Sunday, December 28, 2014

In which the Eagles did not come

I have nearly an entire month off for my winter break; however, as I have nine animals at my house and not all that much in terms of cash, going anywhere for any sort of extended period of time isn't exactly feasible at this point. I had run up to Georgia twice previously during my break - once to borrow mom's truck and once to return it (and, of course, ended up finding this year's December Dog). As this weekend was one of the few forecast to be sunny for the foreseeable future, I decided to make another run up there yesterday just for the hell of it - and because my mom wanted to borrow my power drill. And, since it was such a gorgeous day out, I decided that instead of just heading straight on up, I'd stop at a couple of spots to take some photos.

The first place I stopped was at Alligator Lake in Lake City, at the boat ramp behind the DOT:

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As I was finishing up and heading back towards my car, I was approached by an elderly African American fisherman (blaring an Evangelical sermon at top volume from his truck). "Have you been to Watertown to see the eagles?" he asked. I'd had no idea there were eagles in Watertown, and said as much. "You know where the Watertown dock is?" he asked. I nodded, although as I hadn't been out that way since the late 90s, I wasn't entirely sure I could *find* the lake, much less the dock. "They're nesting in them trees, just left of the dock." I wished him a good day, and he wished me good luck. I got in my car and looked up Watertown Lake on Google Maps and set off. A random man tells you there might be eagles, you damn well go looking for eagles. You might find Gwaihir.

Sadly, I did not see any eagles. I may have gotten some strange looks from the mother and daughter sitting on the dock as I paced around with my camera muttering things like Dammit, the Eagles aren't coming! but I did get some decent lake photographs.

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These would be the alleged eagle-trees. I scanned them meticulously with my zoom lens at full, but not a Windlord in sight.

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A shadow lies to the east...

I remained quite skeptical as to the existence of eagles at Watertown Lake until just a few minutes ago when a bit of googling led me to this. Maybe not Gwaihir, but certainly one of his smaller American brethren.

After getting delayed in Lake City much longer than expected, I decided to forego any other side trips for photos until I got to just outside of Waycross. Recently a friend of mine had told me that her husband's family was from Waycross, and that a bunch of his relatives were buried up there. I asked her which cemetery, and while she didn't know the name, she said it was located next to a very primitive Baptist church, and that there were several rows of palm trees in the cemetery. I knew exactly what she was talking about, and figured I'd swing buy and see if I could hunt up any of her in-laws. Unfortunately, as the relatives in that cemetery are on someone's mother's side, I wasn't sure who I was looking for, but I did get some general shots to share with them.

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Suwannee Chapel

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On the road out, I stopped at a cotton field I'd photographed four or five years ago - still as picturesque with the ripe cotton, tumbledown barn, and trees dripping with Spanish moss:

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A little farther along, this fellow flew across the road in front of me, then kindly posed for me in a tree:
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And finally I made it to my mom's. Or almost to my mom's, anyway. Her road is flooded (again). While I'd driven through it a couple times during the truck-borrowing adventure of a week ago, we've had a ton of rain since then. While I've subjected my poor 2003 Toyota Echo to the waterhole numerous times over the years, I figured at this point mom should come and get me with her truck.

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One of mom's dogs came home with this the other day; she has it up on her gate post.

We didn't do much, other than hang curtains (thus the power drill) and go for a walk - although I did get to meet her December Dog, a puppy she has named Sunny who was dumped outside of Frank's house on the Solstice.

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Mom and Sunny

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Isn't he adorable? And those blue eyes!

I had to head right back home today in order to take care of my crew, but I couldn't resist stopping and taking a picture of this ironic gem in the poverty-stricken Five Points district of Lake City. In front of a closed down and empty convenience store. And in front of a box collecting donations for the poor. I still can't believe Rick Scott got re-elected.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It wouldn't be December without another dog or two...

Yes, I am a cat lady. Nonetheless, it seems as though every December I suffer some sort of dog-related crisis, and this seems specifically related to the fact that I am quite often in southeast Georgia during December. In December of 2012 I got into it with local animal control up there over some stray dogs, and ended up bringing troublemaker Nadya home with me. In December 2013 it was (among other things) the litter of puppies my mom and I found dumped in a Budweiser box on the side of a country road on Christmas morning. This December, as I was on my way up to my mom's, I found a skin-and-bones long-haired chihuahua-mix on the side of the road out in the boonies.

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This dog, now named Sadie, turned out to be one of the sweetest and best-behaved dogs I have ever rescued. She had obviously once been cared for (she loves to snuggle and is potty trained!) although not recently. When I found her, not only was she incredibly skinny, but she was also crawling with fleas and infested with roundworms. And, unfortunately, a trip to the vet revealed that she was heartworm positive. However, thanks to the wonders of the interwebz, she now has a forever home with a woman I grew up with and her family.

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Mochi wasn't exactly thrilled with this development. Yes, she was humping him.

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Sadie at her new home :-)

And then, of course, my mom found this little guy. It's hard to tell from the photo as there's nothing for scale, but he's only 5lbs - which makes him smaller than Sadie!
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ichetucknee Polly Update

I had assumed, based on her size, that Polly was around 6-7 months old (she is about half the size of Chappie, who was born in May). Imagine my surprise when I took her to the vet yesterday and was told that based on her teeth, she was at least a year old! Oh, and also pregnant. Great. Luckily, she was still fairly early on in her pregnancy, and I was able to leave her at the vet to be spayed. Still, I had been planning on taking her and Castor Bean to the super cheap, low cost clinic to be fixed in December during my break. I was not expecting to pay $170 to get her fixed. So that was definitely the bad news. The good news, though, is that she tested negative for the two Big Bads of feline health, FeLV and FIV, so when she comes home from the vet she can be introduced to the rest of the cats. She's spending the weekend and Monday at the vet, and I am sure that whatever aspects of her fear that she had overcome in the week that she was here will be gone, and we'll be starting again at zero for winning her over. Anyway, in the interim, let me leave you with some more pictures of her amazing feet:

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ichetucknee Polly

Yesterday the weather was lovely: highs in the 60s, sunny, clear blue sky. I decided that since it was such a lovely Saturday, I'd head out and take some pictures at one of the nearby springs. (High Springs gets its name from the high concentration of springs in the area.) There is actually rather a large number of springs within a short drive of my home. I could have gone to any of them. I chose to go to Ichetucknee Springs, which is not one of the closer ones, although given how close it is to where I grew up, it is the first spring I ever remember visiting as a child. It's packed with swimmers and tubers all throughout the warm months, so I never bothered going up there this summer - who wants pictures full of strangers in suspect swimwear? However, since the temperatures have dropped (even though this weekend was fairly warm) I figured the park would be pretty empty. I planned to hike around and take copious photos, as I do.

I got out of my car and was walking towards the main spring head when I heard it: MEOW! I mean, come on. Thousands of people visit Ichetucknee every year. The day *I* visit there's a stray kitty in the parking lot. She wasn't exactly feral or timid, but she wouldn't get close enough to catch, either. She made herself known and made it known that she was hungry, but she wouldn't let anyone catch her. I tried for over an hour, first with some stale old candy-corns that had been in my car for about a month and a half. Yes, she ate them. No, I wasn't able to catch her. Then I raided the trashcans in the picnic area for anything that might serve as bait. (Yes, I went dumpster diving for cat food. In public. People saw me.) I found half a pack of sliced ham that someone had thrown away. Score! Kitty loved it.... but was still way too fast for me to catch.

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After over an hour, I decided to take a break from cat hunting and do what I'd come to do: take pictures of the springs. The springs looked great. The park is clearly doing a lot of restoration work around the main spring head to make the area surrounding it more natural (gone is the lawn of grass for sunbathers right alongside the springs, for example), and the water was very clear. There was more dark algae inside the spring (on rocks and such) than I remember from my childhood, but given the health issues of so many of Florida's springs, this was not too shabby. I was really amazed by how great Blue Hole Spring (the secondary spring source of the Ichetucknee river) looked. I always remember it as quite stagnant and covered in duckweed. However, it was clear, flowing, and surrounded by lovely fall colors.

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Main spring head

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Main spring head

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Blue Hole Spring

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Blue hole spring

I returned to the parking lot and the kitty came trotting up, meowing, but again, wouldn't let me close. I talked to several other people who also said they'd tried to catch her but hadn't had any luck. In the end, I put out the last of the sliced ham and drove home...

And felt bad about the kitty all night. She'd obviously been surviving off cast-offs from park visitors, but park visiting season was over. She wasn't big, and she was pretty skinny... and the temperatures are going to be in the low 20s on Tuesday night. Her chances of survival weren't good.

So I went back today with my cat trap:

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She went in and out of the damn trap FOUR times before setting it off.

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This is not the best picture of Polly, but I wanted you all to see her feet - she's a polydactyl! I have a cat with opposable thumbs - she may just take over the world! This is (obviously) why I named her Polly.

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She is very timid and scared, although I can pet her and she will purr. She often seems to think that as long as her head is hidden, no one can see her.

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But she's already warming up to this idea of being a house cat.a

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Finally, that's finished!

I finally finished my first big project as a homeowner, one which I've been working on since August. I knew as soon as I saw this house for the first time that if I bought it, the carpet in the absurdly large bedroom was going to have to go. Pets plus carpet inevitably equals disaster. Of course, I had hoped to prolong the carpet's life as long as possible, in order to save some money and perhaps pay off my fumigation bill... but after my mother gifted me with Castor, the Peeing Little Puppy, the carpet's days were numbered. I started pulling it up and putting down tile in late August, doing a little at a time, and I only just finished this evening. Take a look:

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