Sunday, October 5, 2008

Home Again

Finally, we are home. It was a rather traumatic arrival. I couldn't find my window frogs and there is only one toe toad in my garden shoes--I sprinkled water in the shoe to keep him happy. I was feeling a bit panicked about the window frog, then my husband mentioned that he heard something leap into the pond when he walked past. Sure enough, I now see frog eyes peeping from beneath a rock. This is the larger of the two Southern Leopard frogs, Leonora. I am relieved to see her. She's the one my husband rescued from a snake when we were clearing the porches just before Ike hit the coast. The other frog may be in the turtle pond with Crush. Just before we left for Colorado I noticed he was slipping in with Crush once in awhile.

Niblet, the big, black cat, has not left my side since I walked through the doors. I think he's angry. He keeps talking to me. I once read that cats will talk and chatter and do what they can to communicate to their humans if the humans do the same to them, which explains why Niblet is so vocal. Niblet was very tiny when my daughter brought him home, so tiny that he fit in the palm of my hand. I did not intend to name him Niblet. I came home from work each day and called out, "Where is that little nibble of a kitten?" and he came running. My daughter called him "Ducky" after the children's cartoon "Land Before Time." He now has the additional names of Black Fang, Boo Boo Kitty and Meowmo.

Niblet seemed rather frail to me when he first came home. I wanted him to grow stronger so I whispered daily in his ear that he was safe and would always have a home with me. Eight years later, he is a very large and thriving cat. He has fangs that sit on the outside of his bottom lip making him look rather scary, but he's a big baby who loves to cuddle. When the chocolate labs were puppies they were playful and rowdy, and not good listeners. Niblet had an uncanny ability to sense when I was growing frustrated with the dogs. When I was stressed, Niblet would march over to the dogs and smack them on the forehead with his paw until they calmed down. They sat at attention before him, neither puppy daring to move a hair because Niblet was ready, paw raised. He still smacks them around when they are too wiggly for his comfort. He behaves this way toward other dogs, as well, which is why I keep him inside, always, no matter how sneaky he tried to be.

The dogs are sitting on the back porch. It is 80 degrees outside and cool for Texas. The dogs seem so content, but I could tell when I got here that they were upset with us. They have been known to get even when we stay away too long at work and such, so I wasn't surprised that they ate a library book and other items.

The dogs are watching a monarch butterfly--I can see them from my chair in the den. This particular monarch is one of the largest I have ever seen. The monarchs move through Texas in both spring and fall. In August, monarchs in the northern states begin their southward migration, heading for their usual winter vacation resorts in Mexico and southern parts of California. The monarch earned its name by its size--it is one of the largest of the butterflies. I can tell that my dogs are thinking this one looks rather tasty and might possibly be a nice snack for the two of them, but monarchs actually taste rather foul and are toxic! Yummy!

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