A Disconcerting Challenge to My Assumptions

I opened my bridge for a cephalopod.

So, for those who don’t know, I’m a bridgetender in Seattle. In September, I will have been operating drawbridges for 20 years. It’s a dream job. Mostly very calm and normal, and about 5 percent white knuckle panic.

You get into a routine. Each bridge has its own rhythm. It would be easy to get complacent. I make an effort not to, though. Safety first.

But some assumptions you have without even realizing you have them. When something happens to mess with those assumptions, it can be very confusing. For example, you have a habit of recognizing John Smith because he’s always at the front desk of your office building. Run into him dressed in casual clothes at the farmer’s market on a Saturday, and you may have a hard time placing him.

Something similar happened to me the other day at the bridge. I heard a horn signal that meant a boat was asking me to open the bridge. I looked out the window to spot the boat, and all I saw was a motor vessel who could easily fit under the bridge, so surely it couldn’t be him. I looked around some more. Was there a sailboat in one of my blind spots or something? I stuck my head out the window. The coast, as they say, was clear.

How strange. I looked and looked. No sailboat.

Then I glanced at the motor vessel again, and realized that it had a giant inflatable octopus (supposedly a Seattle Kraken, for our new hockey team) on top of it. This made the vessel twice as tall. Of course he’d need a bridge opening. Of course.

As I opened the bridge for my very first cephalopod, I had to laugh at my hidden assumptions. Motor vessels of that type never need an opening. Horn signals are always sailboats. And you’re never going to see a boat-sized octopus, so if you do see one, your brain can pretend it isn’t there. For a minute, at least.

Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to snap this picture. Who would believe this story without a picture? I mean, come on…

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Exploring the Oregon Coast Aquarium

I have a confession to make. I absolutely love aquariums. Zoos, too, but aquariums even more. I’m most fascinated by animals that are nothing at all like me. Mammals? Pffft. I can imagine what it’s like to be another type of mammal. But I can’t wrap my brain around the life of an anemone or a sea cucumber.

So when I saw signs for the Oregon Coast Aquarium during my recent vacation, I knew I’d have to go. And it’s a delightful place.

As you can see from the pictures below, I was particularly fascinated with the touch pool in the Rocky Shores Gallery. I never realized that anemone feel kind of sticky. I won’t even get into what sea slugs feel like.

I got quite the shock at the harbor seal and sea lion exhibit. I was practically pressing my nose against the glass in hopes of seeing one swim by, when I looked down, and right on the window ledge, separated from me by only a thin sheet of Plexiglas, was what I thought was a rock… until it moved. What a delight!

I also would have overlooked the sneaky octopus if someone hadn’t pointed him out to me. I couldn’t have overlooked the biggest living crab I’d ever seen in my life, or the playful otters, or the many sharks, though.

And in the aviary I got to see my very first puffin. It made me smile. These are the buffoons of the bird world. That, and I like to say, “puffin”.

All in all, it was a delightful afternoon. If you ever find yourself in Newport, Oregon, I highly recommend this aquarium. And check out their Aquari-cam! Fun!

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Epic Animals Indeed

At the time I originally wrote this article, I was in a wonderful mood. I was writing this at the beginning of a mini-break, and it felt like the world Was full of possibilities. I was surrounded by good friends, loving family, and beautiful landscapes. As a friend said to me recently, we are hard wired for variety. Problematic at times, but very true.

Fortunately, our amazing planet is all too happy to provide us with said variety, and in this modern age, even if we can’t experience it firsthand, we can still do so vicariously. The following images are posted with permission of an AMAZING facebook page called Epic Animal. If you haven’t already checked it out, I strongly encourage you to do so. You will be in awe of what nature produces.

As I view these images, I often think about that unique set of circumstances that made me into me, rather than some other creature. It’s all so random and unexpected and amazing. What a wonderful world we live in! Enjoy!

Blue glowing coconut octopus

Blue Glowing Coconut Octopus

Rufous-Backed Kingfisher

Rufous-Backed Kingfisher



Peacock Spider

Peacock Spider


Unidentified, but still stunning!

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx



Praying Mantis and Butterfly

Praying Mantis and Butterfly

Come the Apocalypse, I Want to be with my Dog.

I have a new theory. The best possible thing that can happen when you are searching for a mate is a horrible first date, because then you can see how that person reacts under pressure. Stress separates the men from the boys. It cuts through all the surface bs and shows you what someone is truly made of. There are all sorts of ways of dealing with negativity, as evidenced by nature. All of these ways are legitimate, but only a few of them are viable in terms of a life partner in this modern world. Here are a few examples.


The Shark. In times of great tension, the shark will not only attack the source of the problem, but will also turn on anyone and anything that happens to be in his vicinity, even members of its own family. When in the midst of this feeding frenzy, the shark has absolutely no regard for loyalty, and does not care about who is on his side. When in the presence of this type of fury, there is nothing you can do except prepare to be eaten. Frankly, I find the shark to be tragic and self-destructive. And the most depressing thing about the shark is he cannot see why this type of behavior is a problem. Somehow being eaten will become your fault. You’ll never feel completely safe with a shark.


The Fainting Goat. Also known as the Myotonic Goat, this poor creature freezes in times of panic and keels over, thus rendering him utterly useless to himself or anyone else. I used to date one of these. Don’t ask me why.


The Turtle. When the sh*t comes down and you’re with a turtle, you are on your own. He will pull himself into his shell and wait for the boogeyman to go away. Oh, he’ll protect himself all right, but he won’t confront anyone or anything and prefers to live in a state of denial. He’s completely resistant to change, which makes improvement impossible. Also, if you come by his house and he doesn’t feel like talking, he simply won’t come to the door. Who needs that?


The Badger. No need to wait for a crisis situation when on a date with a badger. He’s going to be in a foul mood regardless, even if you could potentially be the best thing that ever happened to him. He’s never going to see it.


The Porcupine. Now, here’s a guy who is prepared. He doesn’t want to be messed with, and has made sure that he won’t be. The problem is, since all he wants is to be left alone, he’ll never let you in.


The Octopus. I have to admire this guy’s ability to avoid conflict. I like his stealth and intelligence. But if none of that works, he shoots ink. Do you want someone who’s going to throw stuff at you? No. That, and he tends to be clingy.


Frilled Lizard. You’ve probably seen one of these guys on the National Geographic channel. When you piss one of them off, the frill on their neck expands and they’ll chase you on two feet. Yes, they look intimidating and they get the job done for the most part, but honestly, what would happen if you stood your ground with them? Not too much, I suspect. I think you’d win that confrontation. These guys are all sizzle and no steak.


The Rattlesnake. The rattler is sort of a first strike kind of guy. He prefers to be the aggressor in anticipation of any possible antagonism you may or may not have in mind. Don’t hang out with the rattlesnake if you’re hoping for cozy get togethers with groups of friends.


The Praying Mantis. Honestly? Do you really want to hang out with a guy who is so desperate for sex that he’s willing to go there with you even though he knows he’s going to get his head bitten off for his troubles? This guy is so focused on what he wants that he has no concept of the consequences.


The Meerkat. I have to admit that I have a certain fondness for meerkats. They’re loyal. They’re family oriented, they’re protective, they’re cautious. But they’re also an emotional drain. They’re constantly anticipating trouble. They’re always on the lookout. Their watchword is paranoia. They never seem to relax.


The Benobo. Scientists have dedicated their lives to studying benobos, because these cousins of ours seem to be totally devoid of aggression. They’re the hippies of the primate world. They’re all about free love and live and let live. I could see myself getting caught up in this lifestyle, but I suspect I’d get fat and complacent, and years would go by without my realizing it.


The Dog. Dogs don’t seek fights, and in fact try to avoid them, but if you eff with them, they’ll take you out. I can respect that. They tend to restrict their aggression to those that deserve it. They’re loyal and protective, and usually generous and kind unless they’ve been abused. They’d much rather cuddle with you than argue, but they’ll do what they have to in order to protect themselves and the ones they love. A dog will always have your back. They also know how to heave a heavy sigh and release all tension. This, to me, is a very healthy and well-balanced approach to life. Yup, I’ll take a dog every time.

So next time you’re thrust into the dating world, pray for a flash flood or an earthquake or an armed robbery, because then you’ll know exactly what you’ve got on your hands. Disaster can save you a lot of time and heartache.