It was strange finding paw prints on the back of the car the other day. I would have missed them completely, but My Lovely Bride has a sharper eye than does Your Faithful Correspondent. “Age does matter…” In any case, here is the evidence that a little masked marauder was trying to climb the back of our CR-V, probably to get up to the kayak on the roof. He may have picked up the scent of the monster fish that I had caught and wrassled, the vestiges of which were obvious to every varmint in the forest.
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) originated in North America, but foolish introductions to other continents led to them being common in Europe, the Caucasus, and Japan. (I’ll bet they’re sorry now; they had enough bandits of their own before letting these guys into their neighborhoods!) Raccoons have a dense thermal insulating underfur, which is about 90% of their coat, and an outer coat called “guard hairs” which shed water. The raccoon’s dark mask may reduce glare into its eyes, improving its night vision, since it is generally nocturnal. The largest recorded raccoon weighed 62 lbs and measured 55 inches in length, as big as a golden retriever.
For climbing down trees headfirst, the raccoon can actually turn its hind feet so they point backwards. Their diet consists mostly of fish, amphibians and bird eggs, although as omnivores, they will eat almost anything if their favorite foods are not available. (“Dumpster diving” is a 20th Century culinary skill that raccoons have perfected.)
Word for the Day: maquillage, n. makeup, or the art of applying makeup [Late 19th C. From French, from maquiller “to make up face,” from Old french masquiller “to stain”.] I am reminded of the time I was driving down a four-lane road and the young woman in the car next to me was drifting from lane to lane. She was putting on her makeup while driving. I tapped the horn, and she looked at me with annoyance, as if to say, “You idiot, can’t you see I’m applying my makeup?” I sure learned my lesson….
My Lovely Bride spoke to a new group yesterday, the Virginia Trace Ladies Group here in The Villages. 120 ladies attended the catered luncheon at the Canal Street Recreation Center, and most of them had never heard Suzanne speak before. They enjoyed her presentation, and particularly liked her stories from her Navy days as a commanding officer and aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One lady purchased one of each of her books (at least each of the eight she had on display). Here is MLB on our lanai just before the luncheon.
We went to dinner last night at our favorite Japanese sushi restaurant as a training event for Suzanne’s brother Brent, along with his wife Cheryl and Mom Ruthie. As we were deciding on our order, Suzanne recounted her first visit to a Japanese restaurant in DC when she had received orders to Sasebo, Japan, for a 3 year assignment. She went out to a local Japanese sushi bar, ordered sushi, and when her dinner came, saw a big lump of avocado, which she voraciously popped into her mouth… it only took about five nanoseconds for the cleverly disguised wasabi, commonly called Japanese horseradish (although it is not a member of the horseradish family), to explode in her mouth and violently attack her nasal passages and Eustachian tubes. She almost called for an ambulance, but fortunately, unlike chili peppers, wasabi’s effects wear off quickly, and she survived to tell the tale. (But we still kid her mercilessly about her experience.)
An interesting footnote is that wasabi is sometimes used in a modified smoke alarm for the deaf. One researcher found that spraying small amounts of wasabi vapor into the air would awaken a sleeping deaf subject within 10 seconds. (Yeah, but he probably went into convulsions, too.) So much of it is used in Japan that supply cannot meet demand, and large amounts are imported from China, Taiwan and New Zealand. The roots traditionally grow on the banks of mountain streams, but it is often grown hydroponically today.
Finally, I feel bad about picking on poor Minnesotans who can’t help the fact that they live in an icebox, so I thought I’d give you a parting Cajun story. I am from New Orleans, and while not a Cajun myself, went to college with a couple of Cajuns from southwest Louisiana.
Boudreaux was giving his nephew Pierre a ride to Lafayette one day, and when Pierre got into his truck carrying a laundry bag, he asked, “Pierre, what’s with da bag? Yo mamma’s washing machine broke?”
“No, sir, Mr. Boudreaux. I saw the most beautiful woman when I passed the laundromat the other day, and if she’s there now, I want to wash my clothes and get to know her.”
“Pierre, dat’s not a very good idea.”
“Why not, Mr Boudreaux?”
“Pierre, think about it for a minute. If dat woman can’t afford a washing machine, how da hell you tink she can afford to support you?”