Friday, September 26, 2008


(from left to right....)

It is funny how we sometimes take our critters for granted – or worse, complain and grumble about having to feed them, clean up after them – I won’t even mention the vet bills. Sometimes they can annoy us, drive up the wall, keep us up at night, jump into the newspaper as we try to read it or insist on a lap when we really have some serious reading or work to do. But, most of the time, they have to put up with our schedules which do not necessarily fit their little biological clocks, they listen to horrible noises on TV, put up with our friends who do not always have good pet manners, who ignore them, push them away, even kick at them when they think we are not looking.
There was a time in my life when I did not have any 4 leggeds living in my house. I did not have to vacuum all the time. There were no towels over the furniture to quickly pull off when company came. People could just walk right in and sit anywhere they wanted and not get up with a tiny tumbleweed of cat fur sticking off their butt. I didn’t have to worry if the litter-box was clean or if someone had had an accident on the rug. I could go places over night and not worry about the mess I would find when I came home. Shoot, I could go away for weeks and not have to worry about someone coming to feed anything or how I was going to pay the kennel bill when I finally did come home. I did not have to worry about being invaded by hoards of hungry fleas!!! Ahhhh, freedom!
That freedom was short lived, and though I would like to be able to just take off for a week-end every now and then without lugging 3 cats to the kennel and arranging for someone to come by and feed the outside critters, well, there is something to be said for a warm furry lump curling up in my lap and purring until he snores, or following me around the yard rolling over ever 5 feet to try to get his belly rubbed or yowling at the back door because he is unhappy with the weather.
Last Friday night Snuffy had a seizure. Not a big one, but big enough to scare the life half out of me. He tried to jump up on my lap, stumbled and fell, tried to regain his spot. I grabbed him and he looked dazed, tried to move his legs but they didn’t seem to want to move for him. It took about 5 minutes though it seemed like 5 hours. It was a quiet seizure compared with the kind he had years ago with lots of thrashing and yowling. To be honest, I thought we were about to lose him – that he was having a stroke - he was going to die in my arms. I have been accused of spoiling him rotten. Well, he has had 4 or 5 surgeries, 2 cancer surgeries, 2 surgeries on his tongue just this summer. He has been on one medicine or another ever since we have had him, 10 years it is now. He eats baby food because it was so hard for him to eat with the tongue surgery. True, he does not NEED it anymore, and certainly does not eat it off a spoon now, but he loves it. I mean, he polished off a good portion of prime rib just the other night, so he CAN eat. OK, I cut it up real fine, but still… and he is not the only cat I have bought dinner for when we go out. I eat the vegetables and take the meat home. No wonder there is a big sign out front that says SUCKER LIVES HERE! GOOD EATS!!! Well I have not actually seen it – but I am sure the sign is out there somewhere.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the others are not neglected in favor of Snuffy. I spent $8 on a 12 pack of genuine faux fur mice for Rascal at Pet Smart on Sunday. I am glad that store is 65 miles from here. I can’t afford to walk in their door! But, Ratty (Rascal) was just about out of meeses and well, you know how it goes. Ratty helps me so much when I try to sit and meditate. (yeah, right) Here he is practicing, paws folded just so, ignoring all temptations, mice, toy faux fur ferret (say that 5 times.) And on days of high stress, he washes my hair for me.
Hadji no longer plays with the mice. He is not a lap kitty, but if you sit on HIS sofa, you MUST pay attention to him. He has a degree in counseling, I am sure, so if you come to my house and are burdened with troubles, just sit on his sofa and he will make you love him. He rolls, turns upside down, shows off his whiter than white belly and meows very loudly if you should try to ignore him. Yeah, good luck! He and Snuff came here from the SPCA 10 years ago. Hadji is a BIG cat, well, for a house cat. (see the towels?)
Out in the yard, Punkin is seldom out of sight, even when it snows. He loves being around people. His favorite thing is rolling over in front of you wherever you are and meowing loudly until you are forced into paying attention to him.
Spook, on the other hand, is, well, a bit spooky, often hiding around the corner or watching the goings on from up in a tree. Can you see him way up there? He is quite the climber yet he is always able to get back down – when he is ready. Spook loves to “attack” Punkin, sneaking up on him from behind. I love it when he thinks he is invisible.
We consider them outdoor cats – but rest assured, they have 2 heated “houses,” their favorite we call the nest next to the back door.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The COST of CLEANUP - Hanna, Part 3

We are still cleaning up a bit from Hanna. The week started out with the truck, chain saws and the big chipper parked out front. Fortunately they only had to cut the power off for a few hours on Sunday, and then not at all on Monday. Watching them work was fascinating. Or should I say, watching them NOT work. Now, one guy (out of 4) did work on Sunday. Well, OK, one guy went up in his bucket and cut the wires – that took about 5 minutes, and another 5 minutes to reconnect them. The rest of the 4 hours was spent watching and then trying to tell the idiot with the chain saw how to do his job. Well, the poor fool needed all the help he could get as he was not having a very good day. The BIG chain saw burned out after only a few minutes. That resulted in the chain saw man (CSM) shouting the F word a couple times as the BIG saw was no longer usable. So the guy tried to cut this tree with a diameter of over a foot at this point with a little saw on a pole. That saw might have been a foot long – certainly no longer. First he cut the top part of the wood then he tried to come up from underneath to finish cutting the wood thru – this is the part of the tree leaning against the other tree and supporting all the weight. Because he cut thru from the top first, the wood bent to pinch the saw. It jammed in the tree. The F word was broadcast loudly several times, again. The blade is so small you can barely see it - but it is sticking off the side of the tree here.

It took him 3 hours to finally get that saw blade out of the tree. You would not have believed what they went thru in the process! It was unbelievable. I guess he thought if you swore at it long enough and loudly enough it would just jump right out. The supervisor had left, the electrician was trying to tell him what to do (which did not work) and the 3rd guy stood out in the road and occasionally waved traffic by. This is a very narrow road.
Monday was almost as interesting. They drove by the house at 6:45 AM and parked in the field road next to my property. There they sat. I could hear them talking. The one guy whistles all the time, so that was easy to hear. They drank their morning coffee, had a couple cigarettes (easy enough to smell) and gabbed about “stuff.” Around 7:30, they walked thru the yard and looked around, picking up the occasional branch and piling it near the edge of the road. Around 8 they moved the truck so CSM could get in the bucket and cut more tree down. That took about a half an hour. The other dude shoved a few branches in the chipper. They left before 9 to go get more coffee. They came back and parked in the field again, eating pastry, drinking coffee, joking about football, and smoking. Around 10:30, they pulled the truck back out front and finished chipping the branches. The one guy started stacking the wood on top of my miniature rose bushes. I went out and asked him to please not do that, so he left the wood in the driveway. A neighbor moved it for me. They left here before noon.
Now, as one neighbor said, it was good I was not paying them by the hour – but, I pointed out – essentially, I was! Even though they are paid by the power company, I pay the power company, and their salaries come out of what we all pay. So both my neighbor and I were paying these guys for 6 hours work. My neighbor’s grin turned to a frown when he thought about that and realized I was right! They worked about one hour and billed 6. Plus, CSM totaled 2 saws the day before. And if you get your power from the same company, you paid for it, too. If you are with another company, you wanna bet it doesn’t happen where you live????? And they got paid double for Sunday.
Didja ever drive by a road crew with 5 supervisors and one worker and a “flagperson?” now I can hardly blame them when it is 100 degrees out there on that hot road, but this is year round. This is not just road crews or power people. And, yeah, the guy who did nothing had to be there. I mean if CSM killed himself, somebody needed to call 911, right? And it coulda happened! He didn’t seem too bright.
So, now I have several piles of logs and one huge tree trunk laying out front. I guess they are done, the power line is no longer in danger, and I need to hire someone to come and cut up the 20 foot long trunk.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

HANNA Part 2

The morning after.................

From this shot, taken across the street, you can see how close the maple tree is to the wires, the power supply to the next town over, and my house. One of the vans is next to the carport - safe, but if the tree does come down, neither of us will be able to get out of the driveway. You can see how the gum tree is leaning with the weight of the maple tree.
Maybe we can save the half that is still upright. It was a pretty maple.

This is part of a tree on the east end of the property... It landed about 12 feet from the same power lines at the edge of the woods.
Same tree????? These horizontal branches should be vertical!
This is a shot to the west from last fall - maybe 11 months ago. This is from yesterday. Count the trees. The woods are impassable (to me right now,) so it will have to be winter before I get brave enough to try to go back there.
Have I mentioned how Punkin and Spook hate storms? They will probably spend the next day or two slowly taking inventory of the yard and woods. Oh, look, what is this? What are all these twigs doing here????? Now, what happened to that mouse I left here yesterday for a snack?Notice all the leaves? And it isn't even autumn here for another month or so!
Even Buddha got a present from a tree.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Hanna is moving out of here... She left a bit of a mess, but Katrina puts messes in a different perspective, too. I lost a couple trees out in the woods, but that will not be a problem. This tree, however is out front by the road and next to the power lines. It came down in the 52 mph wind. If it slips away from the gum tree that is currently holding it, or if the gum tree snaps, power will be gone to a lot of people. So, we are holding our breath, hoping the tree holds until the power people come and cut it back. I know these are not very good shots, but it was still raining and blowing... and I am still not walking all that well.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Subtitle - did you put your socks on this morning?

Everything in life is based on our own personal perspective. For example, what is the most important thing in your life right this minute? What is worrying you the most? The current national crisis? What you are going to have for lunch (dinner, breakfast,) the traffic, the weeds in your garden, your kid’s behavior lately, does he (she) still love me, the weather, the mirror, oh, the list goes on and on! If you live in hurricane territory, right this minute your obsession would be your safety and the safety of those you love, possibly your possessions, packing, getting out of (or back into) Dodge, and if there will be anything to come back to when Gustav (Hanna, Ike, whatever) is over. I doubt your first concern is McBush’s choice for VP or whether your lipstick color matches your dress.
Sitting here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, we keep a close eye on the weather. If a bad storm is on its way, there is only one way off this peninsula, and there are a lot of people to get off this lump of sand, mud and clam shells. We don’t have 4 directions here, just up the road or down, and the down means across the 17 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel which is very likely closed in any storm. Here we keep an emergency supply of food and water all year round as nor'easters can be as bad as hurricanes, and god forbid we should get snow or ice! A half an inch of snow will close the schools sometimes for a day or two, and a good ice storm can leave you in the dark for a week – and those are the good points!
But, putting major crisis aside, what is your most pressing problem right this minute? Or maybe an hour ago? Most of us just slide thru life with worries no greater than what do I want to fix for dinner or that I have to go out in the rain to feed the dog. Yet there are so many who wonder where they are going to get the food to feed their kids, let alone the dog, and sadly, there are those who don’t care. Sometimes life throws us a different set of problems, and it might be summed up in – were you able to put your own socks on today? Tie your shoes? Get your own cup of coffee?
About 2 weeks ago, well, I don’t know what hit me, but it hit me hard. For several days, being able to get up out of bed, in or out of a chair, get dressed, prepare a meal – those were all things that were simply beyond me. My back muscles totally locked up and the least little movement was met with excruciating pain. It would take 3 or 4 rings before I could manage to reach a phone that was actually within 2 feet of me. Add to that an intestinal flu that left me weak and dehydrated, and in still more pain, and you have the picture – or part of it, anyway.
Over this past week-end, however, I managed to put on my own socks with no help. Yesterday I put on my shoes and tied them. So, it has been on my mind for a while how we take doing the simplest things in life so for granted. I mean, do you think about it when you need to feed the dog or the cat? No, you just go and do it. I, on the other hand, had to sit here, rigid in my chair, while my baby food baby (Snuffy, the cat) would sit and stare those sad eyes at me with the obvious question – Mommy, where is my breakfast? Or listen while the outside cats cried at the back door because it was 10 AM and no one had gotten outside to feed them.
But, I am getting better, and that is a good thing, as we are watching the lower Atlantic as Hanna and Ike and who knows what else are swirling around and looking our way. At 25 feet above sea level on an 80 mile long peninsula, 2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, 3 miles from the Chesapeake Bay, we keep a close eye on these things. Am I physically able to pack up, put the cats in the van and get out of here if I had to????? I am not sure. Not that I have ever evacuated before… but after Katrina, one looks at these things differently. So we wait and watch.
I have been visiting most of you, reading, but it has taken too much effort to comment. My patience has been in short supply since it takes all I have just to get the dumb things done - like brushing my teeth and, well, putting my socks on.
On the brighter side of things, the fall blooming season has started, so there is beauty to be seen from every window, as I am not yet up to walking around the yard. Plus, it is so dry, the flowers all look wilted close up. And I truly cannot get out there and water things right now. Fortunetely, I CAN feed and water the cats, and myself.
So, I will put on last year’s pics to share a few fall azaleas with every one. I never did get the lilies on. Oh well, too late now. azalea and beautyberry