I’d ask “What next?”…

…but I’m afraid to know the answer. Seriously, we do not live in “the country.” But I have never lived anywhere else in suburbia with this much wildlife.

We were working outside on Saturday, taking a break from yard drudgery to set up our side patio, when this little guy appeared out of nowhere and wandered across the driveway.

A baby possum — maybe 6″ long (+ tail). By the time I got the camera, he had made his way across the driveway and was starting up the steps toward the backyard.

He wasn’t happy when we approached. He’d get all snarly and show his teeth. Pretty fierce baby.

You might remember these lovely possums that took up residence under our shed last year. (We don’t know if they made the hole in the floor or were merely taking advantage of it.)

Those babies were bigger than our little guy, yet still with Mama.

So, we wondered if our little guy was orphaned and possibly ill. He was moving mighty slowly, and why was the little nocturnal fellow out during the day, in the hot sunshine?

We didn’t know much about opossums, and I was thinking, “Cute, but not in my backyard, please!” I was full of suggestions that involved Mike putting on his gloves and depositing him near one of the massive woodpiles in the junk-neighbor’s yard. I also wasn’t anxious to watch him die in front of us.

After a few jokes about “adopting him as our own,” we did, at least, get him a little drink.

After we backed away, he had a sip.

Then he slowly made his way up the stairs, through the garden, and under the deck to the shade.

Poor baby.

I imagine he won’t make it. Mike did some research last night and along with finding all sorts of information about nurturing possum foundlings or injured adults (wow — very detailed info — God bless animal lovers who take this on), he also found many interesting facts we didn’t know. Typically, possums live in mama’s pouch (how did I not know we had marsupials in this country!?) until age 2 months or so, and then often ride on mama’s back while they’re out and about. They aren’t really ready to venture out on their own until 3 months or so. Also, they are short lived — only a 2- to 4-year lifespan. They have a very low incidence of rabies and are partially or totally immune to rattlesnake and other poisonous snake bites. The “playing possum” response is involuntary (they have no control over it) and it renders them unconscious anywhere from 40 minutes to 4 hours! Babies’ brains, however, aren’t always fully developed to allow this response when threatened. “Our” baby reacted appropriately by opening his mouth and quietly hissing.

Oh yes, Mike also found some recipes…[insert Clampett reference here]. Possum grease apparently makes a fine chest rub.

These incidents always make me sigh — we are not very prepared to deal with critters or our ongoing Tales of the Backyard Menagerie. This summer’s chapter still includes a groundhog (at least one) also living under the shed (I startled him while he was happily eating weeds behind the fire pit and he scooted right for the shed) and a mole or vole and chippies living in the brick pile near the birdfeeder. Also spotted a pair of Baltimore Orioles yesterday, which was at least pleasant.

I do know a lot better than to ask, “What’s next?” I’m remembering too well that skunk family we surprised outside our back door one night a few years ago and have not seen since…

Interruptions can be viewed as sources of irritation
or opportunities for service,
as moments lost
or experience gained, as time wasted or horizons widened.

They can annoy us or enrich us, get under our skin
or give us a shot in the arm.

Monopolize our minutes
or spice our schedules,
depending on our attitude toward them.

~ William Arthur Ward

P.S. A Sad Footnote: I found the little guy dead in the yard — 15 ft. from the deck — not long after finishing this post. I feel bad we saw him at all (10 minutes’ difference and we never would have spotted him) and bad we couldn’t help him more. Nature — or perhaps Life, if there was some human intervention that led to the little guy wandering alone — sure is sad sometimes.

Little bits o’ nothing (that make life fun)

I noticed I haven’t written any “deep” posts for a long time — just little bits of nothing. I’m OK with that. My life lately has been a lot of these little bits, and sometimes that’s a lot better than drama-trauma overload. No soaring highs or belly-flopping lows. Even keel. Steady as she goes. I’ll take it!

So, perfect for the little bits o’ nothing vein, someone in the vast direct marketing universe hit their target (part of it anyway — nailing “interest” if not “income”) and the catalog of my dreams showed up in my mailbox. Addressed to me. Not to “Occupant” or the former owners or, heaven-forbid, Mike.

Everyone out there know MacKenzie-Childs? I’ve known the brand for years, but have only seen bits and pieces here and there in specialty stores.

I was unprepared for the OMGness that is the catalog.

It’s kind of Alice in Wonderland meets cottage garden meets floral chintz extravaganza.

In other words, it’s just for me.

“Oh, I want this!”… “Oh, I NEED this!!”… “OH, I MUST HAVE THIS!” with every turn of the page.

I swooned over the Flower Market Enamelware.

Fit for the finest cakes and scones!

Oh, and this champagne bucket, please. With these glasses.


And while I’m at, why not all of these pretties for my kitchen?

And what about this Queenly garden furniture (off with your head if you don’t just love it).

Not fantastical enough? How about this chair instead?

Of course, I’d need this loveseat and end table to complete the ensemble.


And maybe the Toulouse Goose to mix things up a bit.

And of course my garden would have to be entered through this gate.

And the birds would have to have proper places to dwell.

And the few bits of mail worth receiving would be delivered here.

So what if exactly none of these things fits my budget?

And Mike would probably move out.

I just admire people who go beyond thinking outside the box to actually living and working outside it.

Sit next to me and let’s discuss the possibilities.

Starting with the fact that the Aurora, NY, farmhouse where the magic gets made is a mere 6 hours away from where I sit.

Getaway weekend, anyone?

Who’s with me?

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
~ Katharine Hepburn

Not quite $64

I waited weeks for it to ripen, never thinking it actually would, having lost all manner of tomatoes over the years to fungus, rot, rodent, ruminant, or insect.

Weeks to ripen, minutes to eat. It was delicious, but was it worth it?

I’ve had a book in my shopping cart at Amazon for a long time, called The $64 Tomato — one man’s humorous account of trying to grow an organic garden at his Hudson Valley “farmstead.” He came to the conclusion that each tomato he harvested cost him $64 because of all he’d had to invest in the effort.

This year, I planted a dozen tomato plants — 4 in my upside-down 5-gallon bucket experiment (they’re doing terribly); 1 in last year’s “topsy-turvy” commercial upside-down planter (it finally has a few blossoms and little squirts on it); 1 in a big planter (this tomato came from that); and the rest scattered in the garden amid the shrubs and flowers — wherever I could find space. Some of them have nice-looking green tomatoes on them; some lost what they did have to said fungus, rot, rodent, ruminant, or insect; some didn’t have a fighting chance because I stuck them in the ground and forgot about them. Some are supposed to be gold instead of red, but since all of them are still green, I’m not sure which is which.

All told, I probably have $44 invested in those tomatoes this year (plants, buckets, soil).

I contrast this to my friends’ lush garden I had the pleasure of visiting last week. Beautiful raised beds chock-full of healthy plants laden with fruit & veggies. Awe inspiring. Mouth watering.

Did I mention all 5 of my pepper plants withered and died? And 2 of 5 jalapeno plants? (The other 3 are laden with peppers, but iffy looking.) Apparently the dreaded blight that devastated last year’s gardens also affects peppers — and petunias of all things (every one of the petunias I planted in the top of my bucket planters to pretty them up died within a couple weeks). Experts advise rotating crops so you’re not planting tomatoes or peppers where you planted them last year — in my limited space, I won’t have that luxury, ever.

Even Mike said, after hearing and seeing me lament my blasted tomatoes for the 237th time, “Are you sure it’s worth it? They’re not expensive to buy.”

After years of disappointment, I’m starting to agree. Yes, there’s nothing quite like a tomato right off the vine. But every tomato came off a vine somewhere. And sure, fresh eggs, fresh milk, fresh juice — they’re all better, but I’m not obsessing over raising chickens, cows, or oranges.

It may be time to give up. To keep my gardening dollars and energies focused on growing things I know I can grow and leave the fruit & veggies to the experts (i.e., pretty much everyone else). There’s some nobility in knowing when to say uncle, right? In quitting while you’re (sort of) ahead?

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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