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Writer's Block: It's allergies ... really!

What was the last thing that made you cry?

Um, life?


On my way home from the library I was whining to myself about not having brought a camera (there are always photo opportunities when you put a bunch of volunteers in charge of dress-up materials), when I saw some crows circling overhead, gathering in a big cloud to roost like I'd seen so many times on campus.
Except for the fact that these weren't crows, they were vultures.
I'd never seen that many vultures in town before, but from the huge amounts of feathers scattered over three blocks, they gathered there somewhat often.
It was several blocks home still, and 90 unpleasant degrees, but I managed to walk-jog-walk-pause-jog home for the camera, splash cold water all over my face, grab a tangerine from the fridge to eat on the way, and then walk-jog-walk-eat-walk-pause-jog-eat-walk back to the vultures' tree.

Some interesting discoveries:
  • Turkey vultures resemble turkeys not only in appearance, but in their aroma when dozens of them are clustered in one place.
  • Vultures in droves seem to attract mosquitoes in droves.
  • Citrus, at least in the quantities available in a tangerine peel, does not ward off mosquitoes.
  • My camera's zoom capabilities are only slightly better than those of Shawn's binoculars in the pilot episode of Psych.
These discoveries made for a somewhat lackluster photo experience, but at least I got a few in flight:

Interestingly, in my hurry to free up a little space for these pictures prior to my mad dash back, I managed to delete *all* the other pictures in my camera instead of one.
Well, now I know what that button does.
Serves me right for not moving them to the computer sooner.


It was a cold day on the dark side of the house, and I found a female Green Darner on the pavement. She wouldn't move at all and they were going to tear up the cement soon, so I coaxed her into my hand and held her in the sun until she was warm enough to fly away.
And of course, I took some pictures! ;)

We're back, baby!

The boil water advisory has been lifted, and ahead of schedule to boot! Go Ames! :D
I am going to drink *so* much water now.

Does anyone have an ark?

I know, I know, I haven't posted in 10,000 years. I figured our worst flood in like, ever would be a good occasion to start up again.

Well, it's wet out. There's also a heat index of 105 and I've somehow lost my camera, so unfortunately I don't get to take pictures of this one.

We're in the middle of one of the worst floods this area has experienced, rivaled only by a 17-year-old record that was easily broken yesterday in parts of the city.
During the last flood I lived smack in the middle of the flood plane, and had the great fun of helping my mother put everything on top of the furniture and watching people canoe past the building. The water didn't make it in that year, but with yesterday's flooding several feet higher in some areas, I'm thankful that I no longer live in the flood-prone part of the city. Good luck to all who do - I've been there, and it isn't fun.

The community is currently under a Boil Water Advisory due to several breaks in the mains. Hopefully everything will be back up and running by week's end, and the storms forecast for Friday won't come to much.

As a bit of reference, here's a picture of the minor flooding we were getting BEFORE it rained on Tuesday:

The cat caaaame back....

Well, technically she just stayed put.
I did two rounds of the building around 8PM and found no sign of her. Went out again around 9:30 and there she was, crouched in the snow with ice in her fur.
Brought her in.  Gave her an egg, some more chicken, some more Puppy Chow. She stuck her whole head and upper body in the bag at one point when I was too slow doling it out. Tried to put her in a carrier for the night (she was digging in the potted plants, sharpening her claws on the recliner, and showing a little too much interest in the gecko cage), but she just started jabbering at me and trying to claw her way out.
She almost *did* get the door open at one point from the sound of it.
I finally just let her out to destroy the place.
Now I have to either wait till noon for the shelter to open or call them over here.
She's a sweetheart, but she will not. Shut. Up.
Okay, she needs to go somewhere that *allows* pets, at the very least. Calling the shelter.
It was nice to meet you, Kitty.


Little cat, little cat ....

So, for about two hours last night I had a cat.
It was nice.

I had just finished an incredibly productive night of tweeting a running commentary on Friday the 13th (I SO did not know Kevin Bacon was in that), when I heard meowing.
I'd heard this voice before, from a stray out in the carport, but aside from eating the bits of pot roast I'd thrown out for her she'd kept her distance.
Plus, you know, she'd been outside.
This was close.
And getting closer. I looked out the peephole and there she was, coming up the stairs. We don't make a habit here of leaving front doors open when it's 9 degrees out, so someone must've taken pity and let her in the building.
I did likewise, opening the door and uttering the universal invitation for cats - "tk tk tk, c'mere."
She looked me over for a moment, then oozed her way in, purring nonstop to make sure I didn't change my mind. It worked.

No collar, but she clearly wasn't feral, not in the skittish and wild sense. She looked young, acted young - when I held her she pressed up against my chest and let me squeeze her down into a little ball of fluff between my arms like kittens do.

She didn't let me out of her sight, though she was certainly out of mine several times - she'd be walking around me, rubbing against my legs, and then suddenly she was gone and she'd reappear behind a piece of furniture on the other side of the room. How do they *do* that?

All I had on hand was Puppy Chow and the chicken I'd baked a few hours ago, so she got that.
Now, Ed hearts Puppy Chow, but kitty did not heart Ed.
She didn't actually seem to notice her at first, since tortoises don't have fur, or make sounds, or really even give off body heat...But then ...
"Holy ****, it moved!!!"
I wish it had been bright enough in the room to take a video, her reactions were priceless.

"Wait, weren't you supposed to be feeding me?"

"Is it ... dead?"

She finally just ran out of the kitchen, so Ed had to be banished to the bathtub for the night.

Kitty drank a ton of water, ran around a bit, drank more, ate some chicken, ALWAYS purring.
This building doesn't technically allow pets (Ed doesn't shed or make sounds so she's easy enough to hide), so I decided I'd better get her back outside before she got too comfy.
(WAY too late for that, by the way)
Gave her a grand tour of the laundry room, walked around the halls a bit, tried to get her to go outside but she just looked at me as if I were off my rocker. Took her back inside. Remembered she couldn't stay.
I got her to go outside by walking out ahead, pretending I'd stay out there, but I finally just picked her up because the snow's well over a foot deep in places. We walked around the building a few times, with me hoping she'd get tired of me and jump out of my arms at some point like a good kitty, but she just held on for dear life the whole time. It was late, it was windy, it was cold, I set her down in the carport. I'd seen her hiding under the cars before, I hoped it was warm. At least there wasn't snow there.

Of course, she just followed me back to the door. She actually ran ahead of me if I started speeding up.
I snuck in and closed the door in front of her. She stared at me through the glass and waited for the door to open.

I had nothing that would help her, nothing besides the food and water I'd already given her, so I just tossed some more food in a cardboard box with a blanket. I went back outside and she was gone, walked around the building again with no sight of her, so I put the box in a warmer-looking place near a wall.
She was sitting on the sidewalk and watching me.
I came closer, but she ran. I sat down, and she came up. I picked her up and put her in the box. She found the food, ate, wolfing it down and looking up every second like she wanted to follow but had to finish eating first. I went home. If she was still there in the morning, I'd take her to a shelter, though her odds probably wouldn't be much better there. She'd been hanging conspicuously around the area for weeks, after all; no worried owner had come to collect. She probably did alright on handouts and pity. Still, if she was there ....

The box was there this morning, no kitty, no food. Too cold and windy for pawprints to follow.

I hope she's warm.


Writer's Block: Will he or won't he?

Do you believe the groundhog can accurately sense the approach of spring? Even if you don't buy it, are you happy when the little guy doesn't see his shadow?

Groundhog Day? They still have that?
Mm, spaced it off.

Ah, Iowans

We tell it like it is, we do.


Dear Winter...

Thank you for your prompt action regarding my earlier letter. Kicking the temperatures up a good 40 degrees from last Friday's was really above and beyond, not to mention your slipping a little coating of morning frost in for a photo opportunity. Both were much appreciated, and I certainly don't mean to seem ungrateful.
However, in the future could you contact whichever sprite, nymph, goddess, dryad or wrangler is in charge of small woodland creatures and request that he or she inform the animals to sit still, or at least sit lower? My camera is not exactly a high-end model, and I'd really prefer if I didn't have to walk up onto my neighbors' sidewalks or stand in waist-high snowdrifts (I know, you're working on that last one) with my arms stretched above my head and my stomach freezing in order to capture half of a blurry cardinal wing as it retreats into the hedges.
At the very least, people are beginning to wonder why I'm pacing around their houses with a camera.

All the Best,
Not Stalking My Neighbors

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August 2010


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