Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What is a Year?

December 12, 2016 we lost our sweet Nana Lou. Today, we are turning over the blog to Z-Girl. We'll be back again soon. ~The Squeedunk Gang

It's been a year. One year since I held her hands in mine. Her hands that used to make chicken soup when I was sick, and my peanut butter sandwiches for school lunches. The hands that scrubbed floors and did homework and wiped away rivers of tears. And applauded at dance recitals, choir concerts and school plays. The hands that used to help me cross the street, that wrapped themselves lovingly around every kitty that she had the chance to touch.

A year since I heard her say I love you to Julie and me. Despite her almost inability to speak in those last few hours before she passed, she was able to push out the words I love you multiple times.

A year since I saw those pretty blue eyes. Or felt her thick hair, or listened to her heartbeat as I lay my head on her chest. Our last motion together was her taking her final breath, an exhale that became my next inhale. I'll never, ever forget that moment.

What is a year, really? It's the time taken by a planet to make an orbit around the sun. And that measurement of this thing we call time has done nothing to dull the sadness, or shift the grief. It's just a way we humans experience our existence on this planet, in all its beauty and splendor.

Time. That ever confusing commodity, the one that we never have enough of when the situation is sublime, the one we can't hold on to, or recover, once it's slipped through our fingers.

I've had this ongoing internal dialogue about time that came in to focus when Joey passed away in 2002. I explored new depths with the concept when I turned 40 just a few years later. Is it any wonder that there are some songs that bring me to tears, chords and lyrics awakening cells within my body that ache to understand more about time? Similar to the shift I feel as spring begins to emerge, reminding me of the downward spiral we experienced leading up to Joey's passing. And now a new cellular dance has started, tethered to the year end holidays. Mom's cancer was diagnosed just prior to Thanksgiving in 2016. We buried her just before Christmas on December 17.

But for this moment in time, this December 12, I'll think not just of those days and minutes leading to her transition. There are far too many remarkable and ordinary instances that define MaryLou and I won't allow her passing to rewrite 83 years of her well lived life.

It's interesting how the mind switches from linear thinking to reviewing events in shuffle mode--a slide show of sorts. I hear her voice singing my name when I was a little girl, "Laura Lee, I love you." I can remember her asking First Grade Laura, "did those little hands work hard today?" Images flow of her with all of our cats, her rituals in feeding them or caring for them; always at least one curled up with her or supervising her as she went about her daily tasks. One of my favorite things to do was watch her get dressed to go out for dinner or to a party. Julie and I always wanted to be with her as she put on her makeup and selected her outfit.  She eventually allowed us to help her by getting out her evening bag and shoes, or her jewelry. These are activities I undertake with the same cadence today.

The holidays bring on a different level of remembrance. Mom really loved to play Christmas music and decorate the house. It was a festive event and Julie and I loved helping her unveil the decorations that had been tucked away in the attic. We sang along with Glen Campbell and Peggy Lee, Sinatra and Dean Martin, the Chipmunks. As we got older, she started gifting to us our own decorations. I have multiple Snow Babies that she selected because they reminded her of me (Julie also received Snow Babies, hers matching her personality).

My Snow Babies, Mom's Santa shot glasses with assorted Christmas balls. 

Some things just won't hold the same wonder or majesty again. Intellectually I know it's the cycle of life. Emotionally I continue to stretch my understanding of this plane and the next, the journey of the soul. The interconnectivity between this life and life everlasting. And as the river of tears flow, those hands that did everything to set me steady aren't here. I can't, in my human form, reach for them again. Yet I know rooted deep within me, deep inside the same cells that are searching for understanding, she is ever present. Not only do I have her DNA, I have love and compassion that she cultivated. Memories that continue to unfold and spin me around to instances that had gone underground as time has marched onward. I have her evening bags, other material possessions. And I will have her hand awaiting mine, beyond this earthly odyssey.

Here's to you, MaryLou. I miss you so.

This is Mom with my Uncle Harry at one of the Zaccardi weddings. I love it because you can see her beautiful smile. I have many photos to sort through and scan. 

A sweet one, likely from her days as an American Airlines stewardess. 

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Coco Selfie

It's Coco.
And it's Sunday. A purrfectly good day for us to share a selfie. And that selfie is of me, of course.

Last time we blogged Z-Girl promised a few photos of our newly finished front room. I'd just like to add that this is MY room. I love lounging on the big ottoman, I sleep inside the armoire, and also enjoy stretching out on the rug or the concrete floor, depending upon temperature and my mood. So of course, now everyone wants to hang up here. Valentina has her perch, and Manhattan really likes the ottoman. Now even that stripped foster cat Picasso likes take naps here. This is why I take refuge inside the armoire.

Please keep in mind that Z-Girl uses her iPhone, so these are native pictures. We'll see if we can invite Miss Wendy back to do a photo shoot when we get a replacement table and a nice mirror for the wall.

Allow me to explain what you see in this picture:
When entering the apartment, this is what you see to the left. The armoire is beautiful and is such a nice space for me. Z-Girl leaves the door ajar so I can go in and out as I please. There is also a dresser, and behind the dresser is a curtain with paper wall art hanging from an old piece of wood, suspended from the ceiling. Guess what is behind the curtain? Some of our litter boxes, and shelves to store extra cat food, our cat carriers, tools and some cleaning supplies! It's really nifty because for a long time, this was open and exposed. It didn't look very inviting at all.
The ottoman is in front of both white pieces, covered with a pretty AND snuggly blanket. The pillow on top of it is a style called Valentina! (we didn't name it--that's how it is listed for sale!!)

 This picture shows the right side of the room, where you can see how the hallway runs. You will notice here the KittyPod by Iti and also the Pet Fusion scratcher. Vali and Manhattan love those and spend a lot of lounge time there. When Z-Girl hosts her big party every October, all of these items are moved to the bedroom area and they move along with them!!

This is another photo, with better lighting, that shows the entry table and chairs. Z-Girl is in search of a nice mirror to hang above the table and ultimately wants to replace this one. But it does the trick, for now.

On the wall we have paintings by artist friends. We live in an artist live/work space so Z-Girl has accumulated pieces that she is so happy about having as part of a collection. The best part about each piece is that she knows the artists personally so it makes them really special.

This room is designed as a dressing room, as it is closer to the bathroom than the bedroom area; and it's away from the windows! But it doubles as a sitting room, and triples as our kitty powder room.

Hope you enjoyed getting to see my crib.

We are joining in the Sunday Blog Hop,  at The Cat on My Head, why don't you hop on over to see some other cool blogs?

 Coco, out.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Rocky Mountain High: The Trip to Colorado

Today we are letting Z-Girl post about her trip to Colorado. It's hard to believe that was a month ago!
The Girls at Squeedunk
Lulu sleeps.

Fresh air. Beautiful surroundings. A multitude of hiking and panoramic scenes to experience. Frozen Dead Guy. This is Us, marathon style. Zipping around in a sports car. Butterfly migration. Sunrises over the mountains. Cementing a friendship.

And of course: meeting celebricats Katie and Waffles, in the fur! 

In September, I journeyed to Colorado. *Unless* the week I spent inside a Sheraton Conference Center in the Denver area for my orientation at PricewaterhouseCoopers back in 1999 would qualify, this was my first real visit to the Centennial State.

It was a long overdue vacation, on the heels of a year-long project. No time off for 15 months, the loss of my mom, and a decline in self care (as evidenced by passing out in my kitchen from dehydration in July) led me to plan for a trip where balancing activity with respite was on the agenda every day.

At BlogPaws 2016, I met Debbie Glovatsky in person for the first time. But Debbie and I had already collaborated on a number of projects. My blog design, including business cards. Then some branding for a project with a client in NY. And finally developing my professional logo and business cards. I am an avid fan of her blog, Glogirly, and was already reading before she adopted Waffles. We discussed getting together after the conference, and with her move to CO in 2017 and my project rolloff date of September1, it was perfect timing for me to plan a trip.

Debbie lives in an area close to Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldorado Canyon State Park and a few other areas of interest. Her house is situated on 16 acres with a challenging hike downhill. Because she had posted some beautiful photos to Facebook, when she invited me to visit, I said yes immediately!

Each day we were able to choose from a variety of outdoor activities that were accompanied by spectacular views, challenging walks, scenic drives and fresh air-- remember, I live in an urban area--so fresh air is exhilarating!

A few highlights via iPhone photos are below. And for my photography buff friends, yes, one day I will learn how to properly adjust and size my photos.
If you know me, then you know snakes are the thing I fear the most on this planet. We did see one (NOT a rattler) on the trail. Thankfully, Debbie didn't have to resuscitate me...Eldorado Canyon State Park, Rattlesnake Gulch Trail Head
 Water falling over rock, Eldorado Canyon State Park
I made it to the top of Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. Behind Debbie and me in the distance is the Continental Divide, Eldorado Canyon State Park

Red Rocks
 Frozen Dead Guy, Nederland. Interesting story with an entire celebration each year called Frozen Dead Guy Days. Read about it here.

We also stopped in Idaho Springs, home of the Great Rocky Mountain Gold Rush, for lunch on our way back from Red Rocks.
Each morning I was greeted with a different and glorious sunrise through the picture windows of the guest room.
And my buddy Waffles would come in to ensure that I was awake and ready to address the day.

Here is Waffles, just waiting to join in the discussion. I didn't have my iPhone handy when he undertook his morning patrols, but I can tell you there was purring involved. He also curled up on me during couch time.

I must regale you with the thrill of meeting the illustrious Katie. If you missed the blog posts that Glogirly wrote during and following my visit, check them out here and here. Because I touched Katie. I actually pet her. Three pets to be exact. And, she didn't exactly hide in the closet my entire visit! She talked to me a few times and circled around while Glogirly and I watched This is Us (Season One) in binge mode.

 Katie. She is so soft and silky. And has the sweetest meow. 

We also had the pleasure of experiencing the fleeting and simply marvelous migration of Painted Lady butterflies. After returning from one of our day trips, Debbie called me to the kitchen. As she grabbed her camera, I followed her outside to witness a flurry of butterflies who stopped by her property on their migratory path. We were astonished by the sheer volume of butterflies, and how they departed as quickly and quietly as they arrived. A Google search revealed that they had been on the local news the night prior! Perhaps Debbie will post some of the snapshots she took that day, as I wasn't quick enough to grab my iPhone.

I'd like to thank Debbie not just for hosting me, but for planning out fascinating day trips and helping me on the challenging hikes; for laughing together and for opening her home to me. I hope that some time in the future, I'll meet Gloman. He wasn't in CO at the time of this trip--but if I'm lucky, there will be a next time!!

We saw this on a bench in Eldorado Canyon. I love it, and I hope to move my life into a place where I not just accept this truth, but live it. 

This is Z-Girl. Over and out.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Selfie with Lulu and the Window Sill

Hi, it's Lulu.

One of my favorite spots in the warehouse apartment is on the window sill.

Today it's a bit dreary and a little rainy which means I can watch the rain fall on the roof of the building across the street. It's a comforting sight, especially because I'm inside where I can stay dry.

Meanwhile, Z-Girl is busily pulling out her Halloween decorations and setting up for a party this weekend. This means that I'll hide under the bed or in the closet and it also means I won't be alone. We don't all get along but when there is a group of people visiting we ban together and share the hideaway spaces. Don't tell anyone but I'm going to try to hide in the pillows because it is nice and comfy, what with the silk and the velvet:

We hope our furiends are having a nice Sunday. I see the vacuum cleaner--geesh! Z-Girl and her cleaning.

We are part of a blog hop! Join our friends at The Cat on My Head to see more selfies! 

Lulu, out.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Easy Sunday with Foster Failure Mimi

They call me Mimi.

I'm also something known as a foster failure, which sounds like a bad thing but for me it's been a pretty good deal.

I've been in the Warehouse apartment for almost two years. And boy do I have the scoop on *everything* here. I'll share more about all I've learned some other time.

Here I am in one of my favorite spots, sleeping on Z-Girls bed and snuggled with one of her shirts (Go Ravens!)

For today, I wanted to post my selfie and ask all of our furiends to have an Easy Sunday.

We at Squeedunk also want to pause for some of our furiends in the blogosphere who have gone to the Rainbow Bridge: Phoebe of 15 and Meowing, and Zuzu of Colehaus Cats both departed for their journeys this week and we are so very sad. We are still mourning the loss of Zoe from Animal Shelter Volunteer Life and missed the opportunity to join the Blog Hop in her honor last week.

Fly free sweet kitties, and may their human families adjust to loving their soul and spirit without their physical presence in their homes. We know the sadness is unspeakable.

So friends, snuggle with someone you love. Find joy in a moonbeam or a soft meow.
This is Mimi, over and out.

It's a BlogHop! You can visit our friends at The Cat on My Head to learn more about the hop!

Phoebe's BlogHop

Friday, September 15, 2017

A long hiatus, and now a journey...

Hi everyone, it's Valentina.

Goodness gracious, how long does a cat have to wait to post to her blog? Can it really be that seasons have come and gone and we've been silent?

This is me, demanding time on the computer for blogging.

We really hope our furiends are doing well, and want to remind you that we are active on our Instagram account. Z-girl is pretty good about putting photos of us there, so if you miss us please follow @squeedunkcats

Here are some highlights about life in the Warehouse apartment.

Z-girl finally finished the decor by sectioning off our litter box area and giving us privacy. She also purchased a big armoire to house more of her stuff. Coco loves to nap inside. This means the front of the apartment is now a dressing room and sitting area, with a private kitty litter box haven. We'll post some photos of that transformation soon. Really, we will.

Manhattan had a health scare in the summer--she had a gland burst open. (Pardon the word, but it was an anal gland--yikes!). Because M is so smart she alerted Z-girl who whisked her to the emergency vet, where they performed a quick surgery to clean it out and repair the rupture. Manhattan went to our regular vet a month later for a check-up and dental procedure. She lost one tooth; the rest looked healthy, so they were polished and she was given a clean bill of health. Z-girl just has to pay more attention to gland maintenance!

Manhattan gazing at the morning lights, July 2017

Bessie and Lulu are doing just fine. They are constantly monitoring the activities outside our window (ongoing, annoying construction), and have grown to be great teachers for the various foster cats we've had in and out of the apartment over the past two years.
Bessie is guarding her banana. Lulu gets annoyed when Z-girl takes photos.

And in June, Z-girl tried to re-home Mimi, our foster girl who is now known as the Foster Failure.

Mimi is 9 years old, and while she loves the warehouse apartment, she doesn't enjoy other kitties. She gets along with some of us, but truly prefers to be left alone (she craves human companionship, not feline...). Z-girl thought it was worth a try, and so PAD PAWS found a *wonderful* option for her: with a male cat who is 15 years old, who had recently lost his long-time pal. The couple who adopted Mimi really worked to help her acclimate, giving her all the time and proper space to integrate. After a few weeks it was clear that Mimi was not blending in, and not a good companion to the existing housecat. So the decision was made for Z-girl to pick her up and bring her home.

Should there be a situation where an adopter could provide Mimi with the human love and safety she deserves, with no other pets, Z-girl would re-home her. Mimi forgave Z-girl after about a week and has resumed her sleeping spot on the bed with Bessie and Lulu during the night hours. The story ends well for the 15 year old cat seeking a friend: another kitty in need was adopted, and has adjusted well! We are super happy for everyone. 

Coco. What can I tell you about Coco. She's the Queen here, you know. She liked me when I first arrived, but everyone else has had to endure a hazing period. 

That's me washing Coco's ears when I was a baby. We used to snuggle, but not anymore. 

She won't admit this, but I'm going to let you in on a secret: Coco has not been as difficult on our fosters as she was with Manhattan, Bessie and Lulu when they first arrived. SHHHH.....

And yes, we do have *another* foster in the apartment right now. Her name is Picasso. Z-girl and the PAD PAWS team of Denise and Natalie were putting food down in a location by a bank. For a long time they joked that they were just feeding seagulls. Even Z-girl wanted to stop the routine, but Natalie had this feeling that there was a cat on the premises. One day, Picasso showed herself to Z-girl, who had the weeknight routine of feeding on her way home from work. Picasso was so pretty and sweet, and the team decided it was time to get her this spring. So they trapped her, and discovered her tail was injured. 

Luckily, she was rescued just in time and her tail was saved! It's a good thing too because her FAVORITE toy is her tail. She plays with it ALL THE TIME! She is still not allowing human touch, but she comes to the kitchen and asks for her food, and she comes out when there are guests in the apartment, and sleeps beside the bed. So we think it's just a matter of time before petting is permitted. 

Here is pretty Picasso. I'll admit, I get a little jealous when she is in the window where I want to sit. But I don't mind when she comes to the kitchen to ask for her food! 

She will be available for adoption through PAD PAWS soon. Z-girl thinks she is going to be an adorable addition to someone's home.

There's more to tell about PAD PAWS and kitties who are looking for homes. Another blog topic! A wonderful post was written by our friend's Lola The Rescued Cat in August about Otis, Milo and Cami who really, really need to find a furever home. If anyone can open their hearts to 3 senior, bonded cats this crew are the best! You can also follow them on Instagram  @operationtwelvetinypaws. 

This is Otis and Cami, where PAD PAWS used to feed them. This spot has now been demolished and is just one of the construction sites in Jersey City. Progress is not always positive. 

Z-girl asked me to thank everyone for their kindness. Some of you have donated to PAD PAWS causes; others have helped us by promoting our requests for fosters and contributions. Still others have responded to us on Facebook and Instagram during our hiatus, to offer support and love. 

Photo by Wendy Ploger

And now, Z-girl prepares to go on a much needed vacation. Can you guess where she is headed? Read Glogirly's blog post to find out more! 

This is Valentina, over and OUT!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Sunbeams and such

Manhattan here on this Selfie Sunday.

Some of our readers may already know that Z-girl's mama--our Nana--passed away on December 12, 2016. We've all been very sad and are doing a great job of being faithful caretakers. Our girl has needed lots of snuggles and purrs.

With the rush of holidays on the heels of Nana Lou's services, then work, then getting caught up with life, Z-girl just hasn't been up for blogging. She wants to write, but her energy has been low. Don't despair--we are getting our food and fresh water, our boxes are  clean. Blankets nice and fluffy. Our routine mostly in tact. And Z-girl is eating, sleeping and for the most part, taking care of life's chores. Some things slip but nothing mission critical. She says her mama would want her to take good care of herself, and of us. And to keep helping other kitties get homes.

I asked Z-girl to please post this photo of me on our cat shelves.

Yesterday a wonderful sunbeam was bouncing off the ceiling and it captivated me. Z-girl says she wonders why I'm so enchanted...

I can't tell anyone what, or who I see in the rays that make their way through our windows. Or why I'm meowing. It's part of my mystique.

Maybe, just maybe Nana Lou bounced in on a beam to visit Z-girl. What do you think?

This is a blog hop hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head. 

We hope to be back sometime soon, cuz we miss our furiends.
This is Manhattan, over and out.