I met Frances over 20 years ago in London when we were working on our Masters degrees in Asian art at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studied (SOAS). Her main field of interest was Chinese art and mine was Japanese, so we didn’t take many classes together – only a course in Chinese ceramics, which was highlight of my Masters program. We didn’t know each other terribly well, but I believe we respected each other’s knowledge and work ethic. After I graduated I ended up moving West to California, and Frances moved East to Hong Kong, working as an editor for an illustrious Asian art magazine, an impressive position in a profession with sadly few employment opportunities.
Today I took advantage of my lack of deadlines and appointments to sit down for a few hours and sort through some of my stuff that has been occupying prime real estate in our office/den. Most of this stuff is paper – articles I’ve never read, brochures picked up on our travels, and the contents of a few old professional and personal files. I also had three drawers full of art supplies, most of which I’ve been saving for art making projects with our son Theo. The papers were cluttering the area around my desk and the art supplies took up a chunk of the den closet, so even though I doubted I’d find much to give away from here, I sat down with a cup of tea and some chocolate and started sorting.
Cats don’t need accessories. I should have learned this truth years ago when I bought various catnip-scented felt mice and threw them around the house hoping that my old cat Tutti would play with them. But he was never interested in these fancy toys and preferred to play with scrunched up balls of paper. We got our two newer cats, Sonic and Mystic, as kittens so I imagined things would be different. For our first Christmas with Sonic and Mystic, they were still little, so “Santa” filled stockings for them too, but the toy mice they received were played with for a couple of minutes and left abandoned in corners of the house or under dressers, where they eventually made friends with the dust bunnies. Sonic’s idea of a fun is to run around the house jumping onto furniture or bouncing off the doorframes, while Mystic loves scrunched up aluminum foil and wire twisties from bread bags. The only time when the cats seem interested in the mice is when they are attached to a string and dangled in front of them – then fun happens but that requires a lot of work on my part and there is only so much time I can devote to entertaining cats.
So, I should have known that the cats wouldn’t dig the Scratch Den my son Theo persuaded me to buy at Target last year. I have had it sitting in our office hoping that they would choose to scratch it up rather than the couches. We have another scratch post, which Sonic obediently uses, but Mystic – the tricky one – still prefers the couches. Despite all my efforts to show Mystic how to use this Scratch Den, at least as a little hiding place (and she loves hiding!), she chooses to ignore it. So, today, I officially gave up on the silly thing and took it to the local vets where I left it outside to be taken home by someone with more obedient cats or high hopes for their naughty cats. Now, if I can just get Mystic to use the scratch post, we won’t have to give away the couches this year!