Scamper, 2001-2016


In 2001 we moved from a small duplex to a house with a garage and yard. We had one cat and one dog, and soon added a pair of orphaned kittens.


One of the kittens (on the left in the above photos) was sweet and gentle, and the name “Sabrina” seemed just right for her. The other kitten was fierce and playful and somewhat neurotic, and she defied naming. Nothing quite fit. She became “Scamper” on her medical chart, because I had to put something on her chart, but at home she changed names as often as she changed moods. She was The Scamperer. Thing 2. Her Neediness. The Bad Cat. The Wee Baby Kitty. Supercat.


She was The Bird Watcher. (When it was too cold for open doors and windows, birds on television were better than no birds at all.)


Cats May 15

Cat March 26

In her middle years, she grew overweight and lazy. None of her kitten names fit anymore, if they ever had. She was still Scamper when she went to the vet, but at home she was Herself.

Scamper 2014

Cats Aug 24

In many ways, she was the essence of what I love about cats — neuroses and all.

Scamper 2008

In her later years she liked blankets and patches of sunlight and, every so often, an afternoon nap on the couch with me.

Scamper Jan 2011

Health problems came with age. There were medicines and special diets, all of which helped for a time, but as 2015 progressed her condition declined steadily. She lost weight faster than medicine, food, and love could counter. The calendar turned and she lost more weight. Then, in early February, she stopped eating altogether.

So I made one last trip to the vet with our cat of many names. I stayed with her through the euthanasia process, which was gentle and peaceful, and drove home to a house that is achingly incomplete. There’s an empty spot near her favorite upstairs window, one that can never be filled.

Cat Nov 9

Note: Most of the photos in this post were taken by my husband.

Quiet Fireworks

Rabbit June 29

Our dog Indigo suffered from thunder phobia. During her aging years (before she lost her hearing) our entire household suffered from thunder phobia. I dreaded all of the fireworks holidays during those years.

Rabbit June 29

After Indigo lost her hearing, I was able to enjoy thunderstorms again (I’ve always been fascinated by storms), but I never regained an appreciation for fireworks. I find all the sparkle and flash I could ever want in the yard, without the sizzle and boom.

Flowers July 3

Dill July 2

Milkweed June 8

Marigold July 2

Caterpillar May 25

Dragonfly June 17

Finch June 28

Admittedly, some of the yard’s fireworks are more flash than sparkle…

Squirrel June 26

Squirrel June 26

Squirrel June 26

Squirrel June 26

Squirrel June 26

Fighting? We weren’t fighting…

Squirrel June 28

Squirrel June 29


Dragonfly June 29

I know that I’m not alone in my preference for quiet fireworks. What’s more, my discomfort is trivial when compared to the flashbacks that haunt many service members. (Here’s an article: “Fourth of July fireworks bring pain, stress for some service members.”)

Which brings me to a request. There are many, many holidays in the course of each year that are traditionally celebrated with fireworks. So there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy fireworks, if you enjoy them. But please refrain from lighting your fireworks randomly, between holidays.

Dragonfly June 17

Sunshine and a Blog Award

Sunshine Jan 29


I’m embarrassed by how long it has taken to acknowledge this Leibster Blog Award. Earlier in January, Linda at May and September tagged me, and I’ve been procrastinating as usual.

I’m delighted that Linda tagged me with this award, and I hope no one is offended that my very first move is to ignore a major technical point. The award is meant for blogs with less than 200 followers, which means I probably should disqualify myself. Instead, I’m going to hide in the irises and pretend no one will notice…

Sunshine Jan 29

Here are the other rules (I am planning to break more of them…):

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you, plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people to receive the award and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

My prolonged delay isn’t completely due to procrastination. I’ve begun this post a number of times, but each time I stumbled over the first task. I couldn’t think of eleven things to say about myself! Which is exactly where I should start…

  1. I have trouble describing myself because I feel that I don’t know myself very well.
  2. I am the youngest of five children, but I dislike being called “the baby.”
  3. I was born in Alabama but have no memory of living there. We moved to Tennessee when I was three.
  4. My parents separated while I was in junior high, and my father died while I was in high school.
  5. I didn’t take Driver’s Education in high school (I can’t remember why), and Mother refused to teach me to drive. When I graduated without license or job, I emptied my bank account ($600) and bought a mustard yellow Dodge Omni. My sister’s boyfriend was a mechanic, and he helped find the car. Then my other sister taught me to drive.
  6. I am convinced, due to personal experience, that wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Whenever I left my Omni’s windows down during the summer, it became rather dangerous to drive.
  7. Two years after I bought it, the Omni wheezed through its last mile. My next car was a silver five-speed Toyota Tercel, which I got for $2300. I taught myself to shift gears by lurching up and down our sloped gravel drive. Both of my sisters declined to ride along during this phase.
  8. I lived at home during my college years. I also had two jobs (sometimes three).
  9. My undergraduate studies concentrated on biology and ecology. I dreamed of doing field research, even though I suspected my attention span was too short to get me through a PhD program. I was right.
  10. I was the last of my siblings to leave home, and I felt guilty for being the one who left Mother alone. Our relationship had been fragile for years, frayed by stress and growing resentments. After I moved out, the bond between us snapped and didn’t heal for nearly a decade.
  11. When the bond did heal, it healed stronger and different than what we had known before. We were friends, instead of mother and daughter, and the new relationship felt healthier and more natural than our earlier, forced connection.

Sunshine Jan 29

Now, for Linda’s eleven questions:

1. If someone commissioned you to live in another country for six months and blog about it, where would you go and why?

Most likely, I would decline the commission. I don’t travel well!

2. Briefly describe a travel experience that you learned a lot from.

Hm… As above, I don’t travel well. Even so, each and every trip opens new worlds to me.

3. Name three books that have made a big impact on you.

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls; Night, by Elie Wiesel; and A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

4. Do you watch TV and if so, what do you like to watch?

Unfortunately, I do watch TV. More than I should. My current favorites are Downton Abbey, The Big Bang Theory, and almost any nature or science show.

5. What surprised you most about the blogging experience?

The exuberance with which the blogging community welcomed me.

6. What do you like to do for exercise?

Walk and work with free weights.

7. If you could have any job, what would it be?


8. If you could meet three famous people, who would they be and why?

E. O. Wilson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bernd Heinrich. Their writings contain intriguing combinations of wisdom, enthusiasm, and curiosity.

9. Minimise or collect?

I confess to both. It’s an impossible balance.

10. What would you tell your 13 year old self that you wish you had known back then.

Slow down. You’ll make fewer mistakes, and have less to regret, if you let life come to you rather than racing so ravenously after it.

11. What is one goal that you would like to achieve in the next year.

Finish and submit at least one of my current works-in-progress.

Sunshine Jan 29

Now, for my next breach of the rules. Many of the blogs I follow do not participate in awards, so I’m breaking the chain of tags and notifications. Instead, here are eleven recent posts that I enjoyed:

“2013 Marsh Fox Cubs” – Wilden Marsh: Another Year Living With Nature at Hoo Wood and Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve

“A Raven in the Grass” – For the Love of Clouds and Nature

“Voyager” – Hands on Bowie

“Birth/Death” – Sara & the 8 Million Strangers

“The January Birding Blues” – The Pathless Wood

“The Sap Rises” – soul-in-progress

“When Death Comes” – Flowers, Trees, & Other Such Gifts of Nature

“Colors of the East” – The Iris and The Lily

“The Day Our Dog Lost His Mind” – Boomie Bol

“Hello Again” – Simone Lipscomb

“Dynamos” – Seasonings

Many thanks to Linda for including me in her links!

Sunshine Jan 29

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for more warm weather, so I may not get to my other pending award tag for a few more days. Sunshine calls…

A Sunny Mid-Winter Day

Shadows Jan 7

Today’s bright sunshine lured me into the yard, where I spent the afternoon starting (but not finishing) a number of chores. My first job involved two small bird houses, which have become a winter refuge for spiders. Determined to avoid more encounters with black widow spiders, I wanted to clean out the webs and evict any venomous guests.

Spiderweb Jan 7

I’ve been dreading this task, and I was relieved when a clump of weeds with tiny white flowers gave me an excuse to put off confronting the spiders.

Weed Jan 7

After photographing the unfamiliar weed (I believe it might be hairy bittercress), I crawled through patches of henbit and speedwell, trying to capture their enchanting beauty.

Henbit Jan 7

Speedwell Jan 7

I crossed half of the yard on my hands and knees before I remembered the bird feeders. Dusty and empty, all of the feeders needed attention. Under the second feeder, I found a cicada molt.

Cicada Molt Jan 7

A short time later, I moved into the front yard. Before reaching the final bird feeder, I stopped to take a photo of paperwhites.

Paperwhite Jan 7

Beside the paperwhites, a single hyacinth was trying to bloom. Trying unsuccessfully, for the moment, because something has been grazing on it.

Hyacinth Jan 7

Hyacinth Jan 7

A quick search for suspects found a rabbit hiding in the irises and a squirrel trying to hide in a nearby tree. They both looked guilty to me.

Rabbit Jan 7

Squirrel Jan 7

Distracted by rabbits and squirrels, I never finished the last feeder. I also didn’t get to the windows, which are disgracefully dirty.

Cat Jan 7

But I don’t regret my disorganized day, which ended on a sunny, sleepy note.

Cat Jan 7

I can clean bird houses, feeders, and windows some other day, some cloudy day when the yard doesn’t sparkle with wonders.

A Mostly True Christmas Story

Please bring me a box of Milk Bones, a rabbit-proof fence for the yard, and a new toy...

Please bring me a box of treats, a rabbit-proof fence for the yard, and a new toy.


Naughty list? Dad's gloves? You heard about that?

Naughty list? Dad’s gloves? You heard about that?


I'm getting nothing for Christmas.

I didn’t know there was a naughty list.


What if I find new gloves for Dad? See? I found these in the closet...

What if I find new gloves for Dad? See? I found these in the closet.


So they said if I'm really good between now and Christmas, I might get back onto the nice list. I'm trying, but it's hard. Mom and Dad leave stuff everywhere, and sometimes I get nervous when I'm alone, then I need to chew on something. You understand, don't you?

So they said if I’m really good between now and Christmas, I might get back on the nice list. I’m trying, but it’s hard. Mom and Dad leave stuff everywhere, and sometimes I get nervous when I’m alone, then I need to chew on something. You understand, don’t you?


If it weren't so cold, I'd stay outside until Christmas. I never get in trouble out here.

If it weren’t so cold, I’d stay outside until Christmas. I never get in trouble out here.


I'm nervous about Christmas. Will you tell me a story?

I’m nervous about Christmas. Will you tell me a story?


And then what happened? Rudolph, did you stop for the Misfit Toys?

And then what happened?


Indigo 1

Can I get back on the nice list now? It’s Christmas Eve, and I promise that I’ve been really, really good!


I think I heard something...

I think I heard something…