Daily Photo: Rhododendron Time

black cat with rhododendron
Mimi with rhododendron.

“And I’m pretty tired of having to pose for pictures with every single flower that blooms in this yard.”

Ah, Mimi, you look so pretty! And I’ve always wanted a photo of Mimi on the steps with the rhododendron. This is the first time she cooperated with me, even though I’ve always asked her very nicely. And picked her up and put her in the spot I wanted her repeatedly. This time she stepped onto the rock and sat down. But that face…

I like this one too, even though the focus is on the flower. I like that angle now and then.

So it’s time to finally catch up on things! Mr. Sunshine is doing so well.

black cat in cat bed
Mr. Sunshine is pleased.

“They don’t call me Mr. Sunshine for nothing.” He thinks the sun is shining because of him. Cat thoughts, you know? You can tell by his #whiskers that he’s very pleased.
#mrsunshinecat is loving his new bed from Stacy’s Stuff! I chose the one that my black cats would look best in, in pictures. I bought it for him to have in the bathroom just a few days after he was diagnosed because I thought he’d be spending a lot of time in there being observed and treated. But he hasn’t needed to spend time in there at all and I moved the bed into the sunny spot on the landing. It’s now on his napping route around the house each day. We’re just waiting for oncology to call one of these days, but he’s better than before with his heart medication and some alternative treatments for his symptoms.

Stacy Berkoben’s handmade beds and toys are really awesome, so well-made with extra features–the rolled sides on this bed are high and round so they provide a good bolster to lean on, it gets nice and cozy in there, no drafts being on the floor, and the inside bottom is quilted for padding and extra insulation and so the filling doesn’t get all bunched up when it’s washed. And it’s huge! And a really affordable price. Stacy makes piles of things and donates all the sales to rescues too.

Mr. Sunshine thinks it’s his, but I’ve seen several others sleeping in there when he’s not in it. He’s never fought about these things. He just gets in there and lays on them as if they aren’t there and eventually they leave.

We haven’t even heard from oncology yet, but I keep calling them. However he did see Dr. Michelle who prescribed a Chinese herb, and he still has his hypertension medication. His eyes are back to normal enough, at least they aren’t fully dilated and bulging just a little. Best of all, all the swelling on his belly is gone. We presumed that was his lymph glands inside both thighs, and I don’t feel anything swollen in that area. I don’t feel all the lumps and bumps I did before either, but I’m going to confirm that with an actual veterinarian with the knowledge of what it should be like. He’s eating really well, just plowing into his food, though he eats each meal in several sessions over an hour or two, which is fine with me. And he’s regaining the ability in his hind legs. I think some of it was due to the inflammation in his lower abdomen that obstructed the use of his hind legs, specifically crouching to jump or folding a leg up against his abdomen while going up steps. I’ve spent a good bit of the past few days in the basement and he’s enjoyed being down there with me and Mimi. Last week he couldn’t get himself up on the table so I set up some temporary “steps.” Today he got up using a chair. Prior to this he would just jump up, and maybe he’ll get back to that. More great photos of Mr. Sunshine later.

black cat on bed
Simba has discovered the bed.

I’ve also been working on further integration for Simba and Midnight Louie. They’ve all had a lot of opportunity to get to know each other through the baby gate while I’m in the studio with them, and the regulars have come into the room and mingled, sniffed everything, used the litterbox and stolen food. The boys were just about done being in that small room behind a closed door all day. I decided to block the top of the steps and open their door when no one else was up there, or maybe just one of the other cats, to let them investigate the space. My upstairs is only two rooms and the bathroom, so it’s not overwhelming. Simba was out and exploring right away, but Midnight Louie mostly stays in his room, though he’ll hop into my bedroom when I’m in there. About mid-week last week I removed the baby gate from the steps to see how it worked out for them. Simba continued exploring, Midnight Louie continued staying in his room. I stayed with them for a good bit of time for the first few days just to be on hand to intervene with toys or treats if any conflicts arose. But it’s good, no conflicts and I don’t see much stress except the occasional hiss. No one has changed behavior, and Simba isn’t showing any signs of urinary issues from the stress of integration. I open the door after breakfast each day now, and Simba lets me know when it’s time for him to eat again in the late afternoon. More photos on that later too!

five black cats
My studio supurrvisors.

Tonight’s supurrvisory staff. Guess I’ll be paying some overtime.

I had mentioned several times since April that I was planning a “big event,” a solo art exhibit and gift items sale in a storefront. I had to keep pushing the date, first because I had underestimated time needed for all the framing I wanted to do, and then because the TNR I was working on in April took way more time than I’d planned for. Then Mr. Sunshine was in some critical condition, then I needed the time to care for him and the money for his veterinary visits and treatments instead of materials for my event. I pushed it all the way to this coming weekend, Memorial Day weekend, and jumped into high gear after I finished a large quarterly design project and then another book cover illustration for Patricia. I was still planning to send post cards and designed one on Monday to get in the mail right away. I had cut back on the days and the scope of what I’d display. Deb Chebatoris owns the building where the storefront is, so I called her to confirm hours and while the idea was in my head and I didn’t want to admit I should postpone the event, she convinced me I should wait until June when there’s a weekend event in that community. So all those late nights weren’t necessary, but I’m that much farther ahead. I have a number of brand new things and more improved things and I’ll be sharing them here.

two black cats with tiles
Mimi and Mewsette inspect my tiles

And then, I’d be dishonest if I said that events did not affect me. The conflict, destruction and death in Ukraine, the Buffalo shooting on Saturday, the Texas school shooting on Tuesday, they just hurt. Against the backdrop of polarized vitriol it feels like the world is falling apart. I had to take the time to write it out. I have my entire essay below, but you can also find it on my writing website, Paths I Have Walked, here.



“Belly up to the salad bar!” a vigilant mother goose seems to say as the five goslings line up to enjoy some mixed grasses and clover. As I photographed I couldn’t believe they actually lined up like this. It’s a joy to watch such curious innocent creatures, like children exploring and playing outdoors at recess.

On my walk back from the dentist I saw a very large group of goslings, 14 at the highest count, being escorted along the edge of a parking lot by four or five adult geese. I decided to take a detour to stroll the sidewalk between that edge of the parking lot and the street, with the idea of photos in mind, of course, as well as simply enjoying the geese.

I took some wider angle photos to get the scope of this field trip, causing the goslings and the adult geese to move away from the sidewalk and into the parking lot. I changed to my telephoto lens so that I could get detail photos while I stayed far enough away from the little ones that the adults wouldn’t have to hiss a warning at me. Don’t mess with an angry gander.

The goslings were so happy. I don’t usually ascribe human emotions to animals, but each clump of wood sorrel they encountered growing though the cracks in the parking lot and sidewalks caused them to race toward it and bibble and dance a little as they surrounded it then began quickly nibbling with those little beaks. In all that, I simply sensed more than contentment from filling their bellies. “Look! Wood sorrel! It’s wood sorrel! My favorite! Come on, let’s race! It’s the best wood sorrel ever!” as they nipped all the yellow flowers and bits of the stems. “Look! It’s grass! Let’s go have some grass! I love grass!” The grass grew from a rectangular opening in the concrete sidewalk as if something set into it had been removed. The goslings hurried over, bibbling, and ran into the grass with innocent abandon, pushing through it, nipping a few pieces, then turning around to do it again as if they enjoyed the feeling of grass on their bodies as much as the taste of the grass.

In time the goslings grouped off with adults and each group went in a different direction, as if the parents had organized an afternoon walk, and now they were all heading home to enjoy a rest before a later meal. I followed one group of three littles and a male and a female as they moved across the parking lot in the direction I had come from.

We have quite a large flock of geese in this town who seem secure and content in where they live. They nest along the creek, and their little puffball children pop into the water from the greenery on the steep banks, bobbing up and down between two parents, growing, strengthening, evolving in their colors, and learning to be geese. Most pairs start out with six goslings or more by my observations and years of photos, but this family with only three goslings by this age is not unusual. There are predators, foxes and raccoons along the creek, there are high-water flows on the creek after storms strong enough to wash away small trees. Living outdoors in the wild fluctuations of a Western Pennsylvania spring in itself can be hazardous, and they cross the streets, oddly enough almost always at an intersection, and impatient or oblivious drivers run them over. Their parents’ vigilance is no match for outside factors.

This is the reality for geese living in the wild every day, and no doubt sometimes for domestic geese as well. Though they are protected by the Migratory Bird Conservation Act they are still hunted in season, not here, but not far from here. They are part of the food chain and their parents can’t protect them from that, or accidents.

And in this country today our human children are just as innocent and vulnerable as the goslings, even as their parents stand by and accept the fact they may be shot and killed while at school. At least the geese have laws protecting them as wild animals with punishments for persons who kills geese out of season, and in that way they have more protection than our children if someone with a gun decides to act out a mass murder, targeting the place where they gather, in school.

It seems children in school are always in season for mass shooters. Today was not a good day for 19 children who lost their lives, at last reporting, and all the children who witnessed and somehow survived the attack. We can stop this, but just as I can’t fully grasp the violent deaths of 19 innocent children in their school, neither can I fully grasp the motivations of those who will not work to control guns so that the possibility of this happening is at least reduced, or turn down the foul and angry rhetoric that intentionally depersonifies whole groups of people and infects and grows like a cancer in some minds. So again we give thoughts and prayers to the grieving families and the traumatized children, until tomorrow when we do it all again somewhere else in this country. Because we just did it three days ago with African-Americans in a grocery store.

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6 thoughts on “Daily Photo: Rhododendron Time

  • May 25, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    Mimi is a beauty. What happened in Texas is so heartbreaking.

    • May 26, 2022 at 8:48 pm

      Mimi is the best meowdel! I just can’t stop picturing what happened in Texas. We should never forget.

    • May 26, 2022 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you! It’s good to catch up and get back to things.

  • May 25, 2022 at 8:14 am

    Am reading a book series that has a Mr. Sunshine in it.
    Continued purrs for your Mr. Sunshine, and for every cat to feel comfortable in your home.

    • May 26, 2022 at 8:51 pm

      I guess there are a few others! When I first used the hashtag “mrsunshine” I saw several thousand uses for it, so I added “cat.” Unique like the Mr. Thanks for the purrs.


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