Friday Felines

Zoe has always had a problem taking care of his long hair. His mane is even longer than the rest of his fur, and he always gets a mouthful of it when he grooms.

zoe licking fur


We plan to get him a spring cut next week. He’ll get a short cut on his underside but we may leave the rest of his coat alone until we’re sure warm weather is here to stay.

Old School

I had occasion late Tuesday night to drive around for a while. I put diesel in the car, I dropped by Walmart, I drove the long way home, all the way around Texas Valley

I kind of like driving around late at night like that, when most normal people are in bed. I could almost count on my fingers the number of people I saw. The streets were nearly empty. Traffic lights cycled from red to green, but no one drove through the intersections. The streetlights were on, but with no headlights on the streets, the city looked dark. Rome looked like a movie set after the lights were turned off and all the actors went home.

When you’re driving around those empty streets, you notice every car. If they’re behind you, you notice when they turn off. You see the police officer in his patrol car, and you know he sees you.

The service station was brightly lighted but almost deserted. No one else was at the pumps. The doughnut shop attached to the service station was closing. When I pulled up to the front of the station, the last doughnut shop employee looked out at me and then turned the lights out and disappeared.

I went back towards home and stopped at Walmart to get a couple of unnecessary things. It looks like after 11 PM is a good time to grocery shop at Walmart; no waiting in line. But I kind of doubt that Leah and I will start shopping that late.

As I was walking out of Walmart I heard someone calling something. I heard it twice before I turned around and a youngish man called “Hey, Old School” to me. He said he had walked all the way from his apartment and was short one quarter for what he wanted to buy. I gave him a quarter and asked if he needed more. He thanked me and said no. That was the only time I actually interacted with any person that night.

When I drove out Huffaker Road, instead of turning right onto Fouche Gap and driving the mile and a half up the mountain to our house, I kept going for a few miles to Texas Valley Road. And then, after about five miles, instead of turning right to drive along the mountain and then up the other side of Fouche Gap Road, I kept going straight to make the big loop around Rocky Mountain in the middle of the valley and come back to Fouche Gap Road from the other end.

I have bicycled Texas Valley Road quite a few times, but I couldn’t remember which way the road would turn, and how sharp the next curve was going to be. Along one stretch I had a feeling that the woods were different, but until I pulled sideways across the road to shine the headlights into the forest I couldn’t tell that the whole area had been logged since the last time I was there.

I drove slowly because the road is narrow and winding in some places, and because there are lots of deer around. I didn’t see a single car for the entire 20 miles, or any deer.

I think it was close to 1 AM when I got home. Not that late, but late enough for me.

I forgot about “Old School” until Leah and I were having huevos rancheros Wednesday for lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Los Portales. Leah asked what “Old School” meant. I didn’t know, so I looked it up in the urban dictionary. Here’s what it says:

Anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect. Can be used to refer to music, clothing, language, or anything really.

We had a laugh about that.

Expedition to a longleaf

Up until a couple of weeks ago I was not sure that we actually had a mature longleaf pine on our property. That sounds ridiculous when you realize that our two lots are less than four acres. But I plead extenuating circumstances.

Most of our property is thickly wooded. A large portion is covered by a thick growth of fairly young pines. In some areas I almost have to take an axe to cut off dead limbs in order to get through, and dead pines are always under foot or leaning at a crazy angle blocking the way.

It's hard to get around out there

It’s hard to get around out there

A few years ago I took all day to cut a path along the back property line. There was a survey marker near Wildlife Trail and I knew the right heading to get to the interior corner. Unfortunately, the sight line was only a few feet. I started at the marker and tied a ribbon to a tree on the right heading. Then I had to cut trees in what I thought was the right direction. I sighted down the preceding ribbons and then tied a new ribbon on a tree that lined up. Then I did it again. I was surprised that I actually managed to take a nearly straight path to a survey marker, and I was surprised to find that there was actually a marker there.

Here it is. A neighbor had another survey since I originally found the marker.

Here it is. A neighbor had another survey since I originally found the marker.

I found a couple of longleaf pines just on the other side of the line, but none on our property.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to cut through the woods from the back of the house to see if I could find the marker again. It was not easy. I have mentioned that there have been at least two and possibly three significant events on the mountain that affected the forest. The first that I know of was Hurricane Andrew in 1992. That storm clipped northwest Georgia and blew down trees here and there all over the mountain. There are places where large trees fell into a criss-cross pattern that is virtually impossible to cross. I think a lot of the smaller downed trees on our property were victims of Andrew.

A second event was a fire. I can’t tell when that happened, but there is evidence everywhere around the property. Many of the larger pines have blackened bark on the lower part of their trunks. I also found a layer of ash buried anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more below the current surface. The buried ash layer indicates a possible third event in which most of the topsoil in the upper part of the lot was pushed partway down the slope. It’s possible that’s a result of firefighting.

Whatever the cause, most of the trees on the upper part of the property are young. You can tell the younger trees from the older trees by the difference in texture in this Google Earth image on our property. The young, thick growth of trees looks smooth compared to the older trees. Our house is in the center of this image. The yellow angle brackets point at utility poles at the property boundary. I can’t tell where the back corner is.

our property

So I started out, aiming roughly at the back corner. I made my way through the woods, constantly straining to look up through the foliage. I think it’s possible to identify a longleaf pine by its bark, but I can’t do it. The only way I can tell one from a loblolly or a shortleaf pine (I think most of the shortleaf pines on Lavender Mountain are Virginia pines) is by seeing the needles.

I was happy to  find a longleaf pine that was definitely inside our property lines. It’s not easy to tell in this image, but the pine in the center is a longleaf.


There are bigger longleaf pines nearby, but this one is fairly big.


There is another candidate that can just be seen from Wildlife Trail on the lower part of the property. I’m not certain of this one, but I’m pretty sure. The main reason I haven’t settled this one is that I can just barely see the top of the tree from the street. The top of the tree is much harder to see from close to the base.

Meanwhile, back in the civilized part of our property, the little transplanted longleaf seems to be doing pretty well, aside from some dying off of a few needles on one part of the tree.


At first I thought this was the result of a natural process, but then I realized that the tree had become a regular rest stop for Zeke on his walks around the house. Once I realized what was happening, I closed that rest stop. Zeke can pee pretty much anywhere else, but not there.

So now we know that there is one bottlebrush longleaf that I planted, and one mature longleaf on our property. That makes me happy. I need to positively identify the other candidate, and then I’ll be pretty sure about our own longleaf pine population.


Leah and I don’t talk about politics to other people. We pretty much agree with each other about that kind of thing, so we talk to each other, and sometimes we talk to the TV, but not to other people. So why do so many other people talk about politics to us, thinking that we must agree with what they say?

Leah’s 92-year old uncle wants to complain about getting Obama out of office. A store owner tells us the real estate market is not going to improve until Obama is out of office. A Walmart worker tells us he wants to burn all the cardboard boxes he’s breaking down and to heck with global warming; he doesn’t believe in global warming anyway. A neighbor blames Obama for health insurance increases and says Obamacare keeps poor people from getting health insurance.

I don’t think we actually invite any of the comments we keep hearing. We don’t encourage them, but they keep coming anyway. We don’t argue. We don’t engage them in conversation. We just say something like, “Mmmm,” and keep on going. We may talk about later it between ourselves, but not with them.

I don’t point out that Obama was elected for a second term and he’ll be out as soon as he completes it. I don’t point out that the real estate market is actually improving after a precipitous decline that started before Obama was elected. I don’t point out that burning cardboard boxes doesn’t add any carbon to the global carbon cycle like burning gasoline does, or that climatologists have spent their lives working on climatology and probably know about global warming better than nonscientists. I don’t point out that poor people can get assistance to help pay their health insurance premiums.

I suppose they assume that everyone in town agrees with them. After all, Georgia is every bit as solidly Republican today as it was Democratic 40 or 50 years ago. And I’m an old, white guy from Georgia, so I must be a Republican, too.

But you know what they say about assuming things.

Friday Felines

It’s hard to make sure all the cats get all their food but not someone else’s food. I put medicine in Zoe’s canned food, and naturally every other cat wants some of that. If I put food out for Dusty and Rusty I have to make sure Sylvester and Smokey are inside, or they’ll chase them away. If I put dry food down inside the house, Zoe wants to eat that as well as his canned food. So sometimes Chloe gets breakfast in bed.

Wake up little kitty

Wake up little kitty