There’s always a choice

When I got home from work, Julie was waiting for me. She had a sheepish look on her face and we both smiled at each other. As she told me that she had done something and wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, I already knew exactly what she was talking about. She told me to follow her into the back yard and she would show me.

As I went out the back door, I spotted the pet carrier in the yard and my knowledge was confirmed. I knew that the momma cat that no one was able to catch had just had another litter and that Julie was going to go check it out that day. That’s why I knew the moment I walked in the house and saw her face that we had just gotten ourselves a new kitten. What I didn’t know yet was how much this cat would become a part of my life.

What's not to love about this little tiger.

What’s not to love about this little tiger.

I stepped into the yard and this tiny blue eyed kitten came running towards me. He seemed to be smiling at me and Julie told me that she had named him Wiley. I liked the name and I loved the cat — it was love at first sight. This tiny creature had more personality ounce for ounce than anything I had ever seen. That very moment that I first saw him, my choice was made. I said to Julie, “We are keeping this cat!”

She wanted to know if  I was sure and whether or not I was just being accommodating, but I assured her that the choice had been made and it was real. With this kitten, I was totally smitten.

Wiley and I bonded immediately. Every morning  I would get up and mix some kitten food and water and watch him lap it up with his front paws inside the food. I had to wipe him off after meal. Every time I sat down on the couch (and a few other places too), he would jump into my lap. It became a daily ritual and it went on for over 14 years. I had to have my Wiley time and he had to have his Karl time. For much of his life, he would come running whenever I called him — not necessarily normal for the independently minded feline.

He was my little buddy and he has brought me much comfort in my life. A few years ago I was giving a presentation to about 200 people (on a subject I knew well) and my entire preparation consisted of sitting with Wiley in my lap for 30 minutes and listening to him purr. I have never been closer to any creature of a species different than mine.

Now I am faced with another choice concerning Wiley and this one is not so easy. Wiley is terminally ill and I am faced with the decision to let him go. He doesn’t appear to be suffering but he is headed down a short road of no return. That is certain. Our vet will come to our house so that Wiley’s last moments can be here in his comfortable surroundings and not in the cold, clinical atmosphere of the doctor’s office (which has always been very stressful for Wiley).

Last night at work, I thought of Wiley and thought about what his life is like right now and the light finally came on in my mind. When there is a humane way out, am I keeping him around for him or me? The answer was clear. After all he has brought to my life, I owe him this.

So once again the choice concerning Wiley is made. It’s time to let my little buddy go.

Wiley in his prime

Wiley in his prime

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Weird Image Wednesday [151104]

Very interesting effects created by the old window glass in my house combined with neighbors jack-o’-lanterns.

Boo!

Boo!

 

More Halloween fun.

More Halloween fun.

Or maybe you could just take a nap instead: ladyleemanilasphotos.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/weird-image-wednesday-151104/

The kitties have spoken (sort of) and the results are in

Hello down there!

Hello down there!

I’m standing in the pet store looking at all the cat toys. So many labels with so many photos of so many smiling cats. I’ve tried them all. And they have all led to disappointment and a promise to myself to never do it again.

The way cats can actively ignore a store bought toy never ceases to amaze me. Oh, I tell myself, I know my cats habits and likes and there is no doubt they will love playing with [insert name of seriously ignored toy here]. But it seldom works. Sometimes, if a toy is saturated with fresh catnip, cats will spend time with a it — but it’s not something I would refer to as playing. It is something more akin to the way some large lollipops get treated by some children, wet and messy.

So after decades of studious research, my wife and I have developed a set of kitty toys sure to fit anyones budget. The manufacture of these playthings requires little skill (though you might possibly have to dig through your recycling bin).

Here is my list of the three most popular cat toys
1. A crumpled up piece of paper
2. An old shoe string tied to a stick (or just the string (or just the stick))
3. An empty box

I take no credit for invention of these toys and firmly believe they have been psychically communicated from cats to humans down through the ages. We are simply the conduit or vehicles through which the cats themselves achieve their goals of toy making. It’s either because cats don’t have thumbs or because they just like watching people work for them (my money is on the latter). So I leave you with several examples of some of the most fun and least expensive cat amusement on the market.

Here Kitty, Kitty.

Here Kitty, Kitty. Always make sure to crumple it nice and tight.

 

Charlie contemplates his next parry.

Charlie contemplates his next parry.

 

The right box can even provide fun for multiple cats simultaneously.

The right box can even provide fun for multiple cats simultaneously.

 

If boxes don't fit your cat toy budget, bags are also be very popular.

If boxes don’t fit your cat toy budget, bags are also very popular.

 

We don't need no stinking kitty condo!

We don’t need no stinking kitty condo!

Not that you were even wondering

…why I’m doing this. But here is why I write.

I write because I have to. I write because I love to. I write because it keeps me sane. I write because I like watching the words appear on the screen when I use my computer. I write because I like watching the words appear on the paper, flowing from my pen, when I write in a notebook. I write because I am a good communicator and I enjoy making contact with people through the written word. I write because I can be a lousy communicator and sorely need the practice. I write because it is easy. I write because it is extremely hard. I write because I always knew that I should. I write because there is always someone out there who can be reached. I write because the writing of others has helped me survive. I write because the writing of others has taught me that no matter how isolated or misunderstood I feel, there is always someone who can share my feelings and understand me. I write because there is always someone out there whose struggles make mine pale in comparison. So, I write because I can. I write because I have to.

My favorite place to write

My favorite place to write

Hot Peppers Fend Off Approaching Cool Nights

Three varieties of peppers (banana, serrano and my very spicy surprise guest) and many more beautiful colors.

Three varieties of peppers (banana, serrano and my very spicy surprise guest) and many more beautiful colors.

This was a great year for my pepper plants. Of course, here in Texas, I’m not about to claim that statement actually means very much considering how well the darn things grow. But this year brought a crop that I was particularly pleased with.

I grow my peppers in pots and have done so for a number of years. They don’t need to be in the ground and it is a ready way to save the valuable real estate of my raised beds for other plants that appreciate the space more.

This year I chose four varieties (and ended up with five): jalepeños, serranos, banana and cayenne. I planted two serrano plants but one of them was mislabeled and turned out to be something else and very hot.

One of these things is not like the other - serrano on the right and something labeled serrano on the left that turned out to be much hotter.

One of these things is not like the other – serrano on the right and something labeled serrano on the left that turned out to be much hotter.

One thing  I did differently this year was leave some banana peppers on the plant for longer and let them turn red. I always like growing these because they are are a good substitute for bell peppers (which I also grow sometimes). They mature faster, require less nutrients and care, and are more productive than bell peppers usually are around here. The taste is similar and they are good raw in salads or cooked in pasta sauce and stir fry.

This year, due to the abundance of banana peppers on the two plants I grew, I let some stay on the bush longer than I normally would. The first thing I noticed was the beautiful series of colors the peppers turned. In addition to the shot below, the first image in this post shows some of the deep yellows, oranges and reds that were part of the ripening process.

Banana peppers left on the bush until they turned red - beautiful and great tasting too.

Banana peppers left on the bush until they turned red – beautiful and great tasting too.

The other thing I noticed about these well ripened peppers is the way the flavor evolved. I still enjoy the green ones but the red ones had a fuller, more mellow flavor with a nice hint of peppery bite — somewhat like a red bell pepper.

Today is the first day of November and I shouldn’t be talking about this in the past tense. All my plants are still producing and until we have a hard freeze, they should be able to keep going. It’s not unusual for me to have peppers until just before Christmas. With a little effort I could probably protect them and keep them going even longer, but I just let them go when the weather gets colder.

It seems that every year there is one particular crop that stands out and this year it was these beautiful and delicious peppers, although  I never did catch the name of the blazing hot uninvited guest.

Not to be outdone by the banana peppers, some members of this year's serrano crop turned a brilliant vivid red.

Not to be outdone by the banana peppers, some members of this year’s serrano crop turned a brilliant vivid red.

Letting go of this summer’s garden

The year of the Turk’s Cap

Turk's Cap

Turk’s Cap

I shudder to think how many of these things we have planted this year. The problem is, they will not allow me to ignore them. These plants smugly offer so much that I am unable to resist planting them all over the yard.

Here is the quick rundown:

  1. They are drought tolerant
  2. and they aren’t very picky about the kind of soil you plant them in
  3. and they grow well and bloom profusely in the shade
  4. and as if that wasn’t enough — they attract hummingbirds and other pollinators
  5. and they are beautiful plants with dark green foliage and brightly colored blooms.
The Turk's Cap have been blooming in my backyard for months - with no sign of letting up.

The Turk’s Cap has been blooming in my backyard for months – with no sign of letting up.

We planted our first ones about three years ago. Once they were established (one season), they have not required any water. I do water them occasionally, but none of plants appear to suffer much from lack of water.

Turk’s Cap will die back during the winter and trimming them down to the ground has worked because most of the new growth comes from very low on the old stems or from new shoots that spring up. They do spread somewhat, but are easy to control and haven’t been invasive. On the contrary, I usually encourage the spreading in areas where I have planted them and enjoy having the plants fill out and make a nice stand.

Every year we see hummingbirds, bees and wasps on the blooms. We have hummingbird feeders and the Turk’s Cap is one thing that attracts them to our  yard. They also enjoy our salvia and Trumpet Vine.

Turk’s Cap is one plant that I recommend heartily for those in my area (Fort Worth, TX) who are looking for something to plant in shaded areas. Sometimes it seems very hard to find natives that both grow in the shade and bloom and these plants are proving to be virtually indestructible.

150727_048

The petals of Turk’s cap make an interesting spiral.