Saturday, July 29, 2017

No Good Deed

Leaving William at his gym workout, Murphy and I began walking along a familiar path. At the gazebo, I was started to see a small woman curled up on the bench inside a gazebo surrounded by meager belongings. I wondered if she was hungry. Well, there, that's what I'll do with my time waiting for William: Murphy and I would walk to McD's and buy her some lunch.

Passing the car wash, a yippy dog surprised us with irritating barks. Murphy swung out on her leash but kept going. We'd done so well this morning in our "Wallflowers" class and in general, Murphy has been getting less fearful. (Note: work on small yappy dogs) At McDs, an older woman asks if she could take me home with her, confusing me. She then blessed me for the "work" I am doing with the dog. I don't bother to correct her (I am selfishly training this dog for my own son) because it would invite a long conversation. I accept my blessing. 

Placing my order, I go to get a drink. Murphy is used to establishments where I need to check out, and I made the mistake doing a sit-stay and letting go of the leash. At that very moment, two young girls emerged from the restroom located for best sanitation right near the drink station. "P-U-P-P-Y!!" they shrieked.

Murphy paused, her ears back. Then, she bolted. Without thinking, I stepped on her leash, a trick that usually works. The tile floor was slippery and my right leg slid and I went down on my left, hitting the base of my nose on the chair in front of me. I did successfully hang on to Murphy and I luckily was not holding the drink.

Tears streaming down, I wondered if blood was also shooting out of my nostrils. "I'm fine," I protested as I opened the door of the men's room. The women's is always on the right, isn't it? I noticed before breaking all the bathroom laws recently enacted to keep us all safe from people that need to pee.

Just then, my phone rang. I answered, promising to return the call in five minutes. My nose appeared unbroken, no blood, so I straightened up, marched out and got my chicken nuggets, not looking at anyone. We passed the yippy dog (teach your dog manners, for God's sake!) and got to the gazebo. It was a small man, not a woman at all! Murphy would not approach, so I asked if he was hungry and left the food on one of the benches. I got another blessing as Murphy pulled me away.

Sigh. Maybe next time we'll go sit at the library. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Treasures

Shells from the beach sit in boxes in my closets. I am the keeper of these small mementos from vacations past. Each year, more are added. Pinterest is mentioned occasionally (by others), but I'm saving crafty years for when they put me in "the home" along with crocheting kitchen wash cloths. I mark the box "SHELLS" and return it to the closet.

In cleaning out some closets, I found I had more than one stash of this precious commodity. It was time to cull some of the less desirable shells, some chipped, some completely broken. ("I found a piece of a sand dollar!") I gathered these shards and thought it such a shame, carried a thousand miles to home, to relegate them to the landfill. I decided to dump them in our creek. 


My husband objected, "You'll throw off some future archaeologist!" Perhaps ruin the local ecology? Pffah! The idea of puzzling some future human only adds to my the fun of it. Our creek has long been a treasure trove of finds. We also have hundreds of pounds of horn coral in my keeping. 

Horn coral is pointy rock in the middle
As our creek has widened and the banks eroded, many of these horn coral lay as proof that millions of years ago, our land was underwater and a sea was home to these creatures. We also often find broken glass, washed from upstream and the occasional virus. 


This bend in the creek which used to be the only "swimming hole" is no longer the only deep place in the creek now and itself, is much deeper. It is home to frogs, tadpoles, and some small fish - oh, and of course, those little skimming water-walker insects. It is flanked by the "elbow tree".


The creek was one of the strong attractions to moving here. There is so much to learn just laying there.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Imperialis

My breath caught when I first saw it from the other side. A Luna Moth! I thought from the size. I was confused when I saw all the brown. I'd not seen this type of giant moth before. I Googled on my phone "from the silk moth family". It is an Imperial Moth, or Eascles imperialis of the Saturniidae family. Her wingspan is 4.5 inches.

Immediately, I worried that perhaps our elementary school experiments had ruined the local ecology and released silk moths in our neighborhood. We used to mail order the eggs and grow them to caterpillars, feeding them the mulberry paste or gathering leaves from our own mulberry tree. I don't remember releasing the moths, in fact, I do remember the caterpillars forming a cocoon - we watched them spin it - but I don't remember any moth ever hatching.

I was relieved to learn that this particular moth is indigenous to our area. I am seeing so many moths these days because I've been leaving on the porch light at night as a deterrent due to some robberies in the area. My niece asked me to look for caterpillars or cocoons, as she wanted to hatch some moths, but in this particular subfamily of moths, when the caterpillars are ready to pupate, they burrow underground. I have been keeping an eye out for the dead moths (they live only a few days after mating) but they have all flown off.

It seems over the years, I've written a number of blogs on moths and butterflies. You can find them by using the search box on this blog.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Grandmother Tree

If ever I leave this place, I will miss the trees. Kentucky is filled with trees but these are our trees. They are like old friends. Many I remember when they were much smaller. Some, we have planted ourselves. Two were transplanted from our first house. Two average sized oaks stood over our pool for over a decade, giving us shade but also causing yellow algae. The pool is now gone, the twin oaks are majestic and shade our house. We have an evergreen grove, baby trees planted by my husband when we first moved. He was going to transplant them around the property, but somehow, they got too big before he thought to do it. It makes a nice place for deer to sleep.

The tree I treasure most you would not see if you came to my house. It is on the hill in the back overlooking the creek. I call it our "Grandmother Tree". I often think about the history of our property, what it might have been like before Europeans arrived, who might have lived here before and since. We are only 5 miles by bird to the Ohio River, so it is not hard to imagine that natives roamed my creek, though I've found no proof.

This Grandma Tree is still healthy. She needs a few limbs removed, but shows no trunk rot. Measuring 177" or almost 15 feet in circumference, it is in the white oak family. I used "Leaf Snap", an app for identifying tree leaves, to determine that it was a white oak. Then, using a calculation for oak trees, I figured that this tree is 282 years old. This means it sprouted in 1735 or so.

The first main excursion into Kentucky didn't occur until 1750 when Thomas Walker came through the Cumberland Gap. Some of my ancestors would later follow this route to settle here. Many of my ancestors were still in Europe. This tree would have been 15 years old already when the first Europeans started infiltrating this land. It would have been a 34 year old tree when Daniel Boone led his first expedition and a full grown adult 40 year old tree when he founded the first permanent European settlement. Dan Boone was all over this land and could easily have sat under our tree. He wouldn't recognize the spot: the creek is much wider (due to runoff from development in the neighborhood) and I'm sure many trees weren't as hardy as our Grandmother tree.

If only she could tell me what she has witnessed...

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Midnight with Paris

Last week, I woke, as I frequently do at night to look at my BG watch, but this time, sat bolt upright in bed. Paris was not at the end of the bed where I routinely put her before falling asleep myself. High up, she cannot get down by herself. I'd forgotten her! Well, she sleeps like the dead, both blind and deaf, and is old and small, so I often have to go looking for her curled under my desk or in Murphy's open crate (a much better spot than her own crate).

No! Did I forget to let her back in after going outside to potty? She sometimes will start wandering around the house if she loses her way. This is only in the last few days - she used to go out and come right back in, scratching at the front door. I panicked - we were having a new septic tank system installed. In the back yard, there was a hole, 8 feet deep, with the new, large tank in it.

I grabbed my largest flashlight and ran out in my nightgown. And there she was, at the bottom of the pit, circling the tank, around and around, looking for a way out of the vertical mud walls. Thank God, she was all right by appearances. But, how to get her out?

I woke my husband and had him hold the extension ladder, conveniently nearby due to my painting jobs. I climbed down and scooped her up. The hole was filled in the next day. Thank goodness I found her because the next day, I told the contractor the story and that he was lucky to not have found a skunk in the pit. He replied that he would have just filled in the pit on top of it. Paris' coloring - well, he might have thought her a skunk.

I can't figure out how she fell without any injury, but she was without a scratch. From that day forward, I take her out and wait until she does her business and carry her back inside. Other than she can't smell very well (she's brachycephalic), see or hear, and apparently can fall without injury, she'll likely live forever. She is otherwise in excellent health.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Death by Paris

Well before my children learn to drive, I throw out pearls of wisdom on safe driving. "If you see a deer cross the road, slow way down. There will likely be another deer with it." This week, I added another pearl of wisdom: "If you see poop on the floor from a toy breed dog, look for pee." 


Early yesterday morning, no coffee yet, I walked into our sun room where I store the dog food. I see that Paris, a 14 year old blind and deaf Japanese Chin, left me a "present". I fill my container with kibble and turn to go to the kitchen. In cartoonish fashion, my foot hit the pee puddle and I went down hard. Kibble flew up into the air. Bruised but not injured, my back was soaked in dog urine. 

I fed the dogs as fast as I could so that I could get out of those clothes and into the shower. Bright Spot: my husband did not slip in it, which might have ended poor Paris.

I'd like to say that Paris leaves such presents because she can't find the front door, but despite letting her out many, many times of the day, she seems to have a bladder the size of a thimble and when crated, has a screech that would rival fingernails on a chalkboard and a face only a mother could love.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Juice Box

I was shopping alone one day (a rarity) and the store was playing "Mama's Got a Squeezebox" by The Who. When it got to the part "in and out and in and out" I could not help think of the night before when my son was dropping low all night and I pictured a harried, tired mom in red light going in and out of a bedroom to treat T1D kid. I was laughing about that with my husband, that it could make a great video, and he suggested "Mama's got a juice box" as we often treat lows with juice boxes many kids will sip in their sleep.

 So, I rewrote the lyrics. Here they are. I think it would be a fun video but I don't know how you'd get around the copyright.
Juice Box
Mama's got a juice box
She’s always doing her best
And when the BG’s dropping low
She never gets no rest
'Cause she's testing all night
To get the BG just right
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night
Well the kid’s sound asleep
When the Dex starts to beep
There's no escaping the ‘betes
Sucking down something sweet
'Cause she's testing all night
To get the BG just right
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night
She goes in and out and in
And out and in and out and in and out
'Cause she's testing all night
To get the BG just right
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night
She goes, please me, come on damn BG,
Come on and rise so I can sleep.
But child, I do love you.
Mama's got a juice box
And she never sleeps at night

If you are unfamiliar with the song, what rock have you been living under?, you can listen to it here.

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