Happy belated National Black Cat Day, SALEM! (Laundry room tour, + it’s getting cold.)

It’s getting chilly. I’ve resisted turning on the heater at home or in my car, because my unheated workplace is colder on the inside than it is on the outside, and I don’t want to leave a heated house and get into a heated car to drive to a cold place where I will spend eight hours. I figure I need to develop some degree of tolerance to the cold if I want to get through the cold months.

I’m forcing myself to acclimate, and I’m fine with it. I’m trying to be comfortable and safe at work so I can keep loving my job. Comfortable relative to the cold. Safe relative to the virus, which is even scarier now because the cold encourages it. (Not to mention, the virus has now infiltrated my workplace.)

Here at home, I have a kid who also does her life in unheated places, and that would be Salem, my little black cat. She’s acclimating to the weather, too. I take inspiration from her!

Salem is a special little girl. National Black Cat Day was on October 27, did you know? My friend Caroline texted me that day to inform me of this. I never did get to posting a pic of Salem on social media that day, but I intended to make up for the cat mom fail with a blog post all about Salem. Here we are! I’ve got a ton of pics, too. I have pics of Salem, and also of her room, aka the laundry room.

First, my sweet daughter, herself:

Salem at home in the backyard.

Salem is a happy girl.

To say that she’s come a long way from her terrified-of-humans-rail-thin-foraging-for-food-in-the-garbage days is an understatement. She’s still feral in the sense that she doesn’t let me touch her, but she’s increasingly comfortable with me, and she’s recently had a couple of major breakthroughs: She discovered furniture and the joys thereof, and she realized that the toys in her room are there for her to play with.

Yes. Without any guidance from me, she’s chosen to sleep on the old ottoman I’d moved into her room, and she plays with her toys… domesticated cat behaviors more than feral cat behaviors. She’s had toys in her laundry room for the last two years, and she always ignored them. Heading into this third winter, she’s comfortable to the point of relaxing into playfulness. When I go into her room every evening, I find the stuffed fishy and various meeses scattered hither and yon, and the two rugs pushed out of place. I can envision her tossing her toys around and skidding on the rugs as she chases after them.

Every day, I make her bed and gather her toys and put them back where they go. The rugs, too. I love arranging everything perfectly in the evening and then seeing the disarray in the room the next day. The nest she’d made of her blanket, her toys all over the place, the rugs wherever they’d moved. Picking up after this little girl is the best thing ever!

Salem used to disappear during the day and stay out half the night. Now, she’s home more than she’s away. She slips out for a little while, and next thing I know, she’s back in her yard, lounging here and sleeping there.

She comes home to this house. She comes home to me.

Going out isn’t the norm for her anymore. Staying here is. She loves her yard, her patio, her room. In the morning, she comes out to eat her breakfast, and then she goes back in. I’ve noticed on the weekends that she sometimes stays in the laundry room well into the afternoon.

Salem napping on her patio, as seen through the screened side of the sliding-glass door.

Salem seen from afar.

Salem getting closer to me, little by little. One day!

Salem grooming on the go.

Salem lounging in the grass.

Salem stretching and blinking at me. Cats will only lie on their backs and expose their bellies when they’re comfortable and trusting that they’re safe.

Meatloaf Salem.

Salem on her path.

Salem owning the place.

Salem in cuddle-mode. Those little paws, though!

Salem on her doorstep, surveying her yard.

If that’s Salem’s doorstep, then that’s Salem’s door, and if it’s her door, then it’s her room. It’s my laundry room, more technically, but let’s be real here. When a cat lives in a place, it’s her place. It is not up for discussion. This is Salem’s room. She often hangs out on the doormat on her front porch next to her food area.

This brings us to the room, itself. Its aesthetic? Well, I’ve filled it with old furniture and old treasures, found treasures. A dusty candle last lit over a decade ago, fake dead flowers, natural objects I’d picked up in nature – hiking trails, beaches, backyards – with every intention of keeping them forever. Crystals, an antique doll handed down to me, re-homed tapestries, a few garish cast-offs. It’s kind of witchy and celestial and grimy in there. You might decide that it’s cottagegoth or goblincore. I’m still adding to it; I have the ashes of several beloved furbabies in their wooden urns waiting to be arranged in the shrine to them that I’m going to make.

This laundry room is attached to the house, but it’s only accessible from the outside.

(LED) candle-flame lights on either side of the door.

Looking in from the doorway at night.

I don’t think I’ve ever brought you into my laundry room! I believe this is also the first time I’ve dedicated an entire post to Salem.

Lest there’s any doubt as to whose room this is.

The long wall to the right of the door.

Bookcase corner (to the left of the door): stones, crystals, a piece of coral, a pinecone, a wooden Tibetan figurine, an owl trinket-holder, fake dead roses, everything old or found or gifted or all of the above. I’m going to create the shrine to my dead cats in one of the cubbies in this bookshelf.

Washing machine corner: an old floor lamp, a string of cloth elephants from an Etsy shop in India (which I got to replace my cherished elephant string that I’d lost), a small handmade plaque I’d purchased in a ghost town.

Dryer corner: a clock sent to me by mistake, more fake dead flowers, a dusty old candle, an antique doll handed down to me, the green bats’ blood bottle I had in my office during its dark academia iteration.

Water heater corner (to the right of the door): the water heater, of course, and the utility sink. Above the sink, a cast-off sakura paper lantern, a small round mirror in a wooden frame in the shape of an eye. Next to it, my little glass and wrought iron table from 20 or so years ago that now holds my laundry detergents, a fake tree, and random objects.

My celestial tapestry on the long wall, with faerie lights and glittery, jewel-toned paper origami stars.

Tapestry at night.

Salem’s bed: an old ottoman with mismatched old cushions and Salem’s winter blanket. The black and gold rug used to be in my office. The rug is never neatly positioned like this when I go in during the day. It’s askew, and often, I’ll find a toy mouse beneath the ottoman.

Above Salem’s bed. These things are self-explanatory.

Daylight detail: top of the bookcase. These treasured objects are much easier to see in the daylight. The pinecone is obscured from this angle, though. It’s behind the blue crystal.

Daylight detail: corner shelves. I didn’t like the look of the doll sitting up. I prefer her lying down, looking deceased.

Daylight detail: top of laundry table.

Salem’s toy area beneath the laundry table. She used to sleep in this space. By the time I moved the ottoman in, she was brave and comfortable enough to choose it for her new bed. It started to get chilly at night soon after I realized that she was sleeping on the ottoman, so I put her blanket there instead of down here. Most of these toys are scattered throughout the room when I come in during the day.

Salem’s doormat and rug. This is the old rug that’s really dramatically out of place when I go in every day. It’s pushed aside, bunched or folded. Sometimes, I find it in the middle of the room. Often, I find one or two of Salem’s toys where the mat should be. They tell the whole story.

Doorknocker above the door on the outside. It also used to be in my office.

Since I took these pics, I wrapped Salem’s ottoman in heavy plastic sheeting all the way down to the floor, in case of wandering male cats feeling territorial for no good reason. I will not be laundering piles of bedding every day in order to clean up male cat spray, thank you! Furthermore, the ottoman is upholstered. No surefire way to get the male cat odor out of that. Salem would never sleep on the ottoman again! With the plastic sheeting protecting the ottoman, I’d only have to wash her towels and blanket. With luck, I won’t have to deal with it at all.

I hope you enjoyed this first post dedicated to Salem and her room! Happy belated National Black Cat Day, little girl.

And a lovely rest of your weekend, friends.


ETA: I just took this pic of Salem eating and thought I’d include it, as this post is also a journal entry for my own memories. She ate her breakfast when I gave it to her at 7:30am, and here she is finishing it after having gone back to sleep for a few hours. (Just like her mommy.):

Salem finishing off her breakfast on a Sunday morning.

Alright! I have some baking to do right about now. Until Wednesday, then. Stay safe, friends.

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