Turkeys Afoot!

It was about six weeks ago that I first encountered the family of wild turkeys on the bikepath near our house. I was walking Captain Jack when I came upon them: two adults and four youths, taking their own stroll. They didn’t seem very concerned about us, and Jack didn’t seem terribly interested in them, which struck me as odd.  Here they are on August 6.

We’ve run into them probably about once a week, since then. Here they are today, September 17. The young’uns are quite a bit bigger now. I took this picture about ten seconds  before Captain Jack pulled the leash out of my hand (I was trying to email the picture) and bolted after them, chasing them into the trees. No one was hurt. No harm, no fowl. Heh.

A Bird in the Kitchen…

…is worth how many in the claw? 

I got up this morning to the sound of Captain Jack howling and scrabbling frantically around the living and dining rooms. What I found when I arrived was a terrified bird flying back and forth in the room, arousing great interest from Jack and Moonlight (the cat). Finally it flew into the kitchen, and I managed to get a few pictures.

Who can tell me what kind of bird this is?  Gray, with a spotted underside, and (though you can’t really see it in these shots) a longish, narrow beak. You can biggify by clicking on the images.

I opened the kitchen window screen, and after a few minutes the bird found the opening and shot out of the house like a rocket. I’m still not sure how it got in—maybe through a torn screen in my office, up on the third floor. If so, that meant it found its way down the hall, and down the narrow stairs, before meeting up with the local guards.

All’s well that ends well.

Space Travel for Animals?

Being on retreat doesn’t mean I don’t still get interesting links. First, we have a frog joining the space program, probably not voluntarily:

That’s from The Atlantic, which has more details. This is the recent launch of the LADEE moon probe, on a Minotaur rocket, from Wallops Island, Virginia. Pity the poor creature. But it did have a fleeting moment of glory.

And second, we have some cows who did not seem to enjoy the test launch of a SpaceX Grasshopper rocket. Looks like they didn’t stick around to watch the landing. But you should.

A rocket landing on a tail of fire is how God meant us to come back to Earth! All that’s missing is tail fins on the rocket to complete this Golden Age SF vision of space travel.
The retreat is going very well, by the way. Making good progress on the book. 

Asleep in a Heap

Allysen’s back from Puerto Rico, and here’s how she looked soon after her arrival. The little fellow is Crunch, who hung out with us for a few hours before going to her home. The big guy, of course, is Captain Jack. They look like they could be related. But they’re not.

Will You Adopt an Adorable Puppy?

I’ve been in Puerto Rico for the last week, working away at the Herculean task of packing up Allysen’s mother’s house for her move to the Boston area. A couple of evenings ago, her dogs Diego and Sixta ran howling up to the gate to see what insidious deed was afoot. It turns out their instincts were spot on. A family of—I can only call them lowlifes—had just dropped a litter of seven puppies in front of our house and hightailed it down the hill.  (Allysen got there in time to see them and ran after them yelling, but they fled. We are the last house at the top of a hillside road, and for years, people have been abandoning animals at our gate.)

We really needed this, while trying to pack up a lifetime of books, papers, artwork, and other possessions. But like it or not, the puppies were suddenly in our hands. And so now, we have fed them and bathed them (they were crawling with fleas), and have been trying to find a local rescue group who can take them. If we don’t hear from Save a Sato or one of the other groups by tomorrow, we’ll take them to the Ponce Animal Rescue and hope for the best. We could bring a couple of them back to the States, if we knew there were homes waiting for them. So how about it? Would you like to take in a heartstoppingly lovable puppy?

You can see six of the seven in this picture. In back is an adorable one I immediately named the Hindmost, a reference that any reader of Larry Niven’s stories will recognize.

Moonlight: Playlist Killer

Moonlight: Killer App, or App-Killer Cat?

See this whitish Egyptian Desert Sand Cat? Looks innocent, doesn’t she? She spends most of her time sleeping, or making good her latest escape from the irrepressible Captain Jack (“I am border collie! Run when I say run!”). But beneath that seeming innocence lurks the heart of a computer-wrecker.

Sometimes, when I’m writing late at night, Moonlight likes to saunter up to my office  and get in my way by being affectionate. Usually she starts by hopping into my lap and purring, forcing me to reach around her to type. But sometimes she ensconces herself in the space between my keyboard and my monitor. It’s got a slidey stack of papers on it, and she makes them slide even more. Often, her hind paws stick down toward the keyboard. Last night, they were on the keyboard—actually, I think, on the Delete key.

I was just getting ready to quit for the night, when iTunes (always open when I’m working) suddenly began to flicker and blink. Finally it stopped. I inspected it. What’s this? To my disbelief and dismay, my entire set of playlists was gone. All of them. My carefully selected Writing Music, my eMusic downloads, my Kitchen Get Your Mojo Working lists, everything. I glared at Moonlight.

She shot a bored glance my way. (“You lookin’ at me?”) Yes, I was looking at her. And then evicting her.

Instead of going off to bed, I went off to Googleland in search of cures for accidentally deleted playlists. I was not the first to seek help with this problem. (A lot of people must have cats too close to their keyboards.) There is no “undelete” for itunes playlists. In the end, fortunately, I located a backup of my itunes library that was only six months old, and it had most of the lists reasonably intact.

Cat, you got lucky this time. But next time… well, there just better not be a next time, you hear? Stop purring and listen to me.

Our Nutcase Border Collie

Captain Jack is a border collie, at least in part, and he wants to herd. Man, does he want to herd. (Just ask Moonlight, our cat. You thought you couldn’t herd cats? Tell it to Cap’n Jack.) He also seems to regard my dirty socks as part of his flock, because he’s forever fishing them out of the laundry hamper and herding them out to the living room. He doesn’t chew them, just puts them where they’re supposed to be. Only my socks, not anyone else’s.

Maybe it’s a control issue. We have several jumbo dog pillows -one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and one in my office in the finished attic. The bedroom pillow regularly finds its way to the dining room, sometimes just minutes after I’ve returned it to its proper spot. Or if it isn’t in the dining room, it’s in the doorway of our little central hall, where Jack lies on it as though deliberately metering the flow of traffic. Border collie cop?

The pad up in my office is a tougher case: it’s stiffer and more awkward to move, and generally it stays in the corner where it belongs. Or did until the other day, when it too started migrating to block the nearest doorway. And then, not just to the doorway, but down the cluttered hallway of the library, down the steep attic stairs, through an even more cluttered entryway room, through the fairly cluttered living room, to the far side of the dining room. I was in my office working at the time, but I didn’t see or hear him move it. Later, though, I found it -and him curled up on it -right in front of his crate (which of course has its own pad).

Every time I try to catch him in the act with a camera,  he immediately drops whatever he’s carrying and gazes at me in innocent wonder. You can almost hear him: “Yo, what’s up, dude?”

My last border collie, Sam, was certainly a dog with personality. But I think our Captain Jack is taking idiosyncrasy to a whole new level.

Here’s another dog thinking outside the box:


Animal Friendships

Who doesn’t love a story about inter-species friendships? A dog and an elephant? A cat and a crow? A hippo and a tortoise? A cat and a dolphin? A lion and its humans? Time Magazine compiled a dozen such stories in this video series. Click to the Time page to follow the sequence. (I’m starting you with #2, because I thought #1 was kind of dumb. But you can go back to it.) Be prepared to say, “Awwww…” a lot.

Now click that Time link to watch the others. Or wait! Why don’t I list them here for you?

And then watch this one, about a family of gorillas who strolled in to visit a tourist village.

1 2 3 4 5