Beyond the fence.

My husband should have been an archaeologist. He really has the knack. Putting in our garden in Fort Wayne, he turned up half an ancient horseshoe and an Indian-head penny. Replacing some bushes here a couple years ago, he found a St. Joseph figurine someone had buried, probably in hopes of selling the place.

Then, yesterday, while planting a rosebush for our anniversary, look what turned up:

Buried treasure.

Two half-pint milk bottles, 3-cent deposit, property of Dairy Container Corp., Detroit, Mich. I suspect they were dropped there by the workers pouring the foundation back in 1947. I found several on eBay and other sites, just like it, in the $10 price range. But I’m not going to sell ’em. They’ll make cute little vases for the roses, whenever they come. If they come. Did I mention we had a frost warning last night?

And that the pool opens in a week?

Thought about Obama on my bike ride today, and something I learned riding horses:

When approaching a fence, do not look at the fence. Find a focal point beyond the fence, and look at that. What is a fence, anyway? A stride in the air. Keep your rhythm, don’t pick pick pick at the reins, go forward confidently, and stay focused on that spot beyond. Never ever look down; did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?

If you do it right, you should go ba-dump ba-dump ba-dump and-jump ba-dump ba-dump and-turn, and find the next focal point.

(This is also where we get the expression “take it in stride.”)

This is how I’m approaching November. The election is the fence, but I’m looking at Thanksgiving, to raising my glass with best wishes to President-elect Obama and his family. Early signs are encouraging, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a Jack Russell terrier ran out on the course and started nipping at our heels, but I’m looking to November. I’m ready to wash these Republicans right out of my hair. (Ever see a horse kick a dog? This happened to my trainer once. She turned a horse out in the paddock one morning, and it went scooting off, kicking up its heels, which attracted the Jack Russell, who rushed in to put a stop to such frivolity. The next thing she saw was the white blur of the terrier, Triscuit, flying through the air. Thud. She ran to Triscuit, who was lying in the dirt, apparently dead. “Oh my God! Triscuit!” As she mourned, Triscuit’s eyes opened, blinked a few times, and then she hopped to her feet and trotted out of the ring. What horse? What kick? For purposes of this story, I think we should change Triscuit’s name to Michelle Malkin.)

I expect the next few months will be nasty, brutish and very very long, but I’m staying focused on Thanksgiving. HBO is running promos for “Recount,” and in one, Bob Balaban, playing Ben Ginsberg, intones, “The stain of the Clinton administration is being washed away…” That’s how I’m thinking about the campaign. The stain-scrubbing.

You’ve probably all read this Peggy Noonan column by now. The stopped clock on one of her twice-a-day sweet spots, or early rope-a-dope to break the horse’s rhythm? I put nothing beyond this administration and its apologists, but maybe this is just Peggy, angling for some better TV work. There’s always a good living in criticizing your own tribe — you’re a Fresh New Voice Unafraid to Challenge Conventional Wisdom. She’s got an IRA to stock, too.

A wee bit o’ bloggage:

God, this is so creepy it makes my skin crawl. We’ve discussed “purity balls” here before, but this shit is positively Islamic, only grosser:

Loss tinged many at the ball. Stephen Clark, 64, came to the ball for the first time with Ashley Avery, 17, who is “promised” to his son, Zane, 16. Mr. Clark brought Ashley, in her white satin gown, to show her that he loved her like a daughter, he said, something he felt he needed to underscore after Ashley’s father left her family a year ago.

It’s too bad Ashley’s father left. He could probably have shared in the four fat goats and six laying hens the elderly Mr. Clark paid for her “promise” to his teenage son.

OK, back to work. Make merry!

Posted at 1:05 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

38 responses to “Beyond the fence.”

  1. Jen said on May 19, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I read that “purity ball” article this morning and wondered if you’d link to it. The article was creepy enough, but did you see the slideshow of photos? It’s here:

    It looks like a cult!!

    I tried to think of my dad taking me or my sister to a “purity ball,” but I don’t think he wants to think about anything related to our “purity.” Ignorance is bliss. Not that my sister or myself would ever WANT to go to a purity ball, because it’s not our father’s (or anyone else’s business) to protect us “in the area of purity,” as it’s put in the article. That’s our choice, but I’m sure the women and girls in this type of culture have no choices like that (a 17-year-old girl “promised” to a 16-year-old boy!!). It’s sad and creepy. I’ll bond with my dad without discussions of my “purity,” thank you very much.

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  2. Sue said on May 19, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Hold onto your milk bottles, Nancy, they’re the next big collectible after everyone gets tired of that tacky depression glass. Just kidding. Milk bottles are cheap and easy to find; the trick is finding local dairies and good examples.
    As for purity balls, since these poor girls are isolated in every aspect of their lives, protected from evil influences like coed sports, Judy Blume and R-Rated movies, exactly who are their dads protecting them from? It’s not possible that they don’t trust the upstanding young men they allow their daughters to get within a mile of, is it?

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  3. Dorothy said on May 19, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    This caption on a photo caught my attention Jen:

    Lt. Col. Terry Lee attended the ball for a second year, this time with his youngest daughter, 16-year-old Rachel. He said: “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.”

    Isn’t this what he & his wife promised when they took their wedding vows? To be true to each other? Why does he have to revisit it when his daughters are of age?

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  4. Jeff said on May 19, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Alan is actually ahead of most archaeologists, if you don’t count fire-cracked rock and flint debitage, which is all most of us find most of the time. The History Channel (aka The Hitler Channel, but they’re trying to branch out) had a really fun piece on last night about real archaeology and Indiana Jones, and they let slip the trade secret that the one true thing both have in common (other than the way too funny sequence at the start of “Last Crusade” when he sneaks out of his crummy office and line of students at the door through the window) is the degree of interpersonal rivalry up to and almost including gunplay between competing archaeologists.

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  5. brian stouder said on May 19, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    That WAS a good article from Ms Noonan; if she’s a stopped clock, the WSJ caught her at just the right moment. (and note that Senator Webb from Virginia, a Democrat, was one of RWR’s SecNavs….and he may well be our next VP. All the substantive people seem to be Democrats nowadays)

    As for archaeologists – it would be more fun to study recent history. At Springfield Illinois we learned that some genuine treasures are found in outhouses, for example….or in the walls, when old houses get renovated

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  6. coozledad said on May 19, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    My wife and I just attended the NC district 13 convention to vote for Obama delegates. We outnumbered the Hillary folks substantially. It was a pretty congenial meeting, and exciting. Our congressman, Brad Miller, is an expert on the mortgage loan industry, an Obama superdelegate, and a good speaker.
    His message, in essence, was this administration has ruined everything it was permitted to get its hands on. If we get the White House and working margins in the House and Senate, we may not have to suffer another Republican administration for a generation.

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  7. Sue said on May 19, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Re Coozledad’s comment: anyone heard from Danny lately?

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  8. whitebeard said on May 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    If Obama wins and the House and Senate get solidly Democratic, Republicans will be in the desert for another 40 years. Of, course, it may take 10 years to restore the financial system, 20 years to restore the U.S. image around the world and 30 years for some new Republicans to surface and wonder why they are holding their convention in a phone booth.

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  9. Jeff said on May 19, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Ah, the glories of historic era privies! Like the one that had been in what is now left field of the Baltimore Orioles’ “Camden Yards” which had been behind the bar where Babe Ruth grew up — there’s a very carefully labeled display in one of the concourses of 1890’s artifacts sifted from the fine grained dried, um, silt from the, um, column of artifact rich debris behind the brick structure. Bottles, little lead toys, crockery fragments, the stray key.

    In fairness to the purity ball folks, who are indeed moderately creepy — Western Civ has clearly and decisively walked away from the former outlines of traditional sexual/family morality. I’m not yellin’, i’m just sayin’. What we’re walking towards no one quite knows yet — serial monogamy as elites once practiced is now a mainstream custom, and the mores of grandparenting are slowly adjusting along with dating and mating and even, yes, marrying — for some.

    In our office, there’s an ongoing debate on the question of what makes up the “decision field” for young women who are not college and career oriented, for choosing to start having babies. There is clearly an intermediate stage developing of “i’m not ready to get married, but i’m ready to start having kids whether the guy is going to stay in the picture or not,” and we’re starting to see the children in juvenile court of that developing and growing demographic.

    It’s trans-ethnic, broad-based, and seems to have a decision tree behind it, except we are having trouble getting at the unspoken factors that shape the choice. They’re 23 to 26, have a couple of kids, and usually end up in a longer term relationship with a guy starting around 30 who they may or may not have a final kid with.

    When you see in working-class and lower middle class neighborhoods a majority of young women having kids without present partners, let alone spouses, it can provoke some odd flailings of a hand reaching around in the dark for something to hold onto, and like the emergent church movement, you see some unusual bits of tradition pulled out of the attic, or tribal appropriations taken from one context and jammed into another, just to make a place to stand.

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  10. Catherine said on May 19, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Archaeologists are a superstitious lot. Many of them really believe that some archaeologists are just luckier than others. Good crew will follow a lucky archaeologist anywhere. The other key ingredient is a good cook. Luck and decent food, maybe that’s what it all comes down to in any field?

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  11. Jeff said on May 19, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    . . . and cold beer. Field school is all about the cold beer, which the director sits on in the large blue cooler until the day’s site report sheets are finished. When the dig director gets up to take the forms and file them, the cooler opens, and the evening begins!

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  12. MaryC said on May 19, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    The St. Joseph figure your husband found — was it buried upside down? It’s done that way sometimes and I’m not sure why.

    I’d love to find a milk bottle from the dairy that delivered milk to my Mom’s house when she was a child. She’d be thrilled. I’ve left my phone number with every antiques & second-hand dealer in her hometown to let me know as soon as they see one, but no luck so far.

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  13. Sue said on May 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I’ve found milk bottles in my town and area from northern Wisconsin, the UP and lower MI, and Vermont, but none from old area dairies. The only local ones I’ve seen are in our little historical society. Maybe you need to look further afield, Ebay or something.

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  14. Scout said on May 19, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Nancy, I love your fence jumping analogy. I too am looking forward to the whole silly season to be over with so we can let President Obama get busy cleaning up the godawful mess the elephants made all over the people’s house.

    Roses are going to look perfect in those milk bottles.

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  15. del said on May 19, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Fence-jumping analogy was perfect.

    Purity balls? Good Lord. I am awfully disappointed that Christians continue to elevate the matter of sexuality to a level importance that it ought not have.

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  16. alex said on May 19, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Jeff, I believe at least part of the explanation for all of this young single motherhood is the enormous stigma that is now attached to abortion. For all of its whining, the pro-life movement has in fact scored some significant victories we don’t often consider, like the fact that few women these days would dare to admit to having an abortion.

    The decision field, I’m guessing, is one in which sex education left no lasting impression.

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  17. coozledad said on May 19, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Jeff: I keep finding arrowheads, hide scrapers, and spearpoints on my farm, and I haven’t found descriptions or pictures on the web or in museums that are an adequate match. I’m in North Central North Carolina, two miles from the VA border. It’s an area historically inhabited by the Occannechi band of the Cherokee, but these artifacts may be older. I don’t know what stone they’re made of, but I suspect it isn’t local. The broken pieces have a bluish center in cross section, that becomes a desert yellow on the outside. I don’t know if it’s chert or flint, but they do look a little like Kirk points.

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  18. joodyb said on May 19, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    JEALous! those are gorgeous. (i love milk bottles.)
    your jumping analogy is brill, of course. and a jack russell named Triscuit! what a perfect name. best dog name i’ve run across: a Scotty named Hershey. with a pup named Snickers. fo real.

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  19. Catherine said on May 19, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Given that there are alternate words for “ball” — party, dance — one wonders why that word. Paging Dr. Freud?

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  20. brian stouder said on May 19, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    one wonders why that word.

    I think we’re missing their thrust…

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  21. Dave K. said on May 19, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    My favorite dog name was that of my favorite dog, “Mocha”. She was a beautiful chocolate Lab. (R.I.P. at 14 years old). Her dad was “Hershey, with Nuts”. Really, with papers.

    Glad to see John Edwards’ endorsement of Senator Obama last week, with the United Steelworkers announcing their support soon after. Maybe Joe will put up a “USW for Obama!” yard sign now. (He didn’t want a “USW-Vote for Jill”, but we did OK anyhow).

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  22. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 19, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    St. Joseph figures are buried upside down to speed real estate sales, the tradition dates back to a Catholic book store owner who had an overstock of small statuary and needed some quick liquidity, and so created a new superstition (kidding, kidding, but the real estate thing is actually true, or . . . you know what i mean).

    Coozledad, chert is just low-grade flint (all flint is technically chert if you’re a geologist, but archaes tend to use it as a grade-marker). Without a tracing, i’d say Kirk sounds reasonable — are they corner-notched, or side notched? (Corner is diagonal, side is straight in from the side.) And are they at all serrated?

    Alex, i’d concur up to a point. Except . . . with the availability of contraception, and the fact that we’re talking to young women who have been sexually active for years (more than i care to think about), the “whoops” factor doesn’t seem to explain anything here. It’s more like a subtle, subconscious decision to let it happen, very often at the 23-26 range, so i have trouble seeing it being the “ol’ biological clock” either.

    Two of the three women i work for/with are on the “not on the having babies” team, so to speak, and keep asking me what i think the logic is — like i’d know! There is clearly also a class/education factor here, since women who have college/career plans defer past that point, and then may choose to embark on a targeted or donated pregnancy, but that’s usually a 40-ish thing.

    It’s the increasing prevalence of 23+ year old semi-intentional struggling working mothers that has us stumped. (Oh, and they all either love Hillary — a few — or have no idea that there’s an election on. I talked to an African-American mother of three the other day who said, during a side-conversation between two other people in the room, “Who’s this Obama guy?” Her mother, 40+, looked like she was going to slap her daughter out of embarrasment, but it was sincere puzzlement.)

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  23. coozledad said on May 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I think these are side notched. Maybe late archaic. But they’re very worn. I’m likely to find more. I’m constantly finding chips and flakes on the surface, if I simply take the time to look. The arrowheads I find when digging postholes or foundations, ie. around 2 ft.
    I doubt they merge with any historic occupation.

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  24. Kafkaz said on May 19, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Catherine–I’m with you, there. Shouldn’t it be a purity cotillion, or something?

    Anyway, “purity ball” sounds like something that’s meant to be dropped in the washing machine.

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  25. Joe K. said on May 19, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Just sitting here a wondering why, if Obama and Hillery have all the answers on lowering gas prices they don’t do something now instead of waiting till next November. I would probably vote for them if they showed me how, or actually waved their magic wand and made the gas prices go down. I seem to remember Nancy Polosi telling everyone that the Democrats were in charge of Congress and the senate, they were going to do something about these high prices!!! hope she doesn’t help me anymore. Friends the only way oil is coming down in price is if we bite the bullet and start exploring and drilling off the coast and in Alaska. Heck all you would need to do is say you were going to start drilling and the future market in oil would collapse. We also need to find some sort of alternate fuel source, be it nuclear, hydrogen or something else. Dave K. you can but a Jill sign in my yard, if I can put a John Mc sign in yours!!!!
    Pilot Joe.

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  26. Dexter said on May 20, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Fifty years ago my family lived in an old brick house located on the highest point in DeKalb County, which is a mile from the Noble County line. The grounds were too hilly for farming in the immediate environs, but were a great place to find arrowheads and other artifacts. All the neighbor kids found at lest a few arrowheads and other stuff, and one neighbor had a huge collection which was exhibited at fairs and the like.
    However, I tried my best; I spent long hours searching for just one arrowhead, but never found one.
    Years later, I did find some very cool items: petrified shark’s teeth, in Goose Creek near Charleston, S.C. My brother-in-law and I went on an excursion and found quite a few in the creek beds. Later I found out that creek was full of poisonous snakes…I never would have waded around if I had known that!
    By the way, that house in DeKalb County was so high in elevation we could easily see the Fort Wayne TV transmitters from our yard, more than twenty miles away, at night when they blinked brightly.
    I was shocked to read that this guy commands such a presence on The Times best seller list !!

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  27. Connie said on May 20, 2008 at 6:52 am

    When we first moved to southern Indiana we rented a house in the middle of a cornfield. Treasure hunters with metal detectors knocked on our door regularly seeking permission to hunt the field. (We pointed them to the landlord’s house.)

    Turns out this field was the rumored site of the Reno Brothers buried train robbery treasure. And was listed in several books about treasure hunting.

    Point being, the field was filled with arrowheads, in which none of them were the slightest bit interested.

    The Reno Brothers: the first train robbery, Alan Pinkerton causes an international incident, lynchings, hidden treasure, it’s a most bizarre story.

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  28. coozledad said on May 20, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Connie: I understand Beck’s next book will be a quasi-fictional account of the surgery on his arse, tentatively titled “The Longest Yard”. Prebuys from the John Birch Society and The Deadwood Group (a combine of assisted living centers) are accounting for more than half of sales.

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  29. john c said on May 20, 2008 at 7:15 am

    The “looks like a cult” comment got me to the purity ball pictures. Holy crap! The huge cross and the people approaching it under two gleaming swords?! The girl on her knees before (one assumes) her father?! The dad kissing the head of a pale, eyes-closed daughter, who appears to be either in a trance of unconscious. Yikes!
    If any of you see me at one of those things in 11 years with my little Sally, you have permission to clunk my over the head with a milk bottle!

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  30. Dorothy said on May 20, 2008 at 10:24 am

    St. Joseph is also the patron saint of carpenters (home builders) and families, so that’s part of the “superstition” too, Jeff. And I did my Catholic duty and buried a small St. Joe statue in SC once the house went on the market (one year ago Saturday, mind you) and it STILL hasn’t sold. We’ve dropped the price a total of $20,000 since last May, too, and still no offers.

    Joody – people across the street from us in South Carolina had a chocolate lab named “Reese” for Reese’s Cup.

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  31. Sue said on May 20, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Dorothy: Maybe Joe’s upset that you didn’t do your carpentry work to code.
    A few years back, when I was developing an interest in herbs (not THOSE herbs, you guys), I considered putting a statue of Saint Fiacre in my garden, because I heard that he is the patron saint of herbalists. Then I found out that he is also the patron saint of hemorrhoid sufferers and v.d. sufferers. Plus he hated women. Maybe I should put him in the garden upside down.

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  32. LAMary said on May 20, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I’d name a chocolate lab Toblerone or Lindor. Go for the good stuff.
    Joe, one senator alone cannot lower gas prices. Also, drilling in the Alaskan wildlife reserve is not biting the bullet. Rethinking how we use fossil fuel and not considering it our God given right to piss it away is biting the bullet.

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  33. Sue said on May 20, 2008 at 11:40 am

    LAMary: I knew someone would be able to say it better than me. Thanks.

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  34. MichaelG said on May 20, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Besides, the ANWAR is limited – that is there is only so much oil there. It could potentially help shortages but would not go any near solving shortages. Also if they started out today with full approvals, permits, etc it would be ten years before any of it arrived at the pump.

    We had a beautiful golden retriever named Blondie. She was a sweetheart but very emotional. Our yellow naped amazon used to call her from the other room. “Blonnnntie”. Then poor Blondie would come into the bird’s room and the bird (her name is Murphy and she’s 26 now) would cuss her out and make her cry. What a collection of animals we used to have.

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  35. Jen said on May 20, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I will say this: a lot of politicians are going around acting as though they can and will lower gas prices when, the truth is, their fixes (like getting rid of the gas tax for the summer) isn’t going to do diddly squat. At least Obama makes a little bit of sense when he says that a gas tax holiday is a “quick-fix” solution.

    I don’t really think drilling in ANWAR is the answer, but if the government and companies keep refusing to invest a good amount of money into researching alternative fuels and/or alternative transportation methods, what else can we do?

    Me, I’ve been trying to drive a lot less, but in small-town Indiana, there are no buses and few sidewalks to anywhere where I can buy food, medicine, or anything else I need. At least I can walk to work every day!

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  36. Jill said on May 20, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    LA Mary said, “I’d name a chocolate lab Toblerone or Lindor. Go for the good stuff.”

    We named a mastiff Rolex (called Rolie), because if you’re going to have a watchdog, she should be the best.

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  37. joodyb said on May 20, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Wonder if Beck paid writing coach/ghost writer enough not to blab, assuming s/he is compromised at some point. i know i shouldn’t say this without having read his book, but lots of these guys write like they talk.
    Looks like the chocolate labs get all the great names. chocolate, so universally inspiring! my austrian poophounds should have such clever names. but then, they are poophounds.

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  38. LA Mary said on May 21, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Omega would be good for the watchdog too.

    The in-house Brit suggests Cadbury for a chocolate lab. My black lab has the very pedestrian name of Smokey, and that works for me. The golden retriever mix is Poppy and the huge hulking dane/boxer came with the name Max. All in the household acknowledge that Duke would have been a better name. I refer to him as “the blunt instrument” occasionally because he made out better in the physical strength department than in smarts.
    Joody, you could call the poophounds schiessehunds (not sure on the spelling of the German word for shit). Schiessleins works too.

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