Tuesday, July 31, 2007

HI-POD: Part 2 (August 1 - 7, 2006)

Harringtons' Ireland Pictures of the Day, Part 2

[This is part 2 of a one-year-later photo remembrance of our trip to Ireland last summer. The August 8th update will initiate Part 3.]

By the time the calendar flipped from July to August, we were pretty well recovered from the stresses of traveling across many time zones and the other typical discomforts of long-distance travel. We were fit and ready to explore the island.

Here begins the really hard part of my self-imposed soft limit of two photos per day in this blog -- and I'm going to violate it by a factor of two in the very first day's part:


August 1
Clonmacnoise and Shannon Harbour

The ruin of St. Kieran's chapel (also spelled Ciaran) in the ancient city and monastery of Clonmacnoise. A boat dances along the Shannon in the background, framed by 1500-year-old ruin walls.

Our first significant outing was on Monday, August 1st. We traveled north from Birr, intending to visit the ancient site of the city and monastery of Clonmacnoise on the south bank of the Shannon just a few miles from our Bothy cottage. Along the way, both to and back, we pulled the car off main roads to less-main ones and happened on Castle Clonony and Shannon Harbour.

Castle Clonony near Ireland's Grand Canal

Castle Clonony is a typical tower house. It is currently owned by a naturalized Irish citizen, originally from Phoenix, who is in the process of restoring it with the intent of making it an elegant B&B or, perhaps, an attraction akin to the Dungaire Castle farther north. However, she has also described Ireland itself as a "giant, floating valium," in part because of the occasionally slow nature of Ireland's bureaucracy, so rapid action is probably not to be expected.

[UPDATE, June 8, 2008: Clonony Castle is now open to the public. For more information (and pictures of some of the interior renovation), please visit the official Clonony Castle website.]

Bridge across the Grand Canal at Shannon Harbour, at the end of a side road from Castle Clonony

Back "home": August 1st's sunset at the lake by the Bothy in the Birr Castle Demesne.


August 2

We set out on the morning of August 2nd for our first lengthy foray: a two-night stay in Clifden beyond Galway. We would spend the day on the 3rd on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, using a nice little Clifden hotel as our base for that exploration. We arrived in Clifden on a clear, sunny afternoon, just perfect for wandering the town and, later, exploring some of the beautiful boglands to its south.

Tourists enjoy the summer sun in Clifden.

Looking across bogland toward the Twelve Bens (or Twelve Pins) Mountains of Connemara. If you click on this picture for a larger view, you can see a sheep near the right-hand side who appears to be enjoying the sight, too.

While wandering the bog in the evening, we saw a few folks cutting turf to stack and dry until needed later in the year. We also met this fellow...

... who you can read more about in this little 12-slide show. (I'm the one not carrying the sign.)


August 3
The Aran Islands

Looking northward from Inishmore toward Connemara and the Twelve Bens mountains.

We drove back toward Galway from Clifden in the morning, scooting southward about halfway there to the town of Rossaveel on Galway Bay. From there, we rode a tourist-laden ferry to Kilronan, the largest village on Inishmore, in turn the largest of the three Aran Islands.

In a comment on this installment of the HI-POD series, Mike Peterson rightly touts the 1932 film Man of Aran for anyone interested in these three godforsaken rocks and the people who inhabit them. One of the first things Diane did on our return to the U.S. was to order the movie on DVD from Amazon. While watching it, I was struck by three things:

1) How hard it seems to have been for people to integrate a new technology -- sound accompanying pictures, in this case -- with pre-existing ones. Smarter people than I have made fortunes keeping ahead of that ever-present curve, but not necessarily the same people who solved the puzzle. Man's soundtrack was added after the film was essentially done, pretty much as an afterthought, and it shows.

2) The Aran Islands are within sight of far more clement and abundant ground: Connemara to the north, the Burren to the south, and Galway City itself to the east. Fishing, from any of those three places, in the same locales as the Aran Islands fishermen prowled, would have been just as easy as from the desolate Aran Islands themselves. Moreover, the "mainland" areas were severely underpopulated due to the 1840's English Neglect Famine, so there was plenty of room for anyone who wanted to live there. So my astonishment while viewing Man of Aran was simply this: why not just leave? Home is home, I suppose, but, man -- what a place to hang on to, one where soil itself has to be manufactured from rocks, lime, and seaweed.

3) The early 1900's was a time of epochal upheaval throughout all of Ireland... but none of it is evident or illuminated by Man of Aran. And that's a shame.

(Man of Aran can be ordered from Amazon on DVD.)

Bernard (human) and Jessie (equine), our hosts and transportation on this day on Inishmore.

Click here for a 27-slide show of our day on Inishmore with Bernard and Jessie.


August 4
Back to Birr

Exhausted and happy and slightly sunburned after our outing on Inishmore, we slept well on the night of Thursday the 3rd. The following day brought low clouds, fog, and fairly persistent rain, which accompanied us most of the way on our three-hour leisurely drive back to Birr. We would return to Clifden in a fortnight for the Connemara Pony Show.

Connemara detail in the misty rain.

On this trip, both up to Clifden and back to Birr, we drove right past the Galway Races at the time of their big summer weeklong meet, the Summer Festival Meeting. Horseracing is huge in Ireland (and, possible apocrypha has it, has been since the Spanish Armada had its unfortunate circumnavigation of the island in 1588), so this is no small deal. As far as crowds and traffic is concerned, it's probably a little like having a Super Bowl at the same site for seven consecutive days. We weren't prepared for the delay on our way to Clifden two days before, but we certainly were on this day.

The Glenlo Abbey Hotel on August 4th, 2006.

We stopped by the very posh Glenlo Abbey Hotel just north of Galway city for a nosh and short rest, charging our geist-batteries for the crawl past the racetrack. While there, we saw very clear evidence of the clientele that the Glenlo attracts. The taxis these folks take to the races operate in three dimensions. Yes, that's a 350-euro round-trip fare between the hotel and the racetrack -- which was about $440 at the exchange rate of the time.

We decided against taking a ride (which we hadn't seriously considered, anyway -- we had a cat waiting for us back home at the Bothy.)

Miss Kitty on our return from our first trip to Clifden.


August 5
Starting the "Red Tree Trail" Photo Project

This day was taken up with housekeeping in the Bothy, some shopping in town, and wandering the Demesne.

Tree #2 on the Birr Castle Demesne's "Red Tree Trail": a Quercus cerris (Turkey oak) against the background of the giant telescope's support structure.

The last three Earls of Rosse have been botanists, and the Demesne is a big plant zoo. The current Lord Rosse, Brendan Parsons, is a dendrologist as was his father, and the breadth of varieties of trees that populate the Demesne's grounds and forests is remarkable. Fifty of the trees are marked with red badges denoting them as being part of the Demesne's "Red Tree Trail": 50 of the most noteworthy trees among the more than 4,000 named ones on the estate.

While the Demesne's science museum shop sells a very nice narrative booklet to accompany one on the trip around the trail, it doesn't have any pictures. I thought that a good thing for me to do would be to take photos of the 50 trees and set up a website for them once I returned home, and I started that project on this day.

An ancient, magnificent Quercus robur (common oak), more than 400 years old, is called the "Carroll Oak" by Lord Rosse because, as he says dryly, it was certainly growing there when the "prior owners" of the area, the Ely O'Carroll Clan, still held sway in the Midlands.

I finished the picture-taking for the Red Tree Trail near the end of our stay in the Bothy, and it was a delightful way to make sure that there wasn't a corner of the Demesne that we missed. We wound up taking at least four pictures of each tree: one showing the whole tree, a closer one showing the branching structures, and closeups of bark (including the red name tag) and leaves.

Right: the characteristic bark of a very different kind of oak: Quercus suber (cork oak).

The finished product can be seen by clicking here. It contains an "easter egg" -- click on tree number 27 (sequoia sempervirens) and scroll all the way down to the redwood's last picture.

Lady Rosse characterized the website as "lovely and useful" in a recent e-mail. What tickles me is the "useful" part -- and, since the site has been indexed by Google and other search engines, it has been demonstrably useful to people around the world looking for pictures of the kinds of trees it contains. During June and July, if Google Analytics is to be believed, the site was visited from 414 different ip addresses ("visitors") from 38 different countries (the top ten being the US, the UK, Canada, Hungary, Germany, Australia, France, Ireland, Poland, and New Zealand.) I just think that's really cool!

One of the most-googled trees on the list is this Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' (blue Atlas cedar), seen here against the background of the Parsons' home, Birr Castle.


We spent Sunday, August 6th, mostly relaxing and preparing for our upcoming three-day sortie to the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, and rural County Clare. I managed to slice away several hours, though, for my first trip through what initially drew me to the Birr Castle Demesne years ago when planning this trip: its displays of the remarkable contributions of the Parsons family to science and technology over the centuries.

The reconstructed "Leviathan of Parsonstown." The original was the world's largest telescope in the world for three-quarters of a century, and the genius behind it has been a subject of this blog before.

The second of the Astronomer Earls of Rosse was the Fourth Earl. The Science Centre museum preserves his remarkable little infrared telescope which was used for the first IR measurement
of the Moon's temperature in the late 1800's.

Right: the Fourth Earl's lunar thermometer.

Our usual evening stroll around the Demesne included a peaceful interlude in the fernery, and by the time dark arrived 'round ten (Ireland is very far north by American standards, and so evening twilight in summer lasts a long, long time), we were ready for sleep but eager for our next expedition.

Waterfall in the fernery.


August 7
The Waterford Glass Factory

Monday the seventh was a day splashed with abundant sunlight and bright blue sky. It was also a bank holiday, as is the first Monday of each month in Ireland. We took a day trip down to the southern coast city of Waterford, to visit the famous glassworks there, the home of Waterford Crystal.

An artisan struts his stuff on a bank holiday.

While it was a day off for most of the Irish workforce, there was a skeleton crew of artisans on hand for the popular factory tours. We had a delightful time, and the good folks in the showroom at the end of the tour where happy to help lighten our wallets of those burdensome euros (which are about 25% heftier than US dollars, at least as far as purchasing power is concerned.) We bought several gifts to send back to America -- and to ourselves.

On the tour.

Our Waterford crystal vase, at work back in Fort
Harrington on August 5th, 2007.

One of the truly great things about living in the middle of Ireland is that just about everything is an easy day-trip away. We returned to Birr and the castle grounds in mid-afternoon, the day still bright, and had hours to wander the grounds and gardens and forests.

Brendan and Alison Parsons' house, August 7, 2006.

Click here to be taken to a 19-slide show of our Waterford excursion day.


Next: The Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, and other County Clare Scenes in HI-POD part 3.
And I really mean it this time.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

HI-POD: Part 1 (July 26 - July 31, 2006)

Harringtons' Ireland Pictures of the Day, Part 1

This marks the 1-year anniversary of the start of Diane's and my 2006 trip to Ireland.

Each day for the next month, I'll post two (or, at most, three) pictures from the corresponding day a year ago from our huge collection of images. I'll try to include one "scenery," long-range shot and one of more small-scale detail in each day's offerings, but that may not always (or even frequently) be possible.

Rather than have 30+ individual blog posts, I'll update this one (at the bottom) each day for a while and see how long it takes until it becomes unwieldy.


July 26 - 27
Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Our airline travel began with a short flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. A pleasant surprise at the outset of that flight was that we traveled over the Santa Cruz Mountains on a path that put our home in easy view out our window on the right side of the plane:

Looking down toward the southwest over the San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains.

Details from that view:

Left: the town of Boulder Creek. The long, straight street is Highway 9 through town.

Right: at the center of this detail, about 2 1/2 miles North of town and hidden by the trees' canopy, is Fort Harrington.

In LAX, we caught an Aer Lingus nonstop to Dublin.

Our home in the sky for ten hours from Los Angeles to Dublin.

Traveling through eight time zones in that direction meant that we arrived in Ireland about midday on the 27th, jetlagged, sleepless, and with a case of excited jitters. All we did on the 27th was to check in to our hotel at the airport and bathe, eat, and sleep, sleep, sleep, charging our batteries for the 28th -- so there are no pictures from the 27th.


July 28th: Near Dublin

This day was dedicated to getting used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road (and of the car) before we set out on our drive to our midlands home for the next month. We thought that the town of Howth (pronounced "Hohth," or, more usually with the Irish dialect's treatment of the thorn, "Hoht") looked like it would be a comfortable drive for starters.

It also turned out to be a gorgeous introduction to Ireland.

Lighthouse at Howth harbour near Dublin.

On the shore of the Irish Sea, looking toward Wales.

Click here to be taken to a 14-slide show with captions from July 26 - 28, 2006.


July 29th: to Birr

By Saturday, July 29th, we were ready to drive to our home for the next four weeks: a cottage called "The Bothy" on the grounds of the Birr Castle Demesne in the town of Birr (formerly Parsonstown) in County Offaly (formerly King's County), right smack dab in the middle of Ireland. The drive wasn't a long one by American standards, less than a hundred miles and under three hours.

Birr and its castle had caught my attention years and years ago for an astronomical reason: the 72-inch "Leviathan of Parsonstown" was the largest telescope in the world from 1843 until it fell into disuse and rot in the early 20th Century (see this entry in my blog for more information.)

In early 2001, while idly browsing the web, I found that the Castle had a couple of cottages that they rent out on a weekly basis. Ultimately, that led to our reserving this absolute gem of a place for four weeks in 2006:

The Bothy, Birr Castle Demesne

The Bothy (pronounced "BAH-thee"), a three-bedroom cottage, was built in the mid-1800's as staff accomodation. It is in an out-of-the-way corner of the Demesne's 135-acre grounds, private, quiet, and enchanting. It is in an interesting little interstitial space between two ten-foot-high stone walls, which were built around the Demesne in the famine years as a works relief project for the citizens of the town (not as real castle defenses.) Off-frame to the right in the above view is the Demesne's outer wall, directly beyond which is a street, and directly on the street's other side is the home of the fellow who drives Birr's ice cream vending truck during the summer. He'd come home at about seven o'clock most nights, and he'd play his truck's music in a burst as he arrived home. That was just one of the sounds we learned to expect and enjoy from the tranquil town just beyond our castle walls.

Off-frame to the left in the above view is the Demesne's inner wall...

... and a private green door to the formal gardens area. This is the Bothy's little west lawn, and the other side of the door to the gardens is pretty well hidden from view of the daily tourists. After 6pm, the Demesne closed its doors for day visitors, and the wonderland beyond that green secret door was ours virtually alone to enjoy until the late summer twilight ended well past nine.


July 30th: Birr Castle Demesne

The brick bridge over the Little Brosna, Birr Castle Demesne.

We spent the day of Sunday, July 30th, settling in to our new home for the next four weeks: unpacking, checking out the town's stores, and so on. We also spent a good deal of time checking out the magnificent parkland of the Demesne, especially after six when the outer gates closed and we were pretty much the only people wandering about the grounds. We came to view the old brick bridge as a symbol of the Demesne; it is ancient (by American standards, anyway), is near the centre of the Demesne, and it crosses a doubly-noteworthy boundary, the Little Brosna river just downstream from its juction with the Camcor within the Demesne. Where the bridge crosses the river, it is the boundary between the counties of Offaly and Tipperary ("counties" having roughly the same function in Ireland as states do in the US) and between the provinces of Leinster and Munster.

Miss Kitty

This day we were also introduced to our companion for the next month: Miss Kitty, the Bothy Cat. Many regular readers of this blog are already familiar with her, thanks to this very nice cite in ronniecat's blog, but newcomers might want to take a look at this slideshow, devoted to our great, unexpected Irish treasure.


July 31st: the Slieve Bloom Mountains

Monday the 31st was a dank and drizzly day, but we did take a few hours out of our settling-in and reconnoitering of the town of Birr to take a leisurely drive through the Slieve Bloom Mountains, just to Birr's southeast.

Looking northward from near the highest point of the Slieve Blooms. Stretching off into the misty distance are the rich farmlands of the valley of the River Shannon, the heart of the Irish midlands.

Like many other parts of the until-recently nearly denuded island, the Slieve Blooms have been intensely re-forested. To our eyes, though, the method of reforestation was not exactly pleasing to the eye: fast-growing pines planted in rigid ranks and files. Later we would find that our host in the Birr Castle Demesne, Lord Rosse, who has done reforestation consulting work in third world countries for the UN, shares not only our aesthetic assessment, but thinks the choice of wood and blatant disregard for erosion control issues are even worse blunders on the part of the government.

Diane walks a trail through the reforestation.

The rank-and-file pine forests reminded me strongly of the reforested areas of Upstate New York, where I grew up. In fact, the above picture of Diane could have been taken on a truck trail in the Whaupaunaucau State Forest across the Thompson Creek valley from my boyhood home. Except for the steering wheel being on the wrong side of the car, of course.

Click here to be taken to a 24-slide show, with captions, of images taken from July 29th through 31st.

I'll start a new post for the first week in August tomorrow.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

What a Man and Two Boys Really Makes [updated]

[Update, August 22, 2007: Brian improved the content of this post immeasurably today -- you'll see how in the last drawing!]

Brian Fies recently posted a fascinating blog entry about certain aspects of how to draw mammals in cartoon form. Included was this great example of how not to do things, a “table-leg" cow, which I hope Brian will forgive me for filching from him without permission:

When I first saw that, I was reminded of a story from my Dad’s youth that he used to tell frequently (you’ll see why I was reminded of it if you actually read this blog entry all the way to the end!) I forgot about that until yesterday, when I stumbled upon his typewritten account of the incident when sorting through some old papers in my office. I’ve reproduced it below (courtesy of OCR software from HP, which is entirely responsible for any misspellings or typos, and that’s the truth).

But first, some background:

Dad was born in 1915, the seventh of eight children of a machine-gang foreman (and trolley motorman) in Syracuse, New York. He was a teenager during the Depression, and, to help ends meet, he was sent off many summers to work for room and board at a farm owned by friends of the family, Wilbur and Leta Saltsman. The farm was near the hamlet of Stone Arabia in the Canajoharie region of the Mohawk Valley, Upstate New York.

Readying a field for winter, Saltsman Farm, Fall 1946.

Dad treasured his summertime experiences on the farm, and kept in close touch with Wilbur and Leta throughout the rest of their lives (and Wilbur lived to be 100.) Dad passed away in 1999 at 83, and left behind thousands of pages of carefully typewritten reminiscences of his life – and a large fraction of them are of Wilbur and Leta Saltsman’s farm in Stone Arabia. The one below is left unedited [except for an early addition to clarify the dates]. The pictures in this post are from Dad’s collection of photos – equally as dauntingly large as is his body of written work to anyone foolish enough to try to catalog them. (Which reminds me: throughout his life, Dad proudly acknowledged Leta Saltsman’s assessment that he was “the stupidest smart man I ever did see!,” because that meant she thought he actually was smart, no matter what the qualifiers. Late in life, he passed that title along to me. Thanks, Dad.)

The black-and-white photo is from an early album (the caption is written in white ink in Dad’s hand) and the color photos are from a visit to the farm in 1946 to show off his new bride, my mom-to-be. Please click on any image to see a bigger version.


- The Burial of the Cow -

A True and Virtually Unembellished Report

Of an Incident in the History of the Saltsman Farm Participated in, Attested to, and Related By

Lynn Harrington


The episode I have in mind took place nearly 60 years ago [now 76 years ago, in 1931 – SH]. I was 16 at the time, give or take a year, and Bob Ellwood was about a year older. The principal character in the incident was one among some 50 milk cows in Wilbur's herd. She was a big-bodied black-and-white Holstein, a good, productive milker and a valuable animal. It was summertime, and the cows were turned out to pasture after milking each morning and even­ing. Wilbur noticed that this cow's yield of milk was dropping off prematurely, and she seemed to be off her feed. So one evening he decided to keep her in the barn overnight, so he could check on her before bedtime. I went to the barn with him that night. We had left a forkful of nice green hay in front of her, but she hadn't touched it. She was lying down, just not doing anything, and Wilbur said he guessed he would have to call the vet to come take a look at her the next morning.

The Saltsman Farm central area, Fall, 1946. Note the cars (click on any image for a larger, better view.)

When morning came we found the cow wasn't going to need the vet. She had gone on to greener pastures. It was not an occasion for levity, but the thought now runs through my mind that after all those years of literally kicking the bucket, she had finally kicked it figuratively. In the process, she left us with a substantial problem of disposal. In those parts at the time if a farmer had a sick cow, what they called a knacker man would come and haul the poor critter away, to be butchered for dog food (or maybe hamburger). But they didn't want dead animals. There was no rendering plant within a long distance, and the carcasses were hard to handle. So it was up to us to dispose of that big old cow ourselves.

We hitched one of the horses to the stone boat, drew it up close to her, and the three of us, with a lot of grunting and straining, managed to get her loaded upon it. Then we let the horse drag the load out to a back corner of the day pasture, behind the barn. We had to get on with the milking, so Wilbur said we should dump her off the stone boat and leave her there. Bob and I were to bury her later. As it turned out, we didn't get to the job that day. We had the makings of several loads of hay all cut and drying fast in one of the meadows, and the forecast was for rain the coming night. Putting first things first, we spent the day hard at getting that good hay into the barn before the rain came. We didn't finish until about dark. Wilbur said that Bob and I should bury the cow first thing after morning chores the next day.

We were in the midst of a typical summer heat-wave just then, and by the time we boys got out behind the barn with our pick and shovels, we found a much larger cow than we had left there the previous morning. She was so bloated that her legs stuck right straight out as she lay there on her side. I sure didn't relish the idea of digging a hole big enough to accommodate such a carcass in that heat. Bob stood there for a few minutes, studying the situation. Then he said we didn't have to dig so big a hole. He took the pick and, working back of the cow, dug the sod out of what you could call a mirror image outline of the cuss. I just leaned on my shovel and watched him, wondering what he was up to. When he had finished that outlining, he explained. We could dig the dirt out of the figure he had marked out, going down deep enough to accommodate the cow's body. Her head and neck and legs would go into the exca­vations he had marked out for them, and he had even marked out a little trench for her tail. Once we had done the digging, all we would have to do would be to take her by the hoofs, flip her over, and she would drop right into her custom-made grave. Then we could cover her up, and the job would be done, with a minimum of digging.

That sounded like a pretty good idea to me, even though I felt a sort of uneasiness nagging at me, arising from what I had seen of the outcome of previous good ideas Bob had tried. For instance, there was the time we had what we fig­ured would be three loads of hay ready to get into the barn. Wilbur was away that day, so Bob sort of elected himself fore­man. He decided that we could make just two loads of it, by building them bigger than usual.

A load of hay on a wagon at the Saltsman farm in the Fall of 1946, about 15 years after this story took place. The woman is my mother; I was born the following June, so I may or may not be in this picture.
Notice the two-wire fence in the background: it's an electric fence, high-tech for '46.

That would mean one less trip to and from the meadow, and by leaving the second jumbo load on the barn floor for unloading the next day, we would only have to unload and mow away what amounted to a normal load-and-a­-half that afternoon. So off we went, I driving the team and tromping down the hay as he spread it out as it poured off the trailing pitcher. He built a whopping load, all right. It bulged out way over the top of the rack at the front of the rig and stuck out pretty far on both sides. After Bob slid down off the load to unhook the pitcher, he decided that he wouldn't try to climb up the rack onto the load for the ride back to the barn. "You take it on down," he said, "and I'll walk back." The team really had to lug to get that load out of the field and up to the summit of the lane before beginning the descent to the barn. Unloading of the wagons was done from the second level of the barn, which was reached by a pair of built-up driveways and short, roofed-over little plank bridges. The usual practice, as we approached with a load was to stir the horses to a faster pace, to give them a start for the incline of the driveway. This time was different. I could see right away that the load would never fit through the doorway, and even if it did, I was going to be swept right off the top of the load, even if I lay down flat. So I stopped the team. Bob was coming right behind, and yelled, "What did you stop for? They needed a start and you know it!" I slid down from the load and told him, "You built that load. You get it into the barn."

Bob fumed for a minute, then went to the horses' heads and took a short hold on the lines from their bridles. He tugged a t them, hollering for them to "Giddap!" The team knuckled down to the job, which was going to be a tough one. Bob, pulling on their lines, led the way up. Digging hard, the team got through the door and I heard the thunder of their hoofs pounding on the planks of the bridge.

And then, very suddenly, there was silence.

Bob hustled around and came out through the other door to look the situation over. It was plain to see what had happened. The first couple feet of that overload had wedged through the doorway, but that was as far as it was going. It was plugged in there, tight as a cork in a bottle. We had to unhook the team and lead them out to stand in the shade while we labored with might and main to fork off enough hay to get the load down to a size that would squeeze through. We forked some of it off the top, then tugged wads loose from the sides, sweating and straining to get things righted before Wilbur got home. We made it at last, but that was all the hay we got in that afternoon. We didn't bother to explain to Wilbur why we hadn't finished getting in all the dry hay, and he didn't ask. He just put it down to time wasted at some kind of tomfoolery he would just as soon not know about.

But to get back to the cow. We dug as Bob pro­posed, with the bulk of the dirt coming from the hole we were preparing for the main part of her body. Then we used the pick to clear out the trenches for the head and neck, legs, and tail. It was hot work, and as you might imagine, the flies were gath­ering around us pretty thick by that time. What they call olfac­tory exhaustion set in before long, and we were spared the annoyance of the odor that accompanied our work.

At last we had finished all the digging we figured would be necessary. Then we went to the side where the cow's legs stuck out. Stooping down and using both hands, each of us on the shank of one of the legs extending closer to the ground, we were set to flip her over and let her drop neatly into the excavation. "I'll count 1, 2, 3, HEAVE," Bob said. We both knew she was going to be heavy, but we really didn't realize how heavy until Bob's "HEAVE" sounded. We knew right then that there wasn't going to be any flipping. We were in for a real job just to roll her over. But roll her we did. We never got to the point of rolling her all the way over, however. By the time we had her with her legs sticking straight up, the dirt at the edge of our dig gave way, and down she slid into the hole, with enough dirt sliding down under her so that she came to rest with her body just barely below ground level and those cussed legs aiming at the sky.

There was just no way we were going to move that cow any farther. We decided to make the best of a bad job, and set to work moving her neck and head down into the place we had prepared for them, but at an angle quite different from the one we planned. The only thing that remained to do was to cover her up as thoroughly as we could. When we had finished there was a considerable mound of dirt on top of the gravesite, and sticking up through it were the cow's vertical shanks and hoofs. We could have buried the tail, but Bob thought it would look a little more as if we had planned it that way if we left the tuft at the end of the tail sticking up above ground, to make a set with the legs.

And so we had buried the cow. By that time we were content to live with the unorthodoxy of the burial, and as a matter of fact thought we had done rather a special job. Wilbur thought so, too, when he saw what we had done, but from his viewpoint "special" had a somewhat different con­notation than it had for us.

All in all, the episode reminded me of a tart observation I had heard a neighbor make when he called on Wilbur one day. The two of us were working together on some­thing when this old time farmer showed up. He looked me over with what seemed a jaundiced eye, and said, "This young-feller gain' to be one of your hands this summer?" When Wilbur said I was, the man said, "Well, I guess you know your business, but you know the old sayin', 'A man and a boy makes a man and a half; a man and two boys makes just a man. '" I winced at the time, but the old fellow was pretty close to the mark.

===============================================Lynn Harrington, 1980.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dog 1.0.0 Upgrade

Our friend Jeff is Ft. Harrington's Guru of Gigabytes, our Ramses of RAM, our "It-Man" of IT... well, you get the picture. In case you didn't, here it is: he's real smart (read the third entry in the page linked here.) He comes out and fixes whatever fix we've gotten ourselves into, computer-wise. That's good, and that's important, but he puts up with us, too, which is even better and even more important.

He also tends to notice things that we didn't even know were worng. Like that last word, or...

(Please click on each picture to see a larger and better version.)

... like he noticed yesterday, when he came out to fix the cyber-equivalent of Sherwood sticking a wad of chewed gum into his computer's "documents and settings" folder... he noticed that Kelsey was still Dog version 1.0.0! For shame.

Lucky for us (but just a matter of course for always-prepared Jeff), he had an upgrade module in his truck. Above, he's installing it.

Now Kelsey is a proud Dog 1.4.3, the toppermost of the doggermost! And, you can see, he's already being noticed by the chicks!

Thanks, Jeff! Woof!

Sometimes It's Not the Destination Or the Journey...

... it's the anticipation of the journey!

Emma and Jax in the back seat of the truck, ready to go... well, wherever, who cares?, WHEE!, on July 13th.

Anyone who has ever taken dogs for rides recognizes these expressions.

Going for a ride in the truck is a great treat for any of the dogs (and, truth be told, most times for their master, too). Friday's ride was especially cool because their friend Lucile was along, so the ride was clearly something special. Usually when Mrs. Fort and I take all three dogs out for a ride, Kelsey and Emma sit in the back seat and little Jax sits on Mrs. Fort's lap in the front passenger seat. This time, though, Lucile sat in the back so Jax had to sit back there, too!

Kelsey (you can see part of one of his legs at the right in the above picture) didn't like it much. Kept grumbling all the way, as though to say "He's touching me! Are we there yet??"

We arrived "there" pretty quick -- just a 15-minute leisurely drive from Ft. Harrington to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Diane and Lucile with Jax and Emma. Kelsey anchored the other end of my leash, and I was taking the few pictures we took, so there aren't any pictures of either of us.

No big deal, this walk. Which makes it ever so good, doesn't it?