Monday, August 21, 2006

Rally Pic of the Week


Really liked this shot of Rally from this past weekend. She's having a pretty good ASFA lure coursing season. As of right now, she's the No.2 Greyhound. Lots can happen between now and the end of the year, but a Top 10 finish seems likely, barring injury. You go girl.

This Week's Nature Shot


Another new irregular feature. Anyone who's followed my career knows I shoot a lot more than dogs when we go to an event. (NOTE: For longtime followers, I must regretfully report the cessation of the longterm "Women of Coursing" project, which has been defunct for just about three years now. You can do the math.)

My favorite subject is birds.

At the Racine Kennel Club field there's a pond in the outer reaches which is home to lots of wildlife. During the trial this past weekend, a couple of the exhibitors tried to get my attention as a good sized Great Blue Heron landed on the bank. It was too far away to shoot. But between courses I wandered out to the pond to see what was there. Much to my surprize, there were several waders feeding. The one you see here, is a Lesser Yellowlegs. More wildlife as it happens. Posted by Picasa

In People Years.. He's 70!


I originally tried to publish this on Saturday, the 19th, which was my best buddy's actual birthday. But the vagaries of Blogger just stymied me to no end.
So.. here it is, two days late.

I'm astounded that every week we're at an event, people see Randir (Leelanau Mithrandir) for the first time and say, "I didn't know you had a Deerhound!". Well yeah; I've had him for over 7 years now. A teensy bit more if you throw in the fact that he was born in my basement and lived there for the first 10 weeks of his life. Then he went to his original home for almost 3 years, until I wheedled and cajoled his owners into "loaning" him back to me. (Thanks Dave and Laurie!). That was, as I say, more than 7 years ago. It's what would be called a "long term loan".

He was my favorite puppy. He was the brave explorer.. the only one of the litter of ten who would venture out of the puppy yard with me into the big wide world of the whole back acre and a half.

We've been exploring together ever since, from temporary homes in Kentucky and Wisconsin, to the coast to coast ramblings of the "Express". His favorite stop of all, (in fact the favorite stop of us all.. Dan, Margaret, and Randir's "girls", Buffy, Fanny, and Rally) has got to be New Mexico. This picture was taken last February. That's Randir at 9 1/2. You go boy!! Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hot Dogs!

I was feeling the itch to get out hunting today, so I emailed friend, author, and hound authority extraordinaire, Dutch Salmon in New Mexico to see if the recent, and way overdue, monsoon in the southwest had done much for the jackrabbit population and habitat. The news is good and bad for Dutch, who's also an avid angler: Too much water to fish, but a lot of the rain is hitting the Lazy E, a place we love to hunt. He also sent me this puppy story, (which appears under his byline in several southwestern newspapers). Some of you are going to be real interested in this:

Country Sports


Beware the Man with Eighteen Puppies

By

Dutch Salmon


On July 4th my dog Comet, a rough-coated Greyhound, had nine puppies. She was bred to Kyran, a full-blooded Tazi imported from Uzbekistan (more on this later). It was a planned breeding.
On July 24th my dog Mona, a ½ Tazi X ½ Greyhound, also had nine puppies. She was bred to Samson, a ¾ Greyhound X ¼ Saluki, but in this case Samson slipped through the fence and the puppies were a shocker. It was my fault, the first unplanned breeding in many years, yet it may turn out the best one in the end. But the sum is, I suddenly have 18 puppies in my life!
Not to panic (though initially I did!), half the pups are already promised to good homes and with the canine benevolence of other like-minded dog lovers who want a “one of a kind” dog, the rest – excepting the one or two I’ll keep -- will also be homeward bound in the next couple of months. But the experience has been an education in the derivation of our most ancient hunting breeds.
Various authorities surmise that the man/wild dog relationship began to form way back in the Paleolithic period when we were still hunter/gatherers living in caves. A mutual benefit of hunting and defense was a natural derivation of their talents and ours; little by little certain wolves or wild dogs were at least partially domesticated, hunting hip by jowl with our own wild ancestors. But the selective breeding process that produced types or strains of domestic dogs that we would recognize today as breeds didn’t begin until well into the Neolithic period when agriculture, stock raising, and “civilization” was upon us.
The first recognized type – generally credited – was what we today call the Saluki, an AKC recognized breed. The Saluki formulation was centuries prior to the advent of firearms (and thus “gundogs”) and indeed all the early hunting strains were swift hounds, generally called sighthounds or gazehounds, which could take game like hare, rabbit, fox, deer, antelope etc. without the aid of the human hand or weapon. Numerous ancient artwork from the Middle East clearly indicates that such hunting hounds were at work in the field at least several thousand years before Christ.
But the Saluki had a wide geography, and while all were used for the same general purpose – running down game – they would vary as to topography, tribe, or the game pursued. And in places they became known by another name.
According to Gail Goodman, author of the monumental “Saluqi – Coursing Hound of the East,” as the Saluki evolved from the Arabic countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Syria -- to the more eastern Asiatic domains like Turkey, Turkistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, it took the name “Tazi.” Again, different terrains, tribes, and exigencies of the hunt produced somewhat different types, but all were similar enough that the Tazi/Saluki became a recognized breed.
Over many centuries, these seminal sighthounds were selectively bred to become the Afghan of Afghanistan, Borzoi of Russia, and the Greyhound, Whippet and Scotch Deerhound of the United Kingdom. Other selective breeding creativity by hunters produced today’s bird dogs and trail hounds. But the middle-eastern sighthounds were the first recognizable breeds.
Did the Tazi or the Saluki come first? I’ll let those more expert than I sort that out (I’ve witnessed some heated arguments) and even then the best of them would be guessing – we’re talking about thousands of years of history. But there is no guessing about where most of the hunting Tazi/Salukis are now.
Hunting in the Arabic Middle East has fallen on hard times. The desert terrain meant the game was always sparse. Modern hunting methods, not Salukis but guns and mechanized pursuit, have taken an even greater toll on the wildlife, leaving the ancient pursuit with little to hunt and the hounds that much more rare and esoteric. There are still some good “desert breds” but overall the quality of the hounds has suffered.
In Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the old ways have survived, both in coursing and falconry. Magdalena author Steve Bodio, like me an enthusiast of the archaic, made several trips to the brutal steppe country of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, where it boils in summer and grabs you with iron cold in winter. At considerable expense and effort, the result was the falconry book, “Eagle Dreams,” and the acquisition of three full-blooded Tazi hounds, duly imported to New Mexico. He said all the Tazi of the steppes were hard-boiled hunters, mostly for hare and a large subspecies of the red fox, and fine and valued companions. All eighteen of my puppies are the beneficiaries, to a greater or lesser degree, of this “blood.”
The breeding is apparent in the performance. Last winter Mona, barely a year old, and two other hounds did what the Tazi has done for thousands of years, pursue a hare (jackrabbit). The pursuit was sprint, jink, dodge and turn for 4 ½ minutes – an extreme course -- whence the hare, sensing the end, left them all gasping by ducking down a badger hole.
Showing her youth, Mona, one half of a Tazi import, was slightly slower in the early going, just as strong at the end, but the difference came after we had watered and cooled the pack. The other two hounds, a Greyhound and a Greyhound/Saluki cross, were content to follow in my footsteps as we hiked back to the truck. They’d had it. Within five minutes Mona was back at a strong lope, working out ahead like a bird dog, pure exuberance, using her nose as well as eyes and hoping to jump another jack. I was just as glad we didn’t.
You can’t teach that, or force it. You can inherit it from a line of hounds that have done nothing but work at their trade, and bond with their hunting masters, for thousands of years.
Most of our dogs, like most of us, have gone soft. I “work out,” but I could no more keep up with Jim Bridger or Ben Lilly than this year’s “best” Saluki at Westminster could keep up with Mona.
Now I have eighteen puppies. I have added some Greyhound blood, for that extra dash of speed, to the heritage of the Tazi/Saluki. I know from experience that most of the hares will still be too much for us. But win or lose, as the puppies mature, that link to the ancient and archaic will provide all the satisfaction I could ever want in the field.



Interested in one of these pups? You ought'a get in touch with Dutch muy pronto. Email me to find out how if you don't already know.

If you want to see Steve Bodio's Tazi pups, (it's a population explosion out there in New Mexico!!), go here . I'll have a picture of Dutch and Mona up here soon.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Death of a Legend: "Where Men are Men, and Women Win the Iditarod"

Found this today in the Detroit Free Press online edition. If you can find a copy of Mitch Albom's 1996 Live Albom III:Gone to the Dogs collection , (try here), you'll find out why his peers voted him the best sports columnist in the nation for more than 10 years running. He's simply the best. And so was the subject of this column.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

That Damned Black Bitch.

It's time to post a few more pictures... We went racing last weekend, down in Lewisville, Indiana. The track is one of the nicer ones we see in our travels. It's bordered by a small stream on one side, and a row of old, stately shade trees on the other. The trees provide a natural border, so that unsightly tape that shows up in pictures from other tracks doesn't need to be used here.

Rally has done well in her first 4 LGRA racemeets, winning 3 of them. That was going to change this weekend. Our friends, Jerry and Vada, had entered their greyhound, Gilda . It was her first event after a long recovery from a dislocated toe, (subsequently amputated), suffered at the ASFA Greyhound Specialty in March. We knew Gilda was going to be fast, but this was ridiculous! (and typical. That's Gilda #2, Rally #3, and Science #4... Rally had trouble with Science off and on this weekend as well, finishing 3rd on Saturday, but coming back for second on Sunday). Gilda went undefeated over the weekend.

It was a small meet, with Rhodesian Ridgebacks, (who almost ran me down!), Italian Greyhounds, and a veritable plethora of Basenjis. We were done early both days, just in time for lunch, provided by the people of Lewisburg for a nominal charge, in exchange for using the park for free. Great deal.

This weeks nature special:
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Therapy

Democrats will love this. A lot of Republicans, too, I'll bet. Thanks to Frank V. for the heads-up.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yeow!!

I realized I didn't know as much about the political landscape of our adopted state as I did about the state of our birth, Michigan. It was time to do some research. I discovered that South Dakota, unlike Michigan, has only one representative in Washington. But, what a representative! I think I can say, without argument, we've got the hottest Representative in the country. Dear readers, I give you Stephanie Herseth, (D-SD)....

She's looking for interns for the Fall term. I'm updating my resumé.

Take That, Irish!

I've been advised to lighten up. So here's my hero:

Asked whether Michigan should continue its series with Notre Dame, Schembechler said: "We don't need Notre Dame. They need us more than we need them.

That's Bo. Read more classic Bo here.

This Ain't Kansas.

While we're no longer "official" Michigan residents, we still have a lot of ties to the state, and we spend a lot of time here in the Summer. Frankly, we're pretty sick and disgusted by what we've seen in the political arena here in the last couple of months leading up to yesterday's primaries.

For starters there's the race for governor, featuring a polo-playing, multi-millionaire heir to the AmWay fortune, who tries to come off as a regular Joe Sixpack on his TV ads. Problem is, he's pretty good at it. Hopefully, the truth will come out: His "recovery plan" for the state will involve mandatory AmWay parties!

In the Republican congressional primary, a more sickening thing happened. Some radical rightwing religious conservative, a benefactor of a whole ton of out-of-state money, beat the incumbent, a moderate who had the backing of the party mainstream. The ads for the extremist candidate contained some of the most outrageous bullshit we've ever heard, proving that stupid people will believe anything. Just like in Kansas.

The state Democrats must be licking their chops.. because this ain't Kansas.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sturgis

Just because we're full-timers in the motor home doesn't mean we're homeless! But it does mean we get to pick where we're from. For those who always wondered about the South Dakota plates on the motor home and the toad, the answer is simple: South Dakota has no state income tax; has the 2nd lowest vehicle insurance rates in the nation; has no vehicle inspection program; and a lot of other advantages over all the other states we had to choose from; and it has Sturgis.... home of the biggest motorcycle gathering on the planet.

Those of you who did your homework... (congratulations, Jesse M. Holmes, whose superior Googling skills allowed him to be the first with the correct answer to yesterday's trivia question! He was also the only one who entered, and I know there's a lot more of you out there!), will know that the current rally in Sturgis attracts over half a million bikers and non-bikers to this little South Dakota town every year. You also know that this mammoth rally started waaaaay back in 1938, as a little event with dirt track racing. The club that started it all was the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club. This AP article tells you all about it, and how the founding fathers feel about what the event has become. You can also find out more at the Jackpine Gypsies website.

And if you like what it's become, and you're lucky enough to have Sirius satellite radio , you can listen to Mojo Nixon on Channel 63, Outlaw Country, broadcast live all week long, from 4-8PM EDT. He's drunk and he's foul, and he's oh, so entertaining! Check it out.

JackPine Gypsies

All right... in the spirit of keeping things exciting around here, we're going to play trivia! (and also get an idea of how many people actually read this thing).

Give yourself 24 hours.. Who are the Jack Pine Gypsies? Or more specifically, who are the Jack Pine Gypsies Motorcycle Club?

Answers only accepted in the "comments" section. Good Luck!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pulp Fiction

I don't know about you, but most of my reading is of the lighter variety. I like "great literature", but for the most part you can find both of us with our noses buried in the works of James Lee Burke, Elizabeth George, Lee Child, (if there's a greater hero ever thought up from a writer's mind than Jack Reacher, I'd like to know who he-or she- is!), Steve Hamilton, and well, you get the picture. Sure, I did just finish Don Delillo's Underworld this Summer, which will be the extent of my heavy reading for the year. (Great book by the way.)

But.. I'm getting away from the point: I've just been made aware (third hand, at least) of a website called "Bookgasm" that reviews the books that we really like to read- mysteries, crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, hard-boiled detective (think Mike Hammer), comics (and comix), anthologies and, yes, pulp fiction. I know it's a good site, because they hate John Grisham and James Patterson! I'll be adding the link to the list below. Thanks to Steve Bodio's blog for the tip!

(And if you need any further inducement, their reviews oftentimes include what they call "XXXcerpts". Use your imagination.)

No Moo Shoo For You

In a typical bit of hypocracy, the brilliant minds at PETA have called for a boycott of all things Chinese. It seems that the Chinese had a rabies epidemic on their hands and euthanized about 50,000 dogs. I think this may be more about competitive dog-killing, though, as this puts the Chinese substantially ahead of PETA in the total score. PETA's gonna have to kill at a greater rate than normal if they expect to get back in the game! Read about it here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Inquiring Minds..

Ok.. Have gotten several email inquiries. People wanted to know if, since we were "in Rome", as it were... did we...?

Here's the (tastefully cropped) answer...


We could use the camera in the privacy of our own residence. So I did.

The camera rule makes sense, of course, when you think about it. As I've said, there's as diverse a number of members and guests at the resort as there are out on the streets.. and that would include folks who would rather not have the fact that they are there be known... I can think of a few: Legislators, clergy, teachers, etc.

As for us, we have no problem with it, obviously. As I said in the original post, I've wanted to go to Turtle Lake for a long time, but was put off by the price. Now I think the price is worth it. We may even become members.. maybe even lease or purchase a Park Model for summer living.

Now you know. See you there :)

We will now return to our normal life..

LGRA race meet this weekend in Lewisville, IN
Art Fair next weekend in Monroe, MI (A normal art fair, downtown!)
ASFA lure coursing the following two weekends- first in Racine, WI (MWCC), then in the Niagara Falls area, (LCLC).
Labor Day Weekend, we'll be in Ontario Canada for the GCA "Triathlon",
then back to Hobart, IN for Wind Chaser's ASFA trial, (and PIG ROAST!).
The Dog's Camp follows, either the next week, or the week after.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Naked Lunch












..and breakfast ..and dinner ..and, ..and Mini Golf! And, of course, the 1st Annual TLR Art Fair, which is why we were here. Bad news first: The art fair was pretty bad- for us, anyway, and most of the rest of the artists and craftpeople as well, it seemed. Attendance on Saturday was good, as the resort was pretty full for the weekend. Mostly naked people from the resort, but also a few "civilians" from the surrounding area as well.

But it's not all bad news, of course... first, it didn't cost us anything to put our talents on display.. (we're talking our photos and jewelry and minipurses, here!), and the camping rate was an incredibly low, $10 a night for water and electric. Compare that to their regular rates, for non-members of around $55 a night, and we were going to jump at the chance to hang out, (no pun intended), at a place I've wanted to visit for a long time.

So, you're asking yourselves, what is it like at a "Naturist Resort", a nudist camp, if you will? If you've never been, (and I'm assuming most of you haven't), it's nothing like you would assume... assuming you even thought about it.
Well... people are... naked. All kinds of people. We saw,
normal people,

fat people,

skinny people,

really really fat people, (we saw Jaba the Hutt on a golf cart!),

really really skinny people, (concentration camp-skinny),

we saw white people, black people, asian people,

kids, (but not many),

old people,

really really old people,

We saw couples and singles,

straight people, and probably gay people, and, I suspect, a few "swingers", and
one guy with a.. um.. ring.

Pierced & tattooed people, and unmarked people.

We saw that gravity really works! Meaning we saw very little that was "perky" (but what there was, was perky indeed!)

We saw that size doesn't really matter. Whew!

And we saw that more men than women shave.. (and we're not talking faces or underarms here.)
That was a surprise to me.

We saw people in the lake, and sunning on the beach. And playing disk golf. And volleyball, shuffleboard, petanq.

And people in the indoor pool and spa, and the outdoor "conversation pool".

And people covered head to toe in mud from the mud pit. (That was fun!)

And golf carts.. lord, were there golf carts. The number one social activity seemed to be "cruising" in your golf cart... 1, 2, 3, 4 or more nekkid folk to a cart, and 6 carts (or more!) in a parade from one end of the resort to the other.. (but never out the gate).

And we saw naked women who weren't technically naked. A thing called a "wrap"; sheer, colorful, wispy, ...did I mention sheer?

We saw people in tents, people in pop-up campers, people in travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers, and people in motor homes like ours, and bigger, aqnd newer. And people in permanent "Park Models" with decks, and landscaping, and two cart garages.

We saw naked people doing things that would give us pause- two come to mind: The guy building a deck. ("Careful with that circular saw, Harry!"), and a brave soul whacking weeds in his front yard with a gas string trimmer. 'Least he was wearing sensible shoes.

We saw that the staff wears clothes! (Oh, except for the General Manager/Owner.. who looks comfortable enough that he may have never worn clothes in his life.)

In other words, we saw a world very much like the one out here, where people wear clothes.


But you know what we didn't see? (besides tan lines)
Anybody we knew. And that's just as well, I guess.

I bet you'd like to see some pictures, wouldn't you? There's a problem:

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GOP Whine Cellar: Can't win if'n we can't cheat!

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