park near you.

Here’s some background on thefourthpotato‘s reference to “the spider-pan” in his recent comment on my wasp post:

One thing I don’t miss about living in my parents’ basement are the wolf spiders. When the seasons change, they crawl out of the woodwork and give me a lot of anxiety. These guys have hard, crunchy bodies and move VERY quickly. They also bite and can grow quite large (I’ve seen one as large as the size of my palm). With their antennae, they look freakishly 10-legged.

I HATE wolf spiders and have no qualms about killing them. I have been bitten a number of times by them in my sleep. Who knows how many I might have accidently ingested. Blech.

I kept a blue dustpan and brush ready at hand to deal with these critters. This pan was dubbed “the spider pan.” Whenever I spotted one zipping across the carpet, I brushed the spider onto the pan, and bounced it like crazy to keep it disoriented. I would bounce the spider on the pan all the way to the bathroom and flush it away with great triumph and relief. “Die, spider, die!” I sometimes cried.

The other way I dealt with these guys when they retreated into hard-to-reach corners away from me (who can blame them?) is spritzing them with hairspray. Their joints stiffen in seconds, and I would either brush them out or suck it away with the vaccuum.

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