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?”


Hopefully this freeze party is ending.

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 Blogging, Notepad Conversations, Writing

Excuse the Mess


If we were having coffee, you would have a red cat on your knee and a notebook to write on, and we would be writing notes back and forth. Probably we would be fighting over the black cat pen — who had it last?? I thought you had your own pen!! Peeve.

There would be a fresh shower of rain streaming down the windows, as it’s pretty wet these days… windows to front and back, so you would see a quiet street out the front and a hedge at the back with a lot of big trees. The pigeons would sit in the trees and look at you. They are always there, and sometimes a grey squirrel too.

Presumably you would be writing something like, “Well, this is nice, isn’t it, but a bit puzzling. How did I come to be here?”

I would take the cat pen and reply, “I think it’s my fault. I decided to try this hashtag thing — weekendcoffeeshare — without having a clue how hashtags actually work. I thought it would bring bloggers to my page, not here to have coffee with me. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to meet you, but I do hope you will excuse the mess…”

And you would write, “Oh, the mess is fine. Just don’t do it again, that’s all! I am not quite sure how I’m going to get back now. Thingy will be wondering where I disappeared to.”

I would say, “I don’t know. If you know how to work hashtags, it might be the way home for you?”

And you would say, “Sorry, I don’t know a thing about hashtags. Never use them.”

There would be an awkward silence, then the red cat (Delilah) would stretch happily and dig her claws in, as she does love having someone new to torture sit on.

You would say, in a relenting tone of scribble, “Since I am here, I’ve often wondered what you really look like behind that eskimo bear,” and I would say, “Well, as you see… there’s no eskimo bear! It’s upstairs, just sleeping.”

“Oh,” you would say, and “I guess you don’t look like an eskimo bear.”

And I would say, “You don’t look how I imagined, either.”

“What, doesn’t my picture look like me?”

“Noooooo…. you look…. more real.”

“Thank you.”

After another silence, you would say, “Don’t you think that eskimo bear photo is a bit outdated? You’ve had it since you first began blogging in 2005 or whenever. Now it looks kind of soft and old.”

I would start having a panic attack at the thought of just how old the bear is, the camera it was photographed with and the blog, and you hastily say, “Don’t worry! It’s all good.”

“OK,” I’d say. “Let me just get my iPad. Where did you say you lived again? I’ll look up the train times. Where?? OK… PLANE times. Oh, and take the bear with you, just as a souvenir. I feel the need for a brand new profile picture…”

Posted in Blogging, Technology and Software

Sea of Darkness: a view of the Internet

It was exhilarating making my blog more accessible on my iPad — I’m getting push notifications! That makes it more likely I’ll keep blogging. I know none of you are impressed… ‘promises, promises’… you’ve heard them all before.

Had a look to see who was still here from my blogroll. I had a fear that everyone had given up and gone, but I only had to delete one or two links — it’s lovely and humbling that most are still here and still blogging.

One deleted blog is now a spam blog… I’ve heard that can happen. It’s a reminder that if I’m not going to blog for a while, all my blogroll links should be hidden.

I had problems leaving comments via my WordPress app. I would comment on a Blogger blog, and after I pressed ‘publish’ it would say “sign in to complete the process. There are no links, so use a bookmark or type in your URL.” I was already signed in, and as I wasn’t in a browser, there was no location bar or bookmarks. That really threw me, till I worked out how to complete the process. Going into Safari separately doesn’t work; you have to do it via the app.

Then I ran into other problems… one time Blogger said ‘oops!’ (probably a white lie for ‘I don’t trust you’), and another time it said ‘memcache value is null for FormRestoration’. It claimed if I cleared my cache and history and then refreshed, the gobbledegook might go away, but I didn’t see why that should be necessary! I guessed the problem was most likely with the word verification (maybe it wasn’t happy with my answer), so I did it all over again with a fresh form, filled in the new verification box, and this time it worked. It just requires a little patience, and making sure you copy your comment before pressing any buttons!

I had a bit of a confidence crash last night. I know, I’ve only just got back to my blog, yet was already questioning that decision! I was always happy with WordPress, but now it was part of the problem. I used their app to look at Reader, and all the pictures are blown up full-size. Some weren’t loading, so you’d get a full-sized blank screen for a couple of minutes. You’d scroll down and there would be grey area after grey area. Others weren’t meant to be blown up so big and were just a blurred mess. In between each full sized picture would be about three lines of text. It made it difficult to browse.


In addition, most of the blogs I saw in the main categories were commercial or professional. I was looking for personal blogs, but they were hard to find.

I looked wistfully at someone else’s blog on Blogger, and considered moving!

While drifting disconsolately around, I read a statement that 80% of all comments and email are spam, and most of the internet is spam too. I suddenly felt as though I was sitting on a floating raft, surrounded by debris and targetted by Facebook ads. Began wondering if it was possible to cut the internet out of my life! Close down all my accounts, delete everything I can delete… just maintain basic email?

There are ex-users… not just people who won’t go online to start with, but people who have tried it and didn’t like it. That includes a lot of people in my age group. I also found this post which brightened me up a bit: Is it possible to quit the internet?

If I ever decide to take this step, I will give warning first! But I was in utter gloom by the time I retired for the night. I suppose it’s because you have hopes for the internet, and then you see all the spam, ads, fakes, bullying, intolerance and other stuff, and you come to realize the dark side will always be there, attempting to take over. Perhaps the internet is a failed experiment that we don’t want to let go of yet.

After looking through my blogroll today I felt better, remembering the light side is here too. Another thing that kept my sanity was discovering the final link in my blogroll… WordPress tags. I find all sorts of personal blogs that way.

When I was typing ‘how much of the internet is’…? in the Google search bar, I was expecting ‘spam’ to pop up, and instead it was ‘cats’. 🙂 Anyway, I was sitting thinking about my reluctance to be connected, when suddenly there was a notification. I followed it to this update from the Dalai Lama:

“Once we have a firm practice of compassion our state of mind becomes stronger which leads to inner peace, giving rise to self-confidence, which reduces fear. This makes for constructive members of the community. Self-centredness on the other hand leads to distance, suspicion, mistrust and loneliness, with unhappiness as the result.”



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

Bond Cats

Another blogger said a couple of times how, when he feels really strongly about something, he can’t bring himself to speak. It reminded me of when I was saying to Mum how Samson was ‘Octopussy’ because he’s my eighth cat. I opened my mouth to add “Sharky was 007” and the words refused to come out! I only meant it for a joke, but when you know those cats so well and are so fond of them — it’s not funny at all. They’re all special to me, but especially 007.

I miss him.

I wonder what Delilah is, though…. the 9th Bond girl, perhaps! Who was she?

Just for fun, I typed ‘ninth Bond girl’ into Google, and it said there was no such thing. It kept mentioning Olga Kurylenko, though, and said she was in something new called The Eagle of the Ninth… also in the Bond film Quantum of Solace (which I’ve not seen yet). I wondered what she looked like and clicked on ‘images’, and found myself faced with ranks of bikini-clad photos. “Oops,” I thought, “I better get off this page as I don’t know what Mum will think!”

I switched to a Wikipedia page about Olga, and there was a mug shot of her there. Her eyes are like Delilah’s, perhaps… all cats have beautiful eyes, but Delilah’s are stunning. She knows it, and does that innocent ‘Puss in Boots’ sort of stare (from Shrek) when she’s trying to make you fall under her spell.

Mum came out from her bath, saw the head shot on the Wikipedia page, and toddled over rapidly. “Who’s that?”

“It’s a Bond girl called Olga — I was wondering who she was. She was in Quantum of Solace.

“Oh,” said Mum. “From where I was standing, I thought it was you!”

Ahhh, mothers. 😀

Posted in My Cats

Even the Cat Finds Me Annoying

Today Samson (one of my cats) was lying on my lap, and the TV was running long commercials I’d already seen a million-and-one times before. Because I was bored, I was repetitively patting his flank.

He got fed up with this, so he gently grabbed hold of my fingers, curling his paws inwards to hold them, and carefully stuck his claws in till I stopped moving! Then he plucked up both his hind feet and plopped them on top.

That’s a cat who brooks no nonsense. 🙂