Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cat mischief

I don't know what I did to make my cat Darcy feel a need for revenge.  In fact we had had a nice cuddling session just minutes before.  But this is what I found when I went into the bathroom this afternoon:

And here is the guilty party!  (He even looks guilty!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saying goodbye

Yesterday I made the decision to end the life of my beautiful, loving cat Firefly. 

Fifteen months ago the vet found a soft mass in her abdominal region.  Given her age (over fourteen years), I made the decision back then that I would not put her through invasive tests or surgery but would monitor her condition and provide euthanasia when I felt it was time.  The mass continued to grow but her appetite was excellent (lots of scolding on her part if her dinner wasn't on time!) and her activity level and behaviour remained normal. 

But yesterday I finally felt that I had to take action before the tumour created an emergency situation (they can burst and lead to internal bleeding and death) or any loss of quality of life.  It was, thankfully, a gentle death at the competent hands of a caring veterinarian.

Firefly came to live with me in 2001 and despite her life as an abandoned cat out on the streets for at least three years, she was one of the sweetest tempered cats I have had the privilege to know.  Firefly and Micha both lived on the streets and were great friends. 

When Micha disappeared I knew it was only a matter of time before Firefly would likely come to a bad end as well and I then brought her in to live with me.  We had twelve happy years together.  She always was a gentle creature who would get my attention by either "twanging" the door stop or by sitting on the table behind the couch and putting her nose in my ear.  Her soft breath and bristly whiskers would get me up to fill her food dish.

She leaves a space in my life that can not be filled.  There are many of these spaces left empty by other cats that once graced my life.  Yet despite the sorrow, my life has been enriched immeasurably by having known and loved, and been loved by, these wonderful, perfect creatures.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

An amazing transformation

After having photographed the metamorphosis of a Cicada last year, I was thinking about the process for Dragonflies.  To my amazement, I found one yesterday just as it was pushing out of its nymph shell (exuvia).  I managed to get off one quick shot before it was out completely.  Then I was able to witness (and capture) the phases of its transformation as its wings unfolded and it became a "full-fledged" Dragonfly!

Here is a series of photographs documenting this awesome process:

The nymph (which has been living a fully aquatic life and breathing through gills) climbs out of the water and up the stem or blade of a plant.  It then clings to the plant as the Dragonfly compresses its abdomen which causes the thoracic region to swell and split open the skin on the insect's back.  It then twitches and pushes until it manages to free itself from the nymphal skin.

In a matter of seconds the Dragonfly was completely out!

While in the larval (nymph) stage, and just before climbing up the plant, it consumes a large quantity of water which it uses to pump into its appendages causing them to elongate. 

 The expanding wings are evident in this photograph.

Further expansion takes place as minutes pass.

The wings become fully extended and the Dragonfly re-positions itself on the plant.  The re-positioning was done several times.

This side-view shows off its lovely, lacey wings!

The Dragonfly also moved its legs on occasion and made head movements as though stretching.

This photo shows how it has now moved completely away from its former skin.

After the wings are fully expanded, excess water is expelled from its digestive tract (you can see a drop at its tip) and air is pumped into the wings to harden them.

This process continues for a short time and once again the Dragonfly re-positions itself.

In a very sudden movement the wings spring open into the familiar position of those of a fully formed Dragonfly.  This picture was taken a second or two after the previous one.

As I took this final photo a breeze came up and riffled the Dragonfly's wings and I wondered how it felt for this insect who, up until an hour earlier, had been confined in another body.