Archive for July, 2013

Proud to be from Davenport, Iowa!

July 19, 2013

  Col D 1

  Well, for a variety of excellent reasons, I haven’t been able to accomplish much this week and was looking out my window while trying to think of what to do next.  I noticed something white across the river and took up my binoculars to investigate.  White pelicans.  There were never any such birds around these parts when I was young, but now there is a healthy breeding population.   

  They are beautiful to watch in flight, particularly when in flocks.  (I looked it up, groups of pelicans aren’t flocks, they’re pods…)   The birds’ moves are coordinated, mostly, and are slow and elegant.  Not as exciting to watch hunt as their grey cousins however.   When fishing, the former sort of just bob.  The latter, collapse their wings upon spying quarry, point their beaks at dinner, and crash through the water’s surface in pursuit.

  They don’t live around here though and I soon bored watching the white ones lounge about and began to scan upstream.  Came to the house you see above.  It was built by Colonel George Davenport in about 1833 near the site of his first residence, a double wood cabin.  Davenport, after whom the largest city in our metro area is named, had an interesting method of organizing a family.

  He was about twenty-two in 1805 when he married the widow Margaret Lewis who was seventeen years his senior and had two children, William who died shortly thereafter, and Susan who had been born in 1800.  In 1817 Davenport and Susan had their first child, George Jr and in 1823 their second son, Bailey.   Colonel Davenport was also blessed with a daughter, Elizabeth, born to him in 1835 by, uh, one of the family’s indentured servants.

  Like I said, interesting.  Next time I get distracted and look out the window I’ll have to imagine what might have been the nature of dinnertime conversation over there.  Would have been a confusing eight plus place table, with Dad, four children, and everyone else named Mom.   

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Nothing Is Less Real Than Realsim

July 5, 2013

Woods 2 

  One foggy morning (cerebral that is, not atmospheric) a while back I was doing my usual AM ablutions while following (sorta) Despierta America on Univision.  Means “Wake Up America” and man do they have fun.  None of that starched jocularity found on the major gringo networks.  Lathering up while waiting to see what the attractive newsreader would be wearing that day, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a new mole on my chest.

  Had to fetch my glasses for a closer look.  I’ve never worn a shirt outside when I didn’t have to and as time has marched on I’ve wondered about the ramifications of lots of sun and what, if any, protection I can expect to enjoy from the Moor in me.  Not to have worried.  Once bespectacled, I watched the mole move.  It was a tick – soon to be holding its breath on its way to the river courtesy of indoor plumbing.

  My Lab friend Nellie and I frequently explore the woods behind my mother’s house and I’m well aware of the presence of all sorts of creatures that you won’t find inside.  We love poking around out there and continually find interesting stuff like the fence post you see above.  How would you like to have been in charge of that project?  If you’ve ever stretched barbed wire you know how much work that is, but to also have to sink posts like that?  Wow.

  Anyway, many years ago, living out west, I took ill and went to a doc who said that the symptoms pointed to leukemia, but asked if by chance I’d found an embedded tick recently.  I had.  Tick fever.  So I’ve been careful since and have taken the usual precautions in Mom’s woods – long sleeves etc -but obviously to no avail.  I thought about it and figured the thing just rode home on my jeans, hid till the coast was clear, then made for a sanguine dinner.

  A little research informed me that the tiny arachnids (yep) need to be attached for at least twenty-four hours and very probably thirty-six to transmit tick fever, Lyme disease, or whatever so I rethought my approach.  Now, if it is warm enough, I just wear running shorts and shoes when Nellie and I are out there.  Once home, I throw the clothes right in the wash, undertake a visual inspection with the help of roommate or mirror, and then and take a hot shower.  Potential problems are thus averted with the added benefit of nettle stings up and down my legs tingling beneath my desk all afternoon.  No need for a PM caffeine fix.

  Made me think about something Georgia O’Keefe said:  “Nothing is less real than realism”.  She wasn’t, of course, referring to anything like my idiosyncratic idiocies, but I take her point.  Reality TV I don’t get.  “It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we can get at the real meaning of things.”  The berries you see below were a bit bitter, yet unripe.  They’ll get there though and Nellie and I’ll be back when they do…

Woods 1