Red in tooth and claw.

The longer we keep a rabbit in the house, the longer I think it belongs out of the house. Not to live out there — it is a pet, little miss I will be petted oh yes I will — but for a stretch of outside time every day. I’ve been carrying the cage outside, removing the bottom, and sitting her in a sunny patch of grass for a few hours, and she always comes back in feeling better. She likes the sun on her face and the wind in her fur.

But the cage is too small. Of late I’ve been scanning Craigslist for a secondhand puppy exercise pen, one of those things that comes in panels and is about knee-high. There are several places in the yard we could set it up, and put ol’ Ruby out there for a daily sniff ‘n’ hop.

Then I look at the picture on the wall, an octavo print of Audubon’s Red-Tailed Hawk, two of them fighting for the rabbit in one’s talons. In some prints, the rabbit is having its final bowel movement; Kate called it “the rabbit pooping” when she was a toddler. I’m wondering what the chances are of looking out the kitchen window some fine spring day to see Ruby flying away to be a raptor’s lunch. That would be a bummer, but also sort of interesting, in the there’s-something-you-don’t-see-every-day sense of the word.

A friend was walking his dog on the ice in the U.P. one fine winter day, and looked up to see a bald eagle studying the two of them. Eagles eat fish mostly, but if one can carry off a 20-pound salmon, you wouldn’t think a cairn terrier would give one that much trouble.

Of course, the world is a dangerous place for animals of all sorts, even those living in the protection of a nice zoo somewhere. The deer at the National Zoo jumped into the lions’ enclosure, and whether or not it immediately said uh-oh, I think we took the wrong exit is lost to the ages. If nothing else, it put on something of a show for the spectators:

It’s not as bad as you fear. There’s something awesome about predators in action. The fact the deer died and the lion didn’t get her meal is sad. One of the very few zoo stories that belonged on Page One but didn’t get there happened when i was in Columbus, and two workers stayed late, had a few drinks and pitched a troublesome, butt-nipping goose into the jaguars’ enclosure. Nowadays, they’d shoot a cell-phone video. At least you’d hope so.

Guys, I promised a friend I’d take his Wayne State class this morning, and I have to get out of here. For bloggage and discussion, I suggest we take on the “Mad Men” finale, which I stayed up late to watch and which I will bet you Joan’s gold pen necklace you’ll find so, so, soooo good. And this from the comments of the last thread: The auction for the old midcentury modern furnishings at Connie’s library, complete with a note from herself. I’ll be going at top speed until 1 a.m. tomorrow, so that’s it for me. Happy Monday.

Posted at 9:20 am in Same ol' same ol' |

49 responses to “Red in tooth and claw.”

  1. brian stouder said on November 9, 2009 at 10:07 am

    We do the pen-in-the-yard thing with Shelby’s bunny Twilight, but someone is always out there with him. I suppose if a bird of prey swooped in, the person out there wouldn’t have many options (other than what cuss words to yell, as the bunny becomes an airline meal). The threat we’re really addressing is stray cats and dogs, I suppose. Also, Shelby has a bunny-leash which she occasionally slips onto Twilight (the bunny), but he doesn’t much like it. What she’ll do is put it on him, and then carry him to the other side of the field, and put him down. He then runs as fast as he can, generally back toward home, so the leash is a net-good thing

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  2. coozledad said on November 9, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I’d always heard a small pen about two or three feet square is enough to deter most hawks, the rationale being once they hit the ground they’re not quite agile enough to grab a moving animal and develop enough lift to get out of the cage. I saw one lunching on my Guinea keets just the other day. It just bounced around until it got what he wanted and had no trouble taking off. This despite several irate Guinea fowl shrieking and taking turns bowling at it. My wife and I have both been attacked by nesting Guinea fowl, and it’s like having a razor studded basketball flying at your head.
    Your cage will need a roof.

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  3. del said on November 9, 2009 at 10:39 am

    A couple of years back we’d penned two of our bunnies in the backyard during the summer. One morning both were dead, apparently killed by a couple of pack dogs who’d also killed a neighborhood cat. My wife was devasted and still dreams about it.

    Make sure it’s secured well.

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  4. JC said on November 9, 2009 at 10:42 am

    The dog kennel we bought years ago might work. It looks like this one:
    I don’t think we ever used it for the dog, but it was a convenient place for the cat to hang out when he was recovering from surgery.

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  5. Dorothy said on November 9, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I’m with the folks who are advising for a well-secured enclosure for Ruby. I never had a rabbit for a pet, but one day when I was driving a country road in Eighty Four, PA, I rounded a bend just in time to see a hawk lifting up with a dead rabbit in its clutches. Perhaps it was my car’s arrival that caused it to falter, because the bird suddenly dropped the damn rabbit and it nearly splatted on my windshield. About made me barf, it came so close to my car from the air.

    Mad Men really rocked last night. I watched the first 23 minutes and then fell asleep. Watched the rest this morning before I came to work.

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  6. brian stouder said on November 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I watched the first 23 min­utes and then fell asleep.

    Dorothy, I’m not laughing at you, but this made me laugh! I can definitely identify with this (not the show, but the slumber)

    We had a gorgeous, beautiful, sublime weekend – the kind of weekend that made me repeat, to our young folks, the immortal words that my parents said to me on such days: “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!”.

    I think we moved several tons of leaves at our house and at grandma’s, plus we visited several parks. At one point, Chloe said “Let’s go to Science Central” (a children’s museum and sort of indoor, all-weather playground) to which I exclaimed “NOOO!!”

    By way of saying, falling asleep on a chair in the livingroom after the sun goes down – I can identify!

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  7. Deborah said on November 9, 2009 at 11:13 am


    I just sent that auction info out to the whole office of the architecture firm I work for in Chicago. I don’t have room for any more furniture right now or I would be interested myself.

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  8. Randy said on November 9, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Somewhere on youtube, there is footage of eagles grabbing onto baby mountain goats and pushing/dropping them off cliffs, since the goats are too heavy to carry. They fall thousands of feet, and then the eagles swoop down to have a meal.

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  9. Connie said on November 9, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Deborah and others, feel free to send the auction info out, we would love for this to make its way to serious collectors.

    I would worry about bunny outside, don’t forget the owls. Once at dusk in our back yard my husband and our medium sized dog got dive bombed by one of those big owls with the six to eight foot wingspan. Tom said for just a brief moment he visualized himself hanging from those talons in the air. The owl pulled up at the last minute, realizing I assume that both man and dog were too big. And then there are the hawks that perch on our deck during winter bird feeder season.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on November 9, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I had a bunny for a short time as a child, and he too met a sad end when the cage door was left open by our neighbors while we were away. That said, what creature doesn’t benefit from fresh air and sunshine? This weekend was downright glorious here in the Fort, thank you and alleluia.

    We gave up on Mad Men by disc 3 of the first series as just too depressing. Do any of the characters redeem themselves?

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  11. Dorothy said on November 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    brian I even had a nap yesterday so I was pretty surprised that I was able to fall asleep around 10:30 pm. And I was in bed, not in a chair. That’s probably why I fell asleep at 10:30 – the coziness of the bed wins out over the recliner every time.

    We planted around 200 flower bulbs yesterday – narcissus, iris, hyacinth, a couple more things I can’t recall the name of. Here’s hoping for a colorful spring at my house next March.

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Julie, i loved last night (after a few weeks of fairly minimal non-Kennedy-related exposition), but my wife’s opinion after a few partial viewings: “who am i supposed to LIKE on this show?”

    An answer i do not have. But i’m glad i watched this year, all the same. The Lovely Wife’s feeling is that if she wants to listen to non-admirable characters brandishing their failings as blunt instruments all around them, heedless of who gets bashed whether friend or foe, she could just go to work. And she doesn’t want to go to work on Sunday at 10 when Monday at 8:30 comes soon enough.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on November 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    There are more raptors out there than you might think. It’s not at all unusual to come across the badly mauled carcass of a pigeon on the city streets, evidence of a peregrine falcon or some other kind of urbanied bird of prey.

    I’d guess a big city with its populations of pigeons, mice and rats would be a very happy hunting ground for falcons and the like. A moveable feast wherever they look.

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  14. mark said on November 9, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Mad men was great, although I can’t disagree with the take of mrs.tmmo.

    For equally great television, CNN is covering the Berlin wall festivities. The leaders of Russia, britain, germany, france and all 27 former soviet block nations, plus Gorbachev and Walensa, in attendance to mark that extraordinary day in the advance of human freedom.

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  15. LAMary said on November 9, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    They lost me on the Berlin Wall celebrations when I heard that the Reagan Library celebration was “celebration the day when Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall.”
    Ron was a swell guy and all that, but if you ask anyone outside of the US, his name doesn’t come up in conjunction with the wall coming down. The Pope yes, Lech Walesa yes.

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  16. mark said on November 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm


    There are many, many to be celebrated in the fall of the wall and the demise of the Soviet Union. The assertion that outside of the US, Reagan’s “name doesn’t come up” is patently absurd. And if you got “lost” on the celebration because you heard that somebody said something you disagree with, I doubt you ever found the meaning of the wall or the importance of the fall 20 years ago to begin with.

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  17. John said on November 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Dissing RWR—the third rail of conservatism.

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  18. coozledad said on November 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Don’t worry John, he’s about to be replaced in the pantheon of plaster conservative saints by Tail-Gunner Joe Lieberman. This squalid fungus of a man has never met the bar he can’t slither beneath:

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  19. LAMary said on November 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    mark, I very much appreciate the meaning of the wall coming down. That’s why I find crediting that event entirely to Ronald Reagan so offensive.

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  20. Peter said on November 9, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Connie – oooooooh….. I can’ts wait to bid.

    LA Mary et. al.: Ronald Reagan bringing down the wall? Eh, I don’t know about that, but one factor that’s been overlooked is how American consumerism (and marketing and advertising) brought down the wall.

    I have relatives in Eastern Europe, and you just can’t imagine the gulf between east and west when it came to consumer products. Bad enough that you buy stuff because you see it on TV, and worse is when you want to buy but you can’t because you don’t have the money, but worst is not being able to buy it period. The grass was looking mighty green on the other side of that wall.

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  21. Jeff Borden said on November 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Joe Lieberman is so far beneath contempt you need a spelunker to find his soul. I’m generally too busy to spend much time hating someone, but I do hate that mealy-mouthed little prick. Hearing his whiny “Deputy Dawg” voice makes my stomach hurt.

    Mark, Ronald Reagan does deserve a lot of credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, but I also am among those who think his role has been overblown. What really brought down the USSR was containment, a policy that began under Truman and was wisely followed by every other president regardless of party. Reagan’s decision to spend enormous amounts of money on American defense and even that wildly unworkable “star wars” initiative forced the Soviets into playing “me too” with far less money to spend. Was this his intent, or a happy coincidence? I do not know.

    Again, I am absolutely not denigrating Reagan’s role, but look at what Mikhail Gorbachev confronted. How brave was it for a man raised to be amongst the elite of the ruling Communist Party to look at his nation and know that it faced an unsustainable future, to conclude, in fact, that communism simply did not work. And then to broach this and manage it in such away that the USSR had something of a soft landing, when so many variables could have intervened that might have truly produced a nightmare scenario for the world.

    It’s an insult to the millions of men and women who served on the front lines of the Cold War and in all the various and sundry proxy wars around the world and it’s an insult to the men who inhabited to the Oval Office from 1945 to the fall of the USSR to heap all the credit on Ronald Reagan.

    Give him his due, yes, but no more.

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  22. Deborah said on November 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Saw Gorbachev on TV recently, he looked sooooo old.

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  23. coozledad said on November 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Peter: In one of my Poli-Sci classes in college they made me read a book written by a French Sovietologist who was speculating in 1982 that the portion of the Soviet economy tied up in military production was untenable; that the invasion of Afghanistan was prompted by the Kremlin’s unease with an idle army, and the conservative Communist overclass was completely out of touch with the shifting political landscape brought about by external liberalizing influences, such as American and European art and culture (I can’t remember if he attributed this directly to Jerry Lewis). His theory was they were headed for collapse, but in a bloody heap that would incur lots and lots of collateral damage.
    If anyone happens to remember the name of this book, please tell me. After I finished the class, I sold it to buy a carton of Marlboro lights.
    EDIT: Found it.'Encausse
    It was Le Grand Frere.

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  24. crinoidgirl said on November 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Re: raptors –

    We have a neighborhood hawk, and we’re pretty firmly in the city category. The guinea pigs don’t go out, even in a cage, without an escort.

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  25. Jean S said on November 9, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    more re: raptors–golden eagle hunting squirrel in side yard recently. Couldn’t get to him, as his wingspan was too big to navigate through the branches of the western red cedar (the squirrel was hugging the trunk of said tree). Red in tooth and claw, indeed.

    and re: Lieberman–someone give him a swift kick in the pants already.

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  26. MichaelG said on November 9, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    When I lived in Auburn we would occasionally lose a chicken to death from above. You could always tell when it had happened while coming up the drive. The girls would all be huddled under trees staring fearfully at the sky.

    How did we win the cold war? We spent their asses under the table.

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  27. Deborah said on November 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I traveled in East Germany after the wall came down and it was a mess, horrible highways and transportation systems, cities in decay, it was obvious that their infrastructure was in shambles. It must have been hanging on by a thread by the time RR came to power in the US.

    There’s a peregrine falcon family that lives off and on atop a cathedral in Lincoln Park/Old Town area. You can hear them squawking from blocks away. I see them swooping around the park all the time, I’ve never seen them dive and catch, but would love to.

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  28. derwood said on November 9, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    We don’t ever take Killer outside…he is so skittish with noises that he would probably die of a heart attack. We use the puppy panels inside the house when he was really young to keep him out of the family room(lots of wires and cables). His bedroom has two windows that face East and we keep them wide open and he soaks up the sun without the danger.


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  29. Dexter said on November 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I hate AMC Network. They showed the Godfather trilogy and even when captions translated the language to English, the little dancing Mad Men characters obliterated the words…constant commercials, too…I do tolerate that network for Breaking Bad but that’s about it…they ruin the viewing experience. I never watched any soaps and Mad Men was just another soapie, right?

    I really loved this year’s Curb Your Enthusiasm…just a couple shows left, and another great HBO series was “Bored to Death”. Ted Danson as a magazine publisher was better than he has ever been, Zack Galifianakis , and Jason Schwartzman as the star were all great. I hated to see it end. The entire show was filmed in Brooklyn, NY, too…great cinematography.

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  30. mark said on November 9, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    jeff b.

    I don’t disagree with any of your comments about RR and the cold war. But i’m not aware of anybody seriously making the claims that you would find insulting. The Reagan Library didn’t, notwithstanding what Mary heard.

    Winning the cold war was a process and not an event, and hundreds played critical roles over five decades. For most all seious historians, I think Reagan easily ranks in the top thirty. How much of that is the result of circumstance- being in the right place at the right time? Reagan himself is attributed with saying something like “The difference between those we celebrate for bravery and those we do not is often only five minutes.” More generally, sometimes the moment makes the man.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on November 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm


    Amen to your comments. Aside from all the commercials, you’re also dealing with significant editing and dubbing over bad language.

    That said, “The Godfather” is such a great movie that if I allow myself to watch just a few moments, I will be sucked into the vortex again. I know the Mafia this film presents exists only in the mind of Mario Puzo and that “Goodfellas” is a far more realistic view of the criminal class. So was “The Sopranos,” of course. I don’t care. I really love this movie. It is cast so perfectly from the smallest role to the largest, it is photographed so subtly and beautifully, the period feel is spot on. . .it’s just phenomenal filmmaking.

    And John Cazale? What a sad fate awaited him. Roger Ebert, in writing about one of his “great movies,” described actor Van Heflin as having “a face full of woe.” I think of that description whenever poor Fredo appears on screen. . .of how much Cazale imbues him with feeling and sadness with very few lines of dialogue and those large, dark eyes. He was great.

    Dexter, just spring for the DVDs. I bought both I and II for under $20 at Target not long ago.

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  32. Jeff Borden said on November 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm


    Well said. I meant no offense to you. There are some Reaganauts who do take it a bridge too far, but you are not among them.

    In retrospect, it seems rather amazing that two superpowers armed to the teeth with enough nukes to reduce the planet to dust never pushed the button. How ironic that now we worry about nukes brandished by stateless terrorists. It’s only a matter of time, it seems, before a very bad person winds up with one. I worry less about Iran developing a nuke than I do about a rich Muslim fundamentalist buying one for his favorite fringe political group. Who knows how many warheads are rattling around the former USSR? And how secure are the nukes in Pakistan?

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  33. LAMary said on November 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    When Reagan died I heard the claim that he had been the person responsible for the wall coming down many times. My son was in the eighth grade at the time, and his history teacher said exactly that. It’s not an uncommon belief.

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  34. Jeff Borden said on November 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    I use the “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech by Reagan in Berlin a lot in my public speaking classes. It’s one of Reagan’s best speeches: well-written and delivered with passion and confidence. It’s such a memorable moment, and it links Reagan physically and morally to the wall, which is probably another reason why he gets so much credit.

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  35. Danny said on November 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    When Rea­gan died I heard the claim that he had been the per­son respon­si­ble for the wall com­ing down many times. My son was in the eighth grade at the time, and his his­tory teacher said exactly that…

    One statement that would motivate a liberal to home school. Heheh

    Mary, about the female soccer player, Elizabeth Lambert: I read over the weekend that she got suspended indefinitely. Wonder if she was any relation to Jack Lambert?

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  36. Jolene said on November 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Speaking of good movies, I saw one this weekend. An Education is a coming-of-age story set in England in 1961. Very well done. Great ensemble cast and great acting. Like Ann Hornaday, one of the movie critics at the Post, I thought the last few minutes weren’t quite right, but I wasn’t sure quite what else I’d have done w/ those minutes if I were making the movie. It’s a “small movie”. I might have missed it if I hadn’t caught a clip on Craig Ferguson’s show, so I thought I’d give it a bit of press here.

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  37. jeff borden said on November 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Jolene, Is that the newest film based on a Nick Hornsby book? If so, I will have to see it.

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  38. Rana said on November 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I’d definitely argue in favor of a roof for the bun’s cage. Not only would it deter aerial predators, but it can provide shade. It’s not so much of an issue at this time of year, but it’s easy for rabbits to overheat in the sun, especially if there’s no water in with them.

    Our cat b dearly loved the screen porch of our last rental; she’d sit out there for hours, watching squirrels and smelling the breeze and puffing up if neighbor cats strolled by. I wish we had a similar arrangement here; putting her in the porch was the quickest way to calm her down when one of her loud racing-and-yelling fits was upon her.

    (I think being outdoors as a way to calm a critter works for humans too – I know that on days when I don’t have my morning run I tend towards a combination of lethargy and crankiness. As the semester grinds towards its conclusion, I have much need of things to take off the edge of my irritation.)

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  39. Jolene said on November 9, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Jeff, Hornby wrote the screenplay, but it was based on a brief memoir by Lynn Barber, a British journalist, originally published in Granta and later expanded into a book.

    The NYTimes has a good article re how the movie came to be that also captures the spirit of it very well.

    And, yes, do see it. I was taken in by it immediately and still have the characters in my head.

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  40. Jeff Borden said on November 9, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Cool. I’ll check it out soon. It should be a nice change of pace from “Paranormal Activity,” which creeped me out quite nicely and I’m a fairly large horror film buff. It’s kind of funny to think that when “P.A.” is released on DVD, there will be howls of indignation about how unscary it is. Part of its power is seeing in on the big screen in the company of others. The sense of dread that hangs over the theater is palpable.

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  41. moe99 said on November 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I remember back in the ’80’s an article in The Atlantic discussing how the US intelligence community kept up on what was going on in the Soviet Union using mundane sources. It was amazing how Sovietologists used all kinds of arcane publications and information to try and decipher what was going on in the USSR. That article and one about “Have you ever tried to sell a diamond,” have stayed with me all these years.

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  42. Deborah said on November 9, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Moe, I just read the Atlantic article on-line “Have you ever tried to sell a diamond”, it states exactly why I didn’t want a diamond engagement ring, my mother-in-law still thinks I’m crazy. Here’s a link if you’re interested:

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 9, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Just posted that to Facebook a bit earlier, with the ungracious note that my Lovely Wife has an equally lovely peridot engagement ring.

    Markets are strong, but they are also an illusion.

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  44. moe99 said on November 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks, Deborah. I sent the article to my lovely daughter, who sniffed that she still wanted a rock when she got engaged. A big one. Ah well.

    The article that I first mentioned, which is not available from the Atlantic is “Watching the Russians” by John Cullen Murphy. It was published in February, 1983. Too bad it’s not accessible.

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  45. Linda said on November 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    My sister did in fact once see a hawk swoop down–in her yard–and snatch up a (non-pet) rabbit. It came damn near straight down, then straight up.

    As for Reagan’s credit for the wall coming down, it bugs me because it’s so Americentric. The Eastern Europeans took the wall down, bit by bit. Remember that Poland agitated successfully for its first free elections earlier that year, and Russia was shaking itself up to keep from falling down altogether. But Americans think they are the stars of everything, and the rest of the world bit players.

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  46. velvet goldmine said on November 10, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Coozledad — We have guinea fowl too, and have lost one to a hawk when they were about six months old, and two to a fox. I don’t know if a hawk could get them now, but when we see them circling everyone in the family runs outside brandishing bats, brooms, mops and whatever else we can find to scare them away.

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  47. cosmo panzini said on November 10, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Just a couple more things regarding credit for the fall of communism: the Russian incursion into Afghanistan was very costly, both in human and financial terms, and probably deserves most of the blame; also, most of this Reagan-won-the-Cold-War crapola was Republican paper-hanging pushed mostly by George Will and the rest of the right- wing amen chorus.

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  48. crazycatlady said on November 10, 2009 at 1:48 am

    I rescue cats sometimes and foster cats for the MHS. I have 2 dog cages/crates for housing of feral/unfriendly cats and tiny kittens. The cages have a removable tray on the bottom and can be placed on grass. It is fully enclosed. Safe for little bunnies and foldable for storage. A friend of ours in Ann Arbor has a similar predicament. He started a fish pond and stocked it with goldfish, only to have Herons gulp them down! He had to put netting on the pond to save his fish.

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  49. coozledad said on November 10, 2009 at 8:16 am

    velvet goldmine: Our dogs used to chase the hawks off pretty well, until senescence overtook them. Now they just stand and bark at them, which is about all I can do. One of our guinea hens took it upon herself to brood a clutch of eggs late. The keets have a tough enough time making it through rain in June: I don’t know what she was doing pushing it to October. The ones the hawk didn’t get were taken by the frost.

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