I guess today is National Pet Day. We have a couple.

Dakota in sun

That’s our dog, Dakota. We’ve had her – or she’s had us – since August. Last night she spent 20 minutes barking at non-existent people on the pedestrian path last night. I finally went out to investigate. Some runners had made it up the hill earlier. Did one get left behind, perhaps passed out and bathed in sweat, lying facedown on the incline? We still had daylight. I walked up to the gate and peeked around it. Nothing. Dakota sniffed the gate where the two sides joined together. I could spot no suspicious activity. I went back in the house. Dakota kept on barking.

twin yearners

These are the old timers (above), Rex and Chloe. They yearn for Ruby’s leftover milk from her cereal. This is the closest they ever sit next to each other. They seem to have gotten a little closer, at least in proximity, since Dakota arrived. You know what they say: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They sleep with Ruby every night, jockeying for position on her bed.


Ruby’s cousins got baby chicks the Saturday before Easter. They picked up one extra one for Ruby. I think she named it Cookie. Or was it Pretzel? I guess this counts as a long-distance pet.

Ruby & chick

Last, but certainly not least, Thurston County has its own pair of ducks. They hang around, hoping for handouts. I spotted the female this morning and I took a photo as I walked into Building 1. She just stood there, as if waiting for her paparazzi to arrive.

female duck

“Oh, I did that yesterday, too!” A young male coworker stopped and scrolled through his phone to show me the photo. He got the duck couple out on a stroll.

“It looked like they were on a date. I had to do it,” he said, with an impish grin.

Indeed. Ducks dating. Who knew?


Friday Morning Freedom


I let the cats onto the back deck this morning. I can see them out the dining room window, together but not together, exploring the backyard. Chloe sticks close to the chain link fence. She sniffs to discover all the places where nocturnal animals have crossed into or out of our yard. Rex hears the window open and stares at me. His golden gaze says “what do you want?” He’s more concerned with the small gaps in the fencing. He pokes his face through them and gazes at the trees and bushes and birds on the other side. Meanwhile, Chloe bites off grass tips that stand up taller than other pieces. I figure this is okay, since we don’t have goats.

Out the front dining room window, I can see and hear traffic. Cars, trucks and buses rush by in their morning commute. The occasional runner or cyclist pass on the pedestrian path. Walkers pound up and down the hill in pairs, like heeding the last call to board Noah’s Ark. Mornings inspire momentum.

Mornings have always seemed sort of magical to me. How does God do it, day after day? Each one crops up new and whole, sprung out of the earth’s turning. As children, we learned Earth’s rotation causes us to see a sunrise and a sunset every day. Systems for seasons  and moon phases have been set for millennia, yet still present unique and ever new. This morning, the clouds pulled back from the north like a sunlit snowy blanket. A thin scrim of hazy cloud remained, hiding the mountain. Our infamous marine layer lingered nearly all day yesterday, allowing us to barely reach 70 degrees by day’s end.

This is my last free Friday before I step back into the working world. I’m not sure what lies ahead. But I think I’m ready to rejoin the fray. Mornings bring hope. I’m reminded of this Bible verse, written in one of the darkest times in Israel’s history:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” – Lamentations 3:22-24



When Dreams Attack

I know I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been reintegrating into regular life and applying for jobs and, and, and. But I need to write. It’s a part of me. Every time I try to get away, I find myself missing it. It’s one of the tethers in this world, at least for me.

I found Ruby sitting on a couch in the rotunda the other morning. She was crying.

“What’s wrong, baby girl?” I asked. I sat down next to her and hugged her.

“I dreamt that Chloe died,” she sniffled.

Uh oh.

“Oh, I’m sorry. But she’s fine.”

I pointed out the black Muppet cat, curled at her feet. Ruby nodded.

“I wanted to make a blanket out of her fur.”


“So I cut off her head.”


She started sobbing.

“Then I saw her ghost.”

OK. Now what, God? I breathed in and out, holding her. I decided to ignore the ghost comment.

“Ruby, do you really want to make a blanket out of Chloe’s fur?”

I looked down at the long, luxurious fur on the most mellow cat in Christendom. It is very soft and touchable, yet manages to get everywhere. It has always reminded me of

troll doll

But she doesn’t need to know that.

“Well, I want to keep her around. I don’t want her to die.”

Folks, I believe this is how taxidermy on household pets got started.

“Chloe won’t live forever. And I’m sure you’d never cut off her head. Let’s enjoy her while we have her. God gave you the sweetest cat. There will never be another Chloe.”

Isn’t that what we all need to be doing, appreciating where we are, when we are, and who we’re with? Tomorrow is not promised.

Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  – Psalm 103:15

I hugged Ruby a little closer and smiled at Chloe. I swear Chloe smiled back.

Ruby & Chloe





Friday Flotsam

what do people do all day


Remember this book?

Richard Scarry wrote and illustrated some of the most memorable children’s books. I remember looking at his books and trying to figure out which of the professions I might like to take on as an adult. Perhaps you have a natural curiosity, and you must know:  What have people been up to? Since everyone’s a worker and all.

Well, yesterday I finished the Title VI report. Which is not the same as CA Certification, like I originally thought. Title VI has to do with civil rights. CA Certification has to do with WSDOT allowing us to manage our own transportation projects. Anyway, the Title VI report has many attachments and lots of contractual language. Mercifully, for government reports, plagiarism is not only expected but encouraged. No need to reinvent the wheel. It’s done, awaiting city administrator signature. Whew!

Jonathon’s managed to put in a new window in our bedroom. He tore out the old screen door and rickety steps leading up to it. He trimmed out the new window and painted it this week. It looks like it’s always been there. Beautiful.

Zac scored 100% on a financial intelligence essay. He said the reviewer wrote something about how “its” should have been “it’s”. Folks, “it’s” is only used for a contraction of it and is. Period. Zac knew this, and the reviewer didn’t. Proud of that kid.

Ruby created a black spider out of fuzzy pipe cleaners. She gave it googly eyes and a mouth using scrap materials. I’d show you a picture, but I don’t want to scare you.

Rex, fully recovered and back up to fighting weight now, killed a rat. He looked very pleased with himself. I spied it, gray, soggy and very dead, in the carport this morning. I’ll spare you a photo of that, too.

Chloe threw up on the carpet and yet managed to espouse no knowledge of the fact.

Last, but not least, if you work in a garage, you might find this bonus reading material in the bathroom…

predator extreme mag

What have you been up to this week?

Rex and the Ick

Rex at vetWarning: this post references lots of bodily fluids and yucky stuff.

I took Rex to the vet yesterday. He hadn’t eaten since Thursday or Friday of last week. You might say I’m a bad cat owner, but hold on a minute. Rex is a predator. He eats lizards, mice, moles, voles, insects and squirrels. And who knows what else. It seemed entirely possible that his stomach might be upset from digesting whatever the heck he ate. I wanted to give him time to get over it.

Rex isn’t much of a vomiter. If he does start, he will at least trot to the linoleum. Chloe holds the honor of chief vomitess. She used to throw up at least weekly, green gushy stuff that stains. So when I found clear spit up on the carpet, I knew it had to be him. Then I found some green soupy stuff pooled upstairs on the study floor. Time to get serious.

When I put Rex into the cat carrier, he felt lighter. He didn’t struggle, like he usually does. I opened the door and shoved. He tried bracing his legs, yet I won. He complained a bit on the way to the vet, but it was as if he knew he needed to go. I heard no protests from the blue box.

The vet tech had me put him up on the shiny examination table, on top of a white towel.

“He’s a big boy,” she said, petting him and admiring his shiny black sleekness. Rex looked peeved.

“He’s usually around 20 lbs,” I said.

She leaned over and picked him up.

“I’m guessing about 15 lbs,” she said as she placed him on the scale. Rex weighed in at 15 lbs, 3 ounces. She reminded me of those labor and delivery nurses who can put their hands on your pregnant belly and accurately predict the size of your baby, like my cousin. Instead of baby whisperer, she was a cat whisperer.

The tech looped a bungee-type leash around Rex’s neck so he wouldn’t bolt. She took his temperature. Rex didn’t even peep. Not even a hiss. I knew he wasn’t well.

We waited for the doctor. A dog outside in the waiting room barked. Rex started. He did not like the idea of a dog right on the other side of the slider. He listened, ready to bolt. The dog calmed down. Rex turned his head away from me. He leaned against the wall. He closed his eyes. Anywhere but here, his expression said.

The doctor joined us. He asked Rex’s age.

“Rex is 9, I believe, ” I said.

“Ah,” he said. “Well, he doesn’t have a temperature.”

Whew! I thought.

He palpated Rex’s abdomen. He felt up Rex’s bladder. Rex looked alarmed. He stuck a narrow flashlight into Rex’s ears. He forced open his mouth and examined his teeth.

“Look at those teeth,” he clucked. “They’re awful. Both sides.”

Years ago, we were told we should be brushing Rex’s teeth. The vet offered to do it for $250. Gulp. No! And Rex would bite our fingers off or scratch us to pieces before we got his teeth brushed. No dopes, us.

“Well,” Dr. Eddie said, sitting himself down on the bright yellow vinyl bench seat. “Rex’s age makes it a real possibility for kidney or thyroid trouble.”

I knew this. Our old cat, Rita, died of kidney failure. What a miserable way to go. She drank more often and peed more often. Then she started throwing up bile, green goo. She got weaker and weaker. We had her put down.

I swallowed, listening, sending a silent prayer for Rex’s healing.

“Let’s give him an anti-nausea shot, and a pill and do a blood draw. We’ll try and figure out what’s going on with him.”

I took Rex home again. He meowed several times to let me know he didn’t appreciate the trip. At all. Once safely in the carport, I opened the carrier and released the cat. He strolled out and kept on meowing. He wandered around, in and out of the house. I went back to work.

When I got home last night, he was still talking. He had lot to say. So much, in fact, that I dumped the old food out of his bowl and replaced it with a little fresh. Then, miracle of miracles, he ate a few nuggets. I know because he started cleaning his face. Things started looking up.

I should mention the vet wanted us to try giving him some canned cat food – emergency type stuff.

“You should mix it with water and put it in a syringe. Then, down his gullet,” the assistant said.

“Not happening,” I said. The last time we tried medicating Rex, it took a lot of sweaty effort, an old towel and a few choice words under our breath.

Zac, Rex’s rightful owner,  dutifully opened the small can of cat/dog food and mixed it with water. He put it on the floor in front of Rex. Rex sniffed it and walked away. Chloe, not one to waste anything, scarfed it up. Rex can be a bit of a gourmand. Plus, anything that smacks of medicine, he avoids.

Today, he ate a couple of slivers of rotisserie chicken. Don’t worry, I gave some to Chloe too. He drank a couple of dainty sips of milk. Chloe slurped up the rest. Rex reminded us again about how maligned he was, getting poked with sharp objects and dosed with medicine.

Me, I couldn’t stop grinning. I think he’s going to make it after all.






Ruby and the Rock

Jonathon and I lingered at the table after dinner, enjoying some grownup conversation.  Suddenly, a thump sounded in the living room by the Christmas tree. We froze.

“What was that?” Jonathon asked, turning to look at Ruby.

Ruby had been petting Chloe who lolled near the tree. Ruby fished around in a small red gift bag sitting directly under the tree. She pulled out a flat, grayish rock the size of an egg.

Ruby held up her prize. “It was a rock,” she said.

As she turned it over, I recognized it as the rock I named Harvey.  Harvey has two googly eyes and a black felt-tipped monk hairdo, courtesy of Ruby’s customization.  Great to see him again. Doesn’t he have an engaging smile?

Harvey“Why was there a rock on the Christmas tree?” I asked.

Ruby looked at us, incredulous.

“Because I put it there!”

We started laughing.  Couldn’t help it.


I knew that.

Wednesday Wisdom

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
    but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25

For starters, Rex believes the vacuum, refrigerator and dishwasher are all part of an appliance cult.  They’ve taken a blood oath to scare the bejesus out of him. He runs away and/or hides whenever they get too loud.

Ditto with the crinkling of plastic bags and string cheese wrappers.  Pulling out the chairs at the dining room table. Also doors closing and opening, unless he’s on the other side wanting in or out.  He detests getting trapped in a closet or the basement, yet ventures to both places often. He doesn’t like the printer.  Dr. Isham. He cringes at the sound of the ringing phone, ears bent back in peeve.  He hates small children with their tiny, sticky hands and unsteady steps. They tend to chase him with cries of “Nice kitty!” He tolerates the shuddering washer and thumping dryer on a reoccurring basis, but only because they’re parked in his food area.

When we pull into the driveway, Rex gallops into the carport, lickety-split. His golden eyes glow at us as he crouches next to the garbage cans. Even after living with us for about 7 years, he still thinks we’ll run over him. Or at least Pepper-car will.

The list of what Rex *isn’t* afraid of is much shorter.  The can opener, because, well, there could be an empty tuna can for him to lick clean.  Sunshine. Flames from the gas fireplace. He’ll plop down right in front of the fireplace screen, soaking it in. Warmth is Rex’s middle name. Fleece.  Blankets. Fleece blankets create Rex nirvana. Ahhh…

I tell you all this because Rex misses out.

Chloe, on the other hand, enjoys it all.  She sleeps whenever and wherever. When my husband started working from home again, she staked out the warmest spot in the house. It’s in the same room as Dr. Isham, on the spare bed. Chloe trembles at very little. Maybe big dogs? She purrs beaucoup. For this very reason, she gets more leftover cereal milk, dripping ice cream, physical affection and probably small game.

His fears, even though he’s just a cat, keep Rex from enjoying the rest of life. His numerous phobias have become a snare to him, knotted him up inside. They hold him back from some of life’s best things, like real cheese. Something to think about, even if the appliances are in cahoots.