The In-Between Time

Our cat Sam sleeps atop the cat tree

I took many pictures of Sam sleeping atop the cat tree over the years and only through the greatest restraint have I avoided sharing each and every one of them with you. It is the day this picture was taken that packs the emotional punch for me, two days before the movers were to pack our things and load them onto a truck, three days before we would leave for Arizona, five days before we would arrive. He knew something was up but he had no idea how much I was about to upend his world.

Our cat Sam wearing a collar with his name on it in large letters

A simple picture of Sam sitting in a chair with his name writ large on his collar. But I know the chair was in my office because the junk haulers took away my old couch that morning and I brought down my old chair from our bedroom, a chair we bought when we moved into the house and which served me well for many years (and serves us well even now). It was a delight to photograph Sam in it as it reminded me of when Templeton loved to sleep there, especially after he lured me out of it so he could steal my spot. The collar though he and the other cats only had to wear in the days leading up to the move, and during, and after, in case they got loose during the confusion.

Thankfully they did not. This story ends in joy not tragedy.

Our cat Sam sleeps on a bed at a La Quinta Inn in Redding, California

A picture of Sam sleeping on the bed, I took many of those too, but it was only our bed for a night as this was the hotel in California on our first night, the in-between place in the in-between time. A reminder of a long trip, especially for the little ones, but a reminder too that as long as we were together we would be all right.

Our dog Ellie relaxes in the backyard in front of the swimming pool on the day we arrived at our rental house in Scottsdale, Arizona

A quick picture of Ellie that I snapped after we arrived at our rental house in Arizona at the end of March. The house will be home for a year, Arizona for much longer, and I am so thankful we found the house and that our lovely landlords accepted all the pets. All of the hiking and swimming has been great for me, I’m in the best shape I’ve been for a long time. The one story house has been great for Ellie as she can now follow us everywhere we go. As for Sam, well, our little snuggler has been putting on weight as he no longer has to go to the basement to use the litter box, the main floor to hang out in my office, and upstairs to join us at night. He’s getting a reduction in food to slowly bring his weight back down. Trixie and Boo are doing just fine, they love watching the wildlife in our back yard.

Time to Relax

Our dog Ellie relaxes near the swimming pool in our backyard

Ellie relaxes by our backyard pool on April 1st, our first full day in Arizona. She was able to relax after a long three day drive from Oregon but I wasn’t so lucky as I was starting work the next day. I was already worn out from the stress and pace of the previous months but since then I have been able to relax on the weekends, my wife has been taking care of the day-to-day stuff at home and we have yard and pool maintenance for the outside and a nice landlord if things need attention on the inside, freeing me up to go hiking pretty much every morning I have off.

Even for that a few weeks ago I hit a wall where I knew I needed to take some time off, but unfortunately it was an especially busy time at work, each week busier than the next, culminating in a week with a couple of very late nights and little sleep. Things are slowing down now so starting on Wednesday I will take a week of vacation, not going anywhere just need some downtime. I still haven’t fully unpacked my office.

One bright side of being laid off was I took Ellie on long walks every morning and not just on the weekends. I started the long weekend walks in her elderly years when she wanted to cut our evening walks short but I realized she’d still go on long walks in the morning. The downside is my hiking took a nosedive during those years as the mornings were my trail time as well, but I don’t regret it, you never know how much time you’re going to get with these old pups and each of those walks was precious to me.

Since my wife has been home in Arizona she has been walking Ellie in the mornings so I’ve gone out hiking most of my days off. I do miss walking with the pup though, the past week I’ve been getting up early on work days and my wife and I walk her together, we walked for 1.4 miles this morning. We should all age so well. We can’t convince her to get in the pool though, she loved to swim when I took her to the rivers in Portland but I think the step into the pool is the issue, steps are a big problem for her these days (thankfully the rental house has none).

I need to teach her to jump in! Maybe I’ll wrap some bacon around my head and stand in the middle of the pool.

Closed

Our elderly black lab Ellie stands in the hallway of our house in Portland, Oregon

We are homeowners no more.

Our house in Portland closed today, I will always love that old house but I’m glad the selling process is over. Here’s hoping its new family will love it as we did, and that when we are ready to buy a house here in Arizona we will be as happy. I took this picture of Ellie in the hallway outside my office back in February as I walked the path that would lead us from Oregon, with one job offer in hand and less than two days away from flying to interview in Arizona and getting the offer that brought us here.

One downside to the old house for our old pup was that to the right of her are stairs leading up to our bedroom. She couldn’t navigate the stairs very well in her elderly years (she could go up just fine but coming down could be a challenge), so we had to block off the stairs to keep her from following us upstairs to bed. She couldn’t go downstairs to the basement where my wife’s office was, so she spent her days with me on the main floor and her nights asleep in one of her beds, waiting for us to be reunited.

We have a lovely rental home here and Ellie is delighted that it is only one story. She can follow us to bed and follow us to our offices. And follow she does, follow, follow, follow, a black shadow follows you everywhere you go. She’s laying beside my couch now, she’ll follow me to bed when it’s time. I wish everyone could know the love of such a sweet dog, to be looked at as lovingly every day when they get up in the morning and when they come home at night. Thankfully she is still doing well for her age, I pray it continues as every day with our dear Ellie is a blessing, no matter the location.

I’m Not the Only One Fascinated by Arizona’s Wildlife

Our tortoiseshell cat Trixie watches wildlife in our backyard through the sliding glass door

Trixie is rather obsessed by the wildlife in the backyard of our rental house and is often joined by brother Boo at the sliding glass door as they watch the doves, quail, finches, woodpeckers, rabbits, lizards, and the like. I can’t help but think of Emma as I watch them and wonder what she would have made of all this, I could almost identify what bird had flown into our yard in Portland by the nature of her chirps.