Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Herding Frankenquail

My plan to encourage Barry to cook more, especially for me, is working; he invited me over for dinner on Sunday night, and served baby bell peppers stuffed with ground lamb, rice, and onions – really yummy.  Before we were able to eat, though, we had to engage in a little quail wrangling.

Ever since Barry moved into his present house, he’s been throwing out stale bread and crackers for the birds and bunnies in his backyard.  This worked well and provided him with a lot of free entertainment until the last couple of weeks, when the latest batches of baby quail started hatching.  Some of the parent quail are apparently at their wits’ end as to how to feed all these hungry little mouths, and they’ve started pecking on Barry’s glass patio door to demand more crumbs, leading him to announce, “I’ve created Frankenquail!”

Anyway, Sunday evening he and I wandered out onto the back patio before dinner, and while we were returning to the house one of the quail chicks (a little smaller than a ping-pong ball with legs) skittered inside with us and took refuge under the kitchen stove.

I immediately suggested moving the stove but Barry was afraid that the stove 1) was too heavy for us to move without injury to ourselves, and 2) would squish the quail as well.  After a quarter of an hour of hand-wringing, however, he decided that he would worry all night if he just left the bird there – and who knows where it would have ended up if it had come out later on its own? – so we dragged the stove away from the wall and herded the chick into a plastic pitcher.  I rushed it outside and deposited it under a sheltering bush.  A few minutes later I saw it run at top speed (its legs only a blur) in the direction its family had previously taken.

I hope he (or she) caught up with the rest of the brood.  I think it was pretty careless of the parent quail to move on without one of their children.  Still, I can understand their problem – herding 10 or so clueless but fast-moving quail chicks must be even worse than trying to herd cats.  Plus, quail apparently don’t actually like living in groups; the temptation to lose at least some of the kids may occasionally be pretty strong:

"The Quail is generally a solitary animal meaning they don’t really care for the company of other birds.  Sometimes if this bird is in a gregarious mood then they will socialize with one other Quail.  With that said, everything changes once mating season rolls around.  During this time, different family groups will come together and form flocks as large as 100 individuals.  I can just imagine how cranky these introvert birds are after a few days with such a large flock.” ~Wild Facts

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Well, Rusty and I have an appointment with the vet on Monday morning, and it's looking as if one of us won't be coming home again.

She's started to exhibit what the vet said would be signs of almost total kidney failure - constant drinking, nearly constant urination - and she's almost entirely stopped eating.  She follows me around, wailing to be held (this from a cat who always hated to be picked up).  When she's not in my lap or trying to get there, she's hiding under the bed.

I haven't even taken her on The Big Trip yet, and already I feel like a murderer, but she's obviously suffering and I hate to see that, too.  Of course every time I'm sure she's doomed, she perks up and looks great the next day, but the overall trajectory is definitely headed in a downward direction.

To be continued...

"Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love."  ~George Eliot

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Margarita

I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that my husband Tom tasted his first margarita shortly after meeting me, and he instantly fell in love with it.  From then on, he was on a quest to find the perfect margarita - frozen, with salt.  He didn't like them overly sweet, nor reeking of an excess of tequila, but well-balanced and preferably with fresh-squeezed lime juice.

On balmy Friday evenings we would park ourselves in an outdoor cafe (frequently the one in Manhattan's Bryant Park, behind the main library), or the outdoor tables of one of our usually interior haunts, and greet the weekend with chips, guacamole, and margaritas.  The entire family knew of this obsession; one year he received two (matching, amazingly enough) sets of margarita glasses for his birthday, and kept them both.  Brian, his older son, inevitably took us to our first Margaritaville restaurant when we visited him in Hawaii.  When we moved to Arizona, Tom's younger daughter-in-law accused him of doing so in order to be closer to tequila country; she gave him a shotglass shaped like a squatty saguaro cactus as a going-away present.

That same daughter-in-law had earlier introduced us to the the delights of the frozen margarita bucket.  A relative from Georgia had brought her a bucket of On The Border's margarita mix; one adds tequila, mixes, and places the bucket in the freezer.  Voila, frozen margaritas on demand!  Add friends and it's an instant party.  Tom was thrilled to find both the buckets and the mother lode (actual On The Border restaurants) in the Phoenix area.  We also found what we thought was the perfect guacamole in a small Glendale restaurant named Lily's; the owner used his Mexican grandmother's recipe, containing nothing but avocados, onions, lime juice and a little salt.  Fabulous.

Of course Tom is gone now, and Lily's also died during road construction that cut off almost all access to the restaurant, but a bucket of frozen margaritas still lives in the freezer section of my refrigerator.  Tonight is Cinco de Mayo, and although I'm a little fuzzy as to what it's all about, I'll gladly celebrate any holiday that allows me to pull out the margaritas, chips, and Wholly Guacamole.

"If life gives you limes, make margaritas." ~Jimmy Buffett