Bays, Biology, and Pygmy Bisons

Okay guys. This one is so important, I haven’t even taken a real shower yet… sitting here in my grimy travel clothes to get some important thoughts out. Let me tell you about a little camp, on a little bay, on a little side, of a medium-sized island, off of a big state called California. Lost yet? It’s the Catalina Island Marine Biology Institute.

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   Ask  yourself, if you had three science teachers who you absolutely adored, and they came to you with a plan to take a school trip to an island off the California Coast to go snorkeling and play with the Sea Lions, would you also stand up and salute the flag of the United States of America? Probably not, unless you were pretty patriotic and into that sort of thing… but you’d probably sign up wouldn’t you? Great! We have some common ground then.
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   Right off the bat we went snorkeling in blueberry-colored wetsuits. Loved it. A few hours later we went out again after the sun went down and when we had gotten the hang of it, we were splashing the water in the dark until we could see bio-luminescent glitter sparkling around our feet and arms. Later, we hiked to see the sunrise and instead of just that, we were given a morning light show featuring every color in the paint palette, complete with a molten-orange sun, which we realized was not the one moving, we were. For the first time, I actually saw the figures in the constellations as described by their names. A belt, a sword, a bull, a dog, there they were like glittering connect-the-dots with a series of confusing yet compelling stories attached. At another point, I thought I was really cool and painted the seascape while my feet contracted hypothermia in the sand. This morning, leaving, it felt like the final scene to a movie. We were piled on the ferry. We waved goodbye to our counselors and as we slowly slipped away, they waved back and dove into the ocean in waves.
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   Don’t you love being humbled by cool things? Nature for example. I feel like a krill or a plankton right now. I am nothing compared to everything, yet I am something and that’s important too. My religion teaches similar lessons, but it doesn’t sink in until applied and here was a prime example. I found peace in a place where I could accept myself and be boggled by Heavenly Father’s masterpiece at the same time.
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   Unbelievably sad on the trip back home, I wrote down some lessons I never want to forget. Mostly these are for me and my future self, but they’re also yours if you want them too.
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1) My she-homies and I were sitting on a bridge during some minutes of free time at some point with our feet dangling over a stream that led out to the ocean a few feet away, and ironically enough, we were talking about friends who we experienced bridge-burning experiences with and whether or not that was a bad thing. On one hand, some bridges have to go sometime, the “friends for a season” theory, and that can be totally okay and on the other hand, sometimes it’s better to work on the bridge and make it stronger.
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2) How important it is to stay busy, and not be idle. If you run out of things to do, leave your comfort zone. Be interactive with the human race. Push what you believe your limits are. Challenge old doubts and set new goals.
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3) Wake up early and crash hard each and every night.
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4) Kind of a weird but solid sea metaphor: Without Plankton, the entire ecosystem would crash and burn. Without the small things we take for granted, we wouldn’t be here. So appreciate them on a greater scale.
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5) Bison. I apologize, another metaphor. There are small Bison on the island, which are still huge creatures but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought the counselors were having an elaborate leg-pulling fest when I saw one dozing in the quad when we came into camp. They’re pygmy bison though, their structures have shrunk to adapt to a smaller ecosystem. So don’t be like the bison and get trapped on a metaphorically small island, like your house or a small community. Let yourself move and expand. Maybe that means travel, maybe that means reach out to people you normally wouldn’t, whatever the case; give yourself room to grow and build a larger character.
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6) Your 20’s are a time to go and have an adventure. Take care of your body and get good at what you love while not being afraid to learn something new. Mix it with seeking a great education, and don’t be afraid of smaller schools.
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7) Take advantage of all the natural wonders in your community. Earth is a gift, unwrap it.
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8) Friendship shouldn’t have age boundaries. Don’t prevent yourself from building those bridges just because they happened to be born a year that wasn’t same year you were. And if those bridges stay strong, it won’t matter in 10… 20 years, and you’ll be so glad you made friends with a fifth grader on the way to Catalina Island when he’s a rock star Paleontologist and great listener who you’ll be able to call and complain to someday.
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9) Any idiot can take a picture. It takes someone special to sit, watch, and wait and for something beautiful. Those memories will be more useful to you in your brain storage than in your computer storage. Then take the picture, but let the memory of the moment sit with you.
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10) And lastly, sometimes social media can make us feel like we can never be alone. Like when we’re walking by ourselves, and see a stranger coming from the opposite direction, that we need to pull out a phone and pretend we’re texting or calling someone. You know yourself better than anyone, so why not get to know your own mind and strengths before you put them out in front of the world? Work on not just building a self-esteem, but retaining it, so that eventually, you can be sure of yourself in front of anybody.
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Slideshow time! To set the mood:
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Thanks dear reader for doing what you do best here… have an amazing week!
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-SJT
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p.s.
Oh yeah, guess who said yes?utahlogo
   When the family picked me up from the airport they said that a big envelope had come for me while I was gone with a big red U on the front. We got to the parking garage where I opened it and started bawling into my dad’s shoulder. I’m going to college.
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This One’s for You Oreo

Almost exactly two years ago, my family sent me on a scavenger hunt on my birthday. It was after we had eaten dinner, and my brother slipped me a paper. This paper sent me to various spots around the house, where each sat objects needed to maintain a pet guinea pig. A bag of food in the bathtub, a toy behind a chair, a water bottle under the table… until finally it all ended behind the couch in the great room, a cage. I was beyond giddy, squealing and jumping up and down. All that was missing was the guinea pig.

“Can we go now? CAN WE GO NOW?!”

I pleaded with my mom.

“Sure we can go tonight, or we can go in the morning if you-”

“NO! RIGHT NOW!”

I grabbed her purse for her and sprinted to the door.

•••

We pulled into Petco at about 7:30. It was dark and I was humming with that birthday buzz and itch for a sweet baby gerbil to take come.

My 13-year-old nose was pressed against the glass. Three sets of rodent eyes blinked back. One belonged to a black guinea pig, little and black is all I remember. You don’t see many black guinea pigs floating around on chain emails or google images. They’re all brown and white- spotted but too much blow-dryer.

guinea pig hurley gforce brown white crazy hair
Some even make it to Hollywood

So I think that’s why I picked Oreo… she was so different.

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Not very photogenic but… different.

Oreo came home that night in a cardboard box on my lap with Petco’s logo on the side, and was put in a freshly made-up cage and pristine water bottle.  That night, I watched her royal cuteness sniff things as I lay on my bed, the happiest 13-year-old in the world.

It’s been two years and in that time. She’s put on a little weight and gotten a sister, Chewbacca. (Yes I did say sister) Chewbacca’s a little different than Oreo. She bites and doesn’t like people. But I didn’t realize until just recently how much she really loves her sister.

Two days ago Oreo got a boo-boo. You might call it a wart or a bubble but I think that’s all disgusting to we’ll just call it a boo-boo. The Boo-Boo started out very small and then became a big problem yesterday. Poor Oreo. We called a Veterinary friend, who highly recommended that we go to an actual clinic and get some antibiotics. So I put my little cookie into a basket, covered her up in a towel and gave her some hay to calm her fluttery little nerves.

There was a poodle with an earache, Finding Nemo in the corner, and Nurses that were larger than life. Gosh I love those ladies. They came over and googled at Oreo but then winced at the Boo-Boo.

We sat in a room with the Doc who basically said,

“This is a pretty serious boo-boo. We’ll use medicine, which might work, or we’ll do an operation which might work a little better. ”

Behind his words I heard, “She’ll just die one way or another.”

We chose the medicine route and Doc took Oreo in the back to clean up the Boo-Boo.

We went back out to the living waiting room and waited. Nemo was still on. One of the Nurses went out to check on Oreo, and came back with a bent frown.

“Poor little Oreo… what a sweet wittle Guinea Piggy!”

She was sweet. Why do you think I named her after a creme-filled-cookie ?

The managing nurse came over to talk to us about the medicine. Doc came out with my basket and my trembling critter under her towel.

Doc told me that she was one of the best guinea pigs he’s ever worked with.

That was a hammer to my heart. I never realized this, but Chewbacca’s a normal guinea pig apparently. Let that sink in.

I lifted the towel.

She had a shaved little bottom with the exposed Boo-Boo, nasty stitches, and yet, she was the sweetest thing. She looked up at me and said, “Mommy, it hurts. I wanna go home.”

I cried the whole way home because if it get’s too bad, the $800 operation might just stop her little heart, so we’ll have to…

I have experienced death passively but I’ve never once held a little life in my hands. I suppose this is what it’s like being a mother. Providing life and love for another who would be nothing but a whisper in the wind without you. It’s incredibly hard to watch that life suffer and sit in the hands of fate instead of in yours. Your loving and protective hands.

She’s a guinea pig. Not a child of someone’s in Iraq or an at-risk-youth in the streets. But I get it now. Why it must be so hard for mommies to let go, because things like this might happen if you leave and then I’ll never be able to forgive myself. All children are sweet to their mothers. And it’s that sweetness that delivers a blow to the heart.

Chewbacca and I have three more weeks with Oreo. But that’s not all. My whole family does too, they love the pigs very much. (Yes dad including you somewhere deep down!) Tonight my little brother made a make-shift hut out of a cardboard box for Oreo because she has to be quarantined away from Chewbacca and the wooden hut they already share. My own mommy shredded paper and cleaned away the boo-boo germs for, as she calls them, her “grand-piggies”.

You, my dear dear reader have got a mommy too and other people who love you almost as much as she does. So please, do your best not to get hurt, whether it be staying away from drugs, designating a driver, or just walking away from the fight. “You’ve only got one life so make sure you live it right.”

This one’s for you Oreo.

13th Birthday

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Mommy loves you Oreo. <3

-SydneyJoTo

Study Habits! (yeah right.)

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Studying for Bio Test tomorrow.

Study/ Procrastination Habits Include:
•Commuting home.
•Not grabbing a snack.
•Making study area comfy (I’m supposed to be there a while.)
•Opening Bio binder and stare at study guide for two minutes
•Stretching and figure it’s time for break
•Reading latest addiction, “Anne of Windy Poplars”… Write down quotes on bookmark, “My very soul has wings!” -Anne
•Leaving for an impromptu family dinner at Aqui in basketball shorts
•Convince sobbing brother that “trying new things isn’t always bad!”
•Fro-yo for dessert… Yogurt-hating brother fills his cup; sisterly success!
•Pet Store pit stop, grab the pigs bedding and let “Grandpa” splurge on an edible tiki hut for his piggy grandbabies HAHA
• Come home, clean pig cage (NEW RECORD: 7min!!!)
• Hot glue gun the thatched roof on tiki house to prevent edible destruction
• Admire cuteness

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• re- assume studying position
• Kryptonite stare……………..
• blog

Epic Crabbing Adventures.

 

This is a post about a beautiful adventure with beautiful pictures. Not so many words… Forgive me? It’s also a journal entry of my first epic adventure of 2012, which took place (on/in?) Tomales bay on a motorboat I call Little Luno. My co-adventurers? Dad and his dad, my awesome adventure-seeking Grandpa. Our quest? To get crab, and lots of ’em. Equipped with eight traps and a bucket of nasty meat (Grandpa’s “Secret recipe”) we set off.

For all you my faithful readers, I apologize for pictures being rare on this blog, but today you’re getting your fix. All I’ll do is commentate.

Secret recipe? Ha ha think not, this is just a shmiggy of it.

Motor-homers can camp out while crabbing, if you’re hardcore enough.

Again, expert steersman Grandpa starting off… quite the bicep workout if you ask me

HA! My Uncles advice, you’re crab luck comes by petting the lucky feather.

We forgot to pet the feather.

Celebrity homes perhaps? I hear George Lucas has a place in the vicinity…

The smart crabbers out with their one-liners… but we’re the daring ones.

Pulling up for a pit stop

(Literally)

Welcoming committee was pretty grouchy, seemed to bark at all passerby’s.

A map of the Tomales: $23

We pretty much parked at the bottom and traveled up and down all day.

Cozy little bait shop, trophy fish pics and their proud sunburned fishermen

beaming at the camera.

Figured instead of putting our faces IN the holes we’d get a scenic shot of the whole thing.

We made our way to the dock, “This is where we say a lot of ‘How’s it goin?’s” -Gpa

Just scoping the scene.

I love the perspective here, our three shadows and a little girl waiting for her parents to pull up something good for dinner. The people here are experts and it was neat witnessing them do their thang.

Siblings, Aw how cute :]

WHAT DID I TELL YOU?! THE SMART ONES!

Blonde moment: I thought this meant the dock we were walking on.

Gorgeous water #1

Gorgeous water #2

(sorta) Gorgeous water #3

Visiting the locals

The most adorable stares I’ve ever received.

ELK!!! (Of course dad flips out)

How to pull in a crab trap, (Pretty self-explanatory)

FOR THE RECORD: The only dungeness we caught that day was in that trap.

Lunch Break: Little Luno :]

The tide swells so quickly here, there’s no need for tide pools.

It’s pretty much a living beach.

Discovered this little dude squirming around, attempted to help out,

I picked him up with seaweed… string and plopped him to freedom.

He gave us a “good riddance” ink jet and disappeared

Grandpa found a trail that led to a creepy little… picnic area?

Someone liked Tarzan.

Found this in somewhat of a random area, but it was a sweet little mini memoir all the same.

A view looking back, and most of that greenery is poison oak/ivy. This is where Grandpa informed us, “Ya know, there’s probably a big mountain cat about half a mile a way… and probably a bear in two.” I freaked and headed back to the boat, “Okay, time to go now!”

And then sweet Grandpa, bless his heart, let his granddaughter take the wheel, stick, motor-thing

Epic I know :)

And yes, it’s more complicated than it looks.

OH! Best part! While I’M driving my dad decides to feed the gulls (aka sea rats)  the extra bait we’re not using. So they FOLLOW US in a SWARM just waiting for us to empty the next trap fill of old bait. My dad’s just laughing at how they can catch food in the air while I’m trying to see past the flurry of feathers as they’re practically DIVE BOMBING the boat!

Thanks dad.

CHICKEN MEAT too! How wrong is that?!

Sea Rats.

This is where the slide show ends. After evading the feathered greedy-poos we made it to shore. We came home with six mean red rock crab and one dungeness. Although the meat’s not deserving of mayo, they’re still going to make for amazing crab cakes.

With our sad catch, I think the sun warmed the bay and cleared the sky out of pity for us. It’s January for Betsy’s sake!!! Instead of the rain and fog we expected, the weather made for beautiful pictures I hope you enjoyed. Well it’s off to the cupboard with me now before my dad yanks the laptop away but on a final note,

It’s days like these when beauty clears my mind, that it’s easy to think about Jesus. (Before the sea rats) More than once that day I imagined what it would have been like to be Peter on that fishing boat, looking up from my net of flopping fish and seeing my best friend and master walking across the swells towards me. I felt him close that day, and I feel ready to start the new year with this beautiful adventure under my belt. And that’s all…

-SydneyJoTo

Silly Sparrow

This morning, I heard a squeal. So I ran to the back of the house… Which was where my mom stood in the preschool. (Yes… we have a preschool attatched to our house.) I guess my mom had left the back door open and a BIG FAT sparrow… (And clearly confused) had flown into the catapillar room… And kept trying to fly through the WINDOW. (stuuupid) It just kept smacking the glass, and I could hear little grunts of frustration. Well instead of helping my mom whistle to it in birdie language, trying to lure him out the door again, I BOOKED IT DOWN THE HALLWAY to get my camera before It got away.
By the time I got back it had hidden from my mom behind a drum in the corner. Sadly, There was no way I was gonna get that picture so I put down the camera with a sigh and joined my mom the bird whisperer. Then I had a lightbulb go off.
I….. RAN AROUND THE HOUSE behind the door that was behind the birdie, BANGED on the door, and I heard my mom’s shout of triumph. (And in the backyard Mr. Birdie singing “I Will Survive” -Gloria Gaynor)

Well now Mr. Birdie’s got the whole wide world to explore… And crash into. Even though I COULD’ve kept him… As a really COOL pet…….. I didn’t.

Cause my mamma taught be to be a good Samaratan. Or a good animal rights activist…. person.

Moral of the story is… Well I don’t know because there’s about 500 analogies you could make with that so I’ll let you pick one! :)
-SydneyJoTo

Recap: Stupid Bird crash lands on planet catepillar, and Is kindly released by moi. Birdie fly away never to crash again. (Hopefully)