Wednesday, March 22, 2023

English Bulldog Skull

If Al Qaeda ran its own dog breeding program to craft a symbolic mockery of Great Britain and the U.S. Marine Corps, they could not have done better than the English Bulldog, a dog whose breathing apparatus is so compromised that it effectively water-boards itself every day.

Sorting Out the Ossuary

All the bones and skulls *not* on the top or bottom rows, fit into large glass canister.  The effect is a bit geologic.  

The Red Hartebeest at top left is from Africa, the six-point whitetail next to it was a hunters’ lost deer found in thick vegetation a week or two after it was shot, and allowed to decompose before collection.

Skulls in the middle include American Badger, Pitbull, English Bulldog, Red Fox, Raccoon, Possum, Gray Squirrel, Rabbit, several birds, Groundhogs, Snapping Turtle, and Muskrat.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Two Coyote Jaws

The smaller jaw is to a regular coyote. The larger jaw was found while out digging, next to the rest of the skeleton (minus the rest of the head). Several months earlier, I’d seen a MASSIVE coyote (I first thought it was a deer) bound across the road in front of my truck. It stopped about 25 yards inside a field and looked back at me. This might have been that fellow. It’s open season on coyote around here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Stone Dog House

Years ago, when Mountain Girl was old, deaf, and arthritic, I built her a stone dog house so she could stay warm in winter and cool in summer without going up and down the steps in the garage. It was very deep inside and was heavily insulated with foam panels (top, bottom, sides) and banked inside with deep drifts of hay. If I would call the dogs, and deaf old Mountain Girl would not come trotting in with the others, I would look inside the very small entrace to see her like this. A bit heart-stopping, but she was always very much alive in the Land of Nod. 

Later, I trained ivy up the sides of the stone dog house, fixed a game camera to a very close tree, and put a few bits of loose kibble amid the ivy trailing across the flat stone roof — a photo shoot stand for the local fox who would visit to see what they might find.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

More Steps Forward on the New House

The inside paint and floors are finished in the new house, and today we moved everything out of storage. There’s still furniture in the small house downtown, but that too will move in a few weeks.  Plumbers will hook up four new sinks and switch out some taps on Thursday.  TVs and computers will get wired up that day as well. A new king-sized mattress is coming tomorrow, and our old bed will become part of a guest bedroom. Furniture will move around a bit in the next week or two, with small stuff still coming over from the current house, and stored things to be unwrapped, placed, sorted, and organized.  There’s a lot left to do, but today was a big lift, and everything is out of commercial storage, which feels like a big deal.

Pi Day

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The History is Written; The Future Is Dim

The April 2021 cover of The Field focused on terrier history. 

The future of working terriers in the UK, however, does not look bright. The island is an environmental mess where “shooting” has long replaced hunting, where hanging on to suicidal sheep economics is seen as cultural touchstone, and where direct mail liars for hire are never challenged by sound science. Nothing is registered or regulated — it’s either “go wild” or banned, and there’s not much in between, which means there is no sanction for the worst except for punishment of the whole. Bag limits? Licenses? Seasons? Apprenticeships? There’s none of that.

Dog Yard Gravel Is Down

Three tons of gravel shifted and spread. Actually shoveled it at least twice, so 6 to 8 tons of lifting. About two inches of hard ground covers very hard rock, and all this is covered by landscape fabric lawn-stapled to the ground. The edge next to the fence is covered with 3 feet of chicken wire that is also lawn-stapled to the ground, and then the chicken wire is topped with sak-crete. Over everything goes the pea gravel. This system has worked well for me before. This hard-fenced yard is open to the house. The dogs can rest in 10 by 30 feet of shade or loaf in 10 by 30 feet of sun. Elevated resting benches go in next. Outside the hard fenced yard is a very large area that is is a double loop invisible fence, so the wee wolves have a large play area.

Spay Neuter Has Saved Millions of Lives

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Happy Birthday John McPhee

Who do I recommend as I writer? I always recommend John McPhee. Same recommendation for over 40 years. The New York Times Magazine has a profile of Mr. McPhee which hints at why: 

McPhee has built a career on such small detonations of knowledge. His mind is pure curiosity: It aspires to flow into every last corner of the world, especially the places most of us overlook. Literature has always sought transcendence in purportedly trivial subjects — ‘a world in a grain of sand,’ as Blake put it — but few have ever pushed the impulse further than McPhee. He once wrote an entire book about oranges, called, simply, ‘Oranges’ — the literary cousin of Duchamp’s urinal mounted in an art museum. In 1999, McPhee won a Pulitzer Prize for his 700-page geology collection, ‘Annals of the Former World,’ which explains for the general reader how all of North America came to exist. (‘At any location on earth, as the rock record goes down into time and out into earlier geographies it touches upon tens of hundreds of stories, wherein the face of the earth often changed, changed utterly, and changed again, like the face of a crackling fire.’) He has now published 30 books, all of which are still in print — a series of idiosyncratic tributes to the world that, in aggregate, form a world unto themselves.” McPhee is a structuralist as all good writers are, in my opinion. “Much of the struggle, for McPhee, has to do with structure. ‘Structure has preoccupied me in every project,’ he writes, which is as true as saying that Ahab, on his nautical adventures, was preoccupied by a certain whale. McPhee is obsessed with structure. He sweats and frets over the arrangement of a composition before he can begin writing. He seems to pour a whole novel’s worth of creative energy just into settling which bits will follow which other bits. “The payoff of that labor is enormous. Structure, in McPhee’s writing, carries as much meaning as the words themselves. What a more ordinary writer might say directly, McPhee will express through the white space between chapters or an odd juxtaposition of sentences. It is like Morse code: a message communicated by gaps.

I have a fair number of books in my study, but one shelf is reserved for the greats: Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa, several works by Faulkner, Eugene O'Neill's best plays, several books of lesser quality that were deeply influential to me from my childhood (Swiss Family Robinson) to my young adulthood (Black Like Me). And there is a section for the best of McPhee: Encounters with the Archdruid, The Curve of Binding Energy, Pieces of the Frame.

Today is John McPhee’s 92nd birthday. Thank you Mr. McPhee; you have been a gift. ❤️

Sunday, March 05, 2023

American Warriors

Chief Thomas K. Yallup, of Toppenish, Washington, chief of the Yakima Indian Tribal Council, visits his son, Cpl. Bill Yallup, who was in training with an Army armored unit at Yakima Firing Center. 1957.

Cpl. Yallup's "iron horse" an M-48 tank, is one of several roaming the plains where once proud Indian warriors rode fleet footed steeds.

A Dog Bite Story You Have to Read

Bob Dylan on Jimmy Carter

“He put my mind at ease by not talking down to me and showing me that he had a sincere appreciation for the songs I had written. He was a kindred spirit to me of a rare kind. The kind of man you don’t meet every day and you’re lucky to if you ever do.” ~ Bob Dylan

A Burrowing Carnivorous Bird

The enormous head, blue color, and feather crest of the Belted Kingfisher makes these local water birds easy to identify. Kingfishers are distinct in that they nest in underground burrows that they dig in soft soil in high stream banks. Their den pipes slope uphill for drainage, and are typically 3-6 feet long, ending in a nesting chamber 8-12 inches in diameter and about 7 inches high.

AKC Registrations Up, But Still Down

AKC registrations are significantly higher than they were eight years ago, when they hovered at just over 500,000. Today, AKC registrations have risen to just over 800,000. That’s the “good” news. The “bad” news is that AKC registration are still only a little but better than *half* what they were in 1992 (1.53 million). When you factor in the 30 percent US population growth between 1992 and 2002 (257 million to 334 million), we find the relative decline in AKC registrations in the last 30 years is actually about 60 percent. To put it another way, if AKC registrations had flat-lined in 1992 and kept pace with US population growth, they would be 1,988,000 a year, not 800,000.

My Religion Is Not Under New Management