Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I've got an excuse....

The culprit
At three o'clock or so this morning, General aka Itty Bitty, aka Rat Bastard, started playing with the shade cord above the bed.

Normally I leave this shade open about 10 inches, because all night long he and his sistercat Pirate jump on from the headboard to the window sill to watch possums or raccoons or whatever strange beings (the neighbors) are in the backyard.  This window faces North and only in the MIDDLE of summer does any sun light really get in, but I use it as an alarm clock, because at about ten in the morning, it brightens the room enough to slowly wake me up.

When he started playing with the cord, I woke up fairly rapidly.  He has a tendency to tangle up with the cord and pull it onto the bed, resulting in the blind unfurling.  If the angle is right, it will miss the space between the wall and the headboard and land on our heads.  He usually does this in the morning so it is my head he lands on, with a claw stuck in the cord or the blind on my head, so I am well attuned to the sound of  him playing and immediately start swatting at him to get down.

He comes down with the cord in his mouth, pulling the release just enough to unlock it.  I untangle him and set him on the bed and the blind starts to lower, I grab the cord and let it slowly drop, so I can evenly pull it back up again.

I should mention the cord is above Ed's head and he sleeps elevated with this funky wedge pillow for acid reflux, in essence his head is close to the place I have to be to get the blind to lock again.

I slowly start pulling the blind back up and try to lock it.  It won't lock.  So I sit up in bed and try again, still trying not to hit Ed.  It won't lock.  About the fourth time I tried, I glanced towards Ed and realize his eyes are open and he is watching me and has been for a while.  Scared the bejesus out of me.

"General?"  he asked.
"Of course, who else.  I think the lock is broken."  I said.
After two or three more attempts I said "screw it." and let the blind down.

The end result was a sleep that lasted until Noon.  It's my day off, so no work worries, but I really need to do some chores and I don't move quickly in the morning (or morning for me).  Coffee can take nearly an hour.  Limbering up my bones can take two hours, especially if I slept for ten or eleven hours.

I'm hoping to be out of my PJ's by the time Ed gets home at five.

I blame the cat.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Boundaries People! Boundaries!

Earlier today, I could hear the sound of a chain saw going.  I was just getting out of bed, so I didn't think much of it.  I stumbled to the kitchen to make a coffee and feed the cats, it was then I saw Yardman in my front driveway.  He was chopping up some little tree branches.

Yardman lives in Dead Mama's house.  I know his last name is different from Dead Mama, so I know he is not a son.  Honestly I don't know his relationship to anyone.  Initially when he moved in several years ago, we called him Rum Son's special friend.  Neighborhood code for We don't know the relationship and frankly it is none of our damn business.  Yardman has made a pretty profitable business in the neighborhood of doing work for the neighbors.  He does everything for my immediate next door neighbor, she has him trimming and mowing etc every week.  Usually when he works her yard, he will blow our driveway clean too.  But for about 2 years he was using our garden cart to do his yard work, so I considered it payment.

I initially didn't think much about him in the driveway.  I thought maybe one of the turkey oaks dropped a large branch and he was cleaning up for me.  When we lost a tree during the Tropical Storms last year, he helped me cut it up and dispose of it...mostly in his backyard.  I believe the heater no longer functions next door and the fireplace stays lit most of the winter.  Well not this winter, it hasn't been cold enough.  So I continued with my coffee and got ready for an appointment I had this afternoon.

When I pulled out of the driveway I looked to where he had been cutting and discovered a very large tree  that had been down for about 2 years was gone from my front yard.

Tree was here
Yes, he came 20 feet into my front yard and chopped up a dead tree in my yard.

I'm not sure if I am offended or relieved.  Part of it did a good job of blocking our house from view of the street and kept headlights from shining into the front windows.  Eventually we planned on cutting it up and burning it...most of my trees are like that, we let them dry out in place and then eventually chop them up.  I don't have one of those "yards of the week", I prefer the natural woods look.  (No I don't have 4 foot weeds in the yard, but I don't have a ton of grass and watering...I let it xeriscape itself).

Since I like Yardman, being the most sane of the lot and the fact he shared Oranges with me this winter, I am sticking with the not offended part of this.

However, this isn't the first time next door has confused the boundaries between our yards.  Back when Daddy was alive, they used to park cars within 20 feet of my front door.  Our lot is not wide (just about the size of the house) but is long and deep.  Our driveway can easily hold 6-8 cars on it...it's a long driveway.  So having their junk cars on my property and CLEARLY my property (between my mailbox and house) was fightin words.

Eventually I convinced Daddy that my property did not start at my sidewalk (like he thought).  Yes, think about that for a minute.  But actually started at the end of my driveway and the street.

Daddy was quite annoyed at this when he found out.  You see the street dead ends at my mailbox.  He asked me years ago if I minded him planting bushes at the end of the street to keep the garbage trucks etc from running into the yard.  He believed that property was all his, but the city gave us the front part of this parcel.  Running on a diagonal to the back, where they own the property.  I still don't know why this was such an issue for Daddy, since they drive onto their property through the grass to the right of the trees.

Bushes at the end of the street, tree used to be to the left of the mailbox.
Can you see to the right of the bushes where they drive their cars?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Actual conversation today while out running errands.

Me:  "Look, there's a turkey vulture on that roof"

Ed:  "What?"

Me:  "I've never seen a vulture on the roof of a house before."

Ed:  "Me either."

Me:  "Wonder if someone died inside.  Should we call the cops?"

Ed:  "Maybe Dead Mama is there."

Me:  "Perhaps, she moved there.  I did see a ton of black crows flying over the house the other day.  I thought it was vultures at first.  They were really high, like that bird over there."  As I pointed to another bird flying above the road.

Ed:  "It's the Birds."

Me:  "creepy bastards."

Friday, February 8, 2013

The WILDlife

I'm taking a bit of a change in direction.  I felt particularly bad just writing about the exploits of Dead Mama's family.  It just seemed mean, albeit hysterical, to concentrate on them alone.  I have so many entertaining stories about just living here, it seemed logical to just expand the focus.

At one point you could not walk to the back of anyone's yard and not hit undeveloped woods.  Typical Florida scrub, lots of water and turkey oaks, pine trees and tons of Palmettos and other native palms, and of course, wildlife.

When I was very little, we had a swing-set in the backyard.  Shortly after my parents put it up, the local bear population took to nighttime play on the set.  We'd come out in the morning and find bear tracks in the sand around the swings.  Another time we heard a bobcat right at the back of our property line, spotlights only revealed the glowing eyes.  But the biggest backyard attendees were the raccoons, possums and snakes.

Today, the bears and bobcats are gone, we are pretty much just left with a raccoon here or there, far fewer now that the city has issued those massive garbage cans for the automatic trucks, a possum on the odd day and the ever present snakes.

Several years ago, when we had a full house of cats, I would crack the front door and let them go outside for some recreation.  One warm winter day, they were frolicking and I was surfing the internet, when I heard a loud bang as the front door hit the wall.  I have a computer room at the back of the house with a long narrow hallway connecting it to the living areas.  As I walked out of the room to see what the bang was about, I witnessed about a foot of black snake tail disappearing into the bathroom off the hallway.

I knew I must be seeing things, so I cautiously peeked in the door and sure enough there was a very large black snake in the bathroom.  I made a noise that could probably be used on "The Walking Dead" as a zombie cry.  I closed the door and shoved a towel under the crack.  And called Ed.

Years before this, JC mouth delivered a very small black snake (think pencil) in the dining room and I called Ed when he worked at a retail big box hardware store on the weekends with a panicked what do I do?  He was not leaving the garden center on a Saturday afternoon in Spring to deal with a 5 inch snake, so using a broom and screeching, I got the snake out of the house.  I am sure much to his delight, as to mine!  So when I called Ed to say there was a snake in the house, he was trying to blow me off again.

How big is it?  he asked.  I replied, HUGE.  He didn't believe me.  I told him it was over a foot long, because that much I saw disappear into the bathroom.  He said he'd be home when he could, about an hour or so.  Well I wasn't about to have that snake outside of the bathroom.  So I closed all the bedroom doors, blocked the doors into the family room and living room using chairs, ottomans, benches, even a hall tree turned on its side.  At the door to the bathroom, I erected a toilet paper package wall (something good about buying from the club stores!)

Ed finally got home and laughed at my snake corral.  I told him, if it shot past him, he had no choice but to go outside.  Ed scoffed, took his snake grabber and a 5 gallon bucket and went to open the door.  I flew over the ottoman and was standing on a dining room chair by the time he said, "OH SHIT! That's a BIG snake."

Thank you Captain Obvious!

As I stood there, I heard some scuffling, then a "dammit" from Ed.  The cabinet door opened and shut.  Ed said, "he's gone."

At this point I must admit, my voice went up about 6 octaves as I said, "WHAT?!?!?!"

Seems the snake, who was a non-poisonous Eastern Racer snake, had done what these snakes do best, fled the danger by squeezing into a crack between the cabinet and the wall.  He was gone.

Thus started Ed's week of hell.  I woke up for work at that time at 3am.  I would not get out of bed without a check of the floor, bathroom, hallway etc.  And Ed lost the snake, so therefore he was the one doing the checking.  When I got home in the afternoon, I had several hours alone with the cats and my new friend "Monty" (as in python).

After a week of this, I was sitting in the computer room (feet under me on the chair) when I noticed the cat contingent paying a bit of attention to the closed closet door behind me.  I mean they were laying down, pawing under the door.  Not a good sign.  I then saw the little black head of Monty peeking out from under the door.  I pulled the cats out, closed the door to the room (first opening the window, like I thought the snake would climb up the wall and out) and called Ed.  As I waited for him, I re-erected my snake corral.  Just in case he tried anymore Houdini routines.

When Ed got home he had to clear the entire closet out to eventually find Monty.  Because he was in the corner, Ed was able to grab him with the snake grabber and get him in the bucket.  Yes, with a lid on, these guys are like cobras, they rear up.  As he walked over my barriers, while still in the house, he offered to show me Monty.  "NOT INSIDE" I shrieked...can you imagine if he got out again?

Back in the woods, we released him.  He was about 3 1/2 feet long.  About average for these guys, we have  a few slightly larger in the yard.  As Ed opened the lid (holding the bucket sideways), Monty propelled himself out, just as happy to be free of us as we were of him.

After that two things happened:  no cat gets an unsupervised outdoor visit and all the Racer snakes are named a variation of "Monty".

Monty Junior was sunning at my mailbox a week or so ago.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

if one is good, two is better....

Life at the end of the street has always been an adventure.

Years ago, long before I lived in the house I do, my family lived in this neighborhood.  In fact we had 2 households of family here.  And our exploits were probably just as entertaining to someone else.

On a winter's eve, while I was away at college, my Mother decided to start a fire in the fireplace.  She didn't want to go through the major procedure of collecting kindling and building a proper fire, she just wanted a little fire glow in the family room.  So she pulled one of those artificial fireplace logs.

And since the one seemed so small in our large wood burning fireplace, she decided to disregard the instructions and put two in at once.

There is a reason they say to only use one, these suckers burn REALLY hot.

And rapidly a roaring flame tornado was whirling up the chimney.  I'm told from the street your could see flames coming out of the chimney.  This caused a bit of alarm and the fire department was called.  Conveniently one of the volunteers on the truck was a friend of mine from High School and kid from down the street.  Needless to say, it was bad enough for my mother to have the fire trucks roaring down the road, but then to have a friend's son get off the truck to assist...she was mortified.

I guess after my Great Aunt started a fire and forgot to open the flue, then discharged the fire extinguisher all over the entire family room instead of the fire (it got away from her).  Our family got the reputation of the 'fire starters' in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to handle a snake...

Before Surly Contractor, we had a real quirky family living next door.  I grew up with them, even went to the prom with the youngest son.

How quirky you ask?  Well, they had a spider monkey for a pet when my family moved here in the early 70's.  The mother smoked pot for "medical" reasons.  And do the Dr Evil hand quotes when you say "Medical".  They had a horse in the backyard, but no one rode.  Interesting people!

Mrs. Quirk is one of those real strong willed, but incapable humans on this planet.  She'll do her best to handle it, until she can't and calls for help.  Somebody then has to solve her problem, that of course she has made worse by what she has done.  She's divorced and living in a different county now, estranged from the son I was friends with, sort of...I mean she kicked him out when he was a senior in high school.  Hence us going to the prom together because he ended up at a different high school and wanted to go to prom at our school.  They reconcile and then she kicks him out again, maybe he steals her pot or loses his job, and she wonders why he can't function in society.

I guess this neighborhood has always been populated with interesting people!

Years ago, when there was little development around us, and lots of woods and wildlife.  Mrs Quirk, on Christmas day, looked out her sliding glass doors and discovered a water moccasin sunning on her pool deck.  For anyone outside of moccasin area, these are very poisonous and highly aggressive bad ass snakes that will actually attack you...unlike a rattlesnake that warns you and flees if possible.  It was a big snake and having kicked her son out and divorced her husband, Mrs. Q decided it was up to her to deal with this menace.

Since she had a .45 hand gun, she decided, this would be the best method of dealing with the snake.  On the concrete.  It's amazing she didn't kill herself or someone else with the ricocheting bullets.  The snake was perfectly all right.  Bullets wedged in the fence, in the bricks, snake still around the pool, but now angry.

Eventually another neighbor came down and killed the snake for her (made more difficult now that the snake was angry), but the pool deck to this day still bears the marks of the snake attack.

Do you think it's in the water here?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Howdy Neighbor

I will say this much about my neighbors, they are a friendly lot.

I was just watching TV as my lunch cooks and I caught movement reflected from the front yard.  I looked over and RumSon was walking through the yard.  My first thought was he was coming to my front door.  But instead he walked to the middle of the yard between our houses, stopped and waved.  I figured that was it, he saw me and was definitely coming over, but instead he took 3 more steps towards my house, stopped and went back inside his.

I'm really hoping my other neighbor was outside at her mailbox, if not I'm going to have to start closing my blinds.


It's a busy day today.  Crazy Woman has just pulled the car forward 5 feet, then backed it up 4 feet.  She sat in the car for a few minutes with the door open, then got out and opened the trunk.  After looking inside for a few minutes, she closed the trunk and walked back to the house.  The car must have been in the incorrect position for her daily circuit of the yard.  Yes this car is parked on the grass.

I'm definitely going to have to look into hedges or permanently closing my blinds.