Butter Bib the miracle cat.

About a month ago, we had yet another health worry with Butter Bib (a/k/a Zen). Since then she has bounced back and is in fine form, still going up and down the stairs, and also going up and down the little plastic steps we have by our bed. Now that the weather is colder, I often wake up in the wee hours with her cold nose pressed against the inside of my elbow, like a tiny ice cube melting on me. It is one of Zen’s most endearingly annoying habits … and she has accumulated quite a few of those over her twenty-one years.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: pages turning as FunkyPlaid reads in the other room.

The grand old Holidailies catch-up.

I’m quite behind with Holidailies this year, so I’m going to catch up with one long post of pieces parts instead of trying to make, uh, eleven separate things. OK with you? Good, let’s go!

Every December starts out snail-slogging through the first week and then all of a sudden Christmas is next week wait what? Oops.

I won my Goodreads reading challenge of 25 books a bit ahead of schedule, but so many of those were short or re-reads that it didn’t feel like a real win. I’m about to re-read another book, too; I finally saw the trailer for the “Good Omens” series and I am beyond excited.

It is difficult to be annoyed by evening commute traffic while laughing at the latest episode of Paul F. Tompkins’ podcast, “Spontaneanation”.

The song “Level Up” by Vienna Teng has been running through my head lately. The song is excellent, but the video … well, it levels it up.

And then my uncle sent me a link to her exquisite “Ain’t No Sunshine / Lose Yourself” cover/mashup and though I thought I could not love her any more I became one giant goosebump when I listened to this.

It’s the season of giving, so here is one of the cutest kitten photos I have ever seen.

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An exceptionally modest lil lady. ūüėČ

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Have you heard of “binge boxes”? They’re boxes of 3-6 DVDs grouped around a theme or actor that you can check out from your local library! My favorite that I’ve seen: “A Box of Rocks” — all films starring The Rock.

Speaking of libraries, I love seeing positive tweets and posts about them on social media … but the best way to support your local library is to show up and use it. If you don’t know how to get started with your local library, or even where it is, leave a comment on this post and I will help you. I mean it!

Thus concludes the grand old Holidailies catch-up. I’ll try for another post tomorrow.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: rain and wind and rain.

The dream and the skeptic.

Last night, sleeping on the floor of my study with my hand resting under the chin of my aging cat, I had a visitation dream. You know the kind, the dreams we see in movies or read in books, during which all of the details are so vivid that it seems real, it must be real … and then we wake up.

Our other cat came to me in this dream, our beloved mackerel tabby Torgi, and head-butted my face repeatedly, just as he did while he was alive. He brushed up against me and walked over my legs and flomped down next to me, at once distracting me from my distress over Zen and reassuring me that she would be fine. That we would be fine.

When I woke, I felt his presence lingering, the distinct scent of his fur, and the space by my ribcage still felt warm. As an avowed skeptic, I started to file the experience under “Moments My Subconscious Mind Doesn’t Suck” — a thin file, indeed, by the score of nightmares I have experienced. Then I reached for the paw of my still-living cat and let the feeling of the inexplicable wash over us both.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “When I’m Small” by Phantogram.

Where were you?

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I hear a piercing cry from somewhere in the house. It’s a small house, but sound carries and bounces and hides. I do a full circuit, glancing in all of the usual places, and get halfway around again before I hear another cry, this time from upstairs.

“Zen? Zen?” She can’t have gone far; she’s almost twenty-one years old, and “running” isn’t in her repertoire anymore.

I reach the top of the stairs but she is not in sight, so I walk down the hall into the bedroom. No, nothing in here. I walk back out and she is standing at the top of the stairs, gazing down.

For a moment, I watch her contemplating her own existence, or staring into the middle distance — it’s not always clear which is which, with cats or humans. But it’s not long before I can help myself from saying, softly, “Hey.”

She looks at me and makes the different sound, the purr-trill that I’ve come to know as, “Where were you?”

I scoop her up and carefully descend. She’ll settle again for a little while, until a chill or the wind or a bad dream or existential dread will rouse her from twitch-ridden sleep. Like she is mourning an old friend, Zen’s cries will rise and slide up the wooden bannister until I, bleary with my own bad dreams, will go and find her again.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the low hum of the space-heater. Welcome to Holidailies, a free community writing project that promotes sharing your writing and other online creative endeavors during the winter holiday season.

Fragility in fur.

Zen, August 2017.
Zen, August 2017.

Born and forged in hothouse Alabama, Zen is a creature of heat. Throughout this week‚Äôs heat wave, she has sought out the warmest parts of our home. Like the corner of the eaves which ‚ÄĒ despite sounding like a place of great magical power in a children‚Äôs book series ‚ÄĒ is an infernal pocket of breath-sucking dryness. When not upstairs, Zen lounged on her heating pad during our 100¬į+ days.

I caught her once or twice splayed out on the wood floors, cooling herself off, but then she’d heft herself up and trek upstairs.

This morning, the heat has let up a bit. Zen has found a patch of sunshine. In photos like this one, I can pretend I don’t see the gauntness that has partially deflated her football shape. Zen has always loved the heat, but now she needs it because she doesn’t have the padding that used to keep her warm. Kneeling before her, half-dappled in sunlight, I bury my face in her fur. She hooks one paw over my forearm and kneads, purring, while my fingertips graze the tiny ridges of her vertebrae. Maybe soon, I think, but not yet.

Not yet.

This week.

Life

That was quite a week, wasn’t it? Someone’s been busy.¬†All I did was go to work, get a haircut, and try not to lose my damned mind over every New York Times app notification. Even my trusty Lamy 2000 fell apart.

At least Zen has had a great¬†week. In between “spa treatments” (read: subcutaneous fluids) she’s been hand-fed baby food and otherwise fussed over pretty much non-stop.

Work

For every task I completed, I added three more to my to-do list. And next week begins with catalog upgrades, which means downtime, which means falling even further behind. January: snowed under on both metaphorical and literal levels.

Media

I started reading again! Currently I’m alternating between Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass.

FunkyPlaid and I watched an episode of Daredevil, but were too bored to continue. We moved on to Black Mirror, which is terrific but probably not the best thing to be watching at the moment.

Aurally, it’s mostly¬†movie soundtracks and Jelly Roll Morton for me.

On the Internet

Ink o’ the Week

Noodler’s Ottoman Azure: deep sapphire blue with plenty¬†of shading¬†for capturing the¬†nuances of melancholy.

Featured photo: the sign we put up in our yard.

This Week

Life

So many things were disrupted this week that I don’t know where to start. I’ll start with the most important: despite a health scare, Zen is okay.

On Thursday morning, Zen¬†started to show signs of discomfort due to constipation, and by the early afternoon her health appeared¬†to have¬†deteriorated rather quickly. Despite our vet being closed due to the weather, we managed to get her an appointment with an emergency vet six miles away. But¬†neither FunkyPlaid nor I could drive due to the state of the roads. Portland’s largest cab company had just stopped answering the phone, and another cab company let me schedule a cab ride hours in advance but then never called to tell me¬†that they were running 30-45 minutes behind schedule.¬†Thank goodness for Lyft drivers with chains and 4-wheel drive.

48 hours of hospitalization later, Zen is starting to approach her old self. She is still worn out from the procedures, but she is eating and drinking and purring and cuddling. Right now she is happily curled up in her favorite cardboard box. Her prognosis is good, especially for a cat about to turn twenty, and I am so grateful.

Of course, I have been a total wreck over this, plus I came down with my own illness on Thursday morning (a standard yet persistent head-cold), so it has not been the greatest of weeks on record.

And then there’s the snowpocalypse. Portland pretty much shut down on Tuesday evening and started to open back up again on Friday morning, but as of this writing the roads in our neighborhood are still packed with snow and ice. FunkyPlaid has been an expert forager, but I’m really, really, really tired of not being able to do basic¬†things like drive to work or even walk to the bus stop safely.

Work

I only had a two-day work week, and although I tried to enjoy the enforced downtime I am fairly stressed about everything that has piled up and is waiting for me tomorrow morning. RescueTime tells me that I have been 50% productive this week, which seems high for being snowed in and having a sick cat and the lurgy.

Media

I was too restless to spend much time reading, but¬†Mini Metro has been an exceptionally good distraction in times of stress. It’s a subway layout game; what’s not to love?

Spotify’s Winter Classical playlist is¬†a treat, especially on snow days.

As a side note, I upgraded my car’s software so it now has¬†CarPlay, which means I can listen to Spotify on the way to work! If I ever get to drive my car again.

FunkyPlaid and I are almost finished with Luke Cage and are loving the soundtrack too. I also have a lot of reading to do.

On the Internet

Ink o’ the Week

Kaweco Summer Purple: a muted, calming¬†purple. Breathe. Visualize the snow melting away … there, that’s better.

Day 357 of Project 365: Zen’s new hiding place.

Zen didn’t get up to say goodbye as I was heading to the airport, but that’s okay. She has a new hiding place: right in front of the register, underneath the nesting tables. 

I tried to move the tables and put her bed there, but she just folded herself up underneath the tables and looked disappointed. Message received. I’ll miss this little weirdo but I’m looking so forward to seeing FunkyPlaid for a few days!

Day 347 of Project 365: Boxed in.

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Box: check. Crinkly paper: check. Proximity to me: check. Yep, Zen’s happy.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: an episode of “Broadchurch”.

Day 333 of Project 365: New friend.

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Operation: Make Zen Happier is in full effect. This was taken a moment before Zen pounced like a kitten on her new catnip jellyfish.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: Zen gnawing.