Reflecting on 2020 and Onward to 2021 at Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles

While not recent, this was Harley’s last photo. We had no idea at the time it would become a memory, and not a moment. 2020 has reinforced that sentiment deeply – be grateful for what you have, as you never know when it will be gone.

2020 was a time of hardship, pain, sacrifice, and uncertainties but it was also a time of reflection, reinvention, self-discovery, and a new landscape of blessings. Like many, I say good riddance to much the year has brought, but I’m also grateful for what it gave.

March 25, 2020, saw the birth of my grandson, Calvin, of whom my son and his husband, Jason, adopted. While our first meeting was through a glass pane, something I never would have fathomed years ago, my love and bond for him was palatable, even without the initial physical touch of cradling him in my arms, something I deeply yearned for.

My first meeting with my grandson, Calvin, was through a glass window. But that’s okay, everyone’s safety was our primary concern and the new normal for 2020 (the cat ears were ALWAYS my normal – lol).

Our shared time is still bound by the restrictions of COVID – masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, etc. – but I have finally gotten the joy of holding him, of seeing him smile, hearing him laugh, taking him for walks, and so much more. And he’s so cherished by the family – to him, the world is not something in which he desires days past, but of knowing nothing but love, security, and contentment.

Finally getting to hold Calvin for the first time several weeks after he was born. Will he remember us all as people who wore masks? At least mine was leopard.

It’s October – we still have the masks, temporarily removed for the photo. Can you believe how big Calvin got, and how great he looks in cat ears!?

I’ve also been blessed with steady employment, as has Dan. I’ve learned to work remotely from home in my overflowing, cluttered office, days embroiled in Zoom meetings, IM chat conversations, and boatloads of emails. Despite not dealing with the stress of commuting to and from work, something I don’t miss at all, the days can be challenging. I’m a very quiet person by nature, so constantly being on conference calls is exhausting to my fragile equilibrium, but I’ve been given a wonderful gift in that I’m now able to spend every day and many more hours with my feline gang.

But that said, they too, can be challenging. Eight cats are a lot and they do like my attention – a lot of my attention. Cats are crepuscular, often napping up to 16 hours a day, but since the onset of COVID, I would imagine those numbers are no longer accurate, at least not with my gang. It starts when I get up at 5:30 a.m. and doesn’t truly end until around 9:00 p.m. when I’m securely settled on the couch for the rest of the night after feeding them their nighttime meal/snack. My cats are OBSESSED with me. I can’t walk into any room without at least one or two getting up to follow me and considering I frequently get up for coffee and bathroom breaks it makes for a highly erratic nap pattern.

Nothing better defines working remotely from home 2020 than this picture of Rolz, perennially waiting in the kitchen, because, well, you just never know, there might be something….

They also insist they be a part of my daily work schedule – walking/sleeping on my keyboard, fighting in the background with each other, knocking things over, interrupting Zoom calls, and more. It’s gotten to the point I can’t go into the kitchen between 3 – 4 p.m., because they instantly wake up from their semi-nap state, insisting it must be dinner time, followed by loud and unruly behavior for the next hour until I do feed them dinner at their normal time. I’ve learned it’s just easier if I don’t go into the kitchen – as it is, they come and find me anyhow.

My boss has even commented, with me wearing a headset nonetheless, during Zoom calls that he can hear them in the background. I’m sure he can. Zoey makes a bloodcurdling, banshee noise when she hunts and kills her stuffed animal prey throughout the day. Jazmine brings me stuffed animal presents, too, announcing the gift with an insistent meow that I stop whatever I’m doing to thank her. And Peanut won’t stop crying until she’s settled herself on my lap. Normally it’s not an issue, but since she also has a habit of spraying furniture, I have to watch her like a hawk until she makes her way to my lap, which can be difficult during work calls.

I’m sorry, Kizmet. Is my work getting in the way of your napping on my keyboard?

Regardless of the challenges, the blessings of their company outweigh any of the disruptions. Especially the time I’m able to spend with Zee who was recently diagnosed with a hyperthyroid. His health was of great concern several weeks ago and it’s been a gift to be able to give him extra love and hugs, as well as to better monitor his mental and physical state. Thankfully, he continues to gain weight and his spirits have been exceptionally good.

I’m also given a brief respite each morning after I feed them breakfast – the house is wonderfully dark and quiet and that’s when I grab my iPhone and play some of my games that relax me, like Fairyland or Redecor. Several cats will come to me like a magnet – typically Zee, Zoey, Jazmine, and Kizemt – and I’ll be gifted with a symphony of purring and biscuit making as they settle on, or near my lap. I’m not sure who loves the moment more – me or them – but it’s clear it’s a highlight of all our days.

Another highlight is the early evening after I feed them dinner. That’s their signal I’ll be opening the back door to accompany them outside for a half hour or so of highly supervised fresh air in our fenced in yard. They love this probably more than anything else, even snacks, and I know the ability to chase bugs and lizards and to explore is good for their feline instincts, helping to keep their minds and bodies sharp. It’s a bonus for me, too, because it forces me to shut down mentally. Being attached to technology and a highly stressful job requires time to wind down, and this nightly activity does just that.

Zee feeling his oats and loving his outside time. I’m sure the warm pavers feels wonderful against his body.

Zoey looking ever her wild ancestry – the Asian Leopard Cat – in our backyard.

2020 was also challenging while adjusting to the holidays. Thanksgiving was a quiet day – Dan and I went for a bike ride on our Harley to quell the loneliness of not having a dinner event with family, and Christmas, a day greatly celebrated in our family was difficult, but we made the best of it. Shopping in stores was minimal, all done safely with masks and distancing. No family traveling from out of state to celebrate the day together, no big family dinner, no making trays and trays of cookies, and no night of board games. To help cope and get through it all we did lots of FaceTime and Zoom calls. On Christmas eve, the family read Calvin the Night Before Christmas on Zoom, and we opened most of our presents the same way.

I also coped by making many gifts this year by hand. The tactile approach allowed me to feel more emotionally connected to those I love and it kept my mind in a positive place rather than dwelling on what we didn’t have, or couldn’t do. Here are some pictures of some of the things I made, including an adorable Yorkshire Terrier I crocheted and embellished with shaggy hair for my stepdaughter Jackie who is a proud Yorkie pet-parent, as well as several custom-created crocheted ornaments for family members. I also handcrafted the alphabet and numbers one through ten from felt (and then stuffed) for Calvin along with a tote bag I made with his name on it to hold the pieces. I loved this project because I had also made these same stuffed letters for my son when he was a young boy, making the effort even more special.

I loved making this Yorkie stuffed animal so much! I had no idea how creative I could get with crocheting!

An assortment of crocheted Christmas ornaments, including adorable stuffed kitties!

Calvin’s ABC’s and 1,2,3’s (on top of an afghan I had crocheted about 20-years past.

Calvin, alongside his custom-created tote bag, playing with his letters after opening the gift on Christmas!

Dan and I also spent a lot more time outside gardening, a wonderful way to get exercise and clear the head of stress. In the days ahead, we plan on doing some home improvement projects to occupy ourselves, too. And Dan enjoys his photography and I’m hoping to start another cat book one of these days. Like so many others, we’re just doing the best we can. We miss simple things, like going out for a bite to eat at our favorite local restaurants, but we know with time, those days will be back again, soon enough.

So yes, goodbye to 2020 but it wasn’t all regrets. What about you all, what did you do in 2020 to help cope with the COVID world, and what do you look forward to most in 2021?

Stay safe everyone and most of all, please take care of yourselves and be kind to one another. You never know what someone is going through and your kindness might be the best medicine ever.

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  1. Ingrid King says:

    Here’s to a Hopeful New Year!

  2. We love the 1-2-3 and A-B-C you made for Calvin ! Happy New Year ! Purrs

  3. It definitely was a challenging year…but here’s hoping this New Year will be brighter!

  4. Jo Singer says:

    Happy Mew Year to all Wishing everyone an abundance of joy and good health in the coming year ahead.

  5. Manny can always be found at the door to the kitchen, hoping this time he’ll be allowed inside!
    Happy New Year!
    Wishing all joy, peace, and love.

  6. Caren says:

    this was a lovely, lovely post…full of positivity and love. Just beautiful! Calvin is ADORABLE and he is truly one lucky baby to be in your family. I am blown away by your crochet/artistic skills!! I couldn’t crochet if my life depended on it!!!! The things you made are beautiful!!!
    While I don’t have 8 cats….having two toddlers has Lenny and I stressed to the max, so I GET what you are talking about! They have brought us so much joy and love but ohhhhhhhhh yes they don’t stop!
    Here’s to a much kinder, gentler 2021, enjoy your precious grandson….you are on the right path for 2021 to be spectacular! Happy New Year!!

  7. Leah says:

    Congrats on the grandson! I love the cat ears – yours and Calvin’s and those of the kitties – and the leopard print mask! Happy New Year and Best Wishes!

  8. Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2021 be much better than the departed year that doesn’t deserve to be named.!
    Congratulations on your grandson. Calvin is a very handsome little boy.

  9. Catscue says:

    Such beautiful photos and memories – 2020 wasn’t all bad all the time, I have to agree – nevertheless, I am very glad it is over! Happy New Year!

  10. jmuhj says:

    What a beautiful post, beautiful thoughts and photos! It looks from this side as though your year was mainly good and very full of love and creativity. Ours was quieter, as I’ve worked from home for years and continue to do so; our roomies are starting a second year with us, and I am sure it is difficult especially for her as she likes to go out, shop, and go to the gym in normal times. All in all, there have been more ups than downs. The low point was saying goodbye to sweet angel Tarifa on 17 August, quite unexpectedly. We miss her every second of every day. And as we live in Los Angeles County, the epicenter for COVID, it is a somber time and one that shows no signs of quick-fix improvement. Every day is a challenge. Every day is also cause for being grateful for our safety, health, love, and hope.
    May you all have a safe and healthy 2021!

  11. Brian Frum says:

    Such lovely photos all and your Grand is a cutie guy. Happy New Year from all of us!

  12. Timmy Tomcat says:

    A Very Happy New Year friends

  13. Ellen Pilch says:

    Calvin is adorable. Very nice crochet work. Wishing you and your family ( 2-legged and 4-legged) a Happy and healthy new year! XO

  14. Edith Chase says:

    Happy New Year!

  15. meowmeowmans says:

    That was some year, alright. Here’s hoping 2021 is way kinder for all of us. Happy New Year, sweet friends!

  16. Cathy Keisha says:

    Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a Happy 2021. May peace, love, and prosperity follow you always.