Sunday, July 28, 2013

Un-Supersize That!

Common sense-sized supply
I registered my car in Colorado. The Maryland tags were to expire next week at the end of the month, so that was plenty of motivation to not run out the 90 day limit for new residents to register their cars. Since the bolts holding the plates onto the car were rusted, and not knowing whether we had any penetrating oil, Jan and I stopped into Lowes to buy a small wrench and can of WD-40. The thought of buying another can of WD-40 irked me - we still had the two cans we bought at Costco seven years ago - because the last thing we needed was a third. We were surprised after asking the hardware guy where to find it - as it turned out, small, right-sized cans for $1.98 each were neatly lined up on the shelf.(1) We will never use up the latest can dry, much less the other two standard-sized ones, but at least the three can hold down garage space and I can have a clear conscience.

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(1) The WD-40 Website refers to the 3 oz Handy Can as: "The travel-sized problem-solver."

Missing Bunnies - Alien Abduction?

Bunny in a Lawn Circle
We are wrapping up our one month of living in a rented condominium while waiting for our new home in Fort Collins to close.(1) After returning home the week-before-last from a meeting in Couer d'alene, Idaho, we were not greeted by the half dozen or so cotton tail rabbits that normally inhabit our front lawn - little mowers they are. Ever since we moved in, the young rabbits and adults stay put, holding still as we drive up and park our car at the curb in front of the apartment - not moving, no sign of their actions before we arrived - the tell-tale rings of short cropped grass that surrounds their seating/eating place. If they were larger, and the greenery surrounding them were corn, you wouldn't have to squint your eyes very much to see the sure signs of possible visitors from space - crop circles and the likelihood of aliens. But regardless of the scale of the landscape alterations, the absence of the furry beasts was a sure indication that something was amiss - lawn circles without bunnies to be seen. Where could the little bunnies have gone?

Earlier theories of rabbits gone missing abound. One of the most popular that came to mind was the  tale of Little Bunny Foo Foo - a children's poem that featured a popular but wicked sort central character whose action ultimately resulted in a transformation performed by a Fairy - an example of a bunny gone missing (2):
Little bunny Foo Foo
Went hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head
Down came the Good Fairy, and she said
"Little bunny Foo Foo
I don't want to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head."
I'll give you 3 chances,
And if you don't behave, I will turn you into a goon!"
And the next day...
Little bunny Foo Foo
Went hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head
Down came the Good Fairy, and she said
"Little bunny Foo Foo
I don't want to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head."
I'll give you 2 more chances,
And if you don't behave, I will turn you into a goon!"
And the next day...
Little bunny Foo Foo
Went hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head
Down came the Good Fairy, and she said
"Little bunny Foo Foo
I don't want to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head."
I'll give you 1 more chance,
And if you don't behave, I will turn you into a goon!"
And the next day...
Little bunny Foo Foo
Went hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head
Down came the Good Fairy, and she said
"Little bunny Foo Foo
I don't wanna to see you
Scooping up the field mice
And bashing them on the head."
I gave you three chances and you didn't behave so.... POOF. She turned him into a Goon.

Justice played out in a children's poem. 

In reality, a more sinister plot seemed to have emerged as we unlocked the door and entered our living room - the smell of death was heavy in the air. It seemed an action worse than abduction - more like a bunny had met an ill end, and the action may have taken place in our apartment. We have always enjoyed the Agatha Christie Poirot mysteries on television, but this seemed more in the vein of an dastardly murder in an NCIS episode.

Critter extractor
Other than the smell, there was no indication of foul play in our apartment. We opened all the windows and slept the best we could before leaving the next morning for another business trip. After a couple of text mail exchanges with our landlord - he replied, we will have to take care of this the right way this time - we were assured that the problem would be taken care of as soon as possible. In the end, the landlord summoned a pest exterminator, and after the young technician accessed the crawl space in our closet, emerged with a plastic bag full of dead bunnies.

"Thirty-eight of them," he murmured through his filter mask as he quickly went out our door.
"Did he say 38?" Jan and I said at the same time.
I went outside and asked, "Did you day 38?'
"Yes." as he looked back and then turned and talked with the landlord.
I went back inside and said, "He said 38."

We talked a little more, but I think our lips were curled up at the thought of a mass graveyard of accumulated disappeared bunnies underneath our feet, kitchen, bedroom,.... where we lived.

As it turned out, there was no alien abductors, no justice-wielding fairies - just a one-way foundation skirt that allowed little bunnies to pass into the dark space under our apartment, never to see the full sunlight or green grass with fewer mowed lawn circles under moon-lit night skies where imagined space craft pass through the night.

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(1) We have learned that in Colorado, there are two simultaneous closings: the Title and the real estate loan.
(2) Through a little bit more background research, I found out that even the Grateful Dead were aware of this children's tune, and used it in concert.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cadeaux de la France

I received an email from celui qui appr├ęcie Ellie Bogardus art. The daughter of a collector wrote asking whether I would like photographs of several painting her mother and father had collected. I will post them when they arrive, and hopefully some more background about them. Following is the nice message from the daughter of the collector:

Hi, I don't know how to reach you other than by commenting. I found you by Googling Ellie Bogardus. Mom & dad collected some paintings (as much as possible on a HS teacher's salary). I'm helping mom move to San Diego and we're packing her artwork for the trip. She has a large Bogardus (The Shopkeeper's Cat, I believe it's called - very Matisse-like and joyous) and a few smaller ones. Would you like to see photos, and if so, to whom should I email them? [edited personal information] Mom and dad used to rent the Rosenlieb's house, which was across the street from Ellie's, and they became friends.

I was going through the list of blogs I have posted, and saw several that still needed to be posted. They are a mix of various random topics, and some photographs of birds that have not been identified. Since all of my birding books have been and still are in storage with the rest of our household items, its will still be a little while until they are unpacked after the boxes are delivered next week to our new home.

The following is by Justine Bonnard, daughter of Ellie's husband Jean-Marie. Her brother Mathias has been invaluable in filling in pieces of information from decades earlier, and for access to his father's and Ellie's art. The narrative below was begun better than a year ago - maybe two, and finished today.


Justine Bonnard's Silly Beast
When I was driving home from work today [Beltsville to Annapolis, MD], I was thinking of how busy I have been with travel and the frantic pace in the office, and how I have hardly put any effort into coming up with new ideas to blog. (1) This week I received another Ellie Bogardus painting by email (see the earlier [previous blog]). The French connection to the Bonnard family has turned up a pretty good collection that has been posted. Add to these the ones from northern, central, and southern California, as well as New Jersey.

When I Google'd the Silly Beast animation by Justine Bonnard, I came up with both the storyboard version (A), and the final product (B) that I had seen before. A set of drawings for the chicken in the animation shows a bit more of the detail that goes into the preparation for an animation.

Much more detail about the animation and artist can be found by clicking here.

I have pointed out before, the artistic linage - in avian idiom terms, birds of a feather, flock together, is impressive. This compilation almost amounts to an artist guild to itself. Given my interest in birding, it is no wonder that I have an affinity for them as well.
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(1) Blog can be a verb, just like putting an "ing" at the end of curry to make it a verb. Tonight when we went to the Chinese restaurant that seems to be the best in Annapolis, I saw a sign beside the door that read, "We are now currying Chinese broccoli."


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rocky Mountain Home - Marvels of Techology

We have traded in moisture-laden blue skies in Annapolis, Maryland, for nearly-mile-high ones in Fort Collins, Colorado. I will have to give some thought whether I want to change the name of this blog, but for now will keep it the same.

Skype encounter of a first kind
Our daughter and her family are on vacation in California. They have made much of the same trek down Interstate-5 through the Sacramento Valley, stopping to see relatives and friends along the way, and ending up in Visalia to see Great Grandma and Great Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and kids of Cousins. We had a treat this afternoon - seeing my folks over Skype. It was a new experience for them. My mom was first: Jill setting up the camera and screen on her iPad with the two of them seated on the couch. At first my mom didn't know what to do when Jan and I started talking, but then she got it - a smile followed. "I didn't know such a thing existed," she remarked. The rest of the conversation flowed, still with a hint of novelty. In the background we could hear my dad at this computer in his office calling out, "Nolan," - needing some kind of assistance - unaware of what was happening in the family room.

After a while, Jill got my Dad, and the three of them the seated together in front of the screen. His vision and hearing are pretty poor, but when he finally figured out what was going on, and who was on the screen, a big smile filled his face. It kind of reminded me the one time Jan met my grandpa when we were in our early dating period. He had dropped by my folks house when we were all sitting at the kitchen eating island. I had introduced Jan to him, but it wasn't until a little while later that it sunk in the juxtaposition of me, Jan, being together at my folks house - a similar big smile appeared, similar to the one my dad just showed.

The marvels of technology - thank you Skype. It used to be when people moved across the continent, goodbyes were permanent. Regular cross-country flights can remedy that - even more so electrons flying through fiber cables at the speed of light.