Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye, 2012!

 December 31, 2012
Clarke County, GA 

We took advantage of the beautiful morning and spent some time on the vacant pasture just outside of town. This is where we started the year on January 1, so it was a good place to come to close it out. 

This year was a strange one. It started out strong, but then kind of fell apart on me and many of my friends. Lots of people were lost this year, and some really good dogs too; there were quite a few life changing events. But in the end, myself, Tessa, and my family made it through in fairly good health, so I won't complain.

Let's see what 2013 has in store.

The Tropics of Lake Hartwell

December 30, 2012
Lake Hartwell, SC

Georgia Snow Drifts

 December 27, 2012
Morgan County

Christmas Day

December 25, 2012
Athens, GA

Christmas Day presented itself foggy, drizzly and cold. We took advantage of a break in the rain to go for a good run on the field followed by a long walk. The rest of the day was spent in the cozy comforts of home. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

December 24, 2012
[at home]

What do you know, Rudolph shed an antler right in our kitchen!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Season's Greetings!

December 15, 2012
Athens, GA

The Jolly Explorer

November 25, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's All I Have To Bring Today

November 23, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

It's all I have to bring today -
This, and my heart beside -
This, and my heart, and all the fields -
And all the meadows wide

[Emily Dickinson]

Oh Happy Happy Day!

November 22, 2012
Thanksgiving Day
Athens, GA

The first of four days off - Thanksgiving Break - but sadly, the big park is closed, so we found another field to run and blow off some steam. After an hour of this, we went on a 2.5 hour walk all across a very empty and peaceful campus - our Thanksgiving tradition!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2012
Greene County, GA

After having faced - and somehow survived! - a terminal illness seven years ago, there is not a day that goes by on which I don't feel thankful for what I have, even if life gets a little bumpy sometimes. I am thankful for being alive and well; for having so many great friends and a wonderful family; for having a home, and food every day; for not living in a war zone; and for my sweet Tessa, who will patiently hold a corn cob in her mouth for three full minutes while I take the same photo over and over again. 

I am wishing everyone a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving - enjoy the food and your time with friends and family - and don't forget to be thankful!

The Return Of The Iron Horse

 November 18, 2012
Greene County, GA

The Iron Horse sits in a corn field in Greene County, right off GA 15. It's an easy drive from Athens, and one of my favorite places to go. 

The abstract sculpture was created by Abbott Pattison at UGA's Lamar Dodd School of Art and placed in front of Reed Hall in 1954. Back then, art, and metal sculpture in particular, was new to southern universities and the horse was not well received - at all.  Just hours after its placement, students gathered around the iron creature, placed straw in its mouth, manure at its back, and painted the words "front" on its neck and "back" on its tail. Balloons were tied underneath the rear legs, and attempts were made to set the horse on fire. The university decided to remove and hide the sculpture until in 1959, it was moved to its current location on a farm in Greene County, where it now sits in the middle of a corn field, visible from GA 15 only in the winter. Jack Curtis, owner of the farm, says they are now judging the corn crops on whether or not they can see the horse.

There have been several attempts to bring the Iron Horse back to campus but they all failed.

Last week, the Board of Regents approved a request by the University of Georgia to purchase the farm in Greene County, to be used for agricultural research. It is ironic that the Iron Horse will once again sit on UGA property (unless there are plans to move it once again). 

Let Me Count The Ways ...

 November 18, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

... I catch thee, my frisbee!

Tres Amigos

November 18, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Dewi, Rhys and Tessa take a moment to pose for the camera. Rhys is finally back after hip surgery, the recovery of which took six months. It's good to have him back.

Sadly, Tessa's mentor, sweet Shane, stepped over the rainbow bridge on November 4. I miss seeing him at the park, and he will be even more missed when we go hunting this winter. Tessa has some big shoes to fill.

1995 - 2012

Morning Run

November 10, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm A Georgia Voter!

November 6, 2012
[at home]

Election Day! The question is, did she vote for Romney or Obama? Neither. She confided that she wrote in Bartholomew DuVal, who apparently ran for president on the promise of reducing the quail deficit.

Bartholomew DuVal

Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon

November 4, 2012
[at home]

Kim and Sunny left a raw bone in our freezer for Tessa and it made her Sunday! 


November 3, 2012
Lake Hartwell, GA

Tessa takes a survey of our favorite lake and this year's drought. On this day, the water level was 645.83 feet - 14.17 feet below full pool. 

Lake Hartwell Dam

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tessa's World

November 3, 2012
Gholston Stand Crossroads, GA

We hit the road today with our friends Kim and Sunny. Our first stop was Gholston Stand and the Tar Paper House. I am a little worried about those two icons of Madison County. Gholston Stand seems to have folded up its latest business, and the old sign in front of the store has disappeared and I recall a conversation I had with locals a few years ago, regarding Wal-Mart which apparently has its eyes on the big field across the road...right where the developer's billboard has sprouted. Of course, the tar paper house was supposed to be burned down years ago, do to its dilapidated state and a severe bat infestation. It will be sad to lose it, but I understand. Gholston Stand, on the other hand, is in good shape and deserves to be saved.


Lean Forward

October 28, 2012
Athens, GA

Getting in shape for the hunting season. We do this by increasing both food and exercise. 

Long Legs

October 22, 2012
Athens, GA

Duck Dog

 October 20, 2012
Jersey, GA 

The duck chase last month was not a fluke. Tessa has finally clicked with the ducks and today she had several live duck retrieves, and was very impatient whenever we watched the other dogs work. There will definitely be some duck work when NAVHDA training resumes in March 2013!

Field work also went well.

The Fabric of My Life [Season 5]

October 13, 2012
Oconee County (GA)

Frisbee [Minus The Kung Fu]

October 10, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Kung Fu Frisbee

October 3, 2012
Sandy Creek Park, GA

Always trying to outdo herself, Tessa has found a way to combine two sports in one.

I Got A Tag As Big As - Texas?

October 2, 2012
[at home]

Tessa was due for her rabies and corona shots today, and needed a heart worm check. Since she had a reaction to one or more vaccines in a batch of many, when she was a puppy, she is classified as a pre-treat for DHPP and rabies. So I dropped her off at the vet in the morning and picked her up after work. All went well.

As I paid the bill, I pulled her new rabies tag from the packet and to my surprise it was big, and oddly shaped. Only states have that kind of crazy shape. No cute heart, circle or fire hydrant. And not giving it much further thought, I asked why the rabies tag has the shape of Georgia whereupon the office staff replied: "Uhm...that's not Georgia. It's actually the shape of Texas."

And it sure is. Of course I knew that Georgia does not have such a ragged shape. It just didn't occur to me that a dog vaccinated in Georgia by a Georgia veterinarian would receive a Texas tag. But I guess it's possible and for the next three years, we will have to live with a huge Texas shaped tag adorning the collar of my Georgia girl!

After the initial shock I was able to accept it, and I don't think Tessa even knows what a state is.

Free Drinks!

September 29, 2012
Athens, GA

A man's trash is a dog's treasure: beverages on the sidewalks and chicken bones in the curbs, after a day of tailgating in a college town, Tessa is in heaven, while I am trying to navigate her past the trash. She  doesn't exactly need to consume chicken bones nor caffeine.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tessa and The Great Pumpkin

September 23, 2012
Pumpkintown, SC

No, we are not afraid of the Great Pumpkin! We live in it!

Hawk Watch 2012

 September 23, 2012
Caesar's Head, SC

Each year, thousands of raptors migrate from the Northern U.S. to warmer climates. The Appalachian and Atlantic flyways are the two major routes used in the East. Caesar's Head is an excellent viewing point because it is high enough (3,266 feet) to get a good glimpse - with binoculars that is - of the birds that migrate at altitudes of up to 3,000-10,000 feet. It is also located atop a 2000 ft drop which creates an air updraft which the birds use for soaring ("slope soaring"). In addition to the slope updrafts, thermal currents form when the cool morning air mixes with the warm air as the day heats up. These thermals also allow the birds to soar to great altitudes from which they can glide for a long time without flapping a wing, conserving energy on their long trip to South America.

So every fall, bird enthusiasts and park rangers come here on a daily basis and count the birds that migrate through. Hawks sometimes form kettles, and as many as 500 birds have been observed in one kettle. With such numbers, observers count in 5s and 10s; an important rule is to count silently, then compare the totals and come up with a number most observers agree on. Visitors do their best to confuse everyone by forgetting this rule and counting out loud which always results in a collective "sssssshhhhh". In order to ensure that no resident birds are included in the migration counts, counting does not start when the hawks arrive but rather when they glide out of the area.

Observation hours are typically from 11 a.m. (as the day warms up) until 5 p.m. (after which the raptors start to settle down for dinner and the night).

I have gotten pretty good at picking the peak day by following the counts in North Carolina and Virginia - when the numbers go up there, one can assume that those birds will reach South Carolina two days later. Today, the count when I left at around 2 p.m. was "only" 500 Broad-Winged Hawks, but the final count for the day was 2,603 Broad-Winged Hawks, 4 Osprey, 1 Bald Eagle, and 1 American Kestrel.

I also saw 3 Monarch butterflies flutter by. They migrate, too, which I find even more fascinating. The seem so fragile floating through the air 3,000 feet up, with nothing to rest on. The migrate all the way to Mexico.

Tessa waiting for the hawks.

Table Rock, Revisited

September 23, 2012
Table Rock, SC

I used to drive up to Table Rock and Caesar's Head almost every year for the Hawk Watch, but haven't done so in a long while, and Tessa's never been, so we took advantage of the beautiful early fall day and made the 3-hour trek to the foothills of South Carolina.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Four Years

September 20, 2012

Four years ago today I headed to Columbus, GA, with a check and a crate and picked up my Tessa. In those four years she has taught me a few things about birds and a lot about how best to live life. Some of the lessons were (clockwise):

1. Go fishing often.
2. Never turn down a ride in a spaceship.
3. Always clean your plate.
4. Keep an eye on those ducks.
5. Feel the wind.
6. Appreciate the dawn of each new day.
7. Think outside the box.
8. When you come to a fork in the road, be sure to take it.
9. Jump for joy at least once a day.
10. Never stop wondering or pondering.
11. Stay close to the ones you love.
12. Pursue your passion.

She's truly an inspiration!


September 15, 2012
Jersey, GA

Tessa finally clicked with the ducks today. Never having paid them much attention, she surprised one near the shore, and when it took off across the pond, Tessa gave chase - a water chase. Now, ducks are fast, smart and cunning. Just as a dog draws near, they fast forward by flying a short distance only to settle just out of reach of the dog again. Sometimes they dive and there is not telling where they surface.  Tessa was tenacious though, in hot pursuit until the duck reached the other side of the pond, at which point it curved around and the two were headed back across again. Eventually, the duck flew off.

Tessa was a changed dog after this - she would pay very close attention to any ducks in the water and in the air as a large amount of them transferred from pond to pond. I was glad to see such interest, and we may do some duck work after all.

My Shadow

September 14, 2012
[at home]

It's not that I feel watched or anything...

Sunday Stroll

 September 9, 2012
Madison, GA

The weather was so beautiful today, that I decided to go on an impromptu road trip. Well, it was more of a Sunday outing. We cruised through beautiful Greene County - which was very lush - and stopped in Greensboro, before heading to Buckhead and Madison.

Madison has a new city park, Town Park, which is quite beautiful. Tessa was ready to test out Cooke Fountain!
Daniel Morgan 


September 6, 2012
[at home]

Watching one convention or another, but politics don't interest her.