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January 19, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Traveling Coneheads

Post card. New Mexico with cactus and flowers. Teich & Co. 1950. (USPD., artist life/

It’s this or a t shirt. (USPD/

There’s nothing wrong with being a Conehead.

While you may get snide remarks like, “Oh, yet another hothead” or “Ash him something”, you get to meet people in high places – those that get to the point.

It’s more than just seeing for miles. It’s actually standing on history – and possible future.

Volcanoes rock.

Capulin Volcano NAtional Monument. winter 2019 (© image, copyrighted, no permissions granted, all rights reserved)

Capulin Volcano National Monument. Very symmetrical because the lava flowed out a secondary vent on the west side of the base. The top floated off on a lava flow.(winter 2019.© image)

My favorite volcano is Capulin National Monument, New Mexico, which is only a baby who showed up the relatively recently, some 56,000-62,000 years ago.

I like it because

  1. It’s a quiet. (Who doesn’t like a volcano that’s silent and stable?)
  2. Looming large over the plains, it’s such a welcomed landmark. Always lifts my spirits – gives me hope – because thank goodness we’re out of the Texas Panhandle. FINALLY. Unless you’ve driven across that state, few realize how big it is – a full day’s drive that takes forever to cross it. FOREVER. While I enjoy counting the bouncing antelope and spotting the deer frolicking among the cattle on the high plains, car games get really old. QUCKLY.
  3. Besides it’s a cool place to stop and run around for a bit to ward off car cabin fever. No doubt the really tense, spiral drive up the soft, ashy cone to the top will get that wake-you-up adrenaline flowing.
  4. Supposedly you can see five states once you’re at the top. (But I think you have to be very tall to see Kansas)
  5. And then there’s the mystery.
Volcano viewed from above. Capulin Volcano NAtrional Monument, NM. Over 1,000 feet tall. (USPD: Nat. Parks Service photo/

This baby is over 1,000 feet tall. (Nat.ParkServ./

Capulin is a team player in a volcano family with lots of siblings

This volcano is part of a Volcanic Field composed of nearly 100 volcanic peaks or lava covered mesa in an unusually large area of nearly 7500 square miles across NE New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

In a Volcanic Field, smaller volcanoes arrive like kids in a family at different times (all happening within a period of several hundred thousand to a million years). They all appear within a hundred miles of each other and tap the same magma source.

Volcanologists consider this Volcanic Field area to be a very rare “hot spot” –  along with only 49 others in the world. (Others in the Azores, Reunion Island, Iceland, Hawaii, and parts of East Africa.)

Volcano in New Mexico showing spiraling road (© image., copyrighted, all rights reserved, no permissions granted)

Capulin Volcano in New Mexico showing the spiraling road to the top. Unfortunately the very narrow, scary-as-the-old-Pike’s-Peak Road has washed away with recent rains and is closed at this time. They’re working on it! You can’t hike with your dog at the top, but the lower trails are canine OK. (© image.)

Capulin’s home field is bigger than most, younger than most, and oddly located in the interior of the North American continent.  (Map of NM volcanoes here)

Age: To find any other volcanic rocks as young as Capulin, you’d have to travel to the mid-Atlantic ridge, a plate boundary in the Atlantic Ocean where magma reaches sea floor in a deep riff valley. (Map)

Location: It is sitting at the northeastern end of the “Jemez lineament” which is a line of volcanic fields stretching from Central Mexico, through the southern edge of Arizona, across western New Mexico, to near Santa Fe, and ending in New Mexico’s northeastern corner (the Raton-Clayton field).

The “Jemez lineament” is also parallel to the Snake River-Yellowstone volcanic “hot spot” track.

(Insert spooky music here…You know about the potential of the the Yellowstone caldera, right? Could Capulin fire up the field, jumpstart the Yellowstone caldera starting an earth-shattering, break-up?)

Inside the cone of Capulin Volcano. (NealVIckers/

You can walk down into the cone of the volcano. How cool is that? But your mom will make you take home a postcard instead of a rock.(NealVIckers/

The mystery: 

Most volcanoes are located along the border of the tectonic plates (which are below the earth’s surface). Most people are familiar with the Pacific Ring of Fire and the abundance of earthquakes and volcanoes associate with it.

Capulin is on the North American Plate and far from any plate edges.

Could there be a continental rift – a single plate is pulling apart below the earth’s surface – happening? (On Earth’s own time schedule, of course, not ours)

One possible reason for the volcanic fields of New Mexico is continental rift, the pulling apart of a single plate below the earth’s crust. The Rio Grande Rift is an elongated valley of rifting that extends in a north-south direction from Colorado to central Mexico. Crossing the Rio Grande Rift is the Jemez Lineament, a northeast-running line of volcanic features, which could act as an outlet for rising magma as the Rio Grande Rift stretches the plate below apart.” (Source and illustration of the Rio Grande Riff and lineament here)

Capulin Volcano lava lake/prairie in spring ( image. Copyrighted, all rights reserved, no permissions granted)

Capulin Volcano photobombing stage right. Lava lake/prairie in spring. Looks peaceful, right? (© image.)

Historians as well as geologists are fascinated by this area.

There’s quite bit of human history. People have used the volcano peaks as landmarks with the names Round Mound, Wagon Mound, and Rabbit Ears Mountains for a long time.

Read more: National Park Service with history from the Paleoindians/Folsom Man site, Native American times, Spain ruling the area and sending out explorers, the Santa Fe trail traffic, as well as the Goodnight-Loving trail cattle drives (here). Even more information from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science here

Volcano. View from rim of Capulin Volcano shows many of the near 100 volcanic peaks and lava capped mesa nearby. (Image by NealVickers/

From rim of the volcano, you can see many of the other 100 volcanic peaks and lava capped mesa nearby.(Image by NealVickers/

Lump it of leave it, volcanoes rock.

If you’re worried, keep up with the Smithsonian/USGS weekly volcanic activity report site here.

But not sure if you’d want to be right at the scene of a giant, catastrophic, multi-volcanic, explosive incident and die immediately, or be left in a desolate world as a survivor among grim odds. Happened before.

Always good to take time to climb every mountain. You just never know.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

ant hill. ( image, copyrighted, no permissions granted, all rights reserved)

All a matter of scale. A collaborative effort created this ant hill over night. Humans should do so well. Is it survival architecture or an advanced society’s effort to appease some unknown force?  Everyone knows imitation is the highest form of flattery.Yet another mystery.(© image)


January 15, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Breaking wind (Not likely)

Dog face. (Molly Malamute looking directly at you. She know bottoms. (© image copyrighted, all rights reserved, NO permissions granted)

Bottoms. A topic dogs have no problem with. (© image)

No one wants to talk about their bottoms.

But the time may be coming.

“Foul bottomers! Stink dumpers!” Will anyone risk saying it? Actually, louder than muttering under their breath?

MAn and seated woman on large sailing vessel, 1929 (Hood Collection, Australian NAt.Maritime Museum, 1929/

“Oh, is that as far as you could pitch it, Dear? It appears to be floating back this way. Darn those Pampers!” (Australian Nat.Maritime Museum/USPD/

Down the docks the elite – the enlightened – will stroll and prance. (Pausing for selfies and instructional tweets to the social media masses)

Their organic ocean going togs – sustainably sourced – a statement, as they board the “new” earth-friendly, sail driven, ocean-going cruise lines.

Light and breeze conversations (which comes from self confidence and convictions) float on the air.

Punctuated – as if on cue – with scornful glances at the Others: the general mobs of travelers crowding the airports.

“Why do they not see?” some pose passenger will exclaim showily. “Martini? Oh, yes, how refreshing. Why choose air travel over sea voyage? Deniers no doubt. Unfathomable! “

Elegant people boarding sailboat, 1929. Hood COllection/Australian NAt. Museum/ USPD., artist life/

“Oh, charming. Simply charming. Nothing like living simply in tune with nature, yes?” (USPD/

Probably lacking the luxury of open-ended time and spare cash.

 The teeming masses will have to be content with non-trendy transport. But hey, it allows them to retain the touch of the “common man”. To relish the grittiness of sharing basic human experiences such as:

 Being herded like elbowing, cranky goats into crowded metal flying tubes.

Fighting over armrest space.

Keeping lips zipped as the kid repeated kicks the back of their seat.

Giving only eye rolls to that one who repeatedly has to get up and reach over for “one more thing” out of the overhead bin.

It could be Us vs Them shortly. The money had and not had.

open deck sailboat. Woman being carried to sailboat. 1952(German Federal Archives/

Oh, bottoms up. There will be travel agencies offering more modestly priced ocean transportation for pretenders, but their Facebook friends won’t be fooled. (German Federal Archives/

Sooner or later, it will happen, though…some investigative reporter…some rebellious student….someone who read “The Emperor’s New Clothes“. Someone will say it: “Foul bottomers! Stink dumpers!”

Words will be whispered.

Bandit signs will spread rebellion against derision.

Will the scorn worm turn?

Sailboat. Square topsail schooner Shenandoah sailing in NAntucket Sound 2005. Sails, no motor (Leggett/

Past. present and, possibly, future transportation. Square topsail schooner, Shenandoah, sailing in Nantucket Sound in 2005. Only sails, no motor onboard at all. (Leggett/

Sailing craft harm the environment – no matter how people want it not to be so

  • No matter the size, sailboats need smooth bottoms for fast efficient movement through the water. Barnacles, zebra mussels, weeds, slime and algae are constantly attaching themselves to boat hulls. Because of that problem, boats use antifouling paints that either slowly discharge poison(toxic biocides from metals like cuprous oxide) or simply wears/flakes off to discourage marine growth. The paint is deadly and requires great care when applying it. (More than you ever wanted to know about bottom paint which contains EPA registered pesticides: what bottom paint is (section 1), the effects on the environment, and the safety hazards(Section 8) when applying it)
  • In addition, whether a sailboat has a bucket or a marine pump potty with a thru-hull valve that can be opened to discharge straight into the water instead of into the holding tank, human waste harms marine life. There are regulations and laws, but the unpleasant truth is once out in the ocean, lots of times there’s no holding by humans or boats. Not exactly eco-friendly.
  • Of course there’s a big initial environmental cost from production methods used and waste products created when modern sailboats/catamarans are built and outfitted with sleek hulls, high tech sails and equipment.
People on sailboat. 1929 (Hood collection, Australian Nat. MAritime Museum/USPD,, artist life/

“Oh, look. They are bringing more wine and ice! Put down the computer. Social media influencers must enjoy being in the moment, too! We can blog about it later. (Australian Nat.Maritime Museum/USPD/

But all those just annoying little details. Distracts from the image. Doesn’t fit the narrative.

Slow and graceful. Elegance. Returning to nature’s touch. (Oh, Pre-Raphaelites always artfully struggle with realism.)

Far too easy to be become an albatross regarding all things great and small, as The Rime says.

Bottom feeders making waves of one sort or another

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Deck of large sailing vessel 1904 (USPD,, artist life/

“Don’t even think about coming this way with that bucket! To the stern – and mind the direction of the wind.” (USPD/

January 12, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Winter reservations

Winter retreat

It won’t.

Dog and horse in snow at West TX ranch. (© image, copyrighted, no permissions granted, all rights reserved)

“You think our room is ready now? The reservation was confirmed for early arrival as the days are so short. Don’t want to be let out in the cold at the end of the day.” Puppy escorting his buddy to the nice warm barn with plenty of hay – and maybe a Greenie under the pillow – at the West TX ranch. (© image)

Orangie Cat and Puppy in snow by corral. (© image all rights reserved, copyrighted, no permissions granted)

Orangie Cat, “I’m closing my eyes and teleporting  myself to Miami Beach. You can’t see me? It must be working.” (© image)


I’m not ready for the reheat.

trees in the January snow. (© image, all rights reserved, copyrighted, no permissions granted)

Frozen spread. (© image)

Sugar coating Winter’s truth and root.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

January 9, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

The When and the Whistle

With whistles you have to mention the appropriate time and place.

No intention of causing trouble, but you know how it goes.

There are occasions when dogs are not encouraged – even if they have radar scoop ears and herding abilities.

Partly because of the inability to walk past a prairie dog burrow without stating an archeological dig. And then there’s the nosy curiosity if there’s a sluggish half awake snake on the ground trying to warm itself. Sometime man’s best friend gets left at home to snooze on the couch.

Actually, even guardian dogs of preschoolers secretly wish for a day off.

Worried German Shepherd curled up on couch. (© image copyrighted, all rights reserved, no permissions granted.)

“What, me worry? You betcha now that he’s up and running, running, running….” (© image)

Preschoolers are the original perpetual motion machine.

Faster than a speeding bullet. Able to leap tall boulders  – without a single look to see what is on the other side.

Totally throwing themselves full throttle into wherever they are (“Poison ivy. Leaves of 3. No that’s 2. Wait you don’t have to actually touch each leaflet as you count.”)

Kids really get into life.

And that’s the issue: a kid can get getting so far in, no one knows where they are.

So Santa brought a whistle: an official Jr. Park Ranger Adventure Whistle.

Perfect hiking coat accessory…we thought. Parents, oddly, less than enthusiastic.

Maybe we should have role played a couple of “OMG where’s the kid?” scenarios around the house. Practice sessions. Just to concrete the “give a little whistle if suddenly you can’t see mom on the trail” concept.

Ever seen a German Shepherd bolt from a dead sleep lump on the couch to startled wide awake, eyes wild, ears flung horizontal to full extent and standing on tippy toes? Really not fair to sneak up on a slumbering dog and blow a whistle right between the ears…especially between large ears.

stuffed dog toy with a terrified expression . Scooby-Doo (Amazon image)

Ella Bella can do a pretty good terrified Scooby-Doo imitation.  (Amazon image)

Whistle stop:

Official Jr Park Ranger Whistle is now in the probably permanent Time Out pile in the kitchen…along with the plastic fireman’s hatchet that came with Halloween’s fireman costume.

The worst was Ella’s sad eyes asking us with “How could you do this to me?”. (We swear she pleads “Take me, too” when we depart.)

WWSB do? Smokey the Bear.

He’d probably say hold off on the “Official Jr. Park Ranger 7-1 Adventure Tool” with the detachable magnifying glass. You know about boys, magnifying glasses, and dry foliage….

Maybe the official Jr Ranger vest. It has lots of pockets. Little kids like to pick up stuff….(If it’s moving leave it alone – it’s mommy would miss it! Rocks. Here’s a nice rock.)

Small boys are much like hawks. Heed the falconer’s or Shakespeare’s advice. Have courage and release them to whistle down the wind.

(But stay in sight – for just a little while. It flies so fast.)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

“My mother would thump me sharply on the head with a thimble or a spoon if I became too noisy with the whistle when I was playing I was a steamboat captain. She had no sense of the dignity of command.” (Lincoln Steffens, American journalist…who knew how to be a kid.)

 Smokey the Bear "Only You" 1989 poster (USPD. by USDA agent/Nat. Ag. Lib, MD/

Only you can teach them how stuff works. And HA! Good luck with that. We’re leaving now. Karma. (Smokey the Bear 1989/USPD/


January 5, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

The Pumpkins Must Die

Sliced. Diced.

It’s eviction time.

Their continual presence the result of a deprived childhood.

Front porch scene with Christmas poinsettia and pumpkins on bench (© image. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted. All rights reserved )

Even as the Christmas poinsettia’s days are numbered, the pumpkins look smug and far too comfortable. (© image.)

Just the facts and only the asks:

We have been house watching for friends now out of state who resided in one of those neighborhoods where one pumpkin on the porch was completely insufficient and subject to scorn. With the approach of Thanksgiving, we rearrange their plethora of designer Halloween pumpkins into a Fall Harvest scene, thinking that would be acceptable.

After Thanksgiving,  the “really don’t need this” out-of-state owners were contacted by multiple worried neighbors about Christmas decorations. You have to understand this neighborhood has homeowners who spend a small fortune to have companies stage the equivalent of “Christmas Light Fight” in their yards each year. And, the neighbors hesitantly said, “It looks like your house has been abandoned” …despite the weekly yard crew and driveway/sidewalk power washers.

So we dutifully (as we had always planned) drove over to place lovely, traditional red velvet bows on the lanterns and a decorative wreath on the front porch gate. Shortly, one of the neighbors called to say they had placed those Christmas light nets across the front bushes. Kind people.

Normal Halloween pumpkins in this climate struggle to survive to Trick or Treat without melting into blue/black fuzz. But not these.

They must be military grade pumpkins – designer pumpkins designed for longevity in public displays. Not one sunken dent or suggestion of deterioration. Hollywood stock.

Sr Staff just couldn’t bring himself to condemn stout hearted vegetables who only lived for the stage into a garbage bag.

Apparently he had a pumpkin deprive childhood. They were lucky to get one ordinary generic pumpkin – and these glorious luxury vegetables had bumps, colorful streaks, and “storybook” shapes.

I was told “What? Spend good money on something that’s only going to rot? Here. Here’s some construction paper. Make your own.”

That’s how the pumpkins settled into our front porch.

Four pumpkins on a bench. (© image. Copyrighted. No permissions granted. ALL rights reserved)

Do they look like they are daring you to intervene? I understand the Vegetable squatters may have possibly posted availability of lizards’ sun basking spots on Vrbo. I’m beginning to worry they “know”…and will roll out across the doorway in the dead of night, tripping me during that last “It’s a long way until morning” dog walk. (© image)

And they will not die. They must be alien pumpkins as RC Cat always warns about.

They laugh and shrug off the full sun and being in a spot unprotected from rain this time of year.

Through Christmas. (Amazon and FedEx drivers keep laughing about them)

Through New Years Eve (I should have paid that neighborhood kid with the firecrackers….)

Seriously, the wreaths and garlands are down. The Welcome mat replaced the Peanuts’ Christmas one.

It’s time. Past time!

Or people are going to start asking if we have Cinderella as a houseguest.

(Checking The Farmer’s Almanac for freeze forecast. Then there’s always Little League baseball season approaching.)

There’s a time and place for a swift kick into the hedge. (Soccer! Brilliant suggestion!)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

RC Cat on table looking out window from underneath Christmas tree (© image. Copyrighted. No permissions granted, ALL rights reserved)

“I, RC Cat warned them about Vegetable Intruders. Because of Dunderheaded Staff, I must spend time keeping an eye on the Orange Menace. Although I must remember to compliment Staff on temporarily placing the Tree of De-lites here on Our observation post since it provides camouflage for Our vigil. Now if they would only open the window as requested, a poor lost butterfly might find refuge among the greenery …or even a mockingbird – yes, yes. That would add to the camouflage…no alternative motive, at all…”(© image)


January 2, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Round up, not off.

2020 – the sequence looks like two sets of twins going on a double date.

Betty Boop title screen for cartoon series (USPD. betweem 1924-1963, CR not renewed/artist life/

Oh, and what makes you think so?(USPD./

Actually, 2020 reminds me of Betty Boop – for several reasons.

  • Free spirited, girlish, and innocent, Betty Boop the carefree 1920‘s Jazz Age flapper was eager to leave the Depression behind.(Last year depression was wide spread – and there was plenty of flapping – to be left behind now in this new Roaring 20’s?)
  • In 2002, Betty Boop was voted #17 of TV Guide’s 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time according to WIKI.(Twilight Zone significance that the numerals are the same, only arranged in different order? Any numerologists out there? Coincidence, mere coincidence.)
  • As time passed, Betty had to confirm to society’s rules (National Legion of Decency and the Production Code of 1934). She changed wardrobe to more career girl or spinster housewife, gradually decreased the number of flirty curls in her hair style, and even stopped wearing gold bracelets and hoop earrings. More mature and perhaps wiser from life’s experiences, she may have decided precautions advised when taking public transportation. (Could Betty simply a metaphor for each of us? As days, weeks, and months steal away during the calendar’s progression, people seem to slowly fade from New Year’s Eve’s optimism and energetic plans into a grey, drudging, boring day to day existence.) 
Cartoon car with Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit. Movie poster . Roger and Jessica Rabbit. ( image from:

We need some well rounded 2020 cars like this one! Jessica Rabbit doesn’t have take a back seat for anyone, but she loves her Roger.(Image from: Read his movie review there.)

2020: Well rounded. Or deceptively “just drawn that way”?

Each Betty Boop keeps a little Jessica Rabbit tucked in there just like each year suggests the potential for “a little naughty”.

There was that company Christmas card of Betty winking while in bed with Santa.

Still you gotta love Betty’s line of “No, he couldn’t take my boop-oop-a-doop away” after fighting off a ringmaster determined to ravish her in one episode, teenage feminist that she was. (A so 2020 experience.)

In March 2009, a UK newspaper voted Jessica Rabbit the sexiest cartoon character of all time, with Betty Boop coming in second and, (oddly) the Cadbury’s Caramel Bunny coming in third.

There are obvious reasons why Betty Boop would be draw like Jessica as a BFF. Previously, Empire Magazine stated Jessica Rabbit had  “more to her than just the sort of lines that would clean sweep America’s Next Top Model. There’s a pure heart and ready wit beneath that magnificent exterior.”

Same could be said about Betty Boop. Classics over time.

Each year, despite what shape it starts out in, presents a some unexpected consequences, conflict to be sorted, and accolades earned. Surprises keep people on their toes.

So we’ll see what waits for us in this cartoon character-shaped year, 2020. 

All pumped up and kicky.

Those two kicky left legs sticking out on 2020″ suggests a bit of an edge – a new angle. Pretty Betty-ish.

There’s real possibility 2020’s gonna shape up really Boop-Oop-a-Doop!

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

cartoon character Betty Boop in classic red dress and curls. (USPD/clip art/

Betty says, “Hang on to your curls. What goes around, comes around. Rinse and repeat.” (USPD/clip art/




December 18, 2019 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Sweet Nothings

Vintage Christmas angel visiting sleeping girl. (late 1800's. Nat. Archives of Norway (, artist life/

Nothing more nostalgic than a vintage Christmas Angel delivering gifts…and people said “big hair” was a Dallas original. Nothing further from the truth. (Nat.Archives of Norway/USPD/

Nothing. That’s what I’m getting.

Nothing on the back burner

Nothing on the schedule

Nothing pending

Nothing on the docket

Nothing left behind


Nothing daunting

Nothing to shout about

Nothing to make a fuss over

Nothing to sneeze at


Nothing left to the imagination

Nothing doing

Nothing more. Nothing less

To know from nothing. That would be something

And I get that.


Nothing could be better.

Nothing could be fine-ah than a blog vacation at this time-ah.

So nothing to see here, freeing you up there.

Wishing you nothing less than all the best of Christmas and this holiday season.

Hasta later. Jingle on!

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Christmas postcard winter scene. Newberry Collection/John I. Monroe Collection ASheville/USPD., artist life/

Newberry Christmas postcard/John Monroe/USPD/

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