Living With Orlando

Winter is often a challenging time for this contentment seeker.  Greyness and coldness and long hours of darkness don’t always sit easily with my need for sun and light and balmy air.  But this year something is different, I feel a mellowness, a silent waiting, a sense of gratitude for being allowed to love.  I feel these things and they are mixed with a certain irritability and impatience   – caused entirely by watching my dear old kitty age and slow down and show signs of incipient dementia.    I was concerned – I looked it up – it’s a thing.

O Hat3 sml

Orlando wearing his hat for a special Skype meeting in 2014

Orlando has always been a cat who has excellent message collecting skills.  But, being Maine Coon, he also glories in being one of those special creatures ‘the dog of the cat world’.  He comes when whistled.  He used to like going for little walks with me BP (Before Puppy).  He loves water and the seaside.   When I lived by the sea he would often be seen trotting along the sand at low tide, coming home smelling of salt and seaweed.  All my early attempts to have him be an inside cat were completely ignored by him and after a few months I gave up trying.  He would usually be home and indoors with me when I was home and indoors.

O July 8 2015

Nowhere is sacred – tables are for getting closer to his favourite person

Orlando hasn’t had a cat door for some time.  Not since his inclination to catch rats and bring them home and set them free became an issue for me.  In these later years he would knock at the door, I would open it and he would enter.

Last summer things began to change.  He stopped knocking.  So I would open the door to see if he was there and wanted to come in.  Any or all of the following messages could be the result of multiple door openings:

‘I wanted to come inside,  but you opened the door too fast, now I can’t come in’

‘I want to come inside, but the puppy looked at me, I can’t come in when he looks at me’

‘I can’t come in right now, I’m thinking’

‘I wanted to come inside, but you opened the door too slowly, I can’t possibly come in’

‘I want to come inside,  but I’m not sure – what have you got hiding in there?   No, I can’t possibly come inside now’

‘Why did you open that door?  You disturbed me.  I’m thinking, I can’t possibly move!’

‘I WANT to come inside – but is it safe?  Yes? Maybe? No, it’s not safe.  I can’t possibly come inside when there’s a shadow somewhere’

‘I want to come inside!  About time!  What’s for dinner, I’m soooo hungry mumma!’

‘I can’t possibly eat that!’

‘I have to go outside’

‘No, I want to stay inside now.  No, maybe I want to go out  ….   I don’t know – I’ll think about it’

‘I have to go outside NOW’

Of course I always knew that my lovely orange marmalade boy would have a shortish stay with me, all of us who share our lives with pets know it is not forever – but heck time flies past so quickly!   Orlando is approaching 12 years old,  which puts him up there, in the upper average life span of a Maine Coon cat which is 10 – 12 years.    I was hoping he would make it with the 25% of MC cats to really old age, which is 16 and possibly even beyond – but this in-out thing is stretching my patience somewhat and I sometimes find myself wondering if he will last past tomorrow!

Stretching my patience but also making me very aware that our time is limited.  Every moment counts in an animals life – after all, one of our years is equal to seven of theirs.   I look at him and feel that little rush of affection for all his catlike foibles and recognise how they mirror my own.  I’m more ‘cat’ than I like to admit!  But still, I feel concern at this change of ‘in-out’ behaviour.

He’s still a lovely boy, a liquid ripple of orange-blonde fur, a magnificent tail often coated in leaves gathered from the garden and a wide variety of vocalisations that include hurrunphing, gurgling, chirruping and purring at different volumes and speeds.

He is a boy who adores his mumma and loathes when the house has other people come in and look at him and disturb his peace.  He has learned over the years to ‘quite like’ or even ‘become rather fond of’  some regular visitors and even, reluctantly, a puppy who moved in to profoundly upset his kingdom three years ago.  At that time he was forced to live on top of the fridge for a whole year as being at ground level meant being at eye level with an extremely enthusiastic black and white fluff ball that just wanted to play.   But time and familiarity and a great deal of coaxing persuaded him down and into the happy orbit of his new best friend.

O family portrait Nov 15

Orlando, a person he is quite fond of and his puppy friend. Photo taken last summer

 

He’s a boy who waits for the sound of the car returning and then he trots through the front garden, gathering more leaves on his tail,  moving with that liquid flow that so identifies him to me, calling out as he approaches.  The puppy tumbles out of the car and rushes up to say ‘Hullo!’ but the cat ignores him, his eyes fixed on me, waiting.

He’s waiting for me to organise myself.  I cram as much as I can under one arm for both hands are now required.   I walk to the edge of the garden and hold out my arms, as you would to a small child.  Orlando sits up on his back legs and holds his forepaws up to me, I lift him, like a little child and I scoot him over onto my right hip and arm.  He puts a paw about my neck and cuddles in, looking satisfied, harrumphing and purring.  I stagger indoors under the weight of my golden cat and anything else I happen to be carrying.  The puppy trots along at our heels looking up at us and smiling.

Well Hello! 2016

We go inside.  I put down my paraphenalia and eventually coax the cat from my arms. He jumps to the floor and sits by the kitchen door.

‘I need to go outside now.’

I sigh.  Then I open the door and let him do whatever he wants to do.  He is my precious cat, probably my last one and I will let him do and be as he likes for whatever time we have left.  The puppy bounds up and scrambles at my knees.  “I’m here” he seems to be saying “I’ll stay with you til kitty comes back.”

O under tree Dec 15

Orlando waiting for Santa Christmas 2015

I hope kitty keeps coming back for a while longer!

O sleeping duo June

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Woman Who Can – and Does!

My friend Laurie who blogs at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things had a birthday recently.  It wasn’t one of those ‘significant’ events but still,  I felt it was time for me to celebrate this amazing woman.

I met her via another mutual friend, the delightful Boomedeadda who noted on her blog when Laurie had sustained horrific injuries when her bike was crashed into by a car.  It took pretty much two years for Laurie to rebuild her body and her life after this event – but one of the wonderful things that came out of the whole awful thing was that a lovely friendship built up and grew.   Laurie was one of the bloggers I flew to the US to meet up with two years ago.

Let me tell you just a little about this woman and why her painting looks as it does. Laurie is a full time, sought after Nurse Practitioner.  Her patients adore her and rely on her.   Her work is demanding, with long hours and high standards of professionalism to adhere to.  Despite this, being aware there is a dearth of women in politics in the US, two years ago Laurie ran for her State Legislature on the Democratic ticket, in an area that historically voted Republican and male.  She narrowly missed out on winning. (She now actively supports the latest, male, candidate in his bid.)

An active member of her local community over many years Laurie’s dedication and pride in her town and the surrounding areas was palpable when I visited.   She takes an active part in the ‘Ride of Silence’ every year.  A thoughtful and touching tribute to those who have lost their lives in cycling accidents and a punchy reminder to everyone else of how quickly these events happen, how devastating they are for family and friends and how often these avoidable accidents occur.

Despite her active civic and political life Laurie has a huge circle of friends, a busy ‘things to do’ schedule that leaves me gasping for breath and needing a cup of tea and a wee lie down just hearing about AND a big red truck and a big red motor bike – a Harley Davidson no less.

This tiny, feisty, beautiful brunette drives or rides about with her camera and takes fabulous photos wherever she goes.  And then, when she has a moment she blogs about her rides, drives, trips and adventures.   She is positive, upbeat, cute, funny, capable, energetic and motivated – she’s pretty jolly amazing really!

Laurie makes a difference –  She works hard, knows how to play and enjoy herself and cares about her community, her family, her many friends and her country.

And this is what I wanted to hint at in her painting – she’s a Woman Who Can – and she does!!

If you haven’t met her yet, pop on over and say hello, tell her I sent you if you like – I know you’ll love her, just like  I do.

Laurie May 17 (C)

This is a mixed media painting on 300 gsm media paper, size A3.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Autumnal April Art

It’s been almost a month since I last posted – did you notice?  I’ve been enjoying some lovely Autumnal weather, kicking my way through carpets of brown and gold spread across damp green fields in my pink ‘bovver boot’ gumboots with my happy puppy gamboling alongside.  It’s turning cooler now and the days are noticeably shorter.  Serendipitously, I decided to change ISP providers and got ‘LightBox’ free as part of the deal so it’s time for me to catch up on some TV programmes.

My tiny courtyard has been half demolished as a new fence had to be built.   My lovely neighbour went to hang a piece of garden art on his side of the old brick wall and it wobbled alarmingly.  So it was decided it needed to come down before major damage ensued.  As the replacement is a lovely white painted solid wood fence the garden that was built up against the brick wall (and which was probably the only thing holding the wall up for the past twenty years) also went.  I get a tiny bit of extra space and now want even more….  It’s a work in progress.

‘We Are All Made of Stardust’ stands on my dining table, leaning against the wall  – I’ve grown quite fond of it.

(C) Stardust

With the big painting finished,  and when time allows, I’ve been playing quietly in my art room.  Nothing big and bold – just playing with paints and inks and shapes and colours.

I’ve learnt a lot.  I turned most of my experiments into cards and have photographed none of them.  Oooops!

I finally scanned the painting I made in the dying days of 2016 which bears my mantra for this year:  ‘Create Beauty; Cultivate Kindness; Expect Miracles’  I’m practising living it, I fail every day but it’s an excellent challenge.

2017 Mantra

Most recently I laid out four sheets of yupo paper and played with alcohol inks and metallic mixatives

Set 2 Brown cropped

Set 2 Green cropped

Set 2 Blue cropped

and my personal favourite:

Set 2 Pink cropped

I may or may not doodle on these, but I do have some interesting plans afoot for them which involves a largish art board and scissors and glue ……

This month I also finished a collage and mixed media painting for a special friend which I’ll show you when she has received it.

Just a heads up – Siddy is apparently considering moving to Canada

16 4 17 Canadian bandana

It was a gift from the delightful Ms Boomdee.  He’s a boy who likes a bandana!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!