The smiling assassins …

There is no doubt that cats are at their best asleep … Not that I don’t love them when they’re awake but there is nothing more relaxing and therapeutic than a cat curling up to sleep on your knee. Well, unless you’re me, that is. Oh it’s great for a short time, then the fidgety legs kick in and I cannot stay still and so they de-camp and switch loyalties to enjoy the vast tundra that is Mike’s lap. Not that he is unoccupied for long, as our mob of moggies have all discovered the joy of perfect stillness. Not that Mike is a couch potato, far from it. At every possible moment he is out in the garden or his shed. When he does come in and is relaxed, he can stay still for a long time with anything up to 4 cats on or next to him. It’s a gift.

The one-way cat flapThe other reason I like them best when they’re asleep is that it’s the only time that all the little beasties are safe. I can’t be doing with dead little beasties offered up as tokens of respect and appreciation. Even less do I like LIVE little beasties flapping or scuttling around my house. My daughter maintains that we once moved house because the cat let a mouse go in the house. She ‘s not totally wrong. My motivation to find a new house was certainly revved up by the thought that this mouse could drop into my soup at any moment., although I had already been on the look-out (honestly).

We had been noticing our cat spending a lot if time looking up at a curtain rail. In the end, assuming it was a fly or spider that was mesmerising the cat, I decided to shake the curtain and a mouse bounced off my head, onto the floor. In sheer panic I locked myself into the downstairs loo and shouted My daughter, who was probably only about 6 at the time, to get her boots on and find the mouse!!! You have to understand that she was, even then, a shark loving, dinosaur expert who was not afraid of any living creature (except moths, and if forced to I could deal with those). Unfortunately nothing could be done to find this mouse and even a friend who worked for Rentakil and came armed with all his technical equipment (a shovel and a brush) had no more success.

Well ill we did move house and, to my undying shame and my daughter’s undying contempt, I re homed the cat. I know, I know. Despicable. But she did go to a good home, and I’ve learned my lesson, and all our animals have a good home for the rest of our lives and would be provided for beyond that if necessary. I’ve got no better at dealing with the wee timorous beasties but since Alex left home, Mike has taken over as mouse-tamer and,  if he’s not around,  I have to go out for the day and pretend it was all part of the plan.

We now have a proper cat flap but for a long time we’ve used a customs control sort of system. Show me you’re not “carrying” and I’ll let you in …but there was a cat flap that Mike designed some years ago. A one-way cat flap which it took one of our cats only seconds to work out. She could spring out one claw which would lever the flap up and then she’d put her head under it and climb in. The other slight problem was that the cat flap was cut out of the door itself and hung with it’s slightly uneven edges back in front of the opening with a rusty pair of hinges. More shabby cheek than shabby chic. It had to go and Mike was so fed up with me nagging him about the wind whistling through the gaps that he closed it permanently in the early hours with a six inch nail, but that’s his way, bless him.

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A renewed vigour

I had lost my get up and go … yes it was that sort of post-Christmas dull lethargy, fuelled by too much chocolate, too much telly and not enough sunlight or fine weather to encourage me away from our log-burning stove.  What a great purchase that was.  It really is the most comfortable place to be in the world in our front room on an evening with the fire roaring and the wind blowing a hoolie outside.  The first occupants of our cottage many, many years ago had a similar stove which they would have burned mainly peat on, but would have afforded them their cooking and water-heating as well as their warmth and comfort on a dark winter night.  We know this because we’ve seen a photograph of them sitting in front of it.  The house has changed some since those days and is now a combination of two small cottages joined together with small extra extensions at the front to allow for a utility room and a modern bathroom (both small but perfectly formed).  We also have a small conservatory, lovingly called the “Sitooterie” becase one sits oot in it, which was built by our immediate predecessor in the house.  Instead of a two room but and ben cottage in which all the family life took place, we now have a very comfortable little cottage with most mod cons (no ensuite, but the bathroom is so close to the two little bedrooms that iit’s almost ensuite).  We live by the sea – our long-held fantasy – and we are detached as opposed to being semi-detached for most of our lives, and in some cases even terraced or town-housed! – so what more could we ask for.  Good neighbours you say, and good neighbours we have. Our sitooterie doubles as my studio and gallery and I share it, when painting, with a small army of curious, inquisitive and sometimes downright vandalous cats (more of them in another post).  So finally, I’ve dragged myself away from the wood-burner to the Sitooterie and have managed to finish a piece of work, one of a series with 3 more to go, all for the lovely young women who work in the hair salon I go to.  Each is to have their own portrait by their workstation and I’m working on portraits with a difference, each one inspired by the woman herself, and also by my love for certain styles of painting, including Pre-Raphaelites and Gustav Klimt.  More of this series later.  For now all you need to know is the Sitooterie is back in use, the new movable kitchen trolley houses my paint palette in such a way that I don’t think my cats can walk through it any more and the views of the sea are making my chances of starting on my resolution of walking more often a little more realistic.  Also, I went to a really inspirational talk by an author Joanna Penn talking about ways of achieving scaleable income by writing and this included lots of really good advice about self-publishing, tying up all the loose ends I’ve been dabbling with recently including having an Amazon Affiliate shop and regularly blogging. So here I am re-starting  my blog which sprang to life some time ago and then died an ignominious death. This time I’ll be faithful.  Also writing 1000 words a day was mentioned – or at least spending an hour a day trying to write 1000 words.  Seems a lot and then I notice this blog has rambled on vaguely without me even trying and has almost achieved an amazing (and probably over-lengthy for a blog) count of nearly 600 words.  Who’d have thought.  So tomorrow is another day and tomorrow I’ll achieve 1000 on one of my stories which may never be published but will get me heading in the right direction of writing, chopping, editing and polishing.  Wow, up to 634 now (note to self, stop looking at the word count …. 646).