Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spirit in the Sky

Sally J .Smith of Greenspirit Arts (https://greenspiritarts.blogspot.comshared this post about her loss of a favorite gardening companion:

With heavy heart I write of the sudden illness and departure of my beloved feline companion, Oliver. He was one of those remarkable beings who come into our lives and give us the gift of their love and companionship that takes our own heart to a whole new level of awareness and consciousness. 

  He arrived mysteriously, walking out of the woods one day and approached me tentatively. He had been abandoned by his previous person because she had to move and could not take him with her. The landlord found him, locked in a room with an open bag of cat food and brought him to his farm which was about a mile and a half from here, as the crow flies, or in this case, as the cat walks.

  As soon as he arrived, he began asserting himself as the Alpha cat which was kind of amusing because he was not the oldest, nor the largest male here....he was just the one with the most attitude. He kept himself apart from the others in the tribe here and spent much of his time with me, which I enjoyed very much.

  When I made the move to working outdoors more, on my Faerie houses and Environmental sculptures in 2006, he was thrilled and right from the very first sculpture expeditions, he was my happy companion.

Of course we were just starting out together in the process so we were getting our bearings. He had this trick of waiting till I had my face in my camera so I couldn't see him and THEN he'd jump or wander into the frame just as I was about to shoot it. While this was endearing it was not helpful, especially when dealing with fragile items such as dandelion puffs, so we had to have a little talk and got our roles dialed in a bit better.
He listened very patiently while I let him know what was not allowed while I was shooting.

 He never quite fully believed me however and was always offing to help. There were times when he was happy to clean a site for me...

which I appreciated and thanked him for his efforts...but his idea of an ideal location (flat, sandy, warm and rollable) was not always what I thought would make for great backgrounds so we progressed in his job duties.

  During the winter months he often laid by my feet while I worked on building my faerie houses down in the studio. He loved it there and when I realized that the floor was a bit chilly, he got his own chair which he loved to curl up in, even when I was elsewhere. It was HIS chair and no one else dared used it.

  When spring came it would be time to take the houses out into the garden and set them up for glamour shots. First the houses needed to be inspected...

And then when a shoot was taking place he stepped in to help with a little art directing pointing out which way the doors should go or what flowers to use in the decorations...which was very helpful.

Spring would turn to summer and he'd go with me on foraging trips and was always happy to just doze in the sunshine while I worked on a piece or while I was gathering materials.

But if a twig snapped or a bird ventured near, he was all alert in an instant ready to engage with whatever was showing up in our space.
It's hard to tell which season he loved the most. Spring he adored, of course. He was never shy about water and sometimes I'd find him wading in puddles or at the edge of a pond well up to his elbows and hocks. Summer was for lazy naps and chasing mice and frogs whenever possible. Autumn was another favourite time because he loved the crisp air, the freedom from pesky mosquitoes and the beautiful sunsets which we'd watch together often from the bench overlooking the valley.

   But winter was also a time he relished.



 I've never known a cat to enjoy snow as much as he did. He'd plow into the new snowfalls, head down, front feet forward and let it spill over him as he pushed forward like a plow tilling a field. He just loved the winter and would be happy when I tossed him an icicle to play with.

He'd get all wound up the way cats do and he'd go a little crazy with his snowplay...just like a little kid.
But eventually we'd have to get back to work and he'd be ever so helpful with his critiques of my latest efforts....he was a very chatty cat and what I will miss most (besides his exceptionally affectionate purring cuddles) are all the verbal conversations we used to have. He literally would chat back and forth with me...but I never quite got the nuances of his comments, sadly.

This past spring and summer was a difficult time for us both. I was working on my book and not outdoors as much as we were used to being together. I knew he was unhappy with not having his play buddie to entertain andimpress. I was unhappy about not sharing high quality time with him, but writing the book just went far slower than it was supposed to and took longer than it should have. On the times when I did venture into the garden and he'd be waiting for me, I could see his disappointment with the situation.

But like so many busy people, I thought we still had lots of time ahead of us. I thought we'd get thru this and then there would be years more of adventures to share and journeys to take together...but sadly, he had a secret brewing in his liver and he didn't let me know about it until it was too late. I brought him in to the vet on the 24th and she let me know that it was probably not treatable. I was in total shock and despair...which is not a good place to be in if you need to act quickly and try other options. He still looked so good and despite a few changes which were completely reasonable to expect in an older cat, still seemed "himself"...and he enjoyed keeping track of what I was doing in the garden.
This image was taken last week-end, just 4 days after his diagnosis. We were on track for some intensive alternative therapy work and fabulous supplements and products were ordered to help fight his cancer. I was very hopeful. Animal communicators were very positive...it all seemed like we had every chance of at least extending his life a little bit, but alas, on Wednesday his condition changed, and by Thursday morning it was clear that his body was no longer able to support his big Spirit. He passed peacefully in my arms in the garden on a gorgeous late summer afternoon.

I cannot imagine life without him...and I know he will visit me in Spirit when he can...but the suddenness of this loss is very sharp right now and my grief is very deep. He brought such joy and delight with him when he walked out of the woods 14 years ago and I never took our time together for granted. I just wish I had not been so distracted this early summer with the book project. I might have seen the subtle clues that he was not well....but I can't linger too much on the "what ifs"...it is done. He has made his transition, and on a day of a powerful solar eclipse too so there is perfection in all of this, even if I can't see or accept it fully right now. For me, my heart is just hurting and I need to give the process full measure and the respect it deserves because grieving a loss well is how we get over/through it best.

   I love you Oliver, Blessed Be.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fling Felines

Back in June, the Garden Bloggers Fling took place in the Washington, DC region.  Here are my photos of the cat-inspired art we saw on the Fling's tours of several private gardens.














Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Promiscuous Miss Kitty


Joe Luebke of Hyattsville, MD, and is Director of Horticulture and Grounds at the Washington National Cathedral posted this cat photo to his Facebook profile.

He writes, "Miss Kitty really shows up in the new foliage. She showed up at our house in Baltimore about 15 years ago, so skinny and terrified. That spring, we discovered a litter of kittens under our wood pile. We ended up keeping her thinking she'd be an outside cat. Our dog had recently died and we had dog doors, so yes, she figured out the doors and started coming in the house. So we are many years later with a cat we never intended to keep, but couldn't imagine not having now."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Flitting with Meeko


Jeanette Price Zipf, the Education Registrar and Visitor Experience Coordinator at Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, shared these adorable pictures.

She said, "This is our sweet boy, Meeko, in our backyard. While this isn't quite a formal garden bed, he still walks among the beauties - Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica), that is! Meeko is just over 10 years old. He and (we think) his brother, Shadow, were dumped in my sister's yard when they were very tiny kittens. My niece, Shelly, rescued them and kept them until they were weaned. Shadow came to live with us, and Meeko lived with Shelly. (Meeko was first named Bella because it was thought he was a girl.) Meeko was a wandering boy. Eventually he came to live with us and has been with us since August of 2010. EVERYONE loves Meeko. He is the friendliest cat. We live in a suburban development and he has friends on every street. One year at Halloween, three little girls came trick-or-treating as black and white cats and told us that they had dressed up like Meeko. He has also had his misfortune. In January of 2015, he was attacked in our front yard by a raccoon. That was the first time we needed to visit an animal hospital. He had a badly wounded back paw. Happily he recovered. His best quality - he follows his friends around like a puppy dog. He comes when called, mostly, and wants to be where ever we are. His worst quality is that he is the dumbest cat ever. He will sit in the middle of our street and expect cars to stop or go around him. Fortunately, so far, he is still alive. His story goes on. we love him dearly."

"Pictured below is our boy in a neighbor's flower pot. She was not totally amused but thank you, Amy, for a great picture!"


Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Fluff Factor


Janet Endsley, a Seminar & Judging Manager for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, shared this wonderful photo.

She wrote,"I had planted this Nepeta (Catmint) only an hour before. This was our beloved Prince Kuddles, a Blue Mitted Ragdoll. We said farewell to him about 2 years ago at age 18. This photo was taken when he was around 12. We got him when our daughter was 5, and he was the perfect cat for a young child, so calm and mellow. Most nights he would spend on my lap as I read and watched TV. What I love is that when I brushed him (his fur was downy soft like rabbit fur) I saved the fur. I made some home-made bird nesting balls with his fur, some yarn and lichen, wrapping it in bird netting and putting it out by my feeders. Within a few months the balls were nearly empty, but most of the yarn and lichen were left. They had taken all his fur. It makes me happy knowing that he lives on providing a soft nest for baby birds. I have a blue garden by the front door in his honor. Of course, it includes Nepeta!"

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Mouse Stalker


Kirk Ryan Brown is the current President at GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators and is a popular garden speaker. He posted this photo on his Facebook page, which I asked to share.

Kirk wrote: "This is the front of house and very native garden of Rob Proctor and David Macke in Denver, CO. [Seen as part of the Perennial Plant Association recent annual meeting's private garden tours.] The back of house is a riotous mix of annuals and perennials. This is the cat that is the most social of their pet residents. Here, seen hunting for a mouse that was scurrying through the underbrush of the wild entrance. She is the social companion to a feral group of hidden felines."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Smooth Like Jiffy


Connie Bowers of the Garden Makeover Company in Silver Spring, MD, shared this photo of her cat, Jiffy. She said:

"This catmint packs a punch! Nepeta x faassenii 'Junior Walker' may be a dwarf variety, but it is quite pungent.....just ask Jiffy, who is guarding it with his life, after 'partaking'. And I’d heard that while cats go crazy for catnip not so much for the catmint plant."

"My cat is a total cut-up in the garden, and is great fun to watch. I have a dog and cat, but to be honest, the cat is more interesting. Jiffy is a 14 year old DSH orange tabby, very large with an insatiable appetite. He’s now on a bit of a diet after gaining 3 more pounds per last week’s vet visit, now weighing in at 21#.  I just got in and caught him polishing off the remains of the dog’s breakfast. He’s also taken over a few of the dog’s (golden retriever mix — they’re the same color) large beds."

"I adopted Jiffy (previously named ‘Jeff’ in his former life) at age 9 months. We think he may have had feline herpes as a baby because he has a distinctive cross-eyed look with a clouded eye. Several months under a veterinary ophthalmologist's care many years ago care fixed his issues. His favorite pastime (alas) seems to be scouting around our yard for chipmunks and occasionally bringing one into the house to play (he never hurts them, but terrorizes me, as they are not easy to capture). He’ll spend hours staring at a spot where he has apparently seen one of them. We have a tall fence around the ¾ acre property, which is completely filled with trees and plants, so he has plenty to amuse himself. He just never figured out how to climb the fence to get out of the yard (though other cats have climbed in and caused some problems). Never a dull moment!"