Thursday, 22 December 2011

Happy Christmas

As the last few days before Christmas will, I'm sure, disappear in a haze of tidying, cleaning and possibly drinking ginger wine, I just wanted to wish you all a Happy Christmas. Thanks so much to those of you who have supported me in what has been a grim year, and I hope to catch up with you early in 2012.

And finally, it had to happen........

Note Monty and Leo's COMPLETE lack of concern for the chaos they have caused. After I righted the tree Leo stretched up on his tippy-toes and leaned on it hard so that it fell over again. Now I have weighed it down with a brick I found in the garden.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Beaded mohair cowl

I am just taking a few minutes out of busy Christmas wrapping to show you this. It's the only thing I have knitted this year and I'm proud of the fact that I actually managed to finish it, as I do have to confess to having several knitting projects on the go all still with needles in that may possibly not see the light of day again.
I love Rowan Kidsilk Haze and have always wondered if I could make anything meaningful with just one ball of it since it's so expensive, and the answer proved to be yes. I did a bit of internet searching and came across this pattern on the Knitty site which was perfect. I don't wear it up round my hair but just keep it round my neck, it just folds over at the top then so it's in two soft layers rather than one big tube - it's nice and cosy and better than a full length scarf for keeping on inside the house or office.

I thought I'd buy some beads first and then take them into John Lewis to match some wool up with them, and found some olive green silver lined ones which catch the light really well.

I've never knitted anything with beads before but in this pattern you follow a chart and use a crochet hook to hook the beads onto the required stitch as you need them rather than trying to thread hundreds of them onto the yarn before you start. I've never done a lace pattern before either but after making a few mistakes with winding yarn over the needle I got the hang of it.
It's made on a circular needle - my tension is really loose so I downsized the needle as I was worried I'd run out of wool otherwise - that was the right decision I think as I finished up with only a couple of metres spare.
So there we are, a small crafty achievement.

Elsewhere I've managed to sell all except about 30 of the oldest books at my mum's so that's brilliant - very emotionally hard to get rid of things that belonged to my parents and that I grew up with, but all necessary. I'm taking a break from the house till after Christmas now.

Leo and Monty are being very silly.

Here you can see Leo's reaction to his first Christmas tree - a bit of a blur of excited paws! He's also been squeezing himself ontop of the radiator in the kitchen to try and keep toasty warm, but doesn't quite fit.

It's been interesting wrapping presents as they're SO obsessed with ribbon. I shut Monty in the utility room yesterday to give myself a bit of peace while I got on but he climbed up the flimsy net curtain that hangs across the door using his claws - all 5 and a bit kilograms of him, and he was nearly at the top when I decided I'd rescue the curtain before he completely shredded it. I tried explaining to him that he was NOT a small kitten but he didn't look convinced.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Still here

Leo and Monty are watching the birds and the last of the autumn leaves fluttering in the garden.
They have settled down into their own routine now and found their favourite places in the house to watch for wildlife, chase each other, sit and sleep.

Leo is here helping me make cupcakes for a friends wedding.

They are both really friendly and will have a long purr but still don't want to sit on our laps, sometimes if we're good they'll sit next to us on the sofa!

I am so out of touch with what's going on here with my friends in blog land, I'm so sorry that I have missed so much of your news. The weeks and months have rushed by in a bit of a haze, today is the first day I've felt a glimmer of light at the end of the never-ending tunnel that is clearing my mum's house.
We worked really hard on the garden and have turned it from worse than this (this was after clearing the derelict summerhouse and rubbish out of the way)

To this - taken in the summer, which I'm really pleased with.

There are still many months to go and it's all really emotionally draining and hard work, I only got to the end of the rubbish inside about a month ago and now have got to sort 2000+ books, china, furniture etc. I've got a book man coming to see me next week, someone a friend of my mum's knows and I'm so excited to think we may be able to make some more progress - the books seem to be multiplying infront of my eyes and it will be such a relief to get rid of some.

But for the first time it feels like it might be possible to do it, in the last few months I've just sunk under the weight of the task and it felt overwhelming, I've just ended up withdrawing from everything to try and get through it all.

Felting has sadly had to stop and I've only done one craft fair this year and have hardly been able to make anything, although I did manage some cobweb felt for me which I'll try and post about separately. I'm hoping the new year will bring a few chances to be creative again.
Leo and Monty thankfully don't steal felt like lovely Archie did, they steal hair elastics and shiny gift ribbon instead, but Leo has proved he is very good at helping laying out fibres evenly and pressing them into place.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Leo's box

Sadly I have no time to blog properly but I gather from a couple of friend's blogs it has been declared International Box Day, so I felt I couldn't pass up the opportunity to quickly share Leo having a bit of a mad time discovering his tail in his latest large box.

The cats have settled well and have company all the time since my eldest has just finished GCSEs and is now dossing around the house all day. They mainly sleep and he mainly plays on his computer but at least nobody's on their own!
I am still very much in the thick of clearing at my mum's, I have been there either two or three days every week since January and we are STILL not at the end of the rubbish, it really is quite discouraging, although the garden is fine now and we can get into each room. I bring paperwork home and go through it in the evening but it is taking over life, though I do want to get on as fast as possible so that it's OVER. The next stage is sorting the things that are left into categories and trying to find the right places to sell or give them to, so we have a long, long way to go. I found some paperwork from the year 1671 last week, not sure what it is but it's so old I feel someone somewhere might be interested, I can't just put it in the recycling, and most of the things left are like that, historical in some way. What with our own house and garden and my other job it's all a bit much but we do have a holiday soon which I'm sure will be a good break. I would really like my life back now but have to be patient for a lot longer, while trying to remember to stop and look at the flowers each day!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Flowers and a cat update.

May I heartily recommend these flowers as something to grow in your garden if you have room. They are sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis), self-sown from a couple of plants I bought from the market about 5 years ago for 75p each - they've been spreading around gradually and this year I had a bed half-full of them, all for free! I'm sure you must be able to grow them from seed though, well worth it as they should just keep on self-sowing. They are in mixed purple, white and paler purple and are gently scented. But what I hadn't realised was what fantastic cut flowers they make.

These ones have been in the vase two weeks already with petals gently dropping occasionally but still going strong - often flowers taken from the garden can last a disappointingly short time but these have been brilliant. The ferny thing with them we inherited with the garden, I think it's a kind of Thalictrum but whatever it is it's lasted just as well as the rocket.

Other cheery flowers at the moment are these beautiful roses (and Fairtrade, didn't know you could get Fairtade ones) given to me by a friend for my birthday:

I've never had enough to properly fill my grandmother's rose bowl before and it was really nice to put them in it. Monty draped himself around the arrangement for added decoration.

Leo is obsessed with chewing plants, so nibbled on all the ends of any green parts of the roses. He's had to be banned from the front porch, where I have an artificial flower arrangement, because he was chewing the plastic grass and then being sick. Plastic grass. Thought cats had more sense. It's in the bin now. (And yes I had provided a bit of real grass to chew as well, because I'm never quite sure if they need something in grass, although that made him sick too!)
They are settling in well, we have covered our sofas with a ridiculous array of mis-matched throws to protect it, and they seem to be learning to use the scratching post, which shakes when Monty sharpens his claws because he is SO big and strong.

Leo is very helpful and tends to stay with me in the day - here he is helping with filing papers.

He tried to help with cake-making too but I got him a bit floury by cuddling him half way though.

So they are both slowly becoming part of the family and Leo particularly is very affectionate now, which is lovely although of course I miss Archie's cuddles because he was such an unusually snuggly cat, but I think Leo may well be similar one day.

Finally, some words of advice from one of my birthday cards, surely we should all follow this as a matter of principle in any circumstances we may find ourselves in:

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A house is not a home without a cat.

Or two.I miss Archie terribly each day and still wake up very upset, but we decided very quickly, particularly our younger son, that cats are very much part of our life, and so I have to make some introductions in a minute.

Thank you SO much all of you who offered such support and concern, it's quite overwhelming to hear from so many people and I am very grateful. I'm still struggling and feel like I'm not in my own life, but time and friends will help.

So now to our new furry additions.
They are both rescue boys from our local RSPCA shelter - they had come from a room, just a room, with over 30 cats in, all their lives in one room, although well enough fed and looked after. These two seemed to have a bond, with the little one headbutting and curling up with the older one all the time when we visited their pen, so home they both came. They both had terrible sneezing fits for the first week or so and the little one just sat all day, but now they are absolutely fine and full of energy just as cats should be.

Monty:is the handsomest black and white cat ever, with neat white feet and beautiful white whiskers. He is very solid and tall, with a very wavy fluffed-up tail. He may be about 4 or 6, nobody seems to know. He is friendly although still a little wary.
Monty likes food, climbing, running off with the grey furry mouse-toy, chatting, chasing feathers, food, looking out of the window, food, chasing a ping-pong ball in the bath, food, and sleeping on son no. 2's up-in-the-air-bed.

Monty is in the process of re-modelling the sofa so that it has perforations.

Leo:is a very fluffy, soft black kitten, about 6 months old. He is very like Archie but has, to me, a very different face. We love black cats and yet they often get left behind in shelters. When he came home he was SO thin, you could feel all the bones in his spine and his shoulder blades stuck out, I think the older cats had been pushing him out of the way at mealtimes. Now he has a tummy like a small round, fluffy football that sways from side to side a bit as he walks. He didn't know how to play with anything when he came but now it's lovely to see him running off with the grey furry mouse and feathers. He is affectionate and has a little cuddle and a purr every day.

Leo likes food, squeaking loudly to get more food, chatting to Monty, chasing Monty's feathers and stealing the grey furry mouse, food, sitting in the sunshine, food, chasing a ping-pong ball in the bath with Monty, food, and curling up with Monty on son no.2's bed.
Leo is re-modelling the carpet on a daily basis. This is how we chose our carpet - nice and flat:

This is Leo's preferred design - nice and loopy with lots of sticky-up bits:

Sadly it is a very large and expensive carpet to replace. Every morning when I come down I take my pointy pair of scissors and try and poke the loopy bits back into the carpet backing, but that just leaves holes. Leo is definitely winning.

It is good to have furry lives in our home again, but Archie was SUCH a good cat we'd forgotten what havoc cats can cause, especially when there are two of them. And it's not the same - Archie was so special, he slept on my shoulder for a bit every night, I've never had such an affectionate cat and will never forget him. But these two are making me smile again and are good to come home to, as long as they haven't destoyed too much. We've not had two together for years, it's so nice to see them playing and hear them constantly chatting to each other, and of course they love curling up together too.

Friday, 8 April 2011

A heartbreaking farewell to Archie.

My beautiful, sweet, black, shiny affectionate boy is gone - he ran straight under a car this morning and we lost him instantly, so very, very young. I'm still in denial and such shock, it seems a never-ending time of losses, you pick yourself up after each one but it gets harder each time and you do wonder sometimes how many more you can cope with. He was such an immense comfort at the end of each day, after struggling through endless clearing and dust and mess and emotionally drained after a day at my mum's house he was always such good company and I so needed him to stay with me. There is something so tragic about a life cut so short, he had such a lovely nature and was supposed to share life with us for many years.

He was so loved and was so very happy, jumping about chasing after butterflies and bees yesterday in the garden - on our side of the road are about 50 interesting gardens to explore and an enormous field with great edges to find small creatures in, no reason at all ever to go across the road. There are many, many cats in our area, all happily trotting across, it's got speed bumps and a low speed limit and I really thought it was a very low risk road indeed, Newton and our other cat scooted across many times a day for years without so much as losing a whisker, we hardly ever hear of any cats being lost. I guess perhaps some cats have road-sense and others just don't. I know many of you, especially overseas, keep your cats in but it just wasn't an option here, much as I wanted to.

So I'm not sure how life will go on, it's hard to imagine life without a cat but I'm not sure I can go through losing any more, we'll have to take a day at a time, perhaps the only thing to do will be to find another furry companion, we'll see. Having lost one at 8 and now this, I keep looking at other people around who have cats that are older, who live to twelve or fifteen or beyond, (and at those who trot about from one side of our road to the other) and thinking 'When is it my turn?' I seem to have lost my own life and feel like I'm living in someone else's bad dream a bit, but we're making slow progress with my mum's house and one day I guess we'll move forward again. I haven't forgotten about any of my friends here in blog-land, and I'll try and catch up with what you're doing as much as I can.
Any of you with cats please give them an extra stroke from me, I know many of you will empathise.
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