sam eyes

Meet Sam, neighbor (and grading person) John’s dog. His incredible eyes are his most distinctive visual characteristic. His ears are probably the second.


Sam is the most skittish dog I have ever met. I fed him for a week earlier in the summer when John and his family took a vacation. He watched me from the woods but never came close. Prior to the last few days I have been able to pet him only when John’s helper Ron was petting him. Ron picked Sam up from his previous owners for John and took him to John’s home. Apparently for that reason Sam thinks Ron saved him. Sam also lets John’s wife’s son Logan pet him. But never me, or Leah, or even John.

And then Zeke escaped on Friday and ran for hours with Sam. And then Zeke escaped again on Saturday and ran for hours with Sam. Logan and Sam have taken evening walks with Leah, Zeke, Lucy and me (and the other dog next door), and now Zeke has recruited Sam as a pack member.

Sam lets me pet him now. In fact, he voluntarily approaches me for petting. If I happen to touch him when he doesn’t expect it, he still jumps away, but he comes back. He took a walk with me and the dogs on Sunday. I tried to shoo him away because I didn’t want him to get hit by a car, but I couldn’t bring myself to be harsh enough to make him to go back. He actually did quite well on the walk. He stayed fairly close, and he ran up into the woods whenever a car approached.

Here he is with the little brown dog I mentioned earlier.

sam and copper

Sam’s coat is probably just as dirty as Zeke’s was after his rain-soaked romp, but its color is almost perfect to hide the red clay we have around here. The neighbors who have been taking care of the little brown dog have named him Copper. We have trouble remembering that and usually call him Cooper, which is the name of my nephew’s dog.

Copper is supposed to go to the neighbor’s mother’s house soon. I hope she spoils him. Sam, on the other hand, seems quite happy lying in our driveway.


Dog – House

Friday morning we got the first real rain we’ve had for about a month and a half. We ended up with nearly two inches. That was both good and bad news. The good news, of course, was that we got some much-needed rain. It was bad news on two counts.

The first was that some time during the morning while it was still raining, we somehow left a door open and Zeke escaped for a long morning romp. He came back some time after noon looking like this.


If you know Zeke, you know that he should be more white than Georgia-clay red. He has been muddier, but not much. I had given him a bath only a few days before, but now he really needed another one. In fact, he really needed two, but he only got one.

The second part of the bad news comes along with some really good news. The good news is that we now have a framer who could start as early as this Monday. Our Realtor neighbor, who handled the sale of my mother’s house and our purchase of our new lot, gave us the name of a builder, who found a framer. His price is higher than the estimate our erstwhile framer gave us, but it doesn’t matter how cheap a contractor is if he never shows up. So we’re going with the new framer.

The bad news is that we have had nearly two inches of rain and more is expected for the next few days. That means the framer will almost certainly not be able to start work on Monday. What makes this even worse is that the weeks that the first framer cost us have been nearly perfect for framing.

Cloud spotting

The sale of digital cameras is apparently slowing down because everyone now carries a cell phone that can take pictures almost as good as many cameras, at least much of the time. I have fallen prey to that same practice; the camera on my iPhone takes such good pictures in many situations that I rarely take a camera with me. Leah and I regretted that choice on Tuesday.

We had been downtown that evening and were driving back home just as the sun was setting. We were commenting all the way from town about how beautiful the clouds were, and how they looked like a painting. Then we turned onto Technology Parkway, which turns into Huffaker Road, and leads almost due west for several miles. That put the sunset directly ahead of us down the road. This sunset was one of the most beautiful, impressive and unusual ones that we had ever seen. Most of the clouds were dark against the sky. The sun was directly behind some clouds in the far distance. Those clouds were outlined by a brilliant, neon orange rim, and pink and gray crepuscular rays shot out around them. So I pulled out my phone and tried to take a picture. Unfortunately, since this situation was not one of those that a phone camera does well, you will have to take my word for it. Here’s the photo.


Cell phone cameras have wide angle lenses, which I usually like for landscapes, but in this case I desperately needed a zoom lens. The part of the image I wanted is very small in the original shot, and cropping down that much requires a lot more resolution than the cell phone camera can provide. I cropped it down here so you can get a vague idea of what we saw.


It is an understatement to say that these images don’t do justice to the scene as we saw it. I’ve learned a lesson from this: from now on, I’m taking a camera.

However, the cell phone did a great job for this image.


These clouds show a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in the atmosphere. They are basically just like breaking waves in the ocean. There are plenty of much better examples online, but this is one of the best I have seen recently.

One of the things I like about seeing phenomena like this is that they tell you what’s going on in the atmosphere. From a distance I can tell that the atmosphere is stratified and that there are layers of air moving at different velocities. The wave clouds are right that the interface of those two layers. That kind of information doesn’t give me any practical benefit, but I like having it anyway.

No news

They say that no news is good news, but when it comes to building a house, that isn’t always the case.

We have been waiting for the framer to start work for about a month. First he had some small jobs and would be available sometime in late summer. Then he said around the first part of September. When I called on September 10, he said since he hadn’t heard from me, he took another job. My impression from our previous conversation was not that he would wait for my call, but that he would show up and start working. Since then I have been looking for another framer without any luck. The original framer might be ready to start before I can find someone else, but I would really prefer not to use him.

So now we have a well, a septic system, basement and garage slabs and poured concrete foundation walls. The next step – the only possible step – is to start framing. But we can’t.

I had hoped that the framing would be completed by the end of the summer. Silly me. Now I think we’re going to be lucky if we can get someone to start by the end of September. That means we are going to be at least two months behind schedule.

If I thought I could do it, I would start the damned thing myself.

Hummers, mantises and caterpillars

The hummingbirds have been with us all summer, flocking around the feeder and usually draining it once a day. We sometimes see a dozen at a time.

This is the time of year that other things start showing up. We have been noticing praying mantises in the last few weeks. This one thought the hummingbird feeder would make a good hunting ground.

mantis and hummer


Sunday afternoon I noticed this caterpillar eating leaves on one of our crepe myrtles.

caterpillar top


It looks like a Chinese dragon. The four yellow spots on its back are actually some kind of hump.

caterpillar side


I have no idea what this one is. Does anyone else know?