abendgules: (Haggis)
Powersharing: sharing the seat of power, sort of: January 2015


Benign autocracy: she who sits longest wins (same day)


Gracious in victory


Not certain who's in charge here. November or December 2014

abendgules: (Haggis)
...is to lose weight.

It's official. We are keepers of a Fat Cat(tm), with her carrying about a kilo too much.

When your total weight is 4.6kg, that's a lot.

Haggis had her first visit to the local vet in NW London, and demonstrated some of teh worst kitteh manners I've ever seen from her: kitteh swearing, vet-dodging under the table, growling and general poor behaviour, at least til the vet got the feline Vulcan Nerve Pinch on her.

This is in contrast to her past subdued behaviour with our Hackney vet Brian.

Apparently there are no native English vets in London. Our practices appear staffed entirely with antipodeans, including our last vet, and this new one, though the nurses are English. Is Australia and NZ and ZA just breeding too many of them? Weird.

So we've been given a prescribed amount of food to feed her. Measuring it on the kitchen scales, we have certainly been giving her more than this, so this is definitely a reduction.

I think it's also the change of home: we previously lived in a house built around its stairs, and she went up and down them several times a day. Now stairs are entirely optional, though the preferred Evening Place is at the top, and her catflap is right next to her food.

She's due for a weigh-in in a month. Sigh. It's free, says the nurse, which is a blessing because it's £18 return in the cab.
abendgules: (Haggis)
On our return from holiday, we began to think that there's now a bit more Haggis to love than there was a few months ago.

In part, it's because the street kitties we found in Spain were so slender and trim (with some ranging into the skinny and somewhat careworn). Even mom-cats or mom-to-be cats were not very big, making their bellies swing even more than on a 'normal' cat.

So coming home to our classic stocky cobby tabby made her change all the more evident.

In part, we suspect she's not getting all the exercise she used to in our previous maisonette, which had 2x as many stairs to run up and down.

Any trip outside required stairs, as did the return journey. Any trip from outdoors to food to litterbox to bed needed stairs.

Now she spends most of her time on one level and, since encountering the thuggish local tomcat, not very far from the patio.

We kept the patio door open as late into the year as we could on fine days, which encouraged more Out, but it's no longer feasible.

English flats have neither screen doors nor vestibules. You're either In or Out, and if the door is open in winter, You're Letting in the Draught(tm).

SO: I'm embarking on a feline exercise plan with the entertainment classics of a broken arrow, some butcher cord and a few short pencils (Haggis' favourite toy on hard floors).

One of the neighbours brought in a range of cat toys while we were away, but Haggis does seem to prefer the old standbys: string on a stick, a pencil, OR whatever she can knock off the dining room table.

So far so good: I can distract her into 5 mins of chasing round the flat and up the stairs in the morning, and upon arrival home.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
Last weekend Robert and I went to visit Nicholas and Delia and their family of rescue-critters, to talk about how to decorate the hall for Yule Ball.

This is set at a historic venue in Cambridge for early December.

I'd had a vague notion that we could make paper mache, but having not done any since kindergarten, if then, I was low on ideas in this area.

Fortunately, Robert is an old theatre hand.

So we started w/ reviewing the bestiaries and books we had of splendid creatures, and made a short list of candidates for table decorations.

Then we broke out the newspaper and cardboard, and the flour and water, and started slathering.

Nick and Delia are those useful types of people who don't throw anything away.

So we kept saying 'Do you perhaps have X?' and they'd say, 'why yes, I was supposed to get rid of it, but it's still in the shed...'

Out came scissors, masking tape, buckets and basins, cardboard, staplers, and plastic bottles to use as moulds.

So it transpired in this type of questioning that they did, in fact, even have chicken wire, the holy grail of large scale paper mache work, in the shed. Acres of it, in fact.

Also splendid firm plastic-coated wire, also originally for fencing.

Q:'Why didn't you mention you had chicken wire before??'
A:'You didn't ask for it before!'

Armed with this finest of armature foundation materials, the creatures promptly got far more interesting and ambitious. :-)

So between us we managed a series of table decor items, that at the end of the day still needed painting, but were well on their way to being very cool.

In the process we got to know the house rules: don't leave the lounge door open because the jack russell will snaffle the cat's food; don't love up one dog without offering equal time to the other; don't leave the gate open in case one or the other make a break for it; don't leave any drinks on the floor unless you're ready to share.

They have a very loveable family of critters, frankly, so it was no hardship - just a change from a low-maintenance cat to a constant-watchfulness canine setting.

I'm keen to see the finished works, and hope to visit again before Yule.
abendgules: (Haggis)
The glazier showed up today, to remove a pane in the lounge and replace it with one with a cutout sized for the catflap...about 6 weeks after initial contact with them. Not quite a Monty Python cheese shop sale, but a near thing.

Cat 'owners' reading this will appreciate just how much this change matters to our household.

Robert stayed home to supervise but had to run to work before ensuring both the 'in' and 'out' worked for our microchipped puss, so I get to set up and test the features this evening.

We've already established that fresh batteries are needed - stale ones cause it to error.

More interesting was chatting with the local-boy glazier, who says a big house stood where our block of maisonettes now stand, and he thinks our shared garden is on the old pond where he used to swim. He seems to remember problems with the building early on, because of subsidence; if it really is built on a pond it's no surprise!

I'm pretty sure this block is over 50 now, so hopefully it's slid as far as it's going to without prompting from tremors or something.
abendgules: (Haggis)
Robert is at May Pageant (which sadly I've begged off, because I'm just not feeling up to being 'on' for SCA and the public, particularly as a fencer).

It's spitting rain and very windy in NW London, so I suspect the same conditions apply on the edge of Epping Forest. Sigh.

Haggis is shamelessly taking advantage of the door services.

Q: How many Pelicans does it take to get a catflap installed?

A: Two, apparently, plus a glazier who returns calls.

We now have all the components, and the glazier has visited to measure our window... nearly a week ago.

At this rate we could learn glassblowing and make our own window glass faster than it's taken to do the classic British 'have a man in' to do the work.
abendgules: (Haggis)
Beautiful day on the first long weekend in May. Haggis is enjoying our new garden, particularly the birdwatching options.

This wall is probably a 7' jump from the patio - over my head anyway.


Enjoying outside


Realising I'm there


Self-sourcing kitteh is self-sourcing: always tastes better if you catch it yourself. (From our old home, but scenario doesn't change.)
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
Yesterday I came home to the Haggis Welcome Home Dance, which used to be 'loves loves loves, gimme loves', but now consists of following you around the house yelling at you til you open the patio door.

Haggis is feeling the lack of her private door, and is making the most of opportunities.

So while the sun was up, she sat on the patio taking the air, looking wholly uninterested in the Out. I think it's the free will option of out that she misses.

However, as I came home from a shop at dusk, Out was suddenly a lot more appealing, and as it grew darker, I found she'd abandoned the patio and was On Patrol.

I wandered out a few times to call for her and she'd come racing out of the shadows, chatting the whole way, sometimes racing back via a tree. Just mad.

I finally think it's time for bed, but nooooo, Haggis doesn't agree. I follow her round the front of the building (not nearly as attractive, lots of cars, lots of paving, stairs, gloomy places) but can't catch up with her. I return to the patio in the hopes she'll sort it herself.

RRRRRRING. My new neighbour Maggie, who shows all signs of incipient Crazeee Kat Lady, has rung at the door, asking if Haggis is in or not - she's spotted a tabby in the front yard wandering and chatting to herself, and is concerned that she's 'disoriented'.

To me this sounds perfectly normal happy Haggis behaviour, but I follow her out and find Haggis under a car and between us I manage to grab her to take her back.

DO NOT WANT. The Front Out is a new discovery, needs exploring! Can't be cut off now! Grump.

We return via the front door...thus confirming to the cat that the Front Door Goes Somewhere Interesting.

This morning, guess who escapes through the front door? I was my usual careful self, but now knowing that some splendid Out was waiting on the other side, Haggis laid on some extra speed and agility and deked out the door way faster than I expected a cobby cat to dodge.

I spent a few minutes following her round the entrances to the flats - all concrete, all dull, not nearly as attractive on the outside as the insides and back yard of the flats. But you have to find these things out yourself don't you?

I nab her as she pauses to survey the view from a parapet, and she hisses, which is a first of strong language from her - usually reserved for novice vets. DO NOT WANT, which part of DO NOT WANT do you not understand??

SO: getting the damn glazier in to cut a catflap is now high priority. I don't mind her having in/out privileges, not even late-night ones, but I can't play porter for her all hours.
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
I took Haggis to the vet today. On Sunday, I noticed one of her claws was raw and red, and when I checked, I found that most of her claws were in the same condition: scraped very short, down to the red-brown blood vessel. A couple were their usual condition - sharp - but I was shocked.

Haggis is, as Robert says, self-sharpening - she keeps her claws sharp and I trim the front ones, and only rarely the rear ones, when they're too sharp for comfort.

If they were scraped down to the nub, it was from her scrabbling hard. This happens if cats are hit by cars, or kicked - concrete and tarmac can act like sandpaper. We have a mix of surfaces in our neighbourhood, but she's been here a year, and this is the first time she's claws like this.

Oddly, nothing else was wrong: happy, chatty, affectionate, eating fine, in and out as usual.

But we were concerned enough to decide she could have an early trip to the V-E-T for her annual check and shots.

Poor Haggis: a cab ride, half an hour sitting in a waiting room with 3 dogs, at least 2 cats and a pungent smell of cat pee, then the undignified exam and jab.

By the end, she was using some really shocking language: I've never heard her both hiss and growl in sequence, but there was no help for it, the vet just wasn't taking any notice. If she'd been human she would have embarrassed a sailor.

We always tell our vet how awesome our cats are - sweet tempered, chatty, affectionate, interactive. All he ever sees us bring in is grumpy stressed cats.

She really is sweet though: no sulking, no resentment. We're back to chatting and lap-seeking within the afternoon.
abendgules: (callig_cats)
Last night's conquest: a mouse, sort of.

I'm all over it. It won't get away.

abendgules: (attention)
We recently discovered that Haggis is a box cat.

It shows our shameful neglect of her comfort, that it took us a year to bring a good-sized box into the living room for her to colonise. We hang our heads as shabby cat 'owners'.

abendgules: (hot choc comfort)
Last week was broken up by New Year's day, which I spent mostly snoozing or reading. It felt like Sunday night on Wednesday, and felt like Monday on Thursday. The highlight was finding that the day that felt like Tuesday was actually Friday - straight into a weekend.

This week is uninterrupted back to work-ness: most people back in the office, usual routines returning. Certainly commuting transportation was back to its usual squeezed-ness: takes 3-5 buses passing before one stops to let anyone on, no seats on the Tube right away. I'd be very happy if the whole year could run like Christmas period: no schoolage kids on the transportation, parents out of the office, easing pressure on transport just enough to enable it to run smoothly.

We've looked at the calendar, and ruled out most events this winter and spring, in favour of hunting for housing. So not a great deal to relieve the tedium of winter work. Sigh.

So since there's not a lot on - have some kittehs. Well, one kitteh, multiple times.

We already live over another flat, so our windows are one storey up. It would be a big drop for a cat, not a jump a cat would choose without an intermediary step.

Knowing this, I don't know why adding another 2' of height as she balances on the window frame makes me so much more nervous, compared to her sticking her schnozz out from the usual window-ledge level. She's not really at any greater risk from that extra height, but I flap like a chicken...


She gained these dizzy heights in pursuit of flies, this summer. Flies are excellent entertainment, and she's quite good at cornering them against the window and pouncing. Delicious - the self-serve snack that staves off boredom.


On to winter mode: more snuggling, snoozing and flopping.

Cat-like typing detected: this is Haggis guiding Robert's gaming, elbow on the spacebar, on my ancient slab of a Windows laptop.

haggis - the paw that controls the keyboard controls the world

Later that week: Haggis stakes her claim on someone's lap. I've known many cats who occupy a lap with commitment, enthusiasm and serious sprawl - never seen one splay like this to make sure noone can edge their way in.

abendgules: (abbey_cats)
...more offerings from the Guardian - cats doing yoga.

Since our network was once more down for half a day, I'm only now catching up on my daytime surfing...
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
...the cat brings her mouse into the house to play with it, cause it's too wet and yucky outside.

Harley was a mighty hunter and a proud one, telling us all about her exploits as she trotted up the stairs with a mouthful of mouse, keeping it just a little bit alive to round out the experience at home - to share with the incompetent non-hunters who needed teaching, I suppose.

Haggis had not, til now demonstrated her hunting skills, past chasing pencils around the bare floors. This is her first fall with us.

She brought her fully alive and kicking treasure in after midnight without comment, and it was the scrabbling in the dark that woke me. It was clearly too damp and chilly to play with it outside - far better to do laps round the bedroom, warm and dry, chasing it under all the furniture, flattening herself, stampeding the herds of dust rhinos from their underbed savannah habitats as she went.

Neither Robert and I could get a handle on this mouse - we could barely see it, it was so fast - and Haggis wasn't helping. And I was tired. So I took the easy option - stuffed my ears with earplugs and went back to sleep.

Next morning, it was clear that this toy hadn't wound down yet, but we still couldn't grab it from under Haggis' attentions. What fun, a game everyone could play! til finally it vanished...somewhere near a bag full of medieval clothes that, ah, still weren't unpacked from Raglan.

Haggis was stuck, and did circuits round and round the bag, very puzzled. I emptied the bag in one great heap on the bed and shook out the bag - no mousie.

We had to go to work, so we left an exhausted Haggis flopped on the bedroom floor.

I had visions of chasing this mouse around the house; of finding a rotting little corpse under my bed; of a headless wee body, like the one Harley left for me one birthday a couple of years ago, its ghost still hanging around the bedroom like Moaning Myrtle.

After work, I carefully shook out the pile of clothes, one item at a time, and sure enough, there was a stubborn? lucky? mouse clinging in the folds of my cloak. It managed to stay put long enough for me to carry it downstairs, and didn't leap for its life til it caught a whiff of fresh air - at least, that's what appeared to happen - maybe it was just lucky with its timing.

Hunting has given Haggis an appetite - she's inhaled all her kibbles from yesterday and today. We've seen her get the 10pm crazies before, but this was new. Can't decide if we're irritated or proud of her.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
Photos from a historian's study of Croatian business documents - Flickr

Story written up in April.

Cheers [livejournal.com profile] dr_zrfq! I posted it to Dragonscribes too.

Cat paw prints on a medieval manuscript

Cats and scribing, what's not to like? Beats work any day.
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
Everyone needs more kittehs on the intawebs.

23 sleeping positions illustrated by cats
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
...from the comfort of our pavilion.


Some of our kit was just transferred to our flat this week from the Vitus-wagon, including the pavilion canvas, snug in its Terafan-coloured canvas bag.


You'd think we'd made her a giant canvas cushion.
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
I'm always charmed by how different each cat is, yet how the essence of humans = staff remains.

Harley liked laps on her own terms - Haggis will seek out laps quite assertively, making do with what's available no matter how unlikely, and flinging herself down for belly rubs and scritches. She sometimes gets her fill and wanders off, but she enjoys a lot more lap than Harley.

Someone has clearly fed Haggis from the table, based on her attentiveness to our dishes, and her interest in whatever is happening on the counter. She did succeed in snaffling some ham that Robert dropped, which will only confirm her habits. Harley, and China before her, only ate cat food, and didn't really notice human food - except cleaning out cereal bowls was a China perk. I can't honestly remember if she already knew of this treat or I taught it to her.

Both Harley and China loved being brushed. Haggis at first wasn't keen, and hopped away, but it turned out to be our fault - we were using the wrong brush, silly humans.  The wiry brush is the Haggis brush, not the soft bristly one.

And so far, despite her thick fur, Haggis has shed very little, even with attentive brushing, whereas Harley has a thin coat that shed easily, and China had the best of both worlds - a thick coat that shed in clouds.

Harley wanted to check every cupboard and enclosed space. After an initial survey, Haggis has hardly bothered with any enclosed spaces, preferring windows, and beds.

Haggis hasn't noticed the tv, where Harley watched nature documentaries, especially ones with flying birds.

Today, I found that Haggis, like Harley and China, prefers to catch her own water source, and will squish her face deep into a glass at the expense of her whiskers, for the sake of 'found' water, over water served in a dish. 
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
Earlier this week I laid out a pattern to cut out fabric, and found myself getting helped by Haggis.

First she had to ensure that any pencils under the fabric were removed, right now - it couldn't wait!

Then she had to keep checking under the fabric, to make sure no new pencils had snuck in while she'd been chasing the first one. This involved some serious pouncing and sliding up under the fabric, to make sure it wasn't hiding anything. If you've ever been helped by a cat, you know what I mean.

Then any stray threads - like on the fabric edge - had to be taken care of, as well as any loose ones on the floor.

Much more help like that and she'll be evicted from the living room...

Haggis hardly stirred when we ran the vacuum cleaner - she didn't enjoy it, but wasn't disturbed by it, and only grudgingly left her spot when we vacuumed the living room. But with the sewing machine!

Yesterday, I hauled out the sewing machine to assemble the first draft of hose for Robert, and you'd think I'd cracked open the Haggis Torment Device.

As I started it, she woke up, and started stalking the foot pedal - but very nervously, not happily the way she stalks strings and pencils. Everytime I stepped on it she jumped as if it had lashed out at her.

She eventually retired to the sofa, but as I kept running the machine on and off, she couldn't rest - kept rousing to watch the pedal, to see what fresh threats it might contain, and then watching the thread bobbin spinning on the top of the machine.

It was clearly Not a Friendly Device, but I've no idea why - I've never seen a cat react this way to a sewing machine.

Threads in general, though, are most welcome - little snips of thread that drift about in the air and collect dust - they're the bomb to chase around our uncarpeted floors. Tiny toys (needles, pins) are a hit, which is a bit worrying.

At bedtime, Haggis was still Out, so Robert went to call her In.

She replied she was busy in the schoolyard exploring, and while she wanted to come in, she wasn't sure how - all the handy holes in the fence have been thoughtlessly mended, and she'd clearly forgotten how to get back.

She eventually had to climb the metal grid fence like a ladder, which left her perched on the top of the fence, about a 12-foot drop from the ground, which was not acceptable to her.

Robert had to coax her round to a lower fence a couple of doors down. After that she accepted a scooping, and conceded to wipe her paws and dry her coat on my duvet, and tell me about it all. 
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
After some discussion, we now think that our puss's name is...Haggis: Haggis of Haggerston. Or maybe 'Aggis, here in the East end.

She's round, and brown, and delightful, and she loves belly rubs, just like the, uh, native species. What's not to like?

ETA: I should clarify. She does not have legs shorter on one side than the other, to help running round hills faster like the Scots variety.


abendgules: (Default)

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