Monthly Archives: December 2021

Animals Is Today’s Subject

I just finished a book that is among the best I have ever read. Ruth is now reading it before we send it off to the many animal lovers we know, like my sisters. It’s called On Animals and it was written by Susan Orleans.

Many of the 15 essays in this book that are all worth reading are about common pets like cats and dogs, but several are about little known animals like tigers and donkeys. I learned a lot about lion behavior while reading this book.

One of my favorite essays was about the bunny world and reminded me of Gloria. For several years our grandson relied on pets to keep him balanced, and Gloria the Rabbit was his favorite pet and always soothed him. She was a true member of our family for many years, and I was amazed to learn that rabbits are 3rd in popularity among animals as pets.

I never will forget the day Ruth brought baby chicks home from school. Our grandson was staying with us at the time and loved being around them. He spent many hours on a chair merely observing. We had a hard time getting him to sleep because he was so enamored by the chicks. Susan Orleans spends many pages on chickens that are undervalued as pets and smarter than you would expect. Most places allow the growing of them and their use in producing eggs. Chickens have intelligence and so do turkeys.

My favorite essay is called “Riding High”and is about donkeys. These pack animals are often misunderstood. Their reputation for stubbornness is actually, according to this writer, the result of their “inviolable commitment to self-preservation.” They became of much greater value during the Afghanistan War. Thousands of them were sent to this troubled country to assist in the war effort. Who knew?

The only creature that Susan Orleans has no use for and can’t think of a good reason for their existence is the common tick. Orleans free-ranging use of the animal subject includes Bugs Bunny, an update on the orca who became famous during the “Free Willie” years, and her varied farm experiences.

The last essay is called “Farmville”. It’s about Susan Orleans daily and seasonal experiences when she ran her own farm in the state of New York. Read this amazing book for a spiritual and human uplift!


Towns Named Butler

Ruth picked this town name for development and liked the results, so I decided to pursue it.

Butler is a very common name for towns. There are at least 9 towns in America that have this name and have grown. There are another 11 that have not grown or have actually gone out of business. There are also butlers in distant places.

The word and the town name have a definite history. Butler was an occupational last name in several cultures like Ireland. However, its root goes back to the French language and the word “bouteillier”. This, in turn, came from the Latin language and Latin speakers use of the word bottle. These are connected with actual butlers as an occupation. A butler was often a wine steward for a family or their chief servant. In Ireland Butler is a still a noble family name. Gerald Butler became a rather famous actor. A number of English speaking scientists and engineers have this last name. Also many athletes have this surname.

Butler, for some unknown reason, has an Australian connection. There’s a Butler’s Gorge in Tasmania and there’s a Butler’s Point and a Butler’s Dome. The city of Perth in Western Australia has a suburb named Butler. Butler’s Gorge is a rural community on Lake William and was named for a surveyor. No one with this surname got famous enough to influence wider use.

The towns named Butler in the US that have developed include the one in the Kansas City area. The first town in this part of the world to get electricity, Butler, MO became known as Electric City and now is home to about 4,000 people. Butler, Alabama, a town of about 2,400 in Choctau County was Hank Williams’ hometown. He was a noted country singer who played the guitar and died at the age of 29. The largest town named Butler in the USA is the one in Pennsylvania. North of Pittsburgh, it once had a steel mill, which was common in this part of the country. Now home to about 13,000 people, Butler, PA was named for a war hero. The Butler in New Jersey has a population of about 8,000.

There are still small, often unincorporated Butlers in states like California and Oklahoma. There are at least 20 communities with this name. The village of Butler, KY was once known for its covered bridge.


Winter Hike to Donut Falls

We hiked on 3 days during our Salt Lake City holiday adventure. Our first family hike was in very scenic Big Cottonwood Canyon above the city to Donut Falls. This highway, beautiful Highway 190, goes on to several ski resorts. This hike began with a great breakfast at the Silver Fork Lodge thanks to our neighbors who recommended it as a place to eat. This occurred on Thanksgiving morning and provided needed fuel for the hike, which was long but not difficult. We had been warned by those who had done it before in winter that we might get wet towards the end.

After a full breakfast enjoyed by all, we headed up to the falls. This hike is very easy and very popular year round. It’s about a six mile hike up to the falls and back to the Jordan Pines Picnic Area where the portable toilets were much appreciated. There was snow on the ground the whole way but the sun was out. There was slight elevation gain, but the entire trail was not especially hard and good for all ages. There were lots of people on it, and we could hear the waterfall long before seeing it. It was definitely worth the time and effort. There were seasonal houses at the bottom and a wide public road, but the trail narrowed as we climbed.

A look into the cave of the famous Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Getting to the falls involves what is probably the most popular hike in Utah. But it took a treacherous climb to get up to this cave. This shot was taken using a tripod and long exposure, including an ND64 filter.

We had woods, meadow, and canyon views the entire time, and the falls that plunge through rocks into a hole were very much worth seeing. The warning that the trail might involve getting wet was not correct, but that would not have stopped us anyway. The trail was only hard to negotiate in a couple of places so we managed fine. My favorite spot was a wooden bridge just before the final assault on the trail to the falls.

After this hike we attempted another right away. It involved a trail nearby around Silver Lake, but this trail was closed that day. We were still able to park, and my granddaughter Sarah found a branch that had frozen overnight and contained several ice cups, a unique winter sculpture. Since we could not hike here, we went instead to Saltair and walked out to the edge of the Great Salt Lake. The children enjoyed this a lot.


Towns Named London

There are several Londons. But there are only 2 real cities that bear this name. One is in England and the other is in Canada. London has not taken off as the name for world cities despite England’s Empire. There are many Moscows but few Londons.

The confusion gets complicated because there are actually 2 Londons in London. There is the City of London, which is a limited area, and London itself. They are not the same thing. Greater London is a major world capital and the second city in the world to reach a population of 1 million inhabitants. The first was Rome in 133 BC. London, England, achieved this population in 1810. The city of London in England now contains 32 boroughs. One of its boroughs is the old city of London that was a fortified Roman settlement about 2,000 years ago. It was called Londinium, was about one square mile behind a wall, and stretched from the Tower of London to Chancery Lane and Liverpool Street. It had about 10,000 residents, its own Lord Mayor, and was England’s financial capital. How Brexit will affect this historical London is yet to be determined.

There are 15 London’s in the United States. Only 3 of them, the ones in Ohio, Kentucky, and Arkansas, are of any size. The rest are unincorporated communities even though a few of them have thousands of citizens living in them like the Londons in California and Michigan. Most of them have the word New before theirs names. For example, the London in Missouri is New London and is in the Hannibal area. London, Arkansas, has a population over 1,000 and is actually called London. London, Kentucky, is known as a racing capital and has a population over 8,000. London, Ohio, is southwest of Columbus, its capital, and has a population of more than 10,000.

London, Ontario, is a large city in Canada. It’s home to more than half a million Canadians and is on the Thames River. We used to love going to this new London and sampling its restaurants and attractions. It’s the 2nd largest city in the world with this name.

There’s a London Island in South America’s Chile, and the capital of the Pacific Island Nation of Kiribati is London. There are said to be several Londons in Africa, but many of them were colonial cities and London is now their 2nd name. There’s a town called Jakobstad in Finland with a population of more than 20,000 that has a suburb called London. The Australian island called Christmas has a settlement named London.

Then there’s New London, Connecticut. This once upon a time whaling port on the American Thames River is an important city in this Original Colony. New London was named after London, England, and received this name long before The Revolutionary War.


Five Quotes

Confucius, the great Chinese sage, lived from 55 BC until 479 BC. At some point he said, “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” I have lived my life believing this is true and have never been disappointed. The photo on this engagement calendar page documents Anchorage Fireworks and records the 1st 3 days of this troubled year.

The entry for the 2nd week in February from the 8th to the 14th is preceded by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. He once said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” This, to me, is a wise statement. It’s kind of a summary of the book I am currently reading, Lincoln Highway. This book that has a great number of characters is so loud that I am reading it again to see what I missed the first time. The photograph on the opposite page is of Trumpeter swans in Anchorage.

The photograph of lupines across from the 2nd week of June is accompanied by a quote by the talented English novelist Iris Murdoch. Thinking of flowers, she said, “People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” People walking by our house often comment about Ruth’s flowers with similar sentiments. She recently gave a dahlia to a woman who clearly treasured this exceptional blossom.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Our grandson is studying to be a pilot like his father. Ruth likes this da Vinci quote and wants to share it with him. I agree that he will like it. Appropriately, this quote is accompanied by a photo of a Rufous hummingbird. Alaska, we discovered in Nome, is a great place for bird watching.

Jumping to October, the last week of this late-autumn month is accompanied by a quote that really speaks to me. It’s accompanied by a photo of the Northern Lights over Lake Hood and features a seaplane. These flying machines are very common in Alaska. Aldo Leopold, who is considered the father of wildlife ecology, once said, “To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” Leopold was a scientist, a teacher, and a writer of note.