Little bits of this and that as summer slowly fades…

I can better accept family and friends moving to new locations when they relocate to places I enjoy visiting. We went to visit family in the Bay Area and simply enjoyed a cooler climate and a change of view.  In just about six hours we can drive from our home to the San Francisco-Oakland area and I can indulge in exploring another California region.

I meant to let you know I was going out-of-town for a few days, but I ran out of time. So today I’ll share just a few of the reasons why.

Even though it’s been hot-hot-hot outdoors, or maybe it’s BECAUSE it’s been hot-hot-hot, we have been focusing on our outdoor living spaces. The “hot” comes into play because with drought conditions it’s a challenge to know what to do. I planted a vegetable garden and then struggled with watering it sufficiently. It didn’t do very well.

I don’t know that too many areas in my yard are actually thriving.

Take a look at some of the birds that regularly come to visit.

 

They are sweet little things that blend right into our drought-colored landscape. Truth is, they are the regular garden visitors even when there isn’t a drought. If our California gardens weren’t artificially “greened” by lots and lots of water from the tap our natural landscape would be the color of these birds.

I think our eyes are beginning to adjust to a different definition of landscape color. One of the biggest areas of water “waste” is caring for a lawn. I have a long, long way to go if I do decide to transform our entire piece of property into a water-wise landscape, but I am doing what I’m able and I am definitely fascinated with the many ways we are all being shaped and perhaps “forced” to adapt.

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We certainly didn’t need to keep watering a section of grass that was primarily being used as Zena’s loo. With or without water we were losing that battle, so we dug up that portion of the lawn and replaced it with decomposed granite. It’s permeable–I remain hopeful it will one day rain again–and compacts to a nice clean surface.

If you’re unfamiliar with the “brown as the new green” look of this kind of landscaping, it may strike you as extremely stark. It took me a few years to begin to see the beauty in this kind of landscaping, but I have grown to love it. It isn’t second-best any longer, although I do “ooh and ah” over green, well-watered gardens. I’m just a bit more appreciative when that water originally fell from the sky.

As if water weren’t a big enough issue…then there’s this guy!

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I don’t remember what was originally in this pot. It must have tasted good because it’s gone now! Darwin our Sulcata Tortoise is such a scavenger and has started to be very destructive. I don’t know his exact weight, but I know he weighs more than 50 pounds. And when he decides to stretch, he can bring his entire carriage taller, reaching over low borders–or plowing through them–eating anything he wants. He has managed to chomp through my succulents and low hanging hibiscus branches–yes branches, and I had to do something I didn’t at first want to do. Confine him!

We made another opening in our small greenhouse providing a connection to the back of the retaining wall that supports the backyard train, and he now has a very long runway with quite a bit of open space on the other side of the greenhouse. It isn’t the run of the whole place that he enjoyed for his first six years, but he has adjusted nicely. I have big plans for further enhancements and I’ll be sure to take photos as his playground evolves.

I’ve also changed his diet.

If he lived in the wild he would be eating more grasses. He’s spoiled and turns his nose up at timothy hay. So I add a little pumpkin and it’s a hit! I’m gradually reducing the amount of the pumpkin and increasing the grass, but he eats it with gusto! My plants are saved!

So now that we’ve had our trip to the Bay Area and returned, adapted Darwin’s diet and abode, as well as completed a few areas of garden management, I feel better balanced. I’m hoping to post a little more often and make more visits to the many blogging friends I have missed over this summer. Even though I’m not completely sure I want to say goodbye to summer, there are some routines that seem to return with fall, and I thrive when I don’t fight routine!

I must share one more thing. It’s mid-week already and you need a lift, don’t you? On the way home from work I was stopped at a freeway off-ramp and guffawed with laughter as I took a double take at this sign. I’m sure others wondered at my cruelty for laughing at a lost puppy!

IMG_4403 - Version 2

This poor “Springer Spaniard” has lost its owner.

Just let it sit …you’ll get it!

Have a mirth-filled rest of the week. I’ll be by to visit.

 

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60 thoughts on “Little bits of this and that as summer slowly fades…

  1. Who knew… pumpkin! 🙂 Actually, I feed it to my dogs periodically; it’s good for their digestive system. But I digress.

    You have green, Debra, at least in several of these photos. Nice! In the uber-parched NM High Desert, our water tables are the lowest they have even been. I appreciate that most of my property is xeriscaped, well at least the part that hasn’t washed down the arroyo.

    Summer *is* fading thought we often have considerable Indian summers. And my rocks and gravel will look lovely in the impending winter. 🙂

    1. Thank you for mentioning that your dog eats pumpkin, Eric. I wouldn’t have thought of that, and I’m going to give some to Zena and see how she likes it! I think New Mexico is a beautiful state. I love the high desert, and in fact, we’ve been talking about how we want to get to Santa Fe before too long. I love the rocks and see colors in the landscape that are unique to that region. I do think the entire southwest is just very thirsty! We do have lots of green, Eric, but it’s a stressed green, if that makes sense. We have a backyard water feature with lovely lily pads…but if the drought continues we won’t be permitted to maintain the pond. If it weren’t teeming with life I would probably feel more uncomfortable now with adding to it. We’ll just have to adjust our “sails” all along the way and see what happens. I’m very optimistic that we can make some positive shifts in perspective and embrace a different kind of beauty! Thank you for commenting about NM. I am always very interested in learning more about other regions.

  2. I see a lot of browns in my new neighborhood…I wonder if it has always been like that around here or if people are being more conscientious in this concerning time. Happy xeriscaping!

    1. I was thinking about the “beachy” areas of Orange County, Cristine, and at least thinking the fog and cooler temperatures must help the plants a bit. And I notice how many businesses have started landscaping with succulents and drought tolerant plants. That’s been going on for a while, but thinking back to the years when everything was begonias and fuschias…a lot has changed! I think 100 years from now (or much less perhaps) we’re going to see xeriscaping as the only way to go. Landscape architects have a whole new palette to choose from, and I think our artful eyes are opening to new possibilities. It’s kind of fun…when I have the time to devote to it. Hope your nest is adjusting well to the rhythms of school’s return! 🙂

  3. I love the green, but I started loving the need no water landscapes when I was in Arizona a few years back. I enjoy the ‘difference’ of it and the creativity. But I also love love love rocks. 🙂 I hope for water falling from the sky for all of you very very soon.

    1. Did you live in Arizona for a while, Colleen? AZ has some very harsh climate conditions but can be so beautiful. I really love the rocks, too. We have been thinking that we need to make another trip to the Grand Canyon and there are few other “red rock” areas I want to visit. My mother-in-law lived with Jay’s sister for a few years in Arizona and we’d visit more regularly. I think that may be when I really began to notice how much variety there was in what could have been seen as a static landscape. I AM hopeful we’ll have a rainy season soon. I’m looking for a pretty rain barrel and I’m going to be ready! 🙂 Have a great day, my friend.

      1. No, we were visiting a brother in law. My husband donated a kidney for his brother so we went there for that procedure. So we were lucky to be there almost three weeks. I love it. I think it’s my Irish heritage looking for the rocks. 🙂 I absolutely love them.

        I hope for rain for you. So scary to be without water. My day has been wonderful so far, thank you for that! 🙂 I hope your evening is wonderful, and COOL.

        1. My goodness, Colleen. What an incredible story about your husband donating a kidney to his brother. I know that had to be a very emotional time for all of you. Were you blogging then? If so, do point me to those posts! ox

          1. It was before I started blogging. I should write about it. I had to ask my husband if I had written about it. Neither of us can remember! With over 2000 posts written…..maybe it would be easier to just write another one if I had written about it! And thank you. It was a wonderful time for the brothers. 🙂

  4. dandyknife

    I always thought California was just an ordinary part of this continent, but it’s a place where houseplants grow outdoors, reptiles eat pumpkins, and ads are posted for hispanoparlantes who’ve slipped their leashes. Hmmm…

    Sounds like you’ve been busy, Debra. I’m glad to know you’re well and happy.

    1. Yes, all is well…and I have been busy. But “summer busy” also contains lots of little outings for relaxation and moments of just doing nothing. And you do know that Southern Californians rarely see themselves as ordinary, don’t you? My observation over a lifetime has brought me to the conclusion that on average we think we are the center of the universe–or at least the continent. LOL! I think it must be all that sunshine! 🙂 Canned pumpkin is much cheaper than all the romaine Darwin was eating, so I’m grateful for that. I hope you’re doing well, too, my friend. I must pop on over and see for myself!

  5. You are a gem for being so water conscious, Debra. I wonder how many others in those parched areas are doing the same.

    Personally, I’ve really grown to appreciate a beautiful desert landscape, and have seen many gorgeous examples in and around Vegas. We’re in a condo there, but should we ever buy a house, I’ll definitely go the desert landscape route. When I see houses trying to get a patch of grass going in that area, I just shake my head. Why? 🙂

    Welcome back!

    1. I have definitely missed keeping up with you and others, Nancy. I do wish I could keep my eyes open a little later into the evening. 🙂 I am trying to get the nerve to stand in front of particular homes and take photos. Just like you reference some of the landscaping in Vegas, there are those locally that are just gorgeous. Landscape architects are really responding to the need and creating fascinating, very appealing gardens that most of us have never previously appreciated. I keep saying that if money were no object, I’d hire someone to just come in and transform my entire place. Instead, I’ll do what I can…very slowly. Maybe we’ll get some rain this next year and I won’t feel the same urgency, but this isn’t my first drought cycle. We need to think long-term! Have a great day!

  6. It sounds like a great idea to be water conscious when it’s hot-hot-hot. I can see the challenges keeping up with a garden when you have to be careful about water consumption. Brown as a new green – what a concept! I don’t think it would work where I am from, though, but then that would require more work that keeping the grass green. 🙂 As you may understand we have a lot of rain. I do spend time in Seattle – which in the States is known to be the rainy season. Where I live in Norway it literally rains twice as much as in Seattle. We all have our different problems, don’t we…

    1. My city hasn’t yet imposed strict water rationing, Otto, but most of the cities in the area have measures allowing for watering no more than twice a week. I can see what’s coming, and I’m trying to be a little bit ahead of the game so the restrictions won’t hit quite so hard. I have always had a fascination with Seattle and cities where rain is an every day occurrence. I’m so acclimated to almost constant sunshine I’ve wondered if I’d adapt in that direction! Yet it would be something wonderful to experience, I admit. It’s important to me to adapt to “what is” and to find the beauty in it. California was a drought-affected area for thousands of years before my garden came along. We should have made these necessary changes when the reservoirs were full and then conserved the precious resource. We are purchasing a rain barrel for the first time…it will be a pretty garden ornament until there’s something to put in it. 🙂 I enjoy hearing from you, Otto. And Norway? I can’t even imagine how beautiful it must be. Photos do give me a good hint, however. 🙂

  7. Hahaha! That sign is missing a key ingredient.

    Glad you enjoyed your respite from the heat and that your plants are enjoying a respite from Darwin’s chomping chompers. Having a small patch of green lawn is lovely for grandkids who come to play . . . but dogs and turtles/tortoises are probably just as happy with dirt. And pumpkin!

    1. Can you imagine a tortoise actually eating a hibiscus bush? LOL! I wouldn’t have imagined! The decomposed granite is a really attractive surface that is much cleaner than dirt and really appeals to me–now. It took a while. It’s interesting establishing new gardening methods and finding adaptive measures that align more closely with Mother Nature’s needs. There is a learning curve, that’s for sure. 🙂

  8. Your turtle is a lot like the deer in my back yard. Nothing is safe from their munching! My stepkids live in Denver which is very brown; is in a drought; and has a lot of water restrictions. You can’t have grass there successfully unless you have an underground sprinkler system and they are water-rationed. When I visit, it’s very stark compared to the lush northeast but there are some very lovely things about it too. It’s a lot less buggy for one!

    1. You’re so right to mention that California isn’t the only state with drought conditions, Kate. I talk to my friend in Texas and hear quite the same story, and I sometimes forget about Colorado! I think if Darwin were just a little bit taller he could do the same amount of damage as deer. He is unstoppable once he gets started. But at least a tortoise can be confined. My aunt recently visited from the northeast and definitely commented on the difference in bugs! 🙂 At least we can be happy about that. 🙂

  9. Hi Debra. Good to hear about your summer and to hear about Darwin’s new quarters. I really like the brown lawn alternative. Like you say, it just takes some getting used to, but it looks very stylish and goes well with the type of plants you grow. Have a good September! 🙂

    1. When I was thinking of green that I admire, I was thinking of your beautiful garden photos, Cathy. I always admire the lush foliage and color. I find that I have slowly started to really embrace the earth tones providing a very different kind of beauty. They are more appealing to me than seeing a garden struggling for a drink and always looking stressed. I am going to continue to share photos from gardens I admire. Businesses are switching to xeriscaping and some of them are absolutely fabulous. It just takes some reorientation. I think you’d appreciate the work that goes into getting them established, but after that, they are very low maintenance. We all need to “bloom” where we’re planted without overtaxing poor Mother Nature. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by, Cathy. I’ve been very absent lately, but really looking forward to getting caught up.

  10. I know that the drought has been difficult — and I think that word isn;t strong enough — but I’m glad to see that you’re adapting and considering something more water wise. Also, a round of applause for keeping the wildlife fed and hydrated. Enjoy what’s left of summer!

    1. I’m practicing adaptation and flexibility, Kevin. I don’t think either attribute always comes to me most naturally, but I am trying. I do think my appreciation for the more muted earth tones and much more subtle colorations has begun to really please me. We traveled this weekend right up the center of the state, and the orchards and grapevines that are literally dying, or already dead, were upsetting. I mean really upsetting. So I think we are in big trouble if something doesn’t change, but at least my livelihood isn’t tied to agriculture. Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. 🙂 I hope you’re doing well, also.

  11. Hello Debra. I LOVE Darwin! I have such a soft spot for tortoises. I don’t know why, but seeing one just makes me happy. And your little birdies are so sweet too. I agree that there are all kinds of beauty–when we first visited Arizona, I really came to appreciate a different, subtler kind of beauty. Love the lost puppy poster too. :)) Great post! ~ Jeannie

    1. Thank you, Jeannie! I am glad you love dear Darwin. He’s a delight to us, even when he takes out half my garden. LOL! The saddest part of keeping him more penned is that we don’t actually see him or watch him quite as closely. He’s happy, but we miss his company. I do agree that the “brown” can be beautiful. I feel really sad for the farmers and the brown they’re experiencing, but to just be inconvenienced as we are isn’t something we can complain about too much. I am really trying to appreciate the change that we are seeing and find the beauty in more muted tones. I’m glad you agree, Jeannie. 🙂

  12. I think you are doing what has to be done to adapt to the continuing and worsening drought conditions that are troubling your state. Even Darwin seems to be adjusting to necessary changes. 🙂

    1. It must seem strange to you at times Karen, as it does to me when I look in awe at your winter landscape. We are all in one country and at times doesn’t it seem like we’re on different planets? LOL! We just have to figure out some way to get some of your snow to our coast. LOL! There just must be a way…expensive, but a way. And Darwin’s destruction made me remember your hungry deer and what they did to your orchard during the extended winter. I honestly had never seen anything like that. I told so many people about that story and commented on how animals suffer during harsh climates. We know by the way the wild animals are coming lower and lower into our foothills that the dry climate is affecting them, too. I hope they can adapt. The rest of us are certainly doing what we can. I am hopeful that this winter will be a wet one. Fingers crossed! 🙂

    1. I know! I feel really torn about cutting back on Darwin’s pumpkin. He loves it so! But from what I’ve read he early does need to eat mostly what he’d find on the African savannah…and that is mostly grass! On the subject of the natural beauty, I really appreciate your comment. I do feel the same way. I really have begun to think the brown landscape can have beauty. I do hope for some rain however. 🙂

  13. It’s always a treat to peak around your garden. Darwin does seem to have grown! He’s a big boy now for sure. It’s amazing how he can reach up to branches. You’ve done well to get him back onto a diet of hay. I’m also guilty of spoiling my pets! I’m glad you were able to get away for a break xx

    1. Hi Charlie. I am going to try to visit over at your site again today. Yesterday something was going on and I got a strange web message every time I tried! I’m not sure what was happening. If I continue to have trouble I will email you. I hope you are well…and yes, getting away for even a few days was very high on my list of needs. LOL!

  14. Lovely to hear about how you are adapting to the drought! Australia goes through them so often (though if I could, I would send the rain your way without a doubt!) – Darwin is the cutest, absolutely adore him 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  15. What a treat to see Darwin today. I always love to see him and read of his adventures. He just gives me a thrill. He looks so happy eating his grass and pumpkin. I hope you had a great time on your travels. Hard to believe summer is fading already (it’s finally gotten warm here too). Strange weather.

    1. Oh yes, Kristy! Summer is going much too quickly! I feel strangely mixed. It’s been so hot and really uncomfortable, but once summer is “officially” over I feel like we have the holidays barreling in on us, and that stresses me out! LOL! I am so glad I could share an update on Darwin with you. As soon as it’s just a little cooler I want to really work on his area and make it more of a tortoise Disneyland. LOL! There are some great YouTube videos to pull from. Some tortoise owners have gone all out! 🙂 I hope you have a great week, Kristy. I’m sure it’s a busy time in your household. ox

  16. Summetime does keep us busy, especially with family. I was missing you, Debra, but, delighted to hear you were up north. 🙂
    We are actually thinking of putting something like permeable granite in a few spots, prone to weeds. I like the look of them in your garden. Your drought has all of us watching across the country. At least you should have cooler conditions soon – I hope.

    Your bird visitors are splendid. I think you get much more of a variety than we do here, even during migration.

    1. You know, Penny, we are just loving the granite and we’re thinking of extending the area a bit to include more of the backyard. It is so clean and compact and I do think you’d enjoy it. We should have made this decision long before now! The drought is really getting serious and I do wonder what it is going to mean for gardening. I would usually be planting some fall vegetables and at least thinking ahead to some salad greens, but I don’t think it’s worth it this year. I feel really sorry for our farmers. They are being economically affected BIG time! I do hope you have a wonderful week my friend. When I get a moment I’m going to email you with another quick gardening question–back to conversation about milkweed! 🙂

  17. I think the improvements look great, Debra. If the grass is going to be brown, you might as well put something in that will look good and be durable.

    And I can’t believe Darwin is content in that confined space. He really does get around. I hope he continues to thrive.

    The next time I’m scheduled to go to SF, I’m going to let you know well in advance. 🙂

    1. I’m not sure how happy poor Darwin is, but he’s adjusting. I guess that’s what we are all doing this long, hot and dry summer! Adjusting. 🙂 Wouldn’t it be fun to meet in San Francisco? Such a great city. 🙂

  18. So the Springer is a “Spaniard?” And there’s no phone #. Poor lost soul.

    I live in an incredibly green state (NC). If, or should I say when, we get the sort of drought you’re having, we will be ill-equipped to manage it. I hope our would-be leaders are paying attention and making a plan but I’m fairly certain they’re not.

    1. I’m so glad you got the Springer “Spaniard” reference, Pat. That just completely cracked me up! I do know what a beautifully green state you live in and I admit I’m very envious of that. 🙂 Climate change is definitely affecting us all, and we will need to adapt to lots of uncomfortable changes. I wish I had more confidence in our elected officials to step in with effective measures, but here we live with the Pacific Ocean along our entire coast and they aren’t doing anything significant with desalination plants. I guess we’ll see what happens? Thanks for stopping by, Pat. I hope you have a good week. 🙂

  19. Well, I learned a new word, xeriscaping. I had to Google it and in doing so I found an official Vancouver City site promoting this form of gardening here. This was a surprise because, as you might know, Vancouver, like Seattle, is known for its endless rainfall. However, this summer has been very dry. The climate IS changing and I think that more and more gardeners in the north west will become familiar with ‘xeriscaping.’ I wonder if, in a few decades, or sooner, southern British Columbia will become another California? I enjoyed this post Debra, much food for thought and a great deal of delight…

    1. Thank you, John. I really enjoyed your comment about the way that xeriscaping has found it’s way to Vancouver, even if it’s still a very limited landscaping choice. I think I may have previously mentioned this, but I attended a forum earlier this year where the speaker, an environmental scientist, said that in the future (he didn’t say when) the southwestern United States would need to migrate to Canada to survive. It was a really upsetting “doomsday” kind of message, but he delivered it so matter-of-factly! Climate change really does scare me a little bit, I admit, but I also think we will find ways to adapt. I am very curious to know what xeriscaping would like in your region. It surely would still look quite different from what we see here in California. It’s quite fascinating! Thank you for sharing. I may do some googling myself! 🙂

  20. Dear Debra, I see why you laughed at the poster. Twice I’ve had to–for better or worse–find a good home for a cat. Once when Dulcy wouldn’t accept Tybalt and once when I took in an older cat whose heft brought Dulcy–who’d died just a week before–back to me so vividly that I had to let that cat go. Both times, I wrote the newspaper ad as a plea from the cat to find him/her a home. And people really answered the ads as they enjoyed the cat’s sense of humor and its plea to be released from possible doom! Peace.

  21. Now that’s one smart Springer! As for Darwin, he’s a crafty one, so he will get one of your plants when you least expect him. Good luck with the drought … I know, it’s been a long one. Nonetheless, you keep adapting your oasis, so carry on … after all, it’s also your sanctuary.

  22. That is a wonderful post, Debra. I really enjoy it. The drought is not good, I heard about the flood in Riverside (?). Texas is not better, we hope to get rain every single week. I have been recycling kitchen water for plants and flower beds, wish there is a plumbing system for us to recycle water… Love the turtle photos 🙂 I haven’t see your posts in my wp Reader for a while 😕

  23. LoL at the Springer Spaniard – Freyda brings her Cockerpoo along to our home games 🙂 He’s named Bentley by the way.

    I love the birds doing their best in your garden – House Sparrows I recognise immediately – the red chinned species looks like a Linnet but I’m guessing that a different name is used in the US 😉

    Darwin looks fit – I guess he handles drougnt better than most.

    I hope the train service hasn’t ben affected by the drought 😉

  24. What a lovely story to end the summer, Debra… Wait a minute… It was close to 100F today! It is still summer!

    And one question: SIX hours to SF? Listen… I’m no slowpoke in my orange Mustang; I get admiring stares from LEOs each time I’m out in it… but it takes me almost NINE hours to get to SF. Man, YOU are flying at zero altitude!

    But indeed, one tosses around the question of converting to a “water friendly” yard… I wouldn’t mind it (aside from cost even with subsidies) but I’d be roasting atop a grassless surface while I “light up”… 🙂 However, my neighbor’s front yard is totally filled with succulents and huge cactus (That’s where most of my cactus flower shots come from.) and he RARELY waters.

    I am happy to see Darwin thriving…. What about cutie pie Zena???

    1. Nine hours to San Francisco? Really? We go up the 5, not 101, so maybe that’s the difference. And you’re probably 90 minutes from where we are, if traffic is at all heavy. LOL! Either that, or yes, I have a lead foot. Hahaha! The drought tolerant gardening is something I had to get used to. I now really love the look, but I didn’t always. I think we’re gradually going to be mandated to eliminate lawns, so in time I think we’re all going to adapt a new idea of garden beauty! Your neighbor sounds ahead of the curve. I can see by your photos that he has some beautiful specimens. And yes…this heat is awful! I’ve had enough…how bout you? 🙂

  25. Darwin is adorable! Your story reminds me of how “the grass is always greener” in this case on the other side of the continent LOL. We have had a cool wet summer here and are now headed into fall then winter. I hope it is not another long cold winter like the last one. We Canadians do like to complain about the weather….You have the right attitude; adjust to your surroundings and keep on gardening….

    1. Lorie, I think about the differences in our climates related to rainfall so often! I looked at the photos of your last winter and shook my head in disbelief. I can’t imagine that I’d know how to maneuver through that snow and cold, but then, come spring and summer you have lush green! I thick I’d like to at least experience that! I work very hard to keep a decent attitude about it all because deep down I’m really disgruntled. LOL! I just know that it’s futile to complain about weather and I try to make an end-run around it as much as I can by adapting my poor stressed garden to the new reality! Let’s see what this winter is like, and hope for the best! 🙂

  26. Oh, Darwin. My hero. He’d have a great time in my garden – lots of plants to eat because I’ve given up trying to control them. I quite fact moving in to his new abode – I need an office to work in. But I’ll take the pumpkin without the hay, thanks. Oh, and a glass of rosé too.

    1. Darwin would be so happy to hear that he’s appreciated and loved from afar. Thank you! He really is a wrecking crew of one! He can make more mess than an animal twice his size, but we do love him and we’re trying to accommodate his needs, we really are! It’s been so hot here lately that his little house wouldn’t make a suitable office, I am sure! But we have a little air conditioned office in the back you can visit any time–wine and cheese in the afternoon. 🙂

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