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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Welcome to CatMinders

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Not what I Expected ... the migraine research trials

The results are back from my food intolerance testing which was the first step in taking part in the York University research trials . Now all I have to do is avoid the foods I have been identified as being intolerant to . Though when I read the initial info it sounded like we would not be told which group we had been assigned to , oe we would not be sure whether or not we were actually avoiding the right foods . Which does make me wonder ... as I have been informed I am intolerant to peanuts . Now for the last several years peanut butter was one of my staple foods . This started when I shared my house with a research chemist who worked for Procter and Gamble , an American company which made the most amazing peanut butter , far superior to any we had on offer in this country at that time ( I'm going back to the eighties here . ) Graeme would keep us supplied with these huge jars of this wonderful crunchy silken textured stuff which I adored . I would layer it on doorsteps of granary bread , or even better , rye bread from the Jewish bakers and eat it any time I couldnt be bothered to cook and in those days , with the hectic life I had then , that was pretty often . And since then peanut butter has been one of my default foods .
So , I have three theories going on . Either , I'm not intolerant to it , and its a double bind and at the end the research boss will write and say Ha! Youre actually allergic to eggs and green tea .
Or I do have an intolerance but its got sod all to do with your migraines ....
or Bingo ..... you are allergic and its causing your migraines and heres' the answer ... No more Nuts and your Problem is Solved . Now There would be a Thing .

Friday, 26 September 2008

The friend who ran away to the country

An email from the friend who ran away to the country . Despite her defection at the start of the summer we still haven't managed to meet . She talks of the need for a "quality gossip" so we arrange a visit for Sunday . Nat will come as she and J's two girls I am reliably informed regard themselves as quasi sisters . Nat has plenty of half sisters but quasi versions of the species are in very short supply. With the men and the dogs it is less simple . Gem is a young Border Collie , unable to take her eye off her ball for a second . She rarely relaxes . Alice on the other hand is a lazy greyhound , uncomfortable in other people's homes unless and until she has managed to check out the soft furnishings and preferably has been allocated one ( a three seater ? ) all of her own . She doesn't really do sharing . She is too tall and spiny and bony for sitting or lying comfortably on the floor or so she would have us believe , though she will do that under sufferance at the wine bar rather than stay at home . Therein our dilemma .
Likewise the men .
A is sporty , runs about everywhere very fast and is usually seen flashing past in streamlined ( steamlined ? ) gear . I can safely say I've never had a conversation with him although he is always genial and friendly en passant so to speak .
When the family lived opposite us in former times ( oh happy days ) I would see him unpacking the car after a trip up a walking tour to the top of an icicle on a mountain in the Far Reaches of Scotland . Out of the car would come neat packages of spiked boots and fearsome looking little tents , evil little hammers and suchlike . Nothing looked fur lined or warm . I saw no flasks or cosy sleeping bags or decorative lampshades or friendly pictures such as I would need if I were camping in the wilds . No hot chocolate or croissants or books by Nigella .
And A in the country is unlikely to be any different to A at the seaside .

D on the other hand is happier behind the wheel of his car than walking or running anywhere , or perhaps more likely quietly watching Sunderland on his computer so as not to disturb anyone on the TV , texting his son , a Newcastle supporter a few barbed comments if appropriate .
I still recall overhearing him announcing on the phone to his son that we were going out for a walk and his son aghast " A walk ? You ? Why ? "

Now we have Alice D loves to see her run and enjoy the open spaces . But I still can't quite see Gem and Alice and A and D together for the time it will take J and me to have the quality gossip she has in mind . And somehow I dont think anybody is going to be arguing with me ...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Things to do today Book

The "Things to do today " book is a great invention .
Its a book of lists with the date at the top , the action required down the centre , the priory afforded to the left and to the right a tick box where you get to tick when the action is completed .

Ive always wanted one and recently D bought me and my sister one ... Ive never looked back and Ive never been so organised . Then , crunch time . You start to reply on it .
Assuming this couple of days ahead was a quiet one , I left the book unopened , holding the info in my head that I was meeting Michaela for coffee and maybe even a cake to celebrate the loss of over a stone in weight ( Low carb diet I love you ! ... oh hang on , maybe a cake is not the way to celebrate ... ? ) . Whilst I was out she asked me what I was doing next Friday , I checked and realised that not only did I have two forgotten appointments for tomorrow , I had also double booked myself in the morning , all through failing to use my memory like I used to .
Something will have to give ..... one of my friends is attending a seven am Breakfast Meeting where she has to talk about herself for a Minute then eat a vile breakfast which she will have to pay a vast sum for . All in the interests of business networking . Sounds worse than Alcoholics Anonymous to me I must say . I'm glad they didn't invite me and that CatCalling isnt that sort of business ..... at seven am I'd be far too busy talking to cats and feeding them vile breakfasts ( if anyone was on their hols at this time of year which of course mostly they aren't ) .
So at seven am I shall still be safely dossing on the bed under a pile of my own cats waiting for Alice to surface ( lazy greyhound wake up call gets later and later on my non Day Job days ) , reading my novel " Oystercatchers" by Susan Fletcher , wondering did she push her sister and put her into the coma or what ? and hoping I can get to have coffee with Business Meeting friend and lunch with DayJob Inspector friend and still make it to the optician with nat after school . Good job I had to open that Things to do Book or I'd have been well and truly in the poop .
Dementia ? Moi ?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Clinkerage .

I tap away on my laptop as my sister appears with her breakfast bowl of yoghurt spikled with all manner of healthy nubbins , nuts and seeds . D is reading a paper at my side . I download photos of some fat Greggs pastie eating seagulls as seen by Laura and me last night on the pier ) . I draw D's attention to the missing Z key , hoping he will mount a search as he is far more meticulous than me . I have already mussed a few papers around half heartedly in the hearth to no avail , and scratched around in Pearl's nether regions lest it should be concealed therein .
" Sleep all right ? " I ask L half heartedly and then invite her to view the seagulls pictures . She and D exchange a Look . Sorry , I say , have I already asked that ?

D is on hands and knees and Pearl is following him around sniffing his face gingerly as he bends and stoops , hunting the missing letter .
I fetch myself Greek yoghurt with raspberries and blueberries and on my return the armchair next to the laptop station has been dismantled and is littered with detritus . My sister is straining to see a year' s accumulation of lost ear rings , nail files , sweetie papers , biscuit crumbs and other assorted crud . " What is that word for all that kind of stuff ? " she muses ....

" None of it is mine " I add helpfully
" Clinkerage ? " she offers ?
Clinkerage ? I am agahast .....

" You know , the stuff that falls under a fire , dust is involved , ash .... "

Crap ! offers D firmly , I would call it crap . By this time he is sweeping it firmly into a dustpan whilst we look on , our noses back in our Sunday magazines .

Laura gives the appearance of reading but I know her mind is on higher things .

Not for nothing the Scrabble Champion of the North of All England .

Has she eaten the Z key ?

Removed it for fun ?
Who knows ?

The cat has made off with my " z" ....

and the Spam folder has eaten Sillyak's comment again .

What a start to the week !

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

My housekeeper has resigned

I had a professional coming to the house to interview me today ( social work type ) and couldn't be ar*ed to clean.. ie wash the porch floor or hoover the carpets ( and we had D's three year old grand daughter here so it was rather messy ) so was minded to say " I have heard it rumoured that my housekeeper has left but her resignation has not crossed my desk as such yet ..... " and leave that floating helpfully in the air ....

but she came in saying oh my what a terribly pretty house ( surveying the garden ) and quite took the wind out of my sails ...... so I kept stumm ..... or is it schtum ....

Funny that ... she was not seeing what I see .... the awful star shape that some naughty teen has gouged into the front door no doubt whilst waiting for one of us to answer ..... or the dust accumulated out there on the what-should-be-shiny-black-paint , or the hanging basket not quite hanging right as its on the wrong type of bracket and has been now for some thirteen years or so , or the cracked and mossly paving garden path or the .....
I could go on .

No , she saw the white house , the black front door , the winding nasturtiums , the charming herbs growing wild in the border , the delightful tiny lawn edged with this and that , the heavy urns scattered with colour and green , the sqeaking old gate , the mad old lavertera and the equally crazy hydrangea reminding her of her Grandma s house or some such and she thought Charming pretty house at the seaside . How wondrous !
I'm staying with that .....

The Unwelcome Visitors ....

Guess who we forgot when we de- flea'd ?

All has now been rectified thanks to Nat . That Piggie's nails need clipping though .
The truth was discovered at the weekend . Having spent almost fifty quid on flea treatments for the dog and the four cats , and done the business a while back , after which time I have had nil bites ( I only ever had two ) and D has had about five more ( he has had about ninety in total , being juicier than me ) , with an additional four during my absence and to cap it all on his Birthday , which was the day I left for Cardiff . ( And , ironically , the day Toby pulled the vase of flowers over twice , and the very same day Pearl peed on Alice's bed , though quite why remains a mystery . That she then piddled copiously on the spot on the sofa in D 's office where Alice had been reclining all day , the following day , suggests something of a vendetta against either Alice or D , seems a possible theory . Or maybe of course she was just missing me ? No one else has proposed that idea but I like it .) Theories aside , all this made considerably more work for D who was already attempting to run the household , feed three sets of Catcalls cats , run his business , feed and clothe Nat ( bacon sandwiches by eight am ) , as the sofa covers then needed washing as well as the dog bed , a not inconsiderable task . And whilst hopping about being bitten by a flea four times does not add to the fun . I am only glad at that stage I did not tell him I was ill .
This weekend , assuming all fleas were dead and gone and a thing of the past , we started on our usual guinea pig cleaning routine . Involving much carrying from the shed of straw hay sawdust blah blah and finally the catching of the piggies in their indoor cage and popping of them outdoors into their run whilst we wash out the cage under the power hose . Alleged power hose . We have to use the " shower setting " , as power hosing poo leads to serious "guinea pig torpedoes in the eye syndrome". Trust me . Its not pleasant . Its marginally less fun that watching Pearl piddle on the sofa knowing you are the one cleaning up .
D is the one to carry the Pigs outside as I am not good at catching them ..... he catches them holds each one individually close to his chest or ribs , pops into the run then lifts his top and there , on the skin , a Bite !
We look in horror !
It is the pigs who have the flea , not the cats or dog .....
Thirty more pounds later we have guinea pig flea stuff ..... and Nat applies it . The pigs make far less fuss then the rest put together .
This time , lets hope , is the end of them .
No more furious running upstairs for D after a bite , stripping off of the clothes , bagging everything , diving into the shower and then boil washing everything including the towel . No more inspecting the bed for every last little speck of dust . No combing the cats white fur in search of creatures . No raised heads every time the dog dares to scratch her ear.
Why do I feel so itchy all of a sudden ? ......

Friday, 12 September 2008

This week ....

This week I have been mostly in Cardiff for a conference .
I was fine when I left Newcastle and fine most of the flight apart from a little travel sickness which was soon over with . But must have somehow upset the delicate balance that constitututes my brain or wherever it is that my migraines start up .
Whatever , I woke in my little university room on Tuesday am at 5 feeling somewhat odd and anxious that things were not right . I managed the pre conference seminar up till 3 pm then retired to my room to sleep off the headache mindful that I had to present a workshop at 2 pm the following day and keen at all costs to be well for that . Slept till 5 or 6 then staggered off to town to buy a couple of snacks as I couldnt face going out to dinner with my colleagues , back to my room , slept till the early hours when the sickness began . I was still hopeful that I might recover though this was becoming less of a reality ; indeed by lunchtime I was writhing quietly in agony in my lonely little abode , wishing I was home , and texting my colleagues that I needed help to find a doctor . Anne returned as soon as she was able and at three thirty we headed for Accident and Emergency where we were finally seen some three or four hours later by a delightful doctor with a wonderful accent neither Welsh not English , who injected me with anti emetics to stop me vomiting any further and then gave me morphine to take away the pain in my head .

I can't bear to describe for you the wait in A and E . Sitting on a plastic chair , writhing on a seat when all I wanted was to lie on the floor ( at one point I did indeed sit on the floor with my head on the chairs , listening to Anne's purse chain clinking quietly above me and feeling immeasurably grateful for her presence in this scary situation ) . On one previous occasion when admitted to a local hospital via A and E I was injected with an anti emetic and had some kind of allergic reaction which has made me terrified of the same thing happening again . I asked Anne to ensure no doctor would give me this medication . In the event this was all they had at Cardiff . By this time I was so desperate I nodded in resignation . I was past caring . Just make all this go away . So what the consequences ? This doctor will manage the consequences ... I have faith in her .

Back to my room ... sleep , blessed relief , the head receedes gradually and I fly home two days later .

I catch the final two lectures of the conference .

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Them fleas ......

Today we are mostly waging war on them fleas.

Its years since the last plague at the Catcalls residence . I don't know how we manage to avoid them what with our central heating and the dog and four cats ( oh and those piggies too ) and our tendencies to mingle with other peoples cats and rabits , latterly .

The last infestation involved me in calling out environmental health when as I settled Nat to bed ( she was a baby at the time ) I noticed a beastie hopping up her arm and next morning she had three bites in a row. Clearly all the sprays and flea treatments I had applied to my animals ( we had a cocker spaniel and a papillon and two cats at that time , all now sadly deceased ) had had little effect .

Not that I'm a snob or anything but as I was put through to Pest Control I did ask how the Man would look when he arrived . We had just moved into the neighbourhood and I was hoping my daughter would be accepted at Mother and Toddler events in the not too distant future . You can't be too careful . I wasn't too sure of my own standing yet either , wearing the same clothes most days as I do ( its a comfort thing ) and in those days driving a Very Old Car . The man on the phone was very reassuring and knew where I was coming from instantly . The man would arrive in an unmarked car ( I had never thought about that ! Imagine a large van marked Pest Control ) . He would be dressed in ordinary clothes , and not in a white space suit as I had envisaged . Ah ! Its not like the Fumigations I had witnessed in my days observing social services' finest hours then ? I breathed again . In fact the "man who did" was in and out in five minutes flat , the only evidence of his vocation a sort of oil can I secretly coveted , which he directed at the edges of the rooms and blew a kind of powder at , exhorting me not to vacuum for forty eight hours . Now that was tricky ... with two longish haired dogs and a baby that trailed " stuff " from one end of the house to the other .

Ah , fond memories , but so far it has not come to that .
This time round , almost fifteen years later , I have two bites and D has around sixteen . Fair to say he is juicier and more susceptible than me . ( I should add at this stage , not that I'm boasting or anything , but I have lost almost a stone in weight thanks to the low carb diet , thus I would be less juicy , in some respects ? Though not all , one hopes . )
I think fleas , likes all of us , have their likes and dislikes .

So , this morning , we spent almost fifty pounds ( $100 ) on flea treatments , also suitable for biting lice , and applied to Alice ( no problem ) , Kitty ( not suited ) , Toby ( much wriggling ) , Pearl ( not located , later after much banging and crashing found locked in my wardrobe , after I was trying on old clothes long forgotten as Too Small , now Too Large . Oh Well , time to Buy More , possibly ? ) . Jessie , at time of writing , still not located . She crawls to back of space behind water bed .

I depart thereafter for town , D then settles to work , upon my return , D informs me he has had to bag all his clothes and towel and have extremely hot shower as has been re bitten twice .

Ah well .

Its a process .

Fumigation and Pest Control here we come ?

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday