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I am continuing my four days of remembering Smoky, a year after his death.  Why? Because I need to. Because I have not been able to look at photos of him all this past year without weeping.  Because this reminds me that he had such a good life here.  Tomorrow the blog will return to quotidian life.

Smoky and friends, 2017

1-4-17

1-4-17

1-5-17, reading with Frosty and Smoky

1-5

1-6-17

1-11-17

2-10-17

2-10-17

2-13-17

2-15-17

2-22 (Allan’s photo)

2-24-17

2-24 (Allan’s photo)

2-26-17

3-2-17

3-6-17

3-8-17

3-8-17

3-8-17

3-9-17

3-13

3-14-17

3-17-17

3-23-17

3-23-17; this shows well the faint tabby marking on the top of Smoky’s head.

3-24

3-24

3-25

3-26

3-26

3-27 (Allan’s photo))

3-27 (Allan’s photo)

3-27 (Allan’s photo)

3-27 (Allan’s photo)

3-27

3-27

3-27 (Allan’s photo)

3-28

4-3, Smoky followed me to work at Norwoods, two doors down.

4-4, cat door blocked, someone was recuperating from an injury and had to stay in. Probably Skooter, who gets into fights with the neighbor.

4-4

4-6

4-7

4-8

4-9 (Allan’s photo), really shows the subtle markings on his head

4-9

4-9

4-10

4-10

4-10

4-12 (wonderful book)

4-21

4-24

4-25

4-26

4-29

4-29

5-1, morning tea

5-5, front porch

5-9

5-12

5-12

5-13

5-14

5-15, great book

5-21

5-21

5-21

5-22

5-23

5-23

5-26

5-29

5-29

5-31

6-1

6-2

6-3

6-10

6-15

6-17

6-18

6-18

6-18

(Allan’s photo)

6-19

6-19

6-19

with Devery

6-21

6-24

7-1

7-1

7-2

7-2

7-29

7-29

7-31

8-2, blogging

always helpful

8-7, morning tea (Allan’s photo)

8-7

8-8

8-9

8-10: With all the big comfy chairs on offer, Smoky and Calvin chose this one for awhile.

8-10

8-18, helping me blog

8-20

8-20, reading the Tootlepedal blog (my favourite)

8-22

8-23

8-25

8-27

8-27

8-29

9-4

9-6, Frosty, Skooter, Smoky

9-11

9-17

9-28

9-28

10-6 (I was not horribly depressed, just tired from work!)

10-7

10-14; every time I had cereal, he got a bit of cereal milk

10-16

10-20

10-20

10-20

10-21

10-23

The night of October 25th was when I realized that Smoky had suddenly become so bloated that he would walk a bit, then lay down.  What a terrible sleepless night of worry that was. He lay at my feet in bed; this was out of character because he liked to sleep in the living room curled up with Calvin.

10-26, morning, as we gathered him up to take him the vet, who drained fluid from his body.

We did send the fluid to be tested; the results did not come back till after he died and, frankly, my memory is just blank about that.

10-27; he took to my bed and did not want to sleep with the other cats

10-27

On the 27th, he went outside in the afternoon and was missing for awhile as I worked on the Corridor of Spooky Plants for Halloween.  Much to my horror, he came walked up to me at 4:30 looking horrible swollen again.  I got an emergency visit to the vet just before they closed till Monday.

10-27, after the vet and having fluid drained

10-28, cereal milk in bed

On the 28th, we had to go to work for awhile.  When we came home, Smoky came walking from two doors down, looking terribly bloated again, but he was able to walk without lying down.

10-28 (Allan’s photo)  It was a Saturday so could not take him to the vet (no emergency vet around here at that time, back then—there is now).

10-29; he went outside, bloated again

10-29, a drink from St Fiacre’s fountain

and a bit of cereal milk outdoors

10-29

He disappeared for a couple of hours and I was terrified he had gone off to die.  I found him close to the house under some shrubbery.  He could not walk far that day.

That was the last night he chose to sit in my lap. On the next night, I carried him from the bedroom to sit with me, but after a short while, he got down and managed to walk slowly, lying down now and then, back to the bed where he wanted to be alone.

10-30, another visit to the vet in the morning. He was all bloated again; he got a steroid shot as a last hope.

10-30, drinking a bit of tuna juice on my bed; he had stopped eating despite food both kibble and tuna fish being offered.  (Allan’s photo)

10-30, tucked up in bed. He couldn’t get to the litter box anymore and did not want to eat or be petted.  By evening he did not even want to drink water and turned away when I gave him some with an eye dropper.

10-31, the shot did not work; his breathing was failing. This was his last morning.

We took him back to the vet where the especially kind Dr Raela helped us let him go.

This is what my friend Maggie wrote to me when she knew we were on our way to that last vet visit.

me and my Smoky

Now it’s been a year and a day since he’s been gone.  I thought I would bury his ashes with those of Calvin, who died five and a half months later at age 13, both of them where Smoky and Frosty’s mother is buried.  I thought I would but I just can’t yet; the two boxes of ashes sit on a shelf next to my reading chair.  Winter seems too cold a time…even though Smoky often was out in wet weather and would come in to give me a cat weather report (wet fur).  Maybe I can do it in March, the anniversary of Calvin’s passing.  (I must believe in some sort of afterlife because I don’t want Mary to be alone out there in the ground by the garden boat.)  Neither Frosty nor Skooter have the gentle, peaceable lap cat ways of Smoky, and neither of them share that sort of bond with me.  I love them, and loved my Dumbles and Miss Marble and my Orson and PudgeBear, funny little orange Valene and cantankerous little Maddy, but Smoky was on another level of feline-human bond, something I may never experience again.

Marion Cran wrote about the passing of her cat, Tatty Bogle, in a way that described how I felt.  While she got to say goodbye to him naturally at home, Smoky and I had a moment of communion at the vet that brought back all the many hours we had spent close together.

“We fought in by inch for his life; no one wanted to lose Tatty-Bogle…but the changes of dissolution were upon him.  At last after long vigil I had to face it.  There came a dawn when I took him into my arms, the poor cruelly disheveled body—and nothing mattered to us but each other.  Nothing about his sad body-troubles could tire me, and nothing about the approach of death could stay his song when he found himself close to the heartbeat he knew best in the world…that loyal and generous purr I had loved so many years broke out clear, for a moment…and then stopped.” (1924, intro to the Popular Edition of The Garden of Ignorance.)

Needless to say, there, on page 4 of the first book of hers that I read, I fell in love with Marion Cran. Years later, she got another cat who looked like her Siamese Tatty-Bogle and who turned out to be distantly related; she came to call this new cat Tatty-Come-Back.  I wish Smoky would come back to me in that way.

 

 

 

 

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I continue with the memories, a year after his death, of my beloved heart-cat, who lived with us from January of 2012 through Halloween of 2017.

2016

mother Mary, center, with Smoky and Frosty, her sons.  1-7-16

1-8

mom wins…

1-7

1-8; I recommend the Seaside Knitters series.

1-10

1-13, our last winter of reading together

1-14, a crowded lap

1-18

1-23

1-27

When I read a book, he sat quietly underneath or beside it.  When I watched telly, he’d scoot up and put his head on my shoulder.

2-2; the blocked cat door must mean someone was recovering from an injury so all had to stay indoors.

wanting OUT

Unlike Skooter, our present day cat, Smoky would never spray in the house to express his disgruntlement.

Mary and Smoky, 2-13

2-13, helping me blog about my mother’s garden diaries

2-15, bookends

2-17

2-18, cat door is opened

on the desk where I use my computer on rainy days off

Smoky, Mary, Frosty, 2-21

2-23

2-26, he loved a taste of morning tea

2-28, Mary and Smoky

2-29: In case you are wondering, the cats wore Birds Be Safe collars.

3-1, as I began to work on my Grandma’s Scrapbooks side blog.

3-1

3-15

In mid March, Mary suddenly showed extreme breathing distress.  A trip to the vet revealed that she had end stage lung cancer, probably from living in a smoky motor home for 7 years.  We lost her on March 18th, 2016.  I wrote a memorial to her starting here, with a some of same photos of her and her favourite son.

3-18

A visit from neighbor cat Onyx

bereft brothers 

just three now

Smoky and Calvin

3-19, sleeping alone without mom

3-22, Smoky and Frosty

3-23; I was happy to see the brothers getting closer.

3-24, Smoky and Calvin in the garden

3-30

4-1

4-3

4-10, rainy reading day

4-12, more rainy reading with the brothers

4-15

4-15

4-16

4-18

4-29

5-3

5-8

5-15

5-22

5-28

6-17

7-9

7-22

7-22

7-28, with Patti Jacobsen

7-31, with garden company (a visit from Pam and Prissy)

8-7

8-7

8-7, campfire night

8-13, three lap cats

8-14; Smoky’s ears were always cool and silky.

8-19

8-19, blogging

8-20, watching new cat Skooter try to figure out the cat door

8-20

8-20

8-21, with Frosty

9-5

9-5, with Calvin

9-11, campfire night

9-16, the after work greeting

9-16, campfire night

9-17

9-17

9-18

9-18, with J9

10-2

10-8, Allan’s photo

10-9, campfire night with Smoky on my lap

10-10, campfire night

10-26

10-30

10-30

10-30

10-30

11-1

11-2

11-9, my constant companion

11-13, Calvin, Smoky, Frosty, Skooter

11-18

11-19

11-22

11-24, first day of staycation

11-26; Calvin finally has a steady friend.

11-28, Smoky was a friend to all.

11-28

11-30

12-10; Frosty and Calvin and Skooter dine in the laundry room…

…but Smoky had his own place to eat or he would let the others have his food (especially Calvin).

12-13, Frosty and Smoky

12-13

12-13

12-16 (Calvin is the one who scratched up the arm of the chair.)

12-19

12-20

12-20

12-29

12-31-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I continue my tribute to my most special feline friend, my beloved Smoky, who died on Halloween 2017.

Smoky and friends in 2015

1-21-15

1-25-15

1-25-15, with Calvin

1-25-15

2-2-15

2-2-15

2-20-15, with his mother, Mary

2-26-15

He was the best and quietest reading companion and spent winter staycation book time on my lap.

3-27-15: He always faithfully kept me company in the garden.

3-28-15

3-29-15, suppertime (Allan’s photos)

3-30-15

4-8-15

4-11-15

4-15-15

4-17-15, Mother Mary and her two sons

4-18-15, a cat atop each of three chairs (Calvin, Smoky, Mary)

4-18-15

4-18-15

5-4-15

6-5, 8:45 PM, following me to the house

6-12

6-12

6-13

6-15

6-21, at the club, in his smoking jacket

7-1

7-5

8-8, with Frosty

8-18, helping me blog

8-22, with Frosty

8-30

9-5, coming to greet me after work

9-6

9-7

9-15

9-19

9-19

9-19

9-25, hurrying from the Nora house to greet me after work

He plopped himself at my feet.

9-25, evening walk in the garden

9-28, sharing a chair on campfire evening (Allan’s photo)

10-5

10-5

10-5

10-6, the way he talked when I came home from work

10-8

10-8

10-8

I still enjoy a campfire evening, but not as much as I did when I had a cat who loved campfires.

10-24

10-26, wishing for a campfire

10-28

10-30

11-3

11-6

11-9

11-16

11-20

11-26

12-1, three cats on lap

12-2, with a Dog Lovers’ Mystery

Smoky did like dogs, because of being brought up with the good dogs, Annie and Jasmine, of his previous home.

good old Annie and Jasmine, who were good friends of mine and of Smoky’s.

12-3

I still enjoy staycation reading time, but not as much as when I had Smoky to share it with me.  Mary was a little squirmier, and Frosty is terribly squirmy.

12-15

12-15

12-22

12-23

12-24

12-27

12-29

 

 

 

 

 

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It has been a year on Oct. 31st since my best cat ever, my cat soulmate, Smoky, died at age 12.  I still miss him terribly.  I meant to do this retrospective post last winter and simply could not.  Now, on the anniversary of his death, it seems time, no matter how heart-wrenching it is, to honor him with these photos over the course of four days. Our regular blog topics (Halloween 2018!) will return on November 2.

I know these posts are ridiculously long and may be hard to load, for which I apologize.  I need to do this and I need to do it in just this way.

2012

Terry, a Vietnam vet down on his luck, lived in the RV park next door to us in our former house behind the Ilwaco boatyard.  He used to walk his two very old dogs by our house.  Once we helped him take his young cat, Frosty, to the vet.  In January of 2012, he went into a hospital two hours away, with a diagnosis of lung cancer, and asked us to take in his three cats, Mary (the mother, age 10) and her two sons, the brothers Frosty and Smoky, age 7.

Allan and a friend who worked at the humane society went into his old motor home to fetch the cats.  They found the cats with no litter box, up on the bed to get away from their droppings.  They had rarely been let outside that old, moldy, cigarette smoke filled motor home and quite possibly had lived in there for seven years.  Terry had adopted Mary when she had just had the two kittens. They were loved and doted on, but their lives were small.

When they came to us, we had only two cats, the jet black and very shy Calvin, age 7, who we had been caring for since August 2011 and who had then became ours, and Maddy, an old and cranky black and white cat who I’d had for years.  My beloved Dumbles had died early in the winter of some sort of brain seizure.

At our house, we kept Frosty, Smoky, and Mary in the big bathroom for a week to acclimate them to their new home.

Mary and Smoky hid in the closet for awhile. 1-21-12

I did not quite know what to make of Smoky.  He was so quiet and looked so plain to me, and he did not purr when petted. On the phone, Terry told us “Smoky never purrs, Frosty is the lover.”

Smoky and Frosty, 2-2-12, still in the closet

Mary and Smoky, 2-2-12

2-13-12, out of the closet

The cats seemed to love running through the house, so much larger than their motor home.  One scary afternoon early on, they got out of an accidentally opened window and I thought they would have hightailed it the ten blocks back to the RV park, but they were waiting outside and agreed to be picked up and brought back in.  Soon, we let them go outside.  They had to use the back cat door because Maddy guarded the front one for her own exclusive use.  Maddy hated all other cats.  She was with us for the first year that we added this new batch, and she died at about age 15 late in the year.

2-14-12, out the back cat door!

Allan’s photo

Smoky and Mary, 2-18-12

Soon after going outside, Smoky began sitting on my lap and he began to purr.  We just had time to tell Terry on the phone that Smoky was purring before Terry died.

3-13-12, Calvin and Smoky had become friends.

Mary and Smoky, 3-30-12

Smoky had the softest fur I have ever felt on a cat, even softer than soft cats of my memory.

Mary and Smoky, 4-3-12

540475_10150897107339779_1947727656_n.jpg

Mary and Smoky, 6-17-12

Smoky and Mary, 6-17-12

I have only one more photo for 2012 due to a computer crash.

12-18-12, helping to wrap Christmas presents

Sometime over the course of the year, Smoky bonded with me more than the other three also very sweet and affectionate cats.

2013

2-4-13

Mary and Smoky, 2-4-13

Smoky and Mary, 2-7-13

Frosty, Smoky, Mary 2-19-13

2-19-13, at our new water boxes

Smoky and Mary, 3-19-13

the family, 3-24-13

Frosty and Smoky, 5-7-13

the softest, 5-15-13

5-26-13

Mary and Smoky, 6-30-13

Smoky loved a campfire and often sat at the campfire circle, seeming to hope for one. 6-30-13

7-6-13

Imagine enjoying the garden life after having been indoors in a small space for 7 years.

7-7-13

7-10-13

8-9-13

9-1-13, with his Birds Be Safe collar

9-1-13

9-21-13

campfire evening, 9-21-13

9-27-13

10-2-13, with Calvin in the bogsy wood

10-4-13; He loved to lie around on the warm driveway at the Nora house next door.

10-6-13

11-20-13

11-20-13, Smoky and Mary

11-21-13

11-27-13

12-6-13

12-6-13

12-8-13, with a Joey Ramone doll made for me by Montana Mary

12-13-13

12-23-13

12-31-13

2014

1-20-14, a rambunctious young dog came to visit

1-20-14, with Frosty

1-27-14

1-30-14; poor Frosty was not as popular with his mother Mary.

1-30-14

2-22-14

3-18-14

3-21-14

4-5-14

4-6-14

4-19-14 on the front porch

4-25-14

4-27-14

4-29-14, all four cats on the Nora house driveway

5-24-14

When I would come home from work and go out into the garden, I’d hear a distinctive series of little meows and Smoky would emerge from a garden bed to greet me.

5-31-14

6-1-14

6-28-14, all four

6-28-14

7-14-14

7-17-14

7-25-14

8-16-14

9-2-14

9-12-14

9-23-14

10-13-14

10-13-14

11-1-14

11-19-14

12-9-14

12-9-14

Staycation with Smoky was heavenly.  He appeared to sit on my lap the moment I would sit down and he settled in with no squirming or fussing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

We were able to start work today because Don of Peninsula Plumbing got our leak fixed in quick time.  It had been caused by the way the new washing machine had been hooked up. That was careless of the washing machine deliverers and hooker uppers.

As always, we began the work year in:

Long Beach, Fifth Street Park

The very minute that I got out of the van, my back went SPROING.  I took two Doan’s Back Pills and stood against the nearest building to straighten up fully; fortunately, I was not out for the count.

NW quadrant, before, with a guy eating lunch and the first cute dog of the work year.

I mostly did the SW section, although Allan cut the big grass and helped out toward the end.

4.5 hours later

before

after

I very much want to get the hesperantha (formerly schizostylis) kept to just one area instead of running all through the garden.  It has gone rampant because of our mild winter and was tedious and frustrating to (try to) eliminate from the main part of the border, which is also infested with wild garlic.  Will this be the year I finally get it under control again?

Deer have been visiting this garden.

deer poop on the garden cut-through sidewalk

A woman came and chatted as I worked about how she can now only garden in window boxes, after fifty years of gardening.  I suggested she get someone to bring her a picnic table and bench and then plant up a tabletop landscape.  I recommended this book:

She liked the idea.

She told me for awhile about how the healing power of the earth was coming up through the soil to fix my knee and how a certain pink stone which I could purchase right next door at Marsh’s Free Museum would solve my physical problems.  I finally expressed my skepticism.

Meanwhile, Allan was working on the SW quadrant.

before

during

after (Allan’s photos)

This small corner area in the SW quadrant is so damp that I do let the hesperantha reign freely there, except that I like to thin it hard in springtime.

before, Allan’s photo

The problem with so much hesperantha needing pulling and the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ needing clipping is that two precious clumps of camassia got clipped, too.

after, with me brooding over the camassias.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

With every intention of working, Allan hooked up the trailer.  I put the kibosh on work when I went outside and felt the cold and dreary drizzle.

As I sat reading, a knock at the door produced a member of the Ilwaco city crew.  He had come to tell us about his upcoming repair job on the ramp railing at the community building, and that he would have to move a clump of bulbs.  I wish all workers were as thoughtful!  As it happened, Allan and I were going there that day, Allan to the library and me to sort out my shingles hospital bill, so we told him we would move the clump of bulbs.

He had left a stake to show us where. (Allan’s photo)

iris reticulata and crocuses at the community building

I did get the bill sorted, in that the hospital will re-bill it with my insurance card, and I learned it had been over-billed, so it will now “only” cost me $200 (instead of $450) for a brusque 15 minute urgent care shingles visit and a lab test.

in the lobby of the hospital

With that done, I could enjoy an afternoon and evening of finishing a book, one which I had been reading in the late evenings for two nights before.

Not long ago, I read Kitty Burns Florey’s book about sentence diagramming and more, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog.  In it, I had learned of the diaries of Dawn Powell, a novelist of the 1930s-60s.

Today I immersed myself and finished to the end.

Here are just a few favourite bits of Dawn Powell from my happy return to the staycation mode.

About her nervousness and phobias:

This passage about the death of her darling cat had me in tears over my Smoky; her experience was so much like mine, except that we did not let Smoky die at home.

She did get another cat, because years later she writes while traveling of “a feeling of homesickness for my cat.

Here is a valuable thought, if you have ever wondered WHY in the world you had been friends with someone who turned out to be just mean:

“I wonder again how we could ever have been friends, although friends are like food—one’s palate and capacity and preference changes with education, travel, ulcers, and better opportunities for choosing.”

About censorship of books, which spoke to me because of my parents forbidding me, as a teenager, to be allowed to read books from the adult section of the LIBRARY (!!):

On solitude, in which she longs for five hours of it a day:

Decades later, she had upped it to eight to twelve hours a day.  I get the same craving.  Fortunately, Allan and I rub along pretty quietly together at home.  During staycation, I crave not just twelve hours but two weeks (dare I confess to wanting even more) of solitude from everyone but Allan.

I think one of my happiest winters was one of complete solitude, on my own in my cold little house behind the boatyard, reading in front of the single source of heat, a glowing space heater.

Dawn Powell wrote diary entries for many years about ideas for a book that never came to fruition, about a world where cats were in charge and humans were the pets:

Years later, still thinking about “Yow”:

She was ahead of her time for the second wave of feminism; this was written in 1952:

On aging:

She died in 1965, not even making to 70.  I felt bereft when I came to the end of the diaries.  I still have novels of hers, and a biography to read.

Having dipped back into one bookish day, I was told by the weather forecast that we would be back to work tomorrow.

 

 

 

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Sunday, 19 November 2017

I caight up by writing the three latest blog posts. I begin this one with a poem that blog reader Lavinia of Salmon Brook Farms recommended.  It is from a book called A Visit to William Blake’s Inn:

The King of Cats Sends a Postcard to His Wife

by Nancy Willard

Keep your whiskers crisp and clean.
Do not let the mice grow lean.
Do not let yourself grow fat
like a common kitchen cat.Have you set the kittens free?
Do they sometimes ask for me?
Is our catnip growing tall?
Did you patch the garden wall?

Clouds are gentle walls that hide
gardens on the other side.
Tell the tabby cats I take
all my meals with William Blake,

lunch at noon and tea at four,
served in splendor on the shore
at the tinkling of a bell.
Tell them I am sleeping well.

Tell them I have come so far,
brought by Blake’s celestial car,
buffeted by wind and rain,
I may not get home again.

Take this message to my friends.
Say the King of Catnip sends
to the cat who winds his clocks
a thousand sunsets in a box,

to the cat who brings the ice
the shadows of a dozen mice
(serve them with assorted dips
and eat them like potato chips),

and to the cat who guards his door
a net for catching stars, and more
(if with patience he abide):
catnip from the other side.

Of course, the poem reminded my of Smoky, and I found it most comforting to think of “catnip on the other side”.
Calvin enjoyed cereal milk this morning.
I am going to call tomorrow for a veterinary appointment for him.  He is almost 13 and has a nagging little cough, which I hope is just a hairball thing.  He is a compulsive groomer who has sometimes groomed himself into bare patches.  Since he and Smoky had become best friends, he had been grooming Smoky instead.  Now he is back to licking his ownself.

Snoozy Calvin

Frosty chose to nap near my living room desk, on the floor, even though there are four comfy chairs nearby.

Skooter helped me blog.

The wind gusted at 45 mph, as predicted.  We need a dry-ish, calm-ish Sunday or Monday for mulching the Ilwaco Community Building garden while the library is closed.

In the evening, I settled in to read a little book sent me by an imaginary bookish friend–that is, someone I know online but have never met. It came with this card:

The wee book was published in 1925.

What an affirming message to read today.

This illustration spoke to me of my grandmother (who would have treasured a little book like this):

In her Scrapbooks, she had several photos of stone edged ponds much like that one.

And she had pasted in an illustration with a similar path.

A pretty postcard that was in the book:

I’m feeling especially fortunate in my friends lately.

I finished Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Here are four favourite passages.

On someone who converses by asking questions:

On being a beloved person:

On why not to finish a boat:

A perfect river:

Now on to Of Mice and Men.

Sweet Thursday is a sequel to Cannery Row, but I need a little break from that setting.

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Even though the storm lived up to its advance reputation, it did us no harm.  The lights flickered but did not go out.  It was perfect reading weather, except for missing a certain cat cuddled under my chin.  The remaining three cats are nice, and they like me, but they do not dote on me.

There was some excitement to watch on the local Facebook feed:

The wind speeds were dramatic.

The 89 mph was up at Radar Ridge, a high hill south of the Astoria Bridge.

From the Chinook Observer, late Tuesday:

Overnight wind gusts Tuesday-Wednesday:
Megler Mountain: 76 mph
Naselle Radar Ridge: 70 mph
Cape Disappointment: 60 mph  [that’s just across the Ilwaco marina from us]
Sustained wind speeds around 50 mph at times

Skooter watching the weather

Meanwhile, I read.

This history of the Dust Bowl enlightened me in a gripping can’t put it down way about the harshness of the drought and sky blackening, lung choking dust storms of the 1930s.  I’d learned a bit about it in school, where the idea that contour plowing could heal the land impressed me.  But I had no idea till now how bad the dust had been.

How beautiful the land once was:

The advice of using dust to mulch!!

“The best side is up”:

“We Americans have been the greatest destroyers of land…”

“You are filled with dirt.”

Static electricity from the dust storms made barbed wire fences spark and burned kitchen gardens.

This book will stick with me.  Because I love diaries, I was especially pleased with diary excerpts of a farmer, Dan Hartwell, that were woven into the story.

A man of poetic thought in a dying land:

Mr. Hartwell just plain broke my heart.  The diary just ends, with no idea of what became of him.

I had read the book straight through with nary a pause.  I have ordered a documentary movie that includes Bam White, one of the people whose story figures large in it: The Plow that Broke the Plains.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

When I woke up, I looked out the south window and the skyline had changed.  What was that big grey thing? My view had never included a big grey….building?  I was disconcerted.

When I figured it out, I asked Allan to have a look. “Is that the river?” he asked, mystified for a moment also, until he also realized….”It’s a truck!”

It moved and my normal view returned.

It would have been a pretty exciting day if the river had suddenly returned to right outside our back gate.

The full gale flag still flew at the port, and another wind front battered the house.  Good, another reading day.

Calvin now waits for cereal milk.

I read another book straight through without a pause.  I had just acquired my own copy of the best book about the loss of of a pet, one that I had read twice before when my extra good cats Orson, and later Dumbles, had died.

reading with Smoky’s brother, Frosty

I thought that this time, I wouldn’t cry my way through the book. But I did, in a cathartic way.  Virginia Ironside had collected poetry and essays along with the most heartfelt stories that were written in to her in her job as a British “Agony Aunt’ (like Dear Abby).

And this:

And the inscription on a pet’s gravestone: “Here lies love.”

Orson sunning himself on the sidewalk, round 1991

Dumbles, 1999-2011

Smokey

I was pleased to find that Virginia Ironside has a Facebook page, along with several new books that I immediately ordered through interlibrary loan.  I’ve read her basic letters to an agony aunt book and one called “No, I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club“, about “aging disgracefully”, so I know I like her style.

Meanwhile, I had been inspired by The Worst Hard Time to finally read The Grapes of Wrath.  I had tried it last night, and just flicking through it made me think it was going to be a ponderous read.  Today, within seven pages I was mesmerized.  How had I missed this?  Allan has all of Steinbeck, a gift from his Grandma, Beulah Fones, who lived in Steinbeck country.  The only one I have read is The Red Pony, forced to in school and did not like it.  I have some catching up to do.

Allan’s Grandma Beulah

I read through half the book and finally had to sleep. I just needed a good rainy Wednesday to finish it.  That was not to be as the weather permitted work on the next day, and so I am still worried about the Joads, who just made it (well, some of them) across the desert into California.  I do not think their dreams are going to come true.

The moment I fell in love with The Grapes of Wrath, page 7, when young Tom Joad hitches a ride:

The refugees, trying to decide which possessions can go with them to California:

human kindness:

If I see someone traveling with a vehicle overloaded with possessions, and I have seen some vehicles that remind me of the Joads (because we know about the Joads even if we haven’t read the book), my immediate response is compassion and help, not turning away and contempt.  I fear for them and am going to get back to my reading the very minute I get this post scheduled.

(Allan has been busy working on a project involving his boating blog posts.  More on this later.)

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