Our cat Templeton sits in my chair on the patio beside a glass and an Apple iBook on May 6, 2005. Original: IMG_8097.cr2

“You want the what by when now?”

Templeton working under a deadline in the spring of 2005 during his supervised outside time. He was actually doing what he always did, stealing my spot when I got up. I think I was prepping an older laptop to give to a friend as I had moved onto a 15″ PowerBook a year prior, but the old gray cells are a bit fuzzy on this one.

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.

A View of the Wash

A frontal view of a dilapidated chair sitting in the middle of a desert wash beside the Gooseneck Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

In Oregon we got occasional heavy downpours but mostly the summers were bone dry while the winter had frequent drizzly showers that kept everything damp and preposterously green. In Arizona we get some rain in the winter but it’s summer that brings the monsoons. Rain may be rare but when it arrives it often pours down in buckets, perhaps accompanied by high winds and thunder and lightning (I can count on one hand the number of lightning storms I saw in two decades in Oregon). I haven’t seen much rain this year, when it has rained I’ve either been at work or it’s been dark, so I still haven’t seen a wash run. Our neighborhood is on a hill so there are washes running through (one beside our house), some more natural looking than others, so one day it will happen. This chair would have an excellent view of a running wash, sitting in the middle of a desert wash along the Gooseneck Trail, and by the looks of it has probably seen its fair share of summer storms.

The Cat Hat

Our cat Trixie sticks her front legs over the top of the chair as a ceiling fan spins in the background while unseen behind the chair she is pressing up against the head and neck of my wife

My wife (unseen in the chair) wears a cat hat, courtesy of Trixie who sometimes likes to press her body against your head and neck. Not too comfortable for us but it sure is adorable.

The Throne of Kings

Our cat Sam resting on my recliner in February 2012

All the men of the house have loved this chair.

We got it for my office after we moved to Portland and it has been the place I sit most ever since. Templeton liked it too in his day, and now Sam in his. I sat in it a lot the past couple of months as I recuperated from a twisted ankle. The worst part is, I don’t even know how I injured it.

When I explained to Ellie that hedgehogging was temporarily on hold, I expected her to be crestfallen, but instead she got strangely excited and her eyes grew wide. “Put him in the cage!” she shouted to the cats. “Put him in the cage!” they cried. “Put him in the cage!” they shouted as they circled round me. I escaped incarceration from my would-be jailers with a heavy bribe of belly rubs and head scratches and was able to serve my time under general house arrest.

I’m Going To Have a Lot of These

Our cat Emma plays with a string in her mouth in January 2008. Original: _MG_6859.cr2

Emma’s black fur throws my camera’s autofocus for a loop — something I expected given how many mis-focused bear pictures I’ve taken in Wyoming. I certainly don’t expect the camera to be able to lock on dark fur, but I thought it would be able to pick up the line between her dark pupils and her green eyes. In strong light it seems to do okay, but in low light it does poorly, even with the focus assist light of the flash.

In this shot, I preset the focus on the chair and waited for her to pop up after the string. She caught the string and stayed for several seconds with the string hanging from her mouth, but the camera couldn’t find focus. Emma’s eyes are out of focus, which is the part of the image I really wanted in focus. In the image below, her eyes are in decent focus, but that’s because she moved and her eyes are near the plane of focus along the chair’s edge.

I’m going to end up with a lot of out-of-focus shots of Emma, on top of the number I’ve deleted already.

Our cat Emma looks over the back of the chair in January 2008. Original: _MG_6862.cr2

I suspect Canon’s pro line of cameras would do a better job here (not perfect, but better). I’ve long thought about upgrading, but to my dismay Canon has only put their pro autofocus in large, heavy bodies. I’ve been trying to lighten my load on long hikes, so perhaps I’ll end up with a heavy body for normal use and a lightweight camera like the new Rebel for hiking.

Nikon makes a body I like but switching would be expensive. Still, watching the bald eagles last week in low light and seeing how many pictures were not sharply focused, it makes me wonder just how much better the pro bodies would be.