Returning to Sonoma and Vancouver

snow along a highway

Fun times!

Some Things You Just Don’t Want to Know

“Master.”

“Yes, Grasshopper”

“How do we find true knowledge?”

“Ask real questions, grasshopper. However, there is one  question you should never ask.”

“What is it, Master?

“You’ll know it after you ask it and you won’t like the answer!”

snow along the highway

A lot of snow for us

Hold That Thought, We’ll Get Back to it

We were on the move southward to see the two cats in Sonoma again. Since it was December and there were mountains to cross we were worried about snow and delays. Once into Southern Oregon, we found it – snow and an actual snow storm. Cars all stopped waiting for the snowplow kind of storm. It did extend the driving time, but that’s it.

The next morning in Sonoma brought a sunny, bright day, freezing temperature and a trip to the town square. The local newspaper told of an annual contest among shop owners for the best holiday display. 

Holiday decorations in a store window

It’s Christmas in Sonoma

I circled the square shooting photos, amazed at the creative sights and sounds. Sonoma is serious shopping territory. The shops had gone all out with decorations. I’m not much for holidays, but I must admit this was downright festive and got me in the mood to watch some football. I was lucky to enjoy an excellent festive dinner in Sacramento with my son, his girlfriend and her parents. 

a small statue of a gargoyle

To fit the mood

Now, Back to the True Knowledge Question

I made this trip in a borrowed car. By nature, I’m full on paranoid about getting borrowed things back in good shape. I haven’t always done it, but I’m always worried sick about it. 

I was out on a walk through the condo complex, headed back inside when I saw it. Joseph and Mary the car was all smashed up! The whole right side dented. What happened? When did that happen? Who did it? Why didn’t I see it before? And so on. This is what they call amygdala hijack: all fear, no rational thought.

This car was parked where I never parked before but was the same color, size, and style as mine. Close enough to freak me out. My mind went right down the rat hole. How am I gonna get this fixed in time? How am I going to pay for it? What’s our deductible? What kind of an **hole would hit a car and drive off? 

small statue of a smiling Buddha

The master?

The Horror and the Relief

I vowed never to borrow anything else as long as I live. Never to come back to a town filled with horrible people who would do such a thing. Where’s the holiday spirit? Is there no hope? You know all that.

I got out my phone, took a dozen pictures of the damage and called Angela. I told her about our horrible luck, our dreadful future and the sorry state of humanity. I was getting going on that theme when a woman walked up, said hello, got right into my car. Then she started the motor and drove away! Wait! What are you doing? That’s MY car.

Well, not really. A closer inspection, later on, revealed rust in the crumpled parts, and a car seat in the back. I missed those details in my fit. All that angst over someone else’s car! Anger and fear can do that. Now, I’m not glad that woman’s car was damaged as that would be wrong, right? But I was as close to that as you can get without karmic damage. “Master, is it “How stupid can I be?” Master smiles. 

cat lying in the sun

A sweet and gentle cat

At Least There Were Two Sweet Cats

Glad to say that’s not all that happened in Sonoma. Since this was a return visit, the cats remembered us and this guy allowed us to give more affection than the last time. Again, they were inside cats so no worrying whether they would come home at night!

As we mentioned, this home was in a large complex, and we often strolled through the grounds. One morning, I step out the door and a cute pug puppy is right at my feet. A little surprising as the place was so quiet. The dog is attached by a long leash to an older man: friendly face, wide open smile, he greets me warmly as if we were old friends.

The energetic puppy had much in common with him: happy, friendly and glad to see me. A difference jumped out quickly: the puppy was very young, just getting started in fact and very glad to be there. The owner was a long way from the starting line, was also glad to be there, perhaps for different reasons, but had forgotten lots: kind of out of it. 

Cat cute pose in Sonoma

Is he special or what

Visions of the Future for Us?

Then his wife comes up explaining the new puppy replaced an older pug who died recently. She’s as sharp as a tack and gently guides them both on to the right path back to their home. She’s got two to take care of, neither of whom could find their way home in the dark. That’s scary.

 I’m a bunch older than her, and I suppose I’ll be wandering out in traffic at some point. By then I probably won’t know the difference or care, but I could ruin her whole day if I’m not careful. These are not comforting thoughts. So far I manage to find my way back home, even when our address changes every few days. I guess that’s something to hang on to.

Soon enough it was time to go back to Washington. We said goodbye to the cats and drove the long way through northern California through Oregon and into Vancouver.


hundreds of red berries on a bush

No flowers, but lots of berries!

Our Return to Vancouver

One night during a house sit in Ojai I couldn’t sleep. I got up and checked the house sitting websites. A posting appeared in Vancouver, Washington with one shy cat. I immediately responded to the listing, and the owner wrote right back. She was a real night owl, and we had a bunch of back and forth texts until 1:00 in the morning and pretty much the deal was sealed.

Upon our arrival, we found the house in a hilly neighborhood, with huge evergreen trees everywhere. It was beautiful and wet! Since Jim was to arrive later, I went out to lunch with the homeowner and then had the tour of the house and went over the instructions.

Now we come to the reason for the house sit – the cat. He was 13-years-old and extremely shy with new people. The homeowner had spoken about him in detail, so we knew what to expect and how to go about trying to win him over. 

Cat snuggling in Vancouver

He was a sweet cat

The Almost Invisible Cat

This was a shy cat! He hid for the first few days. I would bring his food, call for him and sit near his dish and wait. I knew I would never be able to pick him up since his owner couldn’t either.

Finally, he came out to say hello. He would rub against my leg and let me pet him awhile and then disappear again. He then started coming near at intervals during the day. He would look at me, meow and then run away. 

Our relationship progressed to him coming up to me to pet regularly during the day. I eventually got to the place with him where he would jump up on the couch or the bed for some attention, but he never stayed or slept there.

a black and white cat lying down

He was very timid but loved affection

One Official Pet and a few Unofficial

He was very verbal with a tiny meow and did love affection. He would walk along the furniture and rub on it, more than any cat I’ve seen. Then he would come back over to be stroked again and then back to the furniture; it was funny.

He was the indoor pet, but there were other animals to feed – Squirrels! They got sunflower seeds and loved this house. They would scamper up to the ledge grab some seeds and nibble away. Rain or shine they were always eating. Unfortunately, they didn’t eat the shells, and that left quite the mess on the balcony.

a squirrel eating on the porch railing

They were quite used to people being close

What was the weather like, you ask. In a word – wet! It rained and rained almost every day. One day, it even snowed! Now that was exciting. Sitting in the house watching it float down. It melted by the time it hit the ground, but it was exciting to watch. 

We did take a little trip to a neighborhood park, with a pond for swimming and a large creek to watch, or fish in, I guess. All in all a lovely neighborhood!

What’s NextThree separate stays at house in Portland

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