Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Day Of Reaction

My wife came up with a response to the “Day of Action” the Hispanics are having on Monday, she calls it a Day of Reaction. Go out and buy everything you can lay your hands on, eat at the local restaurants (not Mexican restaurants, though) and show the gasbag politicians the legals count too.

I also hope the cities and counties hand the bill for these marches to the organizers. I am not paying taxes to let foreigners use our police and other city services.

Nice Hispanic Star Spangled banner BTW. I am learning to fart the Mexican National Anthem, the Mexican Hat Dance. At least I think that is their anthem… That and their green, white and red rag makes and excellent doormat.

Friday, April 28, 2006

How We Made Mom Crazy

My brother and I were solely responsible for driving our mother to the edge. I don’t know if that happens to all mothers that have two boys or if we were just special, though I suspect the latter. I do not believe we were tying to drive her insane on purpose it was just that our idea of fun was her idea of a really, really bad nightmare.

When on our own, bad things happened. Odd how harmless fun can turn into so much destruction My parents would go out from time to time and leave my brother and I to our own devices - the fools. We’d have a contest to see who could get their circus peanuts, an orange peanut shaped marshmallow kind of candy, to stick to the ceiling. If they were a little stale and a bit on the firm side, you might have to chew ‘em a bit before you threw them. Either way there contest ended in orange peanut shaped marks on the ceiling.

Usually my brother and I got along pretty well, though once he really pissed me off and I tossed a hard plastic hand brush at him. Fortunately, for him, he slammed the bathroom door just before the brush impacted his rather soft skull. Unfortunately, it was a hollow core door and the brush easily penetrated the panel, leaving a rather conspicuous hole in the flimsy wood. Covering this with a picture we made on the vacu-form machine we had didn’t fool my mother for long. Then there were the pillow fights.

I hit my brother so hard with my pillow that the pillow blew out the sewn end of the pillow case . I knew mom would have a fit about that, but being a resourceful young lad, I figured I could sew it up good as new on her sewing machine and no one would be the wiser. I didn’t have a clue as to how the machine worked and sometimes “winging it” isn’t a good idea. This was one of those times. With a regular needle, you put the tread through the eye that much I knew. I saw a hole in the end of the needle so I figured that would do - it didn’t. What it did do was wrap every cog and gear located under the plate on the foot of the sewing machine in neat little bundles of thread. Now I had a ripped pillowcase and a broken sewing machine. I got a sharp knife and managed to liberate all the gears I could see. I don’t know if that fixed the machine, but the process of de-threading the guts of the machine had the side benefit of keeping me occupied and therefore unable to cause anymore damage. I wound up stitching the case by hand – as if she’d never notice that, but sometimes you got to go with what you have.

We had a lot of fun, cranking dad’s stereo and playing the dynamite blast on the sound effects record he had so we could watch the front picture window move in and out, almost as if it was breathing. I don’t think the stereo was quite the same after that stunt. Then there was riling the dog up ‘til she started biting and pretending she was shark – the carpet was the sea and the furniture served as islands. You had to leap from one island to the next – if you fell in the sea the shark would get you (and she would).

When mom would get home any damage would be assessed, we’d have to listen to it and then she and dad would seem to forget by the next time they decided to go out. It was always “What do you guys have a happy fizzy party while we are gone? Do you shake up a bottle of soda and spray the walls” (we actually hadn’t tried that one yet)? In the need those little Fizzy parties along with a few other stunts came pretty close to punching mom’s ticket to Whackyville, Wisconsin. She survived, but I think we both left home just in time. If you don’t know what fizzies are you may be too young to be reading all this…

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Days of Yore

One of the most pleasant assignments I had in the Air Force was with the 27 TASS at George AFB near Victorville, CA. Don’t bother looking, the base fell victim to the first BRAC and is no longer there, as such. The F-4G Wild Weasels were mothballed and the OV-10 was about to meet the same fate. A shame really, but the realities were that the F-4 wasn’t getting any younger and the OV-10 had a limited role for the USAF. The marines made better use of them in the long run.

Squadron life was the best. Many ached for higher level assignments at wings and head quarters for advancement sake, but I never really cared all that much one way or the other. I plodded my way to Master Sergeant and knew that was as far as I would go. I don’t regret a minute of it. I was a Technical Sergeant when I took over the Intelligence shop at the 27 TASS. TASS stands for Tactical Air Support Squadron. The OV-10 was primarily a Forward Air Control aircraft for directing fighters into their targets on the ground, generally trucks, tanks, troops in the open, and other mobile kinds of targets.

The mission certainly impacts the pace and character of squadron life, but there are some common threads. Those threads stand out in songs by Dick Jonas and Dos Gringos. There are/were other music groups and singers out there such as Bull Durham that also portray the pilot’s plight through music. I really enjoyed the traditions that went along with belonging to the squadron. Fliers new to the squadron get a nickname or call sign during a naming ceremony. I was fortunate enough to pick up a few myself because of my close association with the fliers. The last one was “Anthrax Bob”. The name is usually derived from an incident that the “namee” has experienced, a physical attribute, or just a play on words with their name. Mine came from a bad reaction to the anthrax vaccine, for instance.

Other traditions include soaking a pilot down with a fire extinguisher after his or her final or ”fini” flight with the squadron, never using the word “head” (and I complain about subcultures suborning the English language) , and inserting the phrase “so to speak” after making nay comment that could have a sexual connotation. Best of all was just the general respect and camaraderie within the squadron. A lot of this was built on Friday afternoons after work in the squadron bar. Many of the songs got their start there late in the evening when the hard-cores would sit around the bar and talk of times gone by.

Now in the civilian world I have yet to encounter anything even close the traditions and spirit of an Air Force squadron. Maybe that is because civilians are nine-to-fivers, or they just work to put beans on the table. I don’t know what the reason is, but I do miss the laughter and goings on of squadron life.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Book Review: Marley and Me

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the Worlds Worst Dog by John Grogan

John Grogan takes us on a playful romp with his oversized neurotic Yellow American Labrador Retriever. He follows the dog’s life from puppyhood to Marley’s final days. Marley is Everydog as he goes from an undisciplined pup to an undisciplined adult and takes over the Grogan family and their house despite his rascally ways. He has several narrow escapes, especially after Grogan’s wife nears the end of her tether with Marley’s antics during postpartum. To add to the mayhem, Marley has an extreme case of Stormphobia, which results in more damage to the house from Marley than the storms. This is a magical account of one dog’s life - pet owners will quickly identify with things like torn up couches, mutilated walls, and over-exuberance found only in dogs. Every page holds the laughter and tears only a beloved dog can bring to a family. Even people without dogs will appreciate the route Marley takes to become the heart of the Grogan family.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Illegal Oil Immigration

I’ve given this a lot of thought. We don’t have enough oil, but we have too many illegal immigrants. The immigrants want to stay and become citizens – I think we can work this out. Mexico has plenty of oil, so from now on every illegal who carries a barrel of oil over the border with him or her gets automatic citizenship (kids under 12 get in free).

The illegals already here are another problem, we could either have them send to their relatives in Mexico requesting a barrel of oil, thereby reversing the flow of money across the border, or we could fine Mexico one hundred barrels of oil per day for each illegal. Mexico would have to fess up, or send their version of the FBI up here to corral and remove their citizens. Either way we come out ahead. When the world hands you lemons…

Next: Al Qaeda seat covers

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Chen Wok

Made a trip to Chen Wok for lunch. The food is pretty good, you can eat in but the place is really what we would refer to as a “Take out Joint”. When you dine in everything comes in styro take out boxes anyway. It doesn’t affect the taste however. The wor wonton soup is some of the best I have ever had. I usually measure a Chinese restaurant’s quality by the Kung Pao chicken. The Chen Wok’s Kung Pao is a bit on the sweet side, but still good none the less. Today my wife and I had the fried wontons, House Special Chicken, and wor wonton soup. A bit of advice, the house special chicken really doesn’t need the sauce so we get it on the side. This sauce is also a bit sweet so a little goes a long way.

The owner is very nice and his cooks are adept. We have never had a long wait, and though he has several locations the food hasn’t suffered the usual chain restaurant malaise. Places like the Panda Express chain are the reason people don’t like Chinese food. The Chen Wok is a reasonable alternative. For decent Chinese food at a reasonable price, though without the ambiance of formal Chinese dining, this restaurant is a good bet.

If you want to see what real Oriental food looks like check out Foodcrazee - he has recipes and reviews of various Malaysian restaurants. The pictures of the food are worth the trip!!!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

For What?

I wake up to a gray dawn. Everything here is gray, the wood on the barn, fence, house, the ground, and the sky. Even the dust kicked up by wagons on the main road, which coats the leaves on the woods and hangs thick in the still air is gray. There’s thunder in the distance, or is that artillery? I am never sure. There is no life on this farm, so I suppose it isn’t really a farm after all. The animals were taken for provender by one army or the other, the crops trampled and scorched. No use plowing because they’ll be back – this war will never end it seems. All I would turn up with the plow would be bleached bones, and besides I have nothing left to pull the plow with. Why do I stay here? I ask myself that every day, but in truth there is no where else to go.

I had left once for a time and served a bit with those boys, off to someone else’s farms and woods. Hell, everyone joined up, would have been cowardly not to march off down the dusty main street bound for god knows where to fight for… for what? I was never too sure. My absence from the family farm was cut short when in the midst of a small skirmish which will never be mentioned again, a speck of dust on the page of a history book; I felt the red hot burning of a lead ball in my leg. I fell and dragged myself into a ditch. I lay there forever waiting for help. Then there was more pain, no anesthetic as the doc dug through the caked blood and into the hole to retrieve the metal that had invaded my flesh. I was lucky - I survived the hell that was that field hospital. The wound was serious enough that was I dismissed from further service and I headed home – to what?

My brother, how I miss him, he joined up before me, being older and all. I never fought beside him but we fought over some of the same ground, hunkered down behind the same rocks as bullets buzzed like angry bees all around us. He just came home not long ago in fact. I like to visit him from time to time up there though those woods up yonder. I like to shoulder the old flintlock that has been passed down from one to the next and head off into those woods in hopes of brining home a squirrel or two. Even they are nothing but flesh and bone, various armies having scraped every morsel of food from the ground. It is still peaceful to just sit on the old log and watch for them though. This spot is the same one my brother and I used to set up an ambush for the kids from the neighboring farm we played at war, a stick for a rifle and soldiering seemed to be such an adventure.

My brother had a good head for tactics so our ambushes rarely failed. He probably knew he was in trouble as soon as the officer positioned his squad. He is next to me now as I sit here still and quiet so as not to spook any squirrels. He is much more patient than I as we wait for a potential dinner to come along.

I can still taste the dust kicked up by the heavy wagons. I can’t hear them though because the thick leaves muffle any sounds. It as if I were deaf – no sounds at all, no birds, no animals as though the earth was taking a pause. The air is still the dust hangs before me, covering the leaves. Those leaves are showing silver undersides, so there must be a storm on the way and so that was thunder after all.

An hour or so I can stand it no longer and bid my brother adieu. My leg is stiff from sitting too long, the musket gone unused. The newer rifles have left this old gun behind, firing a bullet rather than buck and ball, rifling in the barrel to keep the bullet’s flight straight and true; much more lethal. It was one of those new bullets, Minie balls they call ‘em, which brought my brother down.

He fell near by, down by the trickle of water that poses for a creek in these parts. I went down after both sides had moved off leaving their dead to the crows, and by chance came upon his body. He looked at peace, not like some others that had died slowly and painfully as they soaked the ground with their blood, their faces twisted permanently in the agonies that tore at them with sharp bloody claws.

It took me the better part of the day to drag his body up into these very woods, to our spot. I spent the night with him, as close to a funeral as he’ll have. Built a small fire and just sat and thought of the times we ran through the fields barefoot, the hidings we got for spending more time finding ways to get out of our chores than doing them. So sad really, he might be the only friend I have really ever had. I buried him right here, right next to the old log. Some of the old gray wood from the fence marks the spot – carved his name and the date on it. No one said any words; we didn’t think much about gods and such, especially after we saw how they neglect their children.

Well brother, I am off, back to the cabin before the rain starts. I can sit and look for new holes in the roof when the water finds its way through the dry cracked shingles. You rest easy and I’ll be back, save me some of them squirrels now, you hear??

Ocotillo Blooms

Waves of sunlight undulate across the ground
Desert plants bloom in revelry
Soon the coolness of night will come

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Home on the Range

I was talking with one of my office mates discussing hunting – all official business, of course. He had mentioned hunting ground hogs, which reminded me of my father’s tales of hunting woodchucks (one in the same animal, I believe). A broad term for that type of sport is Varmint Hunting. The qualifications for “varminthood” are simple - the animal is an agricultural pest, you don’t usually eat the animal (unless you are from Appalachia or the Ozarks), and it is a menace to the golfing industry ala “Caddyshack”.

I have gone varmint hunting. It went against my feelings about only shooting animals I was intending to eat, hunting was the only way to procure venison, for instance (not that I ever procured any by that method, try as I might). The varmint in my sights was the loveable cuddly plague-rat sometimes called the Prairie Dog. I didn’t have any feelings one way or the other about prairie dogs to begin with; I didn’t hold a grudge or feel threatened by them at any rate.

I was shanghaied into the first hunt when some friends came out from Wisconsin. The dude was champing at the bit to shoot prairie dogs since some of his buds back in Wisconsin had taken a special vacation just to blast dogs. He had a top of the line varmint rifle, scope, bipod, and ammunition he had loaded himself. Before I knew it we hopped in his car and were on our way out to a ranch on the wild South Dakotan prairie.

Now I know there are going to be those who are going to be upset that someone could drop the hammer on these fluffy little Disneyesque rodents, but what you might not realize is that some of these prairie dog villages cover hundreds of acres. Cattle break their legs in the holes and the dogs are excellent disease vectors. Ranchers are in an all out war with them, in fact. I don’t know how many times we’d pull up to a ranch to shoot prairie dogs and the rancher would tell us to kill them all. That is a task even Prairie Dog Pete, Buffalo Bill’s younger brother, couldn’t pull off.

Aside from the general carnage it is just wonderful being out on the prairie. The grasslands don’t seem to end – in the distance we could see the edge of the badlands, to the West you could make out the low dark Black Hills. It is a deceptive place – it looks perfectly flat, but there are hidden ravines and depression that serve as highways for deer and antelope. There is cactus, rocks, and occasional lines of cottonwood trees that follow the edges of streams. It is always windy; in fact it is one of those places where if the wind ever stops you better be seeking shelter pretty quickly.

The place is a sea of life. Besides prairie dogs, there are snakes, coyotes, pronghorns, mule deer, ground squirrels, hawks, vultures, eagles, and a wide variety of insect life. There are even different types of grasses, though European imports have crowded out a lot of the native species. Oh, and there is cactus, did I mention cactus? I still have needles imbedded in various parts of my body. Some might call it just desserts, but when you go to shoot prairie dogs you lie down on the ground and wait for them to pop up. Seedling prickly pair cacti are tough to pick out amongst the stones that blanket parts of the grasslands, until you lie down on top of them, of course. It was always important to watch where you lie because we weren’t the only ones after prairie dogs. Prairie dog villages are like a bed and breakfast for rattle snakes, and contrary to popular belief they don’t always rattle before they strike. One of my friends almost came down right on top of one, and never under any circumstances should you stick anything you want to keep in the holes. There is often a snake sleeping just inside after having dined on the former occupants. He isn’t going to be happy when you wake him.

As with most of my attempts at hunting this one wasn’t so great either. I had an old Eastern-bloc special also known as an SKS, with iron sights. I think I mostly plowed up a lot of dirt and the dogs were relatively safe. After you shot a few times the varmints would wise up, as much as a prairie dog can anyway, and refuse to come out. You picked up your shootin’ iron and hiked up over the rise to the next part of the village. I have never seen such a huge are stripped of all vegetation and covered with mounds. It looked like a huge minefield and covered several square miles in every direction. You have to have some perspective to understand these ranches – we drove for about 45 minutes to get to the dog town and we weren’t even in the middle of the guy’s ranch yet.

It was nice to just lie there and look out over the grass and taken in the splendor of the yellow, pink, and brown hills in the badlands. You could almost imagine the rhino-like, horse-like, and other creatures of the Eocene moving in vast herds over the plains. It had that kind of primitive feel to it. You could hear the rustle of the grass and smell the perfume of the sage – a very fresh smell. In fact the Sioux use it in purification tires. A shadow would glide over the grasses and the prairie dogs would do their patented whistle that earned them their name. That is the sign to hit the dirt, because there was a large hungry hawk casting that shadow.

Whether hunting animals or agates I spent a lot of time out on the Great Plains. If you really want a taste of the “Old West” I highly recommend Western South Dakota. Get out on to the prairies, watch your step, and soak in the miles and miles of uninterrupted grass all singing that siren’s song that still calls me back to this day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easter weekend

Easter weekend is past but not forgotten – the leftovers are still in the fridge. We pretty much ate our way through Easter. Some friends from back East came out to visit on Saturday and we wound up at the Rio, a local Mexican restaurant. When anyone comes to visit we invariably wind up there because the restaurant serves some of the best Mexican food I have ever had.

My daughter and son-in-law were over for the whole weekend. As usual it was so nice having them visit. You spend most of your adult life praying that the kids leave home and then when they are finally gone you really miss them. I am not sure why that is, but fortunately looking after huskies fills the void.

We basically ate out way through Easter, starting with the traditional chocolate malted milk ball breakfast…

Followed by the Italian Easter cookies…

I had a request for Easter dinner, so I complied and went Chinese. I grilled up honey-hoisin glazed chicken with fried rice and fried wontons for sides. Everyone seemed pleased and I certainly enjoyed making the food.

It was a great weekend just having folks around. We had beautiful weather – a bit windy at first, but mellowing out through the weekend, temps in the 80s and a very nice visit. As Kurt Vonnegut’s uncle always used to say, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is”.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Forget the egg hidden behind the sofa that will be found months later in a less then desirable state, forget empty graves, and blood on the lintel, Easter is a Spring time rite that signifies renewal.  The woods have cast off Winter’s dusty cloak and are filling out with green, trilliums are poking up through the duff on the forest floor, and emaciated gatherers sweep the forest floor for acorns and hickory nuts to break their winters fast.  Life is everywhere from the annoying hum of the mosquito to the graceful fluttering of a butterfly.  The birds are out in force, some newly returned from parts unknown and each male nosily asserting itself in his chosen territory.  A ritual that has gone on long before man arrived on the scene in any form.  

It is a good time to dust out the mental cobwebs, sit outside and allow the fresh breeze to blow the stale thoughts from your mind.  It feels so wonderful to be alive, the warmth of the sun on your face, the birdsong filling the air with music.  Even the wind chimes add to the symphony.  This is a soul stirring time, a time where you feel as though it is possible to start fresh, press on with life, and just glory in its wonders.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I came across a quote in a book on the Darwin Awards, sort of the Oscar of Natural Selection and thought I would pass it on.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

I know quite a few people like that…

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no way to go through life... Dean Wormer, Faber College

I was just thinking about strange things I had heard about, some undoubtedly myth and legend, so gross, but all fascinating in their own way. I was reading a Blog by Mummified on nurturing that we should have received in our childhoods. She wished we were still receiving some of that attention. There was a lot of talk about sharing and that coupled with Australia made me think of “Pelicans” for some reason. Not the bird, but the process where one dude gulps down a beer, regurgitates it into a glass and another dude drinks it. I understand it is very popular in New Zealand. I have never actually seen anyone “pelicaning”, but I don’t have trouble believing that it does happen.

It seems a lot of the weird and wonderful revolves around drinking, now that I come to think of it. Most snacks in bar had to have started as a drunken dare. Blind Robins, for instance. A Blind Robin is a Little fish that comes vacuum-packed in some sort of fluid for your enjoyment. I have been pretty drunk from time to time, but never drunk enough to try the fishies. I have even given the plump red mystery sausage, also vacuum-packed a pass. I am just not very adventurous. I have had the pickled pigs feet and find those to be very delicious, once you get past the idea.

In the Philippines it was baluts. Basically a partially formed baby duck still in the egg. You break the egg and suck the birdy down. They don’t make enough San Miguel to get me that drunk. I like eggs and I love duck, but I will take my duck fully grown, thank you very much. A lot of other things went on in Philippine bars that decorum prohibits from mentioning here. The one thing I thought was totally uncalled for was Foxy Boxing at the “Third Eye” bar in Angeles city. A friend asked me to go, and I was certainly up for some San Miguel after a hard day of watching tropical storms pass through while sitting at the pool bar. I figured a couple Philippinas in skimpy outfits would get up on stage, put on the gloves, and just jiggle around a bit. That was not to be. The two women were fully clothed and proceeded to beat the living shit out of each other for what amounted to about $5US. That is not entertaining. There was an Aussie soldier (again with the Australian connection) I was talking with and he asked me along on a bar crawl with his mates. I don’t remember much from that night, except one of the soldiers bought a monkey. At least I think it was a monkey. I did manage to make it back to the hotel and remember being amazed that I drank that much beer and didn’t puke.

There were the college days where all sort of shenanigans went on. I was Pioneer Pete for Homecoming once. I had on bib overalls, a flannel shirt, and a huge papier-mâché Pioneer Pete Head. The mouth was large enough I could still drink the bottle of wine I was holding. I was still reeling from the celebration the night before, and was having some problems with gas. Here’s a safety tip, so listen close – if you ever find yourself in bib overalls with your head trapped in an enclosed space never, under any circumstances, should you fart. The physics is simple. The gas travels up the front of the bibs, which act as funnel, channeling the gas into the papier-mâché noggin. There is nowhere for this gas to go, except your nose. I still have nightmares about that episode. I did flip an old woman taking a picture off; fortunately, she thought hat was pretty damn funny. Ever since that random birding, it is rare to see a picture of me where I am not displaying the finger in memory of the event.

I am somewhat saner these days, don’t drink as much – I figure I had my share already. I do indulge in some Yellow Tail Shiraz, which I refer to as Kangaroo Milk, or a Kilt Lifters, but that is rare. I found I could make an ass of myself without any help from alcohol so I will cut my liver a break and waltz my Matilda no more.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Get Ready to Bend Over, Gringo

The million migrant march is over and the politicians are lining up to kiss ass and cash in on the big Latino vote. I hope that goes well for them. I do think we are flailing on the immigrant issue and should look to other countries to see how they deal with illegal immigration. Say for instance I was to move down the block from Nanuk and get a job at the local seal-skinning factory using a borrowed identity and whatever kind of number the Canadian government uses to track their residents. What would they do when Nanuk spots me truckin’ down the block and calls the Mounties, or whoever their immigration enforcement folks are? Or say I move in next to Mummified and work on the kangaroo ranch? Or Seb and get a job shining pennies for some Scotsman?

Better still, I think one of our erstwhile representatives should do a fact-finding tour in Mexico and try to set up shop in Nogales or Tijuana without throwing any money around, of course. You can get everything from the local policeman’s gun to President Fox’s mom’s ass for $25US so our rep wouldn’t get a flavor for what happens to illegal gringos if he had a Rolex or lots of cash. I think that would be the true test. What ever happens to ol’ Phos in the great frozen waste, or our boy in Nogales will be the treatment we give to our “visitors” here. That seems fair enough to me.

My son came up with a great idea that might be another avenue for those skunks, I mean politicos that want to court the Hispanic voting bloc - offer the boys a deal. Anyone of the proper age and in good health can enlist in the Army. They and their family get instant citizenship and get free English language lessons and training as soldiers. Then they ship out to Iraq taking the place of the Marines and Army there now. Then the US government distributes the returning forces along the border to stop any further incursions. Everyone wins.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Field Guide to Husky Nests

Field Guide to Husky Nests

We’ve had huskies and husky mixes for a long time, and one thing they have all had in common is nest building. Our first husky/Sheppard mix, Lucky Dog had nest building down to a fine art with her patented “Spaghetti Twirl”. She’d hook her claws in to the blankets and then turn around several times winding them around her. Fast, neat, and efficient.

The two we have now aren’t as polished, but they do exhibit the same nest building tendencies. This guide will allow you to identify a husky nest at a glance and be able to tell what type of nest it is.

The first is the Classic nest. Usually on a bed, though they can be found on sofas as well. You can tell it is a husky nest even without a husky in residence by the circular outline, carefully arranged pillows, and the blankets you careful smoothed out upon waking are now in a rough semi-circle on the bed. Sheets and mattress pad may be included as nesting materials. You can tell if a male or female husky prepared the nest by checking the sheets and mattress pad. If there are obvious signs of digging, such as shredded sheets or gouges out of the mattress pad, it was a male.


Blown up futon variant

Impromptu nests. Though covered with thick soft fur huskies seem to have a need to lay on something soft. Little or no arranging may go into the nesting process. These nests can be and are found almost everywhere, from the dirty laundry:

To towels placed to soak up the water the sloshed out of the dog dish that I tripped over.

The final category is more of a paw-rest than an actual nest. There is the Speed Bump:

And the Tiger Trap

Husky paws dangle over the edge of the hole/bump and apparently this is quite comfortable. The tiger trap has the added advantage o0f scattering cooler earth over the cement patio as well as the neighbor’s yard. This cool layer is a husky spa treatment; it cools, refreshes, and improves that lingering odor they love so much. I was told once that huskies don’t smell. Whoever came up with that one is either olfactory challenged or a liar.

This certainly isn’t an all inclusive guide as there are may other variants we know of and some that have probably yet to be seen. Always look for telltale rumpling and long black and white strands of fur left behind. Large dirty paw prints on the sheets are also a dead giveaway.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"A Year in the World", by Frances Mayes

I am part way through a new book by Frances Mayes, “A Year in the World”. I am reading it for my own edification and so I can write a review for the local library. I have read all her books and two stand out, “Under the Tuscan Sun” and this one. True there were some great recipes in “Bella Tuscany” a book arranged on the different stages of an Italian dinner, but it wasn’t one of her better books. Thanks for the Ragout recipe though, it is the best I have ever made.

In “A Year in the World”, Frances and her husband throw off all their shackles, resigning from their positions as Bay Area professors and take to the open road. They begin in Spain where they let the poet Lorca speak for the countryside. Mayes gives you a back stage pass to each country they visit, avoiding the touristy glitz and biting in to the flavor and texture of each region. Mayes uses passages from famous local authors, vivid descriptions of the scenes, and a poetic description of the cuisine. You learn about the real country, not the one you would see a few short steps off the tour bus. If this book doesn’t fire up the wanderlust in you as it has in me, check into group therapy. You can actually feel the hot sun, hear the strains of Flamenco, and taste the Tapas. Read this book for the insights into the prose of Europe, the food, the people, but read this book.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Two Big Scandals

Two big scandals broke just recently.  Apparently Jesus gave the ok for Judas to out him, and Bush gave the ok to out the CIA operative.  I apologize for using Jesus and Bush in the same sentence. Jesus needed that event to happen, legend has it, so Christians could have a holiday during the Passover season too.  Bush was just being a spiteful asshole.  I was in the Intelligence community and it was always the mark of a poor commander that blamed his shortcomings and schemes gone wrong on Intel.

Rainy Day Pictures

Just a few shots taken on the rainy day...

There are moments in almost everyone’s life that give him or her pause. I had one of those moments last night. I serve on a committee with my wife and about a dozen other people. I hadn’t seen one of the women that usually shows up and always makes a valuable contribution to our discussions. I found out that she had been very ill, even while sitting smiling and joking across from me in past meetings. I should have figured something was wrong when she had a bit of a spell outside while waiting for the door to be unlocked. She turned down the offer of a chair and I thought nothing more of it.

The pause came as I reflected on how strong this woman is, ignoring her illness to help others. Perhaps it is because of here calling, she is a minister, though she had to give up her ministry just recently. That is a great loss to that congregation; I am sure as she is an insightful, kind person. Here I grouse about day to day problems, sometimes allowing them to keep me from doing what needs to be done and she comes along as “Bontsha the Silent”, bearing her load without a word of complaint and still holding out a hand to those in need.

If anyone else on the committee knows what her illness is they aren’t talking so I don’t know if it is something she can beat or not. With her fortitude if it is beatable I suspect she will defeat the malady in the end. The world needs more caring concerned folks such as that pastor and we can ill afford to lose any that are with us. I hope her faith; her god sees fit to give her back some degree of health.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Threatened With Rain

A dreary desert day as storms moving East from California make their way across Arizona. The clouds spit and sputtered but here in the West valley we didn’t see a significant amount of rain – precipitation we could certainly use. The storms are moving fast and should be out of here early in the afternoon. We will all be back to living in the valley of the sun again.

Some folks complain about the lack of rain. I think the well-manicured lawns and abundance of fountains, ponds, and swimming pools gives them the idea they are back in Iowa. Most of the inhabitants are in fact expatriate mid-westerners here to escape the cold and snow and forget this is a desert. They have, however brought problems with them. Overcrowding for one, plants from the Midwest for another. Doctors used to send patients here for the benefit of the clear mountain air. You can forget that now. Between the “brown cloud” from too many people driving too many cars way too fast, and the pollen from all the imports with which to contend there isn’t a clean breath to be had. West African grasses, imported for landscaping have escaped into the wild crowding out native species, filling in all the once bare desert ground, and adding to the threat of wildfire. Without the winter rains the grasses are tinder dry and when they burn they will take the Saguaro and other natives with them. This summer is going to be a bad one for fires.

Monsoon season starts in July, usually, with the onset of low pressure drawing moisture up from Old Mexico and the Gulf of California. These storms are fierce, but don’t always produce moisture. Some are all wind and lightning, a bad mix for parched trees and grasses. There are many microbursts and downdrafts as storms fall apart over the rim country, which in turn generate strong winds blowing from East to West carrying a large wall of dust and debris with it. This is spectacular if you aren’t in the caught in the dust cloud. At this point, there may be some rain mostly in the Eastern part of the valley, but sometimes we catch a break and get some precipitation in the West as well. Things are a bit unbalanced this year as La Niña conditions are driving events. It is tough to say if there will be much relief from the drought even with the monsoons.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Gone Fishin

Gone Fishin’

I once lived in the Great Frozen Nation and there were many lakes at my disposal.  Fifteen minutes from where I lived I could be on a lake wetting a line.  Most times it was what a friend and I referred to as “practice casting”.  “That’s why they call it fishing, not catching” as the old saying goes.  

Fishing is always best if it is a shared experience, whether it is a friend, son, daughter, wife or brother.  My brother, father, and I made it out from time to time and that was a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed going out with my brother because we could revert back to our childhood and do foolish things that I suspect might not have been terribly amusing to dad.

We would head out for Lake Five where we could rent a boat – the crossroads bar was near the lake too – excellent sandwiches and the beer was always biting even if the fish weren’t.   It wasn’t a huge lake, but it was good sized – big enough to have some respectable pike, good sized bass, and various other game fish.  I had heard it was deep enough you could even fish for Walleye there, though I never went after that fish in particular. In fact, “what we were after” was often dictated by what we’d already caught.  If there were several bass on the stringer then apparently we were after bass.  I think that perhaps the actual fishing took somewhat of a back seat to the socializing.  Without dad in the boat, we could make noise without admonishment about scaring off the fish. Looking back at our usual luck I suspect dad was probably right, but all fish and no screwing around makes Phos a dull boy.    

On one expedition, I caught my favorite lure in a tree.  My brother decided he could get it down by standing on the gunwales of the boat and swinging an oar over his head, thereby knocking it out of the tree.  Now, there was beer involved so it seemed like a good plan, right up until his oar swinging nearly tipped the boat.  We did ship about ten gallons of water which promptly filled the stern of the boat.  When we got it back to the dock the boat rental man said “looks like she’s leaking a bit, I better pull ‘er up and have a look”.  Who were we to disagree?  

Fall was the best for fishing, as far as I was concerned.  Bright gold and red rimming the lakes and herons fishing along with us as honking geese flew overhead. There was a snap to the air and it just smelled like fall.  I do not know as the fishing was any better, but the splendor of a Wisconsin Fall was well worth the trip. Even the water seemed thicker, an illusion I suppose, but you could tell that it wouldn’t be long before we’d be walking over the lake.

We did try ice fishing when we were young. Bought some wax worms at the bait store and hiked all the way back.  We’d commandeer an abandoned hole and rigged a line with a well hooked worm.  Didn’t do much beyond drown the worm, but it was fun and I am sure our parents were happy it kept my brother and me out of their hair.  I am sure the rangers were happy because we weren’t testing Einstein’s theory of sinking phone handsets.   Those things are made of plastic so you’d figure they’d float, but Einstein nailed this one, they sink like a rock - even if you tear ‘em apart first.  Go figure.

Spring fishing, once the season opened was ok too.  It wasn’t as pretty as fall, but sometimes it was just as cold.  I remember ice forming on the line as I reeled it in one early spring.  The tree braches had a decidedly fuzzy look to them as they started budding out, later in the spring birds scrambled to set up their territories and you could hear the various calls echoing through the woods along the shore.  The best thing about early Spring or mid to late Fall is you didn’t have to worry about being eaten alive by deer flies, horse files, and mosquitoes.  The only blessing in summer is that we were to far South for black flies.    

I guess people fish in Arizona, but with so few lakes I expect it is like the housing developments where you are cheek to jowl.  I do like people, by and large, but there are times when I feel possessive – this is my lake, my leaves, my time to relax without the noise and rushing and someone trying to climb into my back pocket.  No I will give it a pass here and just look back through the vivid images and feelings ingrained in my soul.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Happy Poetry Month

All around me are the noises of the woods
Creaking trees, rustling leaves, gleaning creatures
Sounds of the woodpecker drumming for food