Thursday, October 30, 2014


For several days at the end of last week and the first of this week we've had lots of growling and hissing.  Every time one cat rounded a corner and encountered another cat, we had noise.  Sadie had stopped sleeping in our bedroom and Sassy started sleeping in our bedroom.  For eighteen months Sadie has called our bedroom home.  She's either in the window, on the bed or under it.  All of a sudden Sassy (who has never shown any interest in our bedroom) is sleeping there every night and even on the bed once in a while.  We thought perhaps there was a power struggle but after eighteen months of living together, what could have set that off?  Sadie had started peeing on the floor by the front and garage doors, even once in the dining room by the sliders.  We've racked our brains trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  Sadie, who was getting more affectionate with us since we stopped her meds, both bit and scratched me yesterday while I was petting her.  She got a claw hooked in my arm and while I was trying to disengage it, she bit me and I bled.  Real blood.  And Sassy has taken to pooping on the new large mat I bought to put under the two living room litter boxes.  In her defense, she always uses the same corner and keeps it on the mat.  Easy to clean up and she's been consistent.  For a couple of months we had no problems, every one was using the litter box and all was calm.  Something started them off again but we have no idea what.

I finally broke down and purchased four of the Feliway dispensers with Feliway and an extra six pack of the inserts.  The literature says it could take a month to work.  I installed them Wednesday morning and right now both cats are asleep.  Sadie was active early this morning but Sassy has been asleep since we got up.  I checked - she's breathing.  Sassy has always slept more than Sadie after we discontinued Sadie's meds.  Let this be a lesson to anyone reading - if you have a female cat and want another one - get a male.  Two female cats that are unrelated are like two women in a kitchen, it often doesn't work out well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tomato hornworm....

Tomato hornworms can be up to 5 inches long—which can be quite a shock when you first come across one! They do the most damage in the caterpillar, or larvae, stage. They are pale green with white and black markings, plus a horn-like protrusion. (They are not capable of stinging.) The life cycle is as follows:
  • In late spring, large adult moths lay eggs on the undersides of foliage, which will hatch within a week.
  • Caterpillar larvae will feed from 4–6 weeks before creating a cocoon for overwintering in the soil. If the weather is warm enough, larvae may only burrow for as little as 2–3 weeks.
  • Moths will emerge in the spring, and can be identified by their orange markings. They will then lay eggs once again. More than one generation a year may be possible in warmer climates.
The larvae blend really well with the plant greenery. Just get used to a daily patrol, looking for hornworm eggs and small caterpillars. Here are some cues of infestations:
  • Look closely at the TOP of your tomato leafs for dark green droppings left by the larva feeding on the leaves. Then look at the underside of leaves and you'll find a hornworm.
  • Look for stems missing some leaves and wilted leaves hanging down. You may find white cocoons and their hornworm hosts nearby.
  • Look for an entire tomato plant disappearing while you are at work.  These guys are voracious.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Praying Mantis...

We usually have many praying mantis in our yard in the summer.  It's a great place for them to catch insects.  The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong.By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long "neck," or elongated thorax. Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.

Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, mantis lie in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.

Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate recipients of unwanted mantid attention. However, the insects will also eat others of their own kind. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.

Females regularly lay hundreds of eggs in a small case, and nymphs hatch looking much like tiny versions of their parents.

We had an egg case hatch the day of a summer party and watched in awe as hundreds of tiny translucent baby mantis raced up the side of the garage to the roof.  An egg case is a little bigger than an acorn and looks like it's made from Styrofoam.   This picture was taken in the pots where we grow our vegetables.

Just cleaning litter boxes...

So, that little victory we had reducing the litter boxes by one has been cancelled by the new litter box in my husband's bathroom.  For the last three days two of the boxes have not been used but the new one in the bathroom has been.  In fact, he didn't think this litter box through.  In the middle of the night, Sadie uses the box but she never scratches in the litter, she only scratches the sides of the box, it's very noisy at 3:00 a.m.  And then she runs to her sisal cat scratching post and does that for a few minutes.  Thoroughly awake now, we put up with her on the bed grooming us.  She's sound asleep on our bed now and I'm tempted to run in and wake her up.  I do use the opportunity to clip some of the big knots she has that she won't let us brush.  Sassy is now spending more time in the bedroom, it's like she can't be parted from Sadie.  No fighting and they both play with the string, just not next to each other.  Also no peeing outside the box that we can find (at least for three days).  Fingers crossed again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


This is another picture of the Tithonia I plant every year.  If you look closely, you can see the pollen on the petals.  The surplus of pollen is one of the reasons that this plant is such a hit with insects. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winter wishes....

PTI Full Moon, City Scene Christmas Sentiments
Memory Box House City Scape Silhouette, Cityscape Nightline 

Winter wishes...

PTI Full Moon, City Scene Christmas Sentiments
Memory Box House City Scape Silhouette, Cityscape Nightline 

Black wasp on milkweed...

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) is a top butterfly garden plant and host plant for the Monarch butterfly.  It's only one of the Asclepias that can be grown in a midwestern garden.  It's very easy to grow, hardy to zone 3 and native in all but 7 states.  It's a neat, attractive, bush-like plant loaded with fragrant, attractive rose pink flowers and a favorite nectar plant of many insects.  It blooms from June to August and thrives in sun to partial sun.  You can start this plant from seed but you need to refrigerate the seeds for 1 month or plant in your garden in the fall.  This perennial takes a while to mature into a full grown plant.  Swamp milkweed can be transplanted while other forms of this plant have a taproot that cannot be disturbed after the plant reaches maturity.  This photo was taken in our backyard where we have both the yellow and rose milkweed growing.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Where is Sadie peeing?...

We've been worried about not finding pee from Sadie in any of the litter boxes.  It seems she's pretty set on using my tub.  I'm of mixed emotions about that.  I love my bathroom, I hate the thought of her peeing in my beautiful new jet tub.  On the other hand, I hate the thought of her peeing in the hall, by the garage door, on my craft room floor or any other place that might take her fancy.  This behavior increases when she's off the meds.  We'll have to keep a close eye on her.  We hate to re-medicate her, we like her when she's herself, but she obviously has issues that we can't deal with.

A senior moment...

I'm having these more and more these days. So far, it's been pretty funny, but I'm afraid it might get dangerous sometime in the future. Last week I made coffee as I always do. It automatically goes off in the morning just before 5:00 a.m. so my husband has coffee before he goes to work. I'm usually up about the same time and I'm hardly human before I have my coffee. The next morning I went down to pour a cup of coffee and there was just a bit of hot coffee in the pot - strange, hubby is still showering. When I opened the coffee pot, the coffee in the filter wasn't wet. I had not cleaned out the pot nor added water. Just added a new filter and coffee and called it done. Funny, frustrating, but not serious.

So, yesterday, I'm doing laundry. Pulling out the wet clothes, adding them to the dryer, adding detergent, and color booster to the washer, folding up the dry clothes. When I heard the washer stop the spin cycle, I went in to add fabric softener and guess who forgot to put clothes in the washer?

As if that were not enough, I'm losing words, too. I can be trying to tell my husband something and cannot for the life of me think of the word that I need to complete my thought. Of course, he's always sympathetic. I can tell by the way he says, "is this gonna take a while?" That's more frightening than funny, especially since none of the words I lose are anything more than everyday familiar words I use all the time.

Painted Lady on Tithonia...

This Painted Lady Butterfly was filmed on a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia) in our backyard.  We try religiously to plant this wonderful sunflower because it's a magnet for all the butterflies in our yard, especially Monarchs.  It grows 4 to 6 feet high and I discovered by accident one year that if you cut it back before it starts blooming, it will actually grow as a bush.  I like it tall, however, it's a great back-of-the-bed plant and it's wonderful color will grace any yard.  It needs full sun and blooms in late summer unless you start the seeds early in the season.  If I start seeds in the greenhouse in March, the Tithonia usually blooms much earlier.  I harvest the seeds by dropping the seed heads into a paper bag and store over the winter in the garage.  In late winter, I clean all the bagged seeds into envelopes so they are ready for planting by the time the portable greenhouse goes up.

At this time of year we are putting the garden to bed.  We'll cut down plants that the birds won't use as food, mulch our leaves and cover our beds with the mulched leaves.  The leaves enhance the soil, cut down on the weeds and we don't have to burn them.  My husband picks them up with a lawnmower that has a bag on it.  Since we live in a wooded area, leaves are plentiful and cheaper than mulch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Sadie's last meds were September 13th.  While we're not having any fights, there is some chasing going on.  Sadie is playing more and sleeping out in the open instead of under our bed.  She has some knots on her thighs that she will not let me tend to.  I can't get her to hold still long enough to either cut them out or comb them out, although she loves to be brushed just not in those areas.  She has continued marking - in my tub, the foyer on the closet door, the fridge next to the garage door and now in the dining room by the sliders.  What used to be a once in a while thing is becoming more often.  We can understand the doors, we have feral cats in the neighborhood and this is common behavior for territorial cats, but my tub?  Every morning we check the cat box and find that Sadie has not peed in any of them - it's easy to tell, she pees copious quantities while Sassy pees drops.  This morning there was no pee from either of them so either Sassy quit peeing or she's following Sadie's lead.  Either way, this can't keep up.  The occasional poop from Sassy on the carpet is easy to clean up and de-smell, pee is entirely another matter.  If she doesn't stop, I fear she'll have to go back on the meds full time. 

Thanks so much...

PTI Limitless Labels, Berry Sorbet Ink
Winnie and Walter The Big, The Bold and You
Clear & Simple Stamps Rag Doll Mia: Star
Jaded Blossom Candy Caddy
Wink of Stella Clear
Cuttlebug Tag
Hug Snug Seam Binding

This month's topic: Bugs....

We have a large backyard in Central Illinois with many separate gardens.  We plant to invite wildlife into our yard - flowers have to have either nectar or food potential.  In October, we leave the seed plants in place for the birds over the winter.  Our milkweed feeds the monarch caterpillars.  In the early spring the nectar plants feed the newly arrived hummingbirds.  We do have large numbers of bees, both bumblebees and honey bees.  This year we didn't see any until late July.  Our apple tree did not set fruit because there were no pollinators.  It  must have been a harsh winter for them last year.  I was delighted to see two honeybees on our Meadow Sage in late August.  Hopefully we'll see them earlier next year.  This photo is of a bumblebee on a coneflower.  The orange plant in the background is milkweed.  I plan to share lots of photos from our travels and home on this blog in the future.  This particular picture was taken by me with my Dimage Z1 camera in June 2005.  For pictures of my cards, please go to:

Thank you so much....

PTI Limitless Labels, Berry Sorbet Ink
Winnie & Walter The Big, The Bold & You
Clear & Simple Stamps Rag Doll Mia: Star
Jaded Blossom Candy Caddy
Wink of Stella Clear
Cuttlebug Tag
Hug Snug Seam Binding