Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Tale of Two Kitties

It's the height of hummingbird season again, with the usual swarms (also known as "an infestation of hummingbirds"). We have all three feeders up, of course -- small, medium and large -- but the small one still sometimes gets emptied in less than a day.

We have another visitor who is very interested in the hummingbirds -- one of the next-door neighbors' cats. He sits on top of the wall directly under the hummingbird feeders, hoping to get lucky. Ron found a few tiny hummingbird feeders stuck to one of the perches, so the cat either got one of the birds or almost got one of the birds.

He looks exactly like Winston, except leaner and with golden eyes instead of green. In fact, last year when I saw him under the feeders for the first time, I thought it was Winston and I freaked out, wondering how he'd gotten outside, until I saw Winston curled up sleeping on the bed.

We've started calling the other cat Twin Kitty. A few days ago, Twin Kitty was in his usual Sphinx-like position under the feeders. Then Winston jumped up on the couch to look out at the hummingbirds, as he likes to do. Then he saw Twin Kitty! He stared at Twin Kitty, completely fascinated. Then Twin Kitty saw Winston; he, too, was fascinated. They stared at each other for a minute; it seemed like longer. Then Twin Kitty gave up on the hummingbirds; he jumped off the wall under the feeders into the courtyard to get closer to the window. Again, they stared at each other. Then Winston moved to the tall narrow window next to the front door and Twin Kitty moved to the front porch, just on the other side of that window. They stared at each other -- no snarling or hissing or caterwauling. Just total fascination.

Eventually Twin Kitty left and Winston resumed watching the hummingbirds.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Rain Finally Goes Through the Drain

I apologize for not posting anything in such a long time. It's an odd combination of having so much to do, but none of it was worth blogging about.
It's shedding season and the two wolfdogs are shedding big clumps of wool all over the place, inside and out. We never did get around to shaving them this year, because spring came so late. Sometimes we pull the clumps out of them, the ones that are ready to come out on their own. In just a few minutes there is a pile of wolf fur that's bigger than a whole cat. Other clumps come out without any pulling and there's always a trail of wolf fur all over the place. I try to pick it up daily.

It's also monsoon season, when we get rain nearly every afternoon. Sometimes the showers are strong and brief; other times they're slow, steady soaking rains that last for a couple of hours or more.

Any kind of rain wreaked havoc on the rear courtyard, where the dogs spend their time when they're not indoors. They like to gather by the iron gate so they can see out and watch the goings on. So a low spot developed there and any rain would create a deep and large mud puddle. It would stay there for days because there was no drainage under or through the gate. Four dogs (16 paws) plus mud puddles and/or mud plus light-colored carpet equals disaster!

So last Saturday (a week ago today), I started tackling the problem while Ron tackled the problems with his computer (he installed a new motherboard, new hard drive, and new operating system - Vista), but it was much harder than I thought it would be. I dug dirt out from directly underneath the iron gate, to create a place for the water to go, and hauled a couple of wheelbarrows of dirt to the low spot. Then I ran out of steam.

On Sunday, with his computer working properly again, Ron and I worked together and it only took a couple of hours to finish the job. Ron shoveled dirt from the dirt pile into the wheelbarrow and I rolled the wheelbarrow around and dumped the dirt in the low area. That way each of us could rest while the other worked. After 15 or so loads, we took a well-deserved break, and went inside to cool off and drink Gatorade. Then we went back to work. I smoothed out the fill dirt, creating a slightly mounded area while Ron dug a small trench on either side of the mounded area and going underneath the gate and continuing for a few feet on the other side of the gate.

Then we went inside and sat back, waiting for the regular afternoon rainstorm. Except it didn't come!

Finally it rained overnight, nearly half an inch (which doesn't sound like much, but is a lot for around here) and no mud puddle. Success! We've had more rain since then, of course, and the drainage continues to work! The dirt is muddy for a little while, but quickly dries up since there's no puddle of standing water. And no puddle of standing water also means far fewer mosquitoes.