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Gesso’s Christmas Toy

Sleeping ornaments

Gesso and Pickle playAndrew has a new theory. Cats bounce off the walls for the first year of life before they become sleeping ornaments for the next 19.

I remind Andrew that when Pickle was little, he told me frequently how he couldn’t wait for him to grow up so he’d settle down! How quickly he forgets that we adopted Gesso, in part, to wear Pickle out. It has evidently worked. Pickle either sleeps far more than he did before, or we just needed a kitten to make us realise Pickle had lost some of his kittenhood. Now that Pickle has matured to ‘sleeping ornament’ status, he has the pleasure of added cat hair to numerous surfaces in the house. Previously, he didn’t sit still long enough to leave a ginger carpet trail wherever he went.

At the moment he is the only ornament adorning the house. We have no tree or decorations and I have managed to keep them out of my office (unlike last year when I was working at a different Organisation and they had compulsory desk decorating… oh yes, I remember I had to make ‘crocodile’ eyeballs from table tennis balls for the ‘aussie’ Christmas theme). This year there has been no ‘slowing’ in the Christmas lead up. Rather, we are all running for the end of the week, at which point we will all collapse and not from drinking too much Christmas brandy.

Just today there was a flurry of activity in the office with a news crew filming a cochlear implant ‘switch-on’. It was something to do with media activity aimed at increasing the awareness of pregnant women about CMV. Like toxoplasmosis, this is one of those conditions which have little effect on mum – perhaps a slight ‘cold’. Yet CMV can have a lasting impact on the child including, hearing loss, vision loss or development delay. A link was sent around the office this afternoon with one woman’s story. She makes a very good point. Most pregnant women these days are aware of risks associated with soft cheeses and some meats. Iron levels, alcohol intake and diet – all frequently discussed topics – but how often do you hear people talk about CMV? My bet would be not often enough. Hats off to her for trying to raise awareness. If I had 1 year old twins, a 3 year old and a 5 year old I think I’d be too exhausted to do anything!


Not the nine o’clock fireworks

We set out to take photos of the 9 o’clock Darling Harbour fireworks show. We returned with this snapshot instead.

Louis Vuitton Paparazzi King St Sydney

5 men all taking photos with their phones of louis vuitton window

What was so fascinating about Louis Vuitton’s King St Sydney window, I’ll never know. The sight of 5 men snapping photos with their phones of whatever was in the window was a little bizzare indeed. Louis Vuitton worshippers perhaps? I thought their silhouettes against the red window made for a great photo in itself.

While I’m sharing photos, I have to include this one of Gesso. I was very pleased as I took it using the manual mode my camera (Canon 550d).

Gesso sleeps

[70-300mm lens at 70mm, f/5 for 1/10 sec.]

Yes, he’s beautiful when he’s quiet.

The broken crockery we found on the floor when arriving at Andrew’s place last night was nothing to do with this little sweetheart. I think I jinxed myself by thinking it would be nice to go home to my peaceful – ADULT – girls. That’s why I heard a thump during the night and woke to find my Wii on the floor. Unlike Gesso, Licorice and Saffron are smart enough not to sit next to the evidence. Indeed – PLAY with the evidence. Andrew yelling at the [deaf] cat to stop playing in the ceramic shards was hilarious – after the fact. For a girl who hates domestic duties I’m getting pretty good at cleaning up at Andrew’s place, thanks to this little devil.

Primordial souvlaki and other suburban tales

‘The road is there to share.’

This is the new road safety campaign regarding cyclists. Personally, I’m happy to share. Last week, I shared patiently as a cyclist rode in the dead centre of the street in front of me. I did not beep. I did not swear. I repeated to myself ‘the road is there to share’ as the car behind me beeped his horn for a full two blocks and tested my patience. Yet, there are some cyclists that are testing my patience too. I think these lycra loving green machines should make up their mind. If they want to share the road, they can share the road rules too. Last I looked, it wasn’t ‘stop at red lights’ unless you’re a cyclist, in which case ‘do what you like.’ Or my other favourite – ‘no right turn’ – apparently cyclists are exempt.

These two-wheeled urban rats are not the only thing puzzling me lately. I’ve begun to wonder about a shop called ‘Advanced Souvlaki’. Everytime I drive past I wonder whether they named it ‘Advanced Souvlaki’ for fear people might think it was primordial souvlaki, or multi-coloured souvlaki or hypnotic souvlaki.

Yesterday I took this photo of pickle which has been wondering whether he has been dining on the primordial souvlaki. What is it with that leg behind his head? I assure you he hasn’t grown a fifth limb. I checked. Perhaps this is some kind of inter-cat communication code. If so, I wonder what it means?

I suppose an update on how the ginger terrorist is liking his new little friend. As I write this, they are doing battle on the couch next to me. There are signs of a blossoming friendship, in between the odd crash tackle.

Andrew continues to laugh at me for talking to Gesso. ‘Yes, speak to the deaf cat. That will get you a long way.’ I doubt he expected my seemingly considered response of ‘when communicating with someone who is blind they can’t see your body language but you still use it because it influences the tone of your voice. I talk to Saffron. I talk to Licorice. I talk to Pickle (though he never listens). I WILL talk to Gesso too.’ I got the ‘fair enough, you’re cracked’ look.

Gesso is proving to be a very affectionate addition to the household. He has a habit of perching on Andrew’s knee as he walks around the household (as pictured). Andrew has described this as the ‘Kate Winslet in the titanic’ pose. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to matter how quick he wheels, Gesso stays there! I just hope his standing on the bow is the only correlation between Gesso and Kate’s performance in Titanic.

Introducing Gesso

Pickle now has a friend. The family is complete. Introducing little Gesso.

Andrew and I have discussed over a number of months the pros and cons of getting a second cat for pickle. On the ‘cons’ side were space, cat boarding while away and the risk they wouldn’t get on.

Space resolved itself as an issue with the recent move. The place is now certainly large enough for two, with access to the litter trays still off the ground. With the bathroom the way it is, the trays can be emptied from the wheelchair or standing.

With regard to cat boarding, while I think putting saffron and licorice in boarding would stress Saff out no end, both Pickle and Gesso are relaxed enough to cope.

This left the last problem – the risk they wouldn’t get on. Well, I guess that’s a risk anytime you put two cats together. Since Saffron and Licorice were adopted as a pair, it was never a concern. However, this time it was. I’m happy to say that while Pickle is somewhat put out, the signs are encouraging.

Our intention – based on advice from Cat Protection Society – was to get a second cat of a similar age to Pickle and similar personality. Finding another cat who was confident enough to just sit in a chair as it moved across a room was going to be a challenge. For a time, it seemed like it was a challenge too great. We have both been reading the facebook profiles Cat Protection Society put up each week and both been shaking our heads – too old, too shy, wants outdoors, doesn’t like other cats, the list went on.

Finally on Sunday we met Gesso. We were intending to look at a 1 year old female however upon arriving at Cat Protection Society we discovered she was no longer available. There was 1 other option – another 1 year old girl. As we went out to look at her, we passed this little guy.

‘He’s sweet’ says Andrew.

‘Oh, he must be homed with another cat or someone who is home all the time. He’s deaf.’

I’m not sure whether it’s the lack of hearing but he is pretty calm! He was unphased by the wheelchair and happy to be held up, down, upsidedown and sideways.

We had a raft of questions – what if they don’t get on? what about the size difference? what about them being two boys? if he was deaf did any other health problems go with that? As always, the girls at Cat Protection Society were more than happy to answer our questions. Part way through an adult cat leapt out of her cage unexpectedly and hissed upon seeing Gesso. This little white boy was unphased. That was all the proof we needed that he wasn’t going to be super stressed if Pickle was initially grumpy.

As it turns out, naming him was a lot harder than choosing him. The list was long. Early suggestions followed the deaf and ear theme. Cochlea, Shepherd, Drum, Beethoven, Van Gogh and more medical terms like atresia. For a time, Andrew really wanted Jeebus. The Cleaver. Sebastian. Marc Antony. Caesar. We then moved on to anything engine related given this little boy was found filthy and oily (possibly from hiding in an engine). We had sparkplugs, carburetor and castrol… which I quite liked. We then turned to facebook friends and they suggested the typical ‘white’ names – marshmallow, snowdrop and the like. In the end, I started reading websites. I had got up to L and still not found anything fitting when gesso popped into my head. (For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s pronounced jesso and it is a white paint which has been used for centuries as a ground for paintings. It often has quite a chalky look). I think it suits him perfectly.

Jedi’s with paws

Ok I normally don’t like ‘dressed up’ cats but for some reason this really appealed. I just love the purring at the end!

In a pickle

 There is a woman I sometimes see walking underground through the QVB. She uses two crutches and swings her legs (together) forward to walk. I’m sure when meeting someone with a disability, one of the first thoughts would be regarding the physical exhaustion just to get around each day. Yet sometimes I think the mental tiredness is just as bad. The thoughts and planning never cease. As an able bodied person if I want to go check out an art store – I just do. Worry-wart that I am I tend to get concerned about where I’ll be able to park and how long but other than these things, I can pretty much go to any art store in Sydney I choose. With a physical disability, it’s just not so easy.
Recently 4 and I set out on a mission to acquire a kitten. Before we could go get one, I first rang Cat Protection Society at Enmore to check whether we could get in there with the wheelchair. Fortunately the kittens are on the ground floor and although a tight squeeze, we would fit through the hallway.
Next was a check of the whether forecast. Ala Dustin Hoffman in rain man ‘we don’t go out when it rains’. Well, at least we try not to. The tyres slip, the wheels are wet to push and it’s just generally unpleasant.
Ok, now we can access the builing and it isn’t raining – where are we to park? I used to think that all that was required was a park close to the premises; and often one can find a disabled park. Wrong. I’ve since learned that even some disabled parks are off limits if the gradient of the road is too steep. (By steep I’m not referring to something the slope of the gap here. Even a subtle gradient on the wrong day can be too much).
Next 4 and I spend well over an hour – if not more – discussing which kitten would be best. Unfortunately some animals spook with the chair. I’ll never forget the black swan that decided to stalk Andrew at Centennial park. I guess he saw Andrew as one even bigger black swan. After much consideration, we settled on the kitten we were to name pickle. He seemed a very confident little man and we figured he wouldn’t be afraid of the chair. We were right. He wasn’t frightened of the wheels. He didn’t seem to care whether when in Andrew’s lap he moved across the floor. What a fantastic choice.


Other little things cropped up yet we managed all these. Then pickle started attacking the walking stick and getting under Andrew’s feet when he tried to walk. Uh oh. This is one thing we hadn’t considered. Nothing 4 did seem to deter pickle from getting under Andrew’s feet. After all, he is but a kitten and life is one giant game.

A common way of deterring cats – a quick short sharp spray with a water bottle – was one of my first thoughts. However I’d already tried this to deter pickle from stealing the food on my dinner plate and he was unphased by it. After adjusting the strength of the spray to be a little firmer, pickle did seem to dislike it. Unfortunately what I hadn’t thought of was that this put water on the floor, creating a slip hazard. All our planning seemed to be unravelling.

I think this is one of the most distressing things about a disability. At a fundamental level you think it simply inhibits physical movement. Yet it affects so much more. The more movement is impaired, the more it seems to cut off some of life’s pleasures. The thought Andrew may not be able to keep pickle because he could cause him to trip and fall was heartbreaking. Cats – and pets in general – are such a joy. The offer laughs, companionship, and – at least in my case – someone to talk to. (Licorice, Saffron and I have conversations every day). Andrew has already had to give up on his dream of owning another dog. Cannines are just a little too hard to handle and many do not like the wheelchair at all. To think that Andrew may not be able to have a cat either, just seemed especially cruel.

I’m pleased to say that we have come up with a few options for trying to prevent pickle causing a walking hazard. There is no magic bullet but we have enough ideas for the moment. I’m very thankful to the girls at Cat Protection Society for trying to assist us in finding a solution. So far it seems that pickle isn’t very keen on the orange oil we have dabbed on the end of the walking stick.

Yet just as a disability seems to take away many of life’s pleasures; weirdly, it brings some too. It may sound corny but one comes to appreciate some very simple things indeed. 4 and I spent the early part of Saturday evening watching the sun set over La Perouse. I was fascinated by a man flying a ‘parachute’ like kite and Andrew enjoyed the passing cars – in all shapes and sizes.2011-01-29 Kite Ship and Sun

We both love acquiring fish and chips and sitting watching a view. There is a delight in watching dogs playing in the park. Discussing the array of fashions displayed on a short drive through Enmore and Newtown is a favourite pastime. There are many more however it’s getting very late. (11:20pm and I have to work tomorrow). Below are a couple more pictures from Saturday night at La Perouse.
2011-01-29 Kite Surfer
2011-01-29 Kite Surfer II
2011-01-29 The absent fisherman
2011-01-29 Fishing at Dusk