June 12, 2017

Over the winter and Spring I’ve watched with curiosity as the Raptor Center got a facelift. They removed the old seats and plants as well as the fence and some of the yard. They dug down into the ground to lay a grid for new concrete slabs for the three new sets of bleachers and pathways. Over time they installed the seating, placed a wall of bamboo along the backs of the stands, added perches and plantings and a new almost invisible fencing along the front of the exhibit. 

Last month the Wildlife Theater made its debut with the all new “Earn Your Wings” program which incorporates all kinds of raptors from Harris and red-tail hawks to spectacled owl, a turkey vulture and (my favorite) Lola the aplomado falcon. The most recent additions to the cast are two pot bellied pigs, Annabelle and Bailey, who try hard throughout the show to join the flight show and earn their wings. When pigs fly… 😏

The demonstrations give the keepers the opportunity to teach about the animals, how they hunt, how they live and coexist with people, and what we can do to help preserve them in the wild. The birds fly all over the yard, over the audience’s heads to perches right inside or above the stands and one audience member is picked to wear a falconer’s glove for Lola to land on their arm. The animals are never forced to do anything they choose not to, they are all encouraged to exhibit natural behaviors through positive reinforcement – sometimes they miss a cue or fly the wrong direction, but the keepers just carry on with the show. It’s a great way to teach about these beautiful animals and give people an up close experience they’ll never forget.

June 11, 2017

Just a few fun things I saw while out and about on grounds today:

Every once in a while during summer you walk into the Family Farm and run across a little table and signs reading “Ask A Master Gardener.” Representatives from the Master Gardener Program at Washington State University make themselves available to the public to answers questions about plants and soil and bugs and gardens. 

Across from BugWorld there is a little wooden building which is sometimes held open by Zoo Docents to give people the opportunity to see critters up close and personal, present cool information about them and answer questions. 

Then, after work a bunch of our staff met to see “Wonder Woman” at Thornton Place in Northgate. OMG WHAT A MOVIE!! I left feeling somewhat deprived of oxygen – there were long moments wherein I don’t think I breathed at all and I think I could have donated adrenaline. Great moments of humor, good twists and turns, good effort to use the original story. Great action, great fun, especially with good friends. 

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 10, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 161: Farewell Party

June 10, 2017

Yesterday was about beginnings, today is about both endings and a new beginning. Two friends, coworkers, and partners will be setting off for new adventures across the country – tonight we gathered to bid them a fond farewell. Melissa is continuing her education in Richmond, VA and Carolyn will move with her to stay by her side, so we met at Carkeek Park to share food, laughter, conversation and memories. I’ll miss Melissa’s smile and great humor, I’ll miss Carolyn’s witty quips and Weekly Wednesdays, and of course there’s Mia. But we’re so excited for them, in a nostalgic and  bittersweet way, and we wish them great success and love and luck in their travels and their living. Bless you, ladies. 

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 9, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 160: Baby Shower

June 9, 2017

A new life is always something to be grateful for – one of my coworkers is having a baby! We got together after work to celebrate the coming bundle of joy with food and crafts, gifts and games. We signed messages in a few Golden Books, had cookies and fruit and veggies, chips and guacamole, and colored and tie-dyed onesies for the baby – this child will have to change clothes ten times a day to wear it all! 

Cezanne and Kyle received several hand crocheted blankets, a beautiful quilt, a variety of books, oh-so-soft stuffed animals, and the sweetest little outfits, hats and booties – they’ve chosen to be surprised at the baby’s gender so colors ranged from soft yellows and greens with a Zoo theme to match the nursery. Even their pup General got involved with the gift opening. 

We filled out our predictions for the Big Day, pink or blue nappies for our guess at gender. Then we divided into teams for a baby themed relay: Part one – drink a bottle of pedialyte/vodka (EWWW and NO, not a recipe for baby) – this was far more difficult than it looked; Part two – guess the baby food – not bad really, though I didn’t care for the peas; Part three – guess the mess in the diaper – identity the melted candy bar; and Part four – undress and diaper the baby, redress and swaddle, then read a story to the baby – Carolyn takes the prize for speed reading while rocking the baby so fast it probably had whiplash! 😆

A fun-filled evening with a great group of people for a very special reason. Congratulations Kyle and Cezanne; may your child be happy and healthy and may your lives together be blessed with love and joy and laughter! ❤️

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 8, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 159:

June 8, 2017

I was nominated to post a nature photo each day for 7 days on Facebook and nominate someone each day to do the same. I don’t always participate In these little challenges, but in this time of political unrest and pervasive bad-news, I thought it would be fun to add some beauty to the web and encourage others to do the same. These were my choices: 

Carkeek Spring

This was an area of Carkeek I hadn’t explored before, but was led there by someone I cared deeply about and is lost to me now. Bittersweet memories. 

Seattle Arboretum

A panoramic picture of the Seattle Arboretum, which I visited on a date with the man I loved. 

Sunset over Puget Sound

Another Carkeek moment shared with one of my best friends at a time when he needed the solace of sand and sea and love. 

Chilean Flamingoes and Coroscoba Swan

I love the graceful curve of neck and wing and bill. 

Cactus Flower, Las Vegas

Taken in the botanical garden attached to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Las Vegas on a trip I took with my very best friend, my Mom.

Zoo Rose

If you look closely you can see the bumblebee inside the blossom – he took no notice of me. 

Whidbey Island, South Clinton Beach

I spent part of my childhood here on this beach, many fond memories live here. 

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 7, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 158: Bats 🦇 

June 7, 2017

As I scratch a huge mosquito bite, I’m grateful for bats who eat the pesky bugs. In our area we have quite a few batty species, but some of the most common are the little brown and big brown bats. These are helpful little creatures which are insectivores and help keep insect levels under control. Despite fears to the contrary, they rarely carry rabies and they don’t bite people. Lately the little brown bat has been hit with the “white nose syndrome” which has devastated bat colonies in the East. If you see happen to see a bat and you think it is in distress but it does not show outward injuries, if it’s not in immediate danger just leave it alone – they are timid little creatures and prefer to remain unseen – you can keep an eye on it from a distance, but it may take off on its own once it feels secure. If you do find an injured bat, don’t touch it unless it’s in an unsafe area; contact a local bat rescue and they can assess whether the animal needs to be secured or left alone – it’s usually preferable to leave wild creatures in the wild if at all possible. 

You can help bats by placing bat boxes on or near your home – a safe place for them to roost during the day. 

The two bottom pics are of a tropical species – the Indian Flying Fox on the left and the Malayan Flying Fox pictured right – these guys are mainly fruit eaters; I love their sweet foxy faces. 

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 6, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 157: Go Mariners!!

June 6, 2017


Once or twice a season one of my coworkers makes arrangements for Mariners tickets – this time we had about 25 people attend. It’s always fun to go out with friends, great when you get to see an amazing game, and just look at that beautiful skyline! 

Mariners won 12-3 and there were some spectacular moments – 7 runs alone in one inning – a couple loaded bases with a double and a homer to run them in. There were a bunch of kids in the next section over who cheered enthusiastically throughout most of the game – we smiled and giggled at their energy. But one of the best moments of the evening was the virtual hydroplane race – they do this every home game and there are three boats, red, green and yellow – from the moment we arrived at the ballpark the bets were on. The boats line up on the big screen and the crowd cheers their favorite – we were on our feet screaming, calling out our colors, but no one more invested than Alex. Little did we know, one of the cameras was trained on our group and when the yellow boat came in first they got Alex’s victory dance in slow motion on the Jumbotron!! What a game!! What a night!!

June 5, 2017

Today I arrived very early and had time for a really long walk around Zoo grounds. I visited the Visayan warty pigs and the Thai Village, looping through the Tropical Asian forest path. Across from the Kea exhibit I was drawn by the sweet, spicy fragrance of the yellow blossoms pictured below – I stood and inhaled the heady aroma, eyes closed and with a smile of contentment – they reminded me of pikake, which sent my mind to Hawaii. Just lovely! 🌺

A couple times a year we have a meeting with the Sups to check-in, see how things are going and get feedback on job performance. Naturally everyone gets a little anxious about these meetings, even if there’s no reason to be worried, but this year I felt prepared and calm and was looking forward to the event. I truly appreciate that we receive feedback and constructive criticism from our administrative team, both from direct observation of the Supervisors and notes from the Leads. It gives us the opportunity to learn and grow and it makes it clear that they hold us to a high standard of expectation. 

I was so pleased to hear that they felt I was doing very well, that they appreciate my dedication and hard work, my customer service and sense of teamwork. They noted my love of the job, my consistency of attendance and punctuality, my patience and empathy in difficult situations and my positive attitude. One of the Lead notes really touched me, saying how they had appreciated my growing ease and confidence in Guest Services – I’ve worked very hard to learn every aspect of this complicated and important part of my job and it feels so good to have that effort be acknowledged! They also noted how I’ve taken my performance goals to heart; each of my goals are ongoing, needing updating and revision from time to time and they’ve appreciated the consistent feedback I’ve provided on my progress. 

I still have areas to improve upon, and I will continue to hold myself to a high level of expectation, but overall I was gratified and humbled by my review. 

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 4, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 155: Packing

June 4, 2017

Due to a shift switch I had a day off this week and I was grateful to have the time to get some things done. I packed up dvds and cds and PartyLite and thimbles and kitchen stuff and art stuff and photos and quilt materials, packed it all into my car and drove it out to my Mom’s to store. It took some creative stacking – but it looks like there’s room for more!

Almost everything in here is mine right now, thanks Mom for the help in storing my stuff!

I also went through my closet and packed a big bag of clothes and linens for donation and took out my old printer for recycling. 

I’ve emptied about half of my closet now, over half of the PartyLite pieces and most of two bookshelves, and I’m packing up crates of books and personal items to store next. The condo is starting to look more streamlined as I figure out what I’ll leave for staging before listing it. 

On the way home I stopped at Costco for blueberries, broccoli and cauliflower and I chanced upon a good deal for a carbon monoxide monitor, which I’ll need in order to sell my unit. At home I put groceries away, packing the fruit and veggies in 1 Cup bags for lunches and snacks, and happily took a nap – oh, I love naps! 

In the evening I packed some more items, cleaned everything out from under and behind the dining room table and swept the floor in the dining area – it’s really starting to come together. What a blessing to have a whole day to accomplish great things!

Posted by: JulieAloha | June 3, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 154: Bear Affair

June 3, 2017

Today was Bear Affair and it went beary well, or at least I heard bearly any complaints (though I’m sure I will if I continue being punny). Once a year we focus on bears in the Northwest, we invite conservation organizations such as Western Wildlife Outreach, Conservation Northwest and Wolf Haven to come share their message. 

There are crafts and giveaways, demonstrations by Fish and Wildlife and their Karelian Bear Dog program as well as our favorite demonstration where we set up a scene in the brown bear exhibit and let the boys go to town on it to show how not to set up a campsite or, in this case, a backyard wedding!

Photo by Aliya Summers

One of the big conservation efforts we’ve been involved with this year has been the North Cascades Grizzly Bear Restoration program. Bears play a key role in the wilderness, but brown bears in our region have become so rare that there is a very real possibility they face regional extinction. Interested in learning more or adding your voice? Check out Conservation Northwest’s website for more info. 

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