Remembering Shamoo

 

My final portrait of Shamoo taken on Christmas Day 2016

 

Shamoo was born in October, 1997 and died December 28, 2016.

He was a wonderful cat who had a very good life. He was aware of this, and stuck around for 19 years to enjoy as much of it as he could. He spent 18 of his years with his person Amy. John provided staffing for Shamoo for 17 years. Shamoo cared about them very much in the way that cats care about their people.

Shamoo worked hard to be dignified, clean, and proper at all times, commanding the title of “Sir”. As a younger cat, he was a little cheeky, but he mellowed with age. Often things happened around him that left him feeling concerned, but he tried hard to never let anything ruffle his fur too much.

To the very end, Shamoo was a handsome cat. He routinely positioned himself in locations that would complement his dapper black and white coat. He loved the camera. Amy enjoyed taking photographs of him. In the early days of the internet LOLCat, he enjoyed a measure of notoriety, being chosen to appear regularly on the website StuffOnMyCat.com. He was included in the pages of three Stuff on My Cat books and won a Stuff on My Cat online contest with his portrayal of the letter Z.

In his life, Shamoo lived in Evansville, Indiana; Archbold, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; and (again) Evansville, Indiana. He had many roommates and temporary staff in that time who enjoyed his company. During his time in Archbold, Shamoo also shared the house with Josh the dog. The two enjoyed playing tricks on each other, chasing each other, and looking out the window together. Shamoo always felt a little sorry for Josh for being the family pet.

Shamoo enjoyed being petted while he ate fresh crunchies and watching birds. He often talked to the birds excitedly as he watched them. In his younger days, he enjoyed playing with string toys, aggravating his roommates, and jumping into window sills to look outside. In his later years, he enjoyed laying on top of his people, going on walks indoors with John, sleeping in his heated cat bed, and taking short excursions into the outdoors.

Shamoo found new experiences even as an elderly cat. He went on his first vacation to Northern Michigan at the age of 16 and returned to Michigan for two more years. He didn’t mind the car ride and enjoyed the relaxing time with his people.

Shamoo was a very good cat and he will be greatly missed.

 

Paw Print

Shamoo in Nature: The Year in Review

Shamoo, my cat, has been in significantly declining health lately. I’m not sure how much of 2017 he will see. But looking back, he had a remarkably good 2016, especially for a cat of 19.

Every month, there was at least one opportunity for him to experience the outdoors, something he enjoyed immensely. So here is 2016 as seen through Shamoo’s view of the outside world.

2016 Christmas Tree Procurement

teasel

I’ve struggled to be in the Christmas spirit, so it was tempting to skip a Christmas tree and any other kind of decorations. This year has been tough and next year promises to be more so. However, there have been one or two other Christmas tree-less years, and those years I’ve felt regret after the holidays were over. So a few weeks ago John and I went on a tree poaching expedition.

rural scene

Our friends at Patchwork used to organize tree gathering, get permits, form a convoy. As everyone grew older, John and I were the only ones who still went. Now he and I still go to “The Spot,” but it’s spur-of-the-moment, permit-less, and just the two of us. The red truck with a bright evergreen bouncing along in its bed is the same as always, though.

We were committed to avoiding the usual tree gathering mistake: choosing something that requires every inch of our 12′ ceilings. The trees always look so much smaller outdoors!

dramatic tree

We drove by several and stopped at one that was right on the road and a perfect size. Unfortunately, it was composed of 4-6 trunks all bound together into one tree.

We moved on, not seeing anything sufficiently small.

We stopped again. On closer inspection, that tree was not very attractive.

We stopped again. John walked over to a possible option and stood next to it for reference. He thought it looked good. I thought it was too tall.

Finally, we sighted something up and over a rise.

Maybe?

Up a bank filled with tall thorns and suddenly we beheld: the land of the little trees.

Land of Little Trees

We found one we liked and John stood next to it to confirm that our eyes weren’t playing tricks on us. We cut it, hopped in the truck (Hooray! It actually fit all the way into the truck bed this time!), and drove away before anyone knew we were there (though I doubt that anyone cared).

The Perfect Size

We set the tree up, and it looks lovely, as usual. Out cat helped John assemble the new tree stand (I’m not sure why. He’s getting a little weird in his old age). Then the decorations. I’m starting to get a great collection of handmade raccoon ornaments. John put one at the back of the tree so it looks like it’s being sneaky. This year I added a squirrel, too. On the tree, the squirrel has an owl watching him from behind.

I Helped!

The 2016 Tree

November

I returned from Germany and quickly started to get some things in the ground before the leaves started to fall. These included a nice box of spring bulbs and another one of garlic. I was successful, and now the trees are slowly providing a blanket of mulch. This year’s garlic was the “small garden” collection from Filaree Garlic Farm. The source is new to me. The garlic has sprouted already. Hopefully that’s a sign of a good crop in 2017.

The weather has been unseasonably warm for November and we’ve gone without a freeze for a very long time. Because of this, I’ve been able to harvest a few more handfuls of tomatoes. It makes me think of the guy at the Farmer’s Market back at the beginning of September who I overheard say he doesn’t eat garden tomatoes after August because they don’t taste as good. This year he would have missed out on plenty of tomatoes.

a few more tomatoes

green purple tomatoes

A freeze warning finally came last night, so I spent the late afternoon picking every lima bean I could find. We had a bunch in our supper, I froze others, and I’m drying the rest. I planted four varieties of heirloom beans in a range of colors, including one called “Alma’s PA Dutch Purple” that came from a garden blogger from Bucks County Pennsylvania, close to where my mom grew up. The other varieties were called “Wick’s”, “King of the Garden”, and “Christmas”.

I had also planted two varieties of cowpea called “Holstein” and “Mayflower”. For reference, black-eyed peas are a variety of cowpea that most people know about. I don’t think the cowpeas liked the spot I gave them in my garden, so only a couple plants made it. I didn’t even know that I’d gotten some of the Mayflowers until I was shelling some funny-looking lima beans that it turns out weren’t lima beans.

There are still a few blooms around my garden. I should try to find a few more autumn flowers because it is so nice to have some color as everything else turns brown. I read in the paper today that we haven’t had a significant rainfall since July. I wouldn’t have predicted that I would continue to water my garden through November to try to assure that everything will go into the winter in good shape. Even then, things are more than a little crispy.

German Adventures

Europe on the horizon

I’m just back from a week in Germany visiting my sister and her family. The occasion: my youngest niece was being baptized and my sister and her husband asked me to be the godmother. I also got to be part of everyday life for a short time and saw a few sights around Nuremberg. It was a good visit.

my sister's village

My sister and her family live in a village near Nuremberg. Her apartment looks out on a photogenic old garage and a wonderful bakery. The day before the baptism we picked some leaves off the garage to decorate the reception room at a church in a nearby town. Then my older niece and I had to wait together for a ride.

While we waited, she found a green leaf and a red one for me to use as flags. I was supposed to wave them to direct her to go or to stop while she was riding her bike in the driveway. Soon, she started to disobey the traffic signals and told me I needed to be the police and stop her.

Then it was our turn to go to the reception room to help decorate. Along the way we stopped for some pumpkins. I am so envious at the great variety of pumpkins at the little farm near my sister’s house. They were both beautiful and looked tasty. We intentionally chose mostly edible varieties so they could become dinner when they were done being centerpieces.

After setup was over, my niece and I had to wait together again. It was a gorgeous day. I was inspired by the church’s mosaic garden ball. My niece picked a bouquet of red leaves and weeds to give to “the best Mamma.”

The next day was the baptism service at the 600-year-old church in the village where my sister and her family live. The minister was very nice and knew some English, so he incorporated a few things in English to help make it meaningful for me despite my lack of German language skills. It was a nice service and a new experience for me.

At the end of the service a candle was lit for each of the three children who had been baptized. In addition, their siblings had been invited to bring back the candles that were lit at their baptisms.

After the service, we all went to the reception for a big meal, time together, and a walk at the edge of the town. On the walk, we passed an interesting tree with odd apples on it. There was an explanation for what they were, but I didn’t quite follow it.

The next day I had some time by myself, so I took a walk in my sister’s town. It was a misty and atmospheric day. I started at the church and church cemetery, which are located at the highest point in the town. German church cemeteries are interesting because most plots include a stone monument inside a small, personalized garden. I enjoyed seeing all the different kinds of plants. From the church, I walked through the fields just outside of town.

On my last day in Germany, the kids, my sister, and I visited a botanical garden in the town of Erlangen. The kids had voted to go to the zoo instead, but my sister and I were interested to see what the gardens were like. We were afraid that the kids were going to be super bored and would pick everything in sight, but were happy to find that the kids found plenty of interesting things to look at and enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

Growing Crispy

After a wet spring and early summer, Evansville has dried up. Despite my watering, my garden is getting crispy.

whole garden in October

It feels like everything is ready for the cold weather to come so it can stop wasting away, go into dormancy, and start fresh next spring. It’s difficult to fight my garden on that.

There’s not too much to eat from my garden. My tomato plants are struggling onward with a few green knobs growing on them. There’s a little basil and a mass of lima beans. Dreaming of my friends’ bright stands of zinnias and sunflowers, I’d planted a couple sections of them but only ended up with a couple spindly pops of color.

a couple tomatoes

zinnia

Then the other day I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a crazy orange orb suspended at least ten feet above the ground in my neighbor’s tree. It was like an alien egg pod or a giant, mutant butterfly chrysalis. Then I realized it was one of my super overgrown cucumbers. It was pretty impressive. I later saw it had fallen to the ground and had a few small bite marks in it. Apparently the squirrels didn’t find it as delicious as my tomatoes.

alien egg

mutant butterfly

Now that the downtown farmer’s market is over for the year, I’m sadly without local produce. In September, I’d snagged some purple plums that turned into a fantastic fruit platz. I finished my sole bag of local apples today and have squirreled away some winter squashes (But, ha-ha Squirrels, didn’t take a bite out of them first.). I’m sad not to have better access to fresh, local autumnal produce.

plums

Maybe part of my problem is that I need to plant a few more autumn-blooming plants. My toad lilies are happy and beautiful in the face of other plants’ crispy brownness. I’m glad to report that all three varieties have returned. I was afraid I’d lost at least one to the city’s herbicide. They’re much diminished because of it, but they’re there.

toad lily

 

toad lily

toad lily

I also love the horny seed pods of the moonflower. They’re great at accentuating my garden shed and garden art.

moonflower

moonflower and art

And today I was surprised by the beauty of the flowers turning to seed pods on my hearty begonias. I’ve never noticed it before, but it’s very wonderful. The flowers slowly stretch and extend and fade from pink to a beautiful green. They’re quite elegant.

begonia flowers

planter

And finally, my good, old cat turned 19! For his birthday, I let Shamoo wander around outside and tried my best to let him stay out for as long as he wanted. It’s pretty dull supervising his outdoor time because he doesn’t do much, so I tried taking so photos. Eventually I made him go back inside, but I gave him some fishy treats as a consolation.

He still seems content with life, although I hate to tell him that the time of coldness will soon be upon us again. He’s moved back into his heated cat bed already.