Cloudy skies like these are OK

Last Sunday these clouds were hanging out over the house.


I like the way the strands of cloud seem like they have been smudged by some giant who tried to use an eraser on them. The smudges are virga falling from the tightly-space waves.

I saw this from the Walmart parking lot.


I couldn’t get what first caught my eye because even my iPhone’s wide angle lens was not wide enough. What I wanted to show was a sky-wide field of clouds that looked like those at the top and bottom of the shot, separated by the thin, wispy clouds in the middle. But this shot was dramatic enough on its own. The blue sky looks like it has been photoshopped, but this shot is exactly as it came from the phone.

Poor gone possum*

We have had problem possums and raccoons around here for about as long as we have been feeding cats outside. We have relocated a lot of both over the years (possums and raccoons, not cats). They have stayed away for the last couple of years, but within about the last week a possum has been raiding the cat food trays Leah puts in the garage. So I pulled out the old live trap and set it Tuesday night. I meant to check it before we went to bed, but I forgot. This is who I found in the trap Wednesday morning.


This was our trespassing possum in the cage in the bed of my truck. He was an unhappy and messed up possum. In our experience, they always relieve themselves when trapped, so the garage floor under the trap was nasty. I think this possum was fairly old. It was large and its teeth seemed dark.

I have always tried to relocate our possums and raccoons down in Texas Valley away from civilization, such as it is here, and near water. A few miles from where Fouche Gap Road reaches the floor of the valley there is a small, perennial stream that seems like a reasonable place for a possum or raccoon to live. When I reached the stream Wednesday morning, the possum did not want to leave the trap. I had to upend the trap and shake him out. He stayed immobile for a few minutes.


He was probably confused; maybe he expected to end up inside some animal’s stomach rather than in the woods. He was gone by the time I turned the truck around and left.

I have read that animals often do not survive relocations like this. They are released into a strange environment, not knowing where to find food or shelter and probably competing with an existing population. I like to think they have a fighting chance, but, really, I have no way of knowing.

* Some people insist that the American possum is actually an opossum, and that “possum” is the correct name for an Australian marsupial not related to our opossum. I say that an animal’s name is what it’s called, and the American opossum is called a possum. It has a scientific name, Didelphimorphia, which is just fine, but none of our possums answer to that.

Happy Thanksgiving

We hope everyone who reads this blog, and even those who don’t, has a good Thanksgiving.

Leah and I are pretty much alone here in Rome. Neither of us has much family left, and those who are left don’t live around here. So we’ll probably end up having the Thanksgiving buffet at Ryan’s, otherwise known as a steak place.

If Thanksgiving is here, you know Christmas is sneaking up, too. Our Christmas cactus is starting to bloom.

xmas cactus overall

Here’s a closer shot.

xmas cactus upclose

It seems pretty happy there, sitting by the sliding glass door in the living room. We’re happy that it’s happy.

Late fall color

The fall leaf colors are past their peak here, but there are still some trees that are stubbornly hanging onto their leaves and their color. Leah mentioned a couple of times that we should drive up into the northeast Georgia mountains to see some of the fall leaves, but we couldn’t seem to find time.

The best view up here is on the Huffaker Road side of Fouche Gap, down into the valley. This was from Friday morning’s dog walk.


Another view:


The most common hardwood up on the mountain is oak, but the maples and hickories provide by far the best color. The hickories are brilliant yellow. The maples go from greenish yellow to orange to bright red. This little maple is trying to make a living too close to the road.


Right next to it is another, yellow this time.


They won’t survive long. A county road crew will eventually cut them.

The oaks, mainly chestnut oaks, turn yellowish brown on their way to an overall drab brown. Here a maple shows an oak the way it’s supposed to be done.


Down deeper in the valley a few trees burn brightly. It’s hard to get a shot that captures the glowing brilliance almost hidden by the surrounding forest. This one was closer to the road.


I was lucky that the rain and wind we had on the previous Wednesday didn’t end what little was left of the color.

Sam again

I have mentioned Sam the dog, who belongs to neighbor John’s stepson, at least nominally. Sam is a very shy dog who will approach almost no one. Some time after John’s stepson said he wanted a dog, this one apparently became available. John’s helper Ron picked him up from someone who apparently kept him on a line. When he reached John’s house, he was afraid of everyone but Ron and, eventually, John’s stepson. He was a completely wild dog. He knew nothing of doghouses. John and his wife bought a nice, if somewhat large, doghouse for him but couldn’t get him to stay in it. John said that Sam slept in the woods, even when we had snow last winter.

And then, as I said in the earlier post, one day Zeke escaped and went down to John’s where he met Sam. They apparently became fast friends, because Sam soon began to stay at our house during the day, going home to eat his evening meal, spend the night under John’s bulldoze (he finally learned that), and eat breakfast, before coming back up here. He accompanied us around the house when I took Zeke and Lucy for their constitutionals, running around and roughhousing with Zeke. He went with us on our long morning walks.

Before long he was eating at John’s and sleeping in our yard.

Sam lets us pet him now. He even rolls over on his back so we can rub his belly. When we come outside he comes running to us. When I took the dogs for their walk Wednesday morning Sam was not around. I had gone only a few hundred yards down the road and around the corner when Leah called and said Sam was lying in our driveway. I shouted a few times for Sam and he came running.

Here’s the movie in another format.

sam runs

Zeke won’t do that.

When cold weather was forecasted, I asked John to bring Sam’s doghouse (the one he wouldn’t use at John’s house) up and put it in our yard. That evening I half picked up, half led Sam to the dog house and put him in. He went to the end and curled up. I stuck my head and shoulder through the door and petted him for a while, telling him how comfortable he would be in the house. He remained in the house for a few minutes after I left, but ended up in the woods a few feet from it. That night I went through this routine three times, and he spent the night outside. The next night I did the same thing, and so did he. He was more willing to enter the doghouse, but he refused to stay inside after I left.
On the third night he slept in the doghouse.

Wednesday we drove over to Centre, Alabama, to meet someone Leah knows for lunch. It started raining shortly after we left and continues as I write this (around 8 pm). Sam has been in his doghouse all this time.

Sam’s only real fault is that he chases the cats, a sin that is, unfortunately, unforgivable in this household.

From the beginning we have intended to get Sam to a rescue group to be adopted by someone who will give him the training, attention and affection he needs. We have been in contact with a woman who works with a local rescue group (Animal Rescue Foundation), and she wants us to bring him to a vet’s office so she can get a video of him interacting with a human (me). Then, she says, they might be able to get him on a transport to an animal shelter (as opposed to a pound) that can adopt him out. This is typically in a northern or midwestern state where, apparently, dogs are not considered throwaway trash when they are no longer wanted.
We have adopted out a lot of dogs — a lot — and I know it can be successful. I know a lot of people foster dogs and cats until they can be adopted by a new owner. These people are animal lovers who may foster a dog for months, and then release it to a stranger. And I know that dogs can develop deep and strong attachments to strangers, given time; many of my own dogs are a testament to that. I know that we can’t keep a dog that chases cats. Besides, we already have two dogs and five cats, and I know that if anyone should get a new pet, it’s Leah, who needs a cat that can give and accept affection, unlike our current herd.

And still I feel guilty about this.