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Our black cat Emma prepares to shove one of her toy mice under the door on December 27, 2007. Original: _MG_6565.cr2

Less than a week after her adoption in 2007, Emma shoves one of her toy mice under the door. She’d reach under to try to get them back but often they’d end up out of reach. When we moved and emptied the house I think we finally found all the remaining ones that had been shoved into the most obscure places, but I like to think at least one remains, a little reminder of a sweet black cat for whom this house was home.

The Entertainers

A squirrel peaks out from the neighbor's bushes in Portland, Oregon on June 17, 2007. Original: _MG_0704.cr2

A squirrel peaks out from the neighbor’s bushes in the spring of 2007. Although Oregon has native tree squirrels in our urban Portland neighborhood you’d only find species introduced long ago, like eastern grays and eastern foxes. Our dog Ellie never paid them much heed but they were endlessly entertaining to all six cats over the years, with Emma and Trixie probably their biggest fans.

Strike a Pose

A close-up of a young red-tailed hawk looking into the camera while preening its feathers on the auto tour of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington on February 9, 2008. Original: _MG_8524.cr2

A young red-tailed hawk pauses while preening its front feathers on a winter afternoon at Ridgefield in 2008. Although birds of this age have long since lost the the extreme nervousness they had after fledging, I like that its expression portrays some of the goofiness they retain as they experience new things in their first year. Not that they should be underestimated, they are already formidable predators as the blood around its mouth and beak suggest. The signposts near the auto tour were favored perches of the young hawks and provided opportunities to watch them at length, especially on rainy days if traffic was sparse.

A close-up of a young red-tailed hawk preening its feathers on the auto tour of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington on February 9, 2008. Original: _MG_8517.cr2

Little Pink Houses

An adult fork-tailed bush katydid eats inside a pink rose blossom in our yard in Portland, Oregon on September 12, 2009. Original: _MG_6338.cr2

As summer turned to fall in September 2009, an adult fork-tailed bush katydid dined on one of our rose blossoms. Once I discovered they were eating the rose petals I stopped pruning the flowers after they lost their aesthetic appeal and only cut them once the petals fell off. Which worked out well for both the katydids and myself, as they loved the roses and I loved watching them.