Dogs Over the Decades

Our dog’s been with us four years this month. I won’t post another picture of her, photogenic as she is. I have other pictures of dogs I’ve known, or met.

The first dog I remember — barely — was Caesar.

CaesarIt’s impossible to tell in this early ’60s-vintage picture, but he had a spot of pink fur next to his nose. At least, that’s what I remember as a very small child. Being a dog that roamed parts of semi-rural North Texas, he encountered (so I’m told) a nest of young rattlesnakes one spring, and that was all for him.

This is my grandmother in the 1950s, holding a young Georgette.

GrandmaandGeorgetteI remember Georgette well. She lived with my grandmother in San Antonio until the late 1960s, when the dog died of natural causes. Caesar was one of her pups.

Jay and Deb’s dog Aloysius, with the young family in 1983. I met him a number of times during ’80s visits, when my nephews were small.

AloysiusTheir dog Brynna. I think I took this picture during our visit for Thanksgiving 2001.
CollegiatePose-BrynnaJay’s current dogs, Holly and Chloe. I get to visit them when I go to Dallas. They spend a lot of time in this particular spot in the living room.

Holly ChloeAnd of course, Katie. The dog my mother had when I was in high school and beyond, 1976 to 1992, to be exact. This was the small dog that got a hold of a big bag of doughnuts, a half dozen or so, and ate them all. They didn’t stay eaten.

KatieMy friends Rich and Lisa in Massachusetts had an Irish wolfhound in the 1990s named Charlotte. I remember her well during our visit for New Year’s 1993.

CharlotteMy friends Ed and Lynn in Arizona had Bosco, whom we met during our visit in 1997. He knew some tricks, but I can’t remember what they were now.

Bosco1997Late in his life, Ed had an elderly dog named Bert living with him in Washington state. Ed sent me this picture ahead of my visit in 2015, to show how much fur Bert shed.

Bertandfur2015My friend Tom in Austin has a dog called Roscoe. He’s fond of jumping on you when you come into the room.

RoscoeLilly’s friend Rachel has a dog called Riley.

RileyFinally, one cat. In Osaka, Yuriko used to have a cat named Michael. Picture ca. 1994.

Michael

I got along with him all right, mainly because he was fond of lying around like a dog.

Mud Dogs

Spring rains returned today. The earth was still a little soft, so that meant more mud. Dogs are fond of mud.

There’s a story about the mud on her snout (not as visible in this shot as to the eye). It involves Psychodog, a neighborhood animal that not only always barks viciously at us from its back yard as we walk by (on a public walkway), it keeps barking until we’re very far out of range. This contrasts to other neighborhood dogs, who either know us and thus don’t bark, or who bark for a little while as we wander by.

Large puddles formed in Psychodog’s back yard during last week’s rain, along the fence line. That meant that if the animal were turned loose, it would charge across the yard, barking its vicious bark — straight into the puddles. We were on the other side of the fence. I like to think my dog pees there to annoy Psychodog.

I didn’t think the owners would turn Psychodog loose to get so muddy, but I was wrong: out the animal comes, straight into one of the sizable puddles. Splash! Some of the muddy water comes through the chain-link fence and hits my dog.

Ordinary Snow

Sunday’s snow would have been an unremarkable event, a few inches quickly brushed from streets and walking paths, and partly melted by Monday anyway. But it was the season’s first. Winter doesn’t wait for the solstice. Winter is here.
Dec 4, 2016 SnowNot the prettiest snow, but it does make the bushes and trees look better.

Dog in Snow Dec 5, 2016The dog doesn’t mind taking a romp in the snow. In fact she positively seems to enjoy it.

Phil-Tex Debris

I did my little part in the 58th quadrennial presidential election this morning — the 10th in which I’ve voted — at about 10:30, figuring that the morning rush would be over. Only one person was ahead of me when I arrived, but about a half-dozen were waiting when I left, so I guess there was ebb and flow throughout the day.

In Illinois, for the record, only four candidates were on the ballot for president: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green. Left out: the Reform Party (remember them?); the Constitution Party, who seem to wuv the Constitution, except that pesky establishment clause; America’s Party, a splinter of the Constitution Party, because there are always splinters; the American Solidarity Party, an amalgam of social conservatism and economic redistributism; the Socialist Workers Party; the Communist Party USA; or any number of independents or micro-parties.

Besides Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, I managed to see three other burial grounds during my recent trip, two others in Philly, one in Lampasas, Texas, none of them by design. They all happened to be near places I was going anyway.

Across the street from the U.S. Mint is Christ Church Burial Ground, home to about 1,400 markers on two acres, many dating from Colonial or Revolutionary times. With its irregular stones, worn inscriptions and modern buildings just outside the walls, the place reminded me of King’s Chapel and the Granary Burial Ground in downtown Boston.

Christ Church’s most famed permanent resident is Benjamin Franklin, whose stone was covered with pennies. I overheard a guide say that the cemetery earns a couple of thousand dollars a year picking up the coins left for Dr. Franklin. I like to think he’d be amused by that. A penny saved might be a penny earned, but better for people to give you pennies because they want to.

Another resident I recognized was Benjamin Rush, patriot and man of medicine, in as much as that was possible at the time. His attitude toward bleeding was, alas, about the same as Theodoric of York. Still, he did what he could, especially during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.

The burial ground is a few blocks away from Christ Church itself, which presumably needed the expansion space. The church has a smaller cemetery on its grounds, as well as burials inside. It’s a lovely, light-filled Wren sort of church.

Besides its importance as a place of worship for numerous leaders of the Revolution and early Republic, Christ Church was also pivotal in the organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The Most Reverend William White, first presiding bishop of that church, is buried in the church’s chancel. (His house on Walnut St. is part of Independence National Historical Park these days.)

The churchyard is as much garden these days as cemetery.
Christ Church Philadelphia 2016Christ Church Philadelphia 2016Lampasas, Texas, is west of Killeen and Temple, and a burg of about 6,600. While driving along US 190 (Plum St.), a main road through town, I spotted Cook Cemetery, established as a pioneer graveyard in the mid-1850s, with its last known burial only in 1873.

In our time, it’s a slice of lightly wooded land between the road and a large parking lot. There are a number of stones, as well as broken stones and fragments, and a few burial sites enclosed by short walls.

Cook Cemetery, Lampasas, Texas

Cook Cemetery, Lampasas, TexasA couple of stones include later markers denoting citizens of the Republic of Texas. For instance, this stone’s a little hard to decipher, but one of the dates seems to be November 8, 1855, or 161 years ago exactly. Could be the stone was erected that day, since Rebeca seems to have been born in 1801 and died in ’54.
Cook Cemetery, Lampasas, TexasEnough about cemeteries. Here’s something else I spotted in Philadelphia, at Market and 5th. Another Megabus.
Megabus PhiladelphiaIn Dallas, I finally got a decent image of my brother Jay’s dogs, in one of their common poses.
dogz

Thursday Residuum

No overnight freezes yet, though it can’t be long. Thus a lot of greenery is still hanging on. So are blood-red blooms in our back yards.

I don’t know the species, but the plant produces late-season flowers that are so heavy that the blossoms face the ground. Of course, that’s a human interpretation; no blossom is obliged to orient itself in any particular direction to please a human sense of aesthetics. Even so, I held it upward for the picture.

I discovered a giant cucumber on the ground recently.

It was hiding — again, a human perspective (it’s the only one I’ve got) — under the many leaves of the cucumber plants we’ve been growing near the deck since late spring. So we didn’t notice it when it was green. As you can see, it devolved into a yellow Hindenburg of a vegetable.

“Many people wonder, why are my cucumbers turning yellow?” asks Gardening Know How. “You shouldn’t allow cucumbers to turn yellow. If you encounter a yellow cucumber, it’s usually over ripe. When cucumbers become over ripe, their green coloring produced from chlorophyll begins to fade, resulting in a yellowing pigment. Cucumbers become bitter with size and yellow cucumbers are generally not fit for consumption.”

Ah, well. Guess I’m a failure when it comes to that cucumber, though the mother plant did produce small and tasty green cucumbers this year (as tasty as possible with cucumbers, anyway). The giant yellow cucumber was indeed unfit for human purposes. It’s been returned to nature to rot.

A couple of weeks ago I read about some seasonal haunted house in the western suburbs, and looked up its web site. Its advertising mascot is a zombie scarecrow or some such. It’s an ugly face, anyway.

I can’t count the number of times since then that I’ve seen that ugly face pop up on all kinds of other web sites. It’s an insane amount of digital advertising, an exercise in overkill, and I’m really tired of that face. I’d toyed with the idea of taking Ann to the place, but I’ll be damned if I will now.

Another little annoyance: about a week ago, I was driving along not far from home, and I heard what sounded like an aluminum plate rolling near the car. I thought I’d had a near-miss with some kind of round metal object in the street until about 15 minutes later, at home, when I noticed my car was missing a hubcap.

That’s what that sound was. I drove back to look for it. Gone. Hell’s bells. That’s never happened to me in any car I’ve ever driven, not over the course of many, many thousands of miles. Go figure.

Best to end with a more upbeat note. Somehow, our dog’s more photogenic on the stairs. She sits there often, but only when we’re nearby.

Maybe she likes to sit there to be more-or-less as tall as we, the rest of her pack, are. Just speculation.

Summertime Hiatus

Time for a summer hiatus. Time to celebrate what ought to be a string of less-than-working days from Juneteenth to the Solstice to Canada Day to July Fourth to Nunavut Day (July 9), just to make it inclusive for all North Americans. Back to posting around Sunday, July 10.

Yesterday I learned more sad news, that my old friend Ed Henderson has died. I’ve mentioned him periodically in BTST over the years, and I believe he was one of a handful of people who read it regularly. Last year I visited him at his home near Bellingham, Wash., and we had a fine time — as fine a time as his precarious health allowed. I’m very glad I went. Sometime in the not too distance future, I will write more about him.

On the Solstice, I took a look at the full moon. First one on the Solstice since 1948, they say. Looked like all the other ones I’ve seen, but it was pleasant enough.

Closer to home, as in our back yard, the clover is lush.

Schaumburg cloverWho considers clover a weed? Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native clover? Pleasing to gaze at, pleasing to lie on.
Payton dog 2016The dog knows that, too.

Duck in Residence

Last week I noticed a duck nesting in our back yard, near the wall of the garage in a thicket of tall grass that doesn’t seem to be coming back as robustly this year as usual. I was moving a plastic sandbox toward the garage door, with a mind toward taking it out and leaving it for the garbage collector, or someone like the fellow who recently took our plastic kid pool before the garbageman could get to it. I looked down and there was the duck, fairly well camouflaged.

A few weeks ago, a duck and a drake spent time in the back yard sometimes, especially when the heavy rains left large puddles. Could be this is the same duck.

Nesting duck, SchaumburgI left the frog-shaped sandbox near the nest — the green curve in the picture, though it looks closer to the nest than it actually is — and then put a couple of other sizable objects nearby to make a perimeter around the nest. My thinking was to discourage the dog from approaching the mother duck or her eggs.

That might not have been necessary, though. I’ve been watching the dog as she’s been in the vicinity of the duck, and she seems leery, very unlike her reaction to, say, a squirrel or a mouse. Maybe, in whatever way they have, snarling dog and hissing duck have reached a truce. That would be good. I figure an enraged duck, who can carry out air strikes and other attacks, might be able to do the dog some harm.

Occasionally during the warm afternoons, the duck isn’t on the nest, and I see she’s warming several eggs. I’m not sure why, but it’s been a good year for fecund birds in my back yard.

Greener and Greener

The greening of northern Illinois happens every spring, but I never get tired of it. Here are a few views on Saturday of the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve, a place we’ve been going for some years.

There are expanses of grass at the forest preserve.
Poplar Creek Forest PreserveAlong with thickets.
Poplar Creek Forest PreserveThe blooming dogwood.
Poplar Creek Forest PreserveAnd the eagerly exploring dog, mostly exploring with her nose.
Poplar Creek Forest PreserveProvided, of course, you take the dog out for a special-treat walk among the May greenery.

Midwinter Entertainment: Hop on Pop

Cold but not too cold over the weekend. A dusting of snow for us as the major North American storm of the month blew through the South and headed for the East. On Saturday at about 6 pm, the full moon off to the east peeked out from behind a rack of thin clouds. In the foreground, at least from my front yard, stood the dark outline of a bare tree. Very Caspar David Friedrich.

A fragment from a letter from about 15 years ago.

January 16, 2001

Had yesterday off. That’s the first time anyone’s ever given me MLK Day off, and I spent most of it at home, entertaining Lilly, or being entertained. She is easily amused. For instance, spinning coins on a flat surface is a great entertainment for her. Lately she’s learned to do this herself.

Also, often when I find myself horizontal in some way — on the couch, say — she finds me too, and conducts a physics experiment to see what happens when her mass, about 16 kilos these days, acquires enough kinetic energy to wallop into my stomach, which has a considerable mass of its own.

Here in the present, there are no more toddlers in the house, but the dog, whose mass is about 18 kilos, often hops onto my stomach as I lie on the couch. This is only an issue when I’m dozing soundly enough not to hear the tell-tale jingle of her dog tags as she approaches the couch.

Mid-November Quietude

I was going to post pictures taken on the Champs-Élysées and at the Louvre about 21 years ago, but with word from France of the latest murderous barbarian outrage, recalling a pleasant November visit to Paris doesn’t seem right. Another time.

Here in northeastern Illinois this weekend, we enjoyed remarkably mild weather. The kind of afternoons during which you can sit in some comfort on your deck, should you be fortunate enough to have one, and eye the sun in the branches of the bare trees.

Nov 15, 2015Your dog, should you be fortunate enough to have one, joins you on the deck to watch for squirrels and rabbits and other intruders.

Payton, Nov 15, 2015Naturally it’s going to cool off dramatically soon. Winter wouldn’t be so tedious if there were occasional interludes like this in January and February, but that’s not how it works at this latitude.