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A weekend ramble

First, a thank you and an apology

I’ve been having trouble keeping life and the universe together lately, putting me behind in some crucial communications.

I’m a week overdue to say thank you to SK and D3 (who know why). So thank you, D3 and SK, and I apologize for my belatedness.

I also owe quite a few emails, which I may still be a while getting to.

Into the woods for berries

While working on a prospective writing project today I got a last-minute invitation from Furrydoc to gather early-season ground-creeper blackberries.

I usually wait until August for the berries that grow on big brambles. They’re more seedy and less tasty than these early guys, but a lot less work. These hide in grasses and under thistle bushes. Thank heaven for gloves.

That’s a patch we already picked from. With these tricky little berries you’re lucky to get a few cups in an hour, but they do make delicious baked things. I had a wild blackberry cobler this week that was from heaven.

Because I left the house without much forethought, I was ill-equipped. Bad me. Both of us always pack guns when we go into the woods. Today, neither of us did. Bad both of us. That’s when Furrydoc tells me …

Cougar confirmed

When Neighbor J lost her tough old outdoor Garden Kitty a few weeks ago we suspected something unusual. Two more cats on our street quickly disappeared, confirming a new apex predator. Not just a coyote; we have those aplenty but they don’t prowl around people’s houses unless they’re starving. More cats are disappearing in town.

Sure enough. Furrydoc — who gets all the animal news before anybody else — tells me a cougar’s been spotted twice. Once sitting in a man’s boat just over the hill from my backyard. Another time hanging around outside an apartment building on the edge of the woods a few blocks from here.

I’m not going to be forgetting my gun any time soon.

Old dogs

We brought our dogs on the berry-picking expedition. Annabelle and Ava will both turn 13 this fall and we discovered that neither of them could hear us if they were out of sight.

It wasn’t just a case of the girls having too much fun and deciding to ignore us. Both have always been people pleasers and happy to obey. They really couldn’t hear us unless they were looking at us. So sad. Too old, too soon.

And in other news …

Cat says get your hankie ready for this short save the whale video.

MJR thinks some of you gentlemen might be interested in bespoke suits from Grayman & Co — outfitters to the finest spies and contract killers. (I haven’t checked to see whether the site is for real. I prefer not to know.)

And Nathan Barton contemplates the phrase “the government should …”

There you go. That ought to keep you busy while Furrydoc and I go off for a day of farmers’ market shopping and Costcoing on Sunday.

The June Gloom has been thick this year and summer has yet to arrive. A getaway from the dreariness is better than anything the doctor ever ordered.


  1. Larry Arnold
    Larry Arnold July 7, 2018 10:48 pm

    hanging around outside an apartment building

    Seriously acclimated to humans, then. Bad news, that.

    “Leaving the house without forethought” is the third reason I home-carry.

  2. Claire
    Claire July 8, 2018 5:55 am

    You’re absolutely right on both counts, Larry.

    That’s clearly one bold cougar. Coupled with the pack of four wolf-hybrid dogs some idiot in town keeps allowing to escape from his yard, our area has serious new dangers. I’ve gotten sloppy about carrying; I’m glad to have the chance to remedy that before anything worse than consumed cats happens.

  3. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran July 8, 2018 8:01 am

    On our first trip back to Colorado in 2015, Rene’ and I spent an overnight with dear friends of ours who live in Denver near a golf course, my wife had a brush with a mountain lion. She stepped out the back door to catch a breath of fresh air in the evening and something growled at her from the other side of the back fence! She immediately retreated back into the house (good thing!) and couple of days later, new reports came in that a cougar was spotted in the neighborhood where our friends house is at!

    Residents In Southwest Denver On Lookout For Mountain Lion

    We noticed our dog, K-ci, not hearing us around the time he turned 13 years old. He used to greet me at the front door everyday when I came home from work, something I looked forward to, but when his hearing went, he did not hear me come in the door and if he wasn’t in the immediate vicinity, those greetings stopped. πŸ™

  4. Shel
    Shel July 8, 2018 8:43 am

    I try, when possible, to put a firearm on when I get up in the morning and take it off when I go to bed. Since people also have been attacked in their homes, it seems prudent. As Jeff Cooper wisely said, “You can’t schedule an emergency.” One can mentally go too far with one’s concerns, though.

    I believe I’ve mentioned before that we have the same feline sightings in central Florida, now that the state decided to import mountain lions to breed with Florida panthers to “save” the species. It’s just a matter of time before more than sightings are involved.

    I’m not sure about cougars but for bear, defense ammunition designed for humans doesn’t have enough penetration. Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, and Cor-Bon all make hunting ammunition in handgun calibers. Double Tap is the least expensive and appears to be as good as the others. One person with experience has strongly recommended to me to get a Taurus “Judge” and put 20 gauge slugs in it. The reasoning was that it will work and won’t result in excess penetration. I don’t see myself going to that much trouble, especially for a gun that isn’t all that well suited for defense against humans.

    Bred to hunt jaguars and extremely sociable, an Argentine Dogo (or two) would give a cougar serious pause. I’m not going there, either, as a dog is so much more than a tool for me. I’ve already got one and when she goes it’s unlikely, I think, I’ll do it all again.

  5. Comrade X
    Comrade X July 8, 2018 8:51 am

    Bobcats are a real problem where I be and other places it seems, my sis in law just had her cat killed by a Bobcat in Florida, we see them often here too, the cougars are around but keep their distance it seems around here.

    With my EDC I have a ritual of where I put it when I get home and what I always do when I leave, rituals are good to help prevent forgetting something.

    On that Grayman suit, I’s likes John Wick’s better;

  6. Deb
    Deb July 8, 2018 10:54 am

    Live in the Black Hills of SD, and judging by the numbers taken by hunters the last few years, cougar are plentiful in our area. I live rurally, next to Forest Service land, and am outdoors frequently. Still, in 33 years I have yet to see one. Apparently they are pretty shy, so if yours has been spotted twice it probably has to go as it is losing it’s fear of humans.

  7. Larry Arnold
    Larry Arnold July 8, 2018 11:53 am

    Mountain lions are stealthy, and tend to hunt dusk to dawn when deer are most active. They’ll take one a week or so. If a cat is out near habitations during the day, I would suspect it’s old or injured. (Barring rabies, which resolves itself fairly quickly.)

    OTOH, they are wild apex predators, and don’t always follow the rules. I may have posted this, from 2012, here before.:
    His father was able to fight off the cat by stabbing it with a pocket knife.
    So it’s okay, Claire. You don’t need a gun. πŸ˜‰

  8. Claire
    Claire July 8, 2018 5:52 pm

    Deb and Larry — I hear you on the special concerns about mountain lions that appear near human habitations.

    When I lived in the Desert Hermitage, we never saw them though we frequently saw their tracks (which looked as big as dinner plates). I knew they were in the process of returning to the forests of the PNW after nearly being hunted to extinction. But again, I never saw them even though I was in the woods all the time. Although this one’s the first to be seen in our little town, there are increasing reports of them turning up in or near places like this. And of course there was also the one that killed a mountain biker perilously near Seattle earlier this year. Definitely alarming.

    I would love to see it hunted and, if not killed, at least relocated deep into wilderness.

  9. Mike
    Mike July 8, 2018 9:34 pm

    About that cougar… These cats can be a handful when their size (90+ pounds for females and 150+ pounds for males) and their speed/agility are taken into account. Odds are if you encounter one it will run away. But… If you are forced to use your handgun, remember one thing, the smallest cartridge recommended for a male cougar is about the same as what a person would use to take a deer. Your handgun, unless it’s in the magnum class, may not work very well.

    I agree that it would be nice if the authorities hunted/tranquilize/relocated the cat. The problem is that it’s used to people, so it may pose a problem in the future.

    BTW the site with the suits is real, they sell real custom suits and sports coats for operators and mere mortals with CCW’s with prices to match.

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