Moon and Violet

Life, love and loveliness


“All things seem possible in May.”

The rainy, cozy, flower-scented days of May are giving way to the hot, bright sunshine of summer. I’m sad to watch the bluebells fade but ecstatic every time a new peony unfurls its perfumey petals.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite books of all time is The Secret Garden, and I’ve never felt more like Mary Lennox than lately, when I step into our garden and feel my frustrations and anxieties slough away.  It’s a kind of magic, and one that I’d never really experienced before.

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Bridget is the true gardener of our family, while I pore over botanical illustrations and flower language books and herbalist lore. My head is full of Latin names and plant mythology, and I feel endlessly curious about all of it. I’m hoping, in the months to come, to become more hands-on with the digging and planting and weeding and tending. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this excited about something–or this enchanted.

Below, a gallery of some new and old flower friends, along with a few captures of our beloved home. (Click for larger sizes/slideshow.)

~ Jenn

 

 


Happy Caturday: Knight and Fox

I missed my Caturday post last week, but hopefully this one will make up for it! Something very exciting has happened…

On Tuesday afternoon, Sarah and I brought these beautiful babies home.

At the SPCA.

They’re brothers, born August 6th, ten weeks old. They’d just been surrendered to the shelter Monday morning. Coincidentally, our cat Roane had her vet checkup on Monday morning, her last test for feline leukemia. (She’d been exposed to it by our beloved kitten Kai, who was diagnosed with the disease despite testing negative for it initially.) She passed the test with flying colors–officially negative, thank goodness!–got some vaccinations, and was declared perfectly healthy. Which meant we would now be free to consider adopting a kitten…

After a lot of deliberation, we decided to visit the local SPCA, just to see how everything was run, so that we would know what to expect when we were ready to adopt.

Ever since we first became aware of this shelter, I knew we were going to find our kitten there. It was just this overwhelming feeling that I had.

And that’s exactly what happened…only it was two kittens instead of just one!

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The volunteer at the SPCA told us that it was rare for the shelter to have kittens at this time of year, but she pointed us toward two small rooms. “If we have any, they’ll be in there.” We peeked through the narrow rectangular window in the first door–and our hearts stopped.

Tuxedo kittens. The first one I saw was Fox, and I knew him. I knew he’d be coming home with us. I had conflicted feelings about that, to be honest, because we weren’t supposed to adopt that day. I’ve been going through a rough time, physically and mentally, and wasn’t sure I was up to kitten-raising yet–though I was feeling much more open to the idea than I had been before. I couldn’t even think about kittens, couldn’t look at adoptable kittens online or bear going into the adoption centers at the malls. After Kai, it just made me feel too panicked, too overwhelmed.

But on Monday, Sarah asked me if it would be okay to go to the SPCA–fully expecting me to say no, as usual–and I said yes, it would be okay. I was still nervous but also…excited. And I hadn’t felt excited in half a year.

We went into the kitten room together and sat down on the floor while talking to the super-nice volunteer. There were five kittens in the room, a beautiful tortie girl who was four months old or so, and four brothers–three tuxedoes, one all black. The brothers were timid and hid at first, but eventually Knight was tempted out of hiding by the toys. He was the most playful by far, and when I looked at him for the first time, my only thought was Kai, just as my thought when I saw Fox was Penguin (our other tuxedo, lost last year). I don’t know what any of that means; it was just a deep, quiet certainty.

We spent three hours in that kitten room, talking, playing, debating. Could we really adopt two kittens? Weirdly, in our kitten-to-be stash at home, we had two bowls and two collars, though we’d only ever intended to adopt one cat.

But we knew our kittens when we saw them, just as we’ve known all of our cats when we saw them. We filled out the adoption paperwork and were told that we’d be able to pick the boys up the next day, after their neutering operations.

But the next day, Sarah got a phone call from the SPCA to let her know that Knight hadn’t been neutered. He had a fever and a respiratory infection and was being treated, but technically he couldn’t even be adopted out, since he was, technically, sick. He could only be in the “foster-to-adopt” program–which basically means that, for ten days, he’s in our foster care, and the SPCA will pay for his medical expenses. After ten days, we take him back for a checkup. If he’s better, they’ll schedule his neutering, and after that, we’ll be able to officially adopt him. We’ve already paid his adoption fee, so he’s ours, but this is a way for the SPCA to make sure he’s healthy at their own expense, which is really nice. We were so worried when we heard that he was sick, but he doesn’t act sick at all, thankfully. He’s on two medications and is crazily energetic, more energetic than Fox (who did get neutered and is officially adopted).

Anyway, we picked them both up on Tuesday, and at first, they were shy around us, but it hasn’t taken long for their wild sides to emerge.

They both have a penchant for standing up on their back legs, like squirrels.

They loved Roane at first sight. And she started licking them right away.

Roane and Knight

Roane and Fox

The first night, they slept together on a blanket under the chair, but every night since, they have slept on our bed. Knight is more outgoing and now loves being cuddled and petted, weaving between our legs and purring, but Fox is still coming around… He’s a lot smaller than Knight, and Knight picks on him a little. We’re hoping to discourage (and stop) that bullying behavior early on. Knight also has some minor food aggression. They originally came from a private home: an unspayed cat allowed to roam outdoors got pregnant, and her human family gave her kittens to the SPCA once they were old enough to leave their mother.

For the most part, Knight and Fox spend their time playing together and sleeping together. We’ve yet to find a toy that they don’t love.

Sarah and I still have a lot of emotions to work through… We are still grieving. And sometimes healing hurts. A lot. But it finally feels as if we’re on the right track, as if things really will get better. I kind of forgot what it felt like to have hope. But it’s easy to remember when I watch our babies dream.

~ Jenn


Happy Caturday: Stone Lions (and Tigers and Bears…)

Sarah’s sister just went on an adventure to Croatia with her boyfriend, and she brought back gifts for us–a mortar and pestle for Sarah, and this awesome sculpted cat for me! ❤

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(for scale)

(for scale)

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THAT FACE. <3

THAT FACE. ❤

The cat is apparently made of stone from the Dalmatian Coast. She’s definitely the largest (and most well-traveled) of the cats in my stone cat collection. Here are the rest of my kitties, collected over many years:

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This malachite cat (tiger?) is one of my favorites.

This malachite cat (tiger?) is one of my favorites.

Tiny dreaming kittens.

Tiny dreaming kittens.

Sarah and I have both been collecting crystals for decades, since we were kids, and we look forward to the big gem shows in our area every year. These are some of the other stone animals in my menagerie.

l-r: seal, deer, penguin, penguin, mouse, bear.

l-r: seal, deer, penguin, penguin, mouse, bear.

Tree agate and rose quartz bunnies, both gifts.

Tree agate and rose quartz bunnies, both gifts.

Seraphinite bear, one of my prized possessions. A Yule present from Sarah. <3

Seraphinite bear, one of my prized possessions. A Yule present from Sarah. ❤

~ Jenn


Ups, Downs, and Sidewayses

Life has been rough lately. This week, in particular, was one for the Let’s Never Do THAT Again, All Right? record books.

It was supposed to be a great week. Sarah and I had a reservation at our favorite bed and breakfast, the one where we spent our honeymoon(s). It’s actually a small, private cottage surrounded by woods, and I can’t imagine a cozier, more peaceful place. We were going to celebrate our wedding anniversary there–romance, rest, relaxation–and then possibly head to Salem for a day or two.

004 But our dog Link came down with a terrible stomach sickness, so we canceled our reservation in order to take him to the vet (twice) and then tend to him in the days afterward. Happily, he’s more or less back to his usual hungry, energetic self now. ♥ He wouldn’t even eat ice cubes during the worst of his symptoms, and we were so worried.

Unhappily, his vet bills used up our vacation budget, so we can’t reschedule the cottage. There’s no question that we’d rather have a healthy dog than a vacation, but it was such unfortunate timing.

On top of that, a huge and unexpected expense was thrown at us in relation to our year-long quest to put our house on the market. It seems like every phone call brings bad news, and that phone call triggered a scary panic attack for me…

All of this wouldn’t have been so upsetting if we hadn’t already had such an awful, stressful year. Murphy’s Law has been in effect in every aspect of our lives, and my stress and anxiety have been making me very sick, to the point that I spend half of my day lying in bed. The anniversary trip was supposed to be our convalescence, an opportunity to heal, physically and emotionally, as well as a celebration of our marriage.

We’ve come up with an inexpensive alternative, though, and are hoping to rent a cabin in a state park for a couple of days. We just need a getaway, and, at this point, it honestly doesn’t matter where it is.

Until then, we’ve been spending a lot of quiet time together and comforting ourselves with everyday magic.

Like Rusty and Solstice watching TV together; and Roane snuggled in her basket cave.

Like Rusty and Solstice watching TV together; and Roane snuggled in her basket cave.

Like beautiful flowers from my wonderful wife; and dozens of ducks following us during our walk in the park, quacking hopefully.

Like beautiful flowers from my wonderful wife; and dozens of ducks following us during our walk in the park, quacking hopefully.

Last weekend, we met up with some dear friends at a house on Lake Ontario for an evening, talking about life and magic and writing. The sky was overcast, and the lake was ghostly.

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Hearts. <3

Hearts. ❤

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And yesterday, after attending the Fiber Arts Festival, where we met some friendly, fuzzy alpacas–

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–and chose some pretty skeins of yarn for Sarah’s future knitting projects…

On the left, Erie by StimpyLab.com (Sarah's choice), and on the right, Lady's Companion by NerdGirlYarns.com (my choice).

On the left, Erie by StimpyLab.com (Sarah’s choice), and on the right, Lady’s Companion by NerdGirlYarns.com (my choice).

…we took a long walk in the woods, forest bathing. This summer was so hot that we spent very little time outdoors, but now that the temperatures are beginning to cool, we’re hoping to walk between the trees more often. Just one simple walk made us both feel a lot better.

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These colors took our breath away.

These colors took our breath away.

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There was a shocking lack of squirrels and a surprisingly large population of chipmunks! So we decided to name these woods Chipmunk Forest.

There was a shocking lack of squirrels and a surprisingly large population of chipmunks! So we decided to name these woods Chipmunk Forest.

A stone ruin--many times taller than us--in the dried-up creek bed.

A stone ruin–many times taller than us–in the dried-up creek bed.

Fallen leaves in a pond.

Fallen leaves in a pond.

At the end of our walk, we happened upon this abandoned stone building. One of its upper windows was broken, and we could hear birds singing from the inside. An awesome–and appreciated–metaphor.

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Fall is a rejuvenating season for both of us. It’s the season we were married in–twice! ♥ Hopefully, with frequent walks and other outdoor adventures, and with lots of tea and books and blankets, we’ll begin to feel brighter, safer, cozier. My spirits aren’t headed in an upward motion quite yet, but sideways is better than down.

~ Jenn


Wild Photo Day at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center (Part Two)

One of the coolest aspects of Wild Photo Day at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center was the flight demonstration near the end of the afternoon. Several of the bird residents–accustomed to performing for educational demonstrations–were brought out to show off their flying skills over a wide green pasture.

So all of the photographers (and non-photographers) lined up along the pasture, cameras poised. I was in awe of the professional photographers with their two-foot (or maybe longer) lenses! But the sky had begun to rain in earnest, so it was a challenge to keep our equipment dry–or to take photos that weren’t spattered with water droplets. Sarah helped me by wiping my lens every few seconds or so. ❤

By the end of the demonstration, we were cold and soaked (I had to pry my fingers off of my camera one by one), but it was so worth it.

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Soren the barn owl was thrilling to watch! I compiled some of my photos of his flight into animated gifs:

There...

There…

...and back again.

…and back again.

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I didn’t catch the names of most of the birds, but they were all beautiful and mesmerizing.

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When the handlers brought out a vulture, they said that the photographers could sit down right in the middle of the pasture if we wanted, to get super up-close shots. It was so awesome. At one point–as you can see in this terrible picture–the vulture flew right over my head.

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Some shots of the same vulture from the usual photographer line:

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I am a serious–and kind of vehement–cat lady. One of the primary reasons that I wanted to participate in Wild Photo Day was the promise of encounters with wild cats. We’d already seen servals, a caracal, and bobcats–and now we were about to meet an ocelot named Laguna!

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Her markings were so gorgeous. She loved the log at the center of the pasture, and we were allowed to get closer to her while she rubbed her face against it.

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The next cat was a Geoffroy’s cat named Mesa–and she basically stole the show.

Walking the runway, shunning the paparazzi.

Walking the runway, shunning the paparazzi.

She has a butterfly shape on her nose. <3

She has a butterfly shape on her nose. ❤

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I think the handler said Mesa weighs four or five pounds, so she’s a very small, lithe kitty.

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Then the sky started to pour. But as a sort of grand finale, the handlers herded us out of the pasture and set their two horses, Aquila and Knight Hawke, free to run wild. It was hilarious and heartwarming. They cuddled and raced and leapt, kicking their hooves so high in the air. I’m not a horse person, but I kind of fell in love.

They kept doing this! <3

They kept doing this! ❤

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By the end of the day, we were dripping, muddy, and exhausted–but exhilarated. It was the most fun we’d had in a really long time. We left feeling so grateful for the experience. Hawk Creek does incredible work for animals, and we were honored to have close encounters with its furry and feathered residents.

~ Jenn


Wild Photo Day at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center (Part One)

Hawk Creek Wildlife Center is a not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary in East Aurora, New York, offering medical care and shelter to hundreds of animal patients each year. Sarah and I had heard of Hawk Creek but had never visited it, so when we found out about Wild Photo Day–an opportunity for amateur and professional photographers to take pictures of the animals at the center for a donated fee–we bought our tickets right away.

We were really excited, but we had no idea how awesome the experience was going to be!

Wild Photo Day dawned gray and rainy–and the sky continued to drizzle for the entire afternoon. But the event was “rain or shine,” so we showed up to find the place bustling with activity, despite the cold weather, the water, and the mud.

Hawk Creek is a collection of squat, cozy wooden buildings housing a variety of animals; the layout and ambiance reminded me a little of a Renaissance festival–which was fitting, because the center holds a Renaissance festival on its grounds every summer.

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Our first encounter was with a trio of servals, Journey, Phoenix and Meisha. It was thrilling to enter their enclosure and watch them frolic together–up close!

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I was so happy to see them that most of my pictures turned out kind of blurry. But, honestly, I struggled with my camera all day long–because of the poor lighting and the ever-present rain…and my own overexcitement. Eventually I had to make peace with the fact that my photos might not be sharp, but we were having a great time and creating some once-in-a-lifetime memories. 🙂

This adorable creature had no identification card, so I'm not sure of its name or species.

This adorable creature had no identification card, so I’m not sure of its name or species (possibly a falcon?).

Hard a hard time getting a decent picture of eastern screech owl Ivy. She was perched so primly on her branch.

Had a hard time getting a decent picture of eastern screech owl Ivy. She was perched so primly on her branch.

Staring into the golden eagles’ eyes, I felt so awed…

Magnificent.

Magnificent.

I have to admit: this view reminded me of the harpy scene from "The Last Unicorn."

I have to admit: this view reminded me of the harpy scene from “The Last Unicorn.”

Tawny owl Twilight stole my heart.

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As did Prickles the North American porcupine. I probably took more photos of her than I did of anyone else! She loved those leaves.

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With her volunteer.

With her volunteer.

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Regal bald eagles.

Regal bald eagles.

A sleepy northern goshawk named Denali.

A sleepy northern goshawk named Denali.

We were lucky to happen upon caracal Khan being (blissfully) groomed.

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Then it was the bobcats’ turn to get–and give–some love.

It always amazes me how much big cats act like housecats. Whisper and Thunder were alternately affectionate--headbutting and rubbing against the woman's legs--and frisky--trying to leap onto her back!

It always amazes me how much big cats act like housecats. Whisper and Thunder were alternately affectionate–headbutting and rubbing against the woman’s legs–and frisky–trying to leap onto her back!

This gorgeous spectacled owl was named DUMBLEDORE and was way too cute to be believed. Only explanation: magic.

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I have been fascinated with barn owls since I was a little girl. Blame Labyrinth. When I was ten years old or so, I had a huge art print of a barn owl on my wall, and a life-size statue of one on my dresser. Meeting Luna was a dream come true.

Stunning.

Stunning.

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My favorite barn owl of all. <3

My favorite barn owl of all. ❤

The most exciting part was yet to come–but I'll leave that for my next post!

~ Jenn


Hanging Out with My Family, Having Ourselves a Party…*

Sarah and I just spent five days out of state, visiting my family. Because my parents, siblings and I are spread all along the East Coast, we’re only able to reunite a couple of times per year–and we have a very full house when we’re all together! This weekend we celebrated our nephew Gavin’s first birthday:

It was a Pluto party--and my mom made vegan/gluten-free cupcakes for Sarah and me!

It was a Pluto party–and my mom made vegan/gluten-free cupcakes for Sarah and me!

We had a lot of fun catching up, talking about kids and dogs and travels and television shows.

Our Poesy and my brother's Zidane went for a swim in the kiddie pool.

Our Poesy and my brother’s Zidane went for a swim in the kiddie pool.

My sister's Tak. Such soulful eyes!

My sister’s Tak. Such soulful eyes!

My mother's fairy garden.

Fairy garden created by my mom. ❤

The day before we came home, Sarah and I went to the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival with my sister and her family. The temperature was nearing one hundred degrees, so we tried to keep to the shade.

Wings stall.

Wings stall.

Flower garlands.

Flower garlands.

Sarah bought me this gorgeous rose. <3 I asked her to pose with it because it matched her hair so perfectly.

Sarah bought me this gorgeous rose. ❤ I asked her to pose with it because it matched her hair so perfectly.

It smelled sooo good!
Sarah as the lady with the unicorn; me as a knight. :)

Sarah as the lady with the unicorn; me as a knight. 🙂

Sarah petting a horse after the joust.

Sarah petting a horse after the joust.

We met an owl and a unicorn...

An owl and a unicorn.

We brought home a few treasures, including this hand-poured beeswax candle covered in glitter–

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–and a pair of handmade pottery bowls with handles.

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All in all, our visit was the perfect end-of-summer celebration. We had a great time–and Poesy did, too. She loves visiting her grandparents (and collecting leaves and twigs in her fur)!

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~ Jenn

* See Birdemic–but only with Rifftrax!