Goodbye, black and white cats

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Jinx and Fu have moved out of the house. The transition was a long time coming, but it was necessary, so one month ago, I posted the following on Facebook:

Jinx and Fu need a new home. We thought we had lined up a home with someone they know and love, but it fell through. They really can’t live here much longer, and I really don’t want them to go to a shelter.

They are sisters and litter mates, and we became their foster parents four years ago, when they were 8 years old. They are super affectionate: Jinx (long hair) loves to be picked up and cuddled and given belly rubs; Fu (short name, short hair) loves to curl up and nap on you and adores being brushed. They both love to play and are vocal when they want your attention. They are in perfect health. They are indoor cats, though we let them out on our back deck since it is so high.

If you or anyone you know would be willing to take two cats who are sweet and beautiful (and vocal and need lots of attention), let me know. (They are bonded to each other, so I’d love them to stay together.) They have their own incredible cat tree/ condo/ scratching post extravaganza, which of course goes along with them.

Luckily for us, the person they know and love (at the home that had fallen through) decided to make it work rather than lose the cats to someone else. I feel incredibly blessed that they are now in a place where they will be cared for and appreciated.

Because, frankly, they were not receiving that appreciation while living here with us.

We knew it was a mismatch from the very beginning. David is super sensitive to noise – as anyone who has ever brought their kids over to play can verify – and these cats never stopped meowing. Ever. Well, unless they were asleep (or, apparently, posing for pictures). So when they were happy (meow!), or sad (meow!) or frightened (meow!) or mad (meow!) or excited (meow!) or glad (meow!), their interjections never failed to let you know.

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Since we had made a commitment to take the cats in when their owner moved overseas, it seemed to me that we should find a way to make it work. We had the cats sleep in the garage at night (as they would literally meow all night long), which solved one major problem: we were incredibly sleep deprived the first few months. Fu, especially, was so noisy at night, it was like having a newborn in the house. But, of course, it didn’t solve the whole situation.

As soon as the former owner returned to Portland, I asked him – multiple times – to please take the cats back, but he didn’t. That was fair – he had no responsibility to do so – but it was disappointing.

David lived with the noise for four years. Many, many times over those years, he expressed how hard it was for him, how he was avoiding coming home after school because the noise was getting to him so much, how resentful he felt towards the cats and – ultimately – toward me for insisting we get them and keep them.

I realized that because the noise didn’t affect me the same way, I hadn’t been taking his discomfort seriously enough. He was more than just annoyed by the cats. He truly hated to be in the house with them if he had to listen to them. Although I loved the cats (Fu, especially) and felt responsible for them, I had to admit that their ability to live in our home should not trump David’s ability to live here peacefully.

Still, it wasn’t easy to let them go. Although David felt we could just open the front door and let them out to fend for themselves – I think he was kidding – I wanted them to go to a home that was as good as ours, if not better. (I mean, heck, they weren’t all that fond of Bones, so they might consider it a boon to get out of here.)

It was easier said than done, though. I didn’t want them to go to the Humane Society or to some random stranger on Craigslist, as I feared for their lives with either of those options. No cat re-homing agencies I found would take cats of such advanced age. I asked anyone who complimented their beauty, but got no takers.

I finally resorted to the Facebook post, which inspired Addison to welcome them in. I have visited them a couple of times in the last month, and they all seem to be doing well. I felt like a non-custodial parent coming for a visit, arms full of toys and treats I thought they might like. I was amused a week later by a photo that showed a puffy pink bed lying empty, right beside a very-comfortable Jinx reclining in a cardboard box.

I’m so glad they are feeling right at home. I miss them around here.

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Inspired by this week’s Challenge Prompt: “Animal.”

Bullet journal / GTD hybrid weekly

I’m still plugging away with my bullet journal, but I have recently added a two-page spread to plan my week.

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I’ve taken what I’m learning from the STEP program at learndobecome.com – a fantastic method of teaching David Allen’s Getting Things Done system – and incorporated it into my bullet journaling. See the six little sections across the middle of the page spread? Well, the far left one is my “Brain Dump” for random thoughts and ideas, but the others represent contexts for tasks: To Discuss, To Call, Computer, Home, and Errands.

Listing my tasks this way serves two purposes for me:

  1. I know how to plan for my time at each locale. For example, if I am leaving the house, I can look at the Errands list and see if there are any errands I can take care of while I’m out.
  2. By breaking my weekly To Do list into five little lists, I am much less overwhelmed by what I need to accomplish.  This is huge for me, as “overwhelm” is a major contributor to my procrastination habits. I get so freaked out by the sheer mass of a task that I pretty much flee from it. This helps.

I’ll post later and show you a filled-in version of my weekly spread, so you can see it in action. I’ll also explain the points chart and sleep tracker, too. In the meantime, a quick tidbit from my life:

Q was watching me create this spread yesterday, and he was agitated by the way the colored pens (Zebra Mildliners, which are amazing) made the black ink run if I didn’t give it enough time to dry before coloring right over it. I told him not to worry about it; he was like, “But it is smearing the ink!” Little did he know that I was now embracing imperfection. (Okay, maybe I am just kind of “putting my arm around the shoulder of imperfection.” Having to squeeze in the missing “V” in the Hamilton quote did give me some heart palpitations.)

The artist in residence, updated

A couple of months ago, I posted a photo of Quinland with this title and promised I’d come back to tell the story.

Once upon a time on a deep dark Sunday night, as I was reading the daily emailed school bulletin, I came across this little nugget:

Wilson Students’ Artwork on Exhibit

Three Wilson art students have artwork in the Heart of Portland exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, a showcase celebrating the visual and performing arts produced by PPS K-12 students. Congratulations to Quinland (Photography), Gina (Ceramics), and Emma (Drawing). The opening reception is Monday, April 4 from 6:30-8:30 pm. All PPS families and teachers are invited to attend the reception, which is free. The show runs April 4-16.

Monday, April 4th? Why, that was the very next day! I asked David if he knew anything about this; he did not. Q was already asleep, so I couldn’t ask him until the following morning. He was blasé about the whole thing:  Yes, he had a piece at the Portland Art Museum. No, he didn’t submit it; every art teacher in the district could choose one piece of art for the exhibit, and Mr. Carlson chose his landscape photo book. Yes, he was thinking of going to the reception that night; could I give him a ride?

GIVE HIM A RIDE?! OF COURSE! I’M GOING, TOO! I WOULDN’T MISS IT! THIS IS SO EXCITING! ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DRESS UP? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?  IT SURE IS A GOOD THING I READ THE BULLETIN!  AAAAAAHHHH!

(I suppose I shouldn’t really wonder why he felt no urgent need to tell me about it in advance.)

Here’s the story of the piece: All the students in Advanced Photography were assigned to a) make a book with b) text and c) photos, using knowledge they had gained in class. That was it; the kids could define that any way they wished. Quinland made an accordion book of six black-and-white landscape photographs which he printed and then – I am sure I am going to describe this badly, but bear with me – he covered the images with gum arabic and inked over them with a brayer. The gum arabic makes the light parts resist most of the ink, while the dark portions of the photo get darker. I think. That’s the general idea, anyway. It made each photo look antiqued.

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So here he is, in front of the glass case bearing his accordion book. Most artwork was hung, but since Q’s was very long (this shows only half the length) and two-sided (there were three panorama photos on each side), it got to be in a case, which I thought was cooler anyway. Q’s text was the longitude and latitude of the place each photo was taken: Wilson High School, the Hawthorne Bridge in Downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, the Grand Canal in Venice, and (dagnabit, I’m going to have to look up the exact details of the other two European locations when I get home, but I will edit this as soon as I do). Mr. Carlson was proud. Q was quietly proud. I was demonstrably proud.

David, sadly, could not be at the reception, as it was the very night that he and the kids from the India program were doing a presentation about the trip to the kids’ families and the school community. He was represented in spirit by the Free Tibet sweatshirt he brought Q from McLeod Ganj, the city in northern India that is home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. (This shirt is not to be confused with our friend Jon’s shirt, which reads, “Free Tibet with the purchase of another Tibet.”)

One more special treat about that night: Q’s friend (and my former Girl Scout) Emma was the one chosen for the Studio Art piece, so my friend Jennifer and I got to be excited Art Moms together! (We also went to Pastini’s afterward and ate my all-time-favorite Lemon Pudding Cake, so it was pretty much the best time ever.)