Ticks for the memories

It’s tick season in Georgia. We give the dogs and cats flea and tick treatments, but they still get them. Here’s one on Zeke’s inner leg. I think this is an American dog tick, which is common in the eastern US and in much of California.


This one is sleeping in the septic tank right now.

I have picked several off Zeke in the last month or so and two or three off myself. Leah has found some on herself, too. The flea and tick treatment is supposed to kill them after they bite, but so far I have found only live ticks. One night a few weeks ago I felt a little tickle on my back after I went to bed. I jumped up (memories of lying on a scorpion) and threw the covers back, but I didn’t see anything. I was pretty sure it was a tick, though. I went back to bed and waited. After a few minutes I felt a tickle (a tickle is not necessarily a small tick, although in this case it was) again, and this time I grabbed it.

When I was a graduate student in Atlanta I lived near Northside Drive, which at some points in the city is highway 41 (rolling down which I was not born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus). Almost every afternoon when I came home from school, I would take my dog Jesse a couple of blocks away to a vacant, weed-covered area where she chased rabbits and imaginary creatures for about an hour. In the summer, when we came back home I would fill a glass with hot water with a little detergent, and we would sit in the driveway while I picked ticks off of her. I would put them into the water, where they would sink slowly to the bottom of the glass and die. Detergent is a surfactant, or wetting agent, which prevents the ticks from floating on the surface.

From what I have read, this is not supposed to be a particularly bad tick season, but one tick is too many.

Hidden cat — again

Can you see him?


Dusty and Chloe often hide in plain sight, but when they set their minds to it, they can be really hard to spot.

In case you’re having trouble finding him, here he is.


Most of the yard was in shadow, but the setting sun somehow found a path to illuminate the grass fronds around Dusty. It was a nice effect.

I haven’t posted for a while on the house progress. The floors are complete throughout the house. The hardwood and tile are a surprisingly good match. I haven’t been able to take any photographs because of the cardboard and paper that the flooring guys laid out. The entire house needs to be vacuumed, too.

The painter is working off and on. He has completed what we’re calling the hall bathroom. The vanity for that bathroom arrived at Home Depot about a week ago. They were hinting at sending it back if I didn’t pick it up, so I did that on Saturday. It’s sitting on the trailer in the garage. It’s a little heavy for one person (at least this one person), so I’m waiting for the painter to help me unload it. The painter has a real job and is working at our house only on weekends and some evenings, so it’s taking longer than I had hoped to complete the painting. Just like pretty much everything else associated with the house.

I have completed one task that was looming over me — attic insulation. It took three sessions and 25 percent more insulation than the manufacturer recommends. The first day was the worst. It was hot even outside the attic. I finished the day with cellulose dust covering my arms and clotted in my hair. Little nubs of cellulose stuck to my arm hairs even after showering. The dust was so thick that my dust mask clogged. I literally could not breathe through it. The second session was not very productive because the blower didn’t work properly. The machines are so old and poorly maintained that this particular one just did’t work. The third third time was the charm. The blower worked, and I blew insulation right up to the attic access hatch just as we finished the last bag.

I had hoped that painting would be done by the end of the weekend, but it won’t. That means a delay in picking up and installing the master bathroom vanity. In the meantime, all the interior doors have arrived; they’ll also have to wait for painting to be completed. Once the painting is done, I can start on trim. I think that will mean a production line for painting the baseboards, which will be (at least for now) plain 1×8 boards, possibly with a little decorative trim on top, possibly not. I like Mission style trim, which is plain; that’s good because it makes it much easier to install — no coping required.

In the other meantime, I am almost at the same point on the downstairs at our current house. The doors are up and baseboards are next. Once that’s done, the downstairs will be essentially complete, and we can let our buyers’ lender send out an appraiser. There is a little more work to be done here before we close, but little has a way of turning into not-so-little. If I were prone to getting stressed out, I might consider doing that about now.


On June 13, 1941, 75 years ago today, the War Department sent a postcard to my grandmother in Rome, Ga.

enlistment postcard address

The postcard notified my grandmother that my father had been accepted into the Army.

enlistment postcard message

He was sent to Ft. McPherson, at least temporarily. This was the beginning of three years of training before he was sent to Europe, shortly after D-Day. I think my father was lucky; he didn’t end up in North Africa or the Pacific.

My father was drafted. He said he intended to volunteer, but the day he went to the recruitment center, there were some “rough looking characters” there, and he didn’t want to end up with them. So he waited for his draft notice.

He was 23 years old when he was drafted. He would turn 24 two months later in August. His division, the 104th Infantry Division, landed on the mainland of Europe in September, 1945. By May 8, 1945, VE Day, my father had been in the Army for nearly four years. After VE Day, he expected to be shipped back home, where he would then embark for the Pacific where he would participate in the invasion of the Japanese home islands. Fortunately, the Japanese surrendered on August 14, and signed the official surrender on September 2, exactly two years before my brother was born.

Nail and tail

Friday evening I walked the dogs up to the new house to make sure the air conditioning was working (it was). On the way back down the drive, Zeke saw a fox cross Lavender Trail. He lunged, and I slipped on the loose gravel. Rather than fall, I let him go, so he tore off across the road and into the woods, dragging his orange leash behind.

As usual, he stayed gone for a while. I found him an hour or so later laid out on his side on our neighbor’s grass. When I leaned down to pet him, I noticed that the dewclaw on his left leg looked odd. I checked closer; it was twisted 180 degrees from normal.

I grabbed this blurred shot of his claw Saturday morning before I took him to the vet.


The claw is supposed to curl backwards, towards his belly. It’s now curved forwards, towards his chin. I was afraid he had wrenched the dewclaw completely around.

The vet we use now doesn’t make appointments, so I just took him in as close to 8 am as I could manage. The waiting area was full. As we stood there, the nail came off his thumb, leaving a little bloody stub of quick. So his dewclaw was not dislocated; he had just torn the nail away from the quick. You can actually see the quick in the photo above if you know what to look for. I shudder to think of how that would feel to a human.

The vet was not too concerned. She stanched the slow dripping of blood and wrapped his foot. The bandage can come off Sunday.


The dewclaw is high enough on Zeke’s leg that it doesn’t actually touch the ground when he walks, but he’s still limping. That may be partly because of how tightly the bandage is wrapped around his toes. We’re giving him pain medication. We’re sure it’s painful. He did almost the same thing a few months ago. Unfortunatley, I don’t think he will learn anything from this.

He has been acting just slightly lethargic and needy lately. He plays fairly actively with Sam, although he usually spends a significant amount of play time lying on his back pushing Sam around with his legs. A pet owner waiting with us at the vet’s asked if Zeke had a few years on him. He does – we’ve had him for 10 years and he was at least a year old when we got him. I was a little surprised that his age was that obvious. It doesn’t seem that way to us. I suppose part of Zeke’s somewhat different behavior could be at least partly due to age.

And now, a Sylvester report. I told the vet about Sylvester’s drooping tail. She said it might be just a sprain (a sprained tail?). She said to give it a month, and if it doesn’t get better to bring him in.

The worst-case scenario is a dead tail. In that case, she might have to amputate. We have been considering renaming him if that happens. My suggestion is Bobtail Catthwait.

A cat’s tail

We think Sylvester might have a broken tail. We noticed it about a week ago. In the past he often held his tail straight up, with maybe a little curl at the end, a typical cat tail posture. Lately, though, he can’t seem to “get it up.”

This is about as high as he can raise it.


He hardly looks sassy with that loopy tail.

It also tends to droop to his right side.sly3

He followed us down Lavender Trail Thursday night to see how the painting and HVAC are going at the new house. This is typical Sylvester behavior; he hangs back crying like a little kitten, and then trots up to us

Normally his tail would be either up or almost straight out behind him. Here you can see it drooping to his right, dangling with no apparent control.

It seems to us that the first couple of inches of his tail are normal. He can move that around and raise it up normally, but from that point to the tip of his tail, it seems to just hang there. We haven’t been able to inspect his tail closely, but there doesn’t seem to be any visible injury. We have no idea what might have happened. If a car had run over his tail, I would expect there to be some serious abrasions. If he just managed to escape a coyote by the skin of his taily-tail-tail, there should be some sign of that. But nothing, as far as we can tell.

I suggested (hopefully) to Leah that maybe Dusty bit Sylvester’s tail, but that also seems unlikely. Does anyone have any ideas?