Alert: Cat Trespassing

I just saw a large gray cat walking across our back yard heading east. (Since Scooter the Siamese cat is too old (in our opinion) to defend his turf, I try to help him out. He gets really angry when another cat enters and marks his territory. If Scooter senses a cat on his turf at night, he can really create a ruckus, howling to get out and vanquish the trespasser. Not good for our sleep….)

So I went out the front door, ran around the west side of the house, and ran across the back yard. The gray cat is walking straight away from me — he could not hear me running up behind him because some strong winds are blowing through the trees, making a lot of white noise.

When I closed within 10 feet of the unwelcome feline, I let out my fiercest roar. The cat accelerated from zero to thirty in a flash and bounded into the woods.

When he was about 50 yards into the woods, he stopped to see what demon had almost snatched him.

I got a good laugh out of it. 🙂 And maybe Scooter’s territory will be off limits to that cat for a while.

Arbor Added to Garden Entrance

GardenArborSouthViewWebWe built a copper arbor for the entrance to Ann’s garden last weekend. I constructed it out of half-inch copper pipe with Tee and 45 degree angle joints from the local Home Depot.

Here’s a photo of the new copper arbor. Soon it will be covered with climbing vines.

Scooter the Cat Is 22 Years Old!

Scooter the Siamese Cat celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, April 10. This makes him about 110 years old in cat years. On his birthday, he enjoyed many servings of deli turkey, several brushings, and was allowed out (with escort) whenever he asked. He also dumped a bunch of chiggers on me.

(Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, Scooter picks up a dozen or two chiggers on an outing in the woods. They transfer to me during the night when Scooter sleeps against me. I only got about 8 chigger bites this year, a mild year. Several years ago I was feeding about 40 chiggers on my legs – and it feels soooooo good to scratch them.)

The photo below shows one of Scooter’s secrets to longevity.

So you won’t think Scooter sleeps all the time, he shows some of his spin moves in the video link below. (This video also demonstrates two other talents, yowling and waking up sleepers – Ann was asleep in the other room.)

Click here for Scooter Video (If the video is very small on your screen, click on the arrows on the right near the bottom of the video window.)

Ann’s garden on cover of ‘Home & Garden’ section, Atlanta Journal Constitution (Aug 21, 2003)

Ann’s garden was pictured on the cover of the ‘Home & Garden‘ section of Atlanta Journal Constitution (Aug 21, 2003) .

The accompanying article included pictures from several gardens and interviews with several gardeners. While the ‘Home & Garden’ section included a number of great photos from Ann’s garden, the online version only had two photos (one in the link above and this one).

If you can’t click on the links above, here are the urls.

I Hate Fire Ants

Phorid Flies as Biocontrol Agents

Research is focusing on the use of phorid decapitating flies in the genus Pseudacteon as biocontrol agents for imported fire ants. One species (Pseudacteon tricuspis) has been released in Florida and several other states. This fly is permanently established at more than a dozen sites and populations are beginning to expand rapidly out of several release sites. As of fall 2001, P. tricuspis was expanding out of the release sites around Gainesville, FL at the rate of 10-20 miles a year. By fall 2002 these flies should be coast to coast in Florida and moving into Georgia. During spring 2000, we released a second species of decapitating fly. This fly is much smaller than the first and may do better in cooler climates. It is now permanently established in hybrid populations in Alabama and perhaps Mississippi. Both species of flies were extensively tested for environmental safety prior to applying for release. To determine the impacts of these flies on fire ant populations, an extensive field monitoring program is being funded by a USDA-NRI research grant. Results from this research program are expected in the next 2-3 years.

Additional species and biotypes of decapitating flies will be evaluated and released.

Other projects include studies of polygyne fire ant populations and potential range limits of imported fire ant populations along the northern edges of their range.

Phorid flies, click to enlarge


We had an earthquake this morning! It woke me up at 5:01am. It sounded like a football team running across the roof of the house. The lamp shade on my bedside lamp vibrated for 3-4 minutes.

News summary:

A moderate earthquake has shaken the southeastern United States, which is a rare occurrence for that region.

Officials at the National Earthquake Information Center say the quake measured 4.9 on the Richter scale. It was centered near the border between Alabama and Georgia.

Media reports indicate the quake was felt as far away as North Carolina and Kentucky. There were no reports of significant damage or injuries.

7th Wedding Anniversary

Wedding Anniversary

On this day in 1996 Ann and I were married. Thanks to Ann for seven great years. I’m looking forward to many more.

On the first day of autumn in 1995 I proposed to Ann on the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. What a memorable start to this marriage!