Posted in Health Issues, Life and Family, My Cats

Sweet Power

A neighbour who is also an electrician came in today to talk about power sockets. He is the tallest man I’ve ever seen… Man Mountain. I don’t mean he is overweight, because he certainly isn’t. It’s amusing to see the cats’ reaction when he’s visiting! Their eyes get very big and round, their bellies drop to the floor, and they don’t want to be in the same house with him.

He’s a pleasant fellow, but my anxiety makes me feel trapped if people are standing between me and the door. That’s multiplied when it’s someone as tall as him, so I can laugh at the cats all I want… I’m really no better!

Perhaps the universe is playing a trick on us and sniggers up its sleeve when you think, “I don’t know why I get so nervous!” and all the time it’s just that you were a cat in a former life. Nobody could possibly know that except the universe itself.

My sister brought us odds and ends (milk and other groceries we asked for) and also turned up with a large apple pie. Said we could share it, and cut it herself in the kitchen (turning it into apple crumble in the process). She wasn’t staying long, and took off out the door again with her share.

I know she was looking at desserts anyway to tempt my mother’s appetite, but I think it’s cute when somebody can’t resist something — hard to explain. I have a couple of bags of my favourite sweets squirrelled away in my room but haven’t touched them… just feel happy knowing they are there in case of need. Chocolate peanuts and Bassett’s Mint Creams, in case you wondered!

I need a cleaning agent to whiten some grouting in the kitchen. Asked everybody I could think of (other than Man Mountain) what would work. My mother was trying to tell me, and I said unfortunately my battery had just gone phut and she’d need to write it down. We didn’t have a pen and pad to hand, so she traced letters on the kitchen worktop with her finger: the name of a shop in town. Should see if they have something suitable.

I was amazed I could read what she wrote when it was invisible writing!

A few days ago, I had a strange not-quite-headache. All my energy vanished in a puff of smoke and I couldn’t even get up the strength to sleep. I had a persistent cough that got worse and worse, and my mother pointed out that it started when somebody gave her daffodils. My lurgi did have that kind of vibe… could have been an early spring allergy.

Once I start coughing it takes absolute ages to go away, so I was dismayed… then remembered a friend dissolving a dessertspoonful of honey in a mug of boiled water. He said his mother gave him that whenever he had a cold. I tried it again for the first time in years, and it’s really comforting. My cough is nearly gone. The honey’s nearly gone too, sadly…

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Posted in Life and Family, Lost in Thought, My Cats

Cats, Goblins and the Mysteries of Thought

There’s a print of a goblin on my wall, and I’m still a little mystified. My mother came home with it one time, and that’s all I know. I spotted similar prints at the town library, so it must be connected with that — it’s from The Spiderwick Chronicles.

I read a snatch of something somewhere… ‘scientists still don’t understand how the brain thinks’. Well, I had an odd thought just yesterday. I was playing the game Northern Tale for the umpteenth time… there are many levels and you get to know them quite well, though you don’t always win at expert grade without repeating some of them a few times. To start with, you click ‘play’, look carefully at the layout of the level, and think to yourself, “Oh yes, it’s *that* one.”

A couple of times I didn’t recognize one right away, and thought “which *is* it??” and studied it for a while, then suddenly… “Oh yes… THAT one!” and everything shifts in my mind as though I’ve found the general slant and form of the level, which now falls into place.

It’s quite a complex idea, if you think about it. I would be hard-pushed to explain exactly what data goes into my perception of that level as a recognizable entity. There are no words to describe it.

I wonder if we make life too complicated for ourselves. We live such short lives we end up sitting back, thinking “hold on… I never got round to even a fraction of the things I meant to do!”

Part of the trouble comes down to our energy levels. We berate ourselves for not acting more like well-oiled machines every day and doing all the things we meant to do. Sometimes we need to rest and take time to rethink our priorities and strategy. Sometimes there really isn’t a lot of point in a goal. We probably aren’t living lives the way we should but have been brought up to think it’s normal to live lives like these… all the games we could play or films we could watch or places we could visit or people we could get to know or crafts we could learn — or languages to speak, or books to read, or dishes to cook, or objects we can collect… well, maybe we can do a little of some of these things. They don’t have to be constants in our lives unless there’s a genuine need.

There’s a reason why we fall into ruts, routine, habits… it’s less confusing; less tiring. When we have a need for a new game to play or a new thing to learn, we will reach out, but otherwise we just bump along doing what we are used to. Perhaps, for some of us, that includes blogging!

I don’t want to get in such a rut that I won’t try something new once in a while — perhaps ennui is our guard against getting stuck in the mud.

Why do I have a goblin on my wall? Two other pictures in the room are of cats. They aren’t dissimilar creatures, come to think of it. I was constantly chasing the wee red one today because she was determined to be part of our coffee party when some friends visited. I must have carried her out again about five times.

Meanwhile, my mother’s cat clung to her knee, which was fine… you think of them as almost the same person, and it wouldn’t cross your mind to put her out of the room while there are visitors. After they’d gone, though, she was determined to sit on her at a moment she wasn’t welcome. We kept trying to dissuade her, but she was absolutely determined to cross that table and hop on.

I said “cats don’t understand the meaning of ‘NO’, do they?” and my mother said “they PRETEND they don’t understand.”

The cat tried again to cross the table… “NO!!” Mum said, absolutely clearly, and the cat hesitated and sat back. Well, she knows what ‘no’ means. She just hopes you will forget about it in a minute, when your mind has wandered off and she can sneak over without anybody even noticing.

I’m not sure that goblins would even care… they’d just leap on you and pull your hair, and the more you shouted ‘no’ at them, the more they would grin. Actually, not so different, really!

Got to make some leek and potato soup now. It’s not my favourite, but my sister bought two enormous leeks that I have to use up somehow! Zzz.

Posted in Health Issues, Life and Family, My Cats

A Gold Toothless and Other Ramblings

There’s a touch of blogger’s block going on here.

A couple of days ago a friend happened to mention it’s a good trick to write for yourself only, not for any particular audience, and to avoid editing as you write.

Today I’ll just write and see what happens.

Yesterday my sister replaced the broken old cat flap. When I checked it out, My boy cat (blog name Samson) sat bolt upright, ears straight up, staring brightly at me, one eye slowly closing in a quizzical wink. It looked like he was saying, “Well? What do you think?”

You would think he had bought and fitted it himself. And I was reminded of someone. Every so often I’ll look at him and be bothered by the feeling he’s like a character on TV, but I can never remember who. Eventually it hits me… it’s Toothless. Never anybody else. Just Toothless.

I don’t have Toothless in mind already and say “Toothless is like Samson”… I don’t do that. I can never remember who I’m being reminded of, but the resemblance… something in the expression and posture… is strong.

Although mostly silent, Samson seems to be communicating with every fibre of his being. He’ll sit and stare intently at you, and the minute you turn and catch his eye, he leans forward and his face is absolutely radiant.

Nothing cheers you up quicker. 🙂

My mother is unwell; eating very little these days. For supper last night she had three breaded scampi and an onion ring. Today she managed a poached egg on toast. When I brought a plate of food the other night, she courageously drew herself up to meet it. I said she looked like a contestant on I’m a Celebrity, about to eat something with sixteen legs.

Christmas will be a puzzle this year, as I’ve not been getting out to shop. I feel there’s not much time left online either. Still… As the citizens of Whoville found out in The Grinch, Christmas is Christmas all on its own. We still have our trappings… a six-foot silver tree, lights and decorations. The cats with their 3D superstar impressions. Sisterly visits. There will be turkey, roast potatoes and bread sauce on the day.

I’ve been avoiding Facebook for most of the year, but decided there would be no harm in checking in with people over Christmas. Was surprised to find some really lovely comments about one of my cats… two pages of them! Perhaps my friend is right when she said you can make Facebook work for you. Check your privacy settings. Choose who you want to interact with, and write about those things that are tongue-in-cheek and fun. Don’t get all serious, angry or political. If you’re not enjoying somebody’s statuses, quietly unfollow them.

Well, perhaps. It still feels to me like we’re shark-bait.

It’s nice to get away from the internet from time to time. Talking of which, I have a lot of DVDs and am in the mood to watch some. I don’t often get the chance to, but when I can, there are old favourites I have in mind.

How to Train Your Dragon
Horton Hears a Who
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Young Montalbano
Master and Commander
Cadfael
The Croods

Those will be a good start.

*This was just an attempt to kick-start my failing blogging habit. Normal service will be resumed shortly.*

Posted in Lost in Thought, My Cats, Weekend Coffee Share

Coffee in the Rain

If we were having coffee, we would be a bit quiet — the heavy weather has been sending everybody to sleep. In some way I’ve regressed — it’s as though I’ve slipped and fallen into last autumn, even though it’s supposed to be summer. It keeps raining, day after day and week after week. There’s flooding again, and the drains in the centre of town overfilled and spilled in puddles. It’s dark, so my thoughts regressed to a cooler, quieter time. Just coffee and a dull room — and now you.

You weren’t here last year. My blog was quiet for a long time. Months and years of rain in this forgotten space.

There’s been more energy in our lives, lately. Perhaps it was the sun? I was busy sorting books, and our collection is manageable now… nearly!… but today, all of a sudden, I left them and walked away.

Sitting over there with your mug, I understood you were wondering about my reserve, so I told you my weekend started early because I was tired. You laughed and said everybody’s tired because of the atmospheric pressure. Well I’m glad it’s not just me. I was so busy, then suddenly… How about you? Did you do nothing? Perhaps you half-heartedly tried to run a meeting on Friday, only members were not-so secretly snoring?

This is why I plunged back to the end of last year, to a time when I was less motivated.

A few days ago I told people, “I hope it doesn’t rain from now all the way through autumn like last year,” thinking, “surely it won’t!” … but I have a terrible feeling it will. I will be getting stern reports about moss on the roof again. For goodness sake, it’s a wet country. Might be nice to have a moss garden up there, with fairy cottages, fern trees and toadstools.

How about you — do you like gardening, or miniatures, or both in combination? On Pinterest I follow pin-boards showing the fairy houses and cabins that people build in the great outdoors. I don’t have any such property in my possession — I just like to view them.

It’s a secret place of mine… in my head I have a log cabin of my own where no one can ever find me — not unless I want them to. In my forest, I disappear into the rain, moss and silence, so you would think this weather would suit me down to the ground.

Ha.

It does suit my boy cat, who loves sloshing around. The other night he bounded merrily in through the flap, dripping in mud — the creature from the black lagoon. It’s easy to imagine him preying on the squirrels around my imaginary cabin, so I don’t suppose I could hide from him even if I wanted to. I’d turn around and there he would be, grinning in through the window — “how about a wee nibble, hmm? Something nice and filling.”

I know you are still tired, and my blethering has put you to sleep, so it’s time for me to let you go. Come back for coffee again some time — maybe the rain will have stopped by then.

Posted in My Cats, Photographs

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unfocused

Oops, this is an old photo challenge, but I have gone to some trouble preparing the photo for publishing, so I’m posting it anyway.

We were out this morning, and when I came in the front door and saw the way my two cats were sleepily regarding me, I took photos, trying to capture their mood. Unfortunately the girl cat (Delilah) first of all just put her head down and closed her eyes, and didn’t look at the camera the way she had looked at me… then she sat up and did a very sweet green-eyed yawn, and at that precise moment my camera decided it had run out of card-space!!!!

That sort of thing is enough to throw you into a screaming tantrum.

I behaved myself though, and fetched another camera card… by that time Delilah had hopped off and left through the cat flap. Thank goodness for Samson, who stayed in bed, occasionally blinking at me, though with not quite the roguish grin that he had before.

I tried to focus sharply on him (dark room and ageing eyesight), and sometimes managed; other times it was way off, like here… I would have deleted this picture without a second thought, but I suddenly remembered the photo challenge.

Well, I thought, if I have to post a fuzzy photo, it might as well be this one! I made it even softer in Photoshop, mostly round the edges. Will have to look and see what other challenges I can respond to… my camera has been a bit covered in cobwebs recently.

My red cat Samson, woken up from his sleep.

Posted in My Cats, Photographs

Adding to the Memory Store

It’s hot and muggy, which might explain the difficulty sleeping. I sat in the garden with mother and sister, and said “it’s impossible to completely capture a place,” and they said “what do you mean?”
“If you take photographs of the garden, it’s not like the real thing.” Of course not.

The insects buzz against the deep, inviting shade; the leaves and grass shimmy, the daisies pop against the lawn. A warm scent of flowers wafts on the breeze. The sky is blue, the sun burns your skin, and the clouds move in stately pace across the sky. A beetle crawls across your foot, and the cats walk around and try not to look bored. Bring out your camera and everything is flattened and dulled; the sun goes in, the insects disappear and the clouds fade.

Still, we try. Nothing will beat Virtual Reality as an art form once it really gets going… they’ll put the bugs in too; don’t think they won’t. 🙂

I did my best with my Canon… took photos of everything that moved and a lot that didn’t, and the day went dark. A breeze sprang up, and the air felt full of incipient rain. We went inside and looked out at a thunder storm with rain plashing down. I wasn’t good at capturing that either.

I’ve complicated my photo reorganization by adding to the mass of stuff to sort through — but it wouldn’t be such fun if you didn’t get new ones to look at.

Molly
Cheeky -- when she finally looked round!
Posted in Blogging, Christmas and New Year, My Cats, Photographs, Technology and Software

Still Reaching for the Moon

“I’m reaching out towards the moon and it’s just out of reach of my searching fingertips. The ugly black shadow of Microsoft falls between me and it.”

It was an email I sent my sister 4 years ago. When searching old email archives to ascertain when I bought my digital SLR, I didn’t expect the first email I opened to say that. I almost felt sorry for my sister, but perhaps she was in the know!

I’ve been reorganizing my photos and graphics to include whatever older files I can dredge out of the past, and only a couple of days ago came across this:

It is not pretty or interesting, but illustrates a key moment in the story touched on by the email above. I’d bought my new camera and was struggling to get my PC to recognize it — it needed specific drivers, and they were hanging instead of installing. I finally pulled my PC into some sort of shape (including a reinstall of the OS) and tried again to install the camera drivers.

I took the shot with my Canon when I realized we’d succeeded! I was so happy that I could have kissed the monitor — kiss ‘n’ tell, if you like.

“Our whole lives are on the computer,” said Sandra Bullock’s character in The Net, and she’s right — though I’m thinking more about the minutiae of our home lives preserved in eye-boggling detail — with enough gaps to leave us wondering if we really know ourselves.

I don’t know if it’s a full moon tonight, but I couldn’t sleep. I had to sit up and write for my blog. I was thinking about all of you — how I feel some of you are friends, even though I’m not all that clear what you look like! When you’re trying to pull together the scattered pieces and bits and bytes of your life, and when four years ago seems like a lifetime, you do think about things like that. I may not always be around, and I’ll skip away and reorganize my past life when I could be talking to you more, but that’s part of the elusiveness that’s woven through everything…

I was playing Dido’s Life for Rent again — I associate it with leaving my house, of which there are many photographs. After wading (with difficulty) through the cats’ mug shots, I started on our Christmas photos… and Dido’s singing got all plaintive. Fear overtook me at the sight of how time has already trickled away. Xmas 2002 seems like yesterday, though it’s now viewable through the ancient pixellated lens of a 1.3 megapixel Olympus Camedia.

When my attack of collywobbles was over, I felt relieved but weak…. but I also blame EA Sports Active for that. It makes me do eternal laps, and I’ve been shaky all day! Not enough to want to sleep, unfortunately.

Life burns, simply by passing… but I can’t leave my older files to moulder on yellowing CDs. That would be betrayal, and I can’t help feeling that if I bring them back into some kind of accessible order, everything will make more sense.

After all the battles and the wars
The scars and loss
I’m still the queen of my domain
.

[From ‘This Land is Mine’ by Dido]

Posted in Art, My Cats

Cat Owners Have Degrees

The following news snippet was pointed out to me recently:

More cat owners ‘have degrees’ than dog-lovers

I wonder if people with degrees tend to be more bookish and less sporty or active in general… there’s always been a link in people’s minds between writers, artists and cats. An artist or poet is not going to be happy at being interrupted in the middle of their great masterpiece by a canine wanting to go out! It would no longer be the Man from Porlock in that case, but the Dog from Porlock.

Any other ideas?

Posted in Christmas and New Year, My Cats, Observations

A Quiet Room

My computers are gathering dust. I’m hardly ever in this room this month, and it’s in the same pristine condition it was just before Christmas. I know that will change later… I’ve just got new things on my mind to think about and work with. Nothing of blogworthy note. Well, OK…. Mum asked Santa Claus for a Nintendo. It’s usually parents having to get those for their children, but it worked the other way in this family! Yesterday I was watching her have a snowball fight without going outdoors, while I got on with a jigsaw puzzle. But I’ve had a good go on the Nintendo as well, so it was a Christmas present for both of us, really.

Went to the supermarket today and got a bottle of Beet-It juice. It’s wonderful. I used to love carrot juice but they changed the brand and the new one is a let-down. I used to dislike beetroot; I tried it several times from the jar, but could never get used to it. Then one of Mum’s friends gave us homemade creamed beet… and that converted me. I’m pleased, as I always had a feeling I might like beet if I just had it in the right format!

A neighbour’s husband and son went off to sledge down the hill behind our houses. Unfortunately the husband shot straight into the burn at the bottom (lots of rocks and trees) and wound up with blood trickling down his face. The ambulance men wanted to know what a 55-year-old man was doing sledging. I don’t know… the same urge that drives a snipe into a suburban garden, perhaps? Snow changes everything.

Today it’s 1 C, but it’s been colder than that — there were days when you opened the door in broad sunny daylight, and the cold was outside like a hard wall. You put one hand out and it froze. I opened the back door one perishing night because Delilah was standing pensively besides it. She looked at the ice stretching away into darkness, and then looked pitifully at me, as though to say “you’re not throwing me out in that, are you?” Today the ice has mostly melted away, but it was ‘snailing’ yesterday when Mum went to town. We got some strange bobbly ice in buckets and things, where hailstones had frozen fast.

I finally snapped a shot of one of the cats drinking from the water fountain…. this one is Delilah. I had to turn the camera to get all of her in!

Going back to the jigsaw and the Nintendo now….