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Friday, April 29, 2016

The Eggs Start to Hatch

Bow and I have been preoccupied by two things in the past week: robins' nests and Austin Petersen's campaign for the Libertarian nomination.

Bow watches a Livestream talk by Austin Petersen
The weather was nice for a while, though it has been raining more lately. Still Bow has been able to go out almost every day.

We even filmed an endorsement video together out of doors. You can see Brownie digging under the shedding dogwood tree at the beginning of the video.

Leo and Brownie by the shedding dogwood
The significance of that view of Brownie right at the start of the video is this: before I heard Austin Petersen speak, I was supporting Brownie for president. None of the other candidates I had heard of were people I would ever vote for.

I think Brownie will not mind that I found someone else I'd rather have for president. He is pretty happy as things stand.

 But meanwhile, the eggs in the nest by the fence have started to hatch. First there was just one little helpless hatchling in the nest, surrounded by two blue eggs.

 That was yesterday, in the morning. But by afternoon there were two of them.

Today, there are still only two hatched. But notice how they have moved in reference to the one blue egg.

Their eyes are so huge and stuck shut. But this afternoon, one of them raised its head and opened its mouth, as if asking for a donation.

 Meanwhile, in the nest by my door, there are still four blue eggs, all of them intact. I am beginning to worry about them. We must not count our robins before they hatch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

All Your Eggs in One Basket

The weather has been getting much warmer. It is almost like summer weather sometimes, even though it's still April. Bow enjoys the warm weather and spends a lot of time out-of-doors. Also there are summer treats readily available now, like watermelon, which Bow loves.

Out in the woods. mayapples are blossoming. As their name implies, this should be happening in May.

The bees are very busy in my backyard, and they manage to coexist peacefully with my dogs, enjoying the dandelions that I permit to grow there.

Just outside my door, the robins are being fruitful and multiplying. Remember when  there was only one egg in the nest in the rosebush out side my door? There are now four!

I also found another nest by the fence. It had three eggs in it before the one by the door had more than one. It still has three eggs in it now, but I was alarmed to find one broken egg shell on the grass a couple of days ago, not far from the nest by the fence.

Is it safe to put all your eggs in one basket or one nest? Even robins diversify. They have several clutches each year.

I  don't think all chimpanzees should be sent to a few centralized locations. Even if no one there means them any harm, one epidemic could devastate their numbers, and the real job of chimpanzee conservation is outside of Africa, in case they are destroyed in their native habitat.

I have decided to be proactive and support libertarian candidates, because they are the only ones who will fight for property rights. And the property rights of chimpanzee owners outside Africa are the only thing that stands between chimpanzees and extinction. It is not right that the US Fish & Wildlife Service is sending US taxpayer money to Jane Goodall in Africa, while eroding the rights of chimpanzee owners in the US. By their own admission, at;
"The Service has funded $9.4 million in grants for conservation efforts to protect chimpanzees, matched by an additional $11.5 million in leveraged funds. These grants have supported field projects in 19 countries and include: developing conservation policies and local leadership and improving law enforcement to ensure the long-term survival and protection of chimpanzees and gorillas."
They have taken funds earmarked for conservation in the US and sent them to Africa. There are no wild chimpanzees or gorillas in the United States. The great apes are not within the purview of their jurisdiction.  While we can argue that the original mission may or may not be constitutional, the US Fish & Wildlife Service  has gone rogue and is operating outside any rights delegated to it by the people.

If you would like to support the cause, please visit here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cooperating to Achieve Common Goals

Bow and I help each other. There are things he cannot do as well as I can. There are things I cannot do as well as he can. His fine motor skills for opening a plastic bottle of soda water are not as good as mine. But when a sliding glass door gets a little stuck in its track, it is Bow who helps me.

We help each other.

Each day is a new day. Each evening the sun sets again. And in the morning it rises.

We are fairly insulated out here in the country. There's a bird's nest right in front of my entrance door on a wild rose bush, and a single blue egg inside it.

This morning it was raining, and I checked on the nest.

There are wood violets and mayapples blooming in my woods.

Every new bloom is an offer of fruit to come.

Swallowtail butterflies flutter right in front of me.

They are so fragile, but they feel safe on my land.

All is calm and peaceful here. But that does not mean that I am unaware of the rumbling in the distance. US Fish & Wildlife, by declaring domesticated chimpanzees an endangered species, have effectively nationalized private chimpanzees, without a single law having been passed. They are now going after a female chimpanzee named Candy in Louisiana, because she has no other chimpanzee companions. Human companionship is discounted. Family feeling does not matter to them.

If they come for Bow, who will stand up for him and me?

When they came for Logan Marr, to take her away from her mother and give her to the woman who killed her, nobody stood up for her. My musical with Daniel Carter, The Debt Collector,  has a subplot inspired by the story of Logan Marr.

Today is April 19, the twenty-third anniversary of the Mt. Carmel Massacre. Who stood up for the Branch Davidians when the ATF came for them?

When you live in the country, you get used to a slow tempo and quiet everyday events, like this sweat bee that walks from one dogwood flower to another, not even bothering to fly.

The dogwoods are lovely at this time of year.

In the woods, blue-eyed grass is blooming.

But all of this is a very delicate balance of nature that will be disturbed by the arrival of boots on the ground that have no respect for property rights. Because there can be no liberty without property, just as no flower can bloom without soil to grow in.

Bow and I help each other. But if they come for us, we will need much more help than that. What can you do? At the moment, it would help if you bought and read my books and left reviews, and left comments on my blogs showing your support. It would also help if you vote libertarian in the national and local elections. Because liberty is a delicate flower. And we need your help.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Memories from Orchard House

Bow looking at a picture of himself from Orchard House
Yesterday, I went over to Orchard House to check on things.

Somebody had taken most of the firewood that had been stacked outside. Someone had been leafing through Project Bow notebooks that had been in the unlocked shed, and left them strewn on the lawn. Small children scampered away as my car approached.

But the apple tree was blooming, so that was good. I asked my yard man what I should do to keep people from stealing the apples before I can pick them. He laughed. "I don't think those people will work that hard for apples. They have plenty to eat."

This reminded me of my Debt Collector song, with music by composer Daniel Carter, that has a line that goes like this: "Good things don't grow on trees, 'cept in other people's yards, but we don't climb those trees, who wants to work that hard?"

You can hear the song, sung by Victoria Trestrail,  here. (There is also a new version from 2015 that I just got, but I haven't had a chance to make a video of it.)

I took the notebooks from Orchard House home for safekeeping. Once upon a time, I had volunteers who helped with Project Bow, and they lived at Orchard House, and they had schedules like this:

A Schedule for Two Interns from 2006
The interns worked with Bow, they video-recorded his floortime sessions, and they transcribed his utterances into digital dialogues. And of course, they played with him.

Bow looking at a very old photo of his human  sister and his cousin
He is pointing at his cousin's name, because I asked him who that was.
Those were good times for Project Bow, but they are over now. People who volunteer to work with chimpanzees want to be able to go in and interact with the chimp and then leave and resume their lives.

But Bow needs people to make a lifelong commitment to him. He can't abide new people every year. We still need volunteers to pick the fruit at Orchard House and to work on computer programs for Bow's literacy, but they would not be allowed to go in with him, so the prospect is not that attractive for young people interested in apes.

A Hummingbird moth hovering over the creeping phlox in front of my house

But it's okay, Bow and I manage on our own. We have nice things happening at our own house, too. Yesterday, I spotted a hummingbird moth and was able to get very close.

The Hummingbird Moth's Wings are Translucent
Bow watched with interest as I showed him the video.

Maybe if I sell Orchard House, we can take some measures to allow Bow more outside access, so he can see hummingbird moths close up, too.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Too Bad It's Cold

Most of the time, all Bow uses his language skills for is to ask for food, or water or a blanket or companionship or to go outside. If you only use language to ask for things, then it's not really considered language by some researchers. That's one of the things Nim Chimpsky was criticized for. That, and the fact that most of his remarks were elicited in response to what seemed like a prompt on the same subject.

Bow has said some pretty interesting things in the past, but not lately. Lately, he keeps most of his thoughts to himself, as many teens do. But yesterday, out of the blue, Bow spelled: חבל שקר -- "Too bad it's cold."

Rue anemone in my woods

It has been unusually cold, despite all the beautiful spring flowers  blooming outside.

Lilac at Orchard House

"Too bad it's cold."

That's a pretty inane remark, but not one he has ever made before, and not what we were talking about. I asked him what he wanted. He was reluctant to tell me. No, he did not want a blanket. No, he did not want to go outside. Just this: too bad it's cold. It's not a request. Not a complaint. Just an observation.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Grounds at Orchard House

For Bow, the most exciting time of day is mealtime. No two meals are the same. Each is punctuated by the good things that turn up on the menu.

Strawberries and cherry tomatoes were both on the menu today.

Bow stopped to savor every mouthful.

Outside, it is still quite windy and cold, but the redbud has fully opened its blooms

The Weigela is blooming and starting to put for the green leaves that signal that soon the blooming will be over, as quickly as it began.

Pay no mind to the bee's bottom that is sticking out from one of the blossoms
And Orchard House is vacant again. I went over there and was shocked to see several trees had been felled without my permission. But the story of what befell the tenants is so complicated and sorrowful that I soon put my loss out of mind. I am not going to tell the tale that is going around, because this  is not a gossip column, but I will share some images from my inspection of the Orchard House grounds, which I think are beautiful in their own way, and may also tell a deeper story.

The apple tree is almost blooming at Orchard House
I was so happy to see that the apple tree at Orchard House is covered with many small blossoms. almost ready to open.

The wreaths on the apple tree at Orchard House

But even more unusual is the sight of the wreaths of twisted vine that the tenants left hanging on the apple tree.

There is also one of a pair of pear trees still left there, and it appears to already have  bloomed.

There are many beautiful flowers underfoot in the grass of the lawn.

Wood violets in the lawn at Orchard House
The two dogwood trees are giving off a whiter bloom than my one dogwood here at home.

And beside the dogwood, the tall phlox are already lushly blooming.

Many beautiful sights greeted my eyes as I walked through the grounds at Orchard House.

But the one sight that intrigued and at times even dismayed me were those ever-present wreaths, hanging from trees in surprising places.

What do those wreaths signify? I kept wondering as I went on my walk.

Also, images of randomly felled or uprooted trees in strange places disconcerted me. Was this one, still in bloom, uprooted by natural forces or made to give way by man for the sake of a path?

Can you see the uprooted tree, still in bloom?

Orchard House has a story to tell, I feel. If only I could properly interpret the clues.

Monday, April 4, 2016

April Flowers

Bow has had to put up with a lot of flower pictures lately. When I show them to him, he is singularly unimpressed.

But he will just have to bear with me, because, after all, it is spring, and that is the season for flowers.

Cherry Blossoms

In the morning, we wake up to beautiful birdsong. I let Brownie into the yard at sunrise, and I wish I could follow him, too, because the songs of the birds are beckoning me.

I have seen quite a few butterflies on my walks in the field, but they won't stop for a portrait.

In the afternoons, when it is no longer chilly, Bow goes outside.

The dogwood is already putting out its showy blossom, although the parts that pass for petals are still green.

Green  dogwood flowers

The dogwood blossoms are really set up to produce drupes, so  it's those little green balls in the center that are the buds which will one day soon bloom into flowers, which in turn will seem like fruit. But the things that look like flower petals now are merely bracts.

But Bow does not care about all that, and he sees no need to rehash it every time the dogwood blooms.

However, Bow does like to eat peaches and cherries and pears and apples, so he does see the usefulness in allowing me to go out and inspect the blossoms in our orchard.

And after Bow has gone to bed, I make another pass, and I get to see the apple blossoms on our brand new apple tree up close.

Beauty can be functional. April flowers can bring us edible fruit later on in the summer and fall.

Pear Blossoms

But for now, we can admire the flowers.

Apple Blossoms