27 March 2016

There’s an answer to everything....

It has always been said that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I’m a firm believer in that. My whole life seems to have been spent solving problems. I don’t mean major ones, just ones that make everyday life a little uncomfortable. The expression ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ always led me to think up ways and means of making things better or at least easier. I remember many years ago, fixing up a system that lit the way to an outside toilet, one that was not attached to the house. My son was quite small then and scared of the dark so going to an outside loo terrified the pants off him. To overcome that problem and others led to thinking-caps being donned and solutions found.

I can’t remember the exact detail of my effort to light the way but somehow I concocted an unsophisticated system using both electric lamps and torches, all joined together and operational from one switch in the kitchen. There were no trailing wires; instead I managed to run them along the wall, then across to a facing wall like a washing line but high enough so that Jon couldn’t tamper with anything. And it worked. I remember a friend remarking on my ingenuity and quoting ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. I haven’t changed, my brain is geared to thinking up ways of making life easier, working out systems, etc. However, if you asked for my opinion on world affairs I would run into a corner and plead ignorance.

These days everything is to hand, all amenities are indoors and thank goodness... I would hate to start doing makeshift jobs again. Not at my age! However, since Charlie the cat came to stay I have found myself thinking up ways to deal with certain situations.

My bungalow is brilliant but, as I am finding out, not good for cats. I mean, a cat likes to go out, especially at night. In the early days of Charlie’s occupancy I was the one who had to get out of bed to let him out. I soon realised that couldn’t go on. So (sorry Matt!), it was time to come up with solutions.

There are two doors leading from kitchen to garden, although the space between is under cover. That’s where my washing gets done. 
Laundry room, for want of a better name!
Pic.1. Door to garden
Pic.2. Kitchen door
The garden door (pic.1) is where a cat flap has been fitted, but the door to the kitchen (pic.2) is made up of glass panels. Not only is there a step outside the kitchen door (I think Charlie could cope with that) but experts say it would be impossible to fit a cat flap in a glass panelled door. It was a specialist’s opinion but I wonder if an ordinary DIY guy would have the same opinion. A new door would be the answer but the cost is prohibitive. Since the cat has to negotiate two doors, the kitchen door proved to be a problem. Leaving it ajar was the only way of getting a night’s sleep. Why cats have to be so active at night beats me.

As a makeshift solution I devised a system whereby a strap attached to the door can be hooked on to a cupboard, preventing the door from opening or closing any more than it has to. Bearing in mind that the outer door has a cat flap this means there is little chance of prowlers getting in. It doesn’t stop the cold wind gaining access, though, especially as our winter seems to be continuing. As you can see, it isn’t an ideal situation but apart from giving Charlie the key to the door I can’t see any other way of dealing with it. For once my inventiveness fails me.

20 March 2016

More about Charlie

Charlie arrived with blanket, an over-washed teddy/doll/whatever, neither of which would he touch, and a couple of useless toys. I suppose the items were to make him feel at home rather than play with but I’ll never know the answer to that. I was also given a spray that would minimise his anxiety, but he plays or uses anything I’ve bought him and only occasionally shows a sign of being anxious. My view is that the blanket etc reminded him too much of the place where he was locked in a cage. Little wonder he didn’t want to know. I’ve told him people only wanted what was best for him but he doesn’t understand. Freedom is what he wanted more than anything, freedom plus someone to give him food and hugs.

We’ve had our moments but not once have I felt the urge to use the tranquillising spray.  Not even when I suffered a deep scratch in the space between thumb and finger. Ouch, it hurt, and blood flowed quite freely. I gave Charlie an immediate sharp tap from which I think he took on board that I was no pushover. We were, of course, getting used to each other’s ways which thankfully only took a couple of days. We are now firm friends.

On the third night he stayed out. Oh my goodness that was a worry ... I had broken the rules set by the RSPCA that he should NOT be let out of the house for two weeks. Two weeks? Two days was enough for both Charlie and me. There was no response to calling and all I could do was worry. I didn’t sleep much that night, but at around two o’clock in the morning I heard a pitiful cry at the back door. I don’t think I have ever moved so fast but oh the relief to see him there and in one piece, too.  You can tell my mind had run riot. The rest of the night he slept on the chair at the side of my bed and now that spot has become his nightly (when he’s in) sleeping place. To ease the situation though I have had a cat flap fitted in the outside door. It’s one way to guarantee I get some sleep.

One of the funniest sights so far was seeing Charlie running hell-for-leather after a squirrel. I didn’t know either animal could move so fast. Readers to this blog will know how hard I have tried to stop squirrels eating ALL the bird food so they will appreciate the feeling of satisfaction I had when I saw my Charlie chasing the squirrel. Go, boy, go.

Another amusing incident was the day I had some pork loin for tea. I buy cooked meat for sandwiches and this is my favourite. It starts off as a roll of pork loin coated with sea salt and black pepper, then sliced and packed. I love it. What amazed me was that Charlie loves it as well. I haven’t given him any but he tries very hard to stop me taking a bite. I usually end up laughing but I haven’t given in. I’m not sure the pork is good for a little pussy cat, even if he does like the smell, but I am of the firm opinion that he shouldn’t have ANY of MY food. If he does, it might be me needing the tranquilliser spray!

13 March 2016

The cat scoop!!!!

Meet Charlie, my newly acquired domestic pet. He is 5 years of age and a rescued cat. According to the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Charlie was abandoned. They didn’t tell us any more than that.

I went with son Jon and his partner to take a look at the animals. We wandered around looking at all the cats in their cages and when I saw Charlie I fell in love with him. A week later we went back to complete the paperwork and bring him home. It has been many years since I last had a cat. That was Lee, a lovely lady cat who lived for 18 years. I loved her. We moved to dogs after that.

As you can see Charlie is a handsome male, but because of his good looks I kept referring to him as she. I think I’m getting out of it now.

Whilst waiting for him to come home I bought a few things, cat litter being one of them. I didn’t know what his habits would be like and I wanted, if possible, to avoid a mess in the house. I have my groceries delivered so I thought it would be a good idea to include a few things, like the litter and a scoop.

On delivery day there was no scoop but I didn’t realise that until the driver had departed. I guess I had been too busy talking about the impending arrival of a rescued cat. The guy had rung to announce his arrival and I still had his number on my phone. I rang and asked him to check the boxes when he had a spare minute. Yes, he would check and ring me back. Whilst waiting I checked the paperwork to make sure everything had been delivered that should have been delivered and that was when I noticed an apology for the scoop not being in stock. Oh dear! Oh well, at least I hadn’t paid for something not received.

Next day. I had a call from the supermarket supervisor to say the driver would be delivering the scoop. I apologised for my stupidity and asked that the driver didn’t bother. The guy wouldn’t entertain the idea. After hearing the tale about me getting a rescued cat the supervisor insisted on letting me have the scoop free of charge. The story had, apparently, entertained all those working in the packing area. It made me laugh as well and I commented that the lovely gesture had ensured my custom for many months to come.

More on Charlie’s arrival on a future post.

06 March 2016

A post about books...

One of my biggest jobs lately has been sorting out Joe’s vast collection of books and deciding which to keep and which to donate to charity. The job itself would have been easy if it wasn’t for the fact that a lot of books were on the top shelf of his wardrobe, out of reach for me. This was when I discovered that our steps are missing. We have ladders and tall steps, all too heavy for me to carry, but the smaller steps that I can manage have disappeared. I’m thinking a tradesman must have waltzed off with them and we never noticed. Because of this, getting the books down was a dodgy experience. I'm thankful the rest of his collection was and still is in a simple floor-standing bookcase.

But let’s get back to the books. There were great heavy tomes. I love that word – it was my surname at one time, but with a capital T. The books were mostly instructional, about the accountancy profession or ‘how to do’ things: household tasks, computer lessons, photography and lots more. The daft thing is that he didn’t read them. He bought them to learn from but never got round to it. He wasn’t a DIY sort of man, you see. He did have some novels and historic works but those books are housed in a floor standing bookcase. I’ll get round to them another day. BUT you only had to ask him a complicated question involving figures or accounts and he had the answer in seconds without using pencil and paper. Some have that kind of brain, others don’t. I’m one that doesn’t quite know how to use a brain.

The book in the picture is one I bought, one I had forgotten about, and one he didn’t bother to read even though he had set his heart on ownership. I’m not really surprised considering the size and content.

One book of significance is a book about Bobby Charlton, ex Manchester United football player. Joe was at a function where there were books for sale so when he spotted said book he bought it. Coincidentally Bobby Charlton was at the same function so when Joe spotted him he showed him the book. Bobby signed the book and also gave him an autographed photograph. This book was precious to Joe so I needed to do something more than leave it on a shelf. I took it to the St Giles Hospice charity shop to ask their advice on the best way to use it. Apparently they have a ‘shop’ on EBay so they can auction the book and raise more money for their charity. After the care the hospice gave to Joe the least I could do was help boost their funds.

Ha...since writing I have found the steps. One place I forgot to look in was the garage. Imagine my surprise when I opened the garage door and spotted the steps lurking in a corner ... right next to my car. Apologies to all those I blamed.

Finally, I have a book called The Memory Handbook .... I guess it’s time I read it.