Showing posts with label The village bestiary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The village bestiary. Show all posts

May 27, 2015


Provincial luddite life is delightful.  Occasionally,  though,  our  solar dryers challenge us. This one was courtesy of pretty brown wren who would not sit for a portrait.

Where he will henceforth  live isn't my problem. That's my country seat. He can go find his own.

Jul 30, 2014

The Thousand-Dollar Morning

There aren't many  days when I blow through $1,000 before breakfast.

It all started with New Dog Libby whose food supply was down to 48 hours. Meaning Walmart. Where I discovered Sam's heirs were out of .22 Long Rifle and Sodastream replacement cartridges.  So I settled for

--a month's worth of Purina in an Ol' Roy bag

--a week's worth of milk and bread

--and one medium-grade party's worth of beer.

Elsewhere in the great commercial centers of the Smugleye-on-Lake SMSA I acquired four gallons of non-ethanated gasoline for the small engines required to maintain the parade fields of Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant.

Math whizzes will  note that even at Ben Bernanke/Janet Yellin prices I am not within spitting distance of a grand, but wait. There's more.

While among the barbarians anyway, I thought, "What the Hell.  The van is already warmed up and there will be a winter this year, Al Gore to the contrary notwithstanding." So I  turned into the local grain elevator which also sells propane, waded through the early-morning farmers and agricultural poseurs loafing over free coffee, and bought

--one year's worth of icky fossil fuel.

Honesty requires admission that even the earth-smarming LP didn't quite get me  to the four-figure threshold which justifies a whining blog entry, so I waffled a hair and have just -- still before breakfast -- transferred the remainder of the balance due the fine (if dilatory) Caspian folks for

--what I hope is a life time's supply of slide for the Commanderish project in .45 ACP. (The promised delivery time, more than 13 weeks ago, was "about 8-10 weeks." At least they're being honest in their pledge not to bill my plastic company until it is shipped.)

That did it, and so to breakfast before seeing if there is air in the bicycle tires so I can once again go can collecting in the country air.


Side observations include.

1. The critical shortage of Sodastream cartridges rivals that of .22s. One suspects a conspiracy between Bloomberg and Holder. Each knows compressed carbon dioxide can readily be converted into a weapon of mass destruction with the addition of a few other chemicals commonly found around any well-supplied home -- propane (UH Ohhh), ammonia, Clorox, and/or Ffffg.  Among others. This terrorist threat would certainly make make women, children, and minorities hardest hit.

2.  Since women are supposed to be nicer and more truthful than men, I had hoped to find Janet's dictated "2 per cent" inflation was truth rather than an echo of Ben's long lie. It was saddening, therefore, to find smoked picnics (the cheap parts of pigs) at $2.38 a pound against against an historical (c. 2009) under a buck. Perhaps worse,  Smucker's all-natural peanut butter has advanced from $2.49 to $2.98  in just a few months, a clear inflationary rate of 19.67 per cent.

And if all that ain't as true and sincere as a Jimmy Swaggert apology I'll kiss your picnic on the steps of the Federal Reserve Board and pay you to hire Hillary Clinton's booking agent for the running commentary.

Apr 20, 2014

Resurrection Day, 2014

Religious feast days can be difficult for non-celebrants, particularly apostates living among the faithful. Even hard-logic skeptics, however, can surely find room for a sliver of poetry, a sense of renewal.


Without ambition to play St. Francis, I have nevertheless created a local congregation of happier birds. It happened this way:

For three or fours years a simple auto tow-bar lived in the large-project pile. The intent, finally fulfilled on Wednesday,  was to bolt on a spike-studded timber, creating a tractor-drawn groomer for the gravel lane which might also serve as a dethatcher for the unruly grass and weeds which make up the Camp Jiggleview grounds. It works better than expected.

The was no aim to fatten the the robins, but that unintended consequence occurred, Oh those lovely little worms and grubs and other tasties, all freshly exposed for easy hunting. The tweets are deafening but wasted, of course, on a no-account man.


Part of my Easter pleasure has for years been dinner with the incomparable C's. Sometimes I contribute wine, sometimes the regionally famous baked beans a la Jiggleview. This is a bean year, speaking of the Boston Marathon.

May it pass without new drama, although we can depend on our electric media to resurrect every tear, every fear, every snippet of 2013 Oh-My-God! tape.

In the 1980s it occurred to all sentient humans that people running down the street for hours had decidedly limited news value and entertainment potential.

The same thought penetrated teevee producers' skulls about 20 years later. As much as they may personally abhor violence, it is not lost on them than a bomb here and there does wonders for the Neilsons.


Happy Easter, Friends.

Apr 7, 2014

A once and future life

Three days ago, in the deary morning:

A little later that day;

A few minutes ago:


In a few hours, supper. Eggs over, buckwheats, maple syrup which never saw a truck,  a supermarket, or a fossil-fuel fire

Feb 26, 2014

Singing to the dog

A man with a shelf of books and a curious mind is never bored. Except maybe sometimes, rarely, he might be something like bored.

I blame it on the re-vortexing of the polarity.  Zero, below zero, big wind, very big wind for the impending week.

SAD? No, I don't accept SAD except as an excuse for the drug companies to sell more happy pills.

Cabin fever? No. The vehicles are running fine. The lane  is clear enough. There's cash in the wallet and places where I would find a welcome.

No interest, So I'll just go ahead and use the dork word. Enervated. I may be enervated.

Possibly New Dog Libby is too. She always comes around for a comprehensive  ear-scratch every hour or so. Lately it's more like every ten minutes, and I actually caught her staring out at our stray cat without emitting her death-threat growl between 70-decibel barks.

Just now she waddled over to the computer chair, stuck her head firmly on my lap, and made intense eye contact. You either understand that lab-eyes look or you don't. I do, so I made a special fuss. The ears, of course, then back and belly, then a collar check while I wiped off that tiny dab of eye drool.

She's put on some winter bulk. I decided the strap could use a little more slack.

Fumble with the adjusting slide. Drop your hands in disgust because  you just heard yourself going,

"bah-dah bamba just a silly millimeter longer."

At least that led to enervation attenuation because it yielded a  Big Thought, a Universal Truth:  Exposure to television at a young age makes you weird forever. 

Feb 14, 2014

Much evil and confusion exist in our world. The center may not hold. I understand my duty to explain it all, but sometimes it's better just to go outside with your dog.

Jan 7, 2014

Bunny Porn, Gun Porn

Yesterday was a savage bitch. In a fit of compassion at minus-17,  I fed Peter Rabbit a little of New Dog Libby's chow. The ingrate still refused to pose while I was outside. So this. The window was clean for a change, but double pane glass still fools the focusing fairies in my 3-volt cockroach.

Today, at last dark of morning, I awoke to rising temperatures, all the way up to three below.  Time to celebrate with Savage pleasure and with gratitude to that fine company for its findy sickle answer to Winchester levers -- especially the 1895.

She's been hanging on pegs since joining the family a few weeks ago, casually wiped down a time or two but still begrimed of long storage.  (Well-oiled storage, however; thank you, Mr. Previous Owner.)  Since there was nothing good on the internet, I decided to run her through my exterior detail shop.

Takedown was limited to pulling the Weaver K2, Redfield mount, and forearm. A little elbow grease with fine steel wool and brass brush left her shiny everywhere I could reach. The stock got a facial with Johnson paste wax, still my favorite cosmetic for oil-finished walnut.

She's from the 1950s in .300 Savage.

My never-sell-a-gun pledge remains in force, but I suppose I'll carry her to my next loophole table to explore trading opportunities. She ought to be even-up for a not-too-bad Garand or M1 Carbine. Maybe even a snazzy AR15 clone with a Pickiepickie rail, but I'd turn that offer down. I respect others' rights to own plastic, but, personally, I have my pride.

Jan 3, 2014

What gun for cougar?

Our informant is utterly reliable. It's a cougar on my friends'  old family farm southwest of here, not too far from the pretty little Maple River and on the fringe of the semi-wild Loess Hills.

The cat report his morning touched off a small Facebook gigglefest about a trick one of the guys played on my No. 2 grandson a few years ago on the hunt where he came of age. He had just been promoted to armed hunter from his previous condition of servitude -- barehanded, bipedal, auxillary bird dog. The party was walking a wooded draw on the farm when the wag warned him, "Watch out for the cougars." -- sending the lad into a full tactical crouch for the second it took him to realize the chain jerk.

The boy, now man, is, of course, being reminded today that as an experienced lion  hunter, it is his job to venture forth and slay the beast. The old people are advising him on weaponry. The female (who, sigh, routinely outshoots all of us) suggested a mag tube extension for his shotgun. I countered that he had a new .30-06. It's only a matter of time before he's told that nothing less than .50BMG will do.


I've seen only a couple of cougars (far west of here a long time ago)  and never encountered one up close. So I know Jack Schidtt about it. From my reading, though, I don't think the gun bore makes much difference. Br'er Puma apparently likes to jump you from above and behind. He shakes you by the neck a few times, snaps off an appetizer, takes a minute to pee on the gun you never got into play, and hauls you off to a nice picnic spot.


Cougar sightings are becoming almost, but not quite, routine here. They're rare enough to be interesting. They're common enough to make a guy smile when he thinks of the Iowa DNR  experts who for years said there ain't no such critter round these parts; then that, if there were, they were just pets that grew up and got dumped. Or escaped from the circus.  It's only about now that the game cops are admitting that the big cat, like many wild things, can be highly adaptable. Unlike your basic game cop.

Dec 6, 2013

Winter havoc

Twelve below this night. And me with only one dog.

I know some of you guys don't believe us when we talk about bigass continental highs, huge, cold, sluggish ones. Almost Jack London cold;  Vilhjalmur Stefansson cold.

Take a look at the weather map, dammit. See the triangle with its point down in the Texas malarial zones? Even there around Houston shivering white guys are hiring mules named Pedro to sneak them across the border and on down to Coatzacoalcos.

Anyway, the cold high spreads up and out. By the time it hits my  sorry latitude it  spans Flyover from the Cascades to the Soo Locks and plops its butt down for a nice, long visit.

Oh sure, it goes up into Canada too, but screw those guys. Buncha foreigners.  Let 'em freeze from their heads right down to their long-gun registry. What's Canada ever done for us?


Okay. I meant to say what's Canada done for us lately?

Oct 30, 2013

The Gore of the Season to ye, Mate

The Smugleye-on-Lake village zoning inspector dropped by to make sure I wasn't making wind without a permit or something.  New Dog Libby took exception to his manner. One thing led to another.

Sep 28, 2013

Waiting for the varnish to dry

Turning rough oak planks into an acceptable floor has its interesting challenges. They end about the time your patience with sanding exhausts itself -- or when you get tired of blowing through sanding belts at two bucks a crack. But the project  really loses all charm after the first coat of fake varnish ("polyurethane," which I believe is Latin for "the product of many urethrae").

The instructions are clear: Wait six hours, then recoat. Then wait six more hours and recoat, a step I ignored. Then wait 24 hours , at which point the floor is ready for "light use."   Try explaining "light use" to a frisky lab bitch. She won't get it, so get her out of town.

What I understand is these days called a "bio-break" became necessary en route.  We took it  down a long lane to nowhere, amidst the autumn brome, hard by the handsome grain which will soon -- by order of the commissars in Washington -- be distilled into motor fuel as a sound and healthy alternative to sour mash bourbon and prime beef.

En route where?

Ingham Lake, about 40 miles distant, a quiet little water said to harbor lunker northerns. You couldn't prove it by my catch, one runt bullhead, released. New Dog Libby seemed to enjoy things, however, specially steel-eyed, tail-up stalking.

The prey:

"I love it when my human spills cheese curls. Also when he understands that even spent pyrotechnics have their uses."

And that is how you spend 36 hours waiting for your varnish to dry.

Jul 28, 2013

Death Dawn

About that time of day I'm a little sleep-drugged and wobbly. Chore One is to set the Mr. Coffee gurgling. In my altered state, that requires intense concentration
lest I omit the coffee, the filter, or the water. *

In the groggy process this morning something flickered in my port side peripheral vision, maybe twenty yards south of the uncurtained kitchen window, near the pickup. I registered two adolescent rabbits. No big deal; they're all over the place. Then something dark whooshed down from a nearby cottonwood.

The lucky bunny found shelter under the truck. The hapless sibling was last seen squirming in talons a dozen feet up and climbing.

The light was poor so I can't be sure, but I offer odds that the bandit was a rough-legged hawk even though they shouldn't be here in this season. They are scheduled to spend summer in the arctic north, making little hawks, but perhaps the settled science of global cooling offers an explanation.


*(I know people who can bound out of bed and instantly whip out a bowline on a bight with the left hand while jotting down differential equations with the right. I hate them.)

Jul 1, 2013

Reflections on the maddening science of physics

The motivation: Yet another effort to tourist-proof the dock before the Independence Day invasion.

The method: Double the designed load-bearing capacity via 4x4 piles and 2x6 cross pieces, assembled with carriage bolts.

The hypothesis: An ordinarily adept American male can install said carriage bolts -- slightly underwater -- while lying on his belly, manipulating a 9/16" wrench blindly behind a longitudinal stringer.

Conclusion: Under such conditions "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey"  becomes quite a challenging notion.


Mar 6, 2013

Yesterday's loaf

I found a nice recipe for 100 per cent whole-wheat bread.  It was even better when I decided to substitute butter for the vegetable shortening and hard molasses for the sugar.

But I hate incomplete recipes. This one lacked a reminder: "Prior to leaving the kitchen, position the cooling loaf well back on your counter, beyond paw reach of an ungrateful sneaking thieving inconsiderate greedy thoughtless furshlugginer sonuvabitch of a Labrador  retriever."  

Dec 2, 2012


This is what happens when a guy yields to his tender feelings and starts pandering to an orphan. (And also when the auto-fuzz feature on his new three-volt Nikon Cockroach goes into action.)

And this is what happens when her yowling snaps the patience of visiting Hungarian Royalty, to wit, Her Royal Visla-ness, Buda.

The delinquent cat disappeared for a while. The dog was unhurt. I assured Buda's retainers, my heir the Lady-in-Waiting and and her esteemed husband, the  Footman, that no mentionable harm was done and that I, myself, had not totally lacked a similar impulse.


All in all it was something of a favor. That was the last truly ugly window in the Great Room of the Commandant's Quarters here at Camp J, headquarters of the Northern Expeditionary Force. The incident will move me to direct the Base Maintenance Section of my G-4 to redesign it.

Meanwhile, a little more Gorilla tape stays the winter gales. 

Nov 29, 2012

The outsider

Nature made her to be an outside cat -- and me to inhabit a catless house. Who am I to dispute Nature no matter how pathetically she gazes in?

She's getting fat. Needs a name. Also needs a heated cat house for the coming cold.

Yes, I'm well aware that the window could stand washing, recaulking, and painting. This will be done when I am finished with the cat house, unless I'm too tired or something.

Nov 20, 2012

As a public service...

...I post the following because the internet is desperately short of cute kitty pictures.

I think this is the sole survivor of a litter thrown by a now-missing black mama in my wildflower/weed patch. It took up residence in the bilge of the long-drydocked pocket cruiser where my daughter found and fed it a few days ago. I continue to subsidize its nutritional needs. Since last night it's been rooted where you see it, near the commandant's quarters deck.

New Dog Libby hissy-fits but is willing, upon command, to stop trying to turn it into lunch.

I'm no cat man, but a good hard-working outside, repeat outside, feline would have some pest control advantages around here so I'll continue the St. Francis routine.


And just so no one thinks I've gone completely softheaded and barmy, I still concentrate on more important stuff than cats.

It's another rebuilt 1903 Springfield, someone else's good work from many years ago in the excellent .257 Roberts. it's too seldom shot around here, but Grandson and I blew the cobwebs from the barrel Saturday. Great fun, and it will be worked a little harder in the future.

Lyman. Real men don't have no truck with tilliescopes and laserites.

(Actually, I'm kind of proud of the bench. It's a retired oak entertainment unit banished from the living room when the flat screen electric teevee set arrived. An hour with the saws and drills turned it into a good rifle cleaning and tinkering stand.)

Aug 12, 2012

Speaking of home invasions

A threat yesterday to the Camp J Transient Officer Quarters

But ever-vigilant New Dog Libby to the rescue. A few seconds after this shot there was a certain amount of growling, shrieking, and fur flying before Woody retreated beneath the deck. I feel so protected.

May 26, 2012

G'mornin' Mama

Mid-morning on a holiday weekend isn't the best time to cross the road in these parts, Woman. Trying to nest your eggs in the gravel adjacent to the tarmac is worse, a sure ticket to the unpleasant end of the Darwin-results spectrum.

That's why you got the ride on the grain scoop, and I'm sorry to have offended your  snappish sense of dignity. I really think you'll find greater happiness in a more obscure region of the canal network.