Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Home Has Become A Clip-Joint

Wally and Fergus just got complete haircuts since the trimming around their eyes went so well. Their hair was simply getting too long even though it's midwinter. Now they're svelte, well groomed show dogs - OK, I know what you're thinking but I told them they were looking mighty handsome now with their stylish new hairdos:

Fergus has a few stray clumps of curly hair sticking out here and there, but I'll bet he's more comfortable now than he was before. A dog groomer would not be impressed, but I don't know any, so I won't worry about it. You're lookin' good, Fergus:

I took the dogs outdoors for a brief photo shoot and giant old Seamus had to get in the act. His turn at getting a haircut is coming, but I'll pay a groomer to do that:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Study In Canine Facial Expressions?

You may recall this photo from a recent post on hiking Monument Mountain. My sister said that Fergus' face looked very unhappy and she could tell I'd placed him up there against his will. I had lifted him up there and he did look unhappy, so I began to wonder:

Here's a close-up of that same facial expression. Is this a happy dog?:

But Fergus was always looking - well, concerned, so I clipped the hair away from his eyes to see if that changed his expression. His formerly hidden eyes then became big, round, bright, perky eyes:

But he also tends to look shyly away when a camera is pointed at him. So I concluded that Fergus is a happy dog who looks unhappy when there's too much hair in front of his eyes and even more so when a camera is pointed at him. I don't think I'll clip the rest of him in the middle of the winter, but I'll keep his face more neatly trimmed from now on. By the way, do you think there's enough dog toys and rawhide chewies on my floor?:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Popcorn Wagon Update

Way back in September, 2010 I posted the story of my Grandmother's popcorn wagon in McMinnville, Oregon. You can find it here. When my sister and I were visiting, we'd often spend a few hours with my grandmother (Mom Jenkins) working in the popcorn wagon. Well, a friend recently passed through McMinnville and stopped to take new photos of the historic popcorn wagon:

When Grandma retired, the wagon was restored and purchased by a museum in the capital city of Salem. But they eventually removed it from their collection and it was saved by the McMinnville Fire Department and has been displayed there ever since:

The door was at one end and the popcorn cooker at the other. You can see it at the top of the photo. When the popcorn was done, that overhead "pot" dumped onto the steel tray beneath it. There, butter and salt were added. If I remember correctly, that tray was heated so the popcorn stayed hot until it was scooped up into bags:

This is a new sign, but it's certainly of the original type. The sign I remember said "Mom Jenkins Knows Her Corn:"

Yes, she also sold roasted peanuts. I can't remember if she roasted them right there in the wagon but I think so:

The popcorn wagon is now on permanent display in the McMinnville, Oregon fire station:

My sister and I used to take turns accompanying our grandmother to the popcorn wagon when we were young. There certainly wasn't much room inside, but there was a lot of love, both from Grandma and the customers, so it was a wonderful experience. And that's not to mention all the free popcorn, caramel corn, peanuts and Lifesavers:

Everything inside was shipshape, with a place for everything and everything in its place. Fresh popcorn was popped right there, but popcorn balls and caramel corn were made at home in the evenings:

The sign says "operated" by the McMinnville Volunteer Fire Department. I wonder if popcorn is ever made there anymore:

Our grandmother was a single woman with six children during rough economic times. She was an entrepreneur of the first order with her popcorn wagon and boarding house. She knew not only how to survive but to thrive:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Another Dog Pile At Work

I always work alone in the office on Saturdays so I bring in five of my dogs (crabby old Winky stays at home) to keep me company. It's a fun outing and good socialization for them and the customers get a big kick out of the dogs, especially when they collect themselves into a dog pile:

Many customers have run back out to their trucks to get their wives, kids or coworkers to come and in and see the dogs. Or they take photos of the dog pile with their cell phones:

And yet all it takes is a friendly word from a customer to get the dogs' attention. Then they'll run forward for attention. No problems with unsociable dogs among this pack. When a friend purchased a Miniature Dachshund puppy, it came with detailed socialization instructions: The puppy had to be introduced to a certain number of new people and other animals each week while it was still young and impressionable. Oh, if only all puppies came with such instructions!:

Wally doesn't often join the dog piles, but on this Saturday he was feeling very much like being with his doggy family. I took the occasion to snap a few photos of my happy pack:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Monument Mountain - Part 4

I'd finally reached Squaw Peak, my destination point on Monument Mountain, and much of the rocky surface was covered with ice. So I kept the dogs on leashes and sat down carefully on a boulder to snap some photos of the beautiful valley below:

The young couple who shared the peak with me was very friendly and seemed a bit concerned that such an old codger and four dogs should be traversing these icy heights. I met several other hikers that day who, though never actually saying so, seemed concerned about such a decrepit oldster. But we were having a wonderful day. I asked the young couple to use my camera to get a photo of me with the dogs atop Squaw Peak and they were happy to do so:

Far below us the valley floor looked peaceful, calm and inviting. Squaw Peak was named for a Native American woman who, according to legend, leaped to her death from here. Perhaps this awesome sight inspired her to think she could fly:

But the time had come to start trekking back down the mountainside. When we'd reached a point which seemed safe, I again let the dogs off their leashes. This was a great relief for both them and for me:

Down we went, traversing the trail which was lined with Mountain Laurels and mossy rocks:

The Berkshire Mountains were visible through the trees in many places as we hiked onward toward the trail head:

I endeavored to keep the dogs closer to me than I usually do, calling them back to me whenever they got farther ahead than I'd like. They'd run back to see what I wanted and get patted and praised:

There were still sharp drop-offs in places, but the truly dangerous cliffs were behind us at that point:

There were still some dangerously icy spots, however, and I saw one woman take a terrible fall. She got right back up and continued on, though. Apparently her dignity was hurt more than her backside:

I lifted Fergus up onto this tree trunk for a photo op and you can see he's not thrilled with the idea. I'd have lifted him back down but he jumped before I got there, landing on the slick ice, his legs splaying out. But he wasn't hurt and wasn't worried about his dignity either. Fergus was having a grand time:

We continued down through beautiful forests on our way back to the trail head:

I put the dogs on their leashes again when we were almost back to our car. I advised a man on his way up the mountain about which trails were dangerously icy and Seamus said a doggy hello to a Border Collie who was just starting up with her owner. But for us, the hike was over and it was time to drive home where both Wally and Winky were waiting patiently and needing a bathroom break:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Monument Mountain - Part 3

I was hiking up Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, Massachusetts with my four youngest dogs. We'd passed our first scenic overlook but a simple glance in either direction made it clear to me that there was more beauty to come:

I passed a bit of an overlook off to the left and snapped a photo, but I could tell that the real payoff was ahead and to the right:

Like up there, perhaps?:

I had already decided that I wanted to see both Devil's Pulpit and Squaw Peak. Devil's Pulpit, however, was a short spur off the Squaw Peak trail, so that's where I headed:

The spur trail to Devil's Pulpit was steep but someone had thoughtfully placed large rocks into a staircase of sorts. The dogs were still on their leashes at this point. The drop-offs were steep and sudden, and my dogs were full of play and oblivious to any danger. The first rock on this ascent was so big and steep that I had to haul Seamus up by pulling on his leash:

And there it was, Devil's Pulpit. That's the free-standing pinnacle of rock in the valley below. I'll bet you never thought that Massachusetts had such extraordinary natural beauty, did you?:

I could see the valley below off through some pine limbs:

I don't know the identity of this hardy little fern but it was ubiquitous, growing bravely out of many rock crevices:

I descended the Devil's Pulpit spur trail and began making my way toward Squaw Peak (where legend has it a squaw threw herself to her death). The dogs were still on their leashes which was awkward, but I didn't want any dogs falling off of cliffs. We all stopped for a photo of the Great Barrington high school in the valley below. You can see its orange track behind the school:

And a lake or river off in another direction. There was a mountain with ski slopes toward the east, but the sun prevented me from getting any usable photos:

I saw a young couple atop Squaw Peak and headed that way. There was much ice on the trail and it was treacherous, so I moved slowly and cautiously, trying to keep all four dogs with me on their leashes:

And the views were magnificent. But I'll post more tomorrow:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monument Mountain - Part 2

It was a beautiful Sunday and I'd taken the dogs to Monument Mountain in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. The beginning of the trail was very icy and I'd kept the dogs on leashes. But when the trail became less icy and I'd seen no other hikers, I let the dogs run and play. Even Seamus did a bit of romping - kind of like a brontosaurus at play, but romping nonetheless:

The trail was brightened and ornamented with emerald mosses, rufous pine needles, cherry-red Partridgeberries and white quartzite:

And Mountain Laurels were everywhere. This trail would be spectacular when they bloom in the spring:

But the "Silly Sisters" missed all that natural beauty, preferring instead to run and wrestle:

The trail took a sharp turn upward, climbing steeply to what appeared to be an overlook. I considered putting the dogs back on leashes right then but figured I'd need my hands free to get up there:

All four dogs are in this photo. Can you find them?:

Daphne played mountain goat:

I was beginning to see some steep cliffs and getting nervous about the dogs' playing. But I let them continue for the time being:

You can see in this photo that we were getting close to some sharp drop-offs:

I called the dogs to my side and attached their leashes:

And there it was, our first scenic overlook across some Berkshire Mountains:

And down below us was the Great Barrington high school. But this wasn't the top of the mountain. We had more climbing to do. I'll post more tomorrow: