Oh Baby Hedgehog! How I’ve Longed For This Moment!

Our dog Ellie stares at her toy baby hedgehog that she tossed at my feet as we play in the grass in our backyard in Portland, Oregon

One nice thing about how well Ellie is healing is that she can now join me in the backyard like before, minus the running and jumping. That even means the return of baby hedgehog to outside time as long as she doesn’t get too rambunctious. She had tossed it to me here, wanting to play like in days of old, but we’re not ready for that yet. I’ve adapted baby hedgehog play since she first got her surgery, matching it to her allowed activity level. We started off with a game where she didn’t need to move anything but her head, to now where she can be more mobile but doesn’t need to run and jump.

Moving On Up

A ground-level view of our dog Ellie lying down on the hardwood floor in the dining room

Ellie went to the surgeon on Thursday for her follow-up x-rays and he was delighted with the progress she’s made in the six weeks since her leg surgery. Everything is healing the way he hoped and she goes back for her final x-rays in another six weeks. So while she still isn’t allowed to run and play the way she’d like, we’re headed in the right direction and today was the first day I didn’t keep her penned up when I left for work. She is allowed to use the stairs now and so has free reign of the house, finally able to rise up from the basement and join me on the main floor. And the bedroom on the top floor at night, this morning I literally woke up covered by all the pets but Emma!

Her walks have also resumed, slowly increasing in 5 minute intervals as she builds back her stamina and muscle mass. We don’t get too far, she’s eager to get reacquainted with old friends and say hello to you little bush, and you little tree, and you blade of grass, and you little leaf, and …

I’ve been working a lot of long hours for work, including many nights and weekends, so I haven’t been able to play with her and the cats as much as I’d like. Or as often as Ellie would like, given by the number of times I get pelted by hedgehogs as I work. Thankfully things should be slowing down in the next couple of days.

Welcome back, Ellie! All the pets are zonked out around me in my office at the moment, some sleeping more quietly than others. Even the hedgehogs are enjoying a moment of peace.

Pride Goes Before Two Falls

A close-up view of an eastern cottontail near the auto tour at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

A while back my teleconverter started overexposing everything by a stop, so I had to remember to deliberately underexpose to prevent from blowing out the image, something I often forgot to do. Being a night owl, I was particularly pleased with myself when I arrived near sunrise at Ridgefield and, when photographing this cottontail beside the auto tour, actually remembered to dial in the underexposure. A few moments later I got my comeuppance. As I watched a muskrat swimming with its child, I realized that while I had remembered to compensate for my faulty teleconverter, I wasn’t actually using it so all I ended up doing was needlessly underexposing my images.

On a later visit I realized the converter was flaring badly under strong backlighting and ruined some images. Strike two.But the coup de grâce was yet to come. While hiking along the auto tour, I watched helplessly as the camera separated from the lens and fell six feet to the muddy ground. On closer inspection it was the converter that had separated from the lens but I didn’t think much of it, I assumed I had accidentally bumped the release latch.

But it happened again a few minutes later, this time the camera clanged off the hard-packed dirt road hard enough that the batteries went flying from the flash. I suspect the teleconverter worked itself free just with the jostling motion of hiking. While the camera appears to have survived both falls with no damage save some scratches, I knew it was time to replace my old friend.

This Tamron teleconverter and my Tamrac bag are my oldest pieces of photography gear, I bought them in the early days so they’re almost 15 years old and have literally been along for every hike I’ve gone on during that time. The bag wears the crown alone from now on.

So long, old friend, and thanks for the memories.