Catching up

This is a catch-up post for a few things that have happened recently that don’t really merit their own post.

First, we finally got our building permit last week. Two things surprised me about it. The first is that they handed me a permit right after they confirmed that I had all the documents they require. They didn’t require any kind of approval prior to giving the permit. The second thing that surprised me was the cost of the permit. The cost made it clear to me that the building inspection department uses permits as a revenue source.

The permit box, full at last

The permit box, full at last

So now the building site has an official document allowing us to proceed with construction. Unfortunately, it has been raining so much that neighbor John, who will excavate for the basement and foundation, hasn’t been able to work. We have a chance of rain through next Tuesday, and then, at least for now, a forecast of several sunny days. Those days will come right about when we leave for a few days on vacation. John isn’t sure whether his helper will be back from his own vacation by then, so maybe they won’t be able to work until I get back. I really need to be there when the work is done. I expect some questions to come up, especially when they hit bedrock a few feet under the surface.

The second event was Zeke’s most recent bid for freedom on Saturday. I opened the door onto the deck so that our little dog Lucy could go out. Some time later, after we had forgotten about the door being open, Zeke apparently squeezed out. We didn’t realize he had escaped until at least an hour later when we called the dogs to get some table scraps and Zeke didn’t come. He was out about five hours. I drove around looking for him, but never saw him. Around 10 pm I took Lucy out for her final walk and found Zeke in the back yard.

When he saw me he glanced around, like he was considering running, but something stopped him. That something was a fairly badly sprained right wrist joint. He had some real difficulty walking, and some obvious pain from it. Here he is looking sheepish back on his bed in the living room.

sheepish zekeNote the wet spot on his bed next to his left foot.

I gave him an NSAID prescribed for the back pain he has sometimes, and that seemed to help, at least by the next day. He has recovered enough that I can take him on a short walk, which he seems to tolerate, but an hour later he limps a little more. I won’t go back to our regular walks until next week.

I also discovered that he tore his left dewclaw again. He did that originally a few months ago when he wandered away from me while I was working at the new house site. He has been licking his wrist and his dewclaw since then.

This nail is not supposed to be this color

This nail is not supposed to be this color

The last item is another turtle report. We found this one crossing Huffaker Road as we returned from our weekly huevos rancheros fix at our favorite Mexican restaurant. (We do it often enough that our regular waitress came to the table with one sweet tea, one unsweetened tear, a bowl of lemon slices, one bowl of ranchera sauce and two bowls of regular salsa in addition to a bowl of chips, even before we ordered.)

We went back to help him across the road. I know it was a “he” because of Wayne’s previous help with that identification.

Turtle, giving me the evil eye

Turtle, giving me the evil eye

He was just small enough for me to pick him up with one hand. He ducked into his shell at first, but came back out to look around as I moved him to the side of the road. He was not exactly feisty, but he was also not shy. I put him in the grass on the side of the road he had been heading towards. I hope he won’t remember any business he left undone on the other side.

An unfortunate start to the hummingbird season

I wish I could start the hummingbird season with a happier story.

On Saturday we had left the screen door to the deck open for the cats and dogs. Unfortunately, a hummingbird came in and trapped itself against the sliding glass door. I drew the curtains across the window, hoping to help it find its way back out the open part of the door. I looked from the outside, but all I saw was Lucy between the door and the curtain. I hoped that the bird had found its way back out, but a few minutes later when I looked in Lucy’s kennel, I saw this sad, little body.
dead hummingbird

Sorry to subject you to that.

I guess the hummingbird dropped to floor level after I closed the curtain and Lucy went for it.

I was not happy. (Leah says I went ballistic on her.)  I know, Lucy is a dog, and dogs are predators, so they will kill animals under the right (or wrong) circumstances. Sylvester, one of our cats, has also killed a hummingbird. Sylvester routinely kills anything he can, from lizards to birds. I expect it, but I still don’t like it. We have already had to take down a bird-seed feeder because Sylvester was using it as a hunting ground. I don’t want to have to stop feeding the hummingbirds.

I don’t like it when one of our cats or dogs kills anything around here, but I especially don’t like it when they kill hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are one of my two favorite birds. Even aside from their beauty and amazing flying ability, they seem to be interested in us, at least a little. Sometimes when I’m out in the yard, one will fly up to me and hover at eye level, staring at me. It seems to be sizing me up for something. It finds it, or not, and then flies away. A few days ago one flew up to the same door that proved so deadly a trap on Saturday and stared inside. That door is where we hang the hummingbird feeder. It seemed to be letting us know they’re back. I’m anthropomorphizing, but still, the most interaction we get with other birds is when they fly away when they see us.

My other favorite bird is the pileated woodpecker, and I think it’s for exactly the opposite reason. The pileated woodpecker seems supremely uninterested in humans and their petty activities. They’re busy and just can’t be bothered.

I get the sense that they think they’re better than us. Maybe they are

The fox and the hound

Something has been eating the outside cats’ food. We suspected that it was a new stray dog that showed up several weeks ago. The dog is so skittish that it runs at the mere hint of a human’s presence. This picture looks like a spy shot, but it was the best I could do through the kitchen window screen.


The dog looks like a cross between a basset hound and some kind of Australian shepherd dog. It has a fairly large body and head, but short legs.

We have been feeding it for about two weeks. We started partly to protect the cat food, but also because the dog was outside and exposed to some pretty harsh weather. I put an old dog house at the end of the driveway, hoping it would get in during the coldest nights, but it didn’t. Neighbor Deb says it seems to be sleeping near or in one of their out buildings.

It turns out that the dog isn’t the cat food eater anyway. The real culprit is a fox. Unlike the stray dog, this fox is not at all skittish. Here he is in the driveway after scouting for food. He, or she, is a real beauty, and healthy looking.


I know the fox has also been eating the dog food we leave for the stray, because he left his calling card one day — poop in the dog food bowl. I have noted that kind of behavior before.

On Saturday the dogs were on the deck making a racket. I went out and saw the fox. He walked casually around in the back yard and then sat down to look at me, Zeke and Lucy.


Zeke was barking, of course, but the fox ignored him. I shouted and waved my arms, but he only stared. Crazy human. I went down off the deck to get a couple of rocks. I threw one in his general direction. He was not impressed. I threw another, trying to land it closer to him. He jumped and ran back about six feet and then stopped to watch again.

I have written about our foxes and my ambiguous feelings about having them so close to the house. I have decided that it’s best for everyone if they stay away, but they seem not to take me seriously.

But the fox is a problem for another day. Our real problem is the stray dog. With us feeding him and Deb providing unintentional shelter, he’s probably OK for the short term. I want to get him to a rescue group so they can find a good home for him, but he is absolutely unapproachable. He sometimes watches from the woods as I pass with the dogs, but if I look at him or otherwise acknowledge him, he immediately retreats.

A trap seems to be the only option. We have live traps but nothing big enough for him. We have been told that we can borrow one from the local humane society or the county animal control. We will eventually set a trap and hope he calms down once he’s restrained. Dogs will sometimes do that.

A local rescue group saves a lot of animals at our pound, so if we can get him there, he stands a chance of finding a home.

Gate birds

Leah and I were at the Tractor Supply store near Rome a couple of days ago, looking for a possible new cat house, when it kind of gradually dawned on us that there were a lot of birds chirping nearby.

littlebirdsCan you see them on top of the stack of fence gates? A whole flock of little brown birds, either wrens or sparrows (I can’t tell the difference). I’m not sure why they were sitting there. It was a gray and slightly misty day, but it’s possible the stack of gates might have collected enough solar heat to give them a little extra warmth.

I listened to the songs of the wren and sparrow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but I can’t tell which sounds more like what I remember of these birds’ song.

It was odd to see them there, but the funny thing was that they sang as long as we didn’t look at them. When we looked at them, they fell completely silent. It we looked away, they began to sing again. Shy little birds.


‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a …

Hey, Zeke, come on, you know Santa will never come if you stay up looking for him.

Zeke, get away from the door

Go on, Zeke, go to bed and go to sleep.

zeke in bedGood dog. Hey, Chloe, you heard what I told Zeke!

chloe looking outEveryone go to bed, right now!

That’s right, Lucy, good dog.

lucy in bedYou, too, Sylvester, good kitty.

sly kind of asleep

Come on, now, Smokey, you  aren’t fooling anyone.

smokey faking it

There, Smokey, that’s better.

smokey asleep

Look, even Chloe is finally asleep.

chloe asleepOK, I think everyone is in bed.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Chloe, Sylvester and Smokey,

happy christmas

and to all a good night!


This is a repost from last Christmas, but, unfortunately, one of the star players in that post, Zoe, is no longer with us. Goodbye, kitty.

goodbye zoe