Long story short: we just moved and we’re really feeling it.
Short story long: in July 2019, we moved to share a 4-bedroom house with three other people and live more affordably — narrowly avoiding homelessness. Then COVID-19 hit and the housemates left at the end of the the lease to move in with parents or fiancés. The house was managed by an indifferent real estate company and the onus was on us to rent out the rooms or pay the difference. There was a revolving door of people dealing with their own issues, and even one instance of someone outright scamming us. When the two current housemates announced at the end of January that they were leaving, we knew that we had to move out too; we just couldn’t make this shared housing work.
We also gave notice, and had a month to find a place and move. We were not ready, financially, to have the move we wanted so we got the move we could (more or less) afford. The place is actually nice, a townhouse in southern Solano county, but more expensive. There are flights of stairs and we are aging so we had to hire professional movers. Edmund exhausted himself to the point of being sick, so I had to finish by myself and so paid more movers as well as exhausting myself in turn. I have been having trouble walking through the weekend, limping between bedroom and bathroom.
The cats think we are monstrous idiots, and have been stressed out. We are surrounded by boxes.
We have just adopted a new cat, as a companion for Valentine. She’s a petite, black domestic short-hair little lady formerly known as Macy, but renamed Gato-ichi because we weren’t enamoured with calling our cat for a department store. As the new name suggests, she is blind and probably has been for most of her life. Despite this, she is one of the most fearless, confident cat we have ever invited into our home. She’s very good at finding edges and measuring height of furniture; and she’s been following Valentine around to get the lay of the land.
We got her from SNAP Cats in Santa Rosa, where they do wonders for senior and special needs cats.
Fall is a rough time for cats in our household, making it hard to be properly thankful on Thanksgiving: Benjamin Black died on October 30, 2010; Eurekatous on November 8, 2011; Phantom on October 27, 2018. And now we had to say goodbye to Ubaid on Monday November 23, 2020, ten years almost to the day since he came to live with us.
Ubaid was born in California’s northernmost county, Del Norte, in 2003. He was found abandoned in Klamath after the December 2005 flood of the Klamath River forced the evacuation of the Redwood RV Park, along with many other cats and dogs left behind. Later that winter he was caught in an operation to spay and neuter feral animals, where he was marked by clipping the tip of his right ear (standard procedure to avoid recapturing an animal already neutered or spayed.)
There were no animal shelters in this poor rural county but a sweet local woman went in and spent weeks catching as many orphaned pets as she could, bringing them back to her ranch, and finding their owners or putting them up for adoption. Ubaid lived there until we saw his photo and read his story nearly five years later. The fact that he also had a bit of an old injury to his lower back, and his beautiful black fur, had made him hard to find a home for. We’re grateful he waited for us that long.
He arrived just before Thanksgiving 2010. We got him as a companion for Valentine after Benjamin died and Val was clearly lonely. The two became fast friends and until a couple of months ago when Ubaid got too sick, they played and slept together. I referred to them as the Taiji Two because they so often looked like a yin-yang symbol.
His fur was velvety soft. In fact, when he came to live with us he was called “Fuzzy” but we felt it didn’t fit him. Instead we renamed him for a character in one of Edmund’s games, Ubaid (the name means “faithful”) who was apparently the abandoned familiar of a sorcerer but claimed to really be an ancient god, diminished in the God Wars. That fit our new friend to a T!
He loved belly rubs, sleeping on the bed, standing above us and looking down, and hanging out with us. He loved to play with cat toys but you could tell he had been feral and had had to survive on his own: he hunted to kill, not to play with the prey. He would jump on that toy, wham! and hold it for keeps.
Back in early fall of 2017, he started being sick and was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. It was managed with medication, but that was the beginning of his decline. In early 2018 he also developed a cyst on his chest that started filling with fluid and choking him; the vet drained it but it kept refilling. It was too close to Ubaid’s jugular to safely operate so all we could do was keep having it drained. For a while, we had weekly visits and we really though it was the end. But gradually the cyst stopped filling.
Throughout all the health scares, Ubaid would rally and fiercely hold on to life. But this year, he started losing weight and even though we fed him anything he wanted whenever he wanted it, he kept wasting away. We kept an eye on him; as long as he was happy and engaging with the world around him, as long as his quality of life was good, we would do everything we could to keep him.
But on Monday morning it was different. His back legs could no longer support him but he still insisted on trying to jump up and down between the floor and his favourite chair. He couldn’t fully stand up, he was just skin and bones and we had been unable to stop the weight loss. He wasn’t going to get his strength back. We called our vet and were fortunate enough to get an appointment that same day. He fell to sleep for the last time as we were petting him.
We’re still unpacking boxes and putting things away, but it’s beginning to look more like a home and less like a flea market. This afternoon I posted a photo on Twitter showing the portion of the den that looks habitable, and I started thinking what great big geeks it shows us to be.
But then it also dawned on me that it shows lots of connections to the people in my life, my friends, from the mementos Edmund and I have given each other, to furniture items we got from local friends, to games and art created by people I know online and sometimes in real space, to presents we’ve received, and games we played with great people. So I marked up the picture to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Sheesh. We/re still unpacking, cleaning the old house, and getting to new the new housemates. We each took falls and scraped joints, we’re banged up and bruised, sore and tired, but we’re making progress.
We’re deeply grateful for the help and moral support we once again received from our friends.
The new neighbourhood is less suburban and more mixed-urban, which means less privacy and more traffic, but also three bus lines right on our street that connect to CalTrain stations. The terrain is rather flat, not steep like our old neighbourhood, so it’s less daunting to take a walk. It also appears t be the world capital of ice cream vendors, with the chimes of ice cream trucks and bike-powered carts constantly ringing. I have not broken down even once yet. Yet.
Two big events in our lives this week, which should help a lot with mental health! First, I accepted a half-time job that I can telecommute for, thanks to a tip and recommendation from my friend Bryanna. If all the hiring paperwork can be taken care of in time, the start date is July 8. I’m very excited about this!
Second, I just signed the lease earlier today for a shared house, and our cats can stay with us. 💖 We heard of this through our friend Karen, and the people we’ll share with seem super-nice. The only sad part is that we could not find anything we could afford in San Bruno, so I will have to step down from the city planning commission. This is not very far, though, a little further south and closer to the Bay.
You know how we have been struggling in the past year. We had hoped to be able to sublet the main house area and live in the in-law unit; this project dragged on with one hurdle after another until we finally learned that although our friend and landlord was willing to accommodate this arrangement, it is illegal where we live (not permitted by the zoning code). Now we have to leave by the end of May.
We don’t really know where we’ll end up; it’s too expensive in the Bay Area, so we are looking at rural California (Humboldt County), Portland OR, Vancouver BC, and other less expensive places. We’re also looking at shared housing programs.
To be honest, homelessness is on the list of possibilities and pretty darn near the top. We have used up the finances raised for us by our friends on GoFundMe, all our savings, and all our retirement funds. We both have health challenges, physical and mental. My energy level is low, I have not managed to work full-time since my bout with cancer. And we have two cats, which always makes it trickier to find housing.
But since we let our local friends know a few days ago, we have also received offers of help to find a new place, get employment and move, invitations for temporary stays while we search, and so forth. We are poor in money, but rich in friends. As soon as we get back to a sustainable living situation, I will be satisfied; I don’t need more. I love you all.
L’ADN mitochondrial, dont on se sert pour tracer les migrations humaines, se transmet pratiquement inchangé de mère en fille, excepté quelques rares mutations. J’ai donc la même formulation, le même ADNmt que mes aïeules de lignée maternelle: ma mère, sa mère, et ainsi de suite.
Quand je remonte cette chaîne, la première à vivre en Nouvelle-France est Marie Targer, venue de La Rochelle.