Oh, That Diamond

“Just grocery?” [said retired Navajo cop Joe Leaphorn to store owner McGinnis.] “They take anything else?”

“Took the blanket I had hanging on a rack in there, and some ketchup, and …” he frowned, straining to remember. “I believe I was missing a box of thirty-eight ammunition. But mostly food.”

“None of it ever recovered?”

McGinnis laughed. “‘Course not,” he said. “If the burglar didn’t eat it, you cops would have done that if you caught him.”

“You didn’t mention a diamond. How about that?”

“Diamond?”

“Diamond worth about ten thousand dollars.”

McGinnis frowned. Took another tiny sip. Looked up at Leaphorn.

“Oh,” McGinnis said. “That diamond.”

Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman, p.45

Heart-Warming Link About A Toad

The Wyoming Toad lives only in Wyoming. It was once thought to be extinct in the wild, but now it is coming back, thanks to a large number of people who have been working on it for ten years. This team includes the City of Laramie, private landowners, Fish and Game, University of Wyoming, and several zoos and wildlife organizations.

I find it heartwarming that large numbers of people, who are clearly superior in every way to toads, would devote so much time and effort to save this ordinary-looking toad. Some of them have donated land. Others have invested their entire careers in this little animal. Clearly, they love the toad just because it exists, not because it does anything special for them.

Neanderthal Woman and the No Electricity, Redux

This is Neanderthal Woman, a.k.a. me.

This is the tree

that came down this June

in the yard of N.W., a.k.a. me.

This is the tree

that came down this week

in the yard of N.W., a.k.a. me.

This is the weather

in our favorite State:

90, then freezing, then 90 again.

This is the sunflower

that grew in my yard,

now killed by the weather

in our favorite State.

This is a small

price that we pay

to live near the mountains

in our favorite State.

Freaky Flower of the Week: Woolly Mullein

As you can see, fields near my house are done with wheat harvest.

This is yet another flower that grows so prolifically on the roadsides, and looks so bizarre, that I was certain it would turn out to be native to the Intermountain West. Will I never learn?

The tall, coarse stalks of woody mullein stand as sentinels along the roadsides. They are biennial plants, growing the first year as a round cluster of large (12 x 4″) radiating basal leaves covered with thick, woolly hair. The second year, they rapidly grow a 1 – 6′ (!) tall stalk, crowded with yellow flowers in a spike arrangement. Then, with all its energy expended, the plant dies.

This introduced (!) weed colonizes disturbed places from the valleys and plains to the montane forests.

Dioscorides, the Greek physician to the Roman armies in the first century, used mullein to treat coughs, scorpion stings, eye problems, tonsillitis, and toothache. Today, herbalists value it as a medicinal herb for asthma, bronchitis, coughs, throat inflammation, earache, and various other respiratory complaints.

Central Rocky Mountain Wildflowers by H. Wayne Phillips, page 157

Papa Eagle and Mama Eagle

This pair lives near our house. Like, in our yard somewhere I think (possibly in the surviving spruce tree?). This photo was taken from my dining room window.

I kid you not … we move to the West, and in the very first year, a pair of eagles moves in? How lucky are we?

They are not shy. Earlier in the summer, about once a day one of them would swoop across our yard, screaming. I even saw one sitting on a telephone pole (as above), screaming, notice me, and calmly go back to screaming. I get no respect.

Watch, Papa Eagle is about to give you eye contact …

What do you mean, smile? He is smiling.