More Neighborhood

No, Spike and Drusilla did not come back.

Pat wrote and said, “What are you naming your vultures?” (Yeah, it was Gaffney who provided the wonderful “They pee on their legs” details.) I said, “Either Luke and Laura or Frick and Frack.” She said, “Well, you don’t know them very well, then, do you?” I was going to say something snotty about them having only dropped by for breakfast and death, but then I looked at them again, and they really were lovely birds with very lost, soulful expressions, sitting there on my deck rail, close together, waiting for something to die, so I said, “Spike and Drusilla,” and if you look at the picture again, there’s a definite resemblance. These are birds that clearly deserve respect. And distance. That’s Spike and Dru.

So I named them immediately and they flew away and never came back. Maybe that’s all they wanted. Names.

So I started another blog about beginnings in books which I’m continuing to work on because it’s a subject that needs cogitation, but in the meantime, life goes on and I went out onto the deck to cut parsley and found more neighbors (see right):

I’m calling them Veronica and Duncan. They look like they’re together, but clearly it wasn’t meant to be. Because when you look at the big picture you see . . .
(look below):

Yes, there to the left of Veronica and Duncan is Logan. I fail to understand why Veronica cannot see that she is meant to be with Logan. Okay, he’s a loner and his father tried to kill her, but they’re caterpillars. Nature red in tooth and . . . whatever it is that caterpillars fight with.

So does flat leaf parsley have a natural predator, or are these guys on vacation from my Roma tomatoes in the next pot?

Or are they just waiting to turn into butterflies, after which Veronica and Logan will fly away together and Duncan will hit on the cute leaf-destroyer on the Romas, knocking her up and then when she meets with an unfortunate accident, stealing her larvae and making a break for Kentucky? Or are Veronica, Logan, and Duncan planning on a three-way on the reeds by the river? And why must I see twisted romance in everything that flies, skitters, or crawls across my deck?

Don’t get me started on the woodpecker that keeps threatening the chickadees at my birdfeeder until this cardinal comes along and kicks its ass. I love that cardinal. Of course it’s probably just trying to get the sunflower seeds and doesn’t give a damn about the chickadees, but leave me my illusions.

I see George Clooney playing the cardinal in the movie.

For anybody worrying about the fate of anything in the neighborhood: Don’t. It’s a serious No Kill Zone here. Veronica and Logan are fine, hanging out in the parsley. Duncan seems to have departed, but I suspect he’s taken the larvae to Kentucky. Spike and Dru are likewise not on deck, but it’s very warm here, and Gaffney assures me they’ve probably found somewhere cool in the woods and are happily peeing on their feet together.
Ah, nature.

51 thoughts on “More Neighborhood

  1. Oh, I am all for George Clooney playing the cardinal or anything else.

    Jenny, those sweet “little” caterpillars are tomato worms so they must have travelled over from your romas. I had them when Jim planted 180 tomato plants one time. We had salsa and spaghetti sauce for about three years. /.)


  2. It is entirely appropriate to see romance, or at least sex, in everything, since that’s the point of biological life. Also, “twisted” is a human concept, based on invented standards – in most cases, plants and animals are refreshingly indifferent to “normal”.

    I’m with Penny on endorsing George Clooney’s rôle in anything at all. And I like the Spike and Drusilla names. The trick is telling which is which.

    Good luck with the tomatoes and parsley!

  3. There was a cardinal in my lilac tree a moment ago. Had I realized it was Geroge Clooney I would have spritzed myself up a bit and said hel-low. Instead I stayed inside and watched him through the window. Sigh. he was beautiful, just like Clooney.

  4. Isn’t nature grand.

    I can look out the window behind the monitor and watch birds scratching on the ground, humming birds at the flowers, rabbits mowing the lawn, (counted nine the other day), squirrels scampering, lizards sunning….all the wonders of nature. And the resident roadrunner stops by occasionally.

    kavyon green

    something you wear

  5. NO! Those are NOT tomato worms… NO!! Don’t kill them… they are the larvae of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly (and are called a Parsley Worm, though they also eat dill, carrots and rue). I purposely plant a gazillion parsley plants to lure them to my garden. The butterflies are beautiful.

    Tomato worms are solid green.

    Jenny… tell me you didn’t already kill the little sweetum’s…

  6. So, we’re sharing our wildlife counts, huh? Well, I’ve got a family of foxes, at least one. There’s mom and dad and a couple of kits. Then there’s this other little guy who leads me to believe that mom was having an affair with a Shepherd somewhere in the Valley.

    This little guy doesn’t have the pointy face and slender limbs of the rest of the foxes. He’s very Shepherd looking, all except for his coloring and his totally fox-like tail. He’s a cutey. He likes to relax on the chaise on my deck. I wish I’d have the camera with me sometime when he’s there.

    I saw my possums for the first time in ages last night. I worry about the little guys, but I guess as long as I keep the foxes fed, they’ll be okay.

    Just out of curiosity, Jenny, how in heck do you find time to plant and care for veggies and herbs? I think I’m jealous. I didn’t plant any of my seeds this year. Regretting it every time I go out to buy veggies, too.

    Go, Jenny!

  7. What Marianne said … well I don’t know about the swallowtail part, but they ain’t tomato worms. Had those and they are fat and green and not so pretty.

    Note to self, plant parsely next year.

  8. Now if you want a bird that bosses everyone else around, look to the blue jay. Aggressive little buggers. Its a good thing they’re pretty.

  9. What was wrong with calling them Darth and Morticia?

    Jenny, you have GOT to read this book:

    Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation

    Finally, a how-to guide, in the guise of a Q&A advice column, for marching, flying, or slithering into the battle of the sexes, whatever your species. In this entertaining and informative book, evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson presents “letters” from sexually frustrated animals, birds, and insects who ask “Dr. Tatiana” to explain some sexual oddity. For example, “Don’t Wanna Be Butch in Botswana” writes, “I’m a spotted hyena, a girl. The only trouble is, I’ve got a large phallus. I can’t help feeling that this is unladylike. What’s wrong with me?” Each question leads Dr. T. into a fascinating explanation about the sex life of this species, sprinkled with sprightly stories about other species with similar attributes or behavior.
    You’ll learn why one stick-insect copulation lasts for 10 weeks (to prevent other males from gaining access to the fertile female) and why the black-winged damselfly’s penis has bristles (to scrape out his rival’s sperm). You’ll learn that male and female orangutans masturbate with sex toys fashioned from leaves and twigs, that slugs are hermaphrodites with penises on their heads, and that females in more than 80 species eat their lovers before, during, or after sex. You’ll also ponder human sexuality when you learn that “monogamy is one of the most deviant behaviors in biology” (although jackdaws, chinstrap penguins, California mice, and some termites swear by it) and “natural selection, it seems, often smiles on strumpets.”

    gadmgpnb –Get after Doherty; many grubs pullulate ‘neath bushes.

  10. I love you. No, seriously–the last few posts (I’m a little behind) made my day. Of course, my day has primarily consisted of sweatily moving my belongings from my apartment into storage, where they will wait until my fiance and I move into our townhouse, but still. Made. My. Day.

  11. I agree that the birds look like Spike and Dru, but Darth and Morticia was funny too.

    Love the idea that caterpillars are planning elopments to Kentucky. As a native Kentuckian, I can assure you lots of deviant sexual practices are going on in that state.

    I will definately look up the book by the evolutionary biologist. My first BS degree was in biology (behavioral ecology in particular) and I really enjoyed learning to what depths things would stoop to get laid. Very very deep depths. Very.
    But I also developed penis envy. Not in a Freudian way. Everything else on earth that relpicates via sex organs seems to have a Penis half it’s body length and with bells and whistles and what-nots on it. Whereas we humans get a mushroom in a turtle-neck sweater. The only options are small, medium or large.

    I vote we re-evolve and give women a disposable uterus (think of the monthly convienance!) and men a more interesting doohicky.

    PS — Mary, the Richelieu pun caised me great pain. Keep up the good work.

  12. i concur with qwyneth. you are the best Jenny. and so is everybody else. tal, as soon as i read the next 70 or so books i have to read by aug. 30th, that is on my list. it sounds hilarious.

    MCB said “look to the blue jay. Aggressive little buggers.”

    when i was with my mom’s friend in Quincy, she had one blue jay that would not stop bothering everyone. s/he made a very pretty blue streak against all that green though.

    kyra the red: LMAO.

  13. The Dr. Tatiana book was originally a series of columns in a journal–NATURE, I think. She’s a serious scientist with a doctorate in evolutionary biology, but the book is hilarious as well as scientifically sound.

    (“Like, what’s the deal? I’m a sleek young California mouse and am so in heat.”)

    clbuw — CherryBombs love beetles, ugly worms.

  14. *Happy sigh*

    I love it when fandoms collide, and my favorite author mentions my favorite television series (Veronica Mars). Though I’m not sure I needed the image of a Veronica, Logan, and Donut three-way.

  15. ” more than 80 species eat their lovers before, during, or after sex.”

    BEFORE??? Isn’t that counter-productive? And yes, the pun is intended.

  16. My friend answered my phone call last week, whispering, “Can’t talk now. Four skunks in my kitchen,” and hung up. She called back, an hour later, said, “Last night, I was sitting in the living room around nine at night, and in shashayed a skunk through the screen cat door.” My friend did not name the skunk. She (the skunk) meandered through the house, eventually eating the cat food and then wandered out. My friend’s friend had had a skunk spray IN the house; they had to ditch all the furniture, the rug AND replace the wall board. My friend was really scared that her cat, perched on the counter, would attack the skunk, but there is a reason why it is dogs who guard houses. And everybody knows cats can take care of themselves. (Unlike my dog who got sprayed one night. And immediately went out to do it again). Anyway, the following night, the skunk pushed through the new screen (sans cat door now) AND brought her three babies to see if they liked the house, even though they’d have to share bedrooms. Same MO–wandering, drinking, eating, exiting. So, my friend put some kind of impediment to thwart said skunk. Ha. This time, it came about 11, without the skunkets. Maybe the mother had told the father to check it out. I haven’t heard from my friend in the last week, probably because she’s so armored her house she can’t get out.

  17. The other day, in my backyard, a hummingbird was dive-bombing like mad. He’d zoom way up, hover, swoop down, over and over, so he looked like a giant circle. Amazing, I was mesmerized. Then I saw another hummingbird at the spot that he kept diving down to. I figured he was trying to impress her. That, or he was trying to pick a fight with another male hummingbird.


    I think it is more the hummingbird protecting his territory.
    We have feeders and one will perch on or near the feeder and try to chase any others that come near.

    We also have Black Phoebes that have a white chest and remind me of a butler.
    Blue Jays too, Finches, mocking birds, doves, crows that raid the chicken nests and carry off the eggs in their beaks, all kind of sparrows, the usual southern California bird life.

  19. A friend who is an entomologist concurred with the swallowtail butterfly larvae id of Veronica, Logan and Duncan. And thanks to the anonymous poster who explained the origin of the names – another friend recommended “Veronica Mars” to me, but my intense summer novel-reading and sleeping schedule leaves me little time for TV. Which is why my cable bill is now $9 instead of $50. Positively a pleasure to pay!

  20. i keep looking at those pictures, and i really like them. beautiful coloring. good shots. very nice.

  21. I don’t understand about the vultures ‘peeing’ on their legs. The excretory arrangements of birds, to the best of my knowledge, do not have the separation of liquid and solid waste that is found in mammals and fishes – bladder and bowels. They have an arrangement called the cloaca (Latin for ‘sewer’) in which liquid and solid wastes mix. Which is why bird droppings are kind of solid and splashy at the same time.
    So I don’t understand about the peeing. Maybe American vultures are different from other avian species.

  22. Thanks Louis. I bet you’re right. Whatever he was doing, it had me glued by my window.

  23. Tigress, can’t speak on vultures, but I can tell you that goose droppings are decidedly not splashy. More resembling the droppings of a small dog except they are green. This I know because there is a huge flock that hangs out near the subway station I use. One steps carefully when walking through the parking lot.

  24. Oh, yes – I am all too familiar with goose droppings! There is an immense variation between species, depending on diet and probably other factors, I suppose, but I was not aware of any species of bird that voids urine as a form of excreta separate from faeces.

  25. Okay, here is a useful and fairly detailed answer.

    From this, you will see that avian urine is in white, semi-crystalline form, not a liquid like the urine of mammals (and fishes). I didn’t know about the different chemical composition that causes the crystalline structure. The summary confirms my point about the cloaca and single vent, rather than the mammalian arrangement of bladder/urethra and intestines, with separate exits from the body.

    When one reads of the vultures ‘peeing on their legs’, my mental image, and I suspect that of the rest of you, is of the creatures drenching their legs and feet with a clearish liquid. That is clearly not so, since bird urine isn’t like that, and moreover, is not voided separately.

  26. the tigress said “When one reads of the vultures ‘peeing on their legs’, my mental image, and I suspect that of the rest of you, is of the creatures drenching their legs and feet with a clearish liquid.”

    actually i was doing quite well before you said that, thank you very much. and because it’s me, the birds are now cartoons and having contests to see who can gather the most waste before noon. and now the town is watching them.

    i’m going to bed now.

  27. Oh, I have been seeing those sorts of pictures all along. And after all, it was not I (nor you, Orangehands) who first brought up the subject.

  28. Jenny, I adore Veronica Mars! I just discovered it recently, and lo behold, my favorite author watches it too. I cracked up when you named the worms Veronica, Duncan and Logan. To the readers, try out the TV show. Very smart writing, good acting, and wrenching love story. *Sigh*

  29. jenny, i couldn’t agree more. Veronica and Logan are meant to be together if only they would realize it and stay that way. but alas, i’m sure the new season will provide a new obstacle to their love in spite of their current temporary “hookup”…

  30. This post was such a perfect example of why I love Jenny! When I got to the picture with the poor Logan catepillar off to the side, I cracked up and started calling my sister to come upstairs so she could read the blog, too. And if I had any intelligence at all, I would have stopped sipping Diet Coke. But I didn’t and when I got to the part about Duncan taking off with the larvae to Kentucky, well, the results weren’t pretty.

    “why must I see twisted romance in everything that flies, skitters or crawls…”

    All part of your unique genius, for which we are grateful!

    Tanya, also chuckling over the anonymous comment with the skunks

  31. I personally think it’s a shame that you didn’t continue your career in children’s lit. I can totally see the story of the Veronica, Logan and Dunan as you’ve begun to spin it. Well, maybe leaving out the part about stealing the larvae and heading to Kentucky. The part about bad boy logan who was always an outcast at the local elementary school having a secret crush on the hard hearted veronica…

  32. (-: I hate to point it out, but y’all realize that caterpillars are underage, and are only indulging in puppy (as it were) love?

    I love those caterpillars — they make the most gorgeous black butterflies, and I’m glad previous posters have finally given me a name for them. They are voracious, though. I lost a ton of fennel to them one year. I think I even caught them munching on brussel sprouts. And it seems that the most effective organic control is the icky method of picking them off by hand. But they are well-worth a parsley plant or two.

  33. I *knew* you would love Veronica Mars. After watching the first season on DVD, I actually thought, “Someone should tell Jenny about this.” And then I realized what a strange thought that was and thought better of it. And called my family psychiatrist. But then I decided not to go back, because he wants to get rid of the voices in my head, and he doesn’t understand when I tell him they’ll quiet down once I figure out their motivation.

  34. lori: it’s very important to know their motivation. (never go to psychiatrists about voices in the head when you have CBs).

    my friend, who never got into TV, loves Veronica Mars. as soon as she buys the first season i’m gonna watch it. though i guess i could rent it…i trust this site. it gave me Terry Pratchett, among others.

  35. This is kind of odd. I don’t remember writing that comment. Perhaps one of the voices took over? I guess it’s also possible there is another Lori running around here. Either way, nice to meet you.

    OH: This Lori loves Veronica Mars too. I even own the first season DVD. (Got it at Target for $22) However, I get a lot of my DVDs from the library–free. Unless its one of those wicked long waits you’ve talked about, you could try that route.

  36. “I love it when fandoms collide, and my favorite author mentions my favorite television series (Veronica Mars).”

    Same here. (though mine would be BtVS/Whedon.)

    As for the other thing, “When correctly viewed, everything is lewd.” 😉

  37. micki said…
    (-: I hate to point it out, but y’all realize that caterpillars are underage, and are only indulging in puppy (as it were) love?

    Er–shouldn’t that be pupae love?

    twadjk — Talpianna was a dweeb, Jenny–kill!

  38. lori: good suggestion. i’ll try it out. i don’t think my library really does TV show seasons, but i’ll check.

  39. This is about your argh ink
    I sure could have used your vulture pictures on My Thursday Thirteen…I am lmao here….
    They look way uglier when they get big..these guys are kinda cute..
    Have a wonderful day..

  40. Enjoyed this post. We have finches, chickadees, and scrubjays enjoying our seeds (sunflowers, thistle, and peanuts). 🙂

  41. talpianna … I am literally on the floor writhing in pain from the pupae love pun. Oh the joyful agony. And I thought I was the bomb when I got a LMAO. Never did I know such a bad bad bad pun was in store for us.

  42. Well, if you read HE WROTE, SHE WROTE, you have been warned about the tendency to pun in Latin around here.

    Dunno who Micki is–I did NOT pay her to set that up for me.

    Looking forward to more posts from you when you’ve finished reeling, writhing, and fainting in coils…

    ibzyleox — Ancient Egyptian xylophone made of ibis feathers and ox bones

  43. Tal: pupae love… just brilliant.

    OH: Rotten luck. We have it in our library system. Should I renew that invite to come here? You could come when we have snow again. (Tempting isn’t it?)

    Still no? Okay. What about ILL? (interlibrary loan) Sorry, I’m always thinking library. Comes with the job. We have a great statewide system here, so I almost never need to buy or rent materials. I blame my cheapskate-ness on being a college student for the last six years. Just trying to help you save for that PhD 🙂

  44. Some libraries might actually have Veronica Mars, because besides flying a plane over the CW network headquarters, another things that fans have been doing to increase the audience (and make sure this show has a long run) is buying the Season 1 DVDs and donating them to libraries.

    There’s always Netflix — I watched the first season that way, then went ahead and bought the DVD at Target, because I knew I would want to watch it again.

  45. Tal – pupae love …. too perfect!!! Oh happy was the day when I first bumped into this group. It is a pleasure and an honor to hang with someone of such wit.

  46. lori: very tempting. the whole “can’t miss a class or fall terribly behind” comes to mind though. and then my mom, ready to kill me. but someday….

    ILL: already checked into that. (that’s when all the libraries in a certain area share books, right?) i do that all the time. it just isn’t in the system. and Netflix would be nice but can i do it for just a month? no, i’ll wait for my friend. she won’t be able to hold off too much longer…

    bzwtv: busy watching TV

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