Friday, May 30, 2008



If you are a flower, shrub or even a tree and you live with us - don't get too rooted. Our yard is my artistic wife's outdoor canvas. She moves plants around like rearranging furniture.
She recently moved a 15 foot tree while I was out running errands one day. I came home to find her out in the back yard with the job completed. (she did admit to possibly misjudging its size and mobility once she got it out of the ground).

Anyway... if you have a tree or shrub that can use some extra watering, such as during a transplant, get one of those 5 gallons buckets (you can get pickle buckets or compound buckets for free) and using a nail put a couple/few holes in the bottom. Fill the bucket with water and set it next to the truck of your tree to deliver slow steady water to the roots over a period of time.

This method works great during drought. We have had a couple of doozy droughts in the 20 years we've been in our house. You may notice in your own yard were the large, major roots of a tree have come to the surface making a lump in yard. This happens when trees are in stress and in search of moisture. One year it was so bad we had set out about 10 buckets around the yard to save mature trees showing signs of wilting. After an hour or so you could see the tree getting perkier. You can also use these water buckets when you plant something beyond the reach of your hose.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

this space left intentionally blank

Friday, May 23, 2008



If you have a zipper that's sticking or not zipping smoothly, rub the teeth with (dry) bar soap.
Zip it a couple times to work in the soap and it should be smooth zippin'.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

the acquittal

Ferris is no longer a convicted criminal.
We are so proud.

And all we had to do was:
- call a lawyer (after paying the ticket)
- have the lawyer file an appeal
- wait over a month for a court date (during which time the license suspension started)
- write a large retainer check
- drive to some far away court, to find out he didn't need to appear

Then the judge makes a ruling and the whole bad thing disappears.

Now all he has to do to get his license back is:
- 10 hours of community service
- write another check to cover the fees

Listen - if you're going to have kids think carefully about your career choices.
- work at a university (FREE tuition)
- be a lawyer
- be a cop
- be a mechanic
- run a restaurant (tho this really only applies to having boys)
- work at GameStop

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

picky picky picky...

Tidy Cat to the rescue.

so far so good.

Doesn't it just figure we got a 'fastidious' feral cat.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

FREE pets

Do you have a dog?

Would you leave your dog alone with a bag of chips for 8 hours?
(I was supposed to bring these things downstairs yesterday to be stored on the extra shelves...oops)

Sometimes I just love that FREE dog. (and yes...they are still there, and we are at work again)

The FREE cat on the other hand has fallen into disfavor.

Perhaps she doesn't like the litter, perhaps she is just mad - but she has decided the barn floor is a better than the litter box.

This does not fly in weese's house. There will be no peeing on the floor*, even in the barn.
I sent a note to the feral cat adoption folks asking for suggestions - but my preference is to simply open the door.

*And while we are gloating over the FREE dog, it should also be noted that she has never once...ever ... peed in the house.

Friday, May 16, 2008



Time for spring cleaning.

But remember by working with the natural progression of the season you'll save time and effort.

Don't wash the windows and screens until the pollen is off the trees. Here in the Northeast we should be done in a week or so. There is nothing worse that cleaning all your windows and sashes only to have them slathered in yellow dust the next day.
You should also keep your windows closed on dry days in the height of pollen season . This will keep all that yellow dust out of the house and certainly ease any allergies.

Wait to sweep off outdoor porches and patios till the trees drop their spring seedlings. We wait until late May - even tho the temptation to get cleaned up for the season is mounting. We sweep off the back porch and patio under our large maple, then use a shovel and wheelbarrow to haul away all the seed pods. Followed by a quick rinse with the hose and we are ready for outdoor entertaining.

In the spring we often add an extra little rug by the door to help keep those little helicopter seed pods from being tracked all over the house. Also at this time of year, we leave the broom right near the entry. Its not only handy but serves as a reminder to take a quick swipe in front of the door and walk.

Happy Spring.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

the scent of a womanFREE cat

The FREE dog suspects something.

She has yet to actually see the FREE cat - but she is circling the garage and whining.
We have this image of her digging out under the foundation.

The headline would read: FREE dog frees FREE cat

We have yet to see the cat ourselves. But we know where she is hiding.
Because of course we checked every nook and cranny.
We found her in a corner tucked behind the snowthrower. You can see just a little bit of her ...with a flashlight ...if you twist your body to the right and crane your neck against the wall ...and get up on one tippy toe.
Yeah - we're a little over the top.

She is eating like a horse, and using her litter box.
We are so proud.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

empty nesters

They don't call...they don't write...

Monday, May 12, 2008

The FREE cat

What happens when you give two lesbians a free, feral, unfriendly cat?

Why… we buy cat toys of course.

I have to give credit to the woman from the feral cat rescue place – she really didn’t start snickering until I showed her the nightlight I installed.

ok ok we did a couple things to modify the back of the garage to make the transition easier.

First – since the cat was going to be confined in the garage for several weeks, I framed out one side of the double doors and installed some fence. This way - the cat can see out, get some fresh air, and maybe not feel so locked up.
We are hoping she will learn some very important things from this vantage point. The most important being that the FREE dog is behind a fence. I think once she figures this out she will find it comforting.

This open fenced area also allows us to see in. That way we can locate her before entering with food and water.

There is a window in the back of the garage, so we built the cat a little perch there. (we also fenced the window so it can be opened on warm days.)

Then we got some little fuzzy cat bed things for her, and some organic wheat cat litter.

The shelter people provided us with this nifty little box with straw inside. They say that feral cats love these things. So of course we thought it would be even nicer if we put a little rug in front. We set her food bowls out there ... so her little feet would be warm and dry while she had a snack.

So, yeah... the cat lady is totally rolling her eyes now, while gently trying to explain to us that we may not really see this cat. That we should be prepared for her to take off when we let her out and that she may not return for a couple weeks.

We listened...politely.

And yes... to my adorable wife's delight The Cat Whisperer (aka TheDaughterTheTherapist) did in fact bring some catnip toys.

And here is possibly the only picture we may ever get of her.
Meet Sorsha.

Friday, May 09, 2008



For today's tip we will be adding RESCUE
to my favorite list of 'R' words.

We needed a cat.
But how do we get a cat that will rid of us of rodents, not cause allergic reactions, and survive the FREE dog?

I love the internets.

On the internets we found several local ‘Barn Cat’ programs.
Barn Cats are basically exactly what we were looking for. These feral to semi-feral felines are often caught by a TNR program (Trap, Neuter and Release) and for some reason or another are not able to released back to their original home. Sometimes they are also domestic cats who simply cannot conform to life inside.

We have a barn! Well.. almost a barn.

We started making some calls.
Within an hour I got a call back from a perky woman named Monica. I told her we needed a cat to control rodents, but it would have to live in our barn/garage. Did she have anything like that?

She practically squealed.

Monica, who runs a TNR program, says she rarely has barn cats for placement and that most of her animals are returned to where they were found. BUT – she just so happened to have a little female who had just weaned a litter and was in desperate need of a new home.
It seems this little feral had been getting fed by a woman who lived in a condo.
Feeding wild cats is against the rules of the Condo Association. So much so, in fact, that the Association was going to kill this cat if the woman kept feeding her.

Monica currently had this cat in a foster situation and scheduled for spaying this week. After that she would have no choice but to return her and hope for the best.

She said it was a miracle that we called.

Far be it for us to mess with miracles.

Monica said we would need to keep this cat confined for 1 possibly even 2 months. She asked if that would be possible.

Um… yeah – not a problem. Your talking to people who shut down the main entrance to their house to host a bird family.

(Look! the babies are getting big!)

My coddling wife and I got busy right away.

To be continued…

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Searching for a solution

what to do what to do when one has rats....

As we do with all decisions in our household, the first order of business is to get a cocktail and sit down (preferably in the location of the problem) and discuss the details of the situation and list possible solutions.

The 'situation' in this case was not just rats. We have an ever growing chipmunk population in most of the yard surrounding the house and have seen evidence of mice in the garage and basement.

Possible solutions included but was not limited to:
  • Trap and Release - the most humane, tho our success rate is limited (ok... practically non-existent)
  • Bait and Kill Traps - neither of us like this solution
  • Poison - nope nope... just nasty - can't do it
  • Professional Exterminator - hmm, they will most likely use one of the solutions we have already decided against. Doesn't make it any better if someone else is doing the execution. Plus, there is the cost to consider
  • Setting out a giant vat of beer - I was thinking they would fall in and drown ... happily drunk, kinda pleasant. (could be the result of discussing over cocktails)
  • The Circle of Life - aha!

Tho the giant vat of beer did have my vote, my pragmatic wife thought a cat might make more sense.

A cat.

A cute, furry little cuddly cat.

This solution is not completely obstacle free:

  1. The FREE dog
  2. The cat will need to enjoy hunting in the great outdoors
  3. Oh and... Ferris AND my pet-lovin wife are both VERY allergic to cats

Ok, we have issues - tho they are not insurmountable.

Clearly - some research is in order. be continued

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A rat of a different color

There seems to be some confusion about rats.

Rats are not exclusively city dwellers. They are opportunists - which makes cities appealing. They also love them some water, thus we find so many living in the city sewer systems. But they also love swamps, and rivers and lakes. The rat population in the city mimics that of humans. More humans, more rats.

Out here in suburbia - less humans, but certainly there are rats. These rats know nothing of train lines and subway systems or hotdog vendors and high rises. They would be as uncomfortable living in Manhattan as I.
Our rats enjoy the suburban sprawl, the large lawns, open water ways and lush landscapes. These are not the sickly disease infested rats we are so frightened of. In fact, they are no more parasite or disease ridden than say a squirrel. These are simply robust country rodents. As is a bunny rabbit.
(for further enjoyment, you may want to read this interesting article in the Times regarding animal discrimination.)

Let's also remember that there are plenty of professional rats holding lofty research positions. These rats generally live at their place of work, as rats tend to eschew commuting.

So yes, we have rats... or 'rat' as it were. (I have had the trap out for several days since our first catch with no takers.)
Are there more?
Do we have a plan?
Most assuredly.

to be continued...

please note - that is neither me or my rat pictured above. I can barely trap one, let alone get one to sit on my shoulder.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The rodent of my discontent

Last year we instituted the Chipmunk Relocation Program to alleviate our suburban lot of an influx of these vermin. This overpopulation, we believe, was the direct result of losing our beloved cat that very winter. The chipmunks, bunnies, mice and even deer seemed to be rejoicing and moving in by the drove.

The FREE dog was only mildly interested

and at times seemed even excited about the prospect of more playmates.

so... no help there.

Our Relocation Program was completely ineffective. The trap relegated to a dark corner in the basement. We have simply given up on planting flowering bulbs, and walk with our eyes to the ground to avoid the new holes they keep making to gain access to their ever-growing elaborate tunnel systems.

Fast forward to this spring - my rodent-tolerant wife and I are clearing out the back of the garage. We pulled out all the stored patio and porch furniture, and re-organized the lawn tools and garden equipment. She then left me on my own to sort through all my ‘no-longer-needed’ toxic substances. During the tidying, I found that the mice had once again gotten into my grass seed. They chew a hole in the bag then climb in. I can tell because I find poop in the bag - which is really nasty considering they got in there with the intention to snack. This poop however ... was rather large.
I found this disconcerting.
So I dug out the ole chipmunk trap, loaded it with some apple and left the area.

I damned near forgot to check it the next morning. My track record is pretty poor, so checking the trap is really superfluous. I opened the garage door and peered into the dark.
Trap door was down…. Slowly synapses snapped… it began to register.
O!. Door is down – rodent on board?!
I flipped on the light to find a very frightened and seemingly sad… rat.
A Rat.
And a big one at that.

We drove him over to the park, where he can make new friends and dine on fine cuisine left behind by tiny soccer players.

Back at the house however, this is a problem.
We have put up with the mice and the cute little rabbits and the rapidly reproducing chipmunks but this has gone too far.

My gentle wife counseled me that it was time to get professional help.

To be continued…

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Ferris is 20 - today.

(well... this is a 'G' rated blog)

Friday, May 02, 2008



I am not a fan of cleaning products with added bleach.
Yes, I do love bleach - it has it's own special purposes and there's nothing like it, but it's a pretty caustic cleaner and should be use prudently.

There really is no good reason to bleach everytime you clean. If it needs bleach each time - you're not cleaning it often enough.
Plus... you'll need to change your clothes whenever you pull it out of the cabinet or you'll risk those egregious little bleachy dots.

Buy something natural instead. Then you can clean as you go and not worry about the environment or your wardrobe.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

the babies

there are 4 or 5 ....

I was a little too excited taking this picture last evening.

updated pics

They were all SCREAMING at me. I think they thought I was going to feed them.
They all had their little mouths open and were peeping and shrieking. I was very tempted to give them something to eat. I read that Wrens eat primarily insects. But as a good Italian grandma I would be required to give them cookies instead.

I will get a better shot when I get home this evening. Stay tuned.