For Everything

Lughnasa                                      Full Artemis Moon

A full day today and another one tomorrow.  Late August through early September are busy times here at 7 Oaks and Artemis Hives.  Kate’s worked like a Trojan, the Norwegians of Greece, pulling weeds, making piles, churning through task after task.  She wears me out.  And she’s older than I am.

Each month has its own qualities, tasks appropriate to the time of year.  August’s tasks include harvest, weeding, ordering bulbs for fall, considering the garden for next year, mulching, honey extraction.  It also includes getting ready for the busy season at the MIA, the school year when students come through the museum in amazing numbers and the special expeditions go up.  This year we’ll have the Thaw collection of Native American Art, Embarrassment of Riches, a photography show curated by David Little and the Titian Exhibition.  The State Fair begins, kids get their last fond looks at the lake or the backyard or the baseball field, and adults take advantage of the heat.  In Minnesota we know that often the best month of the year lies ahead, either September or October.

Just finished a book, Blind Descent, that narrates the search for the world’s deepest cave.  The story line gripped me from the beginning, especially the technical descriptions of work in super caves.  It recounts the culmination in 2004 of two of the most promising super cavers of the current era:  Bill Stone and Alexander Klimchouk of Georgia.  It was Klimchouk’s work in the Arabika highlands that yielded Krubera, the world’s deepest cave, at over 7,000 feet below the surface.  Worth reading.

Vega and Rigel have a new project.  They have dug several holes, some of them deep enough that their heads disappear in them.  I can only assume they’re chasing something that burrows, probably a gopher.  They seem to be doing a good deal more digging than catching.  It was this kind of behavior last fall that led to the two fences that we have now.  Seeing them dig as Kate and I worked in the orchard, inside one of those fences, I was so happy we had them.  Right now Vega barks in her crate, ready to go back and hunt some more.  We’ll wait her out.

Mighty Possum Warriors

Summer                                         New Moon  (Grandchild’s Moon)

From this point forward (if I remember) I’m going to start naming the moons in ways that make sense to our life here at Artemis Hives and the Seven Oaks.  The Grandchild’s Moon is in honor of a yearly visit that takes place most often in this moon’s ambit since Jon and Jen return to work as teachers in early August.

The mighty possum warriors finally gave up and came inside to the cool, flopped down on the couch and promptly went to sleep.  A hard day hunting the wily critter had done them in.  I’m 99% sure that the possum only has shattered nerves.  All that barking.  Right out on the patio.

Jen called today and they leave Chicago tomorrow and plan to be here Sunday night.  They are going to come up on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi, stopping in Winona at the National Eagle Center.

Interesting Stuff

Summer                                            Waning Strawberry Moon

The intrepid opossum hunters have not touched their morning meal, nor have they come back to the house.  This work commands their full and undivided barking, yipping, tail wagging and sniffing.  You gotta admire persistence.  Or, maybe not.  It’s pretty damned hot right now.

Fleet Farm has aisles full of interesting stuff.  One aisle for example had, according to the sign, earth augurs and come-alongs.  Who could resist?  I did buy a come-along.  I mean, who wouldn’t?

You could also buy horse treats, horse bedding, a $1,300 leather saddle (it was nice, with great tooling), feeding bowls to hang on the fence, blenders, shotguns and handguns, red licorice, a cultivator and several styles of wagons.  I got outta there with the following:  an umbrella for the patio, a green outdoor carpet, an outdoor fireplace, two heavy rubber buckets, black, and a small one, pink (for Ruth) and the come-along.

Not bad considering everything else they have.  In fact, only the come-along was not on my list.

Vega and Rigel At Work. Again.

Summer                                  Waning Strawberry Moon

Off to Fleet Farm this morning.  But not before I pass on another Vega and Rigel adventure.

Nope, neither of them escaped.  They were out much of the night, Kate letting them in and out.  When I got up at 7:15 or so to feed the dogs, I let them out as usual, then went downstairs for the whippets.  The whippets ran flat out upstairs, barking, as they always do.  However, when they went outside the big dogs were no where to be seen.

They normally hang around a little bit.

After feeding the whippets and putting out the food for the big dogs, they still weren’t back from what ever had captured their attention, but they were barking.  A lot.07-10-10_hole-under-dead-tree

After I finished my ramen, I set out to discover what was up.  I worried that they were barking at the labs of the surgeon who lives diagonally across the street from us.  His dogs come up to his property line and stop at the invisible fence.  These kind of events incite Rigel to burrow under the fence and go investigate.

Nope, not on the north facing fence.  I still heard them, so I walked the eastern fence line.  Still no dogs.  I turned right at the southern edge of our fencing and headed west.  Oh, I thought.  They’re barking at some dog that’s loose back here.  Nope.  When I got to where I had heard them, they were not at the fence at all, but back a ways in the woods.

Vega has a tendency to lie down and bark, so I thought she may have taken advantage of the cover, laid down and decided to enjoy herself in secrecy.  Nope, not that either.

When I pushed aside the undergrowth and got to the place where it was all happening, I saw a hole in the ground that looked like a fox hole–no, not that kind, the military kind–earth mounded up around a hole.  Vega and Rigel had dug a very large hole under a hollowed out fallen tree.  Rigel was in the hole, her butt up in the air, her nose up in the inside the hollowed tree and barking.  They have something up there.07-10-10_vega-in-the-hole

I was still in my pajamas so I didn’t investigate.  It could be a skunk, a raccoon, a cat, maybe even a groundhog.  Don’t know.  But the coon-hound in these dogs surfaced this morning.

OK.  So I went out with shoes and pants on, camera in hand to record this historic doggy moment.  The first photograph shows the hole with the dogs circling, waiting to see what I would do.  “Maybe he can get it.”  Pant, pant. “Maybe he can get it.  Come on, Dad!”

Shortly after Vega realized I was going to be of no help, she slid back down in the hole, seeing if more loud barking would coax whatever it was outside where she could eat it.  Surprisingly, nothing happened.

Well, Dad couldn’t bend over enough to check inside the tree, but he did have a camera that could.  So, I took this picture, which if I see it right is a shot of a baby opossum.  I know we have opossums because I posted pictures of one that came around the Winter Solstice two years ago.  07-10-10_yum

This shot is with the camera stuck up inside the tree from below.  Well, I just looked at pictures of several babies:  opossums, raccoons, woodchucks and gophers (all critters I know sharing this land with us.).  None of them look like this.  Maybe that’s the snout of a mother opossum?  Or the snout of a maturing young opossum?

I just massaged the photo a bit more.  This is a young opossum staring out from the hollow tree.  The two black spots on either side of the face are eyes, the pink is nose and, oh well, I just enhanced it and here is what I saw.


Route 66

Summer                                           Waning Strawberry Moon

Rain beats down and Rigel whines.  We’ve had a couple of dogs with phobias about thunder.  Tira was the most problematic.  She preferred to climb through open car windows in the garage for some reason.  I still have claw marks on the Celica’s leather interior and the Tundra has scratch marks from a frenzied Tira trying to climb the gate closing off the back from the garage and getting hung up, her paws scraping on the hood and her teeth gripping the license plates.  Rigel is not that bad.  Thank god.

Kate’s tired tonight, her muscles aching from a lot of walking and standing.  She’s pushing it, but it’s good.  The doc said no limits, so the more she works it, the faster her muscle tone will firm up and her stamina increase.  Having the hip replaced takes general anesthetic, deep tissue and bone bruising and swelling, so painful  trauma occurs from a bodily point of view, but from a psychic perspective she can tell already that it feels better, way better.

We had our money meeting, discussing the coming of the kids and grandkids next week.  Makes me think of the trips my family used to take from Alexandria, Indiana to Oklahoma City.  Route 66 covered most of the territory, taking us, I remember, right through downtown St. Louis, a bit fearsome for small town folks.  Mom would go in to the motels, inspect their rooms and give them a passing grade or tell us to get back in the car.

Along the way the barns had signs for Meramec Caverns.  Don’t believe I ever saw them.  Sort of the Wall Drug equivalent on Route 66.

There were games involving license plates, 20 questions, word finds and generally gazing out the window as the Illinois, then Missouri landscape rolled by.  I still enjoy that part of traveling, sitting by the window, watching the scenery.  One of the reason I like train travel.

Holes in the Fabric

Summer                              Waxing Strawberry Moon

It seems the gods of fate have not left our pack just yet.  Today was the annual physical for all of our dogs, a process that begins with luring Vega and Rigel into the back of the truck.  Hilo and Kona just jump up into the front seat.  That all went fine.  Kona and Rigel were a bit nervous, panting and walking around in the exam room at Foley Blvd. Animal Clinic.  Hilo sat on my lap and Vega, still a bit dopey from the stings, I think, laid on the floor as if she lived there.  Or, as if, as Kate suggested, she hoped she was invisible.

The exam went well enough.  Vega came in at 115 lbs and Rigel at an even 100.  Kona had gained half a pound and Hilo had lost a pound and a half.  During the results, Dr. Roger Barr, a friend now after 16 years of Irish Wolfhounds and Whippets, said he would, “save Hilo for the last.”

Our littlest girl and the dog most devoted to me has some form of kidney disease.  Roger says within two months or so she should start to show symptoms as her kidney functions slowly shut down.  There’s not much to be done about it.  A round of antibiotics could, but probably won’t, knock out a pyelonephritis, if it’s there.  If it is an infection, then her kidney function tests will return to normal.  It’s possible, but not likely.

Hilo is 9, so she’s not a young dog, but Emma was 14 when she died a couple of weeks ago.  Hilo’s not gone yet, we have some time with her, in some senses as we always have, but now with a knowledge that those times are nearing an end.

Each dog is different and special.hilo600 When they die, a unique aspect of our life here comes to a finish.  It is the unique and the special traits or memories we recall when we speak of them in later years.   Celt’s stepping on my snow shoes, barking at the flapping black plastic bag, receiving attention at the St. Kate’s Art Fair as if it were his due.  Buck’s careful positioning of the pillows and blankets so he could lie down on the perfect spot.  Iris retrieving and shredding tissues.  Emma standing on the tree.

But in the immediate aftermath of a death it is the hole in the fabric of our life that tears the heart.  We were seven and now we are six.  Soon, if Roger Barr is right, we will be five.

Reaching Back in Time

Beltane                      Waxing Hungry Ghost Moon

We’re only a week away from the summer solstice, but you could not tell it from our current weather.  We’ve had a cool, rainy streak that has made work outside appealing.  It’s also given the weeds considerable encouragement.

The internet allows a look-up phenom that you’ve no doubt experienced at least once.  An e-mail shows up from someone in the way back long ago.  A posting of Facebook.  A comment on  your blog.  I’ve had a few.  Got one Friday from a high school girlfriend, a relationship that meant something to me.  It was nice to hear from her since we stopped seeing each other my senior year and went our separate ways.  E-mail is a great medium for this kind of oh my it’s been so long reacquaintance.  Neutral. Not time sensitive.

Vega has a new gorilla that she carries with her in the house where ever she goes.  It makes a noise and whenever she triggers it, she scoots off for a safe area, not quite sure.  Rigel has no interest in toys, she enjoys the thrill of the hunt, the joy of escape.  Which she did yesterday.  Again.  She got out through a hole under the fence I wouldn’t have thought big enough for her.  I’ve hardened the lower edge of the fence line over the years, but this spot had rotted out.  I found her collar hooked on a log where she’d crawled under the chain-link.  She does not go over the fence anymore.  Electricity.

Kate’s on a countdown for a new hip.  June 30th.  She commented on a discogram yesterday (this involves a probing needle that injects dye between the discs to get a contrast image), “I’m a Norwegian, a stoic and a woman and still I had copious tears.”  She can bear it, but she pays a price.  She also observed, by the way, that I will never, ever have a discogram.  She’s right on that one.

Not a bee day today.  Wednesday looks like the day for the hive inspection.

Falling Behind

Beltane                                    Waning Planting Moon

Life seems lighter now with Kate at home.  Shared life is so much easier than solo, at least I find it so.

Kate made oatmeal this morning and I went out to the garden and picked fresh strawberries.  A delight to have with our cereal.  Also a delight to have a partner at the table, a fellow reader of the paper.  Good.

Spent some time weeding this morning.  The whole package of the vegetable garden, the bees and our large perennial beds has gotten ahead of me, especially the perennial beds.  I had to repair all the damage Rigel and Vega did to the vegetable garden last fall, then plant the garden, then plant much of it again after the frost.  There was also some residual damage to the netaphim in the orchard and the vegetable garden that had to get fixed.

(on the other hand, it could be worse. we could have kudzu.)

The warm spring has put the bees and many of the plants 2 to 3 weeks ahead of time which has meant extra work with the bees (with potentially productive long term results) and good weed growing weather for the perennial beds.

In many ways it’s all good news except the aesthetic side of our property has definitely suffered.  Still, I’ll get ahead of it sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Then, I have to prune those shrubs that have reduced our front sidewalk to half its normal size.

In 80 Degree Weather You’d Do It, Too. If you fit.

Beltane                              Waxing Planting Moon

Vega the wonder dog continues a puppy habit.vegainwater Even though she’s quite a bit bigger now she can make herself small enough to fit in the rubber water bowl.  This means that when I fill it up, it soon empties.  I have to go buy a smaller bowl, one she can’t use for cooling off.

In other dog related news I bought two sprinkler heads to replace the ones purloined by either Vega or Rigel.  They have a high degree of energy and intelligence.  That makes them inquisitive and with dogs this size that means destructive.

I spent the morning on Ovid, translating verses of the Metamorphoses, 11-15.  This is a slow process for me because I have to look up each word, discern which of the possible words it probably is, determine its possible declension or conjugation, then go back and try to put all this together in an intelligible English line.  Latin poetic conventions make this difficult since words that below together are sometime split apart by as much as a verse.  Also, Ovid, like Shakespeare loved neologisms so sometimes the word he’s used is the only time it was ever used in Latin.

Don’t get the wrong impression though.  When I finished this morning, I whistled and sang, a sure sign I feel good about what I’ve just done.   It’s a fascinating process for me.

Kate has a big month taking shape.  She leaves on Tuesday for San Francisco and two continuing medical education conferences which will take until June 6th.  On June 30th she has hip surgery.  She needs the surgery, her hip is painful for her and painful for me to watch.

The violence in Bangkok continues and some of it happens right outside my brother’s soi, a sort of side street with no exit that is peculiar to Bangkok’s urban design.

Final Sierra Club legislative meeting for the 2010 session tonight.  There will probably be work upcoming related to next year’s session, but for the near term future, that work will come to a close.  No more weekly meetings.  Happy hour after this meeting.