Track of the Cat

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The bobcat that made these tracks was about half mile ahead of me on the trail. I watched him through my binoculars for about 10 minutes. Sometimes our super-straight, long trails offer up wildlife viewing opportunities you don't get on more picturesque hiking trails. This was one of three bobcats I was able to observe this week -- have I mentioned lately that I love my job ;)


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The rare and elusive one-eyed swamp woozie...

Oh, okay. So it's not rare or elusive or even a swamp woozie. It's the open seed pod of a plant called anglepod, Gonolobus gonocarpus.


Sunrise From the Side Porch

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Good morning. It's chilly out there this morning. Temps are in the upper teens to low twenties (yeah, I know, for some of you that's downright balmy) The sky was really pretty as the sun rose so I stepped out on the porch to snap a picture to share. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to play with camera settings -- the rising sun waits on no one -- so it's not the most beautiful of shots. But somehow, I didn't think most of you would mind ;)

I'm off to work...hope you have a peaceful day.






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We had our Solstice fire last night and celebrated the change in season by roasting oysters and steaming shrimp - our favorite way of welcoming winter. Technically, I guess it was more a Solstice Eve thing since today is the Solstice. But, whatever it was, it sure was good!

Hope your first day of winter is a happy one. And smile! The days will start getting longer now.


Flower for a Rainy Day

The weather today was damp and chilly -- not what some would consider ideal walking weather. Me, I like damp and chilly provided I am dressed for it and I was today. So, while out on patrol, I decided to park my truck and walk a four and a half mile loop. Sometimes it is a good thing to take the time to do foot patrol, it reconnects one in a way that driving can't.

Not much was out and about today. The deer were bedded down, the bears where probably snoozing a bit, and the bobcat were being sly. I found plenty of tracks and some pretty impressive scat, but I never laid eyes on any critters other that birds. It was quiet and I was alone with my thoughts - not a bad way to spend a Tuesday morning. Of course, I was aggravated when I happened upon some litter on the trail. Please someone explain to me why an individual can carry a full beverage can eight miles out into the park, but that same individual is unable to carry the much lighter, empty can back?!? But I digress...

As I was walking I spied a yellow blossom on the ground - Yellow jessamine.
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I looked around for the vine it had fallen from and found this little face peering back at me. A bud, waiting to open. Isn't life grand?
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The triplicats enjoyed all the extra laps that were available over the Thanksgiving holiday, but they were particularly fond of No. 1 son Hippie's lap. They spent many a contented hour keeping him company during his visit.

Friday and Smidgen have been "fixed" and Weasel is waiting for her turn at the vet's. We believe in spaying and neutering and we also feel that cats should be kept indoors. Thus, the kitties have pretty much taken over the house and consider anything and everything a toy. Today they followed me from room to room as I did a little housekeeping. Cleaning the toilets seemed to be especially fascinating to them and changing the sheets has become one of their favorite activities. My big cat, Wiki, is not amused by their antics for the most part -- although, I have spied her playing with them when she thinks I'm not looking.

Damn cats ;)


Calling Card

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We had some visitors to the yard...and they left their calling cards! A tidy little pile of bobwhite (quail) droppings - the birds tend to roost in a sort of circle with their heads pointing out and their tails pointing toward the center. As a result, you end up with a cute little collection of droppings.


A Small Foray

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For a brief time today I escaped the confines of the office and did a little trail scouting for a hike I am leading tomorrow. It was glorious! Blue, blue skies and milder temps made for a perfect day. Hope you had an equally awesome Tuesday.

Currently I am stuffed to the gills with some most excellent Vietnamese food - courtesy of SIL. She visited our favorite Vietnamese restaurant before she left Charlotte this morning. Such a considerate sister-in-law. Plus she came bearing gifts from the city, including a bottle of my favorite brandy! Two of the gifts came from one of our nieces. I will take a picture of them and post that tomorrow. She made one especially for Treebeard and one especially for me. Such a sweet niece!

The offspring will be coming in tomorrow, Hippie is coming in from Wilmington and Flamebrain is heading in from Raleigh. I have to work all day so there will be a cooking prep frenzy when I get home. Got to have everything ready for Thanksgiving dinner for my "babies." ;)



Snow...In the swamp...In November! Simply absurd.

If and when life calms down, I will return with images from the swamp.
Until then, I'll simply wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
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It's At The Other House

Oy! What a weekend. We are trying desperately to get moved. Things are not going well.

Don't even ask me about the computer monitor I sent skidding across the intersection when I was making a right turn onto our new road. Note: ALWAYS double check to make sure that a car door is securely closed, NEVER just assume that it is. As my favorite 8th grade teacher Mrs. Clark taught us: To assume is to make an ass out of u and me. Been there, done that.

Currently, Treebeard is in the process of switching out the 3-prong cord on our ancient dryer with one of those new fangled 4-prong jobs that are now required by law in new construction. He switched to working on the dryer because the towel rack he was installing has a slight problem - it came from the factory with a cross-threaded screw. Despite a valiant effort on his part, he was unable to extract said screw. We purchased the towel rack from Lowe's and that is a 30-mile drive one-way. We had not figured that into our weekend timeline so returning defective merchandise will just have to wait a bit.

Plus every time we are at the old house we find that we need something that is at the new house. Everytime we are at the new house we discover that what we need is at the old house. The constant refrain rings through the air: It's at the other house!

And then there are the cats! Two at the old house having a glorious time running around getting into mischief, and two at the new house "helping" us move in. We need four cats like we need extra holes in our heads but darn it, they are just such sweet kitties! Oh yeah, Treebeard found the K key!!! It was, by some miracle and trick of physics, behind the monitor on the computer table. Yes, the very same monitor that I trashed by sending it skidding across the intersection...oy


More Snakes From Saturday

Enough cat antics...I sort of fixed my k key, at least temporarily. Now it's time to get back to our adventure of Saturday past. If you will recall, we were in a nearby swamp that has a different character from both the home swamp and the work swamp.

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Early fall is a great time to find juvenile snakes. This is a little (about 7 inches long) juvie red-belly water snake. He was pretty calm - sometimes they can have a little attitude :)

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This is an adult red-belly water snake. You can see that it has lost all of its juvenile markings. Sorry about the odd perspective. I took this picture out of the back seat window of my car. Red-bellies have a tendency to bolt when you get close to them. And if you have ever heard them called "red-belly moccasins" and been told that they are "deadly poisonous," that is absolutely not true. Non-venomous!! Let me repeat -- NON-VENOMOUS.

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Now for our extra special treat -- an eastern mud snake (Farancia abacura abacura)! You hardly ever see these snakes out during the day. We stopped and picked him up for a closer look. He was a fair-sized fellow, about four feet long. Adults range from about 40 inches to 73 inches long.

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You can tell he was not amused ;) But other than putting on a show by thrashing about a bit and spewing an unreasonable amount of musk toward my shoe, he was, like most of his kind, totally none threatening.

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Here you see part of his fake-out equipment -- what some folks call his "stinger."

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A mud snake will press the pointy tip of its tail against you, but it is perfectly harmless.
So, if you are Southern (or even one of them there Yankees) and have heard tales of stinging snakes, that's all they are, tales.


Friday, the _lepto _itten

There is a slight problem with my _eyboard. Seems that my new _itten, Friday, is a _leptomaniac. She leapt upon the _eyboard and absconded with both the j and the _ _eys. Luc_ily, we quic_ly found the j but the _ is still at large.

Such a naughty _itty!


Taking a Break, Part II

Just a few images from the swamp we visited on Saturday.
It is an area rich with wildlife - particularly of the herp variety. We saw numerous turtles, snakes and lizards, all taking advantage of a warm October afternoon. I'll post some of the critter photos later in the week.

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Root ball from a blow-down

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It's kinda thick out there!

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Smilax berries

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Nyssa biflora berries


Taking a Break

Second son, aka Flamebrain, came into town this weekend, bringing with him his blind/deaf, cat-eating pit bull. She is such a sweetie except for that whole cat-eating thing... Anyway, the plan was for him to help us move some of the ridiculously heavy things we own over to the new house. Alas, Mother Nature decided today would be a good day for rain showers...such is life. Instead of heavy lifting, we did a little poking around in a swamp down near the river. It is a pretty interesting place - quite different from both the immediate home swamp and the work swamp. Endless variety, don't you know.

Since my time is at a premium these days, I intend to break our little excursion up into a few posts instead of one long one. That way you get your swamp fix and I don't feel guilty about not having something to post ;)

Let's start with our first reptile of the day, the infamous cottonmouth. Known also as the water moccasin, this snake is the genesis of many a tall tale. In truth, it is not an overly aggressive snake, it just prefers to be left alone. When it feels threatened, it opens its mouth in a wonderful display.

The first cottonmouth we saw on the road today was gloriously fat. She immediately displayed her mouth for us, indicating that she would rather not be disturbed. Please note in the second photo that the fangs are folded away, not down and dripping venom as some would have you to believe.

Sadly, running over snakes is a popular pastime in these parts. In order to spare this snake that particular fate, Treebeard located a nice strong stick and scooped the portly reptile off the road and into the adjacent ditch. She hit the water with a splash and dove under.

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Yet Another One

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Seems we've been adopted by yet another kitty. This one is probably around four months old, appears very healthy, is very social, and was most likely intentionally dumped on the doorstep of our new house by someone eager to get rid of a kitten. Heavy sigh...I really did not intend to add another cat to the family. We had just adjusted to the loss of Bullet a couple of months ago and were content to be a one-cat, one-dog, one-fish, three-snake household. But what can one do? Those of us who know how these things work know full well that we don't choose the cats, the cats choose us ;)

The as yet un-named feline is spending its last night as an outdoor kitty. She is over at the new house with a warm box on the porch, along with a food bowl and some water. Tomorrow we go to the vet for a check up and shots and then it's time to meet Wicket (aka Wiki), our current cat, and begin a new life as an indoor cat.