Dancing, donating and dithering

Tree pollen means squinting eyes and no eye make-up…

Look at my new Retro jeans – took me straight back to the 70’s drunkenly trying to unbutton jeans in a disco.  I bought them in Walmart for full price because they fit so well.

These are my azaleas in full bloom so spring is here in SE Texas (it would be summer north of the Wall).  When the azaleas were first planted, they were exactly the same bright pink but I think the soil around one has changed because of its proximity to a pine tree.  The purplish one is underneath our Live Oak.  Isn’t nature wonderful?

Yesterday was a fun day!  I went to my local thrift shop and snagged a coral jean jacket, apple green shirt and brand new faux fur vest – all for $3.  That’s right, $1 each.  They were playing 70’s funk music and the girl behind checking was grooving on down so I joined her, swaying the hips.  She asked where I got my cute skirt and laughed when I revealed it was from Forever 51 21.  Then I taught her how to say Good Morning in Arabic (this segued naturally from a comment about my accent) and I think that’s why I got such an amazing bargain.  I also donated a beautiful quilt so it all works out.

The day before, I was shopping unhappily in Burlington because a gift card was burning a hole in my frontal lobe.  The shop was gigantic but I couldn’t find anything decent.  I noticed a little Central American girl looking loudly for “Papi!” I saw him in menswear and said to the little girl, “Papi, alli!”  Dad placated her but then she ran off wailing “Mami!” who was hiding elsewhere.  I understood their pain…

The previous week I had gone to a Premium outlet out of town, again because another bloody gift card was creating mental chaos.  I went into one store to get some stuff for Ted and was helped by a man?  He was very attractive, with long pink dreads which coordinated with his cute little white wool shorts and sweater and long fuchsia jacket.  His long black legs went on forever with size 11 pink pumps.  I have no judgment, just curiosity, especially since he didn’t have fake boobs.  Then I saw him helping a Mexican man who, by his reaction, thought the assistant was a woman.  Life is interesting these days.

To top my shopping mania, I browsed through Macy’s after the thrift store snag.  At the clearance racks I came across two black ladies getting on down with some more 70’s funk (is there a musical plot in our forest?) so I started dancing with them.  Why not?  The world has gone mad with such sadness in New Zealand.  May they rest in peace.

On a lighter final note, we bought Toffee a new knitted catnip toy at the weekend.  I forgot it was in my purse but delighted Toffee with a new toy.  She rolled and purred.  Then she made a new LOUD vocalization which sounded a little like “I have done the stinkiest poo” but there was a note of elation.  We think it was meant to be Captain America bird but since Toffee is from Egypt he has a new name every day –

  • Captain Ahmed
  • Captain Amun
  • Captain Ali
  • Captain Azim
  • Captain Abdul

I could go on and on but that’s exactly what this post is – a quirky Kerry rambling.  For clarity, I am petering off my anti-depressants because of side-effects and under the care of my psychiatrists.  Let’s just say I am a little ‘happy’ and ‘tense’ all at the same time.  Teddy thinks it is an alluring combination!

 

The Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie

Last week I was in Texas, minding my own business, when I commented on Ailish Sinclair’s site about Standing Stones in Scotland. I told her that I remembered a beautiful white quartz recumbent stone in the field next to our rented cottage near New Deer in Scotland. At the time, the site was barely noted historically but via Ailish I discovered that they are two of the Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie.  It was a strange moment, like the notorious series Outlander, but much cooler. I was instantly transported back to the prettiest house we have ever lived in with so many happy memories.

Puss, the hunter, at the cottage

For all the non-Scots, the Scottish Standing Stones were believed to be constructed by the Pictish people or their precursors, mostly in the North East of Scotland starting in Neolithic times. Stonehenge is a magnificent example of a similar but much bigger Standing Circle. They are found all over the south west of England, Wales, Brittany and Scotland. The people of those areas were among the earliest tribes in Britain. Not much is known about the Picts and their written language was Runic so there is a limit to our understanding. The Gaelic people were the next settlers and there language overtook the Pictish one. Certain names date back to the Picts and you can recognize them by their prefix – Aberdeen and Pitmedden are two examples. By contrast Auchmaliddie has a Gaelic root. The Picts’ name for Scotland was Alba.

We were renting the cottage at Auchmaliddie while our new house was being built in a neighboring village. Although we had been living in a hamlet previously, this was right out in the Boonies. I had to persuade the farmer to allow us to rent as the previous tenants with dogs had really damaged the cottage. As soon as we moved in, I wished we could have bought this sweet cottage instead of our new bungalow. It was blissfully quiet with gentle lowing of the cattle. That summer was particularly warm so we didn’t realize how cold and damp the cottage was. It was so hot that we had to leave the bedroom window open (that doesn’t happen in the North East of Scotland because winter is always coming beyond the wall).

Our three cats had rarely been allowed out in our last house as we were on an arterial road. At the cottage they could roam free. Pippy, our difficult cat, loved to climb out the open bedroom window, scamper down the tree and sleep with the dairy cows in the barn at the neighbor’s dairy farm. There were a glut of voles (in the US they are called meadow mice) that year and even our tooth challenged baby Puss caught one. I have a funny memory of Teddy chasing her in circles around the cottage to make her drop the vole. We had rescued Puss the year previously – she was feral and full of worms. It took so long to get her healthy that Ted was determined that she drop the dratted worm infested vole. On the way back from one of the circuits, I noticed that Puss was voleless. Cleverly, she had dropped the vole in the potato patch. Teddy searched futilely for the now deceased vole but Puss found it later and ate it much to Teddy’s disgust. He gets all OCD about parasites… wuss.

I remember when we discovered the Rocking Stones on a summer evening walk to the next field at the top of the hill. The sparkling white of the quartz recumbent stone was otherworldly. Bronze age or Neolithic folks had celebrated or worshiped on this very spot and could see the next set of Standing Stones at Aikey Brae from the summit. My first secret thought was that blood sacrifices would look spectacular on the white stone. There was no record that they did that but it was the first hint of my native Mexican blood running thought me, perhaps?? I thank Ailish for sparking a long lost memory and inspiring a series of blogs set at the cottage.  As far as I know, I did not know Ailish in Scotland even though we lived just miles apart. It is a marvelous small world.

Furry Tails from the Woods

A rather well fed feral cat…

This is our outside feral cat, Katniss.  Yes, she of the wooden palace…  She is a solitary little soul and I often wonder if she is lonely or am I anthropomorphizing?  At 7.30 am she is usually waiting for her breakfast and 6 pm for suppertime.  Although she is one claw short of a paw, she has finally figured out that the new wooden house in our garden is for her to shelter in.  Monsoon season is here and she has been inside the house, peeping out, looking for her human.

On a tangential note, our street has had a variety of feral cats; some fools have rescued them and others have disappeared.  One particular black and white tom cat, named Adolpho in our street, was quite a character.  He looked like he was wearing a scruffy leather jacket and smoking a tote.  One of my neighbors noticed that there was a poster of him in the street.  He was well known in every street and each had a different name for him – Bud, Tank etc.  A text chain started and we all sadly found out that he had been killed on the road.  RIP Bud, Tank or Adolpho.

Back to my black and white beauty, Katniss – a few weeks ago she was asking for food more often than usual.  I accused her of being pregnant but she just stared at me with those round green eyes.  Then Teddy and I figured out what she was doing.  I had noticed a very small mother raccoon, slightly smaller than Katniss, who had swollen teats.  Presumably her kits were nearby or under the deck.  Katniss was leaving some of her meals for the raccoon and just sitting happily with her.  Do cats make friends with other species; apparently so?  It was so lovely to watch them.

We didn’t want to encourage the raccoon to join the family so we cut back on the food.  Life went back to normal until Griff, our surviving feral tomcat, gray with pretty crossed eyes, started lurking around and made Katniss very skittish.  I chased him but he was quite determined to get Katniss’s meals.  To tempt her to another part of the garden I put out some human salmon – just a spoonful.  Before Katniss could find it, the little raccoon sniffed out some delicious food from heaven.  She was tucking in when Katniss appeared, outraged!!  She went straight up to the raccoon and hissed in her face.  The raccoon was cowering but she had never tasted anything quite so wonderful and she had to keep eating it.  Then Katniss biffed her on the head with her paw but nothing worked.  Laughingly, I went out to give Katniss a different plate but she was sulking by then because the delicious human salmon was in the raccoon’s tummy.

I haven’t seen the little raccoon for a while but she has probably moved on with her kits to a more prosperous garden, full of grubs and mice.  Every so often I open the window with the net down so that she and Toffee, our old inside feral cat, can sniff each other.  Toffee is also solitary and loves to watch Katniss from the top of her condominium.

My new camera gives some lovely detail to Toffee’s beautiful little face with her hooded owl eyes. She is 15 and a half years old, born in Cairo, Egypt.

My two beautiful girls

TOFFEE

This is the inside Princesa – Toffee.  It is hard to get a good shot of her because she is a darkly colored Tabby (mixed with Egyptian Mau).  In reality, her markings and fur are exquisite.  She has the typical saggy beige fluffy tummy of a Mau and little fluffy Hobbit feet to protect her from the desert heat.  We rescued her as a kitten in Cairo but at age 15, I still can’t pick her up.  For years she hardly spoke but since the other two Egyptian cats died she has not shut up…  She talks about everything with precise vocalizations.  “Thank you” for lunch sounds very different from “Clean up my poo stat!”  Although she and Katniss have never met face to face, Toffee chats to her through the open window.  In some Disney world they would be sleeping together but they are both little ferals, happy in their own worlds.  She hunts sunbeams around the house even though I keep the temperature at 76 degrees or above.  I move Nana’s orange and brown rug about so that her old bones are comfortable in the sunbeam.

KATNISS

This is the outside Princesa – Katniss.  I rudely call her Fatniss because she is a voracious but slow eater.  She is probably about 3 or 4, maybe neutered by the local cat people and I think she belongs to me now?  At the moment I was writing this, I ‘knew’ that she was outside, so I interrupted this post to feed her with newly clean dishes.  The raccoons have been playing with the dishes again and I had to hunt for them around the garden.  From time to time, Katniss rolls in the garden and I get to see her lovely white tummy with a black belt (in Karate?)  She has a lovely mixture of black and pink toes, usually immaculate despite living outside.  She also talks – do they get it from me??  Katniss has a tiny little voice and chats while I feed her.  Sometimes the tone is terse when it is cold or wet.  She also hisses when she is happy – I think she is just trying all her vocalizations.

They make me happy. ❤

Katniss has Help…

Katniss playing

This post is an excuse to tell you some random stories and wish everyone Happy Easter, Passover, Pagan spring thing or whatever.  I hope you enjoy scampering naked through a field of wildflowers, eating too much chocolate or going to your church.

Katniss has Help…

As most of you know, we have a feral cat who visits twice a day for dinner.  We named her Katniss and have a collection of little plates just for her.  Rabies is quite common in Texas so I am very careful to separate Katniss’s plates from Toffee’s (our indoors cat from Egypt).  I am also lazy and end up with a pile of dirty dishes after a few days.  Then I will put them in a bucket of soapy, bleachy water to soak and then will clean them.  A week ago, I forgot to finish my task and left the bucket outside overnight.  I sleep with industrial ear plugs because Teddy really snores like a bear.  He commented in the morning that he wondered what the raccoons had been doing in the night (how could he hear anything over the snoring?)  He said that it sounded like they were breaking something and were chittering noisily.  Later on, I remembered my bucket and went out to do the dishes but someone had beaten me to it.  I looked at the bucket quizzically because the saucers were all placed tidily alongside.  I burst out laughing when I realized that the raccoons had ‘washed’ the dishes for me.  They are very smart little critters who love playing with water.  They will dip toys in the water as well as their food.  Our neighbor found them swimming in her pool one night, chittering happily.  I wondered if I should get them a toy kitchen.

The Help

The back-handed insult

St Mary’s Catholic Church
Brenham

I will be volunteering on Easter Sunday, as usual, and my doctor refers to it as my church service.  I love that idea and the next time a rude customer asks me if I have nothing better to do on a Sunday, I will say I am at my church doing something more useful than singing hymns.   Last week a pleasant older lady asked me where I was born (Scottish accent).  I told her the long story short – Californian Irish Mexican hybrid.  She looked at me carefully and then said, “You are a beautiful woman” “You don’t look a bit Mexican”.   I really didn’t know how to respond to that ‘compliment quickly followed by insult’.

The real compliment

Bluebonnets by the side of the highway

On my recent trip to the Texas countryside, I was driving along the major route between Houston and Austin.  The speed limit is 75 miles per hour but in Texas we read that as 85 or more; it is some kind of state dyslexia…  I noticed a group of cars had stopped on the side of the road and then saw the reason – BLUEBONNETS!!  To my own astonishment, I slowed down and did exactly the same.  Every Texan gets excited about our wildflower season but bluebonnets are an indigenous little blue Lupine that sets our hearts aflame.  Here is a link to a previous funny post about Bluebonnets.  After acting like an idiot on the road, I noticed a field of them next to my hotel which was near a super Walmart and, even better, A THRIFT STORE!  Kerry was in heaven, both with bluebonnets and cheap clothes.  It was a treasure trove with rich ranchers’ cast offs.  One top still had the ticket on it – $50 for $5.  At the desk, the young girl tentatively asked me if I was over 55 (30% senior discount) and I brought out my driving license (yes, they really gave me one).  She said that I didn’t look 55.  As I related this story to my colleagues later they expressed surprise at my real age and willingness to admit it in this age obsessed society.  Again I burst out laughing – I just told them I shopped at thrift stores so why hide my age.  Dang it, I would do pretty much anything for a 30% discount…

After and Before

Living area – AFTER. Toffee is proudly sitting on the sofa

When we moved into our arts and crafts style home, 13 years ago, it was beautiful. Over the years we have had to take up the pretty dark wood and Berber carpet because three feral cats did their damage… We are on our third scratched suite and we have one little geriatric kitty left. Toffee is much less work than the other two (who are in pussycat heaven) and I finally decided that I could no longer stand our cat-proof look. The aluminum chairs were the last straw (also the third set of cat proof chairs). All the rugs were mismatched, as where the cushions but very hardy for throw-up…

Living area – BEFORE. Mismatched and messy.

Aluminum chairs!!!

Dining area AFTER, complete with Nana’s china cabinet and Granddad’s handmade mahogany lampstand.

I didn’t want to spend too much money so found large area rugs from Walmart’s Home and Gardens range. The tiles that replaced the wood/carpet combination are lovely but I really dislike tiles despite living in the subtropics (they are cold underfoot and I break everything I drop on them…). Then I wondered what to do about the aluminum chairs? I searched on Amazon for some inexpensive chair covers that had good ratings. I put some padding on the back and kept the seat cushion on. The covers were too large but I managed to fix that with some folding on the seat. They look really expensive despite their real cost – an Espresso colored satin material that doesn’t wrinkle.

Newly showcased kitchen with Egyptian brass lamp and Portuguese pottery

Once I started putting things together, I realized that I needed to buy some new pillows for the sofas and use the cats’ blankets strategically. They now cover the worst of the scratches on the leather. Then I looked at my kitchen and realized that I was not showcasing the beautiful granite worktop. I cleared the area and put out some Portuguese pottery that was sitting in a cupboard. The copper lamp was a gift in Egypt.

Study with matching rug – AFTER

Onto the study, where I replaced the ‘outside’ rug for a matching smaller size and covered the scratches on my office chair with one of my aunt’s doilies. We all love it, especially Toffee. Our little Egyptian street cat loves freshly washed blankets and pillows. Perhaps she loves it because it no longer smells of the alpha cats and is just for her, our little princess!

Hallway BEFORE with recycling bin!

The hallway AFTER, showcasing the handmade rug that Nana and I made in the 70s. Voila!

Katniss and Toffee’s Christmas Presents

Toffee opens her Xmas present

Toffee opens her Xmas present

Toffee is our last inside cat. We brought her from Egypt in 2004 with her two companions. They both died this year. At first she struggled to adapt but now she enjoys having all the attention she missed out on, as she was always the baby cat. Her fur was always coarse but we have added a probiotic to her food and it is glossy and thick. She has a desert coat with an undercoat and hobbit feet for hot sand.

This is a video of her opening her Christmas present yesterday with silly Mummy talking in the background. She is surprisingly vocal in her thanks! Here is the YouTube link –
Chatty Toffee opening her present

Katniss is our outside cat – as feral as a raccoon and born in the wild. After our second cat died she turned up looking for food although I have seen her for about 3 years. She knew my broken heart would let her in. Recently I gave her a catnip toy and she played forever. So yesterday she got a catnip toy dog inside tissue paper and this is the YouTube link to it –

Katniss with her first Xmas present