Category Archives: Hill Dog Image

Woodchuck with Apple

For this being and it’s ilk, frequenting my backyard used to be a risky and dangerous behaviour – one with potentially fatal consequences.

A couple of decades ago, dog became frenzied, straining, nearly choking herself on her run every time a woodchuck came out of it’s hole under the outhouse. This went on for many days.

After several mornings of hunt and hide, I and my trusty .22 Browning lever action dispatched one of this critter’s ancestors on the very spot he now enjoys an apple.

Every once in a while over the past few weeks, for the first time in years, I’ve been enjoying target practice with that .22.

I first looked through the open sites of that rifle around a half century ago. As my time with it accumulated, I became able to shoot far away paper targets, woodchucks and rabbits at will. Killed them all.

My backyard’s last dog has been gone for over a year. The woodchuck doesn’t really bother me that much. The way he eats apples, kind of reminds me of how a racoon handles food.

This summer, I’ve been reliably killing already chipped coffee cups and paper plates from well over one hundred feet; shooting as well as I can remember.

When hands and eyes were younger, I’d align the sites on the target, take a breath, hold still and pull the trigger.

Now, I align the sites on the target, try not to move, wait until the sites drift across the target and shoot.

Though they have many times before, lately, those sites never drift across woodchucks, racoons, or rabbits.


It seems that there’s quite a population of fawn late this summer. A slow auto ride along neighborhood roads just around dusk reveals several doe and fawn within a mile or so.

For everyone’s benefit, all auto rides this time of year that time of day should be slow.

Earlier this week more than a dozen dragonflies swarmed the backyard. How many can you spot in the photo below?

White Geese

Meeting to allow substance abuse recovery center in Herrick Township
June 4 @ 7:00 pm
Herrick Township supervisors and the public will meet to discuss a change of use application allowing a substance abuse recovery center to operate on the current Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant property. Monday June 4 7PM Township building


Unlike their cousins the snow geese who pass over in very early spring on their way back north and rarely rest in the neighborhood,  this couple floats around a local pond most of the time.

Wikipedia reports:

In Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, the original domesticated geese are derived from the greylag goose Anser anser. In eastern Asia, the original domesticated geese are derived from the swan goose Anser cygnoides; these are commonly known as Chinese geese.

Both have been widely introduced in more recent times, and modern flocks in both areas (and elsewhere, such as Australia and North America) may consist of either species or hybrids between them.

Chinese geese may be readily distinguished from European geese by the large knob at the base of the bill, though hybrids may exhibit every degree of variation between the two species.

Neighborhood Recovery Center – Unconditional Love

I stepped on the scale this morning with trepidation. I had eaten four meals yesterday and topped off the evening with some sweets and a couple of glasses of wine. Still, I found myself snacking on some turkey before getting to bed a little before nine. Seemed like there was a big hole in my belly that needed filling.

The scale indicated that I had lost three pounds since yesterday. Work has been busy. The kind of work that makes you eat and sleep as much as you can fit between shifts, and sometimes that still is not enough. Strenuous but healthy. After a couple of ibuprofen, hurting knees and feet at night were good to go by morning – a bonus to not go into work sore from the day before!

As I was hurrying to put together a hearty breakfast in preparation for todays shift, the phone rang. A neighbor who I rarely see called and asked if I was aware that a meeting to discuss replacing Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant with a substance abuse recovery center is scheduled for tonight 17 May 2018.

She was unable to confirm details for tonight, but an article in the Forest City News notes another meeting on the issue will be held at the Herrick Township meeting June 4 at 7pm.

Tired, I became angry at the interruption. I have office work to do. I have another nine or ten hour shift waiting tables before catching some sleep, meet with a client in the morning, then back for another shift. It’s been like this for days. So looking forward to a day or two off. Really off.

But then I remembered the conversation I had with a coworker yesterday.

I then remembered that a couple of years ago, I spent too much time with a strong Internet connection and no adult supervision. I did research. “Why is there terrorism?” “Why are so many people addicted to so many things?” “Why are so many people just so damned unhappy?” “What makes people meaner to each other than they need to be?”

I answered all these questions to my satisfaction; more importantly, though I am not the first to do so, I have identified the antidote

Just for a moment, let’s all put on our big boy and big girl knickers, open our eyes, and recognize that there is no way any substance, legal, illegal, healthy or unhealthy, could become so pervasive in our society without government complicity.

There is no opioid epidemic. There is an opioid for-profit industry.

Whether the result of industry lobbyists of not, for quite some time, those in the medical industry had been encouraged to treat pain aggressively. “With today’s (natural and synthetic opiate) chemical compounds, no one need suffer unnecessarily.” Though every individual is ultimately responsible for their own decisions, as a civilization, the deck has been stacked against us by those with influence.

Now that the danger of opioid use has been publicized and manufactured substances are being restricted on the white market, the floodgates have been opened on the stream of opiates on the black market. “Afghanistan has been the world’s leading illicit opium producer since 1992 (excluding the year 2001).” Quoted from “The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime 2010 World Drug Report).

I do not know how many planes come and go from Afghanistan and eventually end up in North or South America daily. My point being, that one way or another, this industry will insure that, regardless of demand, the distribution of opiates will remain uninterrupted into our communities.

And now people want to install the recovery center component of the opiate industry in our neighborhood.

In the Forest City News the people who want to open the center state that “A higher standard of people will be coming here” and that “(their) belief is, when insurance runs out, we do scholarships for people,” “Our main ingredient is unconditional love. Not a place to just make money,”

Personally, regardless of a clinical definition, I believe it to be unhealthy when people are categorized as higher or lower standard. People are people. We all suffer. Sometimes from lack of food or sleep, but mostly we all suffer from lack of love. We all struggle with our respective demons. No youngster ever said “When I grow up, I want to have an addiction problem.”

My suffering belly was satisfied with food. My suffering tired head remedied with sleep. Luckily, I have been able to fill the hole in my heart caused by the loss of long time friends to death or circumstance, with strenuous work rather than substances.

The most durable antidote that I have found to all this?

As mentioned in the Forest City News article: unconditional love.

Yesterday, in getting to know a coworker, and to relieve the monotony of setting hundreds of place settings for a banquet, we chatted back and forth. A handsome young man, intelligent, articulate and a good worker.

“Where do you live?” “Quite a drive” I replied when he named a town south of Scranton. He was quite brave and candid I thought when he told me that he was recovering from opiates. He had lost everything, his license to practice in the health care industry, his girlfriend, home and money due to opiates.

“I lived at a substance abuse recovery center in Carbondale, but had to move. There was opiate use inside the center, and I just felt I had a better chance of staying sober if I got out of that environment.”

Without any questions from me, it seemed that he wanted to talk. I listened.

“My friend from the center, a friend I say, because we were trying to help each other stay sober, died in my arms last week. Opioid overdose.”

“We’ll pick up tomorrow where we left off today.” He said.

I was impressed by his composure. I fought back tears. If he wants to talk more, I’ll listen.

I’ll do my best to listen and to love him. Unconditionally.


The recent weather pattern, which is yet to complete, has been very un-February-like. 

Though not as warm as last year’s record breaking days,  except for the trails at Elk, no snow in the neighborhood.

When the panoramic views from the top of the mountain reveal more Spring then Winter, the patterns left in nearby trees by overnight freeze reminds us that we’ll soon see March’s nature, lamb or lion like.