Cheetah’s and and Gorillas!!

Somebody asked me about Cheetah’s lately.  I can’t remember who.  But I cannot post without showing you Hope and her baby Saambili!!  How amazing are they?!!

Cheetah’s are very interesting animals.  They are the fastest land animal on the planet going from zero to 70 miles an hour in 3 seconds! They can only maintain that pace for a short time.  Their claws are like cleats on soccer shoes to allow traction and speed.  The only thing faster is an air animal which is a breed of hawk.  Cheetah’s are relatively small when it comes to cats in the wild so they run very fast, catch their prey and eat as quickly as they can because inevitably bigger cats (lions and tigers) smell the kill and chase the cheetah away so they can eat the rest.  Then the cheetah rests, and tomorrow she/he repeats.  Cheetahs eat ONLY meat which is so interesting since Gorillas are strictly vegetarian and wouldn’t eat a piece of meat if you handed it to them!!!

As a side note, all cats in the wild are solitary ie they live their lives alone and solitary except when they come around to mate which happens quickly and then they go their own ways again solitarily.  The strange exception is Lions who live in family groups called Prides.  We have a pride at the Dallas zoo with baby cub, mommy, daddy and auntie!  It’s amazing!  The animal thing is all so amazing!

Watching Hope and baby Saambili has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It reduces me to weakness by its amazingness!

Gorillas In My Midst

In Texas, twenty percent of our enormous Barnes and Noble has been allocated to Christian Studies and Bibles and nothing opens until noon on Sunday because everyone is at church. And, you can’t buy alcohol until noon on Sundays because you should be in church, too, not out buying booze. The ironic thing is, on early Sunday afternoons every restaurant is packed to the brim with people drinking Mimosas, Grasshoppers, Bloody Mary’s or white wine.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, there was this guy at the zoo where I volunteer and he and I were observing Gorillas together. At the Dallas zoo you can be 1 inch away from a 425 pound Gorilla. There are 3 layers of treated glass between you and him but you can stare into his eyes and he can stare into yours.

More dramatic than that, the big boys often get annoyed but mostly show-offy and will “display” which includes running up and back by the glass, pulling branches off trees and waving them, chasing each other, throwing rocks, pounding their chests, and my favorite, turning toward the crowd suddenly, rushing to the glass quickly, then aggressively pounding on it. It is so alarming that every human instinctually vocalizes in some way and jumps back. Even me, and I’m used to it.

“So,” I said to this guy, who was clearly fascinated with gorillas, “according to the Smithsonian Institute their DNA is 98.4 the same as ours.”
“I know,” he said.
I went on, “They have the opposing forefinger/thumb relationship; it’s like they have four hands. They can do anything with their feet that they can do with their hands. You can actually consider their feet superior to ours.”
“It’s amazing,” he said.
“They don’t like deep water; they are so densely muscular that they would sink and drown and they instinctively know that.” I continued.
“I didn’t know that,” he said.
“Yeah, and unlike how they are portrayed in movies, these guys are very gentle, peaceful animals. Chimpanzees are far more aggressive by nature than Gorillas.” I said. “Do you know that gorillas laugh?”
“They do?” he looked surprised.
“Yes,” I said, “I observed them in the rain for the first time the other day and they were chasing each other, lumbering in a bipedal position in what looked like avoiding getting their knuckles muddy, banging each other on the head and laughing. It was magical. I did some primatology research and they do indeed laugh. They also cry when they are sad.”

He suddenly looked sullen and glanced around cautiously.
Then, very quietly he turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m the only one in Texas who believes in evolution.”
I paused in astonishment. I was so new to Texas. I took a minute to think.
“No, sir.” I finally said, “There are two.”



B'Wenzi and Shauna

B’Wenzi and Shauna

The buddies laughing and playing.

The buddies laughing and playing.

Wow, that was exhausting.

Wow, that was exhausting.


Have I kept it a secret that I was a wreck for the first several months we lived here? Okay, good. Well, the foreman for the guy who built this house saw right through that secret. His name is Dicky. Apparently there are a lot of guys in Texas named Dicky. I just don’t get that. There is Dicky’s BBQ, Dicky’s Golf Shop, Dicky’s Dry Cleaning, etc. If you were named Dicky by your parents, why wouldn’t you just change your name? Why would anyone keep the name Dicky? What does “Dicky” conjure up in your brain?

Anyway, shortly after we moved in I was meeting with Dicky on various repairs needed in the house while the dogs were throwing up, toxic plaster was being blasted around the back yard by enthusiastic pool builders, god knows who was knocking on the door, the land line was ringing, the cell phone was buzzing, UPS was delivering something, someone on the roof was pounding and I was close to tears.

Dicky looked at me sadly and said, “Can I pray for you?”
I said, “Well, why?”
He said, “Because I can see you need to be prayed for and I am a conduit of Jesus and I’ll tell you why I know that.” (Fast forward 20 minutes here, please.)
I finally interrupted him and said, “Okay, whatever, go for it” mostly just to shut him up which of course had the opposite effect.

We were standing in my formal dining room and he put his hands on my shoulders, closed his eyes, bowed his head and began. Boy, did he know how to talk and pray.

I was dazzled for the first 7 minutes because he was so intuitive; he was nailing how bad thing were for me and he was praying for things I was really hoping for like balance, peace, meaning and maybe even joy in the not so distant future. After 17 minutes I was getting agitated, bored, annoyed and ready to have Dicky out of my house. He finally finished with a resounding something or other, which actually made me cry. I think I was crying because I was so happy he was finished but he, of course, thought it was because he was a conduit of Jesus and that I’d had a breakthrough. And in all honesty I do believe in the power of prayer and he was good at it, if a little long winded, and it was nice to have someone’s complete attention when I was in such bad shape.

So, I thanked him, he gave me a referral for a handyman about whom he said, “I’m sure he’s Christian, he’s sooo happy!” We hugged, he said God bless you, he left and I haven’t seen him since.

Toto, we’re not in Scottsdale anymore.