Thursday, June 28, 2012

Welcome to My Blog!

If you are an avid reader with little time to indulge your fancy, I hope that you will enjoy the short vignettes on this Blog. Each post will follow the title's theme.

As a fan of thriller, suspense, and mystery, I sometimes find myself wishing that a book not delve quite so deep into the dark side nor fill so quickly with corpses. "Life's Mysteries - Small and Great" will offer a reprise from grittier themes. You should always feel free to share posts with your grandmother or seven-year-old nephew.

The reality we all face is that life can be dark and terrible things do happen. To cope, we need to remember the good things, marvel at the wonders of life, and laugh now and then. Even when my posts do deal with more traditional themes, watch for the punch line.

Thank you for reading!

The Case of the Disappearing Coat

Our pet Akita, Kuma, regularly brightens our days. In return for nominal care, she makes us feel special. The normal doggy display of affection when we return home isn't enough for her. She vocalizes her delight to see us in a Darth Vader imitation (albeit gentler and kinder). Even our periodic movements around the house elicit a full greeting with wagging tail. If we're not active enough--for example, when I sit tethered to the keyboard for hours--she takes the initiative and comes to check on how I'm doing.

The only downside to living with an Akita is an overabundance of hair. Globs, singles, lighter-than-air wisps float and settle on every horizontal surface, including the dinner table. As a preventive measure, we bought a Furminator(R). And what a wonderful tool it is. In ten minutes the Furminator can strip a pile of Kuma hair equal in mass to a standard Poodle! That is one vacuum cleaner bag less to remove from the house. The hair comes off in different colors, white and black from the topcoat, a soft gray down from the undercoat.

Needless to say, Furmination is best performed outside. A fairly constant gale blows out of the south. As we remove Kuma's excess coat, the wind scoops and tumbles it. We often wonder how far it will sail, maybe to the Pacific? Hopefully, far beyond our neighbor's pool.

Last weekend, the constant gale ramped up with vengeance and wrenched a branch from one of our precious Oaks. We knew that a Scott's Oriole had nested there, so we were relieved to see him, his mate, and their fledgling safe and sound the next day.

Scott's Oriole

When we examined the downed tree limbs, we found where a piece of Kuma's coat had disappeared. The Orioles had used it as a downy bed for their egg.

Scott's Oriole nest lined with Akita hair.

We were worried that the Orioles would leave us after such a traumatic experience. Not so. Yesterday after we had brushed Kuma, we saw them gathering fluffy beakfuls of hair--no doubt to start lining a new nest.

The moral of the story? Maybe more than one:

  • Recycling isn't new, animals and birds have been doing it all along.
  • What goes around comes around.
  • When your nest gets knocked down, don't despair, make the next one better. It's an ill wind that blows no good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Driven by Hunger

The echoing rumble in the hollow of my gut reminds me that I haven’t eaten since yesterday. After spending a night in a tree, my muscles ache with the buildup of lactic acid. I cautiously slide down and stretch. I sniff the air, searching for any pungency that would indicate they are near. Every flutter of the breeze makes me twitch. I pad softly through the underbrush, and pause to listen every few steps. Food is a necessity, but the risk of being heard or seen slows my pace.
As the morning sun penetrates through the canopy overhead, the dew disappears in a mist. I stop to lick some leaves before the precious water vaporizes completely. The birds are fully awake now and their calls provide a measure of protection. They are my partners in crime without realizing it. They will sing their warning calls and then go silent if they spot an intruder.
I remember my last meal and saliva fills my mouth in anticipation. Is it my imagination, or do I smell something? I freeze and test the wind, opening my mouth and breathing in to catch the scent on my tongue. Yes! It is food, and not too far away. Another ten yards and I spot it.
They left it; but not in an accessible place. They did everything they could to prevent me from getting it. It’s fastened to the branch of a tree, high off the forest floor, maybe eight times my height. It hangs from a long narrow twine that won’t support my weight.
I shinny up the tree. I’m good at this part. I carefully push out onto the branch it hangs from, but it’s just out of my reach. I retreat to the trunk. I lower myself to the same level as the food. I wrap my legs around the trunk and lean as far as I can. It’s still far out of my reach. All the exertion has sapped my energy. I’m weakening. I can’t afford another miss. I cling to the bark breathing heavily.
Last try. I dig my feet into the trunk with everything I have. I lean, stretching, levering all of my weight into thin air. Then, I lunge further than I thought possible. Got it! Another meal, another day of life. They’ll never stop me.