Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for May, 2013

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People keep pets for many different reasons: for company, to breed, as working pets or in my case to help out.   The kittens that I have now acquired are the biggest time wasters that I find in my daily routine.  A routine, already full to bursting and does not require the dippy distractions that these miniature maniacs display.    The kittens now 7 weeks old are most certainly developing their own personalities.

Zeus is the sandy brown one who despite being smaller than the rest is nosier, noisier and naughtier than all the others put together.   He is the instigator of many of the DSC_0125sibling battles that take place.  It was him that ventured to test out the food his mother was eating and encouraged his brothers to do the same.   He learnt to climb the stairs struggling to reach the top and luckily for him his claws could catch the carpet and he could pull himself up. Then he learnt to fall down the stairs using his claws to break the fall.  He does not like his tail as it bobs up and down independently and chases him round the house, he then bravely stops to face the offending tail and then chases it turning round and round until he is so dizzy he falls spectacularly over or off wherever he has stopped.

DSC_0113Sparta is grey in colour with unusual striping down his back.   He is more aloof than his siblings and learns quicker than the others what hurts when you run into it.   He will run and play and wobble more than the rest and his head still bobs Churchill like (the insurance dog not the politician).  No 1 Son wants to mount him on the back shelf of the car to bobble at people.    He like the rest of them has found his speed although the balance is not quite perfected and he falls over as he runs.

Obama and Nelson are both black kittens with Nelson having a tiny smudge of grey (white) hair under his chin.  Mini Son instantly knows them apart,DSC_0142I have to catch them which is proving more and more impossible, before I can upturn and check the underneath.    They play well together and can often be seen and heard thundering around chasing each other, stopping suddenly at the top of the stairs.  The chaser launches, unaware of the dangerous precipice and they both tumble loudly down in a tangle of jaws, paws and claws. These two egged on by each other are leading the quest to claw their way up my curtains without falling off.

Mum however is giving me the most headaches.   Busy writing in the early hours on my own I glanced out across the garden.   We seem to have had a string of strange cats at our door recently, waiting.  I have shooed them away and many I do not even recognise as being from round here.  As I tried to glean inspiration from the freshly mowed lawn and the late blossom on the tree I noticed a young black cat sneaking through the garden.  Another stranger!  This one turned and saw me, a spark of recognition in her eyes.  I knew Princess to be locked in her room with all her babies but did she have a twin I knew nothing about.

I moved quicker than her as I had less area to cover. I opened the downstairs cloakroom door just in time to see her climbing back in through the window like a naughty teenager.  The window which had always been left slightly ajar for the fresh air had been pushed open; the array of newly acquired cat essentials on the ledge now lay discarded or fallen. Having explained to her in no uncertain terms the dangers out there for a young teenage mother cat, who must not to do that again.  She looked insolently into my eyes and with typical teenage disdain walked away.

Woken in the early hours of the morning by a horrendous haunting hurt crying from just outside the house, I rushed to see which animal was now injured.   I was beaten to the door and nearly knocked down the stairs by the charging Princess crying to the creature beyond in a newly acquired guttural groan.  My concern changed to her as she cried and writhed in skin tingling irritation.  Rolling her uncomfortable body in un-relievable discomfort she moaned and meowed for many hours.

As soon as the shops were open on a bank-holiday Sunday I went to the local rural supplier to acquire flea tablets.   Although no evidence of the evil parasites she was rolling against anything to relieve the agony.  She wanted to lie on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor to help.  She liked being stroked but did not want the babies near her.   Fast acting, safe for babies and feeding mothers I bought the tablets administering one immediately to ease her pain.   For an hour she fussed and fidgeted, only content to be groomed roughly and not leave my side.  I rang the vet as a precaution and she advised that I seem to have done the right thing and she would call in a couple of hours.  Finally the cat calmed down and stopped her crying, she curled up in front of the window and lay soaking the sun’s rays.  The vet called back and reassuringly I told her the cat was sleeping and all pain seemed to have eased.  I launched into the thankless task of where to de-flea the house first.

Minutes before I served our evening meal Princess as if on a timer woke up crying.  She rubbed herself against my leg causing potatoes to plummet over the kitchen floor.  She yowled as if she were walking on shards of piercing glass.  She slunk low to the ground unable even to lift her back legs as she forced her rear and tail into the air.   The babies came running to see their howling mother in such agony and tried to suckle the pain away.  Princess turned away aggressively and pushed them all away.  Her stomach full of milk maybe she had mastitis or the way her rear end was convulsing could it be urinary?    Laying her gently on a cold pack wrapped in a blanket the meal became fast food rather than leisurely repast. The glass of wine untouched adorned the table invitingly, as we realised a visit to the vet may be called for.

We called in neighbours and friends to try and work out what was ailing this poor creature.  Her crying now a moan, her whole back in painful spasms and then she tried to walk.  Her back legs were dragged with tail in air desperate to raise the underside of her body.  Yowling loud enough to wake the neighbourhood dead I rang the vet again and she agreed to see me straight away.  Princess struggled with the pain as we put her in the carry basket, all the way over she moaned and tried to escape the painful captivity I had enforced on her.

I prepared myself for the worse.  How was I going to tell my boys?  The owner who I am still in contact with?  The cat’s protection league who had entrusted me to continue looking after her?   What was I going to do with 4 orphaned kittens for the next fortnight till they can go to homes of their own.   Driving swiftly but carefully over the bumps which seemed to give her a cataclysmic jolt of pain as I bumped over them, I reached the vets who were ready and waiting.

A miracle!

As I opened the travel cage and pulled the half dead cat from there; she leapt out of my arms to the floor and began pacing the room. No sign of pain, legs fully compliant with her body movements, spasms all spent, she appeared as fit as ever a cat could be, sleek, shiny and speedy.  She began crying as a wave of new exciting smells hit her.

“She’s calling”

The vet informed me.   The next ten minutes taught me more about animal behaviour, in particular cats, in particular Siamese cats than weeks and years reading in a book or on the internet.  She was calling for a mate.   She was desperate to escape and get herself pregnant again. The tail in the air, the craving attention, and the guttural growl are all part of her flirting repertoire.  I learnt that Siamese cats are one of the most vocal and dramatic breed and she definitely has Siamese in her.

Relieved beyond the realms of believability, but angry as any parent of teenage girls I returned to the tense household to explain to my boys that rather than breathing her last she was displaying all the feminine wiles in order to catch herself another boy.   Boys beware, she is cat wailing!

“No chase there then” was Sexy Sporty Dad’s words of wisdom to his male offspring.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

Caramelised Onion Marmalade

Not the kind you add to your breakfast toast but fabulous with sausages and any cold meats.  It will keep for a while in the fridge so bring it out at BBQ time.

This is dead easy to make and I have given the measurements I was first given which will make about 6 jam jars.  I usually don’t measure and use a few onions the rest is a bit here and there but we don’t tend to make it in big batches.


Ingredients 

butter 100g  or olive oil will work
onions lots about 2kg all sliced 
dark brown sugar 300g 
red wine vinegar 300ml
red wine 250ml
balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons
whole grain mustard 2 teaspoons 
pinch of chilli flakes (for optional kick)


I only use a little butter and melt it over a medium heat 




Lower the heat then add the sliced onions.




Allow them to soften then add about half the sugar.  Stir regularly and let the onions caramelise but not burn




Add all the other ingredients and bring it to a fast boil.



Allow the pot to simmer for up to an hour till most of the liquid has evaporated and the consistency is similar to that of marmalade.  The smell pervades the whole house and unlike pickle cooking it is enticing and reminiscent of hot dogs.

I tend to serve it still hot with sausages but it can be put into jars once cool and kept in the fridge.  I always think I have done enough but it still goes.

Enjoy

Tiggy 

See what every day life throws at me in my other blog.   Tiggy Hayes

Pets need Bed and Breakfast Too

 

Head down concentrating hard with the heavy patter of torrential rain beating rhythmically down on the conservatory roof; I became aware of people in my garden.   I looked up to find Mini Son with one of his teachers.  She was carrying a large box and he, a crutch. A pang of panic punched my stomach; had he been in an accident, why did he need a crutch, haven’t I been here before?  They reassured me he was fine, as out of the box they pulled a white fluffy rabbit.

I have two rabbits; technically they are my children’s but guess who looks after them.   Following another long cold winter we have let them out of their hutches into the garden which gives them freedom and exercise.  They have now discovered the weather worn holes in the back fence not to mention the broken panel in the back gate that no longer closes.   I also suspect they have dug a tunnel under their hutches to the field behind.  A large expanse of open field which is public ground, unfortunately planted with so many tiny trees that no-body is able to use it.   My children being the exception, they play the modern equivalent of cowboys and Indians shooting and hiding and battlefields.  They have a base up in the trunk of the ancient tree that commands the far left corner of the field and watches over the estate.   They play a mix of ball games or rugby tackle mauling with a range of local kids on the small area kept tree free for future development.

This has given the rabbits a hitherto unknown freedom which they are currently taking full advantage of.  Smudge has developed a teenage attitude and has a regular nightly meeting around midnight with two local cats.    They sit on a nearby roundabout and play together.  Somehow I do not think it is the cats in command.    Smudge has also developed a strong attachment to getting into the cage of a nearby female rabbit.

I often get people returning Smudge or telling me my rabbits are out.  I have stopped running after them.   They come back when they want food, when it is wet for shelter or sunny to lounge on the decking and have a wonderful life just lolloping around the fields.  A few dogs have chased them and they lead them straight home and under the DSC_0015 DSC_0068decking where they have I suspect a myriad of tiny tunnels.

Mini Son’s boxed rabbit was a young fluffy white one not unlike our own Magic, it had been running round the car park at school, cars narrowly missing her and she was now cold, shivery and very frightened.  I was sure it was the errant female Smudge had previously been enamoured by. Mini Son had come home for some bedding and rabbit food and if I knew the owner could I contact her.  Impulsively I told them to put the rabbit in Magic’s cage. At least she would be dry and could be picked up once I had contacted the owner.

I rang my friend.  It wasn’t hers, their female was still locked away safe from stud in waiting Smudge and tucked up warmly and dryly in her pen.    I spent the rest of the working day contacting people to no avail; it seemed that no-one had lost their pet.  I left messages with the vets, haven’t I done this before Reg ( https://tiggyhayes.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/reg/)!.

As I prepared our evening meal, contemplating with each chop of the carrots how I should break the news to Sexy Sporty Dad that he might need to feed an extra mouth tonight, there was a knock on the door.  A man dripping wet in overalls and wellies stood on the step.  He looked as if he had spent hours chasing round looking for a lost pet.   Delighted he had found me before Sexy Sporty Dad arrived home I was about to take him round to the hutch when he asked if I had lost a rabbit.

Was I not supposed to say that to him?

I stood, now dripping with the  rain beating down my back looking at all three rabbits as he produced yet another rabbit.  This young blackish brown one was cold, shivery and very frightened.  He had been caught under the cars in his road near the school.    He had been running about all day apparently with a white one earlier and caused many a car to break suddenly.   It had taken the man ages to catch him.

Coincidences! There are some coincidences that I just don’t believe in.

These were a pair that had escaped together, it made sense to keep them together.  That is how I came to have two extra bunnies when Sexy Sporty Dad arrived home from work.  All my contrived explanations and assurances that I had already prepared were unnecessary as he knew the whole story before the door had even closed.   Mini Son desperate to show him the new pets, Middle son was busy thinking of names for them and No 1 Son nonchalantly asking to borrow the car while our attentions were turned.

Jungle drums finally worked and a series of texts, mobile calls and facebook messages led a local mother to ring me to ask if I had one of her missing pets. Over the moon that I had both, she arrived as the rain began to cease its relentless pommeling with a large overnight bag to retrieve her mischievous monsters.

Reunited with two rabbits a much relieved parent left, our own pets resumed their quest for freedom and I served dinner.

The crutch? It had been used to catch the rabbit!

Writing

I have a very exciting development in the Memories saga.   A friendly barrister has agreed to read the book for authenticity.  I have naturally sent it off to her before I or she can change our minds.  I hope she doesn’t throw it back as rubbish.

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

Driving Passed!

I should have been out meeting clients, persuading them to take out advertising and how it is the best thing for them.  I should have been updating the web site and adding items to the online calendar but instead of which I have been sitting looking at the computer flitting through different windows in a very manly way.  Not able to concentrate on any one program.  I have read a few e-mails and then re-read them as I did not take in what they were saying first time.

My stomach has been turning somersaults as I wait for the phone to ring, but it has taken such an eternity to ring.    I have made so many cups of tea and then not drunk them as I watch the phone, checking it can still receive calls, checking I have turned it up as loud as possible just in case I put it down somewhere I cannot quite reach when it does call.  The longer the phone call doesn’t come the worse I feel.  Negativity begins to attack the edges of my reason, maybe it will be bad news, maybe it didn’t go the way I wanted. What if….

The phone did try and ring but I answered before any noise came out.  Breathless with excitement, daring not to sound over enthusiastic especially if the news was not good.  Eventually No 1 Son managed one word.

“Passed”

I remember the excitement Sexy Sporty Dad and I had as we watched the then 9 month old No 1 Son take his first unbelievable steps and the freedom suddenly that entered his world.  That was nearly 17 years ago.  Now I have to ring Sexy Sporty Dad and tell him I have just had a call from the happiest boy on this planet.

No 1 Son has passed his driving test.

He will go on and take his AS levels in just a few weeks from now and then hopefully on to A2.  No exam he will take will give him the freedom that he will now have open to him.  He will be able to get himself to work, another pass he has just heard about.   He will be working at a restaurant occasionally when they have functions through the summer which will bring him some long overdue cash;  I wonder if I will see back any of the money I spent on  those driving lessons.  He will be able to drive himself to rugby training and home without one of us turning out on a cold winter’s night.   He may even be able to drop a girl-friend home if one ever appears on the horizon.  I am not sure my car will have the pulling power to get the girl but at least he will be able to drive her on their date.

I can see battles ahead over the use of my car, the cost of petrol and the mess inside but tonight we will celebrate and savour every moment with him.

I guess I need to calm down, finish my cup of cool tea and get back to work.  My stomach is still a flutter but with butterflies for the future not knots about the present.   I feel lightheaded with emotion and the realisation that the tiny remembered creature learning to walk is, in just a blink of an eye, now nearly a grown man driving on the streets of this country.    Where did that time go?

Keys to freedom

Keys to freedom

A special thanks to his lovely driving instructor Andy (Andy’s School of Motoring  01747 824460) who has sat beside him, guided him, advised him and got him this far.  Now he is on his own and will learn, like we all have through experience.

As if waiting on his news was not bad enough.  He has now arrived home and my car has been taken out for a spin.   Am I going to feel this nervous every time he goes out?

Tiggy

Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

 

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