I Never Had One

I never had one.  My cousin next door had one. Jimmy had a tan cocker spaniel named Tippy. My wife had one long before we were married.  Meg’s was a tuxedo cat called Lucky. I brought home a little lost collie with a wagging tail when I was eight.  I put a cereal bowl of water on the porch.  It drank and sat down.  Then I went to Pattow’s Corner Store and bought a can of dog food with my allowance.  I opened it and put it in another bowl beside the water.  Collie ate it, then lay down and went to sleep.  I watched it sleep for awhile and went inside the house.   Later Collie was gone.  Perhaps it didn’t like Tippy’s yipping next door. Meg became allergic to cats while in college.  By the time we were engaged in the late 60s, Lucky had died and she no longer could have a cat.  Now she carries an antihistamine to relieve allergy symptoms for surprise encounters with domestic felines.  Friends put their animals in separate rooms when we visit.  B&Bs are queried about their on premise pets when she researches accommodations. Soon after moving to Andover in 1978, a cat appeared in the driveway. This tawny lion cat with 6 toes on the front legs was not a local.  Our house is near the Interstate and surrounded by the woods.  We had few neighbors.  It must have been a “drop off”.  The local newspaper had articles about this new method of disposing of unwanted animals. Our 4 year old daughter Amanda petted the new arrival.  It curled up...

Irregular Posts; Swakopmund, Namibia

Wednesday June 30th, Swakopmund, Namibia An early breakfast as we have dunes to shoot and planes to catch. The B&B owner asked David some interesting questions about China.  “You don’t have to answer if you prefer not to.” He said. “The rumor is that China is sending convicts to do labor on their projects here in Namibia. Do you think it is true?” David’s response was that “China usually sentences convicts to HARD LONG labor or executes them. … If the project was government run, they would send trusted and talented workers. If it was a company run project, the company would send whoever they had and the talent might not be of high quality.” We all agreed that China was looking to build good relations and finance infrastructure in Africa [for China’s future commercial benefit]. Government and private development  being done in Africa is often sponsored or sanctioned by foreign governments. Some Namibians are fearful of the growing Chinese influence.  They remember the Colonial years. It was interesting that this B&B owner, and some others Namibians we talked to, resented the controlling influence on business and resources that South Africa still maintained. Salt works in Namibia are SA owned and operated. The raw salt is mined and exported to SA for final processing and packaging. Then it is imported back into Namibia and sold to consumers. The B&B owner recommended that we travel the back gravel road to the airport not the main salt road. “The views are much nicer and the traffic better.” We also noted that the early sun would give good color to the dunes....

Irregular Posts; Kipwe, Namibia

Monday June 28th Kipwe, Namibia Meg and I hired a driver/guide to look for desert elephants. Dawn departure was nowhere as cold as in Madikwe. Here it started at 65F not 35F and when we ended 6 hrs later it was 90F not 60F. Again, it was a private game search like the lion pride in Madikwe. We drove the dried riverbed, Aba Huab, looking for tracks and signs.  “They eat and rest during the day along the dry riverbank.”  Elephants have inefficient digestion.  About half of what they eat just passes through and is left as dung.  Certain birds can be seen breaking up dung balls and eating undigested remnants. We stopped at a local village to ask about sightings. “Elephants came here to drink from the cistern last night.” We drove away in the river bank were there were fresh tracks and dung.  First, a large female appeared in the trees. Then a total of 10, from very young to dominant female. These desert elephants are thinner, taller and have longer legs than their bush cousins. They also feed less destructively and can go as much as three days without water. The afternoon drive took us to 8000 year old rock carvings at Tywfelfontein. This World Heritage site also has 2000 year old rock paintings done by the Bushmen. The subjects were mostly animals of the area. The rock carvings were used by the shaman, and for education of the people. The paintings were also about the people and hunting. Supper was oryx grilled medium rare.  It was a texture and taste not unlike beef.  With a...

Irregular Posts; Damaraland, Namibia

Sunday June 27th; Damaraland, Namibia A 5 hour drive east from the Skeleton Coast into interior of Damaraland saw the land change to what might be mistaken for the American West, without cacti. The main roads were loose gravel over occasional hardpan, not the tight salt road of the coast. Much dust and blown sand. Clouds of dust marked your passage and coated the back window. Vehicles approaching were known far away by their dust plume. Now there appeared to be lanes on the road.  Loose stuff was pushed to the side of the tire tread exposing some hardpan.  Wide roads had 5 visible tracks; narrower ones had 4.  No matter how wide, if you were the only vehicle you would drive two middle hardpan lanes.  Someone approaching?  Pull over into your proper lanes.  Be prepared for the soft crossing of the soft stuff.  You don’t want a fishtail.  Not the place for an SUV rollover. Here “game” was wildlife in the open spaces not football on TV. Springbok, oryx, jackal, snake eagle, and ostrich. This was not yet the proper place for the desert elephant. Finally, we saw electricity-telephone poles lining the road.  Single wood poles with three wires on green glass insulators.  Civilization?  Homes were very poor shanties or a small farm of modest means.  Goat and sheep herds were the game here.  Subsistence farming. Our home to be for a couple of days was built into a rock pile!! Camp Kipwe was constructed among the massive boulders of a wind eroded rock formation. The boulders were rounded, very coarse grain granite. Call it “rotten rock” because...

Irregular Posts; Terrace Bay, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Saturday June 26th; Terrace Bay, Skelton Coast, Namibia. The Skeleton Coast from Cape Cross to Terrace Bay was stark and strange to our eyes. The road was gravel-dirt-sand that could be driven at 80 – 100 kph. The flat gravel desert was almost featureless except for the consistently breaking Atlantic waves. Think the Utah salt flats without the Salt Lake and salt flats. Think Kansas, flattened and all green removed. On the edge of the desert was a bright blue ocean with white breakers wearing winded spray plumes. A locked entrance gate to The Skeleton Coast “Park” was seen far away. You had to stop, climb the stairs to the small make-do office and museum. The lone attendant took our information and fee. He welcomed the information about the times of World Cup soccer matches on TV that day. USA v Ghana in the cool of the evening. He was ready to watch. The desert was black gravel, brown gravel, reddish gravel, and beige blown sand. Tufts of shrubby drab green vegetation held to the ground. Teardrop shapes of blown sand surrounded the clump. In the distance, large clumps swam in a blue mirage. The distance to this herd of clumps? indeterminant . When the mirage evaporated, the low clumps reappeared anchored to the flat gravel desert. We arrived at Terrace Bay in mid afternoon. An outpost almost at the end of the dirt road. It was a collection of bungalows perched on a natural cobble beach terrace. A restaurant, office, and ten dwellings for visitors who were mostly Afrikaner fishermen and their families. Oh yeah, and three Americans....