Category Archives: Four-footed Ones

Dear Dora

Yesterday, one of my old students stopped by.  He’s an American citizen by birth, but grew up in Syria.  His family is ok — and expanding.   He is married now and has a son.

Ten years ago, he was my student.  Ten years ago, he also helped me build my front fence.  He also met Dora. This was after Gretchen and Buddy but before Tammy and Murphy.  He only knew Dora.  He was afraid to ask if Dora was still around.

She is, but she is old.  Sometimes she is with us, sometimes not.  Like any old lady, she struggles with what was once easy.

I promised her a walk tomorrow.  I will take some pictures with my new smarter than me phone.  I need to buy a better camera.


A Shift is Happening

I’m down to one lonely, stoic feral kitten.  Tilly the anti-social except for her sister kitten Toes is now alone.  Toes is dead.

Tammy’s tumor has come back, so now it’s just a matter of her pain and quality of life.

I tried to get Tammy and Dora to be friends, but Tammy bit me, so since I didn’t know her, I used the fact that another dog got into the yard as an excuse to have her tested for rabies.

That was long ago.

Sad times are here.  Sadder times await.

A shift is happening.

An Exciting Day (for me at least)

I’m an idiot when it comes to keeping my camera’s batteries recharged, so pictures will have to wait until tomorrow.

First, my very Kung-Fu like battle with the grasshoppers continues.  I don’t want to kill them, I just want to fuck with them.  I’ve got about four — one is HUGE.  I pester them by looking at them and then slowly anticipating their avoidance maneuvers.  It’s a game of “you can’t see me” and “oh, yes I can!”  I zapped them with the garden hose yesterday and this morning.  Those fat fuckers were back later in the afternoon.  There’s one that I just plead with.  She’s (?) just on the sunflower.  I beg her not to be greedy.

The swallowtail caterpillars are another story.  I love them.  It is amazing how quickly they grow.  I spotted another cocoon, and one that is making a cocoon.  They didn’t much care for me watering the damn parsley they are living on, but what’s a caterpillar to do?  One showed its “horns” but that was about it.

I didn’t write about the possum earlier.  I wish I had.  A possum got into R’s bathroom and Dora was throwing a fit.  R went in and discovered the possum last week.  We set the(humane!) trap and then nothing happened.  Until today.  I was putting some clean bedding in R’s room, and there was that smell.  That possum smell.  Sure enough, it was in the trap.  I had no idea how long it had been in there, since I hadn’t checked it everyday.  In retrospect, it had only smelled today, so the damned thing was just playing possum.  I put a cloth over the trap, took it out to the driveway and opened the back.    The first couple of times I checked it (via the window — possums give me the heebie-jeebies ) I thought it was dead.  I kept cleaning up its mess and checking on it until it finally left the trap.  Possums aren’t the smartest animals in the world.  It went along one side of the fence, and then it turned back, only to go into the area it had just avoided.

Later the storms came.  Dora got under my desk.  As I was watching the weather on TV, Dora came over and tried to curl up in another little nook.  I went back over to the desk, in an attempt to get her to go back there, and noticed a puddle on the floor.  At first I thought she had peed herself.  Bad mommy.  Rain was streaming in the house from under the window A/C.  I apologized to Dora and sopped it up with the towel I had planned on using to dry off Tammy and Murphy, who were still outside. Upon coming back to the leak with another towel, I found Francisco licking rain water off the wall.

The storm passed without Tammy or Murphy wanting in.  They seem to enjoy the yard more and more.  Dora finally sacked out on the bed, and the kittens finally ate dinner and fell asleep next to their food bowls.  The outside kittens ate during the shower, and I fucked with the two grasshoppers I found.  I checked on the caterpillars, but didn’t find as many as I did this morning.  I’ll look for their cocoons tomorrow.

Finally, I have decided that food is only a side show to my garden.  Keeping up with the insect life and figuring out how to take care of each living thing is more important than how much my garden produces.  It’s an ongoing experiment, and while the end result might be a very productive garden, my end goal is to have a place where all of the living things have a chance to thrive.

Baby Died Yesterday

She was a sweet girl and the tamest of all the ferals.   For some reason, she got up into the car.  As I crossed the bridge over the bayou, I heard and felt that I had run over something.  I knew what it was.  This is not the first time for me.  How I had always hoped I would never feel that or hear that again.

I looked out my rear view and saw her look at the car and then scramble — in the worst possible way — off into the jungle that surrounds the bayou.  I stopped and thought about looking for her, but what could I do?  I couldn’t take her to an emergency vet — I knew they wouldn’t take a wounded wild animal.  I knew from the time it happened before that a small kitten’s body has no chance against the weight of a moving car’s tires.

I told myself that after Harry disappeared, I wouldn’t get so attached to these wild kittens, but I got attached to Baby.  She never strayed from the backyard or driveway.  Then she dies away from home.  I am sad.

She was born between a fence and a neighbor’s old storage building in the backyard.  He brother got separated from the litter, and after his mother didn’t retrieve him, I found a crazy old cat lady who took him in.  (That was enlightening — a moment I will always remember as ‘I don’t want to end up there’.

I tamed one of her sisters — Robyn and she went to Houston SPCA and got adopted.  Her other sister, Tilly, was always hostile.  I caught her and tried to tame her, but nope, that kitty girl is to this day one wild cat.

I could never tame Baby, though I got her to be friendly enough.  She was the last one I got spayed.  The first time I took her in, the guy at SNAP called and said she had green slim coming out of her nose, so they couldn’t spay her.  A couple of weeks later, she trusted me enough that I could scoop her up and with Roberto’s help, get her in the trap and finally spayed.

She had an idyllic life, though too short.  She lived in a jungle, full of bugs, lizards, squirrels and birds, beautiful birds.  The day she died, she got caught in an okra bed, stalked a squirrel and a beautiful cardinal.

I went back twice yesterday and then again today to look for her, but not very hard.  She’s food for something and in the end, aren’t we all?

They’re Here!

Here’s Jewel:

I heard about on Prairie Home Companion.

Congratulation to Jewel!

The New Year Begins

The lettuce.

Little tomato plant.

A little beet spout.

Another little beet sprout.



Oh, and some beans.

Fat Toes on the deck.

Baby on the compost bin.

It’s the carrots.  There are some smaller sprouts and I planted some more seeds.

I’ll add more later.


My Camera Has Died, But I’m O.K.

Looks like I will be searching for a new non-Chinese made camera now.  Wish me luck!

I wanted to take pictures of the sweet potatoes I dug up this morning.  Ever reliable Roberto came along and took some on his phone, so I will post them when he gets them to me.

I apologized to the lovely sweet potato plant as I cut off its vines and dug up its roots.  It had been a real trooper — the only plant that had survived the heat of this past summer, the drought, and the fence falling on it.  It had even bloomed some perfectly beautiful purple flowers.  However, it was time.  The slightly cold weather the past week had turned its leaves brown, and though I hated to do it, I had to get the potatoes out of the ground.

There were more of them and of a larger size than I had expected.  It took me a while to carefully extract them, but it was a great experience.

They sit in a bucket in the kitchen now.  I’ll clean them up and put them in a box or two to cure tomorrow.  I’ll make some yam casserole for Christmas dinner!

Roberto and I planted some beets and carrots, and composted the sweet potato vines that I didn’t bury.  Then we had some borscht I made with the beets from last winter.  Tasty!

I’m going to focus on beets, lettuce and carrots this winter/fall since I had success with them last year.  If the squash I planted do well, then that’s all the better.  I’ve got four plants going now.  I also planted some fennel.  I’ll work with them better this year than I did last.

I’m going to start onions in the utility room — bulb, multiplying and leeks — perhaps I will have success.  I’d sure like some to make so I can use them for soup.

The next few days are suppose to be rainy and cold.  I’m good with that.  I’m dehydrating fruit to make little bags for my co-workers, like I did last year.  The cool thing is that the dehydrator is a pretty good heater as well.  And yes, I planned it that way, just like I planned to make puppy cookies while it is cold, so the oven can heat up the house.  I hope to bake those cookies all winter long and freeze them in batches.  I don’t know if I can keep up with the pups’ appetite for them, but I will try.

Today was a good day.  Tomorrow will be too.