Archive for category Animals

The little froggie cure for the blues

The torrential and entirely unseasonable rains Texas has experienced has created a paradise for critters. Birds are double clutching and there are the impatient squawks of baby grackles everywhere. Fortunately, there are also temporary ponds filled with tadpoles. I haven’t seen such masses of wriggling commas since I was a kid in upstate New York. The grackles have discovered this and have taken turns fishing–the only other footprints at one pond were those of feathered frogeaters.

It didn’t take long to find a couple of jars and a small net. We had a spare two gallon aquarium, already outfitted with rocks and gravel. Dechlorinate a little water, grab some algae and little snails from the tank, and voila–almost!

Tadpoles are really dumb. If they change into a froglet and there is not an easy beach for them to climb upon when their gills close, they will just drown. Really, really dumb. I added a few flat rocks so that the poor things didn’t bump themselves so easily out of gene pool.

Such tiny little things swimming around, bumping into rocks or other tadpoles, burrowing face down in the gravel until they get distracted. little elbow nubbins poking out… these things are incredibly funny. Last night one made the transition from water breather to air breather. Its tail had shrunk to a goofy nubbin by morning, and now clings to the wall an inch above the water. One of today’s errands includes a trip to the pet store for Frog & Tadpole Bites.

Three others are ready to make the change soon, loitering at the edge of the water. Their brief moment in the spotlight as The Missing Link awaits. That still leaves about nine in various states of transformation, meaning anywhere from two to eight weeks more enjoyment from these littlest-fingernail sized beasties. Once they’ve transformed and beefed up a bit, they are destined to live in the garden and (hopefully) keep me from being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

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She’s a Little Dinosaur

It’s true!
Well, it would be more true if she were a chicken. Scientists have discovered a molecular link between Tyrannosaurus Rex and the humble domestic chicken.

We’ll celebrate tonight with a new plastic dinosaur for Zoe to chew to bits. No respect for her history!


Less than an acre and a chicken tractor

As befits spring, things have been busy with growth and change and activity. In addition to move-related things, I’ve established a garden plot at a community garden in our new neighborhood. As part of the deal with the Sustainable Food Center, I’ve agreed to share part of what I grow with other people.

When you’re out there working a fork to break up a brand new plot, it’s a good bet that anyone walking by will have a question or a comment. One older gentleman even offered to lend a hand when he saw me struggling with a nasty clump of invasive grass. Another wanted to know how early I’d started my tomatoes (I bought them as starters from another community garden in town). It’s been a long time since I felt like part of a neighborhood, so it’s good to have some familiar faces around before we even move in.

Gardening runs in the family, and not just the little pottering around beds. I’m talking full scale growing for fresh and canning things that take up the yard and the sweet time in the evening after work when the sun is still up and the air has cooled a bit. Checking the leaves, weeding, and watering are just the thing to ease into a good night. I helped my grandparents in their garden and worked at my mother’s greenhouse until i moved down to Texas. Getting back to the soil, especially stuff as wonderfully black and fertile as I’ve got, is refreshing.

When I was meeting with the organizer to establish my plot, we got on the subject of chickens. For reasons unfathomable to Yongi, I’ve wanted to keep a couple of chickens. He was hoping they could be kept at the community garden. The organizer suggested that I could set up a chicken tractor on my plot in the off season. Immediately I saw a team of chickens hitched up to a plow and wondered how that could possibly work. Luckily, my vision was incorrect.

Yongi’s still not sure that a pair of hens will improve his life, and for the time being I’ve agreed to hold off lobbying. We’ve got enough going on now, but come next year I hope to have some help weeding and fertilizing my plot!

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Friday Field Trip to Brooklyn

Play some tunes for the borough! A shoutout to Piepmatz’s homebirds in Brooklyn.


This Is One of the Best Things Ever.

Seriously, this single clips makes life so much better. No need for the sound, just marvel at the sight of the what it’s like to live in the perfect world where penguins do your shopping.


A gift that keeps on giving.

A few years ago, Yongi and I happened to be watching The Late Show with Dave Letterman, an oldie from the eighties. Father Guido Sarducci was one of the main guests, but there was also a lively woman named Mrs. Alba Ballard who put costumes on parrots. A couple of snaps up the back and suddenly a macaw was a mini Father Guido!

We were agog. The woman was colorful herself, speaking with an Italian accent and switching the rather docile parrots in and out of bizarre handmade costumes. We laughed at the improbability of it all, and never forgot our glimpse of this unique performance. Having had no luck ourselves even getting a harness on Zoe, it seemed all the more magical.

It turns out we weren’t the only ones captivated: a book of some of her photos has been released, and I can heartily recommend it. See for yourselves the marvels of a bit of home stagecraft, costumes, and willing avian companions. Some very savvy friends sent us a copy and we’ve flipped through it again and again. The temptation to take Mrs. Ballard’s inspiration and run with it is strong, but I think the desire to have all of my fingers intact is stronger!


The parrots’ least favorite person

Once a quarter we have a woman come over to the house to clip nails, trim flight feathers, and do a general health check on the feathered beasties. The screaming begins the moment she comes through the door, and it’s not until the towel is dropped on their head and they get wrapped up and pampered. First they get their neck vertebrae realigned, followed by a foot massage. Piepmatz also gets a chest massage and extra kisses on account of his being such a cute little cuss. There are encouraging coos and sweet talk through the whole process. Nevertheless, the poor things always come out of the towel looking bedraggled and ready for a nap. It’s hard to be a parrot some days.

Sticking with the theme of sweetness through adversity, here’s a great story about a rescued cockatoo in Australia. Beautiful pictures, too.



I’d like to offer a proper thanks to all of you who come by and read–whether you comment or not–and extend wishes of peace and good health to you and your families. I’m especially grateful for those of you who have actively followed the crazy evolving narrative that is thought intersect.

Here is a small present for you: a little film called Kiwi!

Though there is little evidence to the contrary, I haven’t forgotten about promised sequels and photographic evidence. Who knows what hijinx I’ll be up to with a bit of free time on my hands!


The Uninvited Houseguest

Or, more properly, porch guest. This praying mantis showed up on two Fridays ago and stayed through the weekend, making his egress to parts unknown by that Monday morning. He was perturbed that we felt the need to cross his territory on a regular basis (what with him being on our front step and all), and at least once we used another entrance so as not to disturb him. It may sound silly, but the look that mantis gave me when I opened the door and he (unwisely) headed for the hinge—a glaring, “do you mind?!” as his namesake legs failed to gain a foothold on the aluminum flashing around the door—well, it convinced me that walking around the house was worth the inconvenience.


Further Proof

I might be onto something with this idea that I’m turning into a giant monkey.

Yongi and I got two sets of sheets as wedding presents, and I have destroyed the fitted sheets of both sets in the past six months. How have I managed to do this, you may ask? As best we can figure, my dew claws come out at night and shred the fabric, so that a hole is made at the foot of my side of the bed. In my previous experience, I have never shredded a bedsheet with my feet. I know that sheets are things that need replacing, but after less than four years? We go to buy new sheets tonight. The full moon is tomorrow. I guess this will be the ultimate test.

For the short term, you may all refer to me as Madame Du Claw.