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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bow's Christmas Day 2017

Bow got two gifts on Christmas day: a new blanket and candy bracelets in festive red and green.

Half the fun in getting presents is unwrapping them.

Bow delighted in tearing away the paper to reveal the gift inside.

The blanket is an oversized plush with two foxes peering out at Bow.

The second present had Bow crying out in joy as he struggled to open it.

Imagine, candy you can wear! But not for long.

Bow had a wonderful Christmas. This morning, the candy bracelets are no more, and Bow is napping, entirely surrounded by the new blanket.

It's a new day, and the sun is rising.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Snow on the Ground

This morning we woke up to snow on the ground. It was not much snow, but it is the first snow of the season.

In the back yard, the liquidambar pods were topped with snow, like tiny Christmas ornaments.

The bench in the outer pen was frosted with snow.

I tried to entice Bow to go out into the pen to experience the snow, but even when I told him that Leo was out there, he stubbornly refused to go out.

He preferred to stay snug and warm indoors.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bow's Christmas Card and Gift

Bow received an envelope in the mail today. It was addressed to "Mr. Bow Katz", and there were beautiful stamps on the front.

"Look, Bow. Here is something for you. It came in the mail. Do you want to open it?" He examined the envelope and set about opening it. Then he fished something out of the card inside it. It was a red Christmas hat shaped ornament, with a bent paper clip for a hanger and a little bell at the end. This fascinated Bow so much that he almost did not notice the card.

The card said "Wishing you a furry Christmas" on the outside and inside there was a dog that barked the tune to "We wish you a Merry Christmas." In handwriting it said:: "Merry Christmas, Bow. Your friend Charla."

 Bow listened to the barking dog sing a little and then jiggled it. But the red hat ornament was what he really wanted for his own. He handed me back the card after a while, held on to the ornament, and asked to go outside.

Bow went walking around outside, human style, stomping his feet and carrying the ornament in his hand. This really impressed Leo.

Bow was very happy with this early Christmas present. It was the perfect gift!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's All in the Point of View

Bow and I  are getting ready for Christmas. As we put up our tree, many of the ornaments, which are just pictures of Sword and Bow in their younger days, make us reminisce about the past.

Then we  look at old photo albums and old books, like my own When Sword Met Bow.

You cannot go back in time, but our memories are fairly vivid, and we can see old scenes replay in our mind's eye, even with our eyes closed.

But back in the present, there are also wonderful things taking place. From the perspective of research, publication, or just plain living, good things are happening, and we have much to be grateful for. Sometimes I try to share our happy little moments with others on social media, but every person has a different point of view, and each one sees something different.

We have different audiences on Facebook and on YouTube. On Facebook, the video of Bow jingling the bells is really taking off. Everyone on Facebook agrees that Bow is cute. And, of course, that's true. No denying it. But there are other aspects to Bow's personality, and the focus of YouTube viewers is a little different.

On YouTube, it's the grooming videos that everyone wants to see. My top performing video at the moment is the one below.

Sometimes viewers will ask me questions that reveal their own bias. "Why do you  have so many grooming videos?" One person asked. "Is Bow your pet chimpanzee?"

I do not have "so many grooming videos." Out of 1903 videos, only a handful are of Bow grooming someone. But just at the moment, those are the ones that are trending. They are not even my top ten videos of all time.

Besides the Leslie Fish music videos, which have always done well, there is the Diorama of an Amazon rain forest that Sword made when she was in grade school. I always suspected that it got so many views, because there were so many other children and parents scrambling to assemble one of those, since it was assigned to them in school.

But besides class assignments, which are often mandated by the government, and besides Leslie Fish songs, which are very rebellious and cool --and I enjoy them, too, or I would not have them here -- the vast majority of the public has ignored the vast majority of my content.

There are the very serious playlists of videos explaining Project Bow and its scientific findings.

There are the songs from my musical with composer Daniel Carter, The Debt Collector.

And there is a playlist of the trailers for my books.

Not one of the videos in these playlists is anywhere near the top ten for my channel. This is not a reflection on me. It is an indication of what YouTube viewers like to watch.

The vast majority of my videos include nature scenes, like the one below of a Monarch butterfly. Hardly anyone watches them, though.

I was so excited to get this close to a Monarch butterfly this year! I was really proud of this video, but most viewers did not notice it at all. That is perfectly fine, though, because each of us has different interests, and one of the great things about YouTube is that we can watch whatever we like. As a libertarian, I am all for that.

But it's amusing when a viewer complains about there being too many grooming videos on my channel. If all you see on my channel are grooming videos, then that is because that is all you are looking for. It reflects on you, not on me! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are the videos that rank high with each viewer.

Bow looks through When Sword Met Bow

Today, Bow and I were reminiscing about the good old days.  So we leafed through When Sword Met Bow. 

It is one of the books that would make fine gift for someone on your Christmas list.

Books by Aya Katz

There's something in there for everyone. But if all you see are books on a particular topic, then that might be because that is the topic that appeals to you. We each create our own universe from our  point of view.

Our Tree -- How many of my interests can you spot in this picture?

Meanwhile, enjoy the holidays, and if you find one of my books appealing, give it a read!

Monday, November 27, 2017

What Bow Did Over Thanksgiving Break

Bow's favorite thing at the Thanksgiving dinner is the sparkling red grape juice.

His second favorite thing is the cranberry sauce.

His third favorite thing this year was the apple pie. He had so many servings of these delicacies that he hardly touched the turkey or the stuffing. But he did like the sweet potatoes, too. We had so much going on, though, that I did not take that many pictures of Bow eating.

A day or two before the guests began to arrive, we had an internet outage, so Bow and I got very engrossed in a book I ordered about Monarchs and Milkweed.

The first of our guests to arrive was my Sword. There was much jubilation!

My mother arrived shortly after. She really admired my old gnarled oak tree, so I took a photo of her in front of it.

That evening, we had the most beautiful sunset.

I love that old oak tree, but it died this year, and people say it must be chopped down. I am hoping to find some other way. But I am glad it was still here this year for my mother to pose with.

Besides all that was going on, Bow and I continued to work on the trailer for the release of Audible Vacuum County.

The trailer was published late on Thanksgiving day. I sent a link to Sword a few days later, and she sent me back this screenshot.

I am glad that videos of Bow grooming me are doing so well, but I would also like people to pay attention to the book trailers. By the way, Bow helps me to edit all my videos. In the one embedded below, you can see how he grooms me, and then he attends to the process of rendering the video.

Bow is involved with everything I do, and he is not as unsophisticated as some people assume. He knows he is being filmed, and he cooperates with the entire process. He is a bit of a ham.

Bow dislikes clothes, but he even agreed to put on the Vacuum County T-shirt this morning, when I told him it was for a good cause.  Here's the back side.

No, he doesn't have any pants on, but he did put on the shirt all by himself. By the way, Bow and I wear the same size of shirt. It's a women's medium. But that shirt comes in many other sizes.

If you would like to make a contribution to Project Bow this year, consider buying a T-shirt or one of the books I have published. 

Books and Shirts
There is also a chance to win a free T-shirt, if you follow the link below:

Thanksgiving was great. But this is Cyber Monday. Even Bow understands. Let the buying begin!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bow the Conservationist

The logging continues, but Bow and I are finding ways to ignore it and get on with our lives.

Bow leafs through an issue of the Missouri Consevationist
Yesterday, for instance, Bow watched the loggers for a while without getting too upset. and then he led me in an exercise session indoors.

The loggers are here in the morning, but they leave long before noon. So when I go for my afternoon walk, all is calm, and I can enjoy the wildlife. 

Yesterday, I got to watch a leaf fall from the sky, a common buckeye butterfly resting on my path, and two different groups of deer.

Some deer bound away at the first sight of me, and others stare at me long and hard.

This morning, Bow was so accustomed to having the loggers around that he let me go to the post office to mail off some bills and to buy new stamps. I chose the stamps featuring Monarch butterflies.

When I got home, Bow had been good. No accidents, no mess. So I showed him the stamps I had bought. Later he asked me to go out, saying he'd heard the loggers had food. (שמעתי שיש להם אוכל). I went out expecting to see the loggers eating sandwiches. But instead I spotted the twin fawns, nearly grown, taking shelter near the house. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Logging Continues

For the past three days, the loggers have been cutting down trees close to our property line. They start at seven in the morning, when we are not quite done with breakfast, but they are gone by noon. This has been tough on Bow, but I have tried to let him know that since the logging was taking place outside our borders. the people cutting down the trees have every right to do so.

What makes this especially hard on us is that the house does not sit in the center of our ten acres. It sits far back from the road and very close to the woods. The woods were a buffer for us, and they helped to give us that secluded feeling that characterizes our corner of the world .

Of course, I realized when I bought the property that my part of the woods was very shallow, and I inquired who owned the rest of the woods, and whether there might be a possibility of buying a part of the woods adjoining mine, so as to have a bigger buffer. At the time, the property was owned by the venerable matriarch of a well established local family. She explained to me that the woods were not for sale, as they had been in her family for a long time, and she was leaving them to her grandchildren. She also reassured me that there was nothing to worry about, because while the family would cut down some trees occasionally, to thin out the forest, avoid wild fires, cull out dead wood, and so on, they were not planning to substantially alter the woods.

I hope that is still the case, but she has since passed on, and it is now the new generation who is in charge. I remember her fondly. She was very kind to me and to Bow and Sword.

The neighboring woods used to extend all the way to our fence line, but as early as 2013 I had observed that a clearing had been created between the two properties, and now a dirt road was there just outside our border. This road is now being used to carry the logs out of the woods.

Bow keeps asking to go outside so that he can observe the loggers.

However, since he seems so upset by what is happening, I have asked him to stay indoors today. Yesterday, I baked lemon poppy seed muffins as part of my effort to distract Bow.

Poppy seed Muffins and Books by Aya Katz
We were reminded of The Lorax, and we reread a small part of it. No, I am not a tree hugger. Yes, I realize we live in a timber town, and I know trees are logged for a living and regrown. I am hoping, though, that the basic layout of the woods here will not change drastically, because it would leave Bow exposed to a lot of noise if there were no woods there any longer. Bow's outer pen is behind the house, and it faces the woods. That's why the current activity back there is such a concern for Bow and me.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Loggers Next Door

This morning, things have not been so peaceful. Ever since breakfast, the neighbors next door have been logging on their section of the woods next to ours. They have every right to do this, but Bow has been very upset about it.

Bow asked me to go outside to see what was going on. I came back with this picture.

Bow would periodically go outside, display at the loggers, then come in and  ask me to go out in the front yard to spy on them.

He kept asking me to go check what they were doing out there, even though I assured him it was not on our property. "It's okay, Bow. They have the right to do that."

Bow spelled: "זה רק שזה רע"  Meaning: "It's just that it's bad."

I didn't know what to say. Maybe I read him The Lorax once too many times when he was little.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Fifth of November

Today the clock was set back, and Bow was annoyed with me for not getting up at the usual time. By 5:30 am he was vocalizing loudly, even though it was still dark.

The day was warm. Somebody online reminded me that it was Guy Fawkes Day. Bow wore no mask, although a few days earlier, just before Halloween, when we had our first big freeze, he had  looked a little like jedi master when he greeted me that morning.

Today, we spent a lot of time outside in the outer pen. Bow groomed me, and then I groomed him.

Then we went indoors, but Bow did not want to groom anymore. He just asked for a drink of water, which I promptly provided. It's all so undramatic at our house. Elsewhere in the universe, somebody shot a church full of people -- in Texas! But that's not what happened for Bow and me in the pens.

Sometimes we do hear the neighbors shooting, but that's to do with deer season. However, no one is shooting at the deer on our land, and, for the time being, they are perfectly safe to graze on the front lawn, in plain view.

If only the rest of the world could be as calm and peaceful as our little corner!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Playing Tag and Tit for Tat

Yesterday, I started out to clip Bow's nails. but he wanted to play chase, instead. So I decided to film our game of tag, and in the process, I forgot that I was still holding onto the scissors. So it turned out I was running with scissors, something you should never try at home!

I am probably not the best person at interpreting body language, but just as I insisted that Bow learn to spell out what he wants, he has always insisted that I should also try to read his body language. Over the years, even though I may still seem obtuse to Bow, I believe that I have gotten better at reading simple non-verbal cues -- not just Bow's. I have gotten better at paying attention to those things in humans, too.

Bow is a gentle playmate who is perfectly harmless if you respect his personal boundaries -- and if you insist that he respect yours. But most of that is not something we do with language alone. Yes, saying "no" when you don't like something is important, but if you don't back up that "no" with immediate action, then nobody -- least of all Bow --will take it seriously.

This is something that I found really difficult to explain to many interns, and it is one of the reasons I am reluctant to advertise an opening for an intern and caretaker for Bow. People have not been trained in the simple rules of tit-for-tat, and so they expect other countries not to invade them out of the kindness of their hearts, other people not to harass them just because it is not nice, and everybody to act PC -- or else, they will get a lecture ten years later about how they really hurt someone. And if they find that this does not work for them -- which invariably it doesn't -- they hold seminars and workshops on world peace, sexual harassment and anti-bullying.

No bully will ever be stopped unless we stand up to him right then and there, in the moment, and no rape was ever prevented by crying foul long after the statute of limitations has run. I'm sorry, but life does not work that way.

With Bow, as with every other person I know, you have to let him know right away if he's crossed a line. He respects boundaries, but you need to clearly signal where they are. If he does something you don't like, you have to respond strongly, but firmly, neither over-reacting nor just letting it happen. I tried to explain some of this to my interns years ago in this hub:

Right now, in the current political atmosphere, I do not feel I can impose the rules outlined above on anyone who has been socialized to fit in to today's society. Most people have been trained to submit to a violation of their boundaries, and then to complain about it afterwards. This policy leads to an escalation of the initiation of aggression over time throughout the society. When I try to speak out about this, I am shut down on social media.

I think maybe the problem goes all the way back to kindergarten. Everybody knows the Golden Rule, but it is being taught all wrong to American children right now. They are told to treat others in the way they would like to be treated, but they are not told what to do if others do not treat them that way. The tit-for-tat part has been left out. Here's how it was taught to me. When I was going off to kindergarten in Israel, my mother said to me:  "If anybody hits you, Aya,  you hit them right back -- only harder." I didn't particularly want to. I'm not a violent person. But she explained that it wasn't about what I wanted. She said it was my duty as a good person, because it would help other people, too. If everybody lived by this rule, I think it would save us all a lot of trouble.

If you nip aggression in the bud, it does not have to escalate. You have to react in real time to any small breach of your personal boundaries. At the same time, it is more than okay to engage in appropriate play, where you recognize friendly overtures. Bow loves to play tag, and you can watch the video and see the light way in which he does tag me, and you can see from his body language that he knows it's a game.

  Bow is a chimpanzee. He does have aggressive instincts. He's a natural bully, but he is also really easy to manage, and a joy to interact with, if you understand and properly apply tit-for-tat.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Grooming as Peace-Making

Yesterday afternoon,  while I was saying goodbye to Sword, who had come home for a visit for Fall Break, Bow rearranged the potties in his enclosure, putting both of them in the center of the room.

"Put them back where they belong!" I told him.

So then he proceeded to push each of them into the opposite corner from the one where it had been before, as if in an act of oppositional defiance.

I wasn't really angry about that, but I acted as if were very upset about it. "No, that's not where they go! You put them right back where they were!" So he did. (He knew exactly where they were supposed to be.)

After that, he tried to apologize to me, and then he decided to groom me very thoroughly. The noises he was making at the very beginning of the grooming session were part of his apology.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Persimmon for Bow

It is fall. The leaves are changing colors. 

And the persimmons are ripening and falling to the ground.

Many other animals are enjoying the persimmons, but I managed to snag one for Bow.

They say you should wait until after the first big frost to harvest the persimmons, but we have not yet had our first frost, and they are almost all gone. I see their seeds scattered on the road embedded in  animal droppings. And this one was so ripe that it split open and some of the juice dribbled on my hand.

Bow enjoyed the persimmon so much that this is all that was left of it in the end.

I'm glad we did not wait for the first frost.