possum

We are early risers. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu go outside for their last evening ablutions around 7. With cooler weather here we woke even earlier than normal today. Lulu got to pick front or back yard, and chose back. Lily ambled over to the end of the yard to scratch and sniff what changed over night. Lulu took the other side. Leaves flew, loud hissing and a grey blur darted out, long, ropy pink tail.

Oh no! Rats again. I looked closer before running to get a broom. Too big for rats. Small possum!

It was somewhat cornered. The house was to its left, I was behind it, Lulu was in front and Lily to its right. Lily had yet to catch wind of it and Lulu was feigning disinterest. It backed away, looking over its shoulder every second or two at me. I gave it a wide berth, and it turned and ran around me to the other side of the yard where it climbed the fence. Lulu, realizing her quarry was escaping dashed after it, too late as it topped the fence and toddled away. At this point Lily got interested and she and Lulu darted back and forth along the fence to see where it was.

Long gone.

I am happy to have these little visitors. They don’t carry rabies because their body temperature is too low. They feast on beetles, cockroaches, ticks and all sorts of other unwanted pests. They are virtually harmless and more afraid of me than I of them.

IMG_0216.JPGWe know something is out here. We’ll wait.

I haven’t seen a possum in the yard for a while. Maybe being so preoccupied with Lily and her surgery recoveries I hadn’t noticed. Besides, there are fewer steps to the front door than the back door so because it’s easier for Lily we’ve gone out there more than the back yard. Not much happens in the front yard. The occasional rabbit maybe.

I miss seeing deer. To many people they are big pests. They eat a lot of flowers and shrubs but they are so graceful. Where I moved from I often would see them early mornings at my bird feeders eating all the birdseed, then drink out of the bird bath. It did not take much to scare them off. They would sail over the yard fence like they could fly.

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There has been a lot of new construction in this little town. New homes, shopping centers. Development is normally a good thing but eventually there is no more room to build. Which means wildlife has no place to go. So they find themselves in backyards and some humans are not willing to share. Seems unfair to me. Here we have helped ourselves to their homes, cleared their trees and underbrush. When I lived in south Florida I learned about melaleuca, a small, non-native invasive tree also known as tea tree. These were planted everywhere because they soak all the water with their fibrous root system and make marshland dry. So every now and then a massive hurricane comes along where nature tries to reclaim itself.

Against humans it is something of a losing battle.

I wish I had an answer.

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hair

This has never been a sore subject. When I was little I was often left to myself. This was not good. I had friends and play dates but there were infrequent occasions I found myself on my own of a Saturday. I don’t remember where my mother was, maybe not home, but even if she were I still found some way to get into something. When she lamented to her friends not knowing what to do with me they suggested shopping, playing a game, having my hair ‘done’. My mother knew I did not care for shopping and she had no intention of playing a child game. So she took me to her hairdresser.

Once.

I had wayward hair. One Sunday I was having such a hard time brushing it before dressing for church. I found a pair of scissors and cut off any cowlick or wisp that would not brush flat. To avoid that happening again Mother once invited me to sit at her mirrored dressing table to brush my hair. Frustrated, I slammed the hairbrush down on the table shattering the mirror.

IMG_0171.JPGIf my hair were a vine it would do this

The trip to the salon was a disaster. The ladies made so much over me, complimenting the thick brown tangle on my head. I was given a permanent. I only wish they were temporary. My mom couldn’t say enough about it. I felt like my third grade teacher. Her hair looked like it was carved out of yellow plastic. Nothing moved.

Somehow my father solved the whole thing. He commuted each week to a big city and took me with him. He had contacts in advertising and they directed him to a place where I could have a good haircut. This was a place models frequented and the ones having their hair done that day happened to love children so made me feel quite important. So much that I had no idea what was going on with my hair. When I was spun around to face the mirror, it was gone. Well, all but an inch or so. All over my head.

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My dad said something to the effect of looking like a pixie, but I was in shock. I was bald!

My mother was happy. Not only was there nothing for me to hack away at, it would take some time before it would grow out enough to be any problem.

This hair went through many manifestations through my life. Long, short, thick, Sun-In lightened. Not really much trouble.

Until I hit mid-life.

Then the grey started. I didn’t mind this much, but the grey was unlike the brown. It did things the brown would not do and would not do what the brown did. I could grow it long enough to put it in a pony tail, braid or hair clip. It was worse in summer humidity. When I lived in northwest New Mexico it was flat. Back here on the coastal east it goes through transitions with the seasons so I have taken to wearing bandannas. They make my head hot but no one sees the mop on my head. Unruly maybe, but manageable.

So happy cool weather is coming.

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ramblings

A park in a city where  I used to live had such a Canada goose problem they hired border collies to get them to fly away. They usually came back the next day, so it took many tries before the geese got too discouraged to bother going back. Recently I rode my bike to the library to get some books and saw a flock of these geese milling around, with a librarian gently shooing them away.

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The point was, she said, to get them off the sidewalk. There are these sheet metal dog-shaped statues in the grass there that swivel and are supposed to frighten off the geese. But as you can see the geese ignore it.

I walk almost every day. Usually for an hour or more, now that the weather has (likely temporarily) cooled some. I don’t take rescue dogs Lily and Lulu now. Lily is still building her strength after her surgery and Lulu just doesn’t like to walk that far.   And generally not without her pal, Lily. So occasionally a neighbor sees me and asks after Lily. I am running out of things to say. No, she isn’t up to walking far, yet. Yes, she seems to be doing some better. But this recovery is incremental. So I am often surprised when I have this very conversation with a neighbor and just a few days later they are so surprised to see me without a dog. These are not particularly elderly people (which is relative, based on my own age. To a 20-year-old they’d be ancient.), so I wonder do they forget? Not hear me? Do I say it in such a way as to indicate recovery is imminent? So I explain, again.

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I have a tiny backyard. Maybe 40 feet by 20 feet. I over planted. Three fig trees, a hedge of lemon grass that’s hard to get around, an elderberry that is very happy where it is. There are many plants that I like but I have to be practical. Even though they do well it makes no sense to have them choking each other out. When they begin to die back I’ll move some, though I have no idea where.

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Same with house plants. This climate is almost tropical in summer so house plants and orchids love being outside. But some do so well they outgrow their pots and by end of summer I have to divide them into more plants. Philodendron and aloes are most, then Christmas cactus and arrowhead plants. These I divided into so many smaller plants I finally consolidated them into bigger pots.

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But somehow when it truly does get colder (for about 3 months) I have to find places for all of these plants inside the house. Which means spraying them for bugs and not overwatering or drying them out.

After hurricane season.

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preparation

Before Dorian blew by nobody knew what it would be like. We watched horrified as it sat over the Bahamas with high screaming winds and drowning storm surge and rain. We saw it cruelly inch away from the little archipelago toward the east coast. Until it had passed the North Carolina shores it took its sweet time moving by. I don’t think I have ever been through a storm during the daytime. They come at night when sounds are amplified by the dark.

A few days before we began preparing for it– brought bird feeders in, overturned bird baths, moved furniture, I noticed the milkweed had almost been eaten to nubs, even managed to get a picture of the monarch caterpillars I have so eagerly awaited.

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I have watched swallowtail caterpillars gorge on fennel almost all summer, and there were one or two still munching away

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But only more recently did I notice the Gulf fritillaries. I have planted passionflowers year after year and had no luck. They just would not grow. So a neighbor who was moving offered a trellis which I gratefully accepted and planted what I decided would be my last attempt at the maypop. It grew and attracted its companion caterpillar

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So I wondered, did these survive and move on to make their cocoons?

There are still a few butterflies even though it is late in the year for them to be laying eggs. A fritillary (not my picture)

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And swallowtail

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and monarch

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An angel trumpet, late bloomer since I only planted it end of June

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And an interesting moth discovered under the headboard on the backyard fence, I don’t know what kind it is

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So except for a couple more roof shingles, and Lily having to go outside once in the wind and rain most were fortunate the storm stayed largely off shore.

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focus

Husky-mix rescue dog Lily’s new injury has once again caused us to slow down. Our routine has changed. Not frustrating, rather a good thing. We notice things otherwise overlooked

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Even Lulu has helped me see things, a butterfly visiting

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Walking Lily in the yard I noticed a plant I’d bought a few years ago, planted and forgotten. Since I never saw it grow the logical conclusion was it had been dead when I planted it, not dormant. But it wasn’t

IMG_0031.JPGChinese Lantern

The past few mornings have been almost comfortable, at least 10 decrees cooler than normal so I’ve taken advantage of the welcome change and begun pruning some of the overgrowth. I was greeted by this little one

IMG_0030.JPGPraying Mantis

Early evening I realized I’d almost missed this surprise bloom. Several buds had dropped from the plant but not this one

IMG_0033.JPGPinot Noir Hibiscus

The humidity and showers from a tropical wave offshore have brought these guys out, but mostly heard, seldom seen

IMG_0039.JPGtree frog

An evening stroll with Lily around the backyard last night we found this little surprise

IMG_0044.JPGOncidium orchid

So In focusing not on the forest so many individual things of beauty, joys forever.

 

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rejoice!

Stress, worry, anxiety is like exercise for the brain, adrenal glands, sweat glands except it isn’t very healthy. But we are told to rejoice, no matter what. We are told to be grateful even when there doesn’t seem to be anything to give thanks for.

It sounds perverse but it is the pathway to peace. Sanity.

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Rescue dog Lily did fine in her surgery. She thanks everyone for thoughts and prayers.  She is textbook recovery dog. Not licking sutures, allowing for physical therapy, ice compresses, hot compresses no whining or objection. Once again a hind leg is completely naked from top of the hip to her ankle, but it’s summer! So even though I have never shaved her hair in hot months now she has her own partial cooling system.

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She rests quietly. She tries, when I ‘carry’ her in her walker sling, to drag me over to the garage. This is to let me know that surgery or no surgery she is ready to get in the car and go to the park or the river or anywhere and start taking her walkies again.

Well, not quite, Baby Girl. We have a ways to go yet. She will get her stitches out in a couple of weeks. Then her walkies can go from 5 minutes to 10. A month or so after that her surgeon will look at her and decide how much more she will be able to do.

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But right now, pain or no pain, she wants to be free. She wants to have her walks and chase little anole lizards and toadies. She is not at all happy having restrictions of any kind.

She is a very good girl. She is obedient and knows her commands and likes to do what makes me happy. But this? This even though she just went through it with her other leg, she is not too patient with.

It will get better.

Sooner than she thinks.

Rejoice!

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finding gifts

Not long ago a friend recommended  Ann Voskamp’s little book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully, Right Where You Are. This was a popular book a few years ago yet I’d not heard of it  A horrific tragedy that the author witnessed as a child prompted her to write the book and its premise is living fully, in the moment.

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Easy to forget or ignore, with busy schedules, air conditioner failures, medical problems, commitments of all kinds. It came to mind this week when Lily’s vet called to reschedule her surgery as a result of a staff schedule issue.

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Frustrated at first, I expressed my concern for Lily, now dealing with this knee for 6 weeks. As I spoke into the residual silence I realized my comments would make no difference. Had the surgeon a sooner opening I am certain she would have scheduled Lily for it. Was I being punished for moving from veterinarian to veterinarian, in search of one who would be open and truthful with me about my dogs? Maybe, but unlikely. Veterinarians’ primary concern is for the patient, not their person, I hope.

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The extra 4 days has given me opportunity to research the type of surgery she will have, and I read aloud to Lily the prognosis for success (very good) and the recovery and how she and I will deal with it.

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In the meantime the air conditioning unit has been busy filling up its overflow drain pan. The first time, mentioned in a previous post actually shut off the unit itself which was how I discovered the problem. Four repair calls and a new shop-vac later it is still filling the pan. The drain has been cleared (twice), the crawlspace pipe has been elevated, the unit has been examined totally and discovered to be problem-free. Clearly something still needs to be looked at.

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So today, as I did a few days ago, I vacuumed up 12 containers of water. The gift here? I accidentally face-timed a friend and learned how to turn the function off so it wouldn’t keep happening. I noticed the tiny attic had space to put some boxes I want to save. I went up and down those attic stairs 12 times so got in exercise steps which matters now that it is too hot to walk the dogs and Lily can’t walk anyway. Lulu won’t walk if Lily doesn’t go. And sweat! No idea how to measure the amount pouring off but I understand it’s cleansing.

IMG_0011.JPGRescue dog Lily patiently waiting for her new surgery day

My son called to let me know he’s visiting a college friend nearby and will drive up to visit me for a couple of days. Even though Lily will be in recovery and we can’t do much of anything we’ll hunker down with some tacos and old movies and have a fun time.

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So I’ve got lists going for things to do to prep for Lily’s big day, things to do while she is at the hospital and stuff to prepare for my son’s visit.

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Busy week coming up.

IMG_0016.JPGRescue dog Lulu not worried at all

 

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