Tag Archives: Critters

Squiggly friend

Look at my new squiggly friend! I met him in the garden this afternoon.

Isn't he pretty? I think he's a garter snake.
Isn’t he pretty? I think he’s a garter snake. He’s about two feet long and about as big around as a penny.
I love his little red tongue.
I love his little red tongue.
I hope he likes slugs. I could use some help reducing the slug population.
I hope he likes slugs. I could use some help reducing the slug population.

I would like the record to show that I was a very good girl and did not try to pick up my slithery new friend or pet him, even though I really, really wanted to.

I showed my pictures to people at work today, but nobody there likes snakes. I don’t know why. I think he’s cute. I like his racing stripes and his pretty brown eyes and his flickery little tongue. I was pretty excited to find him in the garden, partly because I’ve never seen a snake in my yard before and partly because cold-blooded animals are a sure sign of spring.

Emily

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Sunday Self-Care: Four-legged bed warmer

Since the temperatures started dropping a couple of weeks ago, Ron has started doing something that lifts my spirits: When he goes to bed, he brings Lillian with him and lets her sleep on the bed with us.

His motivation is largely selfish: Dogs have higher body temperatures than humans, so Lillian is basically a space heater with feet. But she’s also very sweet, and very cute, and very good at making me smile every time I wake to find her snuggled up against me or curled up like a cat at the foot of the bed.

I have to stifle an “awwww” when one of us rolls over or moves the covers, and Lil whimpers softly in protest.

I laugh, remembering our late retired racing greyhound’s morning routine, every time Lil tells us she needs to go out by simply staring at one of us until we wake up, our subconscious apparently having realized we’re being watched.

I laugh again when Ron gets up, and Lil — who loathes him but cannot abide the thought of being left out — sits up, watches him intently for a moment, and then scrambles off the bed and dashes out after him.

And on nights when I’m tense or sad, I stroke the fur on top of her little head, soft as a baby rabbit’s, and feel my blood pressure dropping and my mood settling as my sweet little Chihuahua-Italian greyhound mix soothes me to sleep with her presence.

I love our whole pack, of course. Song is a big, sweet goober. Riggy is a funny little ball of irrepressible energy. And Walter is Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser rolled into one. They are our world, and we love them all immensely. But Lillian is the only member of the pack who can and will sit still long enough to cuddle with me on a regular basis, and that’s a Very Important Job.

If you don’t have a snuggly little dog in your life, I highly recommend adopting one. They’re worth their weight in gold.

Emily

Sunday Self-Care: Family time

I love summer, but it puts a serious cramp in my style when it comes to spending time outside. Spring, fall and even winter are much safer times to take the dogs out for a walk or let them romp around the park, and after an exceptionally hot summer that started early and overstayed its welcome, I’m making a concerted effort to enjoy autumn.

To that end, we take the dogs for several walks a week, and when time and weather allow, I like to join them on their trips to the backyard, too. Part of this is of necessity (if I’m not out there to supervise, Lillian refuses to leave the porch, especially at night), but it’s also nice just to be out there with my four-legged family members.

Riggy, left, and Lillian hang out on the deck, waiting for me to let them back inside the house. Songdog was busy playing in the yard.
Riggy, left, and Lillian hang out on the deck, waiting for me to let them back inside the house. Songdog was busy playing in the yard.

There’s something soothing about hanging out with dogs. Their worldview is so different from ours, and they notice things I’d miss. Each dog teaches me something different.

Songdog is one of the most affectionate beings I’ve ever known. No matter what’s going on, he looks up at me like I’m the most important creature in the entire world. Give him even the slightest opportunity, and he’ll teach you what it is to experience unconditional love.

Riggy is utterly irrepressible, as rat terriers tend to be, and it’s a joy to watch him stride confidently through the world despite having lost his eyes to a genetic condition several years ago. Every walk with him is a lesson in perseverance and resourcefulness.

Lillian — who was part of a breeding operation but ended up in a shelter for nine months after her owner got sick and had to give up all her dogs — is almost heartbreakingly neurotic. She responds to things differently than any other dog I’ve ever had, and she forces me to slow down and think about how my actions might look to a six-pound Chihuahua mix who is trying hard to trust me but hasn’t quite figured out how to be a dog and needs a little help understanding what’s going on before she can be OK with it.

Together, the three of them are helping to buff off my rough edges and soothe my frazzled nerves.

Emily

Unexpected visitor

I spotted this armadillo sort of bumbling along Themis Street the other night. From a distance, I thought it was an opossum, but then I caught up to it and realized it wasn’t. That’s the second one I’ve seen in the last six months. Fearless little things; the first sauntered across my path like I wasn’t even there, and this one sort of walked with me for half a block and then just stood still and let me take its picture, because obviously indulging humans with photo ops is a totally normal thing for armadillos to be doing at 10:30 p.m.

The Riverfront Times ran a blog about armadillos in Missouri this summer.

I’m kind of delighted. Armadillos look like what you’d get if a dinosaur had puppies. Plus they eat grubs, which obviously makes them heroes in my book.

I had no idea they were so nonchalant about humans, though. Not gonna lie: I kind of wanted to pet this one, but I figured that was probably rude, and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would react. Something tells me Ron would NOT be pleased if he had to rush me to the emergency room because I’d picked a fight with an armadillo.

If we start getting them in our yard, I’m totally gonna sit outside all night with a dish of mealworms and try to make friends, though. Leprosy, schmeprosy. I want to pet a dinosaur puppy.

Emily

I’m tired.

waltersniff

lilburrow

I haven’t had a chance to spend much time online lately, because I’ve been busy redoing my office. After the past three weeks, I kind of feel like Lillian looks in that picture above.

The drywall in here was as disastrous as the mess in the bedroom, so I had to retape and mud the corners and repaint the whole room.

rondesk

Because textured paint covers a multitude of sins, I decided to sponge-paint the office. I chose two shades of light blue to open up the space a little bit and give it a sort of airy feeling. I’d planned to do sort of a random pattern, but clouds started appearing as I worked, so I just let them happen.

clouds

Before I put the room back together, I cleaned Ron’s desk (which he cluttered up again within 12 hours, because Y-chromosome), steamed the carpet, rearranged the furniture, and discovered the two smaller dogs’ crates would fit neatly under a folding work table I’ve been keeping in the basement, giving me a much-needed work surface without costing me any floor space.

dogs

After all the rearranging, Song got a little confused about which crate was his and inexplicably decided to wedge himself into Riggy’s crate — prompting Lillian to go into Song’s crate, while Riggy went into Lillian’s. (When I texted the picture of Song to my sister, her immediate response was a Talking Heads line: “This is not my beautiful house!”)

notmyhouse

I used the newly freed-up space to sort my old photo prints from my 35mm days. In the span of three days, I threw away more than 1,600 duplicate and/or inferior-quality prints and rounded up close to 100 more to give to various people I thought might enjoy them. A collection that once took up eight photo storage boxes now fits in three — two of prints and one¬†of negatives. When I finished sorting photos, I went through my newspaper clips and knocked that collection down to half its former size.

While I was on a roll, I picked up some small baskets from the dollar store and reorganized the medicine cabinet so we could find things easily. I wish I’d taken a “before” picture. It was a jumble.

meds

To reward myself for a job well done, I went to Target and bought myself a little combination bulletin board/chalkboard to hang next to my desk. I really like it.

mydesk

Here’s another thing that got cleaned recently:

wetwalter

Poor Walter. He grooms himself pretty well, but that long coat is a dirt magnet, and it had gotten so dingy, the vet even commented on it last time he went for a checkup, so we gave him a bath and a good brushing. He didn’t like it much, but everybody survived.

Wintry feeling

We got a drizzle of freezing rain and a couple of inches of snow last night, but today is sunny, and the mess is melting off pretty nicely. Hopefully it will be pleasant enough out for a run tomorrow, but just in case it isn’t, I think I’ll hit the bike in the basement for a few miles tonight after work, assuming I get out of the office in a timely fashion.

I wish I could spend the day like Walter, who is content to sit on top of my typewriter and stare out the window. I don’t know how much he can see through that bubble wrap I put on the panes to keep out the cold, but he seems to be enjoying the view. He looked so dignified, I couldn’t resist snapping a gratuitous cat picture and posting it. ūüôā

Days like this make me wish I had a big sunroom with a trombe wall to take advantage of the passive-solar heat. I’d stick a treadmill out there and run away my troubles in the sunshine.

Hope you’re staying warm, wherever you are.

Emily

Lil Miss

As I mentioned the other day, we have a new baby at our house.

Well, not exactly a baby. She’s four and a half. But she’s tiny. And cute. And ridiculous.

Meet Lillian the Chihuahua, commonly known as “Lil Miss.” (Yes, Ron named her after the desk clerk in my novel, which you totally need to order¬†if you haven’t already.) Lil¬†also answers to “Get Your Face Out of the Cat’s Bowl.”

I’m pretty sure Lil is judging me.

lilshady
We are not amused.
lilgoofy
“Seriously, human? SERIOUSLY?¬†Again with the cellphone? What is WRONG with you?”
lilsideeye
She is definitely judging me. And I have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, my friends.

Shady expressions notwithstanding, Lil is a sweet little dog, and she’s a quick study — I don’t think she’d ever been on a leash in her life when we got her, and she had a total meltdown the first time I put one on her, but¬†less than 24 hours later, she¬†had the hang of it and walked around the block just fine. She also had to learn about crunchy dog food (which she loves) and having her teeth brushed (which she hates so much she cries like a newborn baby and squawks like a crow every time Ron tries to do it).

I have no idea why I waited 35 years between Chihuahuas.¬†They’re great entertainment, and marvelously portable:¬†Lil went to work with me in a little sherpa bag for a couple of hours¬†on Thanksgiving and just sat quietly on my lap while I designed pages.

In other news, the house looks terrific since I whipped it into shape so I could take pictures of it to send to Lloyd Kahn, the author of Tiny Homes, who is now working on a book about small homes. I’ll post some pictures one day soon.

Emily