25 Years and A Day At The Zoo

Today was our 25th wedding anniversary and my spouse wanted to spend it at the zoo. So we went to the San Francisco zoo.

After that was a delightful dinner in Palo Alto.

Then this evening we re-lit our wedding candles (at the present rate of burn, we’ll use them up in about 25 more years…), 3 in a glass holder.

All in all a very pleasant day. Some photos of the zoo follow.

Taking pictures of animals it’s good to take many redundant shots. You don’t know when there will be a blink, a yawn, or a motion blur. That, and the plexiglass they use these days can put a lot of blur, reflections, and distortion into some shots. Still, I managed to take about 250 all told. More good ones that I could ever put up here, but these are some I like the most.

When looking at these, realize that some of these (the big cats in particular) were in rather large enclosures. A good telephoto lens helped a lot, as did a willingness to find gaps or angles where the lens could be placed so it did not need to see through plexiglass. For the big cats, the heavy steel cable mesh at each side of the window areas had room for a lens. Sometimes It took some leaning and / or some some imagination to ‘get the shot’. Often it took patience. The cats sleep mid-day, so the first pass by we saw nearly nothing. About 2 to 3 pm they ‘came out’ more.

You can click on these to get a very large version.

With that, here is my favorite single image of the set:

African Lion

African Lion

We have a special fondness for the big cats.

Tiger - side view

Tiger - in the grass

Though they can make you feel a little like lunch when they notice you…

Tiger - In the grass, looking at me

Tiger - In the grass, looking at me

I’m sure he was just thinking about a mouse or something… nothing at all to do with me…

Tiger in the grass, front view

Tiger watching me change locations

Or perhaps a “Bird-cicle”…

Flamingo on a dirt mound

Flamingo on a dirt mound

I also liked the flowers and plantings. This fellow caught my eye:

Succulent, Red and Green

Succulent, Red and Green

The penguins were waiting for the Food God to drop a fish

Penguins a gape

Penguins awaiting mana

While everyone focuses on the tail of the peacock, the rest of them is interesting too. These fellows roam the grounds ‘cleaning up’ dropped snacks and any stray bugs.

Peacock in Profile

Peacock in Profile

This guy was behind plexiglass, so the image is a bit soft and blurred. Still, I just can’t resist a “bird with a doo”!

Bird with a Doo

Bird with a Doo

Then while the Global Warming hysterics say polar bears are doomed if it get above freezing, this guy was getting a chin scratch prior to his mid day nap in the 75 F or so weather. No problems for this bear!

Polar Bear Chin Rub on a log

Polar Bear Chin Rub on a log

Next door his cousin was demonstrating how to peal corn on the cob with claws… Check out that paw. Yet he was neatly pealing individual husk leaves off and not breaking the kernels.

Bear with Corn On The Cob

Bear with Corn On The Cob

Then there is the peculiar look of a preening Pelican:

Preening Pelican, from the front

Preening Pelican

Preening Pelican Profile

Preening Pelican Profile

Of course, a late lunch is always a pleasant time, but this joey had the best idea. Grab a snack without leaving the hammock

Kangaroo Mom and Joey in the pouch, dine together

Kangaroo Mom and Joey in the pouch, dine together

And for no good reason, I really like this tree

Tree spreading laterally

Tree spreading laterally

I have to think it would make a very interesting jig-saw puzzle. I wonder what the minimum size order would be to get jig-saws made from some of these? The ‘texture’ photos I do would be devilish…

Like this one. (The “proper” orientation is rotated 90 degrees so the shadows are cast downward, but I find it more interesting this way)

Tree Limb Scar

Tree Limb Scar

And this flower had ended up on the ground from who knows where. The contrast in color and form caught my eye.

Purple Flower in Bark

Purple Flower in Bark

Then there was this odd bush with coppery tips to the strangely shaped leaves / stems. This IS the right orientation, yet looks wrong. And would be a very interesting jig-saw to work:

Bush with copper tips

Bush with copper tips

Scattered through the park are interesting bronze statues. Like this one

Bronze Big Cat with Kittens

Bronze Big Cat with Kittens

But after a full day, one gets tired. And thinks of things like naps…

Koala Tree Nap Time

Koala Tree Nap Time

They just lock onto a branch and nod off…

Dinner Out

We stopped in Palo Alto for dinner. Semi-randomly we chose a restaurant with a Mediterranean / Italian style. Turned out to be a bit pricey, but very very well worth it. I had ‘medallions of lamb in a wine sauce’ (I think they said Marsala wine, and I detected rosemary and garlic in the sauce too… I think… the spices were subtile in the blend and flavorful on the fork; but mixed in a way that no note stood out for inspection. Clever, very clever.) While my spouse had shrimp scampi. Both were spectacular. The scampi were in a lemon, butter and (something.. garlic?) sauce, but the name does not tell the spices. I love scampi and my spouse let me have a couple. The best I’ve ever had. The portion was large enough that even with sharing, there was some left at the end of the meal.

Both the spinach salad and the minestrone soup were great, too. Minestrone can be rather pedantic some times, this was not. Grated parmesan and ground pepper added at the table. Both the salad and the soup come in very large servings. Be careful not to fill up on the bread and soup, and I don’t think I could have both soup and salad and still have room for the main course.

For desert we had the best flan I’ve ever had. Just perfect. I had an espresso with desert (being as I was in deep koala envy and still needed to drive home ;-) and the whole thing ran out to $68.15 (though we only had water with dinner, being dehydrated from a day in the park the idea of wine was too drying and putting soda pop with this meal would have been criminal. The wine was about $7 or $8 a glass and the names all looked worth it.) They had some kind of Tuscan bread (about 1/2 a round loaf!) served with the meal. Rich, with meaty crumb, yet with a tender crust, with a textured top crust. Green beans and carrots (sliced about 1 cm x 1 cm x 10 cm) each in their own sauces, and in ample amounts. Cooked to the perfect ‘bit of crunch left but still cooked through’ stage.

The place? The receipt says “Osteria” 247 Hamilton, Palo Alto, California. 94301. Phone 328-5700. (Which I’m pretty sure is area code 650).

We got there about 5:30 pm and the place was full by when we left. And with good cause. Reservations would be needed ‘prime time’. Never been there before, but we will go again.

A perfect end to a perfect day.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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13 Responses to 25 Years and A Day At The Zoo

  1. Verity Jones says:

    Well Congratulations! And thanks for sharing the special day with us.

    My parents made their 40th; this year would have been 50. We have a few years yet even to 20.

    Don’t know if you know Christy Moore’s ‘The Voyage’

    I think it has to be one of the most beautiful love songs ever reflecting on marriage.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Verity Jones: Thanks, and you’re welcome! Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Not heard the song before, and it being 2 AM here, and me having the espresso wear off, I’ll probably listen to it tomorrow…

    It’s a bit strange thinking we’ve been married for 1/4 Century…

    Guess we both “wear well” 8-)

    At any rate, I’ve been having fun putting up some pictures for folks to see. If folks like ’em, I can put up more. Makes a nice ‘artsy’ break from the usual tables of numbers and mathematical analysis stuff of AGW dissection. I can only do one thing intensely for so long, then I need some relief for a day or three. If folks don’t mind the ‘scattered’ focus, I’m happy to share my more ‘arty’ endeavours too.

    I have had this nagging notion that someone in the world must do ‘contract printing’ of jig-saw puzzles and that some of the images I shoot would make good ones. If the start up cost was low enough to order 1000 units, I’d be willing to give it a go. On the other hand, if it’s all done in-house at toy companies, and the startup cost is a $Million cutting die, well…

    Maybe someday…

    But for now, sleep is calling.

  3. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    Contract jig-saw puzzles. we made a collage of photos for my parents’ 65th. Mother has always been a collector of photos and each of us has big albums of family photos going back to the 19th century.

    We scanned various from when they were each small coming up through the war, and to date.

    Collage was made in one of the Adobe Photo-shop (like) things which came with digital camera.

    We did a web search, picked a firm with customer contact in England and plant in Thailand. Sent a tif, got back a proof – issues were cropping, puzzle was made in Bangkok, flown to Manila, Anchorage, Memphis, and on to us, wherever we were at the time.

    It was magnificent – i think 30X40 – maybe a little smaller.

    We had a circus of all the kids for the event, and 2 days were spent assembling it. It is now framed on parents’ den wall.

    I will get you the name of the outfit – since they were very good, quite droll and it was another one of those great frustrations of life where you find a really good, really responsive vendor for a product you will need infrequently at best.

    I have a Norwegian supplier of gauges for things on boats. I have one each of everything they make which has anything to do with ours. I like them so much I could almost buy things from them I don’t need, but local exchequer would never stand for it.

    We’re underway. When we stop for night, I’ll forward name of the outfit.

    best, john

  4. Chuck Johnson says:

    Congratulations on your 25th. My wife and I just celebrated our 35th on Sunday. I rarely comment on any site but I really enjoy your blog. Continue posting your pictures they really make me miss Calif., especially the Missions. Thanks again for your efforts.
    Chuck

  5. pyromancer76 says:

    Congratulations on 25 years with all the joys and sorrows, wear and tear, and the unimaginable enhancement of life living in intimacy with the same person. My husband and I have managed 47 years (we were babies when we wed, of course), my parents 69. Others in the extended family have done as well.

    On our 25th we went to Wyoming, primarily to see the largest mammal groups possible in the lower 48 — as close to 19th century experience as we could get. And the experience was magnificent, especially the nanny elk signalling to a large group of young ones to hit the ground when coyotes made their presence known. Every single one went down. The other cows continued grazing with a watchful eye. Coyotes pranced through and out of sight. Hardly a bite of grass missed. Amazing.

    A wonderful idea, sharing a special anniversary of the sacred partnership with other species on this Earth. Your photos show your appreciation of their individuality. Thank you. And then a memorable meal. Our time is so limited; the blessings so many.

  6. j ferguson says:

    jigsaw2order was the outfit that did our jigsaw puzzle. The quality of the printing was very good, the pieces were well cut and everything about it was wonderful.

    They have a lot of options so it seems likely that you could get exactly what you want.

    Spouse and I are working on our 25th year together. We went to high school together. She went east to college. I stayed in Midwest. We then practiced on others, found ourselves divorced at same time in 1984 and here we are.

  7. Verity Jones says:

    @j ferguson

    “I have one each of everything they make which has anything to do with ours. I like them so much I could almost buy things from them I don’t need,..”

    That made me laugh so much… I know exactly what you mean.

  8. j ferguson says:

    @ Verity Jones

    The perplexing problem of the wonderful business you need once and can never need again drives me crazy. It may be that things you need frequently become commodities and the sellers become jaded.

    I bought 60 feet of very heavy copper welding cable from a company in Georgia, US, which made it there and was Israeli owned. I asked how this could be.

    They had built the Georgia plant when Israel was Palestine in the 1930s. The Israeli (then Palestinian) company had been selling cable to the Georgia electrical utility and it being the depression the utility was embarrassed about importing anything. The utility suggested that the Israelis make the cable in Georgia and if they would agree, the utility would find them a suitable property and give them a good rate on the electricity.

    And it all happened and they are still there making cable for US electrical utilities. They sold me 60 feet of welding cable (for the boat) at a very fair price and, alas, I’m unlikely ever to need their products again.

    i find out stuff like this because whenever I get wildly good service I ask the history of the company. And there always is one.

    I suspect there’s a good story to jigsaw2order. I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t ask.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, I just filled out an enquiry form on their web site. We’ll see what they say. They have a 50 sized lot for ‘events and contract manufacture’ or something like that. I expect prices drop a lot at 50 (from one off) and drop again as the lot size approaches 1000. We’ll see where the break even point lands. While I’d rather have 20 different puzzles in 50 sized lots, if it doubles the cost basis per puzzle, I’d swap to 5 puzzles in 200 sized lots…

    I’m pretty sure folks would not be willing to pop $20 / puzzle even with my “art” on it, so I’m hoping the costs end up with a competitive price point.

    At any rate, thanks for the pointer and we’ll see what happens.

    Per businesses you need once and love: That’s what postings are for ;-)

    And to all who liked the photos: OK, you’ve convinced me that you really liked them and are not just being polite… So I’ll continue to put some up from time to time.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the service at Osteria. It, too, was stellar. Our waiter was from Ireland. A very nice fellow. Service was prompt and very efficient. This is something I notice that folks often miss. A very good server will make one pass through the dining area for several tasks, planning the circuit for maximum impact per pass. Deliver a couple of dishes, take an order or two, check on a couple of other tables needs, pick up a dish or 4 or the way out. These folks were masterful. One guy cleared 2 tables in one pass including the table cloths (and without a cart or tub). He’d barely left the table when the next guy showed up with 2 “setups” of fresh white cloths, silver, et.al. Their was none of this ‘not my job’ stuff either. The person who seated us passed by, saw we were low on water and picked up a dish on their way to dispatch the water jug. Every person did whatever was needed. Reminded me of a family restaurant.

    When that happens you get a quiet swiftness about things. The servers minimize their trips (so get less tired and avoid frustrations) and the guest get maximal service per unit time. At one point my wife had paused, 1/2 way through the salad, realizing that if she finished it there would be no room for the meal. Our server noticed the pause and asked if we were ready for our main course now. Very observant and pacing things to match our pace.

    Sigh. It’s only been 1 day and I want to go back.

  10. David says:

    That lion looks to be such a noble beast. Right up until the time he makes you the main course before you get to your own. (-;

    Congradulations on a great day.

  11. Ken McMurtrie says:

    Hi EM.
    This type of posting is a great and welcome contrast to all the serious issues into which we tend to put our energies.
    Congratulations on 25 years of successful and what appears to be a very happy marriage. Best wishes to your family.
    Thanks for your postings.
    Ken.

  12. PhilJourdan says:

    I have never been to the SF zoo (even though I lived there 2 years), but the SD zoo is excellent! If the SF zoo is nearly as good (and from your pictures it appears so), it seems I missed a great place to visit in my tenure in that town.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    The SF Zoo is much smaller than the S.D. zoo. Both very good, but the SF Zoo is more a ‘short day with kids’ kind of place while the S.D. Zoo is a ‘take the tour bus to see it and if you like photography plan on two days…’ kind of place.

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