Today was as close to a perfect day for a ride as you can ask for, so naturally, I went for a ride. My original “plan” was to return home by way of Hilltop Road to Fairground Road. Sadly, as I neared the point where I would turn toward Hilltop Road, my legs felt like lead and I just couldn’t talk myself into climbing the hill for which the road is named, so I decided to hop on the bike path, bypass the hill(s), and pick up Fairground Road at the Fairgrounds.

It turns out, this was a bad idea. I ride on bike paths infrequently enough that I sometimes forget the various reasons I eschew them. The reason I don’t ever ride this particular section of path during the Spring or Summer, particularly in the evening, is bugs. Vast horrible clouds of tiny little bugs. Bugs in my eyes, bugs in my ears, bugs up my nose, bugs down my throat, bugs in my hair, bugs every-fucking-where. It was like a Goddamned mile-long bug rain storm, the difference being; actual rain doesn’t make me curse like an enraged Tourette’s patient.

Thankfully, I was soon off the bike path and out of the bugs. The horror of the bugs would have been quickly forgotten were it not for the fact that they still coated me like some sort of insect breading. Mmm… insect encrusted, deep-fried cyclist!

I made it home with no further drama. The cat enjoyed playing with some of my insect stowaways while I made haste in washing the remainder off of me and attempting to blow some of the less fortunate ones out of my nasal passages.

I won’t make that mistake again any time soon (famous last words).

They’re Back!

Today “they” came and mowed the grass. Right after they finished I looked out the back window to see how they’d done and lo and behold, there were my old friends, the three weird ducks, making themselves quite at home. I don’t know what draws them to my yard, but they’ve been visiting from time to time for years.

Hey you ducks! Get out of my yard!

It’s the small things

Back in the middle of March my mother was in town for the weekend of my birthday. While we were driving around one day I spotted (and heard) a Red-winged Blackbird, the first one I’d seen this year. I related to her how hearing them always reminds me of my Grandmother (her mother).

Every summer when I was a kid she (my Grandmother) would rent a cottage for the two of us on Lake LBJ. The cattails at the water’s edge were always full of Red-winged Blackbirds, singing that most-distinctive song of theirs. Anyway, to this day whenever I hear one, it takes me right back there. To simpler, happier times; fishing with Lala.

Well a couple of weeks after that (once it warmed up enough to start keeping the windows open), I was surprized to hear a Red-winged Blackbird right outside my apartment. I’ve lived here roughly 6 years and this is the first time we’ve had any RWBB’s. Apparently they’ve decided to nest here for some reason. There are at least 3-4 males and a few females and every morning bright and early and then again at dusk the air is filled with their unmistakable calls.

Spring Rains — The Good News and the Bad News

Tuesday and Wednesday it absolutely poured rain, at one point Wednesday evening it even started to snow big fluffy snowflakes. For a brief time everything that wasn’t underwater was coated in snow.

The bad news is that my basement flooded and I therefore have no heat or hot water until they get it pumped out and the various pilot lights can be re-ignited.

The good news? There’s a family of ducks who seem to be having a splendid time swimming around what used to be my back yard.

Hey you ducks! Get out of my yard!

Bald Eagle: Endangered no more!

Thursday Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced that the American Bald Eagle will be taken off the endangered species list.

Biologists have recorded nearly 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with at least one pair in each of these states*.

This is a remarkable turnaround when one considers that in 1963 there were only 417 nesting pairs*.

This shows how large an impact (positive and negative) we humans can have on other species as well as on the environment as a whole.

Wide-spread use of DDT (among other less significant factors) drove our national symbol to the brink of extinction.

Now the majestic and once again plentiful birds soar as an inspiring testament to Man’s ability to act as a good steward for the environment when he chooses (or is compelled) to do so.

Hopefully, under the continuing protection of the ‘Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act’ and the ‘Migratory Bird Treaty Act’ these magnificent creatures will be around to enthrall countless future generations with their grace and beauty and with all that they symbolize.

* Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Exotic Birds, Part II

Today on my way back from the bike shop I passed a deer; a young doe, standing just off the side of the road (on my side). I turned around and rode back, positioning myself for a photo while she warily watched me. As I fumbled for the camera, I noticed her looking more tense, just then her little fawn appeared from the bushes and nursed for a moment. Now having become much more concerned with my presence, mom began leading her little one away from me. I grabbed a quick picture before riding on, leaving them to their business.

Mama deer and baby
The two barely discernible blobs near the center are the deer
Click for a digitally zoomed ‘Bigfootesque’ view

A bit closer to home, very near where I drew inspiration from the elderly gentleman on his bike the other day, I spot what appears to be a motorized wheelchair coming down the road toward me. As we draw closer, I realize that it is, in fact, a man in a motorized wheelchair, and perched on his shoulder is a great big parrot!

As we pass I say “howdy”, he nods, and the parrot squawks. As I ride away, I can hear the parrot squawking for quite some time, I’m pretty sure he was talking about me, but it’s hard to say. I do wish I had stopped and asked them if they’d mind me taking their picture. Oh well… maybe next time.

Go for a bike ride, or a walk out in the country. There truly is no telling what you might see.

Exotic Birds

Today while I was out riding my bike I saw a Peacock! I was going to title this post “Unusual Birds”, but since I’ve been seeing a peacock at that same spot every now and then for years, it’s not really that unusual. Plus, exotic is really more descriptive anyway.

I would have taken a picture, but he lives beside a nice little down-hill on a fairly heavily trafficked road. And you know… bike riding, particularly on the fixed-gear, is all about preservation of momentum.

Geese Update

Well, apparently the geese-chasing dogs actually arrived sometime last week. Looking back, I can’t recall the last day when I actually saw geese at the park. I’m a little bummed about the whole thing. Mainly because I don’t think I’ll ever actually get to see the dogs chase the geese, as I have a feeling this is primarily an early morning activity. Secondly, I’ll actually miss the geese. I really enjoyed hearing and seeing them arrive each morning, and depart each evening, locked in their precise formations.

I would really have no quarrel at all with the geese if they:

A) Weren’t so aggressively obnoxious.
B) Didn’t shit so damned much, everywhere! (2 pounds a day per goose!)
C) Hadn’t become year-round residents, rather than passing through twice a year during migration (like they’re supposed to!).

Geese: Majestic waterfowl or feathered vermin?

So, the park next to my house has (for the last several years) been over-run with “wild” Canada Geese. Over the past few years the city has tried a variety of solutions to drive these obnoxious feathered fecal factories away. First they put up loudspeakers which would periodically (day and night) broadcast a recorded goose alarm call. This was quite effective initially, but the geese eventually caught on and their ranks swelled once more (on a side note; it took longer for me than it did for the geese to realize the calls were pre-recorded. I spent many late-night hours wondering what had the geese so worked up).

Then they tried placing floating plastic crocodile heads in the “lagoon”. These seemed to have little or no effect on the geese, though they did make me giggle. (Crikey! That’s one big disembodied crocodile head!) Now the city is playing for keeps. They’ve enlisted the services of a company called “Goose Be Gone”. Specially trained border collies (with their handlers) will patrol the park five days a week for three months, theoretically driving the geese away for good.

Can geese count? I think it would be hysterical if the geese realized that the dogs were only there on weekdays and they returned en masse on the weekends. All I know is, I can’t wait for the goose-chasing dogs to arrive, that is going to be some first-rate free entertainment.

Corpophagia in Toyland

Years and years (20?) ago, I found no small measure of humor in Mattel’s “Animal-loving Barbie” and “Animal-lovin’ Ken” (who, you may recall, came with “his own chimpanzee to care for and love”). So, imagine my delight/horror when I stumbled across this:

Here’s the description from the website where you can purchase this treasure:

Finally, Barbie has a dog that eats and makes a mess! Tanner the dog eats and ejects waste from his body. At this point, Barbie can pick it up in a scooper, and then Tanner will eat it again– just like your real dog!


They call it the “Barbie Doll and Tanner Scooper Dog Set”, but in the spirit of my last post, we all know the name should really be:

Poop scooping Barbie and Tanner, the shit-eating wonder-dog.

Wouldn’t you love to have been the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’ at the meeting when the drug-addled lunatic brilliant toy-designer pitched that idea?