Archive for July, 2011

Humans as a species are notoriously short-sighted. Part of the reason, I believe, is that our lifespan are individually so brief compared to geological time. One example of this is genealogical studies–almost no one bothers to keep a running list somewhere of the names of their grandparents, parents, themselves, and their children because this information is obvious and mundane to them. Yet in 200 years, that same information is very difficult to come by.

The same problem applies to climate change. Summers get hotter, winters milder, and weather more severe, but almost no one except scientists seems to notice.┬áThe last ten days or so in Chicago have all topped 90 degrees, with high humidity that pushed the heat index often over 105 deg. This kind of weather is far from how summers were fifteen years ago, but it is becoming the new norm. Add to that, already this year we’ve had three storms whose winds have reached 70-80 mph (something unheard of ten years ago), and we’ve been hit by deluges of rain. Last night alone, my rai gauge recorded 5″ of rainfall, while the official Chicago total was 6.91, including a rainfall of over 2″ per hour!

Melissa and I don’t often discuss climate change as a motivating factor to move to Washington, but it is present in our minds nonetheless. Big changes are on the horizon for the back nine of my life, and for the lives of our daughters, and we hope that gaining access to more land and increasing our self-sufficiency can insulate us from some of the coming problems.


Read Full Post »


This entry is not so much on update on the plans to move and build a house as it is a sad memorial to one who won’t be moving with us. This past weekend our Alaskan Malamute, Milady, was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. Over 75% of he midneys were no longer functioning, and she had lost over thirty pounds. She wasn’t eating anything (except for hot dogs), couldn’t negotiate even the three stairs to get into the house from the back yard, and she slept all the time. Her condition is incurable, expensive to diagnose and treat, and offered a bleak outlook of sickness and starvation for a dog one month shy of 13 years old.

Tonight at 6:00pm, we put Milady to sleep. Eleanor insisted on going with me, and she stayed right with Milady and me on the exam room floor as Dr. Carlson administered the fatal overdose of anaethesia. I have never seen a braver act by a seven-tear-old. She cried–so did I–but she held herself together. She is doing okay now, though she is still having moments of crying and pain, just like me. It has been her first real encounter with grief, and I have seen a strength in her that I would not have believed. Amelia’s reaction is normal for a four-year-old: waves of uncontrollable sobs punctuated by no sadness whatsoever while she is distracted doing something else. I am glad we are gong on a short vacation tomorrow down to Branson for the Vickery family reunion: it should get the girls’ minds off what has happened.

Milday de Winter of JazzMals Kennel (from Washington state, actually) was the hardest-working dog I have even owned. I have seen her pull 1160 lbs in weight pull, and carry a 35 lb pack a dozen miles while pulling me up the hills. Though she long struggled with a disposition toward dog aggression, she was uniformly gentle with people, even children who liked to lie on her or dress her up in hair accessories.

Happy trails, Milady–you will be sorely missed.

Read Full Post »