Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog catch-up

Hello, faithful reader,

Didja miss me? It's been more than a month since I've blogged, and this time no one complained. Oh well! I am happy to be back. I missed it. Lots has been going on, and often I find myself thinking -- I have to blog about this! but then I don't.

First of all, bears: We had our first sighting of the spring in April, a mother and two cubs. They like to walk the stream next to our house. We have tender skunk cabbage and other tasty tidbits. We've seen them several times since, the latest being last night. Lily was on the screened-in porch and saw one of the cubs out, alone. We felt all proud -- our baby is growing up, out on his/her own for the first time! I gather the cubs stay with their mothers for two years, and this one, while clearly still a youngster, is definitely getting more independent. Later, Dave showed me fresh scat, right on the path behind the house. Very exciting.

Friends said they didn't want to go camping because they were afraid of bears, and I said you just have to put your food and garbage in the car when you leave or go to sleep, but otherwise you should be okay. When people say they're afraid of the bears, I feel a mix of, don't bother! and, should I be more worried? No one who's lived here any length of time seems to fear them much. They respect them, don't get me wrong. They stay inside when bears are around, and most people store their garbage carefully and take down their bird feeders in the spring. But no one panics when they walk in the woods, say. I think the bears are really shy, and if they hear me in the woods they go the other direction. When I walk alone I sometimes carry a bear bell and ring it from time to time.

But most of the time the bears are just the bears, a fact of life, wild but accustomed to living near humans, more shy of us than we are of them, to be treated with respect but not panic. A bear expert here told me you were safer around bears if you didn't let them know you were afraid of them. Stay away from the mamas and their cubs, and from a mating pair. Otherwise, you're good to go. And no one has been attacked here in something like 150 years.

The cat: She escaped! But she's back. We had a party for a friend after her UMass graduation (PhD!) and someone forgot to close the screen door to the back porch. I let her out onto the porch the next day and she must have been ecstatic to see the door to her cell just hanging open. I didn't notice for an hour, but bless her, Chance came when I called her. She came out of the woods behind our house, slinking along on her belly, the way she does when she gets outside, like she doesn't want to be seen. I just scooped her up and brought her in, no worse for the wear except for a small slug clinging to the fur on her underside.

Lily and I took her to the vet for her annual check-up and got this new comb for her and it's AMAZING. It's called the FURminator, here's a link, and we recommend it to anyone with a cat or dog or rabbit or whatever. It thins the undercoat, and Chance loves it. We can't do it too often, she's getting bald -- not really, but it takes out gobs and gobs of hair and it all goes everywhere and you throw away great handfuls of the stuff. Kind of icky, but it better that than on the sofa or carpet.

Chance is very excited that the weather is nicer and there's more to see outside. She's been spending hours in one of the basement windows, looking outside. She hangs there and the back porch, both very exciting for her. Nice cat.

Lily is doing great at school and is really turning into a lovely flute player and musician. She's had several concerts recently, including two choral concerts. One was with a local group called Whole Children, which provides fun and services for special needs kids. They hired Joan, her choral director, to conduct the Whole Children kids and general population kids, like Lily, in a chorus to sing along with Dan Zanes. The show was a First Churches, in downtown Northampton, on Mother's Day. Lily and a boy named Aidan introduced Dan. Afterward he stuck around for photos and autographs. As Joan said, Dan is a real class act. He sang a few songs to kick the show off, but he knew this was all about the kids, the kids, the kids. There was a wide variety of experience and skills. At least one was non-verbal. And they had a gas, you could tell, by how they sang and danced and hung around after, focused and joyful. Lily loved it.

Here's Lily with Joan, her amazing conductor, and of course, the dude in the pink suit is Dan.

One more Lily image to put here: She was invited to a space-themed birthday party a couple of weeks ago. So she decided to go as a glam Star Trek alien. How 'bout this! A lot easier than a robot or something.

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