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Three Cats About

March 28th, 2010

Spotty, our big white and black cat, is becoming quite the little beast.   She’s nice enough around feeding time, but she’s really territorial and tries to boss the other cats around.   She pushes them, growls at them, bumps them out of the way to get their food (even though she has her own), and generally wanders around strutting her generous girth outside of the house.  

“How did she get this way?” I’m thinking.  But it’s just her nature…   The gray Princess, our other outside cat, is sweet yet indifferent for the most part.  And even though Spotty tries to push her around, she’s the “alpha cat” and only tolerates it to a point and then pounces on the younger (but fatter) cat.   

It’s interesting that while Princess is an expert hunter, the big Spotty cat couldn’t catch her tail if it was laying right in front of her!    Apparently she can climb however, and I was surprised to see her on top of the grape arbor.

We also have a (mostly) indoor cat named Tootsie.  Shes a tortoiseshell, and we adopted her on a camping trip from a humane society booth at a craft fair.  She is the most lovable, attention seeking critter I’ve ever known.   It can almost be annoying, but she just likes to be around people (and the yellow lab) and is very careful with her claws.  She’s playful, and fearless for the most part.  

She does love to go outside, but stays very close when we’re out.  If she loses sight, she gives a plaintive yowl or cry until she finds us.  Unfortunately, that big Spotty cat just tries to pounce on her and runs her all around.   I’m waiting for them to come to terms with each other’s presence.  I’ve noticed less pushiness since it’s warming up now, and maybe the cats will figure out their pecking order soon.  I haven’t seen Tootsie hunt or catch anything, but she seems to be really quick with great instincts.  That’s our cat menagerie…  And yes, they’re all spayed!  I think three is quite enough for now :)



Time Flies, and Swallows Too

June 19th, 2009

Whew! It’s been so hot the last couple of days that you walk around with a wet shirt on from sweating so much.  It was time to cut the grass again, take care of some poison ivy around the forest edges and a host of other good stuff.  One advantage of keeping the grass cut is that it seems to reduce the tick and chigger population around the house.  Or as the young one calls ’em, “chicks and tiggers!” 

As the sun rose this morning, the light filtered through the trees- lighting up a patch of day lilies on the property line.  They lilies have not opened yet for the day, but I really like their bright orange coloration.  Next to the day lily patch a few white stones are stacked up to mark Sparky’s grave. 

morning-grass-and-lilies

When I was out early this morning the air was cool, and the scene above just stood out in the light.  It looked nice so I captured a quick shot. After I was looking through the pictures, I was amazed to realize that exactly a year ago this week we put Sparky down at the vet,  after a coyote or a fox nearly killed him, (or well, mortally wounded him).

Sparky was a one-of-a-kind cat that we all loved, more like a dog really, and one of those animals you always remember.  He would jump into my lap while I was on the tractor, and follow me around while I worked.  The young boy would carry him everywhere and Sparky gladly went along.  He didn’t hunt much of anything, but had a good life, happy and carefree, and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else but outside.  He used to love playing on the pond ice in winter- one time racing all around chasing a little chunk.  Another time he actually fell into the pond!

We buried him under the oak tree above, next to the day lilies.  If you ever wanted to see a picture of a cat walking side-by-side with a dog, here’s your chance! 

I wrote a little remembrance of Sparky in Ode to a Cat

*******

The long awaited day for the barn swallows has arrived as they have begun leaving the nest.  This year I was amazed to see five fledgling barn swallows in the little mud nest above the garage light.  How do they all fit in there?!  Once the first one leaves, the rest all follow within 24 hours or so.  I took this photo last night, and this morning there are only three in the nest.

barn-swallows

Oddly, I have never actually seen a fledgling barn swallow leave the nest.  One of those mysteries of life- perhaps the adults have some type of call or something that induces the young birds to leave, maybe very early in the morning?  The birds probably make sure no animals or people are around.  Still, I’d love to see one fly for the first time.



A New Day, and a Tiger On His Tail

October 8th, 2008

Sometimes the world seems so small, especially when fog blankets the landscape.  At dawn we see the glow of light, and the sun rises, becoming brighter through the gray curtain of cloud.   On days like this the world awakens more slowly, or at least we may feel a closer, measured pace to the presence of life around us.   What does the sunrise represent?  Hope?  A new day, or a new future?

Sunrise through the fog in Missouri

Does it hold meaning for you?  I once read a story that framed the context of challenge by saying,  “In America we get up in the morning, we go to work and we solve our problems.”   And that’s pretty much a testament to action.  So often it’s that first step that is the most difficult.  But as we begin, as we move and as we take steps towards our goals, we are moving every aspect of our lives toward that new day.  With our action, opportunities will come, doors will open and circumstances will gradually shift toward our goals.  We don’t have to solve everything at once, but as we begin everything changes.   And we’ll get there.

Speaking of action, it seems the kitten and the yellow lab have become playmates.  The lab doesn’t quite know what to make of this little ball of energy.  The kitten romps and pounces, darts in and out and generally uses the retriever’s tail as a chew toy.  Instead of a “tiger by the tail,” this dog has a tiger on his tail.

 Kitten playing with Yellow Labrador Retriever

The kitten chomps and wrestles until the lab puts a big ‘ole paw on top of him.  Then a little  “reeoow!” screech and the cat darts away again.  We watch them closely, but he is amazingly restrained to the needle sharp teeth and claws of the kitten.  It will be interesting to see their relationship as they grow older.   When I imagine friendship between dogs and cats, I think of Sparky, no longer with us, as he walked with Justin.

Flutterby in July

July 27th, 2008

We’re on the way to mid-summer and after all the rain it’s so nice and green!  And hot! And humid!  Ah, but with all the growing things we have lots of butterflies around.  Sometimes I don’t see them and wonder where they are, and then I’ll start noticing them everywhere.   That intentional thought thing perhaps.

Have you ever been interested in a particular kind of car, and then for the next 3-4 days you see them everywhere?!

And I saw a fox yesterday for the first time this year.  They’re always around, but we don’t see them often.  I didn’t have the camera, but the fox was running along the dam toward the woods.  I thought, “What’s Kuma doing down at the dam?  Wait… that’s not Kuma, that’s a fox!”  It quickly disappeared into the woods.   If you like dogs, you can read about our indefatigable Kuma here.  He really does look like a fox!

Speaking of foxes, our cat Princess has always been wary, but even more so it seems since Sparky left us.   We’re not sure, but he may have encountered a fox or coyote one night, or maybe an owl.  He still made it home amazingly enough, but something bit into his hind quarters.  He spent almost a week with a veterinarian, but in the end he couldn’t be helped.   There are lots of predators about, which indicates a healthy biodiversity in the area.  But sometimes it’s a little too close to home.  And yes, we let cats run around outside most of the time.  It’s a rural lifestyle, and the cats love to be outside. They also help keep mice and moles away.

Of course the only predators I see chasing butteflies is the yellow lab.  Sometimes he’ll see one on the ground, stalk it slowly and then lunge at it.  He doesn’t catch them, but has a goofy look on his face that seems to imply it’s just for fun.

One of our more common butterflies is the Giant Swallowtail.  These guys are fast but don’t seem to mind letting you get a good look at them.

Giant Swallowtail butterfly

Now I’m not trying to make this “the insect blog” or anything, it’s just that there are so many around right now!  It’s not too difficult to get a picture of a butterfly on the ground, but to catch one in flight was another story.

This guy was more like a “flutterby” as he danced around quickly in circles.  I probably took 30 pictures to get this one in focus.  I wonder if there are any aerodynamic lessons to learn from butterflies?

Giant Swallowtail butterfly in July

I know that throughout the world butterfly “souvenirs” can be found in many cities.  Which is not necessarily a good thing, especially if some of the species are threatened due to habitat loss or overcollection.  But some of the collections for sale are amazing in the diversity of species and colors.  Collecting insects is generally a fine hobby and quite educational.  I remember taking an entomology class years ago and amassed quite the collection of creepy crawlies.  Not sure what happened to it, but that’s probably a good thing!

And if you’ve read this far, it’s well past time to say thank you for visiting.  I appreciate if you have time for a comment, but if you’re just passing by, that’s okay too.   Sometimes blogging can be discouraging when it seems like one is “writing into the wind” so to speak.  But we all know from visiting blogs and forums, there are many wonderful “lurkers” out there… good people that stop by for reasons we may never know or understand.   I don’t know how long I’ll continue to write or share pictures, but hopefully we’ll continue the journey for a good while.

We’re off on a traveling adventure this week and I may or may not get a chance to post.  There are so many other wonderful blogs out there and I’m really amazed and humbled with the stories and relationships that blogging fosters.   Thank you for visiting!

Ode to a Cat

June 26th, 2008

We found you in a pile of unwanted kittens,
And brought two of you to our home.

 Sparky the cat when young

You brought us love and joy,
And a bundle of cat energy that
Wanted as much to explore as
To be cuddled in a lap.

Sparky exploring

You were spirited and fun,
With a personality so full of life.
Sometimes you seemed more like a dog.

Basset Hound and Cat walking together

And you didn’t hunt very well,
But you jumped at birds in a half-hearted manner,
Flicking your tail,
As if to show that, Indeed! You were a Cat.

Sparky the cat

Yet to a boy you brought so much more;
A big fuzzy kitty that he could
Drape over his shoulders,
To carry and hug and play with.

Child and Sparky the cat

And you didn’t mind.
He loved you most of all. 

Farewell Sparky

Farewell Sparky.





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