So There I Was, Outnumbered 20-to-1

Our cat Scout yawns in front of the quilt rack

Scout regales us with a story of how she once defeated a whole band of ninjas. Normally with such an outlandish story I’d assume a fair bit of author’s embellishment, except that I vividly and painfully remember the first time we gave her a bath. The first and last time we gave her a bath.

Oh Christmas Tree

Our cat Sam yawning under the Christmas tree

I put up the Christmas tree last weekend not knowing how I’d feel about it. Templeton loved tree day but last year on the day the tree went up we realized something was seriously wrong with him and he had to be euthanized that night. Thankfully this year it was a happy time, between remembering how much he loved the tree (and the big box it is stored in) and seeing the current cats enjoying it so. Scout was curled up on the tree skirt as soon as the top section went on, while Sam and Emma stayed away at first.

Soon enough Emma curled up under the tree as well and has rarely left it since. I hoped to take a picture of her but Sam walked in front of the camera and then Emma woke up and walked towards me, hoping for a game of String. Emma spends her waking hours hoping for a game of String. So I settled for a picture of a sleepy Sam under the tree, although of the three cats he spends the least time there.

We left the ornaments off to see how Emma and Sam would do with the tree, they left it alone last year but they were new to the house so they had plenty of other distractions. After the first few days the tree showed no ill effects so I planned on putting the ornaments up this weekend.

But one day this week, my wife heard an awful cry from Scout so she rushed in thinking the cats were fighting, only to find Sam and Emma in the tree and attempting to flee the scene. Scout used to love to sleep in the tree but we finally got her to stop, I suppose our little narc decided that if she couldn’t sleep in the tree, no one could.

At least we think we got her to stop, she’s crafty and learned to cover her tracks pretty closely and sneak up near the center of the tree. The new cats haven’t adopted her Leave No Trace ethic and I’m not sure the tree will survive the holidays, at first it just suffered flattened branches but soon developed a decided tilt.

Portrait of the Accused

Our cat Sam yawns on our back porch

In case you think little Sam is all sweetness and light, this is what attacked my feet the other morning at 5am. Fortunately he soon kicked his foot fascination and since then he’s toed the line and been well-heeled, so I haven’t had to give him the boot and shoo him out of bed. If it wasn’t so late I could probably have thrown in a bad sock or slipper pun as well, but at least I worked in a homophone, so I’ll sleep well tonight (provided I don’t get Sammied again).


Our black cat Emma yawns while our young orange tabby Sam looks on as they watch a bird on the roof from the window in my office

Emma and Sam sitting in the window in my office watching a scrub jay that flew up to the roof of the porch. Emma is showing her sharp, pointy teeth but she’s not thinking about eating a tasty bird, she’s just yawning.

You were just yawning, weren’t you Em?



The Only One Not Singing

A barn swallow perches on a cattail with his mouth wide open at South Quigley Lake at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in May 2008

On a day I spent watching birds sing, from yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds to song sparrows and marsh wrens, this little barn swallow was the only one not singing. After swarming over the lake hunting insects with the rest of the barn and tree swallows, he landed on this cattail for just a moment, opened his mouth wide a couple of times, preened a few feathers, then took to the skies once more.

Is It Morning Already?

A rough-legged hawk yawns at sunrise

I had the chance to photograph this rough-legged hawk over several weeks as she was often hanging out near the auto tour at Ridgefield, but I wasn’t happy with the close-up shots as the skies were always a dull gray overcast. I arrived at sunrise on Saturday morning specifically with the hope of photographing her under clear skies, so I ignored all of the other animals at the refuge and headed straight to where I had seen her last. Thankfully not only did I get my blue sky but she was waiting on a sign post near the road. There was little traffic at the refuge at that hour so I had the chance to watch her for some time. She eventually let out a large yawn in the beautiful morning light, and I was very lucky that she turned back towards the sun when she yawned so that the sun illuminated her mouth.

I laughed to myself thinking that I wasn’t the only one who thought it was awfully early in the morning to be out and about.