Pure of Heart

Our orange tabby Sam as a kitten sitting on the cat seat beside the picture window in our house in Portland, Oregon

We’ve had six cats over the years but Sam more than any other wears his heart on his sleeve. He wants nothing more than to feel safe and to feel loved and showers you with love in return. He is now our oldest but it was never a crown he wished to wear, he was happiest when he had his older sisters to look out for him. This is Sam as a kitten in 2008, a couple of months after we adopted him, pondering the world outside the picture window. Thankfully while the move to Arizona was hardest on him he has adapted well, he’ll have another move a while down the road but it will be a short drive away so not nearly as stressful as the move from Oregon.


Our cats Sam and Scout snuggle on the window seat in our house in Portland, Oregon on July 3, 2011. Original: _MG_3132.CR2

Another change I made to the Giving of Treats is to swap out the treat I give to Scout. While she still likes the WildSide Salmon dried salmon treats, she wasn’t eating them with the same fervor so I decided to mix things up a bit. I started off with Whiskas Wild Alaskan Salmon Flavor Temptations, a little treat with a crunchy whole grain shell and a meaty treat inside. Despite the name, the first ingredient is chicken meal and the wild Alaskan salmon flavor (whatever that is) is one of the last, but Scout loves them. She’s normally a bit picky about food so it’s nice to find another treat she gets excited about.

Sam likes them too, but that’s not too surprising, Sam likes just about everything. He has gotten more tolerant of Flea Medicine Night, a monthly ritual necessitated by Scout’s flea allergy, partly with experience I suppose and partly because I started giving the cats a few treats afterward to soothe their injured souls. Now instead of hiding from me for a few hours afterward, Sam has learned it is treat time and he doesn’t even resist his treatments with the same vigor that he used to — in other words, I don’t end up bleeding anymore.

Emma is another picky eater and while she likes the wet food she gets in the mornings, and sometimes eats the dried salmon treats, I have not yet found a dried treat she will consistently eat. I picked up a couple of new Temptations flavors, Free Range Chicken and Yellow Fin Tuna, to see how they would be received. I had little doubt Sam would love them but really hoped Emma would take to them too.

On the latest flea night I assembled the three cats after their treatment, each a little irritable but each eyeing the treat bags I held in my hands. Emma didn’t like any of the treats, a disappointment but not a surprise, while Scout loved them all. The biggest surprise was Sam, who not only didn’t like the new flavors but actually spit them out!

Scout, who was learned well from her Snuggle Twin, body blocked Sam out of the way and devoured his spurned treats and Emma’s too, not a normal behavior for our gentle Queen. I guess it’s safe to say she likes these treats!

I have given her the Tuna flavor the last few days in the mornings, the first time after I handed her the last treat she swatted my empty hand with her paw. I thought it an aberration until she did it again the following morning. This morning though she just buried her head in my empty hand and rubbed her head through my fingers to capture any fleeing evanescences from the departed treats.


Our cat Scout looks down from the cat seat by one of the big picture windows, her head tilted so that just one eye and one ear are visible, taken in November 2009

After testing out the flash I wanted a picture of Scout looking down from the window seat similar to scrunchy Sammy but she wouldn’t cooperate. As both the oldest of the pets and the one who has been with us the longest, she’s the most inured to my hijinks. I was laying on the hardwood looking up, that’s the ceiling to the right, the molding right above her, and the picture window to the left.

While I was at first disappointed I couldn’t get the picture I wanted, I was delighted when she tilted her head just so and I was able to slide a few inches and position her like an orca spyhopping above the waterline, a cat’s ear in place of an orca’s head. So what started in disappointment ended with one of my favorite pictures of Scout.

No flash for this picture, there wasn’t anything to bounce it off of anyway.

Window Seat

Our cat Scout looking out our big picture window on November 22, 2009. Original: _MG_1442.cr2

Another flash test with Scout, also bounced off the ceiling as fill-flash.

One of the things I like about my new camera is the battery system, which is both more accurate and more detailed about how much life is left in the battery. All of my previous cameras used the same battery system, which had three indicators:

  1. Your battery is full
  2. Your battery is about to die
  3. Your camera is shutting down

A slight exaggeration, but not by much. The new battery is one of the nice little touches to the 7D that doesn’t make the headlines.

The downside of course is that I can’t use the same batteries from my old cameras, and I found out this morning just how painful that could be. After visiting Ridgefield last weekend, I left the battery in the camera during the week so I could take pictures of the pets. Last night I put it in the charger but went to bed before it finished.

As you may have guessed by now, I got up before sunrise this morning to go back out to Ridgefield, arrived at the refuge and realized the 7D’s battery was still sitting in its charger. At home, 30 minutes away.


There’s a reason I get my camera gear together the night before I go hiking, a morning person I am not. On the plus side, I did bring my old Canon 10D along, so I wasn’t completely dead in the water. And water there was, it rained hard the entire time I was there.

It reminded me of a time years ago when I was in grad school and not long after I had gotten my first tripod. On a day hike in nearby West Virginia, I forgot my tripod and ended up missing a nice shot of a bat hanging in a tree. On my next trip, eager to avoid the same mistake, I checked, double-checked, and triple-checked that I packed the tripod before leaving.

Yet when I got to West Virginia, I realized I had brought the tripod, yet left the camera at home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our cat Scout sleeping on the window seat beside our picture window with fall colors in the background on November 22, 2009. Original: _MG_1413.cr2

I haven’t had much time for blogging or learning the new camera with NaNoWriMo going on this month (after a slow start I’m currently at 44,195 words and barring unforeseen mishaps should cross the 50,000 word finish line before Monday). I did make sure the hot shoe worked by hooking up my flash and using it as fill-flash on one of my favorite subjects, sleeping in front of our biggest picture window with a bit of fall color behind her.

I’m reminded of two things:

  1. How much I love my black-and-white cat
  2. How much I need to clean the window

At Least One of Us is Sleeping

Our cat Scout sleeping on the window seat of our house in Portland, Oregon on August 9, 2009. Original: _MG_6209.cr2

We arrived home late at night after a week-long trip to visit family in Mississippi and I knew I wasn’t going to get much sleep. Whenever I return from a long absence, Scout wakes me up throughout the night in 30 to 60 minute intervals to pet her and reassure her.

Even though we had a friend pet sit while we were gone, Scout doesn’t like strangers or disruption in her life and stayed hidden for most of the week. That first night back, however, she let me sleep more than I expected. She made up for it the next couple of nights and by the weekend I was pretty worn out. After she was satisfied that life was back to normal, she returned to her favorite haunts like the window seat and slept a peaceful sleep.

Shelter from the Storm

Our cat Sam sleeps on the cat bed on a snowy night, with the Christmas tree lights reflecting on the left and the neighbor's lights visible on the right. He was illuminated by the room light and the Christmas tree lights. Taken on December 20, 2008. Original: _MG_0058.CR2

The forecast for a winter storm held true and we got quite a bit of snow today. The cats seemed rather agitated during the day but by the evening were ready to settle in for their naps. Scout was holding fast on her favorite winter spot, the wooden grate above the heating vent, so Sam took the vacated window seat.

Even as the snowstorm raged on the other side of the window, Sam finally fell into a deep sleep. I grabbed my camera when I saw that I could frame him between the Christmas lights of the neighbors across the street and the reflection of our Christmas tree in the window. The top picture is lit by the lights of our tree and a room lamp while the bottom one is lit only by the tree lights. They each have a different feel but I like them both, I deliberately left the color warm since I think it works best for this scene.

Our cat Sam sleeps on the cat bed on a snowy night, with the Christmas tree lights reflecting on the left and the neighbor's lights visible on the right. He was illuminated by the Christmas tree lights. Taken on December 20, 2008. Original: _MG_0052.CR2

Best Friends Forever

Our cats Scout and Sam look out onto a snowy street from the cat seat in a picture window on December 16, 2008. Original: _MG_9932.CR2

After Templeton died a year ago we were trying to decide if it was too soon for Scout to add more cats to the household. We felt she would be happier with other cats around, as would we, so we adopted Sam and Emma and hoped for the best. Fast forward to today and here is Scout with her new best friend curled up on the window seat, watching the snowy scene before them. They are often curled up together on my legs when I wake up in the morning but this is the first time I’ve seen them together on the window seat.

Scout is seven years older than Sam, half a lifetime, so I’m thrilled to see them get along so. Emma willingly bears the brunt of most of Sam’s kitten energy and he’s learned that at this stage of her life Scout usually prefers snuggling to horseplay. Sometimes their little lovefests wake me up in the morning as they rub their faces all over me and each other but there are worse ways to wake.