Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mystery Solved

Just as I suspected, the incident of the bear being crushed by a grain combine (see Nov. 16 post) happened in northern Wisconsin, not in Illinois. And this is at least the second time this has happened in Wisconsin this fall. The state has a large population of black bears, and this excellent article gives all the details, including a great photo of a momma bear and her cubs in a den. The two bears crushed in their dens by the combines were males, who usually den by themselves.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Wrath of Red Chief

When Grandpa gets annoying with the camera.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cat in the Corn: Vegan Feline Caught in the Act

Caught! My cat Maddie is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, as those who know her can attest to. In stealth quickness, she bolted onto the table after a Thanksgiving meal and, amid leftover slices of turkey all around . . . went for the sweet corn. Normally a lover of cooked birds, I cannot explain this behavior. But, it is Maddie, so nuff said.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thankful Buffaloes

If the first Thanksgiving had been in, say, Pennsylvania instead of Massachusetts, maybe the feast would have featured buffalo, not turkey. The Native Americans in Massachusetts didn't have buffalo, the staple of most other Indians, because herds did not extend that far north. A single 2,000-pound buffalo, though damn difficult to put in the oven, would have yielded leftovers for many meals.

Monday, November 20, 2006

When ya gotta go . . .

. . . ya gotta go. Four-year-old Red Chief, up from bed and still very sleepy, didn't quite find the bathroom. Off by just a few feet, in his weariness he did find something that sort of resembled a toilet - the dryer. The Princess Mom managed to stop the flow before it became a flood.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fiction is Funnier than Truth

About the bear in the cornfield posted earlier today (see below). I don't see it as being here. I think the photos were taken in another state, perhaps in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, or Maine, where there are well-established populations of bears. Someone is having fun pretending the bear was in Illinois. The fact that there has been no publicity on this in Illinois is a good clue. In the states that do have black bears, the bears are known to enter cornfields and feast.

Oh Give Me a Home . . . Where the Combines Don't Roam

My first reaction was disbelief when I received these photos from a fellow buffalo runner. Seems an area farmer was combining corn when a wheel dipped into a depression . . . a bear's den, with a black bear inside (top photo shows crushed bear). The farmer who discovered the bear said the Illinois DNR told him to shoot the animal. Black bears have been long gone from Illinois, the closest states having wild black bears being Wisconsin and Arkansas. So how can you explain a black bear in a central Illinois cornfield? I'm still not convinced this is real, that the scene was faked. But, I could be wrong. After all, some strange creatures have been sighted in Illinois, including cougars and armadillos. So how come this black bear encounter didn't make the area news? And no one saw a 300-pound bear (this was a small male) roaming around central Illinois? Black bears are primarily nocturnal, so I suppose it's possible that it could remain undetected. I suspect it escaped from someone's holding pen. Afer all, there are untold numbers of exotic animals that are secretly kept. I hope to find out more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Elf Murders on Maplecrest Drive

cutesy poem:

"A little elf
Sat in a tree
Painting leaves
To throw at me.

Leaves of yellow
And leaves of red
Came tumbling down
About my head."

I love autumn leaves . . . when they are on the trees. Tired of bagging and tagging dead leaves. I have big trees . . . and an army of elves. No more smokey cremation of leaves as in the past, just silent, rumpled burial in a sack. CSI Champaign: Elves at the morgue. They asked for it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Abe on the Big Screen

For years I've been waiting for an accurate and somewhat realistic movie (it is, after all, Hollywood) about the American Civil War, but in vain. Why can't someone put together a meaningful film about the most crucial time in our history? Now that Steven Spielberg has purchased the movie rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, a well-done book about Lincoln and his cabinet and the war, there is hope. Spielberg is careful about historical detail, as evidenced by "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers." He is reportedly working on Indiana Jones 4 right now, but hopes to start filming the Civil War movie in about a year. The script is being written, and Liam Neeson has been tabbed to play Abraham Lincoln, which seems like an excellent choice given Neeson's acting ability and physical similarity to Lincoln (above). Of course Spielberg and Neeson worked together on "Schindler's List."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

You don't know Jack . . . but my sister does.

My little sister, who I always call Kid, met and spent three hours last week with Kiefer Sutherland, the Jack Bauer of "24" fame. Being a Chicago radio DJ has its perks. Seems Kiefer was in Chicago promoting a band he likes. The Kid says Kiefer was very nice, personable, down to earth. And when the Kid complained of the cold weather, Kiefer gave her his cashmere scarf and told her to keep it. The Kid says she'll have more stories for me about Kiefer. I haven't gotten into 24, but I have always liked Kiefer as Ace, the "dime store hood" in one of my favorite movies, "Stand by Me." And I'm a huge fan of Kiefer's dad, Donald Sutherland, who has given standout performances as Hawkeye Pierce in the original MASH, and in "Ordinary People." Incidentally, my bro-in-law Norm, radio program director for WXRT-FM in Chicago, sat next to and freely chatted with a pretty well-known guy at an event last year - Russell Crowe. Sheesh.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mud, Manure, Camo, and Cold in an Indiana Forest

My running shoe and pants at this point show some of the Hoosier mud, but the shoe was often fully encased in mud.

Why I call her Mudless: Kim with my shoe on the left next to her fairly clean shoes. She would go well off the trail to avoid deep mud, but thorns could also be a problem.

Mudless fixed grilled cheese sandwiches and soup at our camp site the night before the run.

Mudless relaxes with a beer and the Wall Street Journal after the run.

Fellow Buffaloes Nancy (left), Wrong Way (Marla), and the Cuz (Don)

If you like prancing around on a cold fall day on a forest trail that has steep ascents snd descents, thick mud and occasional manure churned up by horses, and shoe-drenching creeks, then this was your place -- Owen-Putnam State Forest in southern Indiana. Mudless and I drove down there this past weekend and camped (in the 20s at night) with Devil Dawg. Mudless and I did the 13-mile "fun run," which was tough enough, while other buffaloes did the 50K and 50-mile runs. A large group of self-described local rednecks camped near us and gave us oak firewood and invited us to sit around their campfire, a bonfire actually. I think they consumed most of the beer supply of southern Indiana. The rednecks then played golf the next morning, drunken golf I'll bet, because it was quite a sight to see the cavalcade of tipsy cowboys and their golf clubs and bags enter camp after we had soberly tromped the trail. In the last two miles of my 13-mile run/walk I hooked up with a National Guard recruiter dressed in his camouflage and combat boots. I guess he thought this would be good training. Thirteen miles in combat boots took its toll on him but he was a good running companion.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Road Trip! Sleeping in a Hoosier Freezer

Leaving later today with others of the herd for Owen-Putnam State Forest in Indiana where I'll be doing a 13-mile trail "fun run" as part of an ultra race event. Other Buffaloes are doing 50K and 50-mile distances. And camping out tonight and Saturday night after the run. Plenty of firewood, wine and blankets will get me through it. Trip should present good photo ops in camp and on the trail.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wildlife in Our Midst

Despite all the steel, concrete, asphalt, bricks, lumber, drywall, and machinery we install on the planet, wildlife still manage to survive and mingle with us despite our invasions of their habitats. One of my buffalo buddies had this to say about a run on the trail at Allerton Park last weekend:

"I was running along the river bottom, a couple hundred yards before we turn to head to the sun singer. A runner ahead of me yells, 'LOOK OUT FOR THE DEER.' I look to my right and see and hear a deer running at full speed -- leaves flying, branches breaking, eyes wide open in a look of total panic -- full speed. This is a huge buck -- I'd guess at least 10 points on his huge rack - a beautiful animal. It crossed the race course about 10-15 feet ahead of me in one giant leap and hit the ground once more before plunging into the river with a giant splash. For a moment I stood in awe - what a sight . . . . a sight I'll never forget."

This is a good account of a buffalo sighting. Nature is magnificent.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Red Chief All Abuzz

Albeit a small group, Red Chief finally met the Buffaloes, including Buffalo icon Devil Dawg, at a post-run dinner at the Mudless house on Halloween. When the four-year-old Red Chief blasted into the party accompanied by his Princess mother, his powers as Buzz Lightyear were aglow when he sniffed out the candy supply. It wasn't long before a sugar jolt and the late hour caught up with the buzzed chief, and the Princess had to unceremoniously carry out the Toy Story warrior amid much protest from the little guy. The Dawg now knows that the Princess and Red Chief are indeed real, and genuine members of the herd.