Good Morning, Deer

Posted by mrssmythe on July 2, 2015 in Critters, Garden |

It was about six o’clock this morning, and I had just made myself a bowl of oatmeal. I was getting ready to sit down, eat, and read the news when I spotted what looked like a horse wandering through the back yard.


Of course, it wasn’t a horse. It was a white-tailed deer. So, I left my oatmeal on the table, grabbed a camera and headed to the back room, hoping the dogs wouldn’t catch on.


The deer seemed very relaxed. Curious, even.


She examined a rugby ball and then headed to the corner where we keep the compost.


She nibbled some weeds…


and then one of the dogs spotted her through an upstairs window. It was Manny. He started growling, and the lady deer froze.


She waited, and waited, and waited.


Manny growled and growled and growled.

And then, finally, the lady deer jumped the fence.


Then I returned to the table and found the cat eating my oatmeal.

From the dining room table, still surprised at the size of that deer,

Mrs. Smythe

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A Bit of Surgery

Posted by mrssmythe on June 30, 2015 in Crafting |

Manny’s been at it again. He found one of Pepper’s tiny stuffed animals the other day and gnawed on it. Pepper brought it to me, hoping I could help.


I could. I have rudimentary sewing skills – the sort that are useful for hemming things and sewing on buttons. But more often than not, I end up putting them to use on things like this – rendering first aid to stuffed animals.

Initially, I asked Pepper if she wanted me to make some sort of fabric eye patch for the cat. Then she could pretend it was a pirate. Pepper said no, a simple seam would do.

Then I remembered that I had some leftover plastic eyes from the year I made crocheted reindeer for Christmas presents. Did Pepper want me to use one of those?

Pepper said “Sure!”, and here was the result:


I love it when stuffed animals end up looking like this. Now, this cat has a back story. This cat is one of a kind. Pepper, too, was very pleased.

While I had my sewing kit out, Ginger ran to her room to grab the little cat I had crocheted for her a couple of years back. This is the cat that went along with us on our cross-country camping trip.


It is a much-loved, and much-photographed member of the stuffed animal family.

(It also very conveniently fits into Barbie-sized clothing).


Over the years, though, its yarn eyes had become pretty worn. “Can you fix them?” Ginger wanted to know.


Yes, I could.

Quite easily, in fact. All I had to do was snip out the old eyes (or what was left of them) and thread in some fresh ones.


Good as new.

Mending is such a satisfying activity. I need to remember that the next time I catch myself putting it off (which is what I usually tend to do).

From the dining room table, receiving hints from Ginger that what she would really like is another crocheted cat. (“You can start working on it as soon as you finish Pepper’s Dr. Who scarf,” she suggested),

Mrs. Smythe

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Rediscovering Table Tennis

Posted by mrssmythe on June 28, 2015 in Critters |

While shopping for a Father’s Day gift earlier this month, Pepper spotted a table-top ping pong set in the men’s department at Marshall’s. You’ve probably seen something similar – the sort of thing that comes with a clip-on net, two paddles, and a handful of ping pong balls. It was only $12.99. “Could we give it a try?” Pepper wanted to know. And, since I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for ping pong, I said, “Sure!” Besides, it seemed like a good way to combat summer vacation computer obsession. So, we bought the kit, and, that’s when the mania began.

We have been obsessed with ping pong ever since.

All of us enjoy the game. CPT America remembers playing for hours on end in high school, I like any sport that involves a racquet, Pepper picked up her skills a couple of years back at summer camp, and Ginger – who is totally new to the sport – is improving daily. At any given time, you’ll find us clearing everything off the table, raising the chandelier, setting up the net, and starting a game. We can almost always find an excuse to play.

Someone else who wants to play, but probably shouldn’t, is our cat, Shadow.


It never fails. The ping pong balls start flying…and Shadow appears.


Not content to simply watch, she sprawls across the table, wraps herself in the net, and takes swipes at the ball.

It hinders the game, of course, but we’re usually laughing so hard, it doesn’t matter.


She keeps things from getting too intense. After all, it’s impossible to get overly competitive when you’re having to play over a fluffy gray cat.

From the dining room table, glad we have an indoor activity at the ready since it’s 58 degrees and rainy today,

Mrs. Smythe


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At the Pond

Posted by mrssmythe on June 25, 2015 in Critters |


Pepper slipped back into biologist mode this afternoon. We were at the local pond, having our first swim of the summer, when she assumed her usual position in the shallows – the one she takes when she’s hoping to spot wildlife. Sure enough, within minutes, she’d found all sorts of critters hanging out amongst the leaf litter.

Her favorite discovery? Tadpoles!


These are much farther along than the ones we have in our backyard pond. All these guys have left to do is lose their tails, and they will be frogs proper.


Aren’t they cute?

They were fast little buggers, too. And, they blended in so well with the leaves that the only time you noticed them was when they moved. Then, it was all we could do to keep them in sight. I would have missed them completely if Pepper hadn’t pointed them out to me.

From the dining room, feeling rather lethargic after an afternoon spent in the sun,

Mrs. Smythe

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Why I Love Sedum

Posted by mrssmythe on June 23, 2015 in Garden |


One of the first plants I put in when we moved here was sedum. I’d never heard of it before, but my neighbor gave me several from her garden, and they’ve been a part of our yard ever since.

The garden websites all sing the praises of this plant. It’s easy to grow, attractive throughout the growing season, drought tolerant, forgiving, and its flowers – which appear in fall – draw butterflies. One author went so far as to call it “nearly perfect.”

What they don’t mention, though is the way these plants’ leaves catch and hold water. After a rainstorm, they’re beautiful. The water collects in little pockets, and it looks as though someone has just thrown jewels over them. So lovely.

Yes – I’d say “nearly perfect” just about sums it up.

From living room, having been ousted from the dining room by a ping pong tournament,

Mrs. Smythe


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