Loving and Losing Beijing

It’s been a surreal week of highs and lows. My oldest son turned 17 on Wednesday. The same day Beijing stopped eating. She moved from spot to spot, unresponsive to any attention we paid. I was so afraid she would die on his birthday, but she survived the night. My husband hoped that it was only an infection, and that a trip to the vet could heal her. She’s been on four medications for a year treating her heart and thyroid, but she was happy, ravenous, cantankerous…in short, her wonderful self.

Alas, the news wasn’t good. Her body is shutting down, and they’ve added probable cancer to the list. I’m going to see her now, and will be there with her as she eases out of this world. My youngest son graduates 8th grade in a few hours. I’m hoping to keep this news at bay till then.

Thank you for gracing our lives, Beijing.

Beijing, October 2010

Sunning herself in the garden bed

mike and Beijing

Her favorite place in the house

beijing on the swing

Keeping me company on the garden swing


The ‘Look”

Beijing on the sill

A favorite spot


Please hold all my calls.

mac with beijing

In the arms of my youngest son

Three Dogs: Clever, Sweet and Knotty

This is Titus. He’s a Doberman Pinscher by breed, but clearly a retriever at heart.  I fell in love with him on the trail last week when he ran by carrying…a log!

titus with stick

Titus the Clever

He’s still a puppy, just a month away from his first birthday. According to his companion, Monique, Titus is quite fond of sticks.  He carried this one around like a twig amazing all passersby.

Isn’t he clever?

titus without stick

Titus drops his stick

I meet plenty of dogs along the trail, especially when I’m walking with my friend, Karen and her dog, Dylan.  Dylan is number one, but it doesn’t hurt to flirt now and again.  No worries, Dylan.  You’re still the apple of my eye.

Isn’t he sweet?


Dylan the Sweet

Last week I encountered the most unusual dog of all.  You might even say he’s knotty.  We stood eying each other for quite some time. I even snapped a picture to be sure I wasn’t imaging things. Back home, pictures downloaded, there he was clear as day.

Isn’t he knotty?

dog tree

Knotty Dog?

Never a dull moment on the Almaden Quicksilver trail.  That place has gone to the dogs.

Halloween Countdown:


Blog Love: A beautiful piece of embroidery from the talented Marlene Herself at In Search of it All.

Kitty in Search of a Play Date

Our three kitties love the time we spend in the garden. One by one they join us outdoors.  We installed a cat fence-in system over 16 years ago to keep them safe, so they have the run of the garden without the dangers of street-life. It’s been the best of both worlds.

lindy in the grass

Lindy in repose

When we first installed the system, we monitored carefully for possible escape routes.  Our fab felines quickly settled in and we let out a collective sigh.

Beijing in the grass

Beijing enjoying her solitude

Then…Mighty Mouse came along. Mouse belongs to a neighbor, but he prefers life at our place. He’s also the Harry Houdini of the cat world.  He knows the ins and outs of our house and garden, and makes himself at home wherever his little paws carry him.  Mouse navigates his way into our yard by crossing the neighbors gate along the top of the shared fence. From there he weaves through the Jasmin vine, over the netting and across one of the broken standards we keep meaning to fix.

This weekend he joined us in search of a play date.

mouse under the orange tree

Mouse looking up

bird on the fence

Our furry friend listened to the birds rustling in the orange tree for a while, but lost interest when Lindy came outside.  He circled her for a game of patty-cake, but she was not amused.  Her bent ears sent a clear message of annoyance.  Mouse wised up and moved on.

Mouse and Lindy play

Fun and games

Next up, he tried to engage Beijing.  She was busy snoozing, pressed against the warm rock wall, when Mouse slyly meandered nearby.  He inched closer and closer, sitting down each time in the dirt.  Before he could dangle an inquisitive paw, Beijing stood up, braced her shoulders and vocalized her first warning.  Unperturbed, he held the higher ground.  ‘I have no time for this nonsense,’ she seemed to say, as she turned her back and returned inside in what I can only imagine was disgust.  I found her sphinx like in the entry way, wondering when the intruder would be heading home.

Mouse and Beijing play

Let’s play!!!

Beijing stalks

“I’ve had it!”

Slinky avoided Mouse altogether, staying hidden in the side yard till the coast was clear.

I think it might be time to place an ad in the personals: Handsome young kitty, in search of a play date.

Do they have eHarmony for cats?

Hiking with Dylan

After three weeks of conflicting schedules, I finally got to hike with my four-legged friend, Dylan. Karen came too!

I love all animals, but I have a special place in my heart for Dylan. Unlike my sister’s cat who knows me as “that woman with the vacuum,” Dylan knows I’m his walking buddy. I heard from Karen that he also knows me by name. That news made me stand a little taller. It’s hard to top the selfless love of an animal, isn’t it?


Who’s a happy dog?

Early March is beautiful around here. All the trees are starting to bloom in bursts of pink, white and purple. We hiked along the Campbell trail, with a brief stop at the dog park.  It was a feast for the eyes.

I’ve been walking the Campbell Par Course for over twenty years and I never tire of it. I think that’s the way it goes with nature. Nature is constant, but the variables are forever changing.  The creek nearby rises and falls, seasons of course change too. Trees fall, new trees grow, ducks and geese lay their eggs. Two ancient foot bridges finally gave way to wider, safer and more aesthetic ones.  The trail’s essence remains the same.

Come walk with me. Here is part of the view:

Daffodils at the Trail Head

Daffodils at the Trail Head

Trees in bloom

Trees in bloom

Dylan at the Dog Park

Dylan and a new friend at the dog park
The park backs up to a building sporting the mural…dogs on pedestals of course.

Approaching the foot bridge

Approaching the foot bridge

Campbell Par Course

Campbell Par Course

Campbell Par Course

Growing along the trail

Crossing the second footbridge

Crossing the second footbridge


Do you have a favorite walking place?


Sentinel Kitty: Guarding the Garden

White kitty with gourds

Kung-Fu Fighter, leg at the ready
Guarding the Gourds

There is a terrible rumor going around. You may have heard it. It implies, in unkind terms, that cats do nothing but sleep all day. It’s simply untrue.

I know how these rumors get started. To the untrained eye, there is a kernel of truth. The reality, however is this: they’re on stealth guard. What appears as slumber is a clever ploy. Friends (and foes!!!) tiptoe around them to insure undisturbed sleep. Kitty keeps her eyes tightly closed but ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, all the while keeping a close watch on garden treasures.

The next time you see a slumbering feline, take a close look at what’s nearby. Sentinel Kitty might be guarding the Crown Jewels, or something really important, like Sacred Tulips.

Lindy guards the house plants

Lindy guards the house plants

Halt!!!  Who goes there?

Halt! Who goes there?

Black cat with tulips

Slinky Malinki, Stealth Kitty

Crown Jewels aka Tulips

Crown Jewels aka Tulips

Cats in the Garden: The Holiday Addition

Our afternoon temps were in the mid-sixties (F) this weekend, with skies bright and clear. What a perfect, late-autumn day. I planted tulips, raked leaves and swept the patio, happy to have the time outdoors One by one the cats joined me in the garden. They vie for my attention, while avoiding each others wrath.

Over the years I’ve had a few cats that got along, but mostly my feline companions merely tolerate each other. The current pecking order is as follows: Lindy is ten, and has lived here the longest. She mostly gets her way. Sadly, she’s been terrorizing Slinky, who backs down every time. I’m convinced that if Slinky “stood up to her” things would improve. Before Slinky, Lindy got along with all cats, including the visitors.


Lindy-Lu, we love you

Lindy spies Slinky behind the trellis

Lindy spies Slinky behind the trellis

Top Cat

Top Cat

Beijing, once a stray, joined us three years ago. She’s an aging cat with arthritis and kidney troubles, but she behaves like a brute and takes no prisoners. She makes us laugh. Beige is always looking for a lap and will settle into one the moment anyone sits down. She’s in love with my husband, and I think she wonders where he goes all day.


Beijing or ‘Beige’…cause she’s neither white nor orange

Slinky is young, semi-feral and just now spending most of her time indoors. It’s been a long process, with a few setbacks. She enjoyed the late afternoon in the garden as well, hiding from Lindy but keeping her eye on me. By evening she came indoors where she is enjoying her new digs.

Slinky takes a bath

Slinky takes a bath

Slinky Keeps Watch

Slinky Keeps Watch

I can’t begin to imagine a world without animals, nor my life without felines.  Their (mostly) serene presence soothes the soul.


4th of July: The Canine Contingency

Our neighborhood pool association hosts a parade and watermelon eating contest every year in honor of Independence Day.  Now that my boys are older, they fly off on their bikes, leaving me free to snap photos of the four-legged participants.  Here they are:



Beautiful Lab

Beautiful Lab



Lacey Meets a Giant's Fan

Lacey Meets a Giant’s Fan

My Favorite Picture of the Day

My Favorite Picture of the Day

Cat Grass: Nibbles for K.T.

Seed Packet (I love the art work)

We’re growing cat grass in our kitchen window for my sister’s kitty, King Tut (K.T.).  My sister started foster sitting cats, but fell in love with K.T. and couldn’t let him go.  He’s an older cat, with a beautiful white coat and cute little ears.  Sadly, he was de-clawed by a prior owner and he suffers from a thyroid condition so he has good days and bad days.  For a period of time last year, pre-grown cat grass was hard to come by.  This gave us the idea to grow some at home.  It’s also a bargain: $6.29 for a huge packet of seeds, vs. $4.00 for one ready-to-go tray.

Our current mix of “Gourmet Greens for Cats” includes organically grown rye, oats, barley and wheat, produced by Renee’s Garden in nearby Felton, California.  I learned the hard way that you have to keep the grass covered till it establishes roots (about 14 days), or the cats will jump up on the counter and help themselves, scattering cracked seed and soil everywhere.

Kitty Salad, Hold the Dressing

Plant seeds indoors year round in sun or part shade.  They germinate in 3 – 7 days and are ready to eat in 10 – 14 days.


Cats in the Garden: The Cat Fence-in™ System

Over the years we’ve lost a number of cats to moving cars, Feline AIDS and wanderlust.  Others have endured abscesses from fights and other assorted injuries.  My cat Grant set the record for cats trapped in inappropriate places such as neighboring garages, attics and vacated townhouses.  I bailed him out of the Humane Society three times.   When we tried to convert him to an indoor kitty, he started (and continued) to spray the indoor perimeter of the house.  My husband constructed an outdoor cat run with a cat flap allowing him to come and go through a window, but he remained restless and bored.

One-eyed Estare

Then we discovered The Cat Fence-in System, developed by a company in Las Vegas.  I spent a weekend pruning vines and shrubs away from the fence line while my husband traveled out of country.  When he returned we added lattice to the fence to make it taller and installed the system. Sunday night we let the cats explore the yard so we could test for any flaws.  They tried climbing the fence a few times but were thwarted by the netting.  They quickly settled into a happier life as indoor/outdoor cats.

The system has been in place for nearly 15 years now, without a single escape.  The peace of mind has been such a gift:  No fights, no accidents, no communicable diseases.  It’s also a good-neighbor system:  if someone’s cat is digging up a flower bed or fighting at 2:00 am, I can rest assured it isn’t one of mine.

If you can keep your kitty happy indoors, go for it.  But if you love a rabble-rouser like Grant or a roamer like Estare, this CatFence-in System may by the perfect compromise.

Cat’s in the Garden

A Rare Moment of Togetherness

Sharing a Moment

Fluffy Incognito