Monday, January 31, 2005

Monsanto Tracks Johnny_Mango Down

NOB HILL--Yesterday's post about Monsanto brought a visit from them to my humble site this morning. They got here by doing a search on themselves through Technorati. I can only assume they try to keep track of everybody that says anything about them. That is a big job. For instance yesterday, a Sunday, had 41 different posts about Monsanto. One can only surmise what they are up to. I could be mango_chutney before this is all over.

Simone Shines While Son Dines

ALBUQUERQUE CONVENTION CENTER--My daughter attended the Hispano Chamber of Commerce Ball last weekend. While she partied into the night, MaryAnn and Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango got to babysit grandson Robby. We took him to Yanni's where we were joined by Carol and Mike Moye. He feasted on souvlaki and a bag of goldfish. Then back to the house for the Scary Saturday Nite Sleepover on the Discovery Kids channel.
Here, in her gown with accessories, is my daughter: Simone Sofia Armijo Knudsen. We love you Simone!

A Blast From the Past

EBAY--You may remember that in a post dated Jan. 15th I focused on a Baptist minister who was selling his toilet paper collection.
Well, it sold for $61.00. It did generate a lot of interest; it was viewed 1376 times.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

First Pictures From This Afternoon's Blaze In Albuquerque

Yale & Kathryn SE--Rolling up on a fire is one of the scariest things ever. You never know what you are going to find. This fire was at La Vida Nueva Apartments. I thought that these were city-owned units, but apparently they are not. They are, nevertheless, low-income housing.

The whole southern sky was filled with smoke. One young man said that he got a call from a friend who said, "Dude...I think your apartment is on fire!" "No waaay!" he replied. He looked outside and saw the next building was aflame.

This couple doesn't have to be told...once the excitement is over nothing will be left except charred memories and the after-smell of smoke.

Flames shot up into the space between the ceiling and the roof. They were hard to get at and extinguish. Eventually the whole roof and ceiling were gone.

Nothing will ever compare with being safe in mother's arms.

Channel 7 beat the other TV stations to the scene by 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Saving Seeds and Growing Heirlooms...You Might Want To Think About It

NOB HILL--One of the newest movements in gardening seems to be "seed saving" and growing "heirloom" plants. The post about Monsanto Co. that follows this one tells you why. Corporations are making an assault on two things the world can't live without: food and water. More about water later, but the patenting of single season seeds could very well lead to the extinction of many varieties we have today. That is what the Seed Saver's Exchange is all about. To quote from their website:

How it all Began

german pink tomato

Seed Savers Exchange was founded in 1975 by Diane and Kent Whealy, after her terminally-ill grandfather gave them the seeds of two garden plants, Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory and German Pink Tomato, that his parents brought from Bavaria when they immigrated to St. Lucas, Iowa in the 1870s.

grandpa ott's morning glory

Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations. When people grow and save seeds, they join an ancient tradition as stewards, nurturing our diverse, fragile, genetic and cultural heritage.

Compare the above statement with the alarming article that follows. I have seen the Seed Saver's catalog. It does make for fascinating reading. They go into the history of every seed they carry!

Watch Out, My Friends With Hoes, For Monsanto Co.'s Seed Police

Check out this story from Associated Press:

Monsanto Sues Over Piracy Issues After Radically Altering Farming With Single-Season Seeds

The Associated PressThe Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO Jan 13, 2005 — Monsanto Co.'s "seed police" snared soy farmer Homan McFarling in 1999, and the company is demanding he pay it hundreds of thousands of dollars for alleged technology piracy. McFarling's sin? He saved seed from one harvest and replanted it the following season, a revered and ancient agricultural practice.

"My daddy saved seed. I saved seed," said McFarling, 62, who still grows soy on the 5,000 acre family farm in Shannon, Miss. and is fighting the agribusiness giant in court.

Saving Monsanto's seeds, genetically engineered to kill bugs and resist weed sprays, violates provisions of the company's contracts with farmers.

Since 1997, Monsanto has filed similar lawsuits 90 times in 25 states against 147 farmers and 39 agriculture companies, according to a report issued Thursday by The Center for Food Safety, a biotechnology foe.

In a similar case a year ago, Tennessee farmer Kem Ralph was sued by Monsanto and sentenced to eight months in prison after he was caught lying about a truckload of cotton seed he hid for a friend.

Further down in the article one finds this incredible statement:

Some 85 percent of the nation's soy crop is genetically engineered to resist Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, a trait many farmers say makes it easier to weed their fields and ultimately cheaper to grow their crops.
So it turns out that one of the BIG dangers of using genetically engineered crops is that it allows farmers to spray them with Round Up. My God.

Once a Hottie...Always a Hottie

NORTH VALLEY--Evelyn Loose nee Wing was born in 1910. This picture was taken when she was 18. What a beauty. She was voted Best Looking Brunette, Best Looking Blonde, and Best Legs. I wonder how that worked. She is no longer a brunette or a blonde...and I haven't seen her legs, but what a beautiful person (inside and out).

Still pretty as her picture, Evelyn Loose celebrated her 95th birthday with friends Friday afternoon. Almost everybody from my china painting class was there. Evelyn still attends the class, although arthritis in her hands makes painting impossible. She just loves the people there. So do I.

What a wonderful get-together here in Evelyn's north valley home. We have a perfectly composed scene, except for my jacket hung over the back of the chair. There were 11 women and Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango. We played two party games: Guess What's In the Bag, and Who Am I? Donna Dolittle won the Guess What's In the Bag. I actually won Who Am I. I was Eleanor Roosevelt. A luncheon followed the games. A visit to the goats followed the luncheon.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Wet Pigeons Perch on Gas Pipe, Suffer This Indignity In Silence

NOB HILL--Boy did it rain today. Just ask these two pigeons, trying to dry out, perched on the gas meters in front of the Nob Hill Barber Shop. What kind of downpour did these two get caught in? Whatever it was, it left them unable to fly any higher than 2 feet off the ground. They face the wall probably out of embarrassment. Remember, my wet warblers, my soaked squabs, this too shall pass.

Two Lonesome Men and a Glowing Red Dog

NOB HILL--You can't understand men. You can't even begin to understand men. That's not a bad thing. But sometimes men seem fascinatingly animalesque. Look at these two guys and then look at the neon Scotty...hmmm.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A New Nob Hill Testament

NOB HILL--It was foretold at the Counter of Time that something big was ready to pop out of the oven. Maybe a cake...maybe meatloaf...maybe a God. Nobody knew. But when your number is up, your future is now. Thus were the stories that began to circulate among the tables in the temple. You have to be careful about serving up a God. For instance, how hot is too hot? How gorgeous is too gorgeous? There are different opinions. At any rate, nobody was ready for the bearded son of a nail pounder.

They strung Him up on a cross between two thieves. They looked pretty much alike, but apparently a lot more people paid attention to the one in the middle. People later said he actually was going to transform himself into a kind of spiritual energy. No one has that kind of power, most thought.

Good News! He really didn't die! He was kidding! But nobody seemed to believe that story. At least it wasn't carried in any of the journals of the time. However, about 60 years later, some people (who weren't actually witnesses to the events) did write about it and their adventures.

Word of this was spread by ministers, some called by an inner voice, some self-ordained, some ordained by others. It is hard to feel comfortable when you think God is talking to you. Why doesn't this drive more people crazy? Maybe it has.

At any rate, the people who were listening to those inner voices thought that they were a little bit clearer in the head than everybody else. The other people said, "Well that's only your opinion." That must have made the listeners mad because they made a major effort to get everybody to hear voices. It is sort of like the difference between the two guys in "Sideways." One guy spent hours talking about a fleeting momentary sensation...they other guy just drank the stuff and said it was pretty damn good. Well, some people said life itself was pretty damn good, and the others said, "No, you just don't get it!"

"Getting it" came to mean that nobody gets to rest until everybody "gets it." And the world became a battleground and has to remain thus until all the creatures of earth with opposable thumbs agree on the little voices thing. And a kind of evolution did take now and forever more the people of the Christian nations feel themselves caught between the worlds of good and evil, of light and darkness, of having to choose what God really wants on that hotdog of His: catsup or mustard.

And now it comes to this...we will kill...yes we will kill in that War of Condiments, and our sunny, mustard souls are splattered with the catsup colored blood of heathens. Who will pay the bill for THAT one?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Isn't It Time To Curl Up With a Good Seed Catalog?

NOB HILL--Time to use that cold frame and plant some seeds! Yesterday I planted beets, snow peas, carrots, chard, radishes, and winter lettuce. I got these seeds from three sources:
  1. Pika generously gave me six different varieties of seeds from her own personal stock. We sure looked funny in the Flying Star sorting out these tiny tiny things and folding them up in pieces of a paper menu. Thanks Pika. This sort of spontaneous offering goes right along with your positive, so alive, so ardent in your quest for the best seed.
  2. Bob Evans, my Tuesday/Thursday riding partner gave me some snow peas and borrowed my chard! Now this particular variety of chard is called "Bright Lights." Pika said it was so beautiful that in Chicago they planted it in the median of Michigan Avenue! "The Magnificent Mile, for crying out loud." It has gorgeous red stems and bright green leaves.
  3. Pinetree Seeds is a wonderful CHEAP place to buy all kinds of seeds and things. They carry a lot of heirloom and "open polinating" varieties as well as hybrids. Let me quote from their catalog regarding "Bright Lights" chard:
    94. BRIGHT LIGHTS (50 days)94bright light 2.JPG (19674 bytes)
    A 1998 All-America Award Winner. Bright Lights is almost neon in appearance and has been the talk of our trial gardens. The leaves are green, moderately savoyed with veins of vibrant color, red, orange, or yellow running through them. The contrast is outstanding. Use young raw leaves in a salad (30 days) or briefly cook mature leaves (50 days) to maintain their color. If started indoors 5-6 weeks before setting out they can be planted by color for effect in an ornamental edible garden. Developed by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Well, nothing makes you feel better than going on-line and ordering a seed catalog. Oh yeah.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Four Hungry Pilgrims Go South...Find Bliss in Los Lunas

LOS LUNAS--Mike and Carol and MaryAnn and Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango went out to the Luna Mansion tonight. Sorry to have missed the AFC Championship game, but that lopsided Patriot victory could not compare with our great evening. And speaking of contests, I was involved in an epic struggle with two catfish filets. I won.

Great food, reasonable prices, and wonderful ambiance were what we found at the Luna Mansion in Los Lunas. Total cost of dinner for two (Mansion Mexican plate and two Cajun grilled catfish filets) with coffee and a shared dessert was $35 plus tip. It was the best catfish I have had in New Mexico.

Why Does Going Down the Aisle Bother Me?

SMITH'S ON YALE AND COAL SE--Though good food is to be found at the grocery store, it doesn't seem to pay to promote it. They always try hardest to sell you what you don't need. Here potato chips, Pepsi, Coke, and cookies compete for your attention. The end of every aisle was like this: PILES OF JUNK. Remember, in these times when we are all attacked by corporations and unresponsive leaders, "Don't Buy Crap!"

Ted Kooser, Poet Laureate of U.S.: An Article of Interest

NOB HILL--I discovered a great article on Poet Laureate Ted Kooser written by John Mark Eberhart for the Kansas City Star. It details his fight with cancer as well as describing his attitude towards poetry, which is that poetry is meant to be understood and felt...not solved. This is in contrast, as Mr. Eberhart correctly states, to what many of us experienced in college studying The Waste Land.

The article concludes with Kooser's poem "Selecting a Reader." This is a very interesting article and well worth taking the time to read it. I would be excited to see Kooser come to Albuquerque this year for a reading. Maybe we could find someone to put it on.

Cold Frame Added to Raised Beds For Under $10

NOB HILL--Update on the Raised Beds post. For less than $10 and some stuff hanging around in the backyard, MaryAnn and I made this coldframe to fit over one of the beds. We're still experimenting with it but it does look promising.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Oh Oh...Another Project Too Big To Do Easily: Build a Raised Bed Garden

NOB HILL--I thought of a couple of reasons to start growing our own vegetables:
  1. I don't like to eat vegetables all that much. However, once I grew carrots (a food that had gagged me since childhood) and found that my home-grown carrots were delicious. I think that if I grow the veggies, I might eat more of them.
  2. If you grow your own, you know exactly how they were grown. More and more, our food is grown god knows where and looks so beautiful in the supermarket you know they did something funny to it to keep the insects at bay and to help them grow. At any rate you know it isn't organic.
Well, there are other reasons but it all fits into one of those themes like taking more control so you can have a better life.

We decided to put in raised beds. We raised them a lot: 2 feet. This is because I have trouble with my knees and getting up and down is difficult. Also, raised beds waste less space because you don't need rows to walk among your plants. I figure it doubles the yield. Of course I could be figuring wrong.

We made the beds out of roughcut lumber: 2x12's. Roughcut lumber is cheaper, stronger, and looks better than kiln-dried lumber. But it can be a little green when you get it. In that case stack it up so air can get to it and go watch TV for a couple of weeks. The cheapest place to get it is Adobe Building Supply. After cutting the lumber prior to assembly I sealed each piece all around with a sealer from Olympic. This necessitated my using plastic to line the beds, but I figured it was worth it. I could be wrong.

I put the beds together with 3 inch exterior screws. They worked fine, but you do need to clamp the wood pieces together sometimes for a tight fit.

The dirt I got from Barelas Landscaping Materials in the south valley. They were the cheapest at $16 per yard plus a delivery charge of $40. There are three suppliers of topsoil located almost right next to each other on Bates Rd. SW. You should visit them before you buy.

What was this dump truck doing in the alley behind my house? And what is all this dirt for? In the following words and pictures I can help you (I hope) find satisfaction in a world that is 40% cow manure.

I found my sprinklers which were already on a timer and put risers on them. I actually built my raised beds in such a way that I only had to move one of them. I also put a tee part way up so I have some flexibility in arranging them after the beds were set.

Here is how to use a pipe clamp to hold two stubborn pieces of wood together when there is nothing to grab onto with the other end of your clamp. Screw in a cleat. This is real easy as well as necessary because the threads on the screws hold the wood pieces apart if they are not drawn tight. A second or third screw will not help tighten them.

I used metal plumbers tape to fasten the top box to the bottom one. It is cheap and easy to use.

Because I treated all sides of the wood before assembling the beds, I felt it was necessary to line them with black plastic. A 3 foot wide roll was perfect. I used a staple gun to tack down the plastic inside as well as the outside flaps to keep the wind from blowing them around while I worked.

There are two ways to dump the dirt into the boxes: use a ramp or screw protective cleats on the top and side of the box and dump the wheelbarrow directly over the edge. Both work.

I finished the top off with 2x4's. Using a sureform to knock off the sharp edges made everything a little safer my our grandson as well as our own tender bottoms. A pipe clamp was used to hold the pieces together while I screwed them into place. A pipe clamp is really a necessary tool when using screws with roughcut lumber. Screws aren't strong enough to draw two pieces of wood together tight; you need to clamp them first. The staples were removed form the flaps of the plastic, the plastic folded up over the 2x4's and cut off under the outside lip.

The raised beds form a maze in the backyard that has confused my dog. But I was careful in using graph paper for planning. Everything fit like it was supposed to, and the aisles between the beds are plenty wide. Wide enough for a cart or wagon, but not quite wide enough for my wheelbarrow. MaryAnn and I will start planting early vegetables before the end of the month. These would include carrots, radishes, chard, and snow peas.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


NOB HILL--The imperial extravagance of the Bush coronation stands in such sorry contrast to the horror of war, the terror of natural disasters, and the fear generated in our senior citizens. Remember this day. It will be a defining moment in future history books...sort of our equivalent to "Let them eat cake." After all, there really aren't any hungry people in this world are there? We are only hurting "bad guys" aren't we? Such lying...such arrogance. Where are the morality police when the President has gone psycho.

I actually think he is taking prozac. Really. He acts so disconnected from things that should evoke an emotional response, like the tsunami. Like 911. Like war. He walks around as if in a daze.

Tomorrow is Not One Damn Dime Day. Usually you would find me drinking coffee in the Flying Star. Not tomorrow. MaryAnn and Yours Truly, Johnny_Mango will be brewing lots of coffee at our house. And serving those day-old muffins from the basket at La Montanita Co-op. Free. Most of our Flying Star coffee drinking team buddies will be here. You are also invited. We will open at 7:00AM. If you are need morning coffee in a public place, consider dropping by. Email me and I'll give you directions.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Bird Below Is an American Kestrel...Not a Red-Tailed Hawk ...Which Makes the Story Even More Amazing

SOUTH VALLEY BIKE TRAIL--I made a mistake in identifying the bird. After looking it up in my bird book it is indeed a kestrel...formerly called a chicken hawk, according to mjh. Thanks mjh. A kestrel is still a hawk, but the amazing part of the (revised) story is that Juan Hurino is taking the bird to the vet anyway; even though the kestrel was probably attracted to his own chickens. Also, from my reading the kestrel is full-grown...and a male. And to quote from A GUIDE TO FIELD IDENTIFICATION: BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA: "Hunts from poles, wires, or trees; frequently hovers. Eats insects primarily."

Monday, January 17, 2005

Hurt Baby Hawk...And a Happy Ending

SOUTH VALLEY BIKE TRAIL--This baby red-tailed hawk lay in the diversion channel next to the bike trail. It was hurt and flopped away. It was unable to fly because of a broken wing. How this little raptor came to such grief is unknown, but overhead are several high-power electrical lines.

MaryAnn got Juan Hurino's attention. He lived right next to the diversion channel. He went for a pair of leather gloves and climbed down into the channel to get the bird.

Stalking even a baby bird of prey takes strategy. Mr. Hurino distracted the hawk with one hand and grabbed him with the other.

Juan Hurino noticed this baby hawk hanging out in his chicken coop for the past couple of days. He wondered what was wrong. Mr. Hurino loves all kinds of birds (except maybe chicken hawks) and is going to take the little guy to the vet for treatment.

And Here Is Robinson Jeffers' Poem: HURT HAWKS

Robinson Jeffers, circa 1937.

Hurt Hawks


The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,
No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death,
there is game without talons.
He stands under the oak-bush and waits
The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.
He is strong and pain is worse to the strong,
incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,
The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant.
You do not know him, you communal people,
or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying,
remember him.


I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending,
the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved.
We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening,
asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance. I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed,
Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

by Robinson Jeffers

Author of A LIGHT IN THE FOREST, Conrad Richter, was Nob Hill Resident

NORTH VALLEY--MaryAnn blinks, but David R. Johnson and Harvena Richter seem wide awake in Ms. Richter's north valley adobe. Ms. Richter, author and poet, is the daughter of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Conrad Richter. He was a former Nob Hill resident, living on Carlisle NE just a little north of Campus Blvd. David Johnson is a Conrad Richter scholar and friend of MaryAnn from their days at Penn State. Dr. Johnson works at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. David, MaryAnn, and I later went out for dinner at the Prairie Star.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Hot From Ebay's Collectible Section...

EBAY--Please excuse the scatalogical drift of these posts, but I just couldn't resist. Somebody is selling their toilet paper collection on Ebay. This is a worldwide collection, containing tp from such places as China's Forbidden City, the house of Anne Frank, and Bill Clinton's boyhood home.

I know...I know. You're thinking, "Right, this guy got regular toilet paper and just made up where they are from. Well, he asks us to trust him.

Never have I "made up" a story on any of these pieces or substituted some plain ol'e TP and suggested it was from somewhere far away. Furthermore, I am a licensed Southern Baptist Minister and son of a retired United States Air Force Chaplain (who, incidentally, collected some of the more amazing pieces for me). I simply ask you to trust me. If you would like references, I would be happy to supply those to you.
This is a huge collection. It is listed with pictures. And all his paperwork seems to be in order.

Sugar, I Said "Light Some Incense In There" ...Not "Tear The Bathroom Completely Apart!"

NOB HILL--Nothing is ever simple when you own an old house. This little project entails raising the ceiling over the tub, installing a fan, and putting in a new tub surround. Cost: materials, $200...labor, "comp" time to be redeemed when the weather warms up enough to camp.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Lobo Women Look Good In Win

THE PIT--It was another laffer in The Pit. My mind began to wander again. So did everybody else's. We can't help it if our observations wander as well.

The consensus from our section of the Pit crowd was that these two players, UNM's Abbie Letz and UV's Rebekah Fales (#23), have a kind of star quality beyond basketball. Whoa.

Is Lindsey Tweaking Her Shorts?

In these days when women's basketball clothing is so long and baggy that one wonders how they can even play in them, how come Lindsey Arndt looks so good? Is she hemming them up herself?

Two Rare Birds In One Shot! (If You Enlarge, Look Close, and Squint)

NORTH VALLEY BIKE TRAIL--What a lucky shot: a seagull over the Rio Grande and a bald eagle circling above him. You will have to enlarge this picture to see them but what a rare occurrence here in the desert southwest. And to those people in Corrales who are worried that a bike trail will destroy their wildlife viewing, you might want to reconsider after viewing these two photos.

This is the second bald eagle I have seen on the bosque bike trails in the last couple of weeks. There are all kinds of birds everywhere along the river...cranes, ducks, geese, hawks, roadrunners, and others. Now is a wonderful time to get out there and enjoy the wildlife.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

David Stuart: El Guero de Guaymas

NOB HILL--Fame is indeed a fickle mistress. In all of my recollection of Albuquerque history there are only two men who have had the distinction of having a sandwich named after them. You are looking at one of them. The other is former Lobo coach Norm Ellenburger. The "Stormin' Norman" graced the menu at the old Ned's when it was on Central Ave. just east of Nob Hill.

David Stuart, seen above moving his water away from the froth of his double cappuccino, holds the honor for having the other Central Ave. sandwich named after him. His, named the David Stuart, is high on the menu at Mannie's Restaurant on the western end of Nob Hill.

Nobody else has this honor: not the mayor, governor, nor bishop. Not Don Flannegan. Not even Don "Naked Man" Schraeder. Just two: Ellenburger and Stuart. But believe it or not, what he is famous for is not the sandwich--cucumbers, sprouts, and turkey in pita bread. No...he wrote a book called The Guaymas Chronicles, judged the best book in the Southwest in 2003. Stuart, known in the book as "el guero" (whitey) details his life in Guaymas in the 60's. But here in the cafes on Central Ave., for better or worse, his name is synonymous with cucumbers, sprouts, and turkey.

China Painters Party On At Furr's Cafeteria

EAST CENTRAL--Today was the holiday luncheon for my china painting class. As some of you know, every Wednesday I go up to the Highland Senior Center for china painting. Today I got invited to a birthday party . Evelyn Loose (right side middle) is turning 95 in two weeks and I get to go to the party! There is one condition: every guest has to bring 95 of something. Yikes.

This is the morning glory coffee mug I made for MaryAnn. It took about a month...really.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

And For Love...Tin Markers By The Side Of The Trail

SOUTH VALLEY BIKE TRAIL--Just north of Bridge St., behind an unlocked gate, a pet cemetery is nestled between the bare limbed trees and dry brush. It is surrounded by a little wire fence. There are half a dozen graves here, each one bearing an inscription painted on tin markers made from old metal shelving stuck upright in the ground. The site has been cared for and each animal has a stuffed toy to play with in whatever yard or field lies beyond this one here.

I have buried pets...wrapped my son's little dog up in my bedspread and dug a grave in the middle of the night. Covered her with stones. Cried. Cried for the dog, for my son, for me...for my parents, for all the sorrows and indignities I had never been able to cry for. Somehow, in the death of Ivan's little Chihuahua, I finally let it out. Thank you, Pinkie. I guess there was a tiny bit of good in all that grief.