Tag Archives: Bushwick

Dead Cat Chronicles

Dead Cat
Look closely at this otherwise bucolic garden photo and you will see a haunting and disturbing site. There in the middle, nestled in between my potted tomatoes and peppers, lies the carcass of a cat.

Yes, a cat. And until it shuffled off this mortal coil on Thursday, it was one of the 13+ feral cats living in my neighbor’s backyard. The cat colony was here long before we were, and had already designated our property as their communal toilet. Over the past year and a half, despite my screams and frequent garden hose sprays, they have continued to breeze in and out freely as before, with a haughty saunter and glaring look that says, “Excuse me, but who said you could grow tomatoes in our bathroom?”

Full disclosure: I hate cats. Every cat I have ever met has been a creep, except for one Maine Coon cat who hung out at the laundry mat I frequented in college. So imagine my horror when I woke up on Thursday anticipating a few peaceful moments in my garden before work and instead was confronted – face to tail – with the body of a dead feline.

I screamed, jumped up and down, ran in place and then bolted upstairs just in time to find my boyfriend getting into a car to go to the airport. I was on my own with this one. Unless I wanted to leave the rotting, festering carcass there for three days until he came home, I would need to find a way to remove and dispose of it.

So I channeled my inner pioneer woman, put on my rubber boots and gloves, tied a handkerchief around my face to ward off any airborne disease, and scooped his (or her – I didn’t bother to check) body into an ultra-thick trash bag. Then I disinfected the entire area with Lysol and bleach.

“How did the cat die?” my boyfriend later asked, as if I had performed an autopsy. Who knows how it died? But he made a good point. What if it was poisoned? I know other neighbors have been frustrated – especially as the old woman who feeds the cats has adamantly refused to stop. What if one of them tried to kill the cats? So far, though, none of the other kitties have passed on. I’m hopeful this one died of natural causes.

After this incident, I can truly say that I’m at my wit’s end with these gross little beasts. I’ve called 311, Animal Care & Control, the Department of Health and 911 (What if it had rabies? The dispatcher thought it unlikely.), and no one has been able to help. The best response I got was from the Department of Sanitation, who was willing to arrange for a special off-schedule pick-up to remove the dead body.

My neighbor’s behavior is not illegal, explained each of the aforementioned agencies. The only other way to get rid of the cats – besides starvation – appears to be TNR (Trap Neuter and Release), which sounds, frankly, like a giant P.I.T.A. I simply don’t have the time to take a class on cat trapping, capture 13+ nasty wild cats, ferry them off to get spayed and neutered, bring them home, care for them for a couple of days, and then release them back into my neighbor’s yard so they can continue to shit in mine.

It might be the humane thing to do, but, sorry – it’s just not going to happen.

Our plan all along has been to build a tall fence and run a border of Prikka-Strip along the top, but that’s still a year or two away. In in the meantime, I am going to buy some netting – something spiky – and make a fortress. It will look ugly, but it will be worth it.

Kittens The saddest part is that these cats continue to reproduce every six months. I’ll admit that the kittens are adorable, but now that they’re full-sized and staring me down and hissing, I just want them gone.

And the fact that this woman, our neighbor, keeps feeding them is driving me insane. Doesn’t she realize she is doing more harm than good? We’ve tried talking to her, but it hasn’t worked. She continues to toss cat food out of her window like she’s throwing rice at a wedding.

Even though I hate cats, I don’t want them to suffer. I wish I could send them to a cat sanctuary. Or it would be great if there was a TNR company that I could hire to fix the cats. Combined with my new fortress fence, this would be the most effective strategy.

The New York City Feral Cat Initiative is holding a workshop at the Ridgewood Library on August 10th. I probably should attend…


Strawberries & Classic Cars at the Onderdonk House

Onderdonk House Ridgewood QueensWe are lucky to live just a few blocks away from the oldest Dutch colonial stone house in New York City – the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, at 1820 Flushing Avenue. (Our home, built in 1908, actually sits on land that was once part of the Onderdonk farm.)

View from from Troutman St. onto the Onderdonk HouseIt’s an incredible little spot – made even more so by the juxtaposition of an early 18th century building next to the gritty backdrop of factories and warehouses that line Flushing.

Onderdonk House Flushing Avenue If you can ignore the sounds of traffic whizzing by, you would think you had stepped right back into the 1700’s.

Onderdonk House Strawberry and Vintage Car Festival Today, the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, which owns and operates the house, hosted a Strawberry Shortcake and Vintage Car Festival. Not an obvious combo, but it was a lot of fun (at least, for me, the strawberry part.)

Onderdonk House GardensWhile my boyfriend looked at the autos, I wandered into the gardens that border the house.

Onderdonk House Chicken CoopThe Chicken Coop

Onderdonk House Bird's NestA bird’s nest.

Arbitration Rock Arbitration Rock – the stone that was used to mark the Brooklyn/Queens border in 1769, ending a bitter boundary dispute between the townships of Bushwick and Newtown that extended back to the 1600’s.  (Though whether this rock is actually the REAL “Arbitration Rock” is also a matter of debate.)

Onderdonk House Gardens
More gardens…

Onderdonk House Fence
After the last Onderdonk moved out in the late 1800’s and the adjacent farmland was sold off to developers, the house was purchased by Louise Gmelin, who used the remaining property for a number of different businesses, one of which was a scrap glass repository. To this day, remnants of glass bottles and discarded glass refuse from an old Tiffany Lamp factory in Corona still litter the grounds.

Platz Hardware

Platz's Hardware
On Saturday we stopped by Platz Hardware to peruse plants. Going to Platz is one of my absolute favorite things  to do in Ridgewood – even when I have nothing to buy. The hundred year-old store oozes charm and the current owners (I think they’re brothers, but no longer Platz’s) are hands down the most helpful hardware store professionals I have ever encountered. They seem to have an endless supply of knowledge and advice about anything hardware and gardening related – we call them the Click and Clack of Queens.

Welcome to my Garden Blog

Ridgewood, Queens   Ridgewood Row house    Last Year's Garden    Last Year's Garden    Peppers and Swiss Chard   Bell Peppers
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Garden 2010, a set on Flickr.

Hello! I live in Ridgewood, Queens with my boyfriend and two affenpinschers. We moved into a 1908 brick row house down the street from the Linden Hill cemetery a little over a year ago. I started my first garden last summer, and this year I thought I would document Garden 2.0 with a blog – from start to finish, sow to harvest.

The thumbnails link to my garden from last year, which my boyfriend described as “Swiss Family Robinson.” Admittedly, I was kind of miserly when it came to investing in materials and supplies. I opted for unraised garden beds and created borders out of twine and sticks that I found in the yard. Then I threw some seeds around Johnny Appleseed-style and hoped for the best.

Things turned out pretty decent: We had lots of peppers, radishes, arugula and Swiss chard. The kale, carrots and beets did ok, but my zucchinis were decimated by ants. The parsnips never sprouted (maybe it was too hot?) and the pumpkins were a bust (I started them way too late).  My tomatoes were the surprise hit of the summer. When I thought I had lost them to blight, I cut the plants down to a few inches high, and they sprouted right back up and rallied from September to late October.

I’m the type of person who likes to dive right into things without planning, but if I learned anything from last summer it was that a little planing goes a long way when it comes to planting a garden. So this year I am taking it slow and steady, doing my best to follow tips and advice I find online and in books, and mapping things out well in advance. I look forward to sharing the results!