Saturday, November 15, 2014

A few words from Emily Dickins

While the people complain about freezing their tushies in the cold, we Airedales love it.
Here we are comparing teeth. Mine, of course, are prettier.

Sometimes a girl likes to dress up a little, using whatever decorator items are available.
I like being able to grow my hair longer for the winter, but Mom keeps pulling it out.
Could I say, "Let's play" any louder? What does Miro do? He stands there and barks.

Oh well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Verbless Wednesday

Pausing to think about the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and of how the first World War changed everything.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Emily's first party

Emily's first party was a wine tasting Halloween party. Fortunately, Emily prefers beer and cheese. Show her a piece of cheese and she's yours.

Despite a band so loud that people had to shout at the tops of their voices, Emily cheerfully greeted everybody, including a Golden Lab that growled at her, causing her promptly to squat and pee on the cement floor (all the wineries have cement floors).

Emily especially charmed a Japanese lady who knelt in front of her and got a big, black Airedale nose stuck in her ear followed by an enthusiastic Airedale tongue. I kept an eye on the lady's dangling earrings. Fortunately Emily wasn't interested.

I have no photos, having been too busy juggling with one hand a leash clipped to a wriggling, pulling dog and with the other a wine glass; with the third hand, treats for distracting Emily; with the fourth hand, a small sandwich that made do as my lunch.

Wait. I have only two hands.

Not all is lost. I have a photo of my new stand-up desk. You may know that research has shown that sitting at a desk all day contributes to diabetes, cancer, and obesity, none of which I have or want. Besides, sitting at the computer for long stretches is exhausting even when I haven't done anything. I looked into desks and prices, which range from $125 to thousands. The cheapest that would serve my needs was $225, including shipping.  For that price I could buy a new pair of boots to keep my feet comfortable while I stand at my desk. One does have priorities.

So I made my own stand-up desk for $0 and five minutes' assembly, which surely beats hours of swearing at incomprehensible directions and screws that don't go in correctly. I can eventually do some cosmetic improvements. The keyboard is now at a more comfortable height than it was on my sit-down desk, and I wrote this post, #600, on it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Airedales and a Halloween costume

I had ten minutes, just the time needed for a Halloween costume photo session. Right? Oh, you mean it takes five hours and a bucket of liver treats for one successful shot?

This is what happens in a photo session with two Airedales, one five-year-old and one ten-month old.

 Indoors. The blur in the middle was an attractive accessory.

 I particularly like this one. It characterizes typical living room activity, especially when I try to watch television.

There's better light outdoors.

It's obvious which one should be wearing the devil horns, but she doesn't stay still long enough. That was as far as we got in the costume department today.

This is post #599.  How do I mark 600? Business as usual?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grim news

Or I could say the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.

Not only birds are active in the fall. Raccoons are venturing beyond their usual boundaries; and for the first time in the seven years I've kept chickens here, one came into my yard and tore through the netting and wire over the top of the chicken pen.



It happened at about five in the morning. I woke hearing Miró hurry down the stairs to the main floor.  I heard one faint, distant noise from outside. It could have been a dog or cat; it could have been the person who delivers newspapers to the few of us who still subscribe. It was not at all like the noises chickens make when disturbed at night or when attacked. I listened for a while. Everything quiet. Because Miró, who barks at everything, kept silent, I figured all was well. I don't know if Emily even moved.

Really, Miro has some explaining to do.


 This raccoon tore out the throats of four chickens and disappeared.  A couple of days later I ran into a neighbor from across the street who also kept chickens. She said theirs had been killed two days before mine. Same modus operandi: no noise, throats torn out, dead hens strewn across the pen.

When my husband was alive and we kept chickens in a more rural area, we lost a bunch to predators; but no animal ever killed all the chickens and we (or I, since he could sleep through anything) always heard something, though the distance from house to pen was greater there than here.  It's very unusual to have happened so quickly that the chickens had little or no chance to squawk. Maybe there was more than one raccoon.
Edna, Old English game bantam

Most chickens live short lives and die violently, making R.I.P. inappropriate. High praise for chickens would be: they laid well.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday bath for birds

My house came with a "water feature," a series of debris-gathering pools. The water fountains into a square pool at the top terrace, spilling over onto a series of smaller pools down to the larger one at the bottom where there's a motor to recirculate the water. Naturally, the motor stopped working not long after I moved here. I have to muck everything out several times a year. I'm sure I'd like the whole thing very much if it worked and didn't require perpetual and expensive maintenance. It's useful for one thing.

A little while ago, the yard was full of twittery sounds instead of the usual crow-jay battle screeches.

 Robins, juncos, and flickers took turns for Sunday bath. Photos are from the kitchen window. (It was clean, honest! The blurring is reflection.)

This last one looks like a juvenile starling, an invasive species. After these photos, I went outside by a side door, hoping the birds wouldn't mind if I stood some distance away; but the mere hint of human movement was too much for them. I stood still for a loooong time, waiting, reflecting that this standing around is why I'm not a bird watcher, though I support the Audubon Society.

Later, as I sat at my desk upstairs to upload the photos, a flicker stopped right outside to clean the gutters.

I might tweet an ad for birds: Sherry's back yard, all hotel services provided: bath, fine dining, comfortable beds, and no cats.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

See that red dot? It's a scarlet macaw!

I went to Costa Rica with only my phone for a camera and joked with other phone-only photographers about what we'd say when showing friends our photos. No casual tourist could have captured our best sighting of the macaws when they suddenly appeared high above the Tarcoles River, the sun flashing off their brilliant red, yellow, and blue as they flew quickly over the trees. Later we saw them perched in distant wild fig trees at Punta Leona Beach Resort on the Pacific coast.

The upper center red dot is the bird; the lower red dots are hibiscus.
Here's what they really look like, photographed in the same kind of tree. Because the photo is from, I think it's open source.

I was on a 12-day ecotour. Every time the guide pointed out a bird, reptile, or mammal, we went "Oooo" and "Ahhh." Every time the guide pointed out and talked about particular trees, we listened attentively and then asked each other, "What did he say that was?"
I got close to Green Violetear hummingbirds at 7,000 feet.
Tropical rainforest with iguana.

Returning home, I sighted a couple of these:
Temperate rainforest dog.

Canis messus.
They greeted me with three seconds of jumping excitement before turning to sniff the suitcase, needing no words to convey, "Great to see ya. What'd ya bring me?"


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The bad girl's guide to foraging

Hi. Emily Dickins here. It's fall. That means things fall from the trees. When I investigate and eat those things, Mom yells. The first things I found were berries, or maybe they're plums growing on the neighbor's trees that overhang our fence. Birds ate them. When Mom saw me eating them, she gave a bunch to the chickens to see if the chickens would get sick or die. She said that if the chickens died, she'd lock me indoors until all the berries were gone. Is that dumb or what?
This is what they look like:
She squished one to see the inside. Disgusting. Nobody eats that way.
The chickens were not totally thrilled with the berries, but they ate and did not get sick. Every time I went outside, I searched along the fence for fallen berries until EVIL MOM cut down just about every overhanging branch with berries on it. Good thing the neighbors can't see that side.

Still feeling peckish, I found something else to chew on after yesterday's windstorm. Now Evil Mom is even more upset. These green berries fell off a type of redwood tree, and she tried to pick them all up but no way is she going to be able to keep up with all the falling berries in the next couple of months. They don't taste great, but I like chewing on anything--indoor and outdoor wood, shoes, Miro's collar, Miro's tail, hair....
This is the tree. That's the pooper-scooper leaning up against it. Does Mom know how to take a photo or what?

And these are the chewies that fall from it. I hope somebody knows if they're really bad. Otherwise Mom might tear out all her hair and there'll be none left for me to chew on.
Forty-two pounds of bad.