Our dog Ellie sleeping on my loveseat

We bought this Kivik loveseat from Ikea for one sole purpose: to give our sixty-five pound lapdog a place in my office to snuggle. We weren’t exactly looking for heirloom furniture given the abuse of paw and claw it will endure, and also went for comfort over style.

I’d say we chose wisely, wouldn’t you, Ellie? Ellie? Ellie?

I’m sure she’ll get back to us.

The Comforter Has Come

Our cats Sam and Scout on my love seat

Sam lay beside me on the loveseat, too agitated by the 4th of July fireworks to sleep. Scout came in but walked past her normal spot in my lap or her cat bed and instead lay down beside him. Sam immediately curled into a ball and fell into a deep sleep, safe and secure in his sister’s shadow. Sleep wouldn’t come so easily for Scout, but hours later exhaustion took hold and she too fell asleep.

Soon sleep beckoned me as well and I walked to the bedroom with the darkness murmuring at my feet. The murmurs jumped onto the bed as I approached and I eased myself under the covers so as not to crush them. As Sam and Scout curled up on me the murmurs turned to purrs, the purrs to silence, and at last we all were at rest.

Clues Two

A close-up view of a common muskrat eating plants

I saw my first muskrat at the Virginia Tech Duck Pond back when I was first getting into photography. Sadly I found it dead not much later, but my fascination with these rodents was born. So I was particularly pleased when we moved to the Northwest to find them here as well. Over the years I’ve seen one in most of the ponds and lakes around the auto tour at Ridgefield, although surprisingly I seem to be the only one who is excited to see these adorable creatures.

While the face of the muskrat is unique compared to the other aquatic rodents at the refuge, its distinctive white claws are also an important clue, visible here on the front paws of this hungry muskrat. While I have seen muskrats many times, they are shy creatures and my glimpses are usually brief. Thankfully though this one let me photograph from close range to my heart’s content as it dined on plants at the edge of Canvasback Lake.

This is why I can’t stop going to Ridgefield.


A close-up view of the rear foot of a nutria

Nutria are by far the most commonly seen of the aquatic rodents at Ridgefield, with muskrats being relatively common, beavers not common at all. There are enough clues in this picture to identify which of these rodents this is. The tail is the most obvious indicator, but the rear foot all by itself holds enough clues. A muskrat has white claws while those of a nutria and beaver are dark. Both beavers and nutria have heavily webbed rear feet, but all five of the beaver’s toes are webbed, on a nutria only the inner four.

Which begs the question: why?

I don’t know the answer but I do know this is a nutria.


A coyote howls at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

I first met this coyote when we surprised each other on the short trail to the observation blind at Ridgefield. When I got back to the car I moved on to the Kiwa Trail parking lot and discovered the coyote had as well. I drove to the far side of the lot to get a better angle on the sunlight then gently swung the car into place. The coyote didn’t pay me much heed and hunted in the meadow for a while, then surprised me once more by howling a few times (unanswered). It then slipped through the gate and disappeared up the trail.

I’ve heard coyotes howl many times but it was fun to finally get to see it.

Mr. Ambassador

Our cat Templeton inspecting the box of my 15 inch Powerbook shortly after it was delivered

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my home office lately, but it isn’t just my physical life that’s getting organized. I’ve been shooting digitally since Christmas of 2000 and over the years my pictures ended up pretty scattered around. Worse yet I have gotten hopelessly behind in sorting and editing. Worst of all I wasn’t sure which ones were properly backed up.

So it was time to start getting my digital life in order too.

Thanks to a few days of drudgery, all my pictures are now stored in a common directory format on one big hard drive, loaded into Aperture, and being backed up onto a second hard drive as I type. While loading in my older pictures, I couldn’t help but take a break every so often to play around with a few.

For some reason I never edited this picture of Templeton back in the day, he was inspecting my 15″ Powerbook shortly after it was delivered in May of 2004. I’ve written about the two of them before, so it was kind of funny to see them together at the moment the laptop arrived. I was rather ambivalent about cats until I met him, but he was such an ambassador for the feline kind that I can’t imagine my life without them now.

What a wonderful little creature he was.