Hello, my friends. This is a little on the heavy side, but I said that I would post it, so…
I wanted to come back from Salem’s death six months later with an update on how things have shaken out over time, for anyone who’s wondering or who might be on the same path. The update was going to look something like this: I’ve moved through the stages of grief, and now I’m on the other side. Unfortunately, that is not what this update looks like.
My cat died over six months ago, and I’m not “over it.” I shouldn’t have to feel that this is a confession, as if it’s something that demands justification, but I kind of do. In our society, there seems to be a suggested expiration date for grieving the loss of a pet.
Some remarks made to me within two weeks of Salem’s death (not that they would’ve been okay at any other time):
“She was killed by an owl? That’s just nature.” ~My former lunch-break acquaintance across the street from my workplace.
“Just, you know, get over it.” ~A dear friend I’ve had since the ’90’s.
“She was just a cat.” ~The same former lunch-break acquaintance.
Friend from the 90’s: You should just get another cat. Me: I have Nenette, my indoor ca – Friend (cutting me off): Well clearly that one isn’t enough for you if you’re still upset about the other one. Me (stunned):
To be fair, both of the individuals who counseled me with these remarks are over 25 years my senior. They’re of another generation, and they both had rural upbringings. These factors do inform their thinking, I’m aware. I also know that they were well-intentioned; neither of them meant to be hurtful.
But I don’t understand them, these comments. Timing aside, they got me thinking. Here’s what I concluded:
If you wouldn’t say it to a human parent, don’t say it to a pet parent.
Can you imagine saying to a mother that her daughter’s death was “just nature” if her daughter had been fatally attacked by a bear?
If her infant daughter had been snatched and killed by the same enormous and powerfully taloned raptor that took and killed my Salem,* I wouldn’t tell the grieving mother to “just get over it” because it was “just nature.”
And I certainly wouldn’t tell her to “just have another baby” because “clearly your other daughter isn’t enough for you if you’re still upset about this one.”
By the same token, Salem was my daughter. It’s always been this way with my animal babies. My cat and my tortoise know me and love me as their mother, and I couldn’t be more their mom if they were human. Salem wasn’t “just a cat,” I can’t “just get over” her killing, and I’m not comforted when someone reassures me that her death was “just nature.” Neither would anyone else.
Keying out these well-intentioned statements, it strikes me that the word “just” is in all of them, and I realize that “just” is the four-letter word to avoid when talking to someone grieving the loss of their pet. “Just” belittles and diminishes. It implies that your loss is insignificant, and that therefore your lost loved one was insignificant.
I know that Salem is forever a part of the cosmos, a star in the constellation of Leo, and that I’m there with her. When I registered our twin stars, I hoped that knowing this would make for a quicker and easier grieving process, and it has helped. It’s just taking a while. For one thing, I have to be able to move past the fact that she’d fallen asleep out in the open because of me.
So that’s the update, friends. Grief is a personal journey, different from person to person and from case to case. I have a unique grief journey with every loss. It could be a walk down the street, or it could be a walk to the other side of the country. I’m still navigating this one. I’ll get there eventually.**
*Salem was a feral cat who took up residence in my yard and outdoor laundry room. She loved me and interacted with me and behaved as a trusting housecat, attached to her yard and to me, but she remained just feral enough that she wouldn’t allow me to touch her. That was her one remaining boundary, and because of it, I wasn’t able to bring her into the house.
**I’m not over here moping through life. I laugh and have fun and feel energized taking on challenges, and I look forward to things! I may not feel deep joy, but I do feel contentment that comes from a place of gratitude. Gratitude that accompanies heartbreak is a balm. It keeps me grounded in perspective. Poet Henry David Longfellow wrote that “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” and I find this to be such a beautifully stated truth.
May this find you all safe and well, my friends. Until next time!
Hello there, friends. I have a story to tell you about a moth.
At around noon on Sunday, a small moth came into the house with me through the sliding-glass door. I was surprised. When I say it came in with me, I mean with me, not ahead of me or behind me. Or maybe my surprise was more due to the fact that the moth fluttered in so closely to my face, and I hadn’t noticed it at all when I was outside. It just suddenly appeared as I was coming in from the back patio.
It was a mystifying thing to happen at noon on a bright, sunny day, as moths are nocturnal, for the most part. I couldn’t remember ever seeing such an active moth in the middle of a summer day. Moths are attracted to bright light at night. This moth came with me into the darker house from the bright outdoors.
I’d been doing laundry out there in the (outdoor) laundry room and had just come in briefly to grab something, so a few minutes later I opened the door again to go back out. Again, the moth appeared in front of my face, materializing there and staying with me as I stepped out onto the patio. It wasn’t in a hurry. It simply accompanied me out.
Back in the laundry room, I arranged the laundry in the washer and reached for the detergent and as I was filling the detergent tray, I looked up and saw that the moth was poised on the inside of the washing machine lid, again right there, eye-level. I hadn’t noticed it coming in. It was just suddenly there. I could see every detail of its wing pattern and coloring. A feeling came over me. After this third appearance in front of my face, the moth’s behavior didn’t seem random. It seemed deliberate, because the moth was clearly making sure that I saw it. Like Salem used to do.
It was hours later at around 10:30pm when I stepped into the hallway from my office to go to the kitchen. The hallway leads straight to the living room, so I’m walking toward the far back living-room wall when I walk down the hall. Instead of going into the kitchen to the left of the hallway/living-room juncture, though, I changed course and went all the way into the living-room to inspect that far wall, because I’d noticed a small dark moth-shaped spot centered on it at eye-level, directly ahead of my path. I found that it was the same moth, positioned before me for the fourth time since the middle of the day. Tears came to my eyes as I said, Salem? I mean, I at least had to wonder. In many Native American cultures, it is believed that moths are messengers from the spirit world, especially from those who are no longer with us on the physical plane.
It’s just that Salem was the first thought in my mind when I saw again how precisely and deliberately the moth set itself in front of me, where I’d be sure to see it. All Salem ever wanted was to be able to see me, to be seen by me, and to be with me. She wouldn’t allow me to touch her, but we shared our love and affection through our eyes.
The next night was Monday night. Again, I was on my way to the kitchen when I stopped abruptly at the end of the hall. Directly overhead was the A/C vent, and I was suddenly, inexplicably overcome by the urge to change the A/C filter.
Now, believe me when I tell you, my friends, that I’ve never felt such an inclination. Never as in ever. But in that moment, it was the only thing I wanted to do, even though I was on a mission to do something else and I had several other things that I wanted to be doing at the same time. Suddenly, all I could think about was changing the A/C filter! I often experience sudden bursts of motivation to do random things late at night, but this was a new one.
So I went to retrieve my step-stool and I got up there and unlatched the A/C vent, slid out the old filter, replaced it with the new one, re-latched the vent, stepped down. It was precisely 10:35pm, which I know because of my cell phone call log. My phone rang as I was putting the step-stool away, you see. It rang and it was my friend and I picked it up to answer, and as we spoke, I absentmindedly reached for the old A/C filter from where I’d leaned it against the hallway wall.
Maybe you’ve correctly guessed where this is heading: I turned the dirty filter over to look at the cleaner side that had been facing up into the A/C duct, and there, in front of my face and perfectly centered on the filter, was the moth. It was dead and beautifully displayed. And I started crying, silently, because I didn’t want to have to explain anything to my friend.
The A/C filter is not an insect trap. I’ve never seen insects on the old filters. For whatever reason, insects do not get up there. This was a complete anomaly. If an insect were to get into the vent and die on the filter, it would die on the outside/downward-facing side of the panel, the side on which the dust collects… not on the side that’s facing up into the duct. That filter had been in the vent for over a month and there’d been plenty of time for other insects to get into it, but there was only the moth that’d been poised on my living-room wall almost exactly 24 hours earlier. I don’t even know how it managed to get up onto the top side of the filter. And I can’t imagine why it would. Moths are attracted to light, not to dark A/C ducts.
I couldn’t believe it, quite frankly. I’d been stopped in my tracks and called to remove the filter that held the moth.
I know that this moth holds importance for me. In a span of 36 hours, it made sure to appear in front of my face five times (a significant number to me): coming into the house, going back outside, on the inside of the washing machine cover (front and center), on the living-room wall facing the hallway (front and center), and finally on the clean inside of the A/C filter (front and center).
Of course I carefully transported the moth to my kitchen counter. I’m going to return it to the Earth on Sunday.
Anyhow, I don’t know where I’m going with this, and I don’t have much else to say about it. It was just a strange and totally not random or coincidental thing that I wanted to share. Oh, and today, I opened my mailbox after work and a moth flew out at me, the first moth to fly out of the mailbox in the thousands of times I’ve opened it in the seven years I’ve been in this house. Literally a message in my mailbox fluttering out into my face.
As I’d mentioned in my last post, the Lion’s Gate Portal is open… and when it’s open, there may be messages. I’ve received mine. I’m not sure what it is yet, but perhaps there will be a reveal after meditating one of these days. I would like to think that it’s Salem, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and believe that. It very well could be, at any rate.
Still losing track of days over here. All day Thursday I thought it was Friday, and Friday morning the alarm went off and I thought I was going to work out. But it wasn’t Saturday. This morning I awoke into panic thinking that it was Monday. It was 8:15am. Disaster! I had to convince and reassure myself that it was Sunday.
Three weeks ago today, I woke up and went out to give Salem her breakfast and she wasn’t there and she never would be again, but I didn’t know it at the time.
I haven’t spent any significant time outside since. My backyard feels unfamiliar now. It’s different. It’s going to take some time. I have to learn the new terrain out there, the one devoid of the little feline being who brought such joy and who only wanted to be with me. That was all she wanted, ever.
Salem was innocent. She was happy and sweet and full of love and light, and she did not deserve the horror of what happened to her.
Be that as it may, it happened, and nothing is going to unhappen it.
Establishing a memorial site for her felt tremendously important and it took some meditating, but seven days after her death, I knew that the answer was in the stars. Salem and I had our special heart-bonding time late at night, under the splendor of the cosmos. She knew about the elements, and the moon and the stars and the planets I was connecting with as well as the asteroids, as I explained everything to her. She and I were energetically one with each other and with the cosmic bodies, and so I decided to create a memorial site for her up above by registering a star in her name.
In the process, I saw that you can choose to register twin stars. As twin stars, Salem and I can go on being together in the cosmos! Her star is named for her, and mine is called “Skye,” my cosmic name. I chose twin stars in the constellation of Leo because the lion is Salem’s kin.
In Remembrance of Salem, beloved cat of Skye died: June 27, 2021 Together Forever
(What the inscriptions read at the bottom of the certificates.)
When I received the certificates in the mail, it was like bringing a little wooden box of Salem’s ashes home from the vet. And as I would set a wooden box of cremains on a shelf, I put her star certificate in a frame (alongside mine) and hung it high up in a corner of my office, next to my desk wall.
Because my desk wall, itself, has also become a memorial site for Salem. It was already painted black, so I arranged my blue string lights over the night sky canvas to create a starscape, and while I was at it I designed Salem’s very own constellation for her.
The five circles that make up the constellation’s point stars are Salem’s picture that I cut from the “lost cat” flyers I’d made before I knew that her body had been found.
StarRegister also sent maps that show the locations of our stars. Salem’s star is the circled dot. Mine is the very close-by bolded dot diagonally down and to the right of hers. I have a map with my star circled, too, but I just wanted to post hers:
It’s comforting to know that an aspect of Salem’s energy has a forever home in Leo, and that I’m there with her. I feel that somehow, on some level, in some dimension, Salem knows it, too. And she knows how much I love her and miss her, and how sorry I am that I couldn’t protect her.
Leo was present above the horizon at dusk yesterday, in the west, just after sunset. Venus and Mars were stationed in it. Through SkyView, I could see the location of Salem’s memorial site:
I like to think that Salem is being guarded by Regulus, Leo’s alpha star. Regulus is shown as the bright white dot as highlighted by SkyView:
As well, Salem is being looked after by Asteria, Goddess of the Stars. This artwork of Asteria leans against Salem’s wall:
Finally, I found this patch that I’ve had for almost a year that I hadn’t decided where to put. It’s a black cat constellation! I’d forgotten that I had it. I could not have imagined how meaningful it would be one day. Now I see Salem when I look at it.
I’m not sure when I’ll get back out there to stargaze. Next week Saturday the 24th will bring July’s full moon in Aquarius, and I would like to celebrate her. Maybe that will be the first time I venture out to connect with the cosmos… on the onemonthversary of Salem’s death.
I hope you’re all well, my friends. Thank you for being here, as always.
My friends, thank you all so much for your outpouring of love and support regarding my last post. Your comments, messages, texts, and phone calls have meant more to me than I can say. This last week has been a total nightmare, and today has been particularly brutal. I woke up crying, cried through most of my workout, and cried on and off throughout most of the day after that. In the middle of the night last Saturday/Sunday, sometime after I last saw her at around 1am, my Salem was taken from me. She was taken and killed by a Great Horned Owl.
I didn’t think too much of it when she didn’t come to eat her breakfast on Sunday morning, but I grew worried when I didn’t see her lounging in the grass in the afternoon… and more worried yet when I took her dinner plate out that night and she still wasn’t there. She wasn’t there when I went out at midnight to connect with the stars, either. I couldn’t concentrate on the stars. I came back in quickly, distressed by Salem’s continued absence. That was when I got really scared.
Salem loved our nighttime bonding more than anything. Every night, she sat by the sliding glass door eagerly waiting for me to go out. It was her favorite time, because it was our time, just the two of us. (She never had to share me with Geronimo at midnight.)
It didn’t make sense that she wasn’t there. She wouldn’t miss our midnight mommy/daughter stargazing adventure for the world! We had a whole ritual! She would wait for me by the door, and I’d go out with her bag of snacks… but instead of running to her dish, she’d run to the gravel, throw herself down, and roll around in happiness. I’d sing her favorite song to her, and then I’d step out to meet with the stars and planets. I’d sing more songs. Before going back in, I’d sing Salem’s favorite song to her again. She loved it. She loved all the songs, all the stars, all of the time I spent out there with her. She was so happy! She was in absolute bliss.
But she wasn’t there on Sunday night.
The dread in the pit of my stomach deepened when she failed to appear for her breakfast on Monday morning.
Monday afternoon, I was intent on pulling myself together and thinking positively. I tried to convince myself that Salem had done something highly unusual, like take an extended hike somewhere. She’s fine! She’ll come home eventually! But I couldn’t make myself believe it. Salem was not the kind of “feral” cat who did things like that. For a while now, she’s been a most “unferal” feral. Salem had become 100% my cat, and she was a homebody. She never really went anywhere. If she wasn’t here in the yard, she wasn’t far, and she didn’t stay away for long. There’d been times I’d thought she was out somewhere, only to discover that she’d been here the whole time.
Monday evening, I fed Geronimo flowers while crying, because another one of Salem’s favorite things was to be with us when Geronimo was out. She was fond of Geronimo, too, and she enjoyed being a part of Geronimo time. If she could have been there, she would have been there. What was keeping her from being there?
After nightfall Monday night, I knew in my heart that Salem was never coming home. I felt in my core that I would never see her again. I wasn’t hungry, didn’t want to cook, and could barely eat, but I managed a bowl of cereal, because I knew that I had to eat something.
I felt sick.
At that point, all I wanted was to know what had happened, because I knew that something happened. Something happened between 1am and 8am Sunday morning. What could have happened to Salem in the middle of the night? In despair, I kept the last pic I took of her up on my computer screen and stared into her eyes intently, pleading with her through my tears. Tell me what happened to you, Salem. Tell me what happened. Please just tell me what happened. I need to know.
The next day, Tuesday, Salem did tell me. She told me through two angels on Nextdoor.
I posted about Salem on Nextdoor after work and almost immediately received a message from a woman who said that there’d been a post two days earlier from someone in the neighborhood who’d found a deceased cat matching Salem’s description and photo. She said that she would contact that person. Within 30 minutes, that person, Becky, messaged me. It turned out that she’s a neighbor who lives in a very close-by apartment in the complex behind my house.
On Sunday afternoon, Becky said, she found Salem’s body next to the apartment complex laundry room, which is across from my backyard.
When Becky met me at my back gate so she could show me where she found Salem, I collapsed, bawling in the arms of a complete stranger, because just the fact that she was meeting with me made everything real. This was no longer a nightmare from which I could wake up. Becky was there to show me where she’d found Salem’s body.
Salem’s final resting place was a mere 15 feet away.
Becky told me she knew when she saw her body that Salem wasn’t a stray, because Salem was a bit plump. Salem looked healthy and well-fed and well-kempt and clean, clearly someone’s beloved furbaby who was missed, and that was why Becky posted on Nextdoor. She wouldn’t have posted on Nextdoor about a homeless stray who wouldn’t have anyone looking for them.
Becky showed me exactly where she found Salem, and she described how Salem had been positioned. There was a small pool of dried blood where her head had been. That was it. There was no other sign of anything. Salem’s body was completely intact, Becky said; the only sign of anything wrong was dried blood matted on her belly. She had no visible wounds. There was just the blood on her belly and the blood on the ground beneath her head.
It was like Salem had been dropped from the sky.
I told Becky how the last time I saw Salem was after midnight Saturday, near 1am Sunday morning. In turn, she told me that a few hours before that, at around 10pm Saturday, she’d seen an enormous owl on the apartment rooftop. She’d never seen it before.
Several more breakdowns later, I finally came back into the house and sat down at my computer to look up owls in Phoenix. I found an article called “The 13 Owls of Arizona.” The Great Horned Owl is on the list. Twelve of the owls on the list have wingspans measured in inches. The Great Horned Owl’s wingspan is three to five feet.
The next day, I texted Becky and asked her to describe the owl again. About how large was it? Did it have tufted ears on top of its head?
“It definitely was a HUGE owl, I heard it flapping and land on the roof of the apartment. I saw it Saturday night because I was walking back to my apartment from the pool. I definitely saw ears. I wish I had saved the Snapchat I took of it. But yeah scared me bc it was just watching me as I walked by. I’ve never seen an owl like that before. And must have been around 10pm?”
Three hours after Becky’s encounter with the owl that night, I’d spent my usual time outside with Salem as I bonded with her and the stars. As usual, the last thing I did was sing Salem’s favorite song to her before going in. I left her happily rolling on her back and twisting and stretching out on the gravel in the center of the yard, which was her favorite place to sleep on summer nights. We exchanged eyeblink kisses. And that was the last I saw of her. Salem would stretch out on her side and fall asleep.
On the other side of the fence was the apartment rooftop where the Great Horned Owl sat while watching Becky walking back from the pool.
With Salem’s body being where it was and the way it was, and with the huge owl watching from the rooftop that night, it was clear what had happened. Becky and I are sure of it:
At some point after I went back into the house, the owl swooped down over Salem while she was sleeping, sank its talons into her exposed belly, carried her away over the fence, and dropped her, probably because Salem was struggling and putting up a fight. There was blood on the ground beneath her head because her skull probably broke on impact. The blood matted on her belly with no visible damage indicated puncture wounds from the owl’s talons. Judging by the pool of blood where her head had been, it’s more likely that she died from the fall.
My friends, I cannot express the horror and anguish I feel when I think of the way Salem died. My heart is in pieces thinking that her last moments were made of unspeakable terror, pain, and violence. I can’t understand why that had to be her fate. Why did that have to be her death? Why my baby??
This is not a rural area. This is downtown Tempe. I thought that Salem was safe and protected because she was smart, fast, and very cautious, and she mostly stayed here in her yard. I never would have thought that a huge raptor would glide down into an urban neighborhood to hunt small animals. Salem had no inkling of such a danger, either. Sleeping out in the open yard the way she did, she had no chance against it.
Cats get hit by cars in urban neighborhoods, I figured, or they run afoul of dogs or malicious humans, or they die of infection from contaminated water or food or some microbe in the dirt, or they die of thirst. They do not get snatched from their backyards by Great Horned Owls… except, apparently, they do. I read this morning that Great Horned Owls can be found in both urban and rural areas, and that they’re the most common owl in America.
Now I know.
This is the last pic I took of Salem. I took it a week ago Wednesday, not knowing that 13 days later it would be used to identify her body:
If there’s one thing that comforts me, it’s knowing that Salem went down fighting. There’s no doubt in my mind that she fought like hell until the owl was forced to drop her. That owl did not get far with Salem! It dropped her next to the apartment complex laundry room, which is close enough to the house that I can smell it (that sickly sweet dryer sheet scent) from my sliding-glass door. She wasn’t even disemboweled in the attack. Her belly was bloody, but intact.
I’m devastated by Salem’s death, but I’m grateful to know what happened. I’m grateful to Nextdoor and to Lara who connected me to Becky who ultimately delivered Salem’s message to me, and who held me while I cried. I wanted to know for certain that I would never see Salem again so I could stop calling for her, waiting for her, canvassing the neighborhood searching for her, and expecting to see her. Thanks to the angels around me, I have the closure that I wanted, and now I’m left with my grief.
Right now, everything just hurts. Every little thing. It hurts unlatching the sliding-glass door, because the sound of that lock would bring Salem running from wherever she was. If she wasn’t there on the patio, I would unlatch the door and wait, and she would appear.
Just walking by and looking through the sliding-glass door is painful, because Salem very often just sat there in hopes that I’d notice her. Sometimes, I’d sit at the end of the dining table facing her, and she’d settle into a comfortable meatloaf position, happily blinking her eyes at me. She loved just being near me. That was all she wanted.
Salem made my world fuller and brighter. Now, everything feels empty when I go outside. Everything feels wrong, in general. I feel alone just knowing that she isn’t there, and never will be again. Salem was my special baby and my sweet daughter of the night. Salem’s reaction when I’d start singing her song was precious and priceless, she was just so happy.
I always imagined that she would live a long life and gradually become ill with something natural, and if I wasn’t able to touch her by then, I’d at least be able to touch her when I’d take her to the vet to be euthanized. I would have her in my arms while she passed away, and her passing would be peaceful. There was no room for a fatal owl attack in my vision of Salem’s last moments.
My heart is broken, but I know that it was an honor to have been chosen by Salem, and to be loved by her.
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.
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.