January 19th, 2004



Not very strangely, I don't want to work on projects at work (even though I have a couple of fun ones). I want to write things and play on LJ and work on Mosaic Minds and my AWC site and my family website. Work just gets in the way, darn it. When we first moved to Sweden, I figured I'd study Swedish for six months or so and then start looking for a job. Because I got pregnant right away, things didn't work out quite as planned and I ended up being home for 3 years, which by the end was torture. I LONGED to get back to work, and was delighted when I found my job.

However, during those three years, I wasn't doing so much outside of my family, pregnancies, babies.

Now I have full-time work, another practically full-time "job" with the AWC, a gig with FAWCO, a gig with Mosaic Minds and lots of other projects going on, and there's still my family and house to think of. I'm not complaining, quite the contrary, I'm GLAD I have so much to occupy my time with, it's just that sometimes I want to do the FUN stuff (okay, I admit I ALWAYS want to do the fun stuff) instead of the work I'm being paid to do. Especially when said work has not been so fun for a long time. And I wish there were more hours in the day, while I'm at it.

It stormed last night, blowing and whistling in the kitchen vent, which kept making me jump, thinking someone had come in the house. That's the only drawback to being alone in the house at night. If we had a cat or dog, I would actually relax, because I would have that other presence, and something to blame noises on. It made for a restless night and everytime I woke enough to look out the window there was snow blowing and trees whipping back and forth.

It's back to greyness with the added entertainment of driving in slush. My brisk walk yesterday turned out to be an hour long, and I was only slowed down by some major patches of ice on shaded pathways. I plan to try and walk for at least half an hour each day. If I do it right after I get home, even if it's just a couple of quick turns around the neighborhood, I'll feel motivated and happy.

I'm reading Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. It's incredible. First, a jump back inside a 9th-century Russian fairytale complete with the Winter Bear and Baba Yaga, and now, after half the book, reversed fish-out-of-water into modern-day Russia and America.

And finally, I'd like to welcome one of my very best friends to LJ, hi cap_killer!! Hooray, you made it! :)
  • Current Music
    The The—This is the Day


I've never met another cat, before or after Pooka, who understood the principle of chasing rubber bands. She knew that it wasn't the motion of your arm or hand that mattered, the important thing was to keep her eyes on the rubber band itself. You can fake out most dogs and cats with a throwing motion, but she never fell for it. If you picked up a rubber band and stretched it slowly over one finger, pointing it ready to shoot, she would hunch up, the intentness palpable, her eyes widening, and wait. As soon as the release came, she was off like a shot, often landing precisely in the same spot at the same time as the rubber band. After its flight, it was completely uninteresting. It was the thrill of the chase that mattered to her.

Pooka was a tiny cat. She weighed only 4 pounds and next to her, Toby was an elephant. My roommate and I picked her from a huge litter of farm kittens, where she was the scrappiest one, standing her ground despite her size and ignoring the rambunctiousness of her siblings.

She was so small I worried about crushing her when she crept into bed and curled up beside me. When I sat on the sofa, reading, she would perch on my shoulder or around the back of my neck, a tiny black and white collar. I could walk around with her like that.

A little princess of a cat, Pooka kept her fur clean and soft and her paws perfectly white. She had, however, no compunction about showing her displeasure if things didn't go her way. Forget to clean the litterbox a day too long or commit an unwitting transgression and you'd find a smelly present waiting for you, usually on the softest surface she could find: the bed, a rug.

If I lifted her up from the front, thumbs under her armpits, she would stre-e-e-e-tch her body long and hard, front legs up in the air, back arching, in what was obviously real cat pleasure.

Toby disturbed her greatly, with his big dog-like dumbness and his clumsy attempts at camaraderie. They rarely fought, but she would smack him with a paw and a hiss if he came too close to the royal person. The only time I every saw them happily within 10 inches of each other, was in the only apartment I ever lived in with a working fireplace, each stretched out in opposite directions, basking in the heat. Mostly Pooka ignored him completely.

Once she disappeared in a new apartment, and after frantic searching and the beginnings of panic, partly because we weren't supposed to have pets in the building, we heard a faint response to the calls of her name and finally realized that she had managed to crawl down a mouse-sized hole under the bathroom sink, into the inner crevasses of the pipes and plumbing between the walls. We lured her out with ham and Pounce cat treats.

I find now, writing about her, that I've forgotten many of the good Pooka stories, and all I have left is the love I had for this small furry child of mine. She was a comfort in a time of great sadness and despair in my life, and a joy for many years.

When Anders and I made the decision to move to Sweden, there was never any question that we wouldn't take the cats with us. Toby, however, died 6 months before our move, and so we went through the procedure of vet checks, cat carrier exceptions and quarantine reservations for just one cat. In November of 1996, we came to Sweden to look for a place to live, prior to our move after Christmas. In order to get at least part of the quarantine period over with before we arrived permanently, Pooka came with us, tucked in a sturdy little fabric cat carrier under the seat in front of me. She seemed to know that she couldn't meow and only made a few solitary protests during the long flight. I kept the carrier in my lap most of the trip, with my hand inside petting her, and occasionally her little head poking up to look around.

We took the catamaran from Copenhagen to Malmö across the worst choppy seas I've ever had the misfortune to be on and both Pooka and I were green with seasickness. We staggered off the boat 45 minutes later and collapsed on the dock. I took her out of the carrier and sat with her in my lap, recovering. The lady from the quarantine came out to meet us, to my dismay, and I turned Pooka over to her to begin the 4-month quarantine.

Back in Chicago, 2 weeks before Christmas and our departure, after receiving weekly bulletins on the health and happiness of my cat, I came home from work to the hotel we were staying in, and Anders told me he had received a fax from the quarantine facility. Pooka had been fine the evening before, playing with the keepers and content, eating her dinner, and curling up on the blue cheneille blanket we had sent with her. In the morning, she was dead. Only 11 years old, and in perfect health, the quarantine could find no cause of death.

Who knows what kind of despair a little cat goes through in the midst of apparent abandonment? Despite the kindness and some familiar objects, with no end in sight and everything and everyone she'd ever known gone, perhaps she just gave up. But, knowing that tough little heart, I suspect it was just time for her to go.

  • Current Music
    Dire Straits—Lions