Rest in Peace Tom, my lovely ginger boy

Just over five weeks after I said goodbye to my feisty calico kitty, we had to let her soulmate, our ginger boy Tom, go too. Another case of aggressive cancer from his hyperthyroidism. I didn’t get to say goodbye, I thought I was bringing him home. At least he didn’t suffer for too long.

He arrived as a stray, many years ago, scared of people. I couldn’t get within six feet of him, only really seeing him peek out at me with big lamp-like eyes that would shine bright in the night. Eventually over many weeks, I gained his trust and he made our house his home. Soon after, his companion Tortoise the calico cat moved in too. They had so many years with us, cuddled together in comfort, full bellies, happy in a place of safety and security.

They would spend the summer months lazing together in the sunshine in our conservatory, and in the winter snuggled together in an extra large cat bed. They came and went as they pleased, only really venturing into our big garden to potter, laze, or follow me around as *I* pottered. They were my constant companions in the house, always purring or chatting, swirling around my feet at dinner time.

Tom was so vocal, my little monkey man who said “muh-uh-uh” whenever he asked for food or an extra helping, or just announcing himself. Life is never the same after they go. I feel bereft. They were my family, will always be my family, but at least I hope now that they are together again, lazing side by side in the sun. My special sunshine cats. I will always love you, Tom xxx

Goodbye, Tortoise

I’ve been holding off writing this post, because really it hurts to think about it too much.

Tortoise is not so impressed…

Last month our old lady calico cat, Tortoise, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour and kidney disease. It had all come on quite suddenly – she had barely visited the vet in her many years, and was a stoic old lady with a routine of eat, sleep, potter, eat, sleep, eat, sleep. But within three weeks, she had had enough and we had to make the decision to have her put to sleep. I cried on and off for two weeks before it happened, because although the vet assured us that until those last couple of days, her quality of life was good, I knew that all too soon we’d have to say goodbye. And I find goodbyes painful. I didn’t want her to go, I didn’t want to miss her, but I knew it was the kindest thing we could do.

I really, really do miss my old girl 🙁

Tortoise wandered into our lives, quite belligerently, well over a decade ago. It might have been 12 years, I can’t quite remember, as she quietly and presumptively just slotted into our lives. She lived down the street but the lady worked long shifts away from home, and without a cat flap, Tortoise would either be shut in or shut out for days whilst the lady worked away from home.

We think Tom, our ex-stray ginger boy, was Tortoise’s sibling or offspring (the lady once sold a litter of kittens for £5 each and we think Tom might have been one of them), and the lady let us take him in permanently as he had pretty much made our house his home. Tortoise would occasionally turn up, grumpy and usually stinking of cigarettes, but hungry and happy to stay. One night, it was raining and pouring outside and I saw two sets of big eyes peering out from underneath our garden bench, obviously hungry and eager for somewhere dry. I opened up our doors and in Tom came. That night he became our boy. Although I couldn’t get within six feet of him and he seemed petrified of boots and feet, he eventually came to trust us and made us his family.

Tortoise took a little longer to find her way home here. She was still wandering in and out but was obviously being shut away for days on end. But when she turned up one New Year’s Day with part of her tail right down to the bone and obviously suffering with the pain of an infection, I had to call the RSPCA. The officer took her away and I cried and cried because I thought I’d never see her again. The RSPCA officer called me to let me know they’d had to amputate her tail and that I’d effectively saved her life; had the infection gone any further it would have gone into her abdomen and she would have been in a lot of trouble.

Lucy, Tortoise the cat & Bertha the pumpkin

Lucy, Tortoise the cat & Bertha the pumpkin

But she was obviously returned to the lady down the street (we never found out what happened to her tail in the first place), and one day she turned up again at our door. And from thereon in, she decided to make our house her home, along with her companion Tom. They cuddled together, they went everywhere together, swapped bowls when they ate, groomed each other, batted each other over the head, but above all loved each other very much.

I think that’s what makes this especially difficult; seeing Tom continue to live life without Tortoise by his side. They were my two sunshine cats. She was such a homely cat, always taking the lead so that Tom would follow, just reassuringly calm but full of attitude and a touch of brilliant arrogance. She was a no-fuss, no frills kind of cat with the deepest, most rolling purr I’ve ever heard. I never had to worry about her because she was sensible and kind, but ready to put anyone and everyone in their place. She made our house really feel like a lovely home.

I miss her crazy ability to headbutt everything with great force, how she walked with stompy little feet, how she rolled on the gravel on her back because she loved the massaging feeling! How she always found the sunny spot and gave nervous Tom a reassuring groom if he felt a bit off or worried. How they would curl up together come rain or shine, always snuggly and happy to sleep away the day. I miss her scratchy, gravelly meow, her little routines like eating, followed by a quick claw on the doormat and then a few minutes observing the garden from her post on the back of the sofa in the conservatory. I miss how she would potter over to see me when I was gardening and just sit calmly, taking in the day and just loving the simple pleasures of life.

Tortoise was not just a cat. She was a friend.

And Tortoise, wherever you are, please know that we are looking after Tom and giving him extra fuss and cuddles for you. Save me a sunny spot old girl, see you again some day xx

Tortoise the cat sitting near the house in the evening sun

Weekend ramble

What a weekend! And, for the first time in ages, I mean that in a good way!

Nothing spectacular has happened really, it’s just…I had a weekend where I did things I wanted to do (well, on Saturday at least), and I felt sort of…free. Saturday I had allocated as my Lazy Day. I don’t do Lazy Days very often anymore, and  having spent the morning turning the living room upside down to clean it (not that you’d notice, it still looks like a bomb site), I settled down to enjoy a veggie burger for lunch. I wasn’t anticipating staying sat down for too long.

The thing was, House of Eliot was on. I love that show; takes me back to being fairly young, when life was easy, school was fairly easy, and tv viewing was ace (Lovejoy, House of Eliot et al). Anyhow, having got a bit comfortable watching HoE, I flicked over to find that Elizabethtown had just started on FilmFour. Bah, it had only just gone lunchtime and Orlando Bloom was very engaging. Swoooon. So I swung my legs up and sprawled.

I have this thing when I watch films; if I’m anywhere near my laptop I have to go on IMDB and check out the movie trivia and goofs. So naturally, having IMDB’d Elizabethtown, I found that Orlando Bloom had also starred in Black Hawk Down. Now there’s a film I’d been intending to see for quite a while. So once Elizabethtown finished (good film, nice little love story, recommend it for some easy viewing, if not for a bit of an Orlando-fest), I YouTube’d Black Hawk Down and watched that too. Gory. Thought-provoking. Makes me so glad I have never known what it’s like to live in a war-torn country or have to endure living within a war zone. I’m so very very very lucky to live where I live.

By this time, it was late afternoon/early evening. I hadn’t been very productive, and days where I’ve not done much often leave me feeling a bit weird. I don’t know why; perhaps it’s just that I worry that it’s a wasted day that I’ll never get back. So I got up, and decided to stop being a smelly layabout and had a shower, washed my hair and felt all nice and scrubbed up.

I pottered for a while, trundled to the supermarket, cooked myself a curry and then found myself on my backside infront of the box. Again. This time it was Mean Girls. Boy, it was turning out to be an eclectic film mix day. Then after a bit of Potter (Goblet of Fire, book ten times better than the film), it was an early night.

This morning I awoke to bright sunshine. I didn’t expect it at all; all the weather forecasts I’d seen had predicted an overcast, slightly dull day that was to be peppered with showers and maybe, just maybe, the odd burst of sunshine. Rich was fast asleep, having worked all through Saturday (oh, the life of freelancer), and so I let him be. I made my way downstairs, followed by a line of cats who had got up with me. We all had our breakfast – bunnies included, and I sat in the morning sunlight in the conservatory looking at my germinating seeds.

I’m not too happy with them. I think I’m just going to start again. Plus, the dreaded green aphid has made its way into my conservatory, which could spell disaster anyway. Best to have a contingency plan and just start over again (although, I will plant what I’ve already got, it’s just going to be a case of juggling everything so I have room). But, spurred on by the fact that my sunflower seeds are looking good, I decided to plant up around 50 more in various trays and pots. I was doing an Alys Flower and collecting tins to plant them in, but quite frankly, I can’t eat tins of borlotti beans and chickpeas fast enough.

I had another quick shower and hotfooted it over to my Mum’s – I was meeting my sister there to help her out with an application form. Four hours later, I then hotfooted it down to the allotment, Dad in tow, to see Mum. We spent a good hour together pulling weeds, hoeing and digging. We cut a lot of rhubarb from Rhubarb Mountain, and pulled up some leeks that were threatening to go to seed. I came home with armfuls of produce (my first of the year, I might add), dirty shoes and plans for rhubarb crumble.

The rest of this evening has been spent making the most of the evening sun. I was pleased to see the bees all over the rab apple blossom – hopefully it’s a good omen. Lots of bees = lots of pollination = lots of crab apples = lots of jam making perhaps?

We also let bunnies out for a run around the veg patches (they’re suprisingly good and only nibble on the grass). It was like binky city – for those of you that have never seen a rabbit do a ‘binky’ (link is not my bunny), it’s a thing of pure joy. Literally. The rabbit is happy and is expressing it’s joy, whilst making the observer ‘teehee!’ with each twist, flip and spin.

So as I bring this marathon entry to a close, the rhubarb picked earlier this evening has been simmered and is now sitting with crumble topping in place, ready to go in the oven. The potatoes are roasting, the cats are sleeping, the rabbits are relaxing and Rich is still working. Poor Rich.

Tomorrow is pay day, and that’s when things should really get going.  So, how was your weekend?