Cat in the morning_062146_627_StaatsThis past week started out with unusually hot temperatures and high humidity.  Everyone was staying inside and trying to keep cool in whatever way we could.  After about four or five days of heat, a storm moved through with heavy rain and wind, followed by a cool front behind it.  The next morning I was out for a walk in our neighborhood.  The lighter, cooler, fresher air was a welcome relief.  I walked over to Como Golf Course and spent a few minutes watching the sun clear the hills and trees.  People were out and about walking their dogs, running, and bicycling.  It was as if everyone was anxious to enjoy the cool of the morning and the promise of a new day.  I turned a corner and found this cat precariously seated on the house railing – as if he too was enjoying the morning and waiting to welcome the sunrise.

Leo the cat 10532_StaatsSome friends have been away for the weekend and asked me to take care of their cat.  Leo is a big fluffy guy, all of two years old.  He’s been welcoming to me every time I’ve walked in the house, anxious for my attention and wanting to play.  With all the toys he has, he seemed to really like my sandals (probably because they were something different and they were full of the outdoor smells of grass).  He’s not one to sit still for very long, so it was a challenge for me to photograph him.  As any pet photographer knows, you need a fast lens and a lot of patience to capture a compelling image (as well as being down on their level rather than photographing from above).  I especially like this image of Leo as I think it captures his curiosity and his alertness.  Of course in the next split-second after I pressed the shutter button, he jumped down to the floor and was off to his next adventure.

Alex 27044_StaatsOne of the very hardest things to do is to say goodbye to a pet, especially one that’s been a part of your life for over 17 years.  This past week I had to do that with my cat Alex.  We have been through a lot together over the years and he was always there to welcome me with a nudge and a purr.  At times he could be quite shy, especially around people he wasn’t familiar with.  But once he accepted you he was a great friend who loved to be close to you.  He was also my most serious-looking cat, although there was a great glimmer of excitement whenever the catnip came out for a treat.  He wasn’t one that liked to pose for photos, so I always felt fortunate when I could get an image that seemed to capture his personality.  His friendship and his loving nature we be missed…. Thanks, Alex.

This past weekend I had to say goodbye to my 17-year old cat Tinker.  He had been battling some minor ailments the past few years and was blind, but he had a heart of gold through it all.  The one huge thing I’ve learned from him throughout this time has been patience.  He was always willing to give his attention and love no matter how bad he was feeling, and he never complained.  Seventeen years ago Tinker picked me when I visited the humane society to find a new four-legged friend.  In a wire cage sat this small gray and white cat with huge ears.  His paw reached through the wires to touch me as I was passing by.  In short time he grew into those ears, eventually weighing over 20 pounds – a big lug of a cat, for sure.  He was a welcoming committee of one; he loved to greet people and become their new best friend.  His favorite spot was to sit in a splash of sunshine and soak up the warmth.  When the sun wasn’t shining (as was often the case in Washington state), he’d curl up next to the gas fireplace insert or the small radiant heater.  With all that heat his coat would become so warm and seemingly more soft too.  Tinker was usually obliging when I wanted to take his photograph, and for that I’m very thankful as I now have a collection of images that captured him in some of his best moments.

While I was at the veterinary hospital I found a quote that someone had posted from Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods”:”To live in the world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”            Thanks, my friend.