Wednesday 28 April 2010

A tale of nine cats

I have always had a soft spot for cats.  There's something very knowing about a cat, they seem to have life sorted out and I like that about them - the odd thing is, I've never known two cats alike in all the years I've provided home and hearth for them, they are such individual characters!  My cats have never had much in the way of airs or graces, each of my moggies found his or her way to me the same way he or she came into this world ... by chance.

My first, a beautiful sassy tortoiseshell called Sally, was born in the piggery of a farm near my Dad's house.  She was a wee scrap of a thing, found floundering at only four weeks old after being abandoned by her mum.  Sally gave me many loyal years and was definitely head of the household, even dominating our poor old dog - she really was a bossy boots! 

My son and Sally, 1987

A couple of years later I contacted the 'Cats Protection League' to ask if any cats needed adopting.  I was presented with 'Poppet', a skinny tabby stray, caught scrounging behind our local library.  I quickly changed her name to 'Poppy' (Poppet was a bit too gooey for my tastes!) and for the next sixteen years, she hissed and spat at everyone and everything.  We were never close, but we rubbed along okay and when she finally gave in to old age, I quite surprised myself by being so sad to lose her.

Several years ago, I received a call from one of my sisters to tell me a litter of feral kittens had moved into her garden shed and of course, I couldn't resist ... the two of us sat for hours in a corner of her garden, quietly luring the hungry kitties towards us with titbits.  Little Socks gave in first, she was such a pretty girl, smokey grey with white socks and the sweetest white face.  Socksie was soon coaxed from her wild ways and became the perfect lap cat, she was such a gentle soul and very special to me.  Sadly she developed a heart condition and a growth in her tummy, so slipped away just before Christmas Eve one year, but for the seven years she lived with us, she had a good life.  Her brother Leo also came to live with us, another gentle soul with a loud purr and great big feet.  Leo was easily tamed and in his later years, loved to spend the day in the garden, asleep on the patio table.  The worst part about sharing your life with pets is saying goodbye when their time comes and sadly Leo's time came a couple of weeks ago. 


Leo's pal Toffee was the runt of a litter, living on a local farm.  We had recently given a kitten from the same farm to my niece Leah, to console her after her cat Mischief disappeared.  Truffle was a pretty kitten and Leah was thrilled with her, but needless to say it wasn't long before Mischief wandered back home as if he'd never been away - that's cats for you eh?!  My daughter was determined we too should have another kitten, so we returned to the farm and brought Toffee home, a scrawny ginger tomcat.  With a little tender loving care, he soon became a robust cat, full of adoration for Fay.  That was fourteen years ago and he's still with us, preferring a quiet life these days, but still able to shin up a garden fence when the need arises!


If you read regularly, you will probably already know about my little black bundle of trouble.  Puddle was another of my daughter's 'oh please Mum, can we?' cats.  She needed a home three years ago, but was terribly ill a few days after arriving.  I nursed her through the night, feeding her liquids with a syringe - it was touch and go for a while, but by some miracle she pulled through and has since become a much loved, extremely cheeky and very lively member of our family!


So here I am, twenty three years after first adopting Sally from the pig farm, waiting excitedly for my next arrival!  Yes, Fay convinced me to find a young friend for Puddle and Stuart agreed, so on Monday we drove out visit the cutest litter of black and white kitties.  


I'm excited to tell you, little Daisy (I've called her that because the lawn is blooming with daisies at the moment) the boldest kitten in the litter, will be coming to live with us in a few weeks, just as soon as she's big enough to leave her mum!


Monday 20th February 2017

A Daisy in May

A sad weekend, saying goodbye to our fat little cat Daisy, a springtime kitten who sadly didn't quite make it to her seventh birthday.

Daisy was such a gentle, sweet tempered girl and she has left us far too soon. Sometimes that's just how it is with cats .. I have owned cats all my adult life and you never can tell how long they will stay. Saying goodbye always hurts, they are such unique characters and so much a part of our family. 


 May 2010 - February 2017

So my pretty, lazy girl, sleep tight in your garden, free from pain. I am so very sad you have left us.


3rd August 2023.. it has been sometime since I last updated this post but it feels appropriate to do so today. Since I last wrote, another little kitten came to live us. He was a scrappy street cat who put us in mind of the tv series 'Only Fools and Horses' for some reason, so we called him 'Rodney', or more often than not, 'Rodders'...


Rodders was quite a character! He quickly made firm friends with Betty, one of our golden retrievers and was often to be found sleeping on her back. I am certain he was convinced he was a dog instead of a cat because what the dogs did, Rod did too. He enjoyed their company and could always be found close to them. Rodney filled our days with laughter. He was affectionate, funny and mischievous. We absolutely adored him and when early one morning, we found him sleeping his last sleep peacefully on our living room rug, at the tender age of three, we were completely heartbroken. There was no rhyme or reason to his passing, he just left us in his own way, in his time, which sadly was far too short. It was such an unexpected loss, probably as the result of a blood clot according to the vet, I couldn't bring myself to write about him until now. He is buried in our garden and I think of him often.
Dear dear Rod.


And yesterday, another sad loss. 
This time, thankfully at the end of her long and peaceful life...

A rainy day and a sad one.
Today we said goodbye to our Puddlecat, aged 16 years.


Yesterday was a rainy day... and a sad one. We said goodbye to our dear ol' Puddlecat, aged 16 years. Always the most gentle of girls, she left us peacefully and as was her way, without fuss.

Puddle came to us as a tiny scrappy kitten who had managed to tug at my daughter's heartstrings. She didn't have the best start to kitty life and Fay was keen to rescue her, so we brought her home and after a shaky start with her health, she soon blossomed into a beautiful glossy black cat with the sweetest nature and a penchant for playing with my knitting. She loved nothing more than to keep me company during the day, teasing me as I worked on my bears, or whenever I picked up my knitting needles.


As she grew older poor Puddle developed hyperthyroidism and gradually became very skinny and fussy about eating, although she never lost her love of cheese and I did manage to feed her a few tiny pieces yesterday. She never changed her gentle nature despite her health and was always happiest to be close to us, especially in the evenings, when she liked to perch on the back of the sofa while we watched tv. 

Despite being quite a shy girl, she loved the children and always enjoyed a special fuss from my Grandson, who was very fond of her. Puddle wasn't too keen on our other cats and dogs over the years, preferring to remain aloof and distant with them, with the exception of dear old Daisy, a previous member of our long-standing cat family... or so she preferred us to believe... but yesterday morning, she allowed Cooper to approach and give her a very gentle kiss while she sat on my lap for a goodbye cuddle and despite her clear disapproval of young Stanley cat when he first joined us, I found them resting comfortably together in the sunshine on our conservatory sofa yesterday afternoon.

So, yes a rainy day and of course a very sad day, but also a day to remember our gentle black Puddlecat and to thank her for remaining faithfully by my side for so many long years.

Sleep tight sweet Puds. 
We will miss you. 


Friday 23 April 2010

Desertmountain Bear Blog Giveaway!

By the way, before I sign off for the weekend, did you know Joanne Livingston, a member of the Guild of Master Bearcrafters, is hosting a blog giveaway?  Her beautiful bear 'Ruth' simply oozes nostalgia and is such a generous prize! 

If you would like to join in the fun, please visit Joanne's blog to find out all the details:

Welcome to the weekend everyone!

Making a Teddy Bear

Have you ever wondered how a teddy bear is made?  Each artist bear maker develops their their own methods through trial and tribulations, so a few months ago, I decided to create a bear in 'real time' and photograph his progress, step by step to show you how I create my bears. 

This is the story of how 22" Caspian was created.

He was pre-sewn yesterday.

This morning: head stuffed, ears and eyes positioned and pinned, nose area trimmed, half of muzzle trimmed. Now it's time for lunch! 

Nose stitched.
Mouth stitched and left half of muzzle finely trimmed.

Remainder of muzzle finely trimmed.

Eyes next ... but first it's time for a coffee break!
 Eyes inserted but eye area needs a trim so he can see where he's going!

That's better ... eye sockets trimmed to show off his baby blues.

 A little shading to make the eyes really 'pop'.

A little more muzzle trimming and hey presto, one teddy bear head ready for its body!

It's 4pm, so there's still time to joint his head to his body and perhaps stuff the arms and legs before I have to cook dinner. 
 Now he has a body ...

... and a pile of half stuffed limbs!

 Measuring where the arms should be placed.

 Arms attached. He's starting to look more like a proper bear now!

 Arms and legs attached.

 Unstuffed - this bear needs a substantial meal!

 Get stuffed bear!

 Well, I think that's my lot for today. It's time to cook the evening meal before my family comes home from work and it's too dark to take any more photos.

Everything is attached and bear's tummy is full, he even has a growler. His arms and legs will have to wait until the morning for final stuffing (they are only half stuffed at the moment) and I think I'll fiddle with the ears tomorrow too because I'm not sure about their position at the moment. So, if all goes well, he'll have his ears sewn on, stitched claws and a waxed nose by tomorrow afternoon.

A good day's work so far ... this has been fun!
 Day 2 and here we go again!
First, bear needs to have his back seam closed. Ladder stitching does the job beautifully.
 See, now he has an invisible back seam!

 Bottoms up bear, it's time to stuff the top half of your legs ...

 Sitting pretty! Legs stuffed, arms next ..

 One arm stuffed, the other one still to finish ... and those ears!

 Arms finished but his ears are really bugging me now!

 Not quite the look I was aiming for ...

 Howsabout placing them slightly lower ...

 ... like this? Nah, too cutsie for this ol' growler!

 Isn't this where they were to start with?! Well, maybe not quite ... they do suit him better a little higher though.

Right, time to make the final decision and sew those ears on.

 That's better! A tiny bit more trimming into the top of the muzzle area and with a little gentle sprucing up he's almost finished ...

 Come on bear, give us a twirl!

Lovely profile ...

Yes, this side is lovely too!

Hey, you're a handsome chap ... but ooops, I haven't sewn your claws on yet! Better do that next - and get that nose waxed.

We're almost there ...

Back later - yes, it's teabreak time! I'm going to put the kettle on now!
 Now to wax his nose.  Waiting patiently while the wax melts ...

 First coat of beeswax ... yuk, snotty!

Initial buffing for first coat ... looks okay, but hopefully will be even better after the second coat.

Second snotty! Poor ol' bear! Atishoo!

But all that ucky snottyness was worth the effort, now bear has a smart shiny nose and yes, that's him, sat by my computer screen admiring his work in progress photographs as I type!

We're not quite finished though, I still have his claws to stitch, but Fo's due here for her cup of tea soon, so I may have to do that a little later.

Finally I'll have to decide whether to trim him, or leave him bare ... hmmmn .... what do you think?

And then tomorrow he can have his posh pics taken on my posh Canon camera ...
Almost teatime on Day 2 and bear's claws are now underway!

He's a classic bear, so I've given him simple stitched claws ... very neat!

  Is it time for my trim yet Mum? Look all my claws are stitched now ...

A ribbon bow? Really? Are you sure about this? Yes bear, I am sure. It suits your baby blue eyes!

And finally, after many practise shots, a lovely professional photograph of my finished bear.  All in all, he took about three days to finish. 

I am delighted to tell you that since making him, Caspian quickly found a lovely new home in America, has been featured in the US 'Teddy Bear Review' magazine and was also a finalist in the 2010 Australian 'People's Choice' Awards!


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