Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Her body ached as she crawled out from under the brush pile and stretched. The pain in her rear legs caused her to wince as she extended them full length rearward to awaken tired old muscles. The sun was just starting to rise and there was a threat of rain. It did rain during the night and the brush pile she slept under presented a poor barrier to the elements. The combination of cold, wet ground and thirty five degree air temperature forced her from her frigid bed and prompted movement.. As long as she could arise in the mornings and move on; she would be alright. Her body was emaciated. Soon, lack of proper nutriment would take it’s toll on her old, tired body and nature would call another sister home. She moved down off the hillside toward the noisy highway below. She often found scraps of food left in paper bags along this busy road. The cars would pass her by uncaring. She was scorned because of her age. She was just another old dog along the roadside. Had she been a young puppy; the story might have been different. Discarded puppies seem to strike a note of empathy with folks. The delightful, helpless little puppy along the road. How innocent! How sweet! Begging to be saved! But the old dog is viewed as more of a problem element. Just a stray. Just an old dog nearing the end of it’s life. It will probably be hit by a car. Probably is covered with fleas and ticks and lord knows what else. The old dog is not in the predicament it is in because of any desire on her part. She has been discarded by uncaring people. The same uncaring people who are driving by in their cars; who barely notice the old girl who is struggling on a daily basis to stay alive. Suddenly her muzzle raises and she sniffs the cold air, repeatedly making huffing sounds as she draws air through her nostrils. The smells are separated and disseminated and she arrives at the conclusion that there is food just ahead. She is a hound and her senses are rarely fooled. Her pace quickens and she soon arrives at a large building where people are entering and exiting. There is a crawl space under the building and she enters this area from the rear of the building. Garbage cans are sitting about and there are bits of table scraps lying on the ground beside them. She gobbles up the fare with zeal. There is not enough of the scraps to make a meal, but it is more than she has eaten in the past two days of scavenging along the roadway. The old hound turns to return to the crawlspace when she is startled to see a lady standing behind her. The dog did not hear the human approaching because she is nearly deaf. The vision caused the old hound to cower and step back a few steps. The lady threw down a few scraps for the dog. Bread, a piece of dough, cake and a pork chop bone devoid of any meat. The hound ate the scraps quickly. She tried to chew the bone but couldn’t. Her teeth were rotten and the nerves were exposed on three of her molars. Intense pain shot through her jaws as she tried and tried to crunch through the solid bone. Her natural instinct for survival compelled her to try again to eat the bone but the intense pain would not allow it. Her mouth in agony, she sought water to quench her thirst. She found a bucket that collected roof water sitting by a drain spout. The water was ice cold. She lapped up the liquid and the pain was renewed in her mouth. Her teeth would not allow her to even drink water in peace. Eventually, her rotten teeth would be her demise. It wouldn’t be long before she could not eat or drink. She stayed here, day after day, under the crawl space, eating the scraps and getting thinner and thinner. The small amount of food she was eating did not contain the elements to satisfy the needs of her body. It did, however, help stop the pain in her stomach due to emptiness. She was so thin that it appeared her ribs on one side would touch the ribs on her other side. It was predicted that the weather would turn extremely cold for the coming night. She might survive the first night in her crawl space., but in her undernourished condition survival would be doubtful if the temperatures stayed cold for a second night. And they would. She would have to maintain her life in twenty eight degrees temperature for the first night and eleven degrees the second night. As she sat near the building awaiting some scraps she noticed a couple of humans approaching her. What was this? Her alert buttons were pushed and she attempted to move away from them. She would be aloof. This has not happened before. Humans were actually taking notice of her.. She moved away further and crept back into her crawl space. The humans disappeared. They spoke softly to her and did not make any alarming gestures. They did not have food with them. Oh well. The old hound took up her position next to the building awaiting a morsel that might be discarded by some passerby. Then one of the humans came back outside and approached her. Soft words were spoken and she felt calmed. A cloth tether was placed around her neck and she was lead to a truck. The door opened and she was coaxed in. What was this? One thing for sure; she has not been this warm in weeks. Soon two humans returned and more kind word sounds were made and the old hound was calmed once more. Little did she know that her life would soon change drastically for the better. She would be saved from the agony of starvation. She would know comfort and peace. The old hound in the above piece has been named Julia. She lives here with me in this warehouse room. Julia has had veterinarian care and is doing fine. The old girl has had eight teeth removed, three of them with roots exposed . It had to be agony for her to drink cold water. Over the past few weeks, Julia has had the best soft foods and has regained much of her original weight. She has been transformed from an emaciated, starving dog to a dog who approaches me with her head held high and tail wagging. She will never know hardship again. It makes me feel good. No; Great! The clip below shows Julia now. She was in despicable condition when she was rescued.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


click on photo's to enlarge My first house in Tennessee in Cherokee Nat. Forest. It was a fixer upper and one of the biggest remodel challenges I have ever undertaken alone. Winter seems to be holding on a long time this year. Usually, here in Tennessee, there are a few 45 or 50 degree days that just seem to happen from time to time during the winter months. This year hasn't seen many of them. The much appreciated days off are spent inside playing with the computer or taking the dogs to the lake and woods and enduring the uncomfortable cold of the day. The dogs don't seem to care. But I don't like it. All my escape mechanisms are bundled up in shed or under tarp just waiting to carry me away to the wilderness and adventure, but the extreme cold dampens my enthusiasm. It seems, in winter, that unfortunate and difficult situations take on more negative connotations. Even the dogs, who are my best friends, try my patience with their canine antics. I find myself going out to the shed to look at the motorcycle or the canoe for a minute at a time. I just want to be out on or in them. All the social trials and tribulations, money, cost of dog feed, income, gas expenditures, food costs, ability to save and the economy, all seem more foreboding in the winter. It's as if those concerns are lessened by the heat of summer. I guess a guy could live under a bridge in the Summer if he had to a lot easier than in Winter. Things happen in the Summer. Motorcyclists are active, boats are on the lake and tourists are asking how to get places from here. Things are jumping. New life occurs in Spring and Summer, at least in my environment. But I am thankful for what I have and where I am. I am living life to its fullest, and that is determined by the individual's need's. My needs are not many. Some of my best friends are my dogs, here in Tennessee, and those people who share my love of them. I'll just wait it out, like everyone else. Spring will come soon just like every other year, and I will use every minute of the Spring and Summer months as if it was my last. One never knows; does one?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


A few days ago a good friend lost his struggle with cancer. Watching him fight the unseen enemy was a heart breaking experience. People use the term fight; but in reality it is an uphill struggle to push back a blackness that is constantly trying to cover up life. The struggle is in trying to nourish the body with wholesome foods that will deliver the nutrients to the cells of the body to maintain strength, both physically and mentally, in order to push back the deadly malignancy that is attempting rob it of life. On one hand Perry would do his best to eat foods rich in nutrients. And at the same time he was being pumped full of chemo drugs that would be his main line of defense against the diabolical enemy. The war that raged within his body sickened him and presented him with challenges that I doubt any average person can comprehend; unless that person has fought a cancer war and won.
For awhile I visited him in the hospital, sometimes nightly. Then weekly. It was difficult to see my good friend weakened by his struggle. Each time as I headed toward the door to his room to leave; I would walk over to his bed and pick up his hand and lean close and tell him to "kick some cancer ass man." I said it low with a gruff growl voice. His eyes would flutter open and as he gently squeezed my hand, he would say "I am."
After a time he was able to go home. I felt good about this. I went over to see him at his sister's house one night on the motorcycle. He was half laying on a recliner against the wall of the room, eyes shut and breathing heavy. I was told he had had a bad day with the chemo. As I settled into a chair across the room I had a feeling that I can only describe as a "finality" about this whole affair. I looked over at him as his wife and sister were talking to me and I couldn't focus on their words. I caught enough of the conversation to be able to respond. But my real attention was on Perry. I stared at him and came to the personal realization that my suspicions were going to be proven true. The enemy was at the gates and the citadel would fall. I felt pressure behind my eyes and thought it best to leave. I arose and stepped over to his bed and picked his hand up. It was limp and lifeless; but moved enough to apply pressure to mine. His weary eyes opened and he looked strait at me. With a tear on my cheek; I said to him; "hang in there Perry." "I'll see you some other time my good friend." He said "I know" and squeezed my hand. I rushed out of the room with tears in my eyes; trying to keep my back to everyone. I knew Perry understood my meaning the way he squeezed my hand. I got on the bike and drove away. I never went back to see him. He understands. He knows.
He has joined his friends now; a host of other fallen hero's from another time. I am proud to have known him. I am a better person for it. I will never forget him and the friendship he has extended to me. "I'll see you some other time my good friend."



A close friend and fellow employee has recently lost his struggle against cancer. We were close friends at work and we had a sort of mutual understanding about life. We both have military backgrounds and a great deal of what was learned from those experiences has been applied to our current lives, both on a personal level and on a business level in the form of ethics. When I moved to Tennessee I had only one friend in the state. I met a man on a boat dock shortly after and we became instant friends. I consider Paul, a TWRA Agency employee, to be a best friend and I'll always hold his friendship sacred. There is nothing I wouldn't do for him. When I left the agency to work at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson, I met a multitude of people I consider to be friends. The Harley owners and associated dealership comprise a pretty spectacular family that I am proud to be a part of. Then one day a guy walked into the store and I greeted him and received the usual "just looking" with a little statement attached to it, "got my bike wet." "We're gonna git some rain it looks like." Small talk lead to showing him a couple motorcycles and eventually the customer and I arrived at a mutual agreement on a trade in price and he bought a Harley Electraglide Ultra from me. The point of this is that we were instant friends from the handshake we shared when he walked in. I thoroughly enjoyed him. He was honest in his statements. There was nothing phoney about what he had to say. Ever since that day, he and I have been friends. Later he was employed by Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson and we worked together.

Friday, January 9, 2009


click the pictures to enlarge I caught a movement on the water out of the corner of my eye and swung the camera up fast and depressed the shutter at the same time. A second longer would mean lost chance. Click on the picture and see what you can see. The heads of three dear just behind the limbs in the water. Almost obscured. Solotude I got up this morning and rushed off to work only to find out that today is Friday and not Thursday. Whoops! I'm off on Friday. So back home to load up the canoe and blast off to Indian Boundary Lake. I really like Indian Boundry Lake. I'm a bit late to catch the otters out on the water fishing. They seem to be most active at sun up until about 11:00 AM and again at approximately 3:00 PM until dusk. They are one of the most interesting creatures I have seen in the wild. But today I discovered a new, strange creature. I have never seen one before. I call it a Homo Sapian Water Weasel. Yep; I paddled around a turn and there he was. I have heard of them but they have been elusive to me. But now I am content to capture one of these rare anomolies on film, so to speak. About six feet tall it was, of male gender, strutting tall and proud from the shore line out into the 40 degree water. The entire process of entering the water was graceful and magnificent. I was amazed to see him dissappear beneath the surface and suddenly emerge twenty feet from his entrance spot. I can't imagine why a logical human being of sound mind would commit such an act. I half expected him to surface holding a fish in his mouth as I've often seen the otters do. I watched until he walked back onto dry land and using a towel, dried himself off. I find strange things out here in the wilderness. I lost a family member yesterday. I call my dog friends family members. No; nothing bad. It's all good. Turnip, my little foster dog friend, became adopted. Turnip has been with me for months now and was an amiable companion to all the members of the pack family. He was one little dog that could get along with any other dog from the moment he met them. He was a sweet little guy whom I came to adore. Turnip's antics in the evening while playing turned many cold bleak nights into joy and laughter. He would sleep beside me at night enjoying the soft, warm blanket that I would throw on top of the sheets and over the heating blanket on my bed. I really enjoyed listening to him breath as I waited for sleep to overcome me. By morning he was pressed tight against me. He was, and still is, just a great little guy. He was the little dog no one wanted. My cell phone rang while I was at work, and the person who watches my guys during the day said that Turnip was adopted. I was instantly saddened but was happy at the same time. I had until Monday to enjoy him. I would take him in the truck to the woods and lake where we could spend some last moments together. Then later in the day another call from the same person. I was told "they came for Turnip." "They took him." "He won't be home when you get there, so don't look for him." I almost cried. The folks who would be Turnip's home forever decided to pick him up immediately. I drove home last night from work and there were only five of my family in the yard to greet me. The little dog named Turnip was not there anymore. Later that night I worked on my emails at the computer and glanced at the floor where Turnip usually lay on his pillow. The pillow had no little dog lying upon it. As I crawled under the covers I immediately noticed the absence of Turnip's little body on the blanket against me. I called to Almondene to "come!" She moved further toward me on the bed and lay where Turnip used to sleep. Turnip, Turnip. My little friend. Perhaps now you can be at peace and languish in the care of loving humans forever. I miss you, dear one. I am sorry I didn't get to hold you and say goodby to you. I'm so sorry I couldn't look into your eyes one more time. Farewell sweet little one. You've truly gone home now. Finally.

Friday, January 2, 2009


click pictures to enlarge Today warmed up enough to make a trip to Indian Boundary Lake. And today I arranged to meet a friend at the lake. It was really a treat to have another human being to talk to on one of my adventures. Normally I hold conversations with dogs or simply discuss the nature of things with myself. As you may gather from the pictures; Paul and I paddle the same model canoe. They are Esquif Champlain s. These Canadian kevlar canoes are light and fast. These canoes are highly maneuverable and have a super long glide. They are really easy to paddle and handle. The day was really overcast. Photography would be a challenge. I have been cursing the camera I use as of late and difficult photographic situations have been persuading me to take the plunge and spend the one thousand dollar plus on a new Nikon or upper crust Canon camera. I have had some splendid opportunities to capture unique wildlife pictures and have been disappointed in the results of the finished photos. One of my favorite animals of all time is the otter. This lake is otter heaven. I have photographed them over and over and the results have been respectable but never perfect. This situation is unacceptable. I believe that a persons skill can only be as good as the equipment he uses. The otter photos below are prime examples. A perfect approach was made to get within camera range of the little imp but the technological deficiencies of the equipment would not allow a crisp, perfectly clear image to be captured. The culprit is digital zoom. Digital zoom is a total waste of time and a useless technology. I feel that if it can't work perfectly; then don't put it in cameras at all. It's use results in very grainy photos. It is popular in snapshot cameras but sadly lacking for professional use. One just can't beat interchangeable lenses for optical clarity. Aarrg! I can't take it! Perhaps it's best not to enlarge these shots. They are fuzzy and not clear and crisp. Opportunities to photograph this elusive animal do not present themselves often and it is a shame not to be able to capture it with camera as seen. It does not do the otter any justice. I apologize here and now to the noble subject for my inability to reproduce him perfectly. Enough complaining about technology. Overcast or sunny; this lake is gorgeous. It is surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. It doesn't matter which direction one turns to; the view will be fantastic. What a great lake to camp on. I can't wait. Paul had a fancy, hand made paddle that was designed with curves in it to aid in handling and to create efficiency in the paddle stroke. I have to admit I looked upon this strange device with, let us say, a controversial eye. But when I watched him using this strange paddle, I could see its worth. He could paddle faster and use less effort than I. I like the idea and I'll probably pick one up for myself if I run across one in an outdoor store. But it is strange looking. Paul can make a canoe talk. He has been using canoe's for years and has taught the skill to boy scouts and others. This has been a very pleasant afternoon with Paul. I am anticipating another outing with him.