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It’s what you see just above, though my desk in our little library is a little to the left of what the photo shows, and right behind our giant old apple tree, the base of which is now strewn with newly fallen fruit. The morning sun is bright on the left of the tree trunk, and the grass is deep green again, and long, after such a dry summer. The day is bright and promising here at Applewood, and I’m feeling good again after several days of some unknown illness. The Geek Squad is on the way over to hopefully install a much-needed wi-fi range extender, and I may get the lawn tractor out later if it warms up enough. Feeling hungry, so I’ll go get a bite, and watch a little more of Morning Joe to see what political blunders today holds. Both indoor cats have been needy this morning, and they are always a delight.
We have a black feral cat named Gala, who lives on our back deck. Vicki brings her in on most evenings to be stroked and played with by the fireplace, along with our indoor cats Cider and Banner. Samuel Johnson, author of the first dictionary of the English language in 1759, lived and worked on Gough Square, just off London’s Fleet Street, where we visited while researching an essay on him for the Chicago Literary Club. His favorite cats were Hodge and lily. Hodge, also a black cat, became quite famous, and is immortalized by a statue of him, opposite Johnson’s house on the square.
(from Wikipedia) Boswell also noted how Johnson went out to purchase valerian to ease Hodge’s suffering as death approached. Although Hodge was not Johnson’s only cat, it was Hodge whom he considered his favourite. Hodge was remembered in various forms, from biographical mentions during Johnson’s life to poems written about the cat. On his death, Hodge’s life was celebrated by an elegy by Percival Stockdale. In this poem the phrase “sable furr” indicates that Hodge was a black cat; also, the fact that Stockdale was Johnson’s neighbour from 1769 onwards suggests that Hodge was alive at that time.
…Who, by his master when caressed, warmly his gratitude expressed, and never failed his thanks to purr, whene’er he stroked his sable fur.
Today he is remembered by a bronze statue, unveiled by the Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1997, outside the house in Gough Square he shared with Johnson and Barber, Johnson’s black manservant and heir. The statue shows Hodge sitting next to a pair of empty oyster shells atop a copy of Johnson’s famous dictionary, with the inscription “a very fine cat indeed”.Hodge’s statue stands just in front of Boswell House, across the square from Johnson’s, pictured below, and below that is the view of the square Johnson had himself (2nd floor, 2nd window from the left), while writing his great dictionary, and presumably, stroking Hodge, his cat.
The frisky squirrel on his branch is now completed.
For more about Mike Bihlmaier of the Echo Carving Team, see this website: http://www.echo-usa.com/Carving-Team/Members/Mike-Bihlmaier. Here’s Mike with his array of echo chain saws being used at the Applewood Lodge oak project.
Mike has prepared the base of the massive tree for the impending carving of a doe and her fawn, which will complete the new, permanent animal and bird population of our tree.
When I contemplated our gracious bicentennial oak tree, here at the edge of the forest of Applewood Lodge, I never imagined it populated by a cross-section of the animal kingdom, but now that chainsaw sculpturist Mike Bihlmaier (http://www.7-sons.com/) of Marengo, IL is at it, the first creature has emerged.
Over the next week, Mike will be adding many other birds and animals of our property to the old oak, including at least one cat, because we have the feral variety on hand, as well as our trusty house cats. Watch this site for more postings, as they arrive. Here is the scaffolding from which Mike is working, and some shots of the work in progress to date.
We recently noticed that our cat Banner was drinking a lot more water, and it turns out he probably has diabetes, but somehow the question then leaped to mind: Do fish drink water? I was surprised by the answer(s), and it depends on whether you are talking about fresh water or salt water fish, and there is interesting science involved. I also learned that, of course, there is a book out called “Do Fish Drink Water? Puzzling and Improbable Questions and Answers.” 1999 by Bill Mclain, published by William Morrow, and available on Amazon.
As for the fascinating answer, which could be a winner for party betting, here it is, from herebeanswers.com:
“Freshwater fish do not generally drink water, i.e. not for satisfying thirst. They imbibe water only as needed for respiration and release it through gills, which draw oxygen from that water. They also urinate in large quantities to prevent their tissues from becoming too watery.
“Two terms known as Osmosis and Diffusion help answer the question. Osmosis: is a movement of liquid through a membrane from a lower to a higher concentration. Diffusion: is the movement of particles from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower of concentration.
In case of freshwater fish the liquids in their bodies are saltier than the water in their environment. Hence, Osmosis draws water into the fish’s body through its skin and gills. If freshwater fish did drink water they would blow up like balloons.
“As against this, saltwater fish have to drink water because the water in their environment is saltier than the liquids in their bodies. Osmosis causes water from their body tissues to be released into their environment. Saltwater fish have to constantly drink large quantities of water to replace what they lose through Osmosis. Diffusion then releases the excess salts and minerals taken in and not needed. The salts and minerals exit through special cells at the base of their gills back into the saltwater. Saltwater fish urinate very little because of these processes. If saltwater fish didn’t drink the water they would shrivel up!”
Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s beloved cat, surveys London’s Gough Square, looking toward the home of his master, who would go to the market to buy oysters for him. Johnson, greatest wit of 18th century London, wrote the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language in this now restored house, which we visited a couple years ago when researching “Samuel Johnson and His Clubbable Friends” for my essay presented to the Chicago Literary Club (www.chilit.org).
It’s CBS Sunday Morning, with no close second in my book. Great relevant variety, high production values, laughs, tears and learning something — what more could one want over lazy Sunday coffee, with the snow blowing outside and the cats hovering around the couch?
Try a sample: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/sunday/main3445.shtml