Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

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Friday, 29 August 2008

The disappearing rabbits .....

... now you see them now you don't ....

Tonight one very stressed cat and rabbitcaller .
Arrived at first call of the day nice and early , funny how my instincts tell me things ; for the first time this summer ( rain rain rain ) rejecting my boots and socks for bare feet and flip flip type footwear and cut off trousers ( why ? dont ask ? ) , breezed in , said hello to Molly the cat who croaked her usual hello and flicked and whisked her tail at me with her usual urgency and led me through the house and into the garden . Glancing out of the window into the garden , again something I have never done before , horrors ! complete absence of bunnies in the posh rabbit residence . Door swinging open ... How did they do that ? And more to the point , where were they ?

Hands shaking and heart pounding I dropped the keys several times before I opened the doors out to the back and Bliss ... there was black bunny but .... no sign of pale bunny .... black bunny thoroughly wet and came towards me . I ran back indoors for the pear I had brought with me and she came toward me for a piece , hopping off when she realised I had designs on curtailing her fun . Suffice to say we tussled , I won , but I bear the scars ....

Checking every inch of the garden I fast realised Ms Bun was not there . The thickets were quiet and the vegetable patches bare . No white bunny in sight . I stood with my hand on my heart thinking of the family in France and their bunny ... nowhere .

I returned to the hutch to see how this had come about . The little heart shaped catch had been popped right off , presumably by the sheer force of the rabbits bashing against it in a determined effort to make off . Wood was chewed everywhere . The beautiful Dutch style residence , delightful to look at , was no match for the Houdini bunnies I was charged with .
Meanwhile , the garden was silent . Molly the cat picked her way across the lawn balefully and stared at me with a well , thats torn it , look on her face . Now what ?

Back into the house Molly I said , lets see what we can see from upstairs .
And , from the upstairs bedroom window , who should we spy in the next door ( pristine landscaping ) garden , but Ms Bun , hopping gently .
I raced down , two at a time , thinking to myself Keys Ms CatCalls Keys , dont lock yourself out at this stage of the game , and there I am , ringing next door's bell at some unearthly hour , glancing at my watch as she emerges in her robe at eight am , her house alarm bleeping and signifying her early wrench from a warm bed .
She allows me access to her garden but is not convinced by my tale , especially when Ms Bun is , of course , nowhere to be seen .
" I do have a white cat " she says , helpfully .
I want to cry , fearing that the bunny is by now in the next garden and then the next and then , horrors onto the main road at the end .
I want to sit down on the manicured lawn and sob .
" I see your cat " I say firmly poiting to a pale tortoiseshell puss lurking near the water feature , " But this was the rabbit from next door .
I waffle my face and make whiskery gestures . It was the rabbit I am looking after .
But it is not here now . I will go back and hope it has gone left rather than right . But first I will give you my number in case it re appears .

I hurry back to my house and through to the back . Molly tries to go out the front . No Molly I say firmly . I need you out here with me . I need all the help I can get .
We return together and oh Bliss oh Joy , there is Pale Bunny back on our lawn hopping happily .
I fetch pear and bunny takes a tiny piece and then runs hell for leather .....

Readers , I kid you not .
45 minutes later ( yes 45 ), Bunny is back in the hutch .
I have more scratches .
Black bunny is happy .
Pale bunny is puffing .
I am puffing .
Molly is washing her face .
The neighbour is peering at is from her bedroom window and I am trying to devise a way to make the hutch safe and contain these rabbits for the next 24 hours .

NB Those of you with fancy rabbit hutches beware . All is not as they seem .

Thursday, 28 August 2008

A few glasses of wine and a ride in a taxi ....

You have to hand it to Nigella .... none of this fiddling around with low carb this and half fat that as she clambers out of the nice solid black cab after what passes for a night on the hoy Chez Lawson ( or insert whatever other name she goes by when not cooking up a storm in that faux kitchen of hers with the glam fairy lights still up long after Christmas, and that we do have in common , my feathery Paperchase lights being in residence until the cat finally picked them all bald and brought the mirror down with them one sultry June day ) .

My plans for a spot of blackberry picking across the fields at Backworth thwarted as the evening crept on , the light fading and the dog's head disappearing ever deeper into the cushion . It seemed pointless to push . The entire household was wiped out , apparently , by a picnic at Tyne Green , Hexham , food purchased at Brockbushes coffee shop ( who would not permit us to eat at an outside table even with dog in tow , pah ! ) . Admittedly I missed the highlight of the afternoon , a slow walk up a steep hill with a three year old insisting on leading the dog , and eating ice cream at the same time , as I was taking five ( or was it fifteen ? ) on the bookshop tracking down the latest Kate Morton novel and watching with an air of detachment as three others dropped into my bag .

Instead I sank into my seat and there was Nigella Expressing it for England .... producing her mustard chops and at the end of her endeavours eating 2 , all to herself .... curled up on the sofa . And this is where we differ . Finding myself alone , I would eat a piece of cheese and a ryevita and so I believe would the majority of women , whilst men would crack open a pizza , congratulating themselves on having learned to cook as they open the box and stick on the oven .
If I were to cook the chops , and cooked two , it would be one for tonight and one for tomorrow . I may well eat them both , but by that one first , then staring longingly at the second then eating it later , slightly cold .

And I was just so filled with admiration for the foxy lady as she piled home in the cab plotting her supper of caramel croissant pudding . Out of the fridge came the milk, the cream , the eggs , all slung over the bashed up croissant pleasantly stale but not before she produced the most outrageously calorific and carb laden caramel without so much as a reference to guilt , fat , her hips , a*se, or any other part of her anatomy . How does she do it ? Put any other woman I know in a room with such ingredients and she will mix them together , ( particularly late at night after a few glasses of wine and a ride in a taxi ) , usually with her friends , and she will bake them and relish them and enjoy them more than life itself . But the experience will be tinged with guilt , thoughts of the need to atone in the morning , next week . The debates may go full circle , the enjoyment will be no less .
But Nigella really appears to have no truck with such nonsense. I wish I could do it .

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Now we have a loft room again

Look we did finish it .... we now have a room with discrete sections and where it will be possible to lie in bed looking out onto a relaxation area rather than imagining you have landed at Grand Central Station and can chose one of fifteen pieces of luggage in a variety of colourways ranging from sparkling pink with silver flashes to lime green . Admittedly the fan is less likely to be used than the radiators as the weather is going at the minute . August ? I dont think so ?
Bliss for me to have two weeks off from the Day Job though . I'm revelling in the routine of the CatCalling , which is at an all time high this month .
Although not quite out of bed at six am I'm usually propped up reading and as my bedside light goes on Kitty spots it from the bathroom and takes a flying leap and lands on my chest . Thus begins the day . The dog no longer gets me up ( or rarely , and if so its to adjust her blanket . She is in teenager mode ) and is into Pyjama Days mode , occasionally not surfacing until well after the rest of us are having lunch , slowly stretching and with a sheepish look on her face " where did the day go ? ".
The Cats all have their foibles . There are fewer weekenders are more long stretches . More " Im getting bored now ..... what can I do to let you know ? " There have been the upturned washing up bowls ( how does a cat manage to upsend a washing up bowl carefully turned the wrong way up for obvious reasons? ) full of unmentionable substances ... well not that unmentionable , it could have been worse ..... the cat who got on the wrong side of the gate ( I suspect the postie ) and declined to jump back but sat crying in the rain till my arrival , hopefully not for too long , the house with a strong smell of gas ( who turned that tap on , it wasn't me ? ) the cats who perpetually "miss" the litter tray and then walk about in ..... say no more ... where is that brush to clean their fur , where is the disinfectant . And then , oh the joy when this little cat who was keeping a distance suddenly wants to be picked up and cuddled and starts to purr ......

And now , the biggest danger of all ... having this new relaxation area upstairs ..... I go up to vacuum and find myself sitting to "check the ambience" before my friend arrives for the long weekend and before you know it a magazine flies into my hand and an hour has passed and the menus are not planned and the gas board are still not rung and ..... but I can confirm the ambience is most fine ....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Clutter Clearing

Soon this will loook like a room .

Vital Statistics

Its a long long time since I checked my stats .

Mainly due to the fact that I know who is commenting and about what and I assume that others read and lurk as I do on several blogs and forums .

My blogging has fallen off of late mainly due to an increase in the overall pace of life , in CatCalling ( and now of course RabbitCalling , is this the face of the future and will GuineaPigCalling be the next development ) . I have less time generally to ponder life's mysteries and when I do I muse and text and e mail about them more than I blog . Photography is less of an option in the constant rain ? Or is that just an excuse ? We have had some amazing weather too . Much of that has seen me flat out with migraine . I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that score too ( Migraine Defense trial continues ....Food Intolerance test not yet officially underway , though blood gone off to the lab as first stage of the research trial )

I digress.....
Early this morning I checked my stats and realised that the blog had a very high number of hits ( surprise ) already this morning , then , interesting , they were all from one person . I started to get curious about this and clicked about a bit and finally realised that someone had been reading a host of back posts for what seemed like several hours , apparently in the early hours of this morning . For some reason I found this touching . And also a little baffling . And , as they say , curiouser and curiouser . Imagining a real live person reading backwards through my blog , finding in there something to keep them looking or reading . I started to read the blogs myself , retracing the steps , re reading posts I had written , of which I had no memory whatsoever , yet this is my life . (I did this for about five minutes , then life beckoned) .
Cats to feed , rabbits , guineapigs , birds , fish , a room to clear , and wouldnt it be good to read the Sunday papers .
But somewhere in there I found time to read some of my favourite blogs .
Funny old world .

Saturday, 16 August 2008

My First RabbitCall... and does the Blackberry do Raspberries ?

Yesterday I was swimming up and down my own little Roman style pool in Grasmere in the Lake District eyeing up the mist hanging over the mountain and revelling in the hotel breakfast to come ( cooked breakfast is so low carb ). Today I am pondering the Blackberry and wondering for the first time a) how these things work and b) why do people call them the Crackberry ?
I have numerous CatCalls this weekend but this is my first RabbitCall and despite clear instructions that the rabbits , who are exquisite creatures in a large Dutch bungalow residence situated outdoors but with attendant outhouses containing all their requirements , foodstuffs , hay , straw , sawdust , shavings , must be spoken to and stroked to maintain their socialisation , they also need brushing and their nether regions checking for this and that , I can find no hairbrush and am thus unable to brush out their fur .
I re read my e mail instructions and decide an e mail is in order . The family will then receive it by means of a Blackberry. I recall my brother having such a system and though we mocked and cavorted round the said item , I paid no attention to it . Is the Blackberry a phone and thus switched on at will , or at all times ? Does it emit strange noises ( raspberrries perhaps ? ) and will the family be informed of the lost hairbrush via a bleep in the middle of a wedding ceremony or a christening service ? Who knows ?
Will the Blackberry reply to me telling me it cannot be held responsible for the lost brush ?
Meanwhile I must get back to my own clearing out .
The bathroom , which has taken most of our attention in the last two weeks has now been painted in Natural Hessian and though we are still waiting for the Intense Truffle to be restocked at B and Q so that the roll top bath can be re painted ( gone is the duck egg blue which has been in situ since 2000) . On my return from Grasmere ( with Nat ) D had dug out that gross black mouldy shower grout . What a hero . Even the shower now looks wonderful .
The loft rooms are now waiting to be cleared .......say no more ....... the weekend will flash past in a dust filled haze as we crawl into the loft space under the eaves . There will be much banging of the heads and cursing .I am on holiday now for two weeks and have a friend coming to stay so we need to create space so that she does not feel she is sleeping in the left luggage dept of grand central station .

Monday, 11 August 2008

Cystic Fibrosis , Confessions of a CF Husband .

Confessions Of A CF Husband
One of the blogs I read almost daily is the story of Tricia and her baby daughter Gwyneth ( will need to check the spelling here ) , as told by Tricia's partner Nate . Tricia has CF and whilst waiting for a double lung transplant discovered that she was unexpectedly pregnant . The blog chronicles their battles for survival against the odds . Tricia's transplant took place after the birth of her baby but she has recently been diagnosed with a form of cancer . Nate writes an amazingly upbeat blog which puts anything I've ever seen in my life into perspective .
A good time to join the blog right now as there is a summary of what's happened so far with Tricia and where they are all at .

Sunday, 10 August 2008

BBC NEWS Science/Nature Pet dogs can 'catch' human yawns
I'm intrigued by this dogs copy owners business .
Alice is certainly cottoning on in our household . She got me up at seven , ideal timing as my belly was starting to growl , and once the coffee pot was gurgling and the breakfast tray was laden and she had been out and I was heading back upstairs with a low carb Morning Shine bar and a bowl of Rachel's honey yoghurt with berries slung in for good measure ( ok I'm not a low carb purist but so far I have managed to shed half a stone , a miracle for diet hating me ) , not to mention the toast and marmelade and other carb laden goodies for D , and my hefty pile of Migraine Defense pills , Alice made it clear she was not about to settle back for another three hours sleep ( her usual morning now ) . Her tummy growled in synch with mine and I realised all was not well . She was like this a lot when she first moved in with us , so I took her upstairs to keep an eye on her . Her former good mannersand shyness have now deserted her and she pushes past me to take a flying leap onto the bed , causing Pearl to stretch and retreat to the knicker drawer which is slightly ajar ..... the whole bed heaves . Water beds were not invented for the greyhound and I live in fear of a sudden collapse . Doesn't bear thinking of . I don't often go there . Water through the ceiling , ceiling collapse , insurance company producing a pet damage exclusion clause ? No thanks .

Dog settles , breakfast consumed , I finish the exquisite book I am reading " Love in the Present Tense " By Catherine Ryan Hyde .
Off to my first CatCall of the day by 8 45 .
Alice's tummy is still gurgling like a drain and she refuses her fish and rice , carefully produced for the greyhound with Issues .
I return , we decide to walk her now before the planned trip to purchase the Intense Truffle paint needed to complete the bathroom , namely to re-paint the roll top bath , to complement the Something Hessian paint which now adorns the walls ( deliciously , looking like light coffee flavoured ice cream ) . The hessian on the bath is not quite right . The intense truffle will be perfect but they just sold the last tin in B and Q as we arrived . As D arrived I should say in the interests of accuracy . I was at home reading Love in the Present Tense . Natural Hessian .

However Alice has been listening to the radio on the subject of Dog is like Owner and has decided that Dog with Tummy Issues should stay in bed . She refuses to budge . We use the Walk words . We mention getting her collar on . We give her a little push , many cheery words ... a pull .
She stares and pushes further down into the duvet .
She closes the eyes firmly .
We get the message , I am having a Pyjama Day , Nat has them all the time now its the Summer Holidays , I'm fine here thank you very much , sigh , its a shame I can't come on the Walk but hey enjoy yourselves , Sigh ......

We go to town .
There is no Intense Truffle paint . Anywhere .
The bath remains hessian .
But we have delightful Trufffle towels in readiness ......

Friday, 8 August 2008

I try to get my migraines under control ....

I seem to be on a major migraine offensive . So far I am not sure to what end .
Above is Nat gearing up to pricking my finger for the York research programme . I have been selected for one of the groups and a sample of my blood is now winging its way to the Intolerance Testing centre . Sounds simple . I should tell you that without Nat it would not be happening ... it took three stabs of that green lance to get the requisite blood onto the wand , and Nat who insisted I kept on stabbing , kept on squeezing for more blood long after I would have wimped out .

I have also started the Migraine Defense , the food supplements I ordered on the internet . I am still within the first two weeks of trialing these and documenting the results in a diary , so far four days no headache , six days with headache , business much as usual but to be expected as it takes two weeks for the stuff to get into the system . What I do like is the melatonin which I started before the package arrived and which does seem to help with sleep and prevent my waking with a headache quite so often . But it makes it more difficult for the dog to rouse me during the night so we have had one or two mishaps in the wet carpet line . Swings and roundabouts . A wet carpet is nothing and Alice doesn't seem too bothered ..... think she makes less of an effort to wake me anyway when its lashing it down outside . And of course we desparately need a new carpet or two anyway ....but need to wait till tiny greyhound is completely sorted before taking that step ?

And , I have started a low carb eating regime ( me , on a diet ? never ! )

Monday sees me taking part in Bioline or some such ... part of a long running medical research project where various health checks will be done so will be curious to see their pronouncements about aspects of my physical state ...

Interesting article in the news about dogs copying their owners yawning . No wonder Alice has transformed into such a sloth , slobbing on the sofa most of the time , grumbling if she is disturbed for more than half an hour out of twenty four .

Monday, 4 August 2008

Separation Anxiety

Greyhounds are renowned for suffering separation anxiety . Alice certainly objects to being left alone and usually manages to collect together twelve or so shoes or slippers and lines them up next to her on the sofa pending our return if we leave her for an hour or so .

This afternoon there was a short gap between D leaving the house and my return .
I came in to discover her in her new bed , tucked up with a large cauliflower and a small swede , with a box of shredded tissues at the side for good measure .
Yuk , think how cold they would be . Hardly the bedfellows I would chose .....

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday