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.

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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

Reports from the Front Line

Hello dear Readers. I hope you are well.

We have been away for a few days with the Cycle Club, down near Frèjus, & I’ll tell you more about that another time.

We had a few difficulties though with our little break, because Friend Alison, who usually looks after the cats when we’re away, was going to be in the UK with her family at the same time. Our friends across the road were also on holiday, and all our other friends are cyclists and would be away with us. What to do? I had the brainwave of asking Marie-Odile, who feeds the poor cats with me, if she could do it. She agreed, and so the Saturday before we went away, M-O, & her partner, Rudy, came to meet the cats. All went well, the routines were explained and we knew that the cats would be well looked after.

What we didn’t realise was how entertaining Rudy’s twice-daily reports on the cats would be. His English is quite good, and he wrote all his text messages in English. I thought I would share a few with you, as they are so amusing…

First message: Hey, Rudy calling. First of the 4 was Miss Milley I ran into. She nodded as a sign of accepting my presence…She ate…before observing me with a keen eye while I waited on Gaspard and Pomme…Pomme particularly gourmand ate more than her dinner, but Bib was not there to watch. Shame on him…Well, that was it for tonight, maybe Bib shows more curiosity tomorrow morning. If so, I’ll explain the rules of the presidential elections!

Next day: Pomme made it definitely clear that I have made her wait too long for breakfast! Upstairs Gaspard was very occupied with chasing things he saw but not me!…Miss Milley let me caress her but she wasn’t at all interested in food whatever! In the presidential elections neither, is she French? So I called Bib but she hasn’t shown up.Maybe Bib is just a lazy bum who prefers to be left alone…

That evening: Hey, dinner has been served out. Miss Milley, Pomme and Gaspard were all present from the beginning, but Bib I still haven’t seen…Seeing her just once would make me stop bothering about her…

***

Well, this morning Lord Jasper was more than excited, and poor Miss Milley had to run for safety. After having cleared the room his way he was ready for breakfast. Pomme is lucky to have a stoic nature so most of the time she is left alone and this way she can eat all she wants…I think Pomme really regrets the balcony, several times she tried to make me understand she wants to go out

***

Hey. Our cats have always been served their meals by one of us, so today I’ve been thinking what attitude they might show if you or Andrew took our place. I dare say that theirs would be like Bibs! So I forgive her to hide herself…Anyway I will have to wait for your return to see a glimpse of her nose!

***

Hey, this morning we had a phone call from our son who is squatting 10 days in London. Marie’s sister lives over there and all is well in your homeland! …The same at La Maison des Etoiles (the name of our house)… I’ve put two bowls of Whiskas in the room with the computer where after I waited downstairs for 15 minutes before returning and maybe surprise Bib, but no Bib. lol…

***

For Lord Jaspar, Miss Milley, Pomme and Scarey Bib it will be back to normal tomorrow evening…

We were very happy to bring back a selection of tasty goodies from the region, which we bought at the Olive Oil press in Callas. We bought them virgin olive oil, tapenade, nougat, herbes de Provence, fig jam, and two little “calissons”

Just a small way of saying Thank You for the good care taken of the cats.

So Rudy didn’t see Bib, but – as Mr FD predicted – within 30 minutes of our arrival she was there, purring and wanting attention. Hey-ho, that’s “Scarey Bib” for you!!

Chasing my tail: Acts N° 29,30, 31

Jasper (ICOT) is still young, and seems to enjoy chasing his tail.  He has so much excess energy it is exhausting just watching him. I’m not so keen on chasing my (metaphorical) tail – I know that in reality I have plenty of time to do everything I need to, it just doesn’t always seem like that. And, of course, the more I worry about not getting things done the less productive I become!

So, this is, I’m afraid, a rather quick summary of what I’ve been doing about the Challenges in the past few days. I’ll just link to the appropriate page for each one.

ACT 29 :: SIGN UP

This was about signing up to a charity, or telling others about a favourite. It prompted me to actually get off my bum to send the 40€ that I’d earned by making cards to Phone Credit for Refugees, which is my chosen charity to support at the moment. As I have already said, I want to find other ways to support this charity too – not sure what, at the moment.

ACT 30 :: STEP OUT

The focus of this act was sharing your faith, talking about Jesus to others. Well…I diodn’t exactly talk about my faith, but I left Ninja Bible Verses, and copies of the Father’s Love Letter (in French) around the lake where I go for a walk between lessons. On the return trip, I saw one lady carefully copying down the words on one of the cards I’d left on a bench. Later on, I saw someone pick up another of them. I pray that whoever finds, reads, takes home these words will find them touching their hearts in some way.

I also posted a favourite Bible verse on FB – the same as last year, I think, but one which is “my” verse:

and I wrote:

One of my go-to verses….As long as I hold God’s hand, he won’t let me fall. It may be hard, I may stumble, but he will be there, keeping me safe. Of course, this rather relies on me not slipping my hand from his – just as a parent can’t protect a child who has let go of their hand, so it is with God. Keep hanging on there, Alison!!

ACT 31 :: GULP

Giving when it’s comfortable is definitely an important part of our lives. But God didn’t call us to only give when it’s comfortable. Does our giving ever make us gulp or cause a sharp intake of breath?

And this echoes what I’ve been thinking…I love doing 40 Acts (until they get too challenging, that is!!) but I don’t really, ever, step very far outside my comfort zone. I do give that little bit extra, I do spend a tad more money (on chocolate, on cards, on postage, on cake…) but it’s only little sums, that I don’t really notice. Even the charity donations are carefully considered…and probably rather stingy in relation to what we do have.

I am preciously guarding my time too (see above, re chasing tails!) and doling the minutes out to God a few at a time…Well, if I go to the Good Friday service, I won’t go to the Bible Study group…I can’t volunteer because I only have the weekend to myself…I would read my Bible (who am I kidding?!) but I have to plan my lessons…

I am going to wait for that “gulp” moment, but I suspect it won’t be long in coming. And then I will have to decide where I am going. I fear I may turn away, but you never know; I may step up. In the meantime, I will look closer at the Stewardship Giving account, to see what that might be like.

But this is definitely a challenge that leaves me shifting uncomfortably in my seat and looking for somewhere to hide!