Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wolves - Halloween

From "Lone Wolf" by Jodi Picoult, "A wolf is born with blue eyes and at six or seven weeks they turn Golden." I'm not sure if I've quoted that exactly as she wrote it - I apologize if I've misquoted her.

That got me to thinking about the eye colors in Icelandics. I have had pups whose eyes when they finally opened were blue-ish and they actually did change color to what I've called amber (like the fossilized tree sap sometimes with preserved insects in it) or sometimes a greenish color, and light or even dark brown. Does that mean their amber-yellow-golden eyes are closer to the color of wolves' eyes? (Rhetorical question probably.) I'm not even sure that all wolves have "golden" eyes.

Virtually all the northern breeds like Icelandic Sheepdogs occasionally produce dogs with one or sometimes two blue eyes that stay into adulthood. Sorry. I love the variety in our breed. The genes for eye color do not ever exist alone on a chromosome; rather there are hundreds of genes on every chromosome. Think about it. If one discriminates against a harmless gene on a chromosome by refusing that dog's ability to reproduce, one is also removing all the other genes on that chromosome, perhaps some good ones, from the gene pool. Could that contribute to a narrowing of the gene pool for a breed? If so, in my opinion, that is not a sound strategy. Discriminating against a harmful or deleterious gene is another matter entirely - just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Here are some wolf photos. Clicking on them will enlarge them.

Although they might look a bit spooky (it's Halloween), I kind of like them.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

First Fall Frost - Thursday, October 26, 2017

Although the front yard was perfectly OK, the yard between the house and the pole barn had frost this morning and looked really nice.

Looking east as the sun is setting behind me can be almost as lovely as looking west.  My sunsets here are mostly hidden from view by the forest. I don't mind. This was last night before the frost. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

This volunteer hardy ageratum, Eupatorium, came up amid some volunteer heritage tomato plants which grew where I threw some rotting tomatoes last fall. They did so well in that spot that I'll leave some of their fruits there now for next year and hope.

The goldfinches are still enjoying the perennial wild sunflower seeds. I'm hoping they'll scatter some of the seeds like they've been doing with the cup plants, Silphium perfoliatum, gorgeous 7 feet tall perennial prairie plants that also produce small sunflower-like blooms in late summer. Bees, moths, butterflies (even Monarchs), and hummingbirds love the cup plant flowers. The volunteer cup plants have been coming up in a wild flower garden but so far they've only been 4 feet tall. Maybe next year!

Sunrise this morning.

Kit in an extremely rare quiet moment. Helga always said that trying to take a photo of a puppy, especially an Icelandic, is like trying to capture the wind. Too true. I get lots of photos of her, virtually all of them are bad.

Monday, October 16, 2017

After the Deluge - Monday, October 16, 2017

The sun rises over Lake Huron later and later, a sure sign that "winter's coming". Even though the freighters are way out in the lake, I still never get tired of watching them as they cruise along. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

We've had what feels like a long week of rain soaking the gardens, woods, and pond and leaving things feeling, looking, and smelling very autumnal. Although the wind has not been very strong, two more trees came down over the past weekend. Honest? They were already dead, topless, and "branchless", serving as homes for cavity dwelling birds and small mammals. They are usually mostly rotten anyway and will rather quickly decompose and merge into the soil.

The dogs were very curious and found several small mammals rudely evicted and forced to flee from their old woodpecker hole homes. I say that it's better to lose your homes now while it's still pleasant enough to find new lodgings before winter comes. - but, oh where? The other holes already have inhabitants!

Early colonizers on fallen trees from last year take advantage of the spongy, water absorbing and retaining bark and trunk and provide miniature beauty. While larger plants are no longer green, these mosses stay nice all winter even under the snow.

Almost never happy looking, I Ching does live the life of Riley. (Boy, that expression dates me!) I Ching has very thick and soft hair that does get matted and tangled. A few times a year I must capture her and remove the tangles with scissors and comb. She is getting better at allowing me to do that but neither one of us enjoys the process. Until after. Then we are both happy and get a needed respite for a few months. Violet, which no one but me has ever seen apparently, has short fur and requires no maintenance. That has become a requirement should I ever have another cat - short fur.

I've enjoyed watching this sumac change gradually from lacy and green to a riot of color all the while retaining its leaves - so far.

Four times a year I visit my ophthalmologist in Sandusky, Michigan and we discuss my eye issues. Today's visit required the dilating drops which make my pupils stay wide open and very sun sensitive for the rest of the day. I use two kinds of eye drops, Travatan and Cosopt; my insurance company used to demand that I purchase a three month supply. They've just changed and now I purchase a one month supply which forces a copay increase.

I would love to have a serious conversation with the legislators who many years ago changed the formula for determining the inflation rate, which in turn changes the "increase" of social security. Anyone who shops for groceries, buys home heating fuels, clothes, toys, electricity, prescription drugs, groceries, et cetera, KNOWS that the way they figure inflation now does not accurately reflect inflation. Simple. Every year in December we oldsters get the bad news about next year's monthly check.  I think congress people should get the same benefits and medical as we get and vice versa, don't you? They work for us - theoretically at least. Enough of my bitching and moaning.

So far we haven't had a frost so the flowers are still providing color, beauty, and food to cold and sluggish honeybees, bumble bees, wasps, ants, butterflies, and yellow jackets.

Most people look up at the trees at this time of the year. Colors closer to the ground are also spectacular and more accessible.

Dozens of Canada Geese are already coming to my shore; many of them stay to the west of my home in one of several preserves for the winter. Weather permitting, they fly east in the morning to swim and browse on the lake and return to the west at dusk to sleep in their somewhat protected forests and prairies. The dogs enjoy barking at them as they fly back. Me? I could do without the barking.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jon, Tracy, Warhol, and Frank have gone back to their home and work and the pace slows.

We had great weather and did some fun things. Earlier Totty and I joined the Parlangelis for a pleasant autumn walk along the road into the compound.

We took a drive to the tip of the Thumb, I call it the Thumbnail, and along the way stopped in Port Hope at a great hardware store where we looked at some interesting metal sculptures and bought some lovely smelling soap. We drove on and visited charming and quaint and prosperous Port Austin; it's a mystery why Port Sanilac hasn't changed. I believe that soon the balance will tip and progress will happen. Some cities struggle a while before moderate and controlled growth can happen; I think change is inevitable though. After Port Austin we stopped at a great local grocery store for dinner ingredients, then on to Bad Axe for lunch at the Peppermill.

Lake Huron has gone down considerably since when Kathy visited. Notice the difference between where Warhol is standing and where Jon and Tracy are. The young will tree was surrounded by water last visit and this time is barely in the water. My two islands are starting to re-emerge from the water which the geese seem to like. Does the piece of driftwood look more like a horse, camel, giraffe, or is it just driftwood?

Later we walked through Westwood and had apple cider and rum in the pines daydreaming of thinning trees and trimming branches with a saw, perhaps a chainsaw, perhaps a battery operated chainsaw! I should have had a person standing under this monstrous red pine to show scale.