Tag Archives: Dogs

Road trip revelations big and small

included some arresting sights, such as the Wisconsin highway barn painted in mile-high letters by people who obviously wanted to get their message across. These guys should work on Madison Avenue. OKAY, WE HEAR YOU!

A flock of blue jays, one of which left a memento behind for someone (me) desiring signs and best wishes for the future.

Earlier on our journey, another blue jay, by the road side. Good effort to whomever created it, and good tidings to all travelers passing by.

A message dishtowel I seem to have absconded with from the family reunion cottage on Green Bay. Yes! Agreed.

Flowers lush, fresh, unexpected. Euphorbia milli.

A rainbow, always a good harbinger, this time at what is called the American Falls at Niagara. Eschewing the yellow ponchos they give out to tourists who stop under the torrent, I looked down over the whole scene and was impressed by a) the majesty, of course and b) the tawdriness of the surroundings. Have three quarters of all commercial establishments (hotels, restaurants, etc.) shut down during the pandemic, or does it just seem that way?

Wanted to find a memorial to Annie Edson Taylor, the 63-year-old nearly penniless widow from Bay City, Michigan who thought she’d achieve fame and fortune by braved the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel in 1901. Challenged by a reporter to reveal the skimpy outfit she might wear to make the journey, Taylor responded, it would be unbecoming a woman of my refinement and my years to parade before a holiday crowd in an abbreviated skirt!

Apparently her only monument stands in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, where she died as a public charge – only 17 minutes of fame for her and no gold at the end of the rainbow (bad manager blamed). A schoolteacher, she fitted herself out in barrel weighted down with a 100-pound anvil and went for the ride of her life, only getting slightly banged up.

Farm-stand raspberries just picked, before being gobbled down. Summertime, summertime…

WOW! Seemingly defunct art gallery in Manetowac, just before the Canadian border. Peeking in, dusty easels and all.

Apple plucked from the grass beneath an old-old tree, the kind of fruit people used to go crazy for in the days before candy for everybody all the time – mainly sour, cottony, with skin of leather, instantly oxidizing – which I ate down to the core before tossing out the window.

Johnny Appleseed fantasies. An interesting fellow, not a myth. John Chapman, born in 1774, was a pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of the eastern U.S. He was also a missionary and when he traveled around to various states distributed materials about the New Church along with his apple seeds, giving sermons that cautioned against such indulgences as calico fabric and imported tea. 

The Runway Bar in Door County at the small airport for private planes, Bad Lands in the back (bordello?), shut down in the ‘90s but still offering a side-of-the-road sight for sore eyes, tree busting through the roof and all. A dive bar that took a nose dive, says Gil.

Another way sign I grew instantly fond of. Beach Harbor, baby. Let’s go.

Sleek windmills all along the highway. I’m told not by Cervantes not to tilt at them — they might be evil giants — but I insist. Saw some on the road being transported, accompanied by a robust police convoy.

Well-groomed Motorcycle Memorial Park way off the road.

A place to raise a beer to fallen comrades, apparently. But remember, bikers don’t let bikers drive drunk.

Aldo Leopold bench kit at The Ridges nature center at Bailey’s Harbor – 120 bucks will get conservation-minded carpenters the great naturalist’s name brand for their garden.

A canoe setting sail with family members at sunset. Sweet dreams are made of this, as the Eurythmics would have it.

In other boating news, a homemade flotilla and race at Sturgeon Bay – only plywood and caulk allowed – and almost all sink to general, gentle Midwestern hilarity.

In still more boating news, a Gideon’s bible graces the cabin on the coal-fired ferry from Manetowac, Wisconsin to Luddington, Michigan, across the great lake. Will put reading that old thing on my to-do list.

Odd tree habits. I don’t get this, but I love it. Maybe there is a biblical allegory here?

The moon that followed us as it waxed, flaming yellow and orange, so close you could see the ancient, impossible face. No Iphone pic can do justice to this fever dream of an evening sky. Truly the magic hour.

It was hard to get enough of Ottilie the German short-hair pointer taking cat naps in the back seat.

But don’t mention cats to Ottie, who has a thing about cats and other small creatures. This great bird dog, without a hunting trip to focus her, once put a chicken out of its misery at doggie day care.

And speaking of dogs, nine puppies for sale at a crossroads farm – parentage impeccable, Red Aussie/Red Heeler/ English Shepherd/ Border Collie.

Like fur-covered jelly beans, all of six weeks old. Callie the home-schooled farm girl (not sure what grade I’m in — ninth, I think?) shares a picture of the father. Pretty formidable presence, I’d say.

Will we adopt one of his progeny? I am currently petitioning my dog-loving husband, who cherishes his freedom now that all our prior dogs have crossed the rainbow bridge, as some people like to put it. Probably originated with some of the same people that put up the JESUS IS LORD barn message.

Perhaps the blue jays will bring me luck.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman

What is luck?

You make your own, yada yada.

Had a friend who always said we were so lucky. Why? Dunno, just are. It’s our luck to find a dino and a rocking horse hanging out together while we’re first embarking on our trip cross country. 

Maud says, Luck is being afforded an opportunity not of your own making. Also, health and the health of my family. She thinks: Options.   

I’m a bit less lofty. Are you surprised?

Clouds over Pennsylvania. Amazing.

Luck is dipping the most delicious grilled shrimp in the world into the most delicious garlic sauce out of carry-out styrofoam in front of a tv screen choked with monkey pox, soldiers castrated in Ukraine and the kind of massive flood in Kentucky that has people perched on top of rooftops, their life possessions soaked, ruined. It’s not schadenfreude, just being conscious that we are spared – at least for the moment – all the terrible things in the world.

We have so much to be thankful for. It is almost shameful. 

Simplicity: dogs in the back seat, mostly snoozing. Good girl, Ottie.

The end of the day brings us to Mosquito Lake, and specifically the dog park there, outside Youngstown. Get out of the car. Heavenly cool air.

Remembering when Ohio was a marvelous, dangerous, always-startling frontier. Fanny Trollope settled in Cincinnati, determined to capture America in her travelogue—and make her fortune as a writer, which she did. A whip-smart, dowdy, indomitable Briton, she came to 1829 America and her observations caused a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic.

She was broke when she arrived and had never before written a word. No dog parks then, only corduroy roads, tent revivals and the “incessant, remorseless tobacco spitting of American men.”

If you have never read her epic Domestic Manners of the Americans, I will be happy to loan you my copy. 

The dog park at Mosquito Lake rocks. 

Tyson, a lucky German shepherd/husky mix with electric blue eyes, goes algae dunking. 

Beneath the lucky, soaring red oaks, many with multiple stems. 

Mainly today, luck comes in the form of love in the clouds.

Nothing to do but drive, eat, listen to Joni, Both Sides Now, on repeat.

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon, as Henry James famously remarked, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language. James liked to drive, or anyway be driven, by his buddy Edith Wharton in her model T on summer afternoons in the English countryside.

A life of luck.

We are privileged. Life on the road, on a vacation, reminds me of this every day. Life, love and luck. 

1 Comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman

A nice trail at a nice time

if you happen to be a dog. Not.

Or the owner of a dog. Nope.

Or people temporarily in possession of granddogs. Yes. Their actual, official humans are in Italy for the week, so Gus and Ottie are making do with us.

Magic hour. Rowley’s Bridge.

Nice trail if you happen to like white mulberries.

Swamp white oaks.

A sugar maple mysteriously tagged long ago.

We buried a dog here once. Grave undisturbed, good to see.

A stand of mature osage orange trees, probably celebrating their millionth birthday. No production yet this year, of course.

Maclura pomifera is not actually an orange at all, though its oversize pimply fruits do resemble citrus. It is linked more closely to the mulberry. Native Americans preferred its wood for war clubs and bows, so much so that they would travel many miles to harvest the trees.

A nice place to pick raspberries, now still holding tightly to their promise.

The Hudson, majestic. A word coined specifically to describe the Hudson.

Tracks looking very Stand By Me.

I’m pretty sure we once parked here to speak of things that matter.

A nice place for a Golden mud bath in a filthy stream.

Just a start if you are a German short hair. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, according to  Seneca. Apt words for dog ball chasing.

Back at home for more wind sprints under the sycamore maple. Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure. Another quote applicable to ball chasing from another sage, Mr. Stephen King.

Why not stop and smell the tiger lily blooming out of a patch of fennel?

It’s a granddog’s life. Food, water, a ball chase at magic hour. Soak up all the mud while you can.

2 Comments

Filed under Jean Zimmerman

Life being somewhat complicated and challenging

at times, it is awfully good to focus on the basics: coffee, tacos, and dogs. Fortunately there is an abundance of all three in Austin, Texas, where I happen to be sojourning for several days. I knew good things were in store when I spotted the taco food truck actually inside the airport terminal. It was 11pm and the place was hopping. The millennials seemed all to be heading back from Las Vegas.

Nothing too weird yet, but I feel something could be about to spring up.

Until then, got a jump on the caffeine thing with a cosmic coffee, a spring specialty at Maud’s favorite joint that pairs cold brew with Mexican vanilla, orange honey and oat milk. Pretty decent. Next time might go for the root beer latte.

Texas mountain laurels have just come into bloom and it seems every little old fashioned bungalow has one out front.

The western redbuds are popping too.

2177

Now a latte and a stop at the Korean nail salon. The man getting a gel manicure next to me wants it to be known that he is getting a special design on each of his pinkies: a peace sign rendered in yellow and blue.

Not quite a Rothko, but very much in keeping with the spirit of the times.

Canines run free in the dog park except when they pause awaiting the flight of a ragged tennis ball.

I wish our lives had the simplicity of Fetch under the live oaks. Everyone here wears flip flops, so I got a pair. Ahhh, instantaneous simplicity.

Are you hungry yet? You’re in luck.

Criispy pork belly tacos with fried parsley and mandarin orange pico.

Extra fat included at no charge. Fingers are for licking.

Two of my favorites come intermixed in a dirty horchata–horchata and coffee, silly. You knew that.

Home again, home again. Baths and naps all around. The simple life.

No freak show.

Perhaps that will come later. It is Austin, after all. I feel we’re just gearing up.

1 Comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman

The numbers are in, and the black bear lost.

Across New York State, where I live, hunters took 1,346 black bears during 2021.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos declared, “Although they aren’t always successful, thousands of dedicated hunters venturing afield each year help keep populations [of black bears] at desired levels, maintaining healthy bear populations in the state.” Both bows and muzzleloaders came into play. The heaviest beast weighed more than 600 pounds.

The black bear has always been held sacred by the Cherokee, and a project in North Carolina displayed sculptures decorated with the symbolism of different clans: Bird, Blue, Deer, Wolf, and so on.

I’ve never been big on buffalo burgers or gravitated to goat stew, feeling something of a kinship with both animals. And I’ve never had horse, or at least knowingly. But I somehow feel even worse about the idea of shooting a bear, although the purpose of the hunt might be for meat as well as trophy. And, hunting advocates tell me, the bears are invading the suburbs! They are dangerous! They must be stopped!

Seventy-five percent of Americans think hunting wild game is a good thing. Between 40,000 to 50,000 bears are legally hunted in the U.S. each year; an unknown number are also illegally poached.

Not every hunter is what’s known as “slob hunter,” someone who hunts legally, but behaves unethically. A slob hunter will take bad shots, leave trash in the woods, damage habitat, vandalize signs, or show disrespect toward natural resources, landowners, other hunters and people in general. 

The vast majority of hunters in America (95%) eat the game animals they kill. So it’s all okay, isn’t it?

Let’s consider some other animals that are routinely killed for their meat.

Dog eating is still common in China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the region of Nagaland in India. An estimated 30 million dogs across Asia, including stolen family pets, are killed for human consumption every year.

In Taiwan, many people think that eating black dogs in will help you stay warm. Taiwan is the first Asian country to crack down dogs as food. The country’s Animal Protection Act fines anyone caught selling, eating or buying the animals for consumption, with a fine of up to £6,500. Those found guilty of animal cruelty could also receive a fine of £52,000 and two years in prison.

Each year in June, the city of Yulin in southern China hosts a dog meat festival, where live dogs and cats are sold specifically for eating and an estimated 10,000 are slaughtered for their meat. You can look up pictures if you like; I can’t bear to run them here.

South Koreans eat more than one million dogs per year. They consume much of it during boknal, the hottest days of the year, in July and August. Some believe it revives energy or virility sapped by the heat. They consider dog meat in bosintang stew or the drink gaesoju as “a soup form of Gatorade,” according to American food writer Joe McPherson in a 2015 UPI interview.

The most common dog breed raised for food is called nureongi — Korean for “yellow dog.” They have short, yellow fur, and are seldom adopted as pets. In other words, they are considered generic, and so expendable.

Humane Society International has been liberating canines from the farms that raise them and adopting them out to U.S. families.

Cats are also considered medicinal in Asia. In Korea, cat meat was historically brewed into a tonic as a folk remedy for neuralgia and arthritis. Modern consumption has mainly been in the form of cat soup, consumed most often by middle-aged working class women for perceived health benefits. It takes ten cats to produce a small bottle of goyangi, an alcoholic elixir.

With the increase of cats as pets in China, opposition towards the traditional use of cats for food has grown. In June 2006, approximately 40 activists stormed the Fangji Cat Meatball Restaurant, forcing it to shut down.

What about bears? Are they good eating?

In Europe of the late medieval period, the consumption of bear meat was an aristocratic privilege. In Tyrol and Piedmont, villages had to fetch up a set number of bear paws to the local lord every year.

Elsewhere in the world, Kodiak Natives hunted bears for food, clothing and tools, and left bear heads in the field as a sign of respect to the ursuline spirit. 

Closer to home – in North America. Native tribes, frontiersmen and settlers ate bear meat for hundreds of years. 

The black bear has become one of the most widespread big game animals in North America, and hunting them is legal in 27 states, last I counted.

A blip occurred in the American support for bear hunting, which slackened when Teddy Roosevelt went on a hunt and refused to shoot a bear tied to a willow tree. A toy company famously marketed a stuffed bear to commemorate the incident. You know the rest.

Hunters have come to recognize Arizona as one of the nation’s greatest spots for black bear hunting. A staple of all Arizona bear diets is the prickly pear cactus, and bears can predictably stay close to a patch. Kind of like a salt lick with thorns.

New Jersey’s hunting guide offers an online bear cookbook that features “Grilled Bear Loin with Brown Sugar Baste” and “BBQ Bear Roast.” 

“Good bear meat can go toe-to-toe with any other wild game meat when prepared properly,” proffers hunter Connor Gabbott on a web site. “The best bear meat I have ever eaten was from an inland, spring-time sow that was estimated to be over twenty years old. Bear meat is slightly darker in color than beef and the grain of the meat is coarser and a touch looser. All the bear meat I have tried has been very mild and somewhat sweet. There is a distinct (not off-putting) smell to the meat, the same way raw lamb meat has a unique smell. To ensure the best table fare, it is highly recommended to remove all the fat from the meat prior to freezing. If left on, some potentially off-putting flavors from the fat can migrate into the meat while frozen.”

I feel sure that many people would get their hackles up were one to suggest we stop killing and consuming bears. Not having ever experienced the thrill of the hunt, I know I wouldn’t feel deprived of the hobby were it to be curtailed.

Sometimes considering one example helps us to focus on another.

The meat of the hyena is now a delicacy across Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Somalia, where people have developed a keen appetite for the wild animal’s meat – as long as they can afford it, as it comes at a cost. Pakistanis and Iranians also cook up hyena meat, which has been deemed halal. Don’t know about you, but the hyena is one of my favorite animals, with its keening vocals, sharp aroma and gender-fluid sex characteristics. I hate to think of them being et.

I feel the same way about the bear.

1 Comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman

The grand dame

that is the Grand Concourse in the Bronx has certainly seen better days.

But there is still an awful lot of life there. Crews are installing new sidewalks and new medians separating the wide boulevards (2 lanes and a service road in each direction). They need a tree inspector to make sure no harm comes to the gingkos and zelkovas lining the avenue.

You’ve got wonder about people in the city, the way they love to lean things up against trees. Why? They can be told again and again not to and still you find a clutter of debris around the base of a tree. In this case it’s actually condoned. Huh?

But if you’re in the neighborhood, why not enjoy the local scenery?

I like hand lettered wall art.

Bronx residents love fruit, judging by the number of produce stands, including this one that has the owner peeling your orange for you.

There is still some of the past. The Grand Concourse was built in the late 1800s to rival the great boulevards of Europe, and it soon became a middle class haven, before the advent of white flight and the deterioration of the Bronx in general. Once in a while you meet someone who tells you their old Jewish granny used to live on the Concourse.

Glimmers of the past exist.

And most amazing, a  hulking, barely visible grand building.

Behind the scaffolding stand, the Paradise Theater, built in 1929 and used for various types of entertainment since, even since it fell on terrible times – supposedly a church holds forth there now, though that’s hard to believe.

The ticket book evokes times gone by, as does the ceiling above it.

But really, the Concourse is contemporary.

Concerned with the important things.

Fresh.

And the home of thousands of grand pit bulls. This one snarls, then comes in for a pet.

I’m not sure about his manners, but he’s a handsome devil.

I wonder if pit bulls were the breed of choice at the turn of the century? Helen Keller had a pit bull named Sir Thomas. She was born in that era, so maybe the Grand Concourse was teeming with them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jean Zimmerman