Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Butt Tufts and Other Hazards of Southern Life

Or, what I do on my day off.

Max is shedding. Among those of us with double-coated dogs, there's a less-polite, more-descriptive term: "Blowing the coat". Max is blowing his coat.

Yesterday it was close to 100* here. In one day, Maximus Doggitude went from looking like a gentleman, albeit a shaggy one, to looking like he'd earned the nickname "Banjo" by living under a bridge for six months. My neighbors, who live with a good-natured pug and a corgi who never ventures outside except under duress, were amazed to see me pulling handfuls of hair out of Max's coat, especially on his hindquarters. Anatolian shepherds, being a mountain breed, tend toward large poofs of fur to keep their hrbls warm in the winter. Max's hrbl frbls were out of control.

Doggie dreadlocks, only six days after his last intensive grooming session. Every sparrow and mockingbird on the block is wearing comical mustaches of Max Fur, soon to be lining their nests.

Speaking of sparrow nests, I had a heartbreaking moment the other day when I noticed that a piece of decorative trim had come off the side of the house, just around the soffit. It had exposed a long empty space, and in that empty space were shreds of grass and other material. That spells "sparrow nest", which in turn spells "rodents looking for prey" and "rotting wood", so I climbed up on the world's shakiest hand-me-down ladder to have a look. I got out the entire nest (why does a small bird need a nest as long as my arm?) and dropped it to the ground before noticing it contained unhatched eggs. Two were broken. Three were intact. The parent sparrows were flipping out.

I put the nest, as close to whole as I could manage it, in the crook of a tree nearby. Given that the only bird with a sense of smell is the vulture, I figured the parents would adopt the nest again with no problem. They did...until the next big thunderstorm. *sigh* I feel like a baby bird murderer.

In gardening news, things are mixed. The dill and lavender are doing well (though Max chewed up half the lavender plant today; why I do not know) and the tomatoes are fruiting. The Romas are behind time, having gotten munched by some unknown bug, but the cherry tomatoes and heirlooms are already setting tiny green fruit. The cilantro got as high as my shoulder before seeding out. I pulled it yesterday morning and tossed it on top of the compost pile, intending to dig it in later on, once I'd bought a pitchfork. Before I was able to do that, I saw Max, head and shoulders into the compost pile, delicately yanking strands of seeded cilantro out and eating them. 

I had wondered why, for weeks on end, the cilantro seemed to be self-pruning. I know now that the Weirdest Dog In The World had been chewing bits of it, perhaps to freshen his breath for the pug next door. Fortunately he doesn't seem to have the same taste for basil as he does for cilantro and lavender. The dill and basil are safe, which is good for him. If he were endangering my future pesto binges, we'd have to have a talk.

I'm already planning the garden for next year. I want to build four raised beds, two square and two long, with cedar poles and plenty of fencing to keep the dog and the neighborhood tomcat, who sleeps in my lettuce, out. One bed will be for perennial plantings, asparagus and strawberries. The other will be for things like carrots and tomatoes and radishes and bush beans. Lettuces and cabbages (fall crop), brussels sprouts (ditto), and pole beans will go into the long beds, along with cucumbers melons perhaps kiwis peppers herbs etcetera.

In the front beds, which I have yet to till and de-grass (dammit, sigh), will go perennial herbs like rosemary and lavender and dittany and oregano.

There's a lot to do when you have a house. I'm just now learning this. I've not even mentioned the difficulty of finding a black toilet seat (better in keeping with the theme of the bathroom and its historical roots) or an affordable vented oven hood. Or what it takes to find a really good screen door, or the spasms I'm having over whether to save the original, Art-Deco doorknob and plate from the back door when I replace it with something that's not mostly glass.

Even with the sleep I lose over such things as whether the wallpaper for the kitchen ought to be 1950's vintage repro or 1940's, it still makes a nice change from primary leptomeningeal melanoma and Ted Kennedy's brain tumor.


Unknown said...

Oooo...yes, save the knob for use on a less used door.

Love your blog, btw. Long time lurker.


shrimplate said...

If you let the cilantro seed out will that give you fresh coriander to pan-roast and use as a ground spice?

Jo said...

Uh, yeah. Pan-roasting coriander. Or I could buy a half pound of the stuff from MIDA at MIDA'S ALL-ASIAN INDIAN BAZAAR!! YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR ALL ASIAN NEEEEEEDS!! for about three bucks.

Anonymous said...

Dog fur - buy a furminator from Petsmart/Petco - takes care of shedding

Jo said...

Anon--I have a Furminator. Actually, two--one for Max, and one for HellCat. They have indeed saved my sanity and floors.