"Some calls it madness...I calls it HiDeeHo." - Cab Calloway
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Friday, July 23, 2004


This evening, I wanted to go out for a walk, but not around the neighborhood.  There was a side trail at the KMSF HQ I had always passed and thought, 'I should check that out sometime.'  Well, this was the sometime.  It's a cool, dry evening, the bugs shouldn't be too bad and I have no pressing obligations...after dinner I hopped in the Echo and zipped out to Eagle.

This side trail passed through the typical mixed dryish forest, mostly conifers and herbs like nightshade, and led out onto another prairie in miniature, no more than 2 or 3 acres of Queen Anne's lace, sunflowers, melilot, the odd orange daylily (doubtless escaped from cultivation) and the ubiquitous grasses.  I caught myself thinking an unusually girly thought - 'Queen Anne's lace, chicory and daylilies would make a nice summer wedding bouquet...holy crap is that a coyote?!?'  The last bit isn't particularly girly, is it? 

Across the field, head just visible above the flowering tallgrass tops, was a coyote. It didn't see me, or if it did it gave no sign.  It had its head down and was moving slowly.  It was stalking something, probably a ground squirrel or a mouse or some such....and POUNCE!  It turned and trotted away up a slight slope, and out of my sight.

I was elated.  The last few coyotes I'd seen were bloating on the side of a road.

On the way up over the slope, the trail faded out but I kept walking into the next patch of trees.  I didn't get too far.  I heard a sound.  I turned around.  I turned around and found the thing that made the sound (sorry, couldn't resist the TMBG lines).  I didn't actually find what made the sound, sort of a low, hollow, snorty noise that sounded like it was coming from close by and far away simultaneously.  My mind told me it was a distant chainsaw - after all, there are people who live on the periphery of the state forest and in it - but my gut told me to get the hell out of there.   My imagination recalled that my mind had heard on public radio that black bears are becoming re-established in southern Wisconsin.  I've heard the sounds bears make.  I've had nightmares with bears.  It sounded for all the world like, guess what? A bear.  I'm out at sunset in a forest, defenseless, spooked, with bears on the mind.

I'm ashamed to say, I ran all the way back to the car. 

But I saw a coyote hunting!  That should count for something.

Maybe it was THE Coyote, playing a trick on oh-so-confident-out-in-Nature me.  

I'll go back, but I'll bring my stick.  That'll show 'em.

posted by Julie Neff  # 7/23/2004 07:46:00 PM

Thursday, July 22, 2004


I just heard that my cousin, Everett, was killed in a car accident.  This was on my dad's side this time.

Last I saw or heard from him, he was playing football for East Troy High School, around 1999 or so.  Yeah, he was young, early 20s.  Shit.   I don't think I can say I knew him that well, honestly.  He was the middle child of 3, my dad's youngest brother's kid.

So it comes to this - you compare and contrast the 3 deaths in my family recently:

1.  My grandpa - an old, old man with end-stage Alzheimer's, for whom it was a relief and no surprise.
2.  My uncle - a middle-aged man with heart disease but planning to see the next days and weeks, if not months and years - even considering his health, still unexpected.
3.  My cousin - a young man, apparently with at least 60+ years ahead of him, who died because of someone's carelessness or stupidity or chance or who knows why.  Totally unexpected.

It can, and will, happen to anyone.  People you should have gotten to know better will die and you'll never get the chance, even if they're young.

I'm sorry.


posted by Julie Neff  # 7/22/2004 05:23:00 PM


Josh and Stacy did it on the right day, but here it is: Happy 15th birthday, Rachel, from Mo and me.  You are now officially half my age.

posted by Julie Neff  # 7/22/2004 02:09:00 PM

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Mo had her first wipe-out on a hill while riding her bike a while ago.  We knew it would happen at some point, but so soon?  She suffered abrasions to her back, knee, shoulders, chin, nose, and ego.  Good thing she had her helmet on.  From the scrapes on the helmet I could tell, had she not had it on, she would have also suffered a grating blow to her left parieto-occipital region.  No broken bones, no concussion, no real damage done. 
She got back on the bike, though.   What a trooper.
It has become typically midsummer here - hot, humid and hazy, with the threat of thunderstorms on the horizon.  The bugs at Lapham Peak and Kettle Moraine would be intolerable but for that kickass toxic bug spray.  Even so, I am less inclined to hike when the temperature goes over 85.   I am even less inclined than that to cook, write, read, or do much of anything.  So much for my usual creative outlets.  The best summer foods are those that don't need cooking, or can be hastily tossed over a fire.  This is not the time for the carefully layered nuances of bouef bourguignon, but more for the handful of black raspberries gathered along a trail.  So my culinary skills are not needed.
This is not the same stasis imposed by winter, though,  oh no.  This stasis is much more blue-green, friendly, and voluntary.  I'll let myself get lazy and enjoy it for once.

posted by Julie Neff  # 7/20/2004 11:57:00 AM


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