A Trip to the Zoo

I have two reason why you’re getting a rambling post about how I spent yesterday rather than a nice, neat article:

1) NaNoWriMo

50,000 words in 30 days = one novel, and not much sleep. I’ve done it twice before, and I’m trying again this year with a Young Adult novel full of super humans (click to visit my writer’s website). I’m prepared with enough Lindt hazelnut truffles to reward myself every 5,000 words (plus a few extras, just in case).

2) Zoo Day!

Months ago we got half-price tickets to the Columbus Zoo, and just never seemed to find time to use them. Then we realized they expired in February, and it wasn’t getting any warmer, so we went yesterday. It was so cold that most of the South-Asian and African animals weren’t out, but the predators were very active.

Amur leopards
the Amur leopards were moving too fast for my camera

Very, very active, in some cases. The brown bears were chasing each other all over their exhibit, my family saw a tiger try to pounce on one guy through the glass, and there was a cheetah stalking a child being pulled in a wagon.

brown bears
huge brown bears

We also saw an extremely rare creature — an awake koala. They sleep 22 hours a day if given the chance, and I think this is the only time I’ve ever seen one moving.

koala
hungry koala

I’d say the dinosaurs were even more rare, but they weren’t moving much. Didn’t even try to snatch a tourist out of the boat ride, so I suspect they were animatronic.

it's a dinosaur
It’s a dinosaur!

The aquarium in Columbus might not be huge by public aquarium standards, but it’s certainly one of the most impressive at a zoo. I love the manatees. Columbus and Cincinnati are the only aquariums in the U.S. outside of Florida that help with manatee rescue and rehabilitation.

manatee
Stubby can’t be released into the wild because of propeller damage to her fluke and an autoimmune disease that affects her skin

And last but not least … I found a yurt!

yurt, a.k.a. one of the cutest structures known to man
yurt, a.k.a. one of the cutest structures known to man

I <3 Yurts

So, I realized that I subtitled this blog “Thoughts about everything from cooking to yurts to Jesus” and I haven’t yet mentioned yurts at all. I’ve been talking to so many people about them in person that I keep forgetting to write something.

Yurts: Living In The Round by Becky Kemery
A book about yurts

For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t just a few months ago), a yurt is a round structure based on several types of houses used by nomads in Asia. The basic design is a circular lattice all with a door frame topped by roof beams that attach to a center ring. Traditionally, the wood frame is covered by felts. Modern yurts use architectural fabrics and NASA-inspired insulation, or permanent walls.

I’ve always been drawn to round spaces: Hobbit holes, gazebos, outdoor spaces with curved hedges or plants for “walls.” Looking back though one of my sketch books, I realized I was dreaming about yurts even before I had any idea that’s what they were called. This sketch is from a dream I had and features a little fairy house topped by a hibiscus flower.

sketch of a fairy yurt on shelf fungus with hibiscus roof
Fairy yurt on shelf fungus

Why yurts? Maybe it has something to do with what yurt designer Morgan Reiter said in the book I just finished reading.

Shortly after I started to build yurts as a business, we did a home show where we set up a demonstration yurt. People would walk in, look around, and then comment on how good it felt. I remember a woman leaning over to her husband and saying, ‘I love the way this feels!’ it was the first time I’d ever seen a building produce an emotional reaction.

When we’d do a home show with rectilinear models, people would make comments like ‘love your work, nice lines’ or ‘nice trim work,’ but we’d never get an emotional response. I realized that conventional construction can look nice, but with the yurt there is a ‘feel.’ an epiphany of sorts.

Maybe people really do feel more comfortable in places with curves instead of angles. After all, God didn’t create many things with harsh angles in nature. Rivers curve, trees have round trunks, even the earth is a sphere. Rocks and mountains can have sharp angles, but I don’t really think they feel very cozy.