Big Needles

A view of strawberry hedgehog cactus in the rain growing in slate on the Quartz Trail in Cave Creek Regional Park in Cave Creek, Arizona in December 2019. Original: _DSC6456.arw

My award for the cutest member of the desert that will still stab you six ways from Sunday goes to the diminutive hedgehog cactus with its almost comically long needles. I found this little clump in the slate at Cave Creek on a rainy winter’s day. Rain, I remember rain. It was wet I think.

An overhead view of strawberry hedgehog cactus in the rain growing in slate on the Quartz Trail in Cave Creek Regional Park in Cave Creek, Arizona in December 2019. Original: _DSC6441.arw

It Started Early

Our cat Emma looks over the back of a chair as she waits for me to toss her a string in January 2008. Original: _MG_6858.cr2

Emma waits for me to toss her a string early in 2008, not long after we adopted her. She never tired of playing with strings throughout her life. My camera at the time really struggled to focus on her in low light so I have a lot of slightly blurry pictures of her, but that’s better than none at all. This one is OK because I pre-focused and got lucky with where she placed her head.

Fruit Salad

A close-up view of a compass barrel cactus with dried flowers atop green fruit with two buds waiting to bloom, taken on the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in August 2020

I sometimes find cacti a bit awkward looking when the flowers have died but not yet fallen off, but I liked the look on this compass barrel cactus with the dried flowers atop green fruit, a couple of buds waiting to bloom, nestled beneath the large red spines.

A top-down view of a compass barrel cactus with dried flowers atop green fruit with two buds waiting to bloom, taken on the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in August 2020

Winding Down

Our dog Ellie lays her head on a pillow as she curls up beside me on the couch in October 2013

Ellie curled up on the couch beside me in the fall of 2013, the day winding down as the clock ticked towards midnight. When I got tired enough to fall asleep she’d follow me upstairs to the bedroom. I’m thankful I took a lot of shots of her doing everyday things like this, I didn’t do it enough in the early days with Templeton and Scout.

The Home Office

Our cat Sam curls up on the couch beside my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and notebook in May 2020

I’ve been primarily a laptop user for many years now so only the details of my home office have changed, the computers getting upgraded every 3 to 5 years and notebooks being swapped out when they fill up. One of the changes I have loved is the arrival of smartphones for keeping GPS tracks of my hikes (and dog walks) that I can sync up with my pictures. I also loved the arrival of the iPad and bird books on it, as you can select your location and eliminate all the birds not likely to be seen in your area, especially useful when we moved to Arizona.

Sam is the object that has changed the least, a constant in my lap since he arrived late in 2007. Trixie arrived early in 2015, special props for stealing my seat as soon as I stood up and then curling up like she had been there for hours. At least now there aren’t as many protest squeaks when I take my seat back as there were in the early days.

Our cat Trixie curls up on the couch beside my MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, and notebook in May 2020