I'm sorry to have to record that Maggie, our cat has died, she seemed to be losing a bit of weight, and when we took her along to the Vet for her annual check-up a week or so ago, it transpired she’d gone down by a third on her previous. She was a bit overweight previously, but it seemed an excessive change. We hadn’t noticed how severe it had become, and had put it down to skinny old cat syndrome.
The cause turned out to be kidney disease, and was put on an ACE inhibitor, a vasodilator that lowers the high blood pressure that causes chronic kidney disease. Like all drugs there are a few side effects to watch out for, but at first she seemed perkier, bearing in mind she was 16.
Not surprisingly she considered being given a pill each morning something of an indignity, and it was only possible to get her to eat it voluntarily with a tiny smear of marmite, she had shown a liking for the stuff when trying to get her head in my mug to get at the last drop. She always had somewhat eccentric tastes, and I can only assume it had something to do with the salt. Sadly she never got to make a habit of it, as something must have gone wrong several months before, resulting in or caused by the kidney disease. Anyway, after a week on the ACE inhibitor she lost interest in food and then water. The ACE inhibitors really knocked her sideways, and I thought she probably wouldn’t last the night. They might be helping her kidneys by lowering her blood pressure, but it won’t be much use if the side effects killed her. Having gone right off her food and water we stopped the ACE, but I’m afraid it was too late. She faded over the next few days, and quietly passed away in her sleep on the morning of the 25th. We are both very sad, Maggie has been the best, friendliest, companion we could have asked for.
Fourteen years ago, when Maggie was about two, we picked her, and her son Errol, up from the cat rescue in Edinburgh. They’d been left because nobody wanted two cats, and the rescue people didn’t want to separate them. Two was exactly what we wanted, initially to keep the mice in order, (they were eating the plastic plumbing). It seemed unfair to have one potentially lonely cat, so we looked for two, ideally related, being used to each other and less likely to fight. Of course I’ve no idea whether that would have been an issue to the cat, but we always impose our own thoughts. They did tend to bicker occasionally, but also usually slept in the same chair. Errol has always acted more of a loner, (seen here doing his Princess Di impression), but Maggie was convinced she’s a human, made friends easily and loved a hug. If we’d been away for a week she became positively clingy, so one of us did the unloading while the other engaged Maggie. I suppose it is all a bit ‘child replacement’, but I admit I’ve rarely found a child as well tempered as Maggie, and I can’t think of one I’d swap. Damn sight cheaper to run, too. Her only fault was that she considered both food bowls to be hers, and Errol had to wait, sometimes for quite a long time.
When she arrived she was pure matt black, presumably that’s why her previous owners called her Bagheera. She had since faded to a variable brown, which made her rather easier to see in the dark. Errol, (previously Leo), was an even grey and has also gone a little patchy. This makes him completely invisible in all but broad daylight, even with his splendid bib and white feet, which he shows off, given a chance. He seems to have accepted her passing, and was outside the bedroom when she died.
So now there's a sad little patch in the garden amongst the pine trees. She'll be missed.
Too much dwelling on that will make my keyboard wet..... so..... back to life. There's a particularly persistent, and possibly mildly concussed, chaffinch above my head pecking at it's reflection in the shiny chimney above the wood burning stove. It has been doing it for a couple of days now, more or less continuously. I know that small birds have very little energy reserves, and if it doesn't give up soon it may compromise it's chances. Evolution in action, or a very small Darwin award. Frankly I hope that it doesn't pass on this characteristic to future generations, it is rather distracting to have somebody else 'typing' a few feet above my head, while I do the same below, albeit rather more quietly. Fortunately it stops now and then, presumably for a snack at the bird feeder, but the other birds will be giving it funny looks by now, calling it Head-banger and sniggering behind its back. Tragic really, poor little thing will be developing OCD or at least a headache,
The weather is gradually warming, and we've spent more time outside, gardening and poly-tunnel building with a little light engineering on the side. I'm slowly improving my welding with small jobs like converting Jim W's buggy trailer to his new buggy and making an inlet conversion so that I can fit an SU carburettor to the Ford Midge's Cross-flow engine in place of the over complicated Webber. Something I am sure you will all approve and understand. I think it really demonstrates, not that I'm particularly clever, but that, actually, anybody can do anything if they don't mind failing until they succeed, practice, and just get on with it.
The other mechano-philosophical points being:-
Don't risk, unnecessarily, that which you cannot afford to lose.
Make sure you actually want that which you are trying to achieve.
Check that it's the best way of getting there, and
Think about it, better still sleep on it, if it's big or important.
The thoughts started when I had to decide whether to disassemble the old carburettor system, at the risk of not being able to reverse the process if I failed, but it works in life generally.
Of course taking your own advice often helps, or at worst provides interesting hind-sight. I have discovered occasionally that a project can become more trouble than it is worth, but is not reversible. As a result I end up worse off than when I started, and have to solve the problem with money, when that would have provided a faster, better and more convenient solution. The engine is running with the new carburettor, so I'm ahead of my previous position.
Not too often though, I'm glad to say.
The warming weather has brought out various spring features, apart from the assembly of a small poly-tunnel, Bumble-bees, Flowering currant blossoms, and, gradually increasing year on year, bird-song from the woodland. Thrushes seem to be coming back after a few years of absence, and Sparrows too, presumably helped by the thickening trees and the better shelter from predators. The rabbits have retreated to the Shale Bing and various flowers are popping up after Fiona's wild flower seeding exercise. The latest being Cow-slip. Ox-eye daisies were abundant last year, we'll see what happens this time. I've been adding various kinds of habitat to the garden, and this time the abundance of bricks and concrete fragments are going into heaps around the poly-tunnel to provide nooks and crannies for insects, hedgehogs and any thing else. With the hopeful absence of rats, wasps, bunnies and Magpies. As the trees get bigger I'd like to add bird and bat boxes, maybe an owl box, and more seats for sitting and thinking. When the digger went round trenching out for the ground source heat pump pipe, it dug up loads of bricks, slate, lead pipe and drain pipe, and of course lots of clay. That has been absorbed, buried, sold off or recycled in various ways. I was thinking of some kind of small weatherproof natural looking seat and was trying to think it out logically. It had to be waterproof, frost-proof, non rusting, cheap, self draining, stable, flat-topped and if possible re-cycled. Then I noticed I was sitting on one, there was one in each of the demolished houses, and several had been brought to the surface. Approximately a foot cube of baked clay they'd been the grease, or fat, trap outside each kitchen. One way up they are a small planter, another way and they are a micro habitat, and, correctly positioned, a garden seat. All free and you can paint them as dice if you feel a bit surrealist. Even better, I see they are £150 to £400 each now, mind thats for a rather more sophisticated device. If you are very good, and abide by the dictates of the deity of your choice, then I'll put a better picture of one up when I've landscaped it in.
I've been thinking about facebook, I really find it a way of using up a lot of time to very little purpose. It's amusing enough, but you find an hour has passed and there's always more to read, kittens to watch, campaigns to join, scandals to be offended by, and of course thousands of advertisements involving very inadvisable offers from hundreds of 'single women' in 'my area' apparently looking for elderly gentlemen just like me. Aye that'll be right. Anyway I think there should be an alternative to "Just click to meet" (and get infected). Something like a button on the keyboard marked @f**%% 0$$! (Choose your own expletive) which passes on your loathing for their offer without sending your address.
Now if the CIA, FBI, GCHQ, MOSSAD or whatever, really wanted to do something useful, how about a bit of software that finds these beggars and wipes their computer? Compared with that, I really don't care about Uranium centrifuges.
Actually that rant-ette comes from the fact that every time I publish a web page, my service provider, not even facebook this time, asks me if I want to tell all my facebook friends that I've just up-dated a page. Which was fine for the first few hundred, and I suppose somebody thought it would be helpful, but gets a bit wearing. I've tried shouting at it, but it keeps coming back with the same inane helpful smiley-face.
You will be able to imagine how much I love the endless helpfulness of the facebook system. If I ignore it for a day the damned thing sends me an email telling me how much I've missed. At least they don't put a sad faced puppy on it. And yes, I know the logical step is to drop FB, but I wouldn't want to offend all my 'friends', most of which I only know because of the blasted thing in the first place. I'll just have to bite the bullet and de-friend most of them. Of course, I don't mean you, and the ones that I do can put it down to cat loss stress.
I suppose all the trivial irritations of the internet have one advantage, they take your mind off other matters. Perhaps, for better or worse, that's what it's for.
Have a good one