Crowz Nest

Because it's time... as it was once before.

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Location: Port Murray, NJ

I'm a bit old to be starting out in life again, but that's where I am. Sadly. Or gladly. It's where I am. Come along. Watch the fun. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Right after the dog whispering, there was the dog shouting. Anyone who lives with dogs knows that there are many barks. There's the bark that says, "Hey, there are some people showing up for a yard sale across the street!" Yet another bark says, "Someone's walking a boxer in front of the house!" Then there are the other barks. "Mom? There's a rabbit out there. I know I can't chase it 'cause I'm inside, but I thought you should know. You know. Just in case you felt like opening the door." And the barks that say, "Someone's barking up the street," or "that cat is out again."

None of these are deeply significant barks. They're conversational, intended to inform and one learns what they mean.

But then there's the "MOM!!!! Venutians with ATTITUDE have landed and are digging up your flowers!!!" (That was a ground hog.) One learns the difference and which require immediate attention, ranging from a quickly yelled "Quiet!!" to hurrying to see who's arrived, to picking up the phone and dialling 911 while on the way to check to see what the specific threat might be.

The very day after the exercise in cooperation when the yard sale was across the street, there was a bark I'd never heard before. It was on the variety of the "Venutians have landed" bark, but there was an extra edge to it.

Shortly before the barking began, I'd been out back with the dogs and had been irritated by a persistant, loud, but unfamiliar roar. Closest I could come to identifying it was that someone might have been working on the engine of one of the very large township trucks. I live across the street from the town garage, and now and then there are definitely some unusual sounds. But this? I'd never heard anything like it, couldn't place it, and found it very irritating. And it went on. And on. And then stopped. And I didn't think any more of it.

Soon afterwards, while I was folding laundry, the dogs went to the front door and the new bark started. It started with that "Mom? There's a.... a ... a.... " tone to it, but rapidly changed to a "Ummm ... Mom? You'd better come and look at this" sound.

So, I did. Well. Gee. Great balls of fire.
I thought it must have just landed, but if it had, man, they'd done a heck of a job threading the trees and power lines. But, no. I remembered that odd sound. They must have been inflating it back there. One irritating mystery roar explained.

It started out behind the garage. Then, it began to move, just as if it were walking out from behind the building. The bark that greeted this event had to be heard to be appreciated.

Once it emerged, it appeared to have legs. And a couple of little heads grew out of its belly. Those elicited yet another tone to the barking (and yes, I felt truly protected.)

The thing began to bob and weave and develop a life of its own. And then, though we did not get a picture of it, it began to die. A man began to swing from a bar down by the basket, and kept swinging until his momentum tipped the basket over. And the great pumpkin head collapsed, and all the air rushed out. The dogs fell silent. It was a somber moment. The dogs mourned briefly, and then lost interest, just as they do when the chipmunks cease squeaking and the rabbit's shrieks fade away for good.

Whatever it had been, it was now dead, and no longer worth barking at.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dog whisperings

My riding lesson is canceled this morning, so I decided to take it slow until the front lawn is dry enough to be mowed. I have both the front and back doors open for a cross breeze. I became aware that I was hearing a lot more car doors closing, and a lot more voices outside than I usually do. Then I remembered seeing a sign yesterday, indicating that this weekend there would be a town wide yard sale. A closer look at the activity confirmed that the folks catty corner across the street were participating, and all the unusual noises signaled the arrival of customers.

With the front door open, Hudson and Crow decided that guard duty was in order. After my fifth or sixth coronary event coincided with the sudden eruption of barking, and my "hush," "quiet," and "that's enough, please"'s had escalated in volume and frequency and yet were all ignored, I went to the front door and knelt between the dogs. As new cars arrived, I began to whisper, "Look! Someone else! Who do you think that might be?" As they tensed and alerted, I would say "shhhhh ... let's watch." I had an arm over each of them, around their shoulders, and I realized I was using a slight posture change I could feel through their muscles, an elevation, to cue me as to when to whisper. So, I changed what I was saying to "Leave it. I've got it. It's ok," which is what I say when we're out and about and a dog comes into view (which is not always effective.) No sternness, no increase in volume, just whispered quietly.

Wow. As this went on for about five more minutes, each of them began to just slightly glance at me as a new car would pull up. Using that subtle check-in, I was able to begin whispering my cue to them BEFORE the elevation of the shoulders.

I stayed there watching the action with them, an arm around each of them, laying lightly across their shoulders, not restraining them in any way, until they decided, one at a time, that things had gotten boring. First Crow left. Then Hudson. It was actually a few seconds before I realized I was kneeling alone in my front doorway, watching by myself.

Before they left, we had quietly watched families arrive with small children, one elderly gentleman with a pug, a young couple with a golden, and dozens of pairs of women of all ages.

What did I learn? Wonderful things about timing and checking in. More wonderful things about energy informing energy. And that women, by and large, apparently don't have enough to do except date other women and buy other people's junk.

I am feeling enormously full and peaceful. I highly recommend becoming a Dog Whisperer for real.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time flies, and so do the birds

Ok, I've slipped up on blogging here. The baby doves flew off. For the better part of a week, I kept startling them in the forsythia next to the driveway, but now they've moved on from there. I hear mourning doves calling from all around the yard now, particularly in the evenings, but I have no way of knowing if its mama and papa, or the youngsters, or all of them. Time moves on. So do young birds.

The red tail clutch at Drew hatched, and two of the three baby hawks made it out of the nest. We've been treated to watching the juveniles figure stuff out. For the last few weeks they've been hanging out behind the administration building in an area we can watch from our office windows. They've also spent time back on the loading dock - rich pickings there since the squirrels hang out back there to raid the trash that's stashed there until the truck comes by to collect it. Yesterday, we got to watch one of the youngsters catch a grey catbird, and carry it up to the roof of the Mead Hall porch and devour it there. Nature's harsh. All God's creatures gotta eat, and most of them eat some of the other of God's creatures. It's a closed system, and a workable plan. Pretty hard to watch unless you happen to be rooting for the hunter at any given moment. So, we've watched the babies take to the wing. We've watched the parents continue to hunt for them and feed them for another couple of weeks, and we've watched the little ones learn. Time moves on. In fact it flies.

Since I don't have any further photographs of either the doves or the hawks as they grew, I'll impose a couple of shots of my Fourth of July on you.
My niece and her boyfriend as they lazed in front of the DVD of Planet Earth.

And my brother's dog, Cooper, who is one happy, funny, smart dog.

And Cooper's new "baby sister," Delylah. Delylah was very sick, and my niece, Alison, proved to be a worthy nurse and dogmom, shepherding her through the worst of a very serious case of kennel cough.

On the Fourth of July, she had her second good day, and was up to kissing her Auntie Gin.

Niece #2 (who doesn't own the puppy) will be very glad when Niece #1 (who does) stops carrying the little one everywhere. Sometimes it's fun to just sit by the pool and be an audience to family. Time flies. Birds grow up and leave the nest. So do nieces.