Shh, don’t tell my neighbor

For the first time in the 22+ years we’ve lived here, there’ve been multiple bear sightings in our neighborhood. Maybe not so surprising since we’re adjacent to a whole bunch of open space.

I’m not sure who shat this scat, but I could make a guess. But whoever it was did the deed on our neighbor’s driveway. The brand new driveway she’s so particular about that she was recently out there scrubbing and scrubbing at a few oil drips. So when I saw this pile of berry remains I knew she wouldn’t be happy.

But when the pile was still there the next day I realized my neighbor was out of town. Here was my chance! So I went over to photograph the remains before picking it up. (Note: I did not scrub the concrete). I wanted to get rid of the evidence so she wouldn’t know a bear had possibly come calling. My neighbor isn’t exactly wildlife-friendly. She throws rocks at bunnies that “eat my lawn” and last spring purposely drove over a snake she saw in the street in front of her house. (That’s right, she got in her car and started it up for the express purpose of killing a snake. Thankfully, it didn’t die and I helped it escape her wrath, which she then directed at me). I figured if she found out that a bear might’ve taken a dump on her driveway, she’d either be out front with a cannon or would call in the National Guard or Ted Nugent.**

So let’s keep this little story between us, okay?

** Zippy did spot her outside scrubbing at the berry stain.

Mondays gonna Monday

Image by Richard Smith from Pixabay

Happy to report I survived this morning’s visit to the dentist without throwing any punches. Woot! However, the whole thing got off to a rocky start when my sandal strap broke as I walked across the parking lot. I somehow kept the shoe on my foot as the strap slapped against the ground. But then the front desk woman asked for my insurance card and I emptied out my purse searching for my wallet that wasn’t there. The good news is Zippy located it at home.

So here’s the score:
Teeth cleaned without me breaking into tears (yes, this has happened before).
Sandal broken but fixable, I believe.
Wallet back in purse and the bill’s in the mail.

Mondays gonna Monday. All I can do is keep my head down and push ahead. Wishing the same for you.

#Caturday hijinks in four acts

Marcel climbs on top of the scratching post to avoid his brother who wants to beat him up, then briefly stares down at Loki before smacking him on the head.

       

Loki then tries to storm the castle by clawing his way up the scratching post. Marcel looks on with calm detachment as Loki eventually loses his grip and falls back to the floor where he stares in frustration at his brother. So close and yet so far, Loki.

       

Just as quickly as the kerfluffle began, it was over. Both cats are now napping and all is well this Caturday.

Sunday Confessional: I just unpacked a box from my 1996 move

Today I finally, finally cleaned out our storage room. It’s been on my radar for years, but every time I went in to start I’d immediately feel overwhelmed and quit. A huge part of my problem is that it’s SO HARD for me to get rid of perfectly good stuff.

For example, what was in that box from 1996? The label read “Scratch paper.”

An entire box filled with various types of paper: loose-leaf notebook paper, stationary, index cards, note pads, scratch pads, the LOST DOG flyers we made for a friend’s dog who disappeared on our watch, old lesson plans, brand new folders, labels, classroom handouts, etc.

I’d never been able to get rid of it because every time I peeked inside that box I thought about the woman who taught in the room next to mine telling me about traveling to another country where paper was so precious people would smooth out envelopes that arrived in the mail and write letters on the insides. How could I recycle all that perfectly good paper?

Well, today I got tough. Probably not as tough as I should’ve been (because I kept about one-quarter of the paper), but it was a fine start.

And look what gem I uncovered. I love me some vultures and that little pic on the bottom corner of the note pad cracked me up. But is that joke worth a 23-year stay in my basement?

Sunday Confessional: I created a zombie bird!

I realize not everyone shares my love of all things bird, but I’m in awe of those feathered creatures and spend lots and lots of time gazing upon them.

However, my current gaze is not one of admiration. Moments ago when I finally looked closely at this photo I took in May, I was taken aback at how utterly freakish and zombie-like this white ibis appears.  And now I’m gazing at this picture in horror. I can’t look away.

What kind of camera settings were in place to create that dead eye and white-plastic body? Is this the first sign of an ibis-led zombie apocalypse?

Sunday Confessional: I’m having more fun than Marcel

Soon after adopting feline brothers Marcel and Loki in October of 2013, son Zebu vowed to buy me a baby sling to carry our loving, snuggly cats. Despite my frequent reminders of his promise to me, years went by with no sling. And then this past Mother’s Day, Zebu surprised me. It’s safe to say he also surprised Marcel.

This photo was taken in May during Marcel’s initial and longest stint in the sling. But you can tell by his ears that he’s less than thrilled with the situation. I tried putting his brother in it last night and he wasn’t having it. At all. And then Marcel humored me for all of fifteen seconds before escaping.

Maybe they’ve figured out it’s technically a sling for small dogs and are philosophically opposed to debasing their royal cat selves.

Or maybe they just really, really don’t want me carrying them around like babies.

Sunday Confessional: I’m a slow learner

I’ve blogged before about people ghosting me when it comes to picking up free perennials from my yard. In fact, last fall’s episode turned into a huge, time-sucking disaster. After that debacle I vowed to only put plants out at the curb with a FREE sign on them and to let whatever happens happen.

So why did I reach out to the man who’d shown up last fall minutes late for those plants? Because he’d come all that way and left empty-handed (after someone from the neighborhood ended up taking the plants, I guess). But more importantly, I reached out because he seemed like a good guy in need of plants for the non-profit he started. So I texted him the other day and told him what I had available. He immediately replied that he was interested and that he could pick them up Sunday afternoon. He said, “I’ll text you.”

Sure, dude. Watch me age as I wait for that text.

This tortoise photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels seems a good representation of my current emotional state.

So here I am, again, with plants that need to be put in the ground soon. One garbage bag filled with Lamb’s Ear and another bag of Golden Yarrow and Russian Sage.

I’d ask if anyone reading this wants them, but we all know how that would play out.

Today the universe answered my call

This afternoon Zippy and I hiked the Greenhouse Trail in the Chiricahua Mountains. The guide trail notes said the mountain hike was also good for birding, so off we went to scratch our two itches. As we hiked along Greenhouse Creek we heard many bird songs and each time we’d raise our binoculars to scan for the source, hoping to identify one of the over 300 bird species in the region. As one after another (usually brown) bird flitted in and out of our sight before we could make a positive identification, I remembered the words of a birder friend from Anchorage. Anne once said to me, “You’re more of a ducker than a birder.”

And she was right. I do pretty well with the larger, more sedate feathered creatures. Ducks, shore birds, and wading birds are my comfort zone. They give me time to make identifications. Song birds in a forest are much harder for me to ID and today my frustration level went way the hell up.

I don’t know a whole lot of bird songs (shout-out to Mourning Doves and Spotted Towhees for their easily identifiable songs!) and I’m crap with our new guide book, Birds of Southeastern Arizona, because it’s grouped by type rather than by color. Hence my frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

As Zippy and I sat on a log next to the creek (because we’d lost the trail, which is a whole other story), he hoped aloud for birds to come up to us with signs. As in, “Hello, I’m a Brown Creeper” or “Hey, check me out. I’m a Brewer’s Sparrow.”

I replied, “We need primary color birds. Like a Vermilion Flycatcher. We for sure could ID the hell out of that bird.” (Because, in case you didn’t already guess, that bird is primarily bright red.)

Guess what happened a couple minutes after my primary colors plea? A bird flew overhead and into a tree right in front of us. Without any muss or fuss, Zippy and I identified a Western Tanager which looks like this:

Don’t worry, we’re not feeling too full of ourselves. While we did manage the identification, this isn’t exactly a great photo. Still, I wanted to celebrate the fact that once in a while the universe does listen and respond accordingly.

Monday, Monday can’t trust that day

I started my day at one of my favorite places on the planet, Kapok Park. I wandered around with my camera and came upon this sign that reminded me of Zebu. I’d taken a photo of him next to that same sign when he and I visited the park a year ago.

So when I saw the sign today, I missed my son and decided to take a quick pic to send in a text. I stepped closer to the sign and focused on framing the shot. Suddenly I felt a burning, stinging sensation in my left ankle. I looked down and noticed ants crawling on me. Lots of angry, biting ants.

I’d somehow neglected to see their enormous anthill-home and stepped in it with my big shoe.

The good news is I had a lovely visit to Kapok Park where I managed to avoid molesting the alligators. The bad news is I caused considerable distress to an ant colony.

Happy Monday!

Saturday Funny

I unearthed this document while cleaning out a drawer. I’m the “T” and Wildebeest is the “F” in this exchange from his elementary school years. (In case you can’t read my scrawl):
T: For someone who didn’t want to go to the Lakewood Heritage Center, it sounds like you had a swell time.

F: (nodding vigorously) I got cheered up after the front of the bus caught fire.

Sunday Confessional: it’s not my fault my kitchen’s clean

As the morning sun illuminated our cooktop, I realized the gas burner grates were beyond hope of ever being truly clean again. They were blackened by heat, grease, and speckled with intermittent spots of cooked-on gunk. (Yeah, I’m not proud. Sunday confessional, remember?) I went online and found a set of four grates for $77 plus shipping. I told Zippy I wanted to order them. He insisted he could get the grates looking good again.

His online research said to submerge the grates in a pot of water and baking soda and bring the water to a boil then let it sit for a half-hour. He filled our six-gallon soup pot with water, baking soda, and submerged two grates in the concoction. The water boiled. The grates soaked. Some gunk dissolved. Zippy removed those grates and added the other two to the same batch of water. Then, because he was afraid the recipe would be weaker the second time around, he added more baking soda to the boiling water.

Chemical reaction, yo.

Those six gallons of boiling water instantly turned to foam that overflowed the soup pot like one of those vinegar-and-baking-soda science fair volcanoes. A blue-ribbon, first place science fair volcano. Foam flooded the cooktop and countertop, poured into the drawers and down the cabinets on its way to swamping the floor. So. Much. Water. The waves were practically whitecaps as they surged across the kitchen.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean up baking soda?

Suffice to say, every surface was wiped down MANY times (with a final vinegar rinse). As a result, the kitchen floor, which was way past due for a mopping, is now cleaner than it’s been in some time. The cabinet doors also look better and the drawers are tidier and less cluttered.

However, I wouldn’t go so far as to call our watery catastrophe a win. The foam seeped into the cooktop and now one of the burners is forever dead. The old linoleum flooring is permanently scarred because of the boiling water and baking soda. Also? About an hour after the cleanup was over, I was making my smoothie next to the sink when I heard running water. Weird. I hadn’t turned on the faucet. Where was the sound coming from? And then my bare foot was wet.

Water was running out of the cabinet below the sink.

Busted pipe. More specifically, one old corroded pipe that couldn’t handle the pressure of baking soda and vinegar dumped down the drains during the cleanup. After Zippy’s many colorful words, his trip to the hardware store and new pipe installation, and his final mopping episode, I asked my exhausted spouse if he wished he’d gone along with my plan to spend $77 plus shipping for four new grates.

He said no. I kid you not.