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Dingos, Pols and Rockers; Giesemann Family Feud; White Wolf Kachina; Dinner with Bongo; Darkroom Stories; A Three-Fer?

I received a query about the term “two dog night” that I used in the last blog. For those readers not acquainted with the 60s/70s American rock group, Three Dog Night, the band’s name was suggested by the lead singer’s girlfriend, who had read an article about Australian Aborigines. In cold weather, they would sleep in a hole in the ground while hugging a dingo (Canis lupis dingo), or wild dog. A colder night would require a second dog, and on rare nights when the mercury dropped below freezing, it would be a “three dog night”. Dingos are different than most dogs… they can climb trees, and often puppies are found in tree dens. The dingo mates for life, and may mourn itself to death after losing its mate. They may be the progenitor of all other dog breeds, but unlike most other canines, they do not have dew claws. This is a really wild dog, and it is rare for a dingo to be successfully domesticated. They are officially classified as “wildlife” in Australia, and cannot be kept as pets or companions in many parts of the country.

Dingos have a varied reputation in their homeland. Among the Aborigines, they are often revered and treated like friends and family. Dingos are reputed by some Aboriginals to have supernatural powers, and are connected to rituals, totems and holy places. There are instances of dingos being buried with their masters to guard them from evil spirits (Viking warriors followed a similar burial practice). Many ranchers, however, see their sheep killed by dingos and are not amused. Australian politicians even refer to their opponents as dingos (cowardly and treacherous), but one might suggest that similar attributes are found among many politicians worldwide… “Oh, sorry, Senator Reid, no insult intended.”

Now, back to the band… for those who followed Three Dog Night back in the day, here is a photo of the trio in 1969. One of the top bands of all time, they sold over 50 million records, and are still performing (they look a little older now). In fact, Three Dog Night will appear in Orlando on Feb 23 at the Downtown Food and Wine Fest. Rock on!

Now for the serious part of the blog. My Lovely Bride and I have had a discussion… a disagreement… a falling out, so to speak… she can be so hard-headed sometimes, even in the face of expert support of my position. Let me explain… She is a very successful author, and has ten or so books to her credit to prove it. I acknowledge her skill at the craft of writing, but one of her (dare I say) shortcomings is the inability to agree with her Loving Hubbie (Your Faithful Correspondent) on the use of commas. Yes, commas. Let me elucidate. “Today, we met Sharon, Joyce and Bongo for dinner.” In that sentence, I correctly used one comma. My Lovely Bride would have written, “Today, we met Sharon, Joyce, and Bongo for dinner.” I have mentioned this difference in grammatical usage (delicately, to be sure) several times over the years to MLB, with no apparent effect. Today, I was ordering a book for my Kindle, Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter. One of the quotes in the Amazon write-up of an interview with Mr. Krauthammer was: “With commas the rule should always be: the fewer the better. They are a scourge, a pestilence upon the land. They must be given no quarter. When you list three things, it should be written: a, b and c. If you see a comma after the “b”—call 911 immediately.” I brought up this matter to My Darling Author yet again, and received a “Harrumph… we can agree to disagree.” Sigh…

As many readers are aware, Suzanne has worked with Professor Gary Schwartz, PhD, head of the University of Arizona’s Laboratory for Consciousness Studies in Tucson. Gary and His Lovely Bride Rhonda recently sent Suzanne a White Wolf Kachina doll. (They know all about Wolf Pasakarnis, mentioned in a previous blog, and the subject of Suzanne’s latest talk, Heart Gifts.) We did some research on it, and found that these dolls are carved from cottonwood root by Hopis to instruct young girls and new brides about katsinas, the immortal beings that bring rain, control other aspects of the natural world and society, and act as messengers between humans and the spirit world. They are also believed to be the spirits of deities, natural elements or animals, or the deceased ancestors of the Hopi. Prior to the kachina giving ceremony, Hopi men painstakingly make the dolls in the image of the spirit represented in that particular ceremony. The figures are presented by the Giver Kachina to the village’s daughters, who then study the characteristics of that kachina as part of their ongoing tribal cultural education.

Now, more about one of my favorite characters here in The Villages. We were invited over for dinner with our good friends Joyce and Sharon, who share their home with two cats and Bongo, mentioned briefly in the paragraph above. Bongo is not the name of a drum, a chimpanzee or even a big wrestler. Rather it is the name of a three year old Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis) parakeet, seen here with Joyce. (I didn’t appreciate Suzanne’s comment, “Oh, look, Ty, Joyce is giving you the bird!”)

Bongo is probably the coolest bird I have ever met. He has a strong voice (I’m being kind here.), and is assertive, bold and gentlemanly, and it appears that he doesn’t take any guff from his two feline housemates, even though they are much larger than he. Fortunately, we arrived early, and were able to have some time with Bongo before he retired to his bedchamber for the evening.

Joyce and Sharon are lots of fun as well. We had a fabulous dinner, served on beautiful plates and platters that Sharon had made herself. We traded teacher and Navy tales, including one story of what Joyce suspected really went on in photography darkrooms when some of her students spent hours there working on school projects…  emerging with rumpled clothes and hair, but precious few prints. This photo was taken on our second night of dinners. I’ve broken the code on getting re-invited for dinner: you have a great time the first night, but forget to bring your camera, and then call up the next day saying, “Gee, could we just drop by for a few minutes around 5 PM and take some snapshots to recall what a great time we had?” Then when you drop by, you look really tired and hungry, and your gracious hosts feel sorry for you and say, “Want to stay for something to eat?” “Well, okay, if you insist…” (This ploy might not work three nights in a row, but it’s definitely worth a try… let’s see, “Hey, Joyce, Wal-Mart messed up my photos.” “Ty, don’t you use a digital camera?” “Oh…well, yeah, I guess you’re right…is that what that little blue card is for?”)

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