Colby’s Excellent Adventure

Our family recently adopted a cat from a shelter.  This is not unusual, as all of our cats were either looking for homes as kittens (Enzo and Bella), or were adopted from our local shelter (Jacques, Julius, and Chloe).  Colby is our newest cat.  What makes his story interesting, is that we live in San Diego and we adopted him from a shelter in Florida.


All the cats we’ve loved. Only Julius and Colby are with us currently, the others having gone on to their great reward.

Our daughter has been staying in Florida, and while there she has often visited a local cats only shelter.  She is getting ready to leave Florida, but did not want to leave Colby, her favorite cat from the shelter, behind.


Emma in front of the little cat shelter. Colby stationed himself on the desk, so he could see everything that went on, and he could get first dibs on treats!

3 Emma and Colby.2

Emma visiting with her favorite kitty Colby.

So we decided to adopt Colby, which meant that I would have to bring him from Florida to San Diego.  Since my tickets were not purchased in time, I had to take him home via a stop in St. Louis.  Before we headed off, everyone said goodbye to Colby.  He was a big favorite, having been in the shelter for years.

Goodby to Colby

Bye Colby!

After goodbyes we were off!  He did not like the rental car, and meowed for pretty much the whole 45 minutes it took us to get the airport.  He did not like being in his carrier much either, but did okay, beyond trying to push his nose through the netting.  I had to take him out of his carrier and carry him in my arms through security, so I got him a nifty harness and leash.  He was pretty happy at the gate, waiting on the window sill, watching our plane being loaded.  Several people asked to pet him, and he took their adoration as his due.

Orlando airport

In the Orlando airport. Colby was a trooper.

The flight was pretty good from Orlando.  Colby did some meowing, but it was hard to hear over the sound of the plane.  I petted him and tried to help him relax, with variable success.  A few treats helped.  When we landed in St. Louis and I checked the board I got a nasty shock.  I was supposed to have an hour between planes.  Instead, due to a mechanical issue, I now had 4 hours to kill.  In an airport.  With a cat.  Fortunately, the pet relief area was very close to my gate, and we hung out there for awhile.  Then I found some red rocking chairs and Colby slept on my lap while I read a book.

St. Louis airport

Colby in the very dog-themed pet area. Like no one travels with cats?!? Colby and me in our red rocker. He likes to stick out his tongue, which is too cute.

We managed finally to get home.  Colby got a bath that night, which is my rule.  All cats get a bath when they come from a shelter.  He did great!

13 Colby bath

So now we are figuring out our new routine with our new cat Colby.  Julius has been a perfect gentleman, he was the same when we adopted Chloe.  No cat fights, no drama.  He is a sweetheart.  Colby is settling in.  He loves to nap on the couch, to go outside into our cat escape-proof yard, to eat wet food for breakfast and dinner, and to get petted and scratched and generally loved.  He is part of a family now, after a long wait, and we hope he and Julius, who are both 12, will be buddies for many years.


Colby sitting in my lap in the yard, watching the birds at the bird feeder. Picking his way through the long grass, which I’ve since mowed!


Hanging out with me, with Sam, and with Julius.


Colby is settled into his new home. He’s now a California Cat!


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Filed under Cats, Family, Uncategorized

Desert Camping in Anza Borrego

Annotated pano am

My last post on my blog was 2 years ago, and I am hoping to start writing and posting again.  What better way to get things going than a report on a Boy Scout camp out?

Troop 985 headed out on our first camping adventure of the season this last weekend.  We traveled out to the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves in the Anza Borrego desert, to explore parts of one the largest mud cave systems in the world.  This is an annual trip for our troop, and one of the boys’ favorites.  Lots of climbing, crawling, sliding, and jumping, plus plenty of dust and dirt.  What more could you ask for?

Mr. R. is our Moses, he leads us into the desert.  Below is a picture of his beloved Jeep, with Mr. R. at the wheel.  This is actually a close view of his Jeep, usually he floors it once we hit the dirt roads and I have to look for his dust trail to figure out where he is.

Following Mr. R’s Jeep out into the wild.

After we arrived and set up camp we headed out with head lamps and bandanas to explore some caves.  The caves are formed by rainfall percolating down through the mud hills that are common in this area.

Group at start

Our intrepid group on the way to explore the mud caves.

Sam into cave

The entrances to the caves can be hard to find, you need to keep an eye out for openings in the walls of the canyons.


Inside the caves it can be totally enclosed and very dark, and then suddenly it opens up into skylights or short open slot canyons. The walls are fascinating, with swirling rock layers and embedded stones.

Playing palace

Not all the scouts went into every cave. Some chose to play cards and hang out while their fellow scouts wandered in the darkness.

Joey and dog

While we were exploring we came upon a couple and their little dog Max. He had his own flashlight (the red bit around his neck), and was also a cave explorer!

Adventurer scouts

This is our group of adventurer scouts, who set off to explore the depths of Hidden Cave, which is conveniently located right where we camped.

Mo and Sam

Sam and me at our campsite. In the backgroud between our heads you can see the entrance to a large mud cave. The mud hills extend up to either side, and make a beautiful contrast with the blue sky.

Boys on cliffside

This photo gives an idea of the size of the cliffs above our campsite. The boys had a great time scrambling up and down them, and found perches in the most unexpected places.

Moonrise over hill

Later that night while we were enjoying the campfire, the moon rose over the cliffs and it was so bright we felt like we could play catch. Took this while leaning the camera on Mr. V’s awesome truck. We bring out some fairly heavy patrol boxes for the boys to cook with, and we are always grateful for parents with big, awesome trucks!

Group in am

Here is our gang the next morning, finishing up breakfast. On our way out of the desert we stopped to hike a slot canyon.

Start slot canyon

The start of the slot canyon.

Slot canyon

Heading further in.

Mo slot canyon.2

Me in one of the narrower spots in the canyon.

Top of mesa

The canyon eventually led to the top of a mesa…

Mesa top

…and a beautiful view!

Geology and Mr. R.

On the drive out we stopped so Mr. R. could point out some cool geology. Look at how those rock layers are buckled and twisted.

Mo's subby

This is me giving the thumbs up after traversing a tricky spot on the road out. Only bottomed out once, though it was a good thump. I love my Subey!

Well, another Boy Scout adventure under our belts.  Had a great time getting out camping again with the troop, and we are looking forward to further outings soon!







Filed under Boy Scout Troop 985 Adventures, Travel

The Babes of Fangorn Forest – Treebeard’s Pin Up Calendar



Treebeard here.  The other Ents and I, at our last Entmoot, decided to share our photos of the sexiest trees in Fangorn Forest.  Since we lost the Entwives a terrible long count of years ago, we have become a bit lonely, and sometimes, over a couple of pints at the Entpub, we have quite spirited discussions about our trees.  Who has the most supple branches, the softest leaves, the most graceful trunk, or the healthiest bark.  These  debates, which are quite lengthy since it takes a very long time to say anything in Entish, culminated in a series of 12 images we plan to use in our first ever “Babes of Fangorn Forest” pin up wall calendar.  Many of these trees are my friends, creatures I have known from nut or acorn.  And some of them have grown up to be, well, to use the vernacular, total hotties.  Please take the time to examine the images with care.  Do not be hasty.  Think of roofs of sleeping leaves, the dreams of trees untold, when woodland halls are green and cool and the wind is in the west.  Ahem.  I hope you enjoyed that, it is one of my own compositions.  But enough of me and my words, look, look at the trees, the beautiful, beautiful trees…

1. January

2. February

3. March

4. April

5. May

6. June

7. July

8. August

9. September

10. October

11. November

12. December


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Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography, Gardens/Plants/Nature

Creating and Maintaining a Monarch Sanctuary in Your Yard

Monarch Header.2

The Amazing Life of the Monarch Butterfly

Monarchs, like all butterflies, go through a 4 stage life cycle.  They begin as eggs, hatch into caterpillars, enfold themselves into a chrysalis as a pupa, and while inside metamorphose (which means to change shape) into a striking orange and black butterfly.  One thing that makes Monarchs unique is that their caterpillars will only eat milkweed plants, and will starve without them.  Eating milkweed provides them protection from many predators, as the caterpillars and butterflies concentrate toxic chemicals (cardenolide alkaloids) found in the milky sap.

Another thing that makes Monarch Butterflies unique in the insect world is their annual migration. Monarchs that breed in eastern North America migrate up to 2,500 miles to wintering sites in Mexico. Monarchs that breed in western North America migrate to the California coast for the winter. That is a long way for a creature that has a wing span of 4 inches and weighs 500 grams (equivalent to a paper clip)!

(Click on any of the images to get a closer look)


The lifespan of a monarch butterfly is short, though the generation that overwinters in Mexico and California lives up to 8 months.

In the fall Eastern Monarchs fly south to overwinter in special forests in Mexico.  The Western population overwinters along the California coast.  In the springs and summer Monarchs either fly north from Mexico to the U.S.and Canada, or move inland and north from the California coast.

In the fall Eastern Monarchs fly south to overwinter in special forests in Mexico. The Western population overwinters along the California coast. In the spring and summer Monarchs either fly north from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada, or move inland and north from the California coast.

Numbers of Monarchs are Declining

Unfortunately, the things that make Monarchs unique are also posing challenges to their survival.  Their overwintering sites in Mexico and in California are threatened by development and habitat loss.  Another threat to the species is the huge decline in milkweed plants found in the United States and Canada, due to habitat loss from human development and the expansion of agriculture (particularly crops that have been genetically modified to resist the pesticide Roundup).  Milkweed, which used to grow alongside crops like corn and soybeans, has almost disappeared from Midwestern fields.  This loss of habitat for their host plant, along with periods of bad weather in the forests where the butterflies hibernate in Mexico, have severely reduced the numbers of Monarchs.


Help Monarchs by Planting Milkweed

The news is not all bad though.  Recognizing that the Monarchs’ dependance on milkweed that is disappearing is endangering this iconic butterfly, people all over North America are doing what they can to help.  From pushing for protections for their overwintering grounds, to the very simple step of planting lots and lots and lots of milkweed.

You too can participate in helping Monarchs, by setting up a sanctuary in your yard, garden, school, or business.  Your reward will be the countless butterflies that flutter through your yard, feeding on your plants and also laying eggs.  You will get to watch monarchs first hand as they progress through the stages of their lives.  Check out these amazing moments I have witnessed in my yard over the past 2 years…


Monarch butterflies laying eggs.  They bend their abdomens up and lay eggs on the underside of leaves or on flower buds.  The eggs are the small white dots in the lower panels.  In the panel on the left you can see some tiny hatchlings.


Big fat Monarch Caterpillars.  These guys can chew through a leaf so fast!


Monarchs leave the milkweed plant when the pupate.  Sometimes you find their chrysalises out in the open, but often they are hidden away.  The chrysalis starts out bright green, and then becomes transparent.  The unique orange and black pattern can be seen through the thinning walls of the chrysalis when the butterfly is close to emerging.

Monarch butterflies love to feed on milkweed nectar, but they also enjoy feeding from other flowers.  Be sure to have lots of different food sources for them in your sanctuary.

Monarch butterflies love to feed on milkweed nectar, but they also enjoy feeding from other flowers.  Be sure to have lots of different food sources for them in your sanctuary.

 Growing Milkweed in Your Yard or Garden

You will probably find that, just like eating potato chips, you can’t have just one milkweed plant.  I started with one, and now have several scattered around.  My main patch is a collection of 5 large pots, and I have three or four other areas in my yard.  I have mainly tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), though I recently started a batch of narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), a California native.  The milkweed that you mainly find in nurseries in CA is tropical (Monarchs really like laying their eggs on this one), but you can purchase seeds of native milkweeds over the internet or you can find plants at native plant nurseries.


My main patch of tropical milkweed on the right; tropical (in the pots) and narrow leaf milkweed (in the seed starter) plants I am growing from seeds.

There are many species of milkweed that are native to California.

Some of the many species of milkweed that are native to California, plus one random non-native that I put in because it is so pretty!

Once you have healthy milkweed plants growing, getting more is easy!  They produce many seed pods, and you can harvest the seeds before they blow away and plant them.  I use 72 well seed starters that you can get for under 10 dollars.  I also just shove seeds into the dirt in random pots around my yard and wait for little milkweeds to grow.  One thing to be careful of is that rodents love to eat milkweed seedlings, so when I use seed starters I make sure to put the cover on them and keep them up high when the seedlings are young and tender.  If you generate too many seeds to plant yourself, you could give them away to friends, or send them into seed collecting programs that you can find online.


Milkweed seeds blowing away from a seedpod.  On the left are seeds that have not fluffed out their floss yet.  They are really beautiful!


Sam planting milkweed seeds in a seed starter.  He planted 100 seeds, and 40% of them germinated.  Once the plants were bigger he gave them away to his Boy Scout troop.

Maintaining Healthy Plants

One thing that you cannot do is get attached to a leafy, lush milkweed plant.  Because if you get lucky and have a bumper crop of caterpillars, they will eat it down to nothing.  It is a good idea to have a backup plan, in case all of the leaves are eaten. I have twice carried containers of caterpillars over to a local garden when my caterpillars ate every single leaf off of my original plant.  This is also how my collection grew, as I ran out and bought several more plants as insurance against caterpillar famine!  There are a few pests you want to keep an eye out for.  You will find yellow aphids on your plants.  I squish them with my fingers, sometimes also washing them off using a soapy solution (mix a few squirts of dish washing liquid with water and keep in a spray bottle) or the mist setting on my hose nozzle.  If you have a lot of ants around the base of your plant, carefully spray a little ant killer.  Ants milk the aphids like cows, so you don’t want too many ants on your plants.  Or in your pants.  You also want to pluck off and kill any black and red milkweed beetles you find, as they suck the life out of the seeds in the seed pods.  Finally, if you see whitish, sick-looking leaves, remove them, and also scrape off any scale insects you see, which look like little brown limpets clinging to the stems and branches of the plant.  Some people suggest that you cut back your tropical milkweed in the fall if you live in a climate like California where it thrives and blooms year round, to reduce plant diseases and to encourage monarchs to continue their migrations.  I don’t really do this.  I hope the milkweed militants don’t find me…


My original milkweed that was chewed down the sticks.  It recovered in a few weeks, and was bushy and healthy again in no time.

These creepy little yellow aphids will suck your milkweed dry if you don't remove them.

These creepy little yellow aphids will suck your milkweed dry if you don’t remove them.

These red and black beetles suck the juices out of the seeds in the seed pods, which ruins the seeds.

These red and black milkweed beetles suck the juices out of the seeds in the seed pods, which ruins the seeds.  Have no mercy, even on the little ones.

Monarch Predators

Even though they are poisonous to many creatures, some are able to eat Monarch Caterpillars and Butterflies.  Mice, assassin beetles, and some species of wasps, spiders, and birds are known predators of Monarchs.  I have seen caterpillars fleeing from a milkweed plant, so if this happens check on the stems and the underside of leaves for any other insects.  I have very low tolerance for any insects on my milkweed plants, and the only ones I let live are lady bugs.

Wrap Up

For more information, please visit these websites (from which I obtained many of the facts in this post).

The Monarch Program

Monarch Watch

Monarch Butterfly – Journey North

USDA Forest Service – The Monarch Butterfly in North America

I hope that I have convinced you to take the plunge into milkweed and Monarch madness.  You will not regret it, as you welcome these wonderful creatures into your life.  If you still aren’t convinced, check out these amazing videos I took recently in my yard.

A Monarch Butterfly laying eggs on my milkweed plant

A Monarch Caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf

A Monarch Butterfly feeding on milkweed flower nectar

Monarch Header


Filed under Gardens/Plants/Nature, Science

Cat Sitting Venus – I’m Afraid She Will Never Want to Leave

Venus header

Our friends Leslie, Blake, and Ben left for a few weeks on a trip to Europe recently, and they asked me to take their cat Venus to our house while they are away.  They used to have an evil cat named Raja, who was an Egyptian Mau, who I would check in on at their place while they were gone.  He was mean-tempered, and growled at you just for looking at him.  Not all the time, but it happened, and that’s enough for me.  I watched him several times for Leslie at her house, and I don’t think I ever touched him.  We were both happier that way.  Raja dropped dead, which was very considerate of him, since that really saves on the vet bills, and he was getting up there in years.  I recently had to put down our 19 year old cat Bella, who, was, of course, a saint, and it was heart-breaking.

My Bella.

Saint Bella.

Anyhow, back to Leslie and her new cat Venus.  We all took a trip to the shelter a month or so after Raja died, and after much petting and deliberating, Leslie and Blake came home with Venus.  Leslie is forever in my debt for dragging her away from an Egyptian Mau that looked like Raja that was at the shelter.  It looked very pretty as it tried to claw it’s way out of its enclosure.  We went in looking for a sweet cat, and that’s what Leslie got.  And she is a beautiful black cat, who are the hardest cats to place in new homes, so Leslie got some bonus feel good points. Venus has been at our house for almost two weeks, and she is loving it.  It took a few days for her and Julius to get used to each other (I took it slow and kept her in the kids’ bedroom initially), but now they are pals.  He licks her head, they sniff each others noses and behinds, and have even started chasing each other at 4:00 am.  I could do without the last one.  The cats get to go out in the yard when I am home, and Venus thinks this is the best invention EVER!  She watches birds, swats at butterflies and looks confused when I yell at her to leave them alone, and slinks along the edge of the yard behind the plants, looking and feeling mysterious.

Julius and Venus greeting each other, Venus hanging out in the plants and blissing out on the grass.

Julius and Venus greeting each other, Venus hanging out in the plants, and blissing out on the grass.

Venus in two of her favorite bird watching spots.

Venus in two of her favorite bird watching spots.

I must say that this cat sitting experience has really encouraged me about our own upcoming foray to the animal shelter in August, when we will pick out a new kitty to bring home.  We are thinking about getting a young adult, and Julius has been such a gentleman to Venus.  He is enjoying having her around, especially since Bella was not very energetic her last few years, and sometimes downright grouchy.  He really is the best cat ever (sorry Venus).



But his time with Venus is soon to end, as her family are back home in a few days.  It’s like John and Olivia said…

Summer loving had me a blast,
Summer loving happened so fast,
I met a girl crazy for me,
Met a boy cute as can be,

Summer days drifting away,
To, uh oh, those summer nights…

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Filed under Cats, Family

A Palindrome of Scouts

Palidrome header

A few weeks ago a small group of scouts (only 5!) from our troop, along with 4 adults, headed out for an overnight backpacking trip to Agua Caliente Creek.   We noticed that we could make a palindrome of the boys’ names, with Evan in the middle (a word palindrome for the grammarians out there, I realize Evan would have to be Eve for it to be a true palindrome).  So that meant we had a palindrome of scouts.  I know that scouts usually come in troops, along with apes, baboons, buffalo, gorillas, kangaroos, and monkeys, but for this post a palindrome of scouts they shall be.  I’m not sure the official namers of groups of things, the same squad that came up with a murder of crows, a flamboyance of flamingos, a congregation of alligators, a flutter of butterflies, a wake of buzzards, a pounce of cats, a romp of otters, a zeal of zebras, a wisdom of wombats, a hover of trout, a scurry of squirrels, a parliament of rooks, a prickle of porcupines, a pandemonium of parrots, an implausibility of gnus, and a bellowing of bullfinches would agree with my categorizing them as such, but it’s my blog, so it’s my rules.  (For a more complete listing of animal group names (yes, there are more!), ask The Almighty Guru.)

So off we set.  Mo, Rob, Zek, Michelle, and our palindrome of scouts shouldered our packs and hit the Pacific Crest Trail, just past the small town of Warner Springs, California.  We hiked north 3.6 miles to a charming little grove of trees nestled alongside a creek.  We had great weather for our hike (overcast and cool).  There isn’t much shade along the trail until you hit the creek, so this was perfect weather as far as we were concerned.

We arrived mid-morning, and didn’t have much of an agenda for the rest of the day.  The boys climbed, prowled, dug, played, splashed, caught, released, and sang the afternoon away.  The adults waved to hikers heading to Canada on the PCT, read our books, chatted, and every now and then did a head count.  Usually we knew where everyone was.  It was a great trip.  Check out my photos (double click on them to get a close up view), and videos.  Here are a few final thoughts to send you on your way…

Now ere we nine were held idle here, we nine were won.

A man, a plan, a canal — Panama

 May a moody baby doom a yam?


Hiking in on a cool Saturday morning.  The first mile or so runs through golden meadows dotted by oak trees.  The boys are pointing out the Pacific Crest Trail marker.

Hiking in.2

Zek and  Michelle, the happy backpacking couple.  Sam and Matthew, the dramatic backpacking pair.  As the trail climbed, we moved into bushy, rocky terrain.  I love manzanita trees with their rich, red bark.  We also saw lots of moss and lichen, and came up with a mnemonic device to remember what a lichen is made up of.  “Hi, I’m algae, and I lichen fungi”, since a lichen is a composite organism made up of symbiotic algae and fungi.  In case you were wondering.

Aqua Caliente Creek

Two views of the tranquil Agua Caliente creek.  It burbled and babbled, just like a good creek should.  It was full of frogs and bugs and plants, and eventually Boy Scouts.


The view we saw on our way out.  Lovely flowers by the creek.  A gurgling mini waterfall.  Boys in a tree.


What do free range boys do when they are released into the wild?  Play cards and slam pixie sticks.  Create a city in the sand.  Catch frogs.  Release frogs.  Finally, make a super delicious dinner with Jet Boils and Mountain House.


Remember earlier how I said the creek was eventually full of Boy Scouts?  First they fell in and got their feet wet.  Then Evan fell all the way in.  We built a small fire and dried pants, boots, and socks on a rotisserie made from Rob’s hiking poles and a stick.  The fire was nice to hang out by after dark.


We were up in the morning and on the trail early, heading back to San Diego.  Overall I think the trip was – wait for it – FUN E NUF!  Oh yeah, got in one last palindrome!

Check out these videos below from our trip.

The Great Frog Release

Agua Caliente Creek


Filed under Boy Scout Troop 985 Adventures

She Was the Softest Cat in the World


I recently put down our 19 year old cat. It was terribly hard.  Even though I know it was the right thing to do, I will feel guilty about it forever.

Her name was Bella, but she had many nicknames.  Bella Wella, Pretty Girl, Little Girl, Girlie Girl, Little Punkin, Little Bit of Nothing, Little Miss Sunshine, Sun Bear, and Iddle Biddle Diddle.

She was a medium length hair tortie who had the softest fur in the world.  She had orange stripes hidden on the inside of her front legs, mottled skin on the inside of her ears that reflected the patchwork of fur colors on the outside, tufts of fur that stuck out between the pads of her paws, puffy back leg fur that looked like pantaloons, and a small patch of creamy white on her chest (hence Sun Bear).

I loved to bury my nose in her side and sniff her, because she had a nutty, earthy smell.  Not all cats smell the same.  Julius smells like an old closet.  I don’t like to sniff him so much.

She was always tiny.  At her heaviest she weighed about 8 pounds.  For most of her life she weighed about 5 or 6 pounds.  Towards the end of her life she was 3 to 4 pounds.  I held her over my shoulder and carried her cradled in my arms a lot the last few months of her life.  When she was young I would drape her around my neck like a scarf.

But she was not a cuddly cat.  When I chose her from the litter, I should have been tipped off when she wouldn’t stay in my hand for more than a few seconds.  She would let me hold for a short time, but then would jump away.  She would cuddle in bed at night for 5 or ten minutes, and then jump away.  She was a quirky, freaky little cat, like a lot of torties.

Bella was a bionic jumper.  I found her on top of an open door once.  Perched up there.  Actually, she was kind of stuck.  When we moved into our current house she would jump to the top of an 8 foot tall fence to get into the neighbor’s yard.  I had to fish her out of there a couple of times, thank goodness they were friendly people.

Bella was fiesty.  She lived with big, grey Enzo for 10 years, big, grey Jacque for 2 years, and big, grey and white Julius for 8 years.  Julius weighs 15 pounds.  She was less than a third of his size.  When he started messing with her she would take it for awhile, but if he pushed too hard she would start in on him, and I would come into the room to find him rolled over on his back crying while she dove in to nip him again and again.  When she was very small Enzo used to lick and clean her until she was damp, and then he would start to chew on her.  She learned early not to take any guff from big, grey cats.

She was also stubborn, obtuse and sometimes not terribly bright.  Enzo and Julius were/are my smart cats.  Jacque not so much, evidenced by his running off one night and never making it back.  Bella would jump on the counter, I would take her down, she would jump up, I would take her down.  Rinse and repeat.  When Lisa and Tom were watching her when she was kitten she got her head stuck in a tissue box.  When Mel was watching her she freaked out each and every time she walked past a mirror wall in their house, because she saw the stranger cat in it.  As she got older her stubborn streak became a mile wide.  She got wet food whenever the hell she wanted it, because she would NOT STOP meowing for it.  She never learned the word “No”, which is something smart cats do.  Or maybe she was the really smart cat, and she knew what “No” meant, but just chose to ignore it.

Until the last few years of her life, she had a huge purr.  It was incongruous, coming from such a little body.  Even the tips of her whiskers rumbled when she purred.  But like most things that made Bella Bella, her purr became almost silent.  She, who could leap several times the length of her body straight up into the air, couldn’t jump up onto a chair or climb the stairs.  She became deaf.  She had cataracts and couldn’t see well.  Her right hip was painful and caused her to limp.  She faded.

My eyes are tearing as I write this, because when you live with a pet for 19 years, when you know every little detail about their body and spirit, watching their decline and making the decision to end their life is gut wrenching.  So I tell myself she had a wonderful life, a wonderful family, a wonderful trio of big, grey cats.  We had her cremated, and she is in a little box, on top of a slightly larger box that holds Enzo.  Over the summer we will go to the shelter and look for another little female cat to bring into our home and lives and hearts.  But I miss her.  My little Bella.

The Early Years


The top left is Bella when she was a few weeks old.  She is licking her paw.  She wasn’t the prettiest kitten, she looked more like a scraggly bat.  Enzo would groom her and sleep with her.  He is gnawing on her on the bottom right.  Me with my two besties in the middle.  Bella isn’t the only one who got old!


A close up of her glorious fur coat, all beautiful earth tones.  She was kind of freaky, especially when she was younger.  You get a sense of that from her wild eyes in the picture on the right.

The Middle Years


Bella mellowed some with age.  We moved into our current house, and we all enjoyed our expanded indoor and outdoor space.  She loved to sit in pots.  I guess that made her a pot bella cat.

The Later Years


She remained beautiful and healthy, though a lot slower, up until the last year or so.  She went in the yard every day, to sniff the air and sit in the sun.  She slept a lot, and she and I both got creative finding new places for her to nap.

Last Day

Bella on her last morning.  I made a nest for her on the floor downstairs, and during the last week she spent a lot of time curled up in it resting.  Goodbye Miss Bella, you were a good girl.


Filed under Cats, Family