Baby hippo swimming lesson

A video crossed my Facebook news feed this morning of a horse teaching a filly to jump a short wall. That reminded me of our trip to San Diego’s zoo where we witnessed a mother hippo teaching her baby to swim. It also reminded me that  I have yet to post photos from that trip to the zoo. I hope you enjoy them.

The San Diego Zoo has a reputation for being one of the best zoos in this country, so we knew we wanted to fit it in when we planned a trip to California in April to visit our son who lives in Los Angeles. He met us in San Diego.

I noticed a lot of similarities to the zoo here in Cincinnati, which also has a great reputation.

There were beautiful and exotic flowers and trees. You probably recognize the Bird of Paradise flower. This tree looked like it had huge cotton, or maybe popcorn, balls hanging on it.

San Diego zoo flamingosA convention of flamingos welcomed us near the entrance.

San Diego zoo bearWe saw lazy bears lounging,

San Diego zoo macaqueMonkeys climbing (actually a Lion-tailed Macaque pronounce Mak – ack),

San Diego zooa graceful couple posing for portraits,

and small critters popping their heads up here and there.

 This gorilla was sitting, contemplating life or maybe her fingers. We watched her drag a burlap bag across the enclosure to the window, then promptly sit down on it with her back to us. I can’t say as I blame her.

Also like the Cincinnati Zoo, the one in San Diego cares for endangered species and makes education a priority, as  pointed out by our son Mark Joseph.

San Diego Zoo

I thought the Cincinnati Zoo was hilly, but its hills are mild compared to some of the inclines we walked up and down in San Diego. Overall, the zoo there is well-established and has some great walking trails.  The Cincinnati Zoo has a jungle trail, but the many of the walkways at San Diego are landscaped and make you feel as if you are walking in a natural habitat not on a sterile roadway. This was a feature that I particularly liked.

San Diego zoo tiger trailThis is the Tiger Trail that sits up above the enclosure. Our son is pictured in both of the above pictures. I was not stalking some random guy in a plaid shirt, in case you’re wondering.

San Diego Zoo sky ride

Cincinnati also doesn’t have a sky ride, only a little train. This is a tree-top outdoor cafe that we enjoyed during our visit, also a very nice feature of this zoo. I think we had to walk up about three flights of steps to reach it.

But the best part of our visit to the San Diego Zoo was watching the mother hippo teaching her baby how to swim.

Mother and baby hippoWhen we first saw them, they were both resting in the sun.

Mother and baby hippo

Then the baby started climbing on the mother, like, “Hey, I want to play.” And the mother was like, “Really? So soon? Give me a break. You’re wearing me out, kid.”

Mother and baby hippo“Okay. Alright. We’ll go for a swim.”

Mother and baby hippo swimmingThen they went under water and that mother hippo started pushing the baby around in a circle.

Mother and baby hippo swimmingThe baby didn’t seem to know exactly what to do. The mother kept pushing him around in a circle.

Mother and baby hippoI don’t take a lot of video, but this is one case where I wish I had taken the time to switch from still photos to video.

Mother and baby hippo swimmingAfter some period of time, the mother would get her nose under the baby and push him up to the surface.

Mother and baby hippoThey’d break surface, breath for a minute or two, and then down they’d go again.

Mother and baby hippo swimming

They repeated this cycle several times before they climbed back out of the water and the mother got to rest again. This was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever witnessed at any zoo.

If you ever make it to San Diego, try to fit a visit here into your itinerary. It’s well worth it.

Where Memories Meet is now available

Originally posted on Christine M Grote:

I am pleased to announce that Where Memories Meet—Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s is now available as a print book and Kindle at Amazon, and in other formats at Smashwords.

Thirty-three years ago today, my parents drove from Dayton to the Christ Hospital here in Cincinnati to meet our first child, and their first grandson. I dedicated Where Memories Meet to my children and their children. Although I never planned it so, I think it is fitting, and somewhat serendipitous, that I managed to launch this book on this particular day.

If you are kind enough to purchase and then read Where Memories Meet, I hope you will “Like” the book and leave a short review at Amazon. A sentence or two will do. It is a big help to me.

If you have comments or questions you’d like me to answer, please do so here.

Where Memories Meet Cover


View original

I’m an ebook wizard

Well, maybe I’m not quite a wizard, but I’m certainly more proficient than I was three days ago.

Smashwords, an online multi-format ebook publisher, uses a “meat-grinder” to process book files. The author submits a word document; it goes through the meat-grinder and out comes a variety of ebooks that can be read on many types of platforms. You’re probably familiar with pdfs. Other formats Smashwords can produce, and then publish, include but are not limited to mobi for the Kindle, and epub for Nook.

This whole ebook business can be pretty complicated. But it’s all about what file types a particular software can open.

For the past two days I feel like I’ve been in a meat-grinder.

I used Scrivener, a terrific writing program and file system, when I wrote Where Memories Meet. Files in Scrivener have to be exported into a particular file type to be used in some way: as a printable document, as a shareable word document, as a pdf, etc. Scrivener is able to produce some ebook formats this way, epub (Nook) and mobi (Kindle) included. And that’s what I did.

I compiled my book in Scrivener and saved it as a mobi file. Then I uploaded it to Amazon for publication as a Kindle ebook. But if I do nothing more, I am limited to only making my book available for Kindle users. Nor can I give away free copies for review, which is a nice feature Smashwords allows.

Smashwords requires a “clean” Word doc (not to be confused with Word docx, which I learned the hard way). I spent nearly every waking moment in the past two days producing the “clean” Word doc.

I think it was worth it. Hopefully WMM will look better across most if not all platforms this way. I think it will.

I ended up having a lot more control of where my page-breaks are, which is important to me because of all the images I have in my book. And I believe I had more control of fonts and overall paragraph styles. The Scrivener software made a lot of those decisions for me when it produced the mobi file. For example, the first file I published on Amazon had a nightmare Table of Contents running about three pages on my Kindle. Who needs that?

So, although it took time, required some reading, and was tedious to do, I think producing a clean Word doc, and then uploading it to both Amazon and Smashwords is the way to go.

I’ll tell you what I did next time. You could do it too.

Where Memories Meet cover

Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s
Now available for Kindle at Amazon, and other ebook formats at Smashwords.


Where Memories Meet is available now for Kindle

Where Memories Meet coverI thought you’d want to know. You can read more about it over at my author site. I promise to get back to posting random thoughts here again soon. Thanks for sticking with me.


I have a cover

I just wanted to let you know to check over at my blog at I’ve posted a picture of the cover for my book. I hope to get back to blogging here soon. I have photos I’d like to share of the Lincoln Funeral Train, but I am focusing all my effort right now on getting Where Memories Meet published. So many details.

Last night I thought I lost my InDesign book file. You can imagine my distress. I still don’t know what happened. It wasn’t in the folder I had been keeping it in, and then later on it was. Computer magic.

I will tell you just a short little story about publishing details. I have photos in my book, primarily of my dad. A few have other family members in them, but one photo had one of Dad’s classmates named Jim in it. I was just going to try to let it slide by and hope no one complained, even though I know you’re supposed to have signed waivers when you use a photo with someone in it. I didn’t even know if Jim was still alive.

But today I had a guilt attack and decided I needed to at least try to contact Jim. I got out the copy of my mom’s phone and address book, which was actually a rolodex file, and looked up Jim’s name. I dialed the number and got some crazy recording that said I needed to enter a password if I wanted to leave a message. I’d never encountered anything like that. I thought maybe Jim was in a nursing home or something.

So I called another one of Dad’s classmates, Norma, whose name also was in Mom’s rolodex file. Norma answered and was able to give me Jim’s updated phone number. I had a pleasant conversation with Norma, and right before we hung up she said, “I miss your Dad.”

“I miss him too,” I managed to say. Then I needed to spend about a half an hour regaining my composure before I called Jim.

Sometimes it feels just as hard as ever.

But Jim was happy to allow me to use the photo, and all’s well. Jim and Norma both will be getting complimentary copies of Where Memories Meet.

Posting at my new site

Hi friends and loyal followers,

I was working on my author website, and does it ever need work, so I thought I’d post from there today and send you all over if you’re will to make the trip.

Blog at

How’s that for keeping it simple? While you’re there, browse around. I’m happy to hear your ideas and suggestions. It’s a work in progress.

Facing my Fears – Starting small

I am tired of my  gigantic fear of certain small creatures. I fail to understand why, at the age of 58, I continue to cringe, jerk back, jump up, or respond in an aggressive and sometimes violent way, to particular little creatures. So I’m undertaking a campaign to conquer my fear of spiders.

They say we fear the unknown. I am going to attempt to learn my way out of my fear.

First sighting - Monday, August 24

First sighting – Monday, August 24

As good luck would have it, nature presented me with the perfect opportunity to observe that which I fear. We found this creation installed on one of our deck’s shepherd’s hooks upon our return Monday from a short trip to St. Louis.

Somebody was busy while we were gone. The web is one of the reasons I do not have an affinity for spiders. Can you imagine accidentally wandering into one of these, face first, or even getting your hand in it? Not a pleasant experience.

Perhaps a change of perspective will help.

Spider and web

Spider and web

This is an absolutely amazing structure. I’m not sure you can tell from the photo, but it’s not flat, or located in one plane (to use a term from my geometry class too many years ago to remember). It reminds me of the structures they build to provide shade above an outdoor performance stage where a fabric is stretched taut between various anchors creating a three-D effect. I don’t know how this little spider managed it all my him- or herself and undoubtedly without a compass, or protractor, let alone a computer, to boot. There’s some pretty cool geometry going on here.

And just in case you missed it. The spider is all curled up, looking something like a benign blob of mud, on the top of the shepherd’s hook, making me realize that without the legs a spider doesn’t look all that ugly, or menacing at all.

Maybe if the granddaddy long-leg that was plastered on the brick wall, right beside the handle to the sliding screen door, had had his or her legs curled up tight, I would have had less of a start when I spotted it. Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to contort my hand as I was opening the door to keep the maximum space between my fingers and the giant, I mean little, invader.


Web maker

Just to be certain it wasn’t a blob of mud, I got a closer shot. See, that spider doesn’t look so frightening after all, does it?


Spider’s new hiding place

On Tuesday, I noticed the spider had found a new hiding place, which I have to agree, was probably a smart move. His or here previous position made him or her pretty much a sitting duck for the all the birds we have around here. (I’m switching to the feminine pronoun because I’m tired of the whole he or she thing. And I suspect if we did a scientific study of it, we would find out that the male pronoun has been much more overused through the years. Just saying.)

I thought it was also interesting that she seemed to build a lot of web around where she sat. I don’t know whether she was hoping for easy snacks within arm’s reach, or was somehow trying to hide or disguise herself.

Spider and cicada

Spider hits jackpot

I noticed something relatively large hanging from the web Tuesday afternoon. I got my camera and shot a picture from the safety of my kitchen window. Jackpot! When I cropped in to magnify the picture I could clearly see that the spider was in for a feast with this cicada.

She does look just a little bit evil in this pose, don’t you think? But I guess the red fox running across the yard with a squirrel in its mouth didn’t exactly look like Little Bo Peep. And I still like the red foxes. Do I detect a double standard?

spider and cicada

Spider and cicada

I cropped in for a closer shot, just so you could see what is going on and learn about this fascinating, and friendly, little creature.

The web was pretty well trashed by the end of this event. It was hanging freely and kind of swaying in the wind.

Spider web

New web

But no worries. I woke up this morning and found this brand new shiny web constructed. I don’t know how the spider got rid of the cicada refuse, or inedible parts. They’re probably lying in Mark’s garden directly below the web. I also don’t know how she got rid of the old ratty web. Did she disconnect it from the anchors and let it drop to the ground? Did she systematically roll it up and reuse it like stitches torn from a knitting mistake and rolled back into the ball or yarn? It’s a mystery to me.

spider web

New web

But this web is looking good, ready to go. Although upon closer examination, I see it may have met with a few casualties already.

Our little friend, hides and waits above. Sneaky little creature, isn’t she? But industrious and creative.

What do you think? Can it be done? Will I be able to overcome my arachnophobia? Or is my irrational fear of spiders deep-rooted in my DNA, or evidence of, or artifacts from, a past life?

Stay tuned.


She waits


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