Who Dunnit?

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

What a week for dog drama and a Who Dunnit.

Lucky, our 8 year old Beagle/Terrier mix, had been ill for about 9 months with a tumor in her bladder.  We noticed the problem last January in AZ when we walked her during the day.  We pursued treatment for an infection, but then an ultrasound showed a mass in her bladder.  We knew for some time how this would end, but it became clear that my soft-hearted husband was struggling with the decision.  This caused conflict between the two of us.   Lucky’s illness  progressed, she was not feeling well and her behavior was getting irritable.  Several times she got a bit aggressive with our other dog, Bootsy (Corgi mix).  But it was only growling and barking.

Our neighbor, with whom we have had a very good relationship, was caring for her sister’s three large, movie star dogs (the  neighbor had two for a total of 5).  They are the dogs, a black Airedale and a part wolf dog, in the dog food commercial in which a dog leaps, then turns from an Airedale into a wolf.  These dogs have been escaping lately.  They have ordered a fence, but it was a long waiting list, so the dogs kept escaping despite their best efforts.  Meanwhile, coyotes have been hanging out in our yards and have been getting bold, sometimes showing up midday.

Tuesday afternoon something/someone, the coyotes, our sick dog, or the neighbor dog, mauled our other dog, Bootsy.  She was injured very badly, requiring surgery.  Lou had the girls outside with him in the yard, but he did not see anything happen.  Later, back in the house he noticed she was hiding and would not eat.  I looked around, finding her in the kennel.  Then I found patches of blood on our bed, in the kennel, and two guest beds which she visited looking for comfort. Lou had not seen the blood which left me incredulous.   We rushed her to the emergency vet.  Finally, at 1 am she was sent home from surgery with an external drain, many stitches, and a mesh cover over her torso.

Wednesday evening, Lou let Lucky out and stood at the door.  The neighbor’s dogs got out again, rushed into our yard, and Lucky yipped.  The neighbor texted me apologizing for the dogs getting away from her and scaring our dogs.  But one of those dogs had bitten Lucky on the shoulder.  It was superficial, so we did not even find the bite until the morning.

Friday morning Gentle Pet Vet came out and euthanized Lucky.  It was peaceful and actually, a very sweet experience.  We had a good cry, then buried her in the yard with her beloved squirrels which she loved to chase.  Bootsy is recovering very well.    Now we are still wondering, who mauled Bootsy?   Lucky?  The bite marks appear too big.  Coyotes?  A real possibility.  The neighbor dogs?  That is my theory.

Have you had any mystery or drama lately?  What is your theory of my mystery.

Concrete and Good Boundaries

Husband and I are pretty good gardeners.  We can grow vegetables, flowers, and shrubs, but we can’t grow grass.  We have struggled with our lawn since the day we moved into the house 30 years ago.  Over the years the garden beds have become larger and the square footage of grass has become smaller. The neighbor’s and our own trees have shaded large parts of the lawn where no grass would grow. Husband’s grill area was on a bare plot of dirt and weeds. He has grilled in the mud for years. All we ever had success with was putting down bags of mulch to mitigate the muck.

Three weeks ago,  one of the secretaries at my work stopped by and handed me a brochure for her and her husband’s new concrete and landscaping business.  Both are Hispanic. She is born in California; he is from Mexico. There also is a landscape architect as a co-owner.  This was really good news, since we have approached other local masonry and landscaping companies over the years and none were interested in taking us on. They were too busy and our job didn’t interest them, I guess.

I thought long and hard about getting involved in a business relationship with someone I worked with. She doesn’t work for me directly, but we are on the same floor and I see her all the time.  What if they did a lousy job?  What if there were legal problems? What if the cost was too expensive and we had to disappoint them?  How would this impact our personal boundaries at work?  We decided to take the risk. We were desperate. Our yard really needed some sprucing up.

Ruby, Fernando, and Lorenzo the landscape architect came over.  We explained our needs, they measured and gave us an idea what they could do.  The next day Ruby helped us pick out the color and pattern for the decorative concrete. They had a proposal in less than a week, it was very reasonably priced, and we signed a contract. They were to put in a large cement patio for the grilling area, put  a cement path in a shaded area on the south and west side of the house that would encircle the deck, and replace a smaller patio that bordered our deck. They also were to replace a wooden fence that was badly in need of repair.

They started work a couple of days later, and were just about finished last weekend. They will come next week to dye the edges of the concrete a dark grey to contrast with the slate colored cement that is patterned to look like stone. (The concrete has to cure for a week or two before they can apply the dye.)  We are very happy with the work.  Both Husband and I felt such a sense of calm walking on the new concrete. The flower beds look awful with all the construction workers trampling on them, but they will rebound next spring.

Have you ever been in a business or professional relationship with a coworker or friend?  Why or why not? How did it work out?  

Bird Stuff that happens while we sleep

I really don’t know where and when I got interested in birds. I don’t consider myself a “birder” who has a list to check off of birds I’ve seen, though I do sometimes write down if I see a new one. And I try to identify the songs for as many as I can, with the help of the internet, and a book that contains a tiny tape recorder:  The Backyard Birdsong Guide.

I also like reading about birds – What the Robin Knows, H is for Hawk; Suburban Safari; One Wild Bird at a Time… (OK, I haven’t finished them all, but they’re under my roof.)

A friend has alerted me that end of September is an extremely good time to hear migrating birds flying (way) overhead at night:

Migration alert: high intensity migration predicted for the night of 28-29 September 2020

To quote from this 9/28 article by Andrew Farnsworth:

“We estimate that 594 million birds will take flight tonight across the contiguous. And there will be additional, similarly large flights, in the coming nights! This will likely represent one of the largest series of migration nights of the year for this contiguous US.

For those in areas under heavy migration advisories, this will be a great opportunity to experience nocturnal migration by listening at night to vocal birds in flight, or by observing the following morning for new arrival and departures. In the highly urbanized areas, especially cities in the central and southern US, it is also particularly important to turn off lights at night to avoid attracting birds into hazardous conditions in which they can collide with buildings and other structures.”

And here, in 24 seconds, you can see Nocturnal Migration Flows from January – December… it’s quite dramatic:

And from Colorado State University’s Aeroeco Lab, are US maps of migration forecasts for the next several nights:

https://aeroecolab.com/uslights

“Aeroecology is the study of airborne organisms and their utilization of the lower atmosphere (i.e. aerosphere).”

What connection/interest, if any, do you have with birds?

Is there a bird that you would go out of your way to see? … or get out of your bed to hear?

But You Were Supposed to Read My Mind!

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Last week VS and I arranged for pick up or delivery of some plants for Anna’s memorial garden for her late husband, Tom.    We arranged for 10-ish on Sunday morning.  Things in my world have been moving kind of fast, despite COVID restrictions, so I read VS’ email to everyone about donating plants, contacted her VS about my donations, and did not read the details closely.

So at 10-ish on Sunday morning, I pulled into her driveway and called her.  She picked up immediately and said, “I’m just turning on to Scenic Heights.  I’ll be there in a second.”

To which I said, “Great.  I just pulled into your driveway.”

We both started laughing.

“This is meant for a blog post.”  I told her, adding, “I guess I did not read the email closely enough.”

“I said in the initial email I could come pick them up but didn’t reiterate it in our back and forths” she said.

And I replied, “You were supposed to read my mind.”  I needed to get out of the house to go somewhere, anywhere, and just assumed….well you know.

Tell about a memorable miscommunication or assumption you might have checked more closely.

Licorice Alert

Wouldn’t you know it!  Husband has Type II diabetes, and watches his carb intake very carefully. We rarely, if ever, have chips and such in the house. His blood sugar levels are quite stable and in the normal range. He loves to snack on figs, so I order organic Turkish figs for him from a place in New York that sells all sorts of dried fruit, candy, dried beans, baking ingredients, etc.

Husband doesn’t eat much candy at all, but has a love for black Finnish licorice.  I really like it, too, and we go through a one pound  bag of it pretty fast. The New York connection sells wonderful Finnish licorice, and the last time he ran out of figs, I decided to order three pounds of figs and, to save money, I bought a five pound bag of black Finnish licorice.

A few days after the licorice  arrived, a news story emerged about the dangers of eating more than two ounces of black licorice a day.  Some guy on the East Coast collapsed and died from heart complications from eating a pound of black licorice a day for months. Licorice root in any form apparently has a compound called glycyrrhizin that lowers potassium levels which can lead to heart arrhythmias. Even licorice tea can increase blood pressure. The guy who died apparently had a really poor diet, and was eating in a fast food restaurant  when he collapsed. His potassium level was really low, and caused his heart to fail. Husband’s potasium levels were a little higher than normal at his recent checkup, probably due to figs, which are high in potassium. His blood pressure is in the average to low range.

All this hasn’t stopped our licorice eating, but it sure makes us hesitant to eat too much at once.  The five pound bag on the counter might last pretty long time.

How do you respond to expert dietary  advice?  What favorite snack would be hard for you to give up?

Mad Cat

When I moved into my house 30 years ago there had been a cat door installed in the door from the kitchen to the basement.  At the time it never occurred to me that I would ever have a cat so I took out the flap (which was broken anyway) and put a brass kick plate across the hole.  Since I left the door to the basement open most of the time anyway, it was just fine.

Then I got a cat.  And a cat box in the basement.  And a dog who was VERY interested in the cat box.  Eww.  So I took off the kickplate and closed the door.  Zorro was just fine with just a hole in the door for many years, although it always bothered me.  When we got Nimue I decided that I wanted something nicer looking so I bought a cat door/flap kit to install.  Of course, the hole was too large to install the kitty flap (or any kitty door/flap that I could find) so my local hardware store crafted a piece of scrap wood to fit into the hole so I could install the door.  Of course, this makes it sound easier than it was; after I got the scrap piece in place, I put off installing the door for a couple of weeks.

At the end of that two weeks, we had a thunderstorm during the day.  I’m sure I’m probably mentioned that my Irish Setter was not a big fan of thunderstorms.  At night I could keep her a little under control but that day, while the storm raged, I was at work.  I came home to see that in her mania to get to the basement (she always thought she would be safer from thunder in the basement), she had completely clawed the wood piece, to the point where it was unusable any longer.  I decided a hole in the door with no kitty flap would be fine after all.  I left the scrap piece in place and put the kitty flap kit in a drawer.

Fast forward to this week.  Rhiannon is no longer with us and Guinevere, while afraid of almost everything else on the planet, is not afraid of thunderstorms (don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make any sense to me either).  And we have company coming in October so I have a long list of projects that I’d like to get done.  Kitty flap/door was yesterday.  Turns out that the kit had instructions written by Martians and if I originally had all the pieces and hardware, I didn’t have them now.  Punting took just two trips to the hardware store.

Once the flap was installed, I took Nimue’s favorite kitty treats, went down the basement stairs and shut the door behind me.  She came to the door almost immediately when I shook the treat container; I had a treat in my hand and was just about to partially open the flap from my side when the dog decided she needed to assist in the operation.  Unfortunately, she wanted to assist by herding the cat, which is one of the cat’s least favorite things.  She fluffed up and ran.  When YA tried to help, Nimue ran upstairs where she ensconced herself in the middle of my bed.  She practically dared any of us to get near her.

She did eventually settle down but I’m worried that her first traumatic experience with the kitty door may be a bad omen.  I put several of her kitty treats on the other side for now, so we’ll see what happens.

Have you pissed anybody off lately?  On purpose?  Are you sorry or not?

 

 

Frostbite

Covid or no covid, YA wants her traditions intact.  So at her urging, we hit the apple orchard over the weekend.  The orchard we go to is taking precautions – one of them is that you are no longer encouraged to have an apple as you pick.  Another is that instead of grabbing a slice from a bowl if you are tasting apple types prior to picking, you have to use a toothpick now to spear your slice.  Like usual there is a big whiteboard of what apples are available for picking and the prices.

At the very to of the board was a listing for “Frostbite”. Not a word you relish seeing mid-September, but I’d never heard of Frostbite apples before so it caught my attention.  Here is what the U of M ag site says about them:

Frostbite™ has been a key apple in the U of M’s breeding program since the 1920’s. It’s extreme cold hardiness and unique flavor make it an excellent apple to cross with other varieties. Frostbite™ is a parent to Keepsake and Sweet 16 apples and a grandparent to Honeycrisp.

I know that they breed apples but I have never thought of any produce being the parent or grandparent of another.  Fascinating.  We definitely sampled them – they were tangy but not as tart as a Granny Smith, maybe a little citrus-y?  When we said we’d like to pick some, the orchard gal said “we only have three trees” and explained where to find them.  The trees were full and the apples are on the small side but a deep red.  We got half a peck.

They are great with peanut butter and I used some of them in my slow cooker apple butter yesterday (along with my favorite, the Connell Red).

Apple Butter Beginnings

Have you tasted anything new lately? 

Took another new route this week; as we were coming down a hill, I thought I saw a statue in someone’s backyard.  “Must be St. Francis” I thought to myself and as we got closer I realized I was correct.  And then we got even closer and I started to laugh.  The photo says it all.  When I came around the corner of the driveway (yes, I trespassed a little for the photo), I laughed even harder when I saw the second, smaller statue.  This just made my day.

There is a new federal law – you are required to have a statue of someone in your yard.  It has to be a person (although secondary and tertiary statues of any type are ok).  Who will it be?

Power’s Out

I think it’s fair to say, now that it’s officially over, that the summer was unsettling to say the least.  It didn’t help that I tried to blow up the neighborhood.

I was sitting in my bedroom that morning, working on a file, when I heard a bang and saw a flash in the hallway out of the corner of my eye.  And the power immediately went out.  I rushed to the back of the house and although I could smell a little lingering smoke, I couldn’t see anything.  When I went downstairs and out to the backyard, all the other neighbors were out as well, checking to see what had happened; everyone had experienced the same thing, hearing the bang and seeing the flash.  Everything looked ok – no power lines down, no big blackened patches on garage roofs or yards.  And the smoke smell dissipated pretty quickly, so we texted the power company and wandered back inside our respective houses.

The power company showed up about an hour later.  I saw the lineman up at the power box two houses down; the power came on for about 10 seconds and then there was another bang and flash.  And again, the power left us.  Since I was standing in my backroom watching the power guy, I saw exactly where the flash came from – the power lines at the back of my yard.  It gave me a sick feeling, quickly totting up the various worse-case scenarios.  The power guy must have seen it as well; he headed straight for my garage roof, I headed for the backyard.  After about 10 minutes of poking around with a long pole, he headed back to the line to reinstate the power.  This time it stayed on.

I couldn’t resist going to talk to him and was rewarded with a tale of exactly what had happened.  A branch had broken on one of my trees, but instead of falling into the yard, it had tipped over and connected two power lines, one at the top and one at the bottom of the branch.  That caused the first burst.  When the power was restored the first time, the branch was still in place, so it connected and exploded again.  After he poked the branch with the pole, it fell into the yard; with no more connection, no more issue.   It’s hard to see in the photo above, but the branch is all blackened and many of the leaves are dry and burnt.  I was so relieved that it hadn’t been anything horrible and/or expensive to repair, I fessed up to all the neighbors that my tree was the guilty party.

When was the last time you had to have a repair person to your place?

San Diego Surprise!

When YA and I went to San Diego last month, the second attraction on our list was the San Diego Zoo.  The zoo has a great reputation and YA has wanted to go there for years.

It was hot that day (although not as hot as the day before at the Safari Park) and due to covid, none of the zoo shuttles were running.  Like the Park, the zoo is built on the hills of San Diego, with different regions of the world represented in their own areas.  And like we did at the park, YA and I covered the whole thing during our day there.

Our first surprise was the North Sulawesi Babirusa.  Never heard of it?  Neither had we!  The last time I encountered an animal new to me was 20+ years ago on my first trip to Africa.  In Kenya I saw an okapi – a large deer that looks like a cross between a horse and a zebra.   Babirusa means “pig deer” Malaysian and have daunting looking teeth and the males also have remarkably dangerous looking upper tusks.   We didn’t see any baby babirusa but if you look online, they are very cute.

We got our second surprise about an hour later in the Africa Rocks section of the zoo.  We came upon a large empty enclosure with a sign that said “Fossa” – another animal that neither YA nor I had ever heard of.  One of the zoo employees told us that they had just cleaned the enclosure and would be putting out “lunch” for the fossa in a minute, so we stayed.  She put food all over the space so the fossa would “hunt” for it.  If you’ve every thought about what the result of a dog and cat union would be, the fossa is it.  Or maybe dog, cat and weasel?  It was beautiful with a long, luxuriant tale and looked like it would be quite a proficient hunter.  Their natural home is Madagascar and apparently they are able to bring down even the largest lemur species.

It was a great day and we were both happy to have made the acquaintance of two new animals that we had never encountered before.

Have you learned anything new lately?

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