Archive for May, 2010

Daily Lit

May 31, 2010

Last year I stumbled, online style, onto a fabulous website called Daily Lit.  You can check it out here. I read Walden Pond last fall, then this winter/spring I read Daily Spanish Lessons.  Now I’m reading “The Little Big Things” by Tom Peters.

It’s easy.  Even a resident moron like myself can finish a book by reading daily installments of about ten minutes worth of time. 

And.  It’s.  Free.  Coming to you every day in your email inbox.  If you want to keeping reading, just click a button to get the next installment.

Book reports optional.

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The BeidlerFest

May 29, 2010

From the Swamped! to the Swamp

Tuesday, May 25, 2010, found us at the Beidler Forest.  You can learn more about the Forest at their Audubon website here.  We took the boardwalk tour which winds through the forest for almost two miles. 

The main gate

There are other sources about the Beidler Forest – visit various websites full of information (using our friend Ms. Google), lots more information than I can provide.  I’ll just post the photos of our day with a little commentary here and there.

1000 Years in the Making

Hardwood trees are uprooted by the wind. Trees like pines will snap. Yup. Hardwood.

Same hardwood.

Same tree stretches into the forest.

On the rail in the photo above, you see the guidebook provided by the information center.  You make the tour at your own pace.

Tired of trees yet? There's more to come. Hey, what else would you expect. We're in a forest.

There's sunlight peeking through the canopy.

Another info marker. Sorry for the shadows. WE'RE IN A FOREST.

Cypress knees.

Sugar admires the cypress tree growing next to the boardwalk.

Two types of trees excel here, the Cypress and the Tupelo.

Bald Cypress.

Same tree from further back. I can't get any of these trees completely in one photo. Too big.

Same tree. More sunlight.

We used insect repellent before we got out of the car.  We had gone just a short distance along the boardwalk when we realized there were no insects.  No mosquitoes, no flies, no flying insects.  One of the info markers said the lack of insects was because of the insect-eating birds, and that mosquitoes will not lay eggs on flowing water.  This water appeared to be still, but apparently it moved so slowly that mosquitoes chose other breeding grounds.  There was a deliciously cool breeze that moved through the swamp under the canopy of trees, although the day was hot. 

A little yellow bird perched over our heads. A little insect-eating bird.

This little bird, the Prothonotary Warbler, nests in the hollow of trees.

The warbler perched over our heads and gave out a cheery little song of five tweets, although he does not belong to Twitter.  Sugar asked me if I could describe the song.  As if.  When I said, “Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet”, he just gave me a bad look, like I was making a bad joke.  But I wasn’t.  If you sing “tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet” in a high pitch, you could be mistaken for a Prothonotary Warbler.

Tiny tracks along the swamp floor.

This tree was cut down for some reason. The next two photos look inside the base of the tree. This is probably a tupelo gum, which is hollow.

The top of the stump.

Looking deeper into the stump, it's completely hollow to the ground, and there's an opening at the bottom.

The farthest point out on the boardwalk has an observation tower at the lake. We saw turtles sunning themselves, and Al E. Gator.

Closer to our friends, the turtles. One more is half-submerged in the upper left.

Same turtles, same poor photography. No telephoto lens.

This shot was taken looking the the opposite direction of the turtles. Mr. Al E. Gator is a whitish sliver floating along the lake.

The location of the whitish sliver has changed.

And Mr. Al has moved yet again. He's in the middle left of the picture.

Why are swamps important?

Look beyond the sign. The swamp is important because there is nothing else like it. It is a flooded forest, whereas a marsh is a flooded grassland.

And that’s your lesson for today.

The Death of the Cat

May 28, 2010

When I was in 4th grade, I finally had a best friend.  She had just moved into the town with her family, and she was really smart.  We were playing the what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up game, and she said that she wanted to be a lawyer.  I said that I wanted to be a veterinarian, and she said no you don’t.  It’s hard for me to make a decision, and her comment stopped me cold in my tracks.  I said, “Why not?” And she said, “Because you have to put animals to sleep.”

*****

The phone rang, and I answered a call from a client who requested the charge of putting two cats to sleep.  I gave him the information he needed, and the call ended.

Two cats.  People don’t request to euthanize two animals at the same time.  This thought started poking me, and I picked up the phone and called the man back.  I explained that I was just curious why he needed two cats put to sleep.  He said that they belonged to his brother-in-law, and that the cats were problems.  One cat was urinating outside the litter box, and the other one was just plain mean.  The mean one had bitten the owner just that day, and that was the last straw.  The cats had to go.  The owner’s wife had died, and they had a bunch of cats, and those two had to go.  He needed someone to take care of the deed for him.

The first man, our client, called later and made an appointment to euthanize the two cats.  I asked him on the phone if the cats could live outside, that I had a safe place for them if his brother-in-law would relinquish them to me.  He said, no, they couldn’t live outside, they’d only ever lived inside, and the cats had to be put to sleep.

The first man brought the cats at the arranged time.  He wanted to drop them off, and pick up the bodies later.  The brother-in-law, the true owner of the cats, was nowhere in sight.  I asked him why the cats needed to be put to sleep.  He said that the cats belonged to his brother-in-law’s wife, and she was deceased.  I thought he meant that the cats had changed their behavior after the death of the wife, but he said, no, she had some problems, and here he raised his hand to his mouth as if tipping up a drink.  She had been in a car accident last year, thankfully injuring no one except herself, and she later died as a result of the accident and the problems.  There were a lot of cats making messes, but these two were the most problematic, and the home had never been kept clean, was filthy, really.  And now that the mean cat had bitten, it was time to make a move. 

He left the crated cats with us, and we set about to do our business.  The first cat was elderly and ill, and had some facial distortions that were caused by tumors in her mouth pushing up behind her eyes, causing them to protrude.  It was clear that euthanasia would be a kindness for her. 

The second cat was a different matter.  She hid in the back of the crate with her face into the corner, crying piteously.  We reached into the crate, and spoke to her, and pulled her out.  She hid herself in our arms and asked for help.  I looked at the vet, he looked at me, I said that I would take this cat home, the other assistant informed me that I couldn’t help all of them, and I refrained from reminding her that she didn’t have a problem when I spayed and rehomed four of her cats when she got evicted, at no cost to her. 

We re-crated the cat, and waited for the man to return.  When he did, I spoke to him and offered to take the cat.  He said, no, that the cat was too mean and that his brother-in-law wouldn’t be responsible for injuries caused by the cat.  I pleaded again, and he said that he understood what I was trying to do, and that he appreciated it, but he had a responsibility to carry out the request of his brother-in-law, and that he couldn’t go back to his brother-in-law and tell him that he didn’t honor his request. 

And the deed was done.

Later that evening I picked up a copy of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and on the cover, looking back at me, was the cat, or her twin, lounging like a cat should, and not living in a filthy place with a substance abuser.  But the owner got what he wanted, and all the players in this little game upheld his right and privilege to decide how and when his cat would die.

LibraryFest

May 25, 2010

What do you do with a couple days off?  Why, you have a libraryfest!

On Sunday evening, there was a sudden storm coming in from the east, with one tornado spotted east of me and another spotted to the west, and hail to boot.  Monday was all clear, so Sugar and I set off for Columbia in search of a libraryfest.

I’ve always heard that Columbia was the hottest place on earth, a real armpit of civilization.  By some strange reasoning, I never wanted to go.  I’d been there once to the public library as an offshoot of a trip to see the BabyGirl when she went to college in a nearby town.  It was a good library, but I couldn’t spend much time there, and I didn’t go anywhere else in Columbia.  Imagine my surprise when we found a shady, pedestrian-friendly, colorful downtown.

The Richland County Public Library

Need proof that I didn’t steal this photo online?

Ole Yeller

Here’s a pitcher of my car in front of the lie-berry.  Sore-thumb much?  But look at all the other cars.  Dull and drab.  Easy to find this little car in a crowd.  The street in front of the library was divided with a median of shady trees.  Love it.

Sugar found the article he wanted, about Garnett and Lawton stuff of course, we made copies, and went in search of lunch.  The folks at this library were super friendly and helpful, so I took a chance that someone could tell us where we could walk for a quick lunch.  One of the nice ladies at the check-out desk suggested the Gotham Bagel Cafe, only a block away. 

As it turned out, the restaurant was near the state house, but we didn’t stop in to see Mark Sanford.  We were more interested in something more interesting.  The restaurant was located in a redeveloped area.

A former movie theatre

It wasn’t quite lunch time so the place was nearly empty.  When we tried to order the “ministrone” soup that was listed as a special, we were told that it was sold out.  How a misspelled soup was sold out before lunch even began was a little confusing, but, anyway, that’s the story we got.  The food that we DID get was fabulous.  It was some kind of yummy hummus in a spinach wrap.  We were really whooping it up so we got a beer that we split between us.  Now, that’s living it up.  Just for fun, one of the beers in the case appeared to be Biblical.  The name of the company was “He-Brews”. 

On the walk back to the car, I took pictures of random stuff.

Giant chain holds the bagel joint to the jewelers next door.

Only 12:15. Finished with lunch and the day is young.

I see the word fountain but I don't see water.

No time for culture at the Museum of Art - we're going to another lie-berry.

Hydrangeas and azaleas

Our little town only has three traffic lights. Check out the power that the Columbia citizens have.

We got directions from the friendly library people on how to get to the Caroliniana Library on the campus of the University of South Carolina.  It was fairly easy to find although the building didn’t face the street. 

You are here. Sorry about the bird poop on the sign.

The marker reads as follows: 

The central portion of this structure is the oldest freestanding college library in the United States and has served continuously as a library since its completion in 1840.  It is based upon design elements by South Carolina native and nineteenth-century federal architect Robert Mills.  Its reading room was inspired by Charles Bullfinch’s 1818 design for the US Capitol’s Library of Congress room, which was destroyed by fire in 1851.

Known only as the College Library for its first 100 years, wings designed by architect J. Carroll Johnson were added in 1927.  When a larger main library was erected in 1940, this building became a repository for published and unpublished materials relating to the history, geography, literature, and culture of South Carolina.  It was named the South Caroliniana Library – the term “Caroliniana” meaning “things pertaining to Carolina.”

*****

The library itself was on the second floor.  The librarian explained that this was a “closed stack” library, meaning that the staff had to retrieve the books and research materials, which meant that you had to have a clue what you were looking for, since you couldn’t browse the shelves.  There was an immense card catalog to browse, but that just wasn’t the same.  Sugar found a pamphlet about the 1963 Lawton Family reunion, written by Inabinette, which was retrieved for him.  The staff also had to make copies, and they didn’t do it right that minute, so copies had to be mailed to you.  We didn’t stay too long there. 

We went on to the State Archives and History Center.  They didn’t ask me how to improve their system, so I didn’t tell them, but I will tell you that the guard with the gun at the reception desk was friendly, but the staff at the desk in the research room didn’t even speak to us when we entered or left.  There were lots of microfilm there, but that takes lots of time to search.  We weren’t looking for anything specific, just checking the place out to see what they had to offer.

We went home by the scenic route, which added an hour to a two hour trip.  It was a lovely day with a couple of good finds, and the weather held out with no bad storms.  Road trip, anyone?

Another Time, Another Place

May 21, 2010

Once upon a time I was married. The person that I married was very confident and self-important. His entire family took pride in who they were, although they didn’t seem to be anybody very important at all. They took pride in their family name, and they took pride in their happy little family unit, and they took pride in their pride. They scrubbed their faces and their floors and their cars, and everything shone in their pride of self.  It was an interesting concept to me.

My mother-in-law’s parents were a tyrannical little Frenchman named Moselle and a sweet Swedish cookie named Jaderberg (Yah-deh-bear).  My husband explained that his grandfather was from the Moselle region of France.  You know the place, the Moselle valley, the Moselle wine.  Ah, of course, others would smile and agree, oh, yes, of course. 

During and after my divorce, my mother-in-law did something unheard of.  She sided with me.  Not with her own dear eldest blood child, but with me.  She decided that he was wrong, and that I was wronged, and that she would choose not to choose him.  She was my greatest ally, and my champion, and a source of great strength. 

She died in 2006.  My father-in-law has since moved on, and has recently met someone that he adores.  She’s very nice, and I can’t even look at her.  It makes me too sad because I miss my mother-in-law so much.  She died too young.

So I decided that I will make a family tree for her memory on my ancestry.com account.  I found her father, Mr. Moselle, in 1930, and further back in 1920.  Both times he is living in the home of his parents.  In 1930, his father, also Mr. Moselle, claimed that his birthplace was in France and that his mother tongue was French.  But in 1920, something weird happens.  He claims that he was born in Austria, and that his mother tongue was German. 

I finally found this little family in the 1910 census, living as lodgers in a boardinghouse, and now their last name is Mozell, and our head of the household, Mr. Mozell, is from Germany and his mother tongue is German. 

That’s a heck of a long way from the vineyards of France.  And I’m a heck of a long way from Tennessee.  Our lives take such odd twists and turns that no one can predict, and we form alliances where they shouldn’t exist, and when the bad comes, hopefully we get up and go on.  We reshape and reinvent ourselves to make the best of our situations. 

Sleep well, Mozells.

A Bumper Crop

May 18, 2010

Sir Richard has done it again. 

He reported a sad-looking mother dog scrounging food along the roadways.  He has been observing her actions for a few weeks, and finally found where she had her nest of puppies.  It was under an old house, the kind of old house that sits up on brick piers, and has been a popular form of house construction, until the advent of poured concrete slabs.  From what he could tell, there were perhaps four puppies.  He managed to crawl under and pull them out, but while he was retrieving the last puppy, the collector neighbors came along and wanted their children to hold the puppy.  Richard let them, the children put the puppy on the ground, and the little wild thing skittered away under the underbrush.

A few days later, someone reported a puppy under another old abandoned house.  Richard set the now infamous dog trap, and after several days trapped the pup.   But.  Heard puppy sounds yet from under the house.  Great.  Another puppy.  Now we’re up to five.  Richard kept setting the trap, and his constant coming-and-going and checking of the trap was annoying some of the neighbors in a near-by trailer.  Methinks they were up to no good in this little village of drugs and dog-fighting, but perhaps they were only mentally ill.  Anyway, after a few days, no puppy, so he figured that the poor pup had moved on.

Last week, on Mother’s Day, the BabyBoy and I went to see Mama Florrie.  One of her grown sons, One-Eyed Edgar, reported a puppy under their shed.  We relayed that info to Richard who set the trap there, and caught, not one, but two puppies. 

So this past Sunday, The Sugar and I went to fetch puppies.  We took four, and left the two wilder ones with Richard for the time being.  We set up a dog house in the turtle yard (Kyle has moved on), and they hid in it in a big heap of fear.  On Monday, they got an exam and their first vaccination, and I delivered them to the shelter. 

The pups were not far from being feral.  They were born into the wild, eating whatever garbage they could, and hiding at the slightest sound.  They had perhaps not actually seen people, since they were constantly on the run, and didn’t know what the touch of a human felt like.  The smallest one made frantic biting gestures from solid fear, like we were going to eat him and he was defending himself. 

No pictures.  Too sad to photograph.

(Update:  Last evening Richard reported that Kenny, a local alcoholic who sits down at the store on the old propane tank & drinks beer, saw *two* puppies under an abandoned building next to the store.  Yup.  Same litter.)

Georgia & Jopty Gerbil

May 16, 2010

Jopty in the Lion's Den

Jopty is a fearless gerbil.  When the cats come around to visit him, he pops right up on his shelf and looks them right in the eye.  If they swat at him, he grabs one of the cage bars with his tiny paws and gnaws ferociously on the bar.  I think that he would go nose to nose with them even if the cage bars were not between them.  The first time it happened was with Sylvia, who is sometimes feral.  She smacked at him and made the cage vibrate.  I stopped her, and she doesn’t do it any more, at least not when I’m looking, but she loves to sit and watch him. 

Now Georgia has caught on to the latest fad, and she likes to watch him race around the cage.  Then he’ll jump on his wheel and make it whirl furiously, as if to say, “Watch this.  I’m strong and big and bad.  Watch this wheel go.”  Then he’ll run back to the shelf and stare her down. 

I did not know that rodents had personality, and now I know what Michael Jackson’s song “Ben” was about.

Georgia: "Yoo-hoo! Is anyone home?"

 

Jopty: "Rawrrrhhh! I'm mighty and I will crush you!"

 

Georgia: "Hmm. Remind me later to be afraid."

Cardinals of Spring

May 13, 2010

Baby cardinals: "Welcome, spring! Where's my lunch?"

SOuth CArolina

May 12, 2010

Little SoCa

The latest star in our never-ending line-up is little SoCa.  She was trapped last night, whisked away to the Snay/Neuter Alliance & Clinic this morning, and is rehabilitating this evening in a large dog crate located within the confines of the cat station, and outfitted with food, water, a litter box, and a box to hide in.

When I checked the trap last night, I had caught Mr. Biggins, who was trapped and fixed a few weeks ago.  He was very annoyed at himself to have fallen for the same canned-food-in-the-trap ruse, and hissed and growled mightily with his displeasure.    I reset the trap with the remainder of the food that Mr. Biggins left behind, and this morning I find SoCa, a ferocious feral in her own right.  She looks harmless within the confines of the trap, but she struck out at me when I got closer to the trap.  Good thing I don’t get my feelings hurt easily.  Everybody’s entitled to an opinion, and yes, I do know what opinions are like. 

Here’s the problem with spaying a feral female:  It’s major surgery, and they need rest and recuperation, which means confinement.  It’s difficult and scary to confine a feral cat.  Fortunately, I have a place for them that’s safe in the woods at the cat station.  Before I lived here, I kept them in my garage in the same big dog crate that SoCa is using.  Sometimes they got out in the garage when I was changing the litter box or feeding them, and they led me on a merry chase.  I’d set the trap, they’d elude me, I’d set the trap, they’d poop in the corner, etc.  The skills I have learned cannot be listed on a resume. 

After I moved here to the Swamped! Plantation and Cat Poop Processing Facility, the veterinarian that I worked for allowed me to leave the ferals at the clinic for several days for rehab.  (I used my patented cardboard box method of rehab and transportation, patent pending.)  That vet has since left the clinic, and the new vet’s wife is allergic to cats.  Go figure.  So I use the Spay/Neuter facility now.  SoCa is the first female I’ve trapped since the new vet took over, and I’ve had to fashion the dog crate system again. 

SoCa is a little petite girl with longish hair.  She might weigh about five pounds, and so would be about five months old.  A good rule of thumb for figuring a young cat’s age is one month for every pound of weight, up to about eight months/pounds.  (Put that on a resume and see what happens.)  Cats seem to level off about seven or eight pounds, although some just keep growing, like Nuther Feral who weighed about twelve pounds. 

So.  It seems there is a never ending supply of cats.  Wasn’t that a children’s book?

(Sunday, May 16, 2010, little SoCa was released.)

Nuther Feral

May 9, 2010

Nuther: "It's not my fault I was born beautiful."

Last week, I trapped a nuther feral.  He is the big gray and white male that was sitting in the cat dormitory, watching, while Marcellene and another male were enjoying the day.

Note the classic posture

This guy weighed 12 pounds.  That’s a pretty good size for a wild cat that has to depend on scrounging for food.  Of course, there’s no telling how long he’s been dining at Operation Catnip’s Restaurant, where free food flows like manna from heaven. 

Nuther: "Why is there no Make-up Department at this location? I need to powder my nose."

Nuther had wounds on his face, possibly from fighting or possibly from smacking his face into the trap in an effort to get out.  When we returned to the cat station after surgery, he had to stay in the trap all night.  He was very dopey from the anesthesia, and it would have been unsafe, for him, to let him go since he couldn’t navigate without falling down.  He could have ended up in one of the drainage canals nearby and would have been unable to get out, and would have drowned in an effort to do so.  He was happy to exit the trap the following morning.  I haven’t seen him again, and probably won’t until I get my WILDLIFE CAMERA.  O the joy.