Thursday, April 26, 2007


Today was my last class day of the semester. Summer's here at last! I start a new job on Monday at a publishing company; it's a temporary position, but that suits me fine because the job will end at about the same time that I graduate (December). Then I'll be totally out of class and ready to start searching for a "real" job. Hopefully by then I will have impressed the publishing company with my dedication and hard work so I will be given a good shot at a permanent position there.

We have a foster pit bull living with us for a little while until we can find him a new home. We call him Elvis. He's a really great dog. It's too bad we already have two dogs! I'm sure we'll find someone who can give him all the attention and love he deserves.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Neighbor's friendship versus dog's life

I had to call Animal Control yesterday because of the dog a few doors down. He lives on a chain 24/7 and had managed to get the chain hooked on top of the chain-link fence so that he was basically stuck in a standing position; he couldn't get into his house, reach his water or food, or even lie down. I think he was actually stuck like that since the day before, because he kept me awake all night with his barking (apparently barking for help) and in the morning I finally decided to go see what the problem was. Now I feel really bad for not checking on him sooner, but even more shocking to me is that none of the neighbors closest to that house apparently noticed or cared!

Not wanting to piss these people off, as they are friends with our next-door neighbors, I decided to go next door before calling AC. Maybe there was a good reason why this was going on. Maybe someone had broken in, killed the family, and ran off, and the dog had gotten caught on the fence while trying to get at the perpetrator. But nobody answered the door and there was no sign of a break-in, and considering the dog had been barking like this since the wee hours of the morning, I think these folks probably just went out of town for the Easter weekend.

I was even more dismayed to notice that there was no food bowl anywhere in sight. Okay, maybe they had a friend coming by regularly to feed the dog. Maybe. I looked at the muddy enclosure, the paper-thin walls of the filthy dog "house", and the dog that should have been pure white and fluffy but was instead mud-gray and matted. I went toward the dog slightly, trying to see whether he'd be agreeable to my assistance, and he went nuts. I don't blame him; he was basically in a living hell. But I wasn't about to get bitten - or accused of trespassing.

Well, I wasn't just going to let that poor dog hang there. I went home and called Animal Control. Three officers showed up about 40 minutes later. I was back at home by then, but I could see the house from my window. To my great surprise, they didn't bother to untangle the dog from the fence. Instead, they slipped a leash around his neck (with some help from some dog treats), unhooked the chain from his collar - and piled him into their truck! Then they took quite a few photos of dog and enclosure, left a note on the door of the home, and drove off with the dog. I guess they had more concerns than I had anticipated; perhaps once they were able to handle the dog, some other problems became apparent.

Regardless, I'm glad they took the dog. When they unhooked the dog from the chain, that dog transformed. He went from hostile to overjoyed, his tail wagged like crazy and he wiggled up against the officers for petting as they took photos. He was so glad to be rescued from that nightmare, and so happy that someone was actually paying attention to him for once.

Byrd worries that when the owners come to pick up their dog from the shelter, AC will name me as the person who reported the problem, and that this will make several neighbors angry at us. Frankly, I don't care. Who wants to be friendly with someone who advocates cruelty to animals? The dog would eventually have strangled himself when he collapsed from exhaustion, dehydration, exposure, and starvation. Anyone who's okay with that is no friend of mine. I'd rather pay a little fine to AC and get my dog back safe and sound than come home from vacation to discover my dog hung himself and none of the neighbors did anything about it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Garden Festival Fun

On Sunday, Byrd got me up bright and early, bought me donuts, and took me to the Zilker Botanical Gardens for the 50th Annual Zilker Garden Festival. We may not have landscaping at our house yet, but I love to go peruse the vendors' wares and ask questions of folks with greener thumbs than my own. This morning we were one of the first people to the festival, and by getting there early I laid claim to the only white-flowered wisteria I've ever seen, and certainly the only one for sale at the show, for a mere $35. I felt it was the crown jewel of the festival, and I think I was right; as Byrd lugged our prize to the exit, heads turned and people pointed and whispered at this unusual plant.

It's here that, in years past, I bought daylilies for my mom and bamboo for Byrd. The bamboo had since grown to ridiculous proportions in a huge tree pot in our backyard. I admit, we were terrified of it. This black plastic pot, which was almost 3' in diameter and 2' high, had started to bulge on one side. On Sunday, after consulting with the bamboo vendors at the festival, we decided it was time to tackle our fears head on. The bamboo needed to be divided for everyone's sake. It was such a monstrosity at this point that we couldn't move the tree pot, and we were worried that the creature was going to be rootbound.

Bamboo is, of course, notorious for spreading like wildfire across any open expanse of soil, and we didn't dare unleash ours. I had thought it was the clumping kind, which doesn't spread nearly so quickly, but yesterday when we rolled up our sleeves to address the problem, we discovered that my memory was totally in error. After taking a hacksaw to the black plastic, Byrd and I managed to peel the pot away. In the dirt, instead of tubers from a clumping bamboo, we saw woody roots--runners, the sign of a spreader.

Several hours later we had hacked up most of the bamboo. I carefully selected three small healthy sections to go into three medium-sized (portable, manageable) planters. The rest was chopped small, tied with twine, and placed on the curb for trash pickup. The extra roots went in the trash, and the soil that could be salvaged was spread out in low spots near the back gate.

So, until the day we finally get our landscaping taken care of, we have a jungle on our small back porch! Three pots of bamboo, a small white wisteria, a large purple wisteria, a young Sago palm, and a huge elephant ear. This morning I spotted some extremely fat bumblebees inspecting the new wisteria (our purple one didn't really bloom this year, I'm not sure why). It smells lovely, of course.