Posted by barb on Nov 20, 2017 in Cute Pets, Pictures

Zephyr in the grass

Zephyr crossed over the rainbow bridge today. We’re not sure how old he was – we’ve had him for almost 6 years, and he may have been 5 years or older when we brought him home. We were certainly expecting him to be part of our family for longer than 6 years, but I’m so glad he picked us for his forever home.

When we first got him, it was clear he’d had some hard times. He had some kind of eye injury that caused his eye to water frequently – we tried to treat it several times, but could only alleviate the problem, not get rid of it. He also had a chipped canine tooth. We finally removed that tooth, but only when it was clear it was giving him problems – our vet didn’t believe in doing unnecessary surgery.

Despite all that, he was a very cuddly guy. He fit right in at our house, finding his place first with Aurora and Artemis, and then as we added Maia, lost Artemis, and brought in Sirius. He was always easy-going, mostly just looking for a comfy pillow or warm beam of sunshine.

Looks like there's a lot of trouble to get into here!
Zephyr on his first day in our house

Inauspicious beginning

In early 2012, we were in search of a black cat – our house felt a bit empty because we had lost Duncan and Ares in 2011. We had just Aurora (the dog) and Artemis (the cat) at that point. The search took us to an adoption event at the PetSmart in Tyson’s Corner in search of “Pinwheel.” We found him at the event, and the rescue volunteer let us hold him to get to know him a bit. Before too long, he took a swipe at me! The volunteer was horrified, telling us that he wasn’t usually like that and that his foster family had no issues with him. I didn’t mind – he had been in a cage all day with people gawking, kids poking, and dogs walking by. Of course he was cranky. I was in love and he came home with us.

Showdown in the kitchen
Zephyr and Aurora in the kitchen

He let me sniff him!

Our first introductions between Aurora and Zephyr were done with her on a leash until we were comfortable that she wasn’t going to go after him. The first time we allowed them together with her unleashed, he walked right past her. She sniffed his butt and then looked up at us as if to say, “Hey, this one is letting me sniff him!” He was the first of our cats who didn’t seem to mind Aurora. They didn’t exactly become friends, but they also didn’t actively avoid each other like our other cats.

Kitty tongue!
Zephyr’s tongue

What a talker

We were warned by the rescue that Zephyr was a bit of a talker, but they really couldn’t prepare us for how much he liked to talk! Until the last few months, he was terrible at sneaking up on anyone because he would announce his presence! I found the best way to deal with it was to just talk back 🙂

And it wasn’t just with us. Whenever someone new would come in the house, he would have to check them out and announce his presence loudly.

Sunggly Zephyr
Zephyr conquering my leg

Pet me!

He was fairly sure that a human’s purpose was to pet him. If a person wasn’t petting him when they should, he would let them know. We weren’t the best at clipping his claws, which he would use to his advantage. His usual tactic was to put his paws on your leg and ejecting his sharp claws until you pet him. And, of course, it wasn’t just Andrew and me who were object of his demands, but anyone in the house.

Sirius and Zephyr almost getting along
Sirius and Zephyr almost getting along

Curly ribbon

He was already older when we got him, so he wasn’t too big on toys and running around. However, we did have one toy that could get him going for a little while – it was one of those toys on a stick, where the toy looked like curled ribbon. I could walk around the house for several minutes, and he would follow trying to get at that pesky ribbon.

Snuggling Zephyr
Snuggly Zephyr

Prowling in the great outdoors

The one thing Zephyr did love, even this morning after his body had started shutting down, was to prowl in the backyard. We would put a leash and harness on him and walk around. Eating grass was a favorite, but he also just liked walking around, watching, and experiencing all the things. We took him out this morning, and Andrew grabbed a number of pictures – a few memories of my guy doing his favorite thing.

Prowling Zephyr
Prowling Zephyr

Zephyr tongue!
Zephyr versus the branch

The house is going to feel quiet without him. And I’m not sure where I’ll get my kitty-cuddles from anymore…Sirius has chosen Andrew as his person, and Maia isn’t much for cuddling.

Snuggling Zephyr

Adoption date: January 14, 2012
Names: Zephyr, Zeph, Mr. Pants, Big Guy
Favorite feature: He had a tiny patch of white on his chest that looked like a little tie.
Known for: Talking all the time, snuggling



Safari Sunday: Hello giraffe!

Posted by barb on Nov 5, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

On our first full day drive in Chobe, we spied a group of giraffes. I was constantly surprised by how they were both taller than I expected and not as tall as I expected. This beauty was right where I expected – just above the nearby tree!


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Solo Play: Elder Sign, Omens of the Deep

Posted by barb on Nov 3, 2017 in Entertainment, Games

Broken amulet card

We just bought the Omens of the Deep expansion for Elder Sign, so I thought I’d try that for my Elder Sign solo play through. Omens of the Deep is another story-driven expansion with new adventure cards, new entrance, and the addition of missions (which are tossed in with the original monsters) and Deep Ones Legion monsters which are spawned separately from the regular monsters.

In this expansion, the investigators are on a ship, trying to prevent the awakening of the ancient one. The expansion has new adventure cards and as with other recent expansions the game is played in two phases. In the first phase, the investigators are seeking out the pieces of a broken amulet and advancing an omen token. In the second phase, the investigators concentrate on getting elder signs and preventing the ancient one from awakening.

Deep One Legion

In the solo game, it’s not clear if I should just play one investigator or more, so I played a couple of different ways – once with two investigators, once with three, and once with four. I played that if I lost an investigator, I added a doom token to the doom track and did not replace the investigator.

Active adventure cards

This expansion is HARD. I played three times, losing each time with only a handful of elder signs. I think I needed to concentrate on moving to phase 2 faster, but it’s not easy when you are just trying to keep your investigators alive. It feels like there are a lot more “sanity” penalties in this one than “stamina”, making high sanity characters much more desirable.

In the solo play-through, I miss the player interaction, and it feels like an awful lot of set up just for one person to play. However, I enjoyed it enough to play through three times, so I guess I couldn’t have been overly annoyed.

My investigators and adventure cards



Safari Sunday: a maned lion ready for his close up

Posted by barb on Oct 22, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

This lion is one of the two brothers that was holding the area around Pom Pom Camp when we visited. Our guide pulled the truck to be about 10 feet away from them. Being this close brings home how hard their lives are. Flies swarm their faces. His canine is chipped. Their faces are crisscrossed with scars and a fresh cut or two. Such a contradiction to the power they emanate and the fear they evoke.


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Safari Sunday: Andrew versus the baobab

Posted by barb on Oct 15, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

Our second-to-last camp was in one of the salt pans – Nxai Pan – which had already seen a significant rain. This meant that many of the animals had moved on from the large watering holes we could access from the roads of the national park (no off-roading here!). But, the park had a number of baobab trees, and we had a chance to get out near one to check it out up-close.

One legend has it that the Great Spirit gave each animal a tree to plant on Earth. He gave the hyena the baobab, and this trickster planted it upside down.

Andrew and the baobab tree

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Safari Sunday: A baby wildebeest

Posted by barb on Oct 8, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

It was baby-season for some of the antelope, or so it seemed. In addition to the baby impalas that were dropping all over, we found a few baby wildebeests when we were at Kwara Camp in the Okavango Delta. This little one was shy, but I can’t blame him, given the pack of wild dogs feeding in the area.

Baby wildebeest

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Safari Sunday: A jumping dog

Posted by barb on Oct 1, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

On a morning drive in Kwara, we had come across a pack of the wild painted dogs who were snacking on baby impalas. After felling and finishing a couple within about 10-20 minutes, they set their sights on something larger across the water.

Our guide knew that they would have to jump to get over there, and positioned us to get a view. Our wait paid off!

Wild dogs crossing a channel

Wild dogs crossing a channel

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Safari Sunday: a stuffed-to-the-gills kingfisher

Posted by barb on Sep 24, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

Our guide spied this handsome fellow on our second sunset cruise on the Zambezi River while at Waterberry Lodge in Zambia. He doesn’t show it, but this brownhooded kingfisher just swallowed a cicada that was as big as his head. Seriously. We we first came up to him, we were all trying to figure out what he had in his mouth. It took a couple of false-starts, but after a couple of minutes, he swallowed it whole. We hung around for another few minutes to make sure he was okay. Before long, he hopped up a couple branches and then flew away.

Brownhooded kingfisher

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Safari Sunday: a leopard in the grass

Posted by barb on Sep 17, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

Remember those mating leopards we spied at Kwara? We sat and watched them for a while. They would go at ti for a while, then take a break. Between their…um…dalliances, they would separate just a bit and maybe curl up. During one of those breaks, I caught the male in the grass like this.

Leopard in the grass

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Safari Sunday: Running Ostriches

Posted by barb on Sep 10, 2017 in Pictures, Recreation, Travels

We didn’t see many ostriches on our safari – a couple individuals, and then this group that we found in Kwara. We came upon this group consisting of a male and several females in an opening in the Okavango Delta. They tolerated our presence for just a minute, and then got upset and ran to the far side of the clearing.

Running ostriches

Running ostriches

Running ostriches

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