Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reflections and News from Bessie

Hi Everyone Bessie here.

Z-girl wants me to tell all of you that we didn't miss National Feral Cat Day. You see, every day here is Feral Cat Day.


This is me, looking at myself in the mirrored dresser. Bins of wool sweaters sitting out during the Great Moth Cleanse Extravaganza....

Our message is simple: be kind to all animals. Don't assume that because you see someone living on the street they are sick or dangerous. Offer a helping paw.

Many of you are aware that PAD Paws is the non-profit organization that was founded around the in-progress efforts of our Aunt Natalie, Aunt Denise, and Z-Girl. They've been feeding, rehabilitating, rescuing and rehoming cats for years. PAD stands for the Powerhouse Arts District (our neighborhood in Jersey City). And you may remember that Lulu (my daughter) and I were once street cats.

Here I am with baby Lulu and my son, the Captain (who is living with his adoptive mama and brother Chance). This is July of 2011. We all had fleas and were underfed. 

I'm happy to tell a wonderful end to a long story. After many failed attempts, Aunt Natalie was finally able to rescue another mama kitty who lived under our Warehouse apartment (same place where Z-Girl and Natalie rescued Manhattan). Her name is Stella. 







Stella loving the comforts of soft blankets and quiet evenings inside.



She had multiple litters of kittens. Aunt Natalie patiently trapped each one and immediately had them vetted and in foster care. The last litter was trapped in August, and by September everyone had furever homes. We think that the entire saga unfolded perfectly. You see, when the last batch of kittens were rescued it left Stella all alone and searching the dangerous streets for her babies. I know that feeling--when I was rescued the Captain and Lulu were left on their own. I cried and cried while sitting in my trap. For 24 hours I cried non stop. Once we were reunited (the photo of the three of us above is proof) I stopped crying and attended to my babies. 

After the victorious capture of Stella, Aunt Natalie was able to reunite her with the youngest kittens and she spent a few weeks grooming and snuggling them. She didn't even mind when they left her a few times to go to Adoption Days. So when each one was removed from her cage to go to their new homes, Stella handled it gracefully and didn't cry. Now she is in what Aunt Natalie calls feral kitty rehabilitation. This means she is being fostered with other cats so that she can observe and learn to trust that humans can be loving. I hear that she has made amazing progress. Stella had been outside for a long time, foraging for food, surviving harsh weather conditions. It is said that some cats don't transition well from outside to inside. PAD Paws has yet to find a cat who wants to be outside again. Perhaps it's because living in the shadows in the PAD is dangerous and unpredictable.

In the midst of attempting to catch Stella earlier this year, the Don of the PAD entered a trap one day. Puck finally had enough and went into a trap set for Stella. We considered his rescue to be a major victory because he had eluded Z-Girl and Aunt Natalie's attempts for over 4 years. He's now adjusted to being inside, is curious and content. He's like me--not allowing anyone to pet him (yet). But I have great faith that Puck will change his mind one day. I'll have to call him on my iCarrot phone and let him know how to play it for maximum return...

Uh, Puck...you are the purrfect picture of a Fat Cat. You just need a top hat and a cigar, buddy...

If you want to read some of the PAD Paws success stories, see our Rescue Me tab. 

If you want to support the efforts of PAD Paws, please go to www.padpawsrescue.org and click on DONATE. Your contribution is tax deductible and will go to food and vet care for cats, dogs, birds and possibly other animals. 

Enjoy your CATurday furiends.

Bessie, out.




Saturday, October 10, 2015

CATurday in the Warehouse apartment

Hi Everyone, it's Lulu

It's Caturday and I haven't blogged lately, so I thought I'd post today so you can hear things from my point of view.

Last you heard mama Bessie and I were at the vet. Z-Girl had us stay for three nights and we didn't like that very much. We were in separate cages and there were dogs and other cats that came in and out all day. No velvet, no soft bed. No pets and no treats. Sure--we were safe. And we had our teeth cleaned and nails clipped. But it was no spa.

Z-Girl brought us home after the Bug Dr. (yes, that's the name of the company) left and we hid for about 4 hours as she put the apartment back together. So much plastic everywhere to protect furniture and clothing! Once her bed was made again we were happy and that night we woke her up almost every hour for re-assuring pets. We purred and let her know we were grateful to be back in our sanctuary. Together.

Thankfully the moth spraying is in the rearview mirror. The final chapter is the return of our beloved purple rug and another newer rug. They've been out for cleaning for over two months. Z-Girl said she had to get a person with letters after his name to write a stern email and place a call to the rug cleaning people because she's gotten something called the run around (that sounds like fun to me--especially if the laser dot is involved).  We'll let you know what happens.

Now for an exciting progress update: installation of cat shelves above Z-Girl's desk. You may know there are plans to connect all the shelves in a cat super-highway. This is the beginning of that project:

This is me on the window looking at a new shelf. 

Manhattan is the catification pioneer so I let her test everything before I try it myself. The installation is clean looking and there is even a box for us to climb in to perch while Z-Girl works. She put Valentina inside the box and as you can see Vali was not very happy:

 Valentina in the box above Z-Girl's desk. Not loving her location...

 Manhattan makes the maiden voyage...

Conquers the top of the installation...

And contemplates the jump to the pipes from the shelves. Oh boy.

I watched Manhattan and chirped because it looks like a lot of fun. No one knows but I tried one shelf in the dark hours Thursday. I am a night warrior so I do my best work when Z-Girl is asleep. I fit on the smaller shelf and now I am mapping out my journey to the top. 

Me with my ninja carrot. It doubles as a mobile device.

I think I'll end here and let someone else give you the updates on the JCAST (Jersey City Artist Studio Tour) and PAD Paws progress. 
It is Caturday, after all. There's sun puddles and naps to chase. Peace to our friends. Thanks for all of your encouraging words on Facebook and Instagram and here on our blog during our moth saga. We hope that you will enjoy our return to normalcy.

Whatever *that* really means...


Lulu, out.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Selfie and The Squeedunk Cats Update

It's Manhattan. And this is Sunday Selfie day, so I'm submitting my photo for today's blog hop:

Me on the shabby chic white shelves.

Z-Girl said I can give some updates on things in the Warehouse apartment:

Maybe you know, maybe you don't but we have been in a battle with cloth moths for a number of months. Our building is over 100 years old, and we love living here. Once we realized that we had a moth problem we had to get to work quickly. That meant removing two beloved flokati rugs and throwing them out. So Bessie and Lulu lost their cozy spot under the bed and Valentina lost her front room rug for lounging. Z-Girl also had to send three other wool rugs out for cleaning and moth proofing. She emptied closets and cleaned and sprayed peppermint oil and sent all wool to the dry cleaners.

These moths reportedly only respond to a toxic spray that has to be applied when no felines or humans (other than the one with a gas mask) are present. In August, Z-Girl made a plan and crated Coco, Valentina and me and brought us to an empty apartment. Bessie and Lulu are a different story though cuz they don't allow anyone to pick them up. Long story short, all human efforts to crate and remove them for the scheduled spray appointment failed. Maybe Z-Girl can tell you more about that day later because there were some successes and a few lessons learned.  

Fast forward to a few days ago. She called Dr. Santiago, who is the really nice Dr. that spayed Bessie and cared for her, Lulu and the Captain (Lulu's brother) when they were first rescued. The Good Dr. came with a net and was able to catch both Bessie and Lulu! They made him run all over the apartment. He said he didn't have to go to the gym that day because he got a good workout catching them. It was a little scary cuz I hide under the bed with them and I thought he was gonna try to catch me with that black net thing. Phew! I stayed behind. 

Bessie and Lulu have had their teeth and ears cleaned, nails trimmed and had full exams. They are still at the hospital, just for safe keeping until the Bug Doctor treats the apartment tomorrow.

And that means Coco, Valentina and I have to be transported to an office space and camp out with Z-Girl during the spraying. We will be emptying closets and covering fabric furniture all day today. Okay, Z-Girl will be doing that and we will be napping. It is Sunday.

We don't believe in wishing days away, but Z-Girl says she is looking forward to tomorrow evening, when all 5 Squeedunk kitties are in the apartment safe and sound. 

Whatever your Sunday and upcoming week has in store, we hope it's easy and successful.


This is a Blog Hop. Please visit our friends at The Cat on My Head for more fun selfies!







Manhattan, out.

PS I will not go willingly into a crate tomorrow. I may be small, but I'm scrappy. 


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Selfies: Waiting for the Purple Rug

Hey Everyone, It's Valentina.

It's Sunday, and we have not been participating in Sunday Selfies lately. But we are today.

Here I am with my patented flippy paw stretch. Notice that I'm on a rug pad instead of my nice purple wool rug. That's cuz it's been at the cleaner place for a few weeks. We'll explain more later.

This is me showing off my flippy paw stretch.

Even without my favorite spot, I've had a nice and easy weekend sunning myself in the Warehouse apartment.

We hope that you enjoyed yours! 


Sunday Selfies is a blog hop. Check out our other furiends by visiting The Cat on My Head!


Valentina, over and out.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

7th Heaven and Caturday

Happy World Cat Day!
Happy Caturday!

And above all, Happy 7th Birthday to my beautiful, sweet, precocious, and playful Coco Chanel!

I had no idea on August 8, 2008 that I was in for an e-mail that would change my life. An urgent plea to adopt a little tabby kitten who had been returned after only one night with her first adoptive hu-mom (she was allergic). Coco spent the next 7 days in a cage at a vet's office while her rescuer searched for a willing heart to provide a happy home. I saw her little white paws and gorgeous coat and just couldn't say no...

The money shot. Coco, August 2008.

We hope all our furiends have a fabulous day today! We'll be celebrating with rounds of naps while nestled in sun puddles.


This is Z-Girl, out.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Musings: Lulu's Paws for PAD Paws

Hi everybody! It's Lulu. Can you tell from my white paws?

This is me on one of my cat shelves. Z-Girl puts a ribbon on one level and I typically pull it down. It's a game we play.

Did you know that 4 years ago my mama Bessie and I were rescued from the streets here in the PAD of Jersey City? Not long after our Great Capture we came to stay with Z-Girl. She was going to foster us but we fell in love with her and she with us so we stayed.

 This is the hole where we lived before our Great Rescue in July of 2011.

This is Mama Bessie (right), with me and my brother the Captain (he lives in a wonderful home elsewhere) after our 26 hour rescue mission. 

Now, Aunt Natalie, Miss Denise and Z-Girl have transformed their rescue team into a non profit called PAD Paws. Their goal is to be a positive solution to the feral cat population in our area and support the same missions across the US, and even the world. Maybe this sounds like a dream. All change starts with a lofty vision. This is just the beginning, furiends.

What's Happening Today @ PAD Paws?

For adoption: 3 kittens who have been fixed, vetted and socialized. Meet Adrian Brody, Anjelica Huston and Audrey Hepburn. They are just over 5 months and almost as cute as I was as a tot. Playful, sweet and ready for furever homes.



Adrian Brody (male, healthy, neutered)
Anjelica Huston (female, spayed, healthy)
Audrey Hepburn (female, spayed, healthy)
They too were born on the streets of the PAD. There are also 4 adult cats who need loving homes. As a former Jersey City street kitty, my mama Bessie wants me to tell you that all cats deserve the same spoils that have been granted to us: safety, softness and full bellies.

To learn more about PAD Paw adoptable cats please visit:
PAD Paws Adoptables

If you are unable to adopt at this time donations to help support current and upcoming rescue missions are greatly appreciated.

PAD Paws will have exciting news to share about the progress made by forging partnerships with other local rescue teams and open discussions with the officials in Jersey City.

Thank mew for reading our blog and your continued support.
Lulu, out.

Z-Girl adds: Our readers and our fellow pet bloggers provide much inspiration to our rescue and rehoming efforts. Together we can change the world!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Selfie: My First Ever

Hi everyone, it's Valentina.

For this week's Sunday Selfie, I'm sharing my debut photo from May of 2009:

Me with my baby blues. Adorable, right?

On a day like today, the Squeedunk gang are playing and napping in the sunshine. It's been hot here in the New York area (we are just a few blocks from the Hudson River), so we've been working on our hydration and looking for cool spots in the warehouse apartment. Fear not, Z-Girl does keep the AC running for us too.


A typical lazy day for me, snuggling with Z-Girl in the early morning hours.



We are participating in a blog hop hosted by our furiends at The Cat on My Head. Hop on over to see more photos of our blogging buddies!

Have an easy Sunday everyone! Remember, Adopt Don't Shop!

Valentina, out!





Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Selfie: PAD Paws is launched!

Hi Everyone, it's Bessie.

Z-Girl took this photo of me earlier this week. I think it's appropriate for today's Sunday Selfie Blog Hop:
Can you believe that I once lived in a flea-infested hole under a warehouse with my two kittens? Now I command the finer things in life, including lots of pets and snuggle time with Z-Girl. 

While I'm here, Z-Girl asked me to announce that PAD Paws is officially a non-profit! Hooray! And, to aid in the current rescue and rehoming missions, please visit our Rescue Me tab where you can also make a donation. Even better if you or someone you know would like to adopt!

This is a blog hop posted by our furiends at The Cat on My Head. Stop by to see all the fun selfies from our fellow blogging pals!







Bessie out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sometimes we need our words on Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday I learned of the sudden loss of Truffles from Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries and Meows.

We at Squeedunk are heartbroken to read of her passing. And today, we pay tribute to her and offer Melissa, her human mom, our deepest sympathies.

Words fall short of expressing all that we'd like to say to Melissa and to any of our fellow bloggers who are wrestling with the news. It is a stark reminder that life is fleeting. And completely unpredictable.

We ask that you pause and reflect on the below sentiment. Find a way to live here and now, to share your love in every way, every day:

"There would seem to be nothing more obvious, more tangible and palpable than the present moment. And yet it eludes us completely. All the sadness of life lies in that fact." - Milan Kundera (Beautiful Ruins)

Peace, precious Truffles. We are sure your human mom never missed a moment to shower you with love. She will continue to love you til the stars fall from the sky...

Photo courtesy of Melissa Lapierre and Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries & Meows


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The Gang at Squeedunk

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Return from Hiatus with a #sunday selfie

Hello everyone, it's Coco.
Yea, I know. We haven't been around for awhile. Z-Girl really is more of a part-time blogger. Despite her many declarations of wanting to do more.



I'm not going to make any excuses.


Instead, I'm joining in the Sunday Selfies, hosted by our furiends at The Cat on My Head.
Hop on over and see all the other pawsome selfies!

What are you doing today? Tell us!




Coco, out.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

In Quarter Time

Today's post is from Z-Girl.

I have this habit of looking for symbols and meaning in everyday things. It's a game I play, sometimes with license plates. I'll see if the letters mean anything to me, like my mom's initials, or if the numbers represent an anniversary of some sort.

A few weeks ago I decided to examine the quarters in my pocket. I had two. Here they are:
1965 and 1994

An interesting pairing of years. More interesting is that I took notice at all, given that I make daily runs to Dunkin Donuts. When not swiping my debit card I typically end up with a lot of coins weighing me down.

What's so curious about the discovery? 1965 is my birth year. I recall times throughout my life where I've encountered a 1965 coin and thought, "this is 10 years old," or "this is 17 years old" and even the novel "wow, a 30 year old quarter!"

Then there's 1994, the year I met Joey. The same year that another relationship that should have ended two years prior was finally over, a clearing for many new experiences. It was the last year I had quality time with my mentor Larry, where he was coaching me and providing unparalleled opportunities for personal growth. It was a pivotal time, that's for sure.

As I slipped the change back into my pocket, installments of my life began to unspool in the projection room of my mind. Glimpses of my parents at my age and younger. Successive moments of back to school days and Wizard of Oz airings on TV, dance classes, theater productions, talking on the phone for hours. Going to the movies with my mom, sister and Kate (my childhood BFF). Christmases and birthdays and records and driving lessons. Friends. The night I met Joey and the relationship that played out over the next eight years. A confluence of events and emotions that all seem so appropriately staged as my 50th birthday looms on the horizon.

I have loved these days. The 49 years that now deposit me on the doorstep of my 5th decade. Oh sure, some of these years were difficult. I think 1976 in to 1977 was tough. Sixth grade, a bad haircut and getting a locker for the first time. 1979 when I entered high school, that was a rough go for awhile. And then 1983, first year at Hood. Notice a pattern here? Endings and beginnings. I used to have difficulties with the transitions. 

It's fair to say now that the most difficult transition I've survived to date is the loss of Joey. I can't help but wonder what he'd say to me, near the eve of this big birthday--about my achievements and my evolutions. I don't think any of it would be a surprise to him, no. But, I'll always miss the diverse perspective he provided. I find myself in the initial moments of awake time, trying to access a message from the previous night's dream. In the stillness of the morning I've hoped it would be his voice in my head that would break the silence. 

I've had a select few messages that have surfaced through the dream state. I'm sure there's more to harvest, and maybe this decade will bring me to the place where I am able to be patient and hear. It's not that I believe he's going to foretell the future. I just miss his unique view on the ridiculous and the sublime.  

And that's how the simple, everyday thing of looking at two quarters transported me across the the years of my life--fifty cents for fifty years. What a great gift.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Selfie: The Remote Version

Hi everyone, Valentina here.

We are all anxiously awaiting Z-Girl's return. She has been away for most of this month with her mama in a whole different state. Luckily, we have a cat sitter we love who stays with us and plays and makes sure all of our daily routines are uninterrupted. Our Uncle Robert comes to visit sometimes too.

We do miss her and she misses us to the moon and back, and then some. To cheer her up I'm posting one of her favorite selfies of me. I think you'll agree, I'm simply adorable:

Me, in 2009 while I was still growing into my paws. Playing in Z-Girl's feather boa...

I don't want to admit that Z-Girl is spending time with another tuxedo while away. Her name is Venus and she is reportedly very sweet. Whatever.

We hope that you enjoy your Easy Sunday. Although we miss Z-Girl, we do have cool shelves, sunpuddles and snuggly blankets to keep us comfortable.

We are participating in the Sunday Selfies Blog Hop with our friends at
  The Cat on My Head. Hop on over and check it out!

Valentina, out.





Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: An Ode to the Big Red Chair

Hey everyone, it's Manhattan.

Today is Wordless Wednesday, so I thought I could share some pictures with you of the Big Red Chair. If you've been following our blog posts, you know that the Big Red Chair was once in the living room area.


 Coco recovers in her kitty bed next to the Big Red Chair, 2009.

 Valentina hangs out on the chair, 2009.

 While Coco still had baby blues, she loved climbing up on the ottoman herself, 2008.


Valentina cheesecake, 2009

It was then moved to the front room.


She didn't know it was headed for the moving truck that day....March 2015

And then it was totally removed from the Warehouse Apartment. It is residing in Howard County, Maryland now with our Aunt Julie (Z-Girl's sister).

We have lots of new things happening this year and are so excited. We'll show you the blue tape that outlines the upcoming cat shelves that will go over the closet and around the bed to the windows, across the desk and connect to the pretty custom shelves we had designed. I myself am looking forward to this installation because I want to go higher AND I will enjoy all the connecting shelving.

And, the entire front room of the Warehouse apartment will undergo a big change. Not as much catification BUT there will be a pretty pink settee. This will be our new Big Red Chair...

Stay tuned!

One last photo of Valentina. She misses the Big Red Chair most of all.

Manhattan, over and out.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday is for Whiskers


Hey everyone, it's Valentina and it's Wordless Wednesday.
I decided to share a photo of my whiskers and pawtitude. I know, it's really adorable, right?

That's all for now!

Over and out.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Tuxedo Toosday with News about PAD Paws

Hi everyone, it's Manhattan.


This is me, hanging out on my shelves before the couch was recovered.

VALENTINA: I'm here, too!

MANHATTAN: Yes, Vali, too. It is Two For Toosday after all.

VALENTINA: We want to share some news with everyone.

Valentina on her Kitty Pod and close to one of her favorite things to chew: Z-Girl's power cord.

MANHATTAN: PAD Paws, the neighborhood rescue group that Aunt Natalie and Z-Girl started a few years ago is now officially a non-profit! 

VALENTINA: Yes! That means they have those numbers and letters. The 501c3 stuff. Aunt Nat spent time filling out many pieces of paper to get them!

MANHATTAN: For Aunt Nat and Z-Girl and some other friends in Jersey City this means that the efforts to rescue and re-home kitties can gain more support.

VALENTINA: Like sponsoring fundraiser events. And collaborating with other people who have those numbers, the 501c3 things. They can put their efforts together to do more and save more lives. 

MANHATTAN: There's lots of planning that has to take place before we can share more, but we can alert our followers to this big step forward. 

VALENTINA: Every day we see and hear about cases and causes that require caring intervention. As you all know, Nat and Z-Girl have joined forces over the past 5 years to rescue and rehome over 30 kitties in our neighborhood alone. And there's been kitties in other towns that Aunt Nat has helped along the way. Manhattan is the first rescue that Aunt Nat and Z-Girl did together. 

MANHATTAN: I'm so happy they did, even though I was frightened and didn't want to go into that cage. The vets said I would not have lasted more than three days if left unattended.

Recovering after two surgeries, February 2010. Z-Girl gave me a Piglet and a tee shirt to snuggle while I was at the vet's office. 

VALENTINA: We will announce a new website and Facebook page for PAD Paws soon. You can follow the Squeedunk Cats on Facebook and Twitter. Z-Girl has an Instagram account and we are usually featured there more than any other subjects. 

MANHATTAN: We've met a lot of wonderful kitties and humans via our social media accounts. Looking forward to expanding our network of friends and our followers! Will you help us?

What is your favorite rescue story? We'd love to hear from you!

Read about Manhattan's rescue here, and go to our Rescue Me tab to see some of the rescues PAD Paws has accomplished to date! 

This is Manhattan, over and OUT.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Selfies: Squeedunk's Feral friend, Johnny the Calico

Hi everyone, Lulu here.

We decided to share a selfie of one of the PAD Paws kitties. Her name is Johnny 2.

Johnny 2 is named for another beautiful Calico that belonged to our Uncle Phil. 

Z-Girl has some news to share about PAD Paws and also about the Squeedunk Warehouse apartment (hint: The Big Red Chair is MISSING). Stay tuned. We promise not to take a month to post again.

For now, I'm going to enjoy an easy Sunday. Maybe climb a cat shelf or soak up some sun.


Lulu, out...


We are participating in a Blog Hop with our friends at The Cat on My Head. Hop on over to see more Sunday Selfies! 


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Selfies: Coco


Coco here.
It's Sunday Selfies, and I understand there was a request to see me and my swirly coat. It is very beautiful.

It's true. I am too sexy for this bed.

This was taken a few years ago and while you can see how distinct some of my markings are you can't really see the swirls on my side. You can see my Painted Trunk and the Big Red Chair in the background, though.


When I was a kitten everyone was fascinated with my swirls. This is me at my Auntie Stacy's house in Owings Mills, MD in November of 2008. I'm on Z-Girl's car. 

This offers a better view of my coat. I'm not a fan of the camera. Z-Girl has a video of me as a kitten where I give it my best Alec Baldwin: smacked it right out of her hand which resulted in a pricey repair. You'd think she would have learned but, no. She continues to take photos although she usually gets me while I'm sleeping.

Speaking of sleeping, the Squeedunk gang is taking it easy today while Z-Girl attempts a longer run than she has completed in about 4 years. I have a feeling she will be curled up on the couch when she returns.

Coco out.


We are participating in a blog hop hosted by our friends at The Cat at on My Head. Hop on over to see other Sunday selfies!












Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday Fragments and Caturday

Hi everyone, this is Valentina.

As you know, we are preparing for some more furniture shuffling and Miss Andrea is drafting the next phase of the cat shelf installation around the windows and Z-Girl's desk. Over the course of the past year we've accomplished much. Yet some days it can feel like we have far to go...

Z-Girl has taken inventory of books and paperwork that were carefully tucked on a bookcase in the front of the apartment. They will be packed up and stored while she rearranges old and new furniture.

Leafed within a journal given to her back in 2002 Z-Girl found two cards and a typed letter. Her reflections as she shared them with me follow. I was helping her with the task of packing  (cardboard boxes were involved after all...)

...I can remember attempting to journal back in 2002. Several wise people suggested that I write about the emotions I was experiencing during the days and weeks immediately following Joey's death. Finally in 2004 I entered something inside the bound book gifted to me. A few phrases from my first try:
~my heart hurts as my pen skims this page
~why didn't I help you?
~I feel stuck

The next time I wrote is Christmas Day, 2004. This is after I had run the Marine Corps Marathon for the first time (October 31, 2004)
~I wish you would visit me
~I wish that you could have joined me to run the marathon, or at least been there to run across the finish line
~I miss you.

The last entry is 8 days after the third anniversary of Joey's death, 5/27/05. I say:
~I feel that I've failed you by not memorializing you in written word.
~Some days I expect you to come bounding through the door to sit beside me.

These are snippets of the emotional journey that Z-Girl documented. The typed letter she uncovered was from Joey written during one of the down periods of their relationship, when he was starting to succumb more fully to his addictions. Sobriety was brief and the battles longer, more arduous. One of the cards was the last handwritten sentiment from him--he sent it for her 37th birthday while he was in rehab. In both the typed letter and the card he shares his love for her. That remains the brightest part of his legacy. Love.

Z-Girl likes to draw parallels...and here is what she concluded yesterday:

Like a mosaic these beautiful fragments can be pieced together to form a comforting memorial quilt. I consciously folded special items from Joey into books to be revisited when I needed to see his handwriting or read the simple words I love you, Laura. As for my own pen to paper thoughts--I held my emotions at bay because expressing them made some people in my life uncomfortable. I've recovered from that concern. Sharing helps me and it helps others. It's an emancipation. And it feels authentic.

The parallel: the process of redecorating my apartment. Shelf by shelf, new items replacing those that have completed their purpose. There's joy and some emotion. As the pieces come together, a creative vision is realized. A living space that I can enjoy with the Squeedunk gang, and is welcoming to our guests. One where my memorial quilt is displayed through color and texture and art. And a place where I can also fully embrace my love of all five cats by incorporating their needs into the flow and structure of the decor. This too has been liberating. I held back for a long time, feeling that I shouldn't spend the time or effort in a rental. Another recovery: I'm living HERE. NOW. And I love this declaration.


A beautiful mosaic.

Z-Girl wants all of you to know her memorial quilt has ALL of life's pieces in its tapestry. Font Hill, CHS, Hood, Ellicott City, New York City and Jersey City. It's all the great people met along the path of life--teachers, friends, family and the good times and even the tough times survived together. It's a big, comfy blanket.

This is the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Inspirational on so many levels.

We'll continue to share our memories and our current adventures here on Squeedunk.

Thanks everyone for joining us. Wherever you are today, may it be a comfortable Caturday.  Ponder the fragments and construct your mosaic.

Valentina, over and out.

This is me, back in 2009 enjoying a day when Z-Girl brought out feather boas. Yea, she has feather boas...