Tuesday, February 26, 2013

full moon play

I've been waiting for a dry, semi-clear night to be able to take the camera outside and play. Last night was the night and bonus for me, it happened to coincide with a full moon!

I went out to the side yard to get these. 

Oliver, Pierre and MK kept me company.


Taking pictures of the cats in near total darkness was quite the challenge. The flash worked well to illuminate them all, but trying to compose the photo in the dark was fun!

Family portrait - take 1

Family portrait - take 2

Family portrait - take 3

I give up, MK is just not going to cooperate! Back to the heavens...

The inside cats were keeping an eye on me too.

Painting with light while playing chase the red dot with Oliver and Pierre. 

Playing with the camera was lots of fun! Summer time will even be more fun, when it's warmer! What a joy to share the yard with Pierre, MK and Oliver.

Monday, February 25, 2013

birds, Nora and pics!

Da Bird toys are quickly becoming one of the favorites here. Nahum goes bonkers over them and the all the others love them too! Nahum even found the extra bird I had stashed away.

It didn't take him long to free da bird from it's plastic prison.

In other exciting news, Nora made an appearance last night!! I haven't seen her in months and was starting to wonder if something may have happened to her. I'm glad to see she's ok!

My photography class is now over. I learned a lot about how to use my camera, so hopefully the pictures in will only continue to improve! Here are a few from my last class:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

how much is that cat in the window?

I've shared many times how much I worry about Oliver's well-being. Anytime he doesn't show up when expected I really begin to worry.

Yesterday morning was one of those mornings. Oliver is always around for his breakfast of warmed wet food. Pierre and MK were present as they typically are but Oliver was unusually missing. All morning I kept watching for him but no sign. As the hours passed my worry escalated.

My mind raced back to the last time I saw him, which would have been sometime Monday afternoon. When I arrived home late on Monday night, I saw two black cats in the alleyway. I watched in horror as the smaller black cat ran away from my car and was about to dart out across the busy street but put on it's brakes just in time to avoid an approaching car. The other cat ran behind my garage. I couldn't be sure but I think the cat that went behind the garage may have been Oliver.

Anyway, before leaving for work, I thought I might take a stroll around the neighborhood and look for him. I started by going out the back door and I didn't get very far before I saw this:

Oliver was in the garage window, meowing at me to get my attention! "Hey!! Over here!!!" He had somehow managed to squeeze between the sheet metal curtain and the glass. I would have never thought to look in there, so it was good he was in the window.

After I got home for work Monday night, I had popped into the garage for a few seconds, just enough time to turn off the light that had been left on and apparently was all the time he needed to run in. Poor guy, being locked away for the night! 

I'm so thankful all the horrific scenarios that had been coming to mind earlier in the morning didn't come true. He'll be getting extra loves this morning to make up for the one's he missed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

searching for the eagle

My quest for communing with God recently took me to North Creek County Park. This park consists of a sizable bog with boardwalks. Having several hours to spend, I slowly meandered down the boardwalk, camera in hand watching and listening. The day was overcast with an occasional light drizzle.

Not far into my walk a man was about to pass me when he paused and told me about of a pair of nesting eagles on this bog. He pointed me to a very distant evergreen tree, "There he is, can you see him? That branch to the left, the one that's kind of pointed up, once you find that branch, just look toward the trunk a little ways and there he is." I didn't see it. He thrusted his field glasses in my direction and told me to give them a try - it didn't help as I still couldn't spot that eagle. He parted with some compassionate words of how difficult it can be to see the eagle's white head against the overcast sky.

A few minutes later we caught up to each other again and this guy's excitement about the eagle had intensified. We went through the same routine as before with the same ending, no eagle for me. Again he departed with some hopeful statement about maybe I would be able to see it as the boardwalk got a bit closer to that tree.

This same interaction occurred several more times, each time with the same ending. With each additional failure, I noticed my internal self-talk start to turn against me as my shame crept more and more into my headspace. I should be seeing this damn eagle, this guy can see it without the fracking binoculars, what the hell's wrong with me that I can't even see a stupid bird that's in plain sight?... I started to consider fibbing to the guy, "oh yea, I see it, thanks, gotta go now..." just so he would go away and more importantly, my unpleasant growing feelings of shame would go back to where they came from. While noticing my shame I also noticed the effect of this man's continued patience and graciousness on my ability to advocate for myself against my shame. I was ok with not seeing the eagle and I would remain ok if I never saw the dumb eagle - there was no need for lying.

It may have been the fifth time of us running into each other on the boardwalk that at long last I saw the eagle! Hallelujah!! By this time the eagle was in front of a green branch, so his white head really stood out and made him quite obvious. After having finally seen the eagle, I had no troubles going back and finding him again and again.

Can you spot the eagle?
The friendly bird-watching man reminded me a lot of my father. My dad loves birds - he's a definite bird nut! In 1989, my father and I went in search of eagles - the first nesting pair of eagles in New Hampshire since 1949. We took several weekend trips up to Lake Umbagog, a 4 hour drive each way, packing the canoe, camping gear and photography equipment. It was awesome.

Describing the location of a bird at a great distance to someone is not easy. I don't remember dad's exact words he would say to help me see the birds he had spotted, but I believe he helped me just like this guy at the park. One of the many gifts I received from my father is an appreciate for the outdoors, especially the joy of paddling an undeveloped lake in a canoe and watching the wildlife. We spent many weekends enjoying such beauty together. I may have also gotten my love of cats from him as he has always enjoyed cats even though we never had any growing up due to mom's dislike of cats.

When my mom thinks about my dad, she often says, "He's a good man". When I left the park that morning, I left with a stronger sense of gratitude for my father, for his many sacrifices he made for my family's well-being, for his strength, his integrity, his strong work ethic and his dedication to the family. As I reflect on all of who my father is, I tend to agree with my mom, he is indeed a good man.

Here are some photos of my dad from over the years:

Senior Chief Petty Officer
Unwrapping a very large bird book, Christmas 1985
Taking pictures of birds on the Souhegan River, 1986
Camping at Umbagog Lake campground, NH, 1989
Sunset over Umbagog Lake, 1989

Sunday, February 17, 2013

back into the wild

I don't think I ever revealed the official names for Oliver's family, yikes!! My mind is slipping. So, first off here are the official names for Oliver's family:

MK remains MK

Pierre, Oliver's second son

Oliver's daughter, now Nora, who sadly, I have not seen for many months.
I hope she's been coming around at night and I just haven't seen her.


Oliver's now done with his antibiotic treatment. He was an ideal patient, very compliant - he never complained about his captivity in his cage and he always gobbled down his pills. I visited with him several times a day, letting him play around the room and when it was time to return him to his cage he never resisted, which made it so much easier to take care of him. He never cried or whined to get out of the cage, which saved me from the psychological distress. Thankfully, his injuries have healed nicely.  

Having Oliver inside for nearly two weeks gave me a lot of time with him and I feel I got to know him better. He is such a gentle, sweet soul. He makes the cutest little sounds to greet me each day, they just melt my heart. He has a strong purr that just goes and goes. He's very playful, clever and super easy-going. Out of all my cats, I believe Oliver is the most intelligent. He's amazingly perceptive and always seems to know what I want him to do even though he doesn't always do it! I can't comprehend how some idiot human could have ever abandoned such a sweet and soulful cat. 

Toward the end of his captivity he started spraying again - he was telling me it was time.

Choosing whether to release him back into the yard was not an easy choice, but in the end I think I made the right choice for him and for his family even though it causes me distress. 

I noticed that Pierre and MK acted depressed without Oliver around. During Oliver's absence they came to eat but they never lingered as had been typical. They rarely even hung around overnight. Amazing the immediate change when they were all re-introduced. Pierre and especially MK perked right up. Their energy seemed to instantly brighten and relax. MK has been hanging around late into the morning to spend more time with Oliver.

First breakfast after the happy reunion
Oliver will face more possible dangers being an outdoor, and sometimes indoor, cat which will cause me greater anxiety, but he will also be happier having his family to play and snuggle with. MK and Pierre are definitely much happier having their papa around. I love seeing them all so happy.

I recognize my choice to release Oliver may adversely affect the length of his life as outdoor cats often don't live as long as indoor. It's a hard choice between two unpleasant options, but at this time I chose an option that I believe will lead to a better quality of life for both Oliver and his family. I will continue to bring Oliver inside every morning for snuggles and I will continue to tend to all of their needs. Maybe in a few years Pierre and MK will trust me enough to handle them and then they all can come live inside! That would be the best option.

I noticed that I slept better when I knew Oliver was safely locked up in the room next to me.  Last night, Oliver's first night back outside, I fell asleep with prayers for Oliver's safety on my mind. It's time to resume my nightly ritual of praying for Oliver's continued safety and well-being every night.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hershey update

Last night I had the pleasure of stopping in to visit Hershey and his new human, Mike.

Hershey's settling in very nicely to his new home. He already looks like he owns the place. And it appears he has been busily training his new human on all the particular ways to serve him. First and foremost is how to wiggle the bird toy!

Hershey still loves his bird toy!

I'm so happy Hershey has found such a wonderful home. Thanks Mike for blessing Hershey with a great home and even better, thanks for inviting him into your heart!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

visit with Oliver

I've been having lots of fun hanging out with Oliver over this past week, I figured I might be nice and share him with you for the second week. I have installed a network camera in his cage, so we can all see him from afar.
LIVE Oliver video cam is now offline

Here is what the image looked like when it was live:

He usually hangs out on the shelf (which is heated). The left side of picture is to the window. The back half of his castle is not shown on camera (his litter box, scratching post and hang out spot). So, if he's not in the video, he may have stepped out to do some business or I might be hanging out with him! At night the picture may become very low quality and even just dark due to poor lighting.

Enjoy visiting with him!
updated: 2/17/2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

class shots

I've really been enjoying my basic photography class. I've learned so much about how to use my camera! I love making time to go out and play around with taking pictures.

Last night in class, we worked with real living models. We were learning about how to work with flash. I still have much to learn but I certainly picked up a few new techniques to play around with. And, I must admit, I totally fell in love with one of the models.

This orange kitty was the perfect model!

One of the assignments for the class is that we are to post five pictures a week to the class Flickr group so the teacher can see our progress. I've already shared the cat pictures with you and now I thought I might share some of the non-cat ones too.

Week 1:

Week 2:

A quick update on Oliver. He's continuing to heal. I love having him inside where I can spend more time with him. I borrowed a bigger crate for him and moved it up onto the table so now he's got quite the little castle, where he can even gaze out both windows to see his kingdom. He seems to really love having the view.

His litter box is in the smaller crate that's attached to the larger one. I built him a free standing platform so he could get up even higher and of course he loves that the heating pad is under the fleece blanket on the platform! With his toys, scratching post, food and lots of soft spots to nap on, he's a happy camper!

After telling my friend Nancy about Oliver's indoor empire, she commented, "I think Oliver gets in fights so daddy will pamper him and fuss over him 24/7. He thinks 22/7 isn't enough!"