Thursday, 8 January 2015

Welcome to our new feline overlords.....

So then, we have new cats.

We've known them for several years so they weren't strangers, but I suppose I'd better start at the beginning.

Back in, I think, about 2009, our friends J and S got three new kittens - Maggie and Prince (short-haired, black and white, brother and sister - Prince only had a stumpy tail because the mother had, weirdly, chewed it off when he was born), and Puffle (long-haired, all black except for white splodges, half-sister to Maggie and Prince).  At this time, J and S lived about half a mile away from us.  I popped down to visit and cuddle them  - I've got some photos somewhere, I'll see if I can find them....

Prince (first 3 photos)- with a black nose and no tail; Maggie (next 2), sleeping on her head; Puffle (preposterously cute) - May 2009

Adorable, non?

Anyway, in November 2011, J and S moved house with their 3 kids and 3 cats and came to live directly opposite me in our small close.  All the cats used to pop round for a visit (as, seemingly, all the cats in the close tend to do) primarily because, I think, we leave our upstairs back door open all summer long and the canny ones realise they can get in to eat our cats' food, but also because we feed the birds so there's always the opportunity of catching something feathered, and just over our back wall is woodland with all manner of enticing rodentry to hunt.  Plus we like cats and will always make a bit of a fuss if one comes to visit.

Sadly, though, not long after they moved here, Prince got into a tussle with a car and it didn't end well for him, which was very sad.  I loved his stumpy tail because he flicked it around as if he had a long tail attached and it amused me no end.  Farewell, Prince.

Moving more up to date - about May last year, one of J and S's kids decided that they wanted to get some kittens of their own, so got 2 identical stripy tabby kittens.  The idea was that the 2 remaining original cats - Maggie and Puffle - would just beat the kittens up a few times to show them who was boss, and they would all settle down to being a 4-cat household.

Maggie and Puffle had different ideas about this.

They basically flounced and made themselves voluntarily homeless, refusing to go back to J & S's apart from stopping by in the morning, eating some crunchies, hissing at the kittens, then leaving the house again.  J would occasionally ask me if we'd seen Maggie because they had not clapped eyes on her literally for days.

Eventually, Puffle started hanging round more and more and, it being summer and the back door being open, we didn't mind.  If you remember, we no longer had cats (Sylvester having departed in December 2013) so we didn't have any food.  I think she just wanted the company and somewhere warm and safe to come to during the day.  We'd kick her out at night when we went to bed, but she'd be at the back door crying to be let in as soon as we came down in the morning.

Maggie then realised that Puffle had latched on to a good thing and also started hanging out more with us.  They then realised (this would probably be about August/Sept time) that if they started pestering us while we were eating our dinner, they most likely would be left a small bit, which they would wolf down.  They were hungry.  I decided I couldn't let them go without so we relented and started putting down a small bowl of crunchies for them (not least so they'd get their noses out of our damn plates while we were trying to eat!)  We felt very guilty about this because, at this time, they were still J & S's cats, and I knew they missed them, and by feeding them we were encouraging them to stay with us rather than try and get along with the kittens and move back home.  Trouble is felines are very independent and stubborn, and once they'd made their minds up, there was just no way they were going have anything to do with those interlopers.

All the while this was happening I was keeping J updated about what was going on, not least so that he didn't worry and knew that his cats weren't far away and were being looked after, and, in the end, in October I think it was, we decided that this was all a bit daft and the cats had made their choice, so we might as well become their official minions.  J was sad about this but was grateful that we agreed to take them in rather than having them become vagrants just wandering around the close, scrounging food and getting in the bins where they could.  Also it's not as if they were being adopted a million miles away from J & S - we are only a few steps away, and can, in fact, should we so wish, wave to each other from our sitting room windows.  So very close indeed.  I was also aware that the winter was just around the corner and just couldn't deal with the thought of them being out overnight in the cold and the wet with no food, they needed taking care of properly.

So we now have 2 cats!  And although we said we weren't going to get any more cats once Sylvester had gone, I have to say the house feels SO much better and 'right' again.  They're hugely entertaining and you can tell they're sisters as they have a love/hate relationship with each other - they will groom each other frantically and, inevitably, it'll descend into a wrestle and a scrap.  And they're enormous love-bugs.  We've had 3 cats previously in this house - Suki, Sylvester and Pepper - and none of them were the lap cats that these two are, which is just lovely.

So, that's the story of how we got some new moggies, and I'll leave you a selection of photos of the two of them making themselves very much at home, thank you:

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Welcome, 2015

So, that's 2014 done and dusted.  As hinted in my last post I had a reasonably eventful year involving both the good (travel, art - both the making of and subsequent selling of, new cats) and the not-so-good (death of my youngest aunt, illness (mine) in various forms from August onwards), so a bit of a mixed bag.  But, in all honesty, a year is a pretty long time so that means there's ample opportunity for all manner of set-backs and brilliant stuff to happen.  I don't suppose my year has been all that much different to anyone else's in the scheme of things.

But what can I look forward to over the next 12 months?  Well, obviously, I can only expound on things that I know for certain are going to happen, the unknown is exactly that, unknown.  I'm seriously hoping that I can see the entire year out without any kind of major illness.  I seem to have a cycle of 7 years where nasty bodily things happen to me.  For example, in 2000 it was recovering from an operation to remove an ectopic pregnancy, and then a subsequent miscarriage; in 2007 I had a dreadful time with gallbladder removal which resulted in a very nasty infection, the investigation into which then resulted in pancreatitis - I reckon I took at least a year to recover from all that; then this year in August I had a sudden, nasty attack of Mastitis which needed some brutal antibiotics to sort out, but my insides didn't like the antibiotics and caused problems throughout September, all of which I was taking a lot of Ibuprofen for, which, I think, eventually caused the Gastritis that I'm currently very slowly recovering from which hit me on 21 November!  I mean, FFS!  Enough already!

But, as I say, I don't have a crystal ball to predict that kind of thing, except that I will be starting the walking/running again.  I gave up the running in mid-2014 as I got so disheartened that, seemingly no matter what I did, I was just not improving.  I had hoped, when I started, that I would've been taking part in races by now and perhaps doing half-marathons, but I found that, even after 18 months of taking my running relatively seriously, I STILL couldn't get a mile down the road without having to stop and walk for a bit.  I got seriously disgusted with myself and threw my running shoes into the cupboard and left them there in a fit of pique.

While I've been more than delighted that The Lovely Husband has taken to running so well, I found it extremely disappointing that I was (and will be) unable to join him, as I'm just not good enough.  So I've had enough time to reassess what I want from all this, and I've decided I will start again this month but without any specific goal (like a 5k, for instance) other than exercise and fitness and fresh air.

Last year we thoroughly enjoyed our trips to see various International Orchestras come and play in our nearest big town, and we've already booked for the 2015 season, so that should be fabulous.

We saw two terrific plays as part of the 2014 Chichester Festival season - 'Amadeus' with Rupert Everett as Salieri, and 'Taken at Midnight' with Penelope Wilton.  We also had tickets for a third - 'An Ideal Husband' with Patricia Routledge but my Gastritis wasn't good on the day of the performance and, to be honest, it had had not-brilliant reviews from the critics, so we gave that one a miss.  I shall see what the 2015 season has in store.  I can highly recommend the Chichester Festival, especially if you're in the south of England - tickets are often half the price of the West End, it's easy to drive to and parking is free.

I expect we'll go to the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition this year - we've been every year now for the past 7 or 8 years.  Last year's was fun as we took my brother with us - we treated him to a day out in London and did the Summer Exhibition, the Dennis Hopper photography exhibition also at the RA, the Making Colour exhibition at the National Gallery, the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery, with lunch at our favourite Mexican restaurant, Wahaca, in the middle.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable day - I love my little brother a lot and really don't get to see him as much as I would like, so this was a huge treat.

I need to research to see what other art exhibitions are coming along this year - the Anselm Kiefer at the end of 2014 completely blew me away and was utterly inspirational, so it would be fantastic to see more stuff like that.

Some more travel in 2015 would be very lovely indeed.  2014 was going to be the year of three holidays - Florence in June, Copenhagen in August and Marrakech in December - but sadly, due to my fecking Gastritis and the sudden illness of the mother of one of our travelling companions, we had to cancel, which was a huge shame but really couldn't be helped.

I've signed up for next term's art classes, which have become a hugely important part of my life.  I produced quite a few paintings last year, most of which have been put up for sale on my Artfinder shop - there would have been more but, again, the Gastritis put paid to that.  In fact, the Gastritis effectively ruined the last two months of 2014 for me, as I literally couldn't do much more than sit on the sofa in my dressing gown, clutching a hot water bottle to my painful side, shove Paracetamol down my throat and eat barely anything while watching old black and white Hollywood films to take my mind off the fact that I was obviously growing a cancerous tumour and would be dead in a week.

But, as I said, I'm miraculously going to survive and am slowly improving enough to start thinking about beginning my next painting and sorting out a dedicated art website for myself, so that's obviously on my list for this year.

In April, TLH has signed up to run his first full marathon, down in Brighton, which should be tremendously exciting.  He has signed up for other races throughout the year but the Brighton Marathon is the biggie.

And I think I've chuntered on long enough on this post so I'll shut up for now.  I don't do New Year Resolutions but there are some things I'd like to achieve - have you got anything you want to do this year?

(You may notice I briefly mentioned about 'new cats' - remind me to tell you all about that...)