Posts Tagged ‘Cats’

I’ve been doing a bad thing and instead of working on projects that I need to get done for Christmas, I’ve been searching the net. Why? Well, one reason is that I’m curious and have to see what’s going on in the world and the other is that how can I be sure that this is the sock pattern that is finally going to pull a non-knitter over to the dark side if I don’t look at every freaking pattern on the net. Lets just say that I have a passion with matching the right present to the right person instead of throwing the “anal” word around, mmmkay? I do the same with a pattern and yarn. I will knit the thing three or four times before I’m happy with the fabric I’m getting. Not the whole thing, of course, just half the back or maybe half a front or sleeve. I’ve mentioned before my total avoidance of swatching but I have to admit it would save me time. If only I could trust them.

So while I was searching for the perfect sweater pattern I found a load of other stuff that I thought I could share, and I also have a few tips for some inexpensive presents that you can still make in time for the holidays. So here we go:

1) If you have someone who has a pet, be it a dog or cat or rabbit or hamster, I would recommend looking into getting Pet Projects – The Animal Knits Bible by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne. In this book you will find things like a knit curtain for the front of your rabbit, guinea pig or other small animal cage. This is a nice gift as it is fairly easy to make, the sample in the book has a carrot motif but I made it much larger for our dogs crate. I found a chart for a pattern of bones and knit that instead of the carrots. Turned out great. It’s a great way to give your small pet some privacy especially at night.

I’ve also made the puppy papoose for a friend who has a Chihuahua. Both she and the dog love it because it is knit from wool it keeps the dog cozy and warm. Her husband made a frame for it so that it hangs it like a hammock and the dog sleeps in it all the time. Very cute. And I’ve made a couple of the knitted animals at the back of the book as toys for my cats and the neighbours dog.

The patterns are easy to follow, the charts in the back are in colour and the things I made turned out really well and the animals they were intended for loved them. Besides, any book that includes a blanket for our equine friends is a keeper for me.

2) Another useful book(let) to have, especially if you have children to knit for, is The Knitted Farmyard by Hannelore Wernhard. I’ve made everything in this book and my kids loved them. The only one I had problems with was the pattern for the horse/donkey. I could not get that one to look like the pictures no matter how hard I tried. Everything else turned out exactly the way they look in the book. My girls especially liked the kitten, the chickens and the ducks. I also put a very small piece of velcro on the backs of the vegetables so they could pretend to plant the garden and have the vegetables “grow”. And because she uses pipe-cleaners as a stiffener for the people and some of the animals they are safe for all but the youngest children. My kids played with this for years and I think I still have some of the pieces around here. I know we definitely still have the chickens because I found some on my youngest daughters bookcase recently.

3) Any of the Jean Greenhowe’s books are a real life-saver if you need a small gift for a child. My kids loved the dinosaurs, the sheep, the food, and the topsy-turvy doll. She has some amazing books out there but a lot are hard to come by and expensive so if you find one, treasure it especially if you come across any of her folk costume books.

4) For the dog lover/owner any of the Patons dog sweater books, Dog’s Life or Another Dog’s Life are worth picking up. I’ve knit countless sweaters from these books for various dogs and all have fit well and been well received by both owner and dog alike. Don’t raise your eyebrows at the cost of them on Amazon because you can get them elsewhere cheaper.

5) I love Garn Studio (Drops) household patterns. I’ve made a few things from them and they have been well received and much used. One person asked me to knit her a few more facecloths to replace the ones I had given her because she had worn them out. I think I might make her these for her birthday next year.

Drops has so many lovely accessories for the home – blankets, baby things, crochet flowers and rugs, Christmas decorations – that you could choose anything from their selection and probably have a hit. I also love their clothing patterns and if you are looking for some cozy slippers or socks to make for someone you know who has cold feet, they have some lovely ones and I can say from experience their felted ones are like little furnaces for your tootsies. And they look good, too. Bonus!

6) If you have someone who will not make Santa’s nice list you could always stuff Grumpy in their stocking. I think this pattern is so stinkingly cute that I wanted to make a couple of dozen of them to put in the coal-scuttle I have on the hearth. I was talked out of this idea when someone pointed out to me that we have two cats. Two cats and a pail of knitted things. Yeah. Nothing wrong with that picture. But he’s still darn cute!

7) Then there’s the Christmas pickle. I really don’t know what to say about it except that I have never heard of the Christmas pickle.

8) If you are looking for something to put on a table or mantlepiece these are a cute idea. I love the look of them and the floppy hat just makes these little gnomes look that much cuter! If I have the time I might whip these up for my mantle. I think next year I could make them a lot bigger and put them in the front hall. Hmmmm….

9) If you are looking for something silly to give someone you could try a nightcap. I know exactly what my husband would say to me if I gave him that as a gift but I’m sure there are people out there who know someone with a sense of humour who would find a nightcap a charming gift. I think it’s quaint and I have to admit that I find it somewhat endearing to see a man running around in a nightshirt and cap. Maybe there is some kind of ancient gene memory floating around my subconscious but I think it’s adorably old-fashioned. I’m sure Alex Langlands or Peter Ginn from the Victorian Farm would wear it.

10) A mitten garland is a cute idea for an Advent Calendar but maybe for next year as we are already four days in and then the time it takes to knit all those mittens. Still it’s a wonderful idea for anyone with children who doesn’t want to buy one of those awful cardboard calendars with that itty-bitty piece of old chocolate behind each “door”. I have to admit that I wonder how fresh that chocolate is and besides it really isn’t as good as say…Lindt.

11) You could always knit up some Christmas balls for your tree. These ones are really nice and if you did them in red and white or gold and white would be very festive. I especially like the third one with the silver snowflakes circling the middle. A friend of mine has gone on a knitting binge and decided that next year she is going to hang 50 of these things on her tree. Yes, she is as crazy as me. Maybe a touch worse.

12) And in case you need some ideas for projects here are 23. I love the chairs and I don’t think it would be that hard to figure out. I have a couch that is desperately in need of a new cover and my dining room chairs could use a redo and I don’t think it would be that difficult…there I go again planning projects that probably will never get done. Oh how I wish there were two of me…then again maybe not…I mean, can you imagine? *shudder*

13) To charm the kids or grandkids you could knit some fairy mice decorations for the tree. Or these little knitted stockings that you could put a small candy cane treat in. Or these bonny little felted mice. Or anything from Frankie Browns Ravelry page. Her Pocket Teddy or the Daisy Chain kit are so enchanting I just want to pinch their little cheeks. Now that’s adorable because anyone who knows me knows I don’t go in for all that cutesy-cutesy nonsense.

So there you have it, my friends, thirteen alternative gifts to make for the people in your life. The books come in handy all the time when you need something quick and different. I like all these things because they don’t take much time to knit and you can probably find something in your stash to use so they are very economical. And since my mantra this Christmas is “Why buy when you can make”, these ideas are just right up my alley. I plan on making a few more posts about how to economize this season so stay tuned. Not all of the ideas will be knitting. Ooooo, I can feel the suspense even now.

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First I’d like to give a big THANKS to those of you who have taken the time to read this here blog. When I started it as part of NoBloPoMo I had no illusions of actually writing a post every day but totally did not expect anyone to read one word of it. So the fact that some of you have and a number of you have decided to follow me well…*sob*…that just blows my mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have kept me going.

Then I would like to say that I totally exceeded my expectations. As I said I so didn’t think I would be able to write a post a day for a month, and lets face it some of them were close calls and some were a little late, so the fact I did it is quite an accomplishment. I didn’t think I would have that much to say. Some people I know would be surprised I would say that considering they think I never shut up. So lets keep going and see where we end up, shall we?

I have two cats, Taang! and Eric. I had three but Mac passed away almost eight months ago. Still miss him. One thing I miss about him is that I could put sweaters on him and he didn’t mind. I thought I had a picture of him in one but I think it’s still on my phone. His brothers tend to get a bit testy if you try to put anything on them that’s not a blanket. Even then they can be a bit peculiar about that. They aren’t very open-minded those two. So even though I love the thought of knitting them sweaters like this. Trying to get it on them would result in wool carnage that would make even the staunchest knitter cry. Nevermind the blood.

I started to wonder about putting a sweater on a cat. Isn’t that a bit redundant? They have a nice furry coat and if it’s an outdoor cat the fur can be quite thick. But what if it’s an indoor/outdoor cat, does the fur still grow as thickly and then wouldn’t a sweater be advisable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like seeing cats outdoors and the number of feral cats in our neighbourhood alone is deplorable but realistically we are never going to get 100% of the people to keep their cats indoors so wouldn’t it be nice to at least keep them warm? But then that brings up a question of safety and would the cat be safe running around with a sweater on or would it get snagged on something. So not sure how practical it is to put a sweater on an indoor/outdoor cat.

All this got me thinking what other kind of attire is out there for our furry feline friends. And I found a whole host of fun things to dress your cat in. Hey, if dogs can get a little black dress, cats can have a fun beret, or a Santa hat. I may actually have to knit that. And these cats have to be the most patient I’ve ever seen. Mine would have shredded the hat before you could even click the shutter. But that Santa hat is so cute it would be worth the risk, I think. And just think of the cuteness if I knitted one for Taang! and Eric and Pete the dog. That would make a great Christmas card if I did that kind of thing. Which I don’t. But it would be cute anyway.

I do love this little vest and think it would be the ideal thing to give to someone who has one of the shorter haired breeds, like Siamese or the Sphynx or something like that. I would so knit it if I had less hairy cats but my boys have thick fur already. I also love this little knitted sweater and the cat that’s wearing it is kind of cute too. I’m starting to think I would like a kitten so that I could dress it up in that sweater. And to think that just yesterday I was thinking I didn’t want any more after these two go. Yeah, right. And I’m not going to buy any more yarn until I’ve used up all of my stash.

Ravelry is always a great place to find odd patterns. And I like this because it is adaptable for many different animals it seems. We have a bunny and she would probably appreciate a sweater. We try to reduce our expenses by keeping the house a little on the cool side and I think the bunny would rather we didn’t. A sweater might be just what she needs. She would look really cute in that. The thing I really like about this is the long legs and back. Taang! has arthritis in his hips so having something that covers them and keeps them warm is something that would be very practical for him. Definitely something to think about. That is after all the other stuff is done. By then he won’t need it because it will be August but then I can knit it for next winter.

I suppose if I started knitting clothes for my cats people would put me in a whole new category of “crazy cat lady”.
It’s funny how many patterns there are for dog clothes – tuxedos, dresses, sweaters, costumes, hats – you name it and there’s a pattern for it but for cats there really isn’t much choice. There are lots of blanket patterns and bed patterns which are really good, and I think it’s illegal to have a cat and not have a nice, soft bed for it, but not much in the way of apparel. I wonder if it’s because we have such a different view of cats that we think they are cute enough on their own without suiting them up. I would like to think that. My guys are.

And just in case you are wondering about the title of this post, you need to watch this.

And just because I was so proud of myself for being able to do a post a day, things conspired to make this post really late. Still I did thirty posts which is about twenty-nine more than I expected to make so that’s something.

Day 21 – Cop-out

Posted: November 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I’m really sorry but today I just don’t feel at all like posting but like a well-trained type-A personality I cannot in good conscience not post at all. I made the committment to NaBloPoMo to post everyday for a month and so not posting is not an option. And to be honest I’m not a type-A personality but I still made a committment and wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t live up to it.

But here’s the deal. My husband is out of work, we have enough money in the bank to last us a couple of months if we are careful, they cut back my hours where I work, I’m out looking for something to cover the difference, and then today Taang! ended up in the hospital. Taang! is one of our cats, by the way. So my stress level is extremely high right now. Oh, yeah, I only got 3 hours sleep last night, roughly, and two nights ago I got 4 both times due to Taang!

Taang! has chronic constipation but for the most part, and lots of water and Metamucil, it’s been under control. Then this past week he started having trouble going to the kitty litter. So we got a stool softener and it seemed to help. Then a couple of nights ago he seemed a little stopped up but he was still eating and acting like Taang! Then last night things got worse and this morning it was off to the vets. So now he’s on IV fluids while they give him enemas. He’s not blocked but just a little backed up. So now I’m facing a vet bill that is likely to be pretty hefty. And today the bills started to arrive. Hopefully he will be home tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Looking for a job right before Christmas sucks big time. Most seasonal jobs have already been filled and no one wants to think about the messy business of hiring staff while thinking about Christmas shopping or the parties that they will soon be attending or holding. Nevermind that all I’m looking for is the same kind of job about 1,000 other people are looking for, and most of those are much, much younger than me. Age is not supposed to count but it does. So both my husband and I are at a disadvantage on that count. But I’m sure something will come up and we will be ok. I’m a hopeless optimist even in the face of diversity.

But today the lack of sleep and the worry over a cat have got me down and I really don’t feel like trying to piece words together to make a cohesive sentence. I really just feel like wrapping myself in a blanket, sitting in a corner and rocking back and forth. It’s times like these when you need your mother to rub your back or head and tell you everything will be alright. But my mother passed over 30 yrs. ago. and having someone else do it just isn’t quite the same.

So I’m going sit here with a cup of hot tea, wrapped in a towel and watch YouTube videos. Speaking of which, have you seen these two by Christopher Walken? If you are a knitter you should like them.

Well, with only five more Saturday’s until the eat-fest, gift-giving, gift-receiving, gift-returning, lame excuse-making, tacky ornament display making, tree murdering, over-spending spree day is here. Yes, I mean Christmas.

I don’t do Christmas, at least not in the traditional way. We don’t decorate, don’t put up a tree but that’s mostly due to cats and my husbands ennui, and gift-giving is usually minimal. For me, I’m not a Christian and I feel hypocritical and disrespectful to partake in something I don’t believe in. And I abhor that something that was/is religiously relevant for some people has been made into a crass, commercialized exercise in proving who loves someone more by the gifts they give.

You know I’m right even if no one wants to admit it otherwise hand-crafted, hand-made, and home-baked gifts would get more respect. But unless the person has specifically asked for a hand-made gift the usual response is, “Oh, you made that yourself? How lovely and thoughtful.” and then you never see the gift again until you are in a thrift store you happen to come across the sweater. Or if you give home-made cookies, or breads, or soaps, or hand embroidered dish clothes/pillow covers etc. the words may say one thing but the face is saying quite another. Meanwhile they coo over the new iPhone their dad/mom/grandparent/lover/husband/wife/mailman gave them.

Now not everyone is like that. There are a lot of people who like hand-made things. When my daughters were small some of their favourite gifts were the toys I made for them. I knit farm animals, sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, or sewed stuffed animals, dresses, costumes, or duvet covers. One year I made a duvet for my oldest daughter. She still has it. I enjoyed making them things that no one else had. Now that they are older, hand-made things aren’t as appreciated as much and, more so my eldest daughter, store-bought things are worn while the stuff I made sits in a drawer somewhere. I usually end up giving her a gift card so she can just buy her own things. And this is why I don’t like Christmas.

I really don’t see the point in asking someone for a Christmas list, taking the time to make a thoughtful choice, spending the time in the store looking for and paying for said item and knowing that, in all reality, they could have bought the damn thing themselves. And now that she is working there really isn’t anything I could afford to buy her that she just can’t get herself. My younger daughter not so much.

This year, however, I decided that I’m having a very home-grown Christmas, very low-key with all gifts either home-made or thrift store purchases. Have I started on any of these incredible gifts. No. But I did start looking through patterns and matching them to wool. And I also took a good look around the thrift store the other day. What can I get at a thrift store that my kids might like? Books. Books are the one thing that will make my girls happy no matter what. So books are always a high priority gift item. Then there is the glassware, accessories and the happy accidents you can stumble upon. Like finding a copy of The Absolute Sandman Vol. III by Neil Gaiman, for $20cdn. Or a sweaters worth of Briggs and Little Regal yarn in the Horizon Blue colourway for $.49cdn each. Or finding a stash of vintage knitting needles and getting 12 sets for $1.00.

Now my kids love that sort of thing. I’m lucky and I know it. I am also fortunate in that most of my relatives love getting hand-knits, especially cotton socks. My father-in-law and my sister-in-law are both diabetics and say the cotton socks I make for them are by far the most comfortable they have worn. So socks will be very appreciated. I also plan on making some cashmere gloves, cowls and hats for various people. Cashmere is such a lovely yarn but expensive so the things that only take one or two balls make gift giving a little more affordable. I also have some very lovely silver silk yarn which was given me (I have no idea what brand) that will make a wonderful tie or skinny scarf for someone. I might splurge and get some store-bought items but since neither my husband or I currently have jobs they would have to be inexpensive. Well, I have a job but it’s part-time and they’ve cut my hours. Well, technically they didn’t, they just hired a couple more staff which amounts to the same thing. More staff means fewer hours for us all.

If I have to buy anything, it will probably be the following (if I can’t find some of them at the thrift store or used book store):

The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest – my girls have both read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but we haven’t been able to find these used and they want to read them

Sherlock – the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch (don’t you just love that name?) *I had originally put Elementary but as anyone who has watch these to shows will attest, they are very, very different.

The Game of Thrones – not the books, we have them, but the television series

The Borgias – because my kids loved it but didn’t see all of them

Supernatural – because who doesn’t love Dean and Sam

The Knitters Book of Wool – for my sheep loving daughter

A Sephora gift card – for my make-up loving daughter

Some Godiva chocolate – for my staff

Some treats for the cats, dog, rabbit and degus – we generally don’t give them many treats but since I make them dress up for the occasion, I have to reward them. Well, I dress up the dog and then shame him on Facebook but I just may have to put a Santa hat on the bunny this year. She’s just so darn cute. And since she has cancer I don’t know how long we will have her so it makes sense to humiliate her before she hops over to the other side. I would shame the cats, they really do deserve it for all the things they make me do and do to me, but they have sharp pointy everything that I’ve kind of learned my lesson and tend to leave them alone.

I can’t think of anything else. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts so I don’t have to worry about him and I really wouldn’t be giving gifts if people didn’t expect something so that’s what the cashmere is for. It makes a beautiful gift for anyone.

I have to say this job hunting right before Christmas sucks like a big sucking black hole but there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to keep applying to jobs and going to interviews and sending out resumes and sooner or later something will stick. Hopefully sooner rather than later because I don’t cherish the thought of trying to sell my home at Christmas time.

Hello. My name is Sheila and I have an addiction. To be precise I have several addictions. Ok, I have 22 addictions but that’s it. At least that’s all I’m admitting to anyway. My friends might have a different count but that is their problem. My problem is that if I like something I quickly become addicted to it. Hence the reason I’m not still 97lbs. soaking wet – I discovered I actually like food. Ok, that’s not the reason, I still ate, and ate a ton, when I was skinny, the fact is I was a lot younger and burned through calories like a flame thrower through paper. I couldn’t keep weight on. *sigh* Those were the days.

Well, that went a bit off from where I wanted to go. Let’s see…addictions. Oh, yes. I guess the reason I have so many addictions is because of my short-attention span. No, I’m not ADHD, it’s just that I only have a finite amount of years left and I’m trying to cram as much stuff in it as I can. So in order to do that, I have to multi-task. And that can be downright amusing even to myself.

One thing I have to confess, though, is I’m not addicted to housework. That kind of gets ignored until the dust bunnies start raiding the fridge and eating all the lettuce. The real bunny gets annoyed. Right now there is laundry piling up, the floor needs a good vacuum, I have to sort through boxes of stuff that we boxed up a couple of years ago when we thought we would have to sell the house (I won’t mention that the reason I have to go through those boxes is because we might have to sell the house before the new year if neither of us gets jobs), bookshelves need tidying and the whole place needs de-webbing. It’s bad when the spiders start having to fight for corner space. But, these things get done eventually and in two days it will be back the way it is now so no hurry.

But the things I’m really addicted to are:

1.) knitting. Love, love, love knitting. Love the feeling I get when I finish something and someone says how lovely it is and they are surprised I made it myself…hey! Are they implying I’m too dim to make myself a sweater? Or that they didn’t know people still did that? Or that they are surprised I’m capable of making anything let alone a sweater? Ok, I will give them that last point. But more on that for another time. I am also starting to realize I have startitis right now. I have THE sweater to finish (the one I was making for a party), a shrug (making for same party), a pair of socks, and a lace cardigan on the needles right now. I’m also looking at some very pretty yarn I have to make another very pretty shrug to go over the dress I wore to the party yesterday because, well, you know a person can’t have too many ufo’s after all. I will get them all done but these things take time you know.

2.) The Good Wife. A tv show about a lawyer. But, wait! It’s more than that. It’s about a married lawyer whose husband cheated on her and ran for governor and won largely due to her composure and her support-my-man attitude and because she hates to have her dirty laundry aired for everyone to see but before she forgives him she is hired by the law firm her former never-consumated-the-relationship-due-to-bad-timing wannabe lover is a partner at and she takes up where they left off and has a fling with him but realizes it wasn’t a smart idea and breaks up with him and goes back to her husband only to betray the witless ex-lover by leaving the firm and starting her own because she got pissed off at the way they treated people who worked for them but before she left she had been fantasizing about their fling so who knows why she really left and if they will get back together again. *Whew!* Anyway, I love this show! I love Julianna Margulies’ (Alicia Florrick) character, I love Chris Noth’s (Peter Florrick, Alicia’s husband) chemistry with Julianna Margulies’ character, I love Alan Cumming’s (Eli Gold) character, I love Archie Panjabi’s (Kalinda Sharma) character, and I love Christine Baranski’s (Diane Lockhart) character but I hate Josh Charles’ character (Will Gartner). Hate him with a passion. Icky-poo. But, again, this is best left to another day.

3.) Canning and jam-making. This year we made 18 jars of jam from different fruits, 4 jars of mixed pickles, 8 jars of morello cherries, and 8 jars of dill pickles. This is more than we did last year. Hopefully next year we will make more.

4.) Shoes. I love shoes. If the house ever burst into flames, I would save the animals first and then run back into the burning house for my shoes. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love Irregular Choice shoes? Well, I do. And I love these the best and one of these days I shall own a pair and then my life will be complete. Ok, maybe not. But I will be happy until they come out with something even better which will be in a couple of months. Unless, of course, I change my mind and decide to go with these little babies. Or maybe these. I won’t mention my absolute devotion to Lamb shoes simply because I can’t afford them but I drool over them every time I see them. Then there is Bottega Veneta (these ones in particular) but unless that guy from Kenya really is my long-lost uncle, my toes will never see the inside of any of their shoes.

5.) Reading. I’m currently reading The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and Bring Me The Head Of Prince Charming by Roger Zelazny. And I just finished The Accident by Linwood Barkley. I tried reading the Game of Thrones but just could not connect with the characters, mostly because of the disjointed storyline. But I love the TV series. I have discovered that I am really not allowed to be in a store, be it a thrift store or book store, unsupervised. I will come home with an arm load of those things. I love the smell of them, the feel of them and the words, mostly, that come off of them. I love cookbooks, history books, novels, old science or medical books. Just about anything except romance or chick-lit. Personally I find it pretty insulting to have a special section called “chick-lit” and then to see how they define that term…

6.) Bad TV sit-coms. That is worth a couple of posts some other time.

7.) Ravelry.com. Love this site. It is so useful for sussing out a pattern. If I see something I like in one of the magazines, I go over to Ravelry and look it up then look at what others have done with it. So nifty for people like me who are not quite perfect because you get to see the sweater or whatever on real people, unlike Vogue who routinely puts their sweaters on women you wouldn’t be able to see if they stood sideways. Never mind that half their patterns are unwearable anyway. I don’t remember it always being that way, in fact I have old magazines where just about all the sweaters would look good on a real live human being. The last years (2013) issues haven’t been too bad, a couple of horrendous “inspirations” that make you wonder who was bribed, but nothing too ridiculous. I stopped buying Vogue though, got tired of paying for half a magazine. Actually I stopped buying a lot of magazines thanks to Ravelry. I can find whatever I’m looking for there, view it on a lot of different people, read about the problems/modifications people had/made and decide if I want to go for it. Much better on the old budget as well.

8.) Music. I love music. I love music so much that I actually had been writing for another blog but took what was supposed to be a temporary leave-of-absence while I sorted out my part-time job but has ended up being a lot longer leave than I intended. I will be getting back into it though. There is too much good stuff out there being ignored for me to keep quiet for much longer. I like singer/songwriters/folk/folk-rock/indie/electronica the best. And anything from Manchester from the late ’80s to the early ’90s pretty much makes my heart go pitty-pat.

9.) My cats but I’m not a crazy cat lady. I don’t dress them, or the dog, up in costumes or clothes, well there was the time I put a sweater on Mac but he looked so darn cute, and there are the pictures of Pete with Christmas lights on. And there may be one with a ribbon tied around his neck. And a couple of others of him in various holiday paraphernalia. But other than that. I do love my cats because they were rescued from the barn my daughter worked at when they were only 5 days old. The mother had 9 babies and try as she might she just couldn’t feed them all and so we took the three smallest. We bottle-fed them and burped them and cleaned their little bums and coddled them and spoiled them until they grew up into giant pains-in-the-butt. But I love them anyway. I also love our found bunny, Ruby. Poor thing. We found her on the side of the road in August looking like she needed a good meal. Now she is into everything and we wonder sometimes if maybe that was how she ended up on the side of the road. And we have 3 degus (they are like miniature chinchillas) who keep me up at night fighting over their wheel.

10.) Make-up. I love make-up but make-up doesn’t love me. When I was younger I could wear whatever I wanted and I did. Now I can wear Almay, Quo and Tarte and that’s about it. Clinique, even though it says it’s hypoallergenic, makes me break out and my eyes itch. I would so wear the eye make-up you see in ads if only it wouldn’t make my eyes swell to the size of golf balls. You know the stuff I mean. Like this, which when I think of it is almost exactly how I did my eyes last night, or this or this. A bit dramatic you say? Certainly and I wouldn’t wear it during the day but for those occasions when I had to go out to a party or event? I would be right on that. Now due to my allergies I have to be careful about how much I put on and what products I use. Sad, sad days for a make-up junkie like me.

Well, that’s my top 10 addictions, not necessarily in any order just how they came off the top of my head. I haven’t touched on clothes, or thrift store finds, or kitchen gadgets, or grocery stores, or gourmet food stores, or British shops, or pet stores, or Homesense, or Winners,or Dollarama, or George Clooney…there are so many interesting things out there I don’t know how to be bored. Mind you I mostly window shop right now because both my husband and I are looking for work but looking is free and other than the lip marks I leave on certain items, it’s mostly harmless.

The crazy cat lady. We hear that all the time by people who think just because you have a few cats that perhaps you’ve taken up standing on the corner and yelling obscenities at people. I mean, what does it mean? Crazy cat lady. Just how many cats qualify you to be a “crazy cat lady” or “crazy cat person”. Is it two? Three? Five? Ten? How many? And why aren’t there any crazy dog ladies or crazy rabbit people or crazy guinea pig people. What about birds? I know some people who have five birds. Are they crazy? Well, yeah, they might be. Have you heard the noise five birds can make? Nevermind the mess and destruction. But I digress.

I grew up with animals. We had chickens and rabbits and cats and a dog. And once we had an owl that one of my siblings found that was hurt. Mum nursed it back to health and off it flew. We also brought home things, like little brown snakes. Why I have no idea. We grew up in the country, snakes were everywhere. Why bring them into the house? Being surrounded by animals certainly has skewed my attitude about life with the beasts. I can’t imagine not having them. We lived in farm country, everybody had scads of animals. So are dairy farmers “crazy cow people”? Were the Cowans “crazy horse people” because they had race horses? And does the fact that we had a flock of about a dozen chickens qualify us as “crazy chicken people”? So why is it that if you have a few cats around that people think you are crazy?

Yes, I know there have been many reports of hoarding situations where there have been scores of cats taken out of someone’s home. And yes, there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of women, mostly older, involved but does that mean everyone who has a few should be tarnished with the same brush? What about dog hoarders. There are lots of them out there and yet no one seems to want to call everyone with a few dogs, “crazy dog people”.

Is it because cats are still one of those animals that most people know nothing about? Is it because cats are still seen as being aloof and independent? Most people think it’s cute to see a dog dressed up as Tinkerbell for Halloween and yet I’m seen as a crazy person if I put a sweater on my cat. Is it because dogs, especially the small, furry variety, are often seen as child replacements by a growing number of crazy, delusional people who can’t distinguish between two and four legs? I mean, come on, people. If you own one of the hairless breeds or a small dog that can’t take the cold or if there is a medical reason for your dog to wear a frilly dress, fair enough, but it’s a dog. Yes, they are just as much a part of the family as your two-legged members but they are still animals and no amount of perfume, nail polish or designer clothing is going to cover that fact. I mean, I love Pete and he has a winter coat because we live in Canada and we have two seasons: winter and not winter, but he isn’t my child. If he was I would fully expect Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to show up at my door.

Is it because most people think dogs are more openly affectionate than cats. I have had a lot of animals over the years. There was one time that we had: five cats, one dog, three budgies, two degus, one rabbit, a bare-eyed cockatoo and two guinea pigs. And we would have had four canaries as well but I found a good home for them. That was insane, even I admit that and yet it was also a fun time where we never had a dull moment and I don’t regret it one bit. What I found out is that all animals are affectionate in their own way. Dogs haven’t cornered the market on that emotion. Not only are animals openly affectionate to us but they are just the same to each other. Our cat, KD, and Bugs, the rabbit, certainly had a very affectionate relationship. But then, KD seemed to like everyone and everything. Sure, owning that many animals made it next to impossible to entertain and it made it difficult to go out anywhere, at least in clothes that didn’t have fur or feathers on them, but it was also a time when love seemed to be everywhere. The minute you sat down there was someone wanting your lap or a pat or a scratch or your food. Did you know bunnies like oatmeal raisin cookies?

Right now we have: two cats, one dog, three degus and a rabbit. The dog we got from rescue and is somewhat aloof, not at all like our laps-are-made-for-dogs Cocker Spaniel. Honey was the doggy equivalent to a velcro suit, the minute you sat on the couch she was stuck on you. The cats we took in at five days old when it was obvious the mother couldn’t look after them. Mac was the most affectionate of the three and although the other two have become friendlier as they’ve aged I wouldn’t want to say they are overly affectionate. They have their moments and if we aren’t swatted by one of them at least once during the day, we worry that they may be sick. The degus my daughter got to keep her old degu company when her companion died. Are they affectionate? In their own way, yes. They don’t come out and cuddle the way their predecessors, Mika & Pita, did but they like to have attention and come running over if you talk to them. And the rabbit? Well, the rabbit we found along the road. She was obviously abandoned and had been on the loose for some time. How such a loving little bunny ended up on the streets I have no idea but someone’s loss is our gain.

Ruby was just over a kilo (around 2.5lbs) when we found her. She had been out on her own for quite some time, or so the vet thought because she should have been between 2-3 kilo’s (4-6lbs). Unfortunately the vet discovered that she has uterine cancer and the roots of her teeth are getting overgrown. Either one is a death sentence for her. The cancer is slow-growing so she could have a couple of years before it becomes a problem but the teeth are another matter. The vet said to take her home and spoil her rotten in her remaining time and she seems to be basking in the attention. So far she’s a happy, affectionate little creature who loves to run over to you for pats. She loves getting spoiled and seems grateful for everything we do for her. Our other rabbit, Bugs, was also a very affectionate bunny, but he was more of the, “Yes, yes, I’m adorable now give me that cookie” kind of attention seeker. And now we are thinking of getting Ruby a friend. Is that crazy? Ok, it may be a little weird but crazy?

I have had three other cats over the course of the years. Duke and Spike were my first two. Duke was a very loving gentleman who, when not dragging my knitting all over the place, would sit on my lap and put his two paws on my shoulders, nestle his face against mine and go to sleep. At night he would curl himself against my back or snuggle in against my stomach making it impossible to move. One eventful morning I thought I was paralyzed because when I went to stand up, I couldn’t move my legs and fell flat on my face. Duke had just been sleeping next to me and because I couldn’t move I guess I had slept on a nerve funny. Spike, on the other hand, was a bit of a neurotic and was afraid of everything, poor soul. He spent most of his life hiding under the bed but when he ventured out, he could be such a loving and forgiving cat. I’ve always felt guilty that he didn’t have a happier life.

And now we’ve been thinking of getting Pete a buddy. After Mara went back home it became evident that Pete missed her company so we’ve been considering what kind of dog we would get as a second pet. I’m lobbying for a dog-friendly cat but the only problem with that is that our cats aren’t very cat-friendly. They barely tolerate each other and they are brothers. A large bunny, like a Flemish Giant, would be able to take care of itself but they aren’t called “giant” for nothing. Those big-footed, fluffy-tailed, long-eared lapins weigh up to 11 kilos (25lbs). I’m not sure I want to be scooping up bunny poop from that big a bunny. Besides, if Ruby wants to she can release quite a kick so can you imagine one from a bunny that size?

So if I got one or two dog-friendly cats or kittens would this push me into some kind of domestic companion stratosphere where my neighbours start whispering behind their hands when they see me? If we got another dog are the neighbours going to sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches just as a precaution? If we got another rabbit would Monty Python show up at our door looking for the Holy Grail? At what point does having a few animals turn into “that crazy animal lover down the street”? And if I do become the “crazy cat lady” should I send out flyers advising my neighbours to keep their cats indoors lest they “disappear”? Will there be a picture of me tacked to the bulletin board at the local animal control? Do vets give a volume discount?

Day 4 – Mac

Posted: November 5, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

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I debated writing anything today and I debated writing about Mac because the wounds are still healing but then I thought that this might be a way to move past the grief. Writing can be so very therapeutic after all. So here I am at 11 o’clock at night writing about my beloved Mac.

Mac was the runt of the litter. The mother was the barn cat for the stable where my girls took horse back riding lessons. The mother had nine kittens and tried valiantly for a week to look after them all but when it became apparent that she was only going to run herself ragged we offered to take the three smallest. And that is how we ended up with Taang!, Mac, and Eric.

Mac was my kitten from the get go. I fed him and washed him and burped him and wiped his little bottom. He loved the attention even when his eyes were barely open. As he grew he would cuddle up under my chin after his feedings, content. He loved to be picked up and carried around while I did my chores. I got pretty adept at doing things with one hand while Mac slept curled in my other arm. We called him our little football kitty because that was how he liked to be carried and he would fall asleep like that. My favourite memory of him is when he was small you could pick him up, flip him on his back and tickle his tummy. He would swat madly at you but then the swats would slow down and he would be fast asleep.

As Mac got older and could run around, he took enormous pleasure in learning new things. When he learned to walk he had to walk everywhere. When he learned to run, he had to run everywhere and there was a period of time when, after he learned he could jump from chair to couch to table, I swear his feet never touched the ground. We nicknamed him Peter Pan. Mac was a busy little kitten, always doing something and always making us laugh. And he always seemed to have a smile on his face. The happiest little cat in the world it seemed.

Mac would come and sleep with me at night. He would rest his little head on my shoulder or curl up against my back. I would wake up to see him sleeping above my pillow. He would also pat my cheek or eye if he wanted me to wake up and pat him. Yes it could be annoying but I never once got mad at him for doing it because he was just so cute. He would bump his mouth against my lips, giving me awkward Mackie kisses. He always seemed to need to be touching someone and just looking at him would cause him to purr furiously.

And then in 2009 Mac planned and plotted and then when the timing was right he slipped out the front door. He was gone eleven days. Eleven heart wrenching, terrifying, sleepless days that saw my kids and me out at all times of day and night calling him, papering the neighbourhood over and over again, phoning the animal hospitals, calling the animal shelter. We searched the internet for tips on how to find a missing cat. We never gave up. And as a last-ditch effort we called a professional cat finder to help us. She wanted pictures of the neighbourhood and after viewing them told us where we would find Mac. We got a humane trap from rescue and with the help of a neighbour set it up in his backyard. We captured Mac two days later. Mac was home again.

Then in 2010 tragedy struck. Mac was sick. The diagnosis turned out to be diabetes but the doctor who looked after him in his crisis was excellent and reassuring. We brought Mac home and set up a schedule. Our lives became dominated by caring for him. Not that we didn’t do other things but we always had to arrange things around his medical needs. It wasn’t a fun time but we managed. Little did we know that the worst was yet to come.

When Mac was initially diagnosed with diabetes, the vet had also said that his heart looked slightly enlarged and that at some point we should have a sonogram done to see if there was a problem. At that time the clinic was going through changes and our vet left for another practice. What happened then was a rotating door of vets some better than others and the heart problem was forgotten in the stresses of trying to get his diabetes under control. No one mentioned it again.

Tired of never knowing which doctor we would be seeing when we had to take Mac in for his check-ups, we decided to change vets to someone who we would be able to see on a consistent basis. One who would be the primary care giver. She was very good and we built a solid relationship with her. Things were going well. Then in November of 2012 I noticed that Mac didn’t seem to be breathing properly and was looking bloated. The vet x-rayed him and found his chest cavity filled with fluid. She tapped him to remove it but the diagnosis was the worst thing imaginable. Mac was dying. He had cardiomyopathy. His heart just wasn’t working and his left ventricle was enlarged.

The vet put him on a course of diuretics and heart medication but the fluid would still build up around his heart which meant that every month or so Mac would have to go back for a tap. We did everything we could to try to reduce the fluids, he was put on the highest dosage of diuretic that was safe and wouldn’t kill his kidneys. We gave him a food that was both low carb and low salt and we restricted his movements, no stairs, no stress, no jumping around. But still the fluids gathered. In March we took him back to the vets for a routine tap but he squirmed so much she had to give him a sedative. Now there aren’t that many that are safe for cats in his condition and the one that is used most often is also one that can cause clots. And after we got Mac home, he unfortunately threw a small one. It didn’t paralyze his legs has they often do but he was in considerable pain and for the next two weeks went downhill until it became too painful for us to see him deteriorate and the decision to have him euthanized was made.

I can’t write about that day seven months ago. It is still too painful. My darling little Mackie lying lifeless on the table after eight years of living a big life. He was always full of the joy of living. Always happy, purring, and full of joie de vivre. Nothing ever got him down, and as long as I was there for him life was good. The days after his passing were terrible. The house felt impossibly empty even though we still had his two brothers and Pete to give us comfort. I could not look at a piece of furniture without seeing Mac lying there squinting up at me and purring. I still have trouble imagining him gone. The house still seems too empty. The tears still a little too close to the surface.

I know that with time I will heal. Already I have forgotten what he smelled like, how soft his fur felt, how his purr sounds. I have forgotten the pat, pat, pat of his paw on my cheek, the mrrows, the paws reaching out wanting you to pat him. I have forgotten so many little things and I know that even a picture isn’t going to bring them back. But I know that I will never forget how much love a little kitty heart can hold and give. I will never forget how much love he had for life. He was my baby and I will love him forever. I miss you, my little Mac.