NOTE TO WOULD-BE INTRUDERS: Make sure to look up when you enter our premises, as our security system is just as effective (and deadly) from above as from below.
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5
My sacred ground isn’t a remarkable place. People hike past it without so much as a second glance. But from the first time I hiked the Mill Hill Loop Trail at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, there’s a spot on the trail that’s always stopped me in my tracks. After hiking through some open forest, there is a sudden, immediate transition from the sunlight of the open trail into the darkness of moss-draped firs. Little light makes its way past the canopy and the thick moss seems to dampen all sound.
This little section of moss and firs isn’t impressive for the size of the trees (toothpicks compared to the old growth and second growth giants elsewhere in the Northwest) nor for the size of the forest (it lasts just a short while before the trail enters more open forest). It’s a little pocket out of place compared to the surrounding woods at this refuge of reclaimed farmland. A throwback to another time and another place.
Stepping into this part of the forest almost always brings a smile to my face, brightens my mood, quickens my pace but then slows my steps, to look up, to breathe in, to listen, to be. I’ve seen a coyote slink off up a forested hill. Laughed at sliding hoofprints of deer where they must have slid coming down a muddy slope. Compared the size of the deer prints next to much larker elk prints. Further up the trail I’ve seen deer, elk, quail, wood ducks, although sasquatch has yet eluded me. But mostly I love this part of the forest not for what I see but for what I feel.
There’s only been one time in my life when this enchanted forest couldn’t lift a darkest mood, but that’s a story for another day. The picture above was taken on a rainy day in April. A little earlier on the trail I had been photographing my favorite creature in the Northwest, the rough-skinned newt, but that too is a story for another day.
This evening I went to one of my favorite spots, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge up in Washington. On my first trip around the auto tour, the yellow warning light lit up on my Civic’s dashboard, telling me I’d better get gas or else.
I figured it was a false alarm but didn’t want to risk it, so I took off for the nearest gas station. I pulled up to the pump, turned off the car, popped the gas tank door, and waited for them to come and fill up the car.
And then it dawned on me, I was in Washington and would have to pump my own gas. Fortunately I hadn’t waited more than a minute or two, so hopefully I didn’t look like too much of a maroon.
Templeton has been almost his normal self the past few days after we switched him to a different type of kidney-friendly food, so I’m guardedly optimistic that he’s finally getting back to normal, 3 months after swallowing the sewing needle before Christmas. I’m not ready to declare victory quite yet, but I’m breathing a little easier.
This picture is from 2002 when we were living in Keizer. Scout loves to curl up with Templeton but he usually prefers to sleep on his own. If she’d catch him when he was tired enough, he’d decide it was better to let her snuggle than to have to get up and move somewhere else.
Templeton’s had his ups and down since getting his stomach operated on to remove the sewing needle he swallowed. After recuperating at home, he had to go back to the vet for a weekend to get antibiotics and fluids to battle a fever. Then he came home and every morning for the past couple of weeks has had the pleasure of me shooting a pill down his throat (and let me tell you, for a sick old man he sure could put up a fight).
A few days ago he really started coming around, back to about 70% of his normal self. He was moving around, wanting to play, meeting me at the door when I came home. He had another check up at the vet on Saturday and they will have the results on Tuesday. Today he was pretty quiet again and spent part of the day sitting in his cat carrier. I’m not sure if that’s a bad sign or if its irrelevant. Normally when we put him in there he goes to the vet, so I hope he’s not trying to tell us something. Usually he’s a bit more vocal when something’s on his mind. On the other hand, we usually don’t leave the carrier out like it is now, so perhaps he’s just trying out a new napping location.
The Christmas tree finally came down today, over a month after Christmas has come and gone. It’s so nice coming home and walking down the street and seeing the beautiful lights through the window, it’s a shame it can’t stay up year round. And Scout loves sleeping under (and in) it so much she’d love it if it was up year round too. In February we could decorate it for President’s Day, in March for St. Patrick’s Day, in April for Easter, in May for Memorial Day …
We’re also getting many of the rooms in the house painted, so the cats will get to spend the week closed off into the lower part of the house. Fortunately it seems Scout can’t open the door that leads into the kitchen, although I’m not sure we’ve seen her at her most desperate.
The picture above is Templeton with a catnip bag back in 2001 when were still living in Keizer.
I was editing some pictures of brown pelicans that I took on the Oregon coast last fall when Scout jumped onto my desk. Nothing unusual there, but then she took a great deal of interest in what was on my computer screen, which was showing an adult pelican soaring through the air. Before I realized what was going on, she took a swipe at the bird.
Bad Scout! Bad Scout!
My old CRT had a big scratch in it thanks to my little kitten and I didn’t want the same with my LCD. Fortunately she kept her claws retracted and no damage was done. She was eyeing the pelicans later in the day but made no further attempts to attack the digital birds.
Remind me never to take Scout to the coast.
Templeton goes to the vet tomorrow, he’s been sleeping all the time and not eating and drinking as much as he used to. I wasn’t too concerned when we first brought him home but he should have bounced back by now. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain and is as sweet and loving as usual, but he’s lost weight and just sleeps constantly.
I’ve always loved that President Warren Harding made up the phrase “A Return to Normalcy” as his campaign slogan and it stuck, so now people seemingly talk about returning to normalcy after every disaster. At least something good came out of Harding’s administration.
Things are starting to return to normal, both cats went to the vet this morning and had good reports. Templeton has mended pretty well from his stomach surgery and the only real issue is the possibility of early stages of kidney disease. One of the little tidbits that came out of his emergency surgery is that we learned he only has one functioning kidney, as one of them never properly formed.
I’ll give you one of mine if you need it little one.
The picture above probably seems like it was setup so that it would look like Templeton was working on my Powerbook, but it wasn’t posed. He was still recuperating at that point, isolated to the guest bedroom, so I had spent the evening with him on the bed while I sorted through some pictures I had taken. I went downstairs to get something and when I came back up, Templeton had moved to where I was sitting and plopped himself down in front of the keyboard. He likes to take my seat when I get up for reasons I don’t quite understand, but it can get a little comical in my office when he steals my seat the moment I get up.
Templeton is zonked out in one of my office chairs as I write this, with Scout sleeping on the floor below him. Just like the old days.
It’s the night of December 22nd. We’re preparing to fly to Texas in the wee hours of the morning to visit family in Texas over the Christmas holidays.
My wife comes into my office and tells me not to freak out but she can’t find her sewing needle. Doesn’t seem too troubling to me but when we get downstairs I understand her concern: the needle was attached to some black thread, and Templeton might have swallowed it.
Now Templeton’s a thread eater, no question, but he’s never swallowed a needle. He’s thirteen years old after all, a cat and not a kitten. No chance he swallowed it.
Wrong. We looked everywhere for the needle and couldn’t find it, so we took him to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital (great folks) and X-rays confirmed his stomach contents: lots of food and one sewing needle.
He had surgery that night to remove the needle, and fortunately a friend was able to keep him in her house while we were gone and keep a close eye on him. He’s back home now, isolated to the guest bedroom to keep him from running and jumping, with a clear plastic collar around his neck to keep him from pulling out his stitches.
We give him supervised time without the collar so he can bathe himself (except for the stomach), and it’s a lot easier for him to eat and use the litter box. He still smells a little different, enough that Scout hasn’t really realized who he is, although now that he can bathe himself a little she’s coming a lot closer. She only gets to be around him when we’re around, otherwise he’ll convince her to pull out his stitches for him.
He’s scheduled to get the stitches out on the 6th of January, so he only has to hold out for a few more days with his unwanted fashion accessory.
Let this be a lesson for my feline readers out there: eating thread is bad, eating needles is really, really bad.
I’ve thought about starting a blog for a long time. In fact, I’ve had an inactive link on my home page for so many years that it was called Weblog instead of Blog because I added it before the ‘blog’ term had become popular.
This is mostly just a trial run to see if I enjoy writing it and if I update it enough. I don’t want it to interfere with my picture updates at my website and I don’t want it to keep me from working on my great American novel.
But since it’s the start of a new year, it seemed fitting to finally start the blog.