Category Archives: Ireland

Big Guy‘s Story – Part Two

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Before I got the kittens rehomed, I managed to get BigGuy neutered. He fell for roasted chicken, and I shoved his butt into the carrier and off we went to my vet, who had agreed to take him and do the neuter on behalf of the local SPCA.

We did it as a TNR (trap neuter release). The vets said he appeared to be about ten, but his teeth were pretty good for his age. He came out of the surgery just fine, so I took him back to work and let him go again. Part of my reasoning was that if I got Peggy done while the kittens were still around, he would protect them. I saw over the next few weeks that he stopped spraying pee everywhere (fantastic) while I also tried online to find a home for him. No one wanted a 10+ year old feral (former) tomcat, no matter how beautiful and kind.

He definitely became calmer and happier. And he showed me his incredibly fuzzy, curly belly! He was actually playing with string! I stopped looking for someone else to take him and started making plans to bring him home.

Hubby and I discussed at length how it might work. We bought a little cat-house for the outside, as we assumed he wouldn’t want to be indoors. We also had huge concerns about the dog. She likes cats, but definitely knows the difference between ‘her cats’ and ‘stranger cats.’ So, a ‘stranger cat’ in our back garden all the time was something we had to work around.

We both hated the idea of leaving him outside. But after the calamity and violence that happened between Lokii and Lumi when I tried to keep one of last year’s kittens, we knew we couldn’t just toss BG inside and hope for the best. Old man Lokii was not likely to want BigGuy anywhere near him. Also… the dog! What would BigGuy think of a massive dog in the house all the time? Was he scared of dogs? He should be, to have survived so long as a feral.

I put the little cat house together (smaller than expected), found a good sheltered spot for it, and when the stars aligned I went to work on a Saturday morning, got him into the carrier again, and brought him home!

I used tuna in oil to catch him this time. A tip for anyone doing cat-catching: DO NOT use tuna in oil! It got all over him. Especially his tail, which was horribly filthy already. At this point he didn’t want to go in the carrier again and did fight me a bit, then flailed about in the carrier. He came out with a dirty, oily, smelly, crud-encrusted stick instead of a tail.

Unfortunately, I was an idiot. Bound to happen; I’ve never done this before. I didn’t give him enough time to acclimate. I was accustomed to him following me around at work, and I expected the same from him at his new home. He spent the night in our tiny, junk-filled shed, and on Sunday morning I let him out with me and he went exploring.

Exploring right out of sight. He went over a wall and he was gone.

Big Guy‘s Story – Part One

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I’d seen him around work for a long time. I say ‘around’ because he never got close to me at all. I first noticed him after I had met and befriended Peggy. I’m not sure how many years it has been since I first spotted this white ghost slinking underneath cars in our parking lot.

I think this is the first photo I took of him, October 2019. He ran away when I got too close. This is a zoomed-in picture (hence the blur).

Once Peggy let me see her babies, this big white dude also trusted me enough to come and hang out (and get food).

He was so good with what I assumed were his kittens. Maybe they were, maybe not… he also assumed they were his or just loved Peggy. In any case, he let momma cats Peggy and Vickie and all of the kittens steal his food without a hiss or a swat. He moved aside and looked filthily regal, like a white lion watching over his pride. He still kept his distance from me.

I didn’t give up, and he eventually learned to trust me. I was spending most of my mental efforts on the three kittens Peggy had finally showed me. I needed to get them, and Peggy, help. Always I knew he had to be caught and neutered, too. So, while taming feral kittens, I worked on earning his trust.

From October to February… finally I got my first touch! I was so thrilled. He trusted me to get close enough after so long.

He had such a kind and attentive manner toward Peggy, despite her slapping him silly, daily. He protected the kittens and Peggy, even if she didn’t need (or want) him to. This tomcat was so special! I desperately wanted to clean him up, brush him, heal his wounds and keep him safe from more injuries, illness and parasites.

I’d fallen in love.

Tick Talk

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Ticks.

Not a critter I ever saw in Florida, and only once in Ohio.

Saw one in Ireland, in May, in a forestry planted forest. I can’t recall when, but it was probably ten years ago.

Himself and I went out foraging for mushrooms at the end of May; no luck, but I did find a tick on my belly a few hours later. I felt a small bump and figured it was a cat-scab (Lumi does like to make biscuits on all of my parts when he is feeling cute). I tried to scratch it off, it didn’t go, I tried harder, no luck. Tried really hard and it made a sound when it came off, a pop. Well hell I know scabs don’t make popping sounds! Yep, a wee tick, and I took it off by accident in the worst way. In any case, it was off, and I’m fine.

Now we all have an awareness ticks are about and local, right?

Fast forward to this week. Himself and I are about to go to bed. He is looking at something on the kitchen floor I cannot see (took my glasses off). ”

“What is that? It looks weird. What is it?” he asks.

“I got no idea, I can’t see shit.”

Figuring it’s a bit of food or something the animals have done (poo, puke, who knows), I grab a napkin and pick it up.

It is a huge, huge, squashed tick. Blood everywhere. Interestingly, it is still quite red, not the black or very dark brown of digested blood.

“Huh. It’s a dead smashed tick. Must have come off the dog? How did it get smushed?” I look at my bare feet. One is clean, one is covered in tick-dog blood in little round spots. So is most of the kitchen floor.

“Dammit.”

Plant-it-ary Disaster

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I know it is meant to get very cold this weekend, below freezing. It might not happen, just like the last big snowstorm went right over us on the Atlantic coast and dropped on the west coast instead. Pooooooor Dublin.

Me, surprised to be feeling positive in spring, decided to get some seeds going. First I had to sort through the massive, and I mean massive, quantity of seeds that I have. Hubby needs to stop buying me magazines with free seeds!

Nearly every pile has more than one variety – for example, seven kinds of poppies, eleven types of sunflowers. I had other piles of that I definitely wanted to plant, might want to plant, two groups for himself to choose from, and a discard pile. These are just the flowers; I didn’t get into the veg seeds yet (zipper bag still in the shoebox).

I’d already set up a mini greenhouse a few days earlier. Brand new, but had been boxed and unused for a couple of years. I had new seed trays, new soil – not for seedlings, unfortunately – and a sunny day to enjoy.

I’m not gonna list everything I planted now. It was a lot, and quite a few ‘best before 2014’ ones I planted for the hell of it. All carefully planted according to depth, needing a cover of light soil or none, and labelled with species and number of cells planted with each variety.

I’m not going to list them because it doesn’t matter.

I no longer have the faintest idea of what seeds are in which cell. The whole greenhouse went face-down yesterday in wind that wasn’t there…until it was.

Couldn’t even get to the front zippers. This happened when I left the house for 15 minutes. I rushed home from the shop because I accidentally locked us out of our bank card, found this, and started to cry.

Hubby tried to help me over the phone with the card, and told me to go sort out my plants until he called me back…I couldn’t, it was pouring rain! Then when I tried, one of the important plastic bits on the greenhouse shattered in my hands. I screamed bad words and threw greenhouse parts at the innocent grass.

Phone call from himself let’s me know that I have to drive to another town to sort out the bank card…bank closes at five, it’s ten to four now… deep breaths and make sure the car has enough petrol to get there as it is low, and we have no cash. As soon as the downpour stops, I go out to see if I can make it.

Rain stops. Out to the car and see that I left the windows and sunroof open as I was in a panic sweat that needed cooling when the bank card didn’t work. Back inside for towels to hopefully save the electronics. Drive to other town. Realise on the way that it is late on Tuesday and I needed to do something pretty important on Monday, but forgot. Struggled for parking, more panic sweats.

The bank closed at 4! Defeated, I went back home (on petrol fumes) to try to salvage my seeds. I had to take the greenhouse apart bit by bit and carefully try to poke dirt and seeds back where they came from. Not so bad for two trays on the lower levels. Very bad for the upper two – the ones I really wanted to grow!

My only hope for one tray is that as I used a seed packet, I turned it upside down on a pile. One label stick remained in place, so I can get it right one direction or the other, hopefully?

On the plus side: years ago I found some seeds on the ground at a local, beautiful, garden and they are growing. Not all is lost.

Jailbird Iggy 

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He’s still at the vet. They neutered him last Thursday, the abscess is healing nicely…but he’s lonely. I just don’t know what to do. It’s costing me both in money and mental distress. I miss him at work all the time, but he can’t go back there as he comes inside the warehouse.

I’m beginning to think that turning him out in my back garden and hoping for the best is my only option. I hate that idea. I hate how people don’t take care of cats. It’s so frustrating to be full of love and full of hate at the same time.

No Chive Turkey, Can You Dig It? 

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I accidentally ate chives yesterday. I don’t ever ever ever want to do that again!

I had a lovely five-course meal, not including desert, made by my good Italian friend, Mrs MMC. It was soooo good. She has food allergies and sensitivities herself, and one of the other guests was vegetarian, so she had no problem making a special version of one appetiser just for me, sans onion.

And it was fabulous. Three kinds of bruschetta, then cannelloni, then wee eggplant aka aubergine thingies that were like tiny lasagnes! I ate two of the cannelloni and before the meat course was served, I bragged how she hadn’t made me stuffed to the gills yet. There was a lovely smoked baked cheese all the way from family in Italy, and wow – heaven in a nibble.

The meat course was a potato mash with nice big slices of truffle, turkey that had been cooking for 15 hours served in a tasty sauce that was meant to be a cream sauce, but as the chef herself is lactose intolerant, it was made lactose-free. 

About 15 minutes after the meat course – and I could have had seconds (oh no. I did have seconds!), I started to feel quite full. Well, finally! I thought, I ate a ton! Ten minutes later while eating homemade peach pie and my homemade raspberry ice cream, that full feeling started to be rather uncomfortable. I lasted another 15 minutes and had to make my goodbyes, even though it was early. I poured out 3/4 of my last beer before I left, because I was feeling icky.

On the walk home I started wheezing because I couldn’t inhale deep enough to get a good breath. I wanted to belch but my esophagus didn’t want to work right; it wasn’t sure if I needed to throw up or hold it in. I was pretty okay with puking all down my front at this point, but nothing was working right. 

Once home, I did the minimum necessary to get things ready for the morning, and collapsed on the couch, leaving the crippled man to fend for himself for the first time in months. I couldn’t do a thing but moan: my stomach hurt so badly and it felt like my ribs were being popped out from the inside.

But oh god, I was thirsty! How could I drink anything when I couldn’t even breathe for the bloat in my abdomen?

I slept hard from about 10:50 to 3:30 am, then I was awake every 30 to 45 minutes. Thirsty, coughing, barely able to turn my body from the pain. I did get up at 5:30 for water, and then Lumi decided I was a toy and got behind the TV again to piss me off. I locked him out (not sleeping with my boy is a true sign I’m fucked up) and continued the waking/sleeping thing for the next two hours but now in increments of ten minutes. Desperate to ease the strain and so thirsty and still unable to burp…but there were some very welcome farts! I was kinda glad I can’t sleep next to himself as I might have blown him out of the bed! Or suffocated him…

I had a bad night.

I felt terrible having to ask Mrs MMC today what was in the turkey dish, as I knew from the timing that it had to be the culprit. I suspected the lactose free milk, as I’d never had that before. I really hoped it wasn’t the truffles or the smoked and baked cheese! I want those again. Oh yes.

Since she knows onions hate me (and the feeling is mutual) she had been extra careful, but worried maybe she used the same spoon? I didn’t think such a small amount would have caused such a problem. So I asked, were there leeks or anything like that in with the turkey or mashed potatoes?

Chives. Chives were in the sauce for the turkey! Little and innocent, soft and tender, invisible chives. Well hell, its not her fault she didn’t realise they are in the onion family. So is garlic, and I can eat that until it comes out my pores (and I do). 

I might have eaten one level serving spoon full of sauce – a few ounces at most. As I couldn’t even see green, it might have been one half of one chive that did this to me.

I can damn well tell you it will never happen again! People think I’m ‘picky’ when I say I don’t like onions and they don’t like me either – it’s real. It’s not an allergy, it is an intolerance. I swear to fuck, my body does not tolerate having onions or chives inside of it!

Save me from an unknown serving of potato and leek soup, please! I’m now going to be terrified of eating anything I don’t cook myself.

Abundance

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I think it’s been officially feeling like summer this month, off and on. Likely about all the summer we will get! My flowers are loving it.

The first roses of the year. I love them all.



Clematis – top one is one of the new babies from last year. Just opened this morning! The others are growing up the weed-willow I have in the corner, and are the main reason why this grey willow still lives here. That and the birds love it. And I have a wisteria growing in there, too! 


California poppies and a sunflower from seed. 


Something for the bees.


Native common orchids going crazy as usual. They have colonised my garden. I’m not complaining.


English lavender. The bees were loving this today. 


Iris iris iris iris iris iris iris iris iris! They are fantastic this year. 

April (nearly) Apres

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Things here are far from normal. I’d prefer not to go into detail, but hubby is again very unwell. Nevertheless, I found a way back into the gardening groove. I’ve done a lot in the last few days, without even getting near the years-old stash of seeds.

Wrong time of year, I know, but I planted the rest of the gladiolus hubby bought me last year (it might die, but it will certainly die if leave in the house another year). I also planted snakes-head fritillary, some ordinary lilies, three spider lilies, and about four other types of bulbs he bought for me last year. I’m almost glad he isn’t well enough to be shopping right now as I have hardly any room left! All these seed packets of potential life are kinda breaking my heart. I need about five more acres of land…

I have had a few happy surprises from older plants.


My peony has a bud! Just one, and it is soooo tiny. Today I saw that new shoots are coming up about 4in from the main plant, too. I think she is happy here!


I have an asparagus! One. Ah, well. 


Celeriac? I tried some from seed two years ago, no joy. This grew in a poor bonsai that himself bought me – bonsai died (one of the things I’m not good at). I dug it out and moved it to the Stupid Girl raised bed. Hope it keeps going as we have discovered that celeriac is delicious


Bluebells! Gift from his uncle. 


I am pretty sure these gladiolus are coming up way too early. Also shown is the world’s tallest gazania, still going strong. Tallest according to Ark, who should know; they are native to South Africa. 


The head of one of the red and black lilies I’ve had for years now. I love how they grow in an anti-clockwise spin. 


Ash tree that decided to grow in one of my containers. There aren’t any ash trees nearby at all! One of two I have. They take up a good amount of space, but I have a friend who wants them both for his very wooded property. He is welcome to have them – I figure if they like me, they will like him, too. 

My one and only tulip. You can’t tell here, but this is about the size of the top joint of my thumb. It is wee! I dug them all out last year and planted them nice and safe in sunshiney pots… I got one. Oh well! There is always next year. 


Mystery things. Look orchid-y with the purple spots, but the stems are just a straight solid shoot. May be another blow in? Garden is now plagued (in a good way) with native orchids. 


Rosemary back to its flowering tricks again. Second most neglected herb I have growing in a pot. I’m afraid to let it loose after what the oregano and sage have become (triffids, I’m not kidding).


Who doesn’t love these?


One for Ark – I rarely see grasshoppers here. This one is so tiny, that white thing is a dog hair. Poor thing was also missing one vital back leg. I ushered it into the grass, maybe it will have a chance there.