Friday, May 31, 2013

Galloping Lurgy

One of my cat lady friends from Facebook set me a task yesterday.
She asked if I could do a very simple, stylised line drawing of her cat, who has passed away. 
She wants to have a tattoo of her cat but obviously a photo won't do it.
Hmmmmmmm........sounded pretty easy.
It was not.
I am used to doing very detailed paintings of peoples pets.
Trying to simplify a photo down to a line drawing that still represented the actual cat proved very much more difficult than I anticipated.
I eventually, after much rubbing out and starting again, sent the above to the lady.
The only art ink pen I have is very fine.  
I know the lines need to be wider to strengthen the drawing.   So, when I emailed it to her I was worried in case she didn't like it.
I was waiting for her reaction.  I guessed that if she said something like "Oh yes...that is lovely"....then it would mean it is pants.
But, she emailed to tell me she had tears in her eyes when she saw it.   Bloody hell was it that bad.
No, she said I captured the true likeness of her kitty in that simple (pah wrong word) drawing.
I am rather surprised to be honest.
I promised her I would buy some pens at the weekend so that I can strengthen the outline, although I am sure a good tattoo artist could do that anyway.
I think I will offer this as another service.  I had never thought of it before.  You never could be useful to someone.

Speaking of the cat ladies.
Although we are still battling the Galloping Lurgy in the Banks household, we are planning on heading to Madison tomorrow for the first meeting of the facebook cat ladies.
They are a great bunch of people and we are meeting at a hotel.  Someone of them are travelling a long way and staying the whole weekend.
We shall just go for the day.
I caused a stir among the ranks a few months ago when I mentioned something about the British delicacy known as "Spotted Dick".
At first they could not believe that there was a dessert so called.  The also could not stop giggling every time it was mentioned.
So, I have secured a tin of British "Spotted Dick" and I plan to let them raffle it.
It should cause a bit of fun.
There is one other husband going.
His wife asked me if Philip was interested in Sci Fi as her hubby is a huge Star Trek fan.
Of course I told her he is and she said when she told her husband a huge grin came over his face.
They are both cat lovers too so I think they should get along really well.
Nice to make new friends.

It is a week now since poor Lollipop passed away.   The other cats are sorting out the new pecking order.  Well,  the girls are sorting it out, Bubba (typical bloke) seems to have very little idea of the subtle posturing and posing that is going on.
We don't seem to be having any drama queen moments so I expect all will be well.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Donald & Daisy

Our ducks are back.
I thought that Donald and Daisy had abandoned us for good.  For the last couple of years they have been visiting someone up the street but the other day I saw Looby Loo getting very excited at the window.  I then heard the familiar, gentle quacking noises they make.
They have been back every evening, eating bird seed from under the feeder and relaxing on our lawn.  Then they take off.  I wonder where they go?

Sadly we had to make the dreaded decision about Lollipop on Thursday.
She was declining fast.  Not eating or drinking.   Fading away really.
It was one of the hardest things we have ever done.
The vet was amazing.  Philip cuddled her while she passed.  She was always his cat. 
I thought it was a very brave and kind thing for him to do.
We are both still very upset about the whole thing, wondering if there was any more we could have done etc.
The picture above is one Lauren did a few years ago.  She used to sing the "Lollipop Song" to her so she added some lyrics to it.
I have only just noticed that she took care to get Lolly's colours just right.  The patches on her ears for instance.
This picture is on the wall in Lauren's room here.
The other cats have been very subdued since Thursday.
I will not actively seek another cat because I have an idea that one will present itself to us in some way.
Dear Lolly....we miss you very much.

Then last night (Friday) I got a call from Donna to tell me she was in the hospital !!!!  Apparently, earlier in the day she had seen her doctor as she has been having headaches.
The doctor sent her immediately to A & E where they did a multitude of tests, including a CT scan.  They then decided they would admit her and do a lumbar puncture in the morning.
You can imagine the state I got into hearing all this.
We started looking at flights etc.
She then phoned me again at around 1.30am British time, to say the doctor was there and they were going to do the lumbar puncture right away.
About half an hour after this she phoned to say it was all done and she was going to try to get some sleep.
She returned home this afternoon.
She said that all the test results were in and they were clear.  She is to have an MRI soon.
It is a relief to know that there is nothing so far.  Donna thinks it may be due to her recently going on to night shifts at work.
I do suspect there is more that she isn't telling me as it seems a lot for them to have done just for headaches.
But, boy am I proud of the Nation Health Service.
She went from seeing her own doctor, to being in hospital and having all those tests done and receiving the results - in less than 24 hours.
And no medical bills !!!   Over here, even with good insurance, you would probably be looking at bills for around $15,000 for that little lot.   At least I don't have to worry about medical bills she might get.
What an awful week.
Now I think we are both getting sick.
Philip is congested and coughing.  I feel crappity, crap, crap.....sore throat etc.
Probably a result of stress. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Woes

I came down Saturday morning to find Lollipop hunched over the heating vent waiting for it to come on.
It is 80F+ outside, so that is unlikely.
She is obviously feeling the cold because of her illness.
We felt so bad for her we went out and spent $50 on a heated bed.
As you can see from the above photo - she likes it.
She is barely eating now.  When she does eat, it is because I have tempted her with kitten food on a spoon.
Yet, at times, although she is very thin, she is almost her old self.
On Saturday evening she climbed onto Philip's shoulder and snuggled under his chin.  She has always loved to do that.
She seems to hate me though.  She doesn't like me going anywhere near her.  I know it is because I am always the one giving meds etc but it still upsets me.

Lily is being very good with her.
She has turned into 'Momma Cat' again, as she did with the kittens.  She washes her and here she is giving her a lovely cuddle.
Sunday, Lollipop wasn't so good.  Today she isn't good.  I have been trying to phone the vet for more pain meds and to discuss things with him.
We know 'decision time' is approaching rapidly.
We are both going to be total wrecks.  If she was an old cat I think we would be able to come to terms with it more.   Also, she is 'Lauren's cat'.   I have an idea what we might be doing during Lauren's visit this year.

On a lighter note.
Our trees are in full blossom.  I love them at this time of year.  The one at the back has something wrong with it though and every winter we lose a couple of boughs.
We really should take it down but when it is in blossom it seems too wicked to do that.
We spent the weekend gardening.
So easy to say that.    We were totally knackered.
We bought about 8 bags of red mulch and recovered all the roses.  It does look lovely and in inhibits the weeds (not a lot but some) but it is bloody hard work.
I planted some sunflowers.  I have never grown them before but a friend gave them to me.
Well, she gave them to a few of us really as we are all going to grow them, each as a memorial garden to our friend who died recently.
I did get a bit carried away and planted loads of them all around the house.
Well, they are only little seeds.
They do grow very tall though.  I am wondering if I have gone over the top and it will end up looking like Bill & Ben's house or even this.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Christmas in May...sort of.

                                                                   NOX ARCANA

I just finished this today.  I have called it Nox Arcana - look it up.
It may be our Christmas card this year.  So, for those of you on my Christmas Card list you could see this plopping through your letterbox in what will seem like a few days time.

But, after a particularly stressful day at work yesterday I needed to paint today.
So, I have started another one.
With this next one I have been playing around with a new technique.
I hadn't tried it before but art is about being creative.
I really enjoyed myself, thought I had made a bloomer a couple of times but now I am quietly pleased with it.
Trouble is, all I have done is the background.
I had to block out some of the foreground to put the focus of the painting in but I can't do that until the background is dry.
Plus, the technique I have used means it is going to take longer than usual for it to be dry enough to continue painting.
Frustrating really but time flies like an arrow whereas fruit flies like a banana.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hello..........hello........can you hear me now?

Apparently we needed new phones.
We have had our phones for two years, during which time I still hadn't figured out how to use mine.
Philip chose it for me, saying it would be easy, well it wasn't.
Even Donna had a job to figure it out when she was over here and borrowed it.
But, the phone gods were smiling at me.  They have a sense of humour those phone gods.
Philip had only had his a couple of weeks (it wasn't a stoopy one like mine) when he put it in the golf trolley cup holder thingy when he was out batting golf balls.
It was a hot day.
What he didn't know....but soon found out, was that the previous trolley user had put chocolate in the cup holder thingy and this chocolate had melted.
Now this melted chocolate had found its way into the microphone on his phone.  Then it set.
For the last two years I have had to suppress the giggles every time he has tried to speak on his phone.  No one could hear him so he would have to shout louder and louder.
Chocolate clogs up really well.
He did make enquiries into getting the stuff removed but it would cost more than the phone is worth.
He has been eagerly awaiting this two years to be up so we could get new ones.

So, we went to Best Buy.
Philip had researched everything and knew exactly what we wanted.  I couldn't give a monkeys.  I just wanted one I could understand.
He picked them out, asked me colour I wanted, the choice was blue or white and I could see he wanted the blue one.  So I had white.
The very nice man explained all the gubbins and said if we were not happy with them we could change them for different phones within two weeks.
These are posher ones.  Well for us.
He had internet etc on his other one but I didn't.   Now I have it too. Whoopeee.

After a couple of days I was getting used to mine.  I got some sparkly covers.   In truth I am more impressed with the sparkly covers than the phone.........ooooh....shiny things.
Philip's, however, was not acting the way it should.  It lost charge even when it was charging.  It switched on and off willy nilly....and other stuff.
I was so glad it wasn't mine as he would have said I was doing it all wrong.   Mine was working perfectly.
So, Friday back to the shop.
The guy who sold us the phones said there was no problem.  Bring it in, with the receipt and box and they would change it.

On Saturday we went back armed with phone, receipt and box.......things were not as simple as they seemed.
We found our very nice man, who didn't look quite so thrilled to see us.   They would just swap it for another he had said the night before.

He gave us to another man.........who said, on being told the problems with this phone, and I kid you not...he said,  "Phones have to grow with you.".
" they don't." said I.
I then explained that my phone was bought at the same time and it worked perfectly.  I also said if we had wanted to grow a phone we would have bought a liddle widdle packet of phone seeds, we would have planted the seeds, watered the seeds and grown the seed."
Plus,  we have not been doing a lot of growing over the last few years and had no intention of starting again any time soon.

Then......oh dear....his friend said, (I am still not kidding), ...he said to me, " You should think yourself the lucky one because your phone actually works."
Then 3 of them started testing the phone.  "Why are you doing this?  We were told you would just swap it for another?"

Oh this got even better.
"Did you buy the Geek Squad insurance?  No? Oh well you see, that means we can't change the battery for a new one.  If you had bought the insurance we could."
"NO we were told it would be swapped for another phone.  Not the battery ....THE PHONE!"
"Oh yes but how long have you had it?"
"We keep telling you ....6 days.  There are two weeks in which you can switch the phone if for any reason we don't like it or it doesn't work properly.  Do you want us to wait for it to "grow with us"?  Maybe you want us to allow it to grow for a couple of weeks by which time we would not be able to change it."
"Oh ok we can get it switched but you should have seen Drew."
"We saw Drew first and he brought us over to you."
"I will find someone. Would you like to play some games while you wait?"

He then disappeared for an age.  He reappeared with an older guy who took us to the front of the queue for customer service.
We explained to the girl on the counter what the problem was. "Oh you are at the wrong place. You should be over there at that counter."
Which was where we had started from.  The very first place we had gone when we came in.
The sound of a small Sue exploding into Scary Psycho Sue reverberated through the store.
This brought the older guy racing back at a rate of knots not usually observed on a Saturday afternoon in Best Buy.
He apologised most profusely and took us back to Drew.

Drew obviously didn't want to be bothered with us as he only gets commission on sales ...not problems.   A young man changed Philip's phone.
The guy who told us that phones grow obviously felt bad about what he had tried to fob us off with and hung around chatting and trying to become good chums.
He actually was quite a nice guy and I suppose they are trained to pull the wool over the customers eyes if they can.
It was quite an adventure, but one I do not wish to repeat.   Philip's phone is working properly.  Unless, of course, he doesn't want to tell me it isn't.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Bubba is still guarding his nana.
Even those with foots as big as her head can't get it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pom poms

One heck of a racket outside 7.30am Wednesday morning.
I took a peek and there were 5 million kids, walking or on bikes, preceded by a dozen or so cheer leaders, waving pom poms all over the place, chanting something totally incomprehensible and making their way along our quiet, suburban street.
So I took a few pictures.
It was brill.

I found out afterwards from a neighbour that this is a yearly event to promote safe biking or walking to school.
I am sure it is a very worthwhile cause although I must admit that having seen the line of cars outside the school, I doubt it is encouraging much walking and cycling.
Good fun though and great to see.

I was pleased to see the Blonde & Beautiful Boderic back at the birdie feeder.
I have never seen another squirrel with a tail like hers.

Here you can see Bo with one of the other Erics.  I think that might be White Eared Eric.
It is hard to get a good picture through the window and the screen but I want to show how different she is.
Stumpy Eric was back this morning too, but I didn't get another picture of him.

Meanwhile back at the ranch.......Bubba has a Nana.
He received a $5 gift card from Pet Supplies Plus through the mail for his birthday, which is more than I ever get from a store.
Off we went to the pet store where, of course, we spent way more than the $5 on lots of other stuff.
I had seen on my Crazy Cat Lady pages, stories of these Nanas and how the cats go wild for them.
Well they didn't lie.
Bubba loves his Nana (I think it has cat nip in it and he has always been a bit of a "Nip Head").   He gets really mad if anyone else tries to play with it.

He does pretty well for a 15 year old who is on "Zoomie Juice" fluids twice a week.   Go Bubba!!

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Lollipop.
She is only 6 years old and not doing well at all.
She is currently on her highest dose of steroids and has stopped eating again.
I phoned the vet yesterday and he said the disease (pancreatitis) does often cause this.
He said to double the dose of steroids and bring her in Monday for an injection of different steroids.
Sometimes a change helps.
There is no cure.
I told him that we were worried as Lauren is coming over at the end of July and Lollipop is her cat.  Lauren has always loved her and asked if she could be considered her cat when she was just a kitten. Philip has kidded her along from time to time asking for rent and food money etc.
I told the vet that I was worried that Lollipop might not even be here by July - I was looking for  reassurance.
Instead he said, "Yes that would be cutting it a bit close."
Hearing him put it into words has made it so much more real.
It also means we will not be booking any holidays.
I cannot leave her with someone else while she is poorly.  Depending on when it all happens, we may book a last minute trip to The Dells with Lauren.
Poor Lollipop.  She doesn't seem to be in any pain.  She still waits by the back door like a little dog, for Philip to come home every night and she is happy in her little bed in sunny spot.
That's good enough for us.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May The Fourth.......blah blah blah.

We have a new birdie in the garden.
He looks like he is wearing a bicycling helmet but I couldn't see his bike anywhere.
I have no idea what he is and the picture is a bit fuzzy, but I shall try to look him up on the interwebs.

I then found a something strange sleeping in the airing cupboard.
It has been a bit chilly again these last few days so I suppose it is a good place to warm up.

This morning we had to go to the bank.
Philip had to sort some mortgage mallarky out and while he was talking to a nice lady in a cubicle I waited in the waiting area.
Banks here are very civilised.
They have free coffee and newspapers.
An elderly man came in and helped himself to some coffee.   I did feel sorry for him.  He walked unsteadily even with a cane and his hands were shaking.
He sat down next to me and after taking a slug of his coffee he started to cough.
"Oops," he spluttered, "Gone down the wrong way."
"Ah of course." I replied.
He looked at me very carefully and said, "Are you English?"
Wow he got that from those few words.
After admitting that I was born and brought up in London and had lived over here for 15 years (yes really that long now) he decided to tell me a joke.
My heart fell.  I really don't like jokes.

1,  I don't get them.
2.  I guess the punchline long before it is reached.
3.  I don't find them funny.
I was beginning to regret not accompanying Philip into the nice lady's cubicle.
It went something like this.

A man was driving his car when it started making a noise.  Clunk, clunk, clunk, it went.  The passenger asked the man what the noise was.
"Just the engine knocking" said the driver.
"Oh should we let it in." said the passenger.

By now I was sure that  my idiot magnet was powered up magnificently.
I had no means of I laughed politely at his joke fearing it was the first of many.
Then this old man, who had a rather musty smell too, asked me if I liked Dr Who.
Now I don't pretend to be a huge fan of Doctor Who but anything was better than another joke.
So I told him I was.
This guy knew every Doctor, every companion - their names and their real names.  He was naming episodes left right and centre.
I was so amazed.
He was also quite amusing too.
He told me of the places he would like to visit if he had a Tardis.
Someone came and asked if he was waiting to see someone and he admitted that he had only come into the bank to rest his legs.  Bless him.
I felt quite ashamed that I had put him in the "idiot magnet"  section.
He introduced himself as Jim and I had to shake his hand.  I admit to hesitating, just slightly, as the hand was rather dirty.  Fortunately I carry hand sanitizer for just such emergencies......I did wait until we left though before applying it.
He said he hoped he would run into me again and I jokingly said that when he is The Doctor and gets his Tardis I could be his companion and we could travel through time and space.
He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and with a twinkle, said,  " I think I would like that."

Do you think I pulled?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't mention the weather........I did once.


Firstly...I have been working on this for a couple of weeks now.
It is all done bar the tweaking.
Apart from the under painting, which was done in acrylics, it is all oils.
Philip really likes this one.
Painting is my therapy really.......well that and swimming.
Me and my old mate, June, have started swimming regularly again. 
Philip's step father and his partner gave me a super funny cat book for my birthday.  It really is one of those books that make you laugh out loud.
I drove Philip nuts when I kept reading bits out to him.  I had intended to let June read it but it is very British.
There are quite a few references to British things that people over here won't have a clue about.
Anyway, while swimming I mentioned this to her and how she was welcome to borrow it but I thought it might be a bit too 'British' a read for her.
"Oh no," said June, " I watch a lot of British programmes on TV and I am really able to understand the accent now."
Bless her. She didn't know why I laughed.
One bit I keep remembering is when the writer, and it is meant to be a true blog type story, is in the local card shop at Christmas.
Now you have to know Yorkshire people, particularly Yorkshire men to really get the beauty of this.
Dour a good description.
Anyway, whilst the writer was shopping for Christmas cards an elderly man came into the shop and told the assistant that his wife had sent him to find some more cards like the ones she had bought previously.
The assistant asked what was on the cards.
"Angels," he replied.
The writer decided to help the old man too and he and the assistant went through many cards displaying angels (at Christmas there tends to be more than a few with angels on) but with no success. He shook his head at every card they suggested.
After sometime the assistant was getting a bit fed up with this and she asked the elderly man what the angels were doing on the card.
After several minutes thought the man replied, "buggering about."

I have no idea what June will make of "buggering about."

The title of this blog is about weather.
I knew...I just knew I should not have mentioned how gorgeous it has been here the last few days.
Temps of 85F, about 30C (in old money).
The kids are all out in shorts and flip flops.
So, what did the dear weatherman tell us yesterday?    He told us that tomorrow it is all change.
Becoming very cold with  strong storms.   These might be snow storms or, if we are extremely lucky, they could be rain.
I sat next to a guy at the bus stop this morning on my way to work.
We were wearing t.shirts gloves or boots.   He started talking about how lovely it was and then mentioned the change on its way.
He was born and bred in Wisconsin.  He just had to say it didn't he?
"Well this is Wisconsin.  We can get snow this time of year."
Then when we got on the bus another guy got on.   He rummaged around in his backpack for a moment, retrieved a wad of leaflets and proceeded to go the length of the bus handing them out.
He gave everyone a leaflet and as he did so he yelled "REJOICE" each time.
The leaflets were not about the weather.