When teeth work better than pruning shears
Thursday December 23rd 2021, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

A Shaun the Sheep ad for wool, just for fun and so I can find it again.

Remember when I named a lace pattern (after not finding it anywhere else) Rabbit Tracks? Search engines having had their limitations in 2003, I looked for pictures of actual tracks made by rabbits to see if it fit and found no definitive answer–drawings in children’s books didn’t count–so I just went with it.

Well, I got a little help today after looking a little closer at the lace pattern certain claws and teeth were making in the mud out there. Again, it wasn’t quite definitive but it looked like a decent approximation. Alright then.

My yard looks like it has chicken pox and I’ve never seen anything quite like it out there.

So I had this post hopping around in my head gathering momentum about how I guess the whole rabbit thing is okay because they’re eating the weeds that I’ve been trying to fight off ever since the first time they told us not to water our lawns for the previous drought. The grass died. The weeds held a rave.

Worse: a few years ago, my neighbors planted an invasive but decorative tall grass that grows in impenetrable clumps with a bajillion poofy seeds that fly off like dandelion puffs, and all the sudden last summer it was everywhere in my back yard. Everywhere. Despite zero watering. The roots go deep and I found out the hard way that the stalks rip your skin off if you don’t wear gloves and when they’re growing under the thorns of the low-branching pomegranate tree and threatening to outcompete its roots, I had me some doubt as to how far this was all going to go.

Apparently, non-native flora or not, those rabbits really go after the stuff.

And the grass, our grass, real grass, is actually starting to make a comeback because the critters don’t touch it.

I was thinking, hey, I can live with that, as movement caught my eye and I looked across the yard.

A third one.

All in view, point A, point B, point C.

Three. And spring is a long way off yet.

Yow.

Well, they’d better get back to work, then, those shoots aren’t going to get any younger nor more tender. (LEAVE MY FRUIT TREES ALONE.)



Go Rod!
Saturday December 18th 2021, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

All the noise and random people walking around didn’t happen today and it apparently seemed safe to venture forth. Look who’s grown some winter fluff.

You know it’s a quiet day when the best you can do is take a picture of a rabbit.

I did get a hat doorstop-ditched to celebrate a friend’s retirement; his wife has bronchitis so I didn’t ring the bell. Instead, I went around the corner afterwards and texted Richard so he could tell the recipient (since they were already on the phone together) to go find his surprise.

Not the party we would all have wanted to throw together, but hey. Love finds the expressions it needs.



Putting the kiBosch on that
Friday November 05th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Chris got back to me right away this morning, then again this afternoon after the manufacturer answered his questions.

That product didn’t have amyl nitrite exactly–but it had (and he named various substances) and it appears I’d had a cross-reaction. No problem, there was an alternative. The original takes 24 hours to off-gas, this would be faster anyway.

Remembering the amyl nitrite in the new carpeting at church that lingered hellishly, affecting two of us for months despite many efforts to air it out, 24 hours sounded like the best possible news except for the even better part.

I went outside to see the day’s work about 4:30 again and was quite relieved to be okay. I had ditched the errands I’d planned on for the day because I wanted to be quite sure I’d be safe to drive after walking out my own door.

And look at that–they’d told me multiple times just to make sure I had no objections that they were using 8″ board, not 6″ like the original. To my surprise, I liked it much better. And not just because it’s pretty and new.

Just before I stepped back in the door there was the faintest brief whiff, right there, same spot, yup, and I hurried past it. By tomorrow it’ll be gone entirely.

The funny part of all this was yesterday when Chris stopped by the site and the workers came off the roof to talk to him–as a van pulled up, searching for where on earth to park. The next-door neighbor has a contractor working at their place, too.

And so the dishwasher repairman with his bag of tools in hand found himself walking a bit of a gauntlet there down my walkway while Chris and his guys were wondering silently, Wait, who is this??

Because yes, Sunday morning we found an error 24 code on the machine and it was stopped up like a washing machine in a household with disappearing baby socks. The disposal was clear. I finally found someone who does Bosches.

Five minutes and $238 later, rounding out to a half hour for his standing there punching buttons making the thing go through its paces to make sure it stayed working, and I figured, well, if you want a repairman to be where he has to pay Silicon Valley rent, then that’s what you do. And you smile and you thank him for coming while he was clearly waiting for an argument that was not coming and you thank him for making it so you didn’t have to wait three, four months for a replacement machine like how it is these days and then you send him off with a pomegranate you tell him you’d picked that morning and you get to see the surprise and growing wonder in his face and the delight as he admired this piece of beautiful, deeply-hued fresh fruit in his hands that he was so not expecting.

I’d found a third of the shell of one on the ground a few hours earlier, the rest completely cleaned out, and had picked a few that were still in reach of those wild rabbits. My line of bird netting tents wasn’t going to block their way forever (clearly).

They may be pretty animals.

But they don’t smile back and walk a little lighter for it on their way back to their van way over yonder.

I have a working dishwasher again!



Tag-teamed
Sunday October 31st 2021, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

We got our Moderna boosters yesterday (yay!) and figured today was going to be a day for taking it real easy.

I haven’t much minded the desert cottontail in the garden–as long as there was only one. Which had been the case. Yeah it seems to like pomegranates, though I’ve never quite caught it actually eating one, just, the lower ones have mostly disappeared and I’ve seen it by that tree; as long as it didn’t figure out how to get to my netting-protected mangoes we’re good.

Maybe.

But this morning….

And then I went into the kitchen. The dishwasher was flashing an error code. Not working.

He’ll get to it tomorrow. Today was just not the day. Yay for there still being Zoom church, that, we could manage, and then we crashed.

 

 



Raising the stakes
Thursday October 28th 2021, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

In case you’ve ever wondered about a hawk’s carrying capacity re pets. (The short answer: unless you have a favorite rat running around outside unattended, basically, no worries.)

Meantime, my husband came around the corner this afternoon after a work meeting that I had not realized was a Halloween party by Zoom. I looked up to see my favorite 6’8″er bouncing off the ceiling.

Literally. At the end of the hall where it comes down a bit. I kind of stared a moment, having expected none of this.

Three got kind of squished together in the process, but there were seven of them, and he was looking quite pleased with himself. That costume was so him.

As if having to duck through standard doorframes might not be enough.



Coopernicus Junior
Tuesday October 26th 2021, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

It completely made my day when an adult Cooper’s hawk showed up this morning and hung around, unafraid of my movements with the camera. ‘Here, let me give you a profile view now.’ It was giving the local crows and ravens a seasonal heads-up that it does, in fact, own this space.

And to remember that.

And then it swooped down past the windows of my newly-widowed neighbor, an avid birdwatcher, to offer her comfort, too.



Wearing shades
Friday October 08th 2021, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Why peregrine falcon facial markings vary the way they do. Fascinating.

Meantime, the heart monitor is on and quietly doing its thing.



The song of the Ivory-billed woodpecker
Friday October 01st 2021, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Musings on the official pronouncement of their extinction (with apologies to John Denver)

All my bugs were pecked

I was ready to go

My stands of woods are now your door (and house and office and and and)

Too long we were so lonesome, now we’re gone

So killed me, now cry for me

Tell me that you’ll pray for–well, the pileateds, anyway, since they’re still around

Tell folks let the older forests grow

Because we’re leaving like the jet stream

Don’t know if their numbers will make it back again

Our climate hates to go

Dream about the days to come

Bring endangered species along

Come the time, your children should get to say

We did it, we brought them back

Made hard choices, it paid off

Look up: how the peregrine falcon soars!

 

-Alison



Raptor for Ronna
Friday August 20th 2021, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Wildlife

I posted yesterday before dinner, early for me.

About an hour later I got the news.

Ronna and her husband moved into town when Luke was a small child, and she was one of those people who is always looking out for everybody around her. Their family grew during the years they lived here and we hoped we would get to see their kids grow up.

But when the rent on their house hit close to four times our mortgage a few years ago, her husband took a job in Fresno and they moved to where they could buy their own house for the first time.

Eventually, he changed jobs again and they moved back. Sort of. Over near the beach about an hour away, and I wanted to figure out how to get together and catch up and see her kids bigger and all that–but for the pandemic.

Meantime, she’d taken up running.

Last I heard she was training for the big one, the Boston Marathon.

Two days ago, Luke was not just getting taller in pictures on Facebook, she was driving him to Utah for college; her folks live near there and she was going to get a visit in with them while getting him settled in for his freshman year.

Thirty minutes from arrival they were hit head-on by a drunk driver and rear-ended. By the injuries, it looks like she swerved hard to avoid the drunk, sparing Luke most of it and taking the brunt herself; he broke his shoulder. But they both lived. I have no idea about the drunk.

She has a long, long road ahead of her and the surgeries to try to save her leg have begun.

There are the covid restrictions on visitors.

Her brother works in the trauma hospital she was taken to, as do other people she knows.

Her sister-in-law’s brother was the first cop to arrive at the scene.

There is so much love surrounding her and her son right now, and someday when she comes home, man, we are going to celebrate!

I had wondered who I had bought this blank card for last year and why but in the moment I needed it it was perfect.

And then today, while thinking about Ronna and all she and her family are having to go through, and if anybody could handle it it would be her, but man–

–I happened to look up.

There was a Cooper’s hawk on the fence.

The nearest two tall trees they nested in are gone now and with an outbreak they’ve asked people not to keep their birdfeeders up. I hadn’t seen a Cooper’s but once in a quick pass-through in a year–but there it was, perched on the fence, then walking down it half the length of the yard, turning, pacing back, the late sun shining brilliantly against its long yellow legs.

When life is at its hardest and most intense, somehow, that’s when they come.

It stopped looking around for small birds and faced the sun, giving me a good look that it was an adult Cooper’s, and just chilled a moment there.

It let me move a few feet to my chair and my phone without being the least bit bothered by it. We took each other in.

I just let love for it, for thanks for the moment, for love for nature, just completely wash over me and out from me towards it. So grateful.

It fluffed its feathers out like it was glad to be home as I snapped pictures like old times, and stayed with me until it was done.



Hamming it up
Tuesday August 17th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

I ordered some metal bird spikes. I had no idea what I was in for.

There were reviews saying be careful assembling these–and they were right. Those V-shaped pieces will fight you to the death when you’re trying to squeeze them so as to fit into the base and if you let up, if you look away, you’re going to have the back of this skewer coming like a flying mousetrap at your face. I got this third piece halfway in, stopped to take its picture, and before I put the phone down it poinged hard back out of there at me. Wearing glasses was a very good thing and its aim was bad. I’m fine.

I got the one strip assembled and there are fourteen more to go and I am checking the height of the apricot against the cage it’s growing out of and procrastinating putting the rest of them together.

But here’s the thing: I bought them to keep the rabbit out of that seedling but, one strip being pretty useless for that, I balanced it for now on top of two clusters of figs that were starting to turn color. I was out of clamshells so why not try.

The birds haven’t touched anything on that fig tree since. Nuh uh. Not going near that.

Do they know what pigeon spikes are? Can’t they tell it’s only in this one spot? The plastic spikes I used to have, they pretty much ignored.

Three days later, it’s still true. I have ripening figs all over the tree, a goodly number not in clamshells and they’re still left alone.

I went out to check it over tonight–and suddenly remembering that eyes in taller trees were certainly on me as I leaned into that tree, eyes that wanted to know how to thwart that menace, I pretended to be punctured for just a moment there.

That’ll teach’em.



Forensics
Thursday August 12th 2021, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Garden,History,Wildlife

I would have thought squirrel claw marks–but then I saw that beak jab. This one just wasn’t ripe enough yet to be dislodged from the tree that way like the last one was.

Citrus thorns alone hadn’t been enough to keep them off either of them.

So I tried plan B. And this time I succeeded in getting the clamshells to snap shut on both sides. In past years raccoons have pried those open, but since they haven’t been out there till now, whereas with my Fuji apples in previous years I had them out the whole season long, I guess the current critter crop hasn’t figured them out yet.

Which means I got to share a ripe fig with my husband this morning. It was delicious.

On a side note, the breaking news tonight at the Washington Post is that the FDA just okayed booster Moderna and Pfizer doses for the immunocompromised. My cardiologist has already told me he wants me to get one as soon as they okay it.

 



Fruit in the desert
Friday August 06th 2021, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Wildlife

The first late summer fig. I was amazed that I’d missed seeing it turning brown the day before. I was more amazed the critters hadn’t seen it either.

Figs are hard to get into those plastic clamshells because it’s hard to shut them around them, and they’re not great anyway because the things don’t breathe and the fruit gets hot so the texture ripens before the flavor does and it just hasn’t proven the best solution. (I mostly use them on the apples, they seem to be best for that.) But that’s what I had. That and the citrus spikes, which were already out there. I debated going and grabbing one.

Wait…

Paper. It breathes. It hides. Right? Cut the bottom open to widen it so you can slide it over and the fig can still get some sugar-producing sunlight while no beak could reach that far down. Let’s try it!

And for 24 hours it actually worked.

Then in a total rookie move I went outside just real quick in the afternoon to check if the fig was fully ripe yet–and whichever bird it was saw what was beneath and saw what I did and saw how to get at it. No squirrel touched those spikes. Mockingbird or scrub jay, take your pick. It was probably gone the moment I stepped back inside, but I know it was fast.

So now I have to think up something else for the next one, but it was worth a try. Tape?

Meantime, shared by Andy’s Orchard, here’s an article on Native American peaches in the Southwestern desert from before most Natives had ever heard of white men.

Peaches.

I sure did a double take, how about you?

Four Corners, the Grand Canyon, before their trees were cut down as part of the plan to decimate Natives’ food sources and culture. Peaches. Not quite like ours–they had more nutrition. From seeds from the Spanish near the Rio Grande centuries before that were quickly spread north across the tribes.

A few were not found and survived. A descendant of the man who protected them is working on bringing them back to more of her people.

I asked, Do you/will you grow any of these?

Andy’s Orchard (presumably Andy himself) answered, More research needed.

But as one of the reporter’s sources noted, those would give great root stock for growing other varieties in the desert, too.



C’est une bunny day
Monday August 02nd 2021, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

You have to get up early if you want to see the bunny.

Only, this time I stopped and simply watched it for awhile to see if it would try to get past the netting over my tomatoes and squash or chew on the cherry or scout for that unripe pomegranate whose weight brought its branch to the ground.

None of those.

It was scouting out the spots where my watering the trees had allowed a pocket of weeds to stay green here and there–and for good measure the dried weeds. A long straw of the invasive decorative grass that the neighbors planted that wants my yard too (and that I had missed in my efforts to pull all those out) disappeared bite by bite and then the seeds dangling off the end were dessert and at last it was gone. It looked around for more.

It had never occurred to me that the weeds and their seeds were what it was living off of.

Nice. I think we might be friends after all.

But this evening I did pick the first reddening tomato, just in case.



Zucchini divas
Saturday July 24th 2021, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

We have had a trio of young mockingbirds for days, teenagers teasing their nest mates as far as I can tell.

But today the first tomato got its first tinge of pink. And suddenly there were eight of them! Mockingbirds do not come in flocks. This time there was more chasing out of territory, mixed with perching all around my veggies.

But they did not find their way in yet.

One, however, had learned that if it stood on top of the square-metal-cage’s netting where it was a bit loose and bounced up and down, it could get close enough on the downbeat to snag a blueberry. I was so impressed that I figured it had earned it.

Interesting: if you put the phone’s camera right up to the netting you get its shadow in sharp lines looking like it’s draped directly on half the plant, whereas the actual netting is those blurred-out thicker edges perpendicular to the squares below.

While the flowers demand, never mind all that, look at ME.



Buddy, you’ve got a long wait ahead of you if you want that fruit
Thursday July 15th 2021, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

Trouble is, he’d be happy to munch the plant away long before then.

A small Anya seedling.

Guess who showed up yesterday morning to take a sniff at it? I took that picture right before it stood up and reached its head over.

Until last fall, we hadn’t seen a rabbit in our yard for thirty-three years of living here. Since then it’s been popping up from time to time, but it had been gone long enough now that I’d half-convinced myself an owl or something had gotten it.

Nope.

Guess who opened the box with a new set of NuVue bird netting tents for that seedling and my squashes  immediately after snapping these pictures and scaring it away. Just the right size for protecting a large pot. All I’d needed was a little incentive. Yes it can chew through it if it wants to badly enough but trying to get into a cage is just not high on most wildlife’s list.

The good part is that the new version has–and it’s not in Amazon’s picture–small bright red ribbons hanging down from the top that blow in the wind and startle birds and rodents, and there was no sign of that cottontail today.