Monsoon Storm



When it comes to weather, living in the mountains can be a real plus. The monsoon season is on us and with it an almost daily storm that would be a weather event in most places but here just kind of makes the neighbors look out the window.

The other night was a prime example. A storm blew up out of the northwest and came roaring down the Obenchain draw heading for the plains. Its path took it directly over the house and as the house is kind of up in the air here on the mountainside we had a bird’s eye view of it as it went by. It was what old people called a ‘doozy’. If you’re young and reading this “why aren’t you doing your homework instead of fooling around on the computer?”  but before you go Google doozy and it’ll explain it to you.

This was an amazing storm. Lightning was flashing overhead, thunder was a continuous roar, and the whole thing felt like it was happening twenty feet above the roof. As always happens the storm moved out onto the plains and began to dump its rain in earnest. This was real old testament stuff and I wouldn’t doubt that there were a few folks apologizing very sincerely for any past transgressions they may have had. As we live a pure and simple life up here we didn’t have to bother with any of that and just took in the view. That guy on the bottom end of that lightning bolt probably wishes he had just said no though. But we all make choices. Maybe it helped him see the light so to speak.

It rained real hard, stirred up all the weather warning people, flash flood procedures were enacted, folks got wet. Dogs howled. Children cried. People drove through those places they tell you not to drive through when there’s flooding and everyone acted pretty much like you expected them to when things get really weird. Life kind of slowed down to a crawl until Mother Nature figured we’d had enough then it stopped. I like these storms. I don’t particularly want to get struck by lightning or washed on down the creek but I like them anyway. This is what it looked like. Stay dry.


A Friend Is Gone



I am saddened beyond words to learn that a life-long friend has begun his journey to the other side. His name is Tom Williams and we have known each other for nearly fifty years. We met when we were both young men working for the Woolworth company and were assistants managers together in a large store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The store was so busy that we had three or four assistants on hand always. It was run by a tyrannical ogre who shall go nameless, but he managed, with his lack of human grace, to turn the place into a very close facsimile of the HMS Bounty. Tom and I took turns being Christian Fletcher, constantly being brought before the mast but always avoiding the full lashing. This was the origin of our bonding and it was annealed by the constant heating and cooling of that blast furnace that was our training. The fate of young assistants was to train and be trained to become tyrannical captains in our own rights so that we too, could be in charge of our own stores and go forth to conquer the seas of capitalism, or in other words make lots of money for the company.

And so we did, go forth that is, and in doing so we were sent to different places during our training process, and as happens in life, even with die-hard friends, we began to lose touch with each other. I would think of Tom through out the years and wonder what he was doing and what his life was like but it wasn’t until the internet that we were able to reconnect. Our first phone call could have been one of our daily conversations over coffee as we sat at the lunch counter taking one of our infrequent breaks years ago. It had been twenty years or so since we had seen or talked to each other, but maybe twenty minutes ago had you heard the conversation. We were instantly catapulted back in time and talked about how we had worked with and behind and over, the ogre. What our plans for the future were (none of them came close to turning out the way we thought) and what we were going to do on the weekend.

We spoke of our disappointments and our triumphs. His most gratifying triumph was marrying the girl of his dreams who he confided to me once, he loved with all his heart and would forever. She completed him, he said. I believed him because in all the time I’d known him, throughout all the jokes we played on  each other, through all the rude and profane things we said to each other as only old tested friends can do, he never lied to me. He managed to say that about his wife, Joanne almost every time we talked in one way or another. She is a wonderful woman and I know that life will treat her well and she will find peace and contentment, even after this. You have my utmost sympathy and compassion, Joanne.

It is a terrible, terrible thing to lose someone. Nothing makes up for it. The passage of time finally numbs the shock and pain but the ache is always there. It too diminishes but still remains buried deep in your heart. I want to think that it converts into a strong and pure memory that keeps your loved one in your life forever, and in doing so will be with you for the rest of your life. I believe the world was a better place for the presence of Thomas Williams and I will miss him.

Fair journey Tom.

Animal Portraits: White Wolf

Upon Further Consideration0612

Our Animal Portrait today will be of a White Wolf.

This is one of the members of the White Wolf pack at a wolf sanctuary in West Yellowstone Montana. Actually it is a white phase of the Grey wolves (Canis lupus), also known as the timber wolf, true wolf or western wolf and are found throughout the west but mainly in the northern Rockies from Colorado to Montana and along the U.S. and Canadian border. These are a captive pack and due to trauma early in their lives they have been unable to be returned to the wild. They are kept in a large enclosure that replicates the habitat they would have occupied had things worked out differently.

They have been featured on the blog previously under a post titled  which shows their unusual behavior where they have developed their hunting skills on their own, so they are able to locate or hunt for Rainbow trout. The fish are introduced into a stream that runs through the enclosure and the wolves spend hours hunting and ultimately catching these trout. While not a totally satisfactory replacement for life in the wild it introduces some much need focus and activity that mimics what their behavior would have been had they been able to live out their lives in the wild, and reduces the boredom so often seen exhibited by captive animals. Obviously their prey would have been different but their hunting instincts are true to their nature.

The purpose of the Animal Portraits posts are to showcase animals in a portrait format that exhibits their characteristics and personality traits. Rather than just show them in a static pose. Each Animal Portrait attempts to capture an aspect of their personalities that may not often be seen.

Here we see one of the pack in a calculating pose where his thoughts may be something on the order of ” I see you. I know you. You have been my friend. So upon further consideration I have decided not to bite you or take away your fish, which you have caught fairly and is the second one you have caught today, while I personally have caught none so far, but I reserve judgment on whether I might do so at a later date.”

Other posts that have featured Animal Portraits are Escalante Coyote Harbor Seal Amur Leopard






The Bad Neighbor

The neighbor8703


Hey, I didn’t think you was doing nothing so I come over. Whatcha doin? Nothin’, eh.

Yeah, me to.

Did you get a chance to go by that Elk carcass over on Alum creek? I stopped by but there wasn’t a lot there. The wolves been at it.

I know, the bastards, the Hayden’s full of them. It’s getting so you can’t swing a buffalo calf without hittin’ one of them. My nephew, Tooth, yeah the one with the ripped ear, he said they ran him off this calf he took down. There must a been a dozen of them.

Me too, I’m sick of them. I try and kill every one I see but they’re fast. They bit my cousin’s sister-in-law’s best friends daughter, yeah Edna, the one that’s been dropping cubs all over Norris junction, and like to tore her up. She had to run like a little black bear to get out of there.

No I don’t know where is Edna is. How come?

Yeah right, No special reason my ass.

You got any grubs, I am flat starving.

No I don’t want any grass shoots. Has she got you on that grass and water diet again? Man when are you gonna put your paw down and tell her where the bear crapped in the buckwheat? How you supposed to get through the winter eating that crap.

No you know I’m single. What’s so hard about it. Just tell her.

What do you mean you don’t like sleeping in the cheat grass by yourself. Dude you’re embarrassing me. Are you a bull grizzly or not. I never thought I’d see you like this. Remember all the hell we raised when we were kids?

Come on, quit that whimpering. Let’s go tear open a log or something. I heard the Miller moths were starting up on Washburn, yeah we could go up there for a few days. Let her cool down.

Yeah, yeah I know you’re supposed to be digging out the den, but screw that, let’s go.

Of course I know where Edna is. I was just messing with you. We can stop by on our way up there. Huh?, no, why would she tell. Listen Cliff, we have got to get you some red meat. Seriously.





How to Recognize Birds By Their Songs


This is a short Tutorial about how to recognize birds by their songs, also known in bird watching speak, as their calls. Many of you have written in asking about how to do this and here’s one of those very letters we picked at random.

“Dear Mr. Director, I’ve heard birds making noises and wondered if that was how they communicated. Can you tell what kind of birds they are by their songs and if so, how? Sincerely, Deaf As A Post in East Umbridge, Wales”.

“Dear Deaf As A Post, First how the hell did you find me from Wales? Second, how is it that you can use ‘communicated’ in a sentence but you haven’t figured out that birds use songs to ‘ communicate’ with each other? I thought English people, or in your case Welsh people, were smart. Wasn’t Richard Burton from there? He’s smart. At least he was until he married Elizabeth Taylor twice. And thirdly, if you’re ‘Deaf As A Post’ how do you  know birds are even making noises? I mean, Why does it even matter? You leave a lot of unanswered questions.

“But to answer the question so the rest of the hearing public can get up to speed on bird songs and how to recognize them, it ‘s quite simple really. Each and every bird alive today has their own unique song that they sing to announce their presence to the other birds in the area, or to contact babes, or to just let the other birds know how freaking cool they are.

“For example this particular birds’ song is “OH Happy Day” so whenever you hear it you should immediately look around for this bird, the one in the picture above. It will probably be on the shoreline out in the open, where it can jump up and down and really get into it, I mean really belt it out. Once you learn the words to it, the song I mean, it’s like OH Happy Day over and over, you can always recognize this bird. If you hear a chorus singing in the background that means that there are more of them and you should look around some more. Sometimes they hide in the bushes. The deeper voices, the ones just steeped in bass, are the males and of course the high voices soaring over head will be the females.

If you are sonically challenged or don’t have an iPod here’s a link so you can hear how this song sounds. copy and paste it into your browser and learn your first bird song. It is Aretha Franklin and Ms. Mavis Staples mimicking this bird’s song in their own voices. They sound amazingly like the bird so you should have no problem recognizing it when you hear it in the wild. Many of the top entertainers in the music world have taken bird calls verbatim and made huge hits out of them. For instance much of Gordon Lightfoot’s music was copied from the Buzzard family. And Jimmy Buffett has made a good living from repeating various Parrot and Cockatiel songs. And Country and Western has borrowed liberally from the Warblers. As far as I know there have been no royalties paid to any of these birds for the use of their songs, and that is disturbing, but it is a problem for another day.

That should answer your question, Mr. Deaf As A Post, from East Umbridge, Wales, although a fat lot of good it will do you and don’t be using a fake disability to line jump so you get your questions answered first, that’s as bad as parking in the handicapped space when you’re a marathon runner. Shame on you.

Sincerely, The Director.”

To our other readers who we like a lot better than Mr. Deaf As A Post, ( that guy  just rubbed us the wrong way), there are many birds in Nature, like over 30 or so, and each has its very own song. We have only presented one today because that is a lot to absorb all at once, but we’ll eventually get to them all. So stay tuned and remember, birds are singing for you and for me. Lets listen.



Get Your Mind Right, Luke



It’s Friday again and you’re sitting there after a long week contemplating the weekend, waiting for the day to be over, when by all rights you should still be working your keester off.  After all the boss is paying you until the end of the day. Just like Luke you’re stuck in a place where your time is filled up with moving dirt out of the Captains ditch and filling it back up again because you can’t have dirt laying all over the Captains ground.

Luke was only supposed to do two years for cutting the heads off the towns parking meters but ultimately did life, or death, depending on your viewpoint, because he couldn’t get his mind right. How long are you in for?

What we have here is not a failure to communicate, what we have, is a lack of ability to change your state of mind. To change your state of mind you need to change your point of view. And that ‘s where we can help. If you’re feeling like Luke, don’t go over the fence. Look instead at the image above and think what it would be like to be there, standing alone on a hilltop watching the storm come racing in over the foothills, feeling the wind streaming by pushing the smell of rain before it, hearing the distant thunder and watching the scene before you transform from calm to Nature’s high drama. That ought to get you through ’til days end. If not you got to get your mind right, boy, or you’ll spend a night in the box.

The movie was Cool Hand Luke, a 1967 release with Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke, Strother Martin as the Captain, and George Kennedy as Dragline. And Oh Yeah, Joy Harmon ran the carwash. The image is from Yellowstone National Park and is a view of a huge storm roaring through the Lamar valley. Both were very cool.