Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What the Dormouse Said

Lessons for Grown-Ups from Children's Books
For Christmas, I got a book called What the Dormouse Said. It's a collection of quotes from various children's books on different topics like Faith & Courage, Imagination & Adventure, Animals, Character, Hidden Truths, etc. It captures what I love most about children's books: profound simplicity.

Children's book authors know how to see the big picture and whittle it down to a practical musing.
I love how the symbolism of fantasy can entertain and educate, teaching us to see the world in a whole new way. That is very appealing to me, how stories can strip away the pretentiousness of language and ideas, turning them instead into humble observations. The innocence of it all is so refreshing!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"When your head's full of pictures, they have to come out."
- Incredible Ned, Bil Maynard, 1997

"Music is very nice for a party because it gives you time to eat your fill
without having to make conversation."
- The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden, 1960

"Those that wish to be clean, clean they will be; and those that wish to be
foul, foul they will be. Remember."
- The Water-Babies, Charles Kingsley, 1863

"Cruelty cannot stop the earth's heart from beating"
- To Be a Drum, Evelyn Coleman, 1998

"It is such a secret place, the land of tears."
- The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1943

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling, 1997

A girl can't spoil herself, you know. Who spoiled her, then? Ah, who indeed?
- Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl, 1964

"The Princess looked at her more closely. 'Tell me,' she resumed,
'are you of royal blood?'
'Better than that, ma'am', said Dorothy. 'I came from Kansas.'"
- Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum, 1907

"Half the fun of nearly everything, you know, is thinking about it
beforehand or afterward."
- Uncle Wiggly's Story Book, Howard R. Garis, 1921

"The whole world is full of things, and somebody has to look for them."
- Pippy Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren, 1950

"Nothing cures homesickness quicker than an unexplored tower."
- Beauty & the Beast, Nancy Willard, 1992

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sometimes you can hear the lions roar...

Inspiration has been showing up in unexpected places lately, like a sound traveling through the air. It requires being in the right place at the right time (which can never be planned) and a tuned ear, ready to listen.

I was walking my dog through the Celery Fields, a beautiful bird sanctuary, when I came upon an old lady looking through a pair of binoculars. I proceeded to pass by her when suddenly she lowered her binoculars and looked up at the sky with awe in her eyes. I paused, expecting to see something. But instead (without ever looking at me) she simply stated, "Sometimes you can hear the lions roar".

I immediately assumed she was a little crazy. That's nice, I thought, and journeyed on processing her bizarre comment. But as I rounded the trail and headed to the top of the hill, I heard something that stopped me in my tracks. At first it sounded like a cow mooing, but it was deeper and had a bit of a growl. It was being carried through the air from some place not too far away, and to be honest it freaked me out a bit. It sounded like a lion roaring.

Ok. Close your eyes and imagine hearing this.

My curiosity and that bit of adrenaline rush led me to discover that right next door to the Celery Fields is the Big Cat Habitat. This place is amazing. They had a free training demo on Saturday so I went to check it out and see firsthand the beast that I heard roaring. Greeting me at the entrance was this fellow:

What's so cool about the Big Cat Habitat is that you can get up close to the cats. I've only seen tigers 50 feet away at the San Diego zoo, but here, I was 5 feet away! (the lady below is a volunteer...they are allowed to get really, really close). 

This Liger was HUGE. His head was the biggest out of them all. It's fascinating to watch the cats move, they almost look fake because they are so massive.
It was interesting to observe big cat behavior - they act like oversize domestic cats. They paw and pounce, rub up on things, roll over, etc.
The trainers use kabob meat on a stick for a reward. I can barely train my dog. It amazes me how these people train lions and tigers.

 Big cats sleep 18-20 hours a day!!!

 Look at the size of the paws...

Pretty kitty....

I listen carefully now every time I go walking at the Celery Fields because sometimes, if you're lucky, you can hear the lions roar.