Is this the most expensive cat’s toy?

When Son #2 was looking after Lucy Pussy and Rita Kitten while I was sleeping in a library, they were rather stressed out. A cat-loving friend of his brought one of his cat’s toys round for them to play with. Since we got Rita Kitten Lucy Pussy has not deigned to look at a toy, let alone play with one. Which is a shame as she is now a fat-cat and could do with the exercise. So when Son #2 told me that not only had Lucy Pussy played with this new cat toy, but that they had played together, I was frankly amazed. This is something my heart has been longing for so I immediately asked for the name and set out to purchase said miracle toy.

Cat toySo for £12.55 (I see it has gone down in price today) I bought the originally named Cat’s Meow. It consists of a sort of robovac hard plastic thing with an attached parachute affair out of which peeks a plastic mouse’s tail. The motorised tail can be set to slow, medium, fast or random and whirls about under the parachute and cats can’t resist. So they say.

What they don’t say is that it needs batteries. A lot of batteries. And they don’t last very long. Son #2 informs me they are the rectangular ones (PP3) and you need three of them.  His friend got rechargeable ones so I had a look online but couldn’t find any chargers that did 3 at a time. In fact it wasn’t clear whether they’d even do two because they are all multi-chargers so I went to my nearby Maplins where a lovely lady said you could only get them to charge two at a time so I bought a multi-charger and three rechargeable batteries. Total cost £34.96. So that’s now a grand total of £47.51 for a piece of plastic, a flimsy tail, and enough batteries to keep my smoke alarms going for the rest of my lifetime.

Came home, ripped open all three batteries (yes, you know where this is going, don’t you?) only to find that it was not PP3 batteries at all, but C batteries that were needed. Back in the car to Maplins (but let’s leave the petrol costs out of this, shall we?)  ‘Fessed up to same nice woman that I was an idiot for listening to Son #2 and should have read the instructions and purchased three rechargeable C batteries for £13.98. A bargain as they were about to go up in price. (That’s £61.49 now if you’re interested.) Batteries installed and the motor began to whirr. And whirr and spin around like a demented robovac. That’s when I learned there is no off switch. Round and round it went as I tried to screw in the teeny tiny screw in and it kept falling out. Whirr, spin, whirr. Grab instructions to look for off switch on diagram. No, no mention of off switch. Whirr, whirr, grindy noise (that’s when I was leaning on it firmly to try and screw in teeny, tiny screw). Forced teeny, tiny screw in and know it will probably never, ever come undone again and cats appear to see what all the noise is. Cats get very excited when they recognise the Cat’s Meow and want to play before I even have tail attached. Learn from instructions that you need to undo top thing to fit parachute underneath and then reattach. This is not as easy as it sounds. Twenty minutes later we are ready to attach tail which is not easy as it whirrs round and back and forth and looks like it really shouldn’t be forced on too much or it will split plastic. Find off switch! Hurrah! (Just in case you are ever likely to purchase this most expensive cat’s toy the off switch is found if you press the speed switch from slow to medium to fast to random… and then once more for OFF!)

By now I am exhausted. And poor. The cats are champing at the bit. Put Cat’s Meow on floor and stand back to be amazed at their love of this new toy and first-time friendliness and camaraderie with one another. Lucy Pussy stands back and watches Rita Kitten romp round and round trying to catch the plastic tail. She looks disdainful. She looks sad. She looks as if her world has come to an end. Rita Kitten doesn’t care. She is having the time of her life. The parachute thing is getting bunched up but she doesn’t care one jot.

After five minutes Lucy Pussy casually walks over, closer and closer… will she play? Lucy Pussy sits on the parachute and the tail. All play comes to an end abruptly.

By this time I have been up and down, sorting the parachute, and am exhausted. The Cat’s Meow grinds and grinds trying to whip the tail around but Lucy Pussy sits resolutely firm. I nudge her off and finally they play together. For the first time in over two years. A miracle indeed!

It last all of 10 seconds when Lucy Pussy clamps her claws on the tail and game is over once more. She looks smug. Smugger than smug. Rita Kitten looks alert and ready to pounce. Eventually she gives up and lies down. She watches and waits. She has the look of Mary Magdalene about her. Has it gone forever? Will I never see the tail again? I think there is a tear.

And so it goes on. I push Lucy Pussy off and game begins again. For another 10 seconds. Repeat last paragraph again. And again.

£61.49. Dear reader, was it worth it?

cats playing

The Minister’s Cat

Dear Margaret, my deliciously eccentric organist, passed on some Lenten reading to me after a conversation about our shared love of Timothy Radcliffe. There were some worthy Lenten books in there but the ones which really caught my eye were two little books both called The Minister’s Cat. One is full of delightful Scottish words like ‘bogshaivelt’ = knocked out of shape, and ‘kirkie’ = enthusiastically devoted to church affairs. The other is full of gorgeous poetry about cats.

The Minister’s Cat is…

…AN OMNIPRESENT CATMinister's cat

Obadiah’s on the sofa;
Obadiah’s on the chair.
No, he isn’t there in person;
But they’re covered in his hair.

Obadiah’s on the carpet;
Obadiah’s on the mat.
He’s perpetually moulting,
That infuriating cat.

Obadiah’s on my sweaters;
Obadiah’s on my suit.
When I’m going out on business,
I could kill the little brute.

Obadiah’s on the bedspread;
On the pillow as I sleep.
If he doesn’t keep his hair on,
I shall shear him like a sheep.

I’ve been asking Obadiah,
As he grudges me his purr,
In the name of all that’s feline,
Why he’s prodigal with fur.

Obadiah, to his credit,
Has a reason for the hair:
He’s afraid he’ll be forgotten
Any time he isn’t there.

It’s a token of his presence,
When he’s temporar’ly gone;
And a comforting assurance
That his mem’ry lingers on.

by Douglas Kynoch, Scottish Cultural Press, 1994

(For Obadiah read Lucy Pussy.)

Ash Wednesday and Ruth begins Lent with a whimper

And so the forty days begin. It didn’t begin particularly well for me.  As I sat at the table with my morning coffee flicking through my iPad wondering why so many people are giving up social media for Lent, my mind was also ticking off the list of things I had to remember. Lemon for cleaning ashy thumbs. Tick. Pew sheets. Tick. Sermon. Oh no, not me this time. Jane who is on placement from Tisec is preaching for the first time today. Say a prayer for Jane. Tick. Leaflet for suggestions for Lent. Tick. Bishop’s Lent Appeal leaflets. Tick. Dish for ashes… ah. Where did I last see that? OIl for ashes should be in Aumbry but better take a knife to mix with oil… Lent visual display for back of church… now that should be in my study somewhere…

So I went from someone who confidently thought that they were all organised to someone who still had a few jobs still to do so better get a move on. It has been rather hectic round here of late with three parishes to care for and my study and desk are testament to that. Not an inch of carpet can be seen and Rita Kitten has taken to sleeping on top of a bookcase for comfort and in case she is covered in a pile of papers.

But I still had plenty time if I got a move on and so the day began. I gathered up all my bags of stuff and headed for church in plenty time. The heating was on so the church felt lovely and cosy. Good, that’s one less worry. Then as I switched on the lights it hit me smack in the chops. Green! All is green! My lovely Sacristan has forgotten that the church needed to be purpled before Sunday. Still time, if I get a move on. I whipped the cloths off the altar, wrestled the frontal and pole off the hooks and headed up the back to the frontal-cupboard. Going through the door the pole got caught and I nearly somersaulted over it. (Picture dog with large stick trying to get through narrow gate – that was me!) Garrotted in the middle and broke a few ribs probably. Ok, I didn’t break any ribs but it did hurt. A bit. More haste, less speed, Ruth.

ashesJane, the preacher arrived, and quickly helped fold pewsheets, light candles and set up the altar. I started the elusive alchemy of mixing oil and ash to find the right consistency for marking foreheads. I know of old that this is a delicate business. One drop at a time. It must be done slowly for suddenly two drops can turn dry ash into ash soup, ready to run down a forehead and onto a nose. This tends to ruin the solemnity of the moment. I know this to my cost. One drop, mix and stir. Another drop. Mix and stir. And so on, and so on. After five minutes my patience runs thin as I hear people arriving, and pour in two drops. Soup! Instant soup! I knew it. Then you have to hunt for more ash and so it continues. Aagghh!

There are some clergy I know who sit for minutes in prayer before the service. Some read over their sermon. Some pray. I perspire and lose my temper. Not good. Not good at all. The church that was cosy for our congregation now feels like a furnace and the sweat runs down my back. No amount of ash will stick to my glistening forehead, I reckon. 10 o’clock has come and gone. The congregation awaits patiently in prayerful anticipation. Their priest feels like it is all a disaster before it even begins. Next year I’m going to start setting up two hours ahead. One hour is clearly not enough.

“Cleanse our consciences, we beseech thee dear Lord… that we may worship you with pure hearts and minds.” Ha!  We bowed at the high altar and sat for a few moments. Breathe deeply, Ruth, breathe deeply. “Grace and peace to you…” And it began. Lord, have mercy… We turn from sin and seek your face… ‘Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests weep…’ (words from Joel). I sit up straight. How funny is that? Not quite at the weeping stage, Ruth, just a teeny bit dramatic as usual. And I let it go. I let the stress go. I felt the tension drop out of my shoulders. I noticed the green lectern falls left behind at the eagle lectern (or Big Burrd as we call him) and smiled. For it doesn’t really matter. And my little flock came up to have the mark of ashes on their forehead and I was able to do that for them. To mark each one a beloved child of God. Repent and turn to Christ. Repent. Repent. Repent.

 

In which Ruth falls silent but two weeks too soon

silenceThe virus came upon me. The no-voice virus came upon me hard. For ten days now I have had no voice. Actually that is not strictly true – the voice has varied from Minnie Mouse on helium to Eartha Kitt (you have to be of a certain age to get these) after a pack of Gitanes to nothing but a squeak or a dry husk. Every morning I have woken and tried it out hopefully to the cats. “Good morning Lucy Pussy!” I scratch. “How’s my lovely Rita Kitten?” I mouth. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Of course there is a certain irony here. Over a year ago I had suffered several asthma attacks all winter long for which I was referred for a CT scan which showed up something on my lungs. Scarring, fibrosis, I was told. This meant a referral to the Respiratory Clinic. Now if you are a reader in the UK you will know that referrals on the NHS should happen within 12 weeks. Ha! I laugh at the thought of it. 11 months later I got my appointment with Forth Valley hospital and it was just a few days before the Lost Voice. So as I sat in the Consultant’s office I was able to say that I’ve hardly had any asthma, any colds or coughs, no lung or breathing problems at all, thank you very much. “Jolly good,” said he. “Some COPD, a bit of Fibrosis, some thick bronchi-whatnots so a wee bit of physio and we’ll keep an eye on you every year, dear.” And I was shown the door.

That was merely a week before the voice went. the lungs wearied, my temperature went up, my asthma-cough came back to haunt me at night. Oh pooh. Bloody typical. And the double irony is that I’m due to go on a silent retreat next week! That will be when my voice returns, I bet you!

This enforced silence has made me think, of course. Made me think about how noisy I am. How often I take for granted that I can pick up the phone for a blether, to ask a question, to have a moan. So that has been a salutary lesson for me and I’ve felt oh so lonely at times. What would I have done without Facebook, Twitter, Messaging, texting etc? Drama queen, eh? I wish I could say that I have used this enforced silence for good, of course. For some meditation or holy listening and mindfulness. (The subject of next week’s retreat, ironically.) But no, I have worked on using the time to get lots of computer and office things done. Can you hear my introvert friends scream now, can you?  But let me tell you it was not easy being an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s body. Oh no!

Of course I have much for which to be thankful. My little team who have rallied around and stepped in to say liturgies, preach my sermon, make phone calls on my behalf. Bless them. And yes it is very good for a control freak such as I to have it all taken away from me from time to time. But you know, the timing could have been better, eh?

keep-calm-and-enjoy-the-silence-50

In which Ruth reads a book and goes to the theatre

It has taken me ages to read this last book – Wool by Hugh Howey. I think I began it at the beginning of the month since when my life has become rather busy and my head has hit the pillow before I’ve even thought of opening the book. it was recommended to me by my Chiropodist as we are both in book groups and have similar tastes and often swap titles. This one is like the Hunger Games but for grown-ups. However it is not quite so page-turning until the latter quarter when I did really want to find out what was happening. It is a big book and tells of life in the future (post apocalypse) in a silo. People live in these deep silos where everything they need to exist is found. If you’re naughty you are sent out into the wilderness landscapes to die and, needless to say, our heroine suffers that fate. Good story, thought provoking, and possibly good discussions at a book group. It is part of a trilogy but I don’t know that I liked it enough to carry on. 3 stars.

Will Young CabaretLast night Son #1 and I went to see Cabaret at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh. Cabaret is my favourite film and musical so I’ve always wanted to see it on stage. Will Young was playing the emcee which was not a particular pull for me but obviously was for the many drunken young women staggering about the foyer at the interval! However he was absolutely brilliant. His voice suited the role perfectly and he was deliciously camp. The set and choreography were excellent and the first half whizzed by with thrusting crotches and singalong tunes. There were a few numbers which are not in the film and a slight change to the story. Instead of the young friend who is Jewish, in the play it is the landlady who falls in love with an old man who is a tenant and ends up not marrying him because he’s Jewish. The second half was much darker and the ending absolutely breathtaking and you could have heard a pin drop as the curtain fell.  Go and see it if you get the chance.

However, don’t ever buy tickets for the Upper Circle in the Kings if you want to straighten your legs ever again. It was the most uncomfortable evening I’ve ever spent and I have the shortest legs in the world. At the interval we all had to space ourselves out and dangle our legs over the chair in front!  (Not exactly comfy either.)

And just for those of you concerned about Rita Kitten… the miraculous recovery has continued. She is frisky and fun once more. Her eyes are bright, her gums and tongue pink instead of creepy white, and Lucy Pussy’s nose is out of joint once more. And she is eating like a cat possessed (of a large tapeworm!). So we give thanks for her continued good health and hope that it lasts.

In which Rita Kitten makes a miraculous recovery

SAMSUNGLet me bring you up to date with the tale of woe which is Rita Kitten. A few months ago I got a reminder from the vet to say that Rita Kitten is due her annual jab so I took her along. (When I say I ‘took her along’ you must understand that this involved a three hour siege during which Rita Kitten ran up one staircase while I chased her cooing ‘Rita darling, come to mummy, puss-puss etc’ then she ran down the other staircase – yes, I have two staircases* – and so on it went until I had to cancel the 9am appointment and settle for one at 2pm by which time I had dragged her out of a hidey hole by her neck and folded her into the cat basket… four times.) It was all very exhausting and rather annoying to be told that they might not do her jag because of her illness (immune anaemia something or other). Told to bring her back next week by which point they would have checked out if the jag is safe for her to have.Rita 080812

During that time I noticed that she wasn’t as perky as usual. No climbing over the mountain which is my desk and keeping guard on the window sill, running a mile if anyone comes past. No wrecking the laser printer by climbing over the paper tray. No winding her way round my ankles in the morning. And when I thought about it, I realised that she had been getting quieter for the past week or so. (Except for when she has to go to the Vet of course.)

Next week, repeat the process of chasing Rita Kitten up and down stairs, in and out of rooms, hiding goodness-knows-where while mummy runs herself into the ground, Vet decides not to give her annual booster but listens to heart and decides that her heart murmur has become worse and she is indeed looking a bit anaemic. ‘Make an appointment for a blood test,’ she casually says, unaware of my own heart murmuring “Please, NO, not another chase up and down the stairs!’

image1.jpgNext day, repeat the process but this time I have been advised to throw a towel over Rita Kitten and bundle her into cat basket that way. All my towels are rather lovely and frankly I don’t want to toss my lovely white fluffy guest ones over the cat, nor my even more gorgeous purple ones. So I throw an unusable prayer-shawl instead. (Unusable? Cat had been sleeping on it.) This was reasonably successful but suspect I’ll not get away with it again. Rita Kitten is taken away for blood test and I’m told 10 minutes later that it her level is 10. Clearly I am meant to remember whether this is a good or bad thing. I don’t. Judging by the Vet’s sad face I assume a similar expression and guess that 10 is not a good thing. Vet decides to give Rita Kitten a long-lasting steroid injection and home we go. ‘Come back next week,’ she says. My heart murmurs and sinks.Rita feather duster 0713

Next week, I buy a fleecy pet blanket for a fiver in purple and blue. This is the for the sole purpose of throwing it over Rita Kitten in the big chase. It works and we are in our basket within 10 minutes which is not bad. Of course our appointment is not for another hour but at least we are ready. Rita Kitten’s heart murmur is getting worse, as is her anaemia, and she is now pretty lethargic. Second long-acting steroid and antibiotic jag given too. I suspect they don’t really know what will work but let’s throw all we’ve got at it/her.  Rita Kitten takes to the back stairs.

One week later Rita kitten is living on the back stairs in the dark almost permanently. She can only walk a few steps before she has to lie down and her breathing is incredibly rapid. She is not eating and only drinking a little. If she does come to the kitchen the jump up on the table leaves her breathless for some time. It is agony to watch. She half-heartedly runs away when the fleecy blanket appears but I’m able to catch her quite quickly. A different vet gives her a short-acting steroid jag and tells me that she probably needs a blood transfusion. The Maine Coone cat who gave Rita Kitten blood last time has moved away; the Cat Blood Bank has none of her type; and it will cost about £1,000 to get it from a Vet in Glasgow. That doesn’t include all the tests which would have to be done afterwards. Rita Kitten’s pet insurance has run out. This means I have to pay it all. So far the jags and blood test have cost me over £100.Rita in box 2013

The next few days are spent watching Rita Kitten on the back stairs. She lies there staring into space. She eats nothing that I know of. My heart bleeds. She is 16 months old and has been at the Vet so much with this illness. It now looks like it will reappear every 5 months, perhaps more often in future. She has never really had the life of a kitten except for brief moments of fun. Who can forget the day she blocked the upstairs loo with everything off the shelf while chasing a moth? Not me, that’s for sure. Nor the man from Dynorod who gave me the bill for unblocking the loo.

On Monday I took her back to the Vet. I caught her straight away because she can hardly move. That’s no fun.  She growls for the first time at the Vet who says her heart murmur is still getting worse. What is the future? We decide that if I can get Rita Kitten re-homed with someone who can afford the expensive bills which are to be part of her future then I should do so. If not, it would be kindest to put her to sleep. The vet says he will ask around to see if anyone could take her and I cry myself silly on the way home.

Rita 310812Son #2 comes out to say goodbye and takes lots of photos. Rita Kitten perks up a little and comes to lie on the table. Son #2 goes home, feeling sad, and Rita Kitten eats a little food. The next day Rita Kitten appears at my bedroom door in the morning demanding to be fed. She seems remarkably perky. The Cat Charity cannot take her because they have no money to pay the bills. I am waiting to hear from the Vet, hoping he has found someone who might re-home her. Not a peep. The next day Son #1 comes out and says that I have exaggerated the whole story as clearly Rita Kitten is as playful as ever. How could I think of putting her to sleep when she is so lively? And indeed, as I type this she has just climbed over my desk to guard the window sill once more.

So, it has been rather a traumatic few weeks. I have watched little Rita Kitten go rapidly downhill with her strange auto-immune disease. I have watched her lungs looking as if they’d explode and her heart race. I’ve tried to tempt her with a little chicken or a little fish, to no avail. I’ve been ready to watch her be put to death because that is no life for a little cat. And I don’t mind telling you, I’ve cried. And I’ve prayed.

Now? I’m just confused. Rita Kitten is a miracle on my window sill. Her eyes are bright. Her desperately pale gums have pinked up and she was eyeing up my pie at lunch time today. She lives another day.

* I have a lovely sweeping staircase with lovely wooden handrail and then there are the servants’ stairs which are dark and narrow and grotty. Every home should have a servants’ staircase on which to fade away.

In which Ruth had a week off and didn’t do very much

It is tricky using up all your holidays when you didn’t start early enough in the year. Now I’ve got to the stage where people say, “Are you off on holiday AGAIN?”  And you immediately stutter that it was ages since the last one, or how many weeks you didn’t get last year, or how hard-working you’ve been. And because I didn’t take time at the beginning of the year I still have two weeks to take so managed one last week. Was going to go away but that didn’t happen so it was a lovely week chez moi.

Think I may have given myself a thrombosis sitting so long reading books in the first three days. I managed the Book Group one: The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman which was jolly good and didn’t take long at all. Then I read The Black Rose of Florence because it was set in Florence really. Found it a little disappointing for a thriller and not as much about Florence other than a few place names thrown in here and there. Not a mention of the Boboli Gardens either. How can you have a whodunnit without the Boboli Gardens? And finally I started Wool but am only half way through, it being small print and lots and lots of pages. It is a sort of grown up version of the Hunger Games, perhaps not so exciting but intriguing all the same.

I also did a bit of knitting for the Christmas Fair coming up. Still on the infinity evening scarves. There will have to come a point when I stop knitting them, I know. There are only so many events one goes to that require an infinity scarf after all. But once I find something I like doing I have been known to rather overdo it, in a sort of addictive way. It was the same with smoking, you may remember. (Almost a year, btw.)

Rita kitten is poorly again so there were some vet visits too. Her anaemia is back again so it looks like this will be her future. 4-5 months of okay health and then quickly descending into weakness, heart-racing, lying around. She has had all the jags this time but they’ve not made much of an impression. Last time this led to blood transfusions but I don’t think this is possible this time. As the big Maine Coon cat who lived locally and was a donor match for Rita kitten has moved away there is no other source of blood. Told today the blood bank has none either but there may be a Vet in Glasgow who has some – at about £1000. Eeek. Don’t really know what to do. Except worry.

Went to church on the Sunday of my hol to Linlithgow – my old stomping ground. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and be shocked and amazed at the size of the young people. J & R were just wee souls and now J towers over me and R is so articulate – he just ran round and round when I was there last. These people do feel like part of your family still but sort of distant relations. Made me slightly envious of all the young children they had, mind you. They did a fabulous Harvest presentation.

My baby was 35 too last week. 35! He, his girlfriend and I all went out for lunch. What did he want most on his Wish List for birthday presents? Star Wars Lego. Is this normal?  Last time I played with Lego it was at the Tisec flat when we were training to be priests. Not sure whose box of Lego it was (perhaps Gareth S?) but we were known to build our own sanctuaries when the studying got too much. Of course now those memories of sumptuous sanctuaries are long gone and we realise that we live with what we’re given. Cracked and crunchy tiles and all. Lego Church Top

And that was my holiday. I did sneak in a few wedding orders of service by the weekend because it was all looking rather hectic when I got back. Naughty, I know. But if you do take on looking after two churches during their interregnum then something has to go. And now a week later and the wedding is done and my day off today was spent attending the funeral of a good friend, and you realise that it is really that thing about being a priest 24/7. Ontologically and all that jazz. You do what you do because you want to, not because you have to.

 

Lacy cottas, Rita kitten and other such things

Well. dear readers, I am terribly sorry to have been neglecting you in the past month or so. Since my return from holiday my diary seemed to go into meltdown and I’ve hardly had a moment to myself. In the midst of it all I even had a birthday but it was all rather low key. Who wants to shout about being 57? My boys took me out for lunch so that was nice. And no blood was spilt so that was a bonus.

Last week we hosted the Scottish Guild of Servers AGM. I think it is the first time it has been here so that was a lovely honour but nobody could tell us how many to expect. In the end we catered for 50+ and 50 came. I love it when a plan comes together. It all began with a rehearsal in which the Celebrant assures me they want it to be just like our normal service and then proceeds to change it all. The loveliest part of my day was introducing Walter who has just retired from serving at the altar after 60+ years. (Perhaps 70+ years.) My team did a fine soup and pud lunch and tons of home baking. They’ll have trouble bettering it next year, I reckon!  Lovely to see servers from all over and some old friends. Not too much tat either which was reassuring. Un-ironed lace is never bonny. But let me tell you they have the most ostentatious incense boat you’ve ever seen. And the size of it! Our boat-person practically had to work-out to get the strength up to carry it. While the previous rector was snooping around he retrieved his old thurible – the one with bells on. Oh how we shall miss it. At least Big Aggie is safe and sound, although needing a good clean and polish. (Big Aggie being the huge gothic thurible given to me by Fr Alex, it having been given to him by the Catholic Apostolic Church in Glasgow when it closed down. She is big and beautiful and much loved by all.)

Rita kitten has taken a turn for the worse again. She should have had her annual Booster a few weeks ago but they were loathe to give her it until they’d checked her blood. Sure enough this has shown she is ill again so awaiting to hear what the next step will be. We can tell she is not herself by the fact that she does not hide in her plastic tunnel and leap out on Lucy Pussy, or make herself at home in the wash-hand basin, sunbathe on my study window sill and hiss at passers-by, or stash my feather duster, fluffy toys, bubble wrap in her hidey hole under the study chair. (Not well hidden because the handles stick out.) This time we are more apprehensive because her Pet Insurance won’t cover any of it. I could be looking for a second job at this rate.

SAMSUNG

 

I finally got around to reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and it was delightful. Except perhaps for the end? We’re discussing it next week in the book group so I look forward to seeing what the others thought. We are getting to know one another quite well in this group. We know who prefers a good psychological thriller or a murder or two along the way; who loves a bit of history (especially Tudor); the one who doesn’t like violence; and then there’s me. I’ve just surprised myself by giving up on the last Kate Mosse one because it was just so long-winded and I couldn’t care enough about the characters. That’s unusual for me and maybe says more about where my head’s been these past few months. Just started my birthday book which is the latest by Tracy Chevalier and already I’m enjoying it.

I’ll finish with a lovely story. Someone at church said to me that they were going to be leaving something in their will to Christ Church. But they had decided that they really would like to give it before they die so that they could appreciate what they wanted bought with the money – a new carpet throughout the church, sacristy and choir and servers rooms. At the moment we have pieces here there and everywhere. Hairy carpet tiles in the Lady Chapel, two shades of blue in the sanctuary, an old rug taped down behind the altar, old thin brown cord stuff up the aisle and at the back. This person also helps clean the church and said they’d rather vacuum a nice carpet than this one. Isn’t that a great idea? Give to the church while you can still enjoy it! Yay. What would you buy?

In which Rita kitten becomes ill

Rita 080812Sometimes a pet becomes ill and you don’t really notice. You are just so busy hussling and bustling getting things ready for Holy Week and Easter that you don’t really notice that a little kitten is not behaving quite as she used to. You might put it down to the fact that she was spayed six weeks ago. You might put it down to cats merely behaving oddly because let’s face it, they are a law unto themselves. And the fact that Rita kitten has the look of a consumptive doesn’t really help. She has the most doleful eyes and hang-dog (?) expression that she has never really looked full of beans.

But eventually it did register that we were not bounding about the place with quite as much energy, not demanding strokes and cuddles, and going back to sleep in the ironing basket all day long didn’t quite seem normal for an 8-month old kitten. Perhaps she has been worn down by Lucy Pussy’s cynicism I wondered. And I asked a visitor if they thought she looked normal. “She has the look of a cat with flu,” he said. Time to phone the vet.  The vet suggested I bring her straight in and that was last Thursday. Oh what a lot has happened since then!

First of all the vet noticed a weepy eye which has escaped my attention. Oh neglectful mummy! So that required drops and antibiotics jag and pills to take home. What a lark. She was looking a pathetic wee soul just lying on the steel table so he got out his stethoscope and it was then he found the heart murmur. “Have we noticed this before?” he asked. “No,” said I. “Oh well, it is quite bad.” A bad heart murmur! How could I have overlooked such an illness? And of course, I remembered going to check on her just a few days before and she was lying spreadeagled on the spare room floor panting quite fast. I had put it down to the sun.

“Bring her in tomorrow and we’ll do an ECG and chest x-ray,” says he. “You’ll need to leave her in all day incase we need to sedate her.”  And home I went, feeling guilty that I hadn’t noticed sooner and brought her for treatment. She got lots of attention that night, I can tell you. She dismissed it all in a guilt-inducing way.

Dear Reader, it has been almost a week now and Rita kitten is still int he Vet hospital. She was indeed sedated but an ECG couldn’t be taken. A heart specialist was consulted and we were told we should perhaps take her back in Holy Week to see him.  However, in the meantime blood had revealed that she was terribly anaemic so extra blood had to be sent off to a specialist in blood disorders. What was causing the anaemia? Where was she losing blood? (I have cream carpets and I’m sure I’d have noticed pools of blood around the place.) Was it regenerative anaemia or non-regenerative? (I know, I haven’t a clue either.) More tests were required. But to do those tests she would need to receive a blood transfusion.

Call in the Maine coon cats. It would appear that Maine coon cats are good at giving blood. They are quite placid, quite large and don’t seem to mind.  How charitable of them. So a local breeder was going to bring in her Maine coons so they could be type-matched with Rita kitten. The vet phoned me throughout the weekend to keep me up to date with her condition. “She’s not eating in front of anyone so we’ve had to put a blanket up so she can eat in private.” “She’s taken to sleeping in her litter tray.” Oh the shame of it! I felt as if I hadn’t brought her up properly. Imagine sleeping in your litter tray. How could she?

On Monday she had the blood transfusion and she seemed to perk up after that. In fact she got a bit tetchy we were told, which they said was a good sign. Maine coon blood must be good stuff. On Tuesday she had bone marrow biopsies and we now await the results of that. It is a bit nerve-wracking this waiting lark. Especially in the lead up to Holy Week. For a while over the weekend it was looking as if she might not pull through. Now it looks like it might be some long-term chronic disease which will require much care, attention and money thrown at it. Thank goodness for pet insurance.  (And let us pause to pray that this is all indeed covered by said pet insurance.)

It is quieter without Rita kitten at home. Lucy Pussy is looking decidedly smug and has reverted to being Queen of the Rectory. I am DSCF0426getting morning roll-overs once more and had forgotten how adorable they indeed are. She has reduced the amount she eats, not having to eat the kitten’s food as well as her own. Greedy minx. She has gone back to hiding up the back stairs and racing me to the kitchen (an old game but a favourite). Clearly she is enjoying life without the little one pestering her.

The vet assures me that they will get to the bottom of this but that it is beyond the capabilities of a normal vet. This is speciality stuff. No ordinary disease for my little baby.

I haven’t been in to visit her. Should I? Nor have I sent flowers or fluffy toys. I’m not sure what the protocol is when a pussy cat is in Vet hospital. Is someone holding her paw all through the night or is she lying in a cold little tray in a cage all on her own?

Lucy Pussy cares not a jot.

Holiday reading and viewing

Well, it was a funny old holiday really. Not really a holiday at all. First there was the illness… the cough to end all coughs that has lasted longer than a cough ought to last and is so flipping tiring it is almost the cough that carries you off. So we spent day 1 of the holidays in the doctor’s surgery getting antibiotics and steroids (not the first for this cough, but don’t encourage me or we could be here all day).

Day 2 was spend doing the housework that had been severely neglected over the Advent/Christmas period. You know the sort of thing – rubber duck nativities scattered hither and thither, christmas lights to be untangled, cards to be taken down but only if you are willing to dust and I wasn’t quite at that stage, diary to be updated, etc etc.  Oh, and Rita kitten had just been ‘done’ so I had to spoil her ridiculously, although she didn’t seem in the slightest fazed by the whole drama, and carried on leaping about like a gazelle and cleverly removing her own stitches. (We always knew she’d go far, that one.)

And sleeping. Yes there was a lot of sleeping.

So I didn’t really get into reading mode until about Day 3 and I managed to get through Death comes to Pemberley by PD James. Now, I am a big fan of PD James. And I am not averse to a little Jane Austen either. So I thought that when PD James wrote a book in the style of Jane Austen, and cleverly following on from the tale of Pride and Prejudice, I thought: “What’s not to like?” But I really had to force myself to keep reading. It was okay. But I’m afraid I didn’t think it was a great PD James or a great Jane Austen. It was a 2 stars for me.

My next book was a Christmas pressie from Son #1 – The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. I’m afraid this was a bit of a struggle too to keep at but the second half did improve things a bit. I just don’t think there were any likeable characters and so I didn’t really care what happened with any of them. Except for Krystal. I ended up caring about Krystal and she was the whore.  2 stars again.

I abandoned Shoot the Damn Dog by Sally Brampton which someone had recommended. It is a memoir of depression and perhaps is more interesting to people who have been through that or very close to someone who has. I don’t usually give up on a book although I have begun to come to the conclusion that life is too short to read bad books. But this one just didn’t seem to be good enough for holiday reading. Perhaps I’ll go back to it.

Then yesterday I went to see Les Miserables at the cinema. Now this gets a big 5 stars from me. For some reason, I’ve never seen the stage production although I did share a flat with an ordinand once from Gateshead who had a penchant for the soundtrack, in particular ‘The Sound of Angry Men’. I came to hate those angry men.  Nor did I know that it was an opera and that the whole thing was going to be sung and that took a wee while to get into. Especially as everyone sung so much higher than me – and that’s the men I’m talking about! But once I got past that, and the very obvious white teeth, it was absolutely riveting, moving, and rousing. I just adored it. And I’d go back tomorrow.

Last day of holiday and one has to find a church. Oh what a dilemma. I really must learn how to use a Sat Nav – and indeed buy an up-to-date one. But in the end I had to go and visit Papa and drop Son #1 off in Edinburgh so I ended up going ‘home’. Should have checked the website first! It was a Children’s Service! Woopee. You know, I think I’m just going to leave it there.

So it was a funny old holiday. It doesn’t really feel as if I’ve had a week off. The house is still not completely tidy and the back of my mind is still niggling with Lent courses. (Anyone recommend a good one?) The good thing, I suppose, is that the cough is nearly gone. Not quite but almost. I have caught up with sleep. And today I made my first ever Chicken Liver Pate. It remains to be seen if it tastes any good.

Oh and how is my New Year Resolution, I hear you cry? Well, not very well, thank you for asking. You may remember, dear Reader, that my resolution is to buy no more fiction this year. I have a bookcase and a Kindle full of unread books, not to mention all those books I’d love to read again. Someone asked me yesterday how it was going and I said ‘not too bad’. He then pointed out it was only 12 days. Blimey, it felt like I’d been at it for months. So far my Amazon wish-list has grown by 8 books. That’s not bad, is it?