Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh How I Wish...

that this gorgeous rose were blooming in my garden! I just don't get enough sun. So I have to be, for the most part, content with shade plants, although I do have some Fairy Roses, a Rugosa, and a tea rose. The tea rose has never bloomed and the others only put out a few blooms. But bless the people who have enough sun and do choose to plant beautiful roses and other sun-loving flowers. I've never seen a rose that is such a perfect shade of apricot. And bless them twice for not picking it, but leaving it for passers-by to enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You Can Do It!

This little Acorn Woodpecker fledgling was trying for quite some time to pick up a peanut. Her parents had been coming to the feeder with her for three or four days. They would show her how to pick up the peanut, shove it in the tree bark crevice, and then they would peck little bits from the peanut and feed them to her. Every so often, they would not give her any, but would wait, looking at her as if to say, "OK. We've showed you how; now you feed yourself." She just looked at them and waited patiently for them to finally give in and give her peanuts.

Today they didn't come down to the feeder with her, but stayed in the branches several feet above her head. Mom and Dad would call out encouraging comments to her: "You can do it! You know you can!" and she would reply with a plaintive "I'm hungry, you come feed me!" The little one was sounding more and more desperate and I had heard no sound from her parents for several minutes (seemed like hours). Finally, she gave up her entreaties and started pecking around in the peanuts. It didn't take her too long before she had one and, from the branches above her, I heard the jubilant calls of her proud parents: "We KNEW you could do it! We're so proud of you! Now eat the peanut the way we showed you..."

After holding it up in her beak for a moment, as if to show her parents that she had, indeed, captured a peanut she pushed the peanut into a crevice in the bark of the large Ponderosa Pine the feeder is attached to and begin to peck out and swallow tiny peanut bits. She did this several times and then her parents joined her on the platform. I thought maybe she would revert to waiting for them to feed her, but happily, she continued right along feeding herself. Well done, little one!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dumb Animals?

This photo of Anthony was taken a few days ago when the temperature was about 79 degrees. We'd been enjoying a few weeks of blessedly cool weather previously with highs in the low 50's. Then, overnight, the thermometer jumped. I'd been keeping small fires in the fireplaces going during the previous weeks for the cats to bask in front of and warm their tummies, but, obviously, on this day no fires were needed. Obvious to everyone but Anthony. I said, "Anthony, if you're cold on a day as warm as this one, maybe I need to take your temperature and see if you're running a fever." He opened his eyes, looking alarmed, and shot under the couch almost before I could blink!
I think animals understand us FAR better than they want us to realize...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Babies

There is a family of skunks that lives under my potting shed. I'm not sure what generation this little one is, but they've been there for over 15 years. Neither I nor my husband have ever been sprayed. We move slowly and quietly around them, speak to them softly and they seem to know that we won't hurt them. They even brush against my legs like cats do when I'm sitting out in the garden at night! I have to admit, the first time I reached down to pet what I thought was a cat and then heard the little whirring "chirp" they make and realized it was a skunk it scared the you-know-what out of me.
I let them eat the leftover cat food that I put out for the strays and they repay me by eating Japanese Beetles and lots of other insects that would "bug" my garden if not for the skunks.
When the mother skunk first brings them out (she had 4 this year) they don't move without being in constant contact with each other. They look like they're "velcroed" to their Mama's sides...maybe it's the skunk way of holding hands. After about fifteen minutes the babies do begin to move away a bit from their mama, but she doesn't let them out of her sight, and she doesn't let them get more than a few inches away from her. She doesn't let them stay away from her for very long either. A couple of minutes apart and she's chirping and whirring to her babies, who all rush to "velcro" themselves to Mama. The little one in the picture above rejoined his, or her, Mama and siblings shortly after I snapped the picture. (Their little bodies are only about 4" long from tip of nose to end, and their tails are only about 2 1/2" to 3" long. When they're grown their bodies are about 12" and their tails are about the same length).
Soon we'll be seeing the new baby raccoons and squirrels. We've already seen the fledgling Stellar Jays, Black Headed Grosbeaks, Nuttall's Woodpeckers, Robins, Northern Flickers, Acorn Woodpeckers, Goldfinches and Purple Finches.
I feel so blessed to live in an area where I can watch and interact with so many of the wildings who graciously share their forest with me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chloe Rose

Our sweet Chloe Rose passed away on June 5th. She would have been 14 years old in August. She had Stomatitis, an extremely painful mouth disease. It was controlled, and she was pain free for over a year, but finally the medication ceased to help her have a good quality of life.

My husband and I are both devastated. I know some people just don't understand how we can be so heart-broken by the passing of a pet...well, to us she was, as are all our animals, our "four-legged child in fur." Or they say, "But you have more cats," not understanding at all that each and every one of them has a unique and individual personality. Each one is irreplaceable.

We found Chloe when she was a tiny kitten. Somebody had abandoned her in a huge city outside an auto paint shop. We looked to see if she might have siblings and a mother, but we found no one else.

It took some time for me to feel comfortable leaving her alone with our other cats and dogs, but eventually she settled in just fine. She loved to ride around on my shoulder and meow in my ear. I think maybe she was giving me instructions, lol. She talked more than any kitty we've ever had and she had such a large vocabulary! She used a different tone and sound to indicate if she was feeling grumpy, happy, hungry, curious, sociable, aloof, fearful, loving, sad or excited. She always had to have the last word and she would make a very distinctive "mrrrpftt!" as she walked away from a conversation to indicate she was done talking about that.

She loved for my husband to hold her in his arms like one would cradle a baby, reaching up with her paws to gently pat his face. At night she slept curled up on my head or my chest. She gave me little kisses on my nose and loved to shove her head under my chin, purring so loudly I was sure the neighbors could hear her.

There is an old cliche that propounds that time heals all. It doesn't. I've lost enough loved ones to know that time only makes the pain easier to carry. And I do believe that there is a life after this one, and that I will be reunited with my loved ones, both animal and human. Until then, I keep them with me as best I can by carrying them in my heart.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm Not Gonna Do It, YOU Do It

These are the strangest looking clouds I've ever seen up here and I've lived in these mountains for over 50 years. I took over seventy photos because they were changing constantly. I probably would have taken more, but I thought I caught the scent of ozone. I lowered my camera to look around and right then a bolt of lightning hit the lake, followed a nano second later by the loudest thunder I've ever heard. I'd just made it into the car (fortunately I had left the door open, otherwise I think I would have crashed right into it because I was so freaked out) when golf ball sized hail started crashing down. We never get hail that big in California!

When I got home, my husband asked me if I got a picture of the lightning bolt. I replied, "Uh...NO. I was too busy multi-tasking!" He looked puzzled and said, "Multi-tasking? Multi-tasking what?" I said, "Well, let's see. I was screaming, leaping into the car, holding my camera so it wouldn't get broken, closing the car door without getting my foot, leg or camera caught in it and saying Hail Marys faster than a high-priced auctioneer talks when he's tryin' to sell a three legged bull!"

My husband, looking dejected, said, "That's really too bad. It would have been a great picture." I said, "Well, it's still hailing, thundering and lightning out there, honey. YOU go get a picture of it."

"Me!? NO WAY!!"
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