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Monday, November 30, 2009

A Celebration of Sam's Life

Samuel’s Life

Samuel passed on to the Rainbow Bridge the day before yesterday (November 28, 2009). It was sudden. He collapsed and died almost immediately. I was downstairs when my wife called. The only thing I could do was place him in his cat carrier and take him downstairs while we figured out what to do with his mortal remains. It will be a long time before we get another cat. And I know that when we do, it will be for its own reasons; not to replace Sam.

I held his mortal remains for a while, tears blurring my eyes. Sam accepted me for who I was and loved me unconditionally. There was no demands on me other than: “just love me and cherish me, Daddy.”

When we got Samuel, he was a small kitten. He was with us only three short years. At first, since we were living out of a motel, I was reluctant to bring in a furry pet as it would be a burden on our already meager resources. But my wife insisted. I reluctantly agreed to allow it. I was not happy about it and I told my wife that “It is your decision. I don’t want any part of it!” So we went to the Surrey Animal Hospital where we were shown two kittens; a jet black one and a grayish-brown tabby. They were brothers and my heart just knew that I could not separate either of them from the other. So my wife was looking at me while I was trying to harden my heart and tell her, “We can only afford one!” Well, that failed, not by her pleas, but by my own heart. I walked out of the room, told her “just wait a second”, walked over to the counter and laid down enough money to bring both of the kittens home.

When we brought him home for the first time, Sam had a bit of a situational depression. Going from the vet’s place to a home overwhelmed him and he just would not eat. Finally we took him back to the vet and they got some food and some anti-depressants into him and from then on, he was fine, no more need for more meds, no more depression, he was our cat.


Samuel (November 3, 2006 - November 28, 2009)

Despite having a softening of heart to bringing both kittens home, I stated explicitly to my wife, “They’re your cats, honey.” And stated, “I’m only cleaning the cat litter as that’s the only thing I intend to do. You…” (meaning my wife) “feed and care for them!” After having had 10 cats in total throughout my life, their losses were too painful to want to let another one into my heart. I kept hardening my heart and resolving to let my wife be the one to take care of the two.

Little did I know Sam & Shadow had other plans. They both wormed their way into my lap or onto my chest. When I woke up in the morning; Sam or Shadow would be either sleeping on my chest or lying in the crook of my arm, their tiny paws stretched out over my chest sleeping comfortably. They were working their sneaky little plan to make Daddy love them. They did their usual kitten things that made Daddy smile, like play fighting with one another and pouncing. Sometimes I’d wake up and feel their little sandpaper tongues licking my nose or my face. The two little sneaks wormed their way into my heart. Even as a kitten, Sam had an extraordinarily loud purr and he used it to great psychological effect.

Shadow was fine from the outset. He was a rambunctious little feline. Anyplace he could get into he would get into.

The two of them grew into young adults, but of the two of them, Shadow was the more demonstrative. If he wanted my attention, he would jam his furry head under my chin and let out a “chirrup”. Sam on the other hand tended to play second fiddle. He would only come up when Shadow wasn’t hogging all the attention for himself as if to say “Daddy, can I have a bit of your time?”


Shadow (November 3, 2006 - June 2008)

Shadow, however had an independent streak a mile wide. If we opened the door, he’d be out like a shot and halfway down the block. I’d had to chase him down and catch him several times and told him each time he got out that one of these days, he was going to end up getting lost and we wouldn’t be able to find him again. Horrifically, those words would prove prophetic. One June afternoon, in 2008, he did get out and he did end up missing. We searched all over, went down to the SPCA and checked all the shelters and rescue organizations. We kept looking for him for six weeks, but we could not find one trace of him and we finally, sorrowfully, came to the conclusion that he was never coming back.

When they both came home from the vet, our original intention was that both Sam and Shadow were to be my wife’s cats. But Shadow and Sam decided otherwise. They both decided to attach to me. When Shadow went missing; Sam, despite his own heartbreaking loss, came and consoled me, sleeping by my side, comforting me with his presence. I was not there as I was out and my wife had not noticed Shadow slip out while she was taking videos back up to the video rental and didn’t realize it until after she came home. By then it was too late. When I got home, I wouldn’t stop looking for him until sheer exhaustion. After six weeks of searching, I was an emotional mess. Despite the fact that it was his own brother that went missing, he put his own sorrow on the back burner and chose to comfort me. We clung to each other in mutual grief.

From then on, Sam was firmly attached to my side. If I went to the kitchenette, he’d be there. If I was in bath, he’d curl up by the side of the tub. He feared that if I was out of his sight, I’d go missing, just like his brother. When I went to work, he was unhappy and moped till I got home. When I found out that I had a bad back from a severe fall in January of 2006 that affected my employment in 2008 (I had to resign from a retail position because I was unable to stand continuously for 4 hour stretches of time, which was required and it also affected my ability to lift heavy objects on a regular basis), Sam was there consoling me and telling me with his eyes that as long as he had me, that he was happy.

Sam was also there when I found out the true nature of my own mother and my own maternal blood family. Their dislike of me put me into an emotional tailspin and left me feeling as if I had no family left in this world. He and my wife’s family brought me back from total despair. Sam let me know that all he wanted was love and for me to love him.

In October 2008, our fortunes turned a bit and we moved to a townhouse, and for poor Sam, that probably was the toughest move that he ever had to go through. The poor little guy hid under the driver’s side seat of the moving van, yowling piteously all the way, until we got to our new townhouse. When we managed to pry him out from under where he had crawled into, he promptly dug his claws into my back and clung like a burr, looking absolutely miserable and letting out a heart-breaking yowl every so often while we got him bundled up into the house. His life up to that point had been inside of a motel room and we had just uprooted his whole existence. When we put him inside the townhouse, he promptly went and hid behind the angled mattress leaning up against the wall and wouldn’t come out for 24 hrs except maybe to eat and use the litter box.

Finally he got used to the place and we settled in. And we were a family. We went through some rough patches but we had pulled through. Sam was happy and he settled into a routine. I did photography from home (freelance) and Sam used to curl up beside me, watching me edit photos.

Everything seemed fine on November 27th, 2009. That night, Sam and I went to sleep, he licked my nose and my cheek as he had done so often, and he nuzzled his head and body against my arms and legs, purring loudly all the while. I told him that I loved him and we settled down to sleep, Sam, at his familiar spot at the foot of my side of the bed, right next to my legs. That was the last time that I saw him alive. I came downstairs the next morning when I heard a commotion upstairs and m wife yelling for me to come upstairs: thus the events of November 28, 2009.

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to pick up that shovel and bury a loved one. Even though we, as humans, talk about “burying” our human loved ones; we’re not the ones who wield the shovel or the machine that digs the hole that our human remains are interred in. We’re not the ones that have to cover the body with six feet of dirt. We pay someone to do that for us. That’s what undertakers are paid for. We stand around the grave saying “how much we will miss them…” then we wait for someone else to cover the casket. It is our pets, those little furry loved ones that we have to get our hands into the soil to lay to rest. It was hard to stop the tears long enough to dig a hole deep enough to put Samuel’s mortal remains in the ground.

After that I took walk by myself for a while just to get my head and my emotions back on level ground. As I got back from my walk, there was a break in the clouds as if Someone Up There was letting me know that He had Sam’s spirit in His care and Sam was telling me. “Daddy, everything is OK now. I’m happy, I’ve gone to that place. I spent the night of the 28th in spirit form comforting you, but I gotta go be with all your and Mommy’s pets that went before. Thank you for taking care of me Don’t grieve so much. I love you, Daddy.”

The other encounter last night could have just been coincidental, but on our way back from Wal Mart we saw a great Horned Owl, its distinct “horn” shaped tufts were visible in the dark. It alighted on a lamp-post and stared at me eye-to-eye for a long moment. In some cultures the owl is said to be a messenger of impending death or death past, but I preferred to think of it as a sign from Sam again. “Hey, Daddy, Mommy occasionally said you were DENSE! So I decided to send my new friend to tell you unequivocally that I’m OK. Now will you stop with the moping and growling at my human brothers and Mommy and be your good-natured self again?” As it was it was remarkable to see that Great Horned Owl in the wild next to a populated area so close to us and I chose to treat it as a good sign.

Today I asked Sam if, when I feel ready for another furry kid to come into our lives, to guide me to the next kitty-cat that needs us when the time is right. It may be several years down the road. Just as my first cat, Tiger (who I lost back in 1983) guided Sam to me when I needed him most in 2006; I’m sure Sam and Tiger will join forces and guide the next needy furry kid to me

But nothing will ever replace Sam. Not that I expect any cat to. I will miss Sam. I will miss his touch of his wet nose against my face and my hands, his purr, his rough tongue against my cheek and my fingers and his little affectionate, trusting rubs.

I miss his companionship; above all I miss his unconditional love and trust, that no matter how bad things were for us financially, I was the center of his little world and that of all things, I mattered to him.

Thank you, my little friend for your love and your trust, Thank you for making me feel something I thought was long dead. Thank you, my beloved Sam, for just being you. And thank you for coming into my life. I love you, Sam, and I will never, ever forget you.

I will miss my little best friend for the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today I lost my beloved, little friend

Today, we lost Sam. I don’t know exactly what happened, but from what my wife could tell me, he collapsed and died upstairs in the bedroom. It was so sudden that we were unable to do anything for him. Today I’ve been going through anger, tears, and grief. I keep second-guessing what I could have done for him and wonder if there was anything that I could have done differently. Maybe its denial, maybe there’s a tinge of anger at my self that I wasn’t there (since I was downstairs).

He loved being with me. When he curled up beside me, you could feel his purrs vibrate throughout his body. Yesterday he seemed perfectly healthy. He came up and nuzzled me, purring. Now he’s gone and I don’t know what to do. The tears come when I think of how I’ll never hear his purr again, nor will I ever feel his head rubbing up against my hand when I reach down to pet him again. Nor will I hear his insistent meow when it was time for me to feed him. I even miss his trying to trip me down the stairs by intertwining through my legs as I was trying to go down the steps. I’m grieving and it feels like my heart is being torn out.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll feel the grief lessen, but today it is too fresh in my mind.

***RIP Samuel October 2006-November 2009*** Thank you for helping me through a tough time. You were always my little light. I could always count on you to cheer me up through a purr and a nuzzle. God knows why you were taken so soon in life. I will miss you, my dearest little friend. You will never be forgotten.

I love you, Samuel, and I will always miss you.


"Rainbow Bridge"

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

~author unknown~

My Tribute To My Best Friend

Dear God,

I'm sending you my beloved friend and family member today. When I was feeling like there was no hope in my life, he pulled me out of my depression with his purrs and his meows. He was my comforter and asking no more in return other than to be taken care of and loved. He loved me unconditionally, more than I deserved. I will forever miss his furry head nuzzling up against my hand, his insistent meows asking to be fed. Above all, I will miss his companionship, only asking to be loved and cherished.

Lord, I did my best, yet I feel like I didn't do enough. His last moments were not at my side. I came upstairs after his soul had departed his mortal remains. God forgive me for I was weak. I didn't know that today was to be his last on this earth.

Please take him into your care, knowing that he did his duty that he was put on this Earth to do which was to be my companion during some of the roughest patches of my life. His time on this earth was short, but he accomplished much. Lord, I have one thing to ask. Please allow me to reunite with him and all my furry family members at the end of my life. That is all I ask. They all loved me unconditionally.

I miss them immensely as I miss my latest friend who made that Final Walk today into Your Care.

Lord, please take care of my Best Friend, because I am no longer able to. He has returned Home. Hold him, give him a pet well done, and tell him I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.

Samuel's Grieving Friend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weather Photography

One of the things that I enjoy is meteorology. The weather has always fascinated me, especially cloud formations. I used to want to become a storm-cbaser, but my science marks stank. So I have become the next best thing; a photographer, and enjoy taking pictures of clouds.

Now these clouds were taken on the 17th of November. The first one, I blended in ArcSoft Photosuite 5.5 and it took several tries. The photo is still dark, but considering the aperture of f/22 to get the speed up to where I could handhold it. it came out pretty good.

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

While walking over to Wal-Mart, my wife and I saw a cloud with some ice particles in it. This provided the "rainbow effect" that we saw in the following photo.
©2009 FalconRose Photography

The rest of these photos were taken on the following day when we had a break between systems and the sun was able to poke out from between the clouds for a short while so I shot these while taking the kids to school.

The first one has some lens-flare but at least it doesn't obscure or detract from the image very much. Most of these photos are silhouettes as that's pretty much all you can do pointing a camera at the sun.

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

While walking home from taking the kids to school, I saw the next system moving in so I took a picture of that plus a few more artistic shots.

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

Photographing clouds and weather is fun. However remember your safety. Make sure that shoot by remote if you're trying to get pictures of lightning. A metal tripod makes a great conductor of electricity. Photography is a hobby that shouldn't cost you your life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Photography in 2009

These are a series of pictures that I've taken through-out this year.

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

©2009 FalconRose Photography

All photos are ©2009 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our 2008 Trip to the Vancouver Aquarium

We went to the Vancouver Aquarium on June 14, 2008, to celebrate Heather's birthday. And the day before we ended up walking Gastown. The day before the trip to the Aquarium we ended up meeting a rather friendly seagull who evidently enjoyed posing for photographs

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

13-06-2008_Helijet_S76_take-off_rs©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

While we were there, we also saw a Helijet S76 take off for its run to Victoria or to YVR. They do have various routes. Walking further down into Gastown, I was able to see the famous "Gassy Jack" statue. Named after Captain John Deighton, a steamship operator and a saloon-owner at the turn of the century. For more info on Gassy Jack, you can go to this URL Wikipedia Entry on Captain John Deighton.


We saw a variety of animals at the Vancouver Aquarium, but unfortunately I found that my 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 was rather slow for most of the photography I needed to do at the Vancouver Aquarium. At some point I'm going to definitely have to upgrade to f/2.8 lenses

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

Asides from the fact that the black-tipped reefshark pool was more than crowded that day and I couldn't get a clear shot to save my life, the 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 was so slow that I couldn't handhold it with the speeds that it was shooting at.

If you notice the cold-eye pointed in my direction, you kind of wonder what that shark was thinking. "I think that photographer will make a nice, light snack, wonder if he's loaded with MSG?"

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

Going now from the pelagics to the reptilian. When we walked past this display, it took me a moment to realize that these were living, breathing specimens of American Alligator. At first I thought that the Vancouver Aquarium had cheated and brought in mechanized displays (I think the low glass also had something to do with it too as it seemed to me, rather flimsy, if the alligator decided to lunge. This sequence of shots kind of proved to me that the alligators were real.



this image and preceding ©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

I had to say at first, that he seemed a little plastic...

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

This evidently is a tiger-ray. I wanted to focus in on his eyes. The eye is the same coloration as the camoflage on his body so his eyes practically blend in. But you can still manage to see them. It's amazing how long they can keep their eyes open without blinking (even more amazing to think that it's under water and you have sand and silt being washed up against it's cornea.

Red-fin Piranhas ©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved


©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

There was also a display of skulls that a curator was waxing eloquent over. It was interesting...and a bit macabre.

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

The otters are adorable. But it was amazing how small the tanks were that they swam in. It just seemed like they were swimming laps.

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

©2008 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

We also took a ride on the miniature train. The kids loved it.

Since we have a 50mm f/1.8 and hopefully in the near future a 35mm f/1.8, I hope to go back to the Vancouver Aquarium and retake some of the shots that didn't turn out so well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Photos: mostly from 2009

We didn't do a whole lot of photography in 2009 as I'm picking and choosing where to take my shots, as the D50 that I bought is starting to get up there in shutter actuations. OK...maybe at about 8,000 shutter actuations. But still you want to extend the life of the camera while you still have it; especially when the cost of replacing it with a newer and better model is quite cost-prohibitive

©2009 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

And on the day that Gastown gifted my wife and I the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, I shot these three photos.

©2009 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

"Exhaustion" ©2009 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

©2009 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

23-04-2009_burrard_skytrain_station_rs©2009 FalconRose Photography, all rights reserved

~more to come~

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget...

During this day we take time to remember the fallen during the Great War (WWI), the Second World War, Korea, Afghanistan and peacekeeping missions throughout the world.

Nestled in the middle of Stanley Park is a forgotten monument to the 190 Japanese-Canadian volunteers who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force during WWI and the 54 names enscribed on that monument who lost their lives. Little known, during the mass hysteria against the Japanese-Canadians during WWII, are two Japanese-Canadian soldiers who fell while fighting along-side their European-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian brethren.


The men who volunteered to serve in WWII served to demonstrate their loyalty to Canada while their families were locked up in tar paper shacks in places like Tashme, Slocan, Kaslo and other places less hospitable.

So let us not forget...

A Pittance Of Time

Let us also not forget the men and women of our Armed Forces who serve each and every day, and who served in those turbulent times, who fought and died so that we can express our opinions.

My father-in-law served in Burma for the U.S. Army. And some of my extended family on my wife's side are U.S. Second World War veterans. My thanks goes to them for the freedoms we share today.

Terry Kelly wrote a song "A Pittance of Time" after he saw a man and his daughter in a Nova Scotia drugstore. The man refused to observe a two-minute silence that the drugstore had asked customers who would be in the store during 11:00AM to observe in remembrance of those who had served. Terry was angered to see the man being such an "ass" but observed the two minutes of silence rather than making a scene but his anger translated into the creation of this beautiful song.