Sunday Evening at 8:33pm


+Minecraft—on Forest’s mind continuously.
+The Garden Beds—three installed so far! Back aching work and I’ll be glad when they are done.
+Constantly thinking about native plants and propagating seeds to expand the native plant palate in the yard.
+Feeling the tug to read fiction again after a very heavy year of non-fiction.
+Wanting to write and having so many ideas that I don’t know where to start, so list writing on a blog post is how I’m going to start.
+Re: writing—I want to write books. Have little time to get that done.
+In the meantime I’ve been pouring my creative energy into art. My weekly nature journaling has been a delight.
+How did I ever keep up with the amount of blog posting I used to do? I know I just did it but…still. How?

And so, this is what I’m going to do to kickstart the writing habit again.

September 2021 Rewind


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We kicked off September with Forest’s birthday. He’s at such a fun age right now where his imagination is running wild and he’s still in a silly little kid phase. I love it!

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Earlier in the month I found two Passiflora incarnata fruit around the corner from the house. I sowed seeds of one of them and ate the other in some yogurt and ever since I ate the one I’ve been on the prowl for more. None yet!

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I *think* this is Dusty—but honestly, sometimes their profiles will confuse me. But both of them are cuddly cats these days!

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We had our first taste of fall and of course a week later the humidity is back. The heat isn’t nearly as high as it was earlier in the month but it certainly isn’t that crisp, low-humidity weather had a taste of. I’m remembering last year we had a freeze in mid-October but somehow I see that as unlikely this year.

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One evening we were at the park by the house and Chris noticed some bladderwort growing along the shoreline in the water he hadn’t seen before. I went back one evening to take photos and then noticed this fimbristylis growing in with the grass. I *think* it is Southern Fimbry, Fimbristylis decipiens, but don’t hold me to it!

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Evenings have been especially lovely around the garden, however the earlier sunsets are creeping in and now you have to head outside directly after dinner to enjoy any time out there.

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I listened to a lot of nature journaling podcasts this summer and I decided to start a perpetual nature journal. That means I draw something relevant from nature of the garden once a week and repeat it on that same page for several years until the pages are full. I obviously started with a Sun-Sat time frame that is for this year but these dates will slide as the years change. If I can maintain it, it will be great to look back on when I’m done!

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*This kid!*

(yeah, I know it’s slanted, I was shooting randomly from my lap!)

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Miles the feral who was really someone’s inside pet and still knows this and thus acts like it, and Chris out on the dock one evening. Miles has jumped up in the hammock with me. That cat knows what a bed is and would love to have another one.

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Milkweed seedlings emerging from the soil. I should have started them in the summer but I left them languishing in the fridge for a few months longer than intended. They are now thinned and in their own pots, putting down roots and hopefully ready to transplant sometime next spring.

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Dressed up for a night out a week ago—I met some friends in the Heights for dinner and drinks to celebrate my friend Meghan’s 40th birthday!

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And amazingly, we actually started the concrete beds in the edible garden! I think we should be able to get two more beds done in October. We took off one small side of the frame earlier this week to check it out and it looks fabulous!

A busy and quite different kind of month! We closed out yesterday with Chris’ 42nd birthday!

Happy October!

First Fall Hike of the Season


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Contrast it with this next one—>

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First family Hike North Wilderness Loop from February 2015.

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The weekend before Tropical Storm/Hurricane Nicholas came ashore, the three of us headed for Sam Houston National Forest to start off the fall hiking season. It had been several months since we’d done any significant hiking and the day was perfect. It was warmer than it is currently but the light had changed and you could just tell the seasons were changing. We opted for the North Wilderness Loop, a loop we’ve done before as I’ve linked above, but it has been quite a while since we hiked it. I enjoy revisiting hikes and loops over the years and in different seasons to get a taste of how the trails change. It also challenges my memory, to recall certain aspects of trail and to get a feel for what is coming up. Some areas I don’t remember as much as others.

The trailhead had a few cars in it but it wasn’t as packed as it had been in the early days of the pandemic. We came across several people while on our 8 mile hike but for the most part we had the forest to ourselves. And it was dry–much drier than I was expecting. We had steady rain through most of the summer but over the last six weeks it had tapered off and you could tell. It was even drier up here in the National Forest than it was at home, with most creeks being completely dry and cracked soils in many areas. Of course, we did come across one that had flowing water as you see above. It must have been fed from groundwater. There were a lot of ebony jewelwing damselflies all over that creek, a sight to behold.

Over the course of the hike we saw tidibts that reminded us it was the changing of the seasons, plants that bloom this time of years. Liatris, lobelias, and then the luna moths, which I wasn’t expecting. One dead one as we descending (and later ascended) a creek and then a live one that Chris stumbled upon after Forest and I passed on by without noticing. I think it may have recently emerged from its cocoon and it was holding on tightly to a stick. Chris flipped it over and we moved some of the pine needles and other debris around and once it was free, it took flight across the woods. Having never seen one fly before it was extremely exciting to take in. They are large moths and flying it almost appeared to be a small bird. Off it went, to another place to perch, to mate and then die. What a strange cycle they have, not being able to feed as an adult.

Forest did well for the hike despite not being thrilled to hike a lot these days. He comes along and then usually perks up along the hike, though he has plenty of his moments of being ready to be back at the car. Towards the end of the hike we came into a lovely opening of liatris and snow-on-the-prairie and I could have stayed for another thirty minutes taking photos but we were only half a mile from the car and an antsy 7 year old is no thing to contend with.

All in all, it was exactly what I needed injecting into my veins.

A Farewell to Summer from Galveston Beach


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Shark eye, Neverita duplicata

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Cancellate Cantharus, Solenosteira cancellaria

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Lettered Olive, Oliva sayana

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Atlantic Ghost Crab, Ocypode quadrata

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The good (and bad) things about having a kid in school is that there are now random holidays in the middle of the month that adults don’t typically get—teacher work days for one. Forest had one of these on Monday and rather than splitting the day and each of us working from home part of it, we took the day off and went to the beach. We had several things going for us: late September, it being a Monday, and not a normal holiday. I was hoping it wouldn’t be very crowded and we got our wish! Typically if we went during the middle of summer on a weekend, the beach pocket parks would be jammed with cars by noon. This time a few other folks joined us on the beach but at times we were the only ones for a while. It was fantastic!

Summer wasn’t going to let go of its hold quite so easily and it was warm and delightful weather for the beach. Between walks down the beach, I sat in the splash zone with Forest while he became a dolphin and rode the little waves in and created games for himself to play. Honestly, it was just perfect. Despite Hurricane Nicholas having impacted the area the week before, there wasn’t much washed up on the beach than is normal. Some oddball plants like a cactus and an acorn, but typical shells and debris, and of course plastic bits. A wrack line at the dunes was really the only big evidence that something had happened recently. That and some wind damage to a couple of hotels on the Seawall.

Typically we get out to the beach fairly early during our summer weekend escapes but because it was Monday and driving through Houston on I-45 during rush hour sounded miserable, we delayed leaving until mid-morning. Which mean we stayed on the beach until a little after 5pm. Staying that late made me wish I’d had a hotel to return to so I could have sat and watched the sun set. But, maybe another time…

Bubbles on the Front Porch


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Forest turned 7 a few weeks ago. Another year with this kiddo and I can’t believe he’s been hanging out with us for seven years now. The baby years seem so distant and yet when I conjure up the memories they are right there—the fluffy cloth diapers, the crawling toddler, the endless hours I spent sustaining the life of that kid with my body…oh boy! And now he’s 7 and in love with Minecraft, YouTube gamers who play Minecraft, and dragons. And cats. Oh, and hamsters. He’s been less interested in outdoor activities and even going to the studio in the last few months so I think we’re in a transition period of adjusting interests. For his birthday we repainted his room and the baby nursery feel is gone. He wanted golden walls and a red door, which we nixed the red door idea, but the golden walls happened and they look great! We need to get new curtains for his room and some new sheets but he received a new comforter for his bed and well, it’s a grown-up little boy room now.

For now he still enjoys blowing bubbles on the front porch and playing with this long water squirter toy that we actually found on the beach sometime earlier this year. I fill a bucket up with water and he gets water from it and squirts water all over the garden, porch, and himself. Forest, he always keeps us on our toes! And if you will let him, he’ll talk your ear off about Minecraft!

A New Find


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Earlier this summer I decided I wanted to get back into using a FitBit. After finding a very basic and cheap model for $20 on NextDoor, I was set up to start walking challenges with friends again. I’ve had a Garmin watch for several years now and actually love it, but there are less folks I know in real life using it as their preferred fitness watch. I ended up having to switch to a better FitBit later on that I found, also for a steal, because the cheap, basic version was cheap and basic and fell apart. Suffice to say, I lept back into walking challenges this summer and it was while getting some steps in last week that I noticed something different.

I had taken a different route, mostly because I wanted to check out some plants down at the pond that has the playground and I decided to head up a different street than I usually take. As is my usual habit, I was looking for interesting plants along the way, mostly to come back and grab seed from later on so I can propagate them at home. Since “my” milkweed lot has become unavailable to me I’ve taken a habit to notice where other milkweed is throughout the neighborhood in case I need to get more seed or ever come and get leaves for monarchs. Most are in right-of-ways that end up mowed at some point so it isn’t very reliable. And as I’m walking down this other street I notice a milkweed out of the corner of my eye.

I stopped, first thinking it was the typical green milkweed, Asclepias virdis, until I noticed flowers on another plant next to the one I had spotted. That was not green milkweed! It was zizotes, A. oenotheroides! The first time I had seen it wild and the first time I had found it here. We’re on the very eastern edge of its range, with plants mostly ranging from south and west of here, into central and south Texas and beyond into Arizona. There are some random sightings on iNaturalist north/north east of me and I think there’s one east of I-45 up in the Fairfield area, but it isn’t a common range for it to be in. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to see it in the neighborhood. Ironically, we had just bought a plant this summer for our cactus/dry bed and I was hoping it would set seed but it looks like I may have another resource for seeds—if it doesn’t get mowed down sometime this fall.

We’ve had a few delightful plant surprises around here lately that I haven’t shared with you but it goes to show what can evade notice if you aren’t paying attention.

August 2021 Rewind


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The first of August and the end of August seem like entirely different years. I came home from my weekend away from friends and peered out the window in the stairwell and thought the garden was looking lovely. That tropical cactus makes me so happy when I see it and it is growing like crazy right now.

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Rusty is becoming *my* cat in many ways. He’s also a bit of a jerk, albeit a cute jerk. He loves to cuddle while I watch tv and will sleep up next to me in bed only after he’s been very demanding about getting pets on his head. He loves his scritches but don’t lean in for a kiss because that’s just too much and he will bolt. But his favorite thing is to jump up in the middle of the night, thrust his head under my hands or arms and if I don’t respond to his demands he will start love biting and really demanding attention. Oh boy, that cat!

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Building has continued on what was my green milkweed lot. In mid-summer I thought that I might be able to access some of the milkweed that was growing back from being mowed in late spring but alas, they mowed again. Now all that is left are some spotty milkweed that is near the anchor line to a telephone pole, where a pile of glass is slowly being hidden by the grass and milkweed—a place I didn’t venture over to when I was getting milkweed. Now, the milkweed that is mowed is still very much alive, those root system are very much intact, but constant mowing isn’t going to allow for the above ground parts to grow again this season.

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The weekend before school was to start Forest and I had some sinus/cold issues and because we all know those symptoms are very overlapping with a certain virus, Chris went out and bought an at-home test. It was negative and after a few days of DayQuil/NyQuil I was feeling better and Forest was able to start school just fine. Speaking of that virus, since the Texas Education Agency announced districts needed to let parents know what was going on with cases, they started updating their dashboard which they hadn’t been doing. I was also able to check the DSHS data from last year—408 cases for students in our district all last year. Now? According to the dashboard this morning 256 total cases (students and admin) in the last three weeks since school started. The DSHS had a higher number than the school district is posting according to a spreadsheet that was last updated on the 22nd, because there were some presumed cases and the district didn’t advertise those. So far it seems only 5 students at Forest’s school have been positive but again, who really knows.

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A Sonic hot-fudge sundae is always good treat. Forest eats about 1/4 of it and then I finish it off.

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Racing a storm at Kleb Woods one day at lunch.

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Summer popsicle breaks…squeezing in as many as possible until the weather cools.

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And of course first day of first grade photos, with a cat (Miles) bombing the photos!

Onward to September.

Grabbing Hold of The Feeling


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We had stayed up beyond midnight the night before, talking and catching up despite that it was well passed our middle aged bedtimes. Bleary-eyed I woke up on Saturday morning as the sun broke through the curtain in the loft upstairs. I rolled over a couple of times, got on my phone to distract myself, and then finally convinced myself that I should get out of bed and do the thing I wanted to do, which was explore the pastures on the property of the AirBnB we were staying at.

Downstairs, Michelle and Stephanie were already awake. Steph had made coffee and the two of them were talking quietly while Alisa slept on the couch. The air-conditioner whirred in the background, attempting to cool the place down before it became stuffy and hot later in the afternoon. I wanted to sit down and have coffee with them but I also felt the tug to get outside and go for a hike. I wanted to roam the place, see what interesting scenes I could find and photograph. It isn’t often that I get to have the ability to free range as I used to and when I get the chance I savor it. I miss the days when I traveled and got the chance to randomly explore the area I was staying in. Walking blocks across the river and through St. Paul or finding random forest service roads in remote Montana—things I just don’t get to do anymore. I let the desire for coffee dissipate, knowing I would be gone an hour and coffee would be there when I came back, packed my camera bag with some snacks and water, and headed out the door.

Down the dirt road, I meandered west towards a pond that the owner had said we could drive up to put our kayaks in. Stephanie had brought some on a last minute whim and the whole weekend we spent our time chatting each other’s ears off and didn’t put a single kayak into the water. The owner had let the animals out to roam the pasture and the cows, sheep, and goats had found their way to the watering hole. Before that, one of the farm dogs had zoomed down to a smaller pond, went for a swim, and then zoomed over to me to say hello. I jumped back, not wanting to get soaked by farm dog slobber and pond slime.

I let myself through another gate, careful to close it behind me and the dog took off through another gate on her own adventure while I continued a bit further west to a grassier, unmown pasture. It quickly became apparent I should have brought hiking boots with a bit of a higher ankle coverage and instead I tromped through the grass in my tennis shoes hoping that snakes weren’t hiding underneath. I wanted to continue west but saw another house in distance and didn’t see a visible fence denoting property lines so I meandered southwest, following an island of trees in the pasture. Continuing to tromp through the calf to knee high grass, I found myself in quite a picturesque scene—billowing clouds, blue skies, golden-green grasses of mid-summer, and deep hues of greens in the islands of trees. If I’d had a blanket and a book I would have sat down to relax for a while, though I would have been drenched in sweat while doing so.

Instead, I moved south towards another barbed wire fence and decided to follow it back east as the grass was tromped down here from cattle and wildlife. A wall of shrubs and trees blocked the view to the south and I couldn’t tell if this was the property line or just another pasture fence but up ahead I saw a metal gate that looked enticing.

At the gate, it was apparent it was never used. On the east side of the fence was a creek and the habitat was overgrown. I climbed over the fence, a feat I haven’t done in years, but brought back lots of memories from hiking and work. Once on the other side, I was fairly certain that the drainage would continue east and drop me out at the pasture not far from behind the cabin and where a small pond was located. Again, I only had my tennis shoes so I had to do my best to find a place to cross the creek that wouldn’t coat my shoes in mud. I found it and lept across a small pool of water and climbed carefully up an eroded bank to arrive at a pretty little meadow tucked into the woods. There were what I assumed to be Carolina satyrs flitting about in the grass and I stopped to switch my camera lens back to the 75-300mm I’d had on to photograph some dragonflies in another pasture.

Carolina satyrs can be a bit spastic but if you sit still long enough they’ll pause and let you take photos. They were being too spastic for me and kept moving further into the sunlight, which was actually a good thing, but as I stopped to pause and watch where they went, I caught something out of my right eye. Another butterfly—a much bigger one! Perched on a tree limb was some kind of swallowtail, one I thought was perhaps a black swallowtail but some of the darker swallowtails confuse me and I wasn’t completely sure. The Carolina satyrs were removed from my brain and my focus immediately became the swallowtail.

It spooked, of course, but then proceeded to fly to another tree in much better light and I was able to take photos. A few at first just to say I’d seen it but then I’d pause and move up a step or two, take a photo, and continue to repeat the pattern until I was in a much better position for a really great photo. The butterfly wasn’t thrilled with me so it bopped over to another tree two more times and I continued my butterfly paparazzi maneuvers. Finally satisfied with this chance encounter I left the butterfly to live its life (and later found out it was a dark morph eastern tiger swallowtail, which are all females), and meandered through the pasture to the east. My spirits were quite high after the butterfly encounter and I still hadn’t sat down to eat a snack for breakfast. I continued walking east, stopping to admire a dead oak tree and look for anything of interest on it, and to savor the walk so far. I found a thistle blooming and inched closer to find a green lynx making itself at home, waiting for prey to harvest for lunch.

By this time I knew I had been gone about an hour and despite my desire to continue wandering the pastures, to see where the property went further south and to the east, I slowly made my way towards the cabin. I had hoped there was an opening in the fence further to the south but instead found myself walking the fence line north to the open gate, paralleling the little creek I’d crossed further west. And sure enough, I was dumped out onto the dirt road next to the pond behind the cabin. I restrained myself from turning south and heading over a small hill and disappearing in exploration and instead turned toward the cabin knowing that maybe everyone would be awake by the time I arrived back. The coffee cravings were coming on and cooling off sounded nice, too.

Inside, Alisa was still snoozing away on the couch and the other two were still chatting quietly. I was glad I had ventured out. I hadn’t done something like that on my own since January 2020 when I’d taken my trip to Florida. Trips on planes…they seem so foreign now.

It’s hard to believe all of this was only a month ago because with school starting and COVID cases rising to January levels again, it boggles my mind my friends and I were able to make this little trip happen. I’m still impressed Chris and I managed to cram in the activities we did into June and July this summer.

Until the next adventure….

Mid-Summer Nature Tidbits | Neighborhood Nature


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Summer is slipping away and I feel like I have had my head down and haven’t been enjoying nature the last couple of weeks. Everything is happening in a blur. But the monarchs are here again, not that they totally left this summer, but we’ve had more hanging around this last week than I’ve seen since spring.

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And they’ve been leaving evidence of their progeny all over the place.

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I get a kick out of watching them methodically chow down on a milkweed leaf!

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I have not been able to identify this caterpillar yet. I found it on the path leading to our office and moved it over to a nearby tree.

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A tersa sphinx moth graced us with its presence on our porch earlier this week! What a cool moth to get to see up close! It stayed throughout the day and flew away that evening when I opened the door to go for a walk.

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This moth was also on the front porch for several days before I realized it was a moth. From a distance I thought it was an old pipevine swallowtail chrysalis (which I’m finding in all of the oddest places now) but it turned out to be a yellow-collared slug moth!

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I interrupted this fawn while on a walk one evening. I glimpsed over and thought it was really cute that it had a leaf hanging out of its mouth so I took a few shots and said hello and left it to finish dinner!

Those are the little tidbits going on around the yard and neighborhood right now. I’ll spare you the mowed milkweed spots that just break my heart to see. Or the houses being crammed into empty lots.

We’re back to hunkering down a bit more here since hospitals are full and school is in session. I’m feeling the desire to get back to this space again and have been craving autumn since the end of July. I don’t want summer blooms and growth to end but I am looking forward a bit to slightly cooler weather again and some camping trips.

July 2021 Rewind


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It’s feels like the first of July was in one year and the end of it was in another. What a long month it was! Apparently at the first of the month I was hanging out with a toad friend from the yard. Thank goodness for photos because I had completely forgotten about this happening!

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Before Chris and I left for San Antonio the weekend of the 4th I noticed that the pipevine chrysalis that was on Chris’ man-cave door had eclosed with a very fresh pipevine swallowtail butterfly. I was loading stuff into the car and noticed it was clinging to the chrysalis so I went in to grab my phone and by the time I had returned it had dropped to the ground and was having a hard time with the wet wings. I managed to get it onto my hand and transport it to one of our plumeria pots where it arranged itself to dry its wings. It was gone when we returned a few days later so I assume it was successful in drying its wings and no damage had been done. Thankfully the pipevine caterpillar mayhem has settled down a bit—I think we had two or three broods of caterpillars this spring—and the pipevine plants themselves have been able to recover.

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In San Antonio we visited the botanic garden which was lovely as always….

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and went for a hike at Government Canyon State Natural Area. That was a hot and steamy loop!

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We ate down at the Pearl Brewery area and then took a walk along the riverwalk and apparently the San Antonio river now has an invasive apple snail problem. *facepalm* We saw posted signs about it at first not far from La Gloria, and then we finally noticed egg cases as we made our way back down the other side of the riverwalk. Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of logged sightings on iNaturalist but I made a few to contribute. Houston has some populations and it does seem to be getting worse in the last few years and now it looks like San Antonio is infested. Cool. More information here

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Our little AirBnB on the NE side of San Antonio—despite it being adjacent to some restaurants owned by the same folks, it was really quiet all weekend. Out back was a hot tub and we met a feral cat friend that of course we had to supply with a bit of food for a couple of days.

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Meanwhile, Forest was living his best life with my parent’s and his cousin Grayson! We picked him up on the 8th in Waco where my parent’s met us. We had lunch before departing for our next trip for my birthday (which I wrote up here) to Dripping Springs.

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The lovely Pedernales on a gloomy overcast day.

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Ugh, and then on the 21st we had a very dramatic day. This is Rusty—the “good” cat for the moment. Chris was out of town but heading back from MS and Forest and I were heading out the door to head for daycare and work. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning so we weren’t in a rush but I was also trying to be diligent about time and get out the door when we were supposed to. Well, Mr. Dusty thought he would take the opportunity to slip between our legs and escape out the front door. He tried this once a few months ago but I managed to get him back inside quickly. This time he bolted out the door, turned left and proceeded to freak the eff out.

Meanwhile, I’ve got my bags and crap for the day, holding my keys, Forest has his backpack and is kinda standing there watching this chaos unfold in slow-mo. I throw my keys at the cat to try to stun him into stopping but I miss. I drop my stuff, shut the door so Rusty doesn’t decide to join his brother and then run around the side garden to try to corral Dusty. He starts heading for the compost pile and I can just see him wanting to dart over the fence. I manage to get him back to the banana trees at the garden and I tell Forest to go and get some treats so I can lure Dusty. Dusty is cowering and I think, stupidly, that I can corner him and get him. Nope. Meanwhile, frickin’ Miles the feral saunters over because he’s just had breakfast and wants to say hi (he’s very friendly and I’m pretty certain he was a house cat at one point) but I know Miles is also an asshole and would pick a fight with Dusty.

Dusty runs off to the far end of the garden near some bricks we have piled up from the original garden when we built it and hides there before cowering between the actual brick border of the garden and the chainlink fence. Miles, interested in this chaos, saunters over to us again, and I’m like, I’ve got to get Dusty now before a fight breaks out. I grab Dusty but he is *not having it* and is fighting with all his might. He latches onto the fence and the passiflora vine on the fence and pulls hard enough that I can’t hold onto him and then leaps over the fence!!!!

I don’t see where he goes but we have a gate on that fence and can venture into the neighbor’s yard. It’s wooded on that side and the house and lot are empty because it is for sale (for more than double what its worth!) so I don’t feel bad wandering around the yard. I find the deer that hang out there and look around logs and such. No Dusty. I’m about to break down at this point because it’s been 5-8 minutes of hell, Forest has to go to daycare and my appointment is at 8:15.

I post to Nextdoor immediately with photos of Dusty and a brief description and then I call Chris to let him know what’s going on. Of course he’s in like western Louisiana and cannot help until the afternoon when he will get home. We decide to just take Forest to daycare and I will go to my appointment and then come home after and try to find him.

When I return about an hour and a half later I start wandering around, shaking the treat box and search the woods. Nothing. Then I meander to a couple of the outbuildings and at a rotting and falling down shed I peer in and find the little jerk cowering in the corner. *phew* I think. I feel better seeing him. So I go to our shed and grab our pet crate, thinking that I will put it at one end of the shed he’s in and open it and I’ll sit nearby and start throwing treat at him until he gets closer. Dusty is the one who is easier to grab and the friendlier of the two (though since this happened, Rusty has opened up a lot more) and I assumed (wrongly) that I will be able to grab him.

Nope. He sees me set it down and I’m about to sit down and hang out with him and he bolts. The door doesn’t shut so it was cracked and the back end of the building is rotting with many openings so it isn’t like I could lock him in there. He runs out the door and around the building. I follow him but it’s evident he has gone under the building at one of the several entrances that it appears racoons or armadillos have dug. Cool.

I call Chris and meanwhile I’m also you know, supposed to be at work. I also had a conference call to listen in at 11 and I was beginning to doubt that was going to happen. Plus, between all of this I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I’d planned to grab something after my appointment but didn’t because I wanted to get home to find Dusty. I ended up setting the live animal trap we had and then went to work to get my laptop, attend the conference call, and grab a second trap we had at the office. The rest of the day was spent working and wandering the neighbor’s yard calling Dusty and checking the traps. Chris finally came home and he did the same thing I had been doing and we could only hope that eventually Dusty would get hungry and come out and walk into the trap. In the meantime we moved put Miles into our shed temporarily with water, food, and litter so he wouldn’t feel compelled to follow us or to explore and chase Dusty off. Miles isn’t one of ‘our’ ferals–he showed up about two years ago with a ratty collar and was super friendly, though also a bit of an asshole at times because he wasn’t fixed. About six months later he disappeared for a few days and when he came back he was ear tipped and had been fixed. I found out our neighbors had taken him in and he has since mellowed a bit. Anyway, he’s kind of a neighborhood cat now but he hangs out in our yard often.

Night fell and no Dusty. Chris got up at 11pm to check the traps and make sure no racoons had been trapped. Nothing. Oh, to make matters worse we had seen two baby racoons in the yard that evening and when I went upstairs after putting Forest to bed I looked out the front door just to make sure Dusty wasn’t sitting outside but I found the baby racoons snooping around instead. I figured we’d be catching baby racoons all night. Also, we were really worried because earlier this summer we finally saw a coyote on one of our game cams. We knew they were around but we finally had proof. Coyote and a scared cat—not a good combo.

Chris woke up again sometime around 4:30-5am and went back out to check. I woke from my dazed sleep when I heard the jingling of the cage being put down and I knew Dusty was in it. Chris was very emotional about it and Dusty was home. Big fat *PHEWWWWWW*. I wasn’t looking forward to spending another day looking for him. We went back to sleep/rest until it was time to get up and to let Dusty get himself together and by the time we came down again he was like, Oh, I’m home, hi there—I’ll take some pets! You could tell Rusty was relieved, too. He had spent the previous afternoon wandering around looking for him and became very clingy. He even slept up next to me that night which was not something he really does.

Needless to say we watch all doors like a hawk when leaving and entering. I’ve even had to go around to the back door a few times to knock on it to get the cats to move back from the front door. I really do not want to repeat this again.

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I went on a local field job with Chris again last week—very hot and muggy. But it was nice to get outside for a few hours.

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And then I closed out the month with a weekend with a few friends. It has been nice to start seeing folks again! Between meeting different people for lunches or attending a outside birthday party a few weeks ago for one friend’s son, just getting to see people has been great. Of course now we’re back to dealing with out of control cases because folks don’t want to get vaccinated, who knows how long this is going to last. Which kinda brings home the point that early July and late July were so drastically different in our approaches. We’d (the adults) stopped masking in most situations but by the end of it we were putting it back on.

And now, onward to August! School starts next week!

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