Screen Time

Our cat Sam is transfixed atop the couch as he watches a bird video on the television, taken in October 2019

Sam is transfixed while watching birds and squirrels from a YouTube series by Paul Dinning that are designed to entertain cats, hours of birds and squirrels coming to eat seed in front of the camera. At first Sam would go up to the TV and look behind it when the birds flew off-screen, trying to figure out where they went, or he’d sniff the speakers trying to find his hidden friends. These days he’s content to let the mystery be. I was worried it might cause confusion since they’re filmed in England and the birds are all different from what Sam knows but so far the only impact to immersing him in Brittania is that he’s started calling me “Guv”.

In Between Worlds

Our dog Ellie sleeps on the tile beside the front door of our rental house on Chritmas Eve in December 2018

I took this picture of Ellie on Christmas Eve last year after I got back from my morning hike. She was deaf in her old age and often needed help getting up, so usually I tried to sneak past her sleeping by the door and get settled so that she would wake to the smell of a breakfast sandwich and I could help her get up and join me on the porch. That morning I tried to grab a quick picture while she was asleep but only managed to catch her immediately after she woke, in between the dream world and ours. In the next moment her eyes lit up and she tried to get up so I put the camera down and went to her aid. When we were in Portland and she was more mobile, as I walked home from the train and came up the steps and opened the door, she’d stick her head out before I could get inside, her feet dancing in joy. The best surprise of our time in Arizona was that she lived so long, and so well.

Time flies by ever faster, it’s hard to believe she’s been gone for half a year. Sometimes I still forget, the other day my wife brought in some potato soup topped with crumbled up bacon and I instinctively set a couple of small pieces aside so that after I finished and let Ellie lick the bowl she could get a taste of bacon. Then I remembered …

The Birdwatchers

Our cats Trixie and Sam rest on a blanket on a chest beside a backyard window of our house in September 2019

Sam and Trixie rest after an afternoon of birdwatching at the window. With the heat finally breaking we can open the windows, Trixie, Sam, and Boo are watching quail outside my window now. It pains me on many levels that Emma died young and never made it to Arizona, all of the cats loved watching wildlife but none as much as Em. I suspect we would have had to put her in a straitjacket as the antics of the large families of quail that come to feed would have overloaded her with excitement. What sounds she would have made to welcome her visitors!

Lazy Saturday

Our cat Boo yawns while resting under my wife's desk in September 2019

While he has his favorites Boo enjoys trying out new sleeping spots so you can never quite be sure where you’ll find him. Yesterday morning when I got back from my hike he was under my wife’s desk, serenaded by the birds on the other side of the wall. Thankfully he has bounced back from Ellie’s death, he took to her from the start and especially enjoyed sneaking under her when she got up from a dog bed, reveling in the warmth left behind. I don’t know how we made it six years with him never getting squished as sometimes she wasn’t getting up but rather shifting positions, but thankfully it was never an issue.

Beauty in the Shadows

A male desert spiny lizard close his eyes as he rests beneath massive boulders at Cathedral Rock in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2018

Cathedral Rock is awash in beauty, with massive boulders and sweeping views of the Sonoran desert, but its greatest beauty sleeps in its shadows, hidden in crevices below the monoliths. Despite its size, the desert spiny lizard is rather shy and often scurries out of sight long before I approach. Thankfully I was not only able to spend some time with this one and watch as he grew sleepy, but ease away and leave him to his slumber.