Archive for January, 2010


…Freecycle

IMPORTANT: I would like it noted, at this point, that I have consumed half a bottle of red wine. This post may, as a result, be rambling and incoherent.

So, I joined freecycle, hoping to get my grubby mits on a sewing machine that could automatically make button holes. I hate doing them by hand – they inevitably end up looking like something from Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and take forever. I only like sewing on my incredibly pretty machine anyway, so switching to a needle and thread for the most mind-numbingly dull job on the planet was never going to go down well. But back on topic… freecycle…

So far I’ve been offered all manner of things, including a boy cat with the following qualities:

“He is a very independent sole and only once a fuss on his terms.”

So he finished being a fuss and is now a fish? Talented Tom.

The death of the English language aside though, I love the idea of freecycle. Being offered things you need and getting rid of those you don’t is a genius way of recycling. And it’s inspired me…

Here, for your reading pleasure, are my top 5 Cambridgeshire/National ‘green’ websites in Top of the Pops style decending numerical order.

5: http://www.freecycle.org/ – People post things they don’t want any more. You post things you’d like. People drive around and collect various items from one another and everyone gets what they need for free! Hooray for recycling!

4:  http://www.tregothnan.co.uk/ – In my dream world, all of what I consume would be grown in my wonderful little island nation. Until I found this site, I always thought that tea would be the one thing we could never produce ourselves but happily, Cornwall proved me wrong.

3:  http://www.frugal.org.uk/ –  This is a great site with lots of helpful tips on how you can save money without sacrificing your current lifestyle too much.

2/1: I couldn’t decide between:

http://www.christmashill.co.uk/ and http://readitswapit.co.uk/

Christmas Hill sells what is easily the best meat I’ve ever tasted and costs no more that the supermarket equivalent. Considering it’s all free range and rare-breed, that’s saying something. Even the mince I had tasted like sirloin – absolutely delicious.

Read It Swap It is a great way of getting rid of books and getting new ones for free. Working in a similar way to Freecycle, you post the titles you don’t want anymore and a list of the books you’d like, then you request swaps from other users. I like to think of it as a really big library where you get your books by post – very good fun, and a great way of finding new titles you wouldn’t normally read.

Whilst most of these sites have become favourites due to my fiscal restraints, they’re all pretty eco-friendly and if you’re trying to save the planet, are a great place to start 🙂

Any suggestions for other good sites are more than welcome – I check my comments rather obsessively and will repost them as they come 🙂

Normal, non-environmental broadcast will resume when I’m slightly less pickled.

…interesting…

How many germs live on your cell phone?

Created by Oatmeal

acceptable losses

Artemis and I are both crying for Saffron. Mummy cat is trying to find her, and I’m sobbing because I know she never will.

Yesterday morning we took the kitten down to the Animal Health Trust to determine how much brain damage she suffered at birth. We also wanted to understand the reason for her seizure and find out if she was in any kind of pain. After a thorough examination by a very lovely pet neurologist, Saffron was anaesthetised and placed in an MRI scan. We waited until 5.15 to hear the results.

Saffron has multiple reasons to seizure – the underdeveloped brain we originally suspected, an inflamation of the meninges*, and hydrocephalus**. The MRI showed that both ventricles had swollen to approximately four times their original size and though the excess fluid could possibly be drained, the damage done is irreparable. She would never regain her peripheral vision, making trips out of doors difficult at best, and she would never regain her equilibrium. Likely, she would never learn to use the litter tray – her tiny addled brain unable to make the connection between the smell there and what she’s supposed to do.

Whilst we thought of giving her back to the CPL to let them find someone who would be willing to take her on, warts and all,  we decided that the kindest thing to do would be to have her put to sleep. Giving her anti-seizure medication every day is one thing, but cleaning up the carpet daily is another entirely. On top of that, she really struggled to come round from the anaesthetic after the scan and I’d rather just have done with it than put her through all kinds of operations and have her die anyway.

It’s heartbreaking. And now we have to tell the vets. Or rather S- does. All of my courage seems to desert me whenever I think about speaking to them on the phone and my mouth goes dry. I haven’t a clue, at this point, whether Saffron even survived the night. The logical part of me thinks it would be better if she just passed away in her sleep, but I find myself hoping against hope that the antibiotic drip she’s on has magically cured her. I want S- to tell me that the vet has called to say I can go down and collect my happy kitten, that I’ll bring her home – bouncing and bald – and that she and Artemis will begin their usual play-fighting.

But it’s a fool’s hope. That’s all it ever was. I’m starting to think like my dad on this – why have pets if they ultimately make you so utterly miserable?

_________

* Cat meningitis.

** An excess of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles/cavities of the brain

Patchwork

Over the past few months, I have been working on a patchwork quilt for a friend’s wedding present… Except I realised, after adding around 40 buttons by hand, that said friend’s fiancé might not like the colours and the very random patterns on the patches.

I have since found a very good home for the quilt, but thought the world might like to see it. I’m really proud of it and I hope you like. 🙂

Blind

Once, in a second of sheer carelessness, I complained about my eyesight to a blind man.

It was not a proud moment and the shame of my impropriety has haunted me every since however, I did profit from the incident. I learned not to presume that I am worst off. There are people dealing with far greater problems than I can ever fathom and it does each and every one of them an injustice when I open my mouth to say something akin to, “I am hurting. Pity me.”

Whilst I do have sympathy for those who are in pain, I have come to respect those who seem to bear no ill-health or ill humour. Everyone is sick from time to time. Everyone is sad. Those who say nothing, who carry on so that we presume they are fine, are the ones who deserve our feeling.

Man flu is increasingly one of my pet hates.

Tasteless, Shameless, Thoughtless

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?v=wall&ref=nf&gid=234537444866 *

We’ve all been there.

Everyone has been out with at least one person who makes their toes curl with embarrassment on looking back over the relationship. For whatever reason, common sense takes a back-seat and the lonely part of your brain that is waiting for Spike-from-Buffy to sweep you off your teenage feet will latch onto the first blond-haired git in a leather trench coat who walks by.**

But do you really want the world to know about it? Do you really want to advertise how unbelievably dumb you were?

…not really.

And aside from anything else, the ex you’re thinking of is probably deeply embarrassed by you too. Hindsight is always 20:20 – it’s obvious to you now that you and the partner in question are completely incompatible, but at the time you obviously thought enough of one another to make a go of things. If you’re ashamed by picking someone so horribly unsuitable, chances are, that they are too.

This shameless attempt to make yourself look good by putting someone else down is, in my opinion at least, just a pathetic grab for self-esteem. I think the people in this group are looking to be congratulated on how strong they are for not needing their ex, but in reality, the lack of dignity and decorum makes them look like they’re desperate and bitter.

I added two of my three ex boyfriends on facebook – one because we were close before we got together and I like to see how he’s doing, and the other because our somewhat rocky relationship grew into a solid friendship. Even if I did suspend my better judgement long enough to want click on this sad group’s ‘join’ button, I would still hold back because both of these guys would see it. And although they know me well enough to understand who I might be referring to in saying, “What the poop was I thinking?”, I’m pretty sure that one in particular might wonder, “Did she mean me as well?”

I’m sure a lot of people are in the same boat as me, still having the odd ex listed amongst their facebook friends. If they haven’t been blocked, chances are the relationship is amicable enough to be damaged by a status update shouting, “Ever Looked At Your Ex And Thought WHAT THE FUCK WAS I DOING ?”

Honestly, people. Have a little pride, a little class and above all else a little compassion.

_______________

*Not sure if you need to be logged into facebook for the link to work. I’m never logged out so I wouldn’t know. In case, for whatever reason you can’t see the group title, it’s “Ever Looked At Your Ex And Thought WHAT THE FUCK WAS I DOING ?”

**Although I hear that now, teenage girls drool over that glittery ponce from Twilight, despite the fact that Sesame Street’s Count is a more badass vampire. Yup, the calibre of the fanciable undead has certainly taken a sharp nose-dive since I bypassed all logic and obsessed over a fictional character.

Ever Looked At Your Ex And Thought WHAT THE FUCK WAS I DOING ?

Perculiar

It’s amazing how quickly you start talking to yourself when confronted with a stressful situation and silence.

The headlamp bulb went on my Micra the other day so, like the safety conscious people we are, S- and I disconnected the battery and changed the light. Or at least we tried to. I’ve swapped a fair few lightbulbs in my time and though they’re always a bit fiddly, Charlie takes the prize for the most awkward.

In fact, we surrendered after an hour of trying to fit our hands into the tiny access space and took the car to Halfords – that most hated of places – to make them fit it for me. Whilst they did manage in the end, it took half an hour to do and cost me money.

Charlie Micra – though incredibly good value initially and inexpensive to put through an MOT – tends to wrack up expenses elsewhere. Platinum tipped spark plugs are necessary at every service – with a service coming every 9000 miles – and even small maintainance tasks can’t be performed at home, meaning you have to shell out to have light bulbs changed.

Anyways, all that aside…

When we disconnected the battery the stereo in Charlie reset and S-, in his infinite wisdom, decided to just press the buttons in an attempt to make it work again.

“Wait 1 H,” replied the stereo. Which we did. When the prompt for the code was displayed again, I went to input the proper sequence. Only the stereo doesn’t have enough numbers on it.

The front panel is laid out like this:

1 — 4
2 — 5
3 –TA

with ‘–‘ representing the CD slit. My code features no digit higher than the number 6 so I presumed that TA, as the next button in the sequence, would do for 6. But no, pressing that button just made the stereo angry and it told me to “Wait 1 H” again.

I am still waiting 1 H* before I can input the numbers again but think I have figured it out. Buttons 1-4 correspond to a digit within the code and need to be pressed a certain number of times. i.e. If the code was 3721, button one should be pressed three times, button two seven times, button three twice and button four, once. Then the internet tells me that number five enters the code.

The silence in the car is becoming unbearable though, so I hope 1 H is soon over. Driving along without music results in my speaking to the vehicle and so far, Charlie and I have been discussing many things, including 1920s hair-styles, porn, and the fact that 45% of marriages end in divorce.

Charlie has some pretty strong views on all those subjects, but I think I’m best keeping them to myself….

*I think ‘H’ is a unit of time, rather than an abreviation of  ‘hour’. I have been driving the car for far longer than sixty minutes since I last input the code so logic dictates ‘H’ must be something else.

Saffron

We found out what’s wrong with our kitten on Friday and the news is mixed.

She is brain-damaged, or rather, part of her brain didn’t form properly during the last stages of Artemis’s pregnancy. As a result, Saffron’s motor-functions are somewhat lacking and she’s a little slow on the uptake. Her symptoms are a little milder than the video below, but it gives you a good idea of what she’s like.

The vet said that if this was her only problem, she’d lead a full, happy life.

But we don’t know that this is her only problem. Her fit the other day tends to suggest that there is fluid on her brain, building pressure and causing seizures. If this is the case, she’s in pain and will need to be put to sleep. To find out whether or not there is excess fluid in her teeny kitten skull, she’ll need an MRI which will be pricey. I’m hoping the pet insurance we have from the CPL will cover it…

Fingers crossed for the little mog.

I really didn’t think I would grow so attached to the cats this quickly – I’m usually very practical when it comes to animals. But this little kitten is just SO loving and so… dog like – she acts the same as a teeny puppy who has a foot fascination. I don’t know whether it’s my {somewhat limited} maternal instincts kicking in, or whether I’ve been a ‘cat person’ all along and am only now coming out of the canine closet, but I just want to wrap Saffy up in cotton wool and ‘make it all better’.

So I started looking into diet. After a discussion about what sugar does to kids with ADHD, I began wondering if Saffron’s fit was down to the chemicals in her food. When I read up about the various ‘ingredients’ in commercial kitty meals, I was horrified. Unless the ingredients state what sort of meat is in there, it could be anything that a rendering plant needs to get rid of. And whilst I’m not squeamish about them eating road-kill, chicken factory floor scrapings or knackered race horses, I am very squeamish about them eating domestic animals that have been put down for health reasons. Yes, that’s right. Bog-standard cat food can often contain cats.

And you thought we didn’t learn anything from BSE…

Even when the cat food did state which animal the meat came from, typical meat content was – at best – 24%. For a carnivorous animal, that’s appalling. So, thought I, time to look at the dried food. But dry food is worse. Most of it is made from ash and cereal, forcing the cats’ digestive system to break down proteins it was never designed to.  Stomach upsets follow and Artemis, saffron’s mum has had some digestive issues. Also, because cats have incredibly low thirst drives, they don’t get enough liquid if they’re fed on dry food alone, leading to kidney problems and urinary tract infections.

I felt terrible – I put so much thought into what I eat and into what the chemicals I consume are doing to my body, but I didn’t stop to think about what the cats were nomming on. You presume that because cat food is ‘designed’ for feline consumption, it’s the best thing you can give them, but in actual fact, it’s just a way to make money on substandard waste-products that wouldn’t naturally be consumed by anything. My friend J- (the one from uni) is probably having hysterics at this point because he hates cats, but I honestly feel incredibly guilty. And, more to the point, incredibly stupid.

Cat food smells absolutely foul – I mean, I’d rather catch a wiff of a rotten egg than a plate of so-called ‘chicken chunks in gravy’. The fact that cat poop smells exactly the same as it did at the other end should have told me straight away that the moggies aren’t properly digesting what they’re fed. The chemical process of turning food into poop should have altered the smell.

Anyways, after much research online last night, we’ve decided to buy the cats’ dinners from Pets Kitchen. In an ideal world, I would feed the mogs on a diet of raw meat like they would have in the wild, but quite simply, I can’t afford to do that, nor do I have the time to grind bones as all of the recipes online state is necessary for good nutrition. We chose Pets Kitchen above the other sites out there because it’s clear the site owner genuinely cares about what animals are eating and isn’t just interested in making money from this new ethical eating, organic trend.

Hopefully, a new diet will help to sort Saffron’s tiny kitten brain out. Until the better food arrives though, I’ve taken to mixing some tuna and raw bacon through the grot we have left in attempt to feed the cats something of nutritional value.

For the first time since visiting the vets, I am cautiously optimistic about baby cat’s future.

….

I hate Twilight and I hate you.

http://www.mylifeistwilight.com/

That is all.

Skitty kitty…

My cat had a fit about an hour ago.

Saffron just started running around in circles – which normally I think is hilarious – then fell over and began convulsing. Which is not funny. She got up after a second, unable to use her back left leg and with her left eyelid drooping a little.

I spoke to the vet who said not to move her tonight and bring her in tomorrow so I’m just watching and waiting, trying to keep the little madam calm. She doesn’t want to be quiet though – she wants to play and bite my fingers and eat huge quantities of food. Which is wierd because she usually doesn’t do those things. Her eye is still a little closed, but the more she tries to eat my slippers, the better her back leg starts to work.

Since her behavior has suddenly become what I think of as normal from a young cat, I reckon the fit was just her teeny kitten brain resetting but we’ll see at the vets.