Thursday, April 30, 2009


The lilies of the valley are blooming...

...and telling each other secrets.

Violet listens in...

But Violet and her Robert Lansing eyebrows find those flowers kind of boring.

But not this little digger bee and his Robert Lansing eyebrows...

...who also has something in common with this...

...the fluffiness and lightness of dandelions who pretty soon will be airborne too. 

Lots and lots of whiteness in the garden....and also lots and lots of wetness.

All this rain is making things look very clean and it also makes it easy to dig up those darn dandelions. Hopefully this weekend I'll have them all removed from the backyard. Dandelions, when they go to seed, are the dustbunnies of the outdoors. As soon as they're "vacuumed"  up and done away with, everything looks so much better. But you know, and I hate to admit this, individually and up close, they're kind of pretty...

Monday, April 27, 2009 yard looks bad.

Just how bad?

I have flowers...

...that look like Skeletor.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Freddie, are you there?

Freddie must be on my mind because of the claw marks I found in the wood beam on Friday. I had a dream last night that Freddie was at the back door and I was feeding him cut up cooked carrots and chicken. In the dream I wondered if I was in a dream and that if I was, to remember what I was doing so that when I woke up, I could check my memory to see if it was real or not. I woke up and dang, it was a dream. No Freddie.

But when I went outside this morning I saw this...

I had just washed the cushion cover the day before (of course) and somebody found some mud and put a big foot print on it. Could it have been a maybe Freddie? The footprint is kind of hard to figure out because of the cross shape in the middle of the pad. Odd pressure points there. It's definitely not that large smoking cat, it's too big for a squirrel, it didn't quite look like a possum's......could it really be a raccoon? 

I've been thinking of that Freddie all day and just a short time ago I heard a loud chittering coming from a neighbor's tree. A sound I had never heard before. When I went on-line to find out what a miffed raccoon sounded like, the footprint identification was confirmed. There's a raccoon still in the neighborhood and it might be Freddie. Aw, could it really be Freddie? It would be just like him to wait until the cushion and clean pillows were put back on the glider for him to return. That raccoon likes a comfortable place to take naps and prefers to have his meals served to him on plates.

And no, it definitely was a dream last night because the refrigerator didn't have any leftover chicken in it. I checked. :-)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The sights and sounds of spring

I took a couple days off from work this week because the weather has been beautiful and I didn't want to miss spring. Some years I do.

Yesterday morning I was about to sit on the glider and have my morning coffee when...

I'm not sure what Violet's spring hours are but from nowhere, there she was, on top of some knitting patterns I wanted to look at. She knew there was some good reading material out there before I even brought out the knitting books.

All cats do this. Why? And what is so captivating about books, magazines and blank paper waiting for something to be written on it? I could sit and stare at a spot on the floor but that's not going to compel a cat to settle in on that spot, blame it on some mysterious intense power of localized gravity, and then defiantly stare back at you. If you set out a Sunday New York Times in the middle of the jungle, would  lions and tigers race to sprawl on top of it? I think they would.

Well, I had knitting books to look at, a full cup of coffee and it was a pretty, pretty morning. I could stall Violet out if needed. The bright white blossoms were falling off the crab apple tree and then carried a short distance across the yard by a breeze. Behind me, the kerria blossoms were floating to the ground. Just so restful and pretty.

I had just let Cathy Jean out because she was so adamant about getting out of her tank that morning. She's not a peony stomper like her brother Michael Ray so I don't have a problem letting her loose in the yard before I put up the barricades to try and protect what's starting to come up in the backyard. Cathy Jean settled in the turtle's favorite spot by the kerria and it didn't seem like she missed her brother one bit. And she wasn't bothered by the yellow petals that occasionally fell on her either.

The sounds of spring. Every bird out there was singing its little heart out. Carpenter bees were buzzing under the glider trying to figure out if they could drill holes in the recessed spots that held screws. They can't. They do this every year. Violet had a good time swatting them (and without having to leave the paper she was lying on... quelle surprise).

But then......the sounds of early summer. Police cars. Helicopters. An hour or so later...police cars...helicopters. This went on all day. I always know winter and cold weather is long gone when the first nice day is announced with the sounds of crime being chased. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poop off!

I would like to introduce a miracle product to those of you who have to deal with bird poop. It works for bird poop indoors and bird poop outside. This is what the beams of my deck's roof look like after a winter of outdoor starlings anticipating free cat food at the coontina. Dissssssgusting!

But with a spray from this miracle product, and just a little bit of scrubbing (not much) it is GONE. All you can see now are the wet spots in the areas that just got cleaned.

I don't see the starlings that often when they're up on those beams but when they're up there, it's hard to ignore a couple dozen birds trying to get a good look at you through the back door's window, even with curtains. And of course, even if I had never seen them, I recognize what they leave behind. 

There's a lot of activity in the backyard when I'm not there. I remember one time finding a pork chop in the birdbath. I suspect a grackle could be blamed for that one but nevertheless, I am the cleanup crew for everybody's activities back there. And sometimes you find something completely unexpected...

...little Freddie hands forever scratched into the wood. Aw, I wonder where that little guy is now. I wonder if he'll come back for some summer handouts. :-)

Anyway, the name of the miracle product is...

Really, what else could you call it? I feel kind of silly for even having to write the name because what else would you ask for if you were looking for such a thing? But then, for some reason just to make sure things are very clear, the manufacturer named the product for what it does, and then described the name that described what it does... you know, just in case anyone was confused. So...... just to be sure I'm clear, it really does what it says it does it does. It does.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Separated at birth?

I've been trying to take a picture of Violet that doesn't look so mean or so full of resentment. It's been hard (maybe impossible) because Violet has just one or two expressions, neither one of them very pleasant. Violet also has some missing teeth which doesn't help much. And one of her biggest problems is having Robert Lansing sized eyebrows. Those eyebrows do not contribute much cuteness when you have a little tiny cat head. See the resemblance? 

You don't?????

Oh c'mon. Look at these two. They could be twins...if they were the same species........the same sex.........the same era in time.......

Taking a good picture of Violet is one of this summer's challenges. In the meantime, the "Freckles" violets are blooming their little heads off where I planted them years ago.

And quite a few have birthed themselves across the lawn.

Cuteness and sweetness. But it would be a different story if they had to deal with Robert Lansing sized eyebrows too. :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cosmopolitans for everyone!

Because today is Stella's Hatchday and she's eighteen years old!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Points of view

Cats won't look at you when you're trying to take their picture (well, that's been my experience for the last couple days) but flowers...they have no choice. Front and center every time, if you decide that's what you want, not them. 

I thought I'd try taking photos at angles where I couldn't see what I was doing, just like I did with the cats a couple days ago. You know,  just start clicking six inches from the ground and hope you photograph something ....and that it's in focus..... and somewhat centered...and hopefully interesting. You have to take a lot of pictures to accidentally get something.

This little Asian ladybug was watching things.

Right at the very, very edge of the heuchera.

Let's move down the leaf a little bit and get a better view...

... and peer back to see if anything was missed...

Apparently my maneuvers of trying to take photos six inches above the ground without stomping on plants was kind of interesting to this little bug. I guess it was kind of flattering... I think.

But then this...she turned around and sat down. I didn't know ladybugs could sit...

And was she laughing at me?

Well, I took another picture and I imagine this is what a ladybug would skies and pretty flowers.

And maybe a little bit of this too...

Hey, who's laughing now? >:-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Those little "fists" from a couple days ago...

...unfolded to become this.

The sky was blue and the flowers were white and the little yellow bees buzzed quietly high up in the tree.

And down below I was being shot fireballs from the eyes of Violet. I suspect some curse words were incubating in that little head too after yesterday's experience with the camera.

Above our heads was lots and lots of prettiness. Below me was Violet and her tight little fists and mean little face. 

I just continued looking up at the crabapple tree that was suddenly all in bloom on a sunny and beautiful spring day. There was just too much prettiness to get sidetracked by Violet's scowl and grudge.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bad pictures of some somewhat bad cats

I've run out of things to photograph in the garden and Violet has not exactly been obliging. This is usually the face I get from her, if I can get a photo of her face at all.

Yes, here's another one. The exact same face showing complete resistance to any picture that I might be thinking of taking. And I probably had to take about a dozen shots "in profile" just to get this one! At least you can see some tail action in this one...tail action is a given when there is a camera around.

Since Violet has successfully escaped from having any portraits taken in the immediate future, I might as well take advantage of the other cats that show up. 

The resistance to facing the camera starts immediately...

"I think I saw air move over your shoulder. I must be the witness for that."

I kept trying to get a full face picture but somebody just kept moving. Side to side, distracted with all sorts of imaginary things happening in every direction except for the one facing me.

Okay, I've been challenged. I am going to get that shot of a cat's face and you know, I don't even care what the photo looks like at this point. I started clicking away at any direction I thought the cat might be looking at in the future.

Ha! Gotcha!

These cat face pictures are horrible...but they're pictures of cat faces. I won I won I won! Once you throw out that whole aesthetic thing, picture taking moves along pretty fast. Just grab the camera and heck, who needs a viewfinder to see what you're photographing? Just take that camera and hold it anywhere where you think a good photo might happen and click away.

Which meant that Violet had not escaped from  being a photographic subject. 

But um, it became immediately clear that this technique could be extraordinarily dangerous if used when photographing birds.

Eddie concurs.