Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Remember the famous hit song by the Platters, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”?

Well, I hadn’t thought of it in years, until last night when I was watching “Endeavour” on TV with the closed captioning turned on. I often have it turned on for British shows. It helps a lot when I don’t understand the English speaking English.

One of the suspects had a cigarette lighter, possibly a clue to the murders, engraved with something to do with Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. I missed the clue and its significance because I was laughing too hard at the closed captioning. You know that closed captioning is limited in its ability to translate voice into the printed word. Well, I needed Cowboy, my late cat, to help me read the captioning for you.

Here, at the bottom of the photo, is what it said, as the police looked at the cigarette lighter’s engraving:

“They ask meow I knew … Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

For more closed captioning fun, see my post entitled “Special Delivery.”

Complete Trust and Friendship

This Protection Island tabby came out to greet us as we explored the neighbourhood.

The display of friendship was obvious when Kitty approached us even though I, at least, was a stranger.

“Can you come in and have a saucer of milk with me? Perhaps a snack of tenderized mouse tidbits?”

“Thanks for the kind offer,” I told her, “but we’re going to have lunch after our walk. Perhaps you’d like to join us instead. It’s tender slices of another of your favourites – a bird.” I thought of the chicken that would dress up our salad.

“Neeow thanks,” Kitty said. “I think I’m too fat to walk that far.”

“It’s easier just to have my belly rubbed.”

Kitty must have had a good home for many years to be so trusting. She does not expect anyone to hurt her or she would never lie down (making a fast getaway more difficult) and expose her ample belly, leaving her most tender parts unprotected. That takes complete trust.

“My life is in your hands,” she purrs. “Just rub my tummy gently and I’ll be your friend forever.”

To see such trust got me thinking. People could learn a lot from animals (and I don’t mean “how to get your belly rubbed”).


The Calico Cat

When the Captain and ten-year-old Ruby went for a pheasant walk through the fields, the first thing they scared up was a beautiful calico cat who was also hunting by the side of the road. Ruby was startled and made a few leaps in the cat’s direction but the Captain called her back. I was surprised to see that Ruby was so quick to obey when the chase instinct must have been strong.dscn6774a

The cat was taking no chances and leaped up into the safety of a nearby cottonwood, and there she stayed, long enough for me to get some pictures anyway.  dscn6790a

As I zoomed the camera in, I noticed what a pretty cat this was. Not just your run-of-the-mill stray hunter.dscn6789a

And what gorgeous green eyes she had! I wanted to ask her to move her head so that twig wasn’t in front of her face but she wasn’t budging. She was safe in the tree and that’s where she would stay until all danger was past.dscn6788aI didn’t want to think about the baby birds she might have killed this spring. I preferred to think about the mice she catches so the prairies won’t be overrun with them.


The calico cat

Is not getting fat

But she’s keeping the prairies clean.

Oh mouse, you should run.

For the kitty, it’s fun

Though I’m sure you would think she is mean.

The calico cat

Has no cozy mat

By the fireplace, safe in a house.

She still needs to eat

And she’s quick on her feet,

So run for your life, little mouse.

Creeping Fog

I had to think of Carl Sandburg when the fog came creeping into the Comox estuary a couple of days ago.


THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

First it came padding in from the ocean and filled the bay.


Then it reached out little wisps to test how far it wanted to continue.


Fortunately, like Sandburg’s cat, it didn’t stay too long.

Pets I Have Loved

As long as I can remember, my family has always had pets, whether they were gerbils, tropical fish, turtles, or cats and dogs. One of the first pet pictures I have is of Bobby and I’m sure he was a Heinz 57 breed. That didn’t mean we loved him less.

img728As my brother and I grew older, we still loved to pose with Bobby.

img726Our next dog was a collie type, but also Heinz 57. Her name was Trudy, but we didn’t have her long. I think she may have nipped someone and my parents found a home for her on a nearby farm. Here we are (my brother and two sisters) all sitting on the sidewalk by our house in the boonies. The sweet little girl on the far right is a neighbour.


Then we had a shaggy mongrel dog who looked like a mop. We called him Mopsy and loved him SO much. On the picture below, where my sister is all dressed up for the Fall Fair parade, Mopsy is favouring one of his legs. He had tried to jump the fence when he was tied up and we weren’t home. He broke his leg and we felt terrible. But after some time in a cast, his leg healed. We had Mopsy for years, but one day he wandered up the street in the night to visit a bitch in heat and came home with a load of shot in his chest. He crawled under the shed and died. We were just heartbroken.


All grown up, I still had pets. Our chocolate lab, Toby, had a litter of puppies, one of which our friends adopted. Nicky was supposedly the runt of the litter, but he turned out to be probably the best dog of the bunch.

On our little hobby farm, I am surrounded by pets: the chickens, our chocolate lab (Toby), and my two lovely cats, Shorty (the lighter one) and Cowboy (the dark one). img571Here is Shorty.


And here is Cowboy.


We had a couple of other dogs who were not remarkable and I don’t have photos of them, but when Lily came along, she was our best dog up to that time. She was an English springer spaniel, who never gave up on retrieving a bird. Lily was an excellent bird dog, and a very sweet house dog. She not only enjoyed being petted, but she came over to give hugs. She would lay her head against my knee and sigh a real Valentine’s sigh. If Lily could have talked, we would have heard her telling us she loved us many times. And the feeling was mutual.

Lily, age 73

Lily looks a bit scruffy on the photos because she was quite old by this time (73 in people years) and she had Cushing’s Syndrome, a disease that attacks the adrenal glands and has many awful side effects. In the photo below, she had just been to the vet and I had her out on the sundeck where she liked to spend time. She let me dress her up as Lily the maid. I put the vacuum beside her and pretended she was helping clean the house. She would let me do anything with her. So easy going. So loving. She didn’t last much longer after these last days and I’ll always miss my sweet Lily.


Then we got Ruby, the English springer on the right (below). It turns out she has some of the same ancestry that Lily had, and although Ruby was a monster puppy who put me through hell, she has redeemed herself many times over and is like another Lily – an excellent bird dog and a loving pet. To keep her company, we got a buddy for her – Emma on the left. She is an English cocker spaniel.

??????????Just behind Emma and to the right, you can see the evidence of one of her bad puppy habits. She likes to dig! But she is focused. Emma, is definitely a bird dog.



These noble birds are the reason I have to keep a close watch on my new puppy. Bald eagles have been known to swoop down and pick up small pets and bring them to their nests to feed to their young. Everything has to live, but I don’t want my puppy to become eagle food, so I watch out for her diligently.

This eaglet is from last year, but the nest is active again this year. I can tell by the constant shrieking of the eagles and the ongoing cawing of the crows who pester them. One day I’d like to see the eagles get fed up them (literally). We watched the eagles as they built the nest. For many days they landed hard on dead branches of the tall firs, breaking them off. When they fell, the eagles picked them up and flew to their building site. What a lot of work to make a nest of that size.

The finished work of art is just next to my neighbour’s house, so she took this photo and sent it to me.


Courtesy of Begonia Duran

Yes, eagles have to eat too, so I was thinking of making up a sign for them, “Rabbit Restaurant, This Way,” and then have the arrow point to the copse of trees and shrubs in my backyard where I know they like to hide. The eagles are beautiful to see, except when you have a small dog or cat.

Mute Molly

In time for Mother’s Day, I wanted to re-blog this post I did about three years ago, but with a newly found very old photo of my mother and the family cat, Molly. This would have been taken about forty years ago, so I don’t need to say any more about the quality of the photo. It’s what’s in the photo that counts. My mother loved animals and was kind to them all. I still shudder to think how she swept spiders up carefully on a dustpan and put them outside to continue their lives out there where they belonged. It only makes sense that she would have her picture taken holding her cat, standing under her favourite pear tree, beside the tulips, daffodils, and primroses she planted.img678She loved her pets, her flowers, her garden, her children. She was a great cook and baker and a loving mother. Molly was the family cat but she really was my mother’s cat. Rescued when she was little, Molly paid back our family with loyalty and love. My mother died in 1982 and Molly left this world before her, but neither will ever be forgotten.  If my mother were alive she would love to hear me retell stories of her beloved cat.

Let me tell you a bit about Molly.

We know that most animals communicate with each other and with people. Domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are especially good at making their wishes known. They’ve had thousands of years of practice. Dogs bark; cats meow. But what of those animals whose voices are weak or even  gone? How do they manage to communicate?

Molly had a lot of character, but she was almost voiceless. Her meow was barely a cat whisper. She may have been mute, but she was certainly not deaf, and she demonstrated a love of music. When we made music in our house, Molly always appeared on the scene. She liked to put her paws on the piano and add her “voice” to the harmony, and when my sister played the recorder, Molly rubbed her neck on the instrument.

“Look at her,” I said, laughing. “She’s writhing around like a cobra coming out of a snake charmer’s basket.” When we played tuneless scales for her benefit, it seemed to drive the cat crazy. “You’d better stop,” I told my sister. “You don’t know what you might be saying in cat-speak…although she does seem to like it.”

If Molly needed to go outside, she ran to the front door and waited. Usually someone noticed her.  If not, she ran across the piano keyboard, making plenty of noise, and then jumped down to wait by the door.

“Allegro and forte. Sounds like she’s in a hurry this time,” I said.

My parents’ bedroom was off limits to Molly and she knew it. My father didn’t like animals and barely tolerated the cat. Even when the bedroom door was open, Molly never ventured inside.  But one night, after the family went to bed, Molly pounced on my parents’ bed and immediately jumped down again. Jolted from her sleep, my mother shooed her out. When no one got out of bed, Molly repeated her pounce. The moment my mother got up, Molly ran into the living room. A thick cloud of smoke had filled the room.

“Fire!” my mother yelled. Hearing the shout, my father scrambled out of bed. They stared at the smoke billowing out of the fireplace.

“No. There’s no fire, but the damper’s closed!” my father said, his voice in panic mode. He flipped the lever to open the damper while my mother flung open doors and windows.

This time it was an easy fix, but my parents were shaken up to think that the whole family might have died of smoke inhalation.

“Thank God for  Molly,” my mother said. “She can’t talk, but she sure can communicate.”

My mother gave Molly a bit of left over chicken as a special thank you and we all took turns cuddling our resourceful hero.