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The one I couldn’t help

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Near work I found a man trying to get a cat off the road. He was successful but she went back on and sat down in the middle of the road. She had a collar on and seemed friendly enough so I picked her up off the road and took her to the footpath. When I lofted her I just felt ribs. She was clearly used to being held. I have her a rub under the chin and checked her collar. No tag on collar but noticed she was infested with fleas. I waited until it looked like she was staying off the road and continued to the shop. On my way back to work she was sitting in the middle of the road again. After much deliberation I decided to go back
to work and get a box and walk her to the vet around the corner to see if she had a microchip. She had a desexing tattoo. Someone has owned her at some point. By the time I came back with the box I couldn’t find her. I just keep telling myself at least she’s no longer on the road.

disABILITY

AndrewA clever marketer came up with the concept of disABILITY.

Most of the time I would agree that to focus on the ability of people who have a disability is a good thing. Yet, there are times when the disability really has to be acknowledged for the hideous and limiting thing that it is.

Losing more function can be frightening, depressing, soul-destroying, frustrating, not to mention bloody impractical! At the end of several weeks which included all of those things, there ARE some things to be thankful for.

1) I have an amazing partner who despite losing the last remnants of his ‘walking’ and ‘standing’, only managed to lose his sense of humour for a day here and there. Without that wit and comic relief, I’m not sure where we would be right now.

2) We are fortunate to have supportive family, friends and workmates.

3) There are some bloody awesome Norweigans out there who made the molift hoist equipment.

and finally…

4) It doesn’t matter how stressed you become, the cats still give you cuddles. Sometimes two at a time.

Double trouble on the couch

Andrew and Pickle

Helpers!

Licorice provides work assistance
My day in pictures.

If you have to work on a weekend then this is the way to do it – with cat cuddles!

At first Licorice she was happy to sit next to me. Then she wanted to sit on me. ‘Surely you have a spare box somewhere?’ Andrew says in response to my text pic.

Actually I do!

Licorice squeezes into box

And would you believe… she fits… sort of… but…

Saffron steals box

Oh dear. Box stolen. Flaw in plan. I don’t have two spare cardboard boxes.

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Never mind mum! We will help you paint instead!

Budgie Smugglers

budgie‘You might have to explain to your international readers what budgie smugglers are’ says Dad upon me entering the house.

Oh. Oops. Didn’t even think of that.

Then again, I know that my international friends seem exceptionally well read and would probably know what they are anyway. I on the other hand am still occasionally stumped. I had to write to Isobel (of Isobel and Cat fame) recently to ask whether ‘cream crackered’ was a term familiar to her, or whether it was well known. Cockney rhyming slang it turns out. Last week, I learnt about ‘Pinkertons’ on the back of watching Ripper Street. (There are times when wikipedia is really indispensable).

So, back to the budgie smugglers. In case anyone isn’t familiar, it’s a slang term of men’s speedos / swimming costumes and seems to be used often in reference to our now current Prime Minister given his fondness of sport. It takes a man with a good body (think well built surf life guide), to be able to get away with wearing budgie smugglers without looking pathetic. It’s something about the way they droop with water… the swimming costume that is. I refuse to even contemplate Tony’s actual anatomy. Ew. Sick. Now.

So dad reckons I need a glossary of terms for my blog. Really, there’s only a few you need to know to follow the plot. Here they are:

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The Scroobious Pip.

That’s me.

Sometimes people ask me what exactly a Scroobious Pip is, I just reply – ah, that is the question! The story was a childhood favourite, written by one of the two great masters of nonsense – Edward Lear, an epileptic depressive who had a great love of his cat Foss.

IMG_2061Andrew. 

My unconventional partner / boyfriend (depending on your preferred terminology). (Andrew associates partner with gay cowboy movies, I associate boyfriend with sounding 14 and temporary). Unconventional? Well, we don’t exactly fit the traditional model. We live separately. I work full time. He doesn’t. He’s domestically competent. I’m domestically challenged (except for light bulbs, I do those). I think the only thing traditional about us is he takes out his own garbage. My mum always taught me that men should do tyres and garbage.

Definition of Andrew? mischievous, Naughty. A 4 year old trapped in a 40-something year old body. An extremely talented artist (if only we could convince him of this) combined with a largely gentle soul. I say largely. He isn’t known for being a placid calm driver – especially if you take a disabled parking spot and you have no disabled parking permit.

Pickle sleeping as only Pickle can.

Pickle sleeping as only Pickle can.

Pickle.

The oldest of Andrew’s two cats and the most like him in personality – bloody naughty!

Andrew always said that if he couldn’t have a dog he didn’t want anything. Then after a while he decided a cat would be ok. As long as it was a girl cat. And black, or tabby.

So he adopted a ginger boy who certainly lives up to the tag Ginger Ninja. Andrew wanted a dog… well he’s doing his best to mould Pickle into a dog. Surprisingly, Pickle is mostly complying.

Recently, an ambulance officer referred to Pickle as a ‘caramel cat’. This has earnt him the title of ‘o Caramelle’ (said with a ridiculously corny French accent!)

Andrew and Gesso

Andrew and Gesso

Gesso.

Named after the white primer used in painting, Gesso has developed his own fondness for paint. While every other cat has stood in the paint just once, Gesso has done it at least three times… if not more.

Gesso is medium haired and deaf.

He makes you work for his affection but strangely we just seem to love him even more for it. When he actually lets me cuddle him for a little while, I feel that I’ve won a great battle / been included among a privileged few.

Gesso is frequently also called ‘the white cat’ (with the emphasis on THE), or squirrel.

And that’s half the fur family…

Licorice and Saffron

I don’t think it’s quite right for me to write about the two separately, for they really don’t separate you see.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

That’s Saffron (8) on the top and Licorice (11) on the bottom. Two undeniably fat couch potatoes of cats with an everlasting number of hugs and smooches to give.

Licorice hates the vacuum cleaner. Licorice hasn’t figured out that each morning when I go to the fridge to get the food, she doesn’t need to follow me as I am just coming back with it. (Saff waits patiently in the bathroom). On the whole, Licorice is the gentle giant; except when at the mothership and it’s time to go back in the cat cage.

Saffron on the other hand, is reasonably ok with the vacuum cleaner but scared of all things new. Strangers / Visitors – check under the bed and you’ll find her.

PS: Mothership = home of my mum and dad a.k.a Cat Hotel.

So there you go dad. A glossary. Complete with pictures. Have I forgotten anything?

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I couldn’t resist including one more picture of Pickle. Cheeky Pickle.

Saffron’s Product Review

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Sticky paws – sticky strips you put where they scratch to stop them scratching.

Some cats meow when they want your attention. Saffron has an alternate method, namely scratching at things – particularly hard surfaces or paper.

My couch is perfectly in tact. She doesn’t arch her back and claw the couch – she is a good girl and saves that for the scratching post. However reasons only she will understand, she loves to jump up on the cupboard and at 5:30 in the morning and ‘scratch’ the cupboard top.

Meanwhile, Licorice deploys the more traditional method of waking owners. Each morning, about half an hour before the Saffron scratching begins, Licorice starts the paw in face – walk across pillow – swing your owner and dosey do. But back to my little scratching friend.

So a while ago, I thought – I’ll outsmart you Saff. I acquired some ‘Sticky Paws’ from Cat Protection. Basically long strips of sticky stuff which you can apply to the area they tend to scratch.

I covered 75% of my cupboard top with these strips – all running at an angle.

It worked.

She stopped scratching the cupboard top…

…and just moved her attention elsewhere!

Again any hard surface, or paper, is the item of choice. I have to show you this morning’s effort.

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Your sticky strips may deter cats but it seems your packaging does not!

I didn’t actually realise I still had the packaging. It’s been months since I bought the sticky strips. But Saffron ‘uncovered’ the packaging from somewhere and proceeded to chew bites off the paper (and spit them out) until I found myself well and truly awake!

Whenever this happens, I try very hard NOT to get up at that moment. I don’t want to reinforce her victory. So I set the alarm for a few minutes time and force myself to put up with her destructive behaviour until the alarm goes off. Then I get up to the alarm as if it had nothing to do with her. I do wonder sometimes whether she thinks her scratching makes the alarm go off…????

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Sometimes I wonder whether I should coat my lap in ‘sticky strips’ when I actually want my lap for myself.

I had no sooner booted up the computer to write this post about Saffy’s morning antics, when both of them, leapt into my lap where my laptop was about to go.

Typing over the top of cats, can be a challenge!

It seems that laps are for cats and not laptops. At present, we have reached a compromise situation which looks a little like this…

Lap is for cats, not laptops

That is Saffron on about 2/3rd of my lap and my laptop perched on the remaining knee. It makes for rocky and uncomfortable typing so this blog post is about to end (and Saff will be victorious).

Actually this is reallly about to end because Licorice has weeviled her way between me and the keyboard and I am now typing over the top of her.

And Saffron is snoring…

If she’d bloody slept past 5:30am, she wouldn’t need a nap now!

Is that a cat in your luggage?

‘You have to turn your phone off, so you don’t get international roaming fees.’ says Andrew.

‘Well, what am I to use for an alarm clock then? Without my phone and Licorice, I’d be lost!’

Hmm… Licorice in the luggage.The first challenge there would be whether she would fit. Licorice has a wider than average girth. That said, she is a cat. If any creature can fit itself into a space that is too small for it’s body, a cat can! Challenge one dismissed.

The second challenge would be convincing her it was a good idea.

Second challenge dispelled. The girls have ‘packed’ themselves.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

Suitcase? What suitcase.

Third challenge? Customs.

‘Miss, you appear to have some organic matter in your luggage?’

Hmm… cat alarm clock plan fail. Ah, but it would have made a good story for Border Security!

Ours!

By the royal power invested in us from the planet of Feline, we hereby declare that this armchair is now the property of the species tortoise shell and no human can enter. Bribery in the form of chest and head salutes will be considered momentarily and although we like this ‘patting’ currency, we will still reject all human efforts to take position of said armchair.

In short, it’s ours.

This armchair is ours!

Paw prints in paint… almost!

Mixed Media Collage June 2013Lately I’ve been stitching more than painting. I’m not convinced that they aren’t the same practice for me but in a different media. I’ve had a few paintings on the go. All very small scale (A3 or smaller) and mostly unclear in their direction. The one above has been floating around on and off as an A3 piece for ages. I had layered Golden Fluid Acrylics in my usual fashion – here using Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Transparent Red Iron Oxide and Phthalo Blue.

The choice of colour combination was extremely scientific. Those particular bottles were almost empty and I wanted to use them up so I could toss the bottles out. (My little unit is very cluttered and while on a practical day I can see that removing 3 small bottles is really not going to do much, at the time it seemed like a good idea).

However it was going nowhere fast.

It’s probably been on the table for the better part of a month. So I did what I often do when an art piece isn’t progressing – I do something drastic! In this case, I got a stanley knife and cut my A3 piece down to A4. From there, after some rummaging in my collage materials, the piece ‘appeared’. I can’t explain how this happens; it just suddenly comes together.

It was almost ‘adjusted’ by Saffron planting her bum on the table. Fortunately, she was about 1 inch from the wet paint. Of course, it’s the only time she has sat on the table in recent history. She rarely leaves the heater. Even when it’s not on she sits next to it in hope! As does her sister… here they are at it again!

Licorice and Saffron loving the heater

Fibonacci Floral Lap Quilt: Part 1

Fibonacci Floral Step 1Recently I was fiddling around with some fabric and ended up creating these ‘mushrooms’ by hand stitching using perle cotton. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I had an idea to incorporate them into a small lap quilt.

After some pondering and meddling by my dressmaking teacher, the idea of a Fibonacci Floral Lap Quilt was born. I loved the lines in the ‘mushrooms’ and wanted to use the colour of this background fabric (a faded grey-green to blue; not unlike the leaves on some wattle trees) in ‘strips’.

Fibonacci Floral Step 2Step 1Make a life size template

I daresay a sophisticated photocopier may have come in handy here and an extra big piece of paper. However I adopted the thrifty method. My piece of paper is in fact 6 pieces of paper stuck together with masking tape. With a ruler and a pencil, I carefully enlarged the drawing to actual size (about 18.5″ X 20″ – no there’s nothing fibonacci about the dimensions!)

Step 2: Dividing the Flower by the fibonacci number 

You may be wondering where’s the fibonacci piece of this quilt. It’s coming! As I was choosing fabrics, it was suggested to me that I should try to use fibonacci numbers (e.g. 2,3,5,8,13,21 etc). I knew that I wanted the fabric pieces to probably be between 1/2″ and 1.5″ in width. So I had a choice – 34 strips or 55. The former made the strips far too fat. So I had no choice but to try to divide the flower outline I had drawn into 55 strips without making any of them too small to sew and also trying to vary the widths as I went along so it didn’t look too predictable.
Fibonacci Floral Step 3

Step 3: Selecting fabrics and cutting strips
So I now had a template of 55 strips, and 13 fabrics selected. (13 being a fibonacci number). The next challenge was whether I could use on a fibonacci number of each fabric within the 55 strips. Now any person halfway decent at math would be able to figure this out quickly. I have to confess that it took me a while.
Fibonacci Floral Step 4
The end result is:

  • 2 fabrics at 2 strips each
  • 2 fabrics at 3 strips each, and
  • 9 fabrics at 5 strips each.

Of course, while you are laying out your fabrics and deciding the order, cat help is critical! Licorice supervised. For once she didn’t ‘help.’

By this point, I was chuffed that I had managed to use only fibonacci numbers – 55 strips, 13 fabrics of 2, 3 or 5 instances each. I was also starting to wonder what the point was. Dr Google told me that fibonacci numbers are common in nature – in Irises, sunflowers and pine cones and they were naturally pleasing to the eye. Oh well… it was worth a go.

Step 4: Tracing the template onto stitch and tear

When it came to tracing I cheated and used a lightbox. Saffron thought she’d help be sitting on the lightbox. Unfortunately, the lightbox is not designed for a 6 kilo cat, so I had to continually kick her off for fear the perspex was not going to withstand her weight – it’s loose as it is!

Fibonacci Floral Step 5

Step 5: Critical. After cutting the pieces. Drop them.

It really would be no fun if you didn’t have to put them back in order at least once!

Iron pieces onto the back of the fabric strips.
Fibonacci Floral Step 6
Fibonacci Floral Step 7
Step 6: Trim them up!
I left 1/4″ seam allowance on the long sides and a very rough half an inch or so on the stop. I figured I could always tidy up the ends later.

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Step 7: Sew the strips together
This was the fun bit – watching it start to take shape. I’m about 70% done. (Hence the part 1). I’ll be sure to post pics when I have finished the flower.
Fibonacci Floral Step 9

Meanwhile in cat land, a territory dispute is at play. I bought a cheap cat bed from the $2 store. They only had 1 in this size. Licorice and Saffron both want to sit in it. Generally, they seem to alternate – every now and then one ‘hijacks’ it from the other. Tonight, Licorice wouldn’t give it up. So Saffron just sat on top of her!

Can't we share?

Can’t we share?

Saffron in slumber

Saffron in slumber8 weeks without a stable phone and internet and finally, it has been restored!

To celebrate, I’ve posted a photo of Saffron I took about a month ago but haven’t been able to upload.

I love this shot. It shows how I bought a couch to blend with my cat (and in theory hide the cat hair which, judging by that segment of black on the cushion, has not worked!) It also shows my troublesome little companion relaxing. This is a nice change from when she has cystitis. Also, I just had to post a cat pic to celebrate Licorice and Saffron’s 4th birthday with me. This makes Licorice a grand old age of 11 and Saffron 8.

PS: It seems while I’ve been offline that I have some new followers. Welcome to my blog!