Moonlight Write

I was restless in the wee hours so I decided it would be the perfect time for some night writing.  I stepped out into the darkness.  There is a certain quietness at night that I like to curl up with.  The night is solemn, it’s still and penetrating.  I can do much pondering at night. It is empty enough for me to feel the oneness of everything and I feel connected to it.  I walked down the long sidewalk and into the studio.

The usual suspects, Mario, Jacky and Sunny, were already on the scene.  Mario sat atop his perch on the desk, Sunny planted herself in the night garden and Jacky was sleeping in my chair.

I write in a converted garage that’s quite nice.  It has cherry paneling and two skylights.  It’s located at the south end of the garden under a tall pine tree.  It’s really more of an office but we call it the studio.  This is where all the magic begins. Ha Ha. Well, I like it.  It is the perfect place to write.

Jacky
The famous Mario

The cats think it is the perfect place to nap and Jacky has taken a liking to my chair.  We have to arm-wrestle for it daily and he usually wins.  He’s very muscular.  Mario likes to sit atop the desk. Sunny; she’s her own cat and wildly independent.  She likes to spend most of her nights in the cool air outside.

Sunny at night

Jacky is a recent addition to our family.  It can be difficult introducing a new pet to the household.  Adding to that the fact that Jacky is almost full-grown and a male.  Mario was the ruler of the roost before Jacky came and there has been some tense moments.  Mario feels a little put out and perhaps jealous, as well.  Jacky is trying to find his place.  I know he wants to fit in and as time goes on, he’s doing just that.

“The Boys” ( Mario and Jacky) have been spending time together and I can just tell that someday they’ll be the best of buddies.  Sunny on the other hand, still hisses at Jacky once in a while.  I hate to say this but Sunny can be a little testy.  We love her but she doesn’t have the best of temperaments.  M.M. has nicknamed her “The Rat Mole”,  A name that has stuck.  She also is known by Santino or Sunny two-tones because she is a Calico.

I have just come the strange realization that all three cats have gangster names.  Mario, Jacky and Santino. This may mean something, I will have to ponder this…

Just as I am pondering, I hear a sound of rustling in the bushes.  It is loud and I and the cats freeze.  The two boys and I slowly creep out of the studio to investigate.

We see them and they see us.  It takes me a minute before I realise that there are six of them.  They are raccoons and they are so cute.  I know they are wild but they seem so cuddly.  The closest raccoon looked at me right in the eyes.  It seemed to be asking me for something.  I began to speak to the raccoon in the soft sing-song voice I reserve for animals and babies.

The raccoon inched closer, I think I could have lured it in the house.  It seemed so tame. It seemed to be fascinated with me talking to it.  It inched even closer,  all of a sudden I get tense, I back up right into a potted plant. I let out a small sound of surprise and the raccoons scatter into the night.  I curse my clumsiness and gaze into the darkness.  It’s just as well.

I laugh as I think of the look M.M. would give me If I brought a raccoon into the house.  He already thinks I’m crazy, but it just might be a lunatic he’s looking for.

Hoping you find what you’re looking for….Strawberryindigo.

The grass is always greener…A letter to my neighbor

The lawn of a garden taken from a low level.
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t have an alias for you so I will call you: The man who messes with his lawn too much.  I used to call you the poisoner but I thought that was a little harsh, maybe you are just ignorant.  Keeping that in mind I decided to write this open letter to you. 

I see you often since we are neighbors.  I see you water at all times and rather frequently, almost everyday in the summer.  You’d think that because of this your lawn would be lush and green.   It’s not.  You know what it looks like….It looks sick and patchy.  It’s hard to take.  Even my shriveled up tree looks better.

You are constantly at work on your lawn; mowing very short so that it resembles a brown golf course.  You re-seed it at least twice a year and you are spraying pesticides around like there is no tomorrow.  It’s a bit ridiculous to tell the truth.  There you are, wearing goggles with a giant container of poison on your back.  You spray and spray.  Everywhere.  I’m tempted to run out and scold you.  I want to scream “Stop the insanity, you are poisoning our planet with your damned pesticides!”

I need peace in the neighborhood so I grin and bear it.  It still bothers me. It’s all so unnecessary. 

I must say that I might be partially to blame for your obsession with your lawn, that and retirement.  Where I come in is that my lawn is the one that is lush and green.  Everyday my greenness stares you in the face.  It never used to be that way and neither did my lawn.  Once we were like you,  I didn’t use poison but I made more work for myself by how I treated my lawn.  I have learned a few things since then.  Maybe my neighbor, you can too…

 
watering in the morning

I have read many books and have at least a decade of first hand knowledge on the subject of lawn care.   Especially organic lawn care which I highly recommend.  Mother Nature really knows best.  I work with nature instead of trying to conquer it. You are fighting a losing battle there.

And so Mr. neighbor, the guy who messes with his lawn too much:

This one’s for you… Here are some tips I’d like to share to help you in your quest for a green lawn.

Watering  Do it infrequently and do it deeply.  This forces the roots of the grass to grow longer in order to get a drink.  This makes the grass stronger and better able to withstand longer periods without water.  Also do it in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Watering in the heat of the day causes the water to evaporate before it can sink into the soil. 

Mowing  Mowing height is an important element to consider.  Giving your lawn a super short cut may look nice to you but your lawn hates it. Keeping the mower blade 3 to 4 inches off the ground  is the best  during the summer months.  The shade the taller blades of grass provide enable the grass to hold on to moisture longer.  Thus you water less. In addition, the more you mow the grass the harder it works to re grow itself.  In my opinion, it feels softer and is more lush when it’s allowed to be longer.

 Poisoning  There is a better way.  You don’t need that.  Look around, it’s a dead zone over there. No birds, no butterflies or cute little insects, no weeds, nothing but dying grass. It’s depressing. It gets into our ground water.  It’s even found in breast milk.  Please stop it! 

Your lawn would healthier without all that.  Nature provides.  In the coming months, I will be writing more on the subject of organic gardening.  Perhaps we can whip that lawn of yours into shape so that by next summer, you will have a lush green lawn and more free time to spent with your wife, who I happen to know, is a nice person.

Happy Gardening,

Signed your neighbor,  Strawberryindigo.

Good Tree Bad Tree

I must confess something to you.  I have been known on occasion to brag up my green thumb, yes, its shocking but true.  Most of the time I can back that statement up but not now…

Now at this very moment a reddish-brown shriveled husk of a tree sits in my front yard, a testimony to my ignorance and arrogance. I know enough about trees to know better.  It is a foolhardy and risky endeavor to plant a tree where one once stood, especially an old sick one. I am guilty of such an offense.

It all started innocently enough.  I was at one of my favorite nurseries. I was wandering around like I do when I spied a beautiful tree, it was smallish and covered with tiny white flowers.  It was a dwarf Yoshino Ornamental Cherry tree and it had a twin!  I get excited by stuff such as that.  I almost let out a squeal and start to jump up and down but I contained myself long enough to purchase the trees and arrange for their delivery.

Now I had to figure out where to plant them.  I have a habit of falling in love at the nursery and bringing home plants I have no room for.  So far it has all worked out, I’ve always found a home for them, but trees are special.  You can’t just stick them anywhere and expect them to thrive.  But that’s what I did. Right where an old sick one once stood about a year ago.

I guess I thought the tree and I where above such practical nonsense as compaction and nutrient depletion and for a while it seemed that we were.

I was so proud of the trees, they were the first in the neighborhood to bloom.  People would stop and gaze appreciatively at them as the passed by.  I too, would gaze appreciatively  at them and that is what I was doing when I noticed the first brownish leaf.  It was just one.  I didn’t worry.  Then more brown leaves started to appear. I scoured gardening books like I do and found the answer.  It was a harmless fungus and it would be O.K. in time.  We’d had an unusually wet spring so that made sense to me.

The other healthier tree grew and produced green glossy leaves, While its ugly twin stood there looking sick and depressed.  I tried to fed it, I tried some old gardening tricks, to no avail.  In the back of my mind, I knew what was wrong, I hoped that everything would turn around.

Now I would avoid the tree like the plague, I couldn’t stand the sight of it.  The sight of my failure, for all to see.  Where once the tree invoked pleasure in the people walking by.  Now people shook their heads and made faces of disgust as they walked by.

Does having a dying tree in my yard make me a bad person?   I know people want to ask what I did to the poor thing?  I feel so embarrassed.  I”ve almost cut it down several times, it small enough for me to do by myself.  Something in me won’t let me do it.  Maybe I’m holding out hope for the underdog, which I have a habit of doing.

I just can’t give up on this poor wretched tree.  So I’m babying it and watering it and even talking to it.  It is probably a lost cause but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.  Please, wish us luck…

Strawberryindigo.

Blue eyed Handsome Cat 2

Now for epic conclusion to Blue eyed Handsome Cat..

Jacky was counting on me, I couldn’t let him down.   I couldn’t just sit there and allow these crazy people to take Jacky.  I didn’t want to start a neighborhood war over this, especially from the loud crazy neighbors with the totally ironic last name.  Over the years these neighbors had created quite the reputation for themselves. (THAT is quite another story I must share with you in the future).  Lets say for now that I feared for Jacky’s well-being.

I considered keeping Jacky in the house forever but I knew that wasn’t the way.  Jacky’s a free spirit and locking him up would be impractical and frankly, I think a bit cruel. Jacky mewed at the door, I let him out.  I hoped he would return.

M.M, seeing how bothered I was, went over to the ironically named neighbors and spoke the most level-headed one.  We call her Marilyn after Marilyn Munster. (From the old T.V show)  She seems so normal but I know better.  No one could be normal and live there. Well, M.M. is a diplomat to say the least… he found out that Sally was the only one who wanted the cat.  Marilyn, her mother and the matriarch of the family, did not.  She said; “Have the cat, we don’t want it.”

I was ecstatic at the news, it was so much easier than I thought….or so I thought.

Jacky didn’t return.  Five days passed.  I asked around the neighborhood, Marilyn had not seen Jacky, no one had.  I feared that Jacky’s friendly and trusting nature had gotten him into trouble. I looked and looked for him, to no avail.  I  wished that I hadn’t let myself get so attached so fast.  I kept up appearances though.  I told my family that Jacky was fine and that he was having an adventure somewhere and he would be back any day.

I had a bad feeling, I was convinced that I’d never see that white cat again.  I looked out the window, as I had been doing a lot of lately, this time I didn’t expect to see him, I was giving up hope and then there he was.. he was in the street, he looked confused and out of it.  He was sniffing the ground like animals do when lost.  I could tell from a lifetime of experience with cats that he had been in a car and had just been deposited there in the street.

He saw me and ran to the front door, I let him in.  A flurry of meows escaped his little cat mouth.  He was a bit skinnier and he looked dirty but there he was in all his cat glory.  He also was sporting a cheap plastic collar with gaudy glitter all over it, attached was a metal tag:  Hastily scratched into the metal was the word Lucky, underneath was an address..The address was  familiar.. very familiar.

I knew right away what had happened.  I thought back and remembered that I had not seen Sally or her old green van for a while, about the same length of time I hadn’t seen Jacky…

Sally.. of course it was her, she had taken poor Jacky somewhere in her stupid van, And stupid me had believed them.  I am so naive sometimes. The problem remained, We both wanted Jacky.  I believed that I should have him since  he would be so much happier at my house… I also thought that Jacky agreed…he did somewhat.

Jacky also had built quite the reputation in the neighborhood: He was a friendly sort. The cute little girls next door called him snowball, the blonde teenager across the street called him princess.  The people around the block knew him as buttercup and I suppose Sally had named him Lucky.  Everyone thought he was a girl cat, I guess because he is so pretty, they just assumed.  I know enough to look…and what to look for…..enough said on that.

I took off the collar and the metal tag and put them on the mantle, that wasn’t the best idea, looking back on it… Sometimes I get so bull-headed thinking I ‘m right when sometimes….

Jacky had eaten his fill and slept for a couple of days and he was ready to go out.  I let him out the back door and into the garden.  He like all the other cats in the area, instantly fell in love with the place. It’s a cat’s paradise back there… he explored and then found a nice cool spot in the back..behind a tall fern.  He settled in for a nap.   Jacky stuck around for a couple more days, hanging out in the garden, sleeping and hunting moths under the back porch light.

Jacky's off on another adventure.

And then, he was gone. He went out the side gate. I was sure he would come back, He’s so happy here, I thought, he even grins at me when I pet him.  I walked through the side myself, past the multitudes of potted plants in a long long driveway,  I could see a shock of white, running..”Here we go again.”  I said out loud to myself… this time though, it was different.  Instead of Jacky, my Jacky, running toward me.. he was running over to HER?!

This cannot be. What is going on?  Why is he going over to her? I was to say the very least, flabbergasted, I was beside myself.  Then when I saw the boy, the little boy, the crazy neighbor’s kid and I guess, Sally’s son, he was calling the cat and running around.  Sally was beside him and she was actually smiling… Jacky went up to them and started rolling around on the ground, in that adorable way he does.  She, Sally, the one I had watched for years, go into red-faced rages and screaming fits in the street at night, this Sally who let her kids run wild and swore like a sailor.  She stroked his white fur with a gentleness I had never seen in her before.

The boy ran around and then in an instant, Jacky was up on his feet and running.. with the boy, back and forth across the tall weeds that make up their front yard.  The boy was laughing and so was Sally.  Jacky, I think he was smiling too.

I learned much that day.  About Sally, about boys and cats.  I learned the most about me….

 Some time has passed and Sally and I and of course Jacky have made some compromises.  The gaudy collar stays on but the tag stays off.  Jacky goes wherever Jacky wants to go.  Which has turned out to be nights with her, days with me.

Everyone seems a little happier since Jacky’s arrival, now that the dust has settled and I am just beginning to learn about Jacky.  He is a special one.  He has been going on walks with me as of late, he follows me like a dog.  Trotting along, never minding the noises of humans, their machines or their dogs. He is quite the brave traveler.   We’ve been gaining some notice around the neighborhood for our walks, maybe I’m creating a bit of a reputation myself.

Strawberryindigo.

Off we go!

Blue eyed handsome cat

Have you ever met someone who just appeared in your life, as if out of thin air and acted like they knew you forever.  It’s like they we’re just sort of deposited on your front porch and poof…They’d always been there?  Well, with Jacky it’s like that.  I guess I should let you know that Jacky is a cat.  A remarkable cat, that’s for sure.

We first met him on the third of July.  He impressed me by his friendliness, he seemed to really like us.  He made M.M. his first acquaintance, which is not surprising. what was so surprising was his intensity.  At that time, we of course did not have a name for him, or even knew he was an him.  Let’s call him “that cat” for now.

I will give him this; he is an attractive animal, that cat.  He is white with  honey cream-colored markings on this head and tail.  His bright azure eyes truly are striking.  He makes quite the picture.

We had just returned from a much-needed vacation.  We were away for five days. He must have appeared on the scene during that time.  It was late afternoon and my nerves were on edge.  Sudden booms, it’s like World War Three around there on the third of July. I needed a distraction…and there he was, a shock of white, running across the street away from the crazy neighbors screeching kid.  He looked scared out of his wits.  I knew I must help him.

I enlisted the help of M.M..  We braved the artillery together (How sweet)  M.M. sang out “Here, Kitty, Kitty…”  The cat looked at him and ran to him for dear life, not even slowing a bit to look behind him.  M.M. scooped him up like it was nothing and the cat instantly relaxed.  We took him inside.

Luckily, It being the day it was.  Our two cats who off hiding in the bushes nowhere to be found.  And except for the old pug, there was no other animal around to make the cat feel unwelcome.

It's nap time

The humans adored him instantly.  My daughter, who is thirteen and a devout cat lover, squealed in delight.  My son, who’s a bit older, was a little cooler about the cats appearance, but  I could tell he was intrigued. I being who I am, knew that the cat was new in the neighborhood.  We asked around and one of our saner neighbors told us the cat had been hanging around for days,  everyone had a name for her, (He thought the cat was a her)  but no one wanted her.  His own kids wanted the cat but he was allergic, he suggested I keep her.  Knowing what a sucker I am for cats.

We fed him friskies and he was ours.

He slept for days, waking only to eat and drink water out of the bathroom tap.  I guess he’s one of those, I’d seen cats like that before.  I had one once that was fascinated by water, couldn’t get enough of it…it was the first of his many quirks that time would reveal.  The days passed without a lot going on.  My crazy neighbors were out-of-town and a calm descended over the ‘hood.

The four of us deliberated during that time and my son came up with Jack Daniels, yes he did…  To me, he looked like a Jacky.  We settled on Jacky, Daniels being his official last name, told to those on a need to know basis.(aka his friends at school.)

Our two cats were suspicious to say the least.  Mario didn’t know what was going on.  I know he felt bad.  He just sulked for days, sleeping under the desk in the office.  Poor Mario.  Sunny, or as she is known; Santino, kept her cool and out-of-the-way.

Everything started to return to normal. Mario perked up and Santino stayed herself. The crazy neighbors had returned, I could hear them screaming, as I said, everything was returning to normal.  Except for one thing.  I could hear a voice… it was….”Here Kitty Kitty, Here Lucky”  Who’s Lucky?  I thought and dismissed it from my mind.

Jacky stayed out all night, we didn’t see him all morning and then…the screetching, the kids.. it’s all happening again… And there’s Jacky, a shock of white running away from the crazy neighbor’s kid and right toward me.  I scooped him up and stroked his fur.  He was freaked out, poor thing and he was hungry, he ate, drank the water from the leaky tap and settled in to sleep.

This might become a problem, I thought… I was right.

The next morning while I was watering my roses, the crazy neighbor’s much older kid, let’s call her Sally, comes up to me and asks me if I’ve been feeding that white cat.  I reply without beating an eyelash, “You mean the cat we adopted?”  She looked as stern as you can be and I must admit, I was a bit scared.  She’s a bigger girl than I am.  Plus I’m a big chicken.  This did not show though, I’m good at that.  I didn’t know what happened to her. (her again)  She breaks out in a fragment of a sentence.  I return a fragment myself..

It was one word.  Turmoil.  “What”?  She asks, confused.  I yell, “Turmoil!!  And walk away.. this could get ugly.  I start to regret taking the cat in and then I think…He is counting on me to save him from them.   I must help him.  The cute little guy with his charming debonair smile.  I can’t let him down….

Stay tuned for the conclusion….

next time

next cat channel.

Strawberryindigo.

Scary Birds

Scary Birds

Here I am in this cage with these birds, these colorful winged monsters flying around and over my head, chirping with their angry little greedy beaks.  One particularly aggressive bird swoops down and steals a tiny white cup of nectar of a chubby fisted toddler, who starts to cry.  I become even more nervous…

I am at the zoo with my daughter, I did my best at hiding my horror when she mentioned wanting to visit the lorikeet’s.  She called them cute little birds, I call them flying demons from hell.  Not wanting to disappoint her and most importantly, not to look like a big chicken in front of my kid, I agreed and came here of my own free will.  I even shelled out a dollar for a cup of nectar.

Once inside the cage, I told myself lies to calm myself.  Lies that rationalized the whole thing.  Why would the zoo people put us in danger?  I look around, lots of families and children.  Everyone else seems O.K. with it.

After all I am an animal lover… And then the carnage begins.

Did I mention the sounds these birds make?  Horrible screeching, their noise echoes throughout the enclosure.  I am going into sensory overload which brings on a panic attack.  My heart races, I start to sweat and all of a sudden, I feel dizzy and sick.  I look around, everyone is having fun, no one notices my white knuckled fear.  It is all I can do to keep up appearances as a calm rational adult human being.  It soon becomes too much as a have to duck incoming artillery.  I don’t want to be stuck walking around with bird shit on my head.

As I said , I am an animal lover.  I have pets. I talk to squirrels and raccoons.  I have even contributed to Greenpeace.  But honestly, this is too much…I have to get out…Right now…

So we leave the nest of the wretched and to my amazement, my daughter never noticed how scared I was in that cage with those scary birds, a big chicken like me.  I smile.

We proceed to the polar bears.  One of my favorites, They seem so soft and cuddily…they would probably maul me if I tried to hug one though.  I know I must keep my affections at a save distance and I admire their awesome strength and grace.

Come on in, the water's fine.

As the day goes on and we see more and more of what the zoo has to offer, the hellish images of what transpired earlier have vanished from my mind. 

We see the silly penguins march around and watch the playful otters swim to and fro. The tall giraffes seem so lofty and majestic, the elephants look like wrinkled old wise men and the big cats nap in the afternoon sun.  Except one, she paces.

What a striking animal.  Full of beauty and grace but also full of raw animal power.  Watch out!

We visit the apes and the monkey’s too.  I look for my wee buddy, the Pygmy Marmoset, he is nowhere to be found.  And where are the Sun Bears and the Tigers and the Black Rhino?

“They are all sleeping” volunteers the zoo keeper, who amazingly can hear my thoughts.  Sounds like a good idea,  A nice relaxing late afternoon nap.  I could use that after this long but fruitful day.

sunset stripe
A beautiful end to a long day

 Strawberryindigo.