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Armadillo on Lemon Ice.

Armadillo on lemon ice is a catchy title, but not exactly accurate.
Let’s see if I can get from an armadillo to lemon ice in just a few steps. For this, we will need an armadillo, some rabbits, a Puggle dog, some neighbors, a garden, two refrigerators, melted ice and finally, lemon ice. Let’s get started…

Armadillo (just one):
The other day my dog saw his first armadillo. Jack is a Puggle which is an F1 hybrid cross of one Pug male and one Beagle female. He’s a ‘designer’ dog. He looked at me for clues – Do I chase it? Play with it? Kill it? Eat it? I held the leash very tightly and allowed him to smell just enough to get the scent. The armadillo got away safely in the drainage culvert that runs under the road. Some armadillo can carry leprosy.…

Rabbits (just one to start with):
One neighbor had a pet rabbit. Since it was too much work to clean the cage and his children couldn’t remember to feed it he set the rabbit free. What harm could one little rabbit do? Another neighbor thought it was cute to have a rabbit in the yard so he got a rabbit and let it run loose. Hmmm, one rabbit plus one rabbit equals…, don’t tell me. I’ll figure it out. While my English teacher said I would never be a writer, I was good at math and earned aa 95 in Algebra. One plus one equals….um….drat. Guess the answer is not always ‘two’. Oh, goody, do I get to use the word ‘exponentially’ now? If you need a bit of help, try this link:…

Yep, what we now have in my small neighborhood is, as Yosemite Sam would say…”Rachin’ Frackin’ Varmint Rabbits”!!! They are everywhere. Looks like a low-budget Alfred Hitchcock movie with fur instead of feathers and I sure ain’t a Tipi Hedren look-alike.

It is thought that pet rabbits released into the wild are supposed to have little chance of survival. However, since these rabbits are in a semi-private mobile home community with plenty of food and shelter and, thanks to the well-placed and numerous speed bumps, the vehicles rarely drive more than 10 miles per hour, and few natural predators, the rabbits are thriving. This is not a good thing; there are numerous links about diseases that can be passed from feral rabbits to humans as well as to dogs. It is very frightening but you can do your own research for that.

Woke up early this morning…way too early for my old body…a neighbor needed a ride to the local Veterans’ Administration Medical Clinic as he had to catch the VA bus heading over to South Carolina this morning for some long-overdue medical tests. If he arrives late the bus will leave without him so I must pick him up on time. I cannot be late. No time to make coffee. I have to walk the dog. Oh, drat. Just my luck at 6 in the morning as I am getting ready to walk my dog, the silly dog decides to take off like a bat on methamphetamines chasing two rabbits.

Note; Yes, I am a responsible pet owner and always put a harness and leash on my dog; unfortunately somewhere between the word ‘harness’ and the word ‘leash’ my dog took off running. This is NOT Jack’s usual behavior.

I had only 30 available minutes in which to panic, cry, walk as fast as I could around the entire neighborhood (four times), clap my hands, whistle, and call my dogs name loudly and repeatedly to make sure all my neighbors could enjoy the early hour as much as I did. My antics set all the neighborhood dogs to barking. Oh joy, I felt like a mother Penguin when among all the barking dogs I was able to identify the sound of my own little dog barking.

Using stealth and cunning I quietly walked between two homes following the sound of his barking voice. I got on my hands and knees in the mud to crawl through someone’s garden and under their Chayote vines Very healthy looking vines you got there mister! I had thought these were cucumber vines but learned that they are Chayote; I will add a link below so you can see photos and learn more about Chayote. I worked my way around to the back of their tool shed. Ah, there was my dog Jack, baying his head off like he had treed a raccoon. He was very proud of himself. He was alternately barking, baying and digging, still trying to reach the rabbit that had hidden under the shed.
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No, Jack, No. It is not polite to dig holes in other people’s gardens.

I lifted and carried Jack, as I crawled out from the vines, and was able to get him safely home arriving at my house at 6:26 in the morning, dead tired and covered in mud. Whew, I have four minutes to spare! I cannot be late to drive my neighbor to the VA or he will miss the bus and I cannot get angry with my dog because he is part Beagle – I mean, chasing rabbits is what they do, right? Don’t worry; no rabbits were harmed.

Good dog, Jack.

Ice (or lack thereof):
At exactly 6:30 I picked up the neighbor and drove him to the VA in time to meet the bus; ten minutes later I arrive home and check my emails, skip having coffee, then give another neighbor a ride to her job. Did I mention that my neighbors seem to think that I run the local free taxi service? Finally, I walk over to my daughter’s house to pick up my grand-dog. As a dutiful dog-sitter, I always check for a note in case I need to give the dog an allergy pill or an extra poop walk.

Oh, goody. How’s this for a note:

“The ice cubes are melted; the refrigerator is officially dead, so on my way to work I stopped at the other house to turn on the spare refrigerator so it can get cold.”

I realize that not everyone has a spare house and a spare refrigerator, but my kid has both; God blessed her with good fortune. Can you read between the lines on the note? Since I am a mother, here is the way that I read the words on the note:

“Mom, in your spare time, since you are retired and have time to drive strangers all over for free, and while walking your own dog and baby-sitting my dog, can you please transfer all the food from the dead fridge to the working fridge in my other house halfway across town…since you like to drive the car so much”.

Aha! I think I really should have started my day by making coffee. But I am smart. I went to Lowe’s where they sell refrigerators and the coffee is free. Oh, dear, on this particular day, the customer service was lousy. They may be able to match prices but they cannot always match customer service.

So I went to another store with free coffee and refrigerators, oops, I meant that they sell refrigerators and the coffee is free. Home Depot has the most excellent employees; maybe the employees are happy because they get to write their name using Sharpie markers on their snappy orange vests. I was shopping for a brand new smallish fridge. It had to be in my price range, light enough for me to carry up four steps while dodging spiky cactus and delicate succulents into my daughter’s house. Did you know that while there is no written rule about backing into spiky plants, there is a written rule that says if you lay a fridge on its side you cannot plug it in until it has been in the upright position for at least 24 hours? Who writes this stuff – airline hostesses? So the fridge also had to be small enough to stand upright in the mouth of the car trunk. Yep, success. I bought a cute little stainless steel beauty of a fridge. It’s a beauty.

From the comfort of my daughter’s kitchen the dogs watched in awe as I unloaded the huge box from my car, backed into a Yucca plant (Ouch!), then ‘Yosemite Sam’d’ the fridge up the four steps, ripped open the flimsy cardboard carton, carefully avoided cutting my fingers on the numerous staples, cursed the Styrofoam. Really, did they use enough Styrofoam? I mean, this fridge only had to come from China; how much Styrofoam does one fridge need to feel safe and comfy on a ship traveling halfway around the world? All four of my grandparents traveled to America on ships and were quite comfortable even before Styrofoam was invented. That was roughly 35 years after staples were invented, but several years before the refrigerator was invented!!

I successfully transferred the food from the dead fridge to the new fridge. Oh, sorry, this might be helpful. Some of you may use the word ‘frig’ and some may use ‘fridge’ –… Okay, back to my story. The bad news is that when the old refrigerator, fridge or frig died the strawberries and raspberries didn’t survive the temperature fluctuations in the freezer compartment. Some corn on the cob looked a little iffy, too. Since I did not own any chickens some of the food went into the compost bin and some into the trash. Remind me to get some chickens in case this ever happens again.

The good news is that Luigi’s lemon ice was just fine. In fact, it was delicious! The dogs and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So there you have it – I managed to get from an armadillo to lemon ice in just a few steps.
The End

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Update on our local animals:

In the Spring my neighbor started her first kitchen garden. Lately, it seems that ‘something’ has been eating all her plants and digging up the soil. I do not have the heart to tell her that it is most likely the rabbits eating the plants and the armadillo doing clean-up eating the worms and grubs.

The other day her friend saw a strange animal in the yard and asked, “What is that?”
My friend managed to snap a couple of photos using her phone (did I mention that my friend is smart and has a SmartPhone). She sent the pics to my phone somewhere around half past midnight.

Truth is, there is a slight lag in the time needed here. It was necessary for me to take my phone to the T-Mobile store and ask the helpful clerk to please, please, please (in my younger days I might have batted my eyelashes, but I guess being an old lady is enough to encourage the young men to offer assistance) would he kindly push the correct buttons on my phone to send the pics to my email.
Yes, I admit that am not smart enough to own a SmartPhone.

Here is the armadillo. It may be the same armadillo that my dog Jack saw.
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Here is one of the cute little adorable feral bunnies at midnight. Eeeek!
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There were 17 more rabbits running loose plus another batch of babies, but this was the only one who sat still long enough for his close up.

Update September 5, 2014
The rabbits are spreading. They are now in several yards and gardens. This could get ugly. Or maybe we should just plant more carrots?

Twenty-four hours later the mint, garlic chives, Thai basil, and several young Sassafras in my yard have been chewed down to almost nothing. These adorable little bunnies also like to dig random holes for me to trip over.

Update: October 11, 2014
There was a litter of bunnies in one neighbor’s yard. The little rabbits are weaned and eating on their own and people are trying to trap them to keep as pets (or to raise responsibly as food). One of the young rabbits is living temporarily in a cage-within-a-chicken-coop in my yard waiting to be re-homed far away. My hope is that every one of these wascals er, sorry, I had an Elmer Fudd moment…maybe these rascals can find a new home – and far away from my garden, please.

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Update on the feral rabbit situation.
We still have the feral rabbit problem. Since we can’t kill or contain the rabbits, neighbors are building fences to protect their plants. I made a fence for my daughter’s small kitchen garden. (Sorry for the shady photo.)
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Today my friend PlantSister sent me a bit of information; a link with lots of natural rabbit repellents. Maybe I will try some of these methods.…

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Update June 1, 2015
My daughter’s little garden is producing lots of veggies and herbs. The fence has kept out the hungry feral rabbits. Sometimes daughter’s dog is allowed to enter the little garden fence and help with the weeding and harvesting. So tranquil; so peaceful.
Yikes!! The dog suddenly lunges under the bean plants, through the tomato cages, under the cucumber vines.
What the ???
A little gray rabbit that had been hiding under the leaves of the bean plant was spotted by the dog and all heck broke loose. We have no idea how the rabbit entered the securely fenced garden but it quickly leaped over the fence and escaped. That was a few days ago but the dog continues to look under the bean leaves, under the tomato leaves, under the cucumber leaves…she knows there is a rabbit in that garden somewhere!
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Chayote link:
Puggle link:

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Mom died

Years ago, when the children were small, we would get on an airplane and fly to Florida to visit my parents. The children called my parents G’ma and G’pa Airplane. Sometimes we would drive in the car from Connecticut to Florida to visit. Back in 1988 after my dad died my mom did a good job of taking care of herself. She paid bills on time, did grocery shopping, make crafts, had a bunch of friends, played bingo twice a week, drove her car with no problems mostly to the grocery store, hairdresser, or bingo. Dad had made her promise to take good care of herself and to get her hair done every week at the beauty parlor. Mom quickly figured out that if she did her own hair at home she could use the money for an extra night of bingo. Smart woman. Another thing she did after dad died was to get her ears pierced; it was something she had always wanted to do…and she finally did it.

After I moved to Georgia the drive to visit my mom was a lot shorter. I enjoyed our visits and drove to see her as often as possible. On one visit my children and I cut down a tree, constructed a trellis for her vining plants, relocated a snake, painted the mailbox and the light pole near the driveway. On another visit, we painted the birdbath and planted colorful flowers around it.

Then one day my sister decided that my mother could no longer care for herself. Huh??? And just like that, everything changed. Mom’s house and car were sold to total strangers. My sister took my mother along with furniture, knick-knacks, retirement and Social Security and several savings accounts across the state to live in St. Petersburg. Since sister is a nurse I figured that mom was in good hands.

When mom lived on her own she and I had been in the habit of talking every week or two on the phone. She was sharp as a tack, had a good sense of humor and knew exactly what she was saying. After my mom was settled in her new living situation I would call on the phone but sadly was not allowed to talk on the phone unsupervised. Slowly, I began to see the light. My mother was being removed from my life. And I was being removed from hers. I was powerless to stop this.

I drove to St Pete to visit my mom and sister, arriving with a smile on my face and gifts in hand. Even being there in person, conversations were monitored and supervised. Well, guess I won’t bother to do that again.

Long story short, I had not seen or heard from my mother in years. For quite a long while, I didn’t actually know if she was alive or dead. I wrote letters, send cards, sent emails, sent gifts, but received no response from my mother or from my sister. Years passed. The only way I could check to see if she was alive was to check the obituaries and Social Security Death Index. The fact that her name did not appear was a small comfort.

Then one day, totally out of the blue, my sister lets me know that mom broke a hip. It was a two-sentence email. Well, at least it was news.

A while later, my sister emailed a one-sentence message to say that mom died…two days previous. Thanks for letting me know.

Please don’t respond to this blog. There is no need for sympathy. Mom was “lost” to me several years ago and I have had plenty of time to adjust.

Oh, you may want to know a bit about her. My mother celebrated her 100th birthday in August 2015.

Her parents came to America as immigrants looking for a better life. They settled in Pennsylvania. Here is my mother as a teenager looking slightly embarrassed in the handmade, hand embroidered costume of Ukraine.

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During her high school years, she was very athletic; her sport was tennis. She would often be taken out of Math class to assist the physical education teacher.

In her late 20s, she moved away from home to work in a big city. She would call her mother every Sunday. All her siblings would be gathered in the dining room and together they shared the news of the week.
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And at her wedding:
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Mom, Dad and my curly-haired big brother looking fresh-faced and tan after a day at the beach.
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Ah, there I am. Here is Mom holding me in our ultra-modern kitchen with all the conveniences of the day. Agitator washing machine, toaster, waffle iron…look to the left and you will see the handle of the snow shovel leaning against the coal bin.
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So mom is gone but she had a great life.

(Originally written 2016)