Saturday, May 26, 2007


Miss Dorrie is able to stay cool and elegant while keeping an eye on the raccoon tree by lying in her hole. She's been working on it intermittently for over a year now, and it looks like her efforts are paying off.
Mr. Bonkers prefers a nice warm slab of concrete, with that added je ne sais quoi that cats have where they always make the place they choose look like the most comfortable, logical spot in the universe.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Wild Kingdom

Dorrie is half Beagle, half Treeing Walker Coonhound, or at least that’s according to the rescue people in Arkansas, where she’s from. And looking at her, that sounds about right to me.

So you’d think a half-coonhound living in the Bronx would suffer from a certain level of frustration of her genetic destiny, no?

Well – no.

That’s our mama raccoon, who lives in a hollow in a tree by our neighbor Nate’s house. She’s been around a while. Two summers ago, after Milo died but before we got Dorrie, she actually walked into our kitchen a couple of times looking for catfood – one memorable time when Mya and Kay and I were up late sitting at the table, drinking, and I had to actually chase her out.

Last summer we noticed her tail hanging out of the hole on a regular basis, and figured she was probably nursing babies in there. Sure enough, they started crawling around the tree and eventually one fell out -- luckily both of our animals were inside. It scuttled across the yard, frantically chittering, and she swooped down like an avenging angel and scooped it up by the scruff of its neck. We would see her moving them across our neighbor’s roof, probably shifting them from one den to another the way cats will move their kittens.

Dorrie discovered her this spring. It was like every single cell in her body suddenly pointed at this animal up in the tree, and she would jump in circles on her hind legs, run around frantically, bark, snarl, and practically hyperventilate. When she ran out of steam she’d lie on the back porch and just watch the tree for hours.
For the past couple of days, the mama coon has been hanging around outside her den, wedged into the place where a few branches meet just above the hole. We imagine her babies must be getting too big for her to be in there with them. She does not look happy about this at all – between Dorrie, Mr. Bonkers, and Nate’s large loud mastiff, she doesn’t look like she’s getting out much. But still she stays there, guarding her hole and her litter, looking for all the world like a pretty but vaguely harassed single mother. If she had a job, she’d be a waitress. She has a beautiful face.
Today was hot and sunny and still she slept outside, with her fur unkempt and her tongue hanging out (some people got out of work early for the long weekend and were able to witness this in person). I hope now that it’s dark, and Dorrie’s worn herself out and is sleeping sprawled out on the cool kitchen floor, the mama raccoon can go get herself a bite to eat and a drink of water. This afternoon we were actually toying with the idea of hoisting some catfood up the tree for her, in case she’s too scared of the general barking dog population to come down and forage. Even better would be to scatter a large amount of kibble on the flat roof of Nate’s house, preferably right over his bedroom, because he is on our Serious Shit List – but that is another post for another day.

Until then, sweet dreams, mama raccoon. May the trash cans of the neighborhood upend themselves quietly for you.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

LolCat time

How lame am I... I made a lolcat.

(This is when Mr. Bonkers got in some kind of fight over the fourth of July weekend last summer and had to have a drain in his shoulder because it abscessed up. And the best way to keep him from messing with it was to make him wear the baby t. Other than that, I don't generally dress the pets up.)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A gentle slap upside the head with love

It was a bit of a lean winter here at Casa Mappa Mundi. Not the end of the world, not foreclosure lean – just, y’know, frugal. So when people asked me what kind of plans I had for my garden, aka my yard, aka the unruly part of my property that doesn’t have a house on it, I said I was going to give it a rest and spend the summer just messing around in the dirt, picking out the rocks and glass that have been my best crop so far and playing with the compost. I didn’t really have the funds allocated for any garden center visits, and that was cool.

Last Wednesday I took off from work – Commencement at a large college campus means no point in trying to get any work done. Lazed around, drank coffee. When I was just about to get in the shower, the doorbell rang. I dressed fast, ran downstairs, and found the UPS guy looking like he was stealing Mya's broken umbrella from outside her door. What he was doing was trying to set it up over a big box on my stoop, in case it rained.

And oh, the box: a big huge enormous care package of gardening stuff from a bunch of friends, women I hang out with online – some of whom I know in real life, some of whom I’ve never met, but all of whom are lovely, lovely people. One woman organized it, everyone chipped in. Books and seeds and gift certificates, catalogs and magazines, gloves and buckets and a stuffed doggie with a patch over one eye that looks exactly like Dorrie, a tomato starting kit, hand therapy, a big red tin heart to hang, a tiny angel, rocks from someone’s yard. Herbs, vegetables, flowers. A bunch of beautiful things so that I can go ahead and grow some beautiful things. It was love in a box. More gifts trickled in over the next few days – herbs, seeds, a book on raised beds, a deluxe-o trowel.
You know when I opened that box, I cried. My first thought was that I don't deserve such sweetness and generosity, that I’m not so deprived, even though I know that's not why they did it. They just saw the chance to be sweet to someone – me – and do a good thing. But it was also a sharp reminder of my serious good fortune in this world. I bitch all the time about not making enough money, and this and that, but really – it’s a rich and good life I have. Any choices I've made that have flattened my wallet have made my life as a whole better, no doubt whatsoever. And so I appreciate not just the wonderful stuff in the box but the reminder of that fact, and the means to look out my kitchen window every day and remember it. All summer long, it will serve as my gentle slap upside the head with love.

So I have dug up the earth and I have planted seeds. I have worked in composted manure and the first batch of our own compost, dug out from under the bin. I have watered with the new hose, and I have ordered some more stuff from various catalogs to round things out. I’m thinking I might need to make a trip to Home Depot and pick myself up some low fencing material… those are all pawprints you see in my nicely turned earth. Damn.

We’ll see what comes up. But I am just tickled to death to know such kind people, and to have a reason to get out there in the sun every weekend and play in the dirt.