2016

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This is it, guys!  My final post!

Thank goodness!  haha

In recent previous years, I’ve made a list of things I’d accomplished over the year, the number of which would match whatever year it was. This year, though, the general populace seems intent on bringing me down, so I’ve altered the plan a tiny bit.

Oh, I know it’s not intentional, necessarily, but regardless – y’all are ruining my zen thing, man.

So this year, I’ve instead made a list of the 16 best things to happen for me in 2016.  The original list was quite a lot larger, but I’ve managed to whittle it down to the following, in no particular order:

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  1. Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker is my earliest and longest-running heroes, from about the age of 5 years, or so.  I mean, it all kicked into high gear when I was about 12, but my love for Luke and Star Wars had already been brewing for several years before that.  So it was a near-lifelong dream come true to finally be able to meet the man who brought the character to life.  I’d rehearsed everything in my head leading up to those few precious moments I’d get to spend interacting with him – and ended up doing none of it when the time came.  But everything that did happen was so much better than I could have hoped, and even the group photo op I had done with my awesome niece and nephews was perfect and priceless.  I wouldn’t change a thing.

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2. Hudson

It’s impossible to explain to another person my absolute love for this polar bear.  When he was a little guy, I found myself getting up in the morning after an injection night (they were terrible – not much could get me out of bed the next day) and trekking out to the zoo just so I could spend some time with him; watching him, and getting to know him.  There’s just something that happens to my heart every time I see him.  When he was moved to Winnipeg, I was devastated, and knew that, even if I ever saw him again, it wouldn’t be the same.  I wouldn’t be able to see him all the time anymore.  Until now.  2016 saw the return of Hudson and his brother Humphrey to the Toronto Zoo, and I have been out there almost every week since their quarantine ended.  I spent some quality time at the window with him one day, and since then, he’s back to greeting me upon arrival, just like he used to!  He’s now the biggest bear I’ve ever seen, but that thing still happens in my heart when I see him.  When we make eye contact, I pretty much explode.  The giant fool is truly my spirit animal, and even though our time together is temporary, I am making the most of it.  No regrets this time.

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3. Dark Matter Set Visit

Mind Reels on a spaceship, guys!  Every bit as amazing as you’d think…and more!  Of course, that’s really all I can say right now.  Keep an eye out for the S3 premiere, when we should finally be able to talk about our day on set!

4. Bowling For Kids Sake

An all-star team put together by actor Ennis Esmer challenged fans to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto by donating and/or building teams to compete against one another in the Superhero-themed bowling night event!  Two “civilian” teams took on two all-star teams and basically had such a ridiculously good time that we have been thinking ever since of trying more things like that in the future!  So much fun, and all for a great cause!

5. Good Credit

When I learned that my bankruptcy would be cleared from my record with one of Canada’s two largest credit agencies after just 6 years instead of 7, I went online one day to find out how I was doing.  I’d gotten myself a secured Visa so that I would have SOME credit, instead of no credit, once the 7 years after my discharge had passed.  I got my credit report done, and was surprised and excited to find out that I was already squarely in the GOOD section of the scale!  Before I knew it, I was pre-approved for far more credit than I wanted, so I talked the guy down to a $500 Scotiabank Scene Visa, and have been happily earning more Scene points AND improving my credit rating ever since!  That’s so huge, guys!

6. Hands On Exotics

I had tried to volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, because I really wanted to feed baby squirrels in the nursery, but the schedule didn’t work out for when I was available, so I went a different direction, and began volunteering at an exotic animal shelter, instead.  I was taking it week to week for a long time, as I wasn’t sure how I’d do over the winter and such.  Plus, it’s a lot of cleaning poo.  Then there was a boatload of upheaval, and I wasn’t sure what was going on or how things would work moving forward.  The past couple of months, things have settled down a bit, and I am doing better with the routine.  I’m getting to know some of the animals, and they are getting to know me, and to be honest, it’s starting to feel a bit like therapy now.  My usual team and I work well together, and we get things done quickly so there’s a bit of extra time at the end to visit with our favourites a little longer (an in the example photo below, with young miss Cricket, the baby kangaroo).  And oh, the stories I can tell!  I’m hoping to continue to make new ones as we move into 2017!

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7. Grandma

This is a story I don’t wish to go into, so I’ll just say that I’ve started writing letters to my grandmother.  By hand.  At least once a week, but usually more.  That’s all I have to say about that.

8. Reconnecting with old friends

2016 was a good year for me in terms of reaching out and reconnecting with people who used to be in my life with much more regularity.  I started going to some WLU Toronto Alumni events, which – I graduated in 1995, and have been in Toronto since late 1997 – why have I not been going to these?!  So much fun!  Especially with my gal, Izzy, and her guy, Phil (who went to Western – boooo!  haha), and my hope for further reunions with my fellow Laurier alum may actually come to pass!  As well, I got reacquainted in a big way with one of my Rogers boys from back in the day.  We fell into our same old rhythm with each other – and then changed things up a bit, as well.  Right from our first conversation, it was obvious to me how much I’d missed him, though, so now I’m doing my best to make sure he and I don’t drift apart like that again.

As well, I started seeing my therapist on a regular basis again.  We also fell into our same old rhythm, but this time it seems like everything is more heightened.  We are connecting on a much deeper level than ever before, and as difficult as it is, I couldn’t have asked for more.  It’s exactly what I need.

What’s more is that I’ve spent more quality time in 2016 with more recent friends, and made at least one amazing new one, to boot!  Maybe my obsession with stronger connections is starting to pay off.  Also GO HAWKS GO!

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9. CSA’s Red Carpet

The Mind Reels has covered the Canadian Screen Awards (aka The Candys) to some degree each year since they began.  We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been invited to do so, and to have as much access as we’ve been given each year.  This year, however, was our first time on the broadcast gala’s red carpet, chatting with the talent as they arrived for the big night.  We were squished into a spot at the very end, and while many of the big names walked right by after having done their required time with the big media outlets, just as many amazing peeps actually stopped to talk to us – and many of them weren’t people we already knew!  This was our most incredible year at the CSA’s by far, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to apply for accreditation again for 2017, because it’s quickly become one of my favourite events in the city all year!  Besides, we were told by one wonderful woman that we’re a relief to see at the end of the red carpet – that people feel like they can just relax and enjoy themselves while they’re with us, and that’s got to be one of the biggest, most humbling compliments I think I’ve ever received.  More chances to make that happen, please!

10. Crown

This may seem like a weird thing to include on a Best Of list, but I was finally able to have my first dental crown put in, and I couldn’t be happier.  After a root canal, gum surgery and getting my mold taken just under the lab’s holiday deadline, I am now – for the first time in years – pain free.  Well, as far as my mouth is concerned, at least.  And for me, that’s a huge good thing!

11. Creativity

Figured I’d lump a couple of things into one spot, just to help whittle down my list!  From my Etsy store (where I sold my first felted item), to my meeting with the Toronto Library’s Writer in Residence (who made me excited about my book again), to my first attempt at shooting footage solo throughout my day for the Canada In A Day film that gets broadcast next year.  I was pretty disappointed with how mine turned out, but I still got a few emails saying that some clips may or may not make it into the final film, so I signed all the required releases and sent them off into the ether.  We’ll see what happens, but either way, I learned a lot just in that one day, so with any luck I can carry that forward to bigger and better things soon, too!

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12. The final 10-15 lbs

The majority of the weight I gained following The Betrayal was lost slowly over the course of the following decade.  I’d resigned myself to just staying at one particular point because I couldn’t seem to get the scale to budge any lower – until late January 2016.  Suddenly, the weight started coming off and the final 10-15 lbs – also the most dramatic pounds – dropped away by the end of March, or so.  Not only am I now back to my pre-gain weight, but so far I’ve kept it that way without too much trouble.  Okay, fine, maybe not the past couple of weeks, but it’s the holidays.  If all goes well after this weekend, things will get back to normal soon.  It’s nice to have a glimpse of my former swagger back, too!

13. Melissa O’Neil on stage

The weird thing about this is that I watched Mel on Canadian Idol back in the day, and may have had a little crush on her even back then.  Seeing her in Dark Matter has been an absolute joy, and getting to chat with her via The Mind Reels was a bit of a dream come true, as well.  The fact that I get to know her a little in real life is just…above and beyond.  So you’d THINK I would have taken the opportunity to see her perform on stage – to sing live – at any given point before now!  However, better late than never.  And so completely worth it that she gets her own spot on my personal Best Of list for the year.  Also, the wee crush lives.

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14. Ole Timey Radio Plays

These are pretty much the best thing ever!  For Mind Reels, Tim and I started bringing in random handfuls of actor friends and reading old radio play scripts from the 30’s and 40’s!  So much ridiculous and hilarious fun – to the point where we all but stopped doing regular interviews, even!  Don’t worry, though, I intend to get interviews going again, AND radio plays, AND maybe a few other ideas I have all put into play in the new year.  those radio plays, though.  We knew they’d be fun, but everyone continues to go above and beyond, every time, and that I am always in need of facial traction due to the amount of hard laughter each time is indication of exactly how special these things have become.  I can’t get enough!

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15.  Kate Tattoo

I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a new local tattoo parlour with a deal for small black and white tattoos available for $50 for a limited time.  A friend suggested we get one for “our girls”, meaning our doppelganger cats, both of whom have passed on and who are deeply missed.  I thought that was a great idea, and then, thanks to my very best friend in life, the whole experience ended up being more than I could have hoped for!  I love, love, love my homage to wee Kate the Kitten, and am naturally itching to get more ink done as soon as I have some kind of extra cash again!

16.  Lil Bub

Last but certainly not least, 2016 was the year I finally met Lil Bub in person.  I barely managed to hold back the tears, but I got to pet her wee head and we took terrible selfies on my phone and I love her so much I have a need to see her again someday!  What a remarkable little beast she is, that Lillian Bubbles.  She has no idea how much, really, which just makes her even more incredible.  I’m so grateful I got to spend those few wonderful moments in her presence!

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So there you have it!  My best moments of 2016!  Honourable mention goes to the ongoing shininess of my Firefly LootCrate subscription.  And the daily joy of living with my three wonderful cats – and this guy:

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I’m not going to say I’ll never post here again, but it definitely won’t be as often.  I’m sure I’ll get the urge to write once in awhile, though.  It’s who I am.

To that end, I am starting a new blog project, which I hope will work better for me moving forward.  It’s called My WildLife Awakened, and you’ll be able to follow along with it here.

I’ve been thinking, and will leave you with this one tidbit – almost advice-ish, really, though I hope I can take it, myself, as well.

As we cross into 2017, there may or may not be much to look forward to, so I’m going to try instead to make great memories to look back on this time next year.

Let’s see what happens!

Oh – and happy new year!

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More Me Now

I am terrible at remembering to refill my MS medication prescription until the day I take the last pill I have on hand. Luckily, Rexall remembers for me, so I can usually just go in day of and it’s ready to be picked up.

I did such a thing last night, but the additional cool part was that – for the first time – the pharmacist ringing it through asked how the meds were working out for me. He asked how it was going. We chatted about it for an extra few moments before I headed for home. No one’s ever asked me that before, outside of my neurologist. It was nice.

I haven’t posted on FB since last week, the day after the election. Not even this blog goes up on there anymore. I go on just to see my memories for each day, especially on days like today. It’s the sixth anniversary of the day I had to have my Kate kitty put down, and while the memories in my feed today are ultimately sad, there’s also a lot of good ones, because I’ve posted a little tribute to her each year since.

Well, not this year. Or not on FB, at least. I did post a little something elsewhere, though, including some of my fave photos of us together:

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The thing I’ve noticed about being on FB less in this past week is that I have far fewer interactions, and since this blog isn’t being posted there, I feel sort of liberated and like I can be a bit more open about things. We’ll see how long that lasts, of course, but for the time being, I actually feel like expressing a bit more on here than I have in the past. We’ll see. We’ll see.

Yesterday, I saw the dental surgeon guy who did my gum surgery. He was very pleased with how the healing is coming along – I think pleased with himself most of all, but pleased nonetheless. He approved me to go ahead and get the crown, so I’ll set that up with my regular dentist very soon. I look forward to paying for THAT over the next year or so of my life. Haha

My work day yesterday was ridiculous. A lot of entitled attitudes walking around here, it seems. I’ll no doubt complain about that another time.

Today is almost as bad, but a little over the top because my polar bear is out at the Toronto Zoo for the first time in 4 years, and I am stuck here instead of spending time with him again at last. The other thing is that I’ve been feeling so disconnected lately that I am sad about how little I’m affected by all that right now. I should be more excited to see him. I should feel more things in general. Instead I’m still just…swept away.

I’m sure that’ll change whenever I do see him again. It’s just sad that I don’t feel like I have even that to look forward to anymore.

Another FB memory that popped up was one I’d kind of forgotten about. I’d been challenged one time to list a number of things that most people wouldn’t know about me. It was fun to go back and re-visit that, so I thought I’d share it again here.

So here you go – 11 things about me that most people don’t already know:

  1. I am obsessively partial to odd numbers. I’ll …have to find a way to make my biological imperative overlook this list of 8, for example. (Note: I was later challenged by another friend so was able to add 3 more to the original list, to total 11.)
  2. I had a spoon collection when I was younger, thanks to my grandmother, who gave me her Charles and Diana wedding spoon to start things off. I’m trying to figure out where I put it, now, actually.
  3. When I was little, I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up. Then I wanted to be a Jedi. Finding out I could be neither was almost as disappointing as finding out that my parents couldn’t give me the older sister I’d asked for.
  4. I was painfully shy as a child, but then I figured out that shy people got made fun of, so I faked it in the hopes that I wouldn’t draw attention to myself. Today it’s just as hard to leave the confines of my apartment, but I am way better at hiding it, and I bet no one has any idea now. Oh…crap…
  5. One of my biggest fears as a kid was giants. Sweetums terrified me. Technically, I’m still nervous around things that are bigger than me, but am able to be awed by some of them, as well. Like whales and bears.
  6. My mom says I used to cry every time I heard the theme song from the Littlest Hobo. I actually still get a little misty-eyed over it now. Ah, doggies.
  7. My bedroom walls and ceiling are partially covered with glow-in-the-dark stars. I’m 41 (Edit: 44 now), and I love them. I purposefully charge them up every night before going to bed, so I can fall asleep in my tiny universe. At least the ones Flynn hasn’t peeled off. I had to move a bunch up out of her reach. Ah, kitties.
  8. I was Valedictorian of my high school graduating class. There were, like, 11 of us, I think, and I made the least stink about being nominated. My class had the coolest idea ever for a gift – we were creating a time capsule to be put on display and then buried on school grounds to be dug up in 50 years or so. We had a whole list of stuff we were each contributing, but in the end, we never finished it. So our gift to the school was actually nothing at all, which sort of sums us up rather well, really.
  9. I have – and still listen to – the first Alanis album on CD. Not Jagged Little Pill – the FIRST first album! “Never too hot, never too cold, ya take your best shot, too hot to hold! Never too young, never too old….you gotta go for GOLD!!!”
  10. I really really really miss plugging quarters into video arcade machines. I miss going to the arcade and playing my faves, usually with my brother. And I absolutely miss playing games that you can’t really “beat” no matter HOW good you are. Eventually, that little frog is going to take a misstep, or there will be too many asteroids to deal with, or the Pong ball will bounce faster than you can react. I miss that.
  11. My walls, like many pre-teen and teen girls, was covered in pinups of my fave celebs. I was a regular reader of Bop, 16 and Teen Beat magazines, and was provided with more than enough fodder for my obsessions. The biggest one – and I’ve never really out-grown it – was for Ricky Schroder. Others included Ralph Macchio and most of the 80’s Menudo line-up. And the entire cast of Outsiders. And Mark Hamill. But mostly, I was and am all about the Ricker.

Finally, I’ll end with a few shots of the supermoon I took last night. ‘Cause why not, right?

Tattoo Talk

I think I’ve decided on my next tattoo. Possibly my next two, as both are on the smaller – and thus more affordable – side. Logic tells me to wait until at least the end of summer, so that I can worry less about preventing early fading in the sun, and put finances toward other things coming up in the meantime.

But I’m also not really the patient type.

The first one feels pretty perfect, and that makes it harder to wait for, too. All of my tattoos thus far have been pretty personal, and these next ones are no different. The second one is becoming more and more perfect the more I think about it, too; a combination of two things that actually go together in ways I only just considered this morning as it all fell into place. I’m even thinking of getting one of my favoUrite people to sketch it for me, since there’s already a part of her in it, as well. It’d be amazing to have that extra little personal touch added in. Trust me, guys – I won’t go into detail right now, but it’s a pretty amazing idea, and very me. It would be the tattoo that’s most from inside me, actually. Only slightly more personal than the wee Kate one I just got. I’m ridiculously excited for it.

Which makes it even harder to wait. I mean, seriously, I should probably get one now-ish, and then get the other at the end of the summer, right? Haha

So little patience. For some things, anyway. For others, I seem to have a lot. I remember when I was young I built a house of cards, and my mom said something about how it had taken a lot of patience for me to sit there and move slowly enough that I didn’t spill the whole thing over a bunch of times while trying to build it. I think that was more a zone-out scenario than a patience one, though. Sometimes I just like to empty my mind and perform some small task, usually involving my hands. I like doing dishes, for example. I like making things clean and shiny – especially knives (so shiny), but even more I like the process. It requires almost no thought, and is kind of comforting, in a way. It’s like a reset sometimes.

Not sure what it is about tattoos that keeps me coming back, my mind always turning on the next way to display another small part of myself to the world. Or, actually, not the world so much as my own self. So far all of my ink is easily visible, and the next two will be as well (I of course already know where they will each go). And I love being able to see them. I love going about my day and catching a glimpse unexpectedly, or purposefully looking at them just because it makes me feel so happy when I do. Like a little momentary break from the routine – some longer than others, naturally.

I once tried to describe them as being something I thought was beautiful, and that they are a part of me. So I think parts of me are beautiful now, where I never really did before. Each one is deeply personal, and all capture some part of my personality or identity or…some other word that I can’t quite think of… The ones I have so far honour relationships that changed me and caused me to grow in particular ways, and at the same time honour the qualities in me that I like, which also grew out of those relationships. In essence, they are little parts of myself that I actually like and wish to hold on to. They are things about me that I think are beautiful.

Besides, if my greatest concern when I am older is the appearance of my tattoos, then I’ll call that a huge win. I am okay with them lasting the rest of my life.

The next two – if I stick to that same order – will be just as personal, and honour just as much truth and growth and identity as the rest. Maybe even more, in the one case.

It seems, too, like every time I get one, I’m already planning the next in my mind. And so far the one I thought I’d get first, is still being shoved further back in line, in favour of the ones that are more expressive of who I am; the ones which serve to remind me of something I don’t wish to ever forget. I’m not even sure if I’ll ever actually get that first one, but if I do, it’ll be after the other ones. I’m still saving the spot for it, though, just in case.

My real first one ended up being Hudson the polar bear I love, because of how knowing him changed the way I look at non-humans and thus how I relate to the world around me. I always got a little rush – a quickening of the heart – whenever I looked at him, and I feel the exact same when I look at this piece on my shoulder. He watches my back, and stands guard over the xoAly tag of my friend, Alysia. She actually was helping me plan the Hudson tattoo before she passed away, and I feel like that happened right as our friendship took a turn toward being even closer than we already were. We’d just started to go from being work friends to actual friends, I think, and while I think all of us who knew her will always feel despairingly robbed, our brief friendship changed me for the better, and I’m honoured to carry her with me always.

My second one that I just got a few weeks ago is to honour my cat, Kate. She was the first pet I had as an adult; the first who was my responsibility alone. We went through a lot together, and I’ll always wish she could know what it’s like to have me as her person now, because I didn’t know anything then and we learned as we went. She’d be crazy spoiled now, even more than she was. There’s a lot I would have done differently if I could go back.

But regardless, Kate was the one who made me a mom, and she will always be my most special girl. A mini-Kate now sits on my forearm, one wee paw reaching up toward me, as she always did. My girl. ❤

The next two will both have a couple of different levels in their meanings, but the second one, especially. If I can get it to work out the way I want it to, a simple little design will hold SO MUCH of my story inside of it. Even the location I’ve chosen for it; it all just fits. I can’t wait.

Let’s see what happens!

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For Kate

This happened today, in honour of my Kate the Kitten:

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There is so much I want to say – about how wonderful our artist, Mishka, at Inked Avenue was, about brunch after, about the fun Laurier alumni event after THAT was, and most of all about Lizz and the fact that I have no words for her selfless amazing love-ness.

But I am exhausted, and must take this puppy out for a walk before I sleep.

So for now, two things. One is this cool pic my partner in crime for the day made for me:

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And the other is that, the whole time, there was a small heart shape in the skylight above the chair:

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More soon.

Flynn’s Tale: The Story So Far

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When Kate, my kitten of 13 years had to be suddenly euthanized, I was devastated. She’d been the first animal that had been fully my responsibility. She was the one who’d first made me a mom.

I soon discovered that I hated going home to an empty apartment, too, so as soon as I got my next paycheque, I headed to a nearby Toronto Animal Services shelter to adopt. While I waited for payday, I perused the site often, looking for who my next felines loves would be. I knew I didn’t want to have only one pet living with me, so my plan was to get two, possibly from the same litter. And I wanted them to be as different from Kate as possible – I wanted boys, I wanted something other than a tabby (except maybe orange tabbies, because how cute are they?!) and I wanted little kittens who would distract me from my Kate heartache a little bit with their kitten-y antics. Plus, Kate had been a good 3-4 months old before she came to live with me, so I was looking for someone younger this time.

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I saw and instantly fell in love with a young tuxedo chap the shelter had named Chimneysweep. He had huge long whiskers and was fluffy and black and white and perfect. Well, almost perfect – he was about 5 months old at the time, they estimated, but he was so cute I’d overlook the slightly older-than-I-was-looking-for age.

The time finally came for me to go find my new kittens, and I bullied Tim into coming with me. I went from room to room, kind of looking at the various cats available to adopt, but wanting to first see if my luck had held out long enough for Chimneysweep to still be there.

It had, and he was!

I scooped the little fool out of his cage and after about a 3 second cuddle he jumped down and played with some/all of the toys available in the room. He was a scamp and a half, that little guy, and I was delighted! After watching and playing with him for a few minutes, I put him back in his kennel with the promise that I would be back for him, and headed off to find him a new brother.

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On the way, though, I bumped into one of the volunteers who told me that Chimneysweep didn’t really play well with other cats. He might do well with an older, bigger cat who would put him in his place, but otherwise, he was a ball of energy that would be taken out on me and my apartment if he was an only pet, or on an older cat, which was not what I was looking for. They suggested I try him with another kitten to see how they did together, and decide from there.

In one of the other rooms, a young brown female tabby had been trying to get my attention while I was talking to a little black kitten in the cage next to her. Tim suggested we try the tabby with Chimneysweep, as she didn’t seem the type to take any of his roughhousing crap. I reluctantly agreed – I mean, she was female, and a tabby, but at least she was brown instead of gray, and I’d have Chimneysweep around to keep me laughing if I ended up taking both. I figured it was worth a shot, anyway.

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As we walked into that room, however, a little black paw shot out from a lower level cage and snagged my pantleg. I looked in to see who was pawing at me, and saw this cute little black ball of fluff the shelter had named Tabitha. I remembered seeing her on the website, though she hadn’t really stood out to me at the time. In that moment, however, all I could envision was how cute her little black and white fluffiness would look with Chimneysweep’s little black and white tuxie fluffiness, and decided to try the two of them together, instead. One of the volunteers took Tabitha out of her cage and blew on her white patch of belly fur to see how long ago she’d been spayed. She had fully healed, so she carried her back to Chimneysweep’s room, with Tim and I following behind. It would occur to me later that the most prevalent feeling I had in those moments was tiny stabs of jealousy. I wanted to be the one carrying her.

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As soon as she and Chimneysweep got to the same floor, the wrestling started. Well, he started wrestling. Tabitha was more pinned on her back with a confused and helpless look on her face as he chewed on her. After a few moments, we decided we didn’t like the way he was playing with her, and pulled him off. I held him, the volunteer held Tabitha, and looking at her now-dishevelled little face, I knew she was the one I had to adopt. If only to apologize for what she’d just been subjected to on my account. With a touch of sadness and a little confusion of my own, I placed the kitten I thought I’d be taking home that day back into his cage, and told him I was sorry. I also mentioned that, if he was a good boy, he’d be sure to be adopted soon, because he was just too handsome not to be.

(Chimneysweep was adopted not long after, actually, but that day was the beginning and end of our story).

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So there I was, still with one kitten chosen, but a different one than had been chosen mere minutes prior. I still had to find another one, and by that point (having just given back what I’d held as my one certainty), I was so confused, I decided to just let them choose me, instead. The little tabby was still waiting in the other room, and as she had chosen me first out of all of them, I decided to give her and Tabitha a shot together. I was a little apprehensive, since poor Tabitha had just been worked over a bit as it was, but I was hopeful that the introductions would go better this time.

And they did. The girls wrestled in silence for a few moments – no hissing, or meowing – and both were involved. It wasn’t one chewing on the other. Then they broke apart and took turns exploring the room, and coming back to check on me.

I had my cats.

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The shelfter had named the tabby Linda, but I have an Aunt Linda, and was determined to find a different name for her. Something that suited the little curl at the tip of her tail when she walked. The main glitch, however, was that she hadn’t yet been spayed, so I couldn’t actually take both kittens with me that day. In fact, further problems would crop up and I wouldn’t be able to take Linda home for at least a month, if at all.

So, again reluctant, I left that day with one kitten. Tabitha. A female, about 5 months old, so even older than Kate had been. But at least she wasn’t a tabby. But the other one was. What had I done?

I got her home, and she seemed to feel comfortable in the apartment and with me right away. I read all this information about how to introduce a kitten to a new home, to another kitten, etc, but Tabitha didn’t seem to require any of that. She knew she was home.

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For my part, I knew she couldn’t keep the name Tabitha. The little trouble-maker was going to require a shorter name – perhaps one I would lengthen when using it as a term of endearment. But shorter for when she was causing trouble. I’d wanted to give both kittens some kind of cute pair name, but I wasn’t sure if Not-Linda (as I’d taken to calling her) would ever actually be able to come home, so while I toyed with the possibility of Scully and Reyes, it didn’t really fit either kitten, so I ended up going with a name from my youth that was making a comeback with a new film in the decades-old franchise.

That’s how Tabitha became Flynn.

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As a kitten, Flynn was super cute and had a habit of getting into everything. Or it seemed like everything. She drooled a lot, kept knocking decorations off my Christmas tree so she could bat them around the apartment, and her favourite toy was a stick with a feather attached to the end that she dragged around behind her until the feather more or less disintegrated.  She had no idea how to ask for the kind of attention she wanted, nor did she quite know what to do when she got it. She seemed happy for the most part, though, and sincerely wanted to be loved. And to explore. She was very floppy and you could do pretty much whatever you wanted with her. She was very tolerant, and very light. She looks big because she’s so fluffy, but there is barely anything to her, even now. She likes to be near me more than she likes to be on me, but I am slowly teaching her how to lap cat. She’s not a fan of pooing in the litter, for some reason, but prefers the mat next to the litter, instead.

The vet said maybe something happened before she got to the shelter that made her not like the sensation (she doesn’t cover anything up after, either), or perhaps she was separated from her mother before she learned how to cat.

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Regardless, I’ve tried lots of different things, and in the end, I decided that it’s better just to work with her as she is. Sometimes she acts like maybe she’ll poo on the floor instead, and all I have to do is say her name, and she goes over to her usual spot instead. So at least there’s that. We’ve developed an understanding of sorts. She also usually waits for me to be around before she goes, because she knows I’ll clean it up right after.

I remember, for the first day or so, I was kind of stand-offish with her. She wasn’t Kate – at all – and yet I couldn’t figure out how to love her. I feel like we just kind of watched one another for the first bit. Also, she smelled like shelter, and I wasn’t sure she knew how to groom herself. I wasn’t sure I knew what to do with a cat who didn’t know how to cat. She had zero traction on the hardwood floors, and sometimes I wondered if she even had claws, because they never seemed to come out, even when we would eventually play together. She’s gentle and loving and….like…pretty simple. She’s like a perpetual innocent, that Flynn. Just wanting everyone to be pleased.

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A day or two into our new life together, I put her on the back of the toilet seat, and got some paper towels together. I wet them, and used them to wipe down all of her fur. She purred the whole time. Her purr is super quiet and I had to put my ear up to her to hear it at all, but I could feel it vibrating throughout her body. She was happy, probably to be getting more attention from me. I probably could have given her a full bath, but I was hoping the damp paper towels would induce her to start grooming more. For whatever reason, it worked, and she stopped smelling like shelter, and instead got even fluffier the more she cleaned herself.

Then, despite the fact that she had the apartment – and me – to herself for at least a month, she remained curious yet welcoming – her usual gentle self – for every other animal and human that comes through the door. She has gotten a bit better at defending herself during play wrestling time, but she won’t be winning any titles any time soon. She is getting much better at being a lap cat, sprawling longer and longer in my lap, and more and more often now.

She loves hand lotion…I have no idea why.

She rarely throws up furballs, so when she does, she appears to be confused as to what the hell it was that just came out of her.

She has a stomach like a steel trap and can eat pretty much anything, yet still remains as light as air.

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Her eyes were yellow when I brought her home, but now they are usually green – darker green when she is in a particularly good mood.

Sometimes she still plays by herself, much to my entertainment, and she and the dog have taken to occasionally grooming one another. Which is weird, but awesome.

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In some ways, Flynn needs me the most, and sincerely wants me to love her as much as she loves me. She is silly, and adorable and in some cases, I think if I were to have a favourite of the brood, it would be her. I don’t know where she came from, or how she ended up in a shelter, but I’m glad she reached out and grabbed my attention that day. Once I got over the fact that she wasn’t Kate, Flynn grew into a new part of my heart that I hadn’t realized existed.

And now we just keep growing, together.

Tabitha –> Flynn – December 2010 and counting

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I Dream Of Kate

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I believe my much-loved-and-missed kitty Kate came to visit me in a dream last night.

It’s weird – right after she died, while I was alone in the apartment for a couple of weeks (until I got paid again and could afford a trip to the animal shelter), I kept thinking I heard her around the apartment, or felt her jump onto the bed and lie down next to me like she always did. I even thought I heard her meow a couple of times. I’m sure I’ve dreamed about her since she died, but I can’t really remember anything. I was thinking recently about how I missed feeling like she was still around, even though there are 3 more cats and a doggie enriching my daily life these days. Kate was my first, and therefore will always be special to me in a slightly different way from all the rest.

Also, sometimes she said “mama”, and I don’t expect to find another kitten who can do THAT!

So anyway, whether I dreamed much about my girl Kate in the past or not, last night’s dream was definitely different. As with most dreams, location and such didn’t make sense with reality. I was living in the house in Creemore where I grew up, but on my own, not with my family. I still had Brody, Jack Bear, Flynn and Piper with me – we were just in a much bigger place than we actually are. A place none of them, Kate included, have ever been.

Now, in the dream, Piper had found Kate, but there was also some indication that she was partly responsible for Kate being gone, or for her not coming home sooner. There was some reason why I was potentially angry at Piper, but before the end of the dream I’d forgiven her and moved past it and whatever it was made us closer than ever, so it doesn’t matter now. I know in real life Piper was the kitten I wasn’t sure I wanted, because she looked too much like Kate and it hurt my heart to be close to her. But then she was also the one I waited the longest for, because another month would pass before I could bring her home from the shelter, and she’s kind of the one that keeps the household in order, if that makes sense. She’s like the den mother, in a way. And while I got over the distance I’d put between us long ago, I feel like this morning I actually do feel closer to her now than ever before, which is nice.

I also know that I feel a lot of guilt over not being a good pet mom in the past. Or not being the best. But I’ve always been MY best, so I said to the fur kids this morning that I’ll always be my best for them, but I’ll also always try to be better; to learn as we go. There is, after all, always more room to grow.

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Back to the dream. Kate had found her way home to me, after all these years. She’d been taken away, and something had been done to the pads of her feet, so that she couldn’t walk. So my girl taught herself to walk on the sides of her feet – they were all bent and deformed from not being walked on properly, but she made it work and came back to me. I was momentarily worried about how everyone would get along – 3 cats and a dog when she used to have me all to herself is a lot to get used to – but everyone was great. They weren’t all cuddly or anything, but everyone respected one another’s space, and tolerated everyone together in the much-bigger-than-my-real- apartment house we were living in.

My first thought upon waking was that Kate came back. Not in a sense of being back alive, but in terms of being close to me again. Maybe we hadn’t yet figured out how to visit in dreams, and now we can. Maybe she felt the distance of my being distracted with all these other fur babies, but now we both know there will always be a place for her, no matter what. She’s on my mind a lot today still, instead of fading the way most dreams do, and I am glad for that. I still miss her, of course, but it’s different. I am full of love for the critters who depend on me to take care of them, and don’t have time to miss Katie-Kate the same way I used to. That I don’t hear her or feel her anymore no longer seems like a failing on my part, or something that’s been lost. Now she feels close to me even without those things, and I suspect this dream visit will not be the last. And since Dream Kate gets along just fine with Dream Brody, Dream Piper, Dream Flynn and Dream Jack Bear, I see no reason why she won’t always be close by, through the veil, on the other side of waking life.

Now if I could just figure out why Brody – and lately Piper – keep staring intently into a particular mirror at something I can not see…

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