Thank you

Dec. 21st, 2012 01:28 pm
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
to the many folks with kind words about Harley.

We miss her; the cat-shaped hole is much larger than her size would suggest. I've caught myself preparing to call her to the door (she preferred having the door attended by staff, over managing the flap herself), and talking to her during my morning wash and dress routine. Its very quiet, both because her conversation is gone, and neither Robert nor I have her to chat to.

While putting her to sleep now was easier on her, it was a relief to us too. Both of us were feeling low watching her get lethargic and sluggish. It was becoming the House of Heavy Sighs, worrying about her food intake, and whether she was in pain. 

Our lovely neighbours with whom we swapped catsitting duties asked us to wait on their two lads over the holidays, and we're glad of the feline company; they have a fine pair of Laurel-and-Hardy tuxedo types, one skinny and silly, one large and more conservative.  One of Robert's gaming mates has invited us to visit over the holidays to see their pusscat, who I've cared for in the past. 

I've tagged all the posts I can find about her 'madam', if you're interested in the progress of her life with us from August 2009 onward. Most of them are public.

These pictures show her at her best.
abendgules: (kittysnail)
We took Harley to the vet this morning. 

The lymphoma on her small intestine had grown in the past two weeks, and was noticeable from the outside as her belly was getting larger. She'd lost weight, so even though her belly was curved, she was getting increasingly bony everywhere else.

She was having trouble finding comfortable positions for sitting and lying, laps were no longer comfy, and she was increasingly retreating to quiet places in the house to be by herself. Her fine conversation was dropping off, though she'd still purr when stroked or brushed.

We talked it over, and felt we'd rather say goodbye while she was still moderately well, rather than dragging out a lengthy illness.

So last night we fed her as much jellied mush as she could eat, and spent a lot of time on the sofa with her.

Today we asked the vet to put her to sleep, and kept her company as he did so, and cried.

We're both pretty wrung out. 
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
I'm at home this weekend, but it could be worse.
This pic is from earlier in the autumn, when our boiler wasn't working, and we were both wrapped up warmly indoors. It's a lovely sweater, but usually too warm to wear.
Heating now works, but Madam's habits are harder to change.

autumn2012 060

And so is my furniture
autumn2012 063

Note scribing slope to the left.
abendgules: (Default)
...where we gradually whittle down the post-Raglan lingering laundry pile (both mud and leather dye came out of the fitted gown I wore on one rainy day), and continue down the list of mending (new sleeve for a chemise, fencing mask edge re-glued), cleaning (multiple pairs of muddy shoes), and putting away (linens, canvas).

My underbed boxes, and their cousins the garment bags, are giving up the ghost - the box lids just don't last, even if the boxes themselves are fine, and the garment bags aren't made to be handled, hauled about - I think they're made for storing stuff indefinitely.

I have a plan to order new boxes, in the continuing battle against the moths that chomp on our wool clothing. Guess what the Plastic Box Shop sells online?

Last week marked Harley's anniversary  with us. It was an August long weekend 2009, post-Raglan, that we returned from a movie and spoke to a chatty little calico cat who had wandered into our close. She was still hanging around the house in the morning and Robert fed her a hot meal of lamb and rolled oats, and it was all over bar the screaming (ie. the visit to the vet).

n our culturally uber-hip household, we're viewing Buffy season 6 (including the brilliant musical episode, watched 3 times) and Blackpool, a BBC drama from 2004. It's a slightly bizarre story where characters burst into contemporary song once in awhile, to accentuate their feelings.

I'm enjoying it mainly for the David Tennant quotient - the rest of the characters aren't that likeable.

On the 'going out' front, we've found a London Fields brewery opened this weekend, with an intro event set in the railway arches near London Fields station on Sunday - foodie stalls, crafty boutique stalls, gourmet gelato (the chocolate was very good, I wasn't ready to try the blood-orange and white wine flavour) and local beer with seating on pallets and beer barrels.

The clientele was very like the usual Satuday Broadway Market variety - youngish hipsters and creatives. I felt almost too old to be admitted.

However, this makes two local breweries opened in Hackney in a matter of months - perhaps there's hope for an east-end renaissance, at least on the beer-drinking front?

abendgules: (fierce)
We've had a number of large tomcats circling the close this year; I think the oldest and crustiest is losing his control in the face of new incomers. One is a very attractive ginger spiral tabby - attractive on the outside, anyway. 

But when you come home to find him in your living room....he's not nearly as cute. We'd caught him in the act of housebreaking via the catflap, and he'd been there long enough to leave a musky smell of tom behind (not the marking-territory-piss smell, just musk). 

Even less cute is the snarling spitting snapping raging furbag of claws and teeth that Robert grasped with a welding glove (just back from fencing practice) and carried out by the scruff, at the end of his long arm, and flung firmly into the close.

Poor Harley was well out of her league though she made a valiant defense, and she spent the next hour creeping and skulking around the flat, checking the living room window as if expecting him to appear in it any time. She didn't want to nestle in bed but preferred to lurk on the stairs keeping watch, and only retired an hour after bedtime.

Our vet has said we can bring in nuisance toms to be neutered - it's a free service, because they are a pest, and east London is overrun with unwanted cats. Next time we catch him, he's going straight into the carrier. He can sit and spit outside all night.
abendgules: (callig_cats)
We've had a couple of new toms circling the close; a lovely-looking ginger tabby, and a mostly-black cat with a white moustache.

Black guy managed a home invasion during our kitteh interregnum, got trapped via a one-way catflap and got thoroughly dosed with lavender water. He's steered wide of us since then...but he's still circling.

These are in addition to a beaten-up looking tabby we nicknamed Tom Jones for his singing showtunes at our doorway over the past few years. He's been looking increasingly old and worn-out and I think the newer arrivals are encroaching.

Both of them are marking turf, including around our flat entrance. We've had recent incursions from them testing the cat flap, and marking indoors - when we're away for a weekend, for instance.

The flap has a bell on it to let us know when it's in use, and to help us deter stealth visitors with sprayed water and other annoyances...if we can catch them.

Meantime, this week, we're looking after our neighbours' handsome Laurel and Hardy pair of tuxedo-cats, Clyde and Bunk. Clyde is a skinny playful clown who wants attention, and isn't terribly bothered about loves; chunky Bunk is in it for the loves and has a tiny 'mew' that doesn't seem to match his size. If you brush him, he'll just lie there and let you.

So we spent yesterday evening jumping at every ka-tink-tink-tink of the catflap, only to find that the intruder was Clyde, looking for company. We'd been over to his flat to feed and visit, so he was simply returning the favour.

We cannot seem to convince Harley that the lovely neutered and well-mannered tuxedoed gents are not a threat, compared to the big thugly tomcats who piss on our door.

She takes grave exception to us visiting and chatting with these lads, heading them off with stern words, and shepherding us out of the close, but she doesn't have the same confidence for facing down the toms - at least, we haven't seen any confrontations, the toms knowing they're not welcome. They are probably twice her weight, so perhaps it's just as well.

So I think I'll be spending the evening negotiating with a very persistent and goofy feline visitor and trying to soothe a jealous feline heart betweentimes.
abendgules: (callig_cats) has valued my cat at £4.85 has valued my cat at £4.85.

...personally I think she's dreadfully undervalued.
abendgules: (kittysnail)
Robert made a new jupon for the Uffington Castle event last weekend. It still needs a bit of finishing, but I think it looks sharp.

Evidently Harley is a big fan as well. After one wearing, she buried her nose in the armhole for a snuggle. She was absolutely intent on some delicious smell coming from the jupon.

The fighting at Uffington was by all accounts very fine - 8 fighters, 12 folk total, met at Uffington castle to fight a Canterbury roll tourney, and then try some small-group melee tactics. It was blessed by bizarrely warm and sunny weather - southern England and Wales is having record-breaking heatwave weather this week.

They fought til early aternoon, then retreated to the pub. 

 Uffington is a Bronze age hillfort, adjascent to the White Horse - there are several white horses in the chalk downs, but this is the one most people know of. 

West dragonshire has some new fighters, and one of Thamesreach's newer fighters also took part. Robert handed a torc to the Romano-Brit gent who presented a very cool challenge , which was very apt.

ETA: thought it was Jon who organised the day - in fact, he's the one who's set up a second fight practice nearby (in Reading, for all those CBC listeners) - and made a cool challenge. The consequences of not being there!

Fight practice on an ancient historic monument, then afternoon at the pub - what's not to like?

I spent the weekend sewing, unpicking, and resewing. The princess' sideless surcoat needed some love and mending at the shoulder seams, where several pounds of black velvet and brocade make their views known.

With the hang of the fabric, the plain-line fess between the sable and azure has sagged, so it looks like the demi-sun is actually curved downwards.  Per fess sable and azure, a demi-sun droopy Or?

I'm also puttering with adding some shoulder shaping, so it hangs better on me - without permanently altering the surcoat.  At a minimum it has to be in better shape for the Far Isles event this weekend.
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
Over the past week almost everyone I've spoken to has asked about Harley's health.
Either my cat is more popular than I am, 
Or I need to get out more...

Here's Madam over the weekend, soaking up the heats available. The longer the supporting legs, the further she stretches. Note small baldy patch on R. foreleg from shaving. 

This compares well with a pic from December, in much the same pose, using the same heat source. You don't mess with a system that works.

We're still struggling to sneak more calories into Madam. Specially cooked-down lamb, pepperami, and tuna from the tin have been sniffed and passed over for basic kibble. Rich yoghurt got a couple of polite licks only. I appear to have a cat that has never, ever been fed treats. At all. 

She likes the store-bought squishy-packet cat food in jelly - slurping up all the jellied bits, and leaving the chunks behind for later, but I'm not convinced this is any more calorific than kibble. Kibble from Lidl is ok, but I'm not certain she's eating any more volume than usual. She's not so much picky as just, well, moderate.

Today one of my cat-mad co-workers came in with a takeawy tub of plain chopped chicken and rice for Harley. (She doesn't cook me special meals, sheesh...)

Aside from the challenges of cat feeding, my brain is full of painting. [ profile] jpgsawyer  is coming next weekend, to reclaim a box lid I agreed to finish for him with a full achievement of arms. Thankfully, Robert knows what an armet helm should look like, perched above the escutcheon.

I'm enjoying thinking in 3D for the mantling - it's reminiscent of the spirally acanthus leaf decor that Nerissa has recently taught me how to draw, though I still wish I had a pic of the original sketch, which was Trinite's work.

Robert and I also re-edged a small buckler with linen and glue, for fencing, and I have a handful of thank-you notes to finish painting to send with HRM Vitus to foreign lands.

At present, I'm planning to descend on the MG revel in Cardiff this coming weekend, with buckler in one hand and dip pen in the other. Looking forward to some good company!
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
 ...for both me and the pusscat.

Harley returned home on Friday, less some patches of shaved fur, and Robert stayed in to care for Madam over the weekend while I went to Dance moot.

She is rapidly returning to her usual self - snoozing on favourite spots, surveying the close to track other kitty activities, and heading out on patrol. When I called on Sunday she's headed out the door mid-morning, and still wasn't back in past noon. We're hoping the morning and evening crazies come back, where she bounces off the furniture dying to chase something.

It was sooo good to hear her purr when I got home!

The main concern now is that she's noticeably thinner. She's a petite cat, and now weighs 3kg, down from 3.25 - which from her perspective is 10% of her bodyweight - so her back and hips look bony to me, and she feels bony when you stroke her. She didn't have a lot of weight to spare to start with.  (Jeez, shell out hundreds of pounds and get less cat back - not even an upgrade...)

She seems to consider food as fuel, rather than entertainment (not a boredom eater), and doesn't seem troubled by missing meals - we're the ones worried about her weight.

Vet says feed her anything that appeals to her - whatever (meat) works to fill her out is ok. I'm hoping Robert the creative cook can come up with something!
abendgules: (hunh?)
I successfully picked up the pusscat from the Big Expensive Branch of Vet Hospital this AM, complete with taped-up IV cannula, and taxied her to Local Yokel Branch of Vet Hospital around the corner from us, where our trusted Saffa vet will do an 'exploratory laparotomy' (sp?) on Harley today.
Madam looks stressed, but resigned - turning her back to the opening, and trying to get comfy with a sore tummy and an inflexible foreleg.
Vet says it's not unusual to end up having to operate - scans just don't always tell you what's wrong, and it's fairly routine surgery.
Poor pusscat: after 4 days of 3 different antibiotics, she has the trots. I had to leave the carrier and towel with the vet staff to clean up after her, and go home to change my own clothes.
In their tiny cleanup area, they have cups holding sponges labelled 'ANIMAL' and 'HUMAN', so you don't swill out your teacup with the dog-dish cloth.
He promises to call early this afternoon.
In their kitchen, there were 3 bottles of champagne and 2 bottles of wine on the counter. Apparently lots of people like their vets, but the vet staff aren't that wild about champers. 
Any thoughts of other gifties suitable for a vet, from a grateful client?
I was thinking of a deluxe manicure offer from the local spa; all the staff have cracked skin and dermatitis from frequent handwashing.

ETA: Puss is spared the knife, at least overnight.
Temp is down, and she's eating on her own (we, and staffer, had been feeding her gushyfood off fingers pushed right under her nose, or by syringe). 
Vet prefers to wait and see if her temp stabilises near normal, and if she keeps eating. She'll stay overnight on a drip, and Robert can check in and hopefully collect her tomorrow. 
If temp goes up again, surgery is back on.
Antibiotics may or may not have helped - if the swelling and fever wasn't infection but 'just' bruising, it's cost her a bunch of tummy flora, but not really done much else. 
I'm sure she won't thank me for leaving her another day in a clinic full of noisy excited pets, but I sure am feeling better!

Thanks for many suggestions and expert advice about vet gifts. It's not 24 hrs (that's the Big Expensive Branch) but there's certainly several folks on the team there. Will consider other luxury-cream ideas!
abendgules: (catching snowflakes)

Being sick post-Yule Ball, and being busy at work, has cut into my posting, but I'm still reading, and very glad to hear other folks' news.

Here, take a kitty pic as space filler for the moment - take a few, they're small

Harley, supervising my scribing.

Harley making the most of the lap on offer:

She wasn't quite a puddle of puss, more like a slow ooooze, as she gradually stretched further and further down the length of Robert's legs - and then periodically had to pull herself up to keep from sliding right down his shins.

abendgules: (callig_cats)
 ...of course, we only have her word for it, based on what she brings home.
But she was darned if she was going to let Robert take mouse no. 3 off her when she triumphantly announced her prize to the house today.

It went straight under the sofa and into the  kitty pie for safekeeping, where she could play with it undisturbed.

Kitty pie (knitted bed based on Pi measurements) here modelled by the previous occupant. 
abendgules: (kittysnail)
Last week I got a call at work from Robert, to tell me that Harley had brought home her first mouse. :-) Enormously proud of herself, she brought it inside to play with it and show it off, before finishing it off and starting to dine.
We decided that the house is off-limits to mice, dead or alive (whenever we're consulted, anyway).
Yesterday she brought home the next one - still living - and we ejected her til she'd done with it. While we're proud of her mousing skills - mighty hunter puss! - bringing them indoors defeats the purpose.

Harley has now been with us for a year. It was the last August bank holiday when we were coming home from a movie, and found this small friendly puss within the close, who followed us into the house for a hot meal and good conversation.

She's a real joy to have in the house: chatty, sociable, playful, and endearing. I'm so glad she found us. One of the neighbours told us that 'where she's from' tortoiseshell cats are lucky. We feel pretty lucky ourselves.
abendgules: (womaninmotion)
Have felt painfully slack of late, and haven't run or walked at lunch for a couple of weeks. Especially felt it when heading out for a couple of circuits of the park today! wow. Must find a running buddy  to keep me honest.. con_girl, where are you?

Scribing up a storm right now, with visible improvements, which is encouraging. Did a couple of ID backlogs, while returning scribe Arianrhod, living in Flintheath, has made a clean sweep of almost all the rest of the unassigned ones.

Coffee definitely gives me the jitters, which affects my painting.

I now finally own a Linex line guide. It's not an intuitive item, but who knew that you could draw lines for scrolls so quickly (the most boring part of setup work)?

If you're a scribe and don't yet own one, RUN to the interwebs and find either a linex line guide or an Ames line guide. You won't regret it!

Last weekend ended up being something of a spring-clean, unintentionally. Robert successfully cleared an extremely ugly shelving unit and has stowed it in one of the cupboards - something I didn't  think would fit! - leaving our living space just a bit sparer. We both spent time weeding old DT and magazine piles, and clearing detritus from the living room. I struggle to put away my crafts materials; I have such hopes when I bring them out, such good intentions! but when I don't do the crafts, they then start to sulk and glare at me, collecting in corners, muttering amongst themselves. Sigh.

Harley puss continues to court admirers in the close; one of them followed her in the house at 2am on Mon night/Tues morning, to press his suit. I was woken by growling and hissing at the top of the stairs - fortunately not followed by indoor piddling this time. One of the toms, who we've dubbed the Singer, seems to visit just to howl a few feline showtunes, and then wander off, after marking the door. She tolerates him though - we've seen them nose-kissing in the schoolyard (useful things, kitchen windows).
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
Last week - feels like ages ago now - Harley went off her food, and barfed herself to an empty stomach. She spent a very subdued day on her favourite chair; no playing, no loves, no trots outside, no hopeful visits to the kitchen following us and, most distressing to Robert, no good conversation.

Robert duly took her to the V-E-T, which is a 15 min walk with a cat carrier. DO NOT WANT, said Harley!

Our lovely plain-spoken Saffa vet prodded and pulled and poked, hummed and hawed, did his best Gallic shrug, and said, yes, she has a non-specific illness. I can give her something to treat symptoms...or you can drop £300 on tests.

Much of veterinary medicine must be like this, when the patients are so uncommunicative about their ailments.

We went with symptom relief.
A dose of anti-nausea stuff, a shot of B vitamins to help appetite, an antibiotic, and a muscle relaxant(?), possibly to help bowels, not sure.

£77 for a non-specific illness. Ooooof.

After spending the rest of the afternoon sulking under the sofa (only venturing out with her tail down - had enough of that exam, thank you very much) Harley surfaced for a light meal of fish and bulgar wheat prepared by her personal chef, and then a long evening of serious lovin'.

She stretched out the length of my legs and purred and purred and purred and PURRED, all evening. Whatever that relaxant stuff was, it was good s***.

Madam got a one-night reprieve from the bedroom ban, on account of her condition.

From then, she has gradually regained her bounce: returning to the typical tail-up position, regaining her appetite, supported with custom meals, and finally her playfulness and sociable chatter.

So now I'm wondering: does anyone use pet insurance? I keep seeing flyers in the grocery stores.

We had a serious hard-sell call us at home, from a company that must buy mailing addresses from the pet microchip people, but fortunately Robert is immune to most telesales technique, having been on both sides of the phone.

Any suggestions?
abendgules: (kittysnail)
Robert and I spent the week after Coronation recovering from the collective Coronation cold. Thank goodness I now get sick days.

We're beginning to doubt the wisdom of winter Coronation: last year Robert caught the flu from little Typhoid Maria Clara (along with Vitus himself), and this year we both came down with colds. Maybe being more selective about winter events is in order.

This week I'm counting down the days til St. Ethelburga's, mainly because I'd promised myself I'd finish the German 16th c. gown. I spent a big chunk of Sunday adding a hem - a strip of linen-ish fabric that pulls the exterior skirt to the lining. Fiddly.  It looks 100 times better hemmed though.

The hooks and eyes are done; I found some petersham ribbon that will serve as lacing (can't find the cord I'd plied); I've wrestled a passable headdress together with old veils and headbands, and some hairpieces. You can't actually see the hair when the headdress is over it, but it gives the snood-substitute the right shape.

I'm still not happy with the hat; despite careful measuring I've made it too small  and too rigid by far, even with a bit of reshaping (v 1.1). All I can do is perch it on one side, pin like crazy, and pray it doesn't fall off. I think I'll have to redo the brim entirely (v 1.2) at a later time.

Hat 2.0 that I'm knitting won't be ready for awhile yet.

So now it's down to a test fitting tomorrow, to decide how much of the bust band to reshape so it'll pin, or hook and eye, into the bodice.

I've decided I'm not a very good 16th c clothier. I find the number of pieces required for an outfit to be daunting and discouraging, and it seems to be a lot of work for the returns, at least compared to things I can make more easily. I'll finish the pieces I have outstanding, but I don't think I'll choose to do more.

Harley the puss continues to charm and entertain us. We've discovered she watches TV; I think it's movement that catches her eye. She's really enjoyed David Attenborough's bird of paradise programme, and this evening she watched a good chunk of the documentary about leopards very intently. Long tails of monkeys (and cats) were a great hit.

Unfortunately today she's barfed a few times (a first), is off her food (unheard of!), and is generally very subdued. I think she's headed to the V-E-T tomorrow.

We had a very splendid session of fabric stamping on the weekend; [ profile] edith_hedingham , [ profile] armillary , [ profile] exmoor_cat , Katherine and Ozbeg came to ours, and we finished decorating the lengths of calico that Vitus donated to the shire with diapered patterns. They'll hide the modern walls at the site for Coronet, and I think they'll add a lot to the look and feel of the site.
abendgules: (hunh?)
Last night, after a fine dinner with Paul and Anne Robert and I retired to our manor in Hoxton for a quiet evening in with the puss.

Much to our annoyance, towards the end of the evening, we noticed a...smell from the ground floor.

The pissing tomcat had struck again, this time, while we were home: sneaking into the foyer, marking a doorframe (and a couple of cloth bags hung on the doorknob) and sneaking out again.

I thought I'd heard the catflap go bump, but I'd evidently heard Tom leaving, not arriving, the nervy beggar.

Fortunately we've unearthed our enzyme-based odour remover, so the door and floor got a dose, and we left the bags to soak in a solution overnight.

This Will Not Do.

I've hung some small bells from the lip of the catflap, in the hopes that we'll get a bit more warning about unauthorized entries.

Paul mentioned that a housemate used lavender water to deter toms - though I suspect the delivery through the water pistol may have had some influence. Has anyone else heard of the deterrent value of lavender? I'd previously heard of citronella working too.

I'd heard of distributing tiger poo around as fertiliser, but we've a dearth of zoo poo in our local hardware store (hmmm, reading up, it appears to work on prey species, not fellow felines. So it would definitely keep the wild goats out of our yard, but not necessarily help with the local tom).

abendgules: (scrooge)

...we'll see if it's successful, by how long the ornaments stay undisturbed. They're strung on cuphooks stuck into the frame of the staircase.

...and the reason for the cautious approach:

abendgules: (callig_cats)
We woke up to a suspicious smell in the flat on Monday: cat pee, specifically tomcat.

Sure enough, there was a small wet spot in the kitchen, dripping off the lower cupboard doors. This relatively small dose effectively 'marked' the kitchen, stairs and landings, though thankfully not the lounge.  

We suspect the local tom (a huge, scruffy, rough-looking tabby-and-white), or possibly Madam's on-again, off-again paramour Dexter (he's got form, as they say here).  

Dexter is spayed though, where the Rufty-Tuffty puss is still in full possession of his furry plums.  

We've had our doorway marked in the past, but marking indoors is new.  

So evening adventures are now curtailed for Madam Harley, at least for the duration.  

During the snowfall yesterday, Robert reported that Madam was in and out, in and out, in and out, tracking soggy mucky pawprints into the flat, so he took to luring her onto an old towel with the beloved String, and playing with her until her paws were dry.


abendgules: (Default)

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