Monday, June 5, 2017

What do I do now?

Well, its been a while since I wrote anything of any interest, and, to be honest, its been a funny old year...... I can't wait for it to end. I keep thinking that if I can get through June, things will get better.

It all started badly at the end of the year, when I learnt that my much loved Aunt, had Pancreatic cancer. As I spent a lot of my summer holidays with her and Uncle and visited once I got older, I really wanted to be with her. So, the husband and I made the trip back to the UK to see her.

It is painful, as I am sure many of you know, to see someone who had been so vibrant and always doing something, be too tired to do much. Just getting up everyday was an effort for her, and she put on such a brave face when she had visitors, I know they didn't see how exhausted she was when they left.

The hardest thing I had to do was say goodbye. It was so painful and I didn't want to leave. I cried all the way back to Heathrow as we were dropping off the hire car, and I was driving.

She passed away on her 91st birthday in April, and I have cried buckets since then. I miss her so much but think I hear her every so often, and have planted roses in my garden in her honour, she had a lovely garden and loved her roses. But then, thats the next thing as I have had plenty of time to garden.

We got back home in the early days of April, and I was summoned to a Board meeting of the Quilt Festival. Things had not been going too well, and we certainly didn't have enough entries to make the show viable this year, so I said there was no show, and not one I would put my name to, and, before everyone gets upset, it was not the QUALITY of the work which was outstanding, it was the QUANTITY. So, we decided to suspend the Festival for this year and work towards next year.

Well, that decision led to me and the Grand Poohbah resigning our positions with the Festival. Why? I'm not going into it.

So, you will say, that leaves you more time to do what you want to do, so whats your problem? Well, the thing is, it was great to start with, but I've now reached a point where I don't know what to do. I feel utterly lost and bereft, with nothing to work towards, although there is a lot coming up, I can't clear this fog I'm in. And, to cap it all, my lovely long haired ginger and white cat, Leo, has gone missing. So what, its only a cat. Well, try telling that to Patch, who is bewildered and very lost without his best friend, and every time I take Patch out, he's looking for Leo. So more tears have been shed.

I do hope I can find a way through all this, but Im just feeling so lost and empty, I don't know what to do. If any one has any suggestions as to how to deal with the loss of a cat who just went out and never came home, please do let me know, and how to get through the loss of a job I loved with the Festival, as it feels like a bereavement I would be grateful.

Please leave a comment if you wish.

Monday, November 21, 2016

I really must get on with it.........

Yes, I really must get on with it. Not that there is much to get on with.

I have got items ready for the book sale, and I dragged a piece out that has sat in the studio for almost two years now, and made great headway with it yesterday. It seemed rather odd to pick up from where I left off, and even managed to mix paint that resembles the original colours which was rather pleasing.

The piece is of two cormorants sitting on a branch in a lake, I had done one, and started painting the branch, but not the other cormorant. Thankfully, that has now changed, and I painted him and the rest of the branches.

I sometimes surprise myself as it was lying lat on the table and it wasn't until this morning that I hung it up and stood back and really looked at it.  As I say, I surprise myself. No photos yet, so sorry, I still have a lot to do, but feel good about where this is going.

I also cleared the decks this weekend, as I am doing an online class with Dionne Swift on silk screen printing using thickened dyes. As you know, I ice dye like a fiend, but had never used it any other way. I have to say I really enjoyed myself, and here are two of my efforts from today, with a lot more to do, leaving them to dry so I can over print.

I drew the rose stencil myself, and was rather pleased with it, using an old duvet cover as the under sheet which is why you can see another pattern under it.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this is going to go, but enjoying the process.

Had the first fall of snow yesterday, just a skiff, but winter is here. The cats are both unhappy. Leo, as it is too cold to go far, and Patch can't make head nor tail of it all. He didn't go out last year, as he wasn't well enough, and this year ....well, we will see. I took him out, but we don't go too far and head straight for home.

Got to go, but will write again when I have something earthy shattering to say.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

So, where do I go from here...........?

I was looking through past posts and saw that I had one that I started on the process of my work.

It still sits there looking accusingly at me, as I got diverted. I always think of my work like my writing, I start on one thing and then go off at a tangent, but sometimes that isn't a bad thing, it adds to the variety.

I am making a real effort to enter different things, such as the Stretching Art challenge and have struggled for weeks to come up with an idea. The theme is Dream, and I know the standard will be high, but I couldn't think of anything, maybe something Shakespearean? Couldn't see it in my head at all, don't need a dream car, dream house................there had to be something.

Ideas really do come from the strangest of places.

A surprise dinner was held a couple of weeks ago for a really good friend, as she was teaching locally for a couple of days. Someone asked what her work method was, did she start at a certain time etc. Maggie gave us a rough outline as to what she does, computer stuff, looks for calls for entry, and other things, and then she works. I mentioned that I had this challenge but was absolutely blank, and it was just a remark that sparked my idea, and sent me into my studio and to work.

You will not see a photo of it until it is in the show, I think I need to keep it under wraps for now, but I am really pleased with it, and almost finished! I thought it had to be finished by December, but that would be a month early, so I can breath. I have the binding on ready to stitch, not bad for two weeks work!

The remark? Oh yes, Maggie said just look at a piece of fabric and just a small area, doesn't matter how small, but let it guide you. She is a huge inspiration to me, and I love taking workshops with her, her energy, encouragement and ideas push me to think differently.

As well as doing that, I am going to be working on a piece which really does have to be in by the beginning of December, so I had better start that very soon, but I have the idea in my head.

Do you keep a sketch book? I know I should, but I see things so much better in my head, that I rarely put things on paper.

I have also been asked to display a piece of work at a book fair, there will be a potter, artist and other things, but I am honoured to be asked. I can have a table to sell things too.......... so, I had an "aha" moment and thought I would make some fabric postcards and I could perhaps make 50 in a couple of weeks, 5 a day didn't seem too difficult....I made 11 in three weeks. But I have been slowly working away and think I have almost 40 pieces made, they are small, postcards, pictures small wall hangings, but I must get round to putting hanging pockets on etc.

postcards which take a lot longer than one hour to make!!!

I have a friend who salivates over this small piece, I hope everyone else will too.

I'm having fun which is good, and enjoying having something to work for, I found another piece of fabric today which I will be working on to make cards, they take a while, but again it's fun.

So what else is on the horizon? Lots actually, but all for Festival so I am making the most of having this down time. I also have to finish a piece which I should have done for the My Corner of the World show which was held in May this year at the Stratford Perth Museum. It was a beautiful show, and I was sorry not to have been better prepared. I really should think about making to the minimum size of pieces rather than big.

Well, I must go, I have a lot still to do...........

This is the piece I started for My corner of the World, I have changed the bottom of it, but still a long way to go, I keep screwing it up and putting it in an obscure corner.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

We do know what we're doing, honest.......

I mentioned earlier that Cathy and I had been to Chicago. That was back in April and we were going to the International Quilt Festival. As May gets closer, there is a need to just get away for a few days and relax, so we decided to go to Chicago. Now just before we were due to leave, Paula wrote to ask if we knew anyone in the area who could help them on the Magna Carta quilts? She explained that it would just be her and Alison, the illustrator of the panels, and their respective husbands. I wrote and said no, but Cathy and I would be there and would help......

We took the train from Port Huron, which I love doing, and off we went. Seven hours later, we arrive in Chicago, and trundling our cases go off to the subway to get the train out to Rosemont. It was a fun journey and only $3.00 so a bargain as well.

If you have read my blog a little, you will know that Cathy and I have stayed in some interesting places. This time, I booked the accommodation. It was at the Hyatt Regency, as befits the Princess I am, which is connected to the Convention centre by a covered walkway where the show was, and also the Hilton which is where Paula and Alison were, so we didn't have to leave the building and step into the cold - although the walkways were very cold. Anyway, there we are out of the subway, and like a couple of bag ladies, trundling our luggage to the Hyatt which was a couple of blocks. The hotel is interesting, all glass and square with a round turret on each corner, looks a bit like a castle when you think about it.

In we go through the main door and ahead of us are the escalators and a sign with a vee shaped arrow saying lobby. Now, any sane person would have got it straight away, but we are not sane. We blithely ignore the escalators, and walk behind them to find nothing. Just a large foyer with conference rooms all around and a central turret with four elevators.

Having done a complete circuit of the floor, the penny dropped that maybe, just maybe the hotel lobby could be upstairs! Who knew? So, we go to the central turret, and press the button for the elevator. In no time the doors slid open gently and in we got.

"Ok, which button"
"They're not marked"
They must be! well press that one"

Button was duly pressed and off we went. The elevator was one of those glass ones, so that you look out over everything as you ride up or down. We looked out.......... and waved as we passed the hotel lobby.

We got out on the floor we had pressed and sat on the seat in the middle of the elevator lobby laughing, but trying to act sensibly as a lot of people were looking at us. We got into another elevator, and hey presto! there was a button marked L! that stood for Lobby! We peeled out of the elevator and got to a check in desk and told the check - in clerk our story. He sympathized with us as he did pretty much the same when he started working there.

We walked across to the Hilton, to see Paula and her husband sitting in the foyer so it was lovely to see them and to meet Alison and her husband. The next morning we were off to the show. Paula had very kindly arranged passes for us, We had seen the Magna Carta quilts last year at Guildford Cathedral and they are totally, and utterly amazing. I post two photos here which are just teasers, because, if you want to see them then you will have to come to Ailsa Craig next year. As the Magna Carta forms the basis of all human rights charters, it is only fitting, that in Canada's Sesquicentennial year, they are seen here and in a Commonwealth country to boot

A taste of the story of the Magna Carta

There are four Mediaeval panels which tell the story of the Magna Carta, and there are four panels depicting people who have worked in human rights, you may recognize some of the faces, but, I will say no more as I think it is going to be well worth coming to Ailsa Craig next year to see them and hear the stories. There is so much to tell and look at.

The big news is that the Festival will be expanding next year, I just have to remember to keep breathing. We have our juried show in the main Rec centre, the Magna Carta quilts and three featured quilters will be in the most gorgeous century barn and an expanded vendors area. Its a lot to take on, but I truly believe that the Festival has to move forward and expand to grow. I won't talk about the workshops, you will really have to check out the website for updates on those, but I am really excited by them.

We had a really good time in Chicago and enjoyed working with the quilts, but it was time to go home. We left on the Saturday as the train gets in after midnight, and its still a bit of a drive back home.  We took the subway back to the station and sat and waited. Cathy decided she would like some snacks for the journey home, and asked if there was anything I would like. I don't often eat them, but I really fancied a Snickers bar, so off she goes.

She was gone forever, or at least it seemed that way, and when she comes back she is so busy giggling that I am wondering what on earth is wrong with her. This is the reason why.....

Now, if you have met us and seen us do a trunk show together, you will know that this is how Cathy, rightly in my opinion and as I mentioned earlier, refers to me. She just couldn't resist it.

We had an uneventful journey back home but some great memories.

I have been asked about the six foot two Dutchman, so I am posting a photo of him and his lovely wife here, if this doesn't drag readers to my blog for a look see, I don't know what will...

Now, where was I?.........

Oh yes.......

Well, husband duly fed and watered, and all is well. So this year, I was going to be teaching at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. Cathy and her husband were coming over as well, to do the Festival and then going on to the Netherlands to her in laws. My beloved Aunt celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year, and I was going to celebrate it while in the UK.

It was a very different trip in that Cathy and I didn't share a room, and didn't really see very much of each other. It was awful!!!! We are convinced we must have had a relationship in a former life as we really missed each other, and decided that we couldn't have her husband along on further trips, as it ruined it for us. The reason ewe like to have that time together, is it gives us the opportunity to work on ideas for our Festival, we talk over what we have seen, what we could perhaps incorporate and meet up with other countries that we would like to invite here in the future, so there is a good reason for us to be together.

Now having said that, it was good for someone else to see that we are not just having a jolly good time - I won't deny we do, but we work flipping hard as well - and so having Cathy's husband there was good. He is a six foot two Dutchman, and considered quite the hunk. Cathy and i had helped out on the Magna Carta quilts earlier this year in Chicago, and we said we would gladly do so again in Birmingham, and so Martin was "employed" for the duration of the Festival. Cathy took a couple of classes and I did what I could.

As I said, I decided to teach this year as we were paying our own way, I wouldn't have done if the Festival were covering our costs. I had a blast. I did two one day classes, Manipulated fabric trees, and a half day class in fabric postcards. It was busy, and I didn't stop running. The first workshop was a full day, and only 5 students, so it broke me in gently.

In my wisdom, I decided to make kits up to sell to my students, of scraps and other assorted materials, as it isn't always easy to explain what they need to bring. I put together 60 kits as I was also teaching another one day workshop after Festival. I'm glad to say they all brought some amazing fabrics, and I think enjoyed the process. In fact, one of the girls updates me regularly and the piece is just stunning.

I have posted a couple of my pieces here, and I actually took them with me to use as examples in the workshops.

The second class in this technique was full, and I had a really good time, there was a ton of talent in the room, and I do hope I get to see more of the work. The fabric postcard class was a half day workshop and again, a full class.

Three of my postcards.

Again, I had made the kits for this class and added things I thought might be useful, and I think they all enjoyed it, or at least I hope they did.

Cathy enjoyed her workshops and was busy out in the grounds of the NEC painting manhole covers and printing fabric, she wasn't arrested, so that was a good thing, but the work she did was fabulous. She is much more a mixed media artist than I, although I try occasionally without as much success, I don't do abstract very well.

 Her husband the Dutchman, was also busy working on the Magna Carta quilts and also relieving another friend on her booth as she had to go and model in the fashion show that was being held on the Friday evening. Apparently, his arrival at her booth was very entertaining. In the words of Paula Doyle who has a booth opposite,  " he came along and ducked under the table to get into the booth, and rose, like an Adonis, on the other side, and all these women flocked to him...."

Once we stopped laughing, we were impressed.

Festival ended, and then we went our separate ways, Cathy and her husband on to the Netherland and me to my Aunt and also my cousin, whom I have thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with. Life can get in the way sometimes. Then it was back home and getting back into organizing Festival and another little project that I have on the go............

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I'm back..............

It was brought to my attention the other evening, that I hadn't written anything for a while, and when was I going to start again? They enjoy my writing, so I hope you enjoy reading.

To be honest, after writing about the cats, I didn't think I had anything left to say, but it appears that I must. It's been a very busy year. Patch the cat has settled into a more indoor life, although I now take him out on a leash so that he gets some fresh air. His harness is great, a little body harness that velcro's under his neck and under his tummy. He was a bit surprised when I first took it off as the sound of ripping velcro close to your ears must be a bit of a shock, but now he is as good as gold with it, lets me put it on and then sits patiently by the back door while I make my morning cuppa, and then we go out ..........and sit. You have to be prepared to stand around a lot, and be taken to places that you don't want to go to, but all in all, it is good for him to get some fresh air than be housebound all the time. The trouble is, that with his permanently tilted head, he sees the world from a different perspective, and while in the house runs around and flies down the stairs at a terrifying pace, once outside however, I think he thinks its normal as he took off one day, yanking the leash from my grasp and ran full tilt up into a tree with me in hot pursuit. Once he clambered up to the lowest branch he almost did a complete 180 turn and fell off into my arms! I carried him home and he spent the rest of the day in his bed. I think it really affected his balance and he realized that things weren't quite right.

In January this year, the husband decided that I obviously wasn't paying enough attention to him, so he fell and broke his hip. Trust me, it gets you attention.

I was out of the house at the time, buying a new phone. The transaction finished and off I went to do some shopping. All of a sudden my new phone rang!! If you knew how rare an occurrence that is, you would understand my excitement. I answered it to hear, " Iv'e had a fall and think I've broken my hip. I'm waiting for the ambulance."

I dropped everything, and rushed home. I managed to contact a friend who came to the house, and by the time I rushed through the door, like a good wife, the paramedics were lifting him onto the stretcher. So there was this convoy, me chasing the ambulance.

Got into Emerg, and then waited while he had blood work and X-rays. Yep, it was broken alright, so then he was admitted, possibly might be operated on that night or the following day. As it turned out it was the following evening as he was bumped by FOUR little old ladies who had done the same thing!

There then followed week in hospital, with me preparing the house for his return. I won't bore you with all the details, but I had no idea how difficult life could be with an invalid. Physio twice a week, and forcing him to get up and get moving, helping him sit in chairs, (our neighbour was so good as his wife's grandmother had recently passed, and they were the proud owners of a Lazy Boy chair which goes up and down.) Eventually we progressed from the walker to the cane, went through a myriad of hospital and doctor appointments and we are now able to walk without a cane although with a slight limp.

This really couldn't have happened at a worse time, as I was in the process of organizing a quilt show for some friends in Israel which was going to be opening at the end of March. Oh well, I guess it would all work out. The most exciting thing was that one of the quilters from Israel was coming to the Gala opening!

The quilts were going to be on display at the Jewish Community Centre, and duly arrived. They were hung a couple of weeks later, and the display was stunning. It took everyones breath away, and we all looked forward to the gala which was taking place on the following Monday.

I made the invitations and also used the same design as a thank you note to send back to the quilters in Israel.

The press had been out and ran an article on the front page of the entertainment section, and I arrived early on the Monday morning, eagerly awaiting visitors......... 

It was a quiet day, and there was a lot of preparation for the evening. The doors opened, and the hall suddenly filled, so much so, that we had to put out more chairs. I should mention that the show was based on  the Song of Songs, one of the five Books of Wisdom, and the 31 quilts were all based on a verse which had been chosen by the quilter, and even though some had chosen the same verse, they were all very different quilts. The evening was also going to be part lecture on the Song of Songs, looking at who wrote it, the art over the centuries bas on it, and the quilters interpretation. You could have heard a pin drop.

The show was a great success, and was on for almost four weeks. Overtime I went in, which was generally two or three times a week, the hall was busy, and we think close to 600 people probably came out to see it. Lots of church groups, which was wonderful, quilters and non quilters, and those that just appreciated art.

So, now on to planning the next one in 2018.

The Ailsa Craig Quilt Festival took place in May as usual and what a wonderful time that was! Latvia was the country this year and it was a wonderful week. We were all sobbing at the end of it!

I'm going to stop the mini saga here, as I've a lot more to say but have to feed the husband. He gets bear like if I don't...................

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Confessions of a cat lady...........

Well, I've tried writing a new piece, and then something takes me off on a tangent, so I think you'll just have to wait for more insightful pieces than this.

I have two cats.

If you don't like cats, then please, stop reading now and move on to the next blog. I'm rather dotty about cats and always have been. They have always been good company. As a child, we had a dog, and then my brother brought home a really sickly little kitten who we called Sugar. She had a bad dose of cat flu, but survived and lived a long and happy life. Then my parents got Cleo, a little black and white cat with a penchant for biting my nose.... why she chose mine I really don't know.

Then I left home and went catless for a few years until I met the husband and took on Charlie, not the friendliest cat and I can't say we bonded deeply, but I did miss her when she died.

I was working full time, and one of my staff said she was moving and had two cats who were going to be put down if there were no takers. Well that did it, and that very weekend saw the husband and I going to pick up Mr T and Duchess, both black cats. Mr T was a big cat, and when we met him he was dragging a Yorkshire Terrier, who had a hold of his back leg. I knew then he would be a lot of fun to have, and he was, climbed a tree, got stuck so had to be rescued by the husband, and threw his paws round his neck, first time he went out into his new garden, having kept him in for  a while, he immediately ran to the bottom of the garden, and when I went to rescue him, he ran straight through the small garden pond - without sinking.....

Duchess, on the other hand, lived up to her name by treating T, as he was affectionately known, with disdain, and expected to be treated according to her rank, but she was a sweetie. My garden and house became a visiting hub for the neighbours cats, and they could often be found in the garden. Mr T sadly left us to early and that broke my heart, and Duchess, for all her disdain, really missed him. By this time, Amber and Biscuit had moved into the area, and were constant visitors. Biscuit disappeared, but Amber visited constantly, we were never sure if she was trying to get away from the two little girls she lived with or if she really liked us, but she could often be found curled up on a bed during the day.

By this time, Duchess was getting old and crochety so was a little on the grumpy side, (she was coming up to 18)  but she would put up with Amber. In fact, I swear she handed over the care of the house and us to her one day as this doddery old cat walked out onto the back deck, walked up to Amber and had a long growly conversation with her, and then walked off. That week it was time for her to leave us, she was losing weight and was nearly unable to stand, so off to the vet we went.

Amber would visit every day, waiting outside every morning for the back door to be opened, and in she'd come. If the door wasn't opened in a timely fashion, she would jump halfway up to the window - it was a stable door with a small window in the top half - and peer through the window. I never fed her, she knew where to find her real home, but I enjoyed her company. Then they moved taking Amber with them, so I was catless again.

Then came the Big Move across to Canada.

After a couple of years, Bobbin arrived....via my neighbours. He had been found wandering outside the office where my neighbour worked, and taken in. A beautiful ginger and white cat. She took him home, and he promptly hid in some insulation and wouldn't come out until the children had gone to school, and only then to eat. Well, it didn't make him too popular, so I begged the husband to take him in, and within a few days he was carried over, and had a new home.

He was a very polite cat, never pushy and the first night he was here, he learnt how to do stairs, so we figured he came from an apartment. There were no reports of a missing cat, so we thought maybe he'd been abandoned. He had every luxury imaginable, and would burrow under the blankets every night and sleep. I used to worry that he would suffocate, but not a bit of it, he would snore away and in the morning there was the feeling that something was looking at me very intently..... at 6.30am. I tried so hard not to open one eye, as I knew all was lost if I did.

He was a beautiful cat as you can see, and then developed skin allergies, which resulted in him losing a lot of his fur, puffy eyes, and just generally very unhappy. He was an indoor cat and happy to be so, so off to the vet, and then referral to an animal dermatologist - I've never said I was sane - and she eventually got him sorted out and then his fur grew back and he started looking like the beautiful cat we had but then he got sick and there were tumours etc. He was kept in for observation at the vets, and would only come home if he ate something. 

Animals are a lot more intelligent that we give them credit for, as he did eat, so he came home. He walked in and ate a little more, and then lay on a bed. It was sad to see him lie there and the vet rang every day to see how he was. Bobbin knew he was dying, but wanted to be home. Sadly, we had to take him in to have him put down. As we arrived at the vet, with Bobbin wrapped gently and in my arms, I had another growly conversation, I swear it's their way of communicating that they love you and they want to tell you.

"That's it'" said the husband' "we are never having another cat!"

Lasted five years, then we took Leo.

Now, I have to say he's not the brightest bulb in the box, but he is completely adorable.

My friend picked him up and stuffed him in her knitting bag as a tiny kitten from a farm that she was visiting. It's ok, she knew the people whose farm it was, and there were plenty of barn cats running around. So Leo, as he was eventually named, comes home, and takes up residence with daughter no.2 who is at university. By this time, they already had two cats of their own, Pong and Ping, and daughter no.1 had a cat, Bliss, who is a real princess.

Leo goes off to uni with daughter no.2 and is an indoor cat. She comes home, and he then becomes an outdoor cat, as it is impossible to let two cats out and keep one in, and the children, nos.3, 4 and 5, were much younger too, so not really getting that he should be indoors.

She finishes uni, and I am then asked if he can board with me, as he causes havoc with Pong and Bliss. (Ping got run over, a hazard living in the country), so, he moves in, but is free to come and go, and visits next door on a regular basis, coming home to sleep. She then goes off to college and I am now told that I can have him for another year, if that's ok, as she can't take him with her to her digs.
My friend leans over and says that means he's here permanently. 

So begins a new chapter in his life. He is a sweetheart, and all that fur can be quite troublesome, especially now as the velcro burs are beginning to appear, and as he picks up anything that's going, it's quite a problem. He came in this morning trailing a twig, so I have to try and catch him and remove it, no mean feat when it gets twisted in his fur. So brushes every day are a welcome relief for him.

Living in the country, there are any number of cats wandering around. It's not unusual to see them wandering along the edge of the property as they are wandering off from some barn somewhere.

This past winter, Leo made a friend. I had seen a little black and white cat wandering around the garden, and eventually, it would start walking past the front of the house, and as the weather got colder, it took up residence next door, by the hot tub. He would then appear every morning at the back door waiting for Leo to go outside after his breakfast and they would trot off together.

The weather got colder, and I started to feed him once a day, so he would appear at 5 in the afternoon, ready to eat, and boy, could he eat. The snow got deeper, so it was a question of feeding him to survive as I wasn't sure what he was eating, and I think he was now living in our car port. Leo would go out and sit in the car port, he's not fond of walking in snow or rain and Patch, as I called him, would wander off for the day. One afternoon, there was a real blizzard, and all I could think about was this poor little cat being out somewhere in it. So I donned snow pants, coat, boots and hat, and went out calling him. I don't know if you have ever been out in heavy snow when everything is silent, it really is very beautiful, there was no traffic and not much wind although the snow was blowing, and I'm calling for Patch. I thought he was next door, up a tree, and several other places as I could hear him answer every time I called I just couldn't find him ,when all of a sudden, I saw this little cat struggling through thick snow and from completely the opposite direction.  I scooped him up, brushing the snow off the top of his head, and put him inside my coat and brought him in to warm up a little. The husband said he's not staying and I could have an outdoor cat and that was it, "no." 

The temperature hit -41C one night.

The husband said "We can't leave him out, he'll freeze to death."

So..... in he came.

Leo was thrilled. He chirruped when he saw him, and so Patch was put into a bathroom with litter tray, food and a hastily made bed. Never have I seen a cat so happy, he ate voraciously, snuggled in his bed and used the litter tray. The next morning, I fed them both as it was obvious to me, and also to the husband by this time, that he was not going to be thrown out into the cold again. Leo was beside himself with delight at having a friend in the house and was happy to show him the ropes. They both trotted outside after breakfast, and when Leo came back, Patch came too. They settled into a happy relationship of play fighting, chasing each other and enjoying each others company, although I have yet to see them curl up beside one another. Patch has never tried to take over, waiting to be offered  the high seat on the cat post, and Leo taught him to play with toys, as he had no idea what to do when a ball rolled towards him.

Patch was very much the hunter. As we have no clue as to his background, one can only imagine what you have to do to survive.  He ate anything and everything which I will not detail. And so it was that we settled into "family" life. 

So all was well with the world. Just before I left for England, Patch wasn't well, couldn't put my finger on it, but said to the husband, if he's not better by Monday, take him to the vet. The grand Pooh Bah of the quilt festival and I were going to the Festival of quilts in Birmingham, so we were dropped at the airport, had a good flight, when it eventually took off, delayed due to a bad storm, and landed in Heathrow. Logged on to the free wifi, as you do, to find an email form the husband saying he had spent the night at the emergency vet in London as Patch was very sick.

It would appear that he got home to find that he was having trouble breathing and couldn't stand upright without falling over, and his head tilted to one side. So he rushed him into London. I called home.

It would appear that they couldn't really say what was wrong as it could be any number of things such as viral meningitis, toxoplasmosis or something else, but blood work came back negative for anything major so the husband was sent home with capsules and strict instructions, he wasn't allowed outside, no rough housing with Leo, a quiet peaceful environment.

The husband then saw our own vet, and Patch was treated for Toxoplasmosis, and given a course of antibiotics for 28 days twice a day. You can imagine how popular I was, as I was away for 18 of those 28 days. So the neighbours helped through that time.

Leo was an absolute star. He realized that Patch wasn't well, and was very gentle with him, but the husband said he looked like a lost little boy outside as he was on his own and not with his best friend.
I call every day, and am glad to say that he improved greatly and I was then in charge of giving him his two pills a day, which, incidentally, had to be cut into four as they were too large to do in one hit, when I got home.

Once he finished, back to the vet. She said we will probably never know what caused it, but very likely he ate some animal which had the parasite and it then infected him, so although he is bright and very alert, his head is still tilted to one side, and he does have the occasional wobble and will now forever be an indoor cat. He has adapted well and makes no attempt to go out. We were not sure how his vision would be and if he took off after something, whether he could find his way home again. The house is filled with toys as we have to keep him active, and I keep a strict eye on his diet as he is not running around so much.

I love this photo, it looks as if Leo is laughing at a joke that Patch just told him!

Leo comes in often, and they play as if there was nothing wrong, but I notice that Patch's head is always slightly more tilted afterwards, which makes me think that he might be quite woozy.

So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and play............