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There was a fox in our back yard the other day. I ran for the camera and took pictures, then watched it as it scratched, looked around, sniffed here and there, and did other thrilling fox activities. Then Matty, the neighbor dog, ran up, barking. I thought for a second she might go through the invisible fence again, but it stopped her. It was enough for the fox, which ran off in a direction I couldn't be certain of. Matty then looked satisfied, turned away and kicked a couple back paws worth of dirt in its general direction. Later that day, or maybe the next, Sarah and I were driving somewhere and it ran across the road in front of us. A couple of our neighbors also saw it.

Thursday night, I helped Sarah make a scrapbook of the China trip. She chose about 90 photos from a set of 350 that I'd made, and I used InDesign to lay them out on eight pages. She did one of the pages mostly by herself with me giving instructions. I think she could learn the basics of the layout program pretty quickly. Friends who are interested in the scrapbook, be aware that the PDF is only about 2.5MB.

Now we're up in New Jersey, with Cathy's family. Yesterday Sarah and I went along as Cathy's sister Mary took her dog, Rags, for a walk on a railroad trail somewhere not too far from Budd Lake. At three miles, it's the closest thing to exercise I've done on this trip. As we approached the parking lot, a dozen or so shots were heard somewhere over a hill. Rags was not thrilled. Some folks at the parking lot were unhappy because one of their dogs had bolted from the vehicle and was now running down the road. We allowed that Sarah's theory about the dog being scared by the shots was a good one. We were going in the same direction and drove slowly behind the car that was tracking the dog and looking for a chance to get it back in the car. Some brilliant soul a couple of cars back figured we were all driving too slow and had the notion that he could fix everything by honking his horn.

Today we were out for an errand and managed to swing by White Castle. The one near here is the only one I ever get to visit any more, and I always look forward to it. This time I didn't have a regular slider but had a fish slider, a bacon slider, and a jalapeño cheese slider. So hot, so fresh, so tasty. I'm hoping we can get in one more slider run as we depart for home in the morning. If all they serve in the a.m. is breakfast items, well, that wouldn't be so bad either. (And yes, I am aware that some people may not like White Castle. I am unperturbed by this.)

good cat

Sep. 20th, 2011 02:05 pm
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Every so often, a sound like a bird chirp came from nowhere in particular. At first I thought it was coming from the internet, but experimentation ruled this out. I went into the other room a couple of times, waiting for the sound (at very wide intervals). Finally, I looked for the cat. Frances was in high-fascination mode, her hindquarters projecting from under the red chair. Then she raced, and I saw something else racing as well. If it was a bird, it was a road runner. Anyway, it wasn't flying. I mentally discarded most of my hard-won bird-in-house experience and lore.

Frances and I were on the case. It ran to the really, really junky end of the living room floor where Sarah's Miscellaneous file is. I got a stick and poked through stuff, but nothing small and brown erupted. I went upstairs and retrieved a mouse trap from the kitchen. I tested the ancient peanut butter bait — still apparently viable: another possibly disturbing fact for later.

In the next round of activity, signalled by another urgent chirp, I found that our intruder was a little ground squirrel. This made me want to be even easier on it if possible, but didn't change the overall plan. I finally wised up and closed as many doors as I was sure I didn't want the thing to run through, then opened the front door and went back into bush-beating mode, trying not to cramp Frances's style, since this was her quarry.

There was one more burst of activity in which all three participants were on the move. Then nobody knew where the squirrel was. I didn't see it run up the stairs, and neither (apparently) did Frances, but things have been pretty quiet since then. I gave Frances extra congratulations. When I went in the garage to get lunch out of the freezer, she dashed through the door (the same door that was accidentally left open this morning, possibly making it possible for a small squirrel to go from the garage into the house). I let her snoop around a bit, since she was a hero cat.

When I ate, I had it out in the sun room, and Frances joined me. She wanted to sit in a window where the blinds came about two inches from the sill. Desire was clearly stamped upon her muscles as she yearned toward it, pulled back, plotted a course, then leaped pretty much straight through a slit smaller than herself and posed proudly in the window, as cats are meant to do.

Afterward, I cleaned up the sunroom, sweeping, vacuuming, taking out some large boxes that have been there for the last two or three years, and arranging everything else just so. I'd been dithering over getting back to the gym — stomach's been a tad bit off — and today I gave myself permission to clean up instead, so that's okay.
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I saw this while Sarah was swinging before the bus came.


A young bird, no doubt flightless as yet, stands in the crotch of the tree out front. Did it fall from a nest? Will its mommy help it out? Should I call anybody? No idea. There is an orange cat that roams the neighborhood, by the way.

3:49pm Update: When I came home from the Y, I saw that the birdie is now on the ground at the bottom of the tree. Also, I looked up and saw that another major branch has torn halfway loose, way up there. I don't suppose the bird did it, but it does look fairly fresh.


Jan. 19th, 2010 09:00 am
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My window here opens out at ground level, and through the slats I could see an animal's legs on the porch. A cat perhaps? I went back to getting Sarah ready for school and the bus. Snow on the ground this morning. Must remember to get my car out of the garage so Cathy can park there when she comes in from Boston this afternoon. As usual, Sarah was outside first. "Dad! Matty's here."

Matty was the dog next door, friendly enough but still puppy-rambunctions. Sarah encountered her a couple of times a day when coming or going to Zach's house. Our back yards join at the property line under the utility wires, and our front doors are 2/3 of a mile apart by car. Sarah said she scratched her one time, probably from trying to jump up -- sometimes she was too friendly.

This morning, she was polite but skittish. She came when I called her, and she was willing to come with me to the back yard, but making eye contact and then looking at where I wanted her to go (a trick that had worked to perfection once in Virginia when a neighbor dog had escaped their wooden fence) didn't get me anywhere.

I went in to get my phone. "Don't let her go in the house!" Sarah cautioned, but Matty didn't seem inclined to follow me in anyway. Frances was on the stairs, as usual, rubbing her sides on the rails and angling for some pets. I came out with the phone and called over. Their number was the most recent on my list. I'd used it a day or two ago when Sarah had kicked off a boot that proceeded to hit Zach in the face.

"Hello?" Zach's mom sounded sleepy. Perhaps she'd worked late at the ER last night.

"This is Kip. Matty's over here. I tried to get her to go back, but she's just hanging around here."

Deb thought about it. "The battery in the invisible fence thing might be low. She probably doesn't want to cross it. You could take her collar off." I wasn't keen on that, because Matty was acting pretty nervous. "I'll come over there and get her in a couple of minutes." I said I'd stay with her until then.

Sarah petted Matty. "She likes getting pets on her tummy," she told me.

"She should lie on the porch instead of on the cold snow," I said.

"She likes to be a snow dog." Sarah explained. "Where's that dumb bus?" I suggested that the snow might be slowing it down, though it was a pretty light snow. A minute later, it showed up. "Don't let her get on the bus!" she said. She petted Matty one last time and then dashed to me for a kiss before going down the driveway to stand ten feet away from the arriving bus. Sonali ran across our yard to get on with her (Sarah's friend from two houses away tended to make the bus just in time, more or less). I tried to get Matty to follow me to the back again, but she opted to stay by the corner of the house and watch as I whistled. This time I saw something I hadn't noticed before -- a small pile of what seemed like they could be deer droppings. I saw that the sleeve over one of Sarah's tiny apple tree seedlings had fallen partway and straightened it back up. Then I could see Deb coming over, and then she started calling to Matty.

"Matty! Silly dog. What are you doing over here?"

"She might have followed a deer. I just saw a pile of droppings -- it's a miracle nobody stepped in it." Everybody had walked within a foot of the footprint-sized pile. If there were any hoof prints in the snow, we'd wiped them out. Deb removed the electronic collar so it wouldn't keep Matty from entering her yard, and escorted her back to her own side.

"Oh yeah, she's a lot more comfortable now," said Deb as Matty went into full happy mode. "Thanks for calling us!"

I thought about poor Matty as I went in. A deer, perhaps, lured her across the invisible fence, but nothing could lure her back across the electronic barrier, so she picked our front porch as a sort of haven. It was lucky for her (maybe she smelled us here) that she'd found friends. A fence works both ways.
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Early this past week, Cathy pointed out that the dose I'd just given Frances was the last one, so we're done with eyedrops now. She seems happy, alert and clear-eyed (Frances does), though her left eye isn't always open as wide as the right. There was a slight discharge in it one day, just to make me worry. It went away (the discharge).

Sarah started her Chinese class again today, after which I browbeat her into going and having a good time at the Science Museum, where they have an exhibit of giant mechanical insects as well as some real ones of normal size.

Cathy's car cranks but doesn't start. Maybe tomorrow I'll try jumper cables. Some fun.

as mentioned some time ago, here are deer photos from Christmas )

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