Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oscar, Our New Kitten

Oscar the Kitten-2.jpg

About ten days ago, a kind stranger found Oscar the Kitten abandoned on the streets of Newport, Vermont and took him to Frontier Animal Society in Orleans. This was about the same time that our sweet Zorro died. I thought it would be a long time before I adopted another kitty. We were all sad for many days — both cats and humans. Then one day I dropped by to visit my daughter Amelia, who is the assistant manager of Frontier. There was Oscar, waiting for me. After talking to John, who didn't object, and Amy, who had taken me off of her "no-adopt" list when Zorro died, I returned two days later and brought Oscar home. The poor thing had been altered and given all of his shots the day before, so his third eyelids are showing in these photos. He weighed 3.6 lbs. (1.6 kg) and was 3 months old.

Oscar the Kitten-5.jpg

During the past week, Oscar's first week at his new forever home here, Buddy and Pansy did not like him. Possum was undecided. Possum tried to get close to Oscar to sniff him over so that she could decide whether to love him or hate him. But Oscar likes to bounce his paws off of the other cats, so Possum was thinking this kitten was not a good thing.

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The neatest thing about Oscar — besides his brash personality? He's double-pawed on all four feet! I've never had a double pawed cat before. I wonder if he can catch mice  well with all those toes? At times, he seems to have problems catching and holding objects.

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We love Oscar's crazy, googly eyes.

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Welcome to your forever home, Oscar.
Zorro approves and is happy that we have you.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Vile Buddy

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Buddy in the brush

As soon as I get up in the morning, if it is light out, Buddy goes outside for his morning hunt. He stayed out a long time one morning last week. I was already upstairs doing chores when he returned. I found him eating something on the kitchen floor, making a mess. John explained the mess to me. Don't read any further if you are squeamish. I'm not especially squeamish about cat hunts, but this story was just outrageous.

Buddy found a nest of newborn mice. They were perhaps an inch long without any fur. Apparently he gathered up a mouthful of them and proudly brought them home, as he does with many of his kills. He came into the kitchen, making his proud hunter yowl, because John was there. (Remember: we keep the doors open when it is daylight so that we aren't the cat door openers.) Buddy dropped his mouthful of still living baby mice on the kitchen floor, got his praise from John, and settled down to eat them all up. He was on his last bite when I entered the room, heard the story, began to gag, and quickly left. It was over twenty-four hours before I was able to put the situation in the proper perspective and could be affectionate with Buddy again.

It's that mother / baby thing that got to me. I visualized the mother mouse grieving over her lost pinkies (that is what baby mice are called) and identified way too much with the entire situation.

Buddy and I are tight again and he continues to accompany me wherever I go, whatever I do.


Invasive Honeysuckle

Tartarian Honeysuckle (Bush honeysuckle) (Lonicera tatarica L.)-4.jpg
Tartarian Honeysuckle (Bush honeysuckle) (Lonicera tatarica L.)

While clearing the hillside above the brook near the house, John found a very large honeysuckle bush. The State of Vermont lists five species of honeysuckle here that are invasive. Four of the five are under quarantine (The quarantine makes it illegal to buy, sell, transport, cultivate, etc. the plants on the list. There are two parts of the list: Class A and Class B species. Class A plants are exotic species that are currently on the Federal Noxious Weed List and are not known to occur in Vermont. The movement, importation, sale, possession, cultivation, and/or distribution of these plants are prohibited. Class B species are exotic plants that are known to occur in Vermont and are considered to pose a serious threat to the State. The movement, sale and/or distribution of these plants are prohibited.). Source: http://www.vtinvasiveplants…..

Considering the alarming information about these honeysuckles, I set out to identify ours. Think that would be easy? No. The state has awful photographs and generic descriptions, as do other resources. When we found good photos at the University of California, the descriptions either did not match or could describe another species. I noticed in my Vermont research that the Nature Conservancy is involved with invasives in the state, so I e-mailed the Vermont co-chair of the Vermont Nature Conservancy. And finally, I had some real answers. Sort of:

Andree, thanks for contacting me about this, and I’m sorry you’ve had a frustrating time using the website. We’ve stopped maintaining it because in a few weeks we’ll have a new, very updated site online. As far as your honeysuckle goes, clip a small branch and look at the middle of the stem at the cut end. If the middle is white, it is one of our native honeysuckles. If the middle is brown or hollow, it is one of our two invasive shrub honeysuckles, Morrow’s or Tatarian honeysuckle.

The state’s deep financial shortfalls may have prevented them from hiring a purple loosestrife control specialist, usually a summer-long position.

Unfortunately, she failed to tell me the species that are native and where they can be found. I have spoken to professional nursery owners here who did not even know that there are native honeysuckles. But at least we have an easy test for native/non-native honeysuckle. Click here to see a photograph of the hollow invasive honeysuckle stem.

Tartarian Honeysuckle (Bush honeysuckle) (Lonicera tatarica L.)-6.jpg
Yellow flowers were pink but turn yellow when they have gone by.

We found that our honeysuckle is invasive. This brought up a whole new problem: do we eradicate or not? We have decided not too. In our entire two lives, we have never seen any honeysuckle in any forest. While birds and mammals may spread the seeds from this shrub to other areas, we haven't seen any except behind the library downtown in Barton. The bush we have is huge; it is about 15 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It is on a steep hillside. We are still weighing our options, though. This entire episode has brought up a deep division of philosophy about invasives. When are they no longer invasives? I have serious problems about the request that Vermont makes of us to report invasives. I reported the rapid spread of loosestrife in the bog last summer. Nothing happened, so I began eradication. Loosestrife is more of a menace than honeysuckle, as is Japanese knotweed (here and here). I have not seen Vermont take any action to eradicate these invasives except to tell us to do it.  What do you think about this invasive controversy?


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thirsty Buddy

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Buddy and I were walking around the back inspecting the new gardens and the revived brook. It was very hot and Buddy was thirsty. I expected him to just lean over and drink from the brook, but he walked in. At times his ears went back in distaste of the cold water, but he didn't stop walking through it. In fact, Buddy walked down the brook to the bridge that John built over it and then explored under the bridge. In these photographs, I like the looks of his little white feet in the water.

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Today we went to a Labour of Love Gardens in Glover and found Siberian Irises to plant on the banks of the brook to complete the restoration. Next summer the brook will be more beautiful than ever. When you are in Glover, you have to stop by the gardens. She has plants that are difficult to find and her prices are reasonable. She also has the largest collection in Vermont of sempervivum (plants like hens and chicks).


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Five Species In One Hour

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Mourning Cloak Butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa)

This was the year for lilacs. Both of my old bushes were magnificent this year. The air around the entire house smelled of lilac. The diversity and quantity of insects that came to feed on the bushes was outstanding. At one time we would have two dozen swallowtails and many more of other species. There were other insects, also, and I will deal with them in another post. This post is only for the five species of butterflies that I found in one day on one bush in one hour. So far this season, I have identified two new butterflies for my photographic collection. One of the new ones is here — the Dreamy Duskywing.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

I couldn't decide which swallowtail photo to post!

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

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Hobomok Skipper (Poanes hobomok)

Dreamy Duskywing (Erynnis icelus)  6
Dreamy Duskywing (Erynnis icelus)

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Odd Shot of the Dreamy Duskywing in flight.

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Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae)

Watch for my next posts because I have some exciting photographs to share! I love bugs! How many species have you seen on one plant at one time?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Some Flora and Fauna

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White-spotted Sable Moth (Anania funebris glomeralis)

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American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

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True Forget-me-nots (Myosotis scorpioides)

Photographed at the Brick Kingdom, May 28, 2011

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Question Mark Butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis)

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(Larix laricina)


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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

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Geometer Moth (Genus Geometridae)


Friday, June 10, 2011

Mouthfuls of Worms

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I've had an opportunity to photograph many robins this spring. There are no more robins than usual. They do seem to be bolder than usual this year, not as skittish. Perhaps this is because there is so much food that they can afford to be bold. I don't know. But they have posed for me and not flown away. They dig for worms close to me. John was using the tractor and there were several robins close by waiting for him to stop digging. As soon as he stopped, they flew in for the uncovered worms and grubs — just like the chickens did last year.

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One night, John mentioned to me the bold behavior of the robins. He said how they all crammed as many worms into their mouths as possible before they flew away. Each time they found a new worm, he said, they would drop a mouthful of worms on the ground, catch another one, drop it on the slimy pile, and then gather up the entire pile in their beaks. Obviously, they are feeding babies in a nest because they are not eating the worms, simply collecting as much as possible. John said they did the same thing with caterpillars — but they didn't mix their food. If they were catching caterpillars, they caught as many as they could fit in their beak, and never carried a worm with caterpillars.

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As John told me about this, I realized that I had many photographs of this robin activity. I remember wondering why the robins I had photographed had so many worms, but I never developed the thought. I just went on to the next photographic adventure. This was why they have been bold and unafraid. With babies to feed, and lots of food, they aren't going to worry too much about me or John or the tractor. None has ever hurt them. They are a bit more leary when the cats are about, but not too leary. They know they can easily get away from these middle-aged cats!

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So here are some photos of individual robins, beaks full of worms. They are funny (to me) to look at. I hope you enjoy them!

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American Robin

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Turdus migratorius


Goodbye, Zorro

The Family.GIF
Zorro's mom, Matilda, with her kittens in August, 1996
Zorro is the black splotch in the middle of the pile

Zorro died peacefully yesterday, June 9, as I sadly held him. I didn't want to be there because my heart was broken. Zorro had been sick for a week. His blood test confirmed thyroid disease but he was not tolerating the medication and it had to be stopped. He lost 30% of his weight in seven days and had stopped going outside. He was jaundiced. I decided that any more treatment would be distasteful for this brave guy, and we let him go.

Zorro enjoyed his greenies

We buried Zorro in the back garden near the huge lilac bush that he loved to nap under in the summer. We placed the cremains of his mother and brothers and sisters with him. He was the last remaining member of the family. All of the others had died at various ages of EGC. We planted a snowball bush with them to mark their graves. Zorro’s doctor told me that the average lifespan of a cat is 13 years. Zorro would have been 16 in August. It still was not enough time for him or me.  I have chosen several photographs of his life to share and remember Zorro with.

Zorro doesn't like having a new dog (Scout) in the house in 2003


Buddy and Zorro Go To Bed - 6
Zorro never was the big cat in the house; Buddy was.
Zorro was groomed by Buddy daily.

One Less Mouse - 4
I never realized how thin Zorro had gradually become until I looked at these photos again.
He was never a plump cat; he was lean and tough.

The photograph of Zorro tossing a mouse (not seen here)
won The World's Toughest Cat Competition in 2007.

Zorro was a fierce hunter. Never birds, only rodents, although he did stalk turkeys and chickens. He always skinned his mice before he ate them — an odd habit, I always thought. His entire being required him to be outside, even in the winter. We always had a difficult time getting him inside the house after dark (because of coyotes), but he would eventually learn to return home at dusk and nap until dawn, when he would trot out the door with his tail high. When he lived in New Hampshire, Zorro's favorite prey was chipmunks. He would bring them home alive, and after praising Zorro's prowess to him, we would rescue and release the chipmunk.

One Less Mouse - 42

Zorro's Chipmunk (17)
This chipmunk was released unharmed.

Cats at the Woodpile - 26
A friend to all, Zorro and George enjoyed cat games.

George & Zorro - 21


Scratching, stretching, climbing and playing on an apple tree this spring.

Zorro's last photograph.
May 7, 2011


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Crocheting a Coral Reef

Nearly four years ago I posted a story about knitting Escher inspired shapes and hyperbolic planes. Today in my mailbox I found a post from Let’s Play Math about a Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. I immediately knew I had to share the information. If you don’t know much math, don’t worry — you can still crochet these mathematical objects and be a part of this wonderful project. Watch the video. Margaret Wertheim connects the crochet pieces to the evolution of life on earth, mathematics, history and traditional feminine arts. Through crochet, women have been able to model shapes in nature that have been ignored by mathematicians. This could even be a great after school project for suitably motivated people. If you are interested, I suggest you read all of the links in this post.

Let's Play Math gives simplified directions for crocheting the hyperbolic planes. Here is a link to a pdf file that gives more detailed directions on how to crochet these shapes: You can even buy a book of instructions at

Some fascinating articles about the coral reef project can be found in this article at

Finally, here is a slide show of the crocheted coral reef:

The Coral Reef Project is from the Institute for Figuring. It is a fascinating group and worth browsing their site.

Happy crocheting!


Our Moose of Beaver Bog

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Our moose has returned

Last summer we had a female moose in residence in the bog that we saw regularly three times a day for weeks. She appears to be back, bigger than ever. I don't know how to identify individual mooses, but animals usually return to spots that they have enjoyed in the past. So I say this is her. You can judge for yourself by clicking here and comparing.

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Here, she is munching cat tails.

The moose is in her "molt," so she looks pretty scruffy and three-toned. But soon she'll be looking fine and will only have two tones.

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She doesn't like her photo being taken

This is a cross-post from meeyauw's Photo A Day blog (where the photos are larger).