Butterflies, Dim Sum, Massage, and Ice
A completely crazy day today. It didn't help that Jet got up at 5, to start, either. John managed to get Jet to nap in his lap until 6, but it certainly made for an early start. I was so sure, after the swimming, that he'd have a good night, but I was very much wrong. I guess it was so exciting it was hard to sleep or something.
It was good, though, too, to get the early start as we got out by 9, with six adults and two kids, that was pretty good. It was snowy and cold and wet out. The streets had packed snow and it was melting pretty well, even as more of it was coming down.
The first thing we all went to was the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. We'd heard about it for a while, but had never really had a chance to go. Joan had said that Alex and his class had loved it. So we got there around 10. A busload of kids had just arrived, so they were in the bug area and the tide pool exhibit and the pavilion were both relatively empty. So we wandered around the tide pool area, where Marina got to pet the starfish and Jet avoided sticking his hand in the water. He liked looking. He loved looking into the aquariums, especially the one that had an angled front. From the bottom there was a couple inch tall vertical pieces before it started to slant. Jet was exactly the height for looking in at the little bit of vertical. So he could see the sand, the crabs, and the tiny things on the bottom of the aquarium very, very clearly. He loved that.
When we could finally take him away from that we zoomed into the conservatory. It's just a huge, open area, warm and humid and filled with tropical plants. At first, there are only the plants. Then we saw the dozens of butterflies on the netting at the top of the enclosure, and then we started seeing them everywhere. There are hundreds loose in a relatively small area, and with bananas left out and blossoms, branches, and greenery for hiding in, there were butterflies everywhere. Huge brown ones with iridescent eyes. Those moths were larger than my hands put together. There were dark ones with brilliant blue surfaces on the insides of their wings. There were ones that looked like white Monarchs. There were dozens of black ones with bands of jewel bright colors, blue, green, red, fuscia, and yellow.
A number of them were deformed. Turns out that they're just born that way, and since the conservatory is such a friendly place to live, they live just fine in the area. They aren't hunted down as they would be in the wild. So it's easy for them to live even with a problem.
I think that the most wonderful thing was to just stand in one area and just be still for a while. And, gradually, I would start to see all the butterflies in the area. It was easy to spot at least a dozen in any one spot, after I'd gotten still and quiet and really could look. Sometimes I'd have sworn there couldn't have been a butterfly in an area where there clearly was one. How could I completely miss a blood red one with veins of black and crumpled lower wings? It was right in front of me. That was the coolest part, the secrets unfolding with nothing but patience.
We had a great time, and then the hordes of teenagers rampaged in and completely ignored the silent wonder. But they're kids. They were learning other things. I guess. Some of the girls were merely freaked out by the size of some of the insects. There was a big crowd around the Iguana. Finally, the noise and running around ("Oh my God! I think I stepped on one!!") got to me and we left for the bug arena.
I got to hold Rosie! Rosie is a tarantula, one of the gentlest. She's light, fuzzy, and very calm. Jet lightly fingered a leg. Everyone got to stroke her legs gently and let her pussyfoot her way across their palms. She was about four inches in diameter, and very nice. Another nice bug in the bug corner, was Pepe, the hissing cockroach, who was actually very cool. He gently grasped the edges of my hand and curled into my palm quietly. Quiet neat.
There were bigger, uglier, and much nastier bugs in the exhibit, but all safely under glass and locked well away. Jet peered at many of them thoughtfully, but didn't get too close.
One thing that I really loved was a clear Plexiglas honey bee house. They had set it up so that there was a Plexiglas tube to the outside, and you could see the bees avoiding the entrance. The weather outside was frightful, but it was neat to just see all the bees busy in their home. One or two bees did head out into the wicked wind when I was looking. One made it back, looking like it was flung in by the wind. It was golden with pollen and damp as it headed into the hive. Wow.
By the time we were done it was nearing lunch time. Paul had mentioned that he really wanted to have good Chinese food, if it was possible, in Denver. So we headed to the Empress and had dim sum. They don't have any good Chinese in their neck of the woods out in more rural Oregon. They can, occasionally hit San Francisco or Portland, and expected something equivalent in the big city of Denver. I was mildly sad to somewhat disappoint them, but we did have an good lunch, if not of quite the quality we'd find in those West Coast cities, it was good enough for us.
The Empress did pretty well, all in all, the piece de resistance, however, were the freshly fried sesame balls. They were just out of the fryer, hot, fragrant, crisp, chewy, and will a filling that was so hot I burnt my tongue multiple times because it tasted so darned good. I think it was actually a toasted sesame paste instead of the usual red bean paste, as it was nutty and rich and wonderful. So they did themselves proud. I was glad of that.
On the way home, Jet fell asleep, and when we got home, he stayed asleep. Marina played for a while, and then at a bit before 3, Paul, Jan and Marina said their good-byes and headed out into the storm to get to the airport. The snow was starting to fall again, and this time it was colder. The world started freezing. At 4, I finally had to wake Jet up, as he'd been asleep since 1, and a three hour nap didn't seem to bode well for the night. I woke him up, nursed him and got him playing happily when I went to check on my work.
My Visor said, quite baldly, "CeLena: Appointment at 4:30". It was already quarter 'til 5. Eek!! I called CeLena and only got her machine, and just as I was about to hit the door, the phone rang. It was her, saying that it would be fine for me to come over, as she had the time free.
So I popped into the Range Rover and went out into the driving snow. I got out of the garage, no problem, but when I turned out onto the road, the Rangy started sliding! Eek! I steered into the slide, got control again and went very carefully to the nearest county road, and then headed into town. On the way into Erie is this hill, where there's a bunch of new construction, and I slowed down as I headed into that area and it's a very good thing I did. A pickup, loaded with stuff, so it should have had better traction, gunned it while trying to turn out in front of me, and started, immediately, sliding all over the street.
Luckily there was no oncoming traffic. I immediately popped the Rangy into a lower gear. I swore a lot. I didn't hit anything and didn't get hit. This is good.
It was an ice rink out there, but I got to CeLena's safely and got a thorough massage that really got my head cleared up after all the visitors and tension of the last couple of weeks. It was a very good thing. I was glad that she got me in and that I remembered. Whew. I needed that. I also scheduled a couple of month's worth of visits, and where there were conflicts with other people or holidays, we moved the appointment to Friday. It's a good way to end a week, after I've swum and other things, to work all that out before the weekend.
Getting home wasn't quite as tricky, though it was still slick outside, there was quite a lot less traffic. Whew. A safe ending to a nutty day.