Archive: » 2022 » April

Digging A Ditch And Meeting a Snake

For most of my life I have heard the expression, “Sure beats digging ditches.” It is used to compare a task, or job, to the alternative – shovel in hand, slinging dirt. I have used this well-worn phrase many times myself; for instance, when things got hectic or tense in a newsroom, as a hairy deadline loomed, the phrase helped remind me, or others, that there are worse jobs out there. I often joke that a shovel handle simply doesn’t fit my hand. Shoveling remains one of my least favorite tasks, something I should have considered when we bought this timber-and-snake farm last summer....

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Chimp Haven Is Truly a Treasure

Thanks to a dear friend, my Beautiful Mystery Companion and I took a tour of the world’s largest sanctuary for chimpanzees last weekend and met – at a distance – Valentina Rose, the 10-year-old chimp our friend sponsored for my BMC’s birthday. She received an adorable chimp doll, a certificate, and a photo of her new “best friend.” Chimp Haven is a nonprofit facility located on 200 acres inside the 1,200-acre Eddie D. Jones Nature Park in Keithville, Louisiana -- an unincorporated area about 20 miles south of Shreveport. It currently cares for 325 chimps formerly used in biomedical...

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The Wind And The Flagpole

The wind blew fiercely last weekend, with gusts often reaching more than 50 mph. Outside chairs toppled over. Tree limbs fell across the pastures. The cats look alarmed and wanted back inside. Even Molly the Maltese, who normally loves being outside, stood at the back door, whimpering to be let inside. Pollen streamed sideways and oak clusters lined the driveway. Maybe this will end pollen season, a hope we hold every spring -- ready for noses to stop streaming, eager to power-wash away the yellow powder covering everything outside. We’re eager to open windows again and enjoy a spring breeze....

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‘Three Pines’ Series Evokes Childhood Memories

Daughter Mere sent my Beautiful Mystery Companion a birthday present recently – a half-dozen volumes in the Inspector Armand Gamache series, written by Louise Penny. I have started reading them as well, trailing my BMC by a couple of editions. The novels are set in the picturesque village of Three Pines in Quebec, Canada. Since first publishing Still Life in 2005, she has written 17 novels with another due out next month. That’s one a year. Pretty impressive. As Penny writes on her website: I live outside a small village south of Montreal, quite close to the American border. My husband Michael...

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Spring Slow In Arriving On The Farm

Spring is slow in coming to our farm, about 8 miles north of town. I had no idea being a few miles north would make a difference, but it does. On campus, the annual wave of pollen is well underway, coating vehicles with a sickly yellow powder, stirring up sinuses and, when the wind is blowing hard, leaving a haze in the air. But here on the farm, on April 1, the wave of pollen hasn’t quite arrived. The oak trees are reluctantly starting to bud out. Just the other day, the three Bradford pear trees in the front pasture started flowering. I walked out to take a few photos, in my ongoing project...

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