Category Archives: cats

A Quartet of Mini Rings and a Thank You

Mini Rings four blocks

Four of nine blocks for my Mini Rings quilt, made using the QCR Mini (mini Quick Curve Ruler), are done.

I’ve run out of background fabric, a white-on-white Michael Miller pindot. I could make more blocks using one of several other white-on-white prints in my stash but I am  holding out for having all my blocks the same. A little obsessive-compulsive, perhaps? Now I have to hope that the fabric I ordered on line is from a similar enough dye lot that no one can see the difference between the old and the new. You would be surprised, even with white and black fabrics, how much dye lots can differ.

Working on these blocks has helped take my mind off the loss of my little cat Theodora, subject of my previous post. Thank you so much to those of you who wrote consoling comments on my blog. I cried the entire time I was writing that post, and I cried while reading the comments.

In the 35 years my husband Charlie and I have lived in this house, we’ve never been without a cat. If one of our cats died, there was at least one still at home to help ease the grief. Not so now, since Theo’s last feline companion, Elfie, died three years ago.

Charlie and I are going to the Oregon Humane Society next week, hoping to bring home a cat (maybe two) in need of a “forever home.” Although it seems a little disloyal to Theo’s memory, I’ve already been on the OHS website looking at pictures and descriptions of available cats. There are some very sweet looking ones! We’ll choose an adult cat, since the older ones are not considered as adoptable as kittens.

By the time of my next post, there may be a new resident of the Portland White House.




Posted in cats, family, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 6 Comments

Theodora, the Cat with One White Whisker

Theo 2014
Theo, December 2014

My little cat Theodora – Theo for short – was put to sleep on Sunday.

Anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet knows how I am feeling right now. Pretty low. A wise friend, knowing that Theo’s days were numbered, told me last week, “We don’t own pets. They own us, and they own our hearts.” That has brought me comfort in the last few days, as Charlie and I adjust to life without Theo.

Theo has been part of our lives since the day in May 1998 we found her behind a cyclone fence at an abandoned electric station a few blocks from our home. She was so small we thought she was a kitten. She was cold, dirty, and hungry. Miraculously, she was also purring, riding high on my shoulder as I carried her home. She was coal black, with yellow eyes. She had no tail, just a little stub at the end of her rump.

With two cats at home, we weren’t looking for another cat. But that’s how it goes. We weren’t sure how Elfie and Isabelle would react. Elfie took to Theo right away; Belle simply ignored her.

We took the little black cat to our vet the next day for a checkup. He estimated she was about eight months old and thought she might be a Manx, as she had other characteristics of the breed besides the lack of a tail.

In keeping with our custom of naming our cats after royalty, we named this one Theodora after Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian, who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 527 to 565 AD. (One learns a bit of history being married to a history professor.)

Like her namesake, Theodora was imperious. She regularly demanded – and received — attention. She loved keeping company with Charlie in the study, curled up in the upholstered chair a few feet from his computer. She loved hanging out with me in my sewing room, often usurping my chair when I got up to use the iron:

2013-9, Theo 1
Theodora Stakes Her Claim


One of my favorite photos of Theo is this one, peering at me through my sewing machine, willing me to stop sewing and pay attention to her:

2013-12, Theo on my sewing table


In her later years, she liked to crawl under the covers at night and snuggle with us, and she would purr for the longest time before finally drifting off to sleep. The last couple of years she launched a nightly yowling campaign to coax us to bed, usually way before bedtime.

Theo’s coat remained a glossy black as she got older, although late in her life there were a few white hairs among all the black ones. And there was that one white whisker. One time it fell out, and the new whisker that grew in was also white:

Theodora, May 2012
Theo, the Cat with One White Whisker


As the years passed, we continued to refer to Theo as “the kitten” because she was so petite. At her peak she weighed 7½ pounds. At the end she was a little over 4 pounds. Despite a voracious appetite, she had been steadily losing weight over the last couple of years. She was being treated for thyroid disease and incipient kidney failure. By now she was also completely deaf.

A few weeks ago problems associated with kidney disease began to surface. We could tell she was in some distress. After multiple trips to the vet, we had to face the fact that, while we might try different treatments that would prolong Theo’s life, she was never going to get better. We didn’t want to wait until she was suffering greatly to make the decision about euthanasia.

My twin sister Diane (whose cat Alex lived to be 23) told me the other day, “In my next life I want to come back as a cat and live at the Portland White House.” I know Theo had a good life, and I am glad Charlie and I were able to provide that for her. But it doesn’t lessen the profound sadness we feel at her absence.

Even now, I expect to see her demanding to be fed or given treats every time I walk into the kitchen. I catch myself looking for her in her favored napping spots: the chair in the study, the top of the clothes dryer, the rug on the heated bathroom floor, the mantel in the living room when the sun was just right, and yes, the chair in my sewing room.

When I was in Paris a year ago at this time, I bought a souvenir mug that featured a chat noir (black cat en francais), partly because the cat reminded me of Theo (minus the tail). Theo wasn’t terribly photogenic. Even though she was a happy cat, in photos she always looked like she was scowling. Take a look at the cat on the mug. Doesn’t it look a lot like Theodora?

2 paris mug
Theo’s Double


She was with us for exactly 18 years. RIP, kitten.




Posted in cats, family, Paris, update | 24 Comments

“It’s deja vu all over again . . .”

The late great Yogi Berra supposedly said that. Even if he never spoke those words, I know what he meant. I’m having a very déjà vu moment. I am in Paris, in the same apartment (Chez Anna) where my husband and I spent three weeks in the spring. This time my twin sister Diane is with me, and we are here for two weeks.

How did this stroke of good fortune come about? Well, Diane was supposed to join my husband and me for several days during our earlier stay. A family emergency (since resolved) kept her from coming. Her ticket was good for a year. Through a combination of luck and good timing, we were able to arrange this visit to coincide with a trip my friend Anna and her beau had scheduled to the United Kingdom.

Part of the deal is that we take care of her cat Buddy, whom I already adore:


Diane and I have  a Big Birthday coming up next month (think Medicare). Is this not the perfect way to celebrate turning 65?



Posted in cats, family, Paris, update | 9 Comments

We’re Both Trying

A little play on words there. I’m trying to sew the binding on a quilt. She’s just trying.

2014-2 Theo
Theodora, the Cat with One White Whisker


Theo prevailed, of course. I stopped what I was doing to give her some love. She purred. Then she allowed me to put her down and get back to work.

We all know who rules the roost.



Posted in cats, update | 5 Comments

A Mighty Distraction

She’s tiny (under 6 pounds) but she’s mighty. I’m talking about my cat Theodora. Night and day, her demands for attention are endless.

Theo is a frequent visitor in my sewing room, where she is either stealing my chair when my back is turned (see post here) or prowling around on my sewing table while I am trying to sew:

2013-12, Theo on my sewing table

The older she gets (she’s 16 now), the more vocal she gets. Impossible to ignore!





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Two Stubborn Females

Recently my little cat Theodora (Theo for short) has decided that the perfect spot for her afternoon nap is on the chair in my sewing room. You can guess the problem. Most afternoons I am in my sewing room using that chair.

She waits till I am at the ironing board, with my back to my sewing table, and seizes her opportunity. When I turn around from the ironing board, this is what I see:

2013-9, Theo 1
I gently evict her from my chair and sit down. She stalks off. But she doesn’t leave. Oh no. She lurks by the door, and the next time I head to the ironing board she makes her move:

2013-9, Theo 2
I evict her again, not quite so gently this time, and sit back down. Next trip to the ironing board, same thing. I turn around, and there she is:

2013-9, Theo 3
This continues till one of us gives up. If it’s Theo, she wanders off in search of another napping spot. If I cave in first, I move my chair aside (with Theo in it) and pull out the rickety old wooden chair from the closet to sit on.

Some days it’s a wonder I get any sewing done!




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Bathroom Reno, Week 4

The most dramatic change in the bathroom during Week 4 of the renovation occurred in the northwest corner. We went from this . . .

2013-4, nw corner, sheetrocked

to this . . .

nw corner, wk 4

I can’t wait to see what it looks like at the end of Week 5!

The subflooring has been covered with cement board in preparation for porcelain tile. The floor area under the windows on the northeast side is being filled in with a self-leveling liquid, as it is significantly lower than the rest of the room. Here is Theo exploring the area:

ne corner, wk 4

This half of the bathroom was originally a sleeping porch, measuring about 7½’ x 8′ and accessed by a door (no longer there) on the west wall. When we bought the house in 1981, this room had exterior siding on the two interior walls you see in the photo above. The sloping cement floor and ill-fitting windows rendered the room unusable, one of the reasons we incorporated it into a larger bathroom during the first remodel in 1985. (Oh, how I wish I had taken “before” pictures!)

Now that all of the open spaces in the walls and floor have been covered up, it’s safe to let Theo have a good look around:

nw corner, wk 4, Theo investigating

I hope you’ll come back next week for a good look yourself!



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Bathroom Reno, Week 1

At the end of Week 1, some of the plumbing lines are in and most of the electrical work is done.

More lath and plaster, original to our 1913 home, was uncovered at the northwest end . . .

nw corner, prepping for shower
Northwest Corner

. . . in preparation for the shower. That rectangular frame is for a product niche.

At the opposite end of the room,  the west wall has been framed for a pocket door:

sw corner, framing pocket door
The West Wall


We’re using the bathroom’s original five-panel door, I’m happy to say. The door used to swing to the inside, toward the north wall. Converting to a pocket door is really going to open up that side of the bathroom.

It’s a little hard to see in the next photo, but the south wall is now wired for three sconces:

south wall, wired for electricity
The South Wall


The biggest challenge so far has been keeping our little black cat Theo away from the site. At the moment there are openings in the walls and, over where the tub used to be, a large open space between the subfloor and the downstairs ceiling. Theo is insatiably curious and would like nothing better than to investigate every nook and cranny in the bathroom. She is tiny — she weighs just 6 pounds — and can wiggle into extremely small spaces. This is the cat that’s already used up one of her nine lives by going down the hot air vent in the kitchen and coming up the one in the living room — via the furnace.

Theodora, May 2012
Empress Theodora — Theo for short






Posted in bathroom remodel, cats, update | 5 Comments