Of Alligators, Scorpions and Bears


(A 7 Quick Takes on Friday Post)

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Jennifer, our gracious host at Conversion Diary, had a post on Wednesday comparing the relative trauma of having either an alligator in your swimming pool, or scorpions in your house (see here).  She thinks scorpions are the worst and win any such contest hands down.

While I concede that scorpions in the house is an unnerving experience, having enjoyed the pleasure, I think I can go her one or two better.  One of the joys of living in Colorado, close to the mountains, is that we have all sorts of wildlife.  We have deer up the wazoo, I woke the other day to find a tiny fawn napping with it’s head leaned against our backyard fence being cute.  However, I’ve also had a bobcat momma nest her young under the back deck.   To heighten the stakes, I could mention that our neighborhood watch’s main duty, unlike those of recent repute in Florida, is keeping track of bears, especially momma bears with cubs in the neighborhood.  I regularly receive emails from a neighbor similar to this:

Good Morning All

A Bear story.  We keep a pail on the back porch for kitchen scrap for our compost pit.  Anyway, of course, the pail is somewhat malodorous over time and even with the cover on, one of resident bears could smell it.

Soooooo, when I went out this morning, the gate to the storage area under that deck was “ripped” open (is now in multiple pieces), various things knocked over, bear tracks from that area up to the deck.  The pail was removed and taken to the yard so the Bear could have a snack.  So apparently having a compost pail is not a good idea.

Thus “Bear Aware”

Have a great day /C  (Meanwhile I will be building a new gate.)

This takes padding out in the early morning twilight in your bunny slippers to fetch the paper to a whole new level.

So, in the contest between a single alligator in the pool, and a few nasty little bugs, I think the bears win, and if that’s not good enough, throw in the occasional bobcat or two for good measure.  That’s a winning hand.  What do you think?  Did I mention the mountain lions?

*  *  *

I’ve begun to take an interest in jazz and have gone to the trouble of acquiring a few albums on iTunes.  This is my first foray into the field and my minuscule collection includes an album from Coltrane, one from Miles Davis, an Oscar Peterson, and, of course, a Cannonball Adderly, possibly two of his.  Oh, and there’s a Wynton Marsalis, just to bridge the gap between classical and jazz.  My opinion is that these are all wonderful musicians, although I think Marsalis’ playing is almost too perfect, it seems to precise, too good, for real jazz.  Our tastes are running mostly to jazz of the mellow or “cool” variety at the moment, but we intend to broaden our range as time goes on.  Recommendations for further explorations are welcome.

*  *  *

Speaking of music, for most of my adult life I’ve been a classical music buff.  Recently, I began organizing my MP3 collection, just to see which composers I had slighted and who should be added to the library.  I was astonished at the extent of the collection of sacred classical music I’d acquired, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach’s Mass in B minor, and many more, nearly 20 albums of such.  I was astonished at how I tend to like, and stick with, the same things over and over again.  I’m not sure I fully understand the psychology of the thing, but I do find it interesting.  It’s like learning there exists a whole new side of me that I never knew before.

I would also note, both Mozart and Haydn, which, next to Bach, are two of my favorite composers are horribly under-represented.  Another surprising discovery.

*  *  *

Cover of "The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire My...

I broke with tradition in another way this week; I guess it’s a time for doing such things.  This excursion into the unknown was literary — I downloaded a Walt Longmire mystery, The Cold Dish, written by Craig Johnson.  I seldom read fiction, a failing I want to correct and my interest had been peaked by the TV series of the same name.  The book is quite the thriller and you’ll never guess the ending; I sure never saw it coming.  One area where the book fails some is in Johnson’s having not done his best in researching the Viet Nam war.  The Longmire character is a Viet Nam veteran, a former Marine officer, and when he (Longmire) tells something of his time in the ‘Nam, he gets critical information wrong.  One glaring example concerns the South Vietnamese Army, known in country as, ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam).  Johnson has the acronym as RVAN, a glaring error that someone should have caught.  There are a couple of others, not so glaring.  I bring this up only because, if I’m reading a novel that covers historical ground and I find errors like that, errors that could have been easily corrected with just a little research, I can’t help but feel disappointed.

Other than that, though, I highly recommend the book; it’s one of only a few mysteries that manage to be suspenseful and funny at the same time.  A great read.

*  *  *

I still try to puzzle out the direction Francis seems to be going in.  I don’t think I’m the only one feeling this way; I see any number of stories trying to get to the bottom of who Francis is and what he is trying to accomplish.  I’m not sure the lack of clarity from our Holy Father is a good thing.  My own opinion goes between the two extremes of despair and joy.  The despair arises from such things as his dispensing with most of the trappings of office and roaming parking lots to survey the quality of cars being driven by curia officials.  The joy from things like his first encyclical and the fact that he adopted Benedict’s draft mostly unchanged.  I guess time will tell.  In the meantime, WYD, seems to be a success.

*  *  *

The other day, feeling nostalgic, I pulled out an old fountain pen, did a bit of maintenance on it, popped in an ink cartridge, and have been using it for notes ever since.  I remember when ball point pens, of the Paper Mate variety, first hit the stores and what a novelty they were.  When I first learned to write, longhand that is, it was with a fountain pen.  I even remember my mother doing crossword puzzles from the Detroit News each evening with her old Waterman pen, filled from an ink bottle.  Those were the days, my friend.

Anyway, I had forgotten the simple pleasures of writing with a quality fountain pen and suggest you give it a try; Lamy makes a very nice, quite inexpensive and quite durable version called the Safari that I highly recommend for experimentation.

*  *  *

Looking forward to a weekend made soggy by the more than welcome monsoon season.  For the last couple of years we’ve missed out on the rainy summer afternoons — it’s been hot and dry.  At this altitude, the air tends not to hold much moisture at the best of times; when we don’t get the monsoonal flow, humidity’s get down in the low-single digits.  At times I those, I tend to cast an envious glance at those who live in more humid areas of the country.  However, with all the humidity we’ve had here lately, I remember why it is I live in dryer climes.  Ah well, I think it was Epictetus who said, “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” So true.

Have a good weekend.

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