Saturday, 22 August 2009

Cats for company, and new spinning wheel.

There's a delay in getting my post about indigo dyeing to you, I went to the library today with a memory stick to upload photos for my blog (I can't upload any from home due to our firewall settings) but found when I got there that one important photo was missing. I'll try and get it sorted out on Monday.

So instead, you're getting a post about our cats and some friends.

This cat is nobody's cat, she's an independent country lady who pops in for meals from time to time and sleeps in a basket in our greenhouse.

We call her Stumpy, because the little bit of tail you see curled behind her is all the tail she has. She is stray rather than feral, and used to be fed by the old man next door (for at least 5 years we know of). When he went into hospital, and then a nursing home this year poor Stumpy cat got very thin. She also started getting in vicious fights with all the other cats in the neighbourhood. Next-door but one she had such a fight-to-the-death approach to Bertie that the two of them rolled into the garden pond, and were still fighting in the water as our neighbour (Bertie's owner) tried to separate them.

As she'd always slept in our greenhouse from time to time, I started offering her food there. At first she'd run away when I was still 20 feet from the greenhouse. Gradually she ran off later and later, and started peeping through a hole in the wall ready to run back for her food when the dish was down. Now I can get to within a few feet, and she talks to me. Talk still sometimes starts with a "don't get any closer" hiss, but she meows too.

Getting her to give up sleeping on some dead plants in the corner and to move into a comfy basket also took time. Eventually one day I put her food bowl in the basket, after that she realised it was comfy and now I think she knows it's special for her. I shake the cushion out every day, and so know by the debris that she sleeps there every night, even if she doesn't turn up for a meal.
Here she is again, with a customary, "I'm not quite sure about you, but you might be my friend as long as you don't get closer" look.

I'm also pleased to say that now she has a place of her own, Stumpy doesn't get into fights.

Now to introduce the boy from over the road, Jasper, a lanky fellow, smartly dressed in little white socks.
Cally, and other readers of Molesworth, will know what I mean when I say he's the Fotherington-Thomas type.

He's a great friend to our little Annie (and they're the same age, 2 years). Jasper spent the first 5 months of his life in a cat rescue centre with his litter mates. When he moved in over the road he was lonely for other cat company, and made friends with my old cat the late & lamented Oscar. When we went to the cat sanctuary after Oscar's death to find a new cat we were looking for one that would be a good friend to Jasper.

Our little Annie spent the last 5 months of her first year in a cat rescue centre with a litter mate, her litter mate found a home a week before we turned up and Phoebe joined Annie in her pen for that last week. Annie hates being without cat company, but her aunt Pheobe (originally from same home) is more independent. So Annie and Jasper are pleased to have each other around.

Here is Annie at the front door,

Jasper outside.

Being friends means to Jasper that he has someone to do cat things with, like creep up behind her and jump on her tail.

Being friends means to Annie someone to mutter and swear at and chase down the garden path. She chases him half way, turns round and walks back to the house, Jasper follows her up the path, and the game repeats.

Another game is where she hops through the cat flap that opens for our cats microchips, and Jasper tries to follow. She stops right in side so he can't get in, then he sits outside while she sticks her head out, swears at him, pulls her head in before he can get to the door. It is absolutely hilarious to watch. Jasper really is a very polite gentleman, he doesn't swear back, and he only rarely fights her (he'd easily win a proper fight).

Both Annie and Jasper are very respectful to Aunt Phoebe. She has a way of looking down her nose at them, and they respectfully take a few steps backwards while she walks past.

Phoebe surveys her realm:

Annie and Jasper, whose move next?

Here you see Pheobe has just finished inspecting the box containing my new Majacraft Suzie Alpaca spinning wheel, so now I can unpack:

And here's the wheel when I was part way through putting the bits together:

The assembled Suzie Alpaca has joined my two Timbertops Leicester wheels in my spinning corner:

I'm delighted to say that she is a beautiful wheel to spin on. I actually prefer the Majacraft treadle action, although the Timbertops wheels are very easy to treadle and made to last a lifetime. The Majacraft wheel is less robust, but folds and can be carried about.

Down on the floor to the left of the Suzie Alpaca you can see the little travelling lazy kate she was supplied with. I was a bit concerned before it arrived that I might not like this lazy kate, but I do. It works beautifully.

My Suzie Alpaca was supplied by the wonderful, helpful, P&M Woolcraft. She arrived with a broken bush (supports the wheel axle) which they replaced, and Martin talked me though how to get my bobbins to run smooth - they are plastic and were a bit rough to start with. The holes for the shaft are drilled out, but had been left a bit rough. The surfaces were easily smoothed off by scraping with a small craft knife, and a little vaseline on the shaft as well got them working properly.

Now the only thing that can stop me from enjoying spinning is the Top Cat, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, who sometimes takes up residence on my spinning chair.
I suppose it's my own fault for putting the chair in the sun with a tapestry-wool covered feather cushion.

Editing to add: yes my health is much improved, but am totally exhausted after my walk this a.m. and writing all this. Time for a sleep! Progress is slow, I feel a bit better one day, then a bit worse, then a bit better... I'm happier for being able to do one or two things that I want to do, othertimes I'm overwhelmed by a wave frustration - but I try and let that pass over me, as frustration saps my energy and I've not any to spare.


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic array of feline personalities! Watching the way cats interact is an endless source of interest and delight, isn't it?

I am very envious of your Majacraft wheel - I would love to get one, but as my Lendrum is underused at the moment I can hardly justify the outlay. At least not yet: perhaps a course in Advanced Justification Techniques would help.

Laura Fry said...

It is so hard to adjust to a much lower level of energy. I've had to learn to cut my job list/expectations for the day by 1/2. Then if I have energy left, I can add things on and really feel like I've accomplished a lot, rather than feel like I've 'failed' by not doing everything I wanted/expected to.

Glad to hear that you are making progress. One day at a time....


Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

good to hear from you again:) We missed you. Glad your energy is returning. I love the cat pictures, really miss having one.
I also love the wheels. I'm sending out vibes to the uiniverse to try and find one so I can have a go.

Alice said...

I really like my Suzie Alpaca. She will spin just about anything with no objections.

The cats and their antics are so amusing.

Dorothy said...

Hello folks, it's lovely to hear from you. I hope no one has a horror of cats, as I did get carried away with the camera.

Laura, I do admire the way you have adjusted to a slower pace of live but still do things that are most important to you. I hope I can manage not to run before I am walking, it's so exciting to be able to do anything that my head gets buzzing with ideas and I have to shut my eyes for 10 mins and calm down, then cross half them of the list and be sensible. I'm expect you have felt like this too?

I guess it's always going to be difficult for me to say "time to stop", I have always pushed at boundaries.

Ambermoggie, if you get to try a Majacraft wheel I think you'll fall in love ;)

Beware Cally! I can come up with all sorts of arguments to justify this wheel. It does everything a spinning wheel should, in style and comfort, or will do when the extra bits arrive(!)

Life Looms Large said...

That's so nice of you to care for that black cat that way. Strays always have a special place in my of my favorite pet dogs was formerly a stray.

I love that picture of Jasper!!!

That's really cool that you have a cat door that responds to her microchip. I've been saying we should have a dog door for Bailey - but Jim keeps worrying about squirrels and raccoons and skunks coming into the house. I'll have to look into that microchip solution. That would be awesome!! (You have no idea how often Bailey scratches at the door to go in or out.)

As an avowed dog person here, I can say that I really enjoyed this cat-filled post!

Your spinning corner looks great!!

That gradual ending of a period of illness or injury can be really hard. You feel good sometimes, then do stuff, then feel all tired and gross again. That's definitely emotionally taxing. Sounds like you're taking good care of yourself. Hang in there!


Willington Weaver said...

Hi Dot

sorry to hear you've not been well. I know that feeling of no energy.

A couple of years ago I developed a borderline case of ME (Chronic Fatigue)and it took me nearly a year to work my way back to anything like my usual fitness.

I've cut back on working in the evening and am now able to cope, but it really is quite a shock when your body won't do things you've always been able to do.

Love all your cats, we're down to one now and I miss the other 2 like crazy!

Alison (at the other end of the county)

Meg said...

I don't even spin and I'm envious of your Majacraft! It looks so solid and stable and smooth. I hope it gives you hours and hours and years and years of spinning pleasure, Dot.

Trapunto said...

I love your pictures. Cats are the ultimate garden ornaments. Isn't it strangely satisfying when one finally agrees to enjoy a place you made for it? When the basket in our bedroom failed to delight and the off-limits top of our dresser continued to attract, I realized our Howl wanted to be up high enough to keep an eye on us while we were sleeping. So I found a little primitive chair with a wide, shallow rawhide seat and cut a foam pad to fit it, which I sneakily put inside the wool cushion cover he was already using during the day. Last night he finally decided it was okay. I feel so flattered! Though whenever I step back and realize I'm buying chairs for cats, it's also kind of embarrassing.

Trapunto said...

re frustration attacks: I've found that a small, nasty, visible housekeeping task can sometimes be the way out. Not that I can always force myself it it. But there have been times when clearing off a cluttered shelf or diminishing my to-be-filed pile or cleaning the toilet and sink (not the whole bathroom--that would be too much) have rescued a whole day for me.

Benita said...

Actually, your long blog post shows how much better you are feeling, and the content show a definite interest in life once again. Wonderful!!!!

Dorothy said...

Sue, Alison, Meg, Trapunto, Benita... thank you all for stopping by and your comments. I'm glad my long illness has not lost me my blog friends! It has caused every social event I wanted to get to go by without me, including a visit to see various family members and a visit from my parents, it has cost me my job and my income... I am so glad to have my hobbies and my friends and not to have lost my identity.

Anonymous said...

I have a suzie pro with the dark green wheel, majacraft beat the pants of anyone else in my opinion.
What are you spinning on her?

Dorothy said...

Hi Yarnyard, I'm not spinning on my Suzie Alpaca at the moment :( because she turned out to have another fault and I'm waiting for a replacement black wheel, bearings and shaft... Everyone else loves their Majacraft wheels, I just hope these problems will all be fixed soon so I can get on with my spinning!!