Rolling in the Dirt

Don’t get angry if your dog rolls in the dirt. Dogs that go paws up in the dirt are comfortable with their surroundings. In the photo Molly lays on her back in the sun while twisting away. Amazingly the oils in her fur make it easy to brush off any debris by hand. It’s a different story when a dog rolls in dead fish at the beach–major wash required afterwards.

Geraniums: Disliked by Spiders and So-So with Honeybees

Honeybee hovering around a geranium.

Some 70 years ago I went into a brick house built in the 1760s. What I remember about the insides was the smell of red geraniums–they were everywhere. The elderly woman who lived there said geraniums keep spiders away–they don’t like the odor. To this day I think about that day when I see red geraniums.

We have a large number of these plants in our backyard. I’ve been told that honeybees don’t bother with geraniums because they produce little pollen. So, I took photos yesterday of a honeybee working our geraniums. There were no spiders to be seen and just this one bee.

The Adventures of Chartan: A Name

            (Last Sunday: Two of the six teens Chartan drove to the prom are missing; Brazil concentrates on taking Russian prisoners to a detention center.)

            Although Chartan tried not to wake Gina when he entered the apartment, she stumbled into the kitchen, fresh from a deep sleep.

            “You’re late,” she said. “Everything okay?”

            “Two teens I drove to the prom are missing—police can’t find them. They told me to go home and stay near a phone.”

            Gina sat at the kitchen table and yawned.  “I’m too tired to think, but that sounds like trouble.”

            “The fare was strange from the start.” Chartan sat down across from his wife. “I’ve had a lot of strangeness in my life—this is just another chapter.”

            “Am I strange?”

            “Of course, not. You’re the shining light in my life. I’m anxious for parenthood.”

            “Not as anxious as me—he’s kicking tonight.”

            “Maybe it’s time the ‘he’ had a name,” said Chartan with a smile.

            “Agreed. Do you have a name in mind?”

            Chartan stared at the table top and the crumbs from a blueberry muffin he had in the morning. He looked intently at Gina and said, “You realize I am not a good example—I have the same first and last name and that is odd to most people.”

            “Surely, you parents didn’t name you that.”

            “Their last name was Evers and they called me Charlie. After they died I legally changed my name to Chartan Chartan—I was 19, confused—I wanted to be alone, to start over again. I was into maps at the time. Charts are maps of a sort—that’s where I came up with the name. I only use one Chartan now—it’s legal.”

            “How come you never mention your parents?”

            “Sounds like a media interview?”

            “We’re bringing someone into the world without grandparents,” said Gina. “Our child will need a road map of where he came from—your parents are gone and I haven’t  seen either of mine in ten years—they may be dead for all I know.”

            “I pray Brazil returns safely—he can be a grandfather.”

            “And Julie would be a grandmother by default.”

            “Still doesn’t get us a name,” offered Chartan.

            “Maybe tomorrow, I’m falling asleep here,” said Julie.

            “Tomorrow sounds good.”

(Continued next Sunday)

Something Else I Didn’t Know: Pig Toenails

With a 400-pound pig in a human bear-hug, the nails are trimmed with a Dremel.

Yesterday I had a learning experience at a ranch outside of Sacramento that rescues farm animals. While there were horses, cows, llamas, turkeys and sheep, what caught my attention were pigs, 24 of them!

Chapter One: pigs are neglected and abused by some owners. I didn’t know that pigs required grooming such as having their toenails clipped. When the nails grow long, they curve inward and eventually the pig cannot walk, but it continues eating, triggering massive weight gains. Some pigs I saw had lost their sight because folds of fat covered their eyes which had atrophied.

Chapter Two: the process of clipping pig toenails can be quite a physical undertaking. For one pigs don’t like to be pushed around, or fussed with. There was a wrestling match where it took several people to put a pig on its back. When held in a human bear hug, the pig calmed down while its toenails were cut with a Dremel. The photos capture the human effort required to trim a pig’s toenails.

The other method of cutting nails is to put the pig in a sling and raise it off the ground. But that approach allows the pig to move its legs which makes grinding nails difficult.

Bottom line: the freshly manicured pigs enjoy moving without pain. The owners and volunteers at the Lucky Ones Ranch deserve a big thanks and some donations to keep their work going.

The Adventures of Chartan: The Lost Fare

(Last Sunday: Chartan drives six teenagers to the senior prom, but the teens are nowhere to be found when he returns to pick them up—the police are on it!)

            The first hour behind the wheel of the parked limo went reasonably fast as he waited for the police to return, hopefully with six prom- goers. He had a brief conversation with Gina who had been asleep. She said she’d call back when her nap was over.

            Chartan kept checking his watch for the start of the second hour.  No police. No Gina. He was truly alone with his anxiety—his legs started to quiver. He got out of the limo. The night air was fresh and clean, a great time to run under the street lights and a bright moon that was almost full. He kept a pair of running shoes in the limo for such occasions. But he realized he didn’t have the phone number of the policemen who had left him an hour ago. Shouldn’t they have some info by now? He wondered what Brazil was doing. Combat? Risking death? He wanted to scream, to expel the tension that had taken over his body. Why hasn’t Gina called?


            Brazil and Zeke, their weapons pointed to the ground, took up the rear of a column of eight Russian soldiers who had surrendered. These were men Brazil thought didn’t want to fight anymore, still he kept close watch on each man, looking for unexplained hand movements.

            “Nyet,” yelled Brazil in Russian when one of the prisoners made a grunting sounds. “Nyet” was the only Russian he needed to know according to Zeke.

            Brazil was tempted to think about his friend Chartan, but dismissed the notion—his full attention had to be placed on walking eight prisoners to the detainment center on the edge of Kyiv. He remembered what a Vietnam buddy had said 50 years ago: “You’ll have plenty of time to daydream after you die.”


            The flashing red lights of two police cruisers broke the night stillness. Chartan moved so that he was standing in front of the limo.

            The lead cruiser braked hard, about five fee from  Chartan.

            “We got’em,” yelled the officer as he got out of the cruiser. A minute later four prom-goers were standing side by side, wobbly and pale faced under the school’s vapor lights.

            The officer approached Chartan. “Are these the kids you drove to the school?”

            “I recognize three, no four of them,” said Chartan. “But there were six all together, so you’re missing two.”

            The officer walked up to Chartan and showed him the passenger manifest he had given him. The names “Jenny Cribs” and “Walter West” were circled. The officer spoke in a low voice: “These kids say that Cribs and West didn’t go with them after they left the school—that they said they were going back to the limo. I take it you didn’t see them?”

            Chartan shook his head.

            “Well, we have a problem then,” said the officer staring at Chartan.

(Continued Next Sunday)      

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