The Great Smoot

The Great Smoot


“Have you ever seen Totoro?”

“The animated movie?” I asked, “No. Why?”

“He looks like – what were they called? – little black puffballs in that movie – something like Smoots, maybe?”

The boyfriend and I both looked down at the cat, and I started Googling things. It turns out the creatures to which he was referring were not called Smoots, but Soot Sprites. And an image search of “Soot Sprite” turns up the fact that other people think their cats look remarkably similar to the puffballs, too.

soot sprite vs smoot

It’s hard to tell the difference, I know.

Once uttered, however, Smoot could not be unheard. And so it came to be that our newest cat has finally revealed his true name to us. I’d like to (re)introduce him as The Great Smoot.

Of course, first he was just Smoot. Then Wee Smoot (he is so little, at least in comparison to the great monster cat), but this little guy has an outsized personality. And that’s putting it mildly. So, it was only natural that the name would evolve.

As it turns out, a smoot is a real (if somewhat farcical) thing. Our Great Smoot is far smaller than an actual smoot, but – at the same time – so much bigger.

The Great Smoot

winston c underfoot

Introducing Winston C. Underfoot


After we had to return Tallulah to the shelter when she turned out to not be a good match for Aloysius (or our busy, travel-loving household), we knew we would have to be really careful about choosing another cat. With lots of help from Animal Aid – where we got Aloysius – we now have a new kid in town.

Everybody, meet Winston.

winston c underfoot

Winston C. Underfoot, né Cole

Winston is a playful guy, though he’s not as instantly gregarious as Aloysius. He’s notorious among the people who know him best – at the shelter and his foster home – as a lover who purrs and drools copiously when happy, and who even hugs like a koala. I’m still waiting for a hug, but he’s already been really affectionate. His fur is super fine and silky. He’s not as easygoing about manhandling as Aloysius is, but he does like being petted.

At the shelter, he was called Cole, so his middle name is now Coltrane. (He will no doubt have 17 nicknames in no time, of course.) He’s had a bit of a rough time of life so far, having been in the shelter system for two years before we brought him home (they think he’s about 3.5 years old). He had a family before that, but they had to give him up when they lost their house due to a fire (no one was hurt, thank goodness). He’s got one cloudy eye that doesn’t alter his ability to see, and the shelter didn’t know if it might have been because of the fire.

So, yeah – it’s understandable if he’s a little slower to warm up to people. We haven’t always been reliable.

Winston is a little guy – he last weighed in about 10 pounds – but there’s a lot of personality in that little package. The more he warms up to us and gets comfortable, the more playful and spunky he is. I’m excited to have a lap cat around, and also one who may just give Aloysius a run for his money.

When we first visited Animal Aid to meet Aloysius, we were looking for one boy cat and one girl cat. When we realized later that Aloysius’ big personality was going to require a certain kind of buddy, the folks at the shelter pointed us to Cole. The two of them had been friends at the shelter, so it seemed like a good fit.

So far? It’s going well, though it hasn’t even been a week. Fingers (and paws) crossed.

winston c underfoot

Introducing the New Family Members


We finally got to bring home our newest family members yesterday, so it’s time for formal introductions.

If you didn’t know already, we had to return Tallulah to the shelter – you can read about that here – and now there’s another cat in town.

Aloysius, né Avery

Nicknames so far: Wishes, Monster Floof


This one was purring and wanting tummy rubs about 20 seconds after being released from his cage, and was eagerly exploring the whole house a few hours after he arrived. He’s the social bug, and will likely serve as the official welcoming committee of the house from now on.

He’s a big boy; he weighs only 13 pounds but looks heavier. His paws even look like he needs to grow into them, but he’s around two years old, so I think this is as big as he’ll get. We’ve no idea if he’s part Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat, but of course he appears to be part something-gigantic. The pointy tufts of fur at the tips of his ears contribute to that, too.

He purrs constantly, follows us everywhere, is very talkative, and slept most of the night at the foot of the bed. Both cats like having their tummies rubbed, which is a huge bonus. I didn’t dislike the name Avery, but I’ve wanted to name a critter Aloysius ever since I read “Brideshead Revisited,” and I finally got my chance.

And yes, I have just ordered a Furminator brush to deal with all that floof.

Miss Tallulah Belle, née Paris

Nicknames so far: Lula Belle, Pigeon
Note: Tallulah is Paris again and is available for adoption at Animal Aid! Are you her forever family?

Miss Tallulah Belle

This one is a small but high-density cat with a round barrel-like belly (she’s supposed to go on a diet soon). She’s a dark brownish tabby with a white bib, white socks, and a thin white stripe down the middle of her nose. I think she’s much cuter in person than in photographs.

She loves being petted more than anything else the world, especially the cheek scratches, and she chirps a little when she purrs like a quail or pigeon. She’s the shy one, mostly content to stay in her hidey-holes in the bedroom (her “safe” room for now), though she’s perfectly affectionate when she comes out to us.

I think she’ll be a super lovey cat, she just needs a little more adjustment time. Apparently it took her about a month to go beyond her safe spot in the shelter, so I’m pleased she’s already purring with us after not even 24 hours. They think she’s around three years old.

As much as I love the city of Paris, I couldn’t handle leaving her with that name. It just reminded me too much of Paris from “Gilmore Girls.” Plus, she seems like such a sweet and proper Southern lady, I figure her new name suits her.

Capture the Colour


No, I haven’t emigrated to England or South Africa or something. The “U” in the word “color” above is purposeful, as it’s the name of a blogging/photo contest/meme thing. I was nominated to take part by my pal Erin.

The “Capture the Colour” contest asks bloggers to post five photographs – one each for five different colors – and each color has a different blogger judge. Yes, it’s a contest, and yes, there are prizes, but I’m doing this for fun. So much so, in fact, that I’ve imposed more rules on my own photo selections, just to see what I’d end up with. I decided that I’d only use photos I’d posted to Instagram – so, not only were these all taken with my iPhone, they were all edited and posted to Instagram as well. It was kind of a fun rule, I have to say, although it severely limited the destinations I was able to cover – I only got the phone, after all, in January of this year.

At any rate, here are my five photos, with a bit of explanation about each one.


Full-time. Portland Timbers 2, Seattle Sounders 1. The Timbers Army had two fewer green smoke bombs to set off post-game, thanks to the goals, but they set off whatever else they’d brought when the final whistle blew. Green smoke, green city flags waving, green jerseys everywhere. It was a good day to be a Timbers fan.


Cherries in the Pacific Northwest are one of many reasons to love summers in this part of the world. My favorite farmer’s market stand is responsible for me knowing not just that I love cherries, but that I prefer Brooks cherries to any other variety. This is summertime candy. This was the day I bought double what I normally buy.


I waited 22 years to finally see Mont-Saint-Michel with my own eyes, and when we drove up to the rock the day before my 40th birthday it was almost entirely shrouded in fog. Two days later the fog lifted, but it rolled back in again as we drove away. The place is absolutely unreal, so I thanked the fog for making it appear that way, too.


We spent a long weekend in New York introducing my niece and nephew to the city. New York remains a place where I’m not yet at ease (this subway admonition is indicative of the in-your-face attitude I think the city exudes), but I’m getting there. On this trip, I rode the subway by myself for the first time in my life. Yes, this is a year of some milestones.


The Little Gray Cat will be 19 in August, so although she occasionally has moments of frenzy, running up and down the stairs as if she’s being chased by invisible dogs, she spends most of the day sleeping on her bed of blankets. When the sun is just so, however, and the skylight releases that beam of light into the corner of the doorway, she will saunter over and sit in that pool of light until it moves. She’s ready for her close-up, Mister DeMille.

There’s a whole nominate-five-other-bloggers component to this thing, which I’m not going to do. If you’d like to participate and you haven’t already been tagged, by all means consider yourself invited.