This 1876 illustration by T.L. Dawes always reminds me of an Ant Farm; a subterranean profile of tunnels filled with industry. Something else it reminds me of is the source of all that timber; the interlocking blocks—called square sets—strong enough to support the roof and side walls of these manmade caverns. Dan De Quille knew where the timber came from: the old-growth forest of the Tahoe Basin. He explained in The Big Bonanza (1876), “The Comstock Lode may truthfully be said to be the tomb of the forests of the Sierras.” (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
In the 1980s I lived in Louisiana and developed a passion for Cajun cuisine. (Yes, Tabasco is a major food group.) I now live in Nevada where good gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish etouffee are scarce as hen’s teeth. The solution: make it yourself with the help of the Mosquito Supper Club (published April 21, 2020), and, as they say down on the bayou, “laissez les bons temps rouler.”
I love this caricature of William M. Stewart addressing the U.S. Senate. The lawyer-turned-politician made a pile of money from Virginia City mining-claims litigation, and then served as a U.S. senator from Nevada for nearly 30 years. Unlike today, members of congress did not have a staff and often hired newspaper reporters willing to moonlight. Enter Mark Twain. Twain worked for Senator Stewart for a time, and later used his experience as fodder for his book “The Gilded Age” (1873). Mark Twain did not have a very high regard for elected officials, as is evident from this quote: “Suppose you were an idiot. Now suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
Yesterday I spoke to about 75 members of the Tahoe Douglas Seniors at Harveys Hotel-Casino. I don’t think my name was up on the marquee, however.
If you’ve ever wondered what our domesticated animal companions are thinking, Skip, a Timber Wolf-Labrador mix, will amaze and enlighten you. He’s the protagonist in Teri Case’s latest novel In the Doghouse. Without offering a spoiler-alert caveat, I can tell you the book’s subtitle, “A Couple’s Breakup from Their Dog’s Point of View,” is the perfect summary. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), the title is a play on words. Someone’s in the doghouse, the Chateau Bow Wow, and it isn’t Skip, although he may at times have reason to tuck his tail between his legs.
In the Doghouse has a wider cast of characters, human and nonhuman alike, and one common denominator is their need to belong—from the stray in the pound waiting to be adopted to the aforementioned couple post-breakup. Skip is the personification of this need to belong and feel loved. It’s in his DNA. Wolves mate for life and are social animals. Belonging to a pack is happiness, while its loss is the opposite of happiness.
At one point early in the couple’s breakup, Skip, left alone in the apartment, begins to howl for the return of his pack. After getting that out of his system, he begins to take matters into his own paws. It’s not all a romp in the dog park as he and Lucy, a busy RN who got de facto custody of Skip, reconfigure their lives.
In the Doghouse is a love story, with Skip’s unconditional love a constant throughout. It challenges the notion that pets are owned and somewhat removed from the complicated lives of their human masters. Skip is perceptive way beyond his keen sense of smell. He knows what Lucy and others are thinking and feeling and what makes people happy, as exemplified by the doga class he and Lucy start taking together.
Teri Case has written a doggone good tale. I’m certain my grandfather, a veterinarian for forty-five years, would have loved it. He knew in his heart that dogs are wiser than people, which is my In the Doghouse take-away.
My friend Sam likes that I dedicated this book to him: “…to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who became Mark Twain in Carson City.”
I just signed a contract with The History Press to do another book for them. This one is on the “Holy Grail of Nevada History”–Virginia City! Release date: 2020.
I’m going to be the featured speaker next month at one of my favorite places, the Nevada State Library & Archives in Carson City. Here’s their promotional flyer.