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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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Thursday, 26 October 2017

At midnight, just as the clock turned to Thursday, a crisis struck.  My best beloved cat, Smoky, had been sleeping in my room and then sitting on my lap.  All seemed normal until I saw him walking…He looked enormous.  He had somehow bloated up all through his sides and belly, so quickly, since he had looked normal two days ago.  Yet he was eating, drinking, purring.  I called the vet and heard the “Please call the emergency vet only in a real emergency” message and felt I should wait till morning.  But I started shaking, as hard as any cliché you can think of, teeth chattering, while I tried to look up causes of cat bloating.  Dr Google was not reassuring.

I managed to get five hours of broken sleep, with Smoky sleeping and purring on my feet.  This in itself is unusual; he usually sleeps in the living room, lately curled up with Calvin, the neurotic black cat who finally has a friend to cuddle with.

At 7:30, I woke and bided my time till exactly 8 when I called the Oceanside Animal Clinic and got a 9:15 appointment.  Smoky was still purring and eating a bit of food, but he could hardly walk.  He would take a few steps, find his hind legs burdened by his increased size, and he’d just stop, like this:

I was frantic inside; I love this cat so very much.  We got him and his brother Frosty and mother Mary (who died of lung cancer last year) from a neighbour of our old house.  The cats’ first seven years were well loved and lived inside a moldy broken down motor home with a heavy smoker who doted on them. Before he died of lung cancer, he asked me to take his three cats.

At the vet, Smoky’s abdomen was tapped and drained of some fluid, which was sent off for a test that will take a week.  He had blood tests and X rays which showed a lot of internal fluid and reasonably good heart and liver, so the tentative diagnosis is a serious cancer.

a little dog to pet while we waited for the blood test results

We got to take Smoky home, with some pain medication, and we could take him back to be “tapped and drained” when the fluid builds up again.  He’s only 12.  I have been worried about him being 12, after his mother’s death at 13.  I wanted at least two more years with my best little friend. (Later I realized that he is either recently turned thirteen or is almost thirteen.)

Smoky back at home, on a sheet covering the bed blankets, because his abdomen would be “leaking”.

We went to work, bulbing.  If we could get three jobs done, we could take four or five days off.  I had been so looking forward to that time off of planting my own bulbs, decorating for Halloween, and cleaning the house for Halloween company.  Now I wish I had nothing to do other than just spending time with Smoky.  (Maybe he will feel well enough to come outdoors with me.)  The house is a tip, though. The better I clean it, the more time I’ll be indoors with my precious cat.

Today we were back to beautiful summer-like weather.  We started by planting some white narcissi and tulips at Mike’s garden.  When we stopped back at home, a package of the second round of bulbs (shipped later) had arrived, and we distributed some to Time Enough Books, the boatyard garden, and the community building garden.

Boatyard got Narcissi ‘Green Eyed Lady’ and ‘Latvian Freedom’.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo; new blooms from the Echinops I had cut back to the ground.

Sweet peas are still blooming.  I asked Allan to take these sweet pea photos.

I was going to make an end of season sale order of more narcissi for the boatyard, but after a $400 vet bill, I don’t want to tempt my budget with any more bulb purchases this fall.  I also feel somewhat tentative about planting more narcissi here, since last spring someone picked about a hundred (that is, all of them) overnight.  (The local vet is reasonably priced.  The $400 included expensive tests and x rays.)

We planted some more bulbs at the Ilwaco Community Building.

Ilwaco Community Building

a test planting of tulips. We have seen deer in this tiered garden so….it is only a test.

autumn blooming crocus

Allan’s photo

We then got back to our planned planting and clean up at

The Depot Restaurant

where Allan cleared the hops from the dining deck lattice while I planted bulbs.

tulips and narcissi set up to plant

Allan’s befores and afters of the hops project:

the hops project, before, showing the door that leads from restaurant to dining deck

after

before, the ramp to the dining deck

after

a Pacific tree frog in the lattice

After today’s work. More fall clean up will be done after frost. 

Long Beach

We now had five more white narcissi for the Vet Field corner.  While Allan planted them, I planted a combination of yellow tulips in the big Lewis and Clark Square planter.

L&C planter; Allan helped me by pulling the bad asters that had appeared, as they seem to blow in from the dunes or other gardens.

Then on to the last of today’s planned jobs,

Diane’s garden.

before (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo, bulbs laid out to plant

bulb tossing

All done…Planting bulbs in the soft soil of the septic box was so easy.

Red Barn in the background.

Diane was pleased to see all the bulbs go on, and of course she was sympathetic about Smoky.  I got to give good dog Misty a good belly rub.

Allan also planted clumps of narcissi in the newly restored roadside garden.

The recent heavy rain had not washed out the new garden strip.

Last thing: cutting back some short (due to lack of frequent watering) Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ at the Red Barn.

our little Red Barn garden

As you can imagine, my bulbing today was done in a somber and anxious mood.

At home

There was little joy in erasing bulbing jobs from the work board.

I sat with Smoky, who purred while I wept, trying and failing not to cry because I don’t want to upset him.  I fretted about whether he was again retaining fluid and mourned over the thought of soon losing my softest, plushest, kindest cat ever.

Allan heard the sounds of the big homecoming football game up on School Hill. He walked up the hill to watch the halftime show which he’s always missed before.  The marching band often does a Halloween themed show which he wished to see.

halftime fireworks

They did not disappoint.

This year included music from Nightmare Before Christmas.

The score was Ilwaco 39, guest 0 when Allan left after the show.

The most comforting thing for me about Smoky’s dire prognosis was the support of Facebook friends.  After writing about the visit to the vet, I changed my profile photo to one of me and Smoky at one of our backyard campfires.

The comment that got to me the most was when I wrote how much I had been looking forward to my staycation reading with my best friend, Smoky.  Shannon, friend of Tony, wrote, His book says “Dear Mama — you’re the best one.” He reads it over and over.

 

 

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