Odds and Ends after a few days off

A couple of mornings ago, a big, BIG owl launched itself from the mulberry tree in the back yard and went flying off west. I think it was a Great Horned Owl; I'd heard its call enough times to recognize it when I Googled it. The sunrise colored it cream and pink and erased any bars on its wings. It returns to the mulberry tree late at night after it hunts and spends the early-morning hours calling.

A Cooper's hawk nearly got a dove yesterday in the neighbor's back yard. I heard screaming and ran to the kitchen window, just in time to see a dove fight its way out of the hawk's talons and see the hawk soar up, screeching. I hope the dove's okay. The same hawk has made at least one sortie against The Boys while they're in their Kitty-Coop; I've found her feathers hanging off the wire mesh ceiling of the coop. At least it's not a red-tailed hawk; Cooper's are big enough to hurt an eight-pound cat, but the red-tails we grow around here could kill one of the boys, easy.

The low last night was about 35 degrees F. Max came in this morning puffed up, feeling ten years younger, and doing his hurpling puppy-dance, so I gave him an egg yolk and a tiny amount of bacon grease in his kibble. One thing about having a sense of smell about a billion times better than ours: it means you don't need much bacon grease to have a good time.

One of the sweet hippies across the street and I got to talking. Turns out he let everything die in his garden this summer. That made me feel much better about not watering the yard-long beans or worrying about the tomatoes after the tree fell on them. Strangely, both his globe basil and mine have come back from the drought and horrible temperatures and are leafing out as good as new. Note to self: make spicy-globe basil my new groundcover.

Man of God's child is pulling up and cruising the house with the help of convenient, ten-month-old-child-height handholds. He has blond hair like his father and dark eyes like his mother and already looks to turn out taller than either one of them. He smiles and reaches out to me when I say hi, even though I've been the one to examine the various rashes he's gotten so far and set his parents' minds at rest.

I put together an elliptical trainer today. The reviews on Amazon said it would take me about two hours, and it did, from the time I cut the first strap on the shipping carton to the time I tested it out. Then I fixed a couple of wonky drawers in the pantry and eyeballed what it would take to demolish the built-in closet in this office. All of this has left me with the smug feeling of accomplishment that presages an email from a Fulbright scholar taking me to task for my grammar. Bring it, boys! *I* can put together an *elliptical*.

One last wildlife note: I went out this morning, way early, before sunrise, to take some things out to the recycling bin. It's one of those heavy-duty plastic things on wheels that stands about three and a half feet high. I opened it and--there in the glow of the streetlights--saw a pair of eyes looking back at me. So I closed it again, abruptly, and wheeled it to where the light was better. Inside was an adolescent raccoon, looking very apologetic and perhaps a bit ashamed at having caroused on black-bean cans and empty beer bottles all night. He scrabbled pleadingly on the inside wall of the bin, so I laid it down on its side and let him get out before I dumped cardboard into it.

Raccoons are, I have decided, intrinsically funny, like elephants. Or turnips, or pennyfarthing bicycles, Jell-O, forgetful professors, sex, any number of bodily functions (come to that), peacocks, getting caught in the rain, religious authorities, people in hats, or umbrellas.