I have a bit of a backlog of photos I took last year and never got around to posting.  Here’s one I took when I was about to leave for work. I entered the garage, pressed the button to open the door, turned back to lock the door I’d come through, put my stuff in my car, then happened to see this:

snake all 2017-06-28 14.04.44-1.jpg

Apparently it had been just inside the door and was probably a little startled when I opened it.  As I watched, it slithered toward the nearby corner of the garage and into a 2-3″ gap between a cupboard and the outer wall, then evidently did a hairpin turn in there and came out to exit the garage and go over to the front steps and from there under the house. In the process I got a photo in the sun (lightened a bit):

snake lightened 2017-06-28 14.12.14.jpg

It was pretty long for the type.

snake length 2017-06-28 14.15.29.jpg

snake end 2017-06-28 14.19.40.jpg

I thought it was pretty neat. (Rattlesnakes are, I think, the only poisonous snakes in California, so while I have a healthy fear of them, I’m not bothered by other snakes.) The coworker I texted to inform that I was running late had a different opinion, though.

scary snake 2017-06-28 19.26.00.png

She did not enjoy the pics.


Placeholder Cats

I have various sets of photos edited to put in posts and keep forgetting the actual posting part.  As it’s quite late and I need to clean litterboxes before I go to bed, they’ll have to continue to wait, but here are a few standalone cat pics so I don’t entirely forget how to do this.

Moonstone on ottoman 2017-05-16 12.21.45
Moonstone on ottoman, a.k.a. the little giant kitty bed
Praline sunshine snooze 2017-05-18 17.20.03
Praline snoozes in the sun.
Rhombus half 2017-05-20 18.38.38
Half a Rhombus.  I guess that’s just a bus.
CMY grooming 2017-05-03 00.02.31
CMY carefully cleans a foot.
Gray Cat on wall 2017-04-18 17.44.30
Gray Cat, the local feral who “introduced” Meringue to us.
Licoris sunny belly 2017-04-20 14.33.00
Upside-down Licoris head!
kittykins with treat tower 2017-04-26 03.02.58
Five-Spice, Vanilla, Walnut, and Meringue enjoy treats.
Quot nap 2 2017-05-04 18.16.00
Another adorable Quot nap.
Velcro jumping into box 2017-03-03 21.19.15
Velcro jumps!
Triquet in outdoor chair 2017-05-25 16.36.41
Triquet chills.

Bird in the House

I was sitting on the couch about to drink my coffee when I heard bird sounds from the direction of the family room (to which the catio is attached).  At first I thought it was a forgotten cat toy recently rediscovered, but the sounds were too loud and varied.  I stood up and saw Praline leaping at the wall and realized we had a visitor.

(There would be a picture here of an adorable little bird on the floor near the stairs if I’d thought of it, but my attention was focused on keeping the cats away from it.)

The poor little thing was crouched trembling on the floor, watched by several slightly confused cats.  They knew this moving thing was interesting and worth catching (there’d been a similar experience with a small bat, which I don’t remember if I blogged), but had never actually had the opportunity to.  Since the bird was petrified, I took a chance and picked it up in my left hand, where it huddled and shook and cheeped but was otherwise still, and yanked the (human-sized) door to the catio open.  Vanilla was still out there, but she looked at me with wide eyes and skedaddled.

There’s a mesh door leading to the backyard from the catio, which I intended to go through to release the bird.  However, it has latches on both sides, and unfortunately they were both latched at this time.  As I discovered this, the bird struggled out of my hand and fluttered to the floor.  Spouse had joined me by then and I asked him to go around and unlatch the door from the back.  I then put a pillow in front of the cat door, because I’d forgotten that it locks from the inside rather than the side I was on.

After the door was unlatched I found the poor terrified bird and carried it out to the back and put it on a fence post.

bird on fencepost 2017-04-29 15.27.28-3

It just sat there for a bit and at first I worried that it might be injured, but spouse pointed out that it was, well, terrified and catching its breath.  He went back in to properly lock the cat door to the catio, because once the bird recovered, it promptly did this.

bird in catio 2017-04-29 15.29.09

Yes.  It flew directly to the one-inch mesh and popped through to land on the shelf.  Argh.  Well, at least we knew it could fly.

I went back into the catio and watched it for a bit.  I wasn’t the only one.

Praline looking out 2017-04-29 15.31.37Praline looking out closeup 2017-04-29 15.31.37

It rested for a while.  This gave me the opportunity to get a size comparison, though naturally the camera focused on the greenery in the background.

bird with hand 2017-04-29 15.32.11

I stroked its soft little back one more time and it cheeped and squeezed through the mesh and flew around the corner of the house.  Phew.  I wonder if it’s learned anything from this.

Backyard, Part 2

With my usual timeliness, this post is about things that happened a month ago.  Specifically, the quite heavy rain we got about a week after my February post complaining about the deer eating my heucheras.  The deer had nothing on the rain in terms of damage to our five-month-old landscaping.

Being on the lower part of a hillside, there was quite a lot of water running toward our house.  The house itself was fine, since it’s largely built over empty space. But the drainage system, which was installed after the ’97-98 El Nino, was not quite able to cope with the mud and debris that washed down along with the water, so the water had to find alternate routes.  This was taken the day after the heaviest rain.

Not much compared to actual flooding, I realize, but still distressing when I saw bare mud and water where my heucheras used to be.

I especially liked how my green spice heuchera had turned into a defunct tennis ball.  (That one and the other upper picture were taken about a week and a half later, after the water had drained a bit.)

About two weeks after the video was taken (during which it had continued to rain, though not as hard), spouse and I went out and tried to relocate some of the dirt and mud and unearth our stepping stones.  And I realized that my plants were just buried, not washed away!

That last one could’ve been a Find the Plant.  It was difficult.  I found the upper left one, then spouse unearthed the lower one (the chocolate heuchera, seen in the first pic in the above-linked post), and we both worked at the upper right one.  Each plant has its own drip irrigation, so we dug for the tube and then followed it to the drip spout.

Also, I should mention that we had help. Sort of.

muddy footprints 2017-03-05 17.20.53

The exhumed heucheras are doing well and I’ll put pictures of them and other plants in another post.  But in order to have an actual animal photo in this post, I’ll add the deer that we saw a few days later.

deer through upstairs window 2017-03-08 12.02.53


We are enjoying a brief pause between rainstorms, so today I was Responsible and spent some time and energy doing garden tasks.  I realized that it was the first time in, oh, thirty years that I’ve used a rake.  (I grew up in an area which didn’t have enough flat space to need raking, except for the area directly under the enormous live oak tree that held my swing.  Not much point in raking that.)  And also that my gloves were not entirely thistle-proof.  Thanks to all the rain, we’re having a bumper crop of pointy things, albeit mainly around the edges of the area we’re trying to care for.

Unfortunately, all the nice green growing things have not distracted the deer from eating my once-beautiful heucheras.  They’re recovering, a little, but we’re making a trip to Home Depot later to get structures to put netting over them.

Here are some pictures I meant to post last year. (Sigh.)


Most of them now look like the second picture, at least the ones that have survived.  I’m hopeful that eventually with the application of sun and netting we’ll get something like the other pics again.

Our hanging lantana has also not been well-treated by the weather.  But some of them are looking like they’ll bloom if only the big sky spigot will stay turned off long enough.  I also pulled at least three would-be oak trees out of their planters, the first sprouted acorns I’ve ever seen.

I’m a little annoyed at myself that I don’t seem to have ever cropped etc the pics of the lantana I took when they were blooming, and I don’t feel like digging them out again.  So here’s a picture of Praline dozing.



Ups and Downs

A lot of stuff has kept me from updating, to the point that one of my five readers asked whether I was still blogging.  ADD: I has it.  Both good stuff and bad stuff has happened lately.

Every post needs a cat picture, even if the post doesn’t actually mention cats.

Good thing: Our backyard was landscaped. We’d been in planning in spring and summer, and the work started the day after we got home from Australia.  Actually, spouse got a phone call while we were still in Australia asking if they could start work “tomorrow”, but fortunately that was postponeable by a few days.  We now have an arbor with circular paving beneath it, a recirculating water feature for sound, many new plants, and lights.  Lots and lots of lights.  There are bright lights on the arbor for easy reading/knitting at night, small lamps in the planted area, and well lights on the hillside illuminating the trees from below.  Not easy to take pics of though.  Another post to come about plants and their similarity to salads.

Hector, the foreman of the workers. He was awesome.
Man at work, cat at play.

Bad thing: My parents’ / sister’s dog died, after a spinal injury that progressively paralyzed him.  He was a very loved dog, and it was really heartbreaking for all of us.  😦

Tuque in his aloha shirt and Dad in his Simpsons pajamas.  Mom is to credit/blame for both.

Good thing: Our nephew was born in September!  We went to Canada last weekend both to attend a party celebrating the wedding of another of Spouse’s friends (the couple lives in Beijing, so Saskatoon was actually relatively close to us to see them) and to meet the baby.  It was a really wonderful trip.  I’ll write a separate post about it.

The baby sweater I knit, sort of modeled by the baby.

Bad thing: When we arrived home from our trip, we found that our cat-sitter had passed away the day before, in our house.  This would be horrible in any case, but it’s particularly bad because our sitter was my uncle.  😦  We found him yesterday morning.  There are too many feelings and such to even begin to get into.  This was entirely unexpected by all of us, and we’re all still in shock.  It didn’t prevent some coping mechanisms like noting that maybe there’s a Law of Conservation of Uncles, since Spouse just became one.  I haven’t been able to cry yet, which is probably just as well.

I don’t have a picture of my uncle to hand, but we were given this flower today.

Maybe thing: Mom (who drove up yesterday) and I needed some fiber therapy today and went to a yarn store.  Sometimes you need distraction.  (As I observed on Twitter, Ace Attorney is not the best choice for this after finding a body.  Knitting seems safer.)

I’m looking forward to knitting a kid sweater for A with this.  It’ll be the fourth sweater I’ve made her.

I have a bunch of cat pics and other miscellany to post now that I’ve gotten my catch-up overview out of the way.