Jo Ann Jaacks: We all can learn something new

Recently, I learned not to let your cat lick your tiramisu unless you want to throw out a scatter rug. (I actually took it to the laundry and had them renew it, but still, lesson learned.)

I started out with one “pet” raven who showed up each morning just before sunrise, as did I. I named him/her Black Bird and tossed tortilla corn chips over the balcony, then made my own breakfast. Just a few days later, there was a companion raven, smaller and standing back until Black Bird began dining on chips. At last count, there were nine blackbirds hanging out beneath the balcony, patiently awaiting their turn at snaring a chip or two. Luckily, tortilla corn chips come in the super-large size and were on sale. I have a cupboard full of them.

At one nursery where I bought annual flowers for container gardening on my back porch, I was advised to “dead-head” the plants regularly because that would promote new growth and blossoms. I did that more or less regularly, nipping off the dead flowers, but it didn’t seem to be working on all the plants. At another nursery, I asked if I was doing something wrong and the woman asked “Are you pulling out the entire stem, not just the flower”? Uh, no. Now I am.

The last time I moved, I purged a lot of items at a moving sale, including my small collection of decorative hats that I rarely wore. This morning, I wondered why I was the only one fast-walking on the outdoor running track . . . then the rain began. I did three rounds on the track, then gave it up, returned to my car drenched, and bought a cute pink cap that was on clearance at Target.

Speaking about my cat, when we moved to our new place, a huge outdoor all-season catio came with it, since the former tenant couldn’t bring it with her. Darlin’ was flummoxed at first since the catio we left behind just required that I open the window. In the new place, she could go back and forth through the “doggy door” on her own. I tried my best to teach her how to duck her head and push through the plastic pet door, but it always ended with us both frustrated.

Then I got the idea to open it on one side and then she would have to figure out how to get back in the house. She was thrilled with me opening the little door and she immediately jumped up on the highest scratch shelf. After an hour of jumping from shelf to shelf, playing with the toys I put in there, and viewing the neighbors’ activities, she wanted to come back in. I pantomimed ducking her head and pushing through the door, but to no avail. Instead, she began banging on the door with both paws. That unbalanced the door mechanism and it could then only be physically lifted open by me. After several more tries in the next few days, she got the hang of pushing the door open with her head. Even animals can learn something new.