Close Encounters of the Stinky Kind and Other Silly Situations

One of the favorite hangout places for the kitty family.

One of the favorite hangout places for the kitty family.

The stubbed-tail, black cat appeared in the backyard nine months ago. She never stayed long, just slept for a short time on the sun-warmed bricks under the bird feeder. She disappeared for days at a time.

In July, she appeared daily. Feathers littered the ground under the bird feeder. I do not share the idea that “Squirrels are just rats with cuter outfits”, (Sarah Jessica Parker A.K.A. Carrie – Sex in the City- that season Carrie was dating Mr. Granola). I do know they can be destructive (e.g. chewing up plastic rainbird sprinkler heads), but I don’t wish them harm. When kitty caught and killed a gray squirrel, I chased her off and buried the squirrel. I know she is a predator, but knowing is not the same as witnessing.

She disappeared again, and then re-appeared in mid-August, accompanied by three small kittens. She brought them into the backyard under a gap in the fence. They were old enough to follow her on their own.

Of course, I fed them. I rationalized it might save some squirrels and birds if the cats weren’t so desperate for food. I searched the Internet for information on feral cat programs in the area. Unless I want a flock of felines living in my backyard, I will have to trap all four cats, have them neutered and then release them in my yard. Should be fun.

Both water and dry food are offered.

Both water and dry food are offered.

I’m careful to bring the cat food in at night. We are near a creek, so there are critters in the area. One night, I was a little late bringing in the food. I took out my trusty flashlight and surveyed the perimeter of the yard. Mom-cat was stretched out on her side on the lawn with one of the kittens (stub-tailed, multicolored, white paws and chest, incredibly cute) stretched out next to her. The two other kitten twins (short-haired, black, long tailed, also incredibly cute) wrestled about ten feet away. All was serene.

I flicked my flashlight beam toward the bird feeder about six feet away from the deck stairs, took one step and froze. Looking back at me was a very large, very fluffy, black and white critter with bright beady eyes.  Definitely not a cat. I slid quietly back through the sliding glass door. Through the back window, I checked the yard with the flashlight again. The cats were in the same position. Mom-cat looked at me and slowly closed and opened her eyes, looking as serene as ever. I know she was laughing at me. She and the kittens had made their peace with the skunk. I had not.

I have pictures. Not of the skunk. I may be a lollypop for feeding the cats, the flocks of birds and one-footed turkey that frequents our front yard, but I’m not silly enough to take a flash picture of a large skunk at close range.

Yes, he's gone, but he was right there!

Yes, he’s gone, but he was right there!

Which leads me to wonder:

– Have you every had an encounter of the stinky kind? is it true that tomato juice does not work?

– Are you also a lollypop when it comes to stray cats, dogs and other critters?

– Have you had any experience with trapping cats? I may need your advice!

Well, got to go. Mom-cats tells me it’s breakfast time.


Our son and daughter-in-law have lived halfway around the world from us for the last four years. We have been fortunate enough to visit them (once), and very happy to have them visit us at least once each year. They will be moving back to the U.S. very soon. At last, we will all be living on the same continent. As a result of this experience, I have begun to accept that the cell phone and “texting” do serve a purpose, even in my life. I am truly amazed at how easy it is to stay in touch with someone halfway around the world, even if it is through texting dialect!

I have also caved on my initial reluctance to use an e-reader. In my case it was the result of a Kindle I received as a Christmas gift. I have a tendency to read mystery novels the way some people eat popcorn. I justified my addiction by donating the lightly read paperbacks to the local library. Unfortunately, the library will receive fewer book donations from me since the arrival of the Kindle.

My  “mystery” reading has focused on mystery series. I take note of how the author handles the “information dump” with the books following the initial book of the series. I’ve also focused on how different authors deal with character development. It is fun and informative. I’ve also researched children’s books. I particularly enjoyed An Elk Dropped In by Andreas Steinhofel, illustrated by Kersin Meyer and The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians by Carla Morris, illustrated by Brad Sneed. Both are beautiful books, offbeat in their approach.

Since my last post, I have been busy writing a series of chapter books. I have four manuscripts so far and have been looking for a publisher. I have heard it takes longer to find a publisher than it does to write a book. I hope that is not entirely true. I know I will eventually find a publisher who loves the characters and their stories as much as I do.

Benicia Community Garden  July 2013

Benicia Community Garden July 2013

Recently we have spent some time in Benicia on the California Coast. It was the first capitol of California – for one year. They have an amazing community garden in this small town. Here’s a picture.