Sunday, September 30, 2007

Name that fish

Larry at Brownstone Birder always has the most challenging ID tests - whether it be song lyrics or bird/insect/wildflower ID, he usually manages to stump me (most often with his song lyrics - which Lynne is really good at, BTW). So, knowing one of his hobbies is fishing, I thought he might be able to ID the two fish decoys we bought this weekend. I, of course, know what they are (thanks to the little tags that came attached) but, do you?
These are miniatures and are reasonably priced for collecting. Technically, I think this is a lure, rather than a decoy, because of the dangly hooks and shiny bits. Is that right, Larry? Last year we bought a decoy, used for spearing, and there's a pic and some interesting info in the comments on this post, if you're interested. We bought these from the same carver as last year; he seems to win lots of ribbons for his work.
There was an article in our local paper today about the decoy show and reading it, I had to stop to wonder if the author was at the same show as my husband and I. It was made to sound like little more than a gathering of gun-toting rednecks! Sure, the taxidermists were there, but it seems to me the reporter totally missed the point. Maybe I turn my head too easily away from the hunting aspect of the show, but that is part of the heritage of the bay region. For all that I might find distasteful about it, I can think of plenty of less wholesome activities people can get wrapped up with.

Anyway, back to the fish - aren't they nice?


Saturday, September 29, 2007


Ducks in every size, shape and color were on display today at the decoy show; we even spotted a few disguised as pirates! We were somehow lured by this innocent-looking flotilla into buying raffle tickets to benefit the Tuckerton Seaport Museum; with luck the duckie with our name inside will be first across the finish line tomorrow in the race at Tuckerton Creek.

We had a wonderful day and are tired in that good way that comes with exercise and plenty of fresh air. Our wallets were properly exercised as well (I'll have some treasures to share later) and Luka (unofficially voted as the cutest Lab pup at the show) met at least a hundred other dogs and was petted and fussed over by loads of people. Have I mentioned lately how much this dog loves meeting people and other dogs?

The show runs through tomorrow - I'm even thinking of going back for a few hours - I still have some money left!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Peeper's top ten reasons bunnies rule

Certain astute blog readers have noticed the lack of bunny-related posts here lately. Peeper the Bunny is also acutely aware of the extent to which this household has gone, quite literally, to the dogs.

More specifically, little Luka has taken over near every moment of leisure that used to be devoted to the spoiling of bunnies. Of course they're being fed and petted and cleaned up after, but play and snuggle sessions have been relegated to the dark of night when the pup is sound asleep and I'm forced to tiptoe out to the bunny room in fear of waking the sleeping beast and undoing the night's work of settling him in for bed. I'm not singing Luka lullabies yet, exactly, but bedtime seems to have become more difficult the last few weeks.

The bunnies, in the meantime, are content in that way that only bunnies can be. It's in those moments of peace, when the house is dark and finally quiet (read free of barks and whines) that I am most content also, and glad for the gent
le affection of my long-eared companions.

Peeper's list just states the obvious: bunnies and puppies are very different animals. I have to thank my lucky stars for Buddy's constant gentleness with the bunnies, but he was a mature dog of six years when I brought my first bunny home. I imagine that the bunnies must not even recognize this growing and yapping streak of black fur as the same type of being as the generally quiet and always obedient dog that Buddy was.

Peeper's Top 10 Reasons Bunnies Rule:

10. Bunnies are civilized and use pooty boxes; they do not require near quarter-hourly *walks* nor must their *business* be picked up in blue plastic baggies.
9. Bunnies don't do *tricks* for treats, nor are they expected to be *obedient*. They simply get treats for being cute.
8. Bunnies have good taste. They like fresh lettuce and crisp fruits and vegetables and they have naturally fresh breath. Lord knows what Luka's had in his mouth!
7. Bunnies are self-cleaning and don't require the indignity of an unnatural *bath* with the garden hose. Bunnies do not roll in unmentionable things.
6. Bunnies save *humping* for members of their own species. Puppies are not nearly so selective in their *affections*.
5. Bunnies know how to be subtle. Puppies do not. Enough said!
4. Bunnies do not wear their hearts on their sleeves and do not give their hearts to just anyone who comes along offering a cookie.
3. Bunnies dance gracefully when they're happy, puppies tend to fall all over themselves with joy and are anything but graceful.
2. Bunnies chew up useful things like telephone cords and computer wires. Puppies chew indiscriminately with no proper sense of revenge.
1. Bunnies are quiet. They live and love in near silence. If you're close enough and they trust you, you might hear them grind their teeth when petted or hear a gentle whuffle, or maybe an angry grunt or a thump of their strong feet, but mostly they do nothing to draw attention to themselves. Puppies, on the other hand, are all about getting attention.

What have I left out? I know there are some readers who have both bunnies and dogs... what are some of the biggest differences you notice?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Golden anniversary

Today we went to a 50th Anniversary party for my aunt and uncle. Don't they look too young to have been married for 50 years?

I can remember going to the 50th Anniversary party for my grandparents when I was a little kid - they were really old-looking at that point, but I guess my aunt and uncle were married young or have just aged really well. We had a nice time today - mostly I just watched their slew of grandkids dancing the afternoon away. Speaking of dancing - my aunt and uncle are real dancers - fun to w
atch. No one dances that way anymore.

We spent the afternoon catching up with the cousins and feeding our faces. It was an excuse to get dressed up, which I hardly ever do, and my feet are very unhappy tonight as a result. This weekend passed in a flash and I'm not looking forward to work in the morning. There's laundry to do and a very rambuctious puppy that needs some exercise - please send vibes for a good night's sleep!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Gliding like a tiny shadow before the tide, little more than a bit of wind-shifted sand, I search the place where sand and water become sky. The waves quickly erase my tracks and leave the beach empty of any memory of my passage. Days pass this way, the ebb and flow of life and memory, of abundance and heartache. With a note from high overhead I depart toward the southern stars in search of some other land and leave this piece of shoreline in the solitude of a late summer evening.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Were my desktop PC working, I'd have edited this pic in PhotoShop to crop out Luka's *girdle* and focus your attention instead on his sweet face. Yet, maybe showing you the whole scene helps to account for the goofy look on his face, I don't know. I'm not sure why I didn't think to take off his *no-pull harness* before we started swimming lessons, but once it did occur to me we were both already good and wet. Cedar Creek in the Pine Barrens proved to be a great place to practice, with a gentle current, water that's shallow and clean, but cold!

gir·dle noun, verb, -dled, -dling.
–noun 1. a lightweight undergarment, worn esp. by women, often partly or entirely of elastic or boned, for supporting and giving a slimmer appearance to the abdomen, hips, and buttocks.
2. a belt, cord, sash, or the like, worn about the waist.
3. anything that encircles, confines, or limits.
4. Jewelry. the edge or narrow band between the upper and lower facets of a gem.
5. Anatomy. the bony framework that unites the upper or lower extremities to the axial skeleton.
6. Architecture. an ornamental band, esp. one surrounding the shaft of a column.
7. a ring made about a tree trunk, branch, etc., by removing a band of bark.

–verb (used with object)
8. to encircle with a belt; gird.
9. to encompass; enclose; encircle.
10. to move around (something or someone) in a circle.
11. to cut away the bark and cambium in a ring around (a tree, branch, etc.).
12. Jewelry. round


Calling the harness a *girdle* is something of an inside joke with my husband and I, as well as a sweet reminder of our Buddy who passed away this summer. I used to make him wear a sheepskin-covered seatbelt harness when we rode together in the car, and we always referred to it as a *girdle*. Buddy mostly hated it, but it helped to calm him in the car while doing nothing for his figure!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rambling and grazing

I'm counting on someone out there recognizing this flower; it's blooming in all the weedy places right now and I haven't been able to come up with a name. I spotted this patch on a weekend walk with Luka through an overgrown pasture full of goldenrod, milkweed and thistles.

We had actually been walking on a dirt road around the pasture, but took a detour through the middle of it when I heard insistent osprey calls from the treeline in the distance. I wonder if it wasn't a youngster recently left to fend for itself. Of course, it flew from the perch as we approached, but along the way we came across these flowers and many scattered piles of deer poop which Luka found just delicious! I swear that pup has to put everything in his mouth - thank heavens we haven't wandered across any dead animals yet!

I don't have the enthusiasm for identifying wildflowers that I had in the Spring and wonder why that is. I find myself noticing berries, mostly, and trying to guess which animals they're meant to feed. It took me a while to realize that the ground-level clusters of red berries I'd been seeing were the fruits of Jack in the Pulpit - who eats them, I wonder? The viburnums have set fruit that will persist for months, yet the red dogwood berries are long gone by mid-September. The starlings see to that over the protests of the local mockingbirds. Fallen apples litter the ground, tempting deer and puppy the same, as Fall ambles our way.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Decoy show reminder

I'm posting this as much as a reminder for myself as for anyone else who might be in the area and interested in attending. I remember last year that Patrick had expressed an interest, so Patrick, mark your calendar now!

I had myself convinced that the show was next weekend... sigh. I'm just foolish enough to show up on the wrong weekend!

We'll be bringing the pup along and I may just decide to enter him in the puppy retriever contest for fun. I've been saving up my pennies for a while now to be able to buy a new decoy or two.

Hope to see you there! I may even have a prize to offer the first person who can correctly ID the ducks and the NJ landmark featured on this year's official show poster.

Click on the pic for a schedule of the weekend's events.

Some pics from last year's show are here, here, and here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Yet another Pine Barrens mystery

Found beside a quiet swimming hole along Cedar Creek in the NJ Pinelands this morning. The Piney version of a seaside sandcastle or something else? Anyone care to speculate?

(Click for detailed view of the moat and the goldenrod-decorated towers.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Puppy kindergarten

This little sweetie is Ciao Bella. Luka seems to think she is his personal squeaky toy. We've been going to puppy class on Tuesday nights for the last month or so and haven't been made to sit in the corner with the dunce cap, yet!
This is Sam, our trainer. All the puppies seem to love him - I think that's because he always has a treat in his pocket for the well-behaved pup. He's tough to please, but his experience as a canine police officer comes in handy with the unruly pups. That's Ciao Bella at his feet.
This is Whiskey - he's the same age as Luka and is so well-behaved. He's Luka's favorite playmate.
Luka and Whiskey became fast friends - they wrestle and chase one another. I think Ciao Bella is that little brownish blob under Luka's feet - oops! Whiskey is the only pup in the class that's similar in size to Luka and big enough to push him around. I love to watch them play together.
I don't know what type of dog Skippy is, but that's her hiding under the chair while Luka torments her. She's funny - shy with the other dogs during playtime, but she loves to distract them (especially Luka) during the *lesson* with barks and a flirty ear shake. She and Luka regularly compete for who can bark the loudest while poor Sam tries to teach. She comes to class with her mom and at least 5 little kids - none of whom even try to keep her out of trouble. Tonight she went for a swim in the huge water bowl!
The little black pug whose name I can't remember - she's a sweetie too. Luka likes to chew on the side of her face.

So far we've learned Sit, Take It, Leave It, Down, and just tonight - Come! Whiskey seems to be the star student in the group. Luka is just a goofball, true to his nature, but we're having fun.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Season's end

Empty osprey platform at Horseshoe Cove, Sandy Hook

I've been so out of it this summer that I missed spending any time with the local ospreys and before too long they'll be gone south for the season until late March.

There's a pair that nests on a cell phone tower here in town and mostly I watch them while stopped at the railroad tracks that pass beneath their nest. I don't see much besides an osprey-shaped shadow perched high up, but I'm glad to have them so easily within view. I tried a few times to photograph them from the parking lot nearby, but they always seemed to be off fishing when I was there with the camera. I see the pair though, and their young from my yard once in a while. Their calls stream down from above and I think myself blessed to have osprey as a yard bird.

My favorite nests to watch are the platforms on the marshes at Sandy Hook - especially at sunset. It wouldn't take much to convince me to set up a home with such a pretty view! I don't know that this or the other platform at Horseshoe Cove were used this year - the birds seem to have some mysterious preference for Spermacetti Cove or the chimneys on
Officer's Row instead.

I always miss the osprey when they go. What birds do you miss the most when the season changes?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thistle time

"What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you dreamed, and what if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you had the flower in your hand?

Ah, what then?"

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Salty dog

What is it about being in a very public place that makes a puppy sooo prone to misbehave?


Maybe it was all that seaweed he ate, but Luka was an absolute devil at the beach this afternoon! He had a grand time digging in the sand and darting off with clamshells in his mouth. He was so wild at one point I almost walked off and left him. You know how puppies get in that frantic mode where their ears stop working and they're nothing but barks and snapping jaws - any bit of discipline just makes them worse.

I think maybe he was just cranky - his dinner was overdue and he'd missed his afternoon nap. He was snoring in the car on the drive home. He had a bath in the tub and then his dinner and now he's sound asleep like a little angel curled up on his bed.

I'm not far behind.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sea legs

The DH and I had a wonderful surprise today. A friend of his just bought a boat and took us along on a ride. Is there anything better than a friend with a boat?

We had the pup along for what we thought was just a walk at the riverside park; before we knew it, we were cruising up the river to where it meets Sandy Hook Bay. We had a nice lunch dockside at a restaurant on the bay - and Luka even behaved himself pretty well! I only wish I'd had my camera along to be able to share a pic of him with his big ears flapping in the wind on the boat.

It was a great start to the long Labor Day weekend. The views were lovely and we had fun! I grabbed this pic off the internet, but it shows one of the views we had along the way - Twin Lights - which I wrote a bit about in
this post.

I'm going to try very hard to get back to something like a regular blogging schedule soon. I'm finished with that god-awful training at work finally, and hope to be able to pay more attention to things now. I did very well on the tests and have a new position where I'll need to forget everything I've just been trained in and learn something new. But there won't be a gazillion tests this time! Two in our group of seven did not pass and are out of a job now. That really sucks. I felt so badly on Friday when we got the news.

So how is everyone else spending this last weekend of summer? Share, please!