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October 11, 2006

Ninja Kitty


Satchel ees sooooooo cute. He's five months old now and has grown into his big lollipop kittenhead a bit.

I'm a bit concerned that he's going to be a runt, though. Maybe he has a Napolean complex and that is why he torments Caygeon so much?

Satchel wants to tell you something (112 MB) (right click to save to your computer)

When Satchy stands with his legs together, the fur on his back legs forms an inkblot:


Posted by Highwaygirl at 05:42 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2006

The Beast

Satchel - Still cute, yet completely out of hand.

Satchel being an imp to Caygeon (129MB) (right click to save to your computer)

What I think Satchel needs is a strong male influence to guide him, and teach him how to be a gentleman with the ladies (rather than jumping on their backs and biting their necks)(although under certain circumstances that wouldn't be all that bad)(nevermind).

I have someone in mind, too.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2006

The Cutest Kitten In the Whole World

Am I not the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Thank you, everyone, for all of the kind words about Dawsey and the new kitty. It's nice to know that the amount of love I have for my kitties is shared by other people towards their pets.

Life, the movie was taken by my digital camera (a Canon G6).

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2006

Introducing: Little Man

Click for full size image

Actually, his name is Satchel. After one of my favorite types of purses. Or maybe after the great Negro League pitcher, Satchel Paige. Or mayyyyybe after some military thing called a "satchel charge" (guess who thought up that reference?).

I first saw him on Thurday, then went back to adopt him from the Humane Society on Friday after work. I haven't had a small kitten - he's about 12 weeks old - since I bought my Maine Coon, Murphy, in 1987. So it's been fun to have a tightly-wound ball of energy careening around the apartment.

Caygeon is having a hissy-fit, literally. But she's not being aggressive towards him, which is good. Mostly she's keeping her distance but watching him, and hissing when Satchel gets too close.

Satchel also really enjoys sitting on my chest and rubbing his wee little kitty face in mine. I have the allergic reactions to prove it.

Click for full size image

His current nicknames are "Satchmo," "Satchy," and "Little Man."

Satchel being cute on my bed (78MB) (right click to save to your computer)

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:08 PM | Comments (7)

June 29, 2006

Big Black Kitty

The bestest cat ever, Dawsey

I had to have Dawsey put to sleep yesterday afternoon. Well actually, "had to" isn't correct; I chose to have him put to sleep. It was honestly one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make.

Late last year Dawsey started losing weight, so I took him to the vet. His bloodwork showed slightly elevated kidney toxin levels, but the values were still within the normal range. He continued to lose weight, so I took him to the vet in February, and by then the values had creeped up into the low abnormal range.

In the last few months, though, he's - I still can't think about him in the past tense - become close to skeletal. He's also been drinking a lot, peeing a lot, and he even had an accident on my bed. His coat was dull, too, and for the last few days he'd seemed very lethargic.

So I took him to the vet yesterday morning and she took one look at him and said he was in advanced kidney failure, and that it was both irreversible and terminal. Thank god my vet is a kind, understanding woman, because I burst into sobs right then.

Dawsey was also anemic (she pulled down his eyelid to show me it was white, rather than pink with blood vessels) and severely dehydrated. The vet explained that his kidneys were barely working, if at all, which meant toxins were building up in his blood ... which affects every organ in his body. The anemia - again, something irreversible at this point - would eventually cause heart failure and mental problems.

In short, the kidney failure was going to starve and dehydrate Dawsey to death if I did nothing.

I couldn't make the decision right then, though. The vet gave him fluids under the skin, hoping that might perk him up, and I took Dawsey home. I thought I saw glimpses of him being OK - not good, but not as bad as he'd been - so for a little while I thought maybe it wasn't his time, and that we might be able to have a few more weeks or months together.

But each of those glimpses was followed by moments where I knew - if I let myself accept it - that Dawsey needed peace. He looked so tired. I'd call to him and he didn't even have the energy to look up at me.

I laid with him on my bed, and cried, and told him how much I loved him.

My mom came up to support me, and after a few minutes she said she thought it was time. I told her I'd looked up all this information on the internet about people who give their cats subcutaneous fluids every other day, feed them special diets, and give them medications in order to prolong their lives. And I hadn't done any of that, so maybe I was giving up on him too early?

Maybe I did, I guess. But he was 16 and I just didn't want to put his tired little body through that just because I, selfishly, wanted to hang onto him a little while longer.

So we took him back to the vet and I stayed with him while he was put to sleep. I was crying until the moment that I realized he was gone, and then the heaving, wracking sobs came. My first thought at that moment was, "Oh god, what have I done? He's dead and it's my fault."

My first thought was that I had made a horrible, irreversible mistake. I said this to my vet and she assured me that I had made the right decision - she doesn't like to give her opinion on whether or not to euthanize an animal if the owner is still having doubts, but if Dawsey had been her cat she would have done it. That made me feel a bit better.

I miss him so much already. All last night I kept thinking I saw him, out of the corner of my eye. I was standing in the kitchen heating up something for dinner and I thought I saw Dawsey sitting in the doorway of my bedroom.

I know it's just that my subconscious wants to see him there. I've been seeing him there for 16 years.

My apartment seems quiet and lonely, even though Dawsey never made a lot of noise. I feel like Caygeon and I have lost part of our family, and we have. She spent the night meowing for him, which breaks my heart. For some reason I told her, "It's just you and me now, Cay-Cay," then started sobbing again.

This morning was the first time in years, since Mickey died in 2001, that I've only fed one cat.

I know I did the right thing for him, but it's still so heartbreaking for me. I used to joke that "Dawsey is the only man who has never let me down." I'm not sure it was really a joke; he never did let me down. He was always there to make me feel better when I was sad, or put a smile on my face with his antics.

He was my Big Black Kitty, and I loved him. I hope I did the right thing for him. As I wrote on HT:

"It was time for him. It just wasn't time for me. But then again, it was never going to be time for me."

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:14 AM | Comments (8)

December 01, 2005

If I Had a Panda

I'd panda in the morning ...
I'd panda in the evening ...
All over this land!


A dog named 'Columbo', a cross-breed between a poodle and a Maltese and dyed to look like a panda, sits on a chair in Tokyo November 30, 2005. The owner dyed the originally white coloured dog, with a special hair dye to cover up stains around its eyes which was conspicuous when he was first found abandoned. As a result, the panda look-alike became the most popular dog in the neighbourhood and the owner said he hopes Columbo's popularity will help rescue other abandoned dogs like Columbo, where in Tokyo last year, 700 of them were put to sleep. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

This morning I am enjoying the real thing on PANDA CAM!!!

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2005

Cats Doing Laundry

I folded a load of clean clothes this morning and then put the clothesbasket on the floor, since I had a second load of laundry to do tonight. I figured that laying a towel over one end of the basket would be enough to keep the cats out of it, but ... I was wrong.

Dawsey is on the left, Caygeon on the right. I took the shot with no flash because that's the only way to get a decent shot of Dawsey with his eyes open. The photo was pretty much completely dark right out of the camera, so I used Photoshop CS2 to bring up the exposure and brightness/contrast.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:46 PM | Comments (1)

March 09, 2005

Kill, Don't Keep

This is my worst nightmare come to life:

An official from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) looks at a five-meter-long, and more than 60 year-old crocodile at farm in Buwama, 45 miles from the capital Kampala, March 8, 2005. The 16-foot crocodile is said to have eaten more than 83 people over the last two decades, and was caught alive in Uganda and transferred to a sanctuary.

DAMMIT, PEOPLE! You don't save alligators and crocodiles! You just kill them. You kill them in front of their little reptilian families as a message to crocs and gators everywhere that YOUR TIME IS COMING. If they were eliminated from the entire world, I honestly don't think anyone would miss them.

They all need to die. Right now. I mean, really - would you want to see this lurking outside your house one day?


No. No you would not.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 10:54 AM | Comments (10)

January 16, 2005

BirdWatch 2005 Begins

I'm doing cleaning/laundry all day today, and the wildlife outside is keeping me company. Right now out on the pond there are:

A great egret, snowy egret, two little blue herons, an anhinga, five double crested cormorants sunning themselves on the bank, one baby cormorant diving in the water, four pairs of Florida mallard ducks, about 20 pigeons and around 100 robins.

There's also a snapping turtle sunning itself near the cormorants, but snapping turtles are ugly and should be outlawed.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2004

Goodbye, My Little Fishie

Otis died today.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:00 PM | Comments (7)

October 17, 2004

Otie, Otie, Otie

It is bed delivery day! Sometime between the hours of 12 and 4 p.m., Rooms To Go will be delivering a brand new queen size pillow top mattress and boxspring. Finally, I have graduated to adulthood.

I bought these sheets in Green (they're more of a blue green) yesterday. Also bought this dust ruffle. I was going to pick up a mattress pad, but the ones that felt nice (i.e. not stiff or scratchy) were $60. That seems like a little too much for a mattress pad. Must check out Target.

Yesterday was a blur - shopping, reconfiguring a new computer, cleaning, hanging out, and watching a ton of Futurama episodes on TiVo. Today promises four loads of laundry (ugh) and a trip to the airport (double ugh). I need to work in time to do the online driver's safety course (stupid speeding ticket) but I don't think I want to waste any time on that today. The weather this weekend has been gorgeous, so I think after the bed gets delivered we're going to go out and do some exploring.

One upsetting thing, though - I think my betta fish, Otis Redding, is not long for this world. He's had a tumor-type thing on his back since May, which had become fairly large and then started wrapping around to the other side of his fin about a month ago. I noticed yesterday morning that he was hiding in his aquarium decoration, and when I coaxed him out I saw that the original tumor had sort of "ruptured" - it doesn't look like it's an open sore, but it's definitely breaking apart and falling off. Which sounds like it might be a good thing, but I don't think so. Especially because he's hiding a lot and hanging out on the bottom of his tank. He's still eating, which is good, but ... I think the end might be near.

I never expected him to live another five months when the tumor first appeared, so I know that any more time he has is a bonus. But I will miss the little guy regardless.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

Nibbles the Second

So, uh, on Sunday when I went down to my mom's house to bury Scuddy (there's nowhere I wanted to bury her around my apartment), she showed me the cockatiel that the neighbor had found in her yard a few weekends ago. The bird is very cute and very tame - she loves to have her neck scratched.

I made the comment - "I want a bird just like you!"

And, uh, now she's mine. Her name is NIBBLES, because she likes to do just that to your finger (and as I have learned, your toes). Her alternate names thus far are "Nibby," "Nibs," and "Nibblés" (pronounced NEE-blay).

Here is her first photo (the flash made her blink):


Posted by Highwaygirl at 03:44 PM | Comments (4)

August 15, 2004

My Little White Rat

Scuddy died sometime last night after I went to bed. I took her to the vet yesterday morning and got her on oral antibiotics, but despite the vet saying she didn't look too bad off I guess it was too little, too late.

She wasn't a rat, by the way. She was a hamster. I just liked to call her "my little white rat."

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:58 AM | Comments (8)

August 11, 2004

Are You My Mother?

So yesterday I stopped at my apartment during my lunch hour because I needed to make a call but my GOD FORSAKEN CELL PHONE (a Kyocera 2235) never has local service when I want it to. Actually, now that I think about it, I guess that's not the phone's fault - it's Verizon's fault. So SCREW YOU and your "ExtendedNetwork," Verizon!

Anyway, I went home. And I'm approaching my front door when I see a little squirrel crawl out from the shrubbery on the side of the walkway. So I turn around and greet it, because I am a friend to all of God's creatures.

"Hi, Squirrely!" [/meatwad]

Then Squirrely charged at me. It didn't appear to be angry. It wasn't screeching or making any noises. But it was running right at my feet. I backed up a little bit and it still came at me, so I went *panic* and jumped over it and ran back out to the walkway.

And then Squirrely came after me out there.

We played gitchu like that for about 60 seconds (which seems a LOT longer than it really is). Everywhere I'd go, Squirrely would follow. I half had a mind to just stand there and see if it would crawl up my pant leg or something, but then I realized that there was at least a decent chance that this thing was rabid - why else would it be so interested in my feet? - and so giving it an opportunity to transmit its rabies to me was not a good idea.

It was either rabid or a lost little squirrel baby who decided I was its mother.

So I led Squirrely out to the walkway, jumped over it, ran to my door, quickly unlocked the door, ran BACK out to the walkway (because by this time Squirrely was almost right on my feet), jumped over it again and then ran to the door and ducked inside my apartment.

Then I threw black oil sunflower seed out on the walkway for it, so it wouldn't think I was mad or anything.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:34 PM | Comments (1)

July 05, 2004

The Kids Are Alright

Duck Update! Since it's been awhile.

The ducklings are now just about indistinguishable from their mother. They're just a little bit smaller than her, and her blue-green stripe on the wings is a little more defined. But I think I am starting to be able to tell which of the ducklings are male and which are female.

They should start learning to fly this week.


Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:27 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2004

Angels In America

I don't usually like posting full articles, but I really loved this story from the NYTimes.com and want to make sure it's saved here for posterity. These are my kind of people.

For Falcons as for People, Life in the Big City Has Its Risks as Well as Its Rewards

The New York Times
Published: June 28, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY, June 27 - While missionaries explained the Mormon faith and young brides posed for their wedding pictures in Temple Square, a group set apart by their bright orange vests had another mission entirely - witnessing and abetting one of the most basic coming-of-age rituals in nature.

Two peregrine falcons are teaching their two fledglings to fly in the middle of Temple Square, the headquarters of the Mormon Church and the most popular tourist site in Salt Lake City, with a cadre of human volunteers keeping a daylight watch under the nest, prepared to act as a safety net.

Peregrine falcons usually nest on high cliffs, but some make their homes on tall buildings and bridges in urban areas.

It takes a young falcon, known as an eyas, a week or so to learn to fly - a period that Bob Walters of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources refers to as Hell Week.

Flight training for young falcons that are born in urban areas is all the more treacherous because they often crash into buildings or fly into traffic. When that happens, Mr. Walters said, "it wrecks your whole day."

Every city with peregrine falcon nests has a different approach. New York City has 15 nests, said Chris Naderski of the city's Department of Environmental Protection. Some are monitored by 24-hour Web cameras, some by bird-watchers and some by bridge workers.

In California there is one volunteer in Los Angeles, where falcons are nesting on buildings along Wilshire Boulevard, and another in the Bay Area, where falcons are living on the Golden Gate Bridge, said Brian Walton of the Predatory Bird Research Group at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Here in Salt Lake City, volunteers - clad in bright orange vests with reflective yellow strips so they can be easily seen by drivers - have taken shifts over the last two weeks watching over the nest and its fledglings. Utah's Department of Transportation has installed large orange signs: "Falcon bird watch area. Prepare to stop."

"If a bird flies into the street, Bob will try and catch it and I'm supposed to throw myself in front of the cars," said June Ryburn, 75, a retired office manager who has spent 13 hours a day watching the birds.

There were only about 200 American peregrine falcons left in North America in the 1970's, and they were considered an endangered species until 1999. Now there are more than 3,000, according to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. Their recovery is due in part to the banning of the pesticide DDT, which weakened falcon eggshells, and in part to the breeding of falcons in captivity.

But the urban landscape remains a threat to the birds. The survival rate for falcons is about 40 percent in cities and about 50 percent in the wild, said Dr. Bill A. Burnham, president of the Peregrine Fund, an organization that works to save peregrine falcons and other birds of prey.

Of 16 eyases in Salt Lake City between 1986 and 1996, when peregrine falcons were last spotted downtown, five died, three from flying into traffic or buildings and two from disease, Mr. Walters said. Six of the survivors had help from bird-watchers, he said, including one baby falcon he caught as it was flying into traffic.

At Temple Square last week, Mr. Walters said, the young male falcon tried flying before his sister, but navigating Salt Lake City proved difficult. He flew over traffic but slammed into the window of a bank and then hit a nearby mall.

"When he was crashing into the building, I was running across the street, stopping traffic and saying, 'Don't hit me, I have to save this bird,' " said Nate Everts, 26, a volunteer falcon watcher.

Somehow the bird bounced off the second building and flew back to Temple Square uninjured. This time he landed on the Mormon Temple, the most sacred building of the faith.

"They chose the right spot," said LaNita Larsen, 59, a bird-watcher. "There are a lot of people praying while their babies learn to fly."

The bird-watchers stand out amid Temple Square's meticulously groomed gardens. It is hard to miss their binoculars, shorts and orange mesh vests.

They were monitoring the young female until late Wednesday night as she struggled to take her first flight. She stood on the edge of her nest and peered at the 10-story drop below. She flapped her wings and dangled one leg off the edge, but she did not move. She yelped loudly when her parents flew by.

A crowd quickly gathered on the ground. The bird-watchers focused their binoculars on the nest and talked with one another via walkie-talkies. One volunteer sat on the walkway with a towel, waiting to catch the baby bird if she happened to fall. Two more were stationed on the side of the street, waiting to run into traffic if necessary.

The Holloways, a Mormon couple from Sequim, Wash., were visiting with their seven children when they noticed all the commotion.

"We thought everybody was looking at the prophet," said McKenna Holloway, 18, referring to Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the church. "Then we realized they were looking at birds."

At 6:54 a.m. Thursday, Mr. Walters was already back at work and saw the female eyas take her first flight. Hell Week is not over yet, but he and his weary team are hoping the birds will soon have enough experience to navigate the city safely.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2004

Bulked Up

I finally broke down and bought the big enormous bags of bird seed. After this morning, I didn't have any choice. There's just too many birds, now – all of the babies from the ducks/pigeons have grown up, and now they are EATING MACHINES.

Last week I spent $25 on 30 pounds of various seeds (which I blend together for my own special mix)(stop laughing). The food was gone by last night. Today I spent $30 on 75 pounds of food (40-lb of wild bird seed, 20-lb of cracked corn, 15-lb of songbird mix). This batch should last until mid-July. If that holds true I will have cut my costs to feed these freaks by 40%.

After PetsMart I went to Wal-Mart and bought a 19-gallon washtub thing in which to put the seed. Then I painstakingly mixed the three bags, using a wooden dowel as a stirrer and my beloved Looney Toons mug to portion out the seeds to get just the right blend (three cups wild/two cups corn/one cup songbird - STIR!). I'm storing it in my utility closet:

boo blend bulk.jpg

For perspective reference, the litter box beside the bird seed container is one of those GIGANTIC models. I'd say the bird seed tub is about up to my knee.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 10:28 AM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2004

Duck ... Duck ...

... DUCK!

These photos were taken Friday night:


This is a photo of the male ducks that are around. Usually there's 5-6 sunning themselves on the banks of the pond, or finding shade underneath a tree. They don't hang out with the ducklings/mama at all, though. You can see in the photo that they're losing their winter breeding plumage (the dark blue-green head and silver grey breast) that is synonymous with male mallards. During the summer male mallards actually lose their feathers and replace them with ones that make them look almost like female mallards (the brown striped feathers). For about a week while this is happening, they can't fly.


And here are the babies! Although as you can see, they're not really babies any more. They're a little bit bigger than pigeons at the moment, and they look just like their mama. The ducklings have lost almost all of their down - you can see individual bits of it still sticking up on some of the ducklings - and replaced it with feathers. It will still be a few more weeks before they can fly, though.


This is about as close as the ducklings/drakes ever get - when they're strapping on the feed bag. And if the ducklings get too close, they get a little peck from one of the drakes. The male ducks are greedy bastards!


The ducklings still love their mama the most. But I think I'm a close second, because I protect them from rock-throwing kids, drunk guys, and hawks. Oh, and I give them food.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:28 AM | Comments (3)

June 07, 2004

I'm Baaaaaaaaack!

And I'm exhausted! But I had an incredibly fun time in Virginia with Teem and Nancy, who are both just as fun and friendly in person as they are online, and it was great to finally meet Blurry as well (but he needs a cell phone!).

I will be doing a series of posts over the next few days documenting my trip (with photos!), but for now I will bring you ...


Homer is gone. It is sad, but it is probably for the best. The other seven ducklings are looking very good. They all came right over after I threw down some seed when I got back this afternoon:





Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:50 PM | Comments (3)

June 02, 2004

Poor Homer

When I came home for lunch the ducklings were under the tree having a snack. All eight present and accounted for, although Homer does not look well at all. He seems to be very weak now, although when I see him at night (around 7-8 p.m.) he looks a little stronger.

His behavior is off, though. He will occasionally swim away from the mother duck and the other ducklings, like he doesn't realize where he's going and that they aren't following. I was worried last night because he swam about 10 feet away from them and seemed to get lost in some reeds. But the family eventually caught up to him.

Unfortunately I think it's only a matter of time before we lose him. He's just too small (about half the size of the others) and too weak. There's obviously some underlying problem with the little guy, but if he doesn't succumb to that I think a predator of some sort will get him.

It makes me sad to watch him, the poor little thing.

ETA: I just spoke with a wildlife rehabilitator up in Tarpon Springs (just north of me) and he basically said that it's typical for there to be one runt in a clutch of ducklings, and that there is probably nothing that can be done for Homer even if I were able to catch him and bring him in. But if I wanted to try and bring Homer in, I'd have to bring ALL the babies in, not just the runt. I'm not sure why that is, but there you go. But I don't think that's a good idea - the other ducklings are healthy and strong and doing fine right where they are.

The man said that what will probably happen is the mother will try to run off and leave Homer behind at a point when he is too weak to follow. Which, honestly, makes me want to burst into tears even though I know that that is just how animals are.

It makes me think about my mom's cat, Punkin. I rescued her from underneath Dunedin Stadium when she was about 3 weeks old. The grounds crew had found her, abandoned by her mother. When we took Punkin to the doctor we found out why - her heart is on the wrong side of her body, and she has a bad heart murmur. The vet told us not to expect her to live more than six months.

This summer, Punkin will be 10 years old.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:25 PM | Comments (3)

June 01, 2004

Duck Patrol

Why must people be so stupid? And why do I find myself on the edge of embracing vigilante justice in an effort to protect my li'l flock o' ducks?

I was minding my own business last night, watching TV and folding clothes around 7 p.m. I heard some yelling outside so I looked out the living room windows. Directly across the pond from my apartment is the leasing office and community pool.

I see that there are two men on the grass near the pond. One is actually standing in the pond. The other is drinking a beer and apparently goading him from the bank. Then the drinking one throws the other guy's shoes into the pond. Then they both appear to want to wrestle each other.

So yeah, they're both drunk. And their friends are all cheering them on from the side of the pool (which is enclosed by an iron fence).

My first thought, of course, is "Where are the ducks?" The ducks are on the side of the pond near me, away from the drunken shenanigans. Ducks am smrt. So then the drunk guys wrestle in the water, and I see the mama start leading her ducklings down to the other end of the pond. I go out on my patio to watch.

Which is when I hear someone at the pool shout, "You should go get one of the ducks!"

One of the drunk guys starts swimming off after them. And you know what happens next.

I grab my camera and haul ass outside. I briskly walk down towards where the ducks are heading, and set up as if I'm going to take a photo. The idea being that this moron might be less likely to do something stupid if there's someone standing there with a camera.

So the yokel is about 10 feet away from the ducks (who are trying to get up on the bank), when we have this conversation:

Me: And what do you think YOU'RE doing?
Yokel: Just having fun!
Me: You know that the pond is full of chemicals, right?
Yokel: *blank look*
Me: Yeah, the maintenance guys put a bunch of chemicals in the water to inhibit algae growth and keep the pond clean.
Yokel: *blink*
Me: That's why the leasing agreement here specifically warns against swimming in the pond.
Yokel: What do they put in it?
Me: Ferrous nitrogen. Lots and lots of ferrous nitrogen. It's not really good for you.
Yokel: *standing very still* What does it do?
Me: Well, the longer you stay in the water, the more your testicles are going to shrink.
Yokel: No ... no WAY.
Me: *shrugs* Well, you'll see.

Now, I don't know what possesses me to do such things. Part of it was anger, part of it was the desire to scare the living daylights out of this dumbass. And no better way to scare a guy in his early 20s than by telling him what he's doing is going to make his testicles shrivel up like prunes.

He stood there looking at me for about five seconds and apparently decided that I wasn't totally making this shit up, because he practically launched himself back to the side of the pond from which he came.

The rest of the night I chuckled every time I thought about this guy obsessively checking his testicles to see if they'd shrunk. "Hey Joe, do my balls look smaller to you?" "No Dave, they're just as small as they always were."

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:33 AM | Comments (4)

May 31, 2004

Duckling In Trouble

I just happened to catch the mama and ducklings feeding under the tree. The last few times I've seen them I've noticed that one of the ducklings is a bit of a runt. Well today, the runt duckling - whom I have christened "Homer" for no explicable reason - was staggering around while feeding. Occasionally Homer would plop down for no real reason, and then when the ducklings/mother headed back down to the pond, Homer was way, way behind.

I remembered reading something about ducklings that staggered around, and I just found it again: "Ducklings are also extremely fragile, easily chilled and can be injured due to overhandling. An improper diet can rapidly lead to hypoglycemia. A very young duckling that is staggering or appears "drunk" is hypoglycemic and will die unless it is provided with some source of sugar. "

I'm not sure why this one duckling seems to be sick, and the other seven look healthy and strong. But now I'm debating whether or not Homer needs an intervention. When the family was heading back to water Homer was a good 10-feet behind. If there are predators around, it's going to be picked off easily.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 01:10 PM | Comments (3)

May 29, 2004

Double Crested Cormorant

I am the crazy bird lady, woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.


I took photos of the double crested cormorant that is hanging around by the pond. Earlier this year there was a whole family of them - four juveniles and two adults - but for some reason all of them left ... except this one juvenile. I know it's young because it still had light-colored feathers on its chest. A full-grown double crested cormorant is all black.

I have named him Big Bird. Here he is!


A few nights ago I saw Big Bird hanging around the tree beside my apartment. And then to my surprise, he jumped up into the tree. Of course, bird + tree = normal, but this is a ... big bird. It's probably two feet tall. I'd never seen a big waterfowl like that get up into a tree. It would be like seeing a duck in a tree.

ASIDE: I threw down some bird seed this morning and five minutes later mama duck and the eight (yay!) babies trotted over. They only fed for about 45 seconds before the male ducks spooked them and they ran down to the water.

Double crested cormorants don't have fully waterproof feathers, so they often have to spread open their wings to let the feathers dry off so they can fly again. Like this:


I've seen them spread out like this both on land and in the water. It's pretty weird looking. And SOMETIMES, when they're not expecting it, they get attacked by the biggest pigeon known to man (courtesy of perspective):


Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)

May 27, 2004

Erin Go Quack

Just a li'l duck update. 'Cause I know you want one.

There's still eight little ducklings toddering about, as of yesterday evening. I came home for lunch yesterday and as I was leaving to go back to work, I went out back to look for the family. They were eating insects pretty close by, so I stood under a tree and watched. As soon as the mama spotted me she started leading the kids up the bank towards the tree where I throw down the seed.

The ducklings must understand that tree = food at this point, because they started running in front of her to get to the area. Baby ducks running and leaning forward? SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cute.

Has anyone out there been to Ireland? I'm planning a trip there in September and would like to hear travel stories (good and bad).

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:38 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2004

Eight Is Enough

Alrighty, we've still got eight little duckies running around out back. The mama brought them up to the backyard when I got home and they all got as close as about five feet from me. Mama likes bread, the babies, not so much. Yet. They prefer birdseed for now.

Tonight's family portrait (a little bit out of focus):


And THEN, AGAIN, I had to yell at thuggish children. This one was about 14, and I caught him running back and forth on the bank trying to scare the ducks. Which, of course, headed into the water and away from the big screaming idiot. So then this moron took a run at the juvenile little blue heron that was feeding.

And that's when I snapped.

I flew out my front door, hurdled over the bench outside and ran at the guy. I believe the phrase "YOU NEED TO CUT THAT SHIT OUT" escaped my mouth. He looked very surprised, and then very scared (yay!) and then he ran around to the other side of the pond, picked up his bicycle, and ran away.

What is wrong with these kids? I seriously want to smack them upside the head. With a brick. What kind of parents teach their children that it's alright - and FUN, for god's sakes! - to terrorize defenseless animals???

Where the hell is that hawk when I need it?

ETA: Out on the pond right now are the ducks, a great blue heron, a great egret, and a black skimmer. I wish I could get a photo of the black skimmer doing its thing, because it is cool.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:52 PM | Comments (6)

May 23, 2004

The Circle of Life

I was just on the phone with my mom a few minutes ago when I heard a bunch of blue jays outside making an awful racket. So I looked out the window and saw that they appeared to be dive bombing something on the bank of the pond. I went out into my patio to take a look, and saw a hawk crouched on the bank. When it saw me it took off ... and then I noticed it had one of the baby ducks in its claws.

Crap. I feel horrible for some reason.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:41 PM | Comments (4)

Geese Better Scurry

Mo' duck photos! The first two are from Friday.

Here's mama duck taking the youngsters for a swim at the edge of the pond:


Here are a few of the babies, huddled up waiting for instructions from the quarterback (their mother):


And here is the whole family having breakfast this morning. I somehow managed to get mama duck and all nine of her babies in the frame:


Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

Wee Little Behbehs

So I was watching the news a little while ago and I heard quacking outside my living room windows. Which isn't odd, because I have a family of Florida mallard ducks (three males, one female) that come around and eat the bird food.

I stood up to see which ducks were out there and instead I see THE CUTEST THING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!



They are soooooooooooooooooooo very cute. This was the best photo I could get. When I went outside to throw some bread out for mama duck she quacked that the kids were to huddle together (awww) and then march calmly down to the pond ahead of her (awwwww).

So freakin' cute.

ETA: I just had to go yell at a group of kids for throwing things at the ducks. THROWING ROCKS at BABY DUCKS. Jesus. I told them if they tried that again they'd be getting a few rocks thrown right back at them.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:26 PM | Comments (5)

May 17, 2004

Starting Over

So, as I feared, the Kanacyn wrecked the cycle in Otis' tank. This means I'm back to nightly aquarium water testing for the next four weeks.

The worst part is that Otis' sore has not gotten any better. In fact I think it's a little bit bigger than it was when I first treated him. So tonight I started a second round of Kanacyn. I figure, the cycle is already wrecked, so if I'm going to treat Otis a second time it might as well be now.

But if the second round of meds don't heal things up, I think I'm going to stop. Kanacyn is a pretty hardcore fish antibiotic; if it isn't doing the job I don't think it's likely that anything else will. There are other antibiotics I could try, and if Otis wasn't geriatric (for a fish) I probably would try. But at his age I just don't think I'd be buying him that much extra time.

Water parameters for Monday, May 17:
Ammonia - 0.50 ppm
Nitrites - 0.00 ppm
Nitrates - 10ppm (no retesting until appearance of nitrites)

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:01 PM | Comments (2)

May 11, 2004

15 Minutes

I am famous!

Otis is a little bit under the weather these days. I think he has a bacterial infection of some sort - he has a little "fish pimple" pushing up underneath a scale under his dorsal fin. I gave him the first of three treatments with a fish antibiotic, Kanacyn, yesterday, and this morning the pimple looks like it's receded a little bit.

He's just old, yo. He was full grown when I bought him (at least 6 months old) and I've had him more than 2 years. Apparently the average life span for a betta is 1.5 years, so he's well exceeded the norm. This infection is likely because with age his immune system is weakening, and he's succumbing to bacteria that are naturally present in every aquarium (no matter how good the water quality is).

So yeah, hopefully the Kanacyn will take care of the pimple. I just hope that it doesn't completely wreck my biological filter (i.e. the "cycle"). And I hope Otis starts eating like his usual little piggy self again, too.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 05:26 AM | Comments (2)

February 28, 2004

I Dream of Teemee

But first, photos of Scuddy! Did I tell you that I found out that Scuddy is a girl? Well, he is. So her name is no longer Sir Frederick Pamplemousse. It is now Lady Beatrix Pamplemousse. Or Scudder. Or, alternatively, Scuddy/Scubby/Scubbins.

Here is Scuddy with her cheeks jammed full of food:


And here's Scuddy having breakfast (a carrot sliver) in bed:


And now, on to my dream about Teem!

I dreamt that I was visiting Teem at her house. Only I don't think this was her real house, because it was in the woods. But anyway, that's where she was living. So I was visiting, and I remember walking up to her house and just going in rather than knocking. The nerve!

Teem was inside futzing around. And here's what was notable about the dream - there were animals EVERYWHERE. Cats and dogs and kittens and puppies and birds and mice and teeny tiny kittens and puppies (much smaller than they ever would be). And the big news was that Teem had just bought a pair of rabbits and was trying to figure out where to put their cage. Because she wasn't going to put it outside, it had to be in the house.

Incidentally, in my dream, I was wearing what I was sleeping in last night (a sleeveless t-shirt and underwear).

So Teem and I go outside by her pool, because her husband is out there cleaning up in anticipation of the big pool party they're having that night. Then I see a teeny tiny kitten drowning in the pool. I scoop it up and press on it's li'l chest to get the water out. It starts spitting and coughing, and I gently pet it on the top of the head. Its eyes aren't even open.

And I say to Teem, "Why do you have kittens drowning in your pool?" But she doesn't answer me. In my dream, she is apparently from Texas. So I continue holding the kitten, and I tell Teem that I think I want to adopt it. Because it's this really pretty shade of cream/gold.

Over the course of the rest of the dream, the kitten keeps changing colors. At the very end it ends up looking like a cross between Felix the Cat and a striped prison shirt.

Towards the end of the dream, Teem and I walk out back into the orchard. The party has started because there are other people milling around. Then some guy asks me where I got my highlights done and how much they cost. I tell him, and he rebukes me for paying so much, because he only paid $15.

And then I leave. Well, I try to leave. Because now I can't figure out where I am. I walked out of Teem's house without saying goodbye (ha-HA, take that you kitten drowner!), and then realized that there were hundreds of people walking around. I couldn't figure out which way to go in order to leave.

Then I heard someone calling my name - it was an older woman, and I recognized her as a coworker of my mom's. I say hello in an overzealous way, trying to cover that I can't remember her name. The woman asks me what I'm doing "up here" and I say that I live not that far away. She asks me where, and I tell her that I can't remember. She tells me I live in Cumberland. Then I say, "No wait, now I remember - I live in Palm Harbor."

And then Caygeon woke me up by jumping on my head.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2004

Noah's Ark

I went to PetsMart for bird seed. I came home with a whole lot more, including this:


I'm not sure if it's a boy or girl, and it doesn't have a name yet. But it was just sooooooo cute that I could not resist it. *raises fist*

Any ideas for a name?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:59 PM | Comments (5)

February 06, 2004

RIP Sucky

I found Sucky/Stinky/my oto fish dead tonight. I think Otis killed him. So, um, yeah. Guess I have to figure out a different way to get rid of the brown algae.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:22 PM | Comments (2)

January 17, 2004

The Misadventures of Otis and Sucky

So yeah, I bought a new fish! Right now I'm calling him Sucky. He's an oticinclus catfish and I bought him so he can eat the algae I've been getting in my tank. Thus his name. Here's what the little widget looks like:


He's only about 1.5 inches long, and he's a quick little sucker. It's going to be a challenge to catch him and put him in Otis' tank, once the two-week quarantine period is over.

Here's the same photo of Sucky in extreme close up. I'll bet Blurry will feel like those eyes are commanding him to commit unspeakable acts.

I also bought Otis a new home - a six-gallon Eclipse tank - because his old five-gallon tank had a crack in the base. So Otis is swimming around his new, bigger digs and he seems to be quite happy. He's even happier because I figured out a way to block the water flow that comes off the filter. Normally it's much too disruptive to the water for Otis, and it creates too heavy a current for him to swim through. So he would avoid the entire side of the tank where the outflow is (or if he ventured that way, he'd get tossed and swirled around in the current).

Soooooo, I took a shrimp net that I had - it's a very finely-woven, soft net - and used black electrical tape to afix the opening of the net over the outflow. So the water comes out into the net, which slows it down enough that it creates almost no current (and doesn't cause the water to backflow because it's being blocked).

This is a perfect resolution because the net is so soft that it won't hurt Otis if he swims up against it. I'm really quite pleased. Here are some photos:

Click the thumbnail to view a larger image

Otis' new homeThe net from aboveThe net from below

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

Of Feathers and Fascists

This morning I went out back to throw some seed down for the pigeons, and I spotted this great blue heron stalking bugs/fish/whatever in the pond behind my apartment:


And now, bonus Overg content!

HWG: I hate the President, Todd
HWG: He's reached Scalia-like proportions
HWG: I just think he's a complete moron
Overgme: yeah, I'm not sure who I hate more
Overgme: Scalia is infinitely smarter, as far as I can tell
Overgme: which makes him more dangerous, in his way
HWG: Bush is doing more damage short term
Overgme: agreed
HWG: Scalia has long term consequences
Overgme: the Supreme Court is very discrete
Overgme: Bush is like a lunch tray in a china shop
HWG: hahahahaha
Overgme: honestly, the action of his that I approve of off the top of my head was the pardoning of the turkeys for Thanksgiving
Overgme: I think I've disagreed with every other position or action he's taken
HWG: I've never felt like campaigning for anyone
HWG: but to get Bush out of the office, it might be worthwhile
Overgme: sadly, the fact that Bush still has an approval rating in the positive numbers is proof positive to me that most Americans are complete morons
Overgme: I am not holding out any hope in the next election
HWG: I hate Bush and everything he stands for
Overgme: me too!
Overgme: hey
Overgme: that's actually pretty much true
Overgme: I do hate him
Overgme: and everything he stands for
Overgme: wow
HWG: wow
HWG: for the first time ever, you can use that phrase honestly
HWG: I just don't know how I ended up in a family of Republicans
Overgme: my dad often expresses conservative opinions
Overgme: which I promptly rephrase in more accurate, fascist, terms

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:11 PM | Comments (10)

January 07, 2004

Melting My Cold Black Heart

I am such a sucker for cats. Aren't these photos cute?

Cat and Pony
A pony rubs his nose on a cat in the Budakeszi game park near Budapest after snow started to fall in the morning hours in some parts of Hungary. (AP Photo / MTI, Mate Nandorfi)

Biscuit, a snow leopard born at the Bronx Zoo in June 2003, rests his head on top of his mother Shikari at New York's Bronx Zoo. (AP Photo/Wildlife Conservation Society, J. Larsen Maher)

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:21 PM | Comments (3)

December 22, 2003

The Gift of Kitties

I want to give my mom a framed photo of my cats for Christmas. I've got two shots that I took last night when the kitties were sitting together and looking pretty. Which do you think looks best?

Portrait 1:

Portrait 2:

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:11 AM | Comments (5)

December 21, 2003

Cuckoo for Coco

I saw something very strange and upsetting this afternoon.

I went out to throw down some birdseed in the back yard, and I saw Coco (the brown and white pigeon in the middle) and her mate under the tree. So I started throwing down the seed, and Coco and her mate flew off toward the pond. I watched them go.

The next thing I see is another bird - I don't know if it was a pigeon or not - fly out of the tree and after Coco. And it attacks her in mid-air and forces her down into the pond. Then it uses its feet to hold her down in the water.

Honestly? It scared me.

So I started screaming and yelling and waving my arms, and the attacking bird flew off. I'm sure it was only a few seconds, but it seemed so much longer. Coco popped her head up and flew off as well, but there were a lot of her feathers left behind in the water.

About an hour later I went back out and stood under the tree with a container of seed. Usually, the flock of pigeons I feed will fly over from the building where they nest when they see me under the tree. They fly to the roof of my building and watch me while I litter the ground with birdseed. About half the time they'll start coming down while I'm still throwing down the seed; it's not unheard of for me to be standing there with 20 pigeons within a few feet of me.

But this time, Coco wasn't with them. The flock has come back twice since, and still no Coco. I hope she's okay and just scared, rather than seriously hurt.

I also got my Christmas present from Roo today - the typewriter key initial necklace I was coveting from UncommonGoods.com! It is SUPER COOL and looks wonderful. I'm wearing it right now and plan to never take it off ever.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2003


I have to do this - my cat Caygeon is SO FREAKING CUTE.

(Be sure to expand the photo to full size.)

And for good measure, here's a decent photo of Dawsey!

Oops, forgot Otis Redding:


Otis is flaring, because he is infected with RAGE! Actually, he was seeing his reflection in the lens of my camera. And then he decided he didn't like the camera taking his soul, so he started darting around and I was unable to get a better photo of him.

I never knew Otie was Native American.

In other news, GoDaddy has been positively speedy since I got home from work. How long will it last?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:05 PM | Comments (1046)

December 16, 2003

Pretty Kitties

Caygeon looks pensive for the camera.

Dawsey offers his neck for a Caygeon-kiss.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)

I Dream of Mickey

This is kind of weird - I had a vivid dream last night about one of my past cats, Mickey. I adopted Mickey from the Leon County Animal Control in Tallahassee, Fla. when I was at Florida State. She loved going outside when we were living at my mom's house after college. She liked it so much, in fact, that when I moved to Virginia I didn't take her with me, because I wanted her to still be able to go outside in the back yard with my stepdad to "help" him with his garden.

I did take Mickey with me when I moved to Raleigh in 2000. She died suddenly in March, 2001. She was 10 years old.

I buried her outside my living room window, where she liked to sit and watch the squirrels. I buried her in 40-degree weather in a driving rainstorm, underneath my bird feeder (a platform feeder with a cat shape for the stand). I was sick with a horrible chest cold for a month afterwards.

When I moved away, I left the bird feeder where it was. I took a photo of it, which I've kept all this time in my wallet.

Last night I dreamt that she and I were living at my mom's house. In my dream, we heard my mom's dog, Maggie, yelp, and rushed into the living room to find that Mickey has smacked at Maggie's nose. One of Mickey's nails was pulled out in the fracas, and Mickey was bleeding. So I picked her up and got an ice cube from the kitchen. I wrapped it in a washcloth and held it against Mickey's paw, to staunch the blood and help the swelling subside.

In my dream, she was purring the entire time.

I have no idea why my subconscious was thinking about Mickey last night. What a strange little subconscious I have. I'm sure there's a hidden meaning in there somewhere, but I have no idea what it might be. Do you?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)

December 13, 2003

Animal Planet

ETA: I forgot that there's some happy animal news today - Honey is coming home!

Aww, sad - Keiko has died. Why is this story making me tear up? He was just the Free Willy whale with the bent fin, after all. I think it was the part of the story that talked about Keiko's desire for human companionship that made me saddest. Poor, lonely whale. *sniff*

From the "Florida Is Messed Up" files - Pit Bulls Kill Elderly Woman. Color me NOT SURPRISED.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

NICE, Dawsey

I just fed the cats, and then from behind me I hear the HORK-HORK-HORK of a cat getting ready to throw up.

And it's Dawsey, throwing up everything he just ate. All over the Christmas-y throw rug in the foyer.

Perfect way to start the day.

Posted by Julie at 06:53 AM | Comments (3)