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WHAT THE WALRUS SAID--Our Authors' Blog--

DUCK INVASION


I’m looking out my home office window and on the far bank of our large pond I see 15 ducks sitting in a row. Clearly they hatched this spring, and now they’re the equivalent of human teenagers, so full of energy they race every which way, on a whim.

They flew in four weeks ago, at first just a few, but more kept coming. The attraction? Our apple trees.

Now, as if they discussed it, they are suddenly waddling towards the apple tree at the bottom of the lawn, near the pond. For a few weeks now it has been dropping its apples.

Our ducks seem to be a mix of wood ducks, black ducks, and mallards, all supposed to swim in the shallows, tails tipped up, heads underwater, munching pond grasses off the bottom. We’ve never seen them tipping at all. For them, it’s all about apples.

At first, the apples puzzled the ducks. How do you eat these things? Eventually, they found the secret—spear the apples with your bill.

Yes, the ducks actually do this. We have watched them, apples stuck on their bills, like clown noses, waddling at great speed towards the pond, to escape their fellow ducks, who have not succeeded in spearing the apples and want the apple-catching ducks to share. They tear off bits of the apples to eat, although many apples end up bobbing in our pond when the ducks try to free the apples from their bills or to snatch another duck’s apple.

Deer, too, like to gather at the apple tree to munch, but the ducks resent these apple rustlers, and they do something about it. One duck, who we call Braveheart, marched right up to two does, with some of her more timid followers lurching behind her. She walked closer and closer to the deer, until she stood defiantly under their noses. Then she speared an apple from between one doe’s hooves and marched away. Once a fawn came to the apple tree with its mother, and when the ducks waddled toward it, the startled fawn jumped backward, and then bolted for the forest.

It’s not always apples. Sometimes, at high speed, the ducks zig and zag all over our large lawn. It’s hard to see why, except that they’re teenagers. That’s why they have so much energy.

At some point, they will fly south. We will miss them.

--Joyce
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HALL OF FAMER

Eric & Murdock, just awarded a ribbon for winning a race (again!)


In our celebrity obsessed society, where it seems only People Magazine A-listers rate attention, here’s what we see all around us—talent, ability, accomplishment, decency. In this blog, we try to acknowledge what we see.

So, here’s one….

Our friend Eric was just inducted into the Vermont runners’ Hall of Fame, with these words:

“For the better part of three decades, Eric Morse was the most dominant road runner in Vermont.” And this: “Whenever Eric entered a local race, the only question was who would finish in second behind him.”

Six-times the state’s high-school champion in cross country and track. A running scholarship to college. Then, seven times, a member of the U.S.A Mountain Running Team, competing internationally, often racing up Alpine peaks. Who even knew there was such a sport? Not us, until we met Eric.

He’s retired from Team U.S.A., but he still races. He partners with his super-fast West Highland Terrier, Murdock, and he’s still a champ—he and Murdock miss few “six-legged” races in the U.S. northeast.

They win every one.

--Joyce & Richard  Read More 
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Inspirational Dinosaurs


This tableau of dinosaurs partially inspired one of Richard’s fantasy stories, “Last Days of the Cretaceous,” in his anthology, Frankie & Johnny, & Nellie Bly.

It’s set in Atlantis, where aristocratic sportsmen hunt the tyrannosaurus rex.

Yes, dinosaurs disappeared long before humans showed up. We all know that.

Yet, here’s this convivial family, grazing at Florida’s Dinosaur World. It shows the huge reptiles and humans can co-exist, if the dinosaurs are made of concrete.

--Richard & Joyce Read More 
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Murdock Visits Again

Muddy Murdock

When our friend Murdock last visited, it was Green Murdock, because he got wet and rolled in the grass. Here he is again, but now it's Muddy Murdock--

Because a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do!

Next visit? Who knows?

--Richard & Joyce
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WILLOW

Willow--a cat? Maybe.
This is Willow, who lives with our friends, Pam and David. She is a rescue from the local animal shelter.

Here she is helping Pam bake cookies.

Willow is more like a dog than a cat. She loves to be around people and her motto is: Attention must be paid!

We like dogs, but who can resist a cat in a bowl?

We decided she is an honorary dog.

--Joyce & Richard  Read More 
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OUR FRIEND MURDOCK, THE RACING DOG

Murdock the Racing Dog



This is a photo of our friend Murdock, who is green because he played with the hose and then rolled in newly mowed grass.

We never know what color Murdock will be when he visits us. We call him “Murdock the Burdock” because he sticks tight to his best pal, Eric Morse. Sometimes, though, Eric’s trips are via airliner, and Murdock can’t go and he stays with us. This time Eric is running across the Grand Canyon, rim to rim.

Eric is a former member of the U.S. Mountain Racing Team. Now he competes in dog-plus-human races, with Murdock, and they always win. Murdock is unofficial Eastern U.S. dog-racing champ.

Murdock’s motto is: “Short legs? Just move ‘em faster.”

He has tons of trophies.

--Richard & Joyce Read More 
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GASPODE, STREET DOG

First of Terry Pratchett's 41 "Discworld" novels, where Gaspode eventually appears



I often think about Gaspode, the terrier-like street dog in Terry Pratchett’s brilliantly funny “Discworld” novels.

It’s because Gaspode is so disreputably clever at making his way in his world, which is similar to our world, except that it is flat and rests on four elephants standing on the shell of a vast turtle, swimming in nothingness. Discworld’s dwarfs and trolls despise each other, and its humans disdain all minorities, especially vampires and werewolves. Slums are super-slummy. And a filthy little dog gets no lunch unless he wangles it.

Gaspode has a wangling edge: one night he slept beside Unseen University’s High Energy Magic building, and magical seepage upped his IQ and enabled him to speak. Nobody suspects a dog can talk, so people believe they’re hearing their own thoughts—“Oh, look at that poor little orphan doggie! I should give him half my sandwich!”

Gaspode appears in seven of Sir Terry’s 41 Discworld novels. He’s a lot like Homer’s hero, Odysseus, the only Greek among Troy’s besiegers who demonstrably has a brain.

Besides, Gaspode looks just like our friend Murdock, the west highland terrier who occasionally stays with us, when his buddy Eric is traveling. Also, whether your world’s round or flat, amusement is good.

–Richard  Read More 
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