From Coffee to Flinger

I’ve switched back to the Moka pot for morning coffee; the Chemex, while pleasant, wasn’t doing enough. I suppose if I had two and poured the results of first brewing through the filter in the second it might, which would be a fun experiment but not one I’m going to try right now.

Of course, with all the caffeine I’ve ingested in my lifetime, my adrenal glands are probably the size of pinpricks. Yesterday I found out the tea I thought was herbal actually had green tea leaves in it, which explains why I was almost vibrating in place with an aching head after a couple cups.

Caffeine is a funny thing. I cut my coffee and black tea with heavy cream, but with green tea or herbal that won’t work. Consequently, there’s no buffer when I drink green tea, and I come down with giant flaming headaches most of the time I ingest it.

It’s a quiet, rainy morning. Miss B will like her morning walkies–she is an all-weather dog–but Boxnoggin is going to complain and high-step the entire way, shaking his wet paws mournfully and giving me reproachful looks. You’d think a dog born in Texas would be fine with our much more temperate weather, but all he does is complain it’s not hot enough, what’s with all this moss?

The stress nausea in the mornings is going down to a low grumble instead of a rollercoaster plunge every few moments. I might be adapting to the continuous stress, or all the housecleaning I’ve been doing lately has worked off any residual feeling and left me drained. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I’ll just be glad to eat breakfast.

I keep telling myself none of this is normal, it’s absolutely reasonable to feel beside oneself, and that the reaction shows I’m in fact conscious and firing on all cylinders. It feels like I’ve been in training for this catastrophe my entire life. Maybe if the disaster ever rumbles into the distance I’ll find myself standing bruised and shaken by the tracks, able to return to some kind of normal functioning.

Maybe.

In the meantime, we’re having a little fun Chez Saintcrow. The Princess, bless her dear heart and quirky sense of humor, invested in a little thing that’s supposed to bring us hours of joy. Curious? So was I when the package arrived.

Look upon this work, ye mighty rodents, and DESPAIR.

That, my friends, is what’s known as a Yankee Flipper. It is battery-powered, a game-changer in our ongoing war (well, not quite a war, more like a fond wish or two) against the damn tree-rats in the habit of plundering our bird feeders. The birds have already found it, and their weight doesn’t trigger any motion–but when a squirrel tries to hop on and help themselves, the bottom part is supposed to spin like the dickens. (I’m sure you’ve all seen the gifs.)

I had my office window open almost all weekend, hoping to hear the thing go off. I am a little worried that it might fling one of the fuzzy little thieves against the house or the tree, which would mean I’d have to take the entire thing down. I don’t want to hurt the fluffy-tailed fauna, I just want them to let the birds have their meals in peace.

I know they’ve been trying to suss out what the hell, because every time Boxnoggin goes out his presence drives a scout–occasionally even Barda!Squirl, Wild Explorer of the Backyard–up the massive fir you can see the entire contraption hanging from. Should there be a dazed or flung squirrel, Boxnoggin stands ready. I don’t think he wants to schnorgle them like Trundles always did, though.

Even Miss B is nonplussed by this turn of events. She’ll eye the hanging feeder for a few moments, then look at me with her eyebrows up. She’s not moving as quickly as she used to these days, having become an elderly statesdog; I’m sure, though, she’ll temporarily rediscover her youth and springiness if there’s a chance to herd Boxnoggin and a tree-rat.

…honestly, I can’t wait. I’ll keep you all updated on the SquirrelFlinger as events warrant. So far it’s been one of the few good things about quarantine.

And now both dogs need their walk in the rain. Wish me luck, dear Reader. I have this feeling I’m going to need it.

A Rose is a Rose

It was quite a shock to take the dogs through the rose garden and find this fine lady, opened up early and enjoying our mild, warmish spring. I get so wrapped up in what’s happening online or politically or with publishing, I forget that there’s a whole world just outside the side gate.

Forgive the blurring–I was trying to take the picture with two eager dogs strapped to my waist. They wanted their walkies and were not inclined to pause so I could fiddle with the shiny little pocket-brick that holds so much of their human’s attention, like the glowing box on said human’s desk.

Anyway, I never expected the roses to survive. They’re finicky creatures, greedy for attention. But they seem to be doing quite well in the side yard, maybe because all the squirrels I’ve buried there are ghost-cavorting enough to please them.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, dear Reader, full of nice things and relaxation. My own will be spent doing some library maintenance–I meant to put it off until Saturday, but the past couple evenings my resistance broke down because I was already cleaning and organizing, why not just continue and keep the momentum? I’ll probably take a whack at cleaning the rest of my office and getting the printer set up, too.

I’d like to think that eventually I would have done this anyway without *waves hands* all this, but that’s probably untrue. Or maybe I’m just finding silver linings on very, very heavy clouds. Who knows?

In any case, we’re all clinging by teeth and toenails. It helps, in however small a fashion, to know someone’s clinging right next to us.

Where Planted

These two African violets and the spider plant go to the Princess’s best friend, who loves plants almost as much as I do. I’ve since brushed the growing medium off the violets’ leaves and sung a happy little welcoming song to them, and the spider plant has been getting daily encouragement to sink its roots into new soil–it was part of a very large duet in a very small pot, and is much happier now.

I had a hideous headache for most of yesterday, one I’m not calling a migraine only because there was no aura before it struck and I could still eat in very small bites through its claws. Even getting out into the garden and dealing with the compost pile didn’t help, although I got two very full wheelbarrows of black gold wriggling with worms.

The world is on fire and my heart hurts. But the dogs still need walks, and the garden still needs tending, and the houseplants need to be dusted, sung to, and trimmed. Those under my aegis still need to be fed. There’s no time to feel the twisting in my chest, mostly, and for that I’m grateful. When I’m working to conserve and protect, I don’t feel the sadness as much.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, my chickadees, and the peace to flower where you’re planted. Even if one is uprooted and placed elsewhere.

Zombie Rhubarb, Redux

The zombie rhubarb has returned. This is the rhubarb Odd Trundles did his level best to eradicate while it was in a shaded corner; I had to move the poor thing and didn’t think it would survive. But despite all odds, it’s come back year after year.

A little ragged, a whole lot stubborn, this plant does not know when to quit. Not gonna lie, it’s a big mood I need right now.

I suspect we all do.

Lenten Beauty

I try really hard. not to have favorites, but hellebores are just so beautiful. Quiet and unassuming, they bloom when plenty of the rest of the world is asleep in winter’s arms. And their colors–subtle, a whisper instead of a shout.

Yes, I try really hard not to have favorites. But sometimes you’ve just gotta.

Have a good weekend, chickadees. Spring is here, here, here.

Nature’s Cleanup Crew

Oh, nothin’ much, just scavengers making sure the sloughed detritus of humanity doesn’t choke the globe. It’s a livin’, ya know? Over on the right there, that’s Fred. He thinks he’s a crow when we’ve got food, and we let him think so because honestly, there’s only so much of this we can eat and he’s a bottomless pit…

They said Taliesin could understand the speech of birds, and I’m here to tell you that was probably just like the internet–a whole lot of weird unusable shit, with maybe a piece of necessary information buried in a random, moving place.

Anyway, let’s spare a thought for Nature’s cleanup crew. They’ve a huge job on their, uh, their wings (or paws, or whatever passes for hands among maggots) and not much time to get it done.

Just like the rest of us…

Adieu, Fearless

So… yesterday, the Princess padded into my room somewhat early, bearing a mug of coffee and some bad news.

Our Fearless!Cat was not doing well.

Regular Readers will remember Fearless!Cat was my father-in-law’s; when he went into assisted living he was distraught over what would happen to her. Of course we took her in. It was a four-hour drive to bring her home, and she made her displeasure known during every single, solitary minute.

Her name was Ninja, because she had only the faintest spot of white on her chest. Her predecessor in my father-in-law’s house–Taffy Kat–lived to be 23 or 24 and required diapers by the end; father- and mother-in-law had a genius for picking long-lived pets.

Anyway, Ninja was twenty, and Saturday night she was just as robust, vocal, and bossy as ever. Sunday morn she was curled up on her favorite bed, obviously slipping away fast. For a couple hours I thought she’d rally, but then she spoke, loud and clear.

It was time.

Our regular vet is moving offices and closed on Sundays to boot, and I was near frantic. Fortunately, there are area vets who do house calls in this situation, and we got lucky. Or, you know, Ninja knew there was an appointment slot that afternoon with the vet she’d chosen, and acted accordingly.

I would not put it past that cat. After all, she’s Fearless!Cat on the blog because she was known, out in my father-in-law’s neighborhood, for taking on raccoons. She was a stubborn, temperamental warrior, and her ferocity was only matched by her great tenderness with the Princess and Little Prince.

When Ninja came to live with us, she was already past middle age, but she would torment Odd Trundles by perching on the stairs (he would not, under any circumstances, go down the interior stairs, and only the outside ones under mild protest, since he was so front-heavy) and regarding him calmly as he barked, wiggled, and play-bowed frantically at the head of said stairs, longing, wanting, needing her to come up and make acquaintance. The Mad Tortie had trained him not to play roughly, but Ninja was having none of this “play with” nonsense. She was there to torment, and she did her job.

She also slept on the Little Prince’s pillow, slipping down the hall like the soft-footed assassin she was named for as soon as Odd was safely in his crate. And she demanded the Princess feed her twice a day; she wouldn’t touch her bowl otherwise.

What I’m saying is, this cat knew what she wanted. Always. And yesterday she decided her bags were packed; she was ready to go.

So. A very nice veterinarian from Loving Hands came out, and Ninja passed in the midst of her family. There were soft voices, tales told of her glory and stubbornness, prayers said to Bast, Anubis, and Artemis. Then, once she was gone, she was laid to rest deep and safe in our rose garden as the Princess requested.

A special thanks to Dr Xava, who was kind, patient, and did exactly what Ninja told her to do. It’s rare to find doctors who listen so well.

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time digging graves for small animals, in pouring rain. I didn’t mind the rain; I could blame it for the water on my cheeks.

None of us are feeling too grand right now. Kind thoughts are welcome–though please, none of that rainbow bridge business, I can’t stand it. If you’re moved to make a small donation on behalf of Her Grace Madame Ninja, First of her Name, Wearer of Scythes, Chatterer Upon Stairs, She Who Does Battle With Trash Pandas, I suggest BeeBee’s House Kitten Rescue, or the Humane Society of Southwest Washington, where all our pets except Ninja came from.

No doubt she is in glorious battle somewhere, no longer inside an aching body. I’m sure she’ll come back to visit occasionally, but right now she’s resting. Twenty years, she’s bloody well earned it. Please give your furry friends a gentle pat or two on our account, my friends.

I told the kids that the pain is our hearts getting bigger, and our capacity for love deepening. That it’s a gift, the last gift our fuzzy friends give us. I do believe it, I have to believe it.

But oh, it hurts. It hurts.