While The Baron is Away…Chapter the First

I ask your patience while the Baron is away.

There have been various technical glitches beyond my ken. For one thing, our blog host decided to “migrate” things beginning last night. I’ve no idea what that means but I do hope they’re done and that all the numbers they emailed to us are not anything that can’t wait till the Baron gets home.

Oh, and the mail is also having problems but that is a separate issue. Our ISP person seems to be away at the moment and was vague about when she’d return. I have an idea she’s in Europe but I didn’t ask so she wouldn’t have to lie to me.

Regarding our hosting problem, this “migration” meant I couldn’t get in to post or to moderate comments. I believe that for some of the time, readers weren’t able to access the home page either.

There’s an additional problem that can be handled more easily when the Baron is around. When I let comments in, they don’t always show up, even though I’m seeing “zero comments” awaiting moderation. Thus I have to wait to see which ones are ‘really’ in. Some of them have been through this four or five times – I apologize if yours was one of them.

Even the Baron has difficulties with this sometimes – it’s a Word Press ‘feature’, I’m told. But his computer upstairs is much closer to all the gizmos – router and such – so his moderation is much quicker than mine. When it works, that is. However, he says they don’t always go in on the first try for him, either.

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Lulu on a Laptop
In addition, it’s hard to lose a pet, harder than I was aware of at first. After the children were grown and there was nothing left to mother, there was still the garden and Lulu, as freaky and neurotic as she was (and as stubborn as plants can be sometimes). The vet told me that this particular cat had inherited a “fear” gene from her paternal side and when cats are born that way, you can’t calm them down completely. So I gave her an anxiolytic every day and she got to live life somewhere other than under the bed.

But her “nerves” were also due to the influence of a calico we had back before Lulu made her way into the church hall one Sunday when we were having lunch. When she arrived – perhaps drawn by the smell of food – I recall that she was friendly enough. It was George’s influence after we brought her home that kind of flipped on that epigenetic process. Had she never met George, she’d have been more ‘normal’ – though we are talking about a cat after all.

George was a male calico. Males are quite unusual so we presumed that we had a cat named Geneviève until it came time to have “her” spayed (we never looked – go figure). The vet told us “she” was a male, a 10,000 –in-one ‘sport’. Even though they are sterile, you have to neuter male calicos anyway. They don’t know they’re sterile and they’ll spray things when they get older. So we went into the vet’s with Geneviève and left with George. Yes, the vet’s name was George.

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George was a mellow pleasant cat until Lulu arrived. She actually came walking through the church hall when we were having lunch. As I remember her then, she was easy. But George changed that. And even after he died, she didn’t revert to her old self. Maybe that “fear gene” was there and George smelled it and reacted to it. Animals live in another universe entirely.

Anyway, a friend came the next afternoon and helped me dig a hole for Lulu’s body, out near our large pile of shredded wood chips left from the last time they came to trim the big oaks. We have that done to keep the house safe from leaning limbs. I had planned to bury her nearer a wild azalea but…the bear changed that.

Let’s see. Lulu died about sunset. I let her lie where she was for a while, not willing to disturb her yet. Then I began a post, but fell asleep, probably exhausted from that death watch. Several hours later, there was a lot of noise on the porch. I woke, startled, thinking at first it might be a dog after Lulu. Lost hunting dogs come through our yard sometimes and if we can catch them, they get tied to the Paulownia tree and we call the owners. Lulu is way too fast for them to ever get near her but they sure can howl when they spot her up in the branches.

It was only as I walked to the door to turn on the porch light that I saw Lulu’s body under the console table, her face turned to the wall. There was a momentary frisson of remembrance. Oh. Right. Lulu was safe; she’d never have to run from a dog again.

I turned on the porch light but by then whatever had been making all the noise was gone. The large Amazon box I’d left by the glider was ripped open and the contents – a dolly I’d ordered so I could get the new monitor into the house when it came – was lying on the grass. I went outside to retrieve the box and the dolly. It had rained all day and there were large, sloppy wet footprints on the porch and steps. The container of grass seed was spilled.

What th? – as the Baron would say.

After a few moments, rational thinking kicked in. I assured myself no one was going to walk down our half mile driveway in the rain and dark just to tear that big Amazon box open and scatter grass seed. My visitor had been a darn bear, and from the size of the paw print (looks a little like a human print without the heel) he was larger than our average bear come to call.

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The next day was sunny and warm. Mike arrived with his shovel and a very large container of ground cayenne pepper. Since bears are scavengers and will eat anything, besides being curious and likely to dig where humans have been messing with the dirt – disturbing seeds more than once! – Mike decided the only possible deterrent aside from an electric fence was liberal sprinklings of cayenne.

Lulu had a spicy burial. I had put lots of pepper seeds in her plastic shroud and then, following a bit of dirt laid on top of her body, more cayenne. More dirt, more cayenne. We finished it off with rocks, though you’d need a three hundred pound boulder to really discourage a bear – the rocks were more for us – and to be able to show the Baron when he comes back – than for any effective deterrence. After that we lay the wheelbarrow on top, upside down, with more pepper. Mike left me with the rest of the jar for later applications if it rains soon. I think I’ll make a liquid mixture too and spray the raspberry canes, or what’s left of them. Won’t the deer be surpised!

This morning I was able to pry several emails open. This was one, from a reader in Canada. When I saw the subject line – “Goodbye” – it worried me. Was she leaving? No she wasn’t as it turned out. This was the message:

Adieu, Lulu
Miouw no more,
Nor scratch the door!

In heavenly fields
You climb the trees
Surprising squirrels
At their ease,

More about the Baron’s excellent adventures soon.

19 thoughts on “While The Baron is Away…Chapter the First

  1. Bears interfering with Amazon deliveries and ripping packages apart ? Around here, it’s rather thieves employed by the post office, slashing them open with box cutters in order to spot potential valuables.

    I’d rather have the bears.

    • Yeah, I prefer the bears, too. They’re at least as rational as a thief and about as scary. Some don’t intimidate easily either.

      We have a raccoon too. I think it’s just one: very fat this time of year. I’d left the pepper jar on the glider and until I came along last night, he was trying mightily to open it. So this morning I loosened the cap just a little and put it next to the planter. I figure it will be easier to sweep it up down there and a good dose may keep him away for days.

      Lulu’s water bowl is still out there but I’ll have to bring it in soon or it will be a mosquito nursery.

      • Also, you can shoot the bear, butcher and skin it after dark on the back porch, and shut up about it after you’ve sold the gall bladder to your local Chinese herb doctor. Bear meat is very good. A little like pork. Hence, my evolutionist cousin swears that bears are related to pigs (when I learned they were in the order carnivora).

        • I don’t know if we have a bear season here yet. They are getting more numerous and noxious, so perhaps soon. Any number of hunters in our neighborhood would like the chance.

          You couldn’t PAY me to handle a bear gall bladder. It’s bad enough trying to clean out the innards of fowl without despoiling the flesh, much less dealing with the smell of bear bowels. Heaven forefend!

          The county has declared open season on coyotes, though. And each year they put aside $3,000.00 to pay a fifty-dollar-a-piece bounty to any folks who bring in…well, whatever part of the carcass is considered proof of decease and decrease of an *increasingly* dangerous animal. I don’t have any animus against coyotes. In fact, I wish them well with our deer since it is those creatures who drop deer ticks in our yard, sending the Baron to hell and back w/ Lyme Disease. But people with flimsy chicken coops hate coyotes as do those with a few steers and a milk cow or two and I can see their concern.

          One coyote hunter draws down most of that money each year. They had a picture of him in the local paper – every inch of him appearing to be a direct descendant of Daniel Boone. Wish I’d saved that image.

          Now beavers are another story. They do a lot of damage to creeks, damming them up and such. This very much bothers those downstream of the dams, not to mention the flooding it causes right at the site of the dam itself. Thus homeowners can apply for a special permit to take out the beavers. For those who travel in such circles, I’ll bet a bevvy of beaver pelts (a brace? a bunch?) would bring a nice sum.

          My favorite ‘bird’ to watch is the turkey family that has been through here a number of times in the last few weeks. They waddle along in a more-or-less line, with momma at the head, “babies” in the middle, and dad bringing up the rear as he keeps the young ‘uns in a line. Whatever kind of bug inhabits the area between the hickory tree and the line of mountain laurel seems to be their favorite as they return to that area repeatedly.

          • Re coyotes–long ago, when we were living in southern Illinois, I was teaching my elder son to drive on the wonderful, little-traveled country roads of the area. A coyote ran into the road, and my son hit the brake. I told him to run the animal down, and he looked at me as if I were crazy (with some justification: I always tell my sons to treat small animals as “practice stops” for when a child or drunken adult runs into the path of the car). He asked why I’d want him to run down someone’s dog, and I explained that the thing wasn’t a pet, but a coyote.

  2. If Lulu sat on the computer keyboard, no wonder strange things happened with the “migration”. Let’s wait till the gods of computerdom cool off and their wrath goes away.

    • That picture was taken many years ago, back when we had only dial up. I loved that Dell laptop. Not only was it Lulu-proof, but it was an XP, which remains my favorite for Windows and such. I earned my first real editing money on that one.

      When the initial check came I told the writer who’d sent it that I was tempted to frame it rather than cash it. He thought that was a capital idea – especially good for his capital in fact. Very heh.

      What I did was to have the bank Xerox it for me, and *then* frame the copy.

      As for the computer problems, even if she had sat on it when she was sick, I don’t think that could’ve generated emails from out hosting service to explain what was happening. So much nicer than Blooger – people actually communicate with you.

    • Only if you’re still able to bear children. When my daughter died I actually thought of that, as in “oh, God, I wish I were young enough”. But immediately I heard Shelagh’s voice: “Mommmm! I’m irreplaceable. You know that”…Shelagh had been unwell for a long time. Very erratic and time-consuming. By the time she died I was truly exhausted…

      …once upon a time we considered taking in a foster child, but we both knew we were worn out…especially me.

      I love the strength of my sons. But daughters are the beating heart, a very different kind of strength.

  3. Allow me to humbly ask the Baron or Dymphna as benevolent messengers, to
    urge Diana West, that if she is unfamiliar with the video in question, to unprejudiced absolutely see it, because it describes an even worse historical falsification than what happened in the circles around or tangering Harry Hopkins. (I am most aware that I might be swearing in in church)

    Those who control the past, control the future: who controls the present controls the past.” / George Orwell

    Right now the “Roma Gate I” is progressing in New Sweden. The Daily News (DN) yesterday revealed that the Police in Lund has a reconnaissance directory of 4000+ names and family connections of partly criminal romas / gipsys. The PC-state of New Sweden is boundlessly upset. More near to Hitler’s NaziGermany, has New Sweden not been for a long, long time. Agitation and reactions are a parallel phenomenon to the ‘Trayvon Martin’ affair in the USA. We are waiting for the King to appear and complain for also being ethnically registrated. This ‘functional idiot’ has got French roots! Also PM Reinfeldt, who comes from a mulatto grandfather’s father. A huge and general violation of human rights has occurred.
    And believe it or not, all of this in a way goes back to the mendacious and lousy US military Dwight Eisenhower and his bitch Eleanor. Eleanor, because she is guilty of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which was wrongly translated into Swedish which led to all the nonsense about “everybody’s equal worth” (allas lika värde), “the human value principle” and other distressing stupidities. Dwight E. because he and his conspirators actually fabricated the holocaust fable as it is generally known by everybody, and he did it not least in order to get the US presidency. And never forget that he, when the war was won and over, killed more than a million German mostly minor servicemen by letting them starve to death in primitive concentration camps along the river Rhine. – How I hate the Germans! he wrote to Eleanor. Then he and his conspirators put there dirty fingers in the Cold War – demonized Chrusjtjov, the raising in Hungary and much more.

    You must see the 142 minutes long video:

    ‘Buchenwald a Dumb Dumb Portrayal of Evil’

    http://youtu.be/3HlPcaP9x5o .

    In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
    / George Orwell

  4. So sorry about the loss of you beloved Lulu. My kitties were a great comfort to me once my son left home. When they died, it was quite a loss. They were special, unique individuals. One of them must have had that fear gene—I’d no idea there was a physical reason for her seeming paranoia. Had always assumed she was as neurotic as the other kitty. Hope Lulu rests easy with the cayenne, peaceful and unassailed by bruins.

  5. My sorrow is with you both. Having lost a few cats in the years I know how heartbreaking it is.

    But rest assured Lulu is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge http://rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm

    There her fear gene is gone, lakes and rivers of milk, cat food fields and Mr. Red Dot is always available for play.

    She is waiting for you both. And then her joy begins anew.

    • with the Baron away, I don’t have 142 minutes, though I’m tempted. Buchenwald? I’ll have to have the B preview it for me. My PTSD is reactive particularly with images (vs words).

      • We few (3/4 million?) Swedenfriendly, xenosceptic and antimuslimistic native Swedes now eagerly await Sweden’s female Minister of Justice to ask the world for forgiveness for the entite Holocaust.
        She starts today by apologizing for the Swedish police’s approach to using name lists and sociograms over Roma clan formations in their work to combat Roma criminals and their activities.
        And the (accursed) holocaust, in part Eisenhower fabricated, will haunt us all and be used as an instrument to impose guilt-feelings in us till we die. The ‘industrial complex’ of the holocaust has been incomparably successful.

        My own insignificant attitude to the holocaust agrees well with what GoV-commentor ‘Mission Impossible’ expressed back in 2007:
        It is tragic today, with one foot in the grave, to look back 60+years in my and your shared World History to note that we have been duped and lied to all the time. However, it can sometime be – better late than never – that simple that poor 142 minutes or reading a book by Diana West or a post from GoV separates us from the truth.

  6. A “fear gene” eh? That might explain why there seems to be two kinds of cat — one type is relaxed and friendly, comes up to strangers and likes to be petted; the other type runs to hide at the drop of a hat.

    • Yes. I used to think it was perhaps due to their place in the litter they were born into or something…the vet who told me this was just starting out and she subbed sometimes for our regular vet. When I told *him* this theory and said I was giving Lulu small doses of an anxiolytic, he scoffed. Then once, when our son brought Lulu in for her shots, the vet called me afterwards and said grimly that he’d be glad to renew the prescription and I was to make sure my cat had a double dose before being seen.

      When the future Baron would come home to visit, it would take her a few hours to get used to him again. He’d spend a lot of time on *her* level, down on the floor. I found that if she was sitting up higher, on a chair or better yet, the top of a bureau, she lost much of her fear. You could approach and pet her with no problem.

      Another cat fact: I’d noticed that Lulu made eye contact & held it longer than any cat I’d ever had. The fB said this trait was specific to black cats and probably what gave them their reputation for being strange. He also said that like a baby, if she broke eye contact to respect that because it meant she’d had enough and further attempts to play the ‘stare game’ wouldn’t be such a hot idea. Something to do with the fact that cats are both predators and prey…which is also why they turn so easily from playing to biting – overwhelm.

  7. My condolences for the loss of Lulu, Dymphna and Baron. They really do curl up inside our hearts.

    I used to have a dog when I was a kid, but I had no pets from the time he died when I was 15 until I adopted two kittens from my neighbor when I was 42. Leo died six years ago but I still have Kira, who’s now 13. I did a calculation recently and discovered that she has been with me for almost a quarter of my life! I can’t imagine life without cats now.

    As for the ‘fear gene’, I don’t know. Leo was very affectionate towards me, but wanted nothing to do with any other human. He would hide under the bed whenever anybody came over, even friends. Kira is more curious. If a plumber or electrician comes into the house, she’ll sit there and watch him work.

    After Leo died I adopted Reggie from a rescue shelter. (Reggie is short for Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo.) Compared to both of the others, he’s kind of skittish. Sometimes he’ll panic and run away when I reach down to pet him; but other times he rolls over on his back and lets me rub his belly. Sometimes when I place the food bowl in front of him, he licks my hand before he starts eating. Kira is usually near me no matter what I’m doing, but Reggie is more of a loner and sometimes I don’t see him for hours.

  8. Sorry for your loss, Dymphna (and Baron), and thank you for sharing about Lulu. Blessings and prayers,
    (you know my name)

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