Two Bunnies in a Canoe and Other Curiosities

Posted in Mixed Nuts on July 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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Once again, it’s time to ramble aimlessly through a few images that have caught my eye, but don’t seem to say enough to provoke a gush of prose from me. Just as well. The pictures tell the stories better than I can.

Our next door neighbour got a couple of bunnies some time ago. I think they were dreaming of raising the delicious little furry ones for an occasional treat, but somehow ended up with two males. Though they are useless for producing more bunnies, they are cute. Lately they have been lounging in the hot afternoons in the shade of an old canoe which is turned up on its side:

Two bunnies in a canoe

These bunnies are incredibly docile. I have little experience with rabbits that did not involve putting a bullet through them. Hey, we were hungry. These guys are exceedingly cute. When you hold one, you can feel its heart going thumpity- thump.

Under the heading of strange phenomena, we have this large red flower that popped up in our yard one day, seemingly from nowhere. Juli, our haus meri,   is forever finding interesting plants and bringing them home. She never mentions it, so we never know what to expect. I don’t remember seeing this one anywhere else, but then I haven’t been everywhere, have I?

Strange red flower that appeared from nowhere

The multiple-blossom bloom is about the size of a grapefruit and spectacularly red. The vegetation appears to make it some kind of lily. I’m far too lazy to search for it. If you know what it is, please leave a comment.

Sticking with vegetation, here’s an unremarkable image that somehow gets under my skin:

Three leaves

Tropical plants often produce leaves that change colour radically as they mature. Someday, I’ll have to get a shot of a mango tree when the new leaves are coming out. They are bright red. There are lovely bright green bushes that grow across the front of our yard next to the water (see the leaves in the next image). When the new leaves come out, they are a lovely yellowish-orange colour. I shot these three this morning by the light of the rising sun.

When I had the image above adjusted to my liking, I still wasn’t happy with it. It seemed too . . . clinical, as it it were a specimen shot. I tried a few things to juice it up, but nothing was working. Then I thought of an old darkroom technique called vignetting. It simply means to fade the edges either darker or lighter. In the old days, if we wanted to do it, we’d make a mask to hold over the photographic paper as it was being exposed. Holding the mask a few inches above the paper and waving it around caused areas of the paper to receive more or less light, according to the shape of the mask. Photoshop provides an easy way to vignette an image. In this case it worked a treat. It is a much more dramatic image with the darkened edges to frame the subject.

The last shot is a bit of a puzzle. I have not changed the angle. The water drops are underneath  the leaf. How they got there, I do not know:

Water drops underneath a leaf

I can only speculate that water falling on the leaf below splashed up and stuck to the bottom of the leaf. You can plainly see that the drops are much puffier than usual, because the force of gravity is pulling them away from the leaf instead of pulling them onto it. They are also drooping a little, since the leaf is not horizontal.

Two thoughts are competing in my head for attention. One has something to do with smelling the roses. That works for me, but a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut is nudging in also. He said, “I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

The centre is boring.

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Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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When I got home from work the other day the neighbours had something unusual in their small haus win* near the water:

A floppy-eared Papua New Guinean bunny

Yes, one does not see rabbits every day in Madang. I learned that they had purchased two rabbits at the Mt. Hagen market for K6.00 each. They looked quite healthy to me. They were very tame. The kids were mauling them without mercy. Here is the pair of them, a male and a female having a light snack:

Bunnies having their dinner

I came across a couple of items on the web about raising rabbits in PNG. One concerns taking pressure off of tree kangaroos by assisting villagers to raise rabbits for food. The other is from the Tenkile Conservation Alliance. It also discussed rabbit farming as a way to conserve native wildlife.

Their gigantic floppy ears remind me of the huge White-tailed Jackrabbits that Eunie and I hunted for food when we lived for a summer in Montana. We were dirt-poor. We couldn’t afford to buy meat, but we could afford to buy .22 Magnum cartridges for my Marlin rifle with the big ‘scope. I don’t know how many of these Lepus townsendii ** we shot that summer, but they were getting pretty scarce in our hunting range by the time the leaves were turning:

Lepus townsendii - the White-tailed Jackrabbit (summer coat)
That was the summer (1963) that I learned that Eunie, at least for stationary targets, was a much better shot than I. It was humiliating. We practised at the landfill, shooting rats. She got bored and started pot-shooting seemingly at random. I asked her what she was doing. “Shooting flies.” she mumbled as she squinted through the scope. “Sure you are, babe.” said I. We walked up to a cardboard box. She said, “They were right there and I shot them. They disappeared when I shot.” Thinking that the recoil was preventing her from seeing the fly fly, I examined the three holes in the box. Around each one there were splatters of fly goo – pretty as you please.

I didn’t know whether to be proud that I had taught her to shoot or terrified that I had created a monster. I qualified expert on every weapon that I was given when I was in military service. But I could never beat Eunie on stationary targets. I did get to the point that I could drop one out of two of these stringy lop-ears on the run up to about 50 metres. It kept us alive.

I love bunnies, they are so soft and cuddly – and delicious!

* A haus win is a small shelter with a wooden floor set off the ground on posts. It usually has a thatched roof, but no walls. It keeps the sun off, but lets the wind flow through.

** Credit: photo by R. B. Forbes, © American Society of Mammalogists

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