Saturday, July 23, 2016

touches of summer

We are already SO FAR INTO SUMMER! Definitely over the halfway point, and I have been HORRIBLE about at taking photos. Last year when I was doing my 365 I was unhappy because I felt like I got a lot of less than amazing shots just to fulfill the quota, but at least I was taking a LOT of pictures and bringing my camera everywhere. This summer has been a whirlwind, I feel. We lost a boss, gained a new one who is changing everything up, it's been incredibly hot (as per usual in south Texas) which has been draining, and I live in a household with a lot of roommates so I have been hanging out with them a lot verses going out. I have always struggled with my visions of having "ideal" summers, holiday seasons, etc., so I've definitely had to soothe my inner demons by realizing it's totally fine to relax at the end of a hard work day where I've been outside in the 103 degree heat index with 100% humidity, when the air conditioning is broken and you're yelled at and your animals are also panting because they're so warm but they won't crate why won't you crate damn it??? In the end, sometimes it's fine to let yourself watch Millionaire Matchmaker and drink beer on a summer night.

Here are a couple of photos I HAVE taken so far this summer




































Our keel-billed toucan, Lola. She is beautiful

Before Kelsey left us, I demanded we take "family photos" of us with our birds. I brought in bagels on my day off with washed hair and determination and not only did we take normal photos of us all together, but we also took "summer days at Wildflight" photos. GEMS!

We had an INSANE 4th of July party called "Star Spangled Hammered", so I decorated the path outside our house for the event

I wanted to take photos of bubbles at sunset, so THAT'S WHAT WE DID

This spiny soft-shell was found in the middle of the road with a serious case of scraped scutes on his plastron from the asphalt, so Laura brought him home and he was in our bathtub for two days. We made up a song for him (sung to the tune of "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake) - got that sunshine in my pocket, spiny soft-shell in my tub

Kazoo, while annoying, is cute. The dogs love running amok at the park across the street

We got a GRILL (one of Lauren's birthday presents from her parents), so we have been grilling out quite a bit. BURGERS AND SAUSAGES AND MAHI MAHI, OH MY!

Vestiges of fireworks

I love tiny frogs. My hands are classic animal hands, but they definitely make for interesting texture

Diana, our HA, made this AMAZING flag piƱata for Gracie. It hung in her exhibit for 4th of July and is now gracing Kitty's enclosure

I like this one because it kind of looks like a heart. I worked our 4th of July event we hold at the aquarium every year and watched the fireworks behind the Wildflight theater with my legs dangling over the ocean

Dani, our red-footed tortoise, on a little walk. I got burrs in my ass while taking this photo

Some of Andie's beautiful chickens. I really love chickens now

We made some maraschino cherry bombs for our Star Spangled Hammered party; it involves soaking them overnight in vanilla vodka, then dipping them in melted white chocolate and blue sprinkles. They were STRONG

More bubble-blowin'

Quintessential summer night

Reading on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. That and taking jumping photos

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

#weareorlando

On June 11 2016, a mass shooting occurred at 2 AM in Orlando, Florida. The target? Pulse, a popular gay nightclub that provided sanctuary for much of the LGBT community in the area. 49 victims were murdered and 53 people injured, making this the worst mass shooting in all of US history. Worse than Columbine, worse than Sandy Hook, worse than the other mass shootings we have learned about in school and why we did "red typewriter" drills to learn how to appear invisible to a mentally ill psychopath sporting a gun.

This wasn't an attack on a school, but at a nightclub specifically created for a community that requires refuge, where they are free to be themselves and should feel safe. But the shooter (I refuse to say his name, he doesn't deserve recognition) shattered that ideal when he armed himself with a pistol and an assault rifle, a gun that has no business being sold to the public, and two full magazines before stepping into Pulse and beginning his murderous rampage. There was a three hour standoff between the shooter and the police before it was over. A horrendous three hours where people survived through miraculous means - hiding, disguising themselves, playing dead - before police were able to rescue them.

The story shocks, sickens, saddens, horrifies, and disgusts. It is truly an extreme act of hate, one that robbed the Latina, Latino, and Latinx community of Orlando of a safe place, their sanctuary. When I read the report the next day at lunch, I asked the rest of my friends and coworkers if they had heard about it, and we all bowed our heads in silence. It is unfortunately an all too common story to hear about nowadays, guns are used almost daily in horrible crimes all over the world. And it is wrong that this is the norm. We have grown desensitized to these issues, yet nothing is changing. "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" is what Albert Einstein said; it may have applied more to scientific experiments in his mind, but I believe it completely resonates with this particular situation. Something needs to change and it needs to happen now.

This is a story that incorporates so many upsetting and controversial topics: gun control, homophobia, muslim extremists, terrorism, and acts of hate in general. All of it is culminating and creating something, something that is churning and boiling over as politicians grumble amongst themselves in their bare meeting rooms and courtrooms, and I hope the effect is positive. Already I've seen acts of kindness and feats of human strength that inspire me, make my heart feel hopeful. My own city, a southern Texas town filled with conservative, religious individuals, hosted a candlelight vigil for the fallen last night and lit the bridge with rainbow lights to convey our support and love for Orlando. Similar acts of support occurred all over the globe, including the lighting of the Eiffel Tower in rainbow colors, a tribute to a victim who worked at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, where scores of people raised their wands to the sky in a chilling display of light, and words of affirmation and of standing together from much of the Middle East. People have been swamping the local blood banks near Pulse when a plead for blood donors rang out in hopes of saving any of the injured rushed to the hospital after the event. Lines were so long that people were told to come back later in the week. Chick fil a, a notable anti-gay establishment, opened on Sunday (a first for many) to feed the people donating blood for the survivors of the attack.

In the aftermath of such a tragedy, it is a relief to see humans being so good to one another when we have already see how bad they can be. Unfortunately, it isn't enough. More needs to be done to change this.

I wrote this blog post not to report on the event, as I'm sure many of you who read this blog (the few there are out there) already are well aware of what happened and what is being done in the meantime to attempt to help. I wanted to write to provide myself an outlet for my feelings because, honestly, I am torn up about this. I have sadly been one of the masses who have been so hugely numbed by the violence in the world that I would write a Facebook status stating my support for their victims and their families, and then would move on. And then I would have crippling bouts of guilt; why would I write something about the Boston Marathon bombings when bombings like that occur every day in Israel? Why is France more important than something horrible occurring in Afghanistan? The answer is that it definitely isn't, and I don't feel that way, not really. But I was shocked when I learned that acts of violence were occurring in my own bubble, a bubble of safety I experience due to privilege, rather than out in places where the murder and horror occurs so often that it has become normal. Something that feels like poison on my tongue to say.

I have cried on and off about this attack, because it feels so close to home and I feel paralyzed and helpless. I am frustrated because I want so badly to help, but know that my voice is not the one that needs to be heard right now. Instead, I need to help boost the voices of others, the LGBT community that experiences this fear that an attack of pure hatred could alter their wolds forever (and it already has). I see my friends voicing their support on Facebook and feel like their words are so well orchestrated, woven effortlessly together to provide a clear insight into their opinion and what has happened, and I wish I could do the same thing. In my midst of grief and anger, all I can do is read articles about the fallen and learn about them, and learn how to help. I have decided not to post anymore about it on Facebook, not because I don't care, because I care so much, but because I know that my words of support are not the ones necessarily needed. We instead need to hear from the community that was affected, the ones who now feel like they can't be safe anywhere. Let's make the Latinx LGBT community the center of this and work to make their world safer, rather than making this "just" a story about terrorism. Although the shooter claimed that his horrible, HORRIBLE act was in the name of ISIS and declared his allegiance to them, this was in fact a case of homophobia and hate.

Now I want to provide a list of resources to help others learn about it, learn what they can do to help and how to provide support as an Ally without stepping over our LGBT sisters and brothers. As an individual, we can do what we can to help prevent this from happening again. Let's take a stand now and do what is right, even if it is not easy.


This article discusses good ways allies can help their LGBT friends. It's hard to stand by idle while something disgusting is happening, and these are good ways to provide support without accidentally making it about us. A TLDR: vote for more gun control and for gay rights, allow the LGBT community to speak and take a step back, donate blood, and check in with your own loved ones that may have been affected by this tragedy - are they doing okay? Are they eating enough?

Donate to the GoFundMe account that has broken records, raising over $4 million in a matter of days from 92,000 donors. Anything helps and it will provide funeral costs, shipping over bodies overseas to international families, and will pay hospital bills.

Anderson Cooper's tribute video to the victims. Learn their names and their histories (the article at the beginning of this blog post is also a good resource) and know that they were all stunning humans with hopes and dreams for the future. Celebrate their lives.

Stephen Colbert makes a good point about the "national script" that we all go through before promptly "forgetting" about these horrible events. It's definitely something to think about - how will we break free from this "script" in order to actually make a change, an impact?

Another great article about how allies can help out in this time of need.

Another reaction video where Trevor from the Daily Show makes a plea to strengthen gun control and to implement restrictions that will hopefully help to prevent such terrible actions.

And finally, my own city's vigil in the wake of the shooting. There are some lovely photos, and some of my friends are pictured. There will always be those who love and help in times such as these.


I want to end this post with something beautiful I heard about while perusing the internet today. During a vigil in Orlando where the names of the 49 victims were being read aloud, 49 birds flew overhead. An anonymous person attending the vigil saw them, took a photo, and later counted the birds. 49 birds, 49 victims, 49 souls flying overhead. The fallen were there with the mourning families and friends, providing a sense of peace as they grieved.




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

flashback

It's been two years and three months since I moved to Texas and boy it has been a WILD. RIDE. I never in a million years thought I would live in Texas, but here I am. I'm lucky in that I have a job that I'm incredibly passionate about where I get to do exactly what I want - play and train with birds all day - and I have an amazing community that I get to hang out with almost every day. Throw in the costume parties, dance halls, beach days and bonfires, cheap drinks, wonderful birding, and several other hundred adventures I've had since arriving and you could say it's a pretty good life. I found some collages I made of iphone/instagram photos within the first couple of months living here and decided to share them here, since that's what this platform is for :)



from left to right down the rows

  • My first beer-rita, with a Blue Moon
  • Harrison's Landing, a bar and restaurant floating on the marina that truly takes advantage of the beachy atmosphere
  • Jess and I at Whiskey River, a two-step dance hall that we used to frequent
  • Nacho in her enclosure; she's come a long way since then!
  • Getting ready for the St. Patrick's Day Block Party, sporting green (plus green Maeby)
  • Green beer at the block party, literally a week after I started working here
  • Roxie and I at the Spasmatics, the first time we ever hung out. Oh, how I love the Spasmatics!!
  • Whiskey River selfie with Elise and Jess! Miss those girls
  • Maeby is getting attacked by a dinosaur chicken nugget





  • Riding in the moving van on the way to Tejas
  • Some last peaks of mountains before heading to Flatsville (aka Corpus)
  • Manny and Maeby getting along while I unpacked in my new room with the NyQuil green carpet
  • While Mom was still here helping me settle in, we visited the Botanical Gardens. I was a bootiful butterfly princess!
  • By my old place there was a stream running along first the street, and then it wound into unmapped fields. I loved exploring there and finding raccoon tracks in the mud
  • The USS Lexington at sunrise on one of my first early shifts
  • Maeby likes to hang out on heads
  • An alcoholic cherry limeade at Fajitaville before they changed their beach bar. Now it's kind of weird with not that great of food and more expensive drinks :/
  • I took this photo specifically thinking, "Everything's bigger in Texas", because those apples are GIANT!




  • Jess and I used to have Wednesdays off together, so we called them "Wild Wednesdays" and went on adventures. This particular day we visited the science museum
  • Roxie and I at Whiskey River
  • I house and pet-sat for Tilt for like two weeks a month into the job, so this is me cuddling her cat Diego
  • Ah yes the famous Settlers of Catan night where we ate dinosaur chicken nuggets and I basically ONLY hoarded sheep since I didn't really understand the game
  • The badass Sandhill Crane named Bonaparte who got a robotic prosthetic limb that we found at the science museum
  • The Spasmatics!!
  • Our Orphan Easter spread. Orphan Easter of 2014 was the best, Kelsey fell asleep and didn't show up with plates or cutlery until late in the evening so we ended up eating out of solo cups; I learned how to cook a ham!
  • We witnessed the fireworks from The Hooks game across the way from the Spasmatics concert
  • Back in the "dark days" we didn't have many reliable show segments. I took this photo to remind myself that it LITERALLY could be a two animal show, and that's…that's just insane





  • Eva, Jess'es adorable pitbull, in her pirate costume
  • Bonding with Toby back in the day
  • I found this under our Employee Handbook shortcut on the server…I wish this was the real copy
  • Visiting San Antonio for the first time - a riverwalk boat tour!
  • I love horses, I want to ride one again SO MUCH!
  • Ripley's Believe it Or Not museum with a giant Trex head
  • The Alamo! I've been there twice now!
  • My Opa came and helped me purchase a new car for the first time in my life. I was at a loss when I was rear-ended at the end of my first day of work and my car was totaled; I cried so hard I almost threw up. I'm so blessed to have such an amazing family to send someone to help me out, especially my kind and patient Opa. We ended up getting Spixie, my bright blue Kia Rio, this day
  • Look at the difference between the rental car and Growler's poor crumbled back end





  • Sitting on some bridge steps spanning the length of the river
  • Every time I go to San Antonio its during Fiesta, the annual party that occurs around Easter. Here is some confetti from Fiesta the first time around
  • Sure does!
  • One of Wendell's many walks. He was such a gross and cute animal
  • HE THINKS HE'S PEOPLE!
  • Buc Days is a festival that occurs in spring that offers up a carnival, rodeo, some concerts, and a lit-up boat parade (apparently, still haven't been do this). I snuck this photo of the rodeo since you weren't actually allowed to take photos or video
  • If it fits, I sits
  • Said Buc Day carnival in fading light
  • Mexican food, since we're basically in Mexico





  • Jess and I went on an epic trip to Houston to see Bruce Springsteen! Despite knowing little to NOTHING about Bruce Springsteen, I HIGHLY ENJOYED IT! Also funnily enough, we saw the concert at a venue in the Woodlands where Drea happens to live (or her parents live there now), so it's like fate was bringing me to a place where our spirits could meet for the FIRST TIME
  • Delicious DRANKS in Houston!
  • I DEMANDED that we get Panera because I've only eaten at this magical establishment a handful of times and they make the most delicious, the most AMAZING food in the entire world. Here are two of my favorite foods - white cheddar mac n cheese and breakfast sandwiches
  • One of the huge perks of going to Houston was going to the Downtown Aquarium where Jess'es friend works. We were able to feed the tigers, meet BA and Vana's brother who they mercilessly beat up until they had to relinquish him to the Downtown Aquarium, and also fed a sloth!
  • A kitty cat we found outside of Laura's old apartment in Ingleside. He was SO CUUUTE, we kept him in the bathtub during Sunday Funday while we watched Game of Thrones
  • Kissing the baby boy, Manners
  • Posing at the Springsteen concert with Jess'es friend
  • I love fairy lights, if I had my way then everything everywhere would be PLASTERED in them and it would be like everything was covered in minuscule galaxies
  • The kitty and I! I hope he got adopted! We dropped him off at the shelter the next day





  • Laura likes to flip off EVERYTHING I take a photo of. In fact, I have a nice little collection of her middle finger
  • Another stray cat that wandered over to us on a Wild Wednesday while we were at the pool. Corpus is known for its extravagant amount of stray animals :(
  • There is a magical place here in Corpus where they sell to-go alcoholic drinks. You can even purchase an extra shot for your drink for another dollar and that, my friends, is how you day-drink in style. They even put colorful duct tape over the straw hole to prevent drinking and driving
  • MERLINNN!! Back when we were in charge of otters and my dream was truly complete, as I was able to work with both birds and watery mammals. I adore otters, they're definitely one of my favorite animals, so I was devastated when they were given back to the marine mammal department
  • Pool days
  • An osprey that hangs out behind Wildflight every summer. The first time I saw her I freaked out because I hadn't seen an osprey since Minnesota, and I was reminded of my magical forest home, but everyone else reacted in a "meh" sort of way since they see them all the time. I still love them
  • Since Merlin was about to leave us, we did a bunch of training and photo sessions with him. He's adorable
  • Little Merlin
  • Feeding him some meatball





  • Cinco de Mayo 2014. Jess and I went to On the Border for beer-ritas and queso, YUM!
  • The Buc Days carnival!
  • Nothing like fair food, fried and too expensive
  • We went to sit down in an open-air tent to eat our food at the carnival and there were two twelve year olds "spinning". We read the line-up and saw that they were coined as "DJ Squirrel". It will forever go down in history
  • A horrifying carnival ride
  • A smooth-as-glass ocean day. We rarely ever have no-wind days
  • Drunken ocean lights? I like out of focus light halos
  • Carnival shitty light beer!
  • The last carnival photo; I can't get enough of carnival photos, apparently


It's been a good two years - cheers to 2016! Going to make this summer count with late nights, summer photo challenges, plenty of beach reading, making my body fitter and healthier than ever, and hopefully LOTS OF TRIPS!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

victoria adventures PART II

After our trip to the Victoria Zoo and our delicious lunch at the brewery, we decided to drive around downtown Victoria in search of more adventures. I'm the type of person who thinks photographing cool buildings and getting coffee warrant the word "adventure", so that could mean anything. I'm flexible in my sense of wonder.

We drove around downtown and found something amazing.



This abandoned bank was entirely COVERED in beautiful graffiti. It wasn't tagging or turf war remnants, it was legitimate ART. And if there's anything I love, it's bright, colorful, fun art.







We drank in the murals coating the brick around the entirety of the building, me clicking furiously in my quest for photos and Drea pointing out the smaller pieces I might have otherwise missed in my thirst to capture this strange and wonderful building in the heart of a tiny, Texas town.







SO COOL!!











This one was my favorite - it reminded me of Adventure Time!



We also found Jack Skellington!

Along the street, there was a wall with gradients of color - from electric pink to turquoise spotted with cardinal red bubbles. What better for portraits and jumping photos??



















We really utilized the hell out of that wall.

Over an hour was spent at this spot, at which point the light was waning from Golden Hour, so we decided some coffee was in order, and then the drive home. On the way out of town, we also saw this additional rainbow mural - Victoria is a surprisingly colorful town.



Bonus photo of Drea sitting moodily on some steps.



I was really happy with these photos and this magical location. I would definitely use any of those backdrops for portraiture ANY DAY. I want to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone, which includes taking more photo of people, expressions, and actions. I will still take many-a-photo of food, animals, and scenery, but I also want to include more creativity, out-of-the-box, adventure shots!! And I feel like these photos can be included in that category.

To conclude the most perfect day ever, we stopped by one of our favorite pizza places to get a beer and then headed home for an episode of SVU.