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

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Scratty Hens

Hens are such delightful creatures . I first heard of the latest addition to our extended family when my sister sent a text including a photo of a hen house being hoisted over her garden wall . At that I knew hens were imminent although she did say it may well be another two years before the required run would be built ( foxes and her own little terrier Grommit coming down on the wrong side of a risk assessment ) . Even at that point she did add that she may acquire her hens and hope that this would force the issue of the run .It seemed not a matter of hours before a text arrived to say to say she now had six scratty rescue hens and the little poppets had produced three eggs at breakfast time and a further three at tea time .

I could scarcely contain myself and invited myself along to visit on Sunday afternoon , a box of cream cheese frosted carrot cupcakes and a tray of rocky road as offerings and Alice sworn to good behaviour . Alas , the latter was so thrilled to see Auntie Laura she raced round the sitting room fourteen times in quick succession and then forced herself into a miniscule cat basket on the window ledge so that promise was broken within seconds . But no matter , Auntie Laura understands greyhounds and she and Alice have a special relationship forged on the last visit when Alice became over excited and quickly gave her a French kiss on her arrival much to the surprise of all . Alice is usually most reticent with her greetings and rarely even wags her tail .

The hens .... I digress . Hardly scratty at all in my humble opinion and though still waiting for their run to be built , the posts have been sunk and it will not be long before they can roam free-ish range . Their current arrangements are their hen house and on fine days taking turns in the guinea pig ark with Grommit keeping an eye . Grommit is definitely a fan of hens and would quite like to eat one for dinner . The hens seem unconcerned by his interest and merely scratch on and make fascinating noises as he over excites himself bringing stones over and burying them under piles of grass , perhaps demonstrating how he would deal with their remains . I love the noise of the hen as it goes about its business ;although the attached video clip is short and to the point as understandably when I switch on the camera they turn shy and silence reigns .

I will post again in a few weeks when they will be pretty hens and scrattiness will be a thing of the past . Their horrid days in the Intensive Farming Units will be forgotten as they content themselves tormenting Grommit and perhaps occasionally Alice ( who also adores birds ) and poing about in the garden for fat grubs and worms .

Friday, 24 April 2009

"Today may be a tough one for you, shelagh. It might seem like nothing is fitting into place. Could it be that you are trying to be someone that you are not? If things don't seem to be working out, don't press the issue. You are better off waiting for a time in which you feel more confident about who you are and where you are going. Meanwhile, pour yourself a cup of tea and relax. Releasing stress can clear up a great deal of energy for use in other things. "

Thus reads today's horoscope courtesy of a free online service that delivers to my inbox just like the milk used to be brought to my front door in former times .

I read and re read and try to get my head round what exactly is meant . Certainly , as is usually the case , the words strike a chord . Things do feel tough , from the moment of waking at five am with a heavy greyhound somewhere on top of me and refusing to shift , to the "streaming " of my dearly beloved next to me at approximately ten past , despite my changing the entire bed down to the mattress cover yesterday afternoon even though it was all done on Sunday , in case it was the dust , cat hairs , dog dander etc that were irritating his sensitive nasal tubes . We shall say nothing of the tension in the household last night due to his earlier remark that Nat's coat ( borrowed from me ) " did not suit her " and the subsequent peeing on his laudry by one of the cats , presumably in retaliation . The females in this house tend to stick together and Pearl Birman was already bearing a grudge having been retrieved from next door's yard after she had hopped over the wall whilst we were sunning ourselves whilst on guinea pig watch . Of course it may have been Kitty who still harbours daily Feelings about being moved along from sitting in front of the pc monitor where her sizeable bulk blocks the wireless signal ( allegedly ) .
At seven thirty am I unload the washing machine ( refusing to be grateful for the fact that D has re rinsed the cat-defaced load last night when I see that he has mixed my white pillow cases with a mixed wash ... I am such a pedant when it comes to my whites, though admittedly I rarely do them myself these days I still have my standards ) and in a fury notice that N 's school blazer , Dry Clean only , is also on the line , drying in a tatty furball mess . I want to raise my hands to the heavens and run to the country and return after a long holiday when I live in a little tent and eat boiled eggs and bacon and will be grateful for a house and washing line and everything else when I get back .

So what is this about my horoscope and wanting to be someone I am not ? Someone with clean laundry and cats who pee in the litter trays only and a clean bed every day ...

Or am I missing something and it goes deeper ?
I'd better have a cup of tea and relax and wait and see ..... like the man / woman says ......

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Four AM Phone Call

....As the phone starts ringing to the side of my head I know it is my daughter almost before the second note . The digital numbers on the clock show it is four o clock in the morning . In two hours I would up for work . The word in my head is What ? She is staying at her friends at a sleepover and has once ,
in her history of sleepovers , called me to come for her . Not bad , since she started at age three and has reached the ripe old age of fifteen . So , what ? I grapple with the phone and hear her slightly tearful voice immediately and am out of bed as I am talking , pulling on a sweater over my vest top and heading down the stairs and into my Uggs and out to the car , zipping up my puffa jacket and cursing the sea fret . There is quite a fog out there . I am outside the house where she is staying in minutes and so is she , with her bag in her hand and a hoodie over her pyjamas .
Inside another twenty I am wearing more clothes , having returned to the house for cash etc , and we are registering ourselves at our Accident and Emergency dept . She cannot cope with the pain in her head . We see our Health Service at its finest . She is seen inside five minutes by the triage nurse who notes her aversion to the bright lights and ushers us through to the darkened childrens' waiting room and from there to a side ward with a narrow single bed . She leaves a lamp on which I angle so it faces away . Nat lies on the bed and a doctor arrives and suggests we extinguish all lights . The nurse reappears , fumbling in the pitch dark , bringing anti nausea medication , which I know from my own experience will sedate her in minutes .
I settle myself in the small hard blue chair and N stretches her hand out to hold mine in hers . Slowly her hand loses its vitality and she draws it back up beside her and turns over . I ask her how she feels and she says " I have that feeling when you are about to fall asleep and its not quite so awful " .
I breathe again .
From my position facing her bed I have a wonderful view from a high window of a decorative wrought iron overhang on some kind of square or courtyard, painted in pale green . I stare at this for a while and think of the view from my window at home of the old station . Unlike many hospital rooms , we are cool and comfortable . I feel I am on a ship , lurching , as if jet lagged . I need to find the bathroom so whisper this and she nods .
A couple who were waiting in the main waiting area are still there . The man , who I guess is the patient , is in one of the hard chairs , sitting with his head in his hands , far away in some private despair . His partner , who looks familiar , is leaning against the door , staring at something in her hands . I try to see what she is holding but can't make it out . Perhaps a mobile phone .
I find the bathroom and get back to our room as soon as possible . Apart from the couple waiting the place is deserted . I take a wrong turn and find myself in a long ward with banks of nurses at desks . They look at me curiously , I reverse out and find my way again . I am still lurching . I feel like I have made a transatlantic flight and my hands are shaking slightly .
I sit again and close my eyes picturing my chair as a larger , softer version . I count my breaths backwards from ten ( I learned hypnosis from Richard Bandler and Paul Mckenna years ago and it has stood me in good stead ) . Within seconds I am drifting off , dreaming I am comfortable and happy and relaxed .. and thus I spend the next hours , waking each time Nat turns and speaks to me , or a nurse appears ( infrequent ) . Finally , she is discharged with strong medication for the migraine ( thus diagnosed ) and we step out into the fog again , back into some kind of reality but the changed reality of knowing how it is to spend a night in a hospital bed .

Monday, 13 April 2009

Stella McCartney Crystal Horse

Lori Lansens got me through most of Easter Sunday or her book " the Girls " did . The story of conjoined twins one of whom , a writer, wants to tell her story just as she discovers she has an aneurysm about at bursting point . Her sister isn't a writer and doesn't have the blood vessel problem but nontheless will also die a few minutes after her sister . She joins in the writing too . Between them they got me through whatever blood vessel issues it is I have , which I would prefer not to contemplate , though it did occur to me that I had thought this Easter weekend I would be ok having been laid up for a fair bit of last week already .

Good Friday though was ok and we took a picnic off to Bolam lakes and walked round the lake in a convoy of people and dogs , fully aware that the rain would start just as we unloaded the food in all its shared glory onto the picnic table . As indeed it did , and not just a drizzle either . Three of us sat it out to the bitter end , so that upon my return to the house I was forced to strip off and feed all my clothes into the washing machine and myself into the bath-tub . Even the dog was wet through .

And today , back on track , was crystal horse day .ChronicleLive - News - Today's Chronicle - The lights fantastic at Belsay Hall ( Clock that Geordie accent on YouTube ! )
Impossible to capture on film the exquisite Swarovski crystals suspended spectre like in the ruins of Belsay castle . Go and see it . Take a picnic . Or at the very least click to enlarge and make the best of my pictures . Stella McCartney Designed Chandelier Is Installed At Belsay Hall - Pictures -

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Fluxus :The Found Object at Top of Stair

I try to avoid getting down to hard graft and the making of the simnel cake , not so much worn down by the shopping trip involved in sourcing the ingredients but more delighted that such a trip is still within my powers .

Yesterday , indeed , as all my engagements were put on hold , such a thing had not seemed possible and I had wondered , in so far as I wondered anything much , whether our proposed family outing and picnic on Good Friday would have to go ahead of necessity " sans cake " and maybe even without anything much in the baked -at- home -foods variety . Having suffered two days of driving headache I finally lost it and and started on a cocktail of pills yesterday which had me convinced by two pm that I was flying ( headache safely at bay or reduced to a tiny squeaky little thing in the background ) or at least about to begin flying very soon . Jane arrived to collect Elly and I was able to hold a largely coherent conversation over almost two hours with her ( with one or two slips which I think I got away with ) .

During the night I floated above myself watching as the dog tossed and turned and her stomach squeaked and wheezed and perspired ( something amiss there , perhaps she got in amongst the creme eggs ? ) and I dug my heels in this morning , sleeping past the alarm and past the first coffee bell at six forty five .

Thus it was that I finally emerged to the artwork displayed above .
I do not know what it means .

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Oh the Joys of Ikea .....

As diversion from my recent existential questioning , intensified somewhat by a dodgy x ray result on the part of one of my closest friends and setting in train a series of emails on that above theme , the fiction of a trip to Ikea provides the perfect foil for the "what is the point of any of it " and " what are humans for anyway ? " and " why are we even thinking of saving the planet ? "

Ikea .... how I adore Ikea . Fully aware that this is not a popular sentiment , I get confused when people rant about the inconvenience of the missing screws , the backs of wardrobes that break when you lean on them with a screwdriver and the sheer impossibility of keeping one of their beautiful foliage plants alive beyond a week . Set against the joy of the full English breakfast ( six items for a mere 93 pence .... hold on , 93 , where did that figure emerge from , presumably used to be 99 but the recent change in the vat laws provided the reduction ) and delicious it was too , and though not for the faint hearted , ideal for those of the low carb persuasion . Had I not forgotten ( or lost in the depths of my bag ) my Family Ikea Loyalty card we could have had free coffee too rather than having to pay sixty odd pence a mug for that or whatever it was , sorry I forget , distracted as I was at the time at the excitement building up at the prospect of being one of those people with one of those wardrobes where everything glides about on runners and oh bliss , the jewellery and make up can be found in a drawer with dividers ( hundereds of little squares ) situated under the shelf under the hangers of neat creased suits and so forth .
For a minute or two as I polish off my eggs and bacon etc I am forgetting that I don't posses suits ( really ) , or jewellery ( much ) and ironing ... well .... I see D do it so I do understand about ironing and know what is involved in having such a well functioning wardrobe ( D has one ) .
My current arrangements run to a series of chest of drawers stuffed to the gills with largely crumpled and squashed items ( some rolled ) , mostly t shirts , sweaters and vests , vying for space with assorted household items largely unrelated to clothing but of the " where else would it go if not here ? Photographs , notes , tablets , dog items , stop . I cannot bear to continue . I was enjoying my dream of transformation and it is going to happen . There is going to be a transformation if it kills me . Otherwise what would be the point ?

As I sit here typing , my new wardrobe is upstairs in the early stages of construction .

In its various parts , and loaded onto the trolley , it narrowly missed castrating a pleasant young man whilst still in the warehouse . D lost control of things and the frame section poking awkwardly forwards veered between the legs of the man in front in the queue , standing backwards . He seemed resigned to his fate and admitted things were generally not going his way . Indeed he waved towards what looked like a king sized bed frame and told us he had already loaded and unloaded the frame from his ( small ) car , realising he had bought "the wrong one" . He had something of Brian the snail from The Magic Roundabout about him ( I liked Brian , he was one of my favourite characters , but I'm glad he wasn't building my wardrobe ) .

And then the worst bit ( or best , depending on your perspective ) , a massive attack of the giggles on my part whilst attempting to reverse the car into the loading bay . Memories of former occasions when I have failed to hit the spot always disable me at this juncture as no where else on the planet am I incapable of successful reversing . In our street I can reverse park on a sixpence ( should such a coin still exist ) but in Ikea car park , hey I always get it wrong ! I decided to forego the spot D is expecting me at and head for the one next door and then Whoosh out of the blue D runs at me like a rat out of a drainpipe shouting No , You can't park in that bay , that belongs to that woman ! ...... I am completely and overwhelmingly overcome with the giggles and although I try my hardest to behave I cannot stop . I am weak and unable to drive , unable to do anything except sit there shaking , there are tears coming down my face and I cannot drive into any parking bay for love nor money . Two children in the back seat of the car alongside catch sight of me and look at me in wonder and start to laugh themselves . It is a long time since I have laughed so long and hard at absolutely nothing ... and it gets me through the loading up of the various packages ( way too big for the space in the car ) . D glances at me occasionally , possibly wondering about the Mental Health laws .

At home , the Ikea leaflet accompanying the packages shows the wardrobe being constructed in its various stages by a large man with his shirt tails out , assisted by a smaller lady helper . He has the hammer and nails or screws and is clearly the worker . She stands helpfully by , occasionally holding up a piece of wood for him , always smiling .
I had better get up and there and see if I am required . Better stop tittering though .

Thursday, 2 April 2009

What is the point of it ?

Although no longer raging about lemon curd , and whilst one does not wish to be perpetually ranting about something , the NHS takes the biscuit this morning . D attends for the second time in a month , hopeful that today the consultant will have received the x ray results from our local hospital required for a decision about the next step cardio vascuarly. ( which any doctor worth his salt and not overstretched into the bargain would have got hold of prior the consultation a month ago ) . In effect : Carbon copy of last month's consult . Registrar looks at patient. Opens file . Scan results still not there . Informs patient that they will now give up on waiting for scan results from local hospital and conduct their own scan . No mention of comment made last time that reason for not conducting scan that day was because of " slight risk to kidneys " .
Informs patient he will receive invite to attend for scan in four to six weeks . Goodbye . A simple phone call or e mail to "the patient" this morning could have saved him and the doctor the bother of the entire fiction of the consultation itself . What is the point of it ? I think that is my mood today ? What is the point of any of it ?

I wonder to myself whether in his place I would have grabbed the file and rung the local hospital myself and volunteered to drive over there myself to collect the scan results . These are admin support tasks and hardly rocket science .
As a general rule I am mild mannered , polite and careful not to offend those who are not responsible for the things which annoy me . But there is a place for speaking out and my medical notes have a sprinkling of comment ( mine ) and certainly on one occasion a letter of complaint ( mine ) concerning a very inappropriate remark made by a professor who should have known better and indeed had the good sense to send by return of post a fulsome apology .

I have since sometimes watched doctors as they quickly scan "the notes" glance at this correspondence and then look again at me and rub their chins thoughtfully . And , to be frank , I am glad that there is something causing some slight hesitation before their pronouncments , or I am ordered off for the latest round of brain scans , or bone scans or whatever it might be . And in my less bleak moments , I remember the kindness of individuals within the system , who have held my hand , and shown their true concern and fluffed up my pillows and come back to my hospital bed long after I thought they had gone home , to bring a pain killer or tell me about a phone call I had received or just to prop me up a bit better or , in one case , give me a tea towel I had requested to wrap round my eyes when the light was bothering me so much . No matter how bad the system is , there will always be the individuals within it . And maybe that's the point . Just today , for a few reasons , its hard to remember that all the time .

Oh , and in case anyone is interested . My wonderful daughter pointed out that I didn't "lose" the lemon curd . That when you have guests staying , you expect them to eat things like jam . That our Young Americans more than likely used it with their breakfast croissants . Mystery solved ! I've stopped looking in the bathroom cabinet ( both my sister and Bettejo suggested this was where it would be ... ) and I've put aside the short story detective idea ( Silliyak .. ) . To the next mystery ?

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday