Just Another Walk in Heaven

Woke up this morning to…. RAIN????!!!!! Huh??? Ribbons of rain trailing down the windows to my complete surprise. Rain in the morning is exceedingly rare here in the back of beyond but it’s a sign of changing times meaning Fall and (OMG) WINTER!! ❄️

Teddy persuaded me yesterday (not much of a challenge) to take him out to the Big Empty. It’s so nice now. Beautiful light, beautiful breeze, comfortable temps, no deer flies. Oh yeah, I’ve said before. Yeah, well, I never take things like that for granted.

Readers will be happy to know that most of the garter snakes I saw were alive. I scared one to make it get out of the road. How? I walked closer and stomped on the ground. The little guy stuck out his tongue to see if I was worth eating and I saw how beautiful his tongue was — blue underneath, bright red on top. They aren’t colorful snakes, so I was a little surprised. When he decided I might be an SUV and not a grasshopper he high-tailed it (most of him is tail) into the grass. Teddy was less interested in him than Bear would have been, but not much.

The sky was indecisive, and for a very short time, we walked in the rain. Teddy is still a little crazy on the end of the leash, but a lot less so than last year. He’s growing up — four years this coming January. (PSA Many new dog owners don’t realize that a dog isn’t really mature mentally until they are a few years old.) I also think that having the chance to go out alone with me makes him happy. He wants me to scratch his little head the whole time I’m driving, which, given hay trucks, isn’t possible.

“There’s something there, Martha.”
“Thanks for letting me know, little guy. I wish you could tell me WHAT.”

“Constant interspecies problem, Martha.”
“I know, Teddy.”

Bear, meanwhile, this morning, is already hinting that it’s her turn. She’s not wrong, but…

Because of the moving clouds in the indecisive sky, the light changed constantly rendering the landscape a blue and yellow, pastel world. I felt like taking pictures, so…

If you’re pining for more Escape from Freedom, well, some things are swirling through my mind. One is that Fromm wrote somewhere (I will find it again) that the charismatic (my words, not his) will say words that don’t correspond with his actions and should be judge not by what he says, but what he does. He makes the point that contradiction is a trait of these people, that their psychology is built on it. I’ll find the passage and share it next time I feel like delving into another wandering analysis of this book.

Dogs Aren’t Human, Thank Goodness…

Yesterday the little guy and I got to go out just us. “Just us” was a promise when I was a kid that meant my little brother wasn’t going along wherever it was we were going. “C’mon little guy. Let’s go. Bear won’t come, if I know her.”

And I know her. Teddy was effervescent, rapturous, overjoyed to be going out “just us.”

It was overcast and warm. Soon after we got out of the car, I heard Sandhill Cranes. They’re returning. The larger pond had geese. In just the couple of days since I was there last, and the San Juans had small patches of gold where the aspen had turned. Nature is such a precise clock. Just at the moment the sun is at a certain point in relation to our latitude all this happens. Temperature is irrelevant. I know humans have noted this since forever, but it still amazes me, surprises me.

A friend who loves dogs is writing a dog book. Someone took gentle issue with her referring to her dogs as “girls” and “boys,” calling it anthropomorphization. I get that. I’ve heard it my relationship to my dogs, and I even get mildly irked by some things some people do with their animals — like dressing them up in human clothes. A dog is a dog is a dog, right? Yeah, but…

Between the human and the dog is something else. I’ve thought about that, too. Long ago my mom told me my dogs were child replacements. They never were and aren’t. Because she wanted children so much, I guess she assumed every woman would feel the same way even her recalcitrant daughter who didn’t want (and ultimately couldn’t have) children. “No they’re not, mom. They’re dogs.”

“But do you need to have so many? You’re just lonely and feel empty because you don’t have a family.”

I wasn’t lonely and I didn’t feel empty. The dogs were allies, friends, accomplices. They liked to do what I liked to do, and, after hours in the classroom and teachers’ meetings, coming home to friendly, sympathetic NON-human beings who didn’t talk and wanted to take a hike? What could be better! As for companionship? They’re not called “companion animals” for any other reason than that they are companion animals.

A lot of people walk their dogs past my house to the park two blocks away. There’s a man who walks his Yorkie past my house to the park. Yorkies are tiny little beasties with big brains and hearts. That dog is 100% pure dog to this man, his friend and ally. The dog is the man’s reason or excuse to get away from home, from routine, and walk around the park. Both of them were obviously happy being together. A young woman — a nurse — runs with her Labrador a couple times a week. The dog is filled with energetic joy, a lot more than the woman is, the dog is duty, which doesn’t mean the woman doesn’t love him, she does, but they are not partners. Another woman, who volunteers at the rescue, and who alerted me to Teddy needing a person, walks her son’s Airedale (a rescue) who ended up with her and whatever other dog she might be fostering. She walks them out at the cemetery so they have peace and some privacy from unleashed dogs. Her dogs are both duty and love, but the walk is meditation, an excuse (and a way) to find solitude.

Every human/dog relationship is unique, and the relationships between humans and their dogs vary as much as the humans and the dogs. For me? For one, they are freedom. A woman hiking alone is vulnerable. A woman hiking with a couple of big dogs is free. I love nature, but I know that my ability to perceive my surroundings is limited by my busy brain, my expectations, my limited senses. My dogs expand my senses and, over the years, have taught me a lot about being out there. Never mind the effervescence of their rapture when they realized we were going to be “running up that hill.”

They are also social magic. My dogs are/have all been beautiful and friendly; people want to meet them. All the times Bear has met a child, and the child has melted in wonderment at Bear’s mythical beauty and gentleness? Imagine being a 3 year old girl, filled with fairy tales, looking into Bear’s blue eyes? Bear will let them kiss her — and they do. I wouldn’t miss that for anything. Or the time the 6th graders up in the Laguna Mountains (6th grade camp) met Jasmine, my black and white husky? One little girl said in an amazed voice, “It’s Balto!!” Or coming home to my Aunt Jo’s house in Billings, and finding Uncle Hank sleeping on the living room floor, back-to-back, with my big husky male, Cody? The little kids up the alley used to put snow in their freezer for Bear to have in the summer. Watching the eyes of a depressed friend change to joy when Teddy climbs up on his lap and gives him kisses? Visiting my Aunt Martha in Denver when she had a cat. I had brought Molly, my Malamute/Aussie. My aunt and I went out, a little worried about leaving the dog and cat together. When we came home? Amiga, the cat, was lying on my bed with one leg and paw hanging over the bed, touching Molly who was sleeping on the floor beside her. One of my Aunt Martha’s last memories — and as she had dementia it was kind of important — was of a little white dog who came to visit the nursing home.

I tend to think that anthropomorphizing dogs might be a grave insult to the species. But calling them “boys” and “girls”? No. That explains the relationship and identifies their gender. What kind of person calls their dog, “it”?

Quotidian Update 10.4.iiii, Canta No Llores

It will surprise NO ONE the three of us headed out to the Refuge during what the dogs believed was a lull in summer. They were somewhat right. It was humid (for here) but not all that hot. Every growing thing is at that peak of summer but starting to look tired. Still verdant. The sky to the west looked as if it would deliver on the promise of rain. There was little breeze, one deer fly, sweet Mayfly hitchhiker, and on the island in the middle of the first pond, black crowned night herons.

My hip is steadily improving. I was able to walk a whole mile (wow) at a decent pace without pain. A good time was had by all, but especially Teddy who got to roll in desiccated, fur-filled, bone-fragment-riddled wild animal poop. The only thing better to roll in is the same, but fresh. The big news from the journey is that we walked a whole mile — I haven’t been able to walk even that comparatively short distance since Covid decided to leave me with an inflammation in my hip. Even then, I know the marker is arbitrary and “far” is relative.

Healing anything can take a while. Now that I know what’s wrong, I am a lot more relaxed about the time it might take to return to normal ( ha ha ). I think there are things from which we might never fully heal. We just learn to live with the occasional (if we’re lucky) twinge of pain. A lot of times we just move on because “time and tide wait for no man.” Life might be a long string of adaptations.

The cottonwoods beside the road look tired. I told them they can quit any time now. It’s been an intense summer of drought and fecundity. This time last year there were so many fires around us that I couldn’t see the mountains. It’s a rollercoaster.

I learned last night that the New Mexico Indians called the July rains “She-rains.” What that signifies I don’t know. It’s possible to interpret all kinds of things into that. But those rains — which have been plentiful this summer — can make the difference between starvation and life for people who are living in that overly-romanticized state, “At one with nature” which really means complete dependency on weather.

It seems to me that the reality of human life is that we are always completely dependent on weather, even if our machines and constructs buy us a little time from the consequences of drought, floods, fire, ice — all of it. It’s human nature to fight it.

It’s been a summer replete with “she-rain.” More than I’ve seen in the 8 years I’ve lived here. “My” refuge is a garden. The yellow and white clover are more than 5 feet high. In front of it? Chamisa, growing at about 2 feet and smaller flowers all around. No human could design it more effectively. Summer is a bad time for standing still and looking at stuff, so I didn’t look long. Next time, though, I’m going to try to photograph the garden. The Refuge — which is a landscape filled with the plants that are supposed to be here — seems to have no problems rebounding from drought. Summer rains woke everything up, BUT it’s got help from creeks that flow from the nearby mountains into the Rio Grande and ditches that draw from them. A labyrinth of ditches and gates controls the level of water in the ponds. Humans… Good or bad? I don’t know, but the cooperation here seems to keep a small world thriving. And I walked a whole mile.

Deer Fly

When Teddy and I arrived at the Refuge yesterday, and I turned to get out of Bella, what met my eyes but the apparition — no, wait. Not an apparition. It was real — a sinister Deer Fly floating on my window. “You little…expletive/deleted…deer fly. “You expletive/deleted little expletive/deleted expletive/deleted! Don’t move!” A-HA! See that thing hanging from her head there in the featured photo? That’s her nasty little expletive/deleted scissor-mimicking proboscis. How does it work? It cuts a slit in the skin of its prey to get as much blood flowing as possible (believe me, it’s a lot) and then it sucks the blood. I had one bite this year, on my shoulder. An angry-looking, red, bleeding, itching red, oh I said red already, with a small river of blood dripping down.

“You sadistic little expletive/deleted! I’ve got you now!”

I got three decent photos. NOW they all have a sci/fi quality to them, as if she’s immense and just walking on the road. Shudder.

Why do I call it “she”? Well, because it’s only the females of the species that go out in search of warm blooded animals on which to feed. They need the nutrients so they can lay their eggs.

I’ve learned a lot about these monsters this year. Yesterday I learned more. Where Teddy and I walked there were dozens of tree swallows swooping and diving and my model here was the only deer fly. It was a little windy, too. I personally believe that the swallows were actively pursuing lunch and doing their bit to assure the comfort of all mammals who might be in the area, bent on public service as tree swallows are (huh?).

We had a lovely, cool, windy walk unmolested by expletive/deleteds. I don’t know why Bear didn’t want to come, but she didn’t. Teddy felt like the dog of the hour. We did all the things he loves, including singing in the car. The raptors are returning and I watched a large hawk hunt on a distant pond in the closed area.

Here’s how happy Teddy was to go.

A note on Covid. As I’ve dealt with my not-all-that-bad case and the painful residue, I have realized that everything that happens with this thing for anyone who has it is an experiment. I was sick sick for two weeks, but the month+ after? Although all the side-effects are receding, it’s still been weird. Brain fog and memory loss have been the strangest. An example? I sent five very special note-cards to people during that interval and I can only remember 3 of the people I sent them to, no matter how hard I try. That wouldn’t have happened before Covid. Fatigue. That’s a weird thing, too. I’m a pretty high-energy person, but that really knocked me down. It, too, is receding. The hip? Residual inflammation, apparently. But why there? “It happens,” said my doc. I feel like a hypochondriac whenever I go to the doctor anyway, but that was bad.

My new personal theory about that virus is that anything can happen. I’m grateful to have contracted it at THIS point in its sinister trajectory rather than at the beginning before there were vaccines.

P.S. Deet repels deer flies as do permethrin treated clothing. I don’t like Deet and I have a bug-repelling hat and bandanas to wrap around my neck. I’ve found that clothing is usually protection enough so I am careful always to be fully dressed when I head out. 😉

“I’m a REAL Dog!” “I know, Teddy.”

Teddy is the smallest dog I’ve ever had. He’s incredibly cute, very fluffy, very affectionate, even cuddly, and, in a way, is more like a toy to me than a dog. Dogs are large animals who weigh at least twice Teddy’s weight of 30 pounds/13kg. He doesn’t run; he flies. He moves around on little feet — Bear’s feet are as big as my hands which is normal for my dog reality. Teddy likes to jump up on my bed when I put on my socks, and when he’s there, he looks like a large stuffed animal.

My vet calls him, “Mr. Happy.” Perfect.

But he’s not a toy. He’s very much a living, breathing canine with intelligence and a soul. It’s been interesting getting to know him. Most of my dogs have been accomplices and partners. Teddy is, too, but differently. I’d like to say he’s loyal but I don’t know that for sure; it’s never been tested. He loves all the people in the world. He likes chasing cars which is OK as long as he’s in my fenced yard and the cars are going up and down the alley. When we return from a walk, though, he waits in the garage for me to finish up after he and Bear are liberated and we come to the house together. Bear lets him drink first.

He spends most of every day in the house with me. At night? Bear comes in and Teddy goes out, as if they’ve arranged to take shifts. At 9 o’clock everyone comes in and they go to bed. I didn’t teach them that.

I started doing exercises to help repair my hip. The first day? Impossible and not because of my hip, but because I couldn’t quit laughing. My “spotters,” “coaches,” or “trainers” were no help at all. The featured photo is Teddy on top of me while I try to do clamshells. This is Bear who’s very worried because I’m supposed to be on the Sainted Bike to Nowhere — which you can see behind her — not on the guest bed doing clamshells.

Summer Walk

Yesterday Bear, Teddy and I made an escape. We had a small window of opportunity — clouds covered and the wind came up. Both dogs looked at me like, “And NOW??? What about NOW???”

Perfect summer Refuge experience. No people. The only sounds? Crickets. The windchill was about 80F/26C, but I wasn’t complaining especially when I saw two dragonflies happily making love in the air. That was useful information that meant no — or far fewer — deer flies. In case you were worried about this, deer flies are NOT top level predators. God! What if they WERE??? What do the dragonflies have to do with it? Ahhh. They think deer flies are yummy.

All around me the chamisa (gray rabbitbrush) was blooming, covered in buttery, yellow flowers. I imagine there was a time when the whole valley floor was covered in this plant as most of it is now. It’s beautiful and in quantities like it is out there very fragrant mixed with clover. Apparently not everyone likes its fragrance as its Latin name is Chrysothamnus nauseosus. I do like it. I find it a beautiful way to say farewell to summer and hello to the good times ahead. Writing about it here, I’m thinking Chamisa would make a good addition to next year’s front yard wildflower (mowing? just say NO!) garden.

Not much to say about our walk. No adventures or dangers or great sightings of animal poop. Few birds remaining, but the Sandhill Cranes are on their way, I’m sure. I’m grateful right now that walking makes my hip feel better. Today I hope to hear from my doc about what I’m going to do next. I hope it’s a cortisone shot. I hope to hear, “The hardware looks OK, Martha. Let’s do something about the pain.” The strange thing about this is that I will live with it. Realizing this, I thought about humanity and how we are. “Well, OK, this hurts and it’s kind of fucked up but whatever.” I rediscovered my cane (s). Very useful tool. The dogs are getting used to it.

Another Doggone Post

Bear is amazingly eloquent in her gestural language. Yesterday she came in wanting a walk. How do I know? She made eye contact then nodded toward the back door and made eye contact again. “Can’t do it, Bear. I just rode the bike to nowhere and as I rehab or whatever this thing, I’m not doing everything at once.” I think I’m “rehabbing” my hip but I don’t actually know what I’m doing. I just need a lot more exercise than I’ve been able to get since this showed up. It really affects my perspective on life the universe and everything when I can’t exercise. Bear “shrugged” and laid down on the floor by my feet.

Part of understanding Bear is related to the limited number of things she has to “tell” me. Part of it is having known her all her life. Part of it is that I probably taught her some of this — but not all. That said, she’s articulate, especially for a dog who isn’t all that verbally attuned. She has learned a LOT from Teddy who is.

Somewhere along the way, Teddy learned “Go to bed,” and it had to have been one of the other people he’s lived with, because I didn’t teach him that. Still, his verbal acuity is related to wanting physical contact. You can teach a dog a bunch of words but what they want is a closer bond with you. Words are just a way to get there. The only “trick” my dogs are rewarded for with food is coming in the house when I call them.

Dogs are usually easy for me to understand. People are more complicated (who knew???) and difficult to understand. Kids are OK, but grownups? Some how two dogs can meet and know immediately what’s going on with the other one. Two people meet? Confusion reigns instantly. If we had tails to drop when we’re unsure of a new contact or wag when we’re hopeful, if we were as open about our curiosity as our butt sniffing canine companion, or had giant teeth to rend and tear the enemy — and the other guy knows it — “Be nice or!!!” Maybe that was the whole philosophy behind the nuclear stockpile? The thing is, humans can devise bigger and bigger and “better” canine teeth. I don’t know.

Dogs aren’t perfect (who knew?) they even *lie. If Teddy wants another cookie he will ask to go out FOR NO REASON than to come in again (and get a cookie). Sometimes Bear follows him then turns around and looks at me with a face that clearly says, “Huh? Why?” and she comes right back. Cracks me up. She is the soul of integrity. Teddy ends up with a cookie and big hugs for coming back in and Bear for her sweet and honest soul.

*Teddy just told me he’s not lying. He really thought going out the back door and coming back was what I wanted him to do. He was just trying to make me happy and get a cookie. I accept that, even if he might be lying. He says manipulation isn’t the same as lying. I’m not going to argue with him.

Bear and Teddy telling me the mailman has come. It’s OK with Bear, but Teddy has some doubts.

Oh, some readers have asked about Lamont and Dude — the two fictional characters who remember many of their past incarnations — who haven’t been around in a while. Dude wrote and told me that last year, Lamont was run over by a Dune Buggy on the beach at Puerto Peñasco. Dude wanted me to remind Lamont’s many fans that they shouldn’t worry; Lamont will be back.

In the featured photo my friend Lois’ dog Shoe explaining how things work to puppy Bear.

Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog’s Gotcha Day Party

It’s a cool, rainy day here in the back of beyond, and, about 10 am this morning a certain giant breed white dog poked her head around the doorway from the kitchen with a face that said, “Well???” I persuaded her to come to me, I grabbed her collar, put her leash on and started walking around the house with her preparing to head out for the Big Empty. It is Bear’s “Gotcha’ Day”, the 7th anniversary of her coming to live with me. It deserved recognition — and on Bear’s terms. I’m not the person who dresses up her dogs and puts hats on them and gives them cake. 🙂

We all got into Bella and headed out only to find a lot (meaning 5) cars out there, dispersed all along the road, birders looking for the elusive Yellow Rail. I realized I would have to park at the entrance so I drove all the way around the Refuge loop. Approaching us were two people on foot — a very tall man and a very short little lady. I recognized them from some earlier encounter when I’d had to squint to be sure it wasn’t just a regular size guy and a big dog. On that encounter, they met the dogs and we had a great conversation. I was happy to see them and I’m pretty sure Teddy recognized them through the window.

We finally got on the road to walk. It was — for July — a beautiful morning. Overcast, slight breeze, temps in the 60s (17c — Bella is all about metric temps). We strolled.

As we approached the small grove of cottonwoods, the couple was near enough that I pulled us off the trail to prepare the dogs. They approached with big smiles. Bear and Teddy were eager to say “Hi!” There was much greeting and patting of dogs and “They remember you!” followed by “We sure remember them. What wonderful dogs.” You’d have thought they were Bear’s and Teddy’s best friends EVER. They were great with Teddy who can be TOO happy. To keep him from jumping up, they each leaned down to greet him. I loved that. I said, “I just wish I could get them to like people,” and everyone laughed. We talked about our earlier meeting, and the beauty of the morning, and agreed that a morning like the one we had today was a real gift and we each went our ways until “Next time.”

My dogs love people. It’s Teddy’s nature, and, having read that livestock guardian dogs need socializing with people if they’re going to be town dogs, I spent a lot of time with Bear when she was a puppy getting her used to meeting people.

I had brought Bear home to meet my dogs — Dusty and Mindy — the then resident dogs a couple weeks earlier. Once the two week waiting period was over and she came home to stay, Dusty and Mindy were very happy to have her. On that day Dusty howled with a siren for the first time since Lily T. Wolf — Dusty’s great love — had died four months earlier. That’s when I knew it was going to be great having this big white dog living here. Over the five years Bear and Dusty lived together, Bear taught Dusty to play. Dusty T. Dog was a serious kind of fellow, but Bear wasn’t having it. It was wonderful to see that barky black dog open up to the puppy.

Seven years is mature for giant breed dogs, but I’m hoping the fact that Bear is not large for her breed and that she’s had good care and love her whole life will help her stay with us a long time more.

We had a lovely time at Bear’s party and she got a little tuna for supper. My hip continues to improve and it was wonderful to be OUT. The featured photo is Bear and Dusty T. Dog the day she came home. Here she is with Mindy on that day. Mindy looks a little unsure. 🤣

Railing

I love silk. Those caterpillars really figured it out. “Butterflies, smutterflies, our larvae deserves silk sleeping bags.” It’s the most amazing material. During the damp cold days of my Chinese winter, I survived in my silk padded jacket. Back in the day, when Dame Fortune was bringing in money, I bought a silk filled comforter to sleep under. Wrap yourself in silk and you’re, uh, covered with magical, temperature regulating filaments. We think of it as a luxury fabric — and it is — but it’s so much more. It’s the best insulator nature provides. Its filaments are hollow so they hold warmth AND cool. It’s also hypo-allergenic.

I didn’t need it last evening, though, when the dogs and I couldn’t stand it (being in the house, nursing the sore hip) any more and had to get out. One of the things about my hip is that it feels better when I’m walking. It’s — well, only an X-ray will tell me anything, so I’ll leave it there. When I had Covid I couldn’t and didn’t do much, so maybe it was just all those hours sitting on the sofa staring into space that did this…

As I was driving out to the Refuge under a very beautiful evening sky, Mohammed’s Radio played a song I never ever ever expected to hear in my car. Huh? It’s a confusing song in a way because the video is mostly the San Luis Valley (a bit of Monument Valley, but who’s THAT persnickety?) but I’m not sure that’s what he’s singing about. San Luis Obispo in CA seems more likely but whatever. The video is beautiful. “San Luis” by Gregory Allen Isakov

The dogs were so happy and so was I. I wore a non-bug attracting colored shirt (pale pea-soup green) as an experiment (it worked). As soon as I stepped out of the car I was swarmed by mosquitoes but whatev’. They don’t worry me. Deer Flies worry me. I reached back in the car and grabbed my bug repelling hat. Soon after we got going a Mayfly (welcome traveler) hitched a ride. I was approached by one deer fly (that I saw; no eyes in the back of my head) but I brushed her off. It was an unusually bugless July walk in the swamp.

Mayfly

The rain we’ve had this summer has left the Refuge a lush green. The fragrance of yellow clover filled the air. The clouds remaining from an earlier brief rain broke the sunlight into beautiful shadows across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Teddy was so excited; Bear was calmly beside herself (and beside me) and I was happy to be out.

Very happy Teddy

The big news in my world at the moment (besides the 100 year anniversary of the Ski Hi Stampede — Ski pronounced sky) — is that a rare bird, or rare for here — the Yellow Rail has been sighted at the Refuge. The jury of wildlife biologists is unsure what’s going on to bring it here as this is not on their usual migration pattern and this is not their usual migration season. Their theories are that we’re getting an early winter AND/OR the birds are reclaiming their “ancestral homeland.” They are small, well-camouflaged wetland birds. I don’t even find them in my Birds of Colorado. You can see photos of this shy little bird here.

Last time we were out, I noticed barricades on the road enforcing the one way direction. “Huh?” I thought until I learned about the bird. One of my favorite movies for pure entertainment is The Big Year in which Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson are all competing for who sees the most birds in a year. Birders are not like the other kids, and as we left the Refuge I was able to capture a live image of birders looking for the Holy Grail I mean Yellow Rail.

Signs everywhere warning the birders from places they should not go. 😒 BUT this spot is OK. The barricades are there to keep them out of the water… 🤪



I like birds. I love watching them and feel a little thrill when I see one I haven’t seen before. I even go home and look it up and I mark it in my Birds of Colorado Book (why?) but I’m no Birder. I was wondering how the wildlife biologists view this. There were 8 or 10 cars in that little pull out, some out-of-state license plates. If that little bird is attempting to reclaim its ancestral homeland, is this going to encourage it? I don’t know. If these people need physical barricades to compel them to follow the signs that say “one way” road, who are they? My questions aren’t judgments. The phenomenon of birders descending on an ecosystem with binoculars, scopes, and cameras like this? I see something like it in the Crane Tourists during the crane festival, but I figure a human doesn’t stand a chance against a dinosaur Sandhill Crane.

That was the paradox I confronted when I worked for a nature park in San Diego. I was there at the beginning of its designation as a park and our conundrum — mine as Volunteer Coordinator and the rangers — was how to attract people to the park (to maintain its park status and get grant money) and how to keep people from coming to the park (Nature). Since the early 90s, Mission Trails Regional Park has become a popular destination, so popular that they’ve had to close mountain biking trails several times due to weather, wear and tear and to repair the trails after they’ve been mistreated by bikers who think biking in the mud and breaking trails is fun. It IS fun, but, dude…

Quotidian Update 71 x 10 to the fifth power.2.ai

Seven years ago I brought Bear home to meet Dusty T. Dog and Mindy. Dusty wasn’t sure, Mindy was good with it, and I was doubtful. I had never known a Great Pyrenees — which we thought Bear was though mixed with something. I asked people here on WP for advice and talked to people. What would an older lady do with a 150 pound dog? How was that going to work? Of course, Bear didn’t grow up to be 150 pounds of white fluff, only 70 and it’s worked amazingly well. My life would have been diminished greatly without that big white dog.

She surprises me every day. A couple days ago we took a short evening walk in the hood. When it was time to turn back I said, “Let’s go home,” and she turned around. We got to our gate, Bear stopped and nudged the latch with her nose. That might not seem like much but we very very very very seldom go out the front door and front gate. If I get ice out of the freezer and she wants a cube she looks at the tray and then at me and at the tray again. If she wants another rawhide pencil and I don’t have any, I can say, “I don’t have any more, Bear,” and I swear she shrugs. I get up in the morning and go to the kitchen to make coffee. She sits on her haunches and wraps her forelegs around my legs in a hug. If I want her to walk beside me where I can keep her under some control (not much; she’s immense and powerful) I tell her, “Stay with me, Bear,” and she does. I don’t bark “Heel!” I just ask. She understands and is amenable 95% of the time and if she isn’t, she has a reason. I can teach Teddy to do things — he loves that — but I never taught Bear anything except “sit” and “down.” Every other thing she’s learned she’s learned from observation. Everyone has a good dog (which is the first wonder of the world ❤️) and she is mine. Well, one of them.

What have I learned from her? A lot of things, but one of them is not to worry about the appearance of my back yard. Now Bear is seven and I am 70 and WTF???

I spent a whole day yesterday framing a painting. It was probably the most difficult framing project I’ve undertaken and I’m not totally satisfied with it, but it’s probably as good as it’s going to get.

Rio Grande in Late Fall

This painting is difficult to photograph. It looks “like” itself in a photo but it doesn’t have the power the painting itself actually has. Most people first look at the painting and think it is a lake and the orange band marks the bank of the shore, but it’s all water. The motion of water in a river is very complicated even moreso when the river isn’t in spring rush but in late autumn low flow. It’s interesting to watch. Anything under the surface — boulders, sticks, weeds — can shift the current a little bit for a moment. The water nearer the viewer is actually flowing more evenly and slowly; the water above the orange line is deeper and faster. It is also reflecting the colors of the trees and bushes along the far bank where the trees are. In the foreground you can see the water flowing back on itself a little bit. Whatever way a particular bit of water is “facing” will be reflected for the moment. This was really fun to paint. I started with the dark blue (lapis ultramarine) and did that part of the painting with my fingers. 💙

I skipped the hearings last night. I’m just kind of done for now. NOW I want something to happen. I don’t know what, but something. Snow?