Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

August 15, 2012

Morning Stroll and...

With the brutal heat and humidity of this summer, birding has almost become a distant memory because it feels so long ago.  I know I have birded, despite the heat, but haven't seen a whole lot of anything.  Or rather, nothing that I am not seeing in my backyard for the most part.

There have been less blazing days lately and I've started to wander away from the backyard again.

Not straying too far from home because of some home projects; but you know, sometimes just knowing your own neighbourhood is a good thing and you'd be surprised what is actually around your house at times if you just stop and look.

Prime example, I found this Great Horned Owl literally in our neighbourhood.  I am talking just a little more than a stone throw away from our front door.

He/she was a wonderful surprise this past Monday.  And honestly an Owl was the last thing in my head of birds I thought I might see today.  I associate Owls with the colder months although I am well aware Great Horns and Screech Owls are about the city all year round.

I just happened to look up into a large pine tree and notice an odd "stump" on one of the branches.  Instantly I thought, "holy s**t, that's an Owl!" but argued with myself about it, debating it, until I got the bins on this object for confirmation.

I should have taken a photo without the zoom, so you could see the distance, and how well these creatures blend in with their surroundings.  I guess not that well this time since I happened to see him.

I moved around the tree, keeping a good distance back.  For one, I didn't want to stress him out; although most start to feel some stress as soon as they take notice of a person watching them which is why people really need to limit their Owl viewing to 5 minutes or so and move on.  And second, backing away from the tree gives a person a better frontal view of the bird as opposed to being under the tree and under the bird providing the bird even sticks around with your invasion of his "house".  Hey, another good reason is that he just might s**t on you.  Some say it's good luck, you'll come into money, win a lottery; trust me, I've been s**t on enough times by various birds to know that is just a myth.

Anyways, viewing the Owl from the front now, I could see he was awake.  And he wasn't calm.  Which surprised me because every other Great Horned Owl I have seen in the wild, high up in a tree, sit up there like Kings and pay little attention to us puny Humans walking about the ground below them.  But this one, he wasn't relaxed at all.  And it wasn't just with me looking at him.  Noisy children in the distance got his attention.  Some city workers maintaining the grounds with power tools nearby had him looking over that way.  Squabbling Robins in another tree was another seeming annoyance.  And of course, he would turn back and glare at me as well.

I cut my time with him even shorter than I usually spend with these creatures.  I felt bad for him.  Was he just grumpy today?  Was he a younger Owl and curious of all that was going on around him?  Maybe he just arrived on this location recently and is still checking it out, seeing if it's good grounds to live from, and adjusting to the sights and sounds around him?  Who knows?  So I took a few photos and then moved on...

Ya, he looks cranky...

As I wandered the woods, I happened to find a few Raccoons, like I almost always do wherever I go. 

This one was perhaps a little camera shy?

 I passed the Great Horn one final time as I headed for home.  Still in the same tree, just moved a little higher up.  I was still bothered by his agitated state.

As I key this, it's Wednesday now, and I went for another walk today before some errands and found him once again.  I was delighted to see him in a much more relaxed state on this fine morning.  I watched him with the bins for a moment, took this photo and immediately moved on.  He's content, and I aim to do my part to keep him that way.

August 8, 2012

Meadow's 9th birthday "mis-adventure"

A few weeks back we took Meadow in for her annual check-up.  She's been going every July since her one year birthday and gets the works.  They've been tracking her blood from the very beginning and compare each new sample with previous years for any changes.

Meadow turned 9 this July.  Her check-up seemed to go well, and she lost just over one pound which was awesome.

The following day we got our normal phone call from the vet regarding her blood work but this time there was some issues, white cells down significantly and they wanted to do another blood test and a urine test.  It's kind of a blur now but words like leukemia and diabetes were put out there as worst case scenario along with something about a low grade virus (like a cold) being on the least case of possibilities.

About ten days prior to her annual, we did notice Meadow being more lethargic than usual.  And her appetite was down.  We blamed this on heat and humidity.  My Grandma used to say this about one of her cats, "he's just not a summer cat" as this one guy, Pinky, changed entirely in appearance and attitude from summer to winter.  And Meadow does the same from when it's 35c outside to 15c going from a lazy Lion to a hyper kitten.  While she's not into the heat, she will spend far too many hours on the top floor of the house and sleep away to a point where she can be sick like.  We've started closing the door to the upstairs on some of the brutal days we've had in recent weeks.  We have central air but it just can't cool to the top of the house which is like a finished attic, one room across the top.

We were asked to wait another 2 weeks before bringing her in for further tests and the vet told us to try and not worry about it.  HA!  How could we not?  She's our little baby!

And now speaking for myself here (Angie has her own unique bond with Meadow that has been years in the making, something she may blog about one day)...

 Meadow has been with me since she was not much more than 5 weeks old.  She came into my world some months after I bought this house and was the reason I finally settled in here.

She's been with me just about every day since then.  She's my sidekick.  We watch movies together, we eat together, we nap together, and she gets involved with much of what I do inside and outside the house.

In our younger days, we'd be outside filling up bird feeders at 1:30 in the morning, middle of winter, sub zero temperatures.  Kinda crazy to some people but it was one of the many adventures we shared over and over.

About 5 years ago she sent me to the hospital one night after a misunderstanding at home lead to something pretty bad.  Cat bites can be terrible for your health.  I was in emergency, hooked up on an anti-biotic through IV.  It was even suggested by one of my closest friends at the time to put her down.  He said she probably had a "blood lust" now and would never be the same.  But for me, like any person with some common sense and a love and understanding with our pets, knew what happened, why it happened and that it would not happen again if played out differently on my behalf.  The whole story is right here.

We have so many memories now after 9 years.  And hope we have many more over many more years to come.

But I let the worst case scenario get the best of me in our waiting time.  And it got worse with every day that came closer to her next appointment.  And how the age of 9 can already be classified as a senior for a cat boggles my mind.  She will always be my little baby, no matter her age.  And what if she was really sick?  What then?  What if our time was going to be cut short?  I didn't even research anything during the wait time, I just swallowed it up, and it grew like a tumor in me over the 2 weeks and I was ready to explode.  Something I won't do again.  It made me emotionally exhausted and physically ill.  I have understanding friends I can talk to about this but I didn't.  And I should have opened myself up more on this to Angie.

Finally the day came, and we took her in.  It was shocking to us that they took her immediately to the back where the labs are, and we weren't allowed to come in.  Usually we talk with a tech, the vet, and then things get done.  Just bing boom bam, get 'er done, and that was it.  About 15 minutes later, a tech came out and said there was a problem with retrieving a urine sample from her.  We had a choice.  Leave her with them or come back another day and try again.  As much as we didn't want to leave her, it was the best thing, lets get this done today.  And we left.  We were both stunned to be leaving the vet without Meadow,something that's never happened before except when she got spayed at 6 months.  And over the next 6 1/2 hours at home, waiting and wondering, the house didn't feel the same with her not in it.  Even if we don't see her for hours while she naps, the comfort of knowing she is there is all we need...  and we didn't have that.

This shot makes me sad as you can see the fear and confusion in her one eye peering through her carrier.

In the end, all was well.  She recovered from whatever *bug* she had and everything was good with her.  Recommendations for some diet changes have been suggested once again, moving her into a senior blend of food.  There's that word again...  senior.  Blah!

I couldn't help but think the worst.  This was new to me.  Sure we've had other cats in the past, and I was very close to them too; but it's different with Meadow.  I am sure anyone reading this will get that if they've had that special bond with an animal.

Here are a couple favorite photos of Meadow...

What she loves to do outside in the warmer months on a sunny afternoon

A reminder to us all, that one must stop and smell the flowers every now and then

August 2, 2012

Cruising for Yellow Warblers

Back when Angie and I first REALLY got into birding, sometime after the backyard bird feeding craze caught on with us.  We were learning more and more about the other birds that pass through the Toronto area, the migratory birds, and more specifically the Warbler species.

One of the first Warblers we discovered was the Yellow Warbler.  They were in abundance in the Carden area on our first real big bird trip out.  "Wow!"  Look at the photo above, what a stunning little bird, and such a loud song for such a tiny little bird.

I thought these Warblers did not hang around Toronto at all, only pass through, and I'd have to visit far off places like Carden in Kirkfield Ontario, which is about 90 minutes away, to enjoy them.

And one day in late Spring or early Summer, I took notice to many of them still in a park along the Lakeshore.  This park is called "Marie Curtis Park".  I'd heard the birding here is great in the summer months.  And to drive 15 minutes to see these Yellow Warblers was much more appealing than 90 minutes elsewhere.

There is something about Marie Curtis Park, that came as quite a surprise to me...  it is a "cruise spot" for gay men.  So many years ago I used to purchase my weekly comics at Pendragon just up the street from M.C.P. and I'd drive over to the park after and skim my new comic releases.  Just sit on a bench by the lake and read a comic or two was great in the warmer months!  Also, little did I know that back then, Angie lived in the area and often sun-tanned in the same park.  Go figure! 

So, the first visit to M.C.P. on my own birding one weekday afternoon was an uncomfortable time.  Hey, be gay, be straight, I don't care; but please, keep the sex antics out of the public places.  I will skip the details but let's just say I stayed off certain paths as I took notice to things unfolding (unzipping?) around me.  Talking to others after this, is when I learned it is a well known "cruise spot".  And assumed most activity was on weekdays when most people are working, kids in school, etc.

M.C.P. became a place I avoided after this just because I was not enjoying myself seeking out Warblers and wildlife in general when there was a fear of not knowing what was around the  next corner on a path or that rustle in the bushes; was it a Rabbit or ???

Then, a few years later, one beautiful Saturday afternoon in July, I found myself with a few hours to kill on my own.  So I went birding by the lake.  I hit a few places and thought I should check out M.C.P. once again.  I mean, it's Saturday!  It's a beautiful day out.  There are lots of people enjoying the lake trails as family outings.  How bad could things be this afternoon for "cruising"?  HA!  Read on...

For the first while, I was enjoying the Warblers buzzing around.  I even saw a Brown Thrasher and an Indigo Bunting.  Nice bird sightings I don't see very often.  I stopped at one point along the lakefront trail (paved path), viewing a Yellow Warbler bellowing out his song to the west of the trail.  I got my bins up for a better view, camera hanging off my shoulder.  Suddenly I hear some rustling in the bushes about 20 ft in front of me and out comes this old guy, pulling up the last bit of his pants and zipping up his fly.  Our eyes met for a second before he reached down and pulled his bicycle out of the tall grass, hopped on and raced out of there as fast as he could.   I guess me with the bins and camera made many things run through his head as he sped off?

I was in a slight state of shock to say the least.  And next thing I know, up stands this large naked man, a real jolly fellow and he starts calling me to join him in the bushes.

I can compare the two guys to George Bush Sr. being the first one to  surface from the bushes and the big jolly guy as a Rob Ford look-a-like.

For a moment I thought I should say something like, "if that thing can point out a Prothonotary Warbler, let's talk".  But I opted for a silent and quick turn around, and began heading down the waterfront path with the general public out enjoying the beautiful day by the lake.  About a minute later we all could hear a slew of profanities that were being shouted from another individual he tried to lure in.

It's a great spot for wildlife as we've seen Deer, Raccoons, Rabbits, and Coyotes occasionally have been spotted as well in addition to so many species of birds.  It's the "two legged wildlife" I can do without.

This is one of a number of more interesting outings I will be sharing in the coming weeks.