Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flora, Fauna and Betty White

Gilda and I went on an after-dinner stroll last Friday night. About a block from home, an Eastern coyote crossed the street some 50 yards ahead. Gilda wasn’t sure it was a coyote, but the next day our neighborhood association left a flyer in the mailbox warning about “recent coyote sightings,” describing the Eastern coyote as looking “like a medium-sized German shepherd dog, with long thick fur. The tail is full and bushy, usually carried pointed down. Ears are erect and pointed. Coyotes are usually 4 to 5 feet in length (including tail) and weigh 35 to 45 pounds.”

That sure fit what I saw meandering through our subdivision. With Saxon Woods Park just a block away, it doesn’t surprise me we’re prime stomping grounds for the scavenging critters. It’s not uncommon for us to see deer and wild turkeys on our property (and a few years ago I swear I saw a bear walking in the park in early spring).

Coyotes on the prowl could explain a few other occurrences, or non-occurrences. First, the latter—Gilda says her garden is doing better than in years’ past. Her explanation: fewer rabbits, which usually made a cozy home on our homestead. Fewer rabbits means her plants aren’t being eaten. My explanation: the rabbits have been turned into food themselves by wily coyote. Score one for the coyote.

I’ve also noticed feathers on our lawn and patio near the bird feeding stations. We’ve still got a sizable bird population flocking in, but I have no doubt the number has been culled by a few, shall we say, less fortunate flyers. Coyotes are attracted to bird feeding areas, so I might have to cut back on the goodies, at least until the predator stops lurking in the shadows. Subtract one from the coyote’s score.

One thing I haven’t noticed this spring are hummingbirds. I’ve tried two different hummingbird feeders with no luck seeing any of the long distance aviators, though one portion of their liquid diet did get consumed a few weeks ago, without any sightings. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a hummingbird blight in the Northeast, much like the inexplicable loss of millions of bees and bats. I stopped by the local Wild Birds Unlimited store and found out the hummingbirds took off from South America for northern climes two weeks late and our trees bloomed two weeks early, making for a very disappointing showing. Perhaps they’ll be more visible on their way back to the southern hemisphere. They should be back in White Plains mid-August.

Trifolium repens: One blight I am sure has befallen almost every landowner is an infestation of Trifolium repens, otherwise known as white clover. It’s a white flowered, creeping perennial weed with stems that root at nodes. It is said to be relatively easy to control, but my gardeners, and apparently everyone else’s as well, seem to be powerless to plow under the creeping tide.

White clover is better than yellow dandelions, but not by much. Plus, white clover is said to attract bees, which in my no socks mode is not an incentive to go prancing about the lawn.

I Should Live So Long: One or two sprigs are visible on the nine-foot stump-of-a-tree left by our “friendly” neighbor just off our common property line (http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2010/04/fear-of-falling.html).

I’m figuring the tree will reach out with meaningful branches some time in the next 20 years. I’m 61. You do the math. Not that I’m planning any early exit, but I do hope I will be able to enjoy, physically and mentally, some of the beauty this tree previously provided.

Of course, the initial sprigs are facing the tree Gilda and I planted a few weeks ago, so if our neighbor’s tree limbs encroach on our baby, I just might have to fire up the old chain saw. Oops, forgot I gave that away years ago. I’ll just have to prune it back manually (for those who can’t figure out what that means, that’s code for I’ll pay someone).

Betty Not So White: Seemingly no one can say a bad word about Betty White, the 88-year-old actress/comedienne who recently did a star turn hosting Saturday Night Live and who also is co-starring in a new TV Land situation comedy debuting Wednesday night. Called Hot in Cleveland, the show also features Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick as three Los Angelinos who wind up renting a house in Cleveland from Betty White. It’s a retro Sex and the City/Golden Girls combo.

So I’m watching Jon Stewart interview Betty during Monday night’s Daily Show and he’s all gaga over her, lauding her for “drawing the line” on some offensive material. “I won’t do drug jokes,” said White. “Every once in a while they write something like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if the old ladies all smoked pot, or they did something like this.’ I just don’t think drugs are funny and I don’t like to make jokes about them.” (She also draws the line at “any unkindness to animals.”)

I was feeling pretty good about her code of ethics when Stewart cut away for a commercial, a promo for Hot in Cleveland featuring the following dialogue:

Jane Leeves character: Does anyone else smell pot?
Betty White character: What are you, a cop?
JL: No.
BW: Then what’s it to you?

Either Betty White doesn’t know pot is a drug and still illegal in most jurisdictions or she has established her own drug culture rules.

D-Day Hero Update: Commemorating D-Day’s 66th anniversary prompted Herb Bilus to try to reconnect with the skipper of his Landing Craft Infantry #96 (http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2010/06/d-day-heroes.html). He googled Marshall, only to sadly discover this hero of D-Day died April 12.

Once before, in 1984, Herb actually reached Marshall on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. But Marshall put off seeing him then as he was preparing to travel for business to Japan the following day for two weeks.

Herb asked that he call when he returned, so they could “go out and have a drink together. That was '84. Okay, I'm still waiting for that drink. I don't know if he is still alive. He never called. But anyhow, I guess he wasn't interested in seeing anybody, which is okay,” Herb related in an oral history he gave to Rutgers University, his alma mater (http://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/Interviews/bilus_herbert.html).