Saturday, October 1, 2011

Of Stink Bugs and Dandelions

Blog Interruption: Of Stink Bugs and Dandelions

Last entry began the weeklong stink bug invasion, that diverts countless waking hours to soapy water drownings and the vacuuming of thousands of these curious creatures. It is both sad and satisfying, managing the hoards of shelter seeking bugs. I find myself pondering if they might hold the cure for cancer or some other miracle we’ve been seeking.

Like the much maligned dandelion that we just cant’ get rid of, try as we might, the stink bugs seem to multiply after each attempt to clear them from our lives.

We have devised various poisons for dandelion extinction, chemicals which have proven to be carcinogens. And current research now shows that the dandelion is, in fact anti-tumorigenic, as well as a blood sugar regulator, a digestive aid, support for the upper respiratory system, and a potassium enhancing diuretic useful for hypertension. It was considered blood medicine by native peoples, and is used in treating obstructions of the gall bladder, liver, kidneys, pancreas and spleen. It is used for literally dozens of disorders. Most of the plant is edible, and it is considered to be one of the 5 most nourishing vegetables ! We would do well to harvest this free and prolific plant for its gifts. I use dandelion root as a foundation for nearly every medicinal tea I make, including my soon to be famous Super Sassafras Tea. It lives up to it’s Greek name Taraxacum: Taraxos “disorder” and akos “remedy”, a remedy for disorders.

As we now scramble to decimate the stinkbug population, we might consider searching for their usefulness and begin harvesting them for something good, rather than introducing new poisons to get rid of them. Doesn’t everything that lives on earth have an inherent value? Perhaps someone will commit research to discovering what special qualities and possibilities may come from the autumn stinkbug gatherings. When something is as prolific and persistent in getting our attention as the stinkbug and the dandelion, perhaps we would do well to listen.

Of Collars and Cats

Of Collars and Cats

Last weekend, while walking my cats down our country lane, we encountered a “ferrel cat” with black goggles as her markings, that sat quietly in the treeline, licking it’s paws while I sang “The Sparrow and the Tree” to it. Why I started singing, I cannot tell you. Since my own cats were curious yet unthreatened by its presence, I conjectured that it was a female, possibly pregnant.

Next morning, I saw the cat entering the tree line in our yard. Later that afternoon, it was in our backyard, and both Roadie and Belly Jones approached it, then turned around to leave it alone with worried looks. I sang to it again.

Next morning, about 4 am, I was checking the whereabouts of my cats in our little place, and startled the little kitty from its comfy place on our sofa, right next to Belly Jones, Mr. Shy Himself! This was definitely oddly tolerant & accepting behavior for my cats. I was pretty sure she must be a pregnant young mother.

Later that evening she came to the bottom of our stairs, through our perpetually opened cat doors, and cried a mournful quack, more like a duck than a cat. I promptly prepared her some food and milk and delivered these to her in the garage.

She let me stay near her while she ate, when I noticed the collar around her neck in an odd angle. Then I knew she was in trouble. She had been fitted with a plastic flea collar, and somehow got her right leg through it, serving to cripple her right leg while choking her voice box. I tried to help her, but she hissed and ran. Each day has been full of constant concern and bearing up under her imagined suffering. Many sleepless nights of worry; even images of her face appearing under my eyelids in the dark hours.

First we tried luring her into a cat carrier with food. She went in, but backed out hissing and ran at the first sign of closing the door. After calling the local shelter, they offered a cat trap. So that was the next step in the adventure of capturing a ferrel pregnant cat. I was now calling her Goggles, as she is a black & white cat, with those black goggles above her white face & chest.

The first trap didn’t trip closed when she went in to dine, and 2 days later, we tried another more sensitive trap. It worked like a charm, so on Friday morning I took off in search of a shelter that could take her and help her. My first shelter was full, taking no more animals. They were willing to spay her however, but they couldn’t sedate and remove her collar legally, so they sent me up the road to a vet who would take their 1/2 price voucher for the spaying, and off we went.

The vet convinced me to have her tested for HIV/leukemia also, so a shelter would be more likely to take her (if I could find one that wasn’t full! No cat rooms left at any shelter in their county, I was told.) So I signed the papers and left her for the morning.

As I arrived home I got a call from the Vet’s assistant informing me that Goggles was a HE and he was already neutered. They noted a deep wound from the collar embedded under his right leg, and said they would surgically fix it for the same price I paid for spaying. And for extra they would inject an anti-biotic that would time release for 6 days. And He had neither feline HIV nor leukemia.

After hearing this, I let the owner of the local health food store know the results, as I shared my cat adventures with her the day before. She promptly offered to adopt this kitty, much to my relief and delight. She is a loyal advocate for pets, and has 5 cats and 2-3 retrievers already. Here is her report from the first night with Goggles.

“He is doing great. He is so affectionate! I decided to put him in the spare bathroom instead of a dog crate last night. He used his litter box and settled down on a little bed of towels. When I visited with him he was all over me. He stood on my feet and when I sat down he crawled right up on my lap. I had to disengage myself from him when it was time for me to leave

This morning I decided to leave the bathroom door open so he could go into the room with the other cats. They are not sure what to make of him but he just walked right in, ate breakfast, and layed down on a cat bed. He's a hungry little fellow and really likes the Rad Cat raw food.

Once I got a good look at his surgery site it looks like that collar was really doing some damage. Was it embedded in his skin? One area has quite a hole.

But I think he will make a full recover pretty quickly. He's got a great personality and seems like he will go with the flow rather easily. “

He is one lucky fellow, and if he gets another collar, it will be the quick release type.

The other was a vinyl flea collar, and he is one of many cats who are injured by these non-stretch, non-releasable types. So please never use such a thing on your animals.

Many people helped me to help Goggles, and that shared effort gives me hope for our own species of two –leggeds. Today I am grateful for his suffering being relieved and for that life saved.

Here is the song I sang upon our first meeting and many times during that difficult week.


"Oh, I love you," said the sparrow to the tree.

"I would always let you be what you would be.

In the autumn in the spring

I will give you songs to sing.

"Will you take me underneath your haloed light

And protect me even through the winter's night?

In the autumn in the spring

I will give you songs to sing.

"Oh, I love you," said the sparrow to the tree.

"I would always let you be what you would be.

In the autumn in the spring,

I will give you songs to sing."

-Hedge & Donna