Mighty Minty in the Hood

Green Anole Lizard (https://wildlifeinformer.com/most-common-lizards-in-florida/)

The morning began with a single shriek. Mine. Followed by an expletive (okay, more than one expletive)…also mine.

Let me be clear dear reader; a day beginning in such a way, before the sun has barely made it above the roof tops, is not an optimal way to start one’s day.

I had just finished my first cup of espresso and was mulling over what I needed to accomplish for the day as I puttered around the kitchen. Then, before donning shoes and such to walk The Poodle I stepped into our cozy little living room area to pull back the shades of the long sliding glass door. There on my new sofa, was a small brown lizard. Amazingly my shriek did not budge the thing, nor The Poodle for that manner, who remained blissfully unaware, curled in his bed.

Rocket-man came to the rescue, as it were, picking up the sofa cushion to relocate the unexpected visitor to the front yard. It clearly did not want to leave the comforts of the cushion as hubby had to firmly shake it off. (I was later told that most likely the invader did not frighten away quickly– as usually happens– because it was probably dehydrated.)

Oh Lord, the things I am learning. Sigh.

This Florida adventure so far has a few downsides and the gazillion of lizards skittering about is just one of them. We’ve got green Anoles and brown ones too. We’ve got tiny house geckos and apparently iguanas (but thankfully I have yet to spot those larger non-natives in my yard). Later, when recounting the morning’s event with the neighbor, it didn’t help my head one bit that she shared she’s found lizards in her bed. “Yep…there was one in my bed just the other day,” she said brightly.

“Oh my God, really?” I replied trying to stifle my horror.

“Oh, I wasn’t fazed one bit,” she said in her peppy southern drawl. “I think they are cute as all get out,” she added.

Seriously? Well, maybe the gecko in the Geico commercials is cute, but still, it’s a reptile for goodness sake.

I wanted to say: Well bless your sweet little ole heart. Instead I opted for a more neighborly reply: “Well yes…they sure are, um cute, except not in one’s bed!”

Nor on the sofa for that matter.

So, this whole lizard thing makes it a tad difficult to relax when out on the back patio as The Poodle tries to chase them down and came awfully close to getting one in his mouth. As it is entirely certain that lizards carry salmonella they are not something I want my old dog snacking on. So, in a fit of frustration I looked into options for deterring lizards. Of course a quick internet search provided something to try that was a natural, pet-friendly alternative as I certainly did not want to use chemicals to kill the lizards (I just wanted to get them to move somewhere else.)

And there it was. Peppermint to the rescue! That sounds entirely lovely, right?

After searching high and low for a peppermint plant I resorted to plan B: I took to looking on The Land of All Things as my sister calls it (otherwise known as Amazon). Sure enough, there were several lizard deterrent products containing peppermint oil. I chose a lizard product that garnered hundreds of positive reviews. Buoyed by all the good reviews, and given my heightened anxiety over a future lizard home invasion, I went full guns ordering the gallon size. Besides, it was touted to help with deterring spiders, ants, and even rodents. Two days later my Mighty Mint insect and pest control order was delivered and I wasted not a moment opening it. After a quick read of the directions, I was hopeful, excited and ready to spray away.

And spray I did!

Yowza! The peppermint smell—though not entirely obnoxious—was ridiculously strong and after awhile somewhat nauseating. Still, I sprayed…and sprayed…and sprayed! And then, I watched and waited…and for good measure, I followed the same steps the following morning.

Well, my dear “four” readers, I know you are on the edge of your seats, waiting with baited breath to know: Did it work? Did the lizards, green ones and brown ones….big ones and tiny ones….skitter away to other parts of the hood?

Drum roll please

Unequivocally….

No.

Not sure I can wrap my head around my Home Sweet Home now being “home” for lizards. And yes, you’ve guessed it: I shake the bed covers each night like a crazy woman.

Sigh. In this moment, there is no bliss in doing that. 😬

Morning Sounds…

I’m out on my morning walk dragging The Poodle and trying to beat the rain. I lost that race just yesterday when out on my solo four mile walk. A brief but heavy rain shower seemed to appear out of nowhere and soaked me pretty good before it ended almost as quickly as it began. I enjoyed the rain actually but was worried about rain ruining the iPhone.

In any event just as I was preparing to give my sis a call to sing her Happy Birthday, I was momentarily jolted by the strangest–and loudest–sound. I looked over just across the street to see two Sandhill Cranes, one of whom was prancing around while the other seemed rather chilled. Given that we are in such new territory, we refer to these extraordinarily large birds with red foreheads, white cheeks and long pointed bills as the “deer” of the neighborhood (although, apparently there are actual deer sightings in these parts as well). This was really the first time since moving here that I’ve heard these cranes “talking” and witnessed “dancing” too. Normally they are busy eating with their very long bills seemingly stuck in that rather awful, thick and spongy St. Augustine grass.

Naturally, curiosity piqued, I decided to Google up some information on these creatures. Firstly, it’s difficult to tell males and females apart; they are nearly identical. Males are generally slightly larger. In addition, I learned the display I had witnessed was most likely mating (or mated ) pairs engaging in “unison calling.” And here I thought they were having a heated argument over worms, berries or whether or not to fly over to the next retention pond. Although I do suppose such squabbles come later in the relationship (cracking myself up here) it is a certain bliss to learn that these birds are monogamous and stay together for life. And, mom and pop both share in the incubation duties. Isn’t that just lovely?! Of course, on the flip side, if one should get too close to eggs or babies (either accidentally or purposefully) one or both parents will feel threatened and will come after the unfortunate soul aggressively and are apt to assault with a kick and/or stab with their long bill, which is apparently sharp enough to pierce the skull of a small carnivore. Yikes.

And yes, when The Poodle caught sight of the pair this morning he stopped dead still and was actually rendered bark-less for a change! In fact, I’m positive I saw his jaw drop in amazement as if to express: Jeez mom, we’re definitely not in “Kansas” anymore.

Indeed my sweet four-legged love. “Just you wait,” I said as I caressed his head and moved us along towards home. “There are more adventures to come old man…and you haven’t even caught sight of your first gator.”

Trying to impress are we? Ah, yes…I am impressed.

Something Weird This Way Comes?

Change is in the Air. I can feel it!

I’ll think it again…and again…and again:

These humans can certainly be a strange bunch. I just don’t get them sometimes.

Take for example a recent event. My pack leaves me for nearly ten days!  I know..egregious…right!  So, this was bad, nearly hellacious I’d venture.  Okay, I might… perhaps… be playing the drama card a bit much. After all, I was on a “vacay” of sorts too…at a home that had other dogs, cats, and even a mini-horse. Things there were ever so interesting and new, which kept the wheels in my nearly thirteen year-old noggin spinning right along. Truthfully, I only missed my pack at night. Still, after my humans returned home you’d have thought they’d be all relaxed like a bowl filled with jiggly-wiggly jello. Instead, there is a certain tenseness about, particularly with my one true love…my “mom.”

As a matter of fact, all this electricity in the air began a week ago. I’d find my mom standing still as a statue for interminably long moments looking out over the back yard or sitting out on the screened-in porch deep in thought…or downright sad. Once I caught her crying in her favorite chair. She wasn’t even watching television so I thought perhaps a book she was reading was making her sad. And then there were the sometimes clipped exchanges between mom and dad. I’m not an expert on the human language by any means. Cheese, treat, sit, stay, roll-over, kiss, paw, hungry, shake, go poop, go car, go bed, get squeaky ball, where’s dad, and let’s go see Nica, are currently the extent of my vocabulary. I can learn more—old dogs can in spite of what you’ve heard otherwise—but I’m pacing myself. Let me be clear; mom and dad weren’t shouting at each other and mom wasn’t throwing anything (although, the former does happen on occasion and certainly did for some months between mom and that other human she had incredible emotion for who was living in the basement.  Yep…gotta admit…those occasions  made me retreat to my bed fraught with worry! 

So now, Mom and dad have also been sitting at the computer—together. That is very concerning!! That happens rarely. I can feel something weird this way comes. In fact, just the other day they were spending so much time doing goodness knows what on that computer that I kept nosing mom’s hand to get her attention…as in, PICK ME UP mom because I NEED YOU!    You see, Mom has her computer upstairs and dad has his downstairs. So it is only logical to be confused as to WHY are they sitting together in dad’s office.

But the real kicker that has my anxiety level ramped up once again is all this cleaning and filling-up large black bags, taking boxes out into the garage, and the paper shredder which has been on hyper drive for days now.  And, the worst of it all is that all too familiar sound of tape coming off a dispenser.

The light bulb goes off. 

Uh oh.  I know what’s happening. I know exactly what is happening.

Oh no. NO, NO, NO! Not again!

Yep.

We’re moving.

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

A Sore Butt Equals a Happy Heart

My Oh my what a month March was!

Made it to 8,100 ft. elevation without walking. Full disclosure: The bike guide had to help me hoist the bike up for the photo as I was toast!

So, we’re just back from our second—yes, second— get-outta-Dodge excursion. Like animals escaping from a zoo, we bolted outside of the perimeter of our county when Covid vaccinations —including ours—were becoming more widespread. We braved flights in air not once, but twice; first to “Land of the Free” Florida and then to the Saguaro-dotted hills of Tuscon, Arizona. Masks were plentiful, some social distancing too, but for the most part it was business as usual for both states. Everything was open and common-sense practices in effect. It made me think once again how grateful I was NOT to be living under the draconian rules of places like California or New York.

How lovely it was to walk on the beach for a few days with freshly painted Pompeii Purple toe nails happy to splash in still chilly seawater. A drive up the coast to check out the quaint historic town of St. Augustine was also on our weekend agenda. Though it was windy and cold (I had not dressed appropriately for chilly weather) we managed to enjoy a leisurely lunch there and a tour of the Lightner museum as well as a quick stop at the historic St. Augustine lighthouse. Honestly, I could kick myself for dressing in shorts and not bringing a jacket; if I’d prepared properly we would have spent much more time strolling around and learning more about the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés–who would also become Florida’s first governor, this charming city was a mention by my daughter to consider for the next phase of our lives. At first blush upon arrival, we thought indeed it could be! However, after talking with an overly chatty local over a lunch of delicious fish sandwiches and a crisp Chardonnay, we thought better of it as 81 hurricanes have been recorded in St. Augustine since 1930!

A few weeks after our long weekend get-away to Florida we traveled to Arizona. March 2020 was supposed to be our fifth excellent bicycle vacation with Bicycle Adventures but of course that got summarily squashed due to a global pandemic. Hubby pushed the trip to October 2020 and that too was ceremoniously squashed because of issues with my son. Hubby insisted a third time would be the charm even as I kicked and “screamed” NO! to keeping the booking for March 2021. He needed the mental break in the worst way not to mention being loathe to losing the cycling deposit. As for moi? I had not trained for six continuous days of cycling (truth be told, I had not trained at all!) nor was my mildly depressed mindset interested in…well…frankly anything following all the drama of the past year. I was resigned to my pity-party state, which was, of course, exactly why Hubby, with a stern final voice, insisted “WE ARE GOING!”

So, here I am…just returned from six days in the bike saddle, touring miles upon many miles around the uniquely harsh but magnificent landscape of the Sonoran desert. My butt is mighty sore but my heart is happy and my spirits hopeful in spite of the many unknowns that lie ahead for us. Hours of bright, warm sunshine plus long challenging rides —to include a continual 4.25 hours of an uphill climb to 8,100 ft., up Tuscon’s beautiful Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest, will do that to body and soul.

This was, one of the rare times, that I said to Hubby: “Yes…you were right.”

There is (particularly for him) bliss in that.

p.s. I’ll share more photos of the week once I figure out why, all of the sudden, my iPhone images with HEIC extension are not allowed on WordPress. Harrumph.

Bicycle Adventures 2021