Four Days Gone

Memphis come back...

Memphis, come eat…

Vines poke their tendrils through the soffit vents and under the doorways in the Valley.  Spiders and dust slip the gap in the screen. Shade trees drop leaves like drunkards, covering the patio the day after you clean it. Rats chew their way into the walls, bed down in the insulation and gnaw on the ceiling rafters.   Ants march across countertops to find the drop of maple syrup you spilled at breakfast. While you watch Game of Thrones nature is forever reaching into your house, reasserting claims.

You hear cat stories from people, how they disappear for a week and then walk back in the door as though nothing happened.  That’s never happened to us.

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Our deal with Memphis was he was free to wander the neighborhood as long as he reported in by dark.  He rusticated under bushes. He slithered over fences and onto neighbors patios. He lolled in the middle of the street, swishing his tail, waiting for cars to come around the corner. He galumphed up and down the block greeting tradesmen and head-butting teenage slackers.  The normal rules of cat tragedy were forever in abeyance. A hundred and nine lives he enjoyed. On our return from the evening walk we would hear the tinkle of his collar as he fell into step behind us.  Sometimes he took sport in making Mrs. U chase him down, gather him into her arms, and carry him back to the house over her shoulder while he kneaded his claws into her shoulder.

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On the second morning after Memphis didn’t report,  I woke to Trixie pacing the roof.  She stood at parade rest over my bedroom window, alert, staring toward the end of the block, as though sniffing his return.

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It was not to be. The urban forest had extracted its claim on our house.

Pray, Mantis

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I moved my grapefruit tree yesterday. Dug it out by the roots and dragged it across the yard. To create a space, I first needed to chop out the root ball of the elm tree I felled a few months ago.  With an axe and a pick. It took three days.

What do you mean, why?  Doesn’t everyone do it that way?

When I walked into the kitchen for my victory beer, I felt a tickle on my arm.  This little green guy was riding me into the house. I had destroyed his world, and now he was clinging to me like a branch in white water rapids.   We bonded over his new circumstances.

I say his, but I have no idea what the gender is here.  Female mantises are known to bite the heads off males at the apex of copulation. The death throes of the male provide a more vigorous delivery of sperm. Also, nutrition.

Meanwhile he’s been hanging out in the kitchen, making himself useful chewing through ceiling cobwebs.  I say he’s a harbinger of good tidings.

Biter, or bite-ee?

Head eater, or offerer? Better not to know

Last week, walking the dogs, I heard cries of distress from under a bush and found a 3-week-old kitten buried in bougainvillea leaves, eyes closed with goop.

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I took him home, put him on the couch and Trixie immediately licked him back to life, stimulating poop.  Then Trixie gobbled the poo.

Rinse, repeat

Rinse, repeat

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The kitty loves the interspecies tongue action and mewls for more. We’re all really comfortable with these new arrangements, this blurring of the natural order.

How soon before I turn into this guy?

How soon before I turn into this guy?

The Suburban Forest

Not tree-d, but windowed. Just out of view below, two feral cats waited for his grip to loosen.   He made it safely back to the tree by jumping past them when their attention flagged. Now he’s greedily eating all my oranges and feeling invincible.  Maybe if I didn’t live with a crazy cat lady, the ferals would be a little hungrier and we’d have a few more oranges on our tree.

Goodbye, Eucalyptus

First, we get rid of the trees

First, we get rid of the trees

It had to happen eventually. The carcass of Montgomery Ward on Roscoe Blvd, empty for fifteen years, our weed-sprouted, broken asphalt slice of Detroit-on-the-Pacific,  is about to be transformed into Icon at Panorama, a discount version of The Grove.  Or something with chain stores, anyway.  Sometime in 2019.

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Why it should take so long is a mystery.  For now, the trees, ghostly sentinels from a lost episode of The Walking Dead, have met the chainsaw.

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Trunk-burnt,  twisting from the asphalt toward a merciless sun, defying the death to which they had been consigned by the abandoned schemes of commerce.  A foreshadow of life after people.