Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Liar's Diary by Patry Francis

Patry Francis is a talented author whose debut novel THE LIAR'S DIARY came out in hardcover from Dutton last spring. The trade paper release is January 29th, but a few months ago, Patry was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She's had several surgeries, and her prognosis is good, but given that Patry won't have much energy for promoting, a number of bloggers are banding together to do it for her. I know Patry through Backspace--a wonderful website just for writers. For a complete list of all the bloggers, authors, editors and agents who are taking this opportunity to help out, go to Backspace's homepage.

Please take a moment to check out Patry's blog and her book, A Liar's Diary:

Patry Francis - Website

Patry's Blog - Simply Wait

Order from Amazon

Friday, January 25, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

Just a quick post today because I'm busy catching up on my scrapbooking. A bit of background on that: three years ago, my husband gave me a digital camera, and I immediately ceased having pictures developed. About a year ago, he bought a photo printer, and it took me another year before I decided to learn how to use it. So I've been busy these last few weeks, printing off photos then putting them, along with my memories, in a scrapbook. I've worked my way up to mid-2006. Almost there.

Today is all about the cute and unusual world of animal friendships:

Awwww. So if these animals can get along, why couldn't my two cats, Chowder and Meeko ever see eye-to-eye? Okay, back to my own photos.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Entertaining Your Cat

Some of the toys I've purchased for my cat have been a success. Others, like the one pictured below, have been a wash-out.

My cat, Meeko, will jump into into any undefended plastic or paper bag, but she won't venture into this--even when I toss in cat nip or treats. I've pretty much done everything but crawl inside the darn thing myself. But there is one form of entertainment that never fails to draw her in.

Chipmunks and squirrels.

Of course, I have to litter the outside sill with sunflower seeds. It's a small price to pay to keep the cat amused. Here she is, this past summer:

Cat with Squirrel at window
She thinks she's being sneaky, hoping to catch the chipmunk unaware while staying hidden below the window.

But sometimes, the temptation is too great and she throws caution to the wind.

Black cat and squirrel at window
These days, she waits eagerly by the window for the return of the warm weather and live entertainment.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dealing with Stray and Feral Cats

Long Haired Tabby in YardMy parents have a problem with four cats (all from the same house down the street). The cats pee on their porch, gardens and windowsills, and the owner is unwilling to do anything. My mom has tried the half-filled water bottles sprinkled around the garden--it doesn't look great but seems to do the trick in warm weather. In the winter, frozen water doesn't freak the cats out as much, so my parents recently moved on to something new: chicken wire spread out over the problem areas. It doesn't hurt the cats but they don't like to walk on it. Well, that's the theory; I'll let you know if it's successful in getting rid of the not-so-stray cats.

Stray and feral cats can be a real problem, especially in the winter when some venture closer to homes, and food sources such as birds that hang out at the feeders. The Humane Society advised my parents to trap the cats and bring them in. If the cats were friendly, they'd be put up for adoption or their owner found; if the cats were vicious, they'd be euthanized. Obviously, trapping them isn't always an option for home-owners plagued by unwanted cats.

If the chicken wire doesn't work, what else can my parents and others do? I've combed the Internet for humane suggestions, and this is what I've found:

TNR (trap, neuter, release) has proven to be the most effective method of controlling the population of feral cats. There may be organizations in your area that do it for free.

Spraying (and re-spraying) Mr. Clean Cleanser Ultimate Orange appears to discourage cats from hanging around.

If you're willing to spend big bucks, the Motion Activated ScareCrow Sprinkler will keep water-hating felines away. The same company sells something called Shake-Away powder.

Block entryways to places the cats might like to live--under porches or sheds.

Use coyote or fox urine. I have absolutely no idea how one gets a hold of the stuff.

Sadly, I discovered many posters on the websites I visited advocated shooting or poisoning the cats. I understand that getting rid of any kind of pest can be a nightmare, but killing them is so wrong, in so many ways. There's got to be an effective method out there--one that doesn't harm the cats. Does anyone have a tried-and-true way of dealing with this problem that they'd like to pass on?

Above picture of my cat, Chowder, on one of our visits to the yard.

Update on the chicken wire solution: The cats are steering clear of the areas where my parents have put the chicken wire, but they are now spraying elsewhere. I think my mom and dad may have to cover the house and yard with the stuff.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bunnies in the Backyard

Last summer while dumping vegetable scraps into the compost, a baby rabbit hopped out from under the cedar hedge. The teacup-sized ball of fur stopped and rested by my foot, taking time to sniff my sandals and toes (a very odd though cool sensation). I waited until he moved on before I left, worried that if I stayed, the mother wouldn't come out to protect her baby. Protect the baby from what, you ask? The storm that was brewing.

The skies had darkened, and the wind whipped the blossoms into a swirl of colour. Back in the house, I watched as rain, the size of dimes, pelted down. When the skies cleared, I searched under plants and bushes to make sure the bunny hadn't been hurt in the storm. I couldn't find him, but I thought about that little guy for weeks.

For the past few winters, a rabbit has been visiting my yard (I know it's only one rabbit--I've seen him at dawn and dusk, but with all the poop he leaves, it could very well be 100 rabbits). Last year, he munched on my euonymus. This year, he's dined on the Japanese Maple I planted in the summer. Hoping to draw his attention from my garden, I've decided to feed the rabbit some of the vegetable scraps that I can no longer put into my compost because it's frozen shut. I also add other goodies like cooked rice, bread (cut into bite-sized pieces), and shelled sunflower seeds. I figure if he doesn't eat the stuff, the birds will.

Of course, the downside to feeding the rabbit is that when he doesn't eat what I've left, I'll know that something has happened to him--perhaps a fox or a car or the cold. On Christmas day, I put out some carrots, and they're still there. I'm hoping one of my neighbours, just as nutty as I am, is also feeding him, so the rabbit has no need to dine in my backyard.

The heavy snowfalls and bitter cold (it's -20c/-4F today) must make it difficult for all animals who haven't bedded down for the winter, so I'll put more food out today. I'm sure something will eat it.