TONGUE ANYONE?

Daily Post: Take That, Rosetta!

by Ben Huberman on February 10, 2014

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TONGUE.

I want to learn DOG. I want to explain to all my canines in their own unique tongues so they can’t pretend they don’t understand (oh, I know your games … you understand fine when you want to) to stop barking all the time at absolutely nothing. Of, if you are barking at something, please … tell me what you see that I don’t see? And about that early morning chorus. You have such beautiful voices, my furry babies … but why six in the morning? If you are all about praising the Lord (other than Garry, your Dog God) … can we reschedule services for a bit later? How about 11 in the morning? Even noon. I don’t think a deity would be offended by a slightly late start and I would be personally grateful.

And about those tongues.

When I get out of the shower, you do not have to lick every exposed inch of my body. Really, I just did that with soap and hot water and although I’m sure you mean the very best, I always feel sort of slimy when you’ve finished redoing the process in your own special ways. And hey, I’ve seen the stuff you eat out in the yard. Don’t lie to me. I know where that tongue has been. Eww and double yuck!

I know you talk to each other. I’ve seen you each approach one another … then get up, and go and a pair to the next canine, then all three of you embark on some kind of group activity … usually barking in chorus or a good howl. Or a trip to the kitchen where you stand around giving us the dead-eye until we produce treats. So you communicate. I just would appreciate you letting me in on the secret.

I could make a pretty penny doing dog food commercials and movies if I could simply explain in native DOG … tell you guys what I want you to do. Training would be unnecessary. Just a simple chat, and voilà! Tricks? No problem. Then, instead of being fuzzy, over-indulged lounge lizards, you could become productive members of society. Maybe with dental and health benefits. And think about how great it would be if you could really tell me what was bothering you? I could stop guessing … a boon for both of us!

Thanks for listening. And please, whatever you are barking at? Give it a rest!

REMEMBERING MAO – A CAT

Jeff and I got Mao as an 8-week-old kitten in the fall of 1965. We had just gotten married the month before, and of course we had to have a cat right away. Why a Siamese? I don’t know. Maybe it was just Karma.

Mao traditional-siamese sealpoint

From the very first day, Mao was Master of All He Surveyed. Although I have had many cats through the years, Mao was the first and by far the most utterly unique.

He was very smart for a cat. For instance, when we were out-of-town, we would have someone “house-sit” for us. No matter who that person was, and no matter how much Mao ordinarily liked them, while we were away, Mao would attack him or her (or them) virtually continuously during our absence. He would hide behind the bushes and attack legs as they tried to open the front door. He would wait around the corner, and then pounce. He would launch himself from atop the bookcase, landing on a victim’s head, sometimes causing serious damage.

The moment we returned, Mao ceased his attacks and commenced purring. He figured, I believe, that he needed to drive out the interlopers so that we could return. Since we always DID return, his belief was consistently reinforced!

Mao protected us from bed goblins. If you were on Mao’s “family member” list, he would stop by your bedroom every night. You had to lift the covers so he could walk to the foot of the bed and back up. No goblins tonight? Good, I will go now, and he did.

Mao was the only cat I’ve ever known that perpetrated acts of vengeance hours or days after your perceived offense. If, for example, you shooed him off the table during dinner time, he would wait until you were sitting on the potty with your pants around your ankles and could not chase him. Then he would casually bite your shins. Tail held high, he would stroll away.

Mao patrolled the perimeter of the grounds like any good watch cat should. Every day of his life, he performed it, almost as if it were a ceremony. During his closing weeks with us, he began to patrol in the company of a younger feline, Mr. Manx. As if passing the torch to the next generation, he taught Mr. Manx to walk the perimeter, and inspect the beds, which Mr. Manx then did for the rest of his life.

In October 1978, Mao, who had been diagnosed with cancer some months before, disappeared. We never found his body, though we were sure he had gone off to die. For the last couple of weeks before his departure, we had noticed that he felt different. Where his muscles had been hard, they were now soft. He slept most of the day and moved slowly.

It is many years and lifetimes later. Jeff has passed. I live far from that place where Jeff and I and Mao and all the other fur-people lived. But I remember him. We all remember Mao, the most special cat.

Mao, I am sure you were there for Jeff when he came to the Bridge. I’m sure you will be there for me, too. You and all my other furry friends who I loved will be there together.

But you were and will always be, utterly unique and entirely unforgettable.

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

DEAD CENTER

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There are plenty of reasons to shoot subjects centered in the frame. Many of them have fur or feathers.

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When you subject is going to fly or run away, you take your shot, however you can grab it.

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Press the shutter the instant your subject’s in focus, sometimes before you are sure you’re in focus … and hope for the best.

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Wildlife — in the wild as opposed to at a zoo or otherwise enclosed — doesn’t wait while you line up your shot. I know from painful experience — speed counts. Until I got over my need for perfection, I missed pretty much everything.

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Seize the moment! He who hesitates gets a great picture of an empty branch.

WINTER 2015 – THE TIME CAPSULE

Time Capsule – What would you put in this year’s time capsule to channel the essence of our current moment for future generations?


It would have to be an electrified, refrigerated time capsule because aside from the technical problem involved in keeping stuff frozen indefinitely, there’s but one possible answer, at least if you live around here.

Snow. Ice. More snow. More ice.

For your shivery pleasure, here’s a summary of the past 6 weeks:

CARDINAL ON A SNOWY MORNING

Imitation/Flattery

Today’s Daily Post suggests I write about something — anything — in the style of my favorite blogger. (Be sure to link to them!) I don’t have a favorite blogger. I have a lot of favorite bloggers, each a favorite for a different reason. Some make me laugh, others make me think. Their work entertains and inspires me … but how could I imitate one of them?


I have been left pondering the conundrum. I love my blogging friends … but copy someone’s style? I don’t think I can. It’s not they aren’t great writers, but imitable style is something else again. A favorite author, maybe Hemingway with his short, sharp, sentences. He’s easy to parody. Poe. Faulkner. Joyce. Wolfe. Easy to make fun of them, but I’m sure parody is not the same as imitation. And surely it’s not flattery.

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What to do? Then, an epiphany. Many of my favorite bloggers don’t write, or at least, not much. They are photographers. By fortuitous circumstance, this very morning I spied a flash of red in the big forsythia bush. I ran for a camera, all the while thinking of Suzanne Rogers, who takes gorgeous pictures of wildlife around her home.

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She doesn’t use a lot of words, but posts amazing pictures — especially of birds. Other creatures also populate her world, but the birds seem to steal the show.

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So not so much in imitation of A Window Into the Woods, but more in acknowledgement of her beautiful work, I present (short drumroll) — Cardinal On A Snowy Morning.