Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recycling, Part 1

I've had some requests to talk more specifically about recycling, and what makes sense and what doesn't.

The basic idea is that when you are deciding what should be recycled, you have to take a bunch of things into account:
1) how much raw materials are required to make the product in the first place?
2) how much energy is required to make the product in the first place?
3) what (if any) are the industrial by-products of the virgin product's manufacture?
4) how much landfill space would this product take up?

And then, for a recycled product you need to ask:
1) how much energy does it take to convert the product back into a usable form?
2) how efficient is the collection process?
3) how easily does the product get contaminated in the recycling process?
4) are there uses for the recycled product?

You get the idea about all the questions that go into recycling (I'm sure many more could be added to these lists).

The answers to some of these questions depends on where you live. If your locality gets power from coal-fired power plants grandfathered into the Clean Air Act, the extra energy required for recycling could have way more of a negative impact environmentally than if you're in a community that is purchasing energy from a better source.

Also, when you are comparing the environmental effects of recycling versus garbage disposal, you're really comparing a bundle of different types of effects and you are then in a position of comparing apples and oranges. So you need to balance the energy cost of recycling versus the landfill space issues and the raw material issues of virgin products.

So, even in recycling it becomes a values dilemma... what do you care about more, landfills or energy consumption?

Here's a real world example:
"Yet Stonyfield sells yogurt in containers that aren’t recyclable – for a surprisingly green reason. Instead of using recyclable High Density Polyethylene (HDPE; #2 plastic) for its containers, Stonyfield uses hard-to-recycle Polypropylene (#5). The company’s life cycle analysis study indicated that the vast majority of a plastic container’s environmental impact occurs in the manufacture and transportation stages, and polypropylene's structure produces a container with thinner and lighter walls that still hold the same volume of yogurt. The seemingly intuitive notion that recycling always is best for the environment turned out not to be true. Indeed, Stonyfield discovered a fact that would shock many a would-be recycler: Because wide-mouthed HDPE containers like yogurt pots have a higher melting point than more common HDPE products like milk containers, trash haulers usually route those yogurt pots not to recycling facilities but to trash dumps, and only accept them as recyclable to reduce consumer confusion. Had Stonyfield not conducted an LCA [Life Cycle Analysis], it would not have been able to make its informed decision to prioritize genuine waste reduction over recycling practices that only seemed ‘green’."
Source: http://www.awarenessintoaction.com/whitepapers/Life-Cycle-Analysis-Data-Environmental-Business-sustainability.html

To be continued....

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Orleans, II

I didn't expect to like New Orleans as much as I did. I expected a hard-partying city with not a lot else going for it, which was definitely not the case. First, the areas we walked through were lush and lively. There was great architecture, water around, a nice river walk, and lots of great food and music. I would've loved to drive around and get more of an understanding of Katrina's impact, and to have had the chance to visit the coastal wetlands. But we really only had about 36 hours together, and it seemed like most of that time got taken up by eating. (Hey, we used to be swimmers after all.)

Some of the interesting sights:

*There really were lots of beads. Suspended in trees, thrown from balconies. Linda and Emily even brought some back from their late night on Bourbon St, but they swear they didn't earn them the conventional way.

*We stumbled upon New Orleans' Spring Fiesta, which seemed to involve teenage girls dressing up in big antebellum hoop skirts and getting announced and escorted by their closest male relative on three loops of the big central park. I didn't think that teenage girls could be paid enough to wear that sort of costume. At least it wasn't a debutante thing.

*Half of the French Quarter lost power for our whole trip, including our hotel. If this had happened in another city, I suspect this extended electrical problem would've caused quite an outcry and been remedied faster. Instead, people quickly filled up the hotels that did have electricity as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. We moved into a historic hotel that featured industrial green carpet (a step above fake turf, but not much). The bathroom door couldn't open even halfway without slamming into a bed. We all agreed that we have turned into hotel snobs since college.

*It was bizarre to me the diversity of people on Bourbon street at night, and the number of people with open containers I saw traipsing by police officers. I expected the throngs of drunk-out-of-their-mind young people, but there was a surprising contingent of much older people, like the group of preppie women in their 50s with sweaters tied around their neck. Tourists?

Of course, the best part was seeing old friends. It's amazing how you can not see people regularly for seven years, but pick up where you left off. Dr. Grant, Ilener, we missed you!!!

New Orleans

I came back yesterday from a weekend trip to New Orleans to celebrate my friend Linda's impending marriage. New Orleans is quite the city, and it was not my run-of-the-mill weekend.

It all started with the plane, where the New Orleans native next to me told me stories about Katrina. Apparently this guy decided to go back into the city 8 days after the storm, and called his friend who was on a SWAT team to know how to get back in the city without getting turned away. He snuck back in through some back way, and found his house in tact, except for the roof which had completely blown off.

He proceeded to put on a respirator and clean out his rotting fridge, when National Guard troops came into his house, guns pointed at him, as a suspected looter. They were not happy when he announced he was back to stay. Apparently over the next few weeks the sergeant in charge of the company came back to make sure he was safe three times a day, as he was the only civilian in the entire district the troops were working in. Each time the sergeant visited this guy he would ask him to leave in his most commanding military voice, and each time he would not. But despite his disapproval, the troops brought a steady supply of water and food.

The second week back, the guy met a friend down on Bourbon street for a beer. Power had not yet been restored and the city was still in dire chaos, but apparently this one bar had not shut down at all, the entire storm. Anyway, so this guy and his friend are drinking warm beers outside this bar when a New Orleans police cruiser comes by and stops in the middle of the street. The guys watch while the police open the back of the SUV and start bringing in cases of liquor to the bar. A few minutes later, a fire truck stops in the middle of the street in front of the same bar. Firefighters jump out and start opening the auxillary compartments of their ladder truck to reveal bag after bag of ice, which they proceed to bring into the restaurant.

The guy turned to his friend and said "New Orleans is back."

More to come about New Orleans later....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Playdoh = Playdog?

No. Playdoh does NOT equal a playing dog. We learned this first hand last night when Ben ate some of Tucker's playdoh. It didn't seem like a lot--maybe half a cup? Remember, Ben has eaten lots of terrible things. Playdoh didn't even register on my radar screen as being a problem.

And then he started compulsively drinking water. Playdoh is not toxic, but it is almost pure salt. He went through two full bowls of water, drinking continuously for 10 minutes. We couldn't let him outside because it had just rained and there were puddles everywhere that he was tempted to drain as well.

I always worry about bloat, which can kill a dog in a matter of hours and is often caused by excessive drinking/eating in a short time period. We limited Ben's access to a couple cups of water every 15 minutes or so (which is, of course, still a lot of water). He stared us down between those intervals, begging us to relent and give his parched body just a drop more.

His "parched" body of course needed to pee approximately every three minutes, he had so much water in him. So Austin was up till midnight on doggy duty (well, really, watching Duke get pounded in the round of 16 of the NCAA basketball tournament). And then I came down and slept on the couch so I could ration the water and open the door for Ben's potty breaks.

Thankfully, Ben is none the worse for wear now, and seems to have enjoyed his middle of the night snuggling. I, on the other hand, am a bit tired.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cold Tangerines

Here are two quotes from the book Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist that I really like:

"Bitterness is like when you drink poison, hoping the other person dies."


"Hope always feels impossible until you commit to it."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Tucker discovered his belly this weekend. He REALLY likes to look at it.

P.S. This pic is not him, of course, but is pretty cute.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Tucker calls every man with gray hair "Pa" in honor of Papa. It's really special. The first time he did it, I thought it was just his random babbling... but it happens now almost without fail. Today we were walking in town and an older gentleman smiled at him. He looked at me and said "Pa." I told him that he was going to get to play with his Papa soon.

Incidentally, I'm trying not to be offended that he says Papa and Dada before he's even tried Mama, (though he made the mmma sound for the first time the other day, so it's close!).

Next up: learning to say Henny and JoJo.

Getting ready for Spring

Have I mentioned that Tucker's an outdoors boy? Well, here he is this weekend helping Daddy to tune up the lawnmower, and then yesterday, helping me to garden. He was still in his church clothes when he got ahold of the peat moss and potting soil and turned into Pigpen from Charlie Brown.

It was pretty cute, though it tired him out so much he put himself to bed on the family room floor at 5:45 pm last night and slept for 13 1/2 hours! (Of course, we did move him to his crib....)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Going green

When I went to my 10 year high school reunion and an acquaintance discovered I was in the environmental field, she said "that's so cool! My company just went green last week!" I smiled politely, of course, but really I am more than a bit tired of the current amount of green wash going on. I'm all for environmental sustainability, I even think corporate "design for environment" type programs really neat and sometimes truly innovative. But how does a company "go green" on a certain day? It's not about switching to recycled paper and putting out recycling bins.... Also, every decision has some externality, some environmental consequence, and those consequences aren't always black or white. Take recycling, for example. There are some things that are so inefficient to recycle in terms of energy that it is actually better NOT to recycle a product. Environmental sustainability is truly complex, and a lifestyle, a philosophy, and a process.

Anyway, Austin and I recently installed our forested riparian buffer. The trees are just wee little plugs right now, inside the green tree tubes, but hopefully in not too long it'll look more impressive. Austin is still going to plant the native grasses, and has plans to restore a wetland, bucket by bucket, in the ditched area in the center of our floodplain.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Subtlety is not Tucker's strength...

Tucker can't say "outside" yet, but he makes his intentions really clear. In this picture, I put my coat on him when he kept pointing at it. Of course, I knew he was pointing at it because he wanted to go outside, not wear it. There are really only so many times I can visit the chickens in a day or haul Tucker and the basketball up the hill that he likes to roll the ball down.

It's great that Tucker loves to be outdoors... but it will be even better once he can be outside unsupervised. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I don't like forwards, but this pic takes the cake...

This is courtesy of a forward from Diana Coleman. I hope one day to take a pic of Tucker and Ben sleeping like this!!

Camo dog

If you look underneath the tree, you can see Ben, skillfully practicing his art of camouflage as he stalks his prey.

Yeah, I'm laughing too. (If you've never met Ben, his most endearing traits are neither his speed nor his stealth.)

But, what he does enjoy doing is finding deer bones and chewing on them to his heart's content in the floodplain, which is what he's doing in the picture.

The vet recently complimented Ben on his clean teeth from all that chewing. The moral of the story: if you want good teeth when you're 9, treat yourself to lots of deer bones.

Landscaping for chickens

There are some google searches that just don't pan out no matter how you type them in.

"Landscaping for chickens"
"Poulty-resistant landscape"
"Gardening with chickens"

Apparently, there are not that many other people out there writing and thinking about how to design a yard to be compatible with their favorite flock of free-ranging birds.

What is the compatibility problem, you ask? Well, chickens love to scratch and peck. Nothing is more delightful to a chicken than to kick mulch all around, looking for the insects and grubs hiding in it. How do you have flower beds that look halfway decent, when they are attacked daily by poultry?

One answer, of course, is to contain the poultry. We actually do have our chickens fenced in, but they have taken to flying over the fence to enjoy the freedom of the whole property (except for the one hen that is too bottom-heavy to make the flight). I tried clipping their feathers last summer, and that does work, at least temporarily, till the feathers grow back.

But the thing is, we have a tick problem. A big tick problem (I'll spare you the details, because ticks are gross). And chickens are just about the best non-chemical antidote for ticks (actually, truth be told, guinea hens are even better at tick control but they are loud enough to annoy the neighbors). I would prefer to have messy flower beds, and not lyme disease.

So... the chickens are not going to be banned. Now what?

My tentative answer: intentionally messy landscaping. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Right? I was even thinking of transplanting the evergreen yucca from around our property to anchor one "flower" bed (that's the plant in the picture above), or planting switchgrass and pretending it's an ornamental grass. I could also go the wildflower route, and as an extra bonus any weeds that crop up can be considered volunteer native wildflowers.

Of course, my mom the gardener arrives today, and it's possible she will convince me to go a more traditional route of bulbs and shrubs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why I love Virginia

...For shorts and flowers in March (actually, most years our crocuses appear in February!).

Snow pics from our one storm

Have I mentioned that this was a very disappointing year for snow? No big storms. No snowshoeing in West Virginia. No excitement for my favorite weather man (Austin). In a future career, Austin might pursue meteorology for the amount of time he spends on the AccuWeather forums reading what other weather nerds think about the potential for storms in the Southeast. One of the rules of the forums is that they're about "weather forecasting not wish casting..."

Anyway, we had ONE good snow day, and we made the most of it. Today was 70 so it already feels like a distant memory.

Christmas crafts in March

In the spirit of recovering from his illness (no more fevers today!) Tucker is working on a four hour nap. Have I mentioned that I love four hour naps?

Today during naptime I finally got around to doing the Christmas crafts that I was meaning to do in December and never got around to. Of course these are not time-sensitive or important in any way, and there are more pressing things on my to do list. But sometimes a gal needs some nap time craft fun.

I found this old knick-knack tree that I'm turning into an Epiphany wall hanging. I have little brass nativity people, and will arrange it so that Tucker will move the wise men one spot each day till the 12th day of Christmas when they will arrive at the baby Jesus. If only my numbers looked a bit more elegant... I think I'll probably blot them out and try again, or get stick-on numbers to put on top of them.

I also finished up the angel tree topper I was meaning to make. I'm not so sure about it. It really looks pretty funny, if you ask me, but I made it out of all things I had on hand, and I can at least put it away till our star versus angel tree topper wars at the end of this year. :)

I also took some frames that I got at my favorite thrift store, and painted them and printed out some new Christmas-themed pics for them.

This is one of the Bentley snowflake designs that I printed (the photos are in the public domain!):

This is a Renaissance painting that I brought into Fotosketcher to create an impressionist rendition of the nativity:

And this is a poinsettia, just for fun:

Austin, of course, is terribly confused about this sudden rash of Christmas crafts in March. Apparently, he completely missed that we *needed* more Christmas wall hangings in the first place.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What I have been doing when I'm not blogging...

I was the type of kid that got really high fevers suddenly. Well, it looks like Tucker has inherited my trait. Out of nowhere on Friday afternoon he woke up with a 102.6 fever. We can handle that, right?

Well, it went up to 104.3 Saturday at its highest which warranted a weekend trip to the doctor. But then, Saturday night, it spiked to 105.7!!!??? That is NOT what I like to see on the thermometer at 3:30 am.

Thankfully, it came down quickly and we avoided the hospital. And then Sunday, it was up to almost 104, and down to 95 last night (seriously, this wasn't a thermometer error). So we got a second weekend trip to the doc that culminated in a chest x-ray. Thankfully no pneumonia.

We keep thinking he's over it, and then it goes back up when the dose of Motrin wears off. In the wee hours of this morning it was 104 again.

It's probably some random virus that he picked up somewhere, but of course we're googling horrible diseases that can be acquired from poultry and other esoteric medical mysteries.

So that's been the hard part of the past few days. The good news is that Tucker is still a nut, and as long as he has some Motrin in his system continues to beg approximately every other minute to go outside to stomp in the puddles and visit daddy's truck and the chickens.

The other night we were in the hospital waiting for his chest x-ray at 11 pm after having all started our day at 3:30 am with his 105 fever. Doesn't this sound like a recipe for disaster? It would've been if I had been the patient. Instead, Tucker amused himself by knocking over the towers Austin built and chucking the blocks around the deserted waiting room. (The boy has a good arm, incidentally).

That is all to say, that this has been a long five days, and it is time to go to sleep....

Friday, March 13, 2009

The definition of insanity

I've heard that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, but expect different results. Well, I'm afraid I need to report that my son is insane. He has spent the better part of the morning screaming at the dog because the dog has his rubber ducky. Why does Ben have a rubber ducky, you may ask? Well, Tucker keeps giving Ben his rubber ducky. Ben takes the rubber ducky, and then Tucker screams because he wants the ducky back. Finally Ben drops the rubber ducky, Tucker picks it back up and then immediately gives it back to him... and then starts screaming.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Squirrel Nutkin

Tucker is like a little squirrel. He loves to collect little objects and hide them and organize them. Yesterday while I was painting some furniture he spent at least half an hour "driving" my car, and organizing the quarters I keep for parking meters. (He needs to be watched with quarters as he's not 100% reliable on putting them in his mouth, but getting better).

One of his favorite activities is going to the chicken coop to see if they have laid any eggs. He loves to carry them back, and is so excited to put them into the egg carton in the fridge... seeing all those eggs together really gives him a thrill. Of course it's a problem when they have to go back in the fridge and he can't play with them, which is why he now has a egg carton full of pastel plastic Easter eggs that we substitute. Making sure those plastic eggs stay where they belong, and seeing if they have anything in them is really a full time job.

Tucker enjoys coloring now, but even more importantly, likes to organize his markers. His markers live in the back of his big red car, and he often spends a lot of time bringing them back and forth from his coloring table, and making sure they all belong in the car.

Tucker also likes assembling his trucks. The other day he spent about an hour bringing his trucks from all over the house into our tiny little downstairs bathroom. It was a little army of trucks.

On a totally unrelated note, Tucker learned how to kiss yesterday. I came home from swimming and he was sitting on my lap, and I was tickling/kissing him, and he decided that HE was going to kiss mommy. It hurt it was so cute! AND I got a LOT of baby kisses.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity

Austin's Aunt Carol emailed me at the beginning of the year, soon after I started this blog, wondering what I think about voluntary simplicity. We didn't have a very long correspondence on this subject, but it set me thinking and I've come back to that phrase several times since then.

I love the idea of voluntary simplicity, of somehow living in a simpler and more intentional way, of seeking to get off the hamster wheel of constant motion and consumption that seems to be the default these days.

Choosing simplicity is like choosing to only buy wrinkle-free shirts, or clothes that don't need dry cleaning. You give something up (in this case a certain clothing choice) but you get something in the bargain (time spent ironing, money for the dry cleaner). Sometimes choosing simplicity makes sense, but sometimes not. Depends if you like wrinkle free shirts, right?

The point is, you don't want to choose simplicity and bypass something you enjoy or is really important. For example, I recently joined the local YMCA. It is far simpler to go for a run outside than to drive 40 minutes round trip to the gym. But I enjoy the pool, and I don't enjoy running. Hence simplicity gets sacrificed and I joined the Y.

So, like life, it all comes down to priorities and a balancing act. I often find it ironic that choosing simplicity in consumption often actually increases the complexity of my life. Take our clothesline. It would be great to use it regularly and opt-out of unnecessary clothes drying, but honestly, when push comes to shove, it's a lot simpler to put the laundry in the dryer. This same scenario works itself out with heating the house with wood, having a big garden, (really the list could go on and on). And it's worth it, at least some of the things, some of the time.

But what I strive for is the type of simplicity that actually saves both (human) energy AND consumption. Like not wrapping presents in a Christmas stocking (no wrapping, no wrapping paper). Like choosing to only have a TV antennae, freeing up the time and money otherwise devoted to cable.

You know, figuring out those areas where less can be more, where small can be beautiful, or where my standards don't need to be quite so high. :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pemmican, the original energy bar

Austin has wanted to make pemmican, an old Native American food for the hunt, for ages. What IS pemmican? Well, it's dried meat that's been ground up, mixed with dried berries, with beef lard (suet) poured over it, moistening it and holding it together. Lots of calories for the hunt, and no sugar! Mmmmmmm....

On Valentine's day, we were going to go snowshoeing in West Virginia and I decided I'd make him some pemmican as a little Valentine's day present for the trip. Except it was about 70 degrees that week and all the snow in West Virginia melted. I conveniently forgot about it till the last minute as well, and unfortunately, a gal can't dry meat in an hour on a Saturday morning. It's the thought that counts, right? (Or is that what's incriminating in this little Valentine's day story?)

Anyway, I did finally get around to drying some venison jerky last week with the idea of making pemmican. We even got beef suet at our local Mennonite farm where we get all our meat.

The problem is that as a former vegetarian, even the idea of pemmican is revolting to me. The process of creating it was an act of love and revulsion at the same time. I ended up having to put the dried venison piece by piece in the coffee grinder to get it to a fine powder, mixing it with currants and prunes and then heating enough beef suet in the microwave so I could pour just enough over the mixture to moisten it (before just about dying from the smell...). Then the berry-meat-lard mixture hardened in the fridge.

I think I'm relatively open-minded towards food, as gals go... I never tried any of the squirrels Austin hunted, but I allowed them in our kitchen and in our freezer. I allowed Austin and Josh to butcher three deer this season in our side yard, and even let them hang the deer from a tree, for all the neighborhood to see. Pemmican is in the same category--it's allowed in the fridge, but I most certainly am not going to try it.

I did let Austin give some to Tucker this afternoon, though. It's kinda tricky thinking of fun snacks for Tucker because we don't really have much snack type foods around (nor want that sort of thing in the house). Austin ended up breaking off pieces of pemmican for Tucker, who devoured them like they were chocolate. Like father, like son....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grow, little veggies

Snow is on the ground, but our first seeds are already in our garden (sugar snap peas), and we have four flats of starts in sunny spots indoors. Maybe not everyone keeps flats of starters in their upstairs bathroom, but it seems to be working well. Tucker goes in there regularly and points at them.

I'm excited for our garden. It has been two years since we really had a great garden, and I've missed it. Austin wants to plant corn for the first time. We're also trying to establish a berry patch. We even are thinking about reusing old windows that are in the basement to make a greenhouse and seriously extend our growing season. A couple years ago we had fresh greens through January, and that was just with a cold frame!

This year will be a bit rough, though, in terms of the garden's soil quality. Last year we choked the grass out with newspaper and cardboard and mulch to establish the permanent no-till beds. This year we'll plant right into those beds, which will at places entail planting through a layer of still-present newspaper. But it works really well at suppressing the weeds, and we will build up the beds with our compost, and if this garden is like our last one, by next year the soil will be looking pretty good. I love thinking that (God willing) we hope to be here 10 years from now... what will the soil be like then? More importantly, what will our fruit trees be like then?

So far Tucker likes the garden, too. When we're outside he goes down to it so he can swing the gate. (The only problem with this is that the dog takes advantage of the baby and goes into the garden when Tucker's manning the gate.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lenten vows

I forgot to wish everyone a Happy Ash Wednesday last week, but now we're firmly in the Lenten season (although the local country radio station held a belated Mardi Gras celebration on this past Saturday night, which was amusing to me).

Anyway, for various reasons this year I want to try a non-food Lenten "fast." Part of the goal of giving something up is to make room for God in our lives, to pick something that will call to remembrance Jesus throughout the day.

I decided that I would fast from critical thoughts. I only decided this after coming to terms with the fact that it's okay to pick a Lenten vow that I'm going to mess up on. I mean, if I gave up chocolate, it is so cut and dry. It is hard, but the possibility of success is real. Banning a certain type of thoughts for six weeks, especially in a "realist" like myself, is equivalent to setting myself up for failure. What overcame my reluctance was a friend who gently reminded me that having to rely on the Lord to withstand whatever temptation, and on His grace when I fail, is really a good place to be during Lent. She also suggested chanting "cancel" in my mind after inopportune thoughts. :)

Anyway it has been interesting so far, because immediately on the first day I was confronted with issues like "is disliking a house's architecture having a critical thought?" and "does this ban only apply to thoughts about other people, or does it extend to my interior dialogue about myself?"

Anyone feel like chiming in on the comments with what you're doing for Lent?

Food glorious food

I just mentioned in the last entry that Tucker can really eat when he wants to. Last night we went to our favorite hole-in-the-wall diner in town for dinner. They don't have a kids' menu, so we ordered Tucker an adult hamburger and fries.

When he saw the food he just about flipped out, he was so excited. He ate almost 2/3 of that hamburger and half of the french fries. It was really impressive. (Keep in mind he weighs like 25 lbs--that's a LOT of food for a little boy.)

Then he put the take-home container on his head. What could be more fun?

Actually, there were lots of highlights of our dinner. One was when he realized he could see the street from our booth and he pointed out to us all the trucks and buses that went by. THAT was exciting.

He also really enjoyed eating cheerios from the hoods of his matchbox cars while we waited for our food. He even had a little matchbox ambulance that he was able to squeeze a cheerio into.

He saw his favorite clerk from our grocery store, eating with his wife. This guy looks like kind of a gruff older man, but every time he sees Tucker he melts into a smile and says "That's a fine fellow there."

Ah, good times....