Mary

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“Are you really bringing Mary to Athens?”

My sister responds with a picture message of her cat sitting on the floor of her car.

She tells me she couldn’t leave her at our dad’s house, which I understand. It is far better for Mary to be an inconvenience than ignored.

Three hours later, Lea is in my apartment and Mary is settled. She scurries around the vicinity, taking in flashes of her new surroundings. It doesn’t take long for her to become comfortable, and she darts into my room for a more thorough exploration.

But Claire sees her, and naturally, Mary has to approach any new being she encounters.

“Oh no. Why is there a cat in here?”

Minutes later, Lea spies Mary in Claire’s arms.

Lea thinks that Mary was born erratic. Claire told me that since she’s technically still a kitten, she’s still in the phase where she wants to play with everything – and for her, playing is clawing and biting whatever comes her way. I say she experienced a somewhat terrifying event as a baby. Why else would she always be on the defense? Whatever the back-story may be, one cannot deny that there is something about Mary – it’s just hard to determine whether this something is a good thing.

Despite the threat of attack that still exists after her recent declawing, you want to touch her more than anything.
You want to cuddle with her and hold her like a baby. You want to scratch her chin and feel her fur that’s so soft you swear there’s a rabbit gene somewhere in her chemistry. Getting to feel her fur for a number of seconds is worth whatever scratches and bite marks she inflicts on you – yes, she’s that fluffy. She’s so fluffy that she feels luxurious, and it doesn’t even have to make sense.

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She’s so fluffy that she looks fat – she’s actually very skinny, though, which was proved the time she decided to jump into the bathtub with my sister.

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She holds a fascination with anything that is bathtub. If you shut her in the bathroom, the first thing Mary does is run to the ledge of the tub and hide between the shower curtain and its plastic liner. Always. She does it when I shut her in my bathroom before we leave. It is out of respect and precaution.
I have already been blamed for Mary’s great escape in December. I am not about to put up with this demented animal’s antics again.

She darts.

She invades spaces and claims new territories – atop a desk or buried away in a closet.

Earlier today I spied her trying to climb my coat.

She has taken a peculiar liking to a large Ziploc bag back home, and likes to lie inside it, face out, like she’s inside a transparent sleeping bag. She’s staring at my sister in the photo. She always stares.
I still don’t understand how a creature without thumbs can warp this way.

But then again, I don’t really understand much about her.

Late last night, I awoke to find her nestled beside my legs. She looked straight at me, her eyes yellow and wide like twin full moons.
She didn’t race up to swat my face or pounce on my thigh when I turned. She just sat there and stared at me. She might have even been purring.
Mary and I had officially formed a bond.

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Lycidas 3: Have Fish, Will Travel?

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Before you read this, please know that despite the absurdity of this post, I am being completely serious.
You all need to know that I adore my fish. I think he’s the cutest thing in the world. I talk to him every time I see him. I even wrote a haiku about talking to him (talking to my fish/probably is not okay/oh well, what the hell).

But I have a problem. As of two hours ago, it is officially December in this time zone. The last day I need to be here is the 10th, unless by some strange turn of events I finish my Ulysses project three days early – and that isn’t happening, because this project is worth half my grade and I want to make an A in the class, dammit!

For me, being on break isn’t just about being back in my hometown and hanging out with my sister and her cat – it’s also about much greater things, like free food, going downtown and begging my friends to get pizza with me, and sleeping until noon every day. The holidays are such a special time, and I really want Lycidas to be a part of my winter break, because let’s face it: if he isn’t, then he will die.

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If only this guy could take care of Lycidas.

Who would be in Athens to take care of my fish? Nobody. And it’s not like I could just give him one of those big fish food pellets that can keep a fish alive for a week, because I will be gone for at least three weeks.

Then there is the whole water question. I have to clean out his tank biweekly because the water gets really cloudy and Lycidas does not enjoy swimming around in a rave from the 80s. And do you know what else water does? It evaporates. If I were away from Lycidas for three and a half weeks, then half the water in his tank would evaporate in my absence. I could ask somebody to watch him for me, but I don’t really know anybody who would be here the entire break.

It may be crazy, but I feel like the best option here is to take Lycidas home with me. There’s just one little issue: Lycidas lives in a filtered tank – he needs those little air bubbles to live. He can last in a vase for 15 minutes whenever I clean his tank, but I don’t know if he’s strong enough to take on sitting in a plastic cup for two hours while I drive to Macon. To be honest, that probably classifies as animal abuse. Plus there’s the whole issue of him dying in my car. You guys know I believe my capability as a responsible person completely depends on my ability to keep Lycidas alive, and since I’ve managed to do so for three months without any trauma, it would break my heart if I killed him when I was doing my best to keep him alive.

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Note: Lycidas is not a goldfish. I just like this picture.

I am truly in a predicament. Do any of you know anything about fish care? What about fish transport? Would it be better for me to leave Lycidas in Athens with some kind of pet-sitter? Or would he have a stronger chance of surviving through Christmas break if I took him home with me? And this isn’t the only time I would be away from Athens for a long time. Even though it’s far off, I still worry about what to do with him when the school year finally ends and I go home for the summer.

What is the best way to handle this situation? Will my baby die if I put him in a plastic cup for two hours? Is it possible for him to handle the stress that comes with long-distance travel? Can I make the possibility of spending Christmas with my fish a reality?

Stellenbosch

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This is Stellenbosch. It’s beautiful, right?

After leaving Phinda, the four of us (me, my sister, my dad, and our friend Schalk, who lives in Stellenbosch and therefore showed us around) drove back to the Durban Airport. Our flight to Johannesburg actually got delayed for five hours because there was a crack in the plane’s windshield. It was okay, though, because we found another flight (shout-out to OneTime Air) and British Airways gave us a refund (shout-out to British Airways too, because that was really nice.) So that only left us an hour behind schedule.
And what did we do on our first night there? Oh yeah. We ate, and then we got drunk at a bar called The Mystic Boer. Well, they got drunk. I kind of took one shot of something that tasted atrocious (oh yeah, it was Patron!), looked around the room and saw lots of guys, and it made me miss mine. I am obstinately loyal, and all I really wanted to do was go back the hotel because it had heated bathroom floors and the bed… oh my god.
I slept beautifully, especially because I didn’t have to wake up at 5:00 the next day. And then I got to have coffee and French toast and fruit and yogurt (Bulgarian yogurt is the best yogurt ever, by the way) and I was so happy.

Then we went out to this place that um, has a bunch of cheetahs… I forget what it was called. All I know is that I got to pet a cheetah and his name was Joseph and I foolishly took a Doxycycline pill without a Tum so I felt really sick. Also I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in the cage.

We thought the cheetahs there were drugged because they were so… calm. They weren’t, though. Cheetahs keep their activity to a minimum when they don’t have to do anything that involved running because running at high speeds takes up so much energy for them. Except I don’t really know how they’d get much running done in a fenced-in area.
Cheetahs also have a wonderful sense of humor, I’ve discovered.

And yes, I have to represent my country.

Stellenbosch (and greater Stellenbosch) is famous for wine and Stellenbosch University. I’ll start with the wine.
From my observations, Stellenbosch is South African wine country. And the wine is pretty good, which is saying a lot, because I can’t really drink alcohol without making a funny face and feeling shivers run down my back.
Personally, I think the cheese was better. South Africa is renowned for cheese as well. Heaven!

A giant wine bottle obviously means that my sister needs a new profile picture.

After all that, we just went back to the town and walked around a little. I think Schalk drove us around the university too. Lots of white buildings.
We made a few friends, too – part of it might have been fate, but most of it was my dad’s lack of restraint when it comes to talking about himself around people he just met. But it turned out well. We ended up going to Cape Town that night with them to see our new friend’s son’s band 3rd World Spectator play a show at a restaurant. It was pretty fun. I got to try pizza with bananas on it, which is actually really good. I knew it would be, too. And the band was great. They can do a mean cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, and I really like their song “Ambulance.” And then I sat by a fire and fell asleep sitting upright, which was a great new accomplishment for me. Ha!
The next day we actually went to Cape Town again (because we had actually planned it far in advance instead of mere hours before), so that means I’m out of Stellenbosch pictures and tales. Actually I have one more. We ate Indian food with all the people we met, and it was a really good time. I do have a picture of that.

 Well, that’s all I’ve got from Stellenbosch. I need to go to bed – I’m kind of in trouble because of something my puppies chewed up. And I have tons of Austria things to do tomorrow, so I need to fall asleep within the next hour. The internet just loves to distract me.
Anyway, I’m out. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow!

The Book

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Here’s the book I made my dad for his birthday if any of you are interested in looking through it.
And yes, that does mean I managed to work through the Blurb software. Hope you like it!

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/2726282/a8e468f069b53e36cb19c6902eb2762d0ca745ea

Safari: Day 5

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My immune system has weakened over the past week. That means I have the flu, and that means I have spent the majority of my day in bed finishing up this photo book and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix (but mostly watching Avatar). I have finished arranging the book, though, so that means I can return to posting, and that means I can finally sum up my days on safari – and that means you get to see lion domestic violence.

Here is the lowdown: The pride we saw the night before has two adult males in it, and they’re brothers. The older brother is in charge of the pride. Under lion hierarchy, any additional adult male is ranked under not just the leader, but also the lionesses and the cubs. You know how Scar is an outsider in The Lion King? It’s kind of like that.
On this morning, however, the younger brother decided that he wanted to be in charge. He challenged his brother and won, making him the new leader of the pride. All the lionesses and cubs were supposed so follow him now. Except that didn’t necessarily happen. One of the lionesses went back to the old leader, and they had it out.


Anyway, the photos:

The older brother

The cubs kept sneaking up and trying to watch the fight. Then the old leader would roar at them and scare them away. I thought they were adorable. They’re just like humans!

Then we drove away because we were afraid to keep following the lions. A girl in our Jeep was so afraid she was in tears. I don’t blame her, though. If that happened while I was on my very first day on safari ever, I would freak out too. The game driver got a transmission saying that two male cheetahs we saw earlier that morning had made a kill, so we headed in that direction.
On the way, I finally got to take a decent picture of a giraffe.

And we saw our new friend Hal.

I just think cheetahs are really great animals to photograph. It’s like the cheetahs at Phinda knew exactly what I wanted. The next time I saw a cheetah, it would be in captivity.


Well, that concludes all of my safari posts, and that means I am about halfway through my trip. I’m dead certain that I’ll be stuck in bed all day tomorrow too. I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of my photos and experiences from the trip.
Goodnight! I’m going to watch some more cartoons now.

Safari: Day 4

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Photos from day four:

You know, just some baby cheetahs being adorable.

And here is their mommy

The cubs kept trying to act like their mother, which was precious. Unfortunately, it meant that anything the mother tried to hunt heard or saw the cubs and ran away.

I’m sorry about the fuzz on my lens. Or whatever it was. I couldn’t get it off no matter how many times I cleaned it.

But the mom looked straight at me, which was awesome.

I can’t remember what kind of bird this was.

And then we ran into a rhino…

.. and her baby!

And after it got dark, we ran into the pride of lions. Lions hunt at night, so it was easier to find them.

The baby!

I know I’m getting kind of repetitive with my safari posts, but the good news is that I only have one left, and it’s a really exciting one that includes lion domestic violence. And I’ve got some videos of it, so you’ll get to hear what I heard and understand why I believed I was about to die.
Tomorrow will be much better. I promise!

Safari: Day 3

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On the third day, the traveler Sarra witnessed a monkey giving another monkey a hand job and two male buffalo fighting over what must have been a classy lady. And then Sarra saw a pregnant zebra, and she found it amusing. And then Sarra drank coffee, and it was good.
And then Sarra was almost attacked by a monkey, and that was not good.

I hope my impression of the Book of Genesis is okay. I’m just trying to switch things up a little because I want to have a lot of fun writing this post. Writing is always fun, but uploading pictures on here is pretty tedious… There must be an easier way to do this. But it is very important to me that you find this post enjoyable because the third day was one of my favorite days on safari minus the part about a monkey threatening to jump on me. And I have a video of my reaction, so hopefully you can sympathize with my fear a little. I tend to have strange fears. I saw some very interesting things on the third day and we finished our big five sightings. (The big five are what the five most impressive animals to see on safari are referred to. The animals on the list are the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo, and the rhino. There’s also a little five and an ugly five, which really amuses me.)

We started off the day by spending another sunrise with lions.


Then the lions started lying around, so we drove off to look for other animals. Probably buffalo, honestly. On the way, we encountered one slutty monkey. Or at least the monkey was a good friend for grooming the other monkey’s junk. But yeah, it looked hilarious.
*Note: This was the last time I ever saw monkeys without cowering in fear*

Then we stopped by a watering hole and looked at hippos for a few minutes. And I actually got a picture of a warthog, which is kind of hard to do because they’re really shy and run away from everything.


Then we ran into a herd of buffalo and watched two male buffalo battle it out.

After that, we stopped for coffee. By the way, I never mentioned that the coffee I had while I stayed at Phinda was the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life. Maybe it’s just because I’m in college so I’m mainly exposed to mediocre coffee, but I drank at least two cups every day, and I usually… never do that.

I look hot. 

Here is the pregnant zebra.

It was decided among the adults that we switch to a different area of the reservation. So we moved. And the change scared me, because it meant that we were surrounded by monkeys.

A while after I was scarred for life, we got in the Jeep again.

And we found an elephant.

Then we saw a leopard, but he was sleeping. We later found him eating a dead giraffe – he didn’t kill it; like I said yesterday, leopards will scavenge.

After that, we drove out into the darkness and looked at the stars. Being far away from a city and the light pollution that comes with it meant that I saw more stars than I have ever seen in my life during the nighttime game drives. I learned about some constellations that are only specific to the Southern Hemisphere, but that is for another post.
I really have to work on this blurb book for my dad and make actual progress before he comes home so he won’t be angry with me. I’ll be back tomorrow, but chances are I’ll actually be back later today because I hate the photo book software I’m using. I hope you liked day three as much as I did!