Orono Kids Climate Action

Yesterday evening we hosted a Kids Climate Action in downtown Orono. Families made signs and got together with drums and rattles and cymbals to parade around the downtown. The weather stayed clear and we had a wonderful time.

Reid paints his “Wake up People!” sign.
Kids lead the climate rally across the bridge in Orono.
The kids really got into it, holding their signs for passing cars.
The whole crew assembled. Adults and kids both asked “Can we do this again?”

Salsa, Octopus, Train

Wesley, Alden, Reid, Liam and I created a new variant of Rock, Paper, Scissors called “Salsa, Octopus, Train.” It goes like this.

    Train beats Octopus. (squish)
    Octopus beats Salsa. (slurp)
    Salsa beats Train. (spicy)
  • However, unlike “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” the game doesn’t end there. In Rock, Paper, Scissors, when you tie, you simply go again. Ties are strategically valueless. But in Salsa, Octopus, Train, ties are an opportunity to score a point, using a second set of rules:
    1. In a tie, Salsa beats Salsa, Octopus beats Octopus and Train beats Train.
    2. When a tie occurs, such as “Salsa, Salsa,” the first person to quote the rules, such as “Salsa beats Salsa, so I win,” gets the point. However, experienced players are often both prepared to quote the rules, leading to a rule quoting tie.
    3. In the advent of a rule quoting tie, the first person to concede the point to the other player, such as “oh, right. You win,” actually wins the point. However, expert players are often both prepared to concede, leading to a concession tie.
    4. In the advent of a concession tie, or any other disputes, no points are awarded, in the fashion of basic Rock, Paper, Scissors, and regular play resumes.
  • This creates a nice little sub-game, which changes the focus and makes it quite interesting. We would love feedback if you try!
  • Olympian Trees

    By Reid

    We thought our camping trip was coming to a end, but Bri and Anna (our uncle and aunt) invited us to the Olympic Peninsula to use our tent once again. First we set up the tent (in the HORRIBLE weather—it was really windy and rainy). Once we finished we waited for Bri and Anna. After a little while, they finally arrived.

    The next day we drove to a six mile hike. We noticed how huge the trees were: not as big as red wood trees but very close to that size. The hike was long but we survived it. After that we went to the hot springs. They where surprisingly warm but not too hot.

    The next day we went to a beach at low tide. There were so many things: star fish, anemones, sea urchins and……….A DEAD SEAL! After that Liam, Anna, and I wrote a 🤑, a huge 🤑. We also flew a mini kiteboarding kite.

    The Olympic Peninsula is rain forest, but different from Costa Rican rainforests. It’s wet and full of life!

    The Belize Zoo

    Before we left Belize, we visited the Belize Zoo, which is largely a rescue and rehabilitation center for all sorts of local animals.

    Kids with their new Belize football jerseys.
    We stayed at the Tropical Education Center near the Zoo. It was very well build, maintained and run, and staffed with nice folks. Researchers and student groups stay here.
    Katie leads the family to the Tropical Education Center. Note the tropics.
    Reid comparing his size to the Jarbiru stork. They are gigantic. We saw one.
    Here it is. It’s taller than Reid, and it was aggressive! This is the bird I mentioned we saw in the wild in Lamanai in a previous post.
    That’s a nice thought. Would that we the moral progress of nations WERE judged that way.
    Yeah. Crocodiles. Right there. Don’t get eaten.
    Liam and Reid looking a little less than absolutely comfortable with their new scarf.
    Tapirs are weird animals, and they project their pee backwards by about 3 meters!
    Katie charms a boa constrictor.
    Spider Monkey in the Zoo.
    One of the Jaguars at the Zoo. This one is Chiku, I think.
    Reid looking out from our balcony at the rental in San Ignacio.
    This is a beautiful mural in San Ignacio about social harmony. “All ah we dah one!” = We are all one.

    This country is unbelizeable.

    The English Creole (spelled Kriol in Belize) is a wonderful English-proximate language, which we tried and failed to get the hang of. We do have bits though: “Dis da fi wi chickin.” This is the chicken for us! A very good, locally-phrased advertisement about chicken grown by the Belizean Menonite companies. They explain it here.

    Some Guatemalan politicians are attempting to claim a large part of Belize. Belize is not having it. There will be a referendum before the International Court of Justice this spring. “We Belize” means “our Belize” in Kriol, of course.
    Katie stands in line for a local bus while the rest of the family rests. The buses were filling up in Belize City with folks going home for Christmas. This meant that in Belmopan (the capital), they were not taking passengers. We waited about an hour and then got a taxi ride with a guy named Glen.
    We arrived in San Ignacio and went looking for a restaurant. On the way we inspected a broken down neighborhood playcar. This thing probably saw more use from children in the last five years than from adults when it was functional.

    Once in San Ignacio, our first trip was to Xunantunich. Xunantunich (Stone maiden) was a city of the Yucatec Maya. Ceramic pots at Xunantunich start at 1200 BCE. Xunantunich held about 10,000 people at its height. It is special because unlike other ancient Mayan cities in the region, it survived the decline of the Maya in the central lowlands, even including Tikal the largest Ancient Mayan city site in central America. The main temple is called El Castillo, and looms to 120 ft high.

    The car ferry to Xunantunich is operated by a hand crank.
    We got a ride with our guide, as it started to rain.
    Hard to find better traveling partners that Bri and Anna!
    Katie climbs El Castillo.
    The fresco on the list of El Castillo. The character in the center is the rain god. The Mayan decline is known to have coincided with major drought. I believe Ixchel, the moon God is in there somewhere, too. I could be mistaken though.
    Katie snipes from the top of El Castillo, Xunantnich.
    The family standing on the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple still towering above the Belizean jungle. What lucky people we are to get to see this!
    Nothing good to say here.
    Centuries later, the rain at Xunantunich is going gangbusters.

    After San Ignacio, we treated ourselves to two nights at a very fancy jungle resort, name Chaa Creek, during Christmas eve and Christmas day. It did not feel like Christmas, but it sure was a gift. The place was gorgeous, the staff were extremely courteous and hospitable, and the guests, aside from being too wealthy on average for my tastes, nice too. We stayed in the cheaper “camping” part of the resort, and Wow.

    Where we were staying at Christmas. (Not this cabin precisely but the one next to it.)
    We wend on bird walks both mornings. Because of out time in Costa Rica, our whole family loves central cool birds. We’ve become birders, I think. Alex as a great guide.
    Reid spies a pair of Lessons mot mots, I think.
    Goofing off in our cabin.
    The regal Keel Billed Toucan. What a bird. Yes, that was yours truly.
    Katie in her chosen habitat, a pool in a jungle.
    I forget which heron this is.
    Never can get enough.
    Black-headed trogon
    Eating palm berries.
    You can never get good shots of Morphos, except in a butterfly house.
    Liam inspects a morpho butterfly, reminded of Monteverde.

    Heard mot mot in the morning
    Brown Jay
    Band backed wren
    Golden fronted woodpecker
    Great tailed grackle
    Plain Chachalacka
    Clay colored thrush
    Keel billed toucan x5 – toucans are viscious predators. They eat the eggs of other birds, and they have a great, creaking, cracking squawk.
    Great kiskadee
    Melodious blackbird
    American red start
    Magnolia warbler
    Summer tanager
    Wedge-tailed sabrewing hummingbird
    Red throated ant tanager
    Hooded warbler
    Wood thrush
    Boat billed fly catcher
    Rose-throated becard
    Squirrel cuckoo – Cuckoos are brood parasites. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and when their eggs hatch first. Soon the cuckoo chick pushes the other eggs out of the nest. Finally, it stays and gets all the free food it can often growing larger than the host species. It’s revolting.
    Lineated woodpecker
    Slaty-tailed trogon (one of our favorite groups of birds, now, the trogons)
    Yellow throated euphonia
    Rufus-tailed hummingbird
    Social flycatcher
    Black-headed trogon
    others I wasn’t fast enough to write down.

    Canoe paddle
    Collared aracari x3 (check these guys out online, they are rad)
    belted Kingfisher blue 
    Russet-naped wood rail
    Keel billed Toucan
    Lessons Motmot
    Gartered Trogon male and female
    Melodious Blackbird
    Rufus-tailed hummingbird
    Montezuma oropendola – never thought we’d see one of THESE here. What a find!
    Masked tityra – the masked tityra female takes over the nest of a woodpecker and modifies them to her liking

    Quirks on a Reef

    For the holidays we spend a whole week on a small Carribean island with the Quirks and Brian and Anna. The outfit, called Slickrock, was a good combination of low tech and well organized. The guides were gentle, kind, people, who kept us snorkeling and kayaking and snorkeling and windsurfing and snorkeling and eating and snorkeling and kite surfing and snorkeling and SCUBA diving and snorkeling and kayak surfing and snorkeling. And snorkeling. We also ate *very* well, and spent time with the delightful other guests on the island that week. It was unlike anything we’ve ever done.

    Reid and Liam wait to board the batfish, the boat that will bring us to Glover’s Reef.
    It was a 3 hour boat ride from the coast to the reef.
    And this is the island! The wind gives the coconut palms a wild feeling.
    This was the group of visitors the week we were there.
    Nico and Anna weave palm fronds.
    Reid collects some coco plums.
    Shortly after sunset.
    Our family’s cabin at sunset.
    The harsh rock and shell beaches of the island.
    One of the hundreds of conch shells that line the paths around the island.
    Daddy opens yet another coconut. Daddy loves opening coconuts.
    Liam and Reid discuss important matters with their island friend, Lolla.
    Liam and Daddy windsurfing!
    I don’t think this needs a caption.
    A pencil sea urchin
    A scorpion fish
    A baby Caribbean lobster
    A baby decorator crab
    The tide pools reveal brittlestars
    Our superhero snorkeling team
    A large iguana
    Reid lines up for his turn for coconut bowling the day we leave.
    The Quirk-Waring-Quirk-Vodickas wrap their week on the reef.

    We saw an unreal amount of sea-life that week. Here are our highlights. Seriously, our note taking proved inadequate to the task.

    Black Tipped Reef shark (Reid’s favorite fish)
    Nurse shark
    Queen Angel Fish
    Queen Parrot fish
    Black Durgeon
    Queen Trigger fish
    Damsel fish (their immatures are small dark blue numbers with brilliant iridescent blue spots)
    Sergeant major
    Blue-headed wrasse (Tim’s favorite fish)
    Spotted Eagle ray (everyone’s favorite ray)
    Scrawled file fish (Liam’s second favorite)
    Honeycomb Cow fish
    Spanish hog fish
    Lion fish (invasive, beautiful, the guides were killing them when possible)
    French angel fish
    Blue tang
    Scorpion fish (Tim was proud to have spotted a couple of these camouflaged deals)
    Yellow-tailed goat fish (digs in the sand)
    Fairy Basslet (another favorite)
    Black grouper
    Tiger grouper
    Golden tailed moray eel
    Change more ain’t you
    Purple moray eel
    Spotted moray eel
    Stoplight Parrot fish (Liam’s favorite fish)
    Puffer fish (juvenile)
    Porcupine fish
    Trunk fish
    Needle fish
    Trumpet fish
    Midnight parrotfish
    Some kind of flying fish that we saw while kayaking

    Non-Fish ocean creatures
    Sea cucumber
    Bandage coral crab
    Spanish lobster
    Caribbean lobster
    Elkhorn coral
    Staghorn coral
    Fire coral (branching)
    Fire coral (leading)
    Brain coral
    Sea fans
    Barrel sponges
    Christmas tree worms
    Squirrel fish
    Yellow stingray
    Glass eyed snapper
    Spine sea urchin
    Long spine seat merchant* Poisonous
    Pencil sea urchin
    Maritime hermit crab
    Brittle star
    Fairy shrimp
    Sea goddess (small sea slug)
    West Indian sea welp (a sea snail the shell of which was a common choice of for terrestrial hermit crabs)
    Sea turtle (Tim saw on a scuba dive)
    Hammerhead shark (Brian and Anna saw on a scuba dive)

    Frigate birds
    Brown pelicans

    Coconut Palm
    Coco plum

    Land life
    Hermit crabs

    The Lamanai Mayan ruins, Belize

    We began our Belizean adventure with a trip to the Lamanai Mayan ruins, near Orange Walk. Lamanai means submerged crocodile, apparently, which is appropriate. We saw one on our way there.

    Thanksgiving 2018

    Thanksgiving in Maine, 2018. We had the Eely-Warings and the Waring-Warings and Orion, who gets his own mention. It was delicious. Highlights include chasing Orion in circles, cooking with Liam and Reid, eating great food for 4 days. And catching up with rellies.

    Common Ground Fair

    This year we volunteered at the homesteading tent at the Common Ground Fair. Liam said “I think it was a great experience to help out at the Fair.” Reid said “It was one of the best Common Ground Fairs I’ve ever been to.” Liam and Reid guided visitors in making corn-husk dolls, and Katie and I helped people make tortillas and served soup. Volunteering made it feel much more satisfying. Afterward we went to the big feast for the volunteers, which made it special as well.