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The cats have been given notice. I told them I was serious this time. They have got to start pulling their weight around here. They don’t believe me when I tell them this stuff. Rose gives me that, “Oh, come on Ann. Get serious” look and adjusts her fat little body on the back of the sofa and pretends to sleep. Nicky, a more gentle soul, will rub my leg asking forgiveness for something he didn’t even know he had done. It’s useless to negotiate with cats.

This latest outburst on my part came earlier this week when I went out on the porch and discovered that those damn squirrels had dug up every one of the plants that Steven had put in the ground the day before. The cats, who had been lounging on self same porch the whole day and part of the evening, never did anything to keep those squirrels at bay. I’ve watch them sometimes as the plant-destroying squirrels sneak onto the ledge of the porch, looking for a morsel or two. Do the cats do anything to scare them off? No, not a sound, not a hiss, not even that clicking noise they make to scare the sparrows who, I must say, do not destroy any pot on my porch. I  think the cats and the squirrels have become buddies over the years. They seem to be enjoying conversations with one another about the weather and the availability of food and what is it with this crazy woman who bangs on the door and shouts when she sees the squirrels sneaking up on the porch.

It was too much this time. I had exactly one day of admiring my summer garden before they destroyed it. For years and years, the squirrels never bothered my pots. That was when Lennie next door planted a garden that was much easier to access than mine. But a couple of years ago, he finally, after fighting the battle of the squirrels for years, waved the white flag and declared the squirrels the winners. This left my pots their next battleground. That was also back when the little black squirrels were around. Now the squirrel population has been taken over by the grey ones who do not have the manners of those little black ones. Someone told me it was because they were American squirrels and we know what that means. I ignored that comment.

There was nothing to do but replant everything. I went out  and apologized to all those little petunia and lobelia plants. Then, while I slipped my hand into garden gloves to start the replanting, I  immediately felt my finger throbbing like a toothache.  I had disturbed a wasp that had decided that my right muddy glove was the perfect place to take a nap. I think the squirrels put the wasp up to it. But this was not going to stop my planting. After a quick check on the internet, I smeared toothpaste on the wound, bandaged it and went back to my re-potting. I was not ready to give up on my garden — with or without the help of the cats — to these sneaky squirrels.  One-handed, I re-potted those plants with care while the squirrels watched from the porch next door. Then, I sprinkled the soil generously with hot chilli flakes and did not feel even a slight twinge of guilt thinking about them cleaning their little paws and getting a hot mouth. Too bad, suckers, you asked for it.