Archive for the ‘Kiko’s House’ Tag

The 300-Million-Year Old Dance Of The Dragonfly   2 comments

August 18, 2019 Post from Kiko’s House blog (Blogger Shaun D. Mullen Passed Away in December 2019)

Dragonflies are among the world’s most ancient creatures and have been performing the mid-summer mating dance that I have observed almost every year of my life for 300 million years.  That’s more than 100 million years before dinosaurs appeared.

I can remember being fascinated by this dance as a youngster, although I didn’t understand that it was all about making baby dragonflies.

My brother and I would trap lightning bugs in Mason jars to sell to the man at the agricultural research station.  He paid us a dime a jar for his research into what made the bugs’ tails glow, but I would never consider trapping dragonflies for any amount of money.  Even then they occupied a special place in my world.

Perhaps it was because their dance reminded me of dog-fighting World War I flying machines, which captured my imagination at an early age, but I would like to think that the connection was more subtle.

I lived in Japan and traveled the Far East for a few years.  The dragonfly is revered in that part of the world and is depicted on everything from pottery to textiles. I recall one particularly glorious afternoon when I observed their mating dance in the backwater of a stream in the foothills below Mount Fuji.

After I returned to the States, I would take long walks up a dirt road next to a slow-flowing creek on hot mid-summer days, turn down a narrow footpath through high weeds and slip into the water.  It was refreshingly cool four or five feet beneath the surface and I loved to feel the chill percolate up into my chest and then my head.

Dragonflies colonize around creeks and ponds, so it usually wasn’t long before they were performing their dance around me.  Sometimes they would alight on my forehead – even in mating tandems — if I sat perfectly still and thought yoga thoughts and breathed yoga breaths. 

It was during this period that I first began reading about odonata, as this insect family is called.

I learned that the three species indigenous to my neck of the woods are members of the libellula genus.  These include my companions over many a summer — the bar-winged skimmer (Libellula axilena) and the less common great blue skimmer (Libellula vibrans). There also is the apparently elusive Jane’s meadowhawk (Sympetrum janeae), which is recognizable by its reddish body but has escaped my gaze.

I also learned that these species of dragonflies are short lived (seven to 10 weeks, although some species can live up to four years).  They also are territorial.

The mating dance is initiated by the male showing his genitals, of which he is endowed with two sets.  This display allows male and female to make sure that they are of the same species and therefore suitable mates.  The male then bends his abdomen so that one set of genitals touches the other, which is a sure-fire turn-on for the female, who curls her abdomen forward to make contact with the secondary genitalia and receives the sperm.

As I have often observed, the ritual can vary.

Sometimes the male grabs the female by the head or thorax for a “quickie” without going through the dance.  Other times the dance is long and elaborate, involving much diving and spinning, including mad charges in reverse, but in either event copulation takes less than a second. 

Sometimes male and female remain in tandem for several minutes, as if to say, “Was it as good for you as it was for me?”  The females are acutely sensitive to pollution and will lay their eggs only if the water is clean.  Other times they lay them on waterside plants. 

Sometimes the male acts as a lookout for the female as she lays the eggs he fertilized.  In fact, scientists say that males are so committed to their mating partners that they can display signs of jealousy if other males try to nose in.

A few years later, I lived in an old house a short walk from the creek and two particularly lovely spots — Ring Rock and the Burned Out Bridge. 

Ring Rock (also known as the Rock That David Sat On) is a massive limestone remnant of the furthest extent of the last Ice Age that protrudes from the water at a 25 degree angle. It is so named because an iron ring had been pounded into the rock perhaps 200 years ago so that the locals could tether their wagons to it and lower them into the creek to be cleaned — an early version of the car wash.   I never learned who David was, but I would slide into the creek below the rock — which was six or seven feet deep even in the mid-summer heat — and watch the dragonflies dance.

Alas, the rock attracted hikers and the occasional swimmer, so I moved on to the Burned Out Bridge. 

A pair of overgrown fieldstone foundations on either side of the creek are all that remain of this 19th century covered bridge, which is said to have been torched by a man in the early 1950s so that he and his son could fish undisturbed.  This is at a point just below where the west and middle branches of the creek converge, an area that is heavily silted and quite shallow.  It took all of one summer and part of the next, but I methodically moved sand and piled rocks until I had fashioned a pool about four feet deep where I could resume my dragonfly encounters.  My kids were too young to be of much help, but our big goofus of a black Labrador retriever became pretty good at picking up rocks and dropping them onto the sides of our pool.

It was here that I began seriously expanding my horizons to other fauna as I would sit quietly at periscope depth. 

There were rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus kykiss), restocked each spring for sport fishermen by the state fish and wildlife agency, and the occasional sunny (Lepomis machrochirus), as well as some wee fishies that I was never able to identify.  There were water-walking spiders (Dolomedes triton), black snakes (Elaphe obsoleta), a water moccasin (Ancistrodon piscivorus), which was a very rare sighting that far north of its southern habitat, and all sorts of toads and frogs, including little frogs called spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer crucifer), so named because of the time of their arrival each year and their high-pitched trill.  The black lab would slog into the marshy areas between the creek and woods and ingest mouthsful of them.

It is mid-summer again.  It’s been too hot to trek up to the creek, but I was sitting near a fountain in the quiet university town where I used to live.

I put down the book I was reading, took off my sunglasses and let the sun beat on my face. My mind drifted back to my childhood and the illustrations in a favorite picture book. The young hero is sick and has been put to bed by his mother where he imagines that the quilt spread out below him is a make-believe world with villages, roads and farm fields.  Armies clash across this terrain and dog fighting aeroplanes bob, weave and loop overhead.  I grew drowsy and my mind drifted further when something drew me from my reverie and I opened my eyes.

It was dragonflies doing their dance over the fountain.

Shaun D. Mullen


Shaun D. Mullen, RIP   2 comments

Shaun Mullen-artShaun D. Mullen — Photo-Artistry by kenne

A few days ago, I learned that the blogger, Shaun D. Mullen, which I have followed for 15 years,
passed away on December 12th. It was our cats, each named Kiko that brought us together as bloggers — you see, Shaun’s blog is Kiko’s House.  And, like us, he called his cat Kiko from the Los Lobos song, “Kiko and the Lavender Moon.” Having never met Shaun, only sharing a few emails around the time of our Kiko’s death in December of 2008, I continued to feel a connection through his blog, “Kiko’s House.”

Shaun’s last post was December 20th, eight days after his death. That was not unusual since we bloggers will sometimes schedule postings days ahead of time.

Shaun, 72, an author whose journalism career included two decades at the Philadelphia Daily News. He died of natural causes.

“Over a long career with newspapers, this award-winning editor and reporter received five Pulitzer Prize nominations. He covered the Vietnam War, O.J. Simpson trials, Clinton impeachment circus and coming of Osama bin Laden, among many other big stories.”

In recent years he also wrote for the blog, The Moderate Voice, which the managing editor wrote in Memoriam:

“I just cannot hardly yet come to terms. I feel I cannot in this moment in tears, write aptly enough about Shaun. I am sorry. I just wanted you to know.

An old story my father told me:

When we were made, Creator placed the number of years we would live atop our heads. We cannot see it. But we are to live the fullness of our lives as though we had forever –and also as if we had only one more day left.”

— kenne



I Share This Day With A Very Special Man   1 comment

Image by kenne

On this day I have a birthday with a very special American, Martin Luther King, which I’ve shared for 76 years.  In remembrance, I share an excellent article written by a former journalist and posted on his blog, Kiko’s House — “If Dr. King Looked Beyond The Grave Today, He Would Be Bitterly Disappointed.”

In the End,
we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Day, 2012   2 comments

Image by kenne

On this day of remembrance for a very special American, I share with you a piece written by a former journalist and posted on his blog, Kiko’s House —

Life Is So Much More When You Understand The Power of The Dog   Leave a comment

Doc — Image by Kathy McNeily

Yesterday, our friends, Kathy and Bob McNeily lost one of their best friends, Doc. “Hate that we only had 7 years with him as he certainly was one of the best dogs I have ever had with the sweetest temperament,” Kathy wrote in Facebook. 

Anyone who knows dogs knows that Golden Retrievers are known for their temperament, often described with words as “kindly, friendly, sweet and confident”. Shaun Mullen has written on his blog, Kiko’s House:

“It’s not hard to see why Golden Retrievers are among the most popular breeds in the U.S. year in and year out. They’re cuddly cute as puppies and beautiful as adults. They’re great around kids, energetic, intelligent, intensely loyal and easy to train. In fact, they often train their owners.

But American golden retrievers are also are ticking time bombs.”

Mullen ends his blog entry by stating: 

“As with humans, lifestyle can make a difference. Studies show that dogs that are lean and fit have a lower risk of cancer, as well as other health problems, but there is no evidence that exotic diets make a difference.

Not much of a defense in the face of an unrelenting epidemic without end.”

The loss of a best friend is always followed by some difficult moments, which is a necessary part of the friendship process.  When we understand the power of the dog, we understand the process of this very special process.


The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I beg you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescriptin runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns, 
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But…you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
When its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe, 
That the longer we’ve kept “em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong. 
A short-term loan is as bad as a long–
So why in–Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

King’s Personal Jihad Against Muslims, via Kiko’s House   Leave a comment

(Shaun Mullen has done his homework on this Congressional Committee Hearing.)

King’s Personal Jihad Against Muslims, via Kiko’s House

Given the enormous problems besetting the U.S. these days and the need for Congress to address them, the hearings being convened by Representative Peter King tomorrow into the perceived threat of homegrown Muslim radicalism would seem to be an unwelcome distraction. Read more. . .


Our Animal Friends Bless Us With Love And Attention.   1 comment

Chin Chin — Source: Kiko’s House

It was through our cats, each named Kiko, that I was first introduced to Shaun Mullen.

You see, like us, Shaun also had a lovable cat named Kiko. And, like us, he named his Kiko from the Los Lobos song, “Kiko and the Lavender Moon.” Having never met Shaun, only sharing a few emails around the time of our Kiko’s death in December of 2008, I continue to feel a connection through his blog, “Kiko’s House.” This morning’s Kiko’s House blog entry is “Chin Chin (ca. 1998-2011)”

Most rescue cats come into the lives of their new owners in cat carriers or by meowing outside of doors until they are fed. Chin Chin or Chin has she came to be known, arrived in a pillowcase.”


We, too, now have a rescue cat, Kika. Unlike Chin, we know little of her earlier life, other than frightened and skittish, she was not an abused cat. Having “. . . lived unhappily in a house dominated by thuggish owners and a big dog, and I would see her tiny black-and-white self peering at me through a lace-curtained window when I would pedal by the house on my mountain bike during morning rides.”


Chin was nurtured back to health, living with Shaun and his family for three and a half years.

People ascribe great virtues to their pets and can be forgiven the hyperbole that usually accompanies their oohs and aahs.


But Chin did have a special virtue. She had been abused and neglected and then abandoned, yet she had great sense in her tiny head and great love in her big heart in adopting us. Believe me, it was not the other way around. And for a few short years, she gave us a joy that we gladly reciprocated.”

Our animal friends bless us with love and attention, always when most needed. (Click here to read Shaun’s complete posting.)

I wrote the following poem, about Kiko, two years ago:

He was in my shadow network
Stopping when I stopped
Playing when I played
Sleeping when I slept
Always by my side.

When he danced, I would dance
But never in lock-step,
Only to the rhythm of shared music.
With each step, he took my heart
Building a crescendo of love.

Now the music is silent
As I move in darkness
No shadow at my feet
Only fallen tears of memories
Keeping me close to his ways.

But, darkness will not last
For his name is the password
To the ways of love
And the light of the lavender moon
That will always spawn his shadow.


Posted February 19, 2011 by kenneturner in Information

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“. . . no matter how hard scientists try, they will never completely unlock all of the mysteries of love.”   Leave a comment

“The Promenade” (1917-18) by Marc Chagall;

Those of you who follow my blog know that one of my favorite blogs is  Shaun Mullen’s Kiko’s House.

Here’s a posting today that is well worth sharing.


Posted April 25, 2010 by kenneturner in Information

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2009, Bicentenary of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday   Leave a comment

One of my favorite blog site discoveries this year is Kiko’s House

I learned about Shaun Mullen blog when he commented on one of my blog entries on our cat Kiko passing on. As you might guess, he had a cat named Kiko.

I just love his site. As Shaun states on his site, he was born to blog. “It just took a few years for the medium to catch up to the messenger.” Throughout the year, Kiko’s House has celebrated the bicentenary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth with posts and book excerpt on the greatest of American presidents. Here are the highlights:

Additionally, on Christmas Day,  Bill Moyers Journal had on Bill T. Jones. “At the close of Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial year, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a unique look at our nation’s 16th President — through the eyes of the critically acclaimed dance artist Bill T. Jones. In a groundbreaking work of choreography called FONDLY DO WE HOPE…FERVENTLY DO WE PRAY, Jones reimagines a young Lincoln in his formative years through modern dance. Bill Moyers speaks with Jones about his creative process, his insights into Lincoln, and how dance can give us fresh perspective on America’s most-studied president.”

Here are links to the Christmas Day show:


Posted December 30, 2009 by kenneturner in Education, Information

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Kiko and Pogo   4 comments


One of my Facebook friends (Bill W.) make an entry today with the classic Pogo cartoon — we have met the enemy, and he is us — “. . . in the words of the immortal Pogo. I know, the original cartoon concerning pollution, but the author (Walt Kelly) even agreed that it is much broader.” I commented on his entry since this is one of my favorite cartoons and one I have referenced many times over the years. As I have said so often, life is all about relationships and creating a matrix of connections, this being one, which crossed the path of a blog titled, “Kiko’s House.” As most of you know, our cat of eighteen years was Kiko, who passed away last December — we still miss him much. Kiko’s House is the blog site of Shaun Mullen, and he made this entry July 13, 2009 — “We have met the enemy, and he is us” How cool! Just another dimension of Kiko. Not surprisingly, Kiko’s House is a great blog, which I have now placed as a link on this site. Yes, life is all about “matrixing.”

Keep on bending the lines of life’s matrix!

— kenne

MorningShotsKiko12-4-07  1279x

Posted August 23, 2009 by kenneturner in Commentary, Information, Life

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