RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Memories of 2019

JANUARY

I picked two photos from each month of 2019 to represent my year in photography. Just like last year, some months I had too many choices and some months it was hard pickings.  So these aren’t necessarily my very best photos but I tried to show a variety of different places.

The photo above is reflections in a puddle at Culver City Park at the end of my street. We had a lot of rain last winter after a seven-year drought.


Red hot poker plants at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Some friends bestowed upon me a gift membership for which I am very grateful… and I am able to take a friend with me which makes it a doubly wonderful gift!

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FEBRUARY

I was clearing junk out of the garage in February as I was planning to move. That didn’t happen but it allowed me to get rid of a lot of stuff. I took a photo of this painting with my point & shoot before I drove it over to Goodwill. I must have painted this in the 1970s! I hope somebody bought it and is enjoying it. I may print it out and hang it on a wall to give it a new life.

A random photo of the boys. Frankie The Monster, who of course bagged the most comfy spot. And Freddie The Giant Cat who is so laid back and always lets Frankie get what he wants.

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MARCH

The Broad is a contemporary art museum in downtown LA. This was a booth by Yayoi Kusama constructed of mirrors. My selfie is on the right. My friend BG was standing at the other side of the booth so you can see her face in some of the other circles.

I’m not usually good at doing things on the spur of the moment but my friend LA decided she wanted to see the wildflowers. So as long as she was driving I said okay. Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore is about 85 miles from Culver City. We went on a Wednesday and made pretty good time. It was a fabulous day. On the way home we came as close as I have ever come to being killed in an accident. In my mind I was already dead. Make the most of every day because you never know when it will be your last. It just wasn’t our time.

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APRIL

Next door to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is La Brea Tar Pits with ongoing excavations. The site goes back to the Pleistocene Age. The extinct animals discovered at La Brea Tar Pits were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago. Outsiders always accuse Los Angeles of having no history… excuse me, we go back a lot further than most places in the US!

I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind when they named the Palms neighborhood of Los Angeles, adjacent to Culver City. But I always enjoy looking at this utility box on my walk to Sprouts Market on the LA side of Venice Blvd.

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MAY

I made several trips to Echo Park Lake this year. Paddling around on these swan Paddle Wheelers is now one of my favorite things to do in LA. It’s relaxing and good exercise at the same time with splendid views of the downtown skyline. I hope can cajole more friends into going with me in 2020. Wanna come along?

I’ve been wanting to visit the South Coast Botanical Gardens for many years. Finally made it in May. It was really delightful. We only saw a small area as my companion wasn’t able to walk far. But I’ll definitely be back to see the rest of it.

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JUNE

My friend SB and I were waiting at the harbor to take the boat back from Santa Catalina to San Pedro. This couple walked by. I loved the way they looked so I asked if it was okay to take their photo. She had made their matching outfits with fabric she had bought at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. She said she often made them matching outfits. How adorable is that?

I am a member of the Natural History Museum and it’s a short train ride from Culver City so I often pop in there, often on my own if nobody else is available or interested. This lovely guy was on display in the special exhibit on Antarctic Dinosaurs, the 25-foot-long, “cold-crested killer,” Cryolophosaurus. The exhibit featured an ongoing scientific expedition from the NHM and Chicago’s Field Museum as they dig for fossils today. La Brea Tar Pits is also part of the NHM.

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JULY

Rode the Amtrak train to Ventura with a group of friends. We hiked up the trails in the Ventura Botanical Gardens which is still recovering from the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Lovely views from the top. Ate lunch on the pier at Beach House Fish then walked along the pier watching people fishing.

BG and I made an overnight trip to Santa Barbara. Stayed at an historic estate, drove around the area, ate dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant, Due Lune Cucina, across from the beach as the sun was setting. Next day ate lunch on the pier before heading home. Wonderful experience.

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AUGUST

Mount Rushmore has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the movie North by Northwest with Cary Grant and the marvelous James Mason. So now I can say been there, done that! It was a trip to look up and see those monumental faces… it’s impossible to imagine how that can be achieved. As you are chiseling away you would only be able to see a miniscule part of what you are working on. Amazing.

We arrived at Old Faithful in Yellowstone in the evening. The glow of the setting sun was a magnificent backdrop to the geyser. This was my second visit to the park. This time we had the privilege of staying inside the park at the Old Faithful Inn. You just walk out the front door and there is Old Faithful right in front of you. Magnificent.

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SEPTEMBER

Second Home Pavilion was a temporary exhibit which I visited on one of the hottest days of the year at Hancock Park between LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits. I asked the young lady sitting at the entrance how she was doing and she indicated not too well. I enjoyed walking through the colorful maze of tunnels.

BG and I hung out at LACMA visiting several galleries. At Mary Corse: A Survey in Light we had a little fun as we became the artwork.

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OCTOBER

The celebration of El Dia de los Muertos is one of my favorite times to visit Grand Park. This year there were about 40 altars all personally and culturally relevant to Los Angeles honoring those who have passed over. It coincides with halloween and is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them.

 

Several friends met at the Sunset/Vermont Red Line station and rode the shuttle up to the Griffith Observatory. Half the group attempted the hike to Inspiration Point but it was too hot for me so I sat and chatted with the other half at the cafe and enjoyed the views. The hikers only made it half way before being forced to turn back. So I was glad I didn’t attempt it. I’ve suffered from heat stroke before and have to be careful.

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NOVEMBER

GM, EA and I made reservations for an early lunch at Perch on the 15th floor of the Pershing Square Building. I had eaten there previously and talked so much about it they wanted to experience it too and weren’t disappointed. Perch LA is a French-inspired rooftop bistro with unobstructed views of Downtown Los Angeles for guests to experience the feeling of floating along the skyline. The elevated spaces offer outdoor fireplaces, rooftop fire pits, indoor and outdoor dining experiences, and lounge seating to experience the city skyline views. The food isn’t bad either! This is just one of the many views when you walk around the outside area.

Several members of the Culver City Art Group met at the Getty Center to visit the exhibit Manet and Modern Beauty. You gotta love the staircase with the Manet image leading up to the exhibit. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the artist but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of his paintings… many I was not previously familiar with.

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DECEMBER

A friend is a member at Descanso Gardens. She very graciously picked me up at Union Station and drove the rest of the way… I took the E (formerly known as the Expo) Line to the Red Line… one of these days, probably not in my lifetime, the E Line is supposed to go all the way to Union Station. The gardens were beautifully decorated for the holidays. Of course I imagine it is really spectacular all lit up at night but it was pretty good during the day too.

Last but certainly not least, I led my 3rd Annual Downtown Holiday Decorations Walk ending with lunch at the Biltmore Hotel (at left). There were 13 participants… all women this year… but not too surprising. This lovely Christmas tree was located at the southeast corner of Pershing Square. Lined up correctly the star appears between the US Bank Building (Library Tower) and the Deloitte Building (the Gas Company Building). I had to pay those pigeons to take flight just at the right moment!

Thanks for bearing with me. Some months there were a few more photos I really wanted to include… but I had to keep to two from each month and not cheat… you wouldn’t have known if they didn’t appear in the correct months but I would have known!

I wish you all a very healthy, happy and adventurous 2020!


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Floating down the Snake River

Floating down the Snake River affords some great views… and the scenery is spectacular too! Aside from being very cute, our float guide was personable and knowledgeable and made the trip even more interesting. The Snake River flows from Yellowstone National Park meandering southwards to the Grand Tetons.

Last year I survived a similar float trip down the Bow River near Banff. It’s a terrific way to get up close and personal with nature.

Floating along listening to the waves lapping at the sides of the raft and the sound of the oar dipping into the water is extremely relaxing.

Civilization seems to be a million miles away.

Sit back and enjoy a peaceful trip down the river…

We encountered several fishermen along the way.

The skyscape in this part of the country is as gorgeous as the landscape.

As I mentioned before, this was my second visit to the Grand Tetons. The area is so amazing I hope at some point I will have the opportunity to make it a third time.


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Santa Barbara – part two – by evening’s light

After freshening up at the hotel in Montecito (stay tuned for Part Three) we drove to the beach area. To be accurate, BG did all the driving. Thanks BG. As we strolled along Cabrillo Blvd we noticed this lovely restaurant patio. The menu looked good so decision made.

We ate dinner at Due Lune Ristorante-Bar. I ordered the Garden Party salad accompanied by the house red wine which was pretty decent. BG chose a pasta dish which looked very pretty in bright green.

We could easily have been in Sorrento, Italy! There was a nice view of Stearns Wharf, the beach and people passing by.

I love taking these Southern California getaways. We have so much to do and see in our own back yard!

It was such a gorgeous evening. The few occasions over the years when I’ve been in Santa Barbara as the sun is going down I have always been struck by the golden light as the mountains are bathed in a pink and purple glow.

Click on an image below to start the slide show:

On the walk back to the car this quirky abandoned mail box on the street caught my attention… I couldn’t just leave it standing there without taking a photograph!

 


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Ventura Adventure

ventura city hall

Ventura City Hall

Ten of us adventurous souls met in Ventura for another exciting day. Seven of us took Amtrak from Los Angeles Union Station. The other three met us in Ventura.

Father Junipero Serra

I was out of bed at 3:45 to meet my friend at the bus stop at 6:15. The Expo Line was down for upgrading so we were stuck with the Metro #733 bus.

Father Junipero Serra looking out on the city of Ventura

It takes me two hours to get out of the house these days. Cleaning out the cat litter boxes, making the cat’s breakfast, watering my crops of tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, parsley, etc, making coffee, cooking breakfast, getting dressed, wandering around in a fog… it all takes time.

Ventura Botanical Gardens

I was ready to walk to the bus top by 5:45. It was beautiful walking through Culver City at that hour of the morning with only a couple of people walking their dogs and barely any traffic. So peaceful.

We arrived at Union Station with time to spare. I always like to be early instead of running at the last minute. As I always say, I would rather be two hours early than two minutes too late!

The Amtrak train left at 7:50am and we arrived in Ventura about 9:30. I LOVE traveling by train and Amtrak is soooooooo comfortable. It’s lovely to see the scenery go by from the top deck.

Our first stop was the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

The area was totally burned out in the Thomas fire of December 2017. But the gardens are being replanted and coming back quickly. You can still see the extent of the burned out areas.

The gardens are built on a hill with the option of switchback trails or stairs. I opted for the switchback. Whichever you chose there are some lovely views.

Plants are resilient and manage to grow in any situation.

Click on the first image below for a slide show:

After the hike up the hill we walked back through town towards the pier and lunch, always my favorite activity!

We ate at Beach House Fish. I ordered the wild snapper with mashed potatoes. I am a potato junkie… the way it is…

I thought this image represented the beach at Ventura!

Eating!

What a view as you eat your seafood lunch. Life is good.

After my delicious lunch I took a stroll along the pier. It’s a fishing pier.

Click on an image below for photos of the pier and views from the pier:

What a beautiful day we had with great friends!

Waiting for the Amtrak train back to Los Angeles.

 

 

 


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Trip to Catalina Island – part one

san pedro

My friend SB and I decided to stay overnight on Catalina Island, one hour and 15 minutes by boat from San Pedro, Port of Los Angeles.

I love taking photos at the port. A friend told me the structures in the above photo are called transtainers. But they look like “Transformers” to me!

Sometimes waiting to go on a journey can be as interesting as the journey itself!

We are experiencing June Gloom in Southern California but that’s fine with me as the cloud cover keeps the temperatures down. And most of the time the sun comes out in the afternoons. Not always but that’s still okay with me.

The Battleship Iowa is parked in the harbor. I have had the pleasure of climbing around on it. See my post here.

On the way! I’ll be posting more photos of our trip shortly!

 


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Canadian Rockies – Day Six – Banff to Jasper

Moraine Lake

On the sixth morning we left Banff to move on to Jasper. We visited two beautiful lakes. First was Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

Next on the agenda was Lake Louise, filled with turquoise colored water from Victoria Glacier. Click on image below for slide show:

We bought a salad and sandwich at the Fairmont Chateau than found a bench along the Lakeshore Trail to sit and eat lunch taking in this magnificent view.

In the afternoon we drove along Icefields Parkway to Jasper. On the way we stopped to look at waterfalls, Wolf Lake and the Athabasca Glacier. Click below to start slideshow:

At the end of the journey we entered Jasper Park, Canada’s largest national Park at 4,200 square miles (1,622 sq km). We checked into Jasper House Bungalows on the shore of the Athabasca River, my favorite hotel of the entire trip. We were there for two nights but I could have stayed there for a week!

Unfortunately, the amber-colored trees were the result of pine beetle.

We fell asleep listening to the river outside our window, ready for another adventure the next day.

 


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Canadian Rockies, Day Two

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel

What happened to Day One? Well, that was getting there. My alarm went off at 2:00am. I called for my taxi at 4:21am and arrived at LAX ready for the 7;25am flight. We landed in Calgary around 1:20pm after a change of planes in Salt Lake City. That evening my three friends and I met our tour guide and the other 40 people on the Caravan tour.

 

Waterton Lakes National ParkIn the morning we left Calgary for Waterton Lakes National Park. The trip there was well, let’s just say it was hazy!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Looking down at the town of Waterton

Thank goodness for photographing in RAW format and photo processing in Lightroom with the “dehaze” function and some other tweaking!

Waterton Lakes National Park

This is what the scene above actually looked like!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Another view of the Prince of Wales Hotel

I was told there were approximately 500 wildfires raging across Canada.

Waterton Lakes National ParkThe smoke was so thick I heard it was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Flower bouquets at our hotel

 

Once settled in our hotel, we embarked on a cruise of Waterton Lake.Waterton Lakes National Park
The world’s first International Peace Park, formed in 1932 by combining Waterton Lakes Park in Canada with Glacier Park in Montana. These two parks form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a celebration of friendship between Canada and the US. Let’s hope!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton  Waterton Lakes National Park

Even though it was very hazy I made the decision I was going to keep snapping away and hope I could bring out some of the details in Lightroom when I got home. That turned out to be a great decision.

Waterton Lakes National Park

The cruise was very peaceful and just what I needed after the frenzied day before running for flight connections and getting to the hotel in Calgary. And previously that day we had a long, very boring bus trip from Calgary to Waterton. Compared to all that, this was truly blissful.

Click on an image below for images of the lake cruise

You’re not seeing double, I just wanted to show this image again to point out this photo of the line cut to demark the border of the US and Canada.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

I liked this photo showing the “Thumbs Up” Canadian flag!

Waterton Lakes National Park

I always love reflections on the water.

Waterton Lakes National Park

We arrived at our destination on the Montana side of the lake. We were able to stretch our legs for a while. Click on an image below.

Then back on the boat to Canada!

We enjoyed a delicious dinner with a beautiful view. Then back to our hotel room.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Our patio furniture

Lovely view of lake from our room

View of the lake from our room. We sat outside for a while in the evening, sucking it all in.

And last, the three lovely ladies who made my trip so enjoyable!


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Lotus Festival at Echo Park

echo park lotus festival

“Park Proud”

Another day, another adventure in Los Angeles!

Yesterday I joined several friends to celebrate the blooming Lotus plants at Echo Park, located approximately two miles from downtown LA. As usual, we all arrived by public transportation from all over the city. For me it was the Expo Line train to the #200 Metro bus up Alvarado to Sunset Blvd.

echo park lotus festival

This was the 37th annual festival. Echo Park Lake was closed for several years for rehabilitation. The festival started again just a few years ago. Every year the festival is hosted by a different country and this year it was the turn of Bangladesh.

You can read my blog post about the history of the park here.

echo park lotus festival

It was a pretty hot day yesterday… and humid… but it was a lovely day by the water. The lotus plants were lush and tall due to all the rain we had in the winter months and now the heat.

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

The dragonflies were enjoying themselves too.

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

One of the highlights of the festival is the dragon boat races.  I’ve been to Echo Park many times to walk and take photos but this was my first time at the festival so I was delighted to finally see a dragon boat race! Click on a photo below for slideshow:

echo park lotus festival

The opening ceremonies were colorful and fun with a traditional Bangladesh puppet lion dance. Click on image below for slideshow:

This certainly worked up an appetite. I was hoping for some Bangladesh food but that didn’t pan out.

echo park lotus festival

But I certainly enjoyed my Korean BBQ squid. I also ordered a watermelon drink, not realizing it came with it’s own pool float! Now if I only had a pool…. but I’ll use it as a coaster.

echo park lotus festival

After lunch we had an enjoyable walk around the lake.

echo park lotus festival

The dragon boat races continued on throughout the day with various teams. It seemed that some teams were taking the race seriously, really out to win. Others were just having fun, which would be my option.

echo park lotus festival

I always enjoy festivals of any kind as they all have their own special flavor, like last month’s Summer Solstice parade in Santa Barbara. And coming up the end of this month is the Gilroy Garlic Festival, my all time favorite… stay tuned for my post about that!

If you’ve never visited Echo Park I certainly recommend the effort to get there… even if you can’t make it to the Lotus Festival…

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Feline Friday – #43 – at the watering hole

Freddie-water-purifier-052016-001-C-600px

I’ve been looking for a water purifying system for a while now. I got tired of driving to the Water Store, filling up my three two-gallon bottles and lifting them in to the back of my car, driving home and then having to carry them up all my stairs. It was getting to be too much for my knees and shoulders.

My main concern is to rid the water of the fluoride in our city drinking water. The reverse osmosis system employed at the Water Store is the most efficient at ridding that drug from the water (along with all the beneficial minerals, of course.) At-home RO systems seem to be in the experimental stage at this point.

So I looked at drip systems. To make a long story short, I chose the ProPur Big system which contains all-in-one contaminants & fluoride filter elements so I don’t have to fiddle with extra filters for the fluoride.

It seems really dumb that our government contaminates our water with the fluoride drug without our consent only to have a multi-million dollar industry built around extracting that same drug. Could there be some symbiosity there?

Oh, Freddie is admonishing me. This post is supposed to be about him and not my conspiracy theories!

Freddie-water-purifier-052016-005-C-600px

Cats in general are attracted to running water. But Freddie has a particular affinity to it. He could be in a deep sleep in the darkest corner of the house. Upon hearing a splash of water, he is up and running in the direction of the sound. 

So when I’m pouring water into the water filter tank, or pouring it out into the water dispenser (as above) he has to be in the middle of it.

Freddie-water-purifier-052016-007-C-600px

The way the system works, in case you are interested, is I pour about two gallons of tap water into the top tank that sits on the bottom tank pictured in the back (the top tank is not shown and if I wasn’t feeling so lazy right now I could go downstairs and take a photo of the whole thing set up but you’ll have to use your imagination). The top tank contains the filters. The water oozes down to the bottom tank in a matter of hours. I then pour the filtered water into the stainless steel “fusti” which I keep on the kitchen counter.

As I don’t have a use for the wet bar in my living room (I was using it for storage), it has become the perfect space for my water system! The two heart-shaped tiles to the left are my ceramic painted portraits of the late, great Friday and my current older cat, sweet Pharoah.

Click here for a related post on the drinking water fountain I bought for the cats, which has turned out to be a winner.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Feline Friday – #39 – running to the running water

freddie and frankie water dish

Freddie and Frankie both have an affinity for flowing water. Whenever they hear water running, they come running to check it out.

Drinking out of the bathroom faucets in the washbasin or bathtub became a morning habit with the two fighting over the optimal position to receive the nectar of the gods from the tap.freddie and frankie water

Every morning I thought I really had to figure out a replacement for this activity. I never drink unfiltered city water myself so why should I inflict this on innocent creatures who depend on me to make these decisions. And Los Angeles water isn’t exactly mountain pure. Feline Friday is not the format to get into that discussion so I will move on.

All the pet drinking fountains I had seen in the stores were made out of plastic. When my late cat Friday was drinking and eating out of plastic dishes, he developed a condition known as feline acne (quite common) around his mouth and lips. I switched to stainless steel and the problem disappeared.

Amazon to the rescue! I searched for stainless steel pet drinking fountains and there were quite a few choices. There are still plastic elements in the fountains but nothing is perfect. The one I decided on seemed to have the least amount of plastic and the most amount of steel coming into contact with the cats. I also needed one that was substantial enough that these two rambunctious guys wouldn’t knock it over… and big enough that they could both use it at the same time as you can see in the photo at the top of the page. And the gallon size doesn’t require refilling all the time.

freddie and frankie water dish

There are two ways to enjoy the water. One is drinking out of the bottom bowl where the water is calm like a zen pool.

freddie and frankie water dish

The other is to drink out of the top bowl where the water is being recirculated so it is always moving… just like the cat drinking it!

freddie and frankie water dish

Another option is to drink the water as it slides down the side of the top bowl in a waterfall. Freddie seems most attracted to this.

The most amazing part about this story is that I ordered the fountain from Amazon in the afternoon, clicked on one-day Prime member delivery and voila…. it was delivered by 9:00pm that evening!

I set it up immediately (you have to read the instructions for the motor and other info on putting it together… but it couldn’t be easier) and decided to put it just outside the bathroom. Freddie and Frankie came running up the stairs right away and wasted no time in getting their snouts wet.

Pharoah has never attempted to drink out of a faucet so I didn’t think he would be interested. I was wrong. I should have had my camera handy to take pictures, but I didn’t. So I missed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to snap a photo of all three guzzling the water at the same time. Just take my word for it, it was overly cute!

We’ve had the fountain for three days now and it is certainly a success with the cats stopping by individually to quench their thirst. Of course, with cats you never know if or when they will lose interest. But unlike an optional toy, cats drink a lot of water, so I think this was money well spent.

Although the motor is silent, I turn it off at night to save electricity.

There is some maintenance cleaning the cat hair out of the filter and motor on a timely basis but the fountain comes apart easily and compared to cleaning out litter boxes this should be a cinch!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!