Saturday, January 31, 2015


In a bid to distract myself (and do something with the shining hour) I've been cutting out tumbler blocks to make a snuggle quilt for Daughter 2. I mainly used fabrics from my stash (oh Thimbleanna, what have you started? - it's quite a big stash) though I bought some self-coloured ones as well. Several of the patches come from leftovers from curtains I've made at various times for the house, which is quite pleasing. And I can convince myself that this renders it thrifty... if not perhaps quite making up for the material I've bought on spec just because I liked it.

I decided to have stripes of white, green, yellow and blue, Daughter 2 chose the fabrics (from the stash) and Mr L and I calculated how many blocks I needed of various types. I then had fun deciding how to arrange them.  Which is just as well, since I clearly have enough fabric for at least, oh, ten other quilts using many of these fabrics.

No doubt the actual sewing will involve less fun and more ripping-out before I get it right.

I found myself lying in bed the other night, thinking about cutting out tumblers. Still, as I say, I blame Anna. She got me into this so it's clearly not my fault.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life going on

Thank you, bloggy friends and commenters, for your kind sympathy for the loss of our furry friend. It is actually comforting - the kind words of people who don't know you but take the trouble to type some words of consolation. Similarly, lots of Facebook friends (some of whom I know only through blogs and some of whom are my actual friends) said nice things and that helped too. As did other friends. And Daughter 2 sent us some lovely flowers. 

We're trying to get used to Cassie's absence. It's working a bit. Daughter 2 came home at the weekend and invented several games for Grandson. I think she was being a cow here and he was riding on her. I can't quite remember why she was a cow rather than a horse. She's a very good auntie.

And on Saturday they all came to us, including Son and Daughter-in-Law, and we missed Cassie (and Sirius) collectively. Sigh. Granddaughter hasn't noticed her absence yet, or at least she hasn't said anything. Grandson has, but not at length. 

We did have a Sirius conversation in the car a few weeks ago, though, as I was negotiating the one-way system round Tollcross.

Grandson: Where did Sirius go?
Me [nervously - how do you explain death to a 3 year-old?]: Well, he died.
G: But where is he now?
Me: He isn't anywhere. There isn't a Sirius any more.
G: But who has him?
Me: No one. 
G: But I want him to come back.
Me: So do I. But I'm afraid he won't.
G: [without a pause]: But I wanted you to go down Grove Street.
Me: Oh, this way is just as good.

And that seemed to be the crisis over. Phew. I think. 

The bruise has almost gone.

Yesterday Mr Life and I went for a walk in Stockbridge. Life must go on. 

But we certainly miss the furry presence round the house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Queen Fluff

I've been putting off writing this post because I'm so very sad and writing about it in my blog seems to make it true and permanent, which of course it is. Cassie, our pretty, fluffy little companion, is no more.

Bloggy friends will remember that her twin, Sirius, developed lung cancer and faded away over the course of nearly a year. He started by coughing and, over the months, starting breathing fast. Lung cancer, said the vet, is very rare in cats and extremely rare in young cats. He was six when we had to have him put to sleep. We were very upset indeed.

So when my husband heard Cassie cough, once, a week past Thursday, we were of course worried. But we thought we were being neurotic. It couldn't happen again. Could it? Then she coughed again, once, on the Sunday. I wasn't in the room either time. We were again worried but we thought, surely not? I looked at her and wondered if she was breathing slightly faster than usual but decided that it was my imagination. She seemed absolutely fine. She was eating, drinking, jumping up on things. We wondered whether to take her to the vet, but she hated - and fought - being put in her travelling box and of course we didn't want to believe that there was anything wrong.

Then last Thursday evening, she started breathing very fast - unmistakably. We were devastated. We took her to the vet at 11 on Friday morning. He was not optimistic. We had to leave her behind to be x-rayed. A younger vet phoned at 12.15. There were growths in her lungs and ... it must be something genetic and... . We never brought her home. She was only seven.

We loved them, foolishly, as people do love their pets, knowing that we were likely to outlive them; but planning our grief for much later. Cats, and I imagine dogs too, are such physical presences in a house. Cassie and Sirius sat on us a lot. They pushed their soft furry heads into our hands, snuggled into us, purred. They were our substitute children, some consolation for our empty nest.

They are a huge loss.

I know they were only cats, and much, much worse things happen to other people. But now we've cleared away the various cat beds and the throws on the sofas and the dishes, the house seems drearily tidy. We keep shutting doors to rooms that were out of bounds to the cats and then remembering that we don't have to do so. We look through the glass panels of the door to the smaller living room as we pass, to see what she's up to. We open the outside doors carefully at night to make sure she doesn't escape. It's not that we've really forgotten, but it comes as a reminder, every time we automatically do something like that, that she's not here any more.

The cat flap has its cover on, which makes the kitchen door seem all wrong.

Get a kitten, people say. So tempting, but no. Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1, his mother and Grandson are all a bit allergic to cats; my brother is very allergic - which is why the cats were only allowed in certain rooms and we had washable throws on the sofas. And being doting cat-owners means that you have to import house-sitters when you go away.

But mainly we can't face the idea of going through this again.

Goodbye, lovely Queen Fluff and sweet-natured Velvet Ted.  Thank you for sharing our lives and making us, for all too short a time, cat people.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What's been going on around here

I didn't realise that squirrels are fond of sunflower seeds as well as peanuts. This feeder usually has mixed seeds in it, which Mr Squirrel has never shown any interest in, but now that it's filled with sunflower seeds he sits there and stuffs himself for minutes at a time. There's a little gap at the bottom of the feeder, which makes it nice and easy for him to shovel the seeds in with both hands.

Here he is on the fence afterwards. I'm surprised that he could heave himself up on it with his tummy full of seeds. The birds were pleased to see him go.

Grandson and Granddaughter are beginning to play together, which is SO CUTE.

And I've started to cut out bits of material for my next projected quilt.

Maybe woodworking would be easier. Fabric stretches; and what I've measured ever so carefully can become not quite so perfectly right after I've cut it. Still, you don't get wood with pretty little patterns of butterflies on it. Life's not perfect.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to

The bruise is still there but the egg has gone down a bit. Thank you for your sympathy for her! It doesn't seem to be bothering her much, but she's still not very well from the infection that caused her to be wobbly, the wee pet.

Goodness, this weather isn't helping the Januaryitis. Today it's cold, dark, a bit windy and wettish with the remains of some feeble snow still lying on the grass: a day for sitting inside with a book and a cat. Not that I have been, really. I've been out to lunch and am later going to choir. Keep breathing in and out and get on with it. It's the only way.

Friday, January 09, 2015


I've been struck, I think, with Januaryitis. The weather has sometimes been beautiful, as above, but at the moment is wild and stormy, though not cold. But I seem to be a bit brain-dead. It's hard, when one is getting older and things are not quite as one would wish, to face up to a new year with brimming enthusiasm. On the other hand, it could be a whole lot worse. I do realise this.

The grandbabies have been unwell and Granddaughter especially so. I went round to see her today and she fell asleep on me. After half an hour, however, Grandson arrived back loudly from nursery and woke her up, which wasn't especially successful from her point of view. She cheered up, however, and started staggering about: her balance seems to be affected by her illness, so she kept falling over. And then, though I was sitting right beside her, I managed to let her fall against the door frame and she bashed her forehead badly. It came up in a huge blue lump and Son-in-Law 1 and I, who were together, got a real fright. However, after telephone advice from Doctor Son, we calmed down, and she seems to be all right; or at least not permanently damaged.

Grandson is spending the night with us here and is lying on his back, fast asleep with his arms spread out, looking very sweet. He did enjoy his bath, earnestly pouring water from a little jug into a funnel and thence into an empty shampoo bottle and noting how many jugfuls it took to fill the bottle. And then we read "Mr Bump", with whom he sympathised after the trauma of his sister's accident.

And now I must go and battle with my very difficult (to me) piano piece. I hope it's warding off dementia, if nothing else.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Road signs

Mr Life was having a little nap. Grandson wanted to go into the room where he was peacefully communing with the cat. Naps and Grandson don't really go together. But Grandson and his cars needed to "go to Portobello", which was, in his game, where Mr L and Cassie were on the sofa. So I put up a No Entry sign. If there's anything the lad understands, it's the power of road signs.

As reinforcement, I added a Diversion sign.

He conceded the point. "Now draw a Man Digging Mud sign," he said - this is what he calls a Road Works sign. It always looks to me like a Man Putting Up Umbrella sign, so I drew this. It looks a bit like Man Poking Fire, I have to admit.

He then requested: a Man Digging Mud End sign;

a Thirty Mile An Hour Limit sign;

an End To Thirty Mile An Hour Limit sign;

a Seventy-One Mile An Hour Speed Limit sign (unusual but possible, I suppose): 

followed by the above rarely-seen road sign;

some more speed limit ending signs;

and the rather alarming Ninety Mile An Hour Speed Limit notice.

I've been writing this blog for nearly nine years, I think. In another swiftly-passing nine years, he'll be twelve and won't need his granny much any more. But for the moment - I'm his willing slave.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Makes our feet and fingers glow

Well, hello 2015. That was a quick year. My brother, sister-in-law, Mr L and I brought the New Year in with friends, which was nice. We were having a quiz and hardly noticed the old year ending, which prevented me from glooming about the past and worrying about the future. So that was good for everyone (including the readers of this blog). Then yesterday the other grandparents came for a meal with Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and the babies, which was also nice, and then today my brother and his wife went back down south. So now it's just us again.

"Let's go for a walk in the Botanics while the sun's shining," I suggested. So we did. Except that by the time we got out of the car, the wind had got up and was chucking sleet into our faces. Still, we're Scottish and not discouraged by a little weather, so we marched briskly round the empty gardens.

I felt sorry for various foreigners who were cowering in the shop and the cafe. Presumably someone had told them that Edinburgh's fun at Hogmanay. And it probably is. But it's more reliably fun in the summer, in my opinion.

There wasn't a lot blooming, but these hellebores were doing their best to be cheerful.

And look! - snowdrops are coming out.

Back in our porch, cyclamen, daffodils and more hellebores reminded us again that spring is on the way. Just not quite yet.

Happy New Year to all bloggy friends. I hope it's a good one for you all.