Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The lady of the house is indisposed someone has to do the ironing.

The cobbler's daughter

My goodness, Dad has big feet!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Panda meets........

.........alien being over Great Tartan Wall.

Close encounters of the furred kind.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A Family Purrsuit

Cumin now has a professional name, Phillida Laterly, as she enjoys sorting stamps with my husband

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Shortest Day

The most wondrous place to experience the full depth of autumn has to be Central Europe. Canada and the USA may be grander and the hues more dramatic, but let me take you through the rich, damp leaf-cushioned floor of the Vienna Woods, or the fairytale forests of Bohemia and Transylvania, scented with pine burning stoves, the mountain cottage with a chimney sensing the heavens with an anointing of smoke.
There’s something dreamlike about taking a tram in Vienna, hearing a musician play from an upper window, somewhere out of reach, and watching the august, leafless trees blur by. Then travelling home through the frost-hardened fields of Niederoesterreich, your head covered and warm, but your nose catching every nuance of smell through its cold tip. Homecoming means a ceramic log stove with a humidifier scenting the room with cloves, its heat giving the feather quilts the fragrance of Christmas. Your Sunday walk takes you through misty cemeteries and Heurigen, you dodge rotten apples on the pavements and anticipate festive tables strewn with chestnuts and dried russet leaves.
Tonight is the shortest night, but it is mid year. As I hurried to the station from work, I could hear a solitary blackbird somewhere high on an office window ledge. I stood briefly and tried to locate it, and as I did, heard a busker in the subway playing one of Mozart’s pieces for violin. For a split second I closed my eyes, imagined Demel’s cafĂ© and a walk to the tram from the Hofburg. My nose twitched in anticipation, seeking out the smell of a wood burning stove, and the smell of spice.
So tonight I baked a pumpkin pie, mit Nelken, Ingver und Zimt, and later I will disappear to another world under a feather quilt. But tomorrow I will wake to a S. Pacific autumn, where the leaves hang resolutely on the trees.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


In the last week I have watched our kitten’s sense of curiosity, fascinated. She is so brave and nosy, and her capacity to learn knows no bounds. I wish I had the same ratio of courage that she has in her tiny tiger frame – now let’s see, multiply her 1 kg of boldness by 100. Not bad!
It makes me think. Why is it so easy for us to lose our sense of adventure and desire for the unknown? For a kitten, of course much of it is so that they can make sense of any dangers in their environment. But I am entranced when she looks at rain coming down the window. I wonder how her brain processes that; or coming face to face with a huge cat for the first time. She dealt with that by kissing his nose and then purring; an object lesson in “loving your enemy”. All quite magical really.
This afternoon, using the struts of our dining room chairs as a climbing frame, she encountered Mr “Huge as a Panda” cat almost nose to nose. He seems to be falling under her spell too. I suspect the heart shape marking on her side is the sign of things to come.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

In the land of the giant panda puss

however interesting the scenery...........

..........a girl simply needs an exit plan

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Successful recipes

I have never been a mother, but on the worry barometer, the last three days have come pretty close. Our rescue kitten, Ms Ginger Fireball Rocket has had me lying awake fretting. Our much beloved Snr Soppy Tom Cat has been grieving his sister, meeping strange conversations, not eating and generally looking miserable. I have felt like I was turning greyer every day.

On Saturday night, Ms Kitten’s spay wound started to look odd. I bathed it with veterinary supplied antiseptic wash, left over from a fight wound of Snr Cat and it started to look better, then worse, then better. Tonight I took her to the vet. It was much worse on the inside than the outside and had come close to being very serious. I felt terrible. I had no idea. It would appear she was sick when we collected her 4 days ago. The vet was marvellous and has re assured me she will recover fully. He also weighed her – just over 1kg. I was thrilled. Four days of troughing her victuals has really plumped her up. That and lounging in a very comfortable basket next to a mini radiator, with three meals a day, en suite litter tray and room service.

Like the recipe book says, “leave in a warm place until doubled in size.”

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Take one shoelace

and apply 200 g of ginger kitten

Friday, 11 June 2010

Introducing Cumin

In Memoriam

I lost my shadow this week. She cried, was limp when I held her and tried so hard to purr and be normal. But the end came swiftly and we took her home to bury her next to the plum sapling. I have lived for a week in a country of pathetic fallacy. It has rained daily, the wind has howled and I have had a Lear like rage against the illness that took my gorgeous cat so suddenly. I have watched her brother try to make sense of her absence. I have whispered in his ear how much he is loved and that we won’t leave him. I wish he could understand.
Today, I feel as if I am peeking around a door, emerging from a dark room of grief, into another room that I have never been in before, and this room is hazy too. I’m not sure whether to retreat back into the totally dark room or venture into the one which is lighter, but foggier. I have no emotional energy for adventure. Even the “ho hum” of life is an effort. But that ember in my soul that refuses to die, which wants to love again, is being fanned. Today I have no emotional resources to draw on other than a yearning to embrace another lost creature and give it a home. I have whispered in our big boy’s ear “there is a wee friend coming to stay. She will lick your ears, tap your nose and dance in your shadow. Be brave with me boy, be brave and love again.”

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Commemorating the definitive.

This afternoon was “play time”. The housework was done and as it was raining rhinos outside, I pulled out a box of stamps I have been meaning to sort for ages.
I’m not a collector, but I occasionally fossick around with geographical areas that interest me, as you learn so much about a country through the stamps it issues.
Today I was struck by how much I enjoy the “definitive” issues of stamps. These are the ones that you buy from the post office, year in, year out, without paying much attention to them. Often the design is uninspiring or hasn’t changed for so long you fail to notice it. But it does the job just as effectively as the pretty or imaginative commemorative stamp.
I sorted a lot of definitives today, and as I handled them, I wondered what kind of letter they had been attached to and what kind of person had purchased them. As most of the stamps were just post WWII, I was certain the majority would have been stuck to real letters written between real people. Oh to have lived in that gracious part of the 20th century when junk mail had yet to be invented.
My smaller pile of stamps was the bold, colourful and imaginative selection designed to commemorate musicians, authors, museums and acts of gallantry. They covered science and space exploration, antiques and precious gems, wildlife and birds, warriors and poets. Each was a statement of what was historically important to remember.
However, I kept being drawn back to the little definitives. They are the stamp equivalent of a sparrow – a plain little bird, and easily overlooked. It is a stamp that goes largely unnoticed, like most of our lives. But those simple moments, the “pass the salt” of daily existence, are the very backdrop that highlights, accentuates and amplifies to high decibels the flashes of spectacular colour, insight, passion, invention and joy. I could not live without those times, but their appreciation exists only because I live most of my days “in the definitive”.