Tattie Holidays Week 1

After kicking off to a good start (!), the rest of the first week of the Tattie Holidays followed a very similar pattern: get up early, get Maxi and Midi fed and dressed and driven to gymnastics, then kill 2 hours with Mini. Every. Single. Day.

On Day 2 of the holidays we spent the 2 hours walking up and down the hill a few times. Well, I didn’t think to bring a snack and drink for Maxi and Midi (oops. Kids get hungry and thirsty when they’re running around doing handstands for 2 hours. Who knew…?) so had to go find a shop, buy some food and water, and fetch them back. Then I treated myself Mini to a milkshake and a cake at a local cafe at the end of another walk back up the hill. Well, my excuse was that the weather was still too minging to go to the playground or do anything properly fun. Honest.

On Day 3 of the holidays the library was open, so I spent 90 minutes reading Mini stories. The librarian interrupted a few times to try to strike up a chat, but I found that incredibly rude (was Mini invisible or something? Was my ‘conversation’ with my little girl so unimportant that it didn’t count?), so kept on with my story-telling. Maybe she couldn’t handle any more of the way I tell stories…?

leaf crunchingOn Day 4 the sun shone for a whole 45 minutes, so I dragged Mini along the sea shore. She really wasn’t interested in enjoying the sunshine or looking at the seagulls or spotting possible forage-worthy fruits. I did manage to tempt her with leaf-crunching and mud-puddle-squelching, though.

Our entire haul. Might make a molecule of jam.

Our entire haul. Might make a molecule of jam.

On Day 5 I dressed Mini in waterproofs and let her run riot in the playground next to the sports centre. I even managed to catch a little bit of Maxi and Midi’s gymnastics. Watching Maxi doing a kind of cheerleading routine on the beam was quite something – my baby… able to balance… and do things that I can’t! I’m glad I didn’t see her do a supported handstand on the beam or I’d probably have cried.

We got up to stuff in the afternoons as well: thanks to saving up every single one of my Tesco clubcard vouchers since the Year Dot, we’d stashed away enough virtual money to pay for half a tv. So on Wednesday (Day 3) I picked up a new-fangled flat tv – apparently no-one sells cathode-ray box type tvs any more. Wow! This thing picks up iPlayer and 4OD! In’t technology brilliant?!

So while the minxes rested for an hour post-lunch in front of the on-demand TV (we can’t get live TV, and I’ve no interest in getting it), I got on with my almost-maniacal chopping and resewing of fleece throws into clothing for the kids. I’ll do a separate post of the things made so you can have a good laugh too, but in the spirit of a tricky school holiday, here’s a Facebook status update from that week:

I’m using fabric paint to draw patterns on fleece to form a non-slip surface for the slipper-socks I’m sewing my 3 daughters. The nozzle got clogged. I poked it with a safety pin. That didn’t clear the blockage. I shaked it. That didn’t work. I used brute force and squeezed the nozzle as hard as I could. That worked! Oh boy, that worked… It exploded! So I now have neon pink, glow in the dark, permanent, wash-proof paint over the fleece bits, over the table, over my sewing machine, over my hair, over my posh cashmere sweater, over the carpet…

 <also seeing the funny side>

I was discovering pink blobs for days afterwards. At least it scraped off the windows; can’t say the same for my lovely posh jumper…

The offending paint, and the mess it made on just one of the fleece scraps. PS my hair isn't pale yellow anymore: it's blue

The offending paint, and the mess it made on just one of the fleece scraps. PS my hair isn’t pale yellow anymore: it’s blue

So after a frenzied clean-up, I was really impressed (!) when Killer Cat tried to escape outside via the chimney for the 4th time. Yep, sooty clouds of muck everywhere. Will she ever be even grey again, never mind her natural pure-white?! On the bright side, I didn’t need to get the chimney swept before I lit a fire. I don’t know what the attraction is with the chimney, especially because she gets out whenever she wants, now – we relented a wee while ago because neither Killer nor Foster Cat were adapting well to becoming indoor felines, so we let them out regardless of the 70mph dual carriageway at the bottom of the garden. Was a mouse hiding up there? I wonder, because one of the cats is leaving dead rodents at the back door every single day (brown and black and grey mice and a vole or 2. And one small bird) and the mouse trap in the kitchen caught a mouse. Pity I didn’t know about it until the smell pervaded the room, days later…

Heinlein’s Cat

One of our cats understands English and can walk through walls and locked doors.

sleeping cat

Foster-cat: happy and dreaming of the seagulls he can chase

Foster Cat had to go to the vet today to get his broken fang removed under general anaesthetic, and have the second of his vaccinations done. The poor old boy had been starved since 6pm the night before and he was a bit confused as to why his life of luxury had changed. He protested loudly at the indignity of having to use a litter tray. He told us in no uncertain terms that he was hungry. Last night he lifted his tail and sprayed on The Boss because he’d said the V-E-T word aloud in Foster Cat’s hearing. This morning he peed on me for daring to put him in his cat basket.

Assessing the weight-velocity ratio of the local seagulls, and likelihood of catching one

On the 10 minute drive to the vet, Foster Cat amused himself by pretending to be dead: he miaowed plaintively, then gave a long, loud, truncated howl, then made no noise until I stopped the car and ran round to check on him. Then he started up the cycle again. Me and the minxes got to the vets, nerves in tatters.

I think I’m now looking for a new vet. Two weeks ago when I took him initially to our usual vet, I was told that he needed to have a complete primary vaccination course again (ie 2 jags, some weeks apart), a fang out, and a scale and polish. I agreed to the extraction (he was in pain – can’t have that!), but explained that he gets really stressed travelling – could we save him a journey and get everything done at once? The vet agreed, said that he could have the 2nd jag 2 weeks later whilst he was having his tooth sorted, and so we booked in for today. You can imagine, then, how grumpy I got when I was told at lunchtime when I phoned to check on him that he in fact *couldn’t* get the jag, and would have to return next week – there needed to be a gap of 3-4 weeks. I tried to pressurise the surgery to have the vet visit him at home to do it and save him some stress – her mistake, so surely it was the least she could do? Non. And don’t even start me on the impact this almost had on a last minute short little holiday I’d booked, with the cats at a friend’s new cattery. The owner and I pored over a flow diagram explaining when cats were safe to go to a cattery. I’d rather miss the camping trip than put Foster Cat’s health at risk, but we both think he’s fine to go. Phew!

When he returned home tonight, he looked a bit groggy, so we gave him his favourite dinner: pouch of chicken cat food in gravy (he’s no connoisseur). He settled at the top of the stairs and looked a bit out of sorts. I stroked his big, panther head for a bit. He stretched right out and put his head on my lap, purring like a lion, rubbing his chin on my knees. We had a bit of a moment, there, me and the old boy. He’s never let me tickle and rub and stroke him for so long – he’s strictly a “60 seconds and that’s enough of all that nonsense, thanks, where are your standards, stiff upper lip, what?”, kind of cat. I’d been a bit worried about him having an op, but I hadn’t realised just how much till then, when he was safely home and had forgiven us for bundling him in the basket! I think giving him second dinner helped with that…

“Bow before me, Furball” said King Cat

I guess that’ll be him back to normal, then, letting himself in and out. He can open any door on a mortice lock by balancing on his hind legs and pulling down the lever handle until the door opens. At night, he regularly scares the bejasus out of me by suddenly appearing at the sliding doors, up on his back paws, mouth open and front paws squeaking eerily down the panes. Foster Cat? More like Zombie Cat!

And the claim about walking through walls? Well, how else can a massive cat lumber from room to room totally unseen and unheard? Although his favourite spot in the house is at the end of Midi Minx’s bed (aye, he recognises a kindred rascally spirit in my 4 year old!), sometimes he goes missing. Then, The Boss will start at one end of the house, I’ll start at the other, but despite searching everywhere, we regularly can’t find him. Only to have him appear a minute or 2 later from somewhere that it’s *impossible* to hide in, eg the bathroom.

His owners (my brother and his family) are abroad for a few years and miss him terribly. They call him the Terrorist and say he’s always been like this. Today I’m reflecting on how much this tricksy, wilful, gentle, funny old cat is loved, and by so many people: Maxi whispered that she loves him even more than Killer Cat (shhhhhh, her real name is Daisy).

PS In case the title is bothering you, Robert A Heinlein wrote a book titled “The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls”


Weds 16 May 2012

It’s been a rollercoaster of a week and today’s been no different. I’m editing a post about cancer that I may still delete, yet. Especially because the whole long hand-wringy post boils down to “Lovely friends: stop getting it, ok?”  I was also going to make this post a reflective one, but sod it: here’s what happened, with no tarting around.

Mini Minx woke the entire house at 6.45am, complaining loudly about the stench wafting through from the litter tray that Foster Cat had missed. We could have all gone in a grump, but The Boss retrieved the morning by cooking up 2 frying pans of blueberry pancakes and having coffee on the table by the time I staggered down with an armful of Minx clothes. It took me so long because I had to wade through 20+ sheets of paper that Maxi and Midi had shredded into confetti-sized pieces. For fun. Which obscured the carpet and all the tiny, jaggy, ouchy toy-pieces they’d left there to ambush my bare feet.

Still, with happy, full tummies we got out the door to school 2 minutes early. Only to hit a blast of icy wind off the sea that caused 2 almost-instantaneous skin splits in my fingers (Met Office: “Feels like 0 degC” – you’re not kidding!). Then Foster Cat managed to escape out the front door while Maxi and Midi faffed around with who was “In Charge” of stopping him getting out. He’d follow the kids to school and get lost / run over. The neighbours must have been wetting themselves at me trying to grab that wily old cat; he would wait, calmly licking a paw while I feigned a nonchalent stroll up to him, then bounced off a millisecond before I grabbed him. So I ignored him and strode down the hill. He zig-zagged down. When we were twice the distance past the point where Killer Cat bottles it, hisses and scuttles off home, I realised he was going to follow us all the way to school. So I about-turned, marched back up the hill with 3 giggling minxes and a perplexed cat, back in the front door, swearing all the time, and invoked the dread weapons of the rattling packet of Go-Cat in one hand and the cat-nip mouse in the other. Safely trapped back in the house, I swept back down that stupid, pot-holed, hateful road again.

We made the bell and no more!

On the way back up that blasted hill, my day got lots better – the postman handed me a box with 18 packets of crisps in it: my runner’s-up prize for a wee review I wrote about a good kids’ day out.

Opening my emails, it got better still: Tesco baby magazine wanted to include a quote of mine in their Autumn edition, and could I supply a photo? Yesssss! Retribution against the minxes would be mine! My mum laughed long and hard at my teenage embarrassment at being snapped for the local newspaper naked on the beach aged 3 with my siblings. Similarly, I chose a very cheesy pic of my girls that would definitely induce future teenage cringe. Oh, I cannot wait!

After that, the trend was downward: Mini pooed her leggings, went ballistic at not being allowed to wear Big Girl Pants, bit Midi and spat at the cats. Midi stropped at being bored, sprayed every surface with water and smeared them with a wet, greasy, hairy rag she’d found lurking in a cupboard. Then in a fit of excitement she threw open the hall door and smashed Foster Cat’s food- and water-bowls against the wall – water everywhere. On already-rapidly-warping wood. Sheesh.

With Midi safely in nursery burning off some energy for a few hours, I went round a friend’s house for coffee, cake and to let Mini play with other children. I grabbed something to take with me and Mini cooed: “Ooooooo, treat! Chocolate treat!” See? I don’t stuff them full of rubbish food at all.

The playdate went well, but was over all too soon. When I realised that I’d just tried to put Mini’s jacket on myself, I figured it was time to put the car-keys down and step away from all machinery and sharp objects. And have another coffee.

Tea-time was the usual manic fluster of doing too many things at the same time. Right at the worst possible moment (ie the grill was still hot, dinner had just been put on the table, Foster Cat was scraping at the window on his hind-paws to get let in, Mini was on the rampage), Midi pulled her usual tea-time stunt. With a twist:

“I done a poooo!” she sang, proud of her latest otter. I helped her clean up and flushed. Then yelled as the water backed up and the poo looked like it was going to leap up and attack us. Maxi had blocked the toilet with her usual ‘use an entire roll to dab up a single drop of wee on the seat’ before Midi had used it. I stormed downstairs to find Mini picking out the grated carrot from her lamb pasta and spitting it at the cat. I could have screamed. I could have shouted. I could have sworn or smacked. Instead I strode to the cupboard and poured a glass of red wine and a biiiig block of cheap chocolate.

It helped 🙂