Harry and Adah

While I was working on the car with the dashboard torn up, Harry was up on the roof. Adah climbed up my back with her claws while my head was under the dashboard. She then went into the back seat to feel safe from the other cats. As I was finishing up and putting the screws back in, Harry came sliding down the windshield. If I had had a video camera going, we would better understand the “catspaw” effect.


Saturday was clear and warm and began to get windy. I went out in mid-morning and saw Lorenzo under the Mimosa tree. As I opened the front door, a large bird took off and flew away through the trees in a neighbor’s yard. It was the gray-brown of winter woods and was hard to tell just what it was. Probably a hawk, maybe an owl. I told Lorenzo that large birds like that loved to catch little cats like him. I don’t think that he was listening. Bullet was also watching.

Later, as I took the recycling to the collection point, I saw hawk soaring into the wind by the highway. With the strong wind, it was able to stay over the fringe of the highway and scout for tiny creatures but I did not see it dive. Returning from recycling by a different route, I saw another. I just love to watch the large birds fly.

Pecking Order

Bullet, aka Little Bear, Mr. B., and Cutie, has grown into his second year. As a result, he is busy trying to establish his rank in the realm. So he jumps Harry (about the same size), Hillard (about 3 pounds heavier), and Lorenzo (about 1 pound smaller). Eventually this will resolve. In the meantime, it is extra scabs and an occasional howl. Yesterday on the front steps, Bullet cornered Harry. There was a bit of a howl. Hillard came to investigate. This did not have a peacemaking affect. I opened the door and let Hillard into the house. The ongoing tension returned to the previous level. There may be a message here for those who make national policy.

Sad Day

Driving to work this morning, I saw an orange tabby lying in the road. I drove to where I could turn around, came back, and moved the poor thing’s body to the grass at the side of the road. It had been a pretty cat with medium fur and a long haired tail. It made me sad.

Cat Flap

I finally got the cat flap into the garage fixed. About a year ago, there was some kind of commotion that resulted in the door on the cat flap breaking. I was able to repair it but a repeat this Spring resulted in permanent damage. So the cat flap has been open all summer. With Fall, there are other animals coming in and it needed to get fixed.

The part that broken was the clear plastic door. Our cats like a rigid door that they can see through. Some of them charge right through but others tap the door with paw or forehead and take a peek before diving in. Also Mr. Hillard is a substantial 19 pounds (8.6 kg), (but not fat!). I previously, I got a larger flexible flap for the window and they did not care for it.

The flap is in the aluminum garage door which is effectively zero thickness. When I did the original installation, it was straightforward sheet metal work that the US Navy trained me for at taxpayer expense.

To get it fixed, I had had some e-mail correspondence with the manufacturer of the old door, Stay-Well. They offered replacement parts for the model 715 but could not tell me where I could buy a complete replacement locally. While I was on vacation, I went to Tractor Supply (they have a lot of pet supplies) and Pet Smart but both were out of the small inexpensive door and and only had the deluxe models with locks and magnetic keys. Our cats do not wear collars and “lose” them if they get them for flea treatment and such. So no kind of key system is appropriate. Just a simple door please. Tractor Supply was out on both visits. Pet Smart was out on the first two visits but the helpful person in the aisle said come back Tuesday. Well I did not make it back Tuesday but I did make it back 2 weeks later on Friday when I had to go up to Pep Boys on Laurens Road. So I stopped by and there was almost what I needed. The Stay Well I had before and the Petsafe door I could buy now are different sizes.

There are some other differences. The Petsafe door has a label which describes the flap as being clear. But the label is over the flap and you do not really see that it is dark gray. It has mounting for a wooden door but not a sheet metal door. And the trim which goes on the other side from the mounting is to be applied with double-stick foam. It does not have relief or sockets for the sheet-metal screws the are supplied.

Fortunately, the new door was wider than the old door. More of those taxpayer funded skills with a tip of the hat to Mr. Hooper, my eighth grade metal shop teacher.

Raise the door and rest it on a saw horse. Using the template provided with the new door, I marked the new cut line with a permanent marking pen. Clamp a block behind the door with a spring clamp and center punch the corner hole locations 1/16″ in from the corner so that the cut lines are tangent to the hole. Repeat for the other corner (corners if this is a new install). Drill the holes with a 1/8″ drill. Cut with a metal shear along the line. Draw file the edge of the hole and burnish with a drill rod or scribe to remove the burrs. Hold the door over the hole and get it aligned. Mark the screw hold locations with a pencil. Again clamp the backing block, center punch the holes, drill them with a 1/8″ drill. I used 1/2″ long 8-32 screw, nuts along with a washer to mount the door. I put the hardware in from the outside because I did not expect the trim frame piece to stick to the textured and simulated raised panel door. It is stuck on the inside. With the hardware in the weather, it will eventually corrode. I finished this up about 14:00.

The garage door was up most of the afternoon while we were working outside. I put it down at about 17:00. About 17:30, Mr. Hillard came through so things are fine.

Fall Cleanup

I spent the weekend with my wife cleaning up the gardens for the fall. She likes to cut back all of the perennials. She usually does this with a sharp kitchen knife. She did this year too. But when it cam to the liriope, I was able to help by running the lawnmower over it. I just set it up to the high setting (actually the setting I usually use for the grass), check for rocks and stuff in the garden and make a slow pass over the liriope.

She wanted to cut back a large rose-of-Sharon. My son fired up the chain saw and we cut away about two-thirds of that. It tripled the size of the burn pile.

Some of the late blooming and perpetually blooming flowers she saves. While there are not many bees still active, they find and utilize available blossoms. Pineapple sage, blue daze (evolvulus), Mexican heather.

Gone are the lantana, grape, wisteria, morning glory, cleome (beeweed), most of the petunias and numerous other varieties that I do not know the names.

The clean-up process is made more enjoyable by the mints in the gardens. There is fresh mint, spearmint, peppermint, and lemon balm. Also there is lots of rosemary. And of course there is cat mint (catnip).
When she cleaned up the catnip, all of the cats that were around got hunkered down in it.

Always enjoyable when outside are the songs of the birds, seen (chickadee, cardinal, and jay) and unseen (starling, woodpecker).

When you are turning over and cutting back you find lots of things that hide most of the time. A large leopard frog, a very large brown toad, and a centipede were seen. Also numerous squirrels, spiders, and insects.

The fire ants have not been killed yet in the front yard. With the rains, they must be being flooded out. I have put down Amdro 3 times but it has rained afterward and it does not seem to be effective yet. Usually, it works after just a couple of days. This is going on two weeks.

I took down the skyride as the traveller had become cracked. My wife will try to get a replacement. In the meantime, I took down the cable. I will turn it end-for-end in hopes of avoiding cracking the new traveller. It also will give the trees a break. When I had originally set up the cable, I had put it around two trees. To keep the cable out of the bark (and killing the tree), I put spacers under the cable in 3 spots. While they were growing into the bark a bit, they were relatively narrow and did not seem to cause any harm.

My son and I went to Lowes and got 24 bags of pine bark mini-nuggets noting that he had just vacuumed my station wagon yesterday.

Transporting all that was cut down to the back of the lot caused a lot of wear and tear on my tender new grass so at the end of the day, I ran the sprinkler on all of the warn portions in hopes of reviving it. It seems to look better.

Cat Care

The other nominal reason for taking vacation is to take care of the cats while my wife is out of town. You need to understand that these cats are as spoiled as I am about food. So the 6 regular cats (Adah, Bullet, Harry, Hillard, Lorenzo, Tabby) need outside and inside dry food and water as needed. Some kinds of dry food they finish in a morning. Others they do not seem to like at all. The Wiskas is the most popular (needs the 3rd filling today now) and the Friskies Seafood is the least.

Elvis, the blind cat needs wet and dry food in the morning and after his walk. He goes on a walk for about half-an-hour each afternoon. We tap or drag a stick of wood to make a sound. Sometimes he follows the sound of the stick and sometimes he does not. We are not sure how well (or even if) he hears.  When he does not follow the stick, he seems to home in on the storm drains on the cul-de-sac.   If he should fall into one of these, I am not sure what would become of him so I try to steer him away.  But, as I said, he seems to home on them.  He also needs his litter box changed a lot.

Mr. Bullet

Mr. Bullet is lying on the floor as I write this. He came in after we had supper favoring his paw. We tried to examine it but did not find any spot that was sensitive and he seemed to have all his claws. Now two hours later there does not seem to be any sign of the limp. Hopefully, there will be no need to take him to the animal hospital tomorrow.