Posting this a bit early in case we lose power. Big storm trundling overhead. Nowadays I almost assume the lightning rod at the end of the block known as a “transformer” will invite a strike.

BTW, the Bleat below was written a while ago; as I said before, I was writing a lot while the vacation Bleats were going on. You’d think I’d stop and give myself some time off, but I can’t stop writing! I can’t! It’s a sickness!


Birch sleeps with us, because he wants to be around. Content to snuggle and snooze. This morning I got up after my wife, and figured he was in his kennel - it’s an open cage, so it’s not as dark as a crate. He was sitting in the kennel, content. I opened the door. He didn’t come out.

Text from wife as I made breakfast: she thought Birch was ill. Threw up, lethargic.

Uh oh. It was a Sunday, and that meant the Emergency Vet in the burbs. That’s where I am now, waiting for verdicts. He could have eaten a rock - heck, I know he ate a little rock. Wouldn’t explain the slight fever, you’d think, but it could. I’ve no idea how. All I know is that he was a sick little dog. I sat on the floor in the waiting room for an hour and held him, and he just had his eyes closed, head on my leg, and it felt as if he was sinking. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was parvo.

He seemed to shudder and jerk and for a moment I thought he was dying right there, and I called him his original name by accident.

But no, he was still with me. When the vet came in he perked up a bit; tail thrashed a bit to indicate he had more gas in the tank than I thought. They made up an estimate of the treatment procedure; gah, but of course, whatever. Then he had his blood drawn, and now we’re waiting for the results.

Not a well puppy.

Nice day outside. Cool; first true Fall day. Seems remote. The whole weekend has been unreal, from the appearance of Dog to the immediate investment in Dog to the sudden scary illness of Dog. Nothing has been normal since August 4th.

LATER Well, it’s not parvo. That’s the big relief. It’s probably not distemper, since he doesn’t have any of those symptoms. Unfortunately every basic sick puppy symptom is “throwing up, lethargy” so they’re not sure what it is, so hook him up to an IV and throw antibiotics at his little self, and keep him over night. It’s ruinously costly but there is no alternative. We could take him home and watch him, after they’d give him some injections to hydrate him, but that would be worse, hovering and watching and waiting.

When I left the vet I realized I’d been there for four hours. The whole Sunday afternoon: poof. Time for a little shopping, and then home to fall asleep for a while. The bed still smelled of puppy, which isn’t that unusual when you consider that he really smells like puppy.

LATER He came home at the end of the night. Bouncy! Happy! Barfy. But no fever, big appetite, and overall a new dog. It’s just like Jasper: what we thought was a dog with a relaxed, understated manner turned out to be literally one sick puppy.

NEXT DAY Worked from home, stayed with Birch. He is chummy as heck. Follows me around, but not with the busy jumpy nervous aspect of some dogs; he just figures that interesting things happen wherever I happen to go, and there’s always the possibility of food. In my study he curls up and relaxes while I work. Perfect.

Took him for a walk. We got halfway down the stairs. His eyes were wide as quarters: holy heck what is this, this world, this place? A truck rumbled by, loud and black, and that was enough: back up the stairs.

Later I put him in the kennel for a while, and he wept, and shat the bed. Great.

The day felt a lot like 2001: the weather was like 9/12, and the sense of being home with a creature of limited capabilities for whom you share complete responsibility. Without the whole “war” thing, of course. It wore on me hard by the end of the day, since we ended up discussing college visits over dinner, and a financial planning session I’m supposed to attend. Dropped Daughter off at the gym and went to Lunds and shopped for dinner, feeling numb. Halloween things remind me of how it was fun to see the holiday approach, how now there’s nothing but Lasts ahead. It’s unutterably depressing.

So you go home and pet the dog.

THE NEXT NEXT DAY Today was Sorry, Pal, It’s the Kennel Day, because I had to go to work for a meeting. It was cancelled. That’s okay. I needed very much to get out and be among people and do normal things, because Scirch - as I say sometimes when I want to call him by his name but conflate the two - is really a stick-close kind of dog. And that’s fine. That’s loveable. Follows me everywhere and doesn’t know enough to get out of the way. Inside, he’s content to sit and be with me. Outside, he wants to eat everything.

This could be a Dumb Dog moment:


But there are different types of dog smarts. Neither Jasper nor Scout had any interest in TV. Birch is keenly aware of TV and it bothers him a little; he growls when there’s a movie on my screen. He sees his reflection and throws him off. I’m not saying he’s smarter, just that he has different perception priorities.

He’s pretty damned adorable. And closed-mouth, too. Not a panting open-mouthed dog so far. Doesn’t want to play-box like Scout did. Better at bringing the ball back.

Went to curriculum night at Daughter’s school for the LAST TIME because everything is Lasts now, and chatted with her teachers, heard the plan for the year. I have no particular emotions about the school. It’s dumpy but it has history and pride and great deep community roots. I swear in 2075 AD they will still have mid-90s Microsoft clip-art on the posters on the walls. It’s just a public-school thing.

I loved her elementary school; I drive past it every day. It’s right next to the church. Have to remind myself: something was bugging you then, just as now. There was no golden age. There were golden days, brilliant months, lovely weeks, perfect hours, but nothing is ever 100% A-OK. There’s always a fishhook in the heart. Some days it tugs and some days it doesn’t.

Walked home in the dark from the school in the warm autumn evening - last time I’ll do this - and when I got home Birch was at the back door, tail wagging. Wife said he’d been upstairs on the bed but had leaped down when he heard me call hello. I give him a hug and and he was happy.

Poor guy has no idea how much freight he’s being asked to tow.




Remember yesterday's note about the surplus of Westerns? More evidence:



The Tall Man stars 6'3" Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett, and Clu Gulager as Billy the Kid. Gulager was 32 in 1960, 11 years older than Billy the Kid was at the time of his death in 1881 at the age of 21. The highly fictionalized series provides a more humane image of the Kid than has history itself. In real life Garrett eventually shot Billy dead in a night-time ambush at a farmhouse in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, but no concluding episode depicting the grim conclusion was filmed. Set in and about Lincoln, New Mexico, the series opens with a view of the extremely long shadow cast by Sullivan on a Western street, hence the name "the tall man”.

Bily the Kid! Loveable, misunderstood lad. Perhaps it’s not fair to lump this one in the Fail Season category; it lasted two seasons.






Our last run through the trenches: back to the oldest ads in the collection, where we see what they had to buy in the olden times of 1897.

Yes. They advertised these.



Hey, pins were important. Getting stuck with a pin was a minor annoyance that provided more pain than most minor annoyances. The Consolidated Safety Pin Company - which suggests an industrial combine gathering many other small manufacturers into one lean concern - was indeed located in Bloomfield, and thanks to this page I know where:


Stewart, though. Who? Not the inventor; that’s credited to Walter Hunt.

Hunt made the invention in order to pay off a $15 debt to a friend. He used a piece of brass wire that was about 8 inches long and made a coil in the center of the wire so it would open up when released. The clasp at one end was devised in order to shield the sharp edge from the user.

After being issued U.S. patent #6,281 on April 10, 1849, Hunt sold the patent to W. R. Grace and Company for $400 (roughly $10,000 in 2008 dollars). Using that money, Hunt then paid the $15 owed to a friend and kept the remaining amount of $385 for himself. What Hunt failed to realize is that in the years to follow, W.R. Grace and Company would make millions of dollars in profits from his invention.

“Citation needed” on both of those paragraphs.


The Lilliputian Bazaar welcomes you:



Made of fine nainsook and Yoke! No idea. The address, 60 W 23rd, reminds you that 23rd street was once the fashionable shopping district. Not for long; the stores marched north as the decades went on.


"Male Comfort.” Possibly a euphemism?



Bachelor’s Buttons? “A button which may be attached to clothing without resorting to needle and thread.” Ah.

Nothing much on the Washburn Fastener, or American Ring. Love that copy: boilerplate for just about everything sold in 1897. Someone made a pretty penny of the Washburn Fastener, though; had a nice house in a good part of town. Possibly a motorcar. But no radio or modern dentistry.

To recap so far: pins, children’s clothes, buttons . . . and underwear.



“Entered atop and drawn on like trousers.” Visualize that. If you can.

Oneita Knitting Mills does not autocomplete on Google, which tells you how much people search for it, or how important it was. But it was important for some:

Frank McClary, the mayor of Andrews in western Georgetown County, about an hour north of Charleston (was) standing outside the rusted gates of Oneita Knitting Mills, the long-shuttered T-shirt giant that once employed more than 1,000 people in town.

Oneita’s corporate headquarters were in the town as it became one of the nation’s biggest T-shirt manufacturers with a network of factories around the world. It never got to be as big as Fruit of the Loom or Hanes, but it was in the conversation. It memorialized its role in the community with the mural downtown, on the side of its old outlet store.

When the plant closed in 1996 and the company succumbed to bankruptcy a few years later, it was a painful blow. Nearby factories making nails and baling wire also closed, and residents — including the mayor — acknowledge that it hasn’t rebounded since. 

Here’s an interesting choice of words:



Since they’re selling the camera as a boon for travelers, “Your Wheel” must be slang for a trip. As for the camera:

The Bo-Peep camera was manufactured by the Manhattan Optical Co. in circa 1894. Advertised as the smallest practical model made capable of taking 4 x 5 photos. Earlier versions have an anastigmatic lens and shutter encased in the wood front, later models have an external lens. Constructed of mahogany with leather covering and a leather bellows. price in 1897 was $15.

About Manhattan Optical, I can’t say - it was bought by a competitor in 1902, and the subsequent company reformed and repositioned and struggled along until 1972.

I think they mean Migrane:


The word comes from hemicrania, a Roman doctor’s term. The Mike-rain portion of the old Latin word was changed by other tongues, emerging as Migraine.

Some sufferers might dispute that “half-headache” description. Unless they mean on one side of the head, which I guess they do. Obviously.


Get out the Dexter, it’s Wheel-snappin’ time!



And another:

Lots of companies made cameras; that’s the point. The moment there was something new and interesting to sell, dozens of companies sprang up to sell it.The ads may seem limited to us, but at the time - well, imagine being an adult who hadn’t seen many camera ads in publications at all, and suddenly there are dozens.

It was like the sudden rise of the PC.

That'll do; see you around.



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