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Blog party weekend

I haven’t written for a couple of days, for a reason that will be come apparent. I’ll tell you about the weekend, though I’m afraid the mood will darken towards the end.

But let’s go with the cheerful, aka the Blog Party. We were going to be a fairly select bunch this time. At one time, we’d thought it would be a dozen or more, but Rose wasn’t able to be here. Vicus Scurra had also said he might come though it was unlikely. Since he didn’t opt in, I assumed he was opting out, which was a mistake – quantity didn’t matter there as much as quality, because he’s a strict vegetarian and I hadn’t catered for him.

All the same, what a delight when he turned up. We’d already sat down to lunch and he strolled in. I don’t think anyone here had met him – there’s a standing invitation to his place and, now that I’ve tasted Shila’s cooking, I’m taking him up on it, frankly (er, cup of tea is plenty darling, I’m hardly dropping any hint at all) – but we all knew him from his blog and Facebook. Also, Sir Bruin and the Small Bear, Zoe (my boyfriend is a twat) and Mike Da Hat (not the boyfriend in question), Indigo Roth and his lovely Lisa, Ro, Dora and Rufus came along. Oh, and Scout the dog. Sir B and Liz, and Ro and Dora have never missed a blog party, the darlings.

Well, I enjoyed it. I hope others did too. When Vicus arrived, my mind turned hastily to food that I could whip up in minutes (which I could have, of course) but he assured me that he didn’t want to be fed, and produced lovely food instead. Remember it as ‘underwear,’ darlings, but it’s actually Ondhwa, which is a savoury, spicy cake and very delicious and really *squeaky voice* quite spicy. And then, a sort of layered oaty number, with the central layer being a mixture of date, fig and apricot. Honestly, he can come again, and I’ll give him lunch next time into the bargain.

Zoe and Mike, with Scout, stayed the night. Scout the border collie stayed out of the way, because he’s a tactful dog and he and Eloise cat are wary of each other, but they both coped well. LT and I don’t normally watch the Eurovision Song Contest – I think I did, the year after Russell died, because it made Facebook more fun to read the comments on each act, but Tim is actually musical and he winced volubly at most of the entrants. It has to be said, none of the performers was as bad as Madonna though. Whew. Time to retire perhaps. And both he and I picked the winner as the only one with any musical merit, we reckoned (though I also had quite a soft spot for Australia for their performance). We also picked the loser, but the only surprise there was that the UK didn’t get nul points.

We drank a lot, I’m afraid. I took North Macedonia as the test and, if it could be said three times correctly, the speaker needed more wine. North Macedonia isn’t as challenging a tongue-twister as I thought it was, so the bottles lined up during the evening.

So it was, as far as the egotistical Z is concerned, a lovely day. Rose came home for a rest, but was too tired to join us. I couldn’t sleep so, when she texted me to say she’d gone back to the hospital, I was awake to remember that I hadn’t checked on her chickens. This was about 1.30 am – I nipped downstairs and she’d shut them in, so I shut them in their sleeping quarters.

She sent me another message at 8 o’clock. Her sweetheart, lovely Dave, died in the night. It wasn’t expected though his time was known to be limited. Until she’d contacted those people she needed to, and then made the sad news public, I couldn’t tell you; but I couldn’t not either, so I wrote nothing. We’re glad to have known him, He was one of the best.

There are photos but they’re Mike’s – I’ll ask if I may put any of them on here.

Raising a glass to Rose on her birthday

Eloise cat is doing very well. Her wound is starting to heal, she occasionally licks it but stops when told and she just wants lots of cuddles now. She has learnt that, if she starts to get restless when we’re holding her, she’ll get put back in her cage. The soft collar is really good, but I don’t want to put it too tight, and a cat’s neck isn’t much narrower than its head, so she can claw it off if she wants to. It’s certainly much better than the plastic Collar of Shame.

The blog party is tomorrow – we’re all set. We went through today’s to-do list pretty briskly, in fact. Not that hoovering was involved, but we’re good with food and drink.

Rose probably won’t be here, but it’s her birthday so we’re drinking a toast to her this evening.

Z gets quite het up

Well, darlings, the day has been trying. I felt quite desperately anxious for a while. But I so feel for poor LT, who has to watch me all the time. It’s not easy, living with me, you know.

It started okay, after a slight hiccup when Tim woke with a start, thinking he could hear Eloise crying. Luckily I was already awake and knew it was a dove calling down the chimney. She – Eloise – had a good night and I put her painkiller on her breakfast pouch of meat, and that was fine.

I have sold a piece of china left from the last auction – most of it had been returned to the owners, but I had a few pieces left to sell next time, and this was one of them. A woman had contacted me from America, very keen to buy it and I had checked the postage price and she paid me yesterday; so I wanted to send it today. Tim had a bit of shopping to do because he’s making his famous leek quiche for the party, and I had some papers to sign and send back to my sister. So I packed up the china and signed the papers, Tim dropped me off at the post office and went to do the shopping and arranged to fetch me afterwards.

So far, so good, but that’s when it started to go awry. The box I’d packed the china in was one centimetre too big, one way. If it went to the next size, it would cost £58 (or something like that) rather than £16. So I took it back to put in a slightly smaller box. On the way home, we called in at the fishmonger for dressed crabs, because that’s Eloise cat’s favourite food. When we got home, we found that she’d been pulling at the dressing covering her wound and it was partly exposed. We tried putting on the plastic collar provided, but it was hopeless – it jutted way past her face, she wouldn’t have been able to eat or drink and it terrified her. She was trying to scramble up the bars of her cage. So I went off to ask advice from the vets – but on the way, I thought the pet shop would be a better place. We hadn’t bought one of the soft collars that Kippy recommended, but I thought they’d have them there.

People don’t necessarily drive with any consideration, do they. In the road where the pet shop is, there are three parking spaces. The back one was unoccupied, but the estate car in the middle had parked so badly that there was only half a space left. Frankly, darlings, I was anxious and stressed and past caring very much, and parked to block someone in a driveway (though it was likely to be okay, as it was the driveway to the local caff and probably it was the cook’s car, and they’d be there for a couple more hours). The woman at the pet shop tried to help, but all their collars were too big or too small. So I went to the chemist and bought tape to keep the dressing on, instead. There was no irate person hemmed in by my bad parking fortunately. I’d have apologised profusely and quite possibly cried with remorse, which would probably have got me off the hook.

On the way home, someone opened his car door just as I was driving past, but luckily I was well out in the road and a minor swerve missed him. Then, another guy who was waiting for me suddenly moved forward when there wasn’t room, so we both had to brake and carefully manoeuvre when that shouldn’t have been necessary. Then, in our road, which is fairly narrow but quite wide enough for two cars, the oncoming car was bang in the middle of the road so that I had to stop, and I wondered if he’d actually hit me. He noticed in the end and moved over so that driving up the bank was enough. I can only think the sunshine has addled people’s brains.

We taped up Eloise’s leg, but she soon tore the tape off again. So I phoned the vet and a nurse was able to fit us in. Eloise had been in enough pain to rather lacerate my neck, though it was completely accidental, but she wore her halo when Jenny patched her up. However, within ten minutes she’d got the dressing off again and we gave up. It seems to be that which annoys her, she hasn’t bothered the wound. We did manage to measure her head and I’ve ordered a soft collar for her, but the nurse is doubtful that it’ll stop her licking if she’s persistent, as cats are so agile and can reach past most obstacles.

I repacked the china, but I couldn’t find the packing tape. I’d bought two new rolls at the Factory Shop and put them in my bag, and I took them out when I went off to the vet. I’ve no idea where I put them. I already had mislaid Eloise’s cat harness and finally found it in my bag, but I certainly had removed the sticky tape. It wasn’t worth searching for more time than it took to look in all possible places three times, so I packed the china, went and bought more tape, and finally posted the china.

Things started to look up after that. Eloise tore her new dressing off again, but she hasn’t bothered the wound. I went and spent 40 minutes or so in the greenhouse, potting up tomatoes and other plants. The chickens went to bed, though the sun was still shining, because they’re really quite good natured. Lovely Tim cooked dinner. Eloise wanted a cuddle and, for the first time, didn’t struggle to get down. I still haven’t found the tape, but I no longer care. Dinner was delicious and we seem to have drunk all the wine. Whoops. Tim is going to make Famous Leek Quiche tomorrow while I’m out for lunch with girlfriends. Oh, and Eloise loved the crab for her lunch. I’m limiting the food she’s allowed, as she would easily put on weight while she’s shut up, but I weigh it and leave an allowance for the odd treat.

I had possibly the cheapest vet bill I’ll ever have. Jenny provided us with four extra plasters and we were charged £3.31.

Home

All is back where it should be, though Eloise cat doesn’t think so. Tim arrived home for a late lunch and we left for the vet’s at a quarter to four this afternoon. We left with just enough time, which feels late to me, but it was my misjudgement that was responsible. I made yoghurt and bread today – this works quite well as I put the milk on to boil, weigh out the bread ingredients, start that off in the mixer, take the hot milk off, add the seeds to the dough while the milk cools, put it to prove and then clear up and add the yoghurt starter to the milk, then put it in the Thermos – all in twenty minutes or so. I set a timer for three hours for the dough to prove, and that was my mistake. Anything over two hours is adequate and I hadn’t realised that I was cutting it fine. As it was, the second rise in the loaf tin had to be cut by five minutes and the cooking time by two, to give an hour to make a 57 minute journey. I really don’t like to be late, as you can tell.

When we’d been on our way for a few minutes, the satnav announced that there was a hold-up ahead and it was diverting. It didn’t explain where the hold-up was, though. We got down the A140 and, just before we should have joined the A14, it directed us down a side road. It was delightful. I guess that it cut out a few miles in distance, since it was certainly slower in terms of speed, but it went through lovely countryside and pretty villages. Presumably there was a delay on the A14 or on the approach to Ipswich – we arrived a comfortable two minutes early, and there’s always a wait anyway because they build that into the appointment system. It was such a pleasant route that we came back that way too and I’ll use it next time as well.

Poor little Eloise has a shaven back leg with a plaster on, but the operation was a success and she now has a nylon prosthetic ligament. The ligaments at the sides are okay and so is the other knee. The joint was badly dislocated and the vet had some difficulty in getting everything into the right place, but it’s firmly in situ now. Eloise isn’t thrilled at being shut in, but she’s all right and has eaten and drunk. She found it hard to climb into her litter tray, so I removed it and put in a shallower tray. I just took her out for a cuddle, but she wanted to jump down and so I didn’t keep her out for long.

We have an appointment in four weeks and possibly after that she might have limited freedom. We’d been told she’d be in her cage for three months but the vet says it might be nearer six weeks, which would be good, even if she has to stay in the house after that for a few more weeks. At least she’s home and well.

Only Z

I’m alone in the house for the first time in nearly four years. It was June 2015 when I brought Eloise cat home with me. Tonight, she is at the vet’s surgery in Ipswich, recovering from her knee operation, and Tim is in Reading.

You may remember how it was that Eloise came to live here, but I’ll remind anyone who has forgotten the details. I spent a lot of time, the year and a half after Russell died, with our lovely friend Linda, or Ziggi as she was known in Blogland. Linda had four cats, though three of them really belonged to her daughters; two dogs; a tortoise and three ponies. When her cancer recurred, her neighbour Kirstie gave her a kitten to bring her good luck. Linda and her daughters loved the Eloise books by Kay Thompson, about the little girl (Linda said that she was reputed to be based on the young Liza Minelli) who lived with her nanny in the Plaza Hotel in New York. They are delightful, if you’ve never come across them. She decided to call the kitten after the child.

Eloise was born two days after Russell died, as it happens, on my granddaughter Zerlina’s birthday on 20th August. I visited in the October, and frequently after that. But Linda’s younger daughter, Baby Doc on her blog, became allergic to the kitten. This seems odd when there were so many other animals in the house, but the others were long haired breeds; three Ragdolls and a Birman, and Eloise is half Ragdoll and half a shorthair, and maybe her dense coat is dustier. Then Linda started to sneeze every time Eloise came near her. She reluctantly decided to rehome her. She couldn’t give her back to Kirstie, as she only lived opposite and Eloise would come and go across the road, and would be in danger and never really leave. I must have looked stricken when she told me, because she said, would I like first refusal?

I’ve never had a cat before. I grew up with dogs, lots of them. I said yes though and the next time I visited, Eloise came home with me. She was ten months old then and she didn’t enjoy the journey at all. She was bewildered when she arrived too, shot straight under the bureau and, when she eventually emerged, I discovered that it’s really quite cobwebby under there. It didn’t take her long to settle in though. Although she was just a kitten, she’d had to keep calm in a small house with so many other pets and, though tortoiseshells have a reputation for a feisty temperament, she is Ragdoll enough to be pretty laid back. I let her in a bit more of the house every day and, in less than a week, she was exploring the garden. She’s never wandered far, to my relief. When we can’t find her, it’s usually because she’s asleep on a spare room bed or else has quietly climbed into the car while we’re getting the shopping out and is asleep on the parcel shelf. She isn’t fond of other cats and dogs and prefers being an only cat.


The vet’s receptionist phoned earlier to say that Eloise cat was recovering from the anaesthetic and had been given some food. I’ll phone in the morning and they’ll tell me when I can come to pick her up. Tim is coming home tomorrow too, so this is the only night when I’ll be alone. It’s very quiet. The only sound is the ticking of the old Dutch clock in the hall.

Springtime

I went out for supper with my book group friends last night. The hedgerows are at their peak at this time of the year, with the grass fresh and vibrant, the cow parsley in flower and nothing yet rank and tired. I drive three or four miles along a country lane, stopping to pick up other people on the way to whoever’s hosting the evening. Who picks up whom, or whether someone walks or cycles, depends on whose turn it is, but I always drive as it’s quite some way.

I slowed down for a pair of partridges. He was on the right side of the narrow road and would have been quite happy to swerve off into the verge. But his wife would have none of it. She trotted on in the middle of the road, agitated but determined. He loyally carried on behind her and I stopped, hoping they’d move aside. They didn’t, so I crawled on behind them until eventually they moved, first him to the hedge on the right and then her to the left. Luckily, neither changed their mind as I edged past.

A few yards on, a hare skittered along. Such a pleasure to see. I do love hares, with their absurd ears and their long back legs. They’re threatened by a form of myxomatosis, but this one looked healthy. Later, my friend Gill told me that it seems to have spent itself out for now, the remaining hares are looking okay.

I picked up Annie and we drove on. A hedgehog ambled in front of us, a rare sight nowadays. We fetched Helen and Anne and went on for a delightful evening with the others.

On the way home, with just Annie in the car again, I rounded a corner – luckily, I never go very fast on that road – and there was a little owl (the breed as well as the size) crouched on the tarmac. I jinked past it thankfully – how awful if I’d hit it – and thought, I’d seen a greater variety of wildlife than I usually do in a week.

This month’s book is Artemis Cooper’s autobiography of Elizabeth Jane Howard. She – EJH, that is – was a customer of Al’s for a number of years, in the days when she had frequent house parties and put in big orders for fruit and veg. He used to deliver to her, just down the road from his shop. One day, he added a card and a bunch of flowers. The next week, she dropped in to thank him. “How did you know it was my birthday?” He said that he’d seen it in the paper, not quite liking to say that he’d been reading her autobiography. She was really quite frank about her love life and he was slightly embarrassed, she being the same age as his grandmother. In fact, slightly isn’t quite strong enough. In the end, he gave the book to me, unfinished. He said he just felt too awkward, reading all that about someone he knew.

Tomorrow and tomorrow

Clearly, when I say tomorrow, I mean sometime in the future. I use my phone nearly all the time I need the internet, yet I prefer to blog via the computer, so I don’t always get here.

Dave had his operation successfully, and they hope he’ll come home tomorrow – Tuesday, that is.

Eloise cat has nearly shaken off her flu. She just sneezed over Tim – this is a little after 9pm – having hardly sneezed all day; and her eyes and nose have been fine. She’s eating normally, so I don’t have to squirt her painkillers into her mouth but can put the liquid on her food.

The very good news is that she loves her new cage. We bought a four foot long dog crate – she is going to have to live in it for three months (it’s the length of the crate rather than the dog, as you well know). We’ve set it up, leaving the door open, and she was investigating it within minutes. You know how curious cats are, reputedly – they are in fact. We fed her in there yesterday and, today, I put a duvet cover in there for her to walk on, and an old woollen jumper of mine for a bed. Within minutes, she was having a nap on it. The tricky bit will be that she will have to have her litter tray in the same space, which will not come naturally to her. So I’ve bought a covered one. Once she’s happy with using it in the cloakroom, I’ll put the cat flap on it and, once she’s learned that, I’ll put it in the cage. We are not letting her outdoors at all. Now she’s feeling better, she asks to go out, but we don’t let her. The other thing I’m doing is weighing her food, so I know how much she eats. She will be almost immobile for three months and she needs to lose a bit of weight, not gain it. Trying to find out how much to give her, ideally, isn’t easy though. Guidelines on wet and dry food are for that food only, not a mixture.

Having taken my bike in to be serviced, I popped in on Friday morning to ask when it would be ready. Later in the afternoon – but the weather was iffy, so I said I’d come by the next day. But Saturday brought somewhat challenging weather – it could turn from bright sunshine to a sharp hailstorm and then back again within minutes. There was also a chilly wind – I did not want to cycle in it, even though it’s not much over a mile – the road is open to fields on each side and quite exposed. So I dropped in to pay the bill, buy a new pump and arrange that I’d fetch it when the weather improves. Sometime in August, perhaps… Anyway, it’s got two new wheels and inner tyres, I hope it has new handlebar grips and the brakes etc have been serviced. I’ve spent enough to be quite keen to get my money’s worth.

Dave’s sister Sue is staying with us at present, and she will come through for a chat before bed soon. They’re all being stalwart, Dave too. Life continues.

A bit gloomy at the Zedery

Well, we had the results we were expecting, hoped not to have but they aren’t the worst they could be. In short, Eloise has a cruciate rupture and it’s quite badly gone, with evidence that it’s been damaged for some time before it finally tore. So an operation is clearly the best option. She will have to be pretty well immobile for three months, so I’m checking out cages that will be big enough for a litter tray and living quarters.

Her sneezing is nothing to do with anything inhaled, but down to cat flu. She has tonsillitis. It’s not too bad – an antibiotic injection a week ago was fortuitous, and no further treatment is required. It’s totally coincidental, nothing to do with the leg problem.

The local vet can operate on the cruciate ligament, but a specialist orthopaedic vet will be better. As our vet Louise explained, their practice might do one or two a month, but Shane in Ipswich does two or more a day. Success is pretty well guaranteed, as long as the aftercare is right.

We’re anxious, but we’ll do the best possible, so it’s the operation and an incarcerated summer and we hope Eloise cat will cope reasonably well.

Think of Rose and her darling Dave (aka Lawrence). He has a broken humerus and will be operated on tomorrow morning. It’s pretty serious, in his state of health, so we can only trust the doctors and hope.

Cat scan

I spoke too soon in regard to Eloise cat. She sneezed a lot over the weekend and then she developed a snuffly cough. Yesterday, I phoned the vet and they were able to fit us in at 2.30

The good thing is that her chest is clear and she doesn’t seem to be actually ill. There is no reason to think she has had an allergic reaction to anything and, though her eye is rather runny, there does not appear to be an infection – though the antibiotic injection she had last Thursday is still effective. I feel it’s quite likely that she has inhaled something, maybe a feather or some fluff, and it got lodged somewhere in her trachea and is maybe now in a sinus, but I’m guessing. Her leg joint is still rather clicky. As we have an appointment for Thursday morning – tomorrow, that is – we won’t feed her breakfast and they may decide to admit her and give her a proper examination under anaesthetic. I say I won’t feed her in the morning, but actually she’s almost stopped eating. She’s quite miserable, though not really ill.

There always must be some good news though and, in this case, it’s that Tim’s driving licence is being returned. He’d been told it was worth applying in six months, though they might have insisted on twelve. A clean bill of health from the doctors, following his MRI scan, has done the job. He’s just had this verbally so far, so is keeping an eye on the DVLA website to know when he’s officially back in the driving seat.

As it happens, I have decided not to be quite so lazy as I have been recently, and have taken my bike in to be serviced. It needs new tyres and a general overhaul. I also need a lesson in using the foot pump to pump up the tyres – I’ve never mastered fixing it to the valve. Tim had a go yesterday and he couldn’t do it either. So I had to walk the bike into town, as it wouldn’t fit in the back of the car, rather annoyingly. Still, the mile or so over the Dam (in these parts, this is a road over a flood plain/water meadows) is a pleasant stroll and I enjoyed it enough to do it again today. Parking in the town is not easy and it gives a feeling of satisfaction to sail past those searching for a space, fasten the bike to a post and stroll on into the shops. I used to walk a lot before I had bad hips, but now I’m disinclined to carry all my shopping home, so bicycle it is.

Rah for RasPutin

I will catch up with those photos, but I didn’t sleep after all, the night before last, so I didn’t feel like doing much yesterday.

Eloise cat is rather better, but we can’t tell if it’s because she’s in less pain because of the medicine or because she’s healing. She’s more mobile and more agile, but still limps and is resting a good deal. But at least she’s quite cheerful and affectionate, and is being patient.

The weather is frankly rubbish and I haven’t done a thing in the garden. I’ve got sweetcorn and runner beans to plant out, but that’s not happening yet. Much as I love growing vegetables, I have become disheartened and I do wonder if I can be bothered for much longer. Enthusiasm lessens over the years.

I had said to LT yesterday that RasPutin, the feral tomcat and father of our barn cats, hadn’t been about for a couple of months. I wasn’t actually concerned about him, taking the view that he comes when he’s hungry, but I know that eventually he’ll just disappear for good and I’ll never know what happened. And then he was there yesterday morning, waiting outside the chicken’s greenhouse when I let them out, asking for breakfast. I greeted him affectionately and he stood on his hind legs to be cuddled. Then I had to put out extra food because he pushed the other cats out of the way. So he’d evidently had a poor night’s hunting, but he looks healthy and not thin. I haven’t seen him since, but that doesn’t matter.