Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Town Monday: Happy Birthday Janey the Orangutan!

Janey the Bornean Orangutan at the San Diego Zoo (from google images)

Here in San Diego, we are inordinately proud of our zoo. We keep each up to date on zoo news, talking about the animals as though they're friends and neighbors.

"Did you hear Umngani is pregnant again?" (when one of our female elephants was in that condition for the 3rd time)

"Zhen Zhen took her first steps, and she's only 17 weeks." (baby Giant Panda)

"Someone just donated $15 million to the zoo?!" (local businessman Conrad Prebys)

Our current zoo news revolves around our super sociable, super artistic orangutan, Janey. She turned 50 on Friday!

Janey came to us in 1984. Apparently, she lived with Tom Jones, the singer, before that. This sounds only vaguely familiar, so I hope I'm not passing along false info.

Many, many moons ago, when Child #1 was much younger, we used to take picture books to the orangutan exhibit. Janey would amble over to watch Child #1 flip the pages. She's very visitor friendly, and you don't want to miss her if you're visiting our zoo.

Janey's nickname is Janey the Artistse. She loves to draw and paint. Some of her masterpieces have been auctioned off to raise money for the zoo.

Janey the Orangutan presents some of her artwork. (photo credit Vic Murayama,

And a few fun facts about orangutans:

-Orangutans are Great Apes (along with gorillas, chimps, bonobos and gibbons).
-Unlike other apes, orangutans don't live in troops, but are solitary. As a result, children stay longer with their moms (until the age of 8 years) in order to learn the ways of the world.
-Adult orangutans have the same number of permanent teeth as you (32).
-They are intelligent, use tools and have opposable thumbs.
-They are truly arboreal and spend all their time in the forest canopy.
-Females usually only have 3 offspring over the course of their life. Speaking from experience, this is quite wise. There are days when I find 4 quite the handful.
-Orangutans in capitivity live to be abou 59, so presumably we'll be celebrating Janey's birthday for years to come. ;)

Oh, and a bit of word trivia: Swinging from one branch to branch is called...brachiating.

Here's a link to the San Diego Zoo's ape webcam.

I'm this week's hostess. If you toss up a My Town Monday post, let me know here or on the official My Town Monday blog, and I'l set up your link.$15-million-donation,0,5340528.story

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Saint Dwynwen's Day

Who's Saint Dwynwen, you ask? She's the Welsh patron saint of lovers. She's also the patron saint for injured animals. Which goes to show they were already multi-taking back in the 5th century.

Here's St. Dwynwen's story (or at least one version of it).

Dwynwen was a virtuous and pretty girl. In fact, she was the prettiest of her father's twenty-four daughters. Apparently, the picture above doesn't do her credit. Anyway, Dwynwen was bopping around, doing whatever girls did back in the 5th century (eating rabbit? picking daffodils, polishing her dad's armor?) when she met this really cute guy named Maelon Dafodrill. Maelon was new in town, recently arrived from the north. Dwynwen and Maelon fell in love. No doubt you saw that coming.

However, Dwynwen's dad,
Brychan Brycheiniog, wasn't all that impressed with Maelon plus he'd already arranged a marriage to a prince for Dwynwen.

Hearing the word "no," annoyed Maelon. Let me interject here to say that Maelon was one of those guys who was super cute on the outside, but a major jerk on the inside. We've all dated at least one. Back to the story. Maelon was seriously annoyed that he couldn't marry Dwynwen. So, he had his way with her (you never know who's reading this blog), then skipped town, probably heading back up north.

Poor Dwynwen. She fled to the woods. An angel showed up and granted her three wishes. Dwynwen wished she'd never lay eyes on Maelon the Jerk again. Then she wished that she'd never have to get married. And, finally, she wished for the opportunity to help others wallowing in relationship pain. Also, somewhere in all of that, Dwynwen drank a potion to erase the memory of Maelon. And Maelon was briefly frozen into a block of ice, but then allowed to thaw.

What happened to Dwynwen? She sailed off in a boat to the east coast of the island of Anglesey where she became a nun and founded a convent. You can make a pilgrimmage to Llanddwynwen and visit its remains. There's a well with either a magic fish or magic eels that can predict the future of your current relationship. Might be worth it.

So, dear friends, Happy Saint Dwynwen's Day! Or...Dwy'n dy garu di!

Note to Mr. Summy: When celebrated in Southern California, Saint Dwynwen's Day involves the giving of chocolates, flowers and a sushi dinner out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Book Review Club (February 2012)

Welcome to our little Book Review Club! Interestingly enough, all our reviews this month fell into one of two categories: Young Adult or Adult. Please enjoy and add with enthusiam to your to-be-read pile. Happy February!

(young adult)

This month I am using a new, groundbreaking method for reviewing a book. It's related to the fact that I'm going to a new gym where I don't have any friends. Which means I don't have anyone to chat with while on the dreaded Elliptical. So, I've taken to reading. I'm usually ready to hop off after about five interminable minutes. Let's see how UNRAVELING ISOBEL affected my workout.

In a nutshell: Isobel's mom marries a guy she met on the Internet. They move to his creepy, gothic mansion, far from Isobel's friends. The good-looking, hands-off stepbrother moves with them. Isobel worries about going insane like her father when she starts seeing ghosts.

What I liked: The characters were interesting. The dialogue was snappy. There was a creepy, paranormal element. The mystery was totally sewn up. There were no plot holes (one of my pet peeves). There was a good romance. There were some unexpected twists. And it was humorous.

Elliptical Rating: UNRAVELING ISOBEL kept me going for 30 minutes! Thank you, Eileen! My heart thanks you, too!

Added Bonus: The grunting, sweaty man on the machine next to me moved after I laughed out loud a few too many times. Triple thank you, Eileen!

-Eileen Cook's website
-Eileen Cook's very entertaining blog
-A very funny (if I do say so myself!) interview I did with Eileen a couple of years ago

And now to....wonderful reviews by wonderful reviewers! Please click through. You'll be happy you did.


Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy (Fantasy)

Kaye of the Road Goes Ever Ever On: SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD by Kim Culbertson

Stacy Nyikos: THE APOTHECARY by Mail Meloy & Ian Schoenherr

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: DEADLY by Julie Chibbaro (Historical)

Beth Yarnall: ANGELFALL by Susan Ee (Science Fiction)


Patti Abbott: AUSTENTATIOUS by Alyssa Goodnight** YES! This is our very own Alyssa Goodnight's debut novel!**

Sarah Laurence: THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides (literary fiction)

Scott Parker: BURY YOUR DEAD by Louise Penny (Mystery)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: CATCH ME by Lisa Gardner (Thriller)

Linda McLaughlin: THE BREATH OF GOD: A NOVEL OF SUSPENSE by Jeffrey Small (reviewed by Teresa Zimmerman-Liu)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: TAIL OF THE BLUEBIRD by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Mystery)

Beth Yarnall: BONDS OF THE EARTH by G.N. Chevalier (M/M Historical Romance)

Beth Yarnall: FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT by Darynda Jones (Paranormal Romance)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!