There’s something moaning in the backyard

I open the windows to let the breeze in when I hear an unusual animal sound. Mind you, I don’t live in the country where who knows what is roaming around, but there are cats, possums, skunks and groundhogs, and I am do not have intimate knowledge of their sounds. The vocalization is deeper than a wounded cat and guttural. I get a flashlight, which from the second floor, I imagine will illuminate zilch, but it shines like a circus spotlight—so bright that I think my neighbor might call the police—and lands on a skunk.

“Am I interrupting something?” I yell to the furry black and white splotch among the greenery.

I picture skunk sex (interesting) or a litter of newborns, and scan the area for wolverines, just in case. I look to my neighbor’s window and see her cat perched there, also intrigued, and we have ourselves a moment there, the cat and I, wondering what is going on in the yard. A little research turns up the fact that this is simply the sound that a skunk makes. If you’re curious, you can listen here. I try to communicate my findings to the cat in the window, but she loses interest and wanders away.


Zappy the wonder squirrel

You might think this is a post about a squirrel that can surf or skateboard, but it’s not. It’s an ode to a neighborhood squirrel that lost his life on a routine scamper across the electrical wires, something he and generations before him had done uneventfully for centuries. Birds are always striking a pose on the wires, and nothing happens to them either. But Zappy, so named by a neighbor to reflect the unfortunate circumstances of his death, was unlucky. The neighborhood electrician figures Zappy put his paw very precisely on the wrong spot—not an easy thing to do.

The fried squirrel has been hanging from the wire since January in a remarkable feat of tenacity—intact and still fuzzy. Some neighbors pointed him out to me, so I darted out of the way; if there was a time when Zappy would plummet to the ground, it would be when I was standing directly below him.

I’m sorry there’s no picture. But you’d be sorry if there were.

So, a moment, if you will, to honor the death of a furry gray rodent that wanted nothing more than to go from one pole to another.

Maple moves in

Despite two nights of nightmares that I can only attribute to my fear about commitment to a creature for a lifetime, I call the animal shelter to let the foster coordinator know that I may not be returning Maple to the shelter at the appointed time. I may, in fact, be her forever home.

“You’re the second one this week to adopt her charge,” the woman tells me. “Another failed foster parent!”

I suspect they count on failed foster parents.

She’s a wee seven pounds, seven ounces, the size of a newborn, but much quieter. For four days, she doesn’t say a thing. Then, when it’s lights out and I put her in her room alone for the night as part of her recovery, she paws at the door and utters the meekest meow at the lowest possible decibel, a cute inquisitive squeak. I can’t bear it and let her into my room where she jumps on the bed and nestles by my head. And licks my face. And grooms my arms. And presses her tiny, wet nose  into mine.

At the slightest toss or turn, she’s alert and interactive, sure it’s time to get up. I hide under the blanket from the assault of affection and try to sleep in utter stillness.

Maple arrives

I picked up my first foster feline this week, and I fear she may be my last.

She’s so adorable I may have to adopt her.

I tried calling her by her name, Angel, but it made me gag, so I promptly started calling her Maple. That’s the benefit of fostering a cat over a child. Kids don’t like it when you change their name.

Maple is a petite and mellow two-year-old that feels like an Angora rabbit. Her classic green eyes glisten in the light and her big paws sprout little tufts of fur, repeatedly kneading the air in a comforting move. This move also makes it look like she’s flexing her kitty biceps.

I'm small but mighty.

Recovering from being spayed and adjusting to her new environment, she still prefers the corner to the couch and actually likes her pet taxi, but she falls over in excitement at the prospect of being pet.

Her tortie long-haired look is gorgeous (already a biased momma), but I can’t become that woman who breezes into work in a layer of hair, trailed by a longer layer of hair, so I hit the store for a good brush. Do you have any idea how many brush varieties are out there and how much they resemble dog brushes and how long it takes me to come to the conclusion that they’re the same brush with different packaging? Fortunately, Maple loves the pin brush.

I take care to pick out the perfect a fuzzy mouse (dangly arms, whiskers), but she looks at me as if to say, Did you think I’d fall for that? And when I show her the pool of sunlight by the patio doors, certain that she’ll want to curl up there forever, she wanders away to huddle by the speaker, back in the corner, like a willing dunce.

Mostly, she stays in one room to feel secure, but we did watch a documentary the other evening (Exit Through the Gift Shop), and while I was hoping she would dig indie films as much as I do, she fell asleep. Looks like it’s back to the shelter for you, Maple.

OK, not really. We’re watching House now, and while she’s fallen asleep again, it’s in that quintessential curled-up-cat-ball with her paw resting on my arm, purring like the motor in a fish tank. Oh, and she just took a deep kitty sigh. I’m a goner.

I could be very comfortable here.

Happy Groundhog Day

Listen up, Phil. So help me God if this is some sort of joke, because right now I’m starting at a snowbank that’s piled as precariously high as organic oranges at Whole Check—one snowflake away from an avalanche. So, if come March 20 that sun doesn’t shine in a way that’s both blinding and capable of igniting a fire, we’re gonna have a serious talk, Phil, and, fair warning, that talk will in a furry, dead heap.


Responding to numerous death threats, I didn't look very hard for my shadow.