Friday, May 9, 2014

Sandy Claws

Thought for the day:  In all things of nature there is something marvelous.  [Aristotle]

Earth laughs in flowers.  [Ralph Waldo Emerson]
With Mothers' Day right around the corner, how about a quick salute to Mother Nature? She fills our senses with beauty, lifts our hearts, and has the power to fascinate and delight us with her endless mysteries and marvels. Aristotle was absolutely right.

Unfortunately, we aren't always as mindful of her marvels as we should be, or as protective of her wonders as we could be, so it's worth mentioning when humans show appreciation for another species by stepping back and allowing them the right-of-way for a change.


In an earlier post from July of 2011, I wrote about how airplane traffic at JFK Airport in New York comes to a halt every year to accommodate the annual running of the turtles. (So to speak.) Called We Can Fly With a Little Help From Our Friends, it's an uplifting look at how people go out of their way to help those pokey critters make it to their rendezvous with l'amour. They even go so far as to load 'em in pick-up truck beds and give 'em a lift. Well, today, we're gonna talk about another animal migration.


This one takes place on the other side of the world from New York, on an island called... Christmas Island.

Okay, so that picture isn't really a picture of Christmas Island. But that little guy in his Santa hat tickled my funny bone. Then again, if you think about it, Christmas Island isn't really Christmas Island, either. That's just the name some explorers gave it when they discovered it on Christmas Day. Kinda like those other explorers did when they discovered Easter Island. (Yep, that's another old post you might enjoy, called Everybody Loves Some Body.)


Here's a map to give you a better idea of where this little island, AKA Kiritimati,  is located. There may, in fact, be some little white dogs living there, but it's probably safe to say few, if any, of them wear Santa hats.

In fact, there are lots of interesting critters on the island. Also presumably without hats. Or galoshes.


Lots of birds, especially. Birds who don't seem to care what kind of name we give them. Like this red-footed booby. He doesn't seem to be at all insulted by that name. Maybe it's because the island is overrun with boobies, so he isn't the only one stuck with that name.

 But I digress. I don't want to talk about boobies, or any other kind of bird; I wanta talk about crabs. This crab... the Christmas Island red crab. Cute little guy, isn't he? And he is little... the shell's only about four and a half inches on a full-grown adult. And believe it or not, these guys don't live in the water; they're land crabs.

But that doesn't mean the ocean doesn't call to them.

Every year, at the beginning of the rainy season, usually in November, but as early as October, these crabs vacate their burrows in the woods, and head for the water. I'm talking a lot of crabs. Like millions of them. The males reach the beach first, where they dutifully dig new burrows. When the ladies arrive, they um, do what comes naturally. A lot of doing what comes naturally. Then the males skedaddle back to the woods, and leave the ladies behind to incubate in their burrows for a couple weeks. When it's time, the females lay their eggs in the water, and then head back to their burrows in the woods. The larvae spend three to four weeks in the water (trying to avoid being fish food, I imagine) before going inland. Words cannot do justice to the sight of millions of red crabs heading for the beach. (Kinda like a Spring Break for the animal kingdom.)

So how about a picture? Better yet, a video...



Isn't that something? As far as I know, islanders don't give crabs a lift to the beach in the back of their pick-up trucks, but park rangers do take steps to help protect the little critters as they make their annual trek. They close some roads altogether, and on others, set up aluminum barriers called crab fences, which funnels crabs off the road and into small underground passes called crab grids. Okay, so maybe some of this protective behavior may be based on the fact that those crabs have shells tough enough to puncture tires, but still...

The only thing more amazing than the sight of millions of adult crabs heading for the beach is the sight of even more of those little itty bitty ones leaving the beach and heading for the woods:



Oops, almost forgot. One more video, simply because it's funny... (and short!)



Before I go, let me ask you one question: what's the difference between a mermaid and a sand crab? Give up? Simple... one's a daughter of the sea, and the other's a son of a beach. (groan) A great big Happy Mother's Days to all you moms out there.

                                   Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. The Goodreads drawing for autographed copies of my book will be taking place on Sunday. (Sorry... for U.S. and Canada only this time.) If you haven't already entered, go for it!

[Photos courtesy of morguefile.com and Wikipedia.]

92 comments:

  1. Dear Susan,
    Mother Nature is so impressive, in all her creativity and variety.
    I didn't know the Emerson quote - will nick it immediately.
    As to mankind disturbing nature: yesterday I read a note that researchers have found out that electro smog (in much lower doses as the law allows) disturbs completely the magnetism-orientation of robins, they lose their way. (Luckily they can orientate on stars and sun too, but it makes you think...)

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    1. Dear Britta,

      Yes, Mother Nature is amazing, but we humans haven't always done a very good job of appreciating and respecting her by being good stewards. That's why I thought the tale of the red crabs was worth mentioning.

      Poor robins. I'll bet they aren't the only ones affected.

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  2. I knew about the wonders of the Christmas Island crabs, but had temporarily forgotten about them because my country has a detention centre for asylum seekers on the island.
    Thank you so much for replacing my images of cruelty and ugliness with beauty.

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    1. And I loved the dive-bombing seagull getting its come-uppance too.

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    2. I'd heard about the detention centers (I mean... centres) there, but I didn't realize any were on the island. On the bright side, at least they're in a beautiful location... and presumably safer than they were in the lands they fled.

      Me, too! Too funny.

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  3. Love the video of the dive bombing sea gull.
    How great that the JFK shuts down for the turtles and Christmas Islands roads get closed. I did know about JFK but not Christmas Island.
    On the toll road in were I used to live in Laguna Beach, there are several tunnels built for the animal safe crossing . I liked that.
    Happy Mums Day to you.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. That seagull got his comeuppance, didn't he? HA!

      Neat about the tunnels in Laguna Beach. Sounds like we try to get it right some of the time, anyway.

      Happy Mothers' Day to you, too!

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  4. Good Gawd - those crab migrations are unbelievable! Really fascinating, but I don't think I'd want to live there. Mother Nature never fails to be astounding.

    I remember one summer in Southern California when there was a rare and freak influx of squids. Thousands of squids washed up on shore (at Seal Beach). It was really bizarre.

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    1. Aren't they cool? Guess you don't have to worry about land crabs where you live, huh? Not much in the way of water around for them to deposit their babies.

      Not sure I'd like seeing thousands of squid washed up on shore. Or jellyfish. Must've been quite a sight... and smell. (Squid look just fine on my plate, though...)

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  5. Like EC I do know lots about Christmas Island which is off the coast of Western Australia where I live.
    I am a great admirer of Mother Nature and all her do's and dont's. She is sort of my religion as I am not a very religious person.
    Yes, there is a detention centre for illegal arrivals in Australia which is a bone of contention with everyone. There will never be agreement on how these so-called 'boat people' should be treat or handled. It is just so sad there are many people in the world today that are frequently persecuted because of their religious or political beliefs that have to seek shelter other than in their own land. There were also many displaced persons after WW2 who through no fault of their own also had to find new places to live and their old ones had been completely destroyed. Many of them found new homes and made good lives for themselves and we can only hope the same will be the eventual destination of the modern DP's.
    Thank you for your great post and that gull and the crabs is hilarious.

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    1. Many countries... or maybe I should say the politicians of many countries... seem to have little empathy for those poor souls displaced from other countries. What's ironic is how many of those same politicians claim to be Bible-thumping Christians. Let's hope justice prevails.

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  6. I've seen those red crab migrations before, they're fascinating,especially the millions of babies swarming over everything in their way.
    I really like the idea of the crab fences which funnel the crabs off the road to underground crossings.
    Love that last video!

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    1. Oh, how cool that you've actually seen them in person! The sheer diversity of wildlife there in Australia blows me away.

      Me, too!

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    2. I wish!
      But no, I've only seen them on television.

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    3. Oh, darn. Well, at least you're a position where seeing them in person is more of a possibility than it is for us for us folks on the other side of the world.

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  7. So interesting, and I've never heard of this island before. I get so lost in nature. It's my relaxation and inspiration. There's also always something to learn about it.

    Happy Mother's Day. Have a fantastic weekend.

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    1. Yes... relaxation and inspiration. There's something about nature that can touch us deep inside and make all feel right with the world..

      Thanks. Happy Mothers' Day to you, too.

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  8. Replies
    1. HA! That's my girl! At four inches, I think they might be a little small, though. Besides, they're already RED... so how would we know when they're done cooking?

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  9. I love that they close a whole road for crabs. I'm not sure it would happen here in the UK.

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    1. Yeah, I do, too. If those crabs put holes in enough tires in the UK, the roads might get closed...

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  10. Crabs live on land ? Really interesting news, I liked your post very much :)

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    1. Yeah, crabs on land. How about that? Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  11. LOVE those azaleas at the top of your blog, btw.

    I think I'd freak out if I saw a tide of red crabs marching my way. Scream and run the opposite direction, in fact!

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    1. Thanks! Our azaleas sure don't look like that now. (I wish the blooms lasted longer.)

      HA! Afraid of those teeny little things? Now, if it was a horde of Alaskan king crabs, now...

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  12. I'd heard about Christmas Island but knew nothing about these crabs. How odd that they live on land!

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    1. I thought it was pretty cool that they live on land. Too bad some lobsters don't do the same, eh?

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  13. Wow, that crab migration would be a wonder of nature to see. Every year around here there is a story on the news of traffic stopping on a busy road to let a mother duck and her babies cross the road and it always warms my heart.

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    1. Wouldn't it be something to see in person? Not likely that'll ever happen for me, so I'll have to be satisfied with watching them on videos. Awwww, baby ducks I've always had a soft spot for baby ducks. It's neat that the traffic stops to let them cross the road.

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    2. That happens here in Perth as well..re duck families I mean. You sometimes hear on the traffic report about a mother duck and her babies crossing a busy freeway and the traffic always stops. Seems lots of drivers don't obey the road rules and have little thought for others on the road but they will stop for the wildlife. Humans can be so strange.

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    3. You're right, Mimsie. People can be very strange. I'm all for taking care of animals, but it'd be nice if we took better care of each other, too.

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  14. LOL at the punchline at the end. The crab videos? Kinda creepy. All those squirmy legs! *grin*

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    1. I figured that punchline would be right up your alley.

      Creepy? Nah! Okay, so maybe a little...

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  15. I gotta say... that first video was kinda creepy. Even the snappy Jazz tune couldn't mute the 'Creep Factor'. Crabs are just a bit too much like spiders, if ya axe me. And LOTS of crabs is LOTS too many.

    Boobies... OK, Boobies, NOW we're talkin' the kinda Mother Nature that appeals to me!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Aw, where's your sense of adventure, man? Now if those crabs were huge like in that old "invasion" movie of way back when, that'd be kinda scary and creepy. But those little things? Yeah, well those little bitty ones DO look a lot like spiders, don't they...? Crap.

      HA! I'm not surprised.

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  16. So you don't want to talk about boobies but you are willing to talk about crabs, hmmmmm something wrong with that line lol

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    1. HA! Nope, sounds just about right to me...

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  17. creatures down under are odd. Funny post and cool videos. And your groaner joke at the end. Gotta love Fridays. Have a great weekend

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    1. Creatures down under are... totally cool!!!

      Yeah, I do love Fridays. And every other day of the week, too. (The joys of retirement!) You have a super weekend, too.

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  18. Those crabs kind of gave me the shivers. But if you want a SERIOUS crab, check out the coconut crab. http://creepyanimals.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/coconut-crab.jpg That is a real thing. =:0

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    1. That coconut crab is totally cool! Since it's climbing up a garbage can in that picture, I trust it's also a land crab. (Brilliant deduction, right?) It has some seriously large claws on it. (yum)

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  19. Sus, I'm glad you decided to repost the little crabbies. They're quirky and unexpected. Srsly, I never know what I'm gonna learn when I come here!

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    1. It isn't a repost, Suze. It's brand spanking new.

      Yeah, I know. It's impossible for me to stick with a theme...

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    2. Argh. I got confused when I read about the post from 2011. Brain scramble!

      Happy Mother's Day. :)

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    3. In light of the great news you shared on your post, you're entitled to a little brain scramble, my dear.

      Happy Mothers' Day to you, too.

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  20. How do the crabs manage to read the big red road sign?

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    1. They don't have to... they just have to be on the look-out for the "crab crossing" signs.

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  21. Beautiful pictures of spring and flowers blooming and shrubs showing their life. Christmas Island sounds so familiar ..... was it also prominent somehow during WW2? It rings a bell somewhere. It still shows a human side of people when they take a back seat to nature. I'm laughig at Pat's comment.

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    1. Hmmm, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure if Christmas Island played a role in WWII or not. I'd have to look it up.

      We don't have to take a back seat to nature; we just need to respect it and give it fair space.

      Pat's a hoot.

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  22. That is some amazing stuff about the crab migrations on Christmas Island! I agree with another poster - I might get freaked out and run the other way, especially with the young crabs. They look like big, angry spiders!

    I remember coming home from work one time and the traffic on a busy road during rush hour came to a complete stop. Steam and frustration started coming out of my ears...and then I noticed the young woman had stopped her car, got out, and picked up a turtle in the road to carry it to the other side. Made me feel all warm and happy.

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    1. Yeah, you're right; those babies do look a lot like ticked-off spiders.

      Awwww. When I was a kid, we frequently stopped the car to move a turtle to the side of the road. I don't recall ever seeing any in the road here in Georgia.

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  23. Both of these are cute stories, the ones about the people helping the turtles and the crab one.. you learn something new everyday :)
    I hope you have a wonderful Mother's day too.. and to women... Have a really great weekend :)

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    1. Glad ya liked them.

      And a very Happy Mothers' Day to you, too!

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  24. Fascinating...but now I'm a little squirmy. I'm keeping my feet inside the covers tonight!

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  25. I've been meaning to say how I love the azaleas; they are magnificent and do have a Happy Mother's Day.

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    1. Thanks. Our azaleas looked especially good this year, but they're all done for the year... except for the encore one. It hasn't even bloomed yet.

      Happy Mothers' Day to you, too!

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  26. Great post, Susan! Nature has always been fascinating to me. So much to see and learn about it and so amazing. Very cool to see all those crabs! Hope you have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks. Glad ya liked it.

      Hope you have a super weekend, too

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  27. The wonders of Mother Nature are therapeutic...lovely post.
    Happy Mother's Day, Susan!

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    1. Hi, Julia! It's good to hear from you again.

      Yes, nature can be very therapeutic, and has a way of helping us find our centers, if you know what I mean.

      And a very Happy Mothers' Day to you, too!

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  28. I haven't seen you in forever and a day. I have boobies and crabs, by the way.

    Love,
    Janie

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  29. My pace is somewhere in between the turtles and the crabs! I just love how the roads get blocked off for them! My brother and I had pet turtles when we were little. Their names were Speedy and Slowpoke. I'll bet you can guess which one was mine. Have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, Susan!

    Julie

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    1. I usually start out walking at a good crazy crab pace, but after a while, the pace slows down considerably. Especially on rough terrain. Then the turtles pass me by.

      I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too.

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  30. Hi Susan .. those crabs are amazing aren't they - nature is just incredible .. while the video is great - go catch a bus ..

    Cheers and welcome back .. love the azaleas ... Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary. They sure are! Glad you watched that video. It's just too cute.

      Cheers! Thanks. It's good to be back. Glad you like the azaleas. Too bad they're kaput for the year already.

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  31. Finally getting around to catching up on my blog reading and as always Susan, your posts are not only informative but great fun to read as well.

    Btw, crabs freak me out, so I shuddered all the way through those clips.

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    1. Hellooooooooo! It's fantastic to hear from you again!

      Sorry the crabs freaked you out. Thanks for sticking with the videos anyhow.

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  32. Hello Susan. Christmas Island has sad connotations for Australians who don't agree with our government's TURN BACK THE BOATS policy. Christmas Island is a place where refugees are dumped so they can't get into Oz. So sad.

    Thanks for a wonderfully informative post. I just adore the photos.

    Denise

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    1. Hi,Denise. Such a shame that something so sad could be happening on such a beautiful island. Hopefully, the refugees are treated well, and are better off on Christmas Island than they were in their home countries.

      Thanks. Glad ya liked it.

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  33. A great interesting and informative post, Susan! Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Fascinating. I'd heard of Christmas Island, but knew nothing about it. I realize the crabs are tiny, but then so are crawfish. I'm glad there's no one standing behind the Road Closed sign with a pot and camp stove.

    Hope you had a wonderful Mom's Day, Susan!

    VR Barkowski

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    1. HA! Good point. I never thought of those crab in comparison to the size of crawfish...

      Thanks. I had a terrific day. Heck... the whole darned weekend. My hubby and I had some fun adventures.

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  35. LOL at that last video. :) Watching things in nature is almost always amazing.

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    1. Glad ya got a kick out of that last video. Yeah, you're right. Nature has an amazing way of healing whatever ails us.

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  36. Jokey, joke very funny. And yes, we humans can be bodhisattvas and angels when we want to. We should, I mean it would be nice if we were like that all the time. Great post! Cheers!!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. Yeah, it would be nice if humans always did the right thing, but knowing about that element of "bad" makes us better appreciate it when people shine

      Cheers!.

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    2. Very good. I think that we have to accept both the light and the dark sides of ourselves, and try real hard to allow the light to shine brighter than the dark. Cheers!!

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    3. Absolutely! "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine..."

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  37. Now I know a lot about something I never heard of before :)
    Thanks, Susan!

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  38. Hi human, Susan,

    You can now stop twiddling your thumbs, my human friend. I do understand you've been wondering where is a comment from that amazing dog, Penny. Anyway, after unsuccessfully attempting to twiddle my paws, I know submit one of my highly collectable comments.

    My human got itchy just thinking about crabs. Have no idea why that is. I hope you had a really neato North American type Mother's Day.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny!

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    1. Thinking about crabs doesn't make me itchy... it just makes me hungry!

      And yes, Penny, I had a really neato North American type Mothers' Day. But no crabs...

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  39. I was going to compliment you on a really interesting post, but I'm too busy groaning over the "son of a beach".

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  40. Red crab migration. Never seen anything like it!
    And chuckled through most of your post. Yes, boobies are funny.

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    1. It sure would be one heckuva sight to see, though, wouldn't it?

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  41. Brilliant post:)!!! Really love your blog:)!!
    Xoxoxo have a nice day,
    Melle

    http://melle-loves-fashion.blogspot.de

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