Aren’t I the Cutest?

Our cat Sam playing with a string in the cat tree

I originally grabbed the camera to take a picture of Scout, but Sam started playing with his favorite string and I couldn’t resist a picture when he struck this pose. Though taken late in the morning next to a big picture window, there was so little light from outside that I turned on the lamp for a little more light. It has a much warmer color than the outside light but that goes well with Sam’s orange fur.

Unfortunately the pictures of Scout didn’t come out so well, my older cameras don’t work as well in these situations, but I’ll keep at it. She only gets in the tree if I put her there, especially with the weather getting colder she’s been re-colonizing the warm beds in my office.

We got the cat tree came from a fantastic pet store, Green Dog Pet Supply, a locally owned shop not far from our neighborhood in NE Portland. We also get our pet treats from Green Dog, and in fact they are the folks that turned us on to Wildside Salmon that the cats go crazy for. It is also the place where we get our Dog Toys to End All Dog Toys, the family of hedgehogs that Ellie loves so much. So Green Dog comes highly recommended not just from us, but all of our little ones as well.

Emma and Her Bib

Our cat Emma with her mangled bib draped over her front legs, taken in February 2008. Original: _MG_9893.cr2

Back when we first discovered some bumps on Emma’s chest, she was rewarded with a trip to the vet and got the affected area shaved so we could treat it. She was also awarded this lovely bib to make sure she didn’t aggravate the area. This is what the bib looked like after two weeks, as you can see Emma didn’t think it quite the state of high fashion and often removed it on her own (the picture there shows the bib when new). I didn’t photograph the underside, even though it looked much worse, as some of that damage was done by Sam during their roughhousing.

Emma has been a rather shy subject so I’ve ended up with more pictures of Sam than of her. The only way I got her to sit still long enough for me to drape the bib over her legs was to play String with her (you can see the shoestring under her foot and trailing out of the bottom left corner of the picture). She stopped for a moment trying to figure out why the string had stopped moving while I moved the bib and snapped her picture. You can also see part of the shaved area on her chest.

The bumps went away with treatment and now we’re in the slow process of waiting for her fur to grow back.

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.

Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs! Are You Kidding Me? Playoffs?

Our cat Sam as a kitten playing with a string in my lap in January 2008

While I sat in my chair and watched the NFL playoffs, Sam played on my legs, curled up in the blanket over my knees. He animatedly played with his beloved string and needed little encouragement from me, apart from the time he got so worked up that he rolled right off my legs onto the floor. It was this play session that convinced me that all world leaders should be required to have kittens in their laps while they negotiate — even generational hatred cannot stand in the face of a kitten’s charms.

Make love, not war. And bring plenty of string.

If you’re not a football fan, today’s title is a reference to Jim Mora’s classic postgame speech while coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

The Last Temptation of Templeton

Our cat Sam playing with the drawstring from my Virginia Tech sweatshirt

I have a Virginia Tech hoodie that I bought as a freshman and had for all the years Templeton was with us. Templeton loved that sweatshirt — specifically he loved chewing on the drawstring that tightens the hood. Every single time I wore the sweatshirt and picked him up, he’d start lunging for the string. A few years ago after a washing, the string fell out and was lost. Even so, every single time I picked up Templeton wearing that sweatshirt he’d start lunging after the string that wasn’t there.

My wife recently found the beloved maroon string, and since it was Sam’s first day out in the house, I wanted to see if he’d enjoy playing with it. It was an immediate favorite of both Sam and Emma, and somewhere up in heaven, I’m sure Templeton is looking down and smiling, and lunging for that string.