Tag Archives: cats

San Juan Islands, Washington State


We are just driving home from a week with family in the San Juan Islands at the north end of the State of Washington, just below Canada. This is about a thousand miles driving each way from our home in San Jose, California! All along the way, we saw the looming background presence of some of the largest California-Oregon-Washington mountains: Shasta, Baker, Rainier – part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the ring of volcanoes and associated mountains around the Pacific Ocean.

As this was our first visit to the islands, we also saw many of the tourist sights: Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, Pelindaba Lavender, whale watching with San Juan Excursions, Orcas Island Pottery, the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, Lime Kiln Point State Park, etc. There were a great variety of wild and tame animals along the way: foxes, orcas, a great horned owl, deer, a camel, a black snake, salmon, seagulls, harbor seals and dolphins, sea anemones and barnacles, bald eagles, turkey vultures, quail, honey bees and bumble bees, raccoons and alpacas – and of course, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, cats and dogs. We enjoyed two Shakespeare performances: Much Ado About Nothing (at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR), and Cymbeline (at Island Stage Left, Roche Harbor, WA). A delightful trip!



















Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Real and Imagined Halloween

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Walking through Willow Glen yesterday, I enjoyed seeing real and imagined Halloween in close proximity.  The yard in front of a house carefully draped with plastic cobwebs featured a real spiderweb as wide as my outstretched arms, with a huge spider in the center – much creepier-looking than the fake one tied to the gutter.  The inflated hellcat menacing the sidewalk was not so interesting as the green-eyed pet hanging out with a jack-o-lantern on the front step.

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Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under News & Reviews

Local News, Distant News


For neighborhood news here in Willow Glen, California, we have email lists. I manage a list for the houses in our immediate area – where yesterday I announced finding a thrown-away kitten (and settled the cute little guy in a new home that night) – and there are other lists for our Northeast Quadrant, and for our whole section of the City of San Jose (Willow Glen takes up about 3 square miles).

For national news, I listen to National Public Radio on station KQED. I sometimes check in at the New York Times but their 10-story-a-month free-limit blocks my regular usage.  I have been a KQED sustaining member for decades and don’t want to pay more than that for news.

For international updates, I read Al Jazeera (English) and the BBC – two services with similar web designs but different points of view and sources. My daughter Jessica recommended Al-Jazeera, a service started by the royal family of Qatar where she studied at CMU-Q. Maybe Qatar’s backing is why Al Jazeera has no advertisements? Current stories I found interesting on Al-Jazeera:

Image Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Church, News & Reviews

Goodbye to Valentino


Yesterday, John and I said a sad goodbye to our last cat, Valentino. Tino was the prettiest, sweetest, and dumbest cat we ever had.  His long fluffy tail always curled backwards like a teapot handle. In addition to being beautiful and irrepressibly loving, Tino had some very bad habits. Eating electronics was one (see “Arduino vs. Tino“, 2011), shedding everywhere and making stinky messes in corners were others. He earned the nickname “Piddle Kitty”.

The kids and I adopted Valentino and his sister Garbo eighteen years ago, after some creep dumped the kittens near the Donner Pass road, high in the Sierras in winter.  Jessica has written a tribute to Tino: “Sadness for a heaven-bound cat and a recipe for feeling better“.

When John and I got engaged, Tino was one of four cats in our family – to which John was highly allergic. We made a deal: John agreed to live with my cats and I agreed not to replace them after they passed.  I have had pet cats all of my life but Tino was my last. I pray that our silly fuzzball is now happily cuddling in heaven with his sister Garbo who passed in 2007.  Goodbye sweet friend.  We miss you.

John and four cats in 2001:


Tino2.2003 . Tino1.2009


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Images Copyright Katy Dickinson and John Plocher 2001-2013

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Fake Paw Prints


On walks around our Willow Glen neighborhood here in San Jose, California, I occasionally see paw prints in the sidewalk concrete, permanently recording the adventures of some curious animal.  Recently, there was a news story about Cat Paw Prints Found on 15th-Century Manuscript. There is even a funny blog entry on how to achieve this cheaply. These prints are the more charming for being rare. The cat prints pictured above are two of four in an old sidewalk near our house.

I was surprised recently when visiting a Silicon Valley company headquarters to see many lines of crisp prints in a new sidewalk, with each pair too far away for a normal cat stride. I conclude that some hardscape designer is selling a paw print stamp option for walkways. Institutionalized whimsy.


Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson


Filed under Home & Family

Dog vs. Stone Cat


Last weekend, I picked out a cement-stone cat as a garden ornament. While I was shopping, it became an object of great concern to a small dog in an adjacent cart.

Image Copyright 2013 Katy Dickinson

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King Valentino


Our 17-year-old Valentino was an only cat for five years since his sister Garbo died. From December – April 2012, he reluctantly was host to my mother’s two Siamese, with much battling for turf and attention. Since my mother and her cats recently moved to a nearby senior community, Tino has been very happy to be the king cat again.

Image by Katy Dickinson 2012 Copyright

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