Thursday, June 29, 2023

Missing Nellie-Cat

Tomorrow marks 7 weeks since Nellie was put to sleep. Still, this morning as the wind picked up and rain began to spatter against the kitchen window, I glanced out, for a half second expecting to see him hovering at the edge of the barn or woodshed, waiting to be called in.
Nellie would have run--he always ran, a long-bodied scamper, his rope of a tail floating behind him.

Nellie was a love of a cat--mellow, amiable, companionable. 
He was impartial in his affections, inclined to gravitate from one bedroom to another, one lap to another--cheerful, inquisitive and amusing.

Nellie loved to sprawl, legs in the air, often sleeping that way for hours.

Helping me weed on the south wall.

That cunning moggie face, beloved even when he was in the way!

This was a habit not appreciated by the master of the house. 
The roof of any vehicle in the dooryard provided a lookout post. The easiest way back to the ground  was a slide down the windshield leaving a trail of paw prints.
Nellie's only other 'bad' habit was waking us in the wee hours by beating on the inside of a bedroom window. If that didn't rouse someone from slumber he could resort to pounding on a closet door with those fat white paws. 
He might have wanted to be let out to explore the mysteries of the night; he could merely have wanted someone awake to appreciate his company.

Enjoying a bit of fresh air on the front porch.

By late winter Nellie was noticeably thinner, though not diminished in energy or appetite.
He was a 'mighty hunter,' prowling the meadow with his brother Robert or trolling the edge of the ravine intent on the movement of chipmunks or squirrels.

Late in November Nellie supervised my pruning efforts, burrowing into the load of trimmings heaped in the wheelbarrow.

Only weeks before his decline accelerated, popping in and out of a cardboard box. 
The wide-eyed 'owlish' expression below his large tufty ears is unforgettable.

A kitchen shelf provided a frequent indoor vantage point. This wasn't a maneuver I encouraged, particularly after Nellie strolled across the adjoining corner shelf and sent a favorite jug smashing onto the counter below.

I could never stay annoyed with Nellie for long.

The last weeks became increasingly difficult. His symptoms were those of his brother Edward who wasted away in September, most likely a shared genetic fault.
Nellie continued asking to go outside, though he didn't go along the lane or into the meadow. His place of choice was under the Jane magnolia, drowsing in a clump of daylilies.
Several times in his last days he tottered toward the north ravine, perhaps with the animal instinct of going off to die alone.
We couldn't bear that for him, so scooped him up, made him a nest of thick rugs and fleecy blankets on the living room sofa.
I began to hope that I would find him there in his final sleep, wishing to avoid the trauma of the 20 minute ride to the vet's office, the always uncomfortable wait in an area smelling of disinfectant and other animals.

This is always the most difficult part. I wish there was a way to painlessly end the life of an ailing or aged pet at home. I talked quietly to Nellie on the drive, poking the fingers of my right hand through the bars of the carrier to stroke his nose, his paws.
I held his frail body on the vet's examining table, cupped my hand gently under his chin as the needle slipped into the shaved area on his front leg, felt life sigh out of him.

We buried Nellie in the tree-shade a little way down the slope of the north ravine, in company with the 4 other cats who were with us when we came to this homeplace in 2019.
Seven weeks--and it still hurts to write this.
I have to believe that we gave Nellie a good life--and that he knew he was loved.


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Flowers of May

May is the season of bloom in south-central Kentucky. By early June perennials are past their prime, languishing as hot and humid weather begins to announce the arrival of summer.
There were enough chilly nights throughout April and early May to blight buds which had rushed the season. The show of peonies was sparse compared to other years; one of my favorite roses, Hawkeye Belle has blossomed but the petals show the blight of frost.
The stand of self-sown poppies along-side the front door have been spectacular, nearly obliterating the dwarf monarda.
Foxglove persists in the west wall garden along with the edging of 'pinks' raised from seed.
'Queen of Sweden' and 'The Poet's Wife' have supplied fragrant blooms for my collection of small vases. 
I discovered the first of the Japanese beetles lurking yesterday.

My energies have gone into digging up and transplanting coneflowers which are trying to take over the east wall plantings--my own fault as I have allowed the drying seed heads to remain over the winter rather than scrupulously removing them. 
The battle with weeds is never-ending, one I can't possibly win.

I love gardening, but there is no denying that it, along with the usual household chores, leaves me rather witless by the end of the day, too foggy-minded to comment on the blogs I continue to read, much less to order my thoughts into coherent posts.

Thus, a week into the new month, I offer the photos uploaded days ago as a 'draft'--- small record of an all too fleeting season of lovely blooms.

Lauren's Grape poppies at their best.

Poppies are stunning, in bud, in every stage of opening, as seed pods.

Clematis Jackmanii in first flush of bloom.

Samaritan Jo and Edita scrambling for space on the trellis.

Having once planted nigella I will apparently never be without it. The common name, 'Love-in-a Mist,' suits its frothy profusion.

Bees and butterflies enjoy the clumps of nepeta that edge the east wall.

Queen of Sweden.

The nameless late-blooming white clematis, only survivor of Spring Hill's 'bargain assortment.'

This small landscape rose is hardy and non-fussy.

Miniature lily, gift of a friend, which has made several moves with me.

Foxgloves, pinks, and the little rose.


Thursday, June 1, 2023

First Day of June

Mist hovered over the meadow, the air heavy with moist heat--harbinger of summer weather.
The waxing gibbous moon climbed a sky still cast in daytime hues. 
In the greenhouse I filled six small pots with soil, poked in seeds of miniature zinnias, three seeds to a pot. I've not found a permanent spot for my newly purchased clematis, so disinterred it from its nursery pot to larger quarters, noting that it is in climbing mode and needing a trellis taller than the foot high plastic structure in the original container.

A fifteen minute downpour in late afternoon, a few distant mutterings of thunder, air so heavily moist it seemed one could reach up and squeeze a handful as one would wring out a sponge.

Each day I think we've seen the last of the grape poppies, but a few more stretch upwards and bloom. 
This one is actually a few inches under the steps; I've watched it grow in this inhospitable location thinking it might give up and die. Almost overnight the stem twisted outward and this morning the top bud opened. Most of the others in bloom were shattered by the force of the rain.

Watching the storm from the partial shelter of the porch. 
Robert-cat went out after 'tea' and knowing his fear of storms I stood on the steps calling him. When he didn't immediately appear I decided he had taken shelter in one of the long roofed aisles that run either side of the shop. As the rain increased I again ventured out to call him and he popped out from under the steps, happy to dash inside and shake the rain from his coat. When Jim arrived home a few minutes later Robert demanded his attention seemingly complaining about his ordeal of being caught in the storm.

The rain hit several hours earlier when I was doing errands in town at the other end of the county. I was standing in the checkout line at Wal Mart when I heard the battering of rain on the roof. Approaching the outer doors I could see the parking lot awash; shoppers huddled under the metal awning, one man puffing on a cigarette, adding the odor of tobacco to the scent of wet asphalt and exhaust fumes.

My tolerance for Wal Mart is very limited. It had taken nearly an hour to gather the items on my list, I had two more errands to accomplish, I wanted out.
Accordingly, I plunged into the rain, shoving my laden shopping cart through streaming water, feeling it seep coldly into my shoes. By the time I reached my car rain was streaming from my hair onto my spectacles, drizzling down my neck. I had sacks of cat kibble, cat litter, a large Rubbermade bin, two bags of potatoes, sundry small items which seemed to take forever to stow in the car.

At last, shivering, I flung myself into the driver's seat, snatched off my blurred glasses, peeled off my sodden outer shirt, A glance in the mirror was not encouraging. 
I looked like the proverbial drowned rat!

I had earlier picked up several sets of cotton pillowcases at Good Will [I have a thing about pillowcases!] so I snatched one from the carrier bag on the seat and began rubbing at my dripping hair.  Before I had finished mopping myself up the deluge ceased as quickly as though someone had turned off a faucet; the sun came out, the parking lot steamed.

I drove the short distance to the bank, trudged in to cash a check. 
"My goodness, your shirt is soaked, " exclaimed the white-haired cashier.
"Yes," I responded, "It was a matter of remaining in Wal Mart for another 15 minutes or getting wet!"
She nodded sagely, "Oh, I quite understand. Summer showers--its that time of year."

Next stop, the post office. Entering the airconditioned lobby, icy air knifed through my wet T-shirt, plastered my damp hair against my neck. That kind of chill isn't good for what ails me.
A few blocks away is The Shepherd Shop--for less than a dollar I could have a dry shirt. Daughter Gina was there, poking about in the racks of second-hand clothing. She was astonished to learn that there had been a cloudburst two miles away, but agreed that a half hour's drive home in soaked clothing was bound to be miserable. 
I quickly found and paid for a soft long-sleeved pullover and back at the car managed to peel off my clinging T-shirt and haul the 'new' one over my head. I was still clammily damp in terms of jeans, socks, shoes, but the feel of warm dry fabric settling onto my shoulders was comforting.

Sunshine all the way home, sunshine as I hauled in the still dripping plastic shopping bags.

I gave the cats their 'tea', stuck a slice of homemade bread in the toaster, heated left-over soup. Dry clothes from the skin out, dry shoes. 
When the storm broke here an hour later I was settled and snug, an observer rather than victim of the elements.