Thursday, August 19, 2010

Diva's Turn - A Happy Ending Tale and a New Cat

Hi everybody! I haven't written here for awhile because Mommy and Daddy have been keeping me really busy lately, driving up to the cabin in the woods and back again every weekend. But I have some things to tell you about and am really happy to be here!

The best news is that because I'm so friendly I got another Pit Bull saved from a shelter! Here's what happened. Our town has something they call a Cruise Night on Wednesday evenings in the summer, where all kinds of people come with big old fashioned cars and hang around and they play loud music and everyone is in a good mood. The street is closed off and they let Daddy and me walk around in the street and I get to meet people. My favorite thing!

So one Wednesday evening we were walking and met a woman that Daddy knew from town. Of course I loved her right away. I love all people! Especially women! Of course I was on my best behavior as always, and wearing my purple harness with my matching purple bandana, and when I met the woman and her friend who was with her, my tail wagged so hard my butt almost fell off. They both loved me, of course. Who wouldn't?

As always, Daddy told my story, how I was adopted from The Animal Farm Foundation, which rescues Pit Bull Terriers from shelters and trains them and adopts them out to be what they call Breed Ambassadors. I try really hard to be the best Breed Ambassador I can be and I am always calling attention to myself to let everyone know how friendly I am. I even wag at passing cars if they slow down. After all, they might be friends I haven't met yet and they might want to stop and pat me!

As it turned out, the woman was considering getting a dog. And because she met me and was so impressed with what a great dog I am, she went to the Bukowski Animal Shelter and adopted a fellow Pit Bull Terrier - Lola Grace! Here is her picture. As you can see, she is enjoying living the good life just as I do!

So that is my good news!

The other news is, my Mommy and Daddy seem to have gotten a new cat. It's not even half the size of the other one we have, that big one they call Baxter. He knows his place and lets me chase him all over the house if I feel like it. But this little orange one they call Zoe is another story! The first time I came over to see her when she was in Mommy's lap, she made a big hissing noise and smacked me on the eyebrow. I try to avoid her whenever possible now, but if I come near her, instead of moving out of my way or running, as Baxter would do, this one just stands there. In fact, sometimes she goes out of her way to come in my direction or even smack me again! It's not very nice. But I just try to keep out of her way and will make the best of it as I always do.

For some reason they bring her up to the cabin with us and she acts as if she owns the place. I was there first. But I guess I can put up with it since Mommy and Daddy still take me on great walks in the woods and give me plenty of treats.

Another thing we get to do when we go to the cabin is go to a restaurant in a nearby town where we can sit outside while my Mommy and Daddy eat, and they let me come too! They even give me water and biscuits to keep me happy while we're there. I love going there! Everyone is lined up waiting to greet me when I arrive! And they are always glad to see me! Mommy and Daddy say they have good beer there too. I wouldn't know as I'm not allowed to drink beer, although it smells good to me.

We went to Cape Cod in June and I had a great time swimming in Depot Pond at the cottages we stay at. The Other Daddy came too, the one that seems to be my Daddy's father. He had fun too. I got to go on lots of walks and meet lots of people! My favorite thing!

Every morning we would walk to the little store on the corner and Daddy would go inside and come back out with a bag while Mommy stayed with me. Sometimes people would come up and say hello to me! I love that! A couple of times Mommy walked me there by herself and didn't go into the store. She wanted to just turn around and go back to the cottage, but I wouldn't leave until we waited outside the store long enough for someone to say hello to me. After all, isn't that why we go there? I also like waiting outside because sometimes a nice man will come out and give me a biscuit. It's disappointing on those days he doesn't do that. But if I get to say hello to someone that is enough for me.

The other really neat thing about Cape Cod is rabbits. They are all over the grounds of the cottages and I love seeing them. Mommy and Daddy don't let me off the leash so I never get to actually catch one. But I love to stalk them and then do a quick run until they hop away into the bushes!

Even though I love woodsy areas I also love being in cities and towns! We go to a place called Provincetown and walk up and down the street there. Lots of people stop and pat me. And there are lots of other dogs. There is even a big stuffed wolf in front of one of the stores! The first time I saw and smelled it I thought it was real! My hackles went up and I went over to it very cautiously. Then I realized how silly I'd been. It wasn't alive after all. Now I studiously ignore it when we go by.

When I'm home, if I'm not getting a walk in the park, I've been spending my time hanging out on the deck in my fenced yard, barking occasionally when the neighbors walk their dogs by my house, and on the hot days, Mommy or Daddy fill my pool and I chase the ball into the water and get wet. I love jumping in the pool! And it cools me off!

So that's what I've been doing this summer. How has your summer been?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


It's hot. Too hot to blog. When we go up to the cabin and it's cooler, all I want to do is sit outside and enjoy the breeze. There are a lot of things that are swirling around in my mind to talk about, but lifting fingers to keyboard just seems like such an effort.

Today I am finally ready to vent about a few things and also share some pictures from the cooler North where we've been spending our weekends. And I think I'll even throw in some haiku. Talk about a potpourri!

New Jersey swelters
Under a hot, hazy sky
Sweat drips off my brow.

Can't weed the garden
Too hot to plant hydrangeas
All I do is sit.

The dog minds the heat
But still wants to take a walk
She must be crazy.

Up at the cabin
Temperatures are cooler
I live for weekends.

I have to say, in July the temperatures at the cabin, while cooler, were still quite hot, since the major heat wave we had in New Jersey hit the Adirondacks as well. When it was 106 in New Jersey, it was 96 at the cabin. And that is still darned hot. And on top of that, July is the Season of Deer Flies in the Adirondacks. We couldn't walk anywhere without deer flies inundating us and nipping at our heads. Even the dog didn't want to walk in the woods. So we took to driving around in our air conditioned car (since the cabin doesn't have any air conditioning and the fan only runs when the generator is on!) and stopping at Schroon Lake to walk and let Diva swim a bit.

This is what a Deer Fly looks like:

This is a highly magnified picture; they are actually relatively small and like to fly around in a swarm around your head, or on the dog. And they bite. But by August the cooler weather is already coming to the mountains and they dissipate.

The other thing that goes away in August is the algae. Our pond is a primordial soup of fish, turtles, frogs and other wildlife, and it does pretty well all year, unless it gets really hot. Last summer there was no algae in the pond that we could see, as it was a cool and rainy year. This July was another story; the pond turned into a big bowl of what looked like a combination of pea and lentil soup with a whitish sheen on it; black leaves from the bottom of the pond floated to the surface. The pond looked unpleasant and possibly poisonous. We kept away from it.

Lo and behold, when we drove up this weekend it was back to normal, its dark, mysterious clarity restored.

In fact, the August weather at the cabin couldn't be better; comfortable highs during the day and a few nights that are actually autumn-like. We brought our little-used brass fire pit from home up to the cabin and sat out on the deck in the evenings with a roaring fire keeping us warm.

Earlier in the summer I planted some wildflowers around the pond (one of those mixes you can buy in a bag at the hardware store) and some of them apparently sprouted. We also found that we have a few large thistle plants and Goldenrod, which are quite showy in their own way. DH took some pictures:

My mother's cat Zoe loves going up to the cabin. She feels it is all hers (except for the Pesky Dog) and she gets to go for walks. I bought her a cute little purple harness and a fancy gold leash just for her, and she strolls around, chewing delightedly on grass and exploring the landscape. Here is a picture of her surveying her territory:

As for the various things that are irking me in the real world, I could list many, but one of the most annoying things to me right now is the total dysfunction of our country, and the fact that we are going backward instead of forward. Paul Krugman had a pessimistic op ed piece about this the other day. In his column he stated:

"Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead."

Truly our country is going backward. We are no longer the innovators, no longer willing to have the "can do" attitude that got America to the moon before the Soviet Union. We are no longer the country that leads the way in manufacturing, energy, education or anything else for that matter - except greed.

That point was brought home to me again this morning when I read that Portugal is well on its way to replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources. And Portugal is not the only country which is making these changes.

"By 2025, the report projected, Ireland, Denmark and Britain will also get 40 percent or more of their electricity from renewable sources; if power from large-scale hydroelectric dams, an older type of renewable energy, is included, countries like Canada and Brazil join the list.

The United States, which last year generated less than 5 percent of its power from newer forms of renewable energy, will lag behind at 16 percent (or just over 20 percent, including hydroelectric power), according to IHS."

Was it easy for Portugal to accomplish what they've done so far? No, it required government involvement in industries, it meant higher electricity costs, and various other sacrifices that apparently the Portuguese - and their government - are willing to make in order to accomplish something they feel is worthwhile and important. Of course, if you read the article, you can just hear the GOP and the Tea Partiers crying "Socialism!" at every turn. Portugal is part of the EU, which has carbon trading, there are government guarantees of stable prices to the energy suppliers, and other policies. However, in the long run, the country expects the transition to pay off. Will their energy costs be cheaper than those of countries that rely on cheap coal for their power? No. But will they be cheaper than what Portugal was paying before, since they did not use coal? Yes.

"In making the shift, Portugal has overcome longstanding concerns about reliability and high cost. The lights go on in Lisbon even when the wind dies down at the vast two-year-old Alto Minho wind farm. The country’s electricity production costs and consumer electricity rates — including the premium prices paid for power from renewable sources — are about average for Europe, but still higher than those in China or the United States, countries that rely on cheap coal.

Portugal says it has kept costs down by focusing heavily on the cheapest forms of renewable energy — wind and hydropower — and ratcheting down the premium prices it pays to lure companies to build new plants.

While the government estimates that the total investment in revamping Portugal’s energy structure will be about 16.3 billion euros, or $22 billion, that cost is borne by the private companies that operate the grid and the renewable plants and is reflected in consumers’ electricity rates. The companies’ payback comes from the 15 years of guaranteed wholesale electricity rates promised by the government. Once the new infrastructure is completed, Mr. Pinho said, the system will cost about 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) a year less to run than it formerly did, primarily by avoiding natural gas imports.

A smaller savings will come from carbon credits Portugal can sell under the European Union’s carbon trading system: countries and industries that produce fewer emissions than allotted can sell permits to those that exceed their limits."

What we must ask ourselves is, how much more are we willing to pay for energy that is made right here in the United States instead of imported from countries that hate us, for energy that is clean, rather than coming from powerplants driven by coal, which spread acid rain across our forests, and the extraction of whose fuel results in pollution and ugly scars on the mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia? Do Americans no longer have any ability to sacrifice even a penny to a worthwhile change?

Clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar panels and hydro power have their own issues. But one reason the United States has trouble even converting to any of these energy sources is that our power grid is completely outdated, and there seems to be no political will to update it. Even the limited renewable energy sources we have, such as wind turbines, are not being fully utilized since our system has no way to store the energy they produce if it is not being used immediately.

Our country desperately needs a makeover. But the constant drumbeat of the Right against ever raising taxes, even on the very rich, and a lack of political will on the part of the Left, precludes the country from making any of the changes that need to be made. And Americans themselves have forgotten what it means to be willing to pay a little more and get something done.

Don't worry, they will complain about the potholes in the road and the lousy service on the commuter lines, and the poor education in our schools. Americans are great at complaining about lack of services. But they're even better at complaining about taxes. And without taxes, you don't get roads. You don't get infrastructure. You don't get garbage collected. And eventually you live in a third-world country.

And on that cheery note, I will escape back to the August swelter. Try to stay cool and enjoy the summer!