Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

July 28, 2017

Grateful because...

So I had myself an accident at home last week. I was cleaning the eaves-trough at the back of the house.

No, it didn't happen like this...

I had been up and down the ladder a few times that morning, 3x up to be exact, but my third and final trip down became a free fall from about 6 or 7 ft. I still don't really know what happened. The ladder must have shifted. All I know is I stepped on it to go down this 3rd time and suddenly I was on an express drop to "Painsville".

I know I lay there on the deck for a while. How I got into the house when I couldn't stand is a blur. How I got the back door open is another blur. But I did it.

I immediately dropped to the kitchen floor. I kept thinking "this isn't happening". I looked at the clock and thought to give myself 20 minutes to catch my breath and get my bearings. I had to! I couldn't reach for the phone at this point to call anyone for help.

One of our cats, Merry, came into the kitchen. I could tell she was quite concerned over what was going on. Here I am laying on the floor and making some awful zombie like moans with a few f-bombs throughout.

About 20 minutes later I was finally able to reach for the phone on the desk. I called Angie first. Nothing like putting my wife into panic mode just before her lunch break. Of course she's like "call 9-1-1!" which is what I did next.

I lay there as I waited for them to come, which didn't take very long. Merry was sniffing my blood drops on the floor by the door. I had a couple long gashes down my left arm which is still another mystery to what did that as I'm certain I landed on my right side.

Day after the accident

5 days later

Then moments before the paramedics arrived, I threw up. Poor Merry was completely freaked out now. And then in came her sister Molly to see what the heck was going on.

The front door was locked, I had instructed them to come up the side of the house and to the back door. One paramedic did just that while the other waited out front. Everything happened rather quickly upon their arrival. I only remember when the front door was opened to let the other in, that I had nothing on my mind but pretty much begging them to shut the door, not letting either of the cats bolt outside. They are calicos and it's their personality to be high strung when things get "weird". The paramedics were great about this, while I was their main concern, they ensured Merry and Molly stayed put.

I had to climb up on our computer chair and go for a ride through the kitchen and living room, then out the front door. It was another feat to get down the front steps to the waiting stretcher. The ride to the hospital went rather quick. The bumps and stops hurt like hell. I was so nauseated from the pain but am glad I didn't throw up again, especially on these nice people helping me. I know I said "fuck" an awful lot, and apologized almost as much to them throughout. Sure I can have a potty mouth but only in the company of people I am comfortable with.

It was 9 hours in emergency at St. Joseph's hospital on The Queensway in Toronto. Two sets of x-rays and one cat scan. They feared I had a collapsed lung, or partially anyway. In the end, I escaped with 2 broken ribs and quite a few scrapes and bruises. I don't know how many times I heard how lucky I was, especially as they checked my spine and my head.

I broke the 6th and 8th rib on my right side.

Angie and my mother met me at the hospital not long after my arrival. I slept through a good part of the ordeal after they gave me some Gravol and a couple hits of hydromorphone. Angie said they could see the drugs take effect on me and I went into my own world. Sleep was the only thing that took the pain away. My waking moments were often unbearable until I got my body settled in a pain manageable position. I later learned they entertained themselves and had lots of adventure through the afternoon and evening; how could one not in an emergency room in Toronto? But that's their stories to tell.

Trying to make the best of this misadventure. I'm high as hell here.

So I was able to come home later that evening. And here we are 7 days later. The pain is mostly manageable. I have to rest as much as possible, which is difficult for me to do. Angie has taken on most of my chores about the house for now. I shouldn't drive for the next week or so. I actually started the truck yesterday and as I sat in the driver's seat, I know I can't drive, as I can't twist to the right to look behind me for backing up. I know sitting in the seat for any length of time would be uncomfortable, the bumps in the road would not help, nor any sudden stops.

I have eased off the hydromorphone, only taking it before bed. It makes me pretty dopey and I don't like that very much. I guess it could help me pass the days away but if I don't need to take it, managing the pain on my own or with Advil, is what I prefer to do. I've read these narcotics are highly addictive. Ya, I don't need to test my strength on saying "NO!" to drugs.

Why am I blogging about this here? Well my blog is like a journal for me. What happened has effected the adventures of "Rob and the Animals". I'm not out and about enjoying nature. I cannot volunteer with Toronto Wildlife or any other place right now. I still have 2 nest boxes left to check for the season. It's not a big deal, I will get to them eventually, but it is disappointing I cannot finish the season off when I want to. Time passing may erase some of the evidence within those boxes.

This was not my first gutter cleaning. I've been doing this chore on average 3x a year for over a decade now. All without incident. I guess my overconfidence worked against me this time?

I'd like to state that I am grateful for my family and my friends. We've had a lot of offers to help with anything need be while I'm recovering, be it cutting the grass, grocery runs, or anything else. So far, we are okay. But it's nice to know some have offered their assistance and truly mean it.

What else I am grateful for is our backyard. Being a nature lover, we are blessed with a nice slice of nature right behind the house. I am grateful for all the creatures that come here day and night. I'm glad I can sit on the deck and hang with my Pigeon pals, watch the birds and butterflies, and if I am still up after dark, see the Raccoon family and a couple new Skunks coming around. Rainy days will be had I am sure and those days I will resort to the television, but any nice day I can sit out there, I will. It sucks I can't take the cats out for the time being, they both love it out there. I can't handle monitoring the two of them, setting up that kitty walk structure and even picking them up is not easy right now.  I can't play fetch very well with Merry and her paper balls.  I can't find Molly's plastic ring toys, which she loves so much, when they disappear under the furniture, appliances or baseboards.  They are confused why things aren't the way they were a week ago, the things we normally do, we aren't now.

Here are some photos from this week as I recover...

Merry, who is daddy's girl, is very happy to have me home again. We could see that my accident really effected both of them. It was well into Saturday (day after) before they finally started acting like their normal selves.

My Pigeon pals keep me company. Jersey has some long visits.

Of course there's Pierre.

Both are daily visitors and I am thankful for their company.

The new Raccoon family show up pretty late in the evening so I don't see them like I have been when coming home from work. The young ones are always entertaining to watch. These 2 wander around together while the third is a "momma's boy" and not quite as adventurous.

I haven't tried to use my 500 mm lens since the accident. The macro is much lighter. While I'm confined to home, during sunnier moments I am looking for creepy, crawly, flying and buzzing things.

Orchard Orbweaver feasting on a mosquito.

Zebra Jumping Spider.

Brown Mamorated Stink Bug.

Anything with eyes and a pulse keep me entertained.

More Pierre.

Yes, the Pigeons are really helping me this week. Who would have thought?

A male Northern Cardinal has been caring for his 2 young all week out there.

Last night there was 2 Skunks and the Raccoon family out back. Close call here but no spraying happened.

I am amazed the Skunk tolerated this invasive curious behaviour. I'm realizing through all the encounters in our backyard that they aren't all trigger happy, especially the older ones.

Indeed I am grateful for a lot of things right now, especially my current state of health and family, but since this is an animal blog... I can't imagine not having the backyard and all the visitors we are blessed with. It's really helping through my recovery. I don't know what I'd be doing without the yard and them.

July 25, 2017

Happy Anniversary Pierre!

A little late but I just wanted to share with you that Pierre and I celebrated our 5th anniversary recently. July 21st to be exact.

I remember through the first couple years I was acknowledging all the mini-milestones like 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, 30 months.

Then through this past winter, with his lengthy disappearances, I wondered if and when I would see him again. The last couple winters it has gone as such. I start marking the calendar with our last "encounters". It's always a blast when I suddenly see him in his spot outside the backdoor after weeks of being away.

Whoever would have thought I would have befriended a Pigeon? Not me 10 years ago. As I say, I never hated them, I would never hurt one, but they weren't high on my list. Hell I even helped a few injured ones back in these times. But I would never have believed something like this would happen.

But it was him, with his grand appearance back in 2012, literally hopping into our lives that started it. And I found myself growing fond of him rather quickly.

He spent that whole first weekend with us, just hanging out, and even taking part in a small gathering of friends that Saturday afternoon.

He's my buddy. He has a lot of trust in me. Our adventure over the last Christmas season, going to Toronto Wildlife because of the thread wrap around his toes, is the ultimate proof to this.

Who could ever forget our Global News piece the other winter. See here.

It's fun to revisit some of the short videos I've taken over the years like this one. One of his typical tantrums. Here's another.

He is a big Pigeon and his personality is even bigger.

I don't know how long this ride of ours is going to last. I do try to embrace every visit even though I never think of it as possibly being our last. My much needed first coffee of the morning is often delayed to cater to him first. He always seems quite appreciative.

Some people seem to forget that he is a wild bird. Sure he may come off as tame and lovable but he is not one to become a pet, never to be caged. He comes and goes as he pleases. He makes his own choices like who he may come to hand and feed from. No one should ever take offence if he does not come to them.

Happy anniversary Pierre! Here's to many more moments together!

July 17, 2017

Cool Outings

Sunday morning I went out looking for Dragonflies and Butterflies. I saw very few but I did run into this beautiful beast...

I did get to photo this guy, who I still need to ID.

Then Sunday evening I went out again elsewhere and encountered a few Coyotes calling in a field. I waited to see if I could spot one, but didn't. The mosquitoes were brutal but I put up with them for the 10 or so minutes I got to hear these animals call. You can hear a 30 second clip of it here. I don't encounter that many Coyotes so I always embrace these moments. Might as well pimp out a Coyote blog of mine from not too long ago. Apparently one was seen last week during the day in the hydro field by us which has stirred up some negative feelings from a few neighbours.

When I got home, I saw a big fat Skunk out back, but it disappeared before I could get my camera and headlamp. You saw my Skunk blog, right? Well, as consolation, I got to see our local momma Raccoon and her 3 young'uns. This is the third time I've seen them and they are always in this one tree.


Cuteness overload

Or how about this cutey... newly fledged Northern Mockingbird that Angie and I saw Saturday morning.

Toronto is a big city but we are blessed to have some great green spaces throughout where a nature lover can still go out and enjoy the wild world around us.

July 6, 2017

Sympathy for the Skunks

It's been great the last few months for us here at home, enjoying numerous sightings from a couple Skunks. They bless us with their presence occasionally well into the first morning light or an hour before dark. I've had some very close encounters throughout, sometimes leaving me frozen in the moment and it's left me with having a better understanding of these animals that so many of us fear in a "scents" (pun intended!). Nobody wants to get sprayed by one!

After dark I am out with a headlamp on just to help me not stumble upon one and startle it. It helps quite a bit but I've still had some very close moments where one has sent me a warning with some foot stomping.

I've noticed that the Raccoons can see them coming long before I can and they quickly react. I'm guessing they've had some bad experiences living outside with them, all fighting for the same food at times.

So ya, it's been great seeing them as much as we have and never having to leave the backyard.

Well, Sunday night (July 2nd) a smaller Skunk came through our yard while we were sitting on the deck and waiting for the Hummingbirds to show up. We have 2 Hummingbirds who are almost reliably seen in the last 30 minutes of light every evening. Anyway, it is quickly observed that there is something wrong with this Skunk, his back left leg is wounded as he is hopping around on the 3 good legs and keeping this one up to his body.

Since it was near dark, we got a few ounces of rum in us, it was decided to leave things be this evening. I left a message with Toronto Wildlife about what we just saw, asking in the message if there was room in the centre for this Skunk. It's a busy time of year for all wildlife rehab centres and sadly there are times when animals get turned away from the centres we rely upon in our area and we have to find someone else, sometimes much further away, who might be able to take them in.

We go inside for the night and go to bed thinking about that Skunk.

The next morning I get a call back from TWC hotline. First thing asked is if it is a baby Skunk. I said it was small compared to others I see but I am confident it's not a baby. The Skunk is out on it's own. It's not kitten size. What more could I tell them? No photo could tell them how big it is either. They told me that they cannot admit any more babies, they are full. Caring for baby wildlife is very different than adult care and with us just getting into Summer, I understand that their nursery is full.

It was ok'd that if I could catch the Skunk, to bring it up to them for assessment and determine the whole baby vs adult as well. If it was a baby and could not be admitted, they would help me try to find another rehab centre that could take him in. I had a partial feeling of relief. But I still needed to catch the Skunk before any of this came into play.

About 7:30 that evening I set the live trap out back. I set it near where the Skunk had come through the previous evening. I know they are creatures of habit and hoped for the best. It was just before 9 pm and the animal showed up. YES! I was worried about it getting dark and if 2 showed up around the same time and trying to get the right one into this trap.

I watched from a short distance away, standing still and keeping very quiet. I took a few photos of the moment, hoping it was going to work out exactly as I had planned in my mind.

Here he comes.

This is going way too easy.

Then he backed out and went around the other end.



I was communicating with experienced friends in these matters about the potential to get sprayed at this point. It was unlikely but not impossible. They gave me some advice which I took. I slowly approached the trap with a large towel, talking softly to the Skunk, letting him know I was there. This was not for comfort but to make him aware and not startle him. It worked. I placed the towel over the trap and then I gently picked it up. Then for my own security and peace of mind, I set the trap inside a bigger cardboard box. It was a double plus really because it made it even darker for the Skunk, and if he did spray at some point, it would stay inside the box.

I locked him up in the shed and felt it was going to be a long night until morning would come and I could continue with this adventure.

I woke up at 2:30 am and in a bit of a panic, worrying about him, worrying that he would not be admitted at TWC. Silly stuff. I knew he was not a baby. But that's a Virgo trait, to worry about everything at times. I try my best to rationalize and contain it but sometimes it can get the best of me and in the worst times, like the middle of the night.

Morning finally came. I was up way too early to do anything about this but it helped me prep for the day since time would be lost with taking care of him. I left a message with TWC that I had caught the Skunk and would be up not long after they opened.

I never checked on the Skunk. I wanted this to be as least invasive and stressful as possible for him (and me). When it came time to leave, I approached the shed and talked even as I opened the doors, I gently grabbed the box, walked softly to the truck, and the drive to the centre I did my best to avoid sudden stops, pot holes, etc. Of course there was no radio on. I kept the windows rolled up. I just drove.

Same scenario upon arrival. I talked to him as I opened the tail gate, grabbing the box and bringing him in.

It all went as well as I could have hoped.

The Skunk did finally "let it all out" when it came time to take him out of the trap. Thankfully those performing that particular task are used to this and well prepared.

Now it's a matter of a waiting game. And holding out hope that he is going to be fine and can come back home one day.

I know there are those who disagree with interfering with nature. I understand their side to it. But when it's happening in your backyard, how can a person look away? For the amount of time I spend out back, and for both Angie and I on the weekends, how could this be ignored? I can't imagine just watching him go about his life, coming through here, seeing the struggle and doing nothing about it. I'm sure he is in some sort of pain.

I'm no hero in this even as I overcame my fears of getting sprayed. Sure being sprayed is not fatal by any means but it sure would be quite a stinky inconvenience and I don't know anyone who wishes this upon themselves.

These animals that come through the yard are our "friends". They make our backyard a wonderful place to be. I hashtag photos at times #whygotothewoods and that is so true.

Someone asked me last week how I can do this. Meaning how I can work at Pepsi 8 hours a day, throw in an hour of travel time, but still spend time daily with wildlife. It's not just about volunteering with TWC, doing the Peregrine fledge watch, or the nest box monitoring, it's everything! Spending time with my Pigeon pals, observing a cool bird in my walks, finding neat insects in the garden as examples... any of these are the things I think about at the end of my day. These are the things that make my life worth living. And of course I am grateful I have someone in my life who supports this and likes to partake in these things when we are together.

So as I am about ready to publish this, TWC calls me. They are saddened to inform me that the Skunk's injuries were too severe and unfortunately euthanizing was the only option.

And for a kicker, the Skunk is a female and a lactating mother! In some situations, they would return the mother back, even with injuries, to help the young ones; but in this case, with how bad her injuries were, they could not ethically do that. They wanted to advise me of all this ASAP and put our eyes and ears out to the neighbourhood for any wandering babies in the coming days.

So with that, I'm off to check under the shed, under the back deck, under the front porch and speak to a few neighbours about also keeping watch. *sigh*

Now if that wasn't enough, Angie also contacted me this morning to tell me she is almost certain our old friend Fluffy got hit on Scarlett Road last night.  Fluffy is a big beautiful Skunk and almost unmistakable compared to others.  I went for a walk to Scarlett which is 12 houses up from us.  I saw the body, but by this time it had been run over so many times.  The back fur was still together and I saw those big white stripes.  While I cannot confirm 100%, I'd say it most likely was her. Damn!

Thanks for all the moments Fluffy.

We had 2 other Skunks. One of which we called Lincoln. We can't remember why we called him Lincoln (Stinkin' Lincoln?) but whatever. Then the Skunk that went to TWC may have been him, who turned out to be a her. They look very similar with the broken stripe pattern along the back.

Some may think it's silly to name them, personalizing them, but when you see them so much, you are able to recognize them as individuals... why not? Pierre would certainly agree with me on this one (my near 5 years of visiting Pigeon pal).

It's not easy watching the wild world around us. Caring about all of them. Wishing they would just stick around our backyards and be safe. Moments like this, caring is gonna kill us; but if we don't care, we may as well be dead.

I did this blog yesterday and have sat on it, pondering whether I really want to publish it or not. I will (obviously if you are reading it) but I wanted to add some last bits...

I have 3 good caring neighbours now on watch for any little Skunks. They live a few houses away from us on either side and the third is at the end of the street. That's a good stretch of area that will be monitored the best of our abilities.

There is the possibility the young Skunks are at the age where they could be going out on their own. Let's hope this is the case.

If not, and we round up these kitten sized stinkers, we do have a place for them to go and be cared for until they are big enough to go back out on their own.

I sat out back for about 90 minutes after work last night. I watched the wild world pass me by as I sat on the deck. I had a few pleasant encounters, being a wildlife lover as I am. Here they are...

A big lone Raccoon who stood up on his back legs to give me a glance as I sat on the deck. It's hilarious how many of them do this.


A mother Raccoon with 3 young'uns. This is the first Raccoon family I've seen this year... anywhere.

They eventually came down the tree and the little guys started exploring. Now I know who has been dumping our flower pots every night this week.

I really beat myself up yesterday for a while about the whole Skunk thing. I chatted with a few people regarding it and everyone was supportive. How could I know she was a mother? Who would have thought to look? Who would have had the courage to try and inspect an injured trapped Skunk? She was hurt very badly, most likely got clipped by a car on our street and she was struggling, suffering and who knows how much more fight she had? The past cannot be changed. I must focus on the present and possible situation at hand. And I must remember that life moves forward. My sightings last night are a reminder to me about that.

Wish us all luck!