Tiger the therapy cat

Hey there.  It’s me. Tiger, the handsome tabby and therapy cat.  What’s that, you say? Therapy Cat??  Okay, so maybe I’m not officially “certified”  (yes there is such a thing.) I don’t visit nursing homes like some of my cousins. Or hospitals. Or prisons.  (Well, I have been to jail but that’s a different story!)

Certified or not, I can make you feel better!  Watch me sleep and hear me purr and you will instantly relax.  Pet me and lower your blood pressure.

Utter relaxation ~ that's what I'm talkin about
Utter relaxation ~ that’s what I’m talkin’ about

More importantly, I will listen to you.  Yes, you heard right.

I am a great listener.

We cats hear it all and keep it to ourselves. The words you say when you think you’re alone. The words you don’t say.  We can read you with our “feline sense.”

Yes, it’s true. Give me a minute here and  I’ll show you what I mean.  Just say anything. Go ahead.  Anything.  I’ll respond.

Yes, I'm listening. Go ahead.
Go ahead. I’m listening.
Really???
Wow! Really??
You're serious?
Are you serious?
Hmpf! Imagine that!
Incredible.
Hahahahahahaha!
Hahahahahahahahaha!
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No really, I understand.
Don't worry. I'll always be there for you.
Convinced?

~ Tiger ~

It Happened at Seafair

*This post is dedicated to my husband Bob *

It was a different time and a different town. There was a big airplane company but no technology.  The Smith Tower but no Space Needle. There were wrestling matches and roller derby and stock car racing.  But no major league sports.  It was the nineteen fifties in Seattle and the biggest show in town was Seafair.

Seafair started in 1950 and quickly became Seattle’s premier event. There were neighborhood carnivals and parades with drill teams and marching bands, where Seafair Pirates roamed.  Floats carried princesses who perfected the wave to the crowds lining the streets and honorary parade marshalls included celebrities like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

Seafair Pirates
Seafair Pirates

But these were only the warm up to the Grand Finale. The Races.  Hydroplane, that is.

Every year Seafair climaxed with the Gold Cup races on Lake Washington.   Where racers were sports heroes like Bill Muncey and Myro Slovak and drove boats named Slo-Mo IV,  Gale V and Miss Bardahl.

The year was 1959 and a young boy named Bobby was with his best friends, Delbert and his little brother Norman.

They were watching the races at a friend’s house near Lake Washington. The race was over but there was confusion over who won, Maverick or Miss Thriftway. Deliberations were taking awhile so the boys thought they had time to go watch the winning driver be thrown into the lake.

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They headed over to Sayres Pits which was swarming with the boats and their drivers, as well as radio and TV personalities.  It was also protected by a chain link fence about 50 yards long – and the fence was guarded by a cop who patrolled it back and forth. They hadn’t planned on that.  But they sure wanted to be on the other side where the action was.

Bobby and Delbert looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking.  They’d jump over the fence whenever the guard went to the other end.

Delbert went first and made it safely over.  When the cop walked away again it was Norman’s turn.  He made it over too and disappeared into the crowds while no one noticed.  Finally it was Bobby’s turn and when the coast was clear he climbed up the fence and started over the other side.  But while he was coming down the cuff of his jeans caught and when he landed on the other side he heard a loud pop!  He got up to run but his leg buckled beneath him and he heard a woman scream, “Look at that boy’s leg!!”

Bobby looked down and saw his leg strangely bent between his ankle and knee, and a wave of nausea hit him. And fear that he’d been caught. As a crowd gathered around the cop arrived to comfort him, then sent for a medic.

While he was lying on the ground, the winning driver of the hydroplane Maverick, Bill Stead, came over to see him, dripping wet.  “I broke my leg when I was your age too,” he said. Bobby may have missed the dunking, but he got to personally meet the driver.  Heady stuff.

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Maverick

A few days later he was recuperating at home where his mom and grandma were all dressed up waiting for the sheriff to come. Bobby would be interviewed for the local news, as the only casualty of the races that year.

There was some consolation when he saw himself on TV that night.  But he was stuck with a cast the rest of the summer.  He’d have to give up jumping over fences for a while.

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~ Susanne

Olympic National Park and Sequim Lavender Festival

Olympic National Park. Almost a million acres of preserved wilderness, old-growth temperate rain forests, glacier capped mountains and glacier carved lakes, wild rivers, the longest undeveloped coast in the contiguous United States.  Nearby Sequim, in the rain shadow of the Olympics. Self proclaimed “Lavender Capital of North America.”   All within 3 hours of Seattle. Can you see why this is one of my favorite road trips?

The itinerary doesn’t change much from year to year.  It doesn’t have to.  It’s got everything. Here’s how this year’s trip played out.

Day 1  Head to the Olympic Peninsula to enjoy one of the largest celebrations of all things lavender in the country, the Sequim Lavender Festival. Visit the farms and breathe deeply.

(And as you read this be sure to pronounce Sequim as one syllable, “Sqwim,” or we will know you are not a Washingtonian.)

DSC00250 (2)Navigate the Street Fair and support the local economy…

DSC00241Spend the night somewhere deep in Olympic National Park and breathe in the fragrance of dense forest and campfire.

Day 2 –  Wake up and smell the coffee and drink the same slowly.  Move on to Hurricane Ridge, a major high point in the Park (literally and figuratively) where on a clear day you can see forever into the Olympics.  Even if it’s not a perfectly clear day, you can still enjoy the mountains from behind the mysterious clouds and fog flowing around you.

DSC00269Continue down the road to beautiful Lake Crescent

DSC00267Stop by Lake Crescent Lodge where Franklin D. Roosevelt stayed in 1937 before he signed the bill that created Olympic National Park in 1938.

DSC00308Unless you are staying here continue on to Sol Duc and set up camp at the RV park and welcome your friendly neighbors, this mama deer with her two fawns..

DSC00320Traverse the easy hike to one of the most photographed views in the Park..

DSC00323The reward for your effort…. beautiful Sol Duc Falls.

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After a quiet dinner at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort (yes, there is a nice restaurant and wonderful hot springs you can soak in), walk back to the camper and let the falling rain put you to sleep..   we are after all in rain forest country..

Day 3  Sleep in while hubby catches trout in the Sol Duc River; afterwards break camp and head west towards the rugged Washington Coast at Ruby Beach.

DSC00352Pick up a souvenir… there are plenty of smooth rocks to go around….

DSC00355Stop by Lake Quinault deep in the rain forest for a rest…

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then continue on to spend the night at Ocean Shores..

Day 4  Walk on the beach in the morning and then head towards home ….  and plan to do it all again next year, maybe even remembering to book ahead for the coveted lodges….

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A shrimp story

Just off of Highway 101 where it runs along Hood Canal there was a small restaurant with a home in back and attached store in front.   They were owned and operated by Floyd and Elsie Chapman and the sign in front read “ELSIE’S PLEASANT HARBOR.”  Hood Canal is a narrow shimmering fjord 50 miles long, reaching depths up to 600 feet, though the average is 177.  The clear, blue, water is filled with abundant life and on its shores are plentiful clams and oysters.  Pleasant Harbor is a quiet natural cove on the canal and that is where Floyd moored his shrimp boat.

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On a sleepy day in 1963 Floyd was outside in his blue overhauls and captain’s hat, working the fire under a large kettle where the day’s catch of shrimp was to be cooked. He’d been up since early that morning when he had gone to drop the traps in the canal.

He dumped the buckets full of shrimp into the boiling water and when they turned white in their orange shells he put them in prepared cardboard boxes where they’d be stored on ice and ready for sale in the store.

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The Seattle Times had taken an interest in the man and his shrimp boat and a reporter and photographer were on the scene.  I was also there watching.  Every summer we grandkids got to stay a week with grandma and grandpa at Pleasant Harbor.  Those sunny days were filled with dusty hikes through woods to the canal below where we played on the beach and swam in the icy cold water.  We dropped homemade lines off the state dock down the barnacle covered pilings where the perch were feeding and when they took the bait we yanked hard and pulled them up.  If we got up in time we went out with grandpa on the boat early in the morning to set the traps or later that day to collect them filled with shrimp and the occasional hitchhiking  crab or squid.

After they had taken several pictures of grandpa the reporter covering the story asked me if I liked shrimp.

“No,” I replied definitely.

“Would you eat one for a dime?”  he asked.

A dime!

“Yes!”  I nodded eagerly.

So he set me up just so and after he took the picture I downed that shrimp he had put in my outstretched hand.  A deal was a deal.

I ran to buy candy with my dime.

Later that summer when the article appeared in the paper, there I was in my striped shirt and  pearl necklace, holding that shrimp ready to drop it into my mouth while my eyes are saying, ‘oh no…. here it comes.’

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And the caption read,  “Granddaughter, Susan, age 8, gobbles down a shrimp with obvious delight.”

Obvious delight. A real shrimp story, that one.

~ Susanne

Tiger – from the Jail!

Tiger here.  With a tale about the jail.  And my dramatic escape.  Okay, just kidding. There was no dramatic escape. But there was a rather harrowing experience with the jail box today.  Now that I have settled down I will tell you about it.  It all started out as a rather typical day.  The sun was up and the birds were chirping their little morning songs as they do. I woke up after a few hours of interrupted sleep (bad kitty dreams – I see now they were warnings) and ask Bob to let me out for my morning rounds.

I’m out for maybe an hour or two.   When I return Sue is up and welcomes me back into the house with the usual loving and petting and this is followed by a distribution of fancy feast, gravy style.  So far so good.  After breakfast I’m ready to go back outside (as I do EVERY MORNING) and I ask politely but Sue won’t open the door.  Strange.  So I ask Bob. Nicely.  No action.  I ask again, this time not so nicely.  No dice.

Well being the gentle kitty that I am I follow Sue upstairs thinking maybe she wants a little more quality time with me before I go out again.  But I have a tickling in my whiskers that tells me something isn’t right.  The next thing you know Bob appears out of nowhere and Sue is picking me up (strange as she knows how I hate that) and dropping me into the jail box.  I kid you not!  A genuine gated community for one!  I am not happy one bit and I certainly let them know. Loudly.  And with passion. To no avail.

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Uh oh. This can’t be good I think, as I am whisked away in my jail box and soon we are humming along in the car (another strange thing – Sue knows I hate riding in cars).  But she is beside me, apologetic and sweet talking the whole way.  We arrive at the OFFICE. Deja vu. Shudder. I resign myself to my fate.

Inside they put me in a tray to weigh me and I guess I have lost a few ounces.  (Really, who cares?  What is it with humans and weight?)

TigeratVet

Then the lady doctor comes in and pokes me and prods me and subjects me to all manner of indignities. But at least she does it with a smile and speaks a dialect of cat I can understand, not at all like the man I remember lifetimes ago. So I endure.  And patiently, I might add. If only so they will let me off early for good behavior.  Which they do. It seems I have passed some sort of test and am released. I climb willingly back into my jail box (it looks a lot more inviting now) and before long we are back home again.  Ah, the sweet smell of home!

What was that all about?  You gotta wonder. I guess I will never understand humans. Sue felt so bad about the whole affair that she gave me a new toy full of fresh catnip. I decide to forgive and forget.  I think the catnip may have something to do with that  as I’m actually feeling pretty good right now.  All’s well that ends well!

All dressed in green for the 4th of July

It wasn’t exactly red, white and blue…  more like, green, green and more green..   It was a drizzly day on the 4th of July this side of the mountains so we opted to go east where the sun is always shining..   On the way we stop by the Skykomish River, a flowing turquoise in the midst of mossy green…

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Crossing Stevens Pass we descend into Tumwater Canyon where the sunshine appears over the Wenatchee River….

After stopping by Leavenworth for lunch where families are celebrating the 4th in typical fashion…

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we head back home over Blewett Pass taking in the expansive views…

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and home again to the rainy west side ..  all in all a lovely day….

~ Susanne

Tales from Longfellow Creek

When I was growing up we lived in a house near the woods and in front of the house flowed a creek that provided me and my friends with hours and hours of entertainment. Whenever we had nothing else to do, one of us would say to the other, ‘want to go play in the creek?’ and off we went.  That meant wandering up the path along the wooded banks daring one other to jump across at various points on the way.  And during hot summer months we would sometimes swim in the larger pools though we were warned against it.

We walked through the culverts with our hands pressed against the walls, our feet straddling the water that flowed beneath. Sometimes we sat inside those concrete pipes propped up cross ways, discussing important matters of youth such as how to reconcile with whoever was currently on the outs.  (It seemed we were always mad at someone and wanted to make up while saving face.)

During that era the creek was not in the best condition though we didn’t know it or care. It was never ‘Longfellow Creek’ to us,  just ‘the creek’, always there and always good for hanging around. There were no fish but I remember the occasional crawdad and frogs nearby.  And I remember the excitement the year heavy rain caused the creek to overflow its banks and we rowed down our street in a blue plastic boat. The best!

I wanted to go back and visit the old house near the woods and the creek that flowed in  front.  After a bit of research I learned there had been extensive cleanup and restoration of the area and a new Legacy Trail added.  Longfellow, it turns out, is one of four free flowing creeks in Seattle, this one flowing year round into the Duwamish River.  It is now home to trout, coho salmon and salamander. Evidence of beaver activity can also be found.  At the headwaters of the Longfellow is the Roxhill Bog, a peat bog 10,000 years old, which is currently undergoing restoration so it can continue to naturally filter the water.

The Legacy Trail begins at Roxhill Park and wanders the next four miles through mostly residential areas, sometimes through woods and sometimes following the creek.  That’s where I begin my visit.

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The trail is inviting but the creek is not visible here this time of year so I move on to where I know it will be….  the dead end street where I grew up. I drive the road that seems so familiar but somehow unfamiliar at the same time.

I pull over and an old man with long hair and beard, big dog by his side, looks down at me from his driveway with suspicion.  I get out of my car with my camera.

“I grew up here,”  I call out to him.  “I came to take a picture of the creek. Okay with the dog?”

He smiled.  Yes.  But I didn’t stay long.

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The road is surprisingly unchanged and still feels off the grid.  At the end of the road I find the old house and the creek nearby.  The house has been well maintained but is a different color and seems much smaller than I remember. The creek seems wild and overgrown, narrower, and not very accessible..

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I continue on to the next access point of the Legacy Trail and find this outdoor work of art…..but no easy view of the creek…

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At my next and final stop off a quiet narrow road, I find this section of the trail and creek in the woods..

DSC00153Lovely.

I don’t mean to sound disappointed, but I guess I am.

I much prefer the creek that flowed in my memory.  When we dared one another to jump across at impossibly wide spots.  Where we walked through concrete pipes and paused to tell secrets.  Where we played in the woods and the salmon berries were sweet and flaming orange and red and thimble berries became caps placed on your fingers eaten off one by one.  

I like knowing the creek is there and still flowing, perhaps more pristine than before with native plants and flowers and beaver if you know where to look, and salmon running though not in great numbers.  I like to know I can still visit whenever I like.  But if I am honest, I guess I like visiting the one in my memory even more.

Cat Memories

I saw this little plaque in a shop recently and was reminded of all the wonderful kitties who have shared their lives with me.

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There have been many so I will only mention a few.  There was Benjamin the long haired Himalayan (originally named Elsa until we learned she was a he) who lived with us for seventeen years.  There was Henry who we faithfully administered insulin to when he was diagnosed with diabetes. (Yes, I did it!  Me!  the one who has never even looked at a needle when getting a shot of my own!)  And who can ever forget Joey, the beautiful boy we got for my mother in law and who we inherited back again after she passed away. Soft and affectionate.  Sweet lap cat (and ‘printer’ cat, too.)

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And then there was ‘Little Ann’ (aka ‘Annie’) who will always have a special place in my heart.  Annie was the only Siamese cat I ever had and she was a chocolate point beauty with deep blue eyes.  Eyes that could read your mood and comfort you.  We got her as a kitten and she lived with us for the next twenty years.

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And now there is Tiger, the sweet tabby boy with the piercing green eyes.  Eyes that talk.  Eyes that ask ‘will you please come and pet me?’

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I am thankful for each one of these dear feline companions. ~  Susanne

Just a walk in the park….

The morning started out a bit overcast but held the promise of sun and so I ventured out to Gene Coulon Park to walk along the southern shores of Lake Washington.  A paved pedestrian trail where bikes and dogs are not allowed make it an easy walk for people of all ages, including me. No need to hurry as there is something wonderful to see around every bend and in every color, in shades of green and blue and purple and gray…

The hydrangeas were in full, glorious dress….

and this silent stream was a study in green..

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There was the lone turtle soaking up the sun’s rays….

DSC00059 (1)and the blue heron standing tall against the skyscrapers of Seattle..

the lonerAnd if you could only see through the clouds you would find the Olympics to the west standing guard, as I did one crisp, clear day last winter…

Coulon_winter_boatAlong with this shy, local beauty

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Tiger ~ a day in the life

Hello everyone.  Tiger here.  I realize I may have sounded a bit grumpy in my last post  Not the Same Species where it was clear that Sue and I do not agree on hunting. But I don’t want to seem ungrateful, especially after all I have been through in my past lives.  I really do love it here and consider life number three (my favorite number by the way) the best so far. So let me take you through some highlights of a typical day here in Paradise.

You probably know I am anxious to get an early start in the morning and I let my requests be known to Bob and Sue accordingly.  They are pretty responsive to my demands.  Though Sue is hard to wake, Bob is usually up and willing to let me out before dawn.  Nothing like that fresh morning air and the stirring in the bush.

The first order of business involves the hunt.  I won’t go into detail here as any discussion of this seems to get me in the doghouse with Sue (little cat joke there.) Let’s just say I get adequate “exercise” with quick bursts of acceleration and rapid speed while pursuing small moving objects.

After this exercise I go on my morning rounds to check on the neighborhood.  This involves visiting friends and alliances, warning strangers of all species and putting enemies on notice.  I have my route.  It must remain secret.

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After these visitations I come home hungry and ready for breakfast.  By now Sue is up and dispenses fresh canned morsels to go with the dry kibble that is always there. We visit and talk for awhile.  I bat some toys around. I visit grandma if she is up.  I get all the petting and scratching and love I need and then I am ready to go outside again to play or just to stop and smell the roses.  Well, the lavender, actually.  And the catmint. That aroma drives me crazy (in a good way) and is practically sacred to our species.

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I also take time to study the bees and the butterflies and occasionally give chase.  While not good for eating they are good for sport and for keeping my “exercising” skills up to date.

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Of course I visit the many and varied watering holes throughout the day.  They are much better than what is served indoors. (Sue, did you hear that?)  I like bird flavored water the best for taste. And the stream is most refreshing.

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Also throughout the day are the many naps and grooming sessions. These can be inside or out, anytime, anyplace.  “You can’t be too clean or rested” is my motto.

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So there you have it.  A typical day in the life of the Tiger.  Typical I say, because I left out  the special events like unannounced appearances of deer, or the stray cat snooping around, or the mysterious disappearance of Bob and Sue for days on end (vacation I think they call it, though certainly not to me.)  But you get the general routine. All in all I have a great time of it here.  Everyday. But now I am tired, and feel a nap coming on.  More later.  ~ Tiger

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