Monday, December 30, 2013

Ending the year with a whimper, not a bang.

Well, our year is ending with a whimper. Our sweet Luna dog became terribly and unexpectedly ill over the weekend. Last night, given a grim prognosis and very iffy, stressful treatment options, we chose to let her go. We are heartbroken. She brought so much joy, laughter, and fun into our home. 

It will be a blue new year without you, Lunabug.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Curious Quote on Hospitality

This morning, I came across a curious quote on hospitality from George MacDonald:

“I am proud of a race whose social relations are the last upon which they will retrench, whose latest yielded pleasure is their hospitality. It is a common feeling that only the well-to-do have a right to be hospitable. The ideal flower of hospitality is almost unknown to the rich; it can hardly be grown save in the gardens of the poor; it is one of their beatitudes.”

I may be chewing on that for a while.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mid-December Thaw

At our house today, it was warm. Bright. Sunny.


Both the critters were pleased to get out into the sunshine.

Luna wasn’t sure she really wanted to walk in the snow.

Mind you, she has boots. And a sweater. And a quilted vest. 
But will she wear them? Hardly. 
If she sees me coming with any of them, she runs and hides on the couch. 
Which is really the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen her do. 
She lives on the couch. Like I wouldn’t find her there? 
I think she just panics and races to the safest spot she can think of.

Still, Luna was quite the trouper. 

She went about halfway to the back fence 
and probably would have gone farther, 
but I heard some piteous crying and turned back.

Millie had started to follow us but 
had blundered into some colder, deeper snow 
on the shaded north side of the house. 
Can you tell she’s not liking it?

Gathering herself...

Check out those front paws—she’s gonna jump!

Well, that didn’t really take her very far.

Gathering herself again...

Another try...


Where’d she go?

Ah...back in the sunshine!

Millie: Best spot in the yard. 
You wanna walk to the back fence? 
Knock yourself out. 
I'll be here when you get back.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mountain Chickadee & Other Birds

I was outside in the yard the a few weeks ago, minding my own business, taking pictures of my favorite feline subject, when I heard an angry voice behind me.

It was this little fellow, a mountain chickadee.* 

Doesn’t itlook fierce?

I don’t know much about birds, and they often sound angry to me.

Then again, I often have a cat nearby, so perhaps they are frightened and angry.

Years ago, I was in a park with my cousin Margaret, who’s a professional singer. 

The birds were going bananas. 

To me, it was all loud, lively, lovely, complex chaos.

Margaret listened for a moment and reeled off the names 
of several species whose songs she recognized.
Then she listened a bit longer and added a few more.

Her musician’s ear could pick out specific voices 
where all I heard was beautiful noise.

Since then, I’ve wanted to learn at least the sounds of the species I see around our neighborhood, and to identify the species of the birds I used to hear around my grandparents’ cabin on the Deschutes River.

I haven’t had much success, 
although the Audubon website has some helpful information.

Back in my yard, 
our little chickadee kept flying 
back and forth between two adjacent trees.

We wandered off and left it in peace.

Millie inspected some old doors out by the shed.

She heard Luna’s tags jingling from the other side of Pop’s pickup...

and hunkered down to ambush her.

But Luna went the other way. 

Millie thought about climbing this tree,

but thought better of it.

We did see a few other birds. 
I’m not sure who this is.

Here’s a scrub jay in the top of a ponderosa pine.

I’d already taken several pictures when he launched himself down off the tree

but after this shot, I lost sight of him. 

I’m starting to think birds are much more interesting than I’d ever suspected.

* I originally identified this bird as a nuthatch. However, I'm pretty sure it's actually a mountain chickadee. Oops!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Crow on Monday, Snow on Wednesday

It turned cold here in Central Oregon this week.

On Monday, about the only birds I saw were crows, cawing and flying overhead.

I’ve always thought they were ugly on the ground, but they sure do have a lovely shape in flight.

Did anyone else get Cricket magazine as a kid?
Do you remember Ugly Bird?
Wasn’t Ugly Bird a crow?
Maybe that’s where some of my dislike comes from.

Well, that and their ugly cry.

It snowed yesterday, and I don’t think the temperature ever got up to freezing at our house today. 
(I realize it was much colder in parts of Idaho, Montana, and other states, but this is pretty cold for us.)

I didn’t think either Millie or Luna would venture out with me today.

Millie barely made it off the steps.

 And who can blame her? It was a pleasant spot there in the sun.

Luna headed out across the yard with me, but I was maybe a third of the way to the back fence 
when I realized she wasn’t with me. I turned and spotted her sitting on the snow...

basking in the sun.

Yup, she loves that sunshine.

But the cold snow under her rump sent her limping for the warm house. 
Of course, I had to follow. 
There was a cup of tea calling my name.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Cranky Cat and a George MacDonald Poem

We’re having a rainy, blustery morning in our neighborhood. Luna and Millie hardly want to venture out at all. I don’t blame them; aside from scurrying down the driveway to bring in the paper, I’ve stayed cozy with my hot coffee and glowing candles.

On a similar day last month, we did go out and ramble around the yard. 
I snapped a few pictures of Millie along the way.
I really didn’t think she was going to follow us.

 But she did.

She clearly was not thrilled to be out and about.

Can’t you just hear her muttering under her breath?

This picture makes me laugh. 
It’s not kind of me, I know. 
But that mood is all too familiar to me.

In my reading this morning, I ran across a poem by George MacDonald. I liked it and thought I’d share it.

My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought follows upon thought,
But the still depth beneath is all thine own,
And there thou mov’st in paths to us unknown.
Out of strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought;
If the lion in us praythou answerest the lamb.

Happy December, friends.