Posted in Life and Family, My Cats

Everybody’s Having a Snow Party

Here in the UK and Ireland we’ve been hosting the Beast from the East and Storm Emma, who were in the mood to party together. In Scotland we had the joys of a ‘red alert’ — apparently the first time we’ve had one. I took a few photos outside and figured out how to use the video option in my camera (nothing special resulted), then wished our snowy guests would leave again… am tired already.

Trying to blog with a cat squirming in your arms is not easy. 😛

Yesterday I lifted my toilet bag from the bathroom window sill and it felt cold. The toothpaste inside also felt cold and was stiff to squeeze out… I think it half-froze! This morning the toothpaste was more relaxed, although people are still not allowed to go anywhere. A local warned on Facebook that roads are closed, buses aren’t running, his car was sliding all over the place on a narrow road, and snow ploughs and tractors needed to be rescued… if *they* were in trouble, what chance has a car?

An old friend who lives locally contacted me via Messenger and said was everybody keeping warm? I said yes, though we heard from a neighbour that the shops were running short. He (the friend on Messenger) said he got the last lot of milk, bread and bacon from his local shop. I said we have fruity flapjack cookies with coconut in (I’m so glad I bowed to temptation when I saw these in M&S!) If he went back to the shop, he said, and raided it for oats, he could make his own flapjacks. I said he won’t be able to if the local old ladies buy all the oats before he gets there. “Then I’ll just mug them,” he said.

Our front steps are covered over almost completely with snow drifts; you can barely see the edges peeping out. I opened the back door at one point to find a set of dog pawprints leading up to the cat flap. Today they are all over the place… scuttling through the hedge and crisscrossing the snow. People let their dogs off the leash around here (though they’re not meant to) and they run into people’s gardens. My sister’s seen dogs let off in the path behind the house who run up the length of the garden and dash out onto the road at the front, with the owners obliviously calling them on the nice safe path behind. One particularly bad-tempered canine attacked my mother’s old cat — my sister intervened and nearly got bitten. The cat (who had been picked up and shaken) was very shocked and had to go to the vet. I remember the blind look in her eyes that day, but she’s still with us and doesn’t seem to remember.

The ‘off the leash’ thing might explain stories of dogs and their owners ending up in icy lakes. Someone was writing about how drivers forget to change their driving techniques in icy weather… they go too fast; drive too close to the car in front, etc… it strikes me that that warning also applies to other things we do, whether it’s getting our stocks right or walking dogs.

I understand it’s difficult when we do things by habit… we can be knee-deep in trouble before we wake out of auto-pilot.

I was thinking to myself that I wished we had more milk and bread. I noted that we’d gone onto freezer rations — tins next! We still have vegetables and potatoes; biscuits and sweets (including my special hoard of Bassett’s mint creams and chocolate peanuts); a very little fruit; rice and pasta in the cupboard; one small loaf of bread in the freezer (the kind Mum likes but I hate)… I knew we would hold out for months and there’s no need to complain, but I still wished the fridge contained more in the way of fresh groceries. I can’t even make simple things like scrambled egg or macaroni cheese, as we are hoarding what’s left of the milk.

My sister can’t come out because she’s snowed up in her little village. It would be a long icy tramp for me to the local supermarket, though I would do it if it was really worth it. There are no little shops at the end of the block here… one of the not-so-good things about this particular location.

No need to worry, though… Man Mountain to the rescue! He appeared yesterday with milk, bread, and jam doughnuts, and surprised us again today with two bags of food. It was very kind. He said shops are running low in things like milk because the lorries aren’t getting through. The milk he brought today is long-life.

I still mustn’t make dishes that need milk… there are other things we can eat instead. (Eyes the pizzas and and sausage rolls hungrily).

Another neighbour rang up and said he and his wife are making the long walk out to the supermarket and did we need anything, and my mother said “thanks, but we’re okay!”

A friend in Yorkshire says the wind is still whipping up the snow into blizzards. They’re sitting tight and not risking their safety; the only thing they’ll run out of is salad, but they’ll survive without it for a bit.

Now the cat is squirming in my mother’s arms, but that’s fine by me… easier to blog! …D’oh… spoke too soon! This cat (Delilah) is the definition of the phrase ‘in your face’. She lies on your chest and watches your eyes. I escaped by going outside to change a litter tray, and cleaned it with balls of dry snow. Gosh, this stuff has its uses… it saves on kitchen paper.

The following piece seems to be going the rounds on Facebook: “Where are we going, Piglet?”

I don’t go on Facebook much, so don’t pay attention to me if I sound blase! It’s pure gammon. My sister posted me the link and said she visualized Pooh as me and Piglet as The Little Witness. The Little Witness was currently squatting on a box of chocolate-covered peppermint creams, so that doesn’t surprise me.

We don’t have the stocks of red wine referred to in the Pooh conversation, but we have plenty of cat litter, Man Mountain brought the pizzas, and there’s a little bottle of Dandelion and Burdock in the fridge.

It’s odd how differently you view your food stocks when you are snowed in. It goes from “I suppose I should drink it,” to “I’m so glad to see that there!” and “I wish I hadn’t thrown away the year-out-of-date tin of Carnation Milk.”

Ah… a blob of white just flashed past the window.

“Did you see snow drop off the roof?”

“Yes!”

Hopefully this freeze party is ending.

Advertisements
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…

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?