Happy Birthday Orlando

It’s Orlando’s birthday today.  He’s twelve years old now, at the upper end of the usual life expectancy for a Maine Coon.

S&Cheese &O

For my dear friends who have been reading this blog for a while  – and especially those of you with good memories – there may be some recall of a post not so very long ago where I noted the decline of my handsome boy as feline dementia took a hold of him.  It’s here if you want to check up on that one.  It’s worth reading just to get a background for what follows.

Not being one to take the common route through life, I started doing my own research into feline dementia and cat health generally after my vet talked to me about the illness, the medication involved, the cost and the inevitable outcome.  I mostly mused on certain things that had been happening with my little fellow’s diet and how I had some inbuilt misgivings about the food I was feeding him.

As a person of the human persuasion I know very well how food affects our general health, how commonly used foodstuffs weaken and poison our systems until disease and discomfort are our constant companions.  I know from my own experience that eliminating certain foodstuffs and processed foods can result in disease and discomfort disappearing from my life.  Why can’t it be the same for a person of the cat persuasion I wondered.

Let me explain.  Over a period of time – perhaps the last year or two prior to his increasingly odd behaviour and diagnosis, Orlando had been narrowing his preferred foods.  All cat people know what that means.  If the kitty don’t like it then the kitty won’t eat it – starvation and death are preferable options apparently rather than eating something that doesn’t appeal to their palate.   Orlando had been so successful at this that he had eliminated almost entirely consumption of his special Maine Coon dried food and any other wet or tinned food other than the Dine Desire brand ‘Tuna Fillets and Prawns in Seafood Sauce’.

Having a particularly twisted sense of humour, ever since Fukushima I had often taken to dishing up his food and placing it before him with a wry take on the ‘enjoy your meal sir’ comment such as ‘Enjoy your radiation imbued dinner sir’ or some-such other entirely inappropriate wording.

Every time I said it I wondered how true it might be.  Was his fish carrying dangerous levels of radiation?  I now began to research and found it difficult to get definitive answers – as was mentioned many times Fukushima has been the first meltdown of such proportions and there is no backlog of evidence to weigh one way or the other.   Proponents of nuclear fusion say no, anti-nuclear proponents say ‘yes’.  Here’s a link to an interesting blog post on the topic.  My gut said ‘Yes!’

I had long ago researched animal health and prepared foods and found some alarming evidence that maybe we weren’t doing the best thing for our pets in feeding them commercially prepared animal foods.  I came to that information too late to make sensible choices for Orlando, but Siddy has never eaten commercially prepared dog foods – apart from his highly necessary supply of ‘treats’ that is.  (Such a Very Good Boy must have his treats!)  His major food is ‘puppy stew’ cooked by me with fresh meats and vegetables and nothing else.

Soon after I wrote the post previously mentioned about Orlando’s diagnosis I took action.  I took him off all canned food and all fish.  Cold turkey!  I insisted he eat his special Maine Coon dried food and hand fed him as necessary.  I enticed him with puppy stew – fresh cooked meat with organic potatoes and carrots – he would have none of it.   In the end I had to purchase packets of prepared cat food containing meat products only and this he reluctantly agreed to eat as long as I stood nearby with spoon at the ready to hold up the food to his mouth so he could lick at it.  I also kept him pretty high with a constant supply of his favourite drug – dried nepeta  (catmint) in little baggies.

It really didn’t take that long to convince him to change, it just felt long at the time and required a lot of standing around offering tidbits and being encouraging and singing to him that he was a clever kitty ……  It wasn’t much longer before I noticed that changes were happening and then it was all remarkably quick.  It was so quick I wondered if I had imagined it all.  My cat who had definitely been behaving differently, who had become paranoid and skittish, untrusting, unfriendly and – let’s face it – highly trying;  who threw up often and inconveniently (once projectile vomiting from the top of the refrigerator) disappeared without a trace.  I woke up one morning, about four or five weeks after first changing his diet, to the purring sound of a happy kitty cuddled up with his puppy friend as they waited for me to stir and stretch and get up to serve them first breakfasts.

And just like that he was back.  The dog of the cat world.  Coming when whistled, greeting me at the gate sitting up on his haunches with this front paws held up for his special lift up, cuddle and carry.

Well Hello! 2016

Orlando is now coming in when the door is opened without a pause.  Eating what is offered.  Joining in whenever there are treats to be had……..

O&S Nov treat time

Demanding attention when required …….

whatchadoinmumma

Causing Siddy to become delirious with joy by patting the air vaguely in his direction twice a day.  Watching the ensuing mad dash round the tiny house with a look of incredulity and some disgust on his face. Sharing the bench under the window with the puppy when the sun shines on it and if necessary sitting on top of the puppy if he doesn’t move when required.   Sharing the space in the chair beside me.  Claiming my knee on an equal time basis with the puppy.  Visiting with friends.

O family portrait Nov 15

A happy, healthy, elderly cat.  Regal, collected, clear.  Not a drop of dementia in sight.

Happy Twelfth Birthday Orlando King – long may you reign!!

Orlando June 17

Tell me, do you have food related stories about your pets and their health?    I’m very interested and I’m sure others are too, please share.

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

 

Time Spent in the Art Room…….

…..is never wasted.  I’ve been spending time in the art room.  I have somehow garnered a few new products to play with and they all need places to live.  I’ve also completed a bit of fine tuning in making sure my tools are to hand when required and therefore get used.  I’m sure we all have versions of what happens when our tools and embellishments are not easily accessed, no matter what our craft might be.

I’ve been taking to heart the need for crafters to use the things in their stashes.  Too often we are creatures who gather stuff.  And there is so much stuff to gather!   Stuff that is pretty, stuff that might be made pretty.  Stuff that is useful, stuff that might be useful one day.  Stuff we acquired simply because it is our favourite colour.  Stuff we got because it feels lovely when we stroke it.  Stuff we have bought and never use because we paid good money for it and when we use it it will be gone….  so it sits in a drawer or on a shelf forever.

If you are a maker of things I know you know what I mean!

So now, in my art room, there is a paper crafting supplies area, a bead making supplies area and a miscellaneous supplies area.  All fine tuned.

There is also an art supplies area, which tends to spread.  Paint of all kinds of viscosities and opacity and colours.  Pens that are oil based and permanent some for drawing, some for writing, some for first layers, some for later layers.  Pens that are water soluble and can be used like paint but aren’t permanent and require setting in some manner.  Crayons that are water soluble and can be used like paint.  Water colours that can be used like pens or pencils.  Pencils that are water soluble and can be used like water colours………  There is sketching paper, painting paper and card of varying weights.  There are painting boards, canvases and a selection of all of these things with works of varying degrees of completeness or hands-up-in-horror-lets-paint-over-this-abomination-fast facing the wall in disgrace.

There is so many supplies that should I churn out a masterpiece every day for the rest of my life there will still hardly be a dent made in the vast supplies my daughters lovingly refer to as their inheritance.

Despite all this, YD, (Youngest Daughter) the Official Photographer went to spend some days with her delightful older sister ED (Eldest Daughter) in Wellington.  Of course some time would be spent shopping so I gave her a wee list to investigate the availability of some papers I was interested in finding out if I could afford.

ED was working on one of the days so YD was dropped off in the centre of the city with the list and directions to Gordon Harris.  Gordon is one of the best and biggest art supply stores in the country, sadly not located in my part of it.  Not content with looking and acquiring knowledge of availability and pricing YD went nuts and purchased examples of paper in large, larger and largest sizings in varying weights and presses.  I have to admit to shedding a tear or two when I saw the haul of pure white cotton hot pressed 280 gsm  paper that, until now, has been something I can paint on only in my dreams.  There is also two sheets of A2 yupo paper.  Hallelujah!!  A2 is HUGE!!  Yupo is the incredibly pricey stuff that I buy from the UK  in tiny sheets and make the inky doodles on that adorn the note cards in my little shop.  (Here’s the post telling you all about it if you are interested or need a reminder.)

So when I conquer my fear of making a mess on any of these fantastic papers I’ll be painting up some kind of a storm I can tell you!

In the meantime, not prevaricating at all, I turned a sock dryer into a stencil hanger.  Here it is sporting half it’s intended load

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I’m not a hundred percent sure it’s placement is perfect as I’ve successfully blocked the wall clock and now the only way I know what the time is is when Siddy comes for his bi-hourly game of fetch or to remind me it is treat time.

Fetch

Here’s the long view of the room, in case you are interested

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To the right of the stencil hanger may be glimpsed the ‘Dangler of International Happiness’ which long term readers may recall from two or three years ago being something many of you contributed to and which I stand and rifle through from time to time while thinking of you all fondly.

After all the sorting and sighing was over, I finished a painting in my art journal.  Thinking of a particular friend going through hard times, I was inspired by a quote I stumbled upon via You Tube and another artist who had used it in her work.  I Googled to find the quotes author  and discovered another person doing good in the world whom I had never heard of before.  These are the people who should be hogging the headlines in my opinion, but we mostly never hear of them.

I threw all my new products and some old ones as well at this piece and completely over did it, but I learned a lot while experimenting and playing about.

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The quote is ‘Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you feel buried, when you’ve actually been planted.’  Christine Caine

Detail

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I am pleased with the tears.

And for all you pet lovers out there, an update.

Orlando has been a little less door-phobic since my last post  – I thought you might like to know, the attention directed towards his welfare seems to have lifted his spirits somewhat and I have been delighted to see my kitty return to almost his old self…….

Orlando June 17

He comes inside more readily, stays in longer and cuddles again just like he used to.  We thank you for all your kind thoughts and good wishes xo

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mystery on the Easel Phase II

Hello my friends!  Just for Kerry who became a bit concerned by his prolonged absence, the header features my lovely Orlando who has been usurped from his position of star of this blog by the cute, bouncy and camera ready Siddy.  Orlando doesn’t like cameras very much, he believes they are out to steal his soul and acts accordingly.  He is however in good health and spirits and spends a lot of time curled up by Siddy or stealing Siddy’s favourite spot (my knee) or Siddy’s second favourite spot (beside me in my big chair) and generally causing Siddy reasons for consternation.  All is well in Orlando’s world.  ❤

So, on with the business at hand.  We are looking at the progress of a painting – who knows what will happen!

Just to refresh your memory, in the last post you saw this

Phase1

Now here is Phase II

Phase 2

Where is this going?  Any thoughts?

Phase III is maybe a couple of days away, see you then.

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

 

Summertime Christmas

 

Season’s Greetings Y’all!

Happy Christmas; Mid-Summer; Mid-Winter; Ramadan; Hanukkah; Kwanzaa ~ 

Whatever you celebrate may your days be blessed with your loved ones around you

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The Christmas Light Catchers were all finally sent off on Monday 7th December.  The nice lady at the post office assured me I was far too late in my posting habits to make the Christmas delivery deadline for those of you across the oceans, but I believe in miracles and it turns out there has been  a number of them – were you one of them?

I feel like my Celebration season got off to an excellent start this year with that communal giveaway and it has caused me to become quite ‘merry and bright’ about the whole thing – which is not something I have utterly given myself up to in the past few years.

I’ve been fortunate to experience Christmas in both hemispheres and have found pleasure and pain in both seasons.  As a child I had a feeling of deep disconnection between the presented pictures and the reality of our global situation – which simply added to my general discombobulation with the family dysfunction which was the reality of my young life.

In the blinding heat of mid summer we were all treated to displays of fake snow scattered about shop window settings and cards featuring pretty women in long gowns trimmed with fur, their hands buried in muffs and snow brushing their pink cheeks; or robins on bare branches white with more snow….  Carols and popular songs tinkled along merrily in the background and we all sang along with them – we were dreaming of a white Christmas, hearing sleigh bells jingling, and decking the halls with boughs of holly.  We lit the lights on the Christmas trees but never got to see their glow because it was always light while we were up.  There was no waiting for the return of the sun because it was always here and always bright.  [Years later my own children, excited out of their trees by the coming event, would wake us up at three o’clock in the morning to tell us Santa had been and the birds were singing.  Stockings were introduced to the end of their beds with enough goodies to keep them quiet for at least another half hour…….]

A heavy, roasted Christmas dinner was often cooked amid faces red and sweating and eaten in the same manner while we kids just wanted to escape the heat and dive back into the ocean or river.

We had few local traditions, everything had been imported from the Northern Hemisphere by the settlers who came to make new and better lives yet continued to adhere faithfully to the way things were done ‘Back Home’ despite all  seasonal disadvantages.

As a young mother I set about making sure my children did not experience the same sense of disconnection with the festival and over the years built up a new set of traditions and displays that met our seasonal and cultural mores and addressed my growing connection with a spiritual reality that had nothing to do with religion or culture and everything to do with the need for me to unleash the ability to understand what unconditional love is and to be able to live in it on a daily and practical basis.

Christmas became the festival where I practised best.

We had wonderful Christmases and in their own lives, my girls have carried on the traditions that were begun in their childhoods.

This year we get to have one of our special Christmases.  Just the three of us make up our small immediate family and we get to spend a week together this year.  We are tight.  We are devoted and adoring and just a little awed by each other.  Not being of a religious bent, but bearing strong spiritual connections with the message of the season we will celebrate our ability to love, to share, to give and to shine.  The summer sun is bright and warm and we let it be our inspiration.

Somewhere the decision was made to make this a Christmas to remember.

So for the first time in this tiny house, a tree arrived.  It got itself decorated with baubles, bells, flowers, birds and butterflies – in our favourite colours of course.

Xmas Tree 2015

And placed stage centre especially for Orlando’s enjoyment and contentment

O under tree Dec 15

I crocheted that tree skirt in one frantic 14 hour period, as big as I could get it in the time allowed and in between my doing of ordinary daily activities ……  After it is finished with this year I shall double it in size in a leisurely fashion.

The tiny courtyard is full of flowers and little bits of bling.  The chairs have comfy cushions and there are places for wine glasses and plates of food

Tiny Courtyard pizap

The front entrance welcomes with bells and bling, cats and a green nodding doggie and even more flowers

front2 dec15

Dec Front pizap

The hand made gifts are [finally] finished and being wrapped – this is the last of them

presents pizap

The Secret Recipe Cold Christmas Pudding is made and maturing

xmaspud1 2015

And Siddy is ready for GO! (His favourite aunty Jo arrives in two more sleeps and our Christmas begins!)

Xmas6

And I have my Christmas hair on

Pink Hair Dec 15

[I’m transitioning people, from coloured hair to cheveux au-naturale – the time has come – as the Walrus once so famously said.  And why not have a little fun along the way?]

This is my last post for the year, thanks for being with me through this fabulous and eventful twelve months.  Thanks for your encouragement and support and friendship.  And thank you for coming by again today, I love that you did!

 

 

 

Getting Creative in the Craft Room

I’ve been busy making light catchers for the first wonderful customers who wandered into my shop and decided to start their Christmas shopping right there and then.  Thank you all so very much!

They are all finished now and on their way to new homes around the world, and as my friend Bruce says ready to ‘catch the light’ wherever they land.

Here is a bit of a glimpse of some of them

Bianca's pizap

I was issued a challenge – to create something using oranges and shades of green for a beloved mother

Lisa pizap

and hot on the heels of that, another using fiery oranges, amber and blue

Cynthia pizap

Aren’t these brights just wonderful!

Then I returned to a softer palette and made one for a friend – it should be with her by now ……..

K pizap

And another one for a swap – this one destined to hang in a limery ………… which is a lime version of an orangerie.

Jan pizap

I’ve made some that can’t be shown just yet and I have one more to make – for a Christmas Giveaway.  Stay tuned.

Somewhere in the middle of this playing with beads and sparkly things, Siddy had his hair cut.

Later that day he saw there was some cheese being eaten ……  Siddy is very fond of cheese!

Siddy&Cheese gif

Siddy had some cheese.

Orlando was not allowed cheese and was therefore not amused

S&Cheese &O

And the garden makeover is continuing slowly ………. So slowly there is nothing to show you yet – except chaos……….. Soon you know order has to emerge, right?

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

Starry Nights Light Catcher

This is a recent photo, taken one evening on the sofa  – Orlando is being cuddled with  – not sure if he is enjoying it …….. but he stayed.  Siddy was exhausted after a busy day and his mumma wasn’t sitting still, so the kitty had to do.

S&O cuddling1 5 9 15

Mumma was busy.  Making light catchers for my customers, another one for a friend, another [really special one] for a Christmas gift.  I’ll show you most of them in another post, right now I want to show you what I’ve just finished.

If you have been popping into my store in recent weeks you may have noticed that most of the light catchers have ‘SOLD’ printed across them in big letters.  Which is not a good look for any store is it?  So I’m off to clean up my shop as soon as this post is up!

Any way, having woken with a bit of an inspiration yesterday morning, I set to and made another one.

For this one I had two colours in  mind that I wanted to play with.  Blue and purple.

I chose the beads.  I chose the bead caps and the little extras – and started to thread.

Almost immediately Don McLean began singing in my head.  ‘Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and grey …………’ and then I began musing on starry nights and dreams and wishes.  the beads grew and the strands multiplied beneath my fingers as my mind wandered through wishes and dreams and the magic of the night that grants those wishes and dreams……………..charms began to appear dangling from the charm strands – a unicorn, a fairy, an angel sitting in the moon.  Harbingers of dreams coming true were placed, a bell, a crow, the word ‘miracles’, a heart, young lovers………….

And I found I had made a light catcher for a dreamer, one to make wishes come true.

Starry Nights 2

Starry Nights 3

Starry Nights 4

Starry Nights 1

It’s not quite as deep a blue as the photos are showing – it is a softer hue of lilac, pinky purpley blue ……..  unfortunately seemingly impossible to photograph with my skill level.

I think it’s really pretty!

What do you think?

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