Aw man, I just went to look out at the deck, and saw a bunch of dirt around the base of the planters. It couldn’t have been cats trying to do the litterbox thing, I had laid chicken wire over the tops to prevent that. The raccoon? I looked again, and there were two fat black squirrels right in the middle of the planters, caught in the act of digging and nibbling on tulip bulbs. They stopped and stared at me boldy, the little thugs.

I looked at Jake and said, “want to chase the squirrels”? He stared back at me and waved his tail a bit, but all he was interested in was his dinner. I looked at Mousepad, standing beside him, and he too meowed at me, with a “get with it sister, I’m hungry”. So I opened the door and yelled at the squirrels myself. The scampered away reluctantly, their prizes in hand, with a wicked gleam in their eyes.

Still in my pyjamas, I stepped out to survey the damage. Sure enough, there were holes in the planters, daffodils bulbs laying on top where they’d been tossed aside in favour of the tastier tulip bulbs.

Could two squirrels have made off with 75 bulbs in one night? If not, I’m sure they’ll be back to finish the job.

They don’t even have the decency to be cute. Squirrels are supposed to be grey, with white chests, like the ones I grew up with in Montreal. These black squirrels are just plain ugly.

I should have nailed that chicken wire down.

How Mousepad got his name….


This has been “his” spot since the day I brought him home as a wee little kitten. On the days I’m not annoyed with him for getting in my way, I think it’s kind of endearing. His usual routine is to jump on the desk and walk back and forth in front of the computer a couple of times, waving his tail in my face as I shove him aside. He eventually settles down on top of the mouse (like a bird on an egg), and reaches out with a paw to touch me. Every time I move my arm, his paw snakes out to find it and make contact again. I have to fight with the cursor on the screen every time he moves. It can’t be comfortable lying on top of that mouse.

That’s Mousepad.

Relatively quiet week

I finally got my car back from the garage after that deer ran into my car. Luckily there was no mechanical damage, but the body work was $500 (on a car that’s probably only worth $1000). C’est la vie, but not the end of unfortunate encounters. Earlier this week, Mousepad the cat was jumped by the miserable cat creature that lives downstairs. The following morning he was a pathetic thing, dragging his hind leg around and mewling. I was a bit alarmed that he couldn’t put any weight on his paw, so off to the vet. Fortunately, he was sent right home ($100) later with a shot of antibiotics and some pills I’m supposed to force down his throat every morning. He’s much better now, and much more willing to be petted since I found (and pulled) a large claw out of the back of his head.

I gave away a bunch of houseplants last night, to make rooom for more orchids in my light stand. The trichopilia suavis ‘Doris’ I bought at the big sale is struggling a bit, trying to adjust to its new environment. It was inexpensive because it was stressed to begin with, but I sent a couple of pictures to John just to make sure I wasn’t killing it. Here’s what he told me:

“Don’t worry about your plant.  All is well and doing fine.  That last remaining green leaf and the new growth coming up from it should not have any problems…
Everybody likes to, but don’t let yourself be tempted to dig around the new growth to see if there are any new roots.  They will be there and you will certainly at least, bruise them.  That plant cannot take any more setbacks.  Just be patient and let it do its’ thing and recover in peace. “

In the grow room, the spikes on the cattleya portia are starting to break out of their sheaths, and I expect I’ll have blooms next week. The stanhopea looks like it has similar plans. I’ll post pictures when it happens.

Raccoon Rant no. 164

Had a racoon visitation last night. I was watching tv when Jake started barking his head off, the kind of alarm he usually raises when Mousepad is tangling with another cat and lets loose a cry of distress. As designated cavalry, he and I raced down the back stairs and flung the door open, only to find Mousepad sitting on the deck, calmly observing two racoons in the tree beside him. One of the racoons was making an oinking sound, and the other something that I thought might have been a growl. I figured one was bullying and the other whining for mercy. I yelled at them to knock it off, and then ignored Mousepad’s squawks of protest as I picked him up and brought him in the house.

A quick Google search for “racoon sounds” revealed that they weren’t bickering at all. The oinker was making “contented” vocalizations, and the other one was purring. How sweet, a lovefest in the trees. I went back to the balcony, where they were still carrying on, and grumpily hosed them in their perches in the tree. There was a lot of shuffling and shaking of leaves and branches, and then all was still. I went back in and went to bed.

Balcony garden update

Images of my deck garden:

The tall plant in the back is Cyperus Alternifolius, in bloom. In front, a huge spider plant, boxes of herbs (mint, basic, catnip, thyme, oregano), and a mixed container featuring Monarda with a bad case of powdery mildew.

The snap peas are finished, replaced with sweet pea and morning glory. The eggplant and sweet red peppers are starting to fruit, and the nasturtium is a bit past it’s prime and has had a haircut. It will pick up again once the cooler weather returns in the fall.

In the centre, a white climbing rose, a clematis, and morning glory are battling for air rights. Morning glory seems to be winning. To the right, a jungle of herbs, Johnny Jump-Up, tuberous begonia, sweet peas, some sweet potato vine (thanks to a couple of sprouting tubers that never quite made it to the dinner plate), and assorted houseplants fill the space.

Knee-high sweet peas suffered a bit during my two week vacation, but seem to be making a comeback. Wave petunias cascade over the side of the railing.

English ivy is starting to climb up the sundial, surrounded by some interesting Begonia Rex plants that I brought home from Vancouver, as well as some ferns, and double pink impatiens. Hanging above is a staghorn fern that has doubled in size since last year, and is thriving in the humid weather.

My $20 flea market find (a “greenhouse” sold by Lee Valley Tools for $60) has been put to good use as a secure, zipped up anti-racoon security zone at night. None of my orchids are doing well after a traumatic spring of cold weather and racoon vandalism, but there is new growth and I’d say they’re making a comeback.

A heritage sweet pea, and bougainvillea.

Clematis, duking it out with morning glory.

The utility zone — a bbq, recycling boxes, critter-proof garbage bins, and the hose are swallowed up by greenery, in a nice way. The Queen of the Night (though hard to see, it’s against the wall beside the Cyperus) has two — count ’em, two!! — buds. Some orchids and smaller epiphyllums are hanging out of harm’s way.

A gorgeous and very old orchid cactus, a favourite of Mrs. Brown’s and now a treasured memory of her. Above, some impatiens, some very small orchids that you probably can’t see, and behind, an asparagus fern.

Mousepad, my very talkative and very loveable cat who thinks he’s a dog. I now know just how hard it is to photograph a black cat, let alone a black cat that won’t stand still.