Peep!

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

Heaven help anyone that is afraid of lizards in Houston this year. They are literally everywhere! This little fellow is a green Anole and if you catch his eye he will reveal his bright red fold (a dewlap) under his chin and puff it in and out. Kind of like a flasher… He also has pretty blue eyelids that you can just see in this photo. One of my kitty cats, Toffee, was literally addicted to lizards (they have a taste that cats love). If there was a competition, I would be the world’s best lizard catcher. Their tails will come off and regrow when they are predated. If you hold one of these little ones in your hand you can feel the tiny claws on their feet and their little hearts beating fast – am I a predator or a good Samaritan? One big black one bit me on my palm; ungrateful lizard!

This shot was taken at Mercer Arboretum, following on from my last post. I mentioned that the gardens had been damaged by flooding and this is a shot of the creek below.

Cypress Creek in abeyance

Cypress Creek in Abeyance

It is probably hard to imagine that this little creek not only broke it’s steep banks but 7ft of floodwater ravaged Mercer Arboretum. Here is a link to an article about the arboretum’s flood. The creek is always silty but it is still full of fish, especially big catfish, alligators and snakes. Given the devastation it is astonishing to see these new plantings below.

new beds of flowers

new beds of flowers

Lilac Crape Myrtle Blossom

Lilac Crape Myrtle Blossom

Crape Myrtle trees are the stalwart of the south – they can survive drought, flood and even frost. On our property we have three hot pink trees, one fuchsia and a miniature deep red. They brighten my life with their eagerness to live in harsh conditions. This is a Google link to various color varieties. One neighbor has a particularly pretty variety in palest pink but with mulberry leaves.

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Toffee – our baby cat

Toffee on the mantel

Aaawww – that cute little face. She doesn’t look like she has the capacity to reduce you to a whimpering wreck, does she? Not a day goes by when she doesn’t whine, beg, look at you as though you torture her and then cuddle me obsessively. It must be my fault but I don’t know how it happened.

Toffee, aka Toffee Tiddles or Baby girl, is our baby. She is going to be 13 this spring but is still our baby and behaves like it. We were introduced to Toffee when she was about 6 weeks old, so she has known us forever. At some point, before she was a year old, something traumatic happened to her. We have no idea what it was but it changed her personality. She was injured but was too upset for us to take her to the vet in Egypt. Our gardener found her and kept her in his room. We would like to think that she fell off the balcony but we think that a human did something bad to her, perhaps unintentionally. Most Egyptians love cats so it is hard to imagine that anyone deliberately did anything bad but they may have shooed her into the path of a car, perhaps.

I watched her mother, Mrs. Stripe, play with Toffee and her sibling Treacle (coal black), for hours in the garden. The play was really a lesson in how to hunt and it was usually mom’s tail. As they grew older, the siblings would play fight with each other but as feral kittens didn’t utter a sound. It was the weirdest experience to watch them hurt each other and squeak silently! Toffee was the dominant kitten and came into the house soonest. She loved to chase balls around the house and kick-started by putting her back legs up the wall. Those little paw marks on white-washed walls were so difficult to remove. Although her mum was not a hunter, more a scavenger, Toffee has a natural hunting ability and is literally addicted to lizards. They have some LSD type substance on their skin. Over the years I have rescued hundreds of lizards including a big black one that bit me!!

Her first proper toy was a handmade tartan teddy knitted by an American expat. It was a few inches long and she carried it everywhere. It was hard to get either toys or cat food in Egypt but we managed with ping-pong balls. Her absolute favorite was a toy that I bought for myself. This was another hand-knitted doll who was a genial witch, dressed in a purple outfit and a knitted broomstick. It was Halloween and I was just so delighted to find something so cute. Toffee took one look at it and ran off with Nanny Ogg in her mouth – it was as big as she was!

When we finally managed to get her to the vet for vaccinations and neutering, she was the worst patient ever – even worse than Zhenny… Our veterinarian had an assistant that looked like an Egyptian Lurch. His size and temperament calmed/scared most animals but not Toffee. She totally trashed Dr. Farouk’s office – she escaped from Lurch/Mohammed’s grasp, ran around like a mini tornado, breaking everything as she went. We finally found her inside one of his desk drawers. It was the only time I saw Dr. Farouk close to losing his cool. He wanted to know why we were looking after a wild animal but by that time, she was injured and we had no choice. She has rarely visited any vet in her 12⅔rd years and we hope she just drops dead someday. Apart from us adoring our little baby, she is has been a fabulous intermediary between Zhenny and Mrs. Stripe who both consider themselves alpha females. Toffee will play with them both, particularly Zhenny who she treats as a sibling.

She didn’t find her voice for years but now has a really loud, annoying squeak. I will put up with it for ages and then speak to her in Arabic. She puts her tail between her legs and then runs under the bed. Sigh. Then I have to go persuade her than Mummy is not an ogre (she should have met her Grandma) and please come out for some organic chicken. By now you should realize who the problem is…

Toffee with Mummy in Egypt

Toffee with Mummy in Egypt

Post coital lizards

post coital lizards
Today I went out to our wheeled trash can in the side yard and as I opened the garage door I noticed movement on one of the wheels. As I looked closer two Anole lizards were bumping and grinding like kids on spring break. I swear I could hear Pitbull playing something Spanish, in the background. Feeling a little creepy, I stood and watched them for a while and then silently went back in the house to get my camera. They stayed for ages, plainly exhausted from all their sexual activity, and just lay together, spooning perhaps? Usually you see the green male puffing out his red throat piece, saying, “look at this big one, ladies”, just like guys at clubs. Frankly, I feel a little envious and middle-aged…isn’t nature amazing?