Suburban Stone Circle

A collection of stones in a circleWhen I’m not preventing the dog from finding truffles and fights, or assessing the historical implications of various structures in the neighborhood, I take in the scenery. My neighborhood is filled with unexpected and unusual yard decorations.

Take the fascinating rock garden of one house I pass often. It’s a miniature henge. In the front yard. The tallest stone is about a foot tall, but I wonder about it every time I pass. I wonder if they built it to transport people to 18th century Scotland. I vaguely entertain the idea of stepping into the circle on a solstice to meet a smoking hot Highlander. Maybe *this* is why the neighborhood just to the south of mine is known as the Highlands.

My luck would be that I’d get there, and the smokin’ hot Scot would pay no attention to me as I am not a smokin’ hot English lady, and then I’d be stuck in a much worse place to be a single woman of a certain age than is 21st century Denver. Even worse than having no flushing toilet and no internet, I’d have zero prospects and would probably starve. If I could survive a few weeks to get to a big city, I suppose I could try to be a teacher or a governess, but my one year of Latin is not going to cut it in the 18th century marketplace, and having practically no French would pretty much kill that notion.  I suppose common sense and basic first aid might get me a nursing job, but that alone is enough to keep me from looking ridiculous passing through the stones of my neighbor’s front yard.

Yeah. Fear of it working. That’s the ridiculous part.

Of course, it just occurred to me that the stones aren’t known to transport a person in time AND space. They aren’t exactly a TARDIS, after all. I’d be in 18th century Colorado, which means I’d be a white woman in a red man’s world. Depending on the time of year, it might be months before I would see a soul. I might have a better shot with a smokin’ hot Native American fellow, if I can manage to survive the fantastic beasts of the Rocky Mountains. Clearly, I need to start carrying a knife with me on walks in case of a sudden urge to time travel.

As I was walking the dog on Friday night, a new item had appeared in the yard. Sadly, it was not a Scot. It was, instead, a “for sale” sign. I’m now worried that the house will go to someone who won’t appreciate the curious ring of rocks in their front yard, and will have them removed. Maybe there’s someone reading this who *NEEDS* their very own stone circle, and would be interested in having it. The house is not large and you’d have to have me as a neighbor, but if you are undeterred, I can get you the details.

Extinct Lichen Specimen

Extinct Lichen Species in Collage

This specimen is the only remaining evidence of a now extinct lichen native to Lithuania, Arctoparmelia Centrifuga. Included in the montage is a leaf of the tree where the lichen had found its home.

Numerous attempts to use the specimen to reintroduce the lichen to its home have failed, and this one remnant of the the species remains in the SHUSH collection, until science can find a way to bring it back.

Preventing Canine World War

Where were we?

Let’s see. I had shared with you some of the activities I have used to fill the time walking the dog, which included really terrible, useless punchlines, and pastimes of dubious entertainment value.

And, while I shared with you the weakest of my walking writing work, there have been other bits that have found success in other writing, most of which hasn’t been seen by anyone yet. That’s a really cruel bit of teasing there, and I’m sorry about that.

The sadder truth is that I can only devote part of my attention to writing, as the larger share needs to go to the canine, in the event that our path crosses that of other furry mammals. People are fine, but, cats, dogs, squirrels, skunks and raccoons are serious hazards.

This is where I tell you that the adorable little ball of white fur is a gigantic bully.

If she sees a fur creature, she will immediately start barking at it and charge it at full speed, risking dislocation of my shoulder in the process. It matters not if the creature is much bigger than she is, or if they are behaving themselves and offering no challenge, their mere existence is sufficient to merit aggression. My job is to prevent her from noticing them.

First, as much as possible, it’s important to go after sunset.  My walking companion is no longer a puppy, even if there’s no convincing her of this fact, nor would it be evident to an outside observer.  Her eyesight at night has suffered the effects of aging, and I’m not ashamed of taking advantage of this frailty if it means that I have help in keeping myself free of skunk stench. I also tend to choose routes that are in the most dog-free parts of the neighborhood, which means that the scenery is boring, and therefore, largely predictable.

Another weapon in my arsenal of preventing canine conflict is the retractable leash with shoulder harness combo. As soon as I see a potential problem brewing, I begin to shorten her leash, and if possible, perform an emergency re-route. If she’s seen the incoming target, however, re-routing will be nearly impossible, and it’s time to grab her harness, pick her off her feet, and carry her.  This is vaguely reminiscent of holding a large sack of loud, squirmy, scratchy pythons. I try to avoid the nuclear python option as much as possible.

Every night is an adventure in preventing the anarchy of canine fight club while trying to achieve the quest of eliminating biological waste.  It sure sounds better than simply “walking the dog” when you put it this way.

Maggie Simpson’s Pacifier

Maggie SImpson's Pacifier

Since 1989, we have invited the Simpson’s family into our homes. This iconic possession of the youngest member of the family, is one of the most unique items in the SHUSH collection.

Over the years, Maggie has gone through nearly 500 of these comfort objects, indicating that her 28 year old oral fixation might indicate significant mental health issues, and have long-term physical side effects.

Maggie is sometimes called “The Forgotten Simpson,” as she is a toddler of few words. She has a bond with Moe, the bartender and owner of Moe’s, and has a nemesis in the form of Gerald Samson, the single-browed toddler who shares her birthday.

Passing the Passeggiata

As you might recall, I have been lately responsible for the walking of the dog that lives at my house.

Some days, this is a more pleasant task than others. I’ve been trying to make the best of these trips, and over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you some of my collected observations of meandering about the neighborhood behind the leash of a tiny white dog.

First, there is a game I like to play called “Architectural Forensics,” which, at the very least, probably sounds nothing like a game at all to most of you, and at the most doesn’t even sound like an amusement of any sort.

For those that chimed in that “it sounds nothing like a game,” you would be correct. It’s nothing like a game. I just call it that for lack of a more efficient noun.

Actually, I lied.

I don’t call it a game in my head, because, until I decided to share it with you, it only existed in my head, and I wasn’t anticipating sharing it with anyone, so, I didn’t call it anything, I just amused myself with it.

This thing I’ve been building up for three paragraphs as a “game,” will never live up to the preceding paragraphs, and once I’ve actually shared with you what it is, you’ll probably roll your eyes and proclaim it not worth wading through the tedious introductory paragraphs. Sorry about that.

Anyway, now that I’ve named it to tell you about it, “architectural forensics” is where I pay careful attention to the buildings in my ‘hood and try to figure out which are the oldest homes. I live in one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, officially the city’s first “streetcar suburb,” which means that the oldest homes were built in the late 19th century. I look for the tell-tale signs of chimneys in places that have changed to vinyl siding from wood, or brick houses that hint to a different era from the old Victorians or “Queen Anne revival” numbers. Then there are the ones like my own, that were built in the 1940s as duplexes. Many of those have since been made into single homes (mine is still a duplex). I ponder their histories and wonder who lived in them when they were new.

Now that you’ve all made mental notes to “just say no,” if I ever invite you over for “entertainment,” I will concede that after a few weeks of this and pretty much running out of “new” houses to assess on any of the various routes, this stopped being a way to pass the time.

Instead, I have taken to some composing.

Like, I imagine encountering someone who thinks I’ve allowed the dog to eliminate her solid waste matter without cleaning up after her, and then I indignantly wave the collection bag at them and say “This isn’t a bag of Hershey’s miniatures!”

I’ve worked on perfecting this for longer than I’d care to admit, and naturally, this line has never been used. It started out as “cracker jack,” but that didn’t last long, opting for the more juvenile implications of chocolate colored candies.

This “composing” time has not been wasted, as now I’ve shared it with you. You might not be thanking me.

Tune in next week for another glimpse into my “Walking World.”

Oh, and hey…
Remember that thing I was starting in January? It’s still going on. You can catch-up with it here: SHUSH Museum.

Mysterious Sculpture

Abstract sculpture of a human-like figure

This sculpture was found during an archeological dig in a the ruins of a Roman village, dated from the first century. The mystery of this unusual statue is that it is not congruent with Roman iconography, techniques or materials. The figure has an abstract human shape, with arms wrapping around the base and stretching to the face, with crude lines inscribed to roughly indicate fingers, of which there are only four. on each hand. Similar lines mark out the features of a basic face.

The fingers are oddly elongated and resemble flippers as much as they resemble hands. The head’s unusual shape combined with the flapper-like hands and fingers, have caused some to speculate that the work is evidence of extraterrestrial visitors.

Some speculate that the sculpture itself is created by these visitors, an example of their own art. Others surmise that the item was created by a citizen of the village, who was given materials to create a portrait of these unusual visitors.

Giant Tree Family Album, pt 2 of 2

Hyperion "World's Tallest Tree" as a sprout

















The redwood tree known as Hyperion is “The World’s Tallest Tree.” In this family portrait, this mighty tree is just a sprout in Redwood National Park.  Like its famous cousin, “General Sherman,” Hyperion would take dozens of decades to become the tallest tree in the world.  This tree measures 379.3 ft (115.61 m) in height. At some point in its development, the mighty tree is said to have met its nemesis, a woodpecker, which damaged the tree near its top, and may have stunted the tree’s growth.

Buy a copy of this postcard here, in the SHUSH Museum gift shop!

A Time for Reflection and Vampire Slayers

Torreance High School, or, Sunnydale High School, home of the Hellmouth.
A long time ago, in a galaxy that remarkably looks like this one, there was a high school kid who liked exactly one television show. She thought that television in general was a colossal waste of time, and was sure that anyone who proclaimed their love of television was simply a victim of those aliens that dine on mushy brains.

She went to college, and in those days, she got an idea that she wanted to write for that show, and even had managed to get an internship with one of the writers on that show in L.A., and had to turn it down, for various mundane reasons relating to money, and logistics, and no she’s not really bitter about that, except when she thinks about it, and she entertains notions that she would’ve been working in the industry in time for the television show that completely changed her mind about the brain rotting power of the medium.

That television show premiered 20 years ago Friday.

At about this point, you probably have figured out that this “she” is me, right? I knew I couldn’t fool you all.

For those that are not me, and don’t remember the dates that TV shows premiered, that show is called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I know.

Ridiculous name. Made from a movie that I had, to my great surprise, liked. In my snooty “television is worthless drivel” mindset, I deemed the entire premise incapable of sustaining a series. I didn’t bother with it when it first premiered, but, eventually, I learned my mistake, and took back all the things I had said about it. I know. I am deeply ashamed. I was very wrong.

I didn’t get all confessional about the origins of my marginally unhealthy relationship with television to convince anyone that the show with the silly name is worth watching.  Instead, I am celebrating the series that turned me into an unrepentant champion of television worth watching.  And, in so doing, I’m revealing to you all another of my deeply geeky traits.

Besides, it’s Lent. Having a moment of reflection is part of the formula. I should assess my relationship to scripted fiction, and think about the horrible things I used to do before I fell under the thrall of television.

More than that, I am sorry for all the insults I once heaped upon those lovers of TV. The things I said were cruel, and might’ve implied that loyal viewers had rotten brains, no standards for quality entertainment and smelled of unfortunate hygiene habits.  I hope you forgive me.

If it’s any consolation, I’m doing my best to offer penance.  There’s this little confession and apology, and, I hope that one day, all this thinking about the larger metaphors of being a superhero and saving the world will make me a better person.  It’s the least I can do.

Giant Tree Family Album, pt 1 of 2. General Sherman’s Baby Picture

General Sherman (tree)

General Sherman is a giant sequoia tree located in Sequoia National Park in California. By volume, it is the largest known living single stem tree on Earth. This rare picture of the tree, taken when it was a sapling, is part of a collection of pictures known as the “Giant Tree Family Album.” The album includes pictures of both Sequoias and Redwoods.

In this picture, the tree that would one day become known as General Sherman is shown as an awkward youth. It would ba many dozens of decades before the tree would reach its full stature and the fame as the world’s largest tree.

Buy a postcard of this exhibit here!

Lost Treasure Painting

Framed painting in purple hues with a golden frame and matching floral inset device





















In 1820, Peru was campaigning for its independance from Spain, and the situation in the city of Lima became desperate, and the city was evacuated.The city’s leadership decided to protect the city’s treasures and send them to Mexico for safekeeping. Priceless stones and art valued at millions of dollars was packaged and secured on a ship under the command of Captain William Thompson.

The riches were far too tempting to the crew, and they decided to steal the bounty. They killed all the passengers accompanying the treasure to its safe hiding spot, and the pirates took the treasure to an island off the coast of Costa Rica, where they buried it, planning to return at a later date.

The crew was captured by the Spanish, where all but two of the crew, were convicted of piracy and hanged. The two remaining sailors, Captain Thompson and his first mate, agreed to lead the Spanish to the stolen treasure in exchange for their lives.

When they arrived at the island, the two men managed to escape, and were never seen again.The treasure was never found.

In 1870, a man claiming to be the son of Captain Thompson brought this painting to the SHUSH Museum. He claimed that the painting and the inset item were the keys to decoding a very complicated puzzle that would lead to the location of the treasure. On the back of the painting is a cypher which has never been decrypted, It is thought that the building in the picture represents an important landmark on the island, or perhaps the true key in question is the inset floral decoration inset below the image, Numerous expeditions have been undertaken by the members of SHUSH, but, to date, nothing has been discovered.

Buy a postcard of the Lost Treasure Painting in the gift shop! Save 15% by using the code STPADDYPARTY.