Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Fraction of a Second Makes a Difference

The world watched swimmer Phelps become the greatest Olympic athlete ever, winning by fractions of seconds. That smidgen of time can make or break everything.

Yesterday I made a very bad mistake of forgetting to latch or improperly latching the garden gate--which also takes only a fraction of a second--and our dog Cody ran in and grabbed my beloved rooster, who never even saw him coming. The shaking was over with in a fraction of a second, and Apollo died of a heart attack in my arms. These days I seem to be a portal to the other world.

Our other dogs would have done the same, but poor Cody has been enabled to act out his instincts due to my stupidity on two occasions now. I realize I have never totally forgiven him for the death of my cat. He isn't innately mean or evil, and he started his life on a two foot chain in an asphalt parking lot having his hip kicked out of its socket as a puppy by his mean owner before I rescued him. I can only blame myself for Apollo's demise. I'm not angry at the dog, but I don't feel any love toward him. So I am weighed down with sadness.

I loved this chicken, probably second only to Avo. I wailed for hours. We buried him in a downpour, which seemed like the heavens crying with me because we've only had five inches of rain since the beginning of the year. This ruins our breeding program, too. I wish I could start yesterday over again, and latch that damn gate.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frank's Fiber Factory

This is NOT snow, it's Frankenfur. Most people have dust bunnies, but we have dust buffaloes made of this. Most people have dogs, but we have a fiber factory.

Today was Francisco's day at the groomer and this is what we BRUSHED off of him. With this much fur, he was always carrying around sticks, leaves, entire ecosystems in his tail alone. It took us six hours (nine if you count breaks) and by the time we were finished we had enough fur to build a couple more dogs. If Aunt Sara can spin this, maybe I can knit an entire bed spread. (which is where it would have ended up anyway).

Frankie was an exceptionally good boy. Here's Aunt Connie with her infinite patience and tender touch. The last groomer I used sedated him without my permission. Connie doesn't use sedatives, she just charms all the dogs into thinking they are royalty and that baths are really fun.

Here's me and my big fuzzy who'll be a lot cooler this summer.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What's Your Name?

Although I cannot claim to know all of the wildflowers of Texas, I know a goodly portion of what grows in the Hill Country by their binomials. The others are ones I once knew, like an old friend you see after some time and you can't for the foggiest recall their name.

So it's always exciting to run across a plant I've never seen before. I've been watching this one for two years and have not figured it out yet.

It's a small perennial growing out of a limestone slab in a dry creek, so it doesn't get much water. It's in dappled shade/sun and blooms in May as a greenish-brown flower with four petals. Last year I thought perhaps I'd missed the petals and was looking at sepals, especially since they are glabrous, but on closer observation this year this appears to be all it's got.

The most interesting thing about the flower is it only opens during a downpour of rain! It doesn't open when it's just cloudy, drizzling, or lightly raining. We're talking a sky is falling, cats-and-dogs drenching. Is there such a thing as pollination by heavy rain? I haven't seen any creature attempting to pollinate it. As soon as the rain ends, the flower closes again.

My friend Marshall Johnston (Vascular Plants of Texas) doesn't recognize it, and has suggested emailing BRIT.
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