Friday, 29 September 2017

Various Updates

I missed this week’s WOYWW unfortunately, and I’d have posted this if I’d managed to join in. I had a very busy day on Wednesday with a lunch out with friends, and after that, all I felt up to was editing a backlog of kitten videos. Yesterday I felt wiped out again and brainfogged. It’s a bit demoralising at the moment – I’m really busy on certain days, and then when I get a few days free to do the things I want to do (like art), I’m feeling too exhausted to do them and all I can do is rest. You’d think after nearly 11 years of ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) that I’d be used to this but there are times when it’s deeply frustrating…

First, our lunch out. Here’s a photo of my dessert!

Chocolate Trio Dessert at Devon Dumpling 27-9-17

It was called “Chocolate Trio” and consisted of a chocolate brownie, white chocolate mousse and Bailey’s crème brulee. I love how they’ve decorated the plate with swirls of melted chocolate and fresh raspberries. I started with whitebait and for the main, I had their lamb and mint pie – the whole meal was absolutely delicious. We had a great time together – we are the Allerton Three – the three friends who met in hospital (Allerton Ward) back in March 2013 when we were all in for our cancer operations. We’ve remained firm friends ever since, and try to meet up regularly, although it doesn’t always happen because we are all so busy!

I haven’t taken many photos or videos of the kittens lately – also due to busy-ness and fatigue. They are now 18 weeks old and are getting so big! Lily is still larger than Ruby, and over the last week I’ve noticed a change in her – she is growing the most fantastically soft coat! Her fur is fluffier than Ruby’s and feels like silk chiffon – very fine and just fabulous. It’s probably developing as she starts to grow her first winter coat.

Lily is also proving to be more intelligent than Ruby. She is doing really well with her clicker training, but Ruby tends to get confused, and do things I’m not actually telling her to do at that moment! They both vary as far as their attention span is concerned – if there’s anything else going on (like a fly in the room, or if they are too wild, or too sleepy) they get very easily distracted and wander off! Also, they are pretty good during training sessions, but during the rest of the day they are hopeless and seem to forget everything they’ve learnt!! Never mind, I shall keep persevering, because I know from what loads of people online are saying, this really does work, and a bit of hard work reaps great rewards. They will improve as they get older, I think, when they are less babyish and easily distracted by things to play with!

My hubby says Ruby is a happy little kitty who says “Hello sky, hello clouds…” and is very loving and affectionate. Lily is more independent but she enjoys a cuddle too.

The latest photos.

Lily in the hammock, aged 15 weeks.

01 Lily in Hammock 6-9-17

Lily relaxing on the cat tree at 16 weeks. With her arms hanging down like that, she reminds me of Chloe, who was Phoebe’s sister – she always used to lie like this!

01 Lily on Cat Tree Arms Hanging Down 14-9-17

Here’s Chloe doing it.

Chloe in Hammock Arms Out 2 8 Aug 05

Also at 16 weeks, here is Ruby sitting on the cat tree. Queen of the Castle.

02 Ruby on Cat Tree 14-9-17

This is what happens when I try to work on my laptop. They both want to come up for a cuddle and there isn’t a lot of room – I have to push the computer away a bit. They are 17 weeks old here.

01 Kittens on my Lap with Laptop 21-9-17

Here they are together on the cat tree. Ruby on top, Lily below.

03 Kittens on Cat Tree Closer 25-9-17

The final two were taken on Wednesday. Here is Lily with her head stuck in my shoe! They say cats have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do. If I needed it, here’s the proof that I haven’t got smelly feet!

01 Lily with her Head in my Shoe 27-9-17

Not sure what she thought was so interesting in there!

Unfortunately, the kittens have now discovered loo paper…

02 We have Discovered Loo Paper 27-9-17

Not sure who was guilty of this little feat, but we discovered it when I got home from my lunch out on Wednesday. I had put a new roll up in the morning. I have now wound it all back on! We are now making sure that there is no “tail” hanging down from the roll to tempt them. Anything that dangles is fair game, it seems.

They can now get up on the kitchen worktops so nothing’s safe up there any longer either!

This morning a friend from our monthly cancer Cakeathon meetings held one of the national coffee mornings in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, and several of us from the group went along. I wish I’d taken a photo of her table, groaning under the weight of so much CAKE!!! I’m afraid I made a right pig of myself – cake is so irresistible! I justified it by reminding myself that it was all in a good cause! I took along a lemon drizzle cake. Her house was full of her lovely friends and we all had such a great time. She was thrilled that we’d turned up to support her. When we arrived, she’d strung bunting outside her house – supplied in the pack that she got when she signed up to host a coffee morning, and there was more bunting inside, and balloons.

As usual, no time or energy for art, but I did manage to put a few stitches in my embroidery. Here’s the latest piece I’m working on. The French knots around the design are worked in gold – unfortunately this doesn’t show up as shiny on the photo as it is in real life.

18 Blue with Gold French Knots WIP

I’ve still got quite a lot of these little pieces to do before I can assemble them into the bed drapes I’m making.

I’ve also been very busy preparing sessions for my Bible study group which resumed meeting formally again this month. It takes much longer to prepare each session than it does to teach it!!

Last Sunday we were invited back to our old church to share in their harvest celebrations. I’ve done a separate post about that. It’s such a lovely little church and special because Dad’s funeral was held there.

07 Nave and Screen

We are going to the harvest at our new church this coming Sunday.

My poor studio has reverted to a dumping ground and is gathering dust. I really hope I can get back in there during the coming week – this is getting ridiculous!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Harvest Festival at our Old Church

Today was Harvest Festival at the church where we used to live, and we were invited back to share in the service and the harvest lunch afterwards. It is such a pretty little village church and they had decorated it so tastefully and beautifully so out came my camera! The theme was definitely a golden colour with lots of my favourite sunflowers.

01 Font

02 Pulpit

03 Window

04 Sanctuary

05 Screen

06 Chest

07 Nave and Screen

This church is particularly special for me because it was here that we held my father’s funeral in 2013. They have an excellent organist who is also such a nice man, and he played many of my dad’s favourite Bach pieces and Dad would have been so thrilled.

Going back again was a very happy event! Everyone was so welcoming and it was lovely to see so many old friends again. During the service I got my fix of my favourite harvest hymns and Tom, the vicar, preached an excellent and heartwarming sermon about seeing God in the little things in our everyday lives and being thankful, and for a short pause being able to concentrate on our being together and enjoying good things, in the midst of a world that is so full of evil and chaos.

After the service, the pews were pushed back (they are all on lockable casters) and tables were set up and laid for lunch in double quick time – they use the nave of the church as their village hall and it’s amazing the instant transformation! We were served delicious home made cottage pie followed by apple crumble and custard – nothing better than that for a village harvest festival!

It was a very happy day all round.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

WOYWW 432–More on Infusions Mini-Album

Finally managed to put in some studio time! These kittens of ours do take up a lot of time! Today we’ve had visitors morning and afternoon to see them, and needing cups of tea etc. and lots of chat! I’ve also been busy with other things and very tired in between, and as usual, art ends up at the bottom of the heap, but last night I was determined to get back to it again and I’ve made a bit more progress on the tags for my Infusions samples album.

Here’s my desk as it was last night. Not a lot of change since you last saw it!

WOYWW 432 13-9-17

Working on the tags, this is the front of the first tag in the “Painting” section.

21 Painting Tag 1 Front

I drew a rough curly shape and painted it with The Sage and Emerald Isle from Set 1, and Slime and a little In the Navy from Set 2, finally sprinkling on a tiny amount of In the Navy in the circular spaces, and then added text with my white pen.

Turning the tag holder and tag over, I made a tag to go with the “Woodgrain effect” page, but instead of going straight across with broad strokes with the fan brush, I added a bit of a curve for interest. I used Golden Sands from Set 1, and Rusty Car from Set 2 for this tag, and again added some text with my white pen, and outlining the larger text with a black pen. To the right, you can see the small square I painted with what was left of the Infusions mixed with water on my craft sheet.

22 Painting Tag 1 Back and Tag 2 Front

Below, you can see the Tartan effect tag with its page, which is the second “Painting” page. For this I used Are You Cerise and Violet Storms from Set 1, and created the text in the same way as before. The mop-up square is on the right, and I later added some more to this one.

Turning over both page and tag, I used Lemoncello and Emerald Isle from Set 1 on the tag, to echo some of the colour on the painted fans on the page, and added text as before. The mop-up sheet is above.

23 Painting Tag 2 Back

Moving on to the “Stamping” section, for the front of the tag to go in this title page, I just used Rusty Car from Set 2, after first spritzing the tag well with water, and adding more water after the Infusions had gone on. There is no text on this side of the tag but I wanted it to tone with the page when it was pulled out.

24 Stamping Tag Front

Finally, the back of that tag, having turned over both page and tag, to show the page with simple stamping onto a background already created with Infusions, in this case The Sage from Set 1, with text as before. Above is the mop-up sheet, which was the purplish one from above.

25 Stamping Tag Back

These mop-up sheets will be used to make cards or be used in other projects. I hate to waste any Infusions that are on the craft sheet!

Kittens

Our kittens are 16 weeks old today. How quickly the time is going. They are growing fast, and very energetic in the mornings and evenings, and tending the crash out asleep during the afternoon, so our afternoon visitors don’t see them at their most fun!

I’ve just realised that I didn’t take any photos or videos of them at all last week! They haven’t really done anything new, except grow! They are progressing well with the clicker training but it still tends to go out the window when they’re not actually in a training session and there are other distractions. They will usually come when they are called, though, and they now understand “Jump up!” and will come on my lap. I am still working on trying to get Ruby to use the scratching post, and we’ve got as far as her putting her paws on it on the command “Scratch!” but she hasn’t actually “scratched” yet! I’ve got some stuff on order which I can put on the scratching post which should encourage her to use it properly, in preference to the carpet.

We’ve had quite a few visitors wanting to see them which is very nice – everybody is enjoying them and saying how pretty they are! Ruby continues to be my baby and always wants to come and sit with me, and if Lily is already on my lap, she makes sure she comes up higher than her, so that she can have prime position as close to me as possible! It’s very flattering, especially after so many years of watching both kitties all over my hubby and not wanting to come to me – last night my hubby looked over at the 3 of us and said, “I want a kitty…” and looked sad, and I said, “Now you know how I felt all those years!” I do spend a lot more time with them than he does, as he’s so busy and is out and about a lot.

Health Update

I had my CT scan last Friday and am waiting for the result. I am pleased that my surgeon is keeping such a close eye on me, and he’s as anxious as I am to avoid a repeat performance of my emergency surgery at the beginning of this year. I’m pretty sure that hernia repair is failing as it doesn’t feel right, but it’s all pretty inconclusive. He will continue to monitor it, and I just hope that he is available when it does fail, so that he can do the operation and put the mesh in to protect the area.

Cooking

We are in the throes of dealing with masses of apples off our tree. I can hardly keep up! My hubby, being a lot braver about creepy crawlies and worms and things than I am, does the initial peeling and chopping, and then I slice them more finely. This year, I have decided to freeze them uncooked rather than stewed as I did last year, because they will be more versatile and I can use them in apple cake and other things. Once they are sliced, they are laid out in a single layer on baking parchment on baking sheets and then frozen. Once they are frozen, they are put into big bags as separate slices, so I can take as much out as I need at any one time. It’s quite a lot of work and pretty cold, dealing with the frozen slices, too! I can’t do too many at once or I can’t get the baking trays into the freezer. I’ve now got 3 big bags full and there are still quite a lot to do! It’s all taking quite a lot of time.

I haven’t done much baking recently but we’ve got our monthly Cakeathon meeting with the cancer group this Friday, and this time I’ve decided to make scones – I’ll make 2 batches, one plain to have with jam, and one cheese. I’ll probably get some cream before Friday so we can have a proper Devon cream tea!! They don’t take long to make so I’ll probably whip them up on Friday morning.

Diet and New Clothes

Getting out my clothes for cooler weather, I find that quite a lot of them are hanging off me, having lost so much weight with my diet. Several pairs of leggings won’t stay up any more (since starting my diet I’ve lost 10 inches around my waist!!) and they are all wrinkly round the legs, making me look like Nora Batty. I needed new trousers too, and new bras, so my hubby took me down to Marks & Spencer’s last week and I got some lovely new stuff! I am also no longer singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and have decent Uplift from my new bras!! I haven’t managed to shed any more pounds over the past 3 weeks which is a bit frustrating but slow and steady is best, and I have every hope that I’ll lose the final 3 pounds before long.

We’ve been out for lunch with friends this week too, and I’ve had the engineer to repair a small fault on the stairlift, and I’ve been very busy getting sessions ready for my Bible study group which resumes in earnest on Friday. This Saturday I’ve got an Ileostomy Association meeting in Somerset, so it’s all go, Chez Shosh. Hopefully I’ll get time to do some more art as I really want to finish the Infusions album now.

Have a great week, everybody.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Kittens are Fourteen Weeks Old

On Wednesday our kittens were 14 weeks old. My hubby took them back to the vet for their booster inoculations and they got weighed and generally examined again.

My hubby told me that throughout the time, from the moment they were put in the cat carrier to the moment they arrive home, they made no noise and behaved impeccably throughout! They were both very relaxed at the vet’s and did everything they were supposed to do.

When she examined them she said how clean they were. She asked whether we had used the flea spray she’d recommended last time and my hubby reported that I had been puffing them with diatomaceous earth, and she couldn’t find any evidence of fleas on them. This is a much gentler, less toxic approach as it kills the fleas mechanically by interfering with their exoskeletons, rather than chemically, which involves spraying poison onto the kitties. Last time she recommended keeping them apart for an hour or two to prevent them washing each other, but I thought, “What’s to stop them washing themselves?” I wasn’t a bit keen on the idea. The diatomaceous earth is food grade and is actually used as a food supplement, and is totally safe. Ruby isn’t over-keen on being puffed but Lily takes it all in her stride, and anyway the procedure takes only seconds, and then a quick rub up and down to make sure the powder spreads through their fur, and they’re done.

They have both gained weight as they have grown, and they have now, as my hubby put it, “broken the kilo barrier”! Lily is still a bit heavier than Ruby, and they now weigh 1.33 kg (0.98 kg last time), and 1.23 kg (0.84 kg last time) respectively.

The vet was very pleased with them and said how relaxed, happy and well adjusted and healthy they both were. They are clearly very happy little kittens, enjoying a good life with us – and we are certainly enjoying having them! They are eating, sleeping and playing well, and have lots of stimulation, and they are enjoying their clicker training. My hubby told the vet about the clicker training and she said, “That’s good.” It is a very positive experience for all animals.

They must have been tired after their outing to the vet, because they both settled down to sleep while we ate our supper – Lily back in the flat, on top of the home-made cat tree, and Ruby… well:

01 Ruby Asleep Among the Teddies

Every day, my hubby puts the teddies out in the front window so that people walking along the street can see them and wave at them.

02 Teddies in the Window L

At the end of each day, they get brought in, and packed into a box (with an overflow now we’ve got so many!). Ruby was very intrigued with the box of teddies and spent some time tramping about all over them, and then settled down and went to sleep!

Here’s the video I made of her doing it this evening.

Since last week we’ve been letting them into our sitting room, having taken one or two kitty-proofing precautions. They were much more relaxed as they first explored the room, than they had been when they first arrived, or when we first let them into the main part of the house, when they appeared very timid. To start with, they both wandered around the room, obviously very interested and alert, but not a bit nervous. We have now moved the big cat tree that I got on Ebay into the sitting room, and this should keep them stimulated and hopefully off the rest of our stuff, and also give them somewhere new to sleep.

05 Kittens on the Big Cat Tree

For the foreseeable future, we aren’t letting them in there unsupervised, until they are old enough to act responsibly! So far they are both pretty well behaved in there, though. We are letting them through into the house most days now, when we are around to supervise them, and they are enjoying climbing on the big cat tree.

Clicker Training Progress

Lily’s training session didn’t go too well the other day – there were too many outside distractions, and she was easily diverted and became bored. I didn’t pursue it for many minutes – after her outstanding performance the previous day, she was entitled to a bit of a day off! We all get off days, after all. Ruby, on the other hand, did well, and consolidated the previous day’s progress, and they’ve both done pretty well since. Ruby is getting the idea of associating the word “Scratch!” with the act of putting her paws on the scratching post, now with just the word, but originally only when the command was associated with the use of the target. The next step will be to get her to actually “scratch”! I am also going to get some stuff to put on the scratching post to encourage her to do it. Lily has been using the scratching post with no encouragement from us from the very beginning but Ruby prefers the carpet. I have asked my hubby to make a sloping platform with some rough matting on it which she might prefer to a vertical scratching post.

Both will now “Sit!” on command, and I am trying to get them to learn to jump up on my lap with the command “Jump up!” but so far, using the target, they reach up and dig their claws into my leg, which is definitely NOT what I want to train them to do! More work is required, I think! I think the best way is to teach them to jump onto an object (e.g. the scratching post) first, and then progress to my lap.

The trouble is, they will only do what I want during the actual clicker training sessions. Once they are back in the flat, busy playing and being distracted by each other, everything goes out of their heads and they don’t remember anything! I am sure things will improve with practice though – it’s a long process and requires patience, but eventually, during the training sessions, things will get so ingrained that they become automatic regardless of outside distractions – or at least, that’s the hope!

With every day that passes, we get to know these adorable kittens better as their personalities and individual preferences and habits develop, and we love them more and more. I simply can’t imagine life without them now!

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