Tag Archives: Ireland

MORE Tigridia

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Wowsers, Penny!

The Tigridia bloom may only last a few hours, but they make up for it in sheer proliferation.

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That’s hubby’s hand, to give you an idea of size. About the same as a star-gazer lily, or any of my black lilies.
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iDJ getting artistic. He took all of these shots.
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Every flower is a little bit unique.
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Sometimes, the yellow ones are a bit wonky.
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Sometimes, not.
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The red/pink ones can be wonky, too.
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But usually they aren’t.
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I was disappointed at first, but the unceasing blooming has certainly made up for the short shelf life. There were more today, and there will be more again tomorrow, I see the buds that are ready to open.

Strollin’ through the town today

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Yesterday morn I took the dogeen for a walk, and I saw a lot of things that made me think about where I live as seen through a stranger’s eyes. It was a positive experience – but as walking the dog isn’t conducive to taking photos, I didn’t break out the iPhone.

So this morning, I took a walk without her – but I didn’t get to see all the same things as my walk was shorter. Sorry!

One of the very first places I come to is the church. They are painting it. Yesterday was what they could reach with a long roller, but today the heavy machinery was involved.

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After the church I hit the main drag. The sun was playing peek-a-boo.

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It looks so colourful like this. It’s a terrible shame that at least 1/3 of the buildings you see are empty. Some for the entire 8 years I’ve lived here, and longer.

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An example – a business that has come and gone again since I’ve lived here. They sold ink. The pile of unread post inside the door is astounding, and that terrible white-wash window covering didn’t last even a few months.

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Another empty business – but this one (unoccupied since well before I moved here) used to be rotting and quite the eyesore. This year they cleaned it up and put up fake window stickers to make it look like it is operational. Fair play to the for that (click and zoom in to see the fake rows of goods).

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We still have a phone booth! There used to be three, but a couple of years ago they took the other two out. I have no idea what it costs for a local call – I’m afraid that it smells of urine in there. Probably not, but some things you are better off not knowing.

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Another shot of Main Street, heading back home now. You could almost see the church again in the far distance on the left. Almost!

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Someone’s well cool door knocker. I’m also looking for things to paint – so this one is hopefully a goer.

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The former bell at the church – hubby is quite happy to tell how he “helped” get it down, back in the day. It’s all programmed bong bong bongs now, which we can hear from our house quite easily. I want to try to paint this, too.

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Of course, I had a very, very, disappointed dog waiting for me when I got home. Funny now she looks like an orang-utan, isn’t it? And hey! There’s me taking the pic!

Inefficiency abounds this week

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I’m freezing. Just looked and it is 17.1c in the house. That’s about 63f. Too cold for me, I turned on the heat. It’s nasty outside: windy, rainy and cold. Probably won’t be walking The Queen today. Our house faces the mountain, and I can’t see it at all. Never a good sign. I use the mountain like the old joke Indian Weather Rock: if invisible, fog or rain for at least the next half hour. It hides quite often this time of year.

So… they ripped up the old metal cattle-weighing scale in the town square last week. It took five county council workers and a backhoe to dig it out and fill in the hole. Sad to see it go; my hubby remembers the last cattle market. They docked the cows’ horns there, and the streets ran with blood in the gutters, while the poor cows screamed. Not the nicest memory, but still something that should have perhaps been preserved.

There’s going to be ‘some sculptures’ put into the hole, and I saw one of them this morning on a flatbed truck. It was on its back and bubble wrapped too much to tell what it is. Sort of looked like a short brown Gandalf with a gnarled stick instead of a staff. Sort of odd that there’s no talk about what is happening in such a small town as this, with such a big gossip-mill. I guess whoever got paid to make said ‘sculptures’ is the only one who really cares.

They are also putting up the strings for the Christmas lights. The same old strings they put up every year. It takes five men and a scissor lift truck (I had to Google a bunch of shite to figure out what it was called) to put them up all down the town.

Anyhoo, they are putting up the strings. Not the strings with the bulbs attached, oh no. Just the strings. They’ve been at it all week, tying up traffic, these five county council workers. And pretty soon they’ll get to go back and put the bulbs in, one by one.

This is why I can’t get a job. I’m not lazy enough.

Nothing to do with the heavy sarcasm, nah.

Crappy back, continued

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I can’t believe how early it is. I left the house at 12:45 and got back home at 3, but it feels like I was gone much longer! I got loads done.

First I picked up my weekly newspapers for the weekly job hunt/local news/laugh at the poor quality of the articles. Then I got petrol, then headed off to Castlebar for my hospital appointment regarding my back.

I actually didn’t have a long wait, surprisingly. They said I do probably have a disk issue, and sciatica, but they won’t know without an MRI. These are all things my chiropractor told me, no surprises. They also said they would set me up with ‘physio’ in the meantime, as the MRI appointment is going to take a while. So, I’m guessing the physio is physical therapy, and similar to what my chiropractor does for me. But I won’t have to pay for it. Whew. So, it’s nice to be on their radar finally, even if I haven’t learned anything new and still have no diagnosis or even a time frame. Welcome to the HSE.

Oh, here’s my x-rays. I took pics of them for my own perusal. I love being able to see inside myself. Never ending source of entertainment for me.

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It’s pretty obvious that the gap #1 is a lot narrower than the rest, like #2. Most likely that’s my bad disc. Yay.

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Nothing to see here, I just think it looks cool to see my innards. I have a tail, how cool is that?

Oh, after that I went and picked up dog food, had a chat with the pet shop ladies about my Brushes art and took pictures of the birds, fish and bunnies in order to have more animals to draw for my ‘portfolio.’

On the way home, I had a bit of a surprise. Tanks. Tanks and troop carriers on the side of the road! With soldiers, and guns. Cooooool. We’ve no idea what’s going on, but seeing the Irish Army camped out on the side of the road is a new one for me. I took pics on my phone, but I was really far away and the pics aren’t worth posting. And I don’t want to get in trouble. Those were big guns.

KIBIS and making friends in a new country

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No KIBIS meeting tonight. MrsMMC is preparing for an influx of her family and friends into our small town. I must explain: she recently got married to a local lad. This is why I nicknamed her MrsMMC, because I love reminding newly married women that they are a Mrs now. Even though I personally still insist on Ms and attached my last name to his when we got married…

I just realised that I considered and rejected the phrase ‘maiden name.’ My feminist ideas about language run deeper than I thought. Or I realise it’s just crazy talk to consider myself a maiden when I was 34 at the time of our wedding. The very idea is foreign; I certainly wasn’t hiding under a rock with my chastity belt on all those years. Time to retire that phrase, methinks.

Anyhoo, back to MrsMMC. They got married in Italy, and a lot of us local folk couldn’t make it over (like me, and oh, how I wanted to go to Italy). Their plan all along was to have a second reception here in Ireland, which is this Friday. It crept up on all of us; she only realised today that she had to clean her apartment because her parents are coming tomorrow. I don’t mind, because I am very much looking forward to meeting her parents, her dad in particular as he’s the one who instilled in her such a love of animals.

That’s my Friday taken care of! Can’t wait. Of course, our Canadian counterpart is also invited… right, I need help. She needs a nickname. I’ve been struggling to come up with one that suits her Canuck heritage, her work, or her hobbies and interests. And it has to be short enough that typing it doesn’t annoy me, as I’m a lazy feicer. HockeyHo was in top running for a while, but she is nowhere near to being a ‘ho’ in the hip hop sense-even though the Ho in this case comes from Tim Horton’s. It just sounds bad. I liked Puck, another hockey reference, but somehow it implies she could get slapped around, and trust me, you’d have a broken arm before a slap got anywhere near her face. Bollocks, I can’t remember the name of the martial art she did in Canada, that’d be a good one I bet. Stay tuned, I’ll figger it out eventually. She’ll have to stay The Canadian for the time being.

I did ‘man up’ and invite a fourth into our silly club. I asked her in person, rather than virtually. Wow, did I clench. I turned shy and socially awkward, and probably turned bright red as well. Joy. Always nice to know I can revert to the age of six at a moment’s notice. “Hi… wouldyouliketobemyfriend?” blush, scuffle toe in the dust, run away.

She seems to have forgiven my ineptitude, as I got a query today asking if we were meeting tonight. I had to let her down, of course, but she’ll be at the second reception on Friday and will meet The Canadian for the first time (maybe second? I can’t remember if our invitee came to my fortieth birthday. It was a crazy night for me). I know they’ll get on, of course, but if she has anywhere near the shyness I apparently have, meeting everyone will make her more likely to ‘join’ us.

You see, we talked about why we blow-ins are better together than with Irish women. We know they don’t mean to, but they forget about us. If there is something fun going on, they invite the friends they have had their whole lives, or even co-workers, rather than us. We can only guess that they are assuming we know, somehow, what is going on. It’s not that we don’t have a presence in the town: being ‘strangers’ it seems everyone knows who we are. They also seem to think we’ll remember everyone’s name – a very hard thing for for us, they only have to learn who we are and who we are linked to, while we have to store the details of about 1,000 people. I’m complete crap at names in any case, although I’ve found that if I see it written down I can match a name to a face better.

It also doesn’t help when everyone has a name and a nickname. Baffling.

A walk in the bog

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More pictures from the good camera. It’s a Panasonic DMZ-TZ3 with a 10x optical zoom and a Leica lens, for any camera geeks out there. Socks got one and raved about it, we got one and loved it, and I think we’ve talked at least three others into getting this camera. Great little thing.

Back in August I was feeling pretty shitty all of the time with the stupid back. I woke up feeling good one day, and wanted to get out of the house. It was such a rarity to feel good, I didn’t want to waste it. I was also still pretty damn grumpy and didn’t want to be around people, or even my dog. My best option was to go for a walk along the disused railroad tracks that run behind and through my town.

I walked up to where the tracks crossed a road and entered there, instead of further out into the bog as I usually do when walking the dogeen. I was immediately glad I didn’t take her along, and even more glad that I wore high boots, as the blackberries were crazy-mad over the tracks at first. Breaking trail was painful for me in heavy cowboy boots and jeans. Her poor feet would have been very sore and her legs sliced into lace. I struggled on, looking for things to photograph.

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I don’t even know what kind of plant this is. It’s like a huge Queen Anne’s Lace. This one wasnt open fully yet, and had a perfect cup that I could have fit my fist into.

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The blackberries weren’t close to being ripe, but their leaves were changing colour already.

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I loved the rocks, ivy, bushes and weeds that overgrew the tracks.

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Looking away from the town and out into the cow pastures and bog, I found this twisted pine. The tenacity of life in harsh situations appeals to me.

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A beautiful tree wound in ancient ivy. But behind it…

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Seems I’ve attracted the attention of the locals.

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Closer and closer he came…

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…and brought his friends along. Soon I had an audience of curious bullocks.

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He was the bravest of all, and got as close as he could. So much for taking more shots of the tree…

I have more legs than usual, or, My blog is named appropriately today

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Two days in a row it has been lovely enough to sit outside for hours. It’s chilly, so I’m not in shorts and sports bra like I would like to be, but I have my sleeves pushed up and my sweatpants pulled up over my knees. At least my shins are getting some sun. It feels fantastic. I’m a sunshine junkie and I follow it around the garden from March until the winds drive me inside for the winter.

This will be my sixth winter in Ireland, and the angle of the sun this time of year still surprises me. We are so much higher in latitude than anywhere I’ve ever lived before. At 9 am, the sun was glorious coming through the windows of the house – but only the upstairs windows. The neighbouring houses block the sunshine from the ground floor. The sun just wasn’t high enough yet. Currently it is almost noon, and the length a shadow cast is twice the height of the object casting it. Weird for someone who grew up in Florida, where noon means no shadow at all.

There’s not a cloud in the sky, either, which is very unusual. Here, I’ll prove it:

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That’s the sun! Funny warm yellow thing in my sky, please stay a while.

I’m surrounded by happy bees and wasps and bluebottles, all recharging themselves after the cold night. They are all trying to drink my coffee and sample my pumpkin seeds, too. I don’t mind until I have to fish a corpse out of my cup.

I’m also grateful that I actually do like spiders, because I am covered in them. The sun has brought out all the tiny baby spiders to send their parachute lines up into the breeze and carry them off to a new home. Which is me, quite often. I’ve picked three off me since I started writing this, and my shins are ticklish with the webs stuck to my stubble. My beloved Coleman folding camp chair (beloved because it has two cupholders) is covered in fine webs, and I just took a break to watch a spider the size of a full stop tilt her bottom into the air, spin, and launch from the arm. Amazing wee things.

One of my blueberry bushes looks like a Christmas tree sparkling in the sun: green and red leaves bedecked with silvery webs. I’m glad the berries are done, it is a bitch to clean the webs off berries, especially when dog hair sticks to the webs. Beware my blueberry pancakes, they might have extra keratin.

If I shade my eyes, the whole back garden is adrift in spidersilk. I can catch an aviator or two in action if I watch for a while.

Oh, that was a good one – I assisted another spiderling to launch, she was on my thumbnail and I expected her to spin. Instead she started crawling straight up in the air on a web I couldn’t see. I raised my arm, but she was still climbing straight up. I brushed the web free of my thumb and woosh! up, up and away!

Just had another land on my iPad as I was going to get up to see if I can photograph the blueberry bush. Probably was in my hair.
No picture. The crappy iPad camera can’t do it justice. And I had to check my seat before I planted my arse back down.

Sorry if I’ve freaked out any arachnophobes. I like just about all critters, with a few exceptions. I can’t hate anything without a reason, and spiders never gave me a reason. Quite the opposite, in fact, I’m having a great morning sitting here watching a free airshow.

Why is my dog purple?

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I took the Queen for walkies today, go me! The weather was good (not pissing rain or looking like it was about to, not windy) and I was up, washed, motivated, and looking out the window at 3pm. The timing is important, because the local school lets out at 3:30 or thereabouts and I detest walking Herself through hordes of tweens. She doesn’t like them, they hog the pavement (sidewalk), and sometimes they try to pet her, which really freaks her the fuck out. I’m not thrilled to deal with them either, though I do like it when one says ‘that dog is savage!’ when we pass, because ‘savage’ means ‘awesomely cool’ and not ‘vicious throat-ripping beast.’

We had a good little walk, with no excitement. She did get to go into the post office with me, a rarity. I won’t take her inside if there’s a queue (unless it is people we know). She’s a big dog, I don’t want to scare anyone, and our post office is usually chock-full of old ladies. The Queen loves old ladies. When she loves you and wants to say hi, she does this funny front-legs bounce which can be intimidating. She’s under control, but just looks a bit excitable.

Today she got to put her feet up in the service window and say hi to the clerk; that was good.

We also went in the Paper Shop, to see if my mother in law was working. She wasn’t, but I had a little chat with one of her co-workers on issues of little importance. I do like my town.

We also had a short visit with Chris. Chris is… not all there. I believe the story is that he lives in a home for the handicapped, but by his own admittance. He always wears a suit, no tie. He perches his bony butt on the windowsills of various businesses up and down the main street and chain-smokes. Some days are bad days for him; when you say hello he doesn’t answer and his upper lip is caught on a snaggled lower tooth, making him look a bit deranged. Other days, like today, are good ones, and he’ll actually talk a moment and ask about the dog. He never remembers that he always asks the same things.

On the way home, Dogzilla likes to walk on the church wall as it gives her a nice perspective to survey every.last.moving.thing. I lean and wait while she checks out the ‘hood. Today, I noticed a purple spot on her lovely white fur. And another, smaller one, near it:

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I know the pic sucks. It’s just for funsies.

It took me a moment to puzzle out why my dog had purple spots. Then I remembered: she was on the couch with iDJ last night after dinner. He was drinking wine. Red wine. He spilled wine on the dog!

I think he could officially have a drinking problem… at the very least, getting it into his mouth!

The summer that wasn’t

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2011 had the summer that wasn’t. It was nice in March and April, but by May it had all gone to shit. Cold, rain, high winds, no sunshine.

This was a triple bummer for me. First because I had told my dad to visit in May as that is usually our best month, even better than June-August. Was I wrong!

Second, because I am a sunshine addict and there isn’t much I like better than sitting or lying in the sun, reading or doing a stupid puzzle book.

Third is because one of the things I do like better than lazing in the sun is growing things.

When the year started out so well, I jumped right into starting seeds. I’d much rather start with a microscopic seed and care for it than buy something already started. I’m broke, duh, and a hundred count of seeds costs what two plants would cost. It is also an endless source of wonder for me that something so very tiny and dry can turn into a big plant, with nothing more than dirt, water, sun and a weekly fertiliser.

I’m also a pack rat, and keep seeds for years, and even decades, longer than I should.

Since I started so early, I figured I’d have a clear out of my seed cache and plant some of the really old ones. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Oldest ones I had were from…1987. No, I’m not kidding. They were baby’s breath, and didn’t germinate. I wasn’t terribly surprised. I had them so long because I’m not a big fan of baby’s breath, and I have issues throwing things away – especially potentially living things. Oh well.

The next oldest were 9 or 10 years old. Back then, I had a house and a garden. I grew a lot of stuff, and saved the seeds from one crop to start the next year’s crop, which never happened as I didn’t have a place to grow things again until 2005. I’ve already used a lot of the cache over the years since I moved here. But, I still had: dill, oregano, columbine, pumpkins, miniature pumpkins, several kinds of ornamental gourds, and an envelope marked ‘butternut squash?’

The dill, columbine, and oregano were too old. I knew that, but dumped em all in dirt and hoped. Oh well.

The different varieties of gourds were another story. Some of them had dried mold on them, meaning I let the original fruit get a bit ooky before I took the seeds out. The mini pumpkins were in the original packet dated 1999. I didn’t think any of them had a chance, so I crammed them into seed trays, more seed than dirt.

And left them alone, as you do, in my little Aldi greenhouse, watering occasionally.

Well, the little bastards had tons of life left in them! I think the only ones that never grew were the large pumpkins. Everything else, wow! Dozens and dozens of plants!

Which was not good, because I have very limited space. But, I planted them out in containers, only for most of them to die in May when it got cold. But, still, I had plenty – and more shoots every day!

Until my little greenhouse blew over in the wind, dumping ALL of the seeds and seedlings into the grass. Oh, hell, now I had no idea what gourd was what.

After the clean up, they all were dubbed ‘mystery gourds’ and it became a bit more fun to watch them grow, and a bit more sad when they didn’t survive.

Then they bloomed, and some set fruit, but most of the fruit died on the vine. I should probably research why, but it probably would be a chemical cure and I’m not keen on those. Nor do I have money to spend on ‘free’ plants.

It’s now October, and I do still have a few vines alive. I’d brought most of them indoors last month when a hurricane was due to blow through, to save them from the winds. I didn’t take them back outside, because of my bad back, and all the indoor ones died. Still about half a dozen outside, though they no longer bloom.

The ones I brought in contained my entire crop, four whole gourds. One rotted, so I composted it. Here’s the rest, just in time for Halloween decorations:

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The tea light is there for scale. What a let down!

I saved 5 lives today, and maybe another

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It’s a red-letter day here in Culchieland! I left the house! I know, what on earth could possibly have happened to make me leave? On foot? In the rain? Hell, it’s Ireland, it’s nearly always raining…

Well, I had to make the trek down to the post office to get my dole. That’s welfare, for my Yank friends. On the way, I:

Met BD who is a manager at the post office, and my sometime Harley-Davidson biking buddy. He was making deliveries, which is not his normal job. We had a short chat and blamed the shortage of staff on the presidential election flyers tying up all the postal workers. He handed me my post – a presidential election flyer.

So, mail in pocket, I continue my walk to the post office… is that ironic? It had rained a LOT overnight so there were little earthworms drying up and dying in the church driveway. I picked up three and tossed them into the grass.

Continuing on my way, I saw a small tortoise-shell coloured kitten running around under the parked cars in front of the grocery store that we don’t patronise. I don’t know why not, we just don’t. I tried to coax her to me, but she was scared and probably feral. I wouldn’t let a young fella in a hurry leave until she moved from under his car to another.

Up to the PO, chat with the clerk – turns out two people are on holiday and one other had a funeral for his mother in law. Aren’t small towns fun? Can you imagine getting to have a chat at the post office instead of a surly government worker? Wheee! And my dole went up €20, why? no clue. I’ll take it, 70 is better than 50 any day. It still is a drop in the debt bucket.

Back out, down to the Paper Shop where my mother in law works. She’s usually only there in the afternoon, but she’s in, and so are the other three ladies that work there. They aren’t all working; mam and B are, and the other two are chatting and bringing coffee and sammiches to the others. Aw. Mam has a cold and can barely talk. They all ask me about my back, and my job hunt. A fella delivering magazines hears me talking about my back, and I get advice and the name of a physio who fixed him ‘in one go.’ A physio is someone who isn’t a doctor, or a chiropractor, but does stuff to people who are hurt, like a sports/physical therapist. This one apparently is the physio for a GAA team in B… okay, I don’t recall the name of the town, but it started with a B and I’d never heard of it. Apparently if I go to B… and ask anyone on the street for so-and-so, they will know him and give me directions. Yes, that is the way things work over here!

Back out for the walk home. Dammit, kitten is still under the cars along the main street. Very dangerous for the wee thing. So I try, and try, to get it to come to me. She talks to me, but runs. I gave up, walked away…then turned back and into the grocery. I went to the deli counter and asked if they had a tiny bit of ham or turkey or chicken, as I was trying to catch a cat. I would have paid for it, but she handed me a bit of ham off the slicer. Thanks, deli lady!

Back outside, the kitten finally gets sick of my attentions and runs off down the alley, past the back road behind the houses & shops on the main street, and into someone’s overgrown garden. I tore up the ham and left it in the grass. At least she was safe from cars, now.

On the way home, I find and save two more worms. I feel like an Annelida hero! Yes, I Googled that. I’m a geek, but not that much of a geek!

In case you were wondering, here’s why worms surface when it rains.