For the love of Cats…

How true! My Friend Jane sent me this lovely card. It made me smile, and go to cuddle a cat.

How we (still) miss our lovely George boy, who was great for cuddling, even though we have…

Mad, starey-eyes Bib

Millie, here seen lounging behind the shutters!

Lovely, senior Pomme (getting on to 14 or 15 years old)

and into-everything Jasper

 

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Award ceremonies.

Recently I’ve been nominated for three blogging awards, but due to chemo, and Other Stuff, I’ve never quite got round to posting about them. I may not get all three done today – having re-started walking a mile in 15 minutes today, I find myself absolutely knackered! I managed it, but now I feel really tired. Perhaps I was being a tad ambitious, but I really thought that I needed to do some exercise. Plus Mr FD has been nagging me: apparently I “should” be doing about 150 minutes of exertion each week in order to aid recovery. When I told him, in no uncertain terms, that in the first week I’m lucky if I can stagger round the house, he responded that it “helps with the fatigue”. I nodded, said “Yes, dear,” and planned to continue doing what I feel I can do.

Just on a side note: the sinus infection is sorting itself out, the medication is (just about) bearable, and hasn’t had the threatened results. Huzzah. Thank you for your messages of sympathy and support.

So, on with the Awards Ceremony!!

First: from ThenewMrsM comes the nomination for

The Liebster Award 2018 is an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means ‘sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome’.

I can’t remember how I came across Mrs M’s blog, but from the beginning I enjoyed reading about her family life. She has an enthusiastic and engaging way of writing, and even when documenting the less-welcome sides of her life, she always seems to be positive. I have become quite fond of her daughter, T, and her husband, Scott!! T recently wrote me a lovely note, which I intend to reply to shortly. Mrs M and T have been taking part in 40 Random Acts of Kindness over Lent, and it’s been great reading how T has embraced this spirit of generosity.

The “rules” of this award are as follows:

Rules of the Liebster Award 2018~
1) Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. (check)
2) Display the award on your blog. (check)
3) Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting. (see below)
4) Provide 10 random facts about yourself (optional in 2018) – the question answers can be my random facts)
5) Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel would enjoy blogging about this award. (see below)
6) List these rules in your post. (check)
7) Inform the people/blogs that you nominated (see below)

So why do I like blogging?

I am a slightly frustrated writer: I have written a novel, but then was too lazy to do anything about publishing it (whether self-published or “proper” published) so I suppose blogging gives me an outlet for that. I enjoy recording various outings, and love reading back over old posts. I started in August 2011 over on wiblog.com, which no longer exists, but you can read some of my “rescued” posts if you follow the links at the top of my Home Page, including my very first post. After that I started another blog to record my “weight loss journey” (which frankly didn’t go very far – the journey, not the blog!) It was supposed to be more “foodie” than this one, but gradually the two blogs looked more and more similar, so I finally stopped writing on Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner.I have kept it “live” though, and occasionally post a link to The View… because some people seem to find it easier to access Fat Dormouse

I love reading people’s blogs too. I don’t tend to follow blogs, but I do have a lot bookmarked, and I visit regularly. I don’t always comment, but I enjoy reading. I like reading about how other people live in France, so read, for example, Chomeuse with a Chou, and Adventures of an Anglaise…I also enjoy reading about food adventures, so Chez le Reve Francais fits both categories – some delicious recipes there! Cat blogs always appeal so I often pop over to Daily Feline Wisdom to find out what advice is being given out by the Meeowies and Woofies. Je Suis Le Roi Soleil is another charmingly written cat blog. Both have lovely photos of their animals too. And then there are those I read because the people who write them have different lifestyles to me (family life, living in a different country, etc) or just write in a really engaging way – these include Kezzie, PomPom, Ange and lots more that I linked to in this post back in February. Oh, and Bev! How could I forget Bev, who lives in Switzerland and reads loads of books. She too has a lovely engaging way of writing, that always keeps me checking to see if she has written another post.

Mrs M posed some questions:

 

  • What book are you reading at the moment? I have been taking a long time to read Elizabeth George’s “Believing the Lie”. Like many of her Inspector Lynley books, it is long and complicated, and it is in book form, not Kindle. So there are certain weeks during treatment when I can’t be bothered to try to lift it! I have read it before, but can’t remember much about the plot, so it’s like a new book all over again!
  • What is your new favourite hobby? I haven’t really got a “new” hobby; the newest, I suppose, is my zentangling, but I’ve been doing that for a few years now. I do go through “phases” with hobbies – so I used to make loads more cards than I do now, so have an enormous stash of stuff (which I add to from Noz!) which isn’t getting used very much.
  • Where did you grow up? In Aintree, which is a suburb of Liverpool, quite well known for its race course, upon which the Grand National is run. Here’s a link to an estate agent’s page with our house up for sale!! I do have to say, the inside doesn’t look much like the house I remember from 37 years ago, but the outside does. The little “granny annexe” to the left used to be my father’s surgery, as he was the local GP, but then it got converted into a flat for my Nana to live in.
  • When did you last “just do it”? Not quite sure what Mrs M means here… If it’s something to do with not really considering one’s actions, I really don’t know…Sorry!
  • What is your favourite TV show? I haven’t really got a favourite, as there are lots we enjoy. Recently we have watched “Shetland”, “Endeavour”, and “Silent Witness”. For comedy, “Damned” (although I wonder if this is more a documentary!), “Modern Life Is Goodish”, and “The Last Leg”
  • Name something you are really proud of and tell me why. Crumbs! I really don’t know! I’m often quite surprised and proud of zentangles that I’ve done. I’m proud that I wrote my novel – even though I did nothing else with it…Ah, yes! I’m proud that I cycled 1,000 km in 6 months and raised 1,000€ for a school in Africa. I’m not sporty, and I don’t really like cycling, but I did it! Here’s a photo of me at the end of my 1,000th km

  • What is the most memorable trip you have taken and why? So many…I can’t choose just one! But I loved my trip to Budapest last November (which you can read about on the blog). I had a fascinating and useful retreat first, and then spent 4 days with a very dear friend from school. It’s ages since we spent much time together, but we fell quickly into a very comfortable rhythm. We enjoyed it so much, we’re planning a second trip to Strasbourg this year, to explore the Christmas markets there. Here is Jane inthe covered market.

  • What do you most love about blogging? See above – but I think it’s the friends that I have made: those who I will probably never meet, but who have sent me letters, hats, little gifts, cards through my blogging time. How lovely!
  • What is your favourite weekend breakfast? It’s usually the same as my weekday breakfast, TBH, (Marmite toast at the moment!) but of course, if given the opportunity, a full English sets one up for the day!! But it does need to be followed by a slice of toast-and-marmalade, for a touch of sweetness, and plenty of hot, strong coffee. My most recent full English breakfast was when we were in Manchester (we had it on a Monday, but never mind!) which was lush! I only missed the fried egg, because at the moment, I’m not allowed soft cooked eggs due to the possible risk of salmonella. And that didn’t really matter, asthe egg is my least favourite part.

just missing the hash browns and the brown sauce…and it needs a bigger plate!

  • Name an act of kindness that you or someone you know has carried out. As I said, I have loved reading about those carried out by T, because they have shown how small things can make a difference. The one towards me, that has really blown me away, was when a friend, who has recently inherited some money, offered to pay for a holiday for Mr FD and me, when my cancer treatment is finished. Yesterday’s 40 Acts read:

Extravagant. Overblown. A bit much. We’re going extravagant today. If someone mentions that they’d like something a little over the top, why not just go for it? (And go all-in, too – if you need the excuse to go big, consider this it!)

Green:Give something small but thoughtful – like adding a biscuit when youbring someone tea.

Amber:Give something big and thoughtful – like a three-course, all-paid-for meal, or a year’s subscription to cinema tickets, not just a gift card.

Red:Give something absurdly, radically thoughtful – like Philip’s unexpected car donor, what can you do to step into truly sacrificial generosity?

I know that I have an idea how, eventually, I might complete this Act, but on the 40 Acts FB page I wrote: There’s also the other side to this: being able to “generously accept” an extravagant gift. A dear friend has offered to pay for a holiday for us after my cancer treatment. That’s a huge thing, and our first reaction was ” thank you, but we couldn’t possibly…” But it felt wrong to do so. Her generosity is God’s generosity, and this time I am on the receiving end of a 40 act and it’s my job to graciously accept.

Sometimes it is hard to be the one to accept an Act of Generosity… But thank you, dear friend!

So there you are!

I’ve completed everything, except the links and award to other blogs. I know lots of people don’t actually “accept” these awards, but I would certainly recommend reading those linked to above, and on my earlier post in February.

I have also been nominated for

and

But I don’t think I can respond to those on this post too, so this will have to be Part One of the Award Ceremonies. Part 2 will follow at a later date!

 

RIP Red

I told you about the Poor Cats, and how Red had gone downhill…For a couple of days, he rallied. The Kind Vet gave him some antibiotics, but the cat spent most of the day curled up on the pillow that has become the cats’ preferred pissing place. We don’t know why he chose that place at all – it smells terrible!

He hadn’t washed at all, his four paws, his ears, his backside were all filthy, and he was hardly eating or drinking. He wasn’t a happy cat.

So yesterday, Marie-Odile and I took him to the Kind Vet, who gave him an injection to send him to sleep. Red fell asleep with me stroking him and telling him what a good boy he was. Then the Kind Vet gave him another injection to stop his heart.

It was a hard decision to make, but really, I don’t think he was going to make it for much longer, and it wasn’t, in the end, a bad way to die. Better to fall asleep, being stroked in a warm place, with kind voices, than alone and cold in a ditch, in pain and distress.

But it still hurts a little bit: he was so like lovely, lost George, and made me wonder anew what had happened to our big soft boy cat.

Some sad Poor Cat news.

Hello Dear Ones – I hope nobody finds this greeting offensive or patronising. I recently read about the closure of Frugal Queen’s blog, which I always enjoyed reading. Apparently she closed it because of too many trolls (of which I get none. I’m glad I’m not famous!) which is a great shame. Somebody remarked how they found FQ’s greeting of “Dear Readers” rather patronising. I rather liked it. It’s hard to know how to greet one’s readers sometimes, but I have “borrowed” the Bishop’s soubriquet for the readers of his general e-mails “dear ones” – because, actually, you are dear to me – your comments, your prayers and positive thoughts, your support has all been very important and I appreciate you all. Even those who rather randomly “like” a post that I honestly can’t believe you have read in the 5 seconds after it has been posted – I assume these people are hoping I’ll go to their blogs and follow, or “like”, one of their posts. Which I sometimes (but rarely) do; so often the blog isn’t to my liking, or my cup of tea, so I won’t reciprocate. Sorry if that makes me mean. But I appreciate your “likes” all the same.

SO…

To begin again…

Hello, Dear Ones

Things are improving daily. I can now raise my right arm to head height, I did some knitting yesterday, my scar continues to heal (thank you to Friend Claire, who is also District Nurse Claire who popped by yesterday to reassure me regarding the state of the scar), and, having done things, I am in a better frame of mind than on Sunday, when I felt mopey and grumpy for most of the day.

I am sad though. As you may remember, I am part of a tiny team that feeds the “Poor Cats” of the village

There have been two of the cats who have been really struggling this winter: One-Eye (variously known as Barney and Bonnie) and Red. They have been getting thinner and thinner, and coughing really badly. Marie-Odile, who knows more about them than I do, told me that both have leucose – basically cat HiV. They curl up together in the cabin, and come out to eat a little when we arrive. Red miaows terribly, wanting strokes and love, and when we leave it can be heart-rending.

One-Eye/Bonnie/Barney (tri colour cat at the front left) and Red (ginger and white) in happier times

We have been debating whether to have the two of them put down – but every time the weather gets a little warmer, they both rally round. Yesterday, however, Marie Odile found Bonnie dead in the little shelter you can see under the roof. There were two other cats with her, (not dead) so I like to think they were keeping watch with her as she passed.

Red was miaowing desperately when Marie Odile was there (I’m not going over yet, as I haven’t got the movement back to be feeding them) and she fears that he has worms and ear-mites to add to his woes. She is taking him to the vet today, but asked me my opinion as to whether we should have him put down too. It is so hard, but, finally, I said that maybe he should be.For him, it is only as though he is going to sleep, after all, and he is really rather ill. He may well rally for the summer, but that is a long way away. He has lost his snuggle-companion, and he hates being left after we have fed them.I remember one really difficult time, when he was more mobile, when he followed me down the road, then sat at ther junction, miaowling piteously as I left him. If only we could find someone to take him, look after him and keep him warm, then he could have a good-ish life, but neither Marie-Odile or I can take the risk of him infecting our cats with leucose. Also, neither of us think the resident cats would accept another cat, nor do we think the resident husbands would be too happy either!

She is taking Red to the vet today, to discuss his chances, but I suspect M. Roche will counsel the same. If Red is put down, at least it will be a more comfortable passing than Bonnie had.

It’s a sad time.

The Poor Cats of St Just

I’ve paused in my planning (it’s almost lunch time) to say a Thank You to Mr FD for his help.

I have mentioned The Poor Cats before – they are a colony of feral cats that I, and a couple of other ladies, feed. Marie-Odile is much more involved than I am, and it is she that tries (and sometimes succeeds) to catch them in order to have them neutered. She puts a lot of her own money into it. She is also softer than I am (is that possible?!) and worries more about them.

Anyway,over the years Marie Odile has set up some shelters for them, and last winter I made some houses from boxes and insulating tiles and plastic bags, all in an effort to keep them warm.(You’ll need to scroll down, but I show them here) But there is a shed which has been firmly locked, which we have been wanting to open for a while – while simultaneously not wanting to open, in case it was full of dead cats who got in, and couldn’t get out again!

A couple of weeks back, Marie-Odile discovered who owned the shed, and got permission to open it (no key, so we borrowed a crowbar) We arranged to meet to open it together, but she got delayed. Finally I decided to just get on with it – I opened the shed, and found lots of old crates, full of rather manky cloths, and an old kennel, together with some very rusty tins of cat food….Obviously in the past it had been used by someone to feed and try to keep cats warm. There was also a dead cat, as feared, but it had died many moons ago, and was just like a cardboard cut-out of a cat. I couldn’t get sad about it, so I popped it in a binbag and got on with brushing the cabin out. By the time Marie Odile arrived it wasn’t looking bad.

We threw some of the cloths away, but others M-O took home to wash. It is now set up with various crates, with straw, old clothes, towels etc.

We hope this will help keep them warmer during the winter, with an extra layer of protection. I’m going to make a couple more cat-houses too, to put in the shed for them.

Here is their “home”

(sorry, it was getting a bit murky by the time I took the photo, and I didn’t want to use the flash in case I frightened them)

Despite valiant efforts on M-O’s part, there were two young females, born last year, that she had not been able to catch. They had litters early in the year, one litter was found and with the kits being very young, M-O steeled herself to take them to the vets to be put down. We have a Very Nice Vet, who does these things at a reduced rate, though M-O pays for a lot of it herself. The other litter is now growing up – named Chapeau (from distinctive head markings) and Smudge. Then the two young ones became pregnant again. We couldn’t find the litters, until one group was too big to be easily caught, so those three have been named Spot, Cloud and Patches. The other litter has not been found, although the mother is now coming back for food. We don’t know if they have died, or if she’s still feeding them in a hidden place.

One of these young mothers has been caught and neutered now, but the other one resists all efforts to be caught…And now there are several new cats that urgently need to be caught and neutered before next year!

This is Patches, the bravest of the smallest kittens – needs neutering!

But not only do we have the feral cats, but we have discovered that we have abandoned-ish cats. An old gentleman came round while we were cleaning the shed, and admitted that WhitePaws – a tabby male, with – yes, you guessed it – white paws – was his, but he couldn’t keep it in his appartment as the neighbours complained about the noise and smell (unneutered male), so he brought it here and left it, because he knew it would get fed!!! M-O got quite cross with him, and they ended up having a bit of a barney (of words), especially as Old Gentleman couldn’t see why WhitePaws should be neutered. In the end he got very angry and accused us of “making decisions for the cats”! M-O pointed out that there was noone else to make decisions for them and that the colony needed to be cared for, but also controlled. He stomped off furiously and  WhitePaws is still there – and scoffing quite a lot of the food!

Here’s WhitePaws,at the bowl by himself, plus Binkie (not yet neutered), Bonnie (who only has one eye and cat flu), Cuthbert (a female), Red (unneutered ginger-and-white Tom) and Gobbolino (all black) You can see some of the shelters that have been provided for them.

Mr FD played his part by fitting a hasp and padlock on the shed door –

It’s still quite a poor fit though so I will probably buy a bolt to fit as well. The cats can creep under the door and jump over a plank that we put up to stop draughts, or jump down from a space under the eaves. It’s not perfect, but it will help keep them just a little bit warmer in wintertime.

So, thank you Mr FD for humouring me, and helping to keep the cats safe and protected. And for letting me spend some of our housekeeping on feeding 15 or so other cats besides our four maniacs!

 

Pray, tell me…

How is it that, even with  8 litter trays scattered on every floor of the house, we still have at least one cat who pees anywhere BUT the tray?

Mr FD spent a good halfhour this morning cleaning up the cooker and the side of the cooker, and the floor around the cooker because a cat (and we think we know who it is, Bib) decided that was a really good place to pee. We know that Jasper (or rather, fear of Jasper chasing her) may well be the reason, but there are numerous proper places for a cat to relieve itself. (I know, as I’ve just spent a very warm hour cleaning and changing them!)

Hey ho: here’s aSimon’s Cat that features a kitten, a cat, and a litter tray:

and a cute kitten drowning in litter:

All the Goings On

Well, it’s that time of year again – the travelling fair are setting up for a weekend of fun, fun, fun. The trouble is it is in the square in front of the house, and the giant Casino wagon is set up literally just outside our front gate: one has to squeeze around its side to get into the courtyard. The dodgems and mini-roundabout start about 3 pm and can  continue anytime until 2 am. A few years ago Mr FD had a contretemps with the fairground people, which ended up with him being threatened by an angry man with a metal bar – I’ve never felt that happy about the fair since then!

We usually go away for Saturday night, which is the worst. Our friends across the square have packed their car, and are leaving tomorrow for the weekend. They have the enormous Dodgems set up in front of their house, with the speakers right outside their bedroom window. We asked our friend Richard – who lives about 5 km outside the village – if we could sleep at his house on Saturday night. We’ll come back for the fireworks, just to make sure Jasper isn’t too worried by them. With the shutters closed and the balcony out-of-bounds, the rest of the cats are not bothered by the fireworks, but Jasper is an unknown quantity.

I don’t want to seem like a kill-joy, as the Fete Patronale is an event enjoyed by much of the village. After all, look at the fun things that are happening – boules competition! childrens’ games! a torchlight procession! a free dance! acrobatics! Vin d’honneur! (basically a free drink) Cabbage soup! My, I can hardly contain my excitement. I’m sure people will have a lovely time – it’s just that most of the village don’t have to sleep with it outside the window!

I worry for the Poor Cats too. Their home isn’t too far from where the fireworks are set off, and the Childrens’ games will be taking place not far away, so their peaceful rhythm of life of finding places to curl up, will be shattered this weekend by noisy crowds and flashing lights. They will, I’m sure, be quite frightened by it all. I will be feeding them a little earlier than usual, as by the normal 7 pm feeding time there will already be a lot of bustling crowds to alarm the cats.

On the cat front (but domestic cats this time) we were woken by an enormous amount of caterwauling last night – racing downstairs we discovered Jasper looking nonchalent, a drift of cat fur, a strong smell of cat pee, and a spitting, hissing Bib on the table. We don’t really know what happened, but I think Bib was over-reacting a little! She wouldn’t let us touch her though, and was glaring at Jasper with venom. Finally I wrapped her in a blanket & took her upstairs to our bedroom, where she settled down. Mr FD got a mop-and-bucket and washed the floor. Not really what one wants to be doing at 12.40 in the morning.

Of course, having been awakened so precipitously, I took forever to go back to sleep. I had an earworm of one line from a song going round in my head, and just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Whichever way I lay I couldn’t get comfortable, and Bib was lying heavily on my feet. I just had to tell myself that I would finally drop off – which I did – but it was a frustrating time.

The past couple of days I’ve been making Thanksgiving cards, to sell at church for Phone Credit for Refugees. I’ll also take them, and some Christmas cards to the Convention for the Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe – which is taking place in October in Weisbaden. Last year I sold quite a few and made 60€ or so. Plus got a commission to make 200 Christmas cards for the Bishop. I won’t be doing that (the 200 cards) again!

I have already put them in plastic wrappers so I can’t really photograph them for you to see, as the plastic wrap will reflect the flash. Just trust me when I say they’re quite nice. But I think I’ve had enough card making for the moment.

The Bishop’s Christmas card