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September 1, 2017 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Fire ants parachuting

Tree. Palm frond stuck in branches overhead. Image © ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

Elevated Threat Level! A palm frond firmly grabbed neighboring branches and is refusing to fall. Deceptively innocent. These fronds have savage spikes along each side. If you’re ever weaponless and need to defend yourself, grab one of these fronds like a sword and slash with it. I promise even a White Walker would back off.(Image©)

Now happening: drop offs. Not exactly wanted. They look pretty mad and beyond caring how you feel about them.

Of course if you had spent the last 4-5 days desperately hanging on during a hurricane, maybe you’d be less than interested in other species’ discomfort.

They said after Hurricane Harvey passed through Rockport that birds dropping from exhaustion all over the roads…Well, it’s like that only with a little more bite.

Fire ants are parachuting from the backyard trees now.

Woe to anyone or anything that happens to be underneath them. They are darn cranky.

Man and beasts storm driven wild, indeed.

During the storm when we forcibly dragged let Molly Malamute dash out to use the backyard facilities, she seemed far too interested in the small narrow space between the big rectangular grill and the brick wall.

Suspected some poor creature was weathering the storm huddled back there.

Possum, raccoon, armadillo, a squirrel? Those were the optimistic choices. I didn’t really want to know.

The L-shaped spot has a wide roof overhang. The grill with a wide 6 foot tall potted plant jammed together against the brick created a snug protected den.

Well, the sun was out and time to cautiously check out to see if we had a new tenant.

No fur, but whew. Did it smell wild.

Shelter for some wild temporary resident, but one civilized enough to have a designated toilet area.

Molly was totally gleeful and quite ready to stop, drop and roll.

A good part of the day has been scrubbing, sudsing, and bleaching the temporary animal refuge zone.

No one to be turned away in a storm. But fire ants? Visitor code enforced: after 3 days, fishy stink! Move on…and that doesn’t me move on to me.

Grateful for little things (We shall not bring up biting insects right now)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Notes: People are still being brought out of flooded neighborhoods. Some who are dry on second floors have realized the water will be draining for weeks and with the heat, the smell of flood waters is only going to get worse. Those who may have electricity now may lose it as linemen work to get power re-established. Several houses have burned today as flood waters came in contact with electrical wiring. Then there’s the lack of plumbing. Homeowners are being escorted in one by one by law enforcement officers to check on their houses, pick up clothing, and to rescue pets. They have to have escort for safety reasons and to try and guard against looters. Authorities are going door to door, neighborhood by neighborhood to make sure everyone is out or OK. Schools trying to open next week – some after Sept 11th or so.

More evacuation orders issued this morning as the rivers downstream are swelling. Clear Lake has their flood/hurricane gates wide open and the lake levels this morning have dropped to normal level..

 Where the water has left the houses, homeowners are already ripping out carpet, cutting off sheet rock, and piling up storm damaged household goods along the curbs. Extra volunteer hands to help with the tear out and bleaching/cleaning of floors and walls are desperately needed when areas are safe. Has to be done, seniors can’t manage the heavy chores, and some homeowners are just too overwhelmed by the magnitude of the damage and all the paper works that must be done for insurance and FEMA. 

We’re lucky in this little corner of the world. Streets are clear. I stopped by the grocery store for the first time in about 10 days – it had been one of the few that was opening, but the hysterical mobs stood in line for 3+ hours to check out with whatever items they managed to grab. Yesterday IO think there were more cars in the parking lot from staff restocking than customers.Three checkers no waiting. So we’ve got eggs, apples, and tomatoes for breakfast. 

Gas is available, but you may need Twitter to find it or luck. Flood means tankers can’t get through to some locations and there’s the real worry and problem of gas station tanks contamination from waters.

Roads are beginning to be cleared of water, debris and stalled cars although many are still barricaded off for various reasons. (Like to keep cars from driving into water of uncertain depth in broad daylight – and drowning after the storm. They ran out of barricades. People, it’s daylight, it’s flooded – use some commonsense. Sigh. No, your relatives can’t sue anyone over this.)  You can drive from Galveston(which is dry and fine for visiting this weekend) to Dallas now, but going out of town SW toward Corpus Christi or east is difficult. Check with TXDOT who will tell what routes are best and safe. Rising waters from dam releases are threatening the major road, Hwy 10/Katy Fwy, to San Antonio, but fingers crossed the water won’t rise more.

Big thanks to the police officers from around the country who arrived to provide relief to our local law enforcement officers and rescue teams – many of who have worked day after day after day without going home to check on their own families or flooded homes. (Volunteers could help those officer’s families with their homes, too.)

Character building. That’s what ole timers used to say. So, given the wildness of weather and land in Texas, that’s why we have so many characters? Hey, keeps life from being dull!

Come on down first cool front! And, please, possible Tropical Jose, stay away!

Palm tree frond stuck in branches. (Image ©. ALL rights reserved, Copyrighted, NO permissions granted)

Surly branch. I see you taunting and waving – driving me crazy. I shake branches, poke with rakes, and throw stones all to no avail. I know you are calculating for the perfect moment…probably conspiring with Fire Ants.(Image ©)







  1. easyweimaraner / Sep 1 2017 7:43 am

    how horrible… first the rain what came down and now the fireants…. this harvey brings a lot of scary things…
    a hug to all who risked (and risk) their life to help out…

    Liked by 2 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 2:58 pm

      Scary and hope all the furries find shelter, warmth, and hugs.(and are reunited with their family packs) Nothing heals and soothes like a soft paw. (And we have warned Molly to stay out of the stink or she’ll have to get lifted(ugh) into the bath tub instead of her salon’s. So, she’s charging around after lizards who are out in force )
      Thanks for the happy paw waves and thoughts

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carrie Rubin / Sep 1 2017 7:59 am

    It’s eye-opening and stirring to read your notes at the end because they bring such a personal perspective to this terrible storm and flooding. The amount of clean-up that will be required for homeowners and city workers is mind-boggling. So sad to see people lose so much.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 2:54 pm

      Even those who live here are saying the pictures of the areas are horrifying, but nothing like actually standing there and seeing it in front of your eyes. Stunning.
      But an opportunity for a redo and make improvements…once we get past a few weeks.
      It was a little concerning when early on the level 1 Trauma Center/regional hospital started taking on water and had other issues. Water too high to evacuate and they couldn’t get food in. They just ran the annual massive readiness for disaster test at the first of hurricane season for the entire med center complex and everything was supposed to be great. About 48 hrs of concern, but they managed – bless those doctors and nurses there – and all the other hospitals that stayed and took care of everyone.(they should all get some time off to rest up)
      Lots of stories. People can do so much good – quickly without thinking…maybe that’s the problem the rest of the time: people think to much? HAHA
      Well, all living things are stirring around. The world is different now.
      Thanks for adding a splashy comment

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carrie Rubin / Sep 1 2017 3:05 pm

        I just heard today that babies were evacuated from a NICU and their parents haven’t seen them for days. Breaks my heart.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 5:20 pm

          The ones from Corpus Christi /Rockport/S. TX area were taken out before the storm hit there, but were flown back to parents as the storm hit Houston. Multiple hospitals in the Med center as well as UTMB Galveston were moving kids as needed (A couple lost water temporarily) but babies and parents were able to stay together here. City of Beaumont has no safe water and iffy power, so kids are going to Galveston and San Antonio, Dallas, Austin- where ever there is room. Heartbreaking even if you know baby is safe.
          Daughter’s intern almost had to do emergency C section in apt. kitchen on woman in labor. He/his family were flooded out downstairs in the same complex with quite a few nurses, techs, interns. Poor woman was in hard labor for 12 hours and it wasn’t going well. But during a small break the rescue team got through and rushed her to close by hospital. Mom and baby fine now – one of the babies you saw on national news. Whew!
          Hope all the parents have those kids in their arms shortly. So many stories

          Liked by 3 people

          • Carrie Rubin / Sep 1 2017 7:06 pm

            How scary to go into labor at a time like that!


          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 2 2017 7:40 am

            A couple of the hospitals/doctors that had deliveries pending, called patients before the storm and suggested they check into closely hotels or stay with friend very very close to the hospital.
            I was even surprised the pharmacy called with meds to be picked up that weren’t expected yet a couple of days before Harvey made landfall south of us – apparently the med center asked all docs to be proactive to make sure everyone had necessary prescriptions filled in case people had to evacuate – turned out they were wise.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. Kate Crimmins / Sep 1 2017 10:34 am

    Fire ants? Stink? Oh my. Drop and roll. Yep, that’s a dog thing. A cat would smell it forever but not roll in it. Unless it smelled remotely like catnip. Thanks for your continuing updates. Too often after the worst is over, people move on forgetting that there is still so much to do. Sandy took years and there are people still fighting with FEMA. *hugs to all*


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 2:18 pm

      Oh, Her Highness RC Cat sniffs at the idea of tolerating weird smells. She is well known for seeking out staff with loud complaints insisting staff accompany her to the location of the problem where HRH points with stabbing paw in the direction of “Clean up on aisle 3″/ any mess. And she will continue to jabbing and pointing with paw – with unhappiness until she is satisfied the situation will be corrected (and she clearly states she will return and give sniff inspection). Lassie couldn’t do better.
      It smells a bit like possum, but hopefully the sun will help.
      Everyone’s going to be exhausted from flood stories shortly…
      Those poor Sandy people – I told those we knew to get ready to dig in for the long long term when negotiating with FEMA. Sigh.
      So we knew. Fend for yourself or regret it. Ah, but the sun is out and cool-ish front on the way. 🙂 Thanks for hanging up a comment here

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kate Crimmins / Sep 2 2017 7:23 am

        My cats are like that too. They especially can’t stand any deposits in the litterbox complaining loudly when there aren’t hourly inspections and removals.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 2 2017 8:23 am

          She is really persnickety – refuses to go in the room once she realizes there’s some weirdness there. We think that she quietly shelters hard feeling about the dog who occasionally drops mud chunks off her paws – a royal sniff, then abrupt disgusted turn and complaint. Staff may need to be trained to follow behind like that sport of brooms smoothing ice in front of a heavy disc….we area awaiting edicts

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy / Sep 1 2017 10:40 am

    Fire ants are horrid. I’ve been bitten trying to save Lexi from them when she was less than a year old. Ours make huge mounds in the ground. Just got rid of an infestation. I had no idea they could or would live in trees. Beware of anything falling from the skies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 1:47 pm

      Fire ants will swarm and kill anything from worms, to fawns, foals, and calves. Many say they are responsible for killing off the once common horned toads in East Texas. While they do like to mound up in electrical boxes (for some reason they are attracted to current) usually they do not live in trees – but if there’s a flood, like anything else, fire ants will climb to higher ground. Apparently now they think the crisis is over and are mistaking us for Uber rides to their new under construction communities.
      Actually fire ants are quite complex societies who even will sacrifice themselves so others can survive making ant rafts that float in floods (which is something to really watch out for)
      Here’s an old post about research about fire ants and one about those darn bites that burn like fire:
      Thanks for itching along ( and watch out for Lexi around ants!)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. John W. Howell / Sep 1 2017 10:47 am

    I liked your recap. We had to leave Port Aransas and are looking forward to our return. I carry several scars from trimming palm fronds. Those little spikes come alive when the palms fall.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 1:22 pm

      Really happy to hear from you. Despite everything, it will be nice to walk along the beach in the fall and hear the seagulls calling. (They are probably warning about the palm conspiracy.) Thanks for floating a comment this way

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Anne Mehrling / Sep 1 2017 10:51 am

    Thank you for continuing to keep us up to date. I rejoiced with you that you had a successful trip to the supermarket. Our prayers for Texas continue.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 1:21 pm

      Appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Being able for everyone to be able to walk in their local grocery store and see all the shelves full of food does a lot to make people more comfortable that things will get back to normal. We are grateful out local officials are so competent and that there are so many kind people willing to help. Thanks for wading in with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  7. petspeopleandlife / Sep 1 2017 11:20 am

    Be careful with the fire ants problem. Gee those things an kill you if you get too many bites. Glad you are in good condition overall (property).


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 1 2017 1:16 pm

      It’s a long running battle with fire ants – especially since we do not use pesticides. Like the county agent says, “Fire ants are hard to kill, sometimes the best you can do is run them someplace else.” They build in the driest spot…but little chance of them evacuating to New Mexico, I think 🙂
      Thanks for dodging debris to leave a comment

      Liked by 1 person

      • petspeopleandlife / Sep 1 2017 8:07 pm

        I don’t use pesticides either but have resorted to pouring diesel fuel on the hills. That works good most of the time I detest those insects. Nothing beneficial about since they are not native to North America.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 2 2017 7:27 am

          Scolding them doesn’t work.
          Fire ants are most effective cleaners, but they missed the part where they are supposed to wait to be called and hired for a job. HAHA
          This area has been dealing with their migration a long time. They do damage many things in the environment. (Boiling hot water doesn’t work either. But they don’t like water or wet land, so tell you neighbor not to water their lawn and they will immigrate over there.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. sustainabilitea / Sep 2 2017 6:14 am

    I’m so encouraged by all the wonderful stories of people going above and beyond (and just simply slogging through water and debris) to help. Long may it last! My husband was reading about floating “rafts” of fire ants and sort of freaking out about it, although I doubt there are many instances of people having problems with that. They are quite awful, though. Glad to read that small amounts of normalcy are returning (along with food and, hopefully soon, plenty of gas.) Now we just have to remember that efforts will have to continue and help will be needed long after the waters recede.


    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 2 2017 8:18 am

      If the water has drained in neighborhoods of Houston area, and structures are OK, there’s groceries and gas restocking. We are very lucky to be on high ground and people did get directed to our stores for a bit. Some neighborhoods will have water flooding for 2-3 weeks with houses not fit to be lived in for almost a year in places – all economic levels. The mayor and health dept want anyone who has water in houses still out for mandatory evacuation. Serious concerns over electrocution, gas lines damaged, no lights, nasty stuff/bacteria in that water not to mention gators, snakes, wild hogs, and of course fire ants.
      Our neighbor was helping with the boat evacuations late and didn’t see one of those floating ant rafts. He’s OK but ouchie! Fire ants have quite a complex social structure – the bottom layer isn’t an accident. (Old post about some research on those guys. They really are interesting. )
      Right now everyone’s still stunned. You can see the picture, but even those of us who live here say that even if you’re prepare, the devastation is shocking and unbelievable when you see it with your own eyes. Going to be a new world around here.Ought to be interesting and quite amazing.
      Thanks for floating over to chat

      Liked by 1 person

  9. RKLikesReeses / Sep 4 2017 11:48 am

    Unfathomable. Can barely imagine what you’re all going through. And now a flotilla of faire ants? Gah.

    (That’s too many hugs for all at once, thought you might want to give them away to hug-deficient folks if you encounter any)

    PS – Watch out for the 21st hug in. It has some catnip stuck to it. No idea how that got there.


    • RKLikesReeses / Sep 4 2017 11:48 am

      Fire ants, not faire ants.


  10. angelswhisper2011 / Sep 5 2017 1:25 am

    OMC this looks like a scary movie, Philmouse. What a horrible situation. Lots of purrayers for all of you. Please be safe! Pawkisses ❤ ❤ ❤


  11. The Thrifty Campers / Sep 5 2017 12:26 pm

    So sorry for what you all have gone through and still going through. So terrible what has happen. My heart goes out to everyone.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 6 2017 10:55 am

      See. Now hurricane recovery is another reason everyone needs to learn how to camp. A real life skill. Thanks for pitching a comment this way

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Thrifty Campers / Sep 8 2017 10:06 am

        Lol, I agree. It would be the worse skill set to have to learn in these kind of situations. If you know how to and have done it previously at least once. People I think would be likely to stay a bit more calm.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 8 2017 3:16 pm

          Pitching a tent inside your deconstructed house, can still feel like home. Amazing what you can cook over a camp stove or grill! Pays to be creative

          Liked by 1 person

          • The Thrifty Campers / Sep 11 2017 10:52 am

            You have such an openness and positive outlook. I could make due having a tent feel like home to me but I’m sure others would argue that point lol unfortunately. Oh I know…there is such wide selection of camp grills and stove tops to choose from to meet your needs. It surely does😄


  12. The Thrifty Campers / Sep 11 2017 10:40 am

    I like your openness and positive outlook. It would feel like home for me but I’m sure others would argue that point unfortunately lol. Oh I know, there are so many different kinds of camp stoves and grills nowadays that could meet your requirements.


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