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August 12, 2010


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War declared in Chestnut Hill backyard. It’s Groundhog Day every day in the Gilmore garden

My husband, Hugh, came bursting indoors as if he had something to tell me. He’s usually in the garden for at least half an hour, but this time he was there barely five minutes.

“I think I’ve got it, Jan,” he said. “I have to think like a squirrel.”

I knew the heat and the frustration had gotten to him. From the day he watched Mama Groundhog promenade her six (six!) young ‘uns across the yard, he expected the loss of half of his tomato crop, but not every single tomato.

“Well, okay, we’re all Nature’s creatures. They can have everything from the ground up to waist-high,” he philosophized early in the growing season.

The tomato plants that Hugh plants in our yard are lucky plants indeed. They are fertilized, weeded, watered, sucker-plucked to a fare-thee-well and carefully and lovingly examined. By mid-July, however, the groundhogs had stripped the lower half of the tomato plants of tomatoes, buds and leaves.


Mt. Airy’s house call vet barking up the right tree

Don’t be fooled. This boxer may be wearing a stethoscope, but he has not finished his course work at veterinary school yet. So Dr. Muller is still the only vet school graduate we know of who makes house calls.

Although she spent years working in a big hospital where treatment is much less personal, West Mt. Airy resident Jennifer Muller, 36, said she has always wanted to have more of an opportunity to get to know her patients. And it doesn’t matter that those patients are cats and dogs in Northwest Philadelphia.

In November of 2008, Muller began The House Call Vets, a mobile veterinary practice that allows her to visit clients in their own homes rather than out of a regular office. The service brings her to animals in Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and other nearby communities.

“I started the house call veterinary practice after becoming disenchanted with the pace of a typical veterinary hospital,” she said. “In my previous job at a hospital in New Jersey, our appointments typically lasted 15 minutes.”


What to do with jaywalking horse on the Boardwalk?

A mystery woman leaves the scene with her mystery horse, a confirmed lawbreaker for jaywalking on the Boardwalk in Wildwood. The lawless horse also allegedly got a ticket for failing to use his turn signals and for his terrible parallel parking.

That particular first day of spring was so uncompromisingly glorious that I decided to extend my usual walk; instead of strolling from Second Street in North Wildwood to the Ferris wheel, I would go all the way to the Boardwalk’s southern end.

The vault of the sky was a deep porcelain blue, and the restless ocean yet several shades deeper, the ceaseless white waves distinct against it, a land breeze blowing a pure powdery spray from their crests. Seagulls hung and soared like magic kites in the salt-smacked welkin, and all was fresh and new, old winter now a dim and frosty memory. My feet were young and nimble and my legs strong and sure, encased loosely in a new pair of shorts, unveiled finally for the bright burgeoning season.

The first red-winged blackbirds uttered their occasional fluted call, and goldfinches darted like sunbeams. Robins danced their stiff-legged reels on the warming turf while a single hawk wheeled above. A cottontail regarded me and then hip-hopped away on important bunny business, while my favorite tabby beach cat crossed Kennedy Boulevard like a regal little tiger to hunt in his private preserve. It was indeed good to be alive.



A sensitive, modern man crying all the way to old age

Don’t cry for me, Philadelphia. I’ll do it myself if you please, and I must say, I’m pretty good at it.

My earliest memory of crying is the day I was born. I had been perfectly happy in the womb, and I hate change. I spent the next five years or so alternately crying or just looking perturbed. Then, when it came time to go to school, I really wailed. Likewise when I had to get a job.




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