Archive for category Pets & Problems
WARNING: Photo Heavy and mainly of dogs, cats and plantlife – look away now if you are here for knitting/crochet/sewing/baking.
When Alys at ‘Gardening Nirvana‘ recently compiled a video of the lovely plants in her Californian garden, I commented that we didn’t grow cultivated sweet peas (she has lots and lots) but we do have wild ones up on the hillside and she said she’d be interested in seeing some of my garden so I took my camera with me on the morning dog walk and, even though the wild sweet peas aren’t in bloom yet and we are desperate for rain, here it is now in mid-April in S.W. France in the midi-Pyrenees. Our garden is very large and very steep and terraced. We only plant up the first couple of terraces – the rest we keep brushcut but only lightly so that it is a haven for insects and birds. ((Note, the use of the word ‘we’. It should really be ‘he’)
Sometimes one of the cats accompanies us …….
….and sometimes one of the dogs spots it
He should have paid attention to the notice! I put this here at the top of the garden to prevent people thinking it’s a public footpath although it doesn’t always work.
This Judas Tree has been quite spectacular in previous years but seems to be getting a bit old now and the purple flowers are a bit more sparse. You can see it from Montségur which is on the green mound just underneath the highest snowy peak opposite. The Château de Montségur is famous as the last Cathar stronghold, which fell after a 10 month siege in 1244. A field below the hilltop castle is reputed to be the site where over 200 Cathars were burned alive, having refused to renounce their faith. It’s quite a climb up to the ruins but the views are amazing and it gives me the opportunity, when my heartbeat has returned to normal and I can speak again, to say ‘you can see our house from here’.
Back on our walk – Flo usually leads the way.
I keep Stan on the lead on the way up, and Flo on the way down, otherwise they tend to run off together and make mischief – which usually involves fox poo and a wash down afterward.
Taz is our old boy who usually brings up the rear.
Somebody has made a little monument. I don’t know who as we don’t walk on the public footpath and it is rare to see anybody else up here. The hunters come through in the season but I can’t imagine them faffing about with something like this. I like to think it’s a secret admirer who has found an ‘L’ shaped rock and placed it as a little message to me. Actually, I hope not as that would be beyond creepy.
Although the wild sweet peas aren’t out yet, the wild orchids are.
Back down through the garden gate now and the ball game can begin.
Though somebody is only interested in the newly turned out compost bin contents.
I love this viburnum which, soon, will turn white and look like lots of little snowballs.
Phlox does very well here and this is growing over one of our many dry stone walls.
A beautiful tree peony being photobombed by Flo.
The chooks in their lilac bower. This is just one of many lilacs we have and the scent in the late evenings and early mornings is lovely.
A tiny yellow rose growing up another stone wall on our terrace. It blooms its little heart out for ages and, if we’re lucky, we get a second flush of flowers a bit later on.
Just in case you were worried about Leon.
He made it down the tree and back down the garden safely.
He’s not a year old yet and not a large framed cat and I couldn’t understand why he has such a saggy tum.
After a bit of research I discovered that some cats are genetically prone to something called a ‘primordial pouch’. This is meant to protect their internal organs from damage in a cat fight and also provides extra space to stuff with food in times of shortage. It also gives them more leeway to bend and stretch . That’s something new I’ve learnt and also saved money by not buying special diet food from the vet. So, if you have a cat that looks a bit saggy underneath, this may well be the reason. I wonder if the same principle can be applied to muffin tops.
I’m not fat – it’s my primordial pouch.
Last but not least – the first poppies are opening.
How’s your garden doing at the moment – is it too dry like ours or are you having too much rain? Are there plants you would really like to grow but aren’t suited to your soil or climate? I would love some foxgloves but they wouldn’t grow well here
I have known Darth since he was an egg
Back in 2006, 0ur four black hens went broody all at the same time and a neighbour gave us four fertile eggs for them to sit on. Only two hatched and the proud parents got off the nest to make sure their little peeping yellow puff balls were eating and keeping safe.
At this stage we had no idea if they were male or female and, by the time it was obvious that one of them was a male, we didn’t want to to do anything about it.
So, the hens got a cockerel and so did we – and so did the neighbours.
Here he is in his prime.
He had various hens passing through his harem and one of his original mothers is still alive. I suppose at one time his mothers became his lovers – fowl I know but that’s the way they roll in the chicken run.
He spent the next ten years or so making a lot of noise and probably upsetting quite a few people although they never said so – or not in so many words.
He survived several new dogs arriving who were not ‘chicken friendly’ at first and there was plenty of wishful thinking going on.
Regular readers will know he’s had a few problems lately including scabby legs, overgrown spurs (who remembers the hot potato treatment?) and wobbly spells but a ten year old cockerel is pretty unusual I think.
Saturday before last he slipped off this mortal perch and is hopefully now roosting on a higher one with the lovely smooth(ish) legs of his youth.
2006 – 2016
(Because even chickens deserve an obituary)
**Warning: Heavy with craft photos and dog related text but all for a good cause.
This is Taz my ‘who knows what mixture of breeds?’ dog – we have had him since he was a pup.
He’s getting on now and, at eleven years old, he’s going grey, losing his hair and getting a bit grumpy. Just like a lot of humans really. Much as I love him, he is a bit of a pain in his dotage. He spends his days foraging for food, grumbling at the cats, lying across the kitchen floor in front of the fridge/cooker/cupboard/wherever you need to get to and bumping into things as his sight is going. He spends his evenings sleeping, snoring and ‘scenting’ the air with the gaseous results of his aforementioned foraging and his nights wandering the corridor and aimlessly scraping at doors before sinking into a deep sleep.
I can only imagine then, what it must be like to care for 30 old dogs in your own home. I don’t think I could do it but, luckily, there are people that can. Mike and Leeanne came to France from the U.K. and have somehow found themselves dedicated to the care and comfort of elderly and disabled dogs by starting the Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs or, as we are in France, Twilight Maison de Retraite pour les chiens you can read all about them here .
This Saturday we are holding a fundraising event for Twilight and, although I don’t do craft fairs as a rule, I’m going along with some of my wares to see if we can’t help with the food, extensive vet bills and general running costs of caring for so many ‘retired’ dogs all in one place that Mike and Leanne face.
Of course, I will have my dog collars for sale….
Some dog bandanas……
some simple tote bags (who let the cats in?)……..
some more cats disguised as angels……
a couple of knitted dog coats…….
a few key fobs made with the leftover dog collar materials……
the results of my recent foray into needlecases……
some mini poufs that have been taking up space in my workroom for a little while…….
likewise some doorstops……
four or five padded message boards……
a set of coasters…..
a rather fetching linen handbag I made which has Eiffel Towers on the lining fabric – très chic …..
partridge in a pear tree an owl with a Christmas tree
I just hope there will be people looking to buy some stocking fillers and I don’t come home with all of it . I usually do my part by buying home made cakes (especially the ginger cake and Christmas pudding as they aren’t easy to come by here and Debbie makes some scrummy ones), the bottle tombola (the bottles are generally full of something alcoholic) , some second hand books and whatever else takes my fancy.
I can always go and fling myself around in Zumba next Saturday but I’ll leave the last words to Mike and Leeanne to explain how Twilight came about.
We started Twilight in the summer of 2009, in memory of losing our Kizzy, and needing to find a friend for our elderly but happy retriever, Teg.
It became evident, searching the pounds and refuges, that if you were an old
dog, life was not always so good, and your ending might be premature and/or without dignity.
So now we offer limited places for elderly dogs who are lost, abandoned or bereaved of their owners.
We are not a formal refuge, just mere volunteers with the time, space and love to share our calm home with the dogs ?en famille?. Twilight, La Maison de Retraite pour Les Chiens, the old doggies home.
For any of you who sent good wishes for Stan and his dodgy foot – I’m afraid it didn’t clear up with the anti-inflammatory tablets so, this morning., the vet removed it. The cyst, not the foot.
He’s not a happy chap.
It appears to have been an interdigital cyst or furuncle(!) which means she had to mess with the webbing between his toes and try to stitch it back up again without joining two toes together – at least I think that’s what she said. Now I know what it is I have been doing some research online and it appears that some consider surgery to be a last resort – rather than a second one – or even not something to be considered at all and some say that the cyst can come back again. So now I’m worried that I shouldn’t have just taken the vet’s word for it and, instead, bathed it with an athlete’s foot solution or Epsom Salts or even changed his diet as some people claim they have had success with. Sometimes the Internet is a double edged sword 😦
Still, what’s done is done and I will change the dressing after 3 days, keep giving him the antibiotics and the vet will look at it again after a week. The offending item has been sent off for analysis so let’s hope there is no bad news from that.
In the meantime, I have to contend with a demented, animated lampshade that is desperate to run about on 3 feet, play ball and forage for fallen figs as he did before the cone of shame was fitted. The cats are terrified of him in his new guise.
Please keep all those fingers and paws crossed for the time being and I’ll keep you updated.
For all of you that were concerned about the nasty thing on Stan’s paw I’m pleased to say that it appears to have shrunk to nothing after his course of anti-inflammatory tablets. I will keep an eye on it but, for the moment, he is back to normal which means he is constantly worrying the life out of me to throw a ball for him
To celebrate I spent some rare moments making sweet things. I could probably hold the Bake Off in my kitchen with the amount of equipment we have despite the fact we are not really big dessert/pudding/cake eaters – although Mr. Tialys can put a whole McVities Digestive biscuit in his mouth at once – and does – sometimes until the biscuit tin is empty. Anyway I made these Coconut, Cherry, Chocolate Fingers and very nice they
are were too.
In the photograph accompanying the recipe I made these from (which you can find below if interested), the coconut part was very white but our ‘home grown’ eggs make everything we use them in turn very, very yellow so that’s why mine don’t look the same. That, and the fact that I haven’t cut mine into delicate fingers but rather little slabs.
When you see some interesting looking fabric that says 110cm wide x 2.8m long for 4 euros you just have to go for it even if there’s a sign saying you’re not allowed to unroll it. One of our rare charity shops has lots of such rolls and I suppose, if you ask one of the volunteers to have a better look, they would let you but I like surprises.
It had a sort of Liberty look about it. Anyway this is the fabric unrolled.
The panels run down the length of the fabric.
So this is it turned on its side.
It’s pretty but what could I make with it? I don’t know what the fabric is but it has a very nice drape to it. The only thing I can think of is a summery maxi dress for next year (or a midi dress as I’m short but not that short) or a maxi skirt also for next summer. Anybody have any other ideas? Have you had any experience with this sort of panelled fabric? They must have a purpose in mind when they manufacture it mustn’t they?
Out of interest, I did a burn test on the fabric to see if I could tell what it was. I do like an experiment especially if it involves flame but, typically, my results were inconclusive as it seemed not to fit any of the categories given in the burn test list you can find here. This burnt brightly with a yellow flame and didn’t melt or smell icky but it didn’t leave a soft grey ash. It left a black residue but it crushed easily so wasn’t a ‘bead’. I think it must be a blend but there is definitely something natural in there.
Stan is very grateful for you all keeping your fingers and paws crossed for him and would like to invite you for a game of ball any time you have a few hours to spare.
Be warned, I got tendonitis!!
Coconut, Cherry & Chocolate Fingers
200g dessicated coconut
85g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate chips
85g glacé cherries, halved
2 eggs, beaten
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Combine the coconut, sugar, choc chips and cherries in a bowl until evenly distributed then mix in the
eggs to make a gooey paste. Spoon the mixture into a 30cm x 20cm brownie tin that you’ve lined with baking
parchment and spread evenly with a wooden spoon, packing it down firmly. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C/Gas 4
until golden brown and set. Melt the chocolate pieces carefully
(in a bowl over hot water or watched like a hawk in 20 second bursts in the microwasve is best)
and pour over the top of baked mixture spreading evenly
over the top. Leave to cool in tin, cut into fingers with a sharp knife and refrigerate until well set.
This dress caught my eye the other day in a French magazine
I like the unusual draping effect at the neckline and, as it’s in a knit fabric, I am once again able to avoid my nemesis, the zip.
I might make it for my youngest or, add a few inches to the hem, and make it for me. I have just the right fabric.
This is quite fine knit fabric and very drapey and Mlle Tialys likes purple so I thought it would be the perfect project.
Until I saw the pattern.
Really?! It’s bad enough tracing off an individual pattern but can there be any excuse for this? Plus, the instructions are in French of course which is not beyond my capabilities but yet another unnecessary obstacle to be overcome.
Ironically, I think the pattern is by Simplicity. Anyone know the pattern number so I can buy the blooming thing and not go cross eyed in the process of making it?
In other, totally unrelated, news – my dog, Stan, has something nasty on his paw. I thought it was just a grass seed causing a boil or some other simple thing but the vet says it’s a mass/nodule/tumour – yes, she variously used all three of those words none of which was less scary than the others. She gave me some anti-inflammatory tablets and a spray to administer once a day during which time I have to put a sock over his paw and sit with him so that he doesn’t try to lick it for at least half an hour.
If it hasn’t gone by Monday he might have to have surgery which worries me as he has had a few fits and I’m not sure whether a general anaesthetic might exacerbate them.
He’s mostly hopping about on 3 legs at the moment but he’s missing his long walks and, most of all, running after his tennis balls. Fingers and paws crossed for a non-surgical outcome.
As I sit here typing this short post and listening to my dogs expelling the noxious gases that have resulted from them eating all the fallen plums in the garden, I find myself reflecting on how the townie I once was could have ended up in rural France with too many dogs, cats and chickens.
You may remember the cockerel, Darth. I included a bit about him in a previous post when I was researching humane ways to put him out of his misery as he kept falling over and having problems getting up again. Having rejected the suggested methods, one of which was putting him in a bucket attached to the exhaust pipe of the car, I decided to let nature take its course and see what happened. Fifteen months later he is still strutting around and making a racket – maybe somebody tipped him off to what I was thinking.
Mlle. Tialys the Younger phoned me when I was at my friend’s house the other day because, on one of her rare trips into the light of day, she noticed Darth was falling over again. When I got home I had a look at him and realised his spurs had grown so long he had to perform a ridiculous high step to get one leg past the other without impaling himself on them. I Googled. I put on my waterproof walking trousers in case of blood or chicken poo, armed myself with a thick towel, virginal garden gloves (Mr. Tialys buys me them in the hope that I might actually do some gardening), the dogs’ nail clippers, some kitchen roll, some disinfectant and one of these –
Well, my one wasn’t cut open and didn’t have butter on it but a baked potato it was.
As directed on YouTube, I stuck the overgrown spurs of my astounded cockerel into hot potatoes (I took two up with me – one for each leg), patiently waited a few minutes and then had a bit of a twist with the nail clippers. I should have had pliers but couldn’t find them in Mr. T’s fiendishly disorganised shed. I didn’t think anything was going to happen but then, suddenly, I felt it give and I got myself a little trophy.
(cotton reel for scale)
This procedure exposed a couple of little bloody stumps which I squirted with animal disinfectant and, almost immediately, he appeared much more comfortable.
If you had known me back in the day, you would never, ever have believed this was the sort of thing I would end up doing.
Ain’t life funny?
A short post (for me) as I’m off on my holiday soon and I didn’t want you to think I’d given up blogging as I gave up Facebook this week (not difficult) but that’s another story for another time.
Hasta la vista (guess where I’m going).
As you will know, if you come here often, I have just finished putting together my quilt from the F2F Block Swap and I have inexpertly written out a label in permanent ink on fabric and attached it to one of the back corners to prove it.
So, that’s done then.
I was the first out of the hat to receive blocks for the next round so I decided that, before getting going on the next nine months of making three blocks for each participant, I’d better get my house in order. Well, the part of my house that is my sewing room anyway – the rest of it lies sadly neglected as usual although I do have to do a bit of ‘damp dusting’ this afternoon as my Mum’s coming to stay. Her eyesight isn’t what it used to be though so she won’t be able to see the rugs closely enough to know that one of my dogs is severely in moult at the moment.
Despite the fact that I’ve made any number of fabric storage boxes and bought shedloads of Ikea’s ‘fold this bit of floral card up into a box shape’ triple packs, I have come to the realisation that nothing really does the job like a bit of see-through plastic and a label. So, I bought some, promptly filled them, then had to go and buy some more.
These are most of them, but not all – there are two large ones labelled ‘Liberty Tana Lawns’ off camera A fabric that I rarely use for anything but one that I can’t resist when I see it, still less when I feel it and at least I can get it out every now and again, Golem -like, and indulge in some stroking. Still it all looks more ‘accessible’ now and is mostly divided into colours so when I’m reaching for the specific tones that people have asked for in their F2F blocks, I will know exactly where to find them.
In a slight digression – wouldn’t be my blog without at least one would it? I share my workroom with lots of vintage haberdashery items. I’m not always sure why but, when I see them, I can’t resist adding them to my collection (are you noticing a trend?). Anyway, you may or may not remember the fabric I bought that screamed ‘Hexagonal Sewing Box’ at me – well, I listened and it has come to pass.
See! I knew I’d need an old printers’ drawer some time. I actually have another one mounted on the wall downstairs with which I amuse myself by trying to find teeny tiny things to display in those teeny tiny compartments.
Anyway, back to the patchwork blocks. I have been practicing my paper piecing and behold my second attempt.
In case it turned out O.K. I made it in the colours I’ve chosen for my next quilt and I’m pretty happy with it. There’s something about designs like this one – where it looks as if the square is threaded through the star – that make me absurdly happy in a childlike kind of way. I can’t draw or paint but I love the fact I can achieve this effect in fabric. I know, I’m easily pleased but there are no grilled, salted almonds or alcohol involved so I count patchwork porn as one of my lesser vices.
In a sudden change of mood I have had some sadness lately. My lovely cat Beau, plucked from the refuge as a kitten with his sister Betty and bought home to live with us for the past nine years, has been missing for four weeks.
He is identified with a tattoo in his ear (which they do a lot in France) and is sterilised. His photograph and details are on Pet Alert on Facebook, the Chat Perdu webiste and all the bins, bottle banks and poster sites in the village. There is no sign of him.
He has always reminded me of the fish ‘Dory’ in Finding Nemo who had a short term memory of about 30 seconds. He would start eating, get distracted by something and wander off, only to forget he’d been fed in the first place and come back to ask for food. I’m hoping he’s just sort of forgotten where he lives and, any time now, he’ll remember and come back.
If you see him, let me know 😦
Yuki here – I’m guest blogging today. Do you remember when I was very little and my fur was all scraggy and I had a broken tail and couldn’t eat? I had just spent some days stuck behind a wall and I cried so much that I strained myself and can’t meow now only a little growl comes out. The Missus says they should have called me Eartha Kitt but I think that might be a little joke – well it makes her laugh. If you missed the beginning of my story you can read it here
I had three brothers and even though they were much stronger than me the Missus decided to take all of us in instead of leaving us to live ‘in the wild’ which sounds quite exciting but I don’t think it would be really. We were around 3-4 weeks old then.
These are my brothers.
We lived in the spare bedroom and after a lot of this…..
……..and even more of this
……..two of my brothers got adopted and Mac and I now live here all the time which is lovely even though the Missus took us somewhere the other day where we met a man who made us go all woozy, then go to sleep and when we woke up it seemed he had been practising doing sewing on us. Apparently it’s so that there is less chance of more kittens like us being born around here.
The Mister calls us the ‘Golden Kittens’ because, even though there are four other cats in the house, we are the only ones allowed to stay in at night with a litter tray and we have special ‘kitten food’ and, if we stray too far, there is panic.
So, 5 months later, this is us and we have definitely reached the top of the cat tree.
Although I have always had it in me……….
…………now I’m older I wanted to learn how to smize* properly so I have been copying Tyra Banks.
What do you think? Have I cracked it?
* to smize – smiling with your eyes as advocated by Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model. If you want
a laugh to learn how to do it like Tyra just click on her photo above.
Do you sometimes get those evenings when things don’t quite pan out as you expected?
When you are sitting watching something on Netflix, kittens and knitting on lap (not a good combination but what can you do?), waiting for your husband to arrive home from the airport after working away and anticipating nothing more than a quick catch up on the week’s news and gossip and a rummage through his cabin bag to see how many tea bags and free range pork sausages he’s managed to bring home this time and definitely not anticipating any sort of drama.
got added to
and all of a sudden you have
SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE!
Partly my fault, of course, as earlier in the evening Taz the elder Tialys dog was pushing and scraping at the door to be let out just as I had settled down for the aforementioned session of T.V., kitten petting and knitting. So, being quite old and not quite as in control of his bladder as he once was and, safe in the knowledge we have worked very hard over the years to make our very large garden dog proof, I put him outside and then promptly forgot about him. After about an hour and a half Mr. T. arrived home from the airport fully suited up from his week in the office and was confused when he was greeted by two dogs instead of three. Only then did I remember that Taz was still outside in the freezing cold. Being 11 o’clock at night by this time we had to shine a torch around the garden and, eventually, picked up two glinting green eyes but, unfortunately, these points of light happened to be on our neighbour’s roof. There was the dog, trying to keep his
foothold pawhold on an icy metal roof – we could hear his claws scrabbling to keep a grip.
He must have got bored (and cold) and managed to get up on the conservatory roof by jumping up on the wall alongside of it, across the roof of our house and onto our neighbour’s newly renovated (hideous) red metal roof which, of course, being smooth and icy, once trodden on and descended (probably by sliding down) couldn’t be climbed back up again. (see below for sophisticated plan of dog’s progress)
Mr. T quickly went inside to change into more suitable clothing, I ran next door to the neighbour and Mlle. Tialys was dragged from her computer game to ring the Pompiers (firemen).
In the end, Mr. T and the neighbour – with whom we were not actually on speaking terms by the way (but that’s another story) got up on the roof next to the slippy metal one and managed to throw a tarpaulin across it and encouraged the dog up to the ridge where I then guided him with the torch back over to the conservatory roof where he could jump down to earth again.
Then the Pompiers turned up!
They were left only with the job of shining very bright torches on the roof to guide Mr. T and the neighbour down safely and to have a good laugh. I suppose it made a change to get a call asking for help to get a dog down from a roof rather than that old chestnut – a cat stuck up a tree. They will probably be round very promptly this year for their Christmas box!!
This is the silly old twonk who caused all the drama and, as I explained to the Pompiers, he has enough trouble getting up on to the sofa these days so what possessed him to go roof climbing I can’t imagine.
Still, the evening ended well, nobody was hurt, the ice was broken with the neighbour so we are ‘sort of’ talking again and there were three packs of Waitrose’s finest pork sausages in the cabin bag.