Monday, May 28, 2012

CSI DeLand

A couple of years ago, when I was a fox on the run, I spent a lot of time hanging out on the grounds of a spooky-looking abandoned house and in a wooded sinkhole nearby.

Here's how the house looked back then:

Some of the neighbors who lived next to this great little fixer-upper thought I was hurting their property values by lying around in its side yard and up on the front porch. They loved to call Animal Control to come try to trap me and to tell Mike and Jeannie and the others who were feeding me in those days to cut it out. When the Animal Control officers couldn't catch me, they threatened my caretakers with fines for interfering with their work. One of them even wrote this note on the back of a business card and left it in my empty food dish:

The only thing that accomplished, of course, was to drive my feeding "underground" into the sinkhole.

(Editor's note: For the full story of my care and upkeep in those days, please refer to my very first blog post, which talks about the circle of friendly scofflaws who helped me. For more about life at the old house and the logistics of dining at "The Sinkhole CafĂ©,"  see this one.)

Today the house is still abandoned. And as you can tell from this picture M took a few days ago, it has managed to avoid becoming any classier--even without my presence:

There have of been some "improvements," I guess: The roof sports a snazzy hurricane tarp, though the winds have already torn some of it off. But what's that they say--half a tarp is better than none? Also the dangerously sagging balcony and all of the porch railings and supports have been removed. They now lie rotting on the lawn at the far right.

Something the picture doesn't show is that this lovely home was recently once again a crime scene. And this time the crime was a lot worse than "dog on the loose." Behold this item in the local section of last Thursday's Daytona Beach News-Journal:

It seems that four little desperadoes, at least three of them suspended from DeLand Middle School for unspecified misdeeds, decided to fill their time by knocking on doors of houses and, if no one answered, breaking in and robbing the place. At one home in north DeLand, their haul amounted to $3,000 in cash and over $17,000 worth of other items, including jewelry, a computer, green cards, collectible silver coins, a gold ingot, four pistols, a safe, and a 12-pack of beer. Volusia County sheriff's deputies managed to catch three of the thieves, but apparently not the fourth. Two of the boys arrested are also linked to burglaries at a nearby apartment complex. (To see the whole story, follow this link.)

Lest you jump to the conclusion that our abandoned house is the one that was robbed in the $20,000 heist, let me say right away that it was not. Believe me, every item of value has long since been ripped off from it. No, our abandoned house is where these apprentice Dillingers came to divvy up their loot--and to stash some of it!

Everyone in our neighborhood knows that the old house has been a magnet for squatters for years. (Including yours truly, except I just used the yard and the front porch.) Several days over the past few weeks we've noticed that the front door was open. On one of these occasions--I can't remember whether it was before or after last week's burglary--M and I saw a pair of sheriff's deputies investigating the place. I hate to admit it, but a couple of times on our walks, we would go up to the house and peek into the front window, then sit down on the porch and have a treat for old times' sake. I think the last time we did that was about two weeks ago. Crikey! We're lucky we didn't run into those sticky-fingered munchkins!

And that's the way it is. This is Buddy for K9TV, reporting from the crime scene. Back to you, Bob.

(I always wanted to say that. Hee hee.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

One whole year, but who's counting?

Lots of us, as a matter of fact.

A year ago today, Grandpa George turned 89 and Grandma Grace died. Then last March, as my regular readers know, Grandpa died on what would have been Grandma's 88th birthday. Mike says that this pair of odd coincidences didn't bother him at first, since his parents had been divorced for almost 50 years. In fact he thought it was pretty neat. There was a kind of dark humor to it that helped him get past the sting of losing both his folks in a short period of time. Lately, though, he says it doesn't seem so funny. Now each of their birth remembrances will forever be dampened by an anniversary of the other one's death. It's like knowing that the parade's always gonna get rained on.

"Even Shakespeare couldn't make up stuff this bizarre!" he groused on our walk last evening, then added: "On second thought, yes, he could. Maybe he did."

"Who's Shakespeare?" I asked.

"Google him." I could tell the M-ster wasn't feeling chatty.

I think as the years go by, M will change his mind again about the funny-ness of the situation. For one thing, he's a big flip-flopper. (That's a word I heard on one of those cable-TV news channels. M says the proper terms are "learning through experience" and "evolving." Whatever.)

For another thing--and this is the main reason I believe he'll come around--M has a sense of humor that just will not leave him alone. He once told me that when he was in high school, he went over to his girlfriend's house for dinner and took a stack of rubber dog poop with him. He didn't know her parents very well at the time, and you'd think he'd be all about trying to make a good impression.

Well, you would be wrong. When nobody was looking he took that poop out of his pocket and dropped it on the living room carpet. Then when the girl and her parents discovered it and started to have a three-way conniption fit at their dog (who I'm sure must have been pretty confused), ol' M says, just as calm as anything, "Hey, it's okay--no harm done." And with that he scoops the poop up in his hand and pops it into his mouth!

I asked him if they all thought this was as funny as he did, and he said he couldn't remember. The fact that he's blocked out their reaction says a lot. (Memo: The next time he's in a decent mood, ask him how it is that he finds something like this so hilarious, yet he gets all steamed when I troll the cats' litter box for snacks.)

But back to yesterday: When we got home from our walk, I Googled "Shakespeare" and found that William Shakespeare lived over 400 years ago and that he was, in fact, a famous maker-upper of pretty far-fetched stories, which were in the form of plays. He was also a poet who wrote most of his plays using some rather iffy-sounding poetry called blank verse. (Google it.)

I couldn't find any proof that Shakespeare had a story like Grandma and Grandpa's, though he did have people dying all over the place. The most fascinating thing I learned about him is that he invented a dance called the Hokey Pokey, which goes along with one of his shorter poems. Most of the words are a bit hard to grasp, because people talked pretty weird back then (IMHO). But at the very end it turns out that what he was talking about is the meaning of life. Since today we are marking the biggest events in the lives of Mike's mom and dad, I thought it would be nice to post a reading of Shakespeare's Hokey Pokey poem in their honor. So without further ado . . .

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

Mike with Grandpa George - 1946

 And Grandma, we still miss you a bunch!

Grandma Grace with Auntie Julia - 1944

(To watch this on YouTube in its original format, click here.)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!

Some big thunderstorms came through this evening around suppertime. Lots of crashing and booming, which of course scared the dickens out of me. There was also some hail mixed in with the rain. You could hear it rattling now and then against the windows. As you can imagine, I didn't eat supper on schedule. Instead I jumped up into Mike and Jeannie's bed and hunkered down between them.

As the storms blew through I thought they might take our house with them. But in spite of the racket, all we ended up with was this rainbow strike on our chimney:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Say, it's only a paper moon . . .

Sailing over a cardboard sea . . .

Actually it's this year's "perigee moon" sailing over our front yard on the night of May 5th. But the sky that night was boringly clear. So M borrowed these clouds from the night before.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Be Kind to Animals Week

This is the first day of Be Kind to Animals Week. I don't wish to sound unappreciative, but that sort of thing brings out my inner skeptic. I mean, once the official week of being kind to animals is over, then what? You can go back to hitting your dog with a rolled-up newspaper? Drop your pregnant cat in a dumpster? Enter the calf roping event at your local rodeo?

I don't have to worry, since the people I live with are kind to me every day, unless I'm being boarded, which isn't often. But they aren't the ones that Be Kind to Animals Week is designed to change. As for those whose attitude toward animals needs a serious upgrade, I have some doubts that one week a year will change things very much.

M says I shouldn't be such a pessimist. He thinks that any efforts to improve the plight of mistreated and down-on-their-luck animals are bound to make a difference sooner or later. "It sure helped in your case," he reminds me. And special recognition of these efforts can only increase public awareness, boosting their chances for success. "Any publicity you can get," he likes to point out, "is good."

I guess that in the grand scheme of things, downtrodden animals make out okay when it comes to special recognition. Perhaps better than a lot of humans, since the animals get a whole week in the limelight, while mothers, fathers, active and former members of the armed forces, secretaries, bosses, sweethearts, registered dieticians, doctors, radiology nurses, Navajo Code Talkers, Hopi Code Talkers, and people who work for state governments each get just one day a year. (This list is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive.)

Of course there's some multiple dipping going on in those human recognition days: For instance, in addition to Mothers Day (second Sunday in May) and Fathers Day (third Sunday in June), did you know there's a Parents Day (fourth Sunday in July)? Go figure.

Okay--I'm convinced enough about the possible effectiveness of Be Kind to Animals Week to help spread the word. For starters, here's a link to the website of its founding organization, the American Humane Association. It's got some good information on it.

While I'm at it, to bring this down to a personal level, I want to post this flyer to help raise funds for Cat Tail Corner, the shelter that has provided a refuge for most of J and B's feral cats. (Click on the flyer to enlarge it.)

Please get involved with needy animals and help them in any way you can.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Feral Follies Update

Much has happened on the feral follies front since my post of April 24th. I reported then that Jeannie and Bonnie planned to return the next night to the gambling joint/storm drain (Mike says those two things are good metaphors for each other) to try to catch Stumpy. They were eager to finish getting that colony fixed and relocated before there were more drownings--and more colonists! Well, they didn't trap Stumpy on the 25th, but they did catch what they think is the last of her kittens, a little black female they named "Dixie" after the Winn-Dixie grocery that's a few doors down from the gambling place.

Actually Cliff, one of the night security guards, caught her around five o'clock Thursday morning using J's spring trap, after she showed him how to set it. Cliff called J, who drove over and got Dixie and brought her back to the house. A few hours later J handed her off to Bonnie, who passed her on to Bob, who took her to the Pet Vet Cruiser for a little fix-me-up and then to Cat Tail Corner, where in all likelihood she won't drown. In the brief time that Dixie was a guest in our garage, M took her picture:

Now wind the clock forward a bit: In the wee small hours of Saturday morning, Cliff re-caught the newly spayed and released Brandy by just grabbing her and putting her into a pet carrier that he had in his car. Then when he got off work he took her home to live with him. Smiles and high-fives all around!

At some point J and B learned that the Pet Vet Cruiser would be in DeLand the following Monday and Tuesday. Usually it's not available for feral cats except at its home base every other Thursday. But Bob thought he might be able to get the doctors to make an exception, since he is one of their best customers in the whole county. So J and B went back to the storm drain on Sunday night, the 29th, and this time they caught Stumpy, the last of the feral cats in that area. (At least for the moment.) And then for crazy some reason they renamed her "Bobbie."

I don't know why they felt the need to change her name, as both Stumpy and Bobbie refer to her tail, which is very short. Stumpy/Bobbie is a tuxedo Manx, as you may remember from my earlier post. You know, the more I think about it, the better I like the sound of that combined name. It has a certain ring to it. If I ever write a song about feral cats, I believe I'll call it "The Ballad of Stumpy/Bobbie." But I digress.

Monday morning J and B took Stumpy/Bobbie to the Pet Vet docs for her rendezvous with destiny. And that evening, Bob took her to Cat Tail Corner, where she was reunited with Dixie.

Speaking of her ex-babies, it appears that Stumpy/Bobbie was the mother of most of the younger cats in that colony. This includes Cash and the unfortunate girl kitty who drowned with him in the storm drain, and also Brandy, who finally went home to live with Cliff. And here's some food for thought: The unnamed girl kitty was pregnant when she died. And Brandy was pregnant when she was caught and spayed. And so was Stumpy/Bobbie. Uh-gain!

Some of you might consider spaying a pregnant cat distasteful or downright immoral, but M insisted that we include this information to help you see what a terrible problem this homeless cat business is. He says that the real immorality comes from the dim-bulbs who never get their animals spayed or neutered in the first place and then abandon them along the roadside when they can't be bothered with them anymore.

Now that the Allied Veterans Casino Cat Roundup is over for the moment, J and B have turned their full attention back to Callie and Pumpkin, up at the other end of the strip mall. When J came home from last evening's feeding expedition, she said that they were both there chowing down. And nearby, watching the show, was a yellow tomcat with big eyes for Pumpkin.

Too much ain't enough . . .

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day! Mayday! M'aidez!

Just checking out my new homophones. ROTFL.

(When dogs say ROTFL they really mean it.)