Gardening with Critters

“Dogs look up to us; cats look down on us.”

Winston Churchill

I was out in my backyard, by myself, cleaning up after the last rainstorm. As I finished putting up the bird feeder, I noticed L.C., one of two cats that live in my backyard. Of the two, L.C. is the shyest. She lets me scratch her head, usually after she’s had dinner, but otherwise she keeps her distance.

Today was a little different. She sat about ten feet from me, next to a rose-bush and stared at me. A few minutes later, her sister joined her and the two of them proceeded to inspect every item I had touched during my clean up.

I’d like to think it was because they find my activities fascinating, but according to John Bradshaw, in his book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make … (sorry,  my Kindle does not list the entire title of the book), the sisters were really just updating their mind-maps of their territory. You know – the best sleeping place, best hunting/hiding place, location of food dishes, etc.

John Bradshaw is British and the Brits do like their cats and dogs, but I still choose to believe there is a social aspect to my cat’s behavior. How else could you account for a cat’s well-developed ability to manipulate human behavior with a purr and a two-eyed blink?


P1000534                                                                          L.C. supervising.



P1000536                                                       L.C. and S.C. checking things out.



November Garden Tour – Cautious Optimism

It’s official! Fall has arrived in California. This is the second weekend in a row of rain in the valley and snow in the Sierra. Let’s hope it is just the beginning of a very wet Fall and Winter. My brown back lawn is even showing signs of green.


Not even the cherry tomatoes have given up. (Note the small yellow blossoms.)


Life cycle of a rose – on display all at the same time.

P1000524                                                  Humming bird’s favorite.


Braggin’ Time

This very short post amounts to bragging, something my Methodist upbringing tells me is always unwarranted.  But, here it goes.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has an online newsletter for its members titled  SCBWI Insight. It features interviews with agents, publishers, authors and information about publishing, along with several other features. One of the features is Write This!  A new writing prompt is featured each month. The charge is to write to the prompt in 50 words or less. The next month, several of the prompts are featured in the newsletter. They usually publish the top two in the newsletter and they have a gallery of the top submissions for that month.

I submitted my entry for the November newsletter, and it was one of the two published in the newsletter. The prompt was  “. . . a stranger entered. ”

I was very pleased. I guess this means I can no longer introduce myself as a “pre-published” author. Amazing what 50 words can do!

I embellished my entry slightly for one of my recent posts, but here is the original:

The door flew open and a large figure lurched into the room. It stopped and glared at me, then lumbered to the bookshelf, grabbed a small volume, ripped out a page, wadded it up and swallowed it whole. “Good book,” it belched as it left the room.

If you write for children, or want to write for children, including YA, SCBWI is the organization for you. You can find them at


How Flat is My Tire? (with apologies to John Ford and the Morgan Family – 1941)

I am fortunate to have a car that is under two years old. It works well, I like the style, it is modern, and it has very low mileage. I’m writing this while sitting in a local shopping mall. I’m writing it here because my almost-beloved car is next door having the tires checked, and this is much more comfortable than the chairs in the waiting room.

There is apparently a slow leak in one of the tires. Yesterday afternoon I noticed the low tire pressure. When I checked it out, it was not the left front tire as the car’s  sensor indicated, but the left rear tire. I pumped the tire up, then decided to let it rest overnight and check it again in the morning.  I have to  get the tire repaired locally, then drive to the dealership 25 miles away to get the sensor reprogrammed.

The timeline for the tire repair was two to three hours, due to labor shortages. This is much better than the other company which promised to fix the tire in two days, also  due to a labor shortage.  Which leads me to wonder why these major companies are having so much trouble recruiting and keeping employees.

My car tire was repaired and they were able to adjust the sensor, so I was saved a trip to the dealership.

While waiting to see how much pressure the tire would lose overnight, I went to the movies and saw The Martian.  It is an excellent movie. I was so impressed with the fact that although this movie had the potential for being a disaster/horror film, it was anything but! It celebrated problem solving and human ingenuity in a very unique way. It made my small problem of a leaky tire seem silly.

All of us face all sorts of challenges everyday. For some of us, they are  life threatening. I’m very fortunate that I’m not facing such a problem – at least not today.