The Payoff

Our cat Sam rests on top of the banana catnip toy he chewed open on September 12, 2021. Original: _RAC9345.arw

Years of effort paid off as Sam finally chewed one end of the banana cat toy open, spilling catnip all over the carpet. As a younger cat he would have rolled around in it but at fourteen he was content to just bask in the glory of a job well done.

Trixie Approved

Our cat Trixie rests on pillows at the edge of a futon on July 8, 2021. Original: _CAM1901.arw

I awoke last weekend to a proper Portland rain here in the desert, low clouds as far as the eye could see, temperatures in the mid-60’s, a steady but gentle rain that lasted for hours, the water soaking deep into the ground instead of running off into the washes. Trixie approved and slept on the pillows on the futon all day, though this picture is from July when Mother Nature’s preferred form of water delivery is considerably more violent and sends her into hiding for hours at a time. We did get a thunderstorm later in the week as monsoon season came to a close so she went into hiding for hopefully the last time this year.

Normally I would have headed off to one of the county parks to literally soak in the delightful weather but I was resting a sore arm and stayed home. I worked in the yard today and it’s been OK but we’ll see how it’s doing tomorrow.

Rain Yes, Thunder No

Our tortoiseshell cat Trixie looks out from the top of the new cat tree on August 4, 2021. Original: _CAM3057.arw

Thankfully we’ve had a number of storms this monsoon season, bringing desperately needed rain to the parched desert. Trixie would like to point out, however, that while she doesn’t mind the rain (she’s Oregon born and raised after all) she knows from personal experience that you can have rain without the constant scary booms and flashes of light. She goes into hiding for hours at a time while the lightning storms move through, recently I found she made a nest in some of the softer clothes in my closet. Brother Boo holds out longer but he has his limits, while our oldest Sam generally sleeps right through them, though the loudest thunderclaps might get him to raise his head and look around to make sure it’s OK to continue napping.

Here Trixie is sleeping atop the new cat tree, her brothers haven’t taken to it but she loves it. I’m not sure Emma would have ever left it if we had something like it during her life, except of course when the Christmas tree was up.

Our tortoiseshell cat Trixie sleeps on ttop of the new cat tree on August 4, 2021. Original: _CAM3018.arw

The Desert Family

Our cat Boo rests on the back of the futon in our living room on May 8, 2021. Original: _CAM1594.arw

Last night when it cooled down enough to open the windows I logged off work and moved from the living room to my office. As I was getting my things together I noticed Sam was at the top of the cat tree, wide-eyed, staring out the window. I went over and realized a javelina was eating mesquite seeds out front so I turned off the lights and Sam and I settled in to watch it.

A few more of various ages came wandering in so I went to get Boo and Trixie and we all settled in to watch the desert family though one of us couldn’t see so well in the dark. Eventually two adults sauntered in with five adorable babies in tow. Trixie was in front of me next to the screen so she had a front row seat when an adult brought two of the babies right below the window. She stayed quiet but from her body language I was a little worried she might explode.

The javelina spent a lot of time in the yard, from beginning to end 20 or 30 minutes, so fun to see and hear, at least for all of us but Boo. He got scared and ran off when one of the adults sprinted across the yard, so he wasn’t there when the babies arrived. I could tell he was nearby though as when the little things started making a ruckus the darkness growled behind me. He was already a little stressed as he hates the ceiling fan in my office, I held out turning it on for as long as I could but it’s gotten too warm to not run it, so sadly for now I’ve lost my tuxedo sidekick. Here’s hoping he gets used to it as I loved having him tucked in beside me all winter.

The Wanderer

A close-up of our cat Trixie as she looks out from her cat bed on April 5, 2021. Original: _RAC6772.arw

I was working from home yesterday, sitting in the living room instead of my office, variety being the spice of life and all. I noticed sounds outside that seemed louder than they should be and got up to investigate and realized to my horror the door had accidentally been left ajar. Boo and Sam were sleeping near me but after a quick check of the house I couldn’t find Trixie. She is sometimes hard to find but rather than look further I grabbed a pair of shoes and stepped outside and found her sitting on the wrong side of my office window.

She ran back towards the door but seeing it closed panicked and ran back towards the yard. I wasn’t able to catch her but fortunately she kept running back and forth near me until I was able to grab her and bring her back inside. The picture is from a few weeks ago as she slept in the cat bed on the proper side of the window.

Let’s not do that again little one, I’m not sure my heart can take it.

Back From Surgery

Our cat Sam looking up while resting on one of the larger cat beds on March 28, 2021. Original: _RAC5859.arw

Sam successfully underwent oral surgery on Monday, the anesthesiologist who is trained to deal with his heart arrhythmia kept him in good shape and the dentists were able to do their work. He charmed them all of course and they gushed over him, I wish I could take credit for his sweetness but that’s all Samwise. He was a bit subdued the first couple of days (as expected) and mostly just slept in my lap but has bounced back to his normal self. I kept Trixie at bay until he was ready as she was eager to curl up with her hero.

It was Boo who got rattled the most, perhaps he thought when we took Sam away for the day that, like when we took Ellie away for the last time, he wasn’t coming back. He recognized Sam when we brought him home and didn’t hiss (sometimes the different smell throws them at first) but kept looking at Sam like he was a ghost. He didn’t eat regularly for a while and wasn’t interested in playing but after a couple of days I got him to chase his favorite toy and he was back sleeping on my legs this morning. He’s still a little off but mostly back to normal as well.

Three Years

Our dog Ellie relaxes on the tile of the rental house right after we arrived in Arizona on March 31, 2018. Original: _DSC5443.arw

I can hardly believe it but it was three years ago we arrived at the rental house after a three day drive from Oregon, a little bedraggled but looking forward to the next stage of our lives. I snapped this quick picture not long after we got out of the car, thankfully Ellie did well on the long trip. As long as we were together she was happy, an attitude I tried to adopt when it felt like we were in a whirlwind as I had but a day to settle in before starting work. I never dreamed we’d get another year with her and that she’d even see us into our new home but we got lucky in so many ways with this sweet pup. I met a black lab the other day on a neighborhood walk, she was straining at the leash to meet me so I knelt down and gave her some much deserved affection. “You’ve made a friend,” her owner said, though I wasn’t sure which one of us she was referring to. I love meeting dogs of all kinds on my walks and hikes but obviously black labs will always hold a special place in my heart.

The Aging Heart

Our cat Sam rests atop the cat tree with the TV in the background on January 30, 2021. Original: _CAM9550.arw

Sam needs oral surgery but in preparation they noticed some odd heart behavior so he went to a cardiologist and was diagnosed with heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), so he’ll get his surgery at a specialist with an anesthesiologist trained for his condition. Then he’ll be on a blood thinner to reduce stroke risk, thankfully I think it’s in pill form as he likes pill pockets but getting liquid down his throat is not for the faint of heart. He’s not showing any symptoms yet so depending on how his condition progresses he might be with us for years to come, he’s to get periodic evaluations every six months and we need to keep a close eye on any symptoms that develop.