Friday, July 28, 2017

Grim Phenology Post: More Glyphosate in the Neighborhood

Status update: I got a load of bottled drinks into the Friday Market by 8:35. Rain resumed at 9:55. During that time I recovered $11.50 toward the $13 the drinks had cost. If your problem with this link, ,

is that the Paypal payment process links Patreon to your bank account rather than your Paypal balance--I don't like that either--then I recommend what I did, which was to let Patreon have all the information it wanted about the bank account I linked to the Paypal account back in the golden days of Associated Content, at the bank that no longer exists. Patreon can even go and see who's moved into the building now.

In order to find out how Patreon worked and what might have been interfering with your support of this web site, yesterday I used my Paypal balance to send $1 to each of two e-friends. I can't afford to continue "subscribing" after the first of August but am glad to support each of them as best I can. If you like fun facts, you too may want to support Dan Lewis at

If you like knitting patterns, you may want to support Naomi Parkhurst, who (among other things) uses a wonderfully quirky mathematical system for translating words into knitting patterns, at

Why do their Patreon pages have name addresses while mine has a number? I have no idea.

Now, the actual phenology post...If you have depressive tendencies don't read the rest of this post. It's about effects of poison--'nufsed? If you're feeling tough-minded, read on:

On Wednesday I had mild hayfever. "What a bore," I said. At least it wasn't a summer cold. On Thursday morning, too, mild hayfever.

On Thursday morning I saw the explanation--roadside greenery, including box elder trees and other things that help prevent the kind of cave-ins we had earlier this summer, was looking brown, wilted, and dead along Route 23. Guess our road maintenance crew want to make sure they never work themselves out of a job by leaving the banks above the highway really stable! Some (scum is too good a word; aunts wouldn't use a word that was bad enough, if one existed, which this aunt doubts) had sprayed something, probably glyphosate, around the edges of Route 23.

Also on Thursday morning, instead of Boots and Bruno racing out to get their breakfast before I went to work, Boots walked...very slowly...out to the front yard, meowing piteously, and didn't eat, but begged to be picked up and taken back indoors after Heather had groomed the places Boots couldn't reach. Bruno was already dead.

On Thursday evening, Boots mewed weakly for attention. She didn't try to eat food or drink water while Heather was doing those things. She didn't even try to nurse, which Heather had occasionally allowed the kittens to do. She wanted to be held. She had no fever but seemed weak and dehydrated--was that only because she still had a few fleas? I offered water from a syringe. Boots drank the water gratefully, even greedily, and for about six hours she even kept it down.

But it was too late. Just traces of things that don't harm bigger animals, even medication used to treat an adult cat or dog, can kill a three-month-old kitten. Boots had just enough energy left to snuggle against me, against Heather, or between us, on Thursday evening.

Around sundown Heather and I went out again. Boots walked across the porch, saw me washing my hands, dashed toward fresh water at full speed, then collapsed onto one side, exhausted. I carried her back inside when Heather had done her business. Once again I gave Boots water from a syringe. She drank, but she never stood on her feet again.

It was a long night.

I've watched kittens succumb to infections. For them, the end of pain seems to come as a relief. I've seen kittens die nonverbally greeting their mothers, trying to help their siblings, or clinging to me; anyone would believe they had some sort of Blessed Hope of an afterlife better than the life they were leaving had been.

Boots died hard. During each of three convulsions she yowled, glared, and tried to fight something only she could see. She didn't seem to be sick in the ordinary way, so much as to collapse with her head down and just let the water she'd drunk run back out.

She hadn't had enteritis; her final bowel movement looked healthy. She hadn't had rhinotracheitis; her eyes were bright and clear, whenever she was conscious, up to the end. She hadn't had a severe worm infestation, although most animals have a few parasites; Boots had been growing and gaining weight, eating well, strong for her size, up until she stopped eating right after we'd been exposed to drifting traces of airborne glyphosate...and presumably glyphosate-poisoned grasshoppers or crickets, which are the only thing the kittens were big enough to kill.

This morning her body looked as if she'd died in a Miserific if any final judgment pronounced on Boots could possibly have been unfavorable.

She was an extra-cute kitten, partly because of the irritation produced by a heavy flea infestation. Most three-month-old kittens either don't care about being petted by humans, or prefer not to be. Boots and Bruno always wanted to cuddle. Bruno obviously thought it was beneath the dignity of a cat to come when called or obey instructions, while Boots' adorable act included running to humans before she was called, but both kittens obviously learned to recognize their names overnight. I thought Boots might grow up to be another one of that tiny minority of Listening Cats, like Heather, who actually understand much of what their humans say, and spend their lives astonishing their humans by figuring out things humans don't expect cats to understand. Boots intended to become an alpha cat--she wanted to air-kiss me in the dominant position and demanded do-overs when I kept my nose higher than hers! She might not have coexisted well with Heather as an adult, but she had accepted Heather as an aunt, and Heather had accepted her, likewise.

Because it's so hard to tell whether a kitten is recovering or dying, Boots spent her last night in a box in my bedroom, and each convulsion woke me. After that the sound of really hard, heavy rain on the roof and windows woke me. At least the rain was washing down the airborne glyphosate. I didn't sneeze as I walked past the poisoned box elders and unsecure embankments, on the way into town, this morning. I still felt very, very tired...another effect airborne glyphosate has on me.

I didn't have time to look for robins, wrens, song sparrows, or other friends to humankind, along the road. They will no doubt be there this afternoon.

What about the roadside greenery--the "weeds" some (scum is far too kind a word) was too wimpy to try mowing or pruning? That will wilt down for a few weeks. Then it'll come back, having been selectively bred for hardiness, possibly bigger and tougher than before. Over time glyphosate does, however, seem to shift the balance of roadside greenery from useful herbs like vetch, chicory, dock, and box elders toward nasty things like crabgrass and Spanish Needles, though.

(Spanish Needles are the nastiest of the burr-weeds in the genus Bidens in the Eastern States--the ones with sharp spikes that not only attach the burrs to your clothing, but reach through the clothing and stab your skin. They're not one of the types of Bidens that are really native to my part of the world, and don't compete successfully with those species, except where the soil has been repeatedly poisoned.)

When will we-as-a-nation recover from our insanity of laziness? It's neither difficult nor expensive to mow and trim native "weeds" if you really don't want them to be able to hold loose soil and gravel on a steep embankment above a road. In fact vetch, chicory, dock, dandelions, plantain, clover, and other native "weeds" are much easier to trim (or to walk through) than crabgrass and Spanish Needles.

Nevertheless I suspect the (scum is several levels above their level) in the Highway Department will continue their insane self-destructive policy of using poisons to make their job harder, as well as harming people, pets, livestock and native animals, until glyphosate is totally banned for all use in all of these United States...and other "herbicides," whatever effects they have on me or perhaps on people different from me, are made available only by a special permit process that requires documentation of why regular mowing and trimming are not enough.