Saturday, 20 September 2014

One disaster after another...

Of all the days for the cooker to decide to die, it had to pick a Sunday. There I was, doing my ‘master chef’ impersonation and everything on the hob was cooking nicely. Then I opened the oven door to check on the roast potatoes. The oven light and fan were working, but the potatoes were cold and raw.
Not to be deterred, for I never panic in the kitchen, I sliced and sautéed them and we ended up with a reasonable rendition of Sunday lunch.

Monday started just as brilliantly with bad news.  The cooker cannot be fixed until next week. Apparently, if you can believe it, every repairman in Hampshire is on holiday at the moment.  So great fun will be had by all, as we try to come up with alternative meals that do not involve the oven.
Lulu surprised us all today, by finally accepting us as friends and insisted on being fussed. She has come so far in just two weeks, and shows no sign of popping her clogs anytime soon. This is all the more surprising as trying to remove the matted fur from her coat cannot be pleasant, even though I am doing just a little every day.

This is not turning out to be my week at all. Climbed out of the shower, turning it off as I passed the taps, and nothing happened. Well, I say nothing happened, but the water did stop. The shower pump did not however, and sounded as though it would blow up any minute.
There followed a scene from a Monty Python film. Me, nearly wrapped in an inadequate towel, tearing about the house, looking for something that looked like a fuse switch, or anything that would shut it off.
No such luck, but after a frantic telephone call, someone turned up who knew what to do and I could stop panicking.
Makes me wonder what tomorrow will bring…

Just as I thought, today brought more of the same when I tried to renew my driving licence. Anita’s was easy, so I thought mine would be too. Wrong! I need to be certified as fit, and only for 3 years at a time. Well, I wasn’t about to go down that route. I only wanted it for identification purposes anyway. Maybe it would be easier to renew my passport?
Turns out it to be very easy, so I could be jetting off to somewhere interesting any day now.

I was so determined that nothing would go wrong today, I played safe and concentrated on routine tasks. Things that could not possibly go pear-shaped. Pretty boring really, and by the afternoon I was more than ready for something a little more risky.
I looked at the state of Lulu, our ancient rescuee, then went and fetched a brush and some scissors. Some of that matted coat had to go. It wouldn’t be easy or much fun for her, but the only alternative was the vets and an anaesthetic, if she wasn’t already too old for that.
It was the most scary thing I did all day, but one that didn’t end in disaster, just one large matt down and several more to go. I hated putting her through it, but you can never be sure if a badly matted coat was uncomfortable or even painful, so it was something I had to do.

There might be something wrong with her eyes, too...
Started to come up with some ideas for the Magic Oxygen short story competition. All I need is 4.000 interesting words in the form of a story.  See
Anita has already entered, so I thought I would too. There is a risk, I suppose, that our writing partnership could turn into quite a competition of its own, but that can only be food for our ambition, don’t you think?

God Bless…

Saturday, 13 September 2014

An interesting week in Hampshire...

Sunday was a quiet day and I managed to get a lot of work done on #Nine Lives. I have grasped the proverbial bull by the horns and pencilled in the 3rd of October as the publication date, which should give me plenty of time to finish the editing and do a final polish.
Lulu, our 21-year-old feline visitor seems much stronger now, but we have to keep an eye on her for her meow seems to be broken and we don’t always hear when she needs something. I have tried to clean her up a bit, her coat is in a terrible state, but nothing short of  shearing and a bath will ever get it right, and I keep postponing any drastic measures until she seems stronger.

Monday. While I was following some advice about background images for our website, I managed to pick up some malware that was described as a ‘Trojan’ called ‘Astromenda’. Its mission, apparently, is to infiltrate and crash computers. I was at my wits end trying to find out how one gets rid of such a thing, and finally managed to disable it, but not uninstall. Hope that’s good enough!
I followed this disaster with a bout of gardening, and every bramble in Hampshire attacked me and I ended up bleeding copiously. I love to garden, but the amount of brambles we get is downright evil.
Didn’t think the day could get any worse, but not wanting to push my luck, I retreated to my book.

Tuesday.  Not sure if I’m imagining it, but my e-mails and social networking seems to be taking longer than ever. Possibly a good sign, at least I like to think so.
Lulu is getting stronger every day, so much for thinking she wouldn’t last long. She seems to go from strength to strength, how long can cats live, anyway?
Decided to risk giving her a bath, as touching her was not pleasant. I expected all kinds of opposition, but she was really good. Didn’t struggle or complain at all, really surprising. Most cats cannot stand water, but maybe she is too old to care.
At least now, when she ever decides to let us fuss her, the experience will be pleasant for all of us!

Wednesday.  Today, I entered Anita’s short story ‘Eye for an Eye’ into a competition at Magic Oxygen. Too good an opportunity to miss, as it was exactly the right word length.
This was prompted by the fact we have both managed to be accepted by Chris Graham at The Story Reading Ape website and will be published on the 15th and 30th of October respectively.
We are also scheduled to appear on A Woman’s Wisdom on the sixth and 13th, so a significantly busy month all round.  If this doesn’t improve our author platforms somewhat, I can’t think what will!

Thursday.  It was time for my annual MOT at the doctors, where they check I am still breathing and not heading for another crisis.
Mainly good news this time, cholesterol is nearly normal and blood pressure OK. The blood tests and things all came back fine. There was a thinly veiled hint about my weight, which I pretended not to have heard, but apart from that, a clean bill of health. So, good news all round.
Lulu is starting to really assert herself. Far from behaving like a veritable fossil, she is becoming quite a character. I was a bit late with her supper yesterday and hadn’t heard the muffled squeak that passes as her meow, so the little madam had trotted down to the kitchen and was helping herself to our other cats food!

I had been putting it off, supposedly for Lulu’s benefit, but if I’m honest it was for me too. It was time to try to do something about the state of her coat. Her fur was so badly matted, I wasn’t looking forward to putting her through the ordeal for even if I was very careful and as gentle as I could be, this was not going to be pleasant for either of us.
Since she had walked, or I should say ‘staggered’ into our lives, she hadn’t really complained about anything. Even putting the drops into her infected ears was met with resigned passivity, so I was dreading actually upsetting her.
I decided that little and often would be best and after ten minutes, both of us had had enough. But it was long enough to have removed quite a pile of hair.

She was looking decidedly better with each day that passed, and at this rate, I shall have to find something else to write about…

I live in the hope that our cats will end up like this!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Best Laid Plans...

I spent the morning in my office, checking email, networking and browsing the Web, punctuated with the odd game of Solitaire.
I worked on some post material in the afternoon, before preparing dinner. An ordinary enough day for a Sunday really.
Then we heard the news that a very old family pet was going to be put to sleep, as the owners were going into sheltered accommodation and cats were not allowed. Not even a beloved and faithful 21-year-old cat that could barely walk, let alone cause any trouble.
Without hesitation, Anita said that we would take her.

I thought she must have taken leave of her senses. This could very well turn out to be insanity of the worst kind. You know, where you do a good turn and end up really regretting it.
We already had Merlin, a very large cat and a right bolshie character to boot. He was not going to like this new arrival one little bit and I knew we were heading for trouble.

I felt compelled to express my concerns several times. That it would be cruel to subject an old lady to such upheaval…that they may fight like the proverbial, or our monster may leave home. (He had already done that once before) That ‘old’ usually meant copious vet bills, that’s if she didn’t take one look at our brute and die of shock!

I obviously wasn’t very convincing, for later that evening Lulu was deposited in my office. She came complete with bed and bowls and was so pitifully frail she could barely walk, but she had already stolen several hearts, just leaving mine to toe the line. She was white with funny beige patches and the cutest face, but I held on to my emotions, knowing we were in for a rough ride. very old lady...
As if on cue, our brute waltzed in to investigate, took one look and started roaring like the lion he obviously though he was. She promptly hissed at him.  Well, Lulu might look as meek as a kitten and be at deaths door, but she obviously had hidden balls of steel and was not about to take any prisoners.
Merlin promptly backed off and sulked in the kitchen. Lulu ignored her bed and staggered under my desk, finding what she thought was a safer place.
At this point, my misgivings were jumping up and down like crazy and alarm bells were ringing. This could not end well.  She was too old a lady for all this upset and upheaval.
It might have been kinder to take the easy way out, for would you like to be uprooted from everything you loved and dumped in a scary house full of strangers, not to mention the monster from hell?

Monday morning arrived and I fully expected to find her dead, but she was still breathing, glaring at me from under my desk. I noticed that somebody had used the litter tray; hopefully it was Lulu and not Merlin.
Breakfast was offered with a certain amount of trepidation, which turned out to be unnecessary as it was scoffed in record time. Nothing wrong with her appetite then which could only be a good sign. She still wasn’t moving very well, and I worried she might be in pain from arthritis. This was reinforced by the amount of hisses I received when I attempted to stroke her.
Turned out to be just me she didn’t like, for Anita could stroke her all day without the sound effects.

We decide to play a waiting game, hoping we would instinctively know when a visit to the vet would be required. She certainly loved her food, so that was all good.
I spent most of the day editing my book ‘Nine Lives’ with one eye on the frail old lady nestled not far from my feet.

Tuesday  was an odd sort of day, at least that’s how it felt. Tried to be constructive, but only seemed to skim over problems, rather than solving any. Lulu didn’t seem to be having a good day either, which was worrying. Our beast was sneaking around like a scared rabbit and was refusing to eat. Probably because Lulu hissed at him on sight. Some tough guy huh?
I decided that today I would try and clean Lulu up a bit, her eyes and nose were stained and had been dripping, long overdue for investigation. As for the rest of her, I dreaded what I might find. She wasn’t looking any happier and that was worrying

When the time came, I wrapped her up in an old towel, fully expecting a violent reaction. But she just stared at me. I cleaned her face gently with some special wipes and she continued to stare at me. Didn’t need any words to know what she was saying.
She felt like a lumpy bag of bones and I suspected that what I had originally thought was matted fur might well prove to be something else. It was becoming increasingly clear to me that a visit to the vet was more than likely. And the expression in those sad old eyes was agreeing with me.

Merlin decided to quit fooling around and actually eat something, which was a relief. Two sick cats were not what we had signed up for, not at the moment anyway.
I thought Lulu was looking livelier today, definitely moving around with a lot more enthusiasm.

For the best part of the morning, I quite forgot she was there, not far from my feet, as I tried to sort out the paperwork for renewing our driving licences. Wondering why it was so hard to do something that should have been simple. It’s the same with making telephone calls these days, by the time you have listened and selected all the options, and then repeated this several times, you have completely forgotten what you were calling for in the first place.

We are scheduled to be featured on several websites in October, and I had been working on our presentation pieces and the fact that we didn’t have any decent photographs of ourselves was becoming a problem. I had tried to take some but the results were awful, so decided we could get some done professionally when we picked up the ones for the new driving licences.
Didn’t quite work out that way though, best laid plans and all that, and I promptly went off the idea, again. Didn’t solve the problem though, we have to have them.

Later that day, I decided to tackle Lulu’s lack of grooming. I figured she was over the worst of the shock and wouldn’t mind too much. You never know how a strange cat will behave when you advance on them with intent and I have been clawed and bitten in the past for my trouble. That’s why I wrap them up in a towel before I start. Needn’t have worried though, Lulu seemed to welcome the attention, and handling her didn’t seem to be anywhere near as painful. But the pain in her eyes was still there.

Today we were supposed to have our photographs taken, but something made us stay at home. Probably caused by how awful we looked in our driving licence pics. Couldn’t seem to summon up any enthusiasm to try and take some of our own either, which was beyond frustrating, for we still needed them. In addition, my knee was playing up again and I could feel a deep depression descending.

The weather didn’t help either, all grey and miserable – enough to drive you to drink!
Then the sun finally came out and everything seemed doable. Of course I could take some decent photographs, and what’s more, I would do it before the days end!
I spent the next hour with the camera, experimenting with different angles and locations before uploading the results onto the computer. Then I sorted through them, discarding all the ‘Oh my God, not that one’s’ before liking some I took a few weeks ago. I tell you, you couldn’t make it up. Why does nothing happen the way it should?

In the middle of all of this, Lulu took it into her head to go exploring, strolling down the hall as if she had been doing it for months. Very far from deaths door at the moment!

The end of the week has arrived and nothing much has changed. No dramas on the furry front, although I still think one might be imminent. Lulu is just too old with too many things wrong with her to last much longer, but she may well prove me wrong.

I seem to have fallen behind with all the blogging, editing and catching up that was planned for this week and will have to pull out all the stops this weekend. Not a great fan of feeling that everything is out of my control, much better if I choose to be lazy. That way I only have myself to blame…

This is Jaye signing off, blessings to everyone…