Meg Tilley Anderson BLOG

      "We've gotta laugh. We swapped immortality for accessories."
      -- meg tilley anderson

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dog and Cats get along...

This afternoon I puttered.

I was making dry sticks smaller for my wood stove.

Bart was in his yard with me. Our cat colony was gathering for their supper.

The neighborhood dogs were all stirred up because the Georgia Power meter reader was doing his job. He uses a remote to read our meters so he doesn't have the dogs or plants obstacle courses. I don't know what he does about my neighbor's meter but just the fact that he rides behind their house to get to the meter at the Spanish Mansion a block away (where only ghosts live) is enough to set them (rightfully) off.

Inside our shelter of trees and shrubs, we can only hear the dogs. When they went off on a second threat, perhaps "that other dog" out on a walk, Bart was in his guarding mode. Behind me, I heard him growl at an intruder. I turned and saw him go after a grey streak of a cat in his yard on the other side of the wood pile. He tried for it again and I hollered at him. I admit I slapped his nose and scolded him for chasing a cat. As far as I could tell, he'd been chasing Genrallee who was now safely on the top of the wall.

I sent Bart inside, finished my sticks (interrupted by taking pictures of the yellow fungus on the sticks) and went outside the Bartyard hunting for more yellow. I found yellow, white, green, grey and red.

Returning through the cat patio, Fitch(a cat) growled at Generallee. Something was up. He was as nervous as a cat and jumped into the house when I opened the patio door. Bart jumped out. I kept looking for more yellow. I found some, and orange, and green.

When we finally went inside, Bart grabbed his special toy and dropped it at the feet of Generallee.

Dog apologized to cat. Cat went about his business, less nervous than before (the other cats all still say he smells different.)

Bart was totally relieved when Bond got home and accepted the apology.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kitty in a Crown

Great start to a beautiful day!

Pieface pulled me out from between the down comforter and the heated waterbed early this morning with his high pitched demand for breakfast. Usually I just leave him shouting, but I didn't think it was fair to wake up our prodigal son in the downstairs bedroom, what with our promise he could sleep in after taking the red-eye from the other side of the nation. I wasn't sure he could sleep through screaming dogs as well as he can wailing sirens.

Once the dog was quietly munching his kibbles I could hear a faint cry, "Help me! find me! Find Popeye!" (Popeye is the accepted kitten in my post June 23, 2009. Named after the scrappy cartoon character with an anchor tattoo. Popeye was "anchored" to the vine when I found him.) He'd been missing for two cold nights and out of sick bay for only a week. We'd been hoping this bouncy little fellow had found a new home and not a bad end. The way he sounded, it had been a close call.

I trapped Pieface in the patio pepper plant corral; the site of our failed garden experiment (a huge plant and one pepper grown in a big bag of pot soil). I didn't need his kind of help if Popeye was inside the dog's fence, and he was: in the crown of a gnarly cedar. He must have met Pieface on Tuesday and wisely taken, then kept, refuge in the tree. And though he was relieved to see me, he could not find the courage to climb down. I had to climb up. Lucky for us, the extension ladder was still behind the house and the tree was sturdy. Bond steadied the ladder and I didn't have to persuade Popeye to come down to me, just to let go of the tree.

Like it or not, Popeye went back in sick bay in case his new cough is contagious.

Later, Bond presented our sleepy guest coffee and the image of

his parents with a big ladder and Pieface up a tree.

That's some bird dog!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Empty Nest Illumination

I should not wear my 7 light headlamp when cleaning the house. It shows the fine white powder on the vertical surfaces of the furniture. I kept warm cleaning and polishing yesterday. Washing walls today? Empty rooms get musty; empty nest syndrome.

Bigger nest than necessary.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yellow Snow; South Georgia Style

I am so glad I moved this Ginko tree from our other house when it was only five feet tall. Perhaps I'll transplant one of it's babies back there after we have tamed the bamboo. This was a gift from some bird, I suppose, because I haven't seen another in town. A fabulous gift of yellow wrapping.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

You DID want this wood in the cart, didn't you?

Sometimes Mother Nature is too cooperative!
I didn't have time before it started raining to burn the privet I'd cut out of the driveway, so I covered the load on our brand new cart and left it next to our burn spot. I didn't hesitate to leave the cart out in the rain because we'd painted the tubing (red) and added extra stain to the wood. The cover was to keep the load dry.

At 5:30 AM the wind dropped the thirty years old, two years dead tulip poplar. It was on our 'round tuit list to be removed as soon as we had funds to hire a tree crew with a bucket truck because it was next to the house. Luckily it missed the house, the fence, the car, and the many trees around it.
My foot and zebra pajama leg should give you an idea just how big the trunk is.
BUT it landed slap dab in the middle of our garden cart.
At least we won't have to move the leftover twigs. If we only had a cart to move the firewood.....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Birds of a Feather

Guess which photo is the cool north end and which is the warm south end of this 2 blocks long street in Parrott.
Do you have to have the right color vehicle to join, or does the color magically change when you start to work here or worship there?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Powerful Motivation

Several hours puttering in my office passed before I realized that I hadn't heard from Bart, except for the recent frantic bark reserved for "Let me in the house!" Once a stray dog, he has abandonment issues.

He wasn't outside the front door.

Or, on his bed in the loggia, or on his rug by the kitchen. BUT, I could hear his distress whistle clearly so I knew he was somewhere in the house.

He wasn't in either downstairs bedroom.

Finally I remembered his charge upstairs to watch me through the window. I'd refused to let him barge through the door and the crowd of cats waiting for supper on the front porch.

Sure enough, I found him on the landing. He was cowering. For some reason, he'd lost his nerve to go down the spiral staircase.

I turned on the light, sat down and calmed him. I coaxed him. I showed him to go on the outside of the steps where it is wider. He tried but was still afraid to step down.

Rollo and Miss Fern came to help. They soothed him. They showed him. No go.

Finally I gave up and went down the stairs followed by 4 cats who came to help.

Voila' that did it! Bart the Dog followed us.

Powerful motivation: A lot of love and attention, and friends to confidently show you the way; or, the need to not be left behind?

Cat Walk Legacy

Bart has a new companion on his walks. Ambercrombie (so named when I called him Amber because his eyes matched his coat, and Bond objected because that was a girl's name and added the crombie) greets us at our house next door. When he sees that we are not headed home to eat he comes all the way around the cemetery with us. So far, Underfoot has been inside and stayed behind. One of these days we'll see if we can have a 2 cats dog walk.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Puffed Up

I would never have noticed the tiny toad frog next to the handle at the bottom of the house water shut off if it hadn't puffed up to look scary. If I'd been a cat there would've been hours (perhaps) of entertainment with only a sad ending. Instead I placed a piece of wood in the tube in case it couldn't jump out on it's own - before I replaced the loose cap that keeps out rain (and cats.)

Goes to show you that, sometimes, posturing pays off, just not in the way intended.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sunday Stroller

Apparently "Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!..... "Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! ... is not applied ONLY to snakes.

Pieface the dog spotted this beauty out for a Sunday stroll.

As usual, I hollered for Bond to come to my office and hold the dog inside while I identified the intruder. To our relief we didn't need the shotgun, nor did we have to keep the dog inside since turtles are easy to move to the quieter side of the house.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get Ready 1,2,3.

If Pieface sniffs out another poisonous snake, we won't be wasting any time looking for the weapons of destruction. I only hope that our preparation will jinx the deal and these will not be needed.
But I don't expect for the bb gun to stay put. We have to pump that one to shut Pieface up if he starts nagging me for breakfast before dawn. OR the fly swatter. It's the only thing that keeps him from biting the vacuum wand/leaf blower. You know, because it moves. He can shout all he wants to then.

Friday, September 18, 2009

You can take the country girl to the big city but she'll STILL be in the country.

I'm staying in Colorado Springs (pop. 380,307 in a county just under 600K).

On our way from the airport shuttle, three blocks from my sister's house, we were making our way down an alley as Eve pointed out the yard on the right saying how she especially loved the cute little deer sculptures.

I told her I didn't think the sculpture of the reclining buck with a rack too big to fit in the car could be called little.

No, she was talking about the logs with stick antlers.

The buck I was talking about turned his head.

He was up and about when I went back later.

The next night Leo was late coming in. We were relieved when he finally showed up until we got a good whiff: he'd been SKUNKED!

The remedy off the internet (1 pt hydrogen peroxide (unopened), 1/8 cup baking soda, 1/2 tsp dish soap) worked but next time I'll try it without the detergent because CATS REALLY HATE GETTING RINSED! I must admit Leo was really kind to me and kept his claws in as he clung to me. But then I would expect nothing else from one of MamaKitty's children.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I don't believe my eyes.

Ten minutes ago (10 :43 pm) Pieface the dog was shouting "snake snakesnake!" outside my office.
I went to check it out. I heard a tiny vibrating noise where he said there was a danger. Forget the TV/movie rattle snake rattle; they sound like an insect, only a constant buzz.
I brought Pieface in to the house and told Bond to get his shotgun before grabbing my seven bulbs hands free headlight. I looked out the downstairs bedroom window and spotted a coiled rattle snake on the bare ground, about the size and shape of a pile of medium sized dog poo. I did NOT take my eyes (or the light) off it. But before Bond could get off a shot, it slowly unwound to no more than 10 inches long, s l o w l y moved and literally DISAPPEARED!
Was it a conspiracy to get Pieface in to the house to eat the cat's food?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Feline? Abundance

Anybody who has cats worries about cats and parked cars.

Knowing the danger and looking for cats on and under my car hasn't always helped. Last Fall, after backing out and stopping to give cats, if any, time to disembark in the driveway, a young cat flew out from under my car when I turned the corner a block and a half away.

Not long after, one of the very pregnant simple minded mama kitties had been hanging out around my parking place. I saw her safely sitting on the porch when I got in my car. Imagine how I felt when I backed out and saw this nest of 6 kittens!

entomological protest

The annual cycle of oppression presses on!
First in the dry cat food on the floor; we placed the dishes in moats and change them daily or suffer the WORST SMELL IN THE WORLD - wet rotting pet food.
Next came forays to the kitchen sink, for water, even though they have hefty trails into the hoses out side AND a shallow fountain that oozes year 'round.
Now they insist that our bread counter must be scrubbed - repeatedly. They don't care.
They keep on coming.
On the plus side, these ARE sugar ants. We haven't seen a fire ant inside since we had the house walls drilled and treated for termites. Fire ants bite you when you scoop them up with a sponge.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Uninvited Guest, Again!

The second time the raccoons came to dinner when I was feeding the cats late at night, I turned around and they backed off with a "you don't see me" and "I'm not really here" attitude.
A week later I turned around, saw one coming into the yard and clapped my hands to scare her away, as I don't want her to become habituated to humans and get shot for unusual behavior by someone who is afraid she is rabid. After all, our county was declared a rabies danger zone last month. This time she stopped and gave me a "What did I do?" look.
I went inside and got my camera. The flash didn't seem to slow her down at all and she didn't leave a bite for the patient cats to eat. That lazy 'coon has ripe figs on the other side of the fence.
This is my convenient cat food station. I scrub both bowls daily with blue soap and the broom, then top up the blue bowl/ anti-ant moat before renewing the kibbles; more in the morning, less (for the raccoons) at night.

Ants out of the blue

Summertime is definitely here in South GA. The lightning bugs are few and far between. The June/Fig bugs have come and gone. The trees are humming all day and night with cicadas. And this afternoon, in the Albany Home Depot parking lot, I picked up my leftover lunch drink, took a big swig of icy cold water to quench my thirst after an hour in air conditioning, and realized that my hand was suddenly covered in ants...Ptooey!
They weren't inside the left over hamburger and fries in the bag on the floor, just all over my drink. And who could blame them? It must've been over a hundred in the car.
I shook them off the cup onto the pavement and then onto the nearby grass (and added the cup to the burger bag in the car. I'm no litterbug).
I'll never know if the ones left in the car were headed home to Parrott, or off on a journey to a galaxy far far away.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What We Do For Friends

I spotted some beef in the milk room freezer as I stuffed in all I could salvage from the new fridge fiasco last week.

Bond couldn't find it this week so I got thorough pulling out most of the shelled pecans etc.

We didn't need the paint roller in there; don't paint resonators at home anymore. Out with it!

We really should give up on this home grown goat flank.

What's this in the ziplock? A MOUSE TRAP!? and mouse......

Roy Cannington died last year so I guess he's never coming to pick this up to feed his pet rattlesnake. I wonder how many of his other friends still have fresh caught mice in their freezers. Now THAT's a memorial!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Unintentional Dinner Invitation

turn on patio light/raccoon signal

cat bowl is full, now

Friday, July 3, 2009

I've Been Puttin' out so Many Fires My Back Burner is About to Explode!

Hidden in some application questionnaire is my secret power, "chaosification".

I didn't choose the power, it was a gift.

Maybe it came in my genes since my whole family has the gift. We just go about minding our own business and "whump! There's Chaos, usually because somebody else jumps to the wrong conclusion.

It used to bother me before I found out that chaos brings growth. It's a scientific fact.

Chaos is a GOOD thing.

Sometimes I can outwit Chaos by planning ahead, sort of control the growth. That way I spend less time 'puttin' out fires'. I'm also attuned to when people start little fires just to distract me. They're easy to take care of, or ignore. So I have time for the real ones.

My secret power is also why I can make wood and paint look just like polished rocks. But that's another story.

Fire #1.

So, last Saturday I was happily painting color washes on the shell of a Sound Play Animal Drum turtle, when our house renter phoned to say both toilets were backing up. I contacted Crimes Septic and Landscaping and met them within the hour. We had to break the line to snake it to find the septic tank to pump it out. We were lucky that both Bobby Pritchard and his family's back hoe could come to the rescue to dig for the tank. (And for a consultation as Bobby knows the right way to do any hands-on thing.) Supposedly the system had been replaced just before we bought the house in 1981. But it was an old fifty gallon tank! And no drain field!!!

We hired Crimes S&L to put in an new system on Monday. And then found out we needed the County Health Environmentalist to design (on Tuesday) and inspect it, even though it was technically a repair. Thursday we learned it won't be finished before next Tuesday when the inspector makes his next Terrell County rounds.

Meanwhile, as long as the Crimes S&L's back hoe was here to clear off bamboo and shrubs over the new system, why not keep clearing until they hit the fence? It took the bamboo about fifty years to reach the pecan orchard Grandmama Tilley planted before 1920. It took it twenty five years to take over the acre after we bought it in 1981. We couldn't get Mr. Dalton Davis to mow it anymore because he didn't want his tractor tire punctured by bamboo. The walk behind mower we used to tip up and come down on the stuff got set too low by the teenager who mowed for us and not even our professional mechanic friends could raise it. And then we always wished we had time to cut it and actually use the resource.

I never expected what a joy it is to see all the pecan trees all the way to the back fence! Now that tractor tires are punctureless we should be able to keep it clear- mowing and blasting all the stray bamboo with RoundUp.

Fire #2 is threat from City/County Fourth of July fireworks in the new Recreation Fields next door to our family's farm. People come from surrounding counties. No alcoholic beverages will be allowed inside the Rec Fields. Therefore, stray spectators will make a tailgate party along the surrounding roads....where the three feet tall dry grass fills the ditch and the mowed right of way is an inch thick in dry cut stalks. And our newly planted long leaf pines are along the road, and our renter planted soybeans into the standing wheat stalks. Get the picture? Add sparklers, pop bottle rockets and roman candles and you have a script for real disaster movie.

Even heat from a muffler can set off wheat straw.

I gave our County Commissioners a warning letter. Our farm renter got the Fire Chief to say he'll tape off the road inside our farm to prevent parking on the crops and baby trees. And we had the ditch top harrowed for a fire break in case the ditches catch fire.

AND we're praying for rain.

Fire #3 is just plane aggravating- the fridge in my last blog. To hold the frozen containers of fabulous Bond made Beans, we borrowed the tiny box freezer from our house renters. It was full of mildew. Maybe our home fridge knew it needed TLC and everything will be ok now. The fridge freezer seems to be working. BUT the runners are icing up so it's hard to open the drawer; a consequence of humidity in our naturally cooled house. The fridge, in middle of the draft, must be collecting water from the air. We'll know more when the refrigerator repairman comes on Thursday. I hope he has lots on his tool belt.

Have I covered all four of the Chaos Elements? Earth (septic system), Fire (they're going to burn the bamboo in a controlled burn, NOT a straw fire on the Fourth ) Air (cold, humid air), and Water (frozen water).

THE GROWTH: we have fabulous soil and sunshine for a garden!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Worked a second time!

This morning's chaos: liquid water in the ice tray and melty stuff in our not a year-old, paid off on Monday LG french door with bottom freezer refrigerator (our only new fridge in our 38 years of marriage).
Shuffle worthwhile food into quite full spare fridge, buy ice at Alston's, fetch from Sound Play's factory storage - new styrofoam coolers Bond bought in case he needed to make musical instruments out of them in the last residency he did.
Shuffle all else into coolers.
Plan to eat the 'this'll kill ya if you freeze it again' food today.
Call Sears Repair. Next available appointment NEXT THURSDAY!
I told the operator, "I could probably get a witch doctor in here faster, or try unplugging and plugging it in. It worked to fix the TV..."
He said, "Yeah, like when the computer freezes. It resets itself. Sometimes a power surge will change the settings."
So I did. And it did.
I'm not canceling the appointment, though.
BTW before you connect the TV and the fridge incidents through a Georgia Power surge, the TV was on a turned off power strip.

Fast Answer

"Why ever did they put a flashlight on the fan remote?" Bond asked as I put in batteries after assembling the tower fan.
3 minutes later the TV sound wasn't working. I grabbed the remote to look at connections inconveniently located in back. "That's why." I replied.
And without missing a beat Bond offered to go get the radio if that wasn't bright enough.
Thank god he explained that our GPB donation gift emergency radio has a flashlight.
I didn't need it. Turned the TV off and then on. Voila! sound!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What dogs bark at (not)

You never know what dogs will (not) bark at.

Sunday was a puttering house cleaning day. Took the trash to the Dixie Dumpster and cleaned off the tub construction mess on the front porch because there were several places you wouldn't be able to see a rather large snake.

We were in the middle of discussing how to get the cat pee smell out of the brick floor in the kitchen. We'd already pointed the finger at Underfoot, who was to be banned from the house; and was hollering at the screen door to come in out of the thunder.

I glanced out the window at the cat patio, shut up and froze. This handsome young fox had come for a Sunday supper of cat food.

Young Mamakitty sat 10 feet away on the chair with her kittens the whole time, watching me, not him. (Because I stole 2 of her kittens?)

The cat called Possum entered the scene and stalked the fox until she was satisfied he was busy. She ate her fill from the big bowl, then settled in on the other chair.

Fox was a little jumpy at the approaching thunder. Jumped away one time but continued until full. He exited as he had entered where the fence board is missing. I don't expect to see him again because it"s been a year since I've seen a fox in the cat yard.

All this time Bart, our inside dog, didn't say a thing. Because he was hiding from the thunder under my workbench?

Summer Kittens

Saturday I found out it is easier to get MamaKitty to accept an abandoned newborn if it looks like one in her current litter.

I had to interfere. I couldn't take the pitiful mewing sound in the bedroom patio.

At first I couldn't pick up the kitten. Literally, it's umbilical cord had wrapped around an English Ivy vine. After cutting the vines with scissors I freed it from the attached placenta before placing the tan kitten in the cage with MamaKitty and her very last litter.

Even though this one is about one third the size of her babies, she took it to her right away.

Turn the clock forward two hours.

I had to interfere. I couldn't take the pitiful mewing sound in the bedroom patio entrance. The cord had been severed but green flies buzzed all around. Time for a bath to remove the fly eggs.

Hydrogen peroxide on a washcloth wasn't enough. I had to comb through it's fur with my flea comb after adding soap to loosen the egg's glue.

Talk about Abundance! There must've been a tablespoon of eggs on this baby who easily fit in the palm of my hand; layers and layers of 'em. (Relatives featured in Primordial Soup?)

Dried it off and put it in with MamaKitty.

She looked at it in horror!

She looked at me "How dare you endanger my kittens!"

And then, so as to NOT endanger her kittens, I took out the first kitten to comb off it's fly eggs. So few, I could've counted them.

When I returned, MamaKitty had her 1 beige and 3 white kittens rounded up in the corner under the shelf with her body between them and the intruder.

I returned the newborn beige kitten into the pile and left the tiny grey baby where it was. I trust in the wisdom of MamaKitty. She's had lots more experience raising kittens. For all I know, these are her great great great great great great grands.

This morning, Monday, the two newbies were snuggled up together. They've been holding their own, getting in to nurse, even though the others are three and four times bigger.

All because of my flash of insight (with great relief) that although I'm not up to feeding newborns every two to four hours, maybe MamaKitty IS!

Monday, June 1, 2009

More barking dog

What is it about Sunday evening and copperheads?
If this isn't a different snake, I seriously exagerated the size last week.
This time I kept my eye on it (and took a picture) until Bond came from Sound Play down town.
The blasted shotgun wouldn't!
Couldn't find a hoe!
It got away again.
Today Pieface checked out the flower bed very carefully before he lay down for a nap on the nearby patio.  Smart dog.  Something that moves yet he WON'T chase it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

You just never know what dogs are going to bark at. Part 1

Yesterday Pieface repeated his "Whoop!" bark for about five minutes.  Last time I heard it he was following the progress of an old chicken snake as it moseyed under the dog house and out under the fence, finally into the woods.

I figured I'd better check it out.  This time he didn't seem to be traveling, just nosing the ground by a sweetgum tree, jumping back and whooping three times,.  He'd cornered the biggest copperhead I've ever seen.  That's what I assumed from the eight inch loop I could see sticking out from under the leaves.  It must've been 2 1/2 or 3 inches thick with that beautiful dumbell pattern shaded from pinkish light tan to black.  I know better than to pester a poisonous snake, and don't have any trouble identifying a copperhead. 

This was #5 in the 30 years we've lived here. 

#1 was about 8 inches long.  It scooted out of the tall grass I'd just mowed, threw up a mouse and stayed put while I raked up the hay.  I made Erin keep a eye on it from a safe distance (not far enough according to Erin who wanted to go back to the house) while I worked.  We left it there when I finished.

  #2 waited in the carport while I went inside to get a clear plastic box to drop over it.  I called Roy Cannington to come get it.  He kept the poor thing in a terrarium for about a year before it died. 

I stepped on #3 who nipped me in the heel which generated a $24,000 hospital bill.  I don't walk and talk facing behind me anymore.  Our neighbor killed that one so it could follow me  to the hospital, for identification.  You wouldn't want to spend that kind of money if it isn't a poisonous snake.  The bill for the anti-venom was $19,000.

#4 was laying low under a woodpile in the yard with Minnie Minster going postal as G.G. and Bart stood by looking worried. I dragged them into the house and called Stephen, who was working at Sound Play.  It took him awhile to get over here as he had to make the snake handling sticks first.  We searched the yard for forty five minutes to no avail.  Just in case it came back while we were on vacation the next week, I made Stephen walk the dogs  when he fed them and lock them inside.  Never could have done that with Pieface.  

I don't think I should count the cast off skin I found in the workshop, fifteen feet from where I found #2.  It was probably his, and increased the irony over #3 because I had been watching for snakes IN the house that spring.

Back to #5.  Last evening   I just pulled Pieface into the house and hollered to Bond who came outside with his shotgun loaded  in less than 2 minutes. You guessed it, the snake had disappeared.  We asked Pie to show us where it was again.  His nose told him it had gone under the fence into a bed of variegated vinca.  We couldn't see it and didn't want to cause a confrontation that might harm the dog so we gave up. 

I kept Pieface in my office for about an hour.  When I left the room to freshen my drink he was up to his old tricks.  He ate my crackers and tagged two spots.  I was more than delighted to put him out again.  He checked and the snake had moved on.

We were relieved because it was a challenge to our philosophy that all creatures have a purpose and reason to live.  Killing snakes, even poisonous ones, is not on our agenda unless it is a direct threat to our family.  (Remember, I love ALL living things.)  Civic duty also played a part in our attempt to slay #5.  Bond would have shot him if he'd seen him.

Perhaps it helps to know the statistics.   On the average 4,000 to 7,000 poisonous snake bites a year  are reported in North America and on the average fewer than four  fatalities.  Diseases transmitted by rats and mice (the primary food of snakes) kill many more people than snakes.  The majority of the bites are to people who handle snakes for religious or other reasons. Compare this to  37,248 FATAL car accidents in 2007.  Basically, I'm 9,000 times more likely to die in a car accident than to die from a snake bite.  

In either case I'm not worried.  I am cautious.  I am a defensive driver.  I also keep on the look out for snakes.  Pieface can't be all over the yard all the time. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Speed Bumps in Our Whirlpool Bath

For months now, we are installing a whirlpool tub in our master bedroom suite.

Promised we'd do it when the electric water heater died. Replace it with a tankless heater leaving room for the tub. We'd been expecting it for some time because the heater was put in in 1976 when my father, Lew Tilley first designed and built Huckaby House, in stage 1 (of 8) he called "The Cricket." At last! this January, there was so much lime in the bottom we couldn't turn the burned out element to remove it. We jumped right in and ordered the tub, heater and propane tank.

I must admit that we have a second water heater attached to the fourth bathroom at the other end of the house (stage 7). We were not desperate.

Having a tub in a box in the middle of the room is only one of the many speed bumps we've had to work our way around to move beyond hot water in the shower and an unfinished tub room. I hit my limit this week when Abby learned how to climb the 2x4 wall studs.
I was amazed, and she was triumphant for good reason. When we met her, as a kitten, last September, she had three broken abscessed legs and was almost starved to death. How she found her way to our cat patio we'll never know. During her month long stay at Dr. Lee's I visited her daily to hold her and listen to her purr - as her purr was what saved her. When I first picked up this stranger, she purred. Could have been a fear purr, but it showed me (and the vet) she had a will to live. That was more to the point when deciding what to do; not Dr. Lee's unfair question "Do you love this cat?" Unfair because I can honestly say I love every living thing, even mosquitos. (That doesn't mean I have a no kill policy. After all, I eat. I practice self defense e.g. swat mosquitos, and sometimes an animal is better off dead.) I committed a considerable amount of time, and effort to meeting this bent-legged animal's will to live.
She'll never be able to leave the house.
She was a wild animal and still goes into panic mode.
We will always have a lot to adjust to and to learn from each other.

So, the first time I found her walking on the top of the stud wall I gently took her down (after taking her picture).

The second time she was stepping from the stud wall onto the plate rail. I was in a hurry to get her down and not so gentle. I even squirted water at her. That'll teach her to stay down!

Immediately she climbed back up, and before I could move the ladder she ran to the next plate rail to jump THUMP! onto my side of the water bed. That sassy cat!

I thought I'd blocked her way up or I wouldn't have let her stay in the bedroom the next night. Around midnight I heard her scramble up the wall. I sprang out of bed as the huge 45 year old carved gourd from Nigeria hit the floor and broke. I grabbed a ladder, then Abby, before she could continue her path of destruction. I scooted her out the door. I was madder at me than at her.

Until the tub is in and the wall covered, I won't have the luxury of midnight snuggles with Abby. The only way to keep her down is to shut her out. I'm certain she'll find a way around my barricade. Eventually I may have to install plexiglas in front of the whole plate rail. It runs around all 8 sides of the central room.

SO! Yesterday my first waking thought was, " We need to unblock the energy in this room by fixing the door so it will open all the way." I'd been watching one of those TV Feng Shui shows last week. It had entered my subconscious.

The floor is rough brick and has a high spot in the doorway. Every time we opened the door it'd hit the bricks - scronk . Over time the door sagged until we couldn't open it more than about 70 degrees. It happened so slowly we hadn't noticed we could no longer lift it over the hump.

Our first attempt to fix it only answered the question, "Can we smooth out the floor with a terrazzo machine?" Yes. The bricks we ground were solid inside; but too bumped up for hand grinding to finish the job.

Finally we drew a line on the door with a pen held flat on the floor. It took both of us to move the solid wood door to the saw horses on the porch to cut off a wedge about 1/2 inch wide at the corner.

We didn't have to believe in Feng Shui to feel relieved when we opened the door all the way. Who knows, maybe that small irritation every time we opened the door (20 times a day?) compounded our renovation frustration. I'll let you know if the tub project moves any faster.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pasta Mouse. A Seasoned Recipe.

In the Fall, stash bags of brilliantly dyed pasta tubes in a jewelry display case for safe keeping until you have time to buy more storage bowls.

In Winter, stash storage bowls in the jewelry case until you have time to decant the brilliantly dyed pasta tubes.  After all, they are safe.  You latched the door.

In Spring, take the "locked" jewelry case outside in the sunshine to remove shredded plastic bags, brilliantly dyed mixed pasta tubes, colorful mouse droppings and one startled mouse.

Wonder why a mouse went to the trouble to squeeze through a space thinner than a #2 pencil to eat pasta soaked in rubbing alcohol and food coloring. Perhaps it started out as a smaller mouse; but that would mean it grew up on a diet of brilliantly dyed pasta tubes and no water!

Stir through the pasta remains to retrieve the jewels.

Debate whether you need to set aside the remains in case there is another loose fire opal like the one found on the ground. 

Chuckle because the mouse nibbled only on the yellow or orange fimo pins.

Set a mouse trap inside the door where the startled mouse ran back in to the building after it jumped from inside your handful of sacks and pasta tubes. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Perhaps my red bag came with a key-jinn.
This time I found myself with a cart full of cat food (and kitty litter 'cuz they go together) in the parking lot at Sams at 8:25 Friday night- missing my inelegant purse jewel I'd snapped to the strap ring- my CAR KEYS!  
Not by the check-out, or lost n found, or in the cart or in the red bag in the bright lights.
So, before tracing my entire shopping route in the next five minutes 'til closing, I went back over my steps to the car, looked around in case I'd dropped them before I went in.
Found them IN THE DOOR LOCK!
Bond said Keykopelli did it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

But which trickster?

Not long after I got a new purse - a bright red organizer big enough for legal files and a laptop, I lost my keys.

I 'd paid my dues making due with our son's messenger bag/pack he'd cast-off five years ago never intending to sponsor his mom as a what not to wear poster child. When I found the RED BAG at Sam's marked down "the last one!" I was willing to trade cash for this fashion accessory (organize me!) It even has a matching keychain that snaps inside.

By the end of the first week I could not find my keys. Had to use the other mail keys, leave the front door unlocked (Bart the dog would protect it ) depend on employees and husband to open and lock my studio/office. For weeks I looked in all the safe places we keep keys. Turned my car and the truck inside out. Cleaned out drawers. And cleared off the diningroom table. Need I mention I turned out the RED BAG? At least four times? Gave it a good shake but did not hear them. Emptied all ten cubbies in four zippered compartments and pulled out the files. The third time I asked myself "Don't you know this is a waste of time, you've looked in here before?" The fourth time I scolded: "You expect them to show up by magic, don't you?"

Three days later, this afternoon, I opened the red bag to fish out the car keys and voila! they were there where I'd seen them last, (looked first, duh) plus the other two sets of car keys. All MY keys. All 20, in four bundles.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Recipe for Primordial Soup
Leave 20 lbs of sunflower seeds in a clear storage container (with sliding locks on the lid) on the patio so you won't forget to dole them out to the birds...for a the wind and the sun and the rain.

Do you know ?

Pieface the dog will tag a box of maggots every day.

Flies can keep breeding in water...layer after layer...

Packing tape around the edges and over the latches keeps some smells in but NOT some flies out.

Pallet wrap keeps more smells in but lets some fluids out.

One garbage bag is not big enough.

Two garbage bags are no better.

Two people can put a stinkin' box on a pallet and only have to wash their hands.

We will drive the forklift four blocks from downtown Parrott to our home, but not to our woods to take a pallet OFF the pickup bed.

We'd really like to go back to 1979 to thank the prison-laborer at the Terrell County dump for telling Bond how to unload a pickup with a tire, rope and a tree, even if we didn't need the tire this time.

P.S. The jury's still out which smelled worse, the turtle or the box.
The turtle only smelled bad when INSIDE the car and left no scent trail. However even the EMPTIED truck bed reeked like the waste transfer station, on a bad day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Raccoon in the crown

The furry lump on the crown of the oak turned out to be a racoon.
Is it habitual to stay tucked in 30 feet high, waiting for dusk before traveling?
Or self-preservation? The oak commands the view of the kingdom of Pieface, who may be part coonhound; but attentive only to food and all things that are moving.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today I learned that big old pond turtles smell really bad and it is harder to get one out of the cubby behind the last seat of my Odyssey than it is to put one in there.

We went back to our new pond three hours later to check up on the turtle because, when I found it, it seemed dazed, just sitting in the middle of the lane on a paved country road between wet newly plowed fields of fluffy, soggy, impassable ridges.    After I stopped to be sure it wasn't a snapper and too dangerous for an intervention, it didn't even try to retreat in to it's shell.  It did put up a quick show snapping at me and puffing to scare me as I woman handled the animal in to my car (and held onto the plastic trim with turtle claws to stay in).  
To my delight, Bond spotted a path of smashed down grass that eventually led to the shore.
 Add these turtle tracks to my list of graffiti.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Abundance

When we asked Grandmama why she wanted to live in Parrott, GA, she would hold her palms up and say "Abundance, abundance." This winter I decided to switch my morning wake up routine from coffee to tea. I'd take my little teapot of Constant Comment with honey and cream on a tray with toast and a tablespoon of deli ground nothin' but peanuts peanut butter plus jam in to the lower bedroom in 'the tower.' Kept the pot hot on the oil filled electric heater. Quiet time with my mac and photos or words (all before I got DSL at home). One sleepy morning I took the pot off the kitchen shelf, took off the lid, looked in and wondered: "Who the hell left these tea leaves in my teapot? "
I'm the only one to make tea. I use a tea bag...THESE ARE ANTS! IN THE TEA POT!"