More Ramblings


The Stained Glass Window in the Tree

I have just finished a poem about Hurricane Harvey, the second in the series. Will there be one tomorrow or the day after? Who knows as it all depends on what the weather will bring in that time. There is still a lot of storm left and plenty of time for it to reke havoc and damage. Quite obviously, all outside activity is curtailed for a while except to go out and check the ponds occasionally to put right any minor things that may be malfunctioning. So far, everything is holding up well.

I do have a stained glass window that I hung in one of the trees a few years back. Unfortunately, the branch I hung it on is now dead and I need to get up there and take the window down before the wind breaks the branch which has to be in the near future somewhere. That is nature’s way of trimming the trees, let the branches die until they are rotten and flimsy and then blow them down. Unfortunately, there is sometimes something wrong with the plan as it doesn’t take into consideration anything that may be situated under or hanging on the rotten branch. Make a note to myself to take down the window as soon as the storm leaves.


View of the Vegetation in the Garden from the Deck

The rain that we are getting out of this storm is very welcome.  We have had around 80 days of 100 sometimes plus degree weather this summer and we are not through yet. The State has been in a drought like forever. Funnily enough, I was thinking just the other day that I have not set up the soaker hose systems that I have ready to go every summer. I have hand watered a few times on a couple of plants but not an excessive amount and the garden and plants have held up well.  Everything is pretty much native plantings and they are very drought tolerant. Except when I have to do a partial water change in one of the ponds which pushes the water bill up around the $60.00 mark, my normal consumption is around $23.00 worth of water. One old guy living alone sure makes a difference and yes, I do shower every day.

All of the animals are fast asleep. Pete is in his usual place on the couch and I can hear him snoring from way over the other side of the room. Ginny had to have her teeth cleaned two days ago resulting in the extraction of a couple of them. Now she is feeling sorry for herself stretched out fast asleep on the bed. I don’t know where the cat is, probably asleep somewhere in one of her hidey holes. Must be a great life to be a pet in a good home.


A Different View of the Garden and the Native Plants.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of their book and join Ginny and take a nap…Or I could watch the English Premier League on television but  wait, I like to watch those recorded games in the evening. There is always the cat’s litter box that needs cleaning and a whole bunch of dusting and furniture polishing needing attention that I have been putting off for a couple of years or so. Or I could think of something else to blog about and add it to the couple of months worth that I am already scheduled ahead. I know,  while I am making up my mind, I will make myself another Latte to help me to think….


Farewell Ellie…

Animal Cairn

The cairn under which at least eight of my pets are buried

My beautiful Ellie who I recently wrote about, has joined Brown Cat in that special place that all cats go to when they pass on from this earthly life.

She did not handle the passing of Brown Cat very well and it was obvious that even though they were not close, she did miss him if only for the companionship of another cat in the house. She totally changed her lifestyle from being an indoor cat sleeping on the bed all day to spending hours outdoors in any of the special places that she found to sleep, on the deck, under the deck, in between the trees and under the shed. If I didn’t bring her in at night, she would probably have spent all of her time outside not even coming in to eat. Even after eating, she immediately wanted back outside again although I wouldn’t let her out until the morning choosing instead to listen to her plaintive meowing in protest.

We had a rainy day and true to form, she again slipped out using the doggy door. I looked for her as the rain pelted down but could not find her anywhere. Eventually, around 12:30 that night, I located her under the deck totally soaked and very dirty and managed to get her indoors where I gave her a bath, sort of. Have you vere tried bathing a cat? I do not recommend it as they have teeth and claws and put them to very good use. I eventually got a lot of the dirt off her and dried her and put her in her room.

The next day, when I let her out, she immediately headed for the doggy door but only made it halfway and collapsed on the floor. I could see she was in trouble so I put her in a carry crate and off we went to the vets (again). Although I love my vets dearly having been with them for the 32 years I have lived in this house, they have seen far too much of me these past couple of years.

I left Ellie with them and waited for the call confirming what I already knew the news would be. True to form, Dr Donop, called and we talked about Ellie. Turns out that she had an open wound on her leg that I had not noticed before even when I bathed her.  With her outdoor life, the flies had gotten into it and they had made it much worse with their eggs and maggots and Dr Donop could not find any way to sew up the wound in order to treat it. We discussed the alternatives of which there were very few options and in the end,  based on his recommendations, I told him to go ahead and put Ellie to sleep and out of her suffering. It was something I was prepared for this time, not like Richie. I told him I would be back later that day to pick her up.

I walked out to the garden carrying my spade and shovel and headed for that special place next to the big pond where so many of my pets are buried. Normally, the digging is hard but as we had recently a lot of rain, it was somewhat easier than normal. Being Texas Hill Country, the limestone is usually only a foot or so below the surface which limits the depth of the hole and I make up for it but covering everything up with rocks.

I buried Ellie next to Brown Cat and Richie, the most recent of the many dogs and cats that lay in this special place. I stood for a while and said my goodbyes to Ellie as I have to all of the pets buried here. She was the last of the many cats that I have had the pleasure of living with over these many years both here and in my previous home out in the country as I do not plan on getting any more. My little menagerie has dropped radically in size from an all time high of eight dogs and three cats to two very small and very noisy dogs. What they lack in size, they truly make up for with their noisy barking at anything that moves out in the yard, perceived or real. Ginny is about eight and Pete around four so they should be around for awhile, hopefully, the rest of my lifetime.

There are stone statues of dogs and cats on the cairn.

In retrospect, this has been a bad couple of years as far as pets go in the Allcorn Residence. Four of the last six dogs and cats that I have taken to the vets have all come home in cardboard boxes and then there was Abigail who drowned in the septic tank. In fairness, with the exception of Richie and Abigail, all of the others were getting on in years and their time had come. Ellie was at least 18 years old and she had a good life.

I will miss her as I do all of the ones that have gone to that animal heaven up in the sky. They all asked for very little and in return, gave me their unconditional love. A man could not ask for anything better than that.

Rest in Peace Ellie. You will be missed.

Written 10/8/2017


Ellie, the lonely life of an older cat.

Ellie on the printerWith the recent death of Brown Cat, Ellie is the one remaining cat left in this household. Over the years, there have been many different cats, some of the indoor variety and others that spent most of their time outdoors. In terms of lifespan, the outdoor cats didn’t do so well either succumbing to the traffic on the busy road that runs alongside of my property or ending up as food for the Coyotes.

Cats are notoriously difficult to control especially if you have dogs and a doggy door. They are intelligent and learn how to make use of such a gadget very quickly. Consequently, they tend to roam following their natural habits of stalking and hunting. Luckily, as they get much older, they limit this outside practice to sunning on the deck and when that gets too hot, back indoors in the air conditioning.

I think that Ellie misses Brown Cats company at least in the sense that they were generally in each others proximity.  They were never buddies and in reality, could not stand to be too close to one another but they slept in the same room and in their younger lives, both would join me and the dogs on the big king sized bed at night. Never once did I ever see the two of them act affectionately towards each other. Come to that, both cats were very stand offish towards the dogs. Can’t say that I blame them as Richie was not to be trusted.

Brown Cat

Occasionally, Ellie will climb up on the bed using the steps that I built for that purpose but she is not very comfortable being too close to the dogs anymore.  As soon as I turn off the light, she scrambles down off the bed to go to her room to sleep. It’s not that she is afraid of the dogs as the incident with Richie, when he went after her was several years ago and long gone from her memory. Pete, the relatively new Chihuahua is aggressive towards her but only in an excited way and she can probably do without that sort of attention. No, I think that she is lonely as she tries to spend a lot more time closer to me than before and I go out of my way to always make a fuss of her.

I have to be very careful as I stroke her as she seems very sensitive around her back area and almost goes into convulsions as she squirms around trying to lick her back after one of these incidents. Kinda dangerous to anyone close to her when she does that as her claws are flashing around with no control.

Ellie, as best as we can put together is almost 19 years old, 17 of which she has spent with me. A lot of dogs have come and gone in that  time and the only constant in her life was Brown Cat. Now he is gone and that leaves a void for her. Another cat, even an older one is not the answer as who knows how two cats new to each other, even older ones, would get along.

No, I just got to spend as much time with her as I can to help her through this rough patch and hope that she doesn’t die of a broken heart.  Like me, she is slow moving and even slower getting up. Who knows for how long considering her age although she does not show any sign of passing on, yet.

What is the saying, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.

Farewell Brown Cat

Brown CatAs you can tell from the title, Brown Cat, my Siamese cat has left our little clan for that big cat heaven up in the sky. He was very much a fixture in this house for the past 15 plus years maybe more having joined us from a friend who was going through a marriage breakup.

Other cats have come and gone, a couple to the busy road outside of the yard, a couple to coyotes and one to the attentions of Richie, one of my Dachshunds. One cat hung in there and is still with us and again, a rescue from another friend who moved to Ireland. Her name is Ellie and she is at least 17 years old.  She too had to put up with Richie’s attentions and  eventually lost her tail after having gone missing for a week only to make her way back home. Not sure how she will handle being the only cat in the house but she and Brown Cat never really got along. They just tolerated each other but even so, were company.

Brown Cat came running out of the house one day and crashed into one of the potted plants that was standing on the deck. Turns out that he was having a diabetic seizure and the Vet confirmed that he was now a diabetic cat. That started him on a two shot a day treatment of insulin which we faithfully kept up for at least 4 years, maybe longer. I know it felt like a lifetime as I was pretty much chained to his timetable, a shot in the morning around 7:00 am and another in the evening, 12 hours later. It also meant having to keep an eye on his food input and convincing him that he needed to eat. Towards the end, he lost a lot of weight.

This morning after protesting loudly in his extremely loud voice until I fed him…again, he suddenly fell over. I put him back on his feet but he could no longer stand and we both knew that it was time to make that last trip to the Vets. I packed him into his carry case and along with all of his diabetic equipment, we trundled off to the Vets which is only a couple of miles from my house. As I have been using them to take care of my animals for over these past 30 years, I felt comfortable in leaving Brown Cat with them as by now, he was barely breathing as he lay in the box. I made my way back home to dig yet another grave for yet another pet. I went back later to pick up the box that was to be his new forever home and brought him home to rest.

He is buried in an area alongside one of the big ponds that has several dogs and a couple of cats and is piled high with rocks as a sort of cairn. It has some statues of dogs to make everyone aware that the area is off limits for any sort of digging.

On the bright side, I no longer have to give Brown Cat insulin shots twice a day or put him through the discomfort of taking a reading of his blood count. Neither do I have to buy anymore insulin  or diabetic supplies which are not cheap. In his later years, Brown Cat was not the most fastidious of cats when it came to using the litter box and as for covering anything up, forget it which means that I will no longer have to clean up behind him or change out the newspapers that he used in lieu of a litter box even though they were set up side by side. So, there are both good and bad to him passing.

Ellie on the printer

Now, Ellie is the only cat that we have left in our little family. She will also be the last one as I do not intend to get anymore. The two Dachshunds and the fat little Chihuahua are the only dogs left and the big gamble now is who will outlive who and that includes me.

Rest in Peace, Brown Cat.

An Addition to the Family

Today was a big day in the Allcorn Residence as we added a new member to our little tribe. The house has been very quiet with both Abigail and then BeBe passing on. I’m so used to seeing a dog anywhere I look and the two remaining ones tend to pretty much do their own thing.

Richie, the male, tends to spend most of his time outside either trucking around to see what trouble he can get into or sleeping on the outdoor patio couch. Actually, he also keeps me active for if he is away for any length of time, I have to go out and check that he is not digging a hole to get under the fence. So far, he hasn’t but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. Ginnie spends most of her time under the covers on my bed. In between, she will go out and bark at the make belief rats under the deck. Actually, they are not make belief as they do come out in the evening to eat the bird seed that has fallen. Maybe, Pete will get her moving a bit more.

So I figured that maybe, the introduction of Pete, a three year old rescue Chihuahua, might add a little spice to the other two’s lives and give them an additional interest and another buddy to play with. I belong to a Neighborhood Newsletter and Pete’s picture appeared looking for a new home. His owner is going into a nursing home and she could no longer take care of him. She has already fostered him out to a couple of her friends and they were the ones looking for a forever home for the little dog.

I contacted them and we arranged to meet at PetsMart so that I could meet Pete and then bring him home for a sleepover just to see how well he gets along with the other two and also the two cats that I have.

So far, after the initial growling  and smelling of each other’s butts and the two males trying to outdo each other marking the territory, things are beginning to settle down. Pete is the jumpy one ready to show his teeth at either of the other two who seem ready to accept him into the pack. I guess two dogs is a pack or at least the beginning of one.

I hope things work out as he is a nice little dog. I do have a take back arrangement just in case he doesn’t fit in but we will have to wait and see.

More to come on this story.

Oh to be a dog (or a cat)…

BeBe looking Sleepy

Bebe looking Sleepy

I was sitting in front of my computer looking at a blank screen and thinking how quiet and peaceful it is. Outside, the weather is cold at a chilly 45 degrees and it is a dull grey and sombre day. It is one of those days when you know that it is not going to rain any amount, a much-needed blessing in my part of Texas, but just dull and cloudy. There is enough cloud that the sun is not peeping through, not even one little bit..

Because it is so quiet, my mind turned to the dogs and cats and what they are doing. Bebe, the oldest of the four dachshunds who is now probably at least 14 or 15 years old and getting a little deaf, is curled up in one of the new doggy baskets that I had recently bought them, fast asleep and seemingly, not a care in the world. Whenever she can, she will sit behind me in my office chair resulting in me having to make do with just half a seat. It’s a little uncomfortable for me but Bebe seems to like it just fine.  Bebe has one goal in life and that is food, any kind of food one of which is raw carrots  She had previously had some medical issues that required taking out her thyroid resulting on her having a special diet. As far as I know, carrots are not on the list of food she is not supposed to eat but again, it would truly be a dog’s life is she couldn’t have any treats. Bebe is a black and tan and the only one different in color. She is supposed to be a miniature of the breed and does have very short legs and the outlines of this small breed of dachshund. Unfortunately, with  her love of food and her medical problems, she does not have the sleek lines of Richie and Ginny.

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail, the next oldest, is a standard size dachshund weighing about twenty pounds and is the bully of the group. Not that she attacks or bites the other dogs but rather that she uses her size to push her way in and them out-of-the-way especially when we are all on the couch in the evening watching television. Well, maybe I am the one watching television and they are all asleep! She also likes to eat and can devour food at an amazing rate and is usually finished before the others have hardly started their food but she never tries to steal theirs away from them. She too likes carrots but I am not sure if she truly likes them or just does not want any of the other dogs to get them. She is sleeping on the living room couch which she calls her domain.

Ginny the new girl

Richie looking alert

Richie is the only male and is pretty laid back unless he feels that one of the others needs a lesson. Only then does he assert himself and puts them back in their place in the pecking order. He spends his days out in the yard searching for the rats and mice that are there. He is pretty good at catching them and generally either buries them or eats them. He does not just hunt rodents, he goes after the squirrels of which there are quite a few, especially when they come down to steal the birdseed out of the feeders or to get water. He loves to chase the buzzards even though they are circling and wheeling up in the sky. He madly dashes from one end of the garden to the other when one of them flies over. I saw a small feral kitten the other day in front of the house and being a good Samaritan put some food out for it. That was a mistake as the kitten found its way into the back yard and ran into Richie who promptly killed it and half buried it. He has this thing against cats and even though there are two in the house, I always have to put them in a separate room away from the dogs when I go out. He has managed to have a go at both of them resulting in one losing her tail and the other developing diabetes,. Not sure if that was a direct result or just discovered when he had to go to the vets to get sewn up. There was a previous third cat that didn’t make it through the night after Richie’s close attentions. He is a sweet little dog except as far as other animals are concerned although he makes no moves at the cats when I am home and even shows signs of affection for them. Probably knows he will get the crap beaten out of him if he so much as tries. Right now, because it is cold out, he is sleeping on the couch that is in the bedroom that he has taken over as his own personal spot.

Ginny looking for trouble

Ginny looking for trouble

Lastly, there is the latest of the bunch, a small breed little girl named Ginny who weighs a little over twelve pounds. She is without a doubt the funniest of them all, always in a hurry tearing around wherever she goes. Always at top speed. She has this thing for cat food and whenever I have to go into the office which is now the cats room, she tears in ahead of me and does her little prancing dance just to get the cat food. She is really sweet and affectionate and a great bed warmer as she sleeps under the covers against my back. All of them are rescue dogs coming from various and different circumstances. At the present moment, Ginny is practicing her imitation of a hot water bottle and is snuggled under the covers in the bed. With the exception of Bebe, all of the others are the regular orange brown color of the typical smooth coated dachshunds.

All four of these dogs are employed by the Dachshund Watchdog Service Company that is supposed to patrol the yard and keep the Heron away from eating the fish. Unfortunately, they have recently been quite literally sleeping on the job resulting in the heron having some success in the goldfish pond.I have told them that this is the last chance they will have to do the job right and unless they shape up, I will have to get another watchdog service and have them replaced.I am waiting to see the results of this discussion…

The two cats, the tail less one named Ellie and the diabetic one, named Brown Cat (he is a Siamese), are sleeping in their usual spots, Ellie on the bed keeping Ginny company from a distance and Brown Cat in one of the closets. I envy them sometimes, two squares a day and all of the sleep they want in a nice warm house. What could be better (as long as they are not alone with Richie).

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

As I mentioned previously, we all sit on the couch in the evenings and generally Brown Cat will make his way up there as well. So if you can picture Richie to my right, Ginny on my lap, Bebe next to me on the left, Abigail next to Bebe and finally Brown Cat either between them or on the end. If I get up to get something, they open ranks and spread out and I have a devil of a time regaining my original spot. In the evenings when we all retire for the night, they all join me in the King sized bed with Abigail and Ginny always under the covers, Bebe on the top but usually covered by her own little blankie and Richie on his couch until he gets cold then he climbs under the covers with the rest of us. The two cats position themselves wherever they can find a spot and sometimes I will wake up to find that Ellie is sleeping next to my face. She seems to be doing this more and more just lately. I guess its her way of showing more affection as she grows old.

Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place.

My dogs and cats are great company for me and can always cheer me up if I happen to be down which is not often. They give me another angle to my life as I am responsible for them and take that very seriously. When I have to make decisions about their quality of life, I generally cry like a baby if I have to put them to sleep and every animal  I have lost has left a void in my heart which I generally fill by getting another rescue. Now though, I am seriously thinking of the future and what may be down the road. I want to outlive all of my pets if that is at all possible and even though I have no control over it, that is my wish. So, in all probability, these are the last pets I will have as we all grow old together. Currently, there are eleven dogs and sundry cats buried in different places in my yard, the end result of thirty years of friendship and love.

BTW, the hundred or so goldfish and Koi that are in the five ponds are not considered pets at least the same as the dogs and cats. They get sick and die with no warning and after all, its hard to get affectionate with a cold-blooded thing with scales that lives in (cold) water….

Me and the Cat

Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place

Early morning for me and the cat
as she sat on the floor just inches from me
as we got ready to face the day
the cat looked at me as if to say
what’s going on to pass the time
I looked at the cat so sublime
all sleepy and purring in quiet content
and said,”Don’t know yet, but we’ll figure it out.
First feed the fish and then check the ponds
feed you and the guys as we always do
breakfast for me and a latte or two
just to get going on this new day
from there who knows, yard work or write
do I want to work or play”.

The cat said in her quiet tone
“I think that you will do it alone
for me first a nap and then more food
and as eating is such a tiring thing
another nap to recover my strength
and that should take care of most of my day.
If you finish early as you sometimes do
I’ll come and sit with you just to be friends
and I’ll let you stroke me at the back of my neck
and I will purr and sing you a song
as you and I get along”.

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

Of course the cat doesn’t really talk to me
but I do to her when together are we
and I’m sure that if she could she would say
“Lets spend time together again today
for I’m just a cat but I am your friend
and in this family I am not alone
and I have to wait for my time
as with the dogs and the other cat I share
any time with you that you can spare”.

We’ve been together about fourteen years
and lots has happened in that time
pets have come and pets have gone
as age or illness has taken their toll
and Ellie is moving slower now
and sleeps more as she grows old
and likes to sit close to me
and lets me know that she is there
as she purrs or talks in her peculiar way
as we share the moments of the day.