Category Archives: cats behaving badly

The late lamented singing Tilly

I lost my lovely cat, Bendicks, in the depths of the pandemic. I’m still missing him.

I’ve been hesitant to adopt a new friend. Would I be able to love a new cat, with all their foibles and activities and behavioural misunderstandings? What if they got sick? Did I want to take on that pain of loss again?

So, I decided to foster a cat. The humane society was overrun, they needed help. The gruelling procedure for evaluation of my suitability went on for months, involved vets in two provinces and most of my friends, but eventually I passed the tests. Finally I got the call to pick up my new foster, an older gal, Tilly, a short haired tortoiseshell. I happily leapt in the car to pick her up. What could possibly go wrong?

Picking her up was the first challenge. Sixteen years old and weighing about twenty pounds, lifting her in the carrier was a workout in itself. We headed home, laden with donated supplies, and after several trips I managed to get her and everything else into my apartment.

Then came the Days of Hiding. Eventually I lured her out with treats, and our adventure together began. The poor gal couldn’t be adopted until she had dental surgery, and we started out giving her pain pills twice a day – this locked her into a time clock that meant treats had to happen, 9 am and 9 pm, no matter what else was going on. She needed shots for the pain as well, so I hefted her into her carrier and took her to the humane society every month for a top up. She was stiff, couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t jump up on the furniture, moaned when I lifted her (or maybe that was me. My quads were finding her a challenge).

One day, she started acting funny, being overly affectionate, meowing. She was going into heat! I had no idea cats never ever stop going into heat, so after frantic and ultimately disappointing searches about cat menopause on the inter webs, I gave up and told the humane society they’d have to add spaying to her surgical agenda. They weren’t sure, so on one of her visits they shaved her tummy to look for a surgical scar. She was insulted, but eventually forgave me.

She didn’t have a voice, so her heat howls came out as squeaks. This still was disruptive when leading Zoom meetings and the poor girl was miserable, so I invested in good weed (catnip) and kept her stoned for much of that week. That passed, but two weeks later, she was in heat again. And again. And again. A random stranger suggested I violate her with a Q-tip to stop the heat process, but Tilly and I discussed it and we both felt that was one step too far. We struggled on.

We bonded over the need to diet, she on her almost acceptable diet food and a few treats a day, me on salads and a few more treats (I am bigger, after all).

She got more comfortable, demanding I sit where she could stomp onto my lap for cuddles. She learned to jump on the bed, landing like a bowling ball on me in the middle of the night, climbing onto my neck for pats where she would press her paws on my carotid artery and wait until I passed out before she settled in. She’d curl up and purr loudly enough I couldn’t hear anything else. It was soothing, at least when I could move her off my vital organs and breathe again.

Less soothing was when she’d try to jump up and not make it, landing with a thump and a pussycat swear on the ground, shredding my sheets as she did.

We developed a cozy pattern, hanging out together, doing our own things. One day I was sitting stitching, something she resented as it took up my lap, when I started singing along to the radio. She ran (!) over (not her usual pace), climbed into my lap and put her paw over my mouth, meanwhile singing along with me in her mini mew. I’m not sure if she was critiquing or merely wanting to take the lead…all I know is that she really enjoyed Queen’s Radio Gaga.

She started to get sick, and we made more trips to the humane society vets. Fostering a cat is a bit like leasing a car. Though you have it, it’s not really yours. Any damage involves layers of bureaucracy, and the decisions about treatment aren’t really yours to make. So back and forth we went, me thinking she didn’t look good.

She stopped eating, and when she climbed onto my lap she’d allow a few pats and then growl and hiss. She’d still run for her treats (low calorie ones) but eventually she stopped even that.

Last Saturday evening, upon advice of the society, I took her for her last ride to the emergency vet. We waited together in the car for the mandatory hours, during which time I ran down my car battery playing the radio to soothe us both. I called CAA, the vets called us in, told me the bad news. She was too high risk to do anything with, and obviously in pain.

At least this time, unlike with my cat, I was able to cuddle her before they sedated her. I talked to her a bit, but she wasn’t up for singing. They took her away, and I headed out to meet the tow truck.

All the while I fostered her, I told myself and everyone else that she was just a foster, that I wasn’t going to adopt her, but despite that she purred herself into my heart and I am still heartbroken. I keep looking for her, waiting to hear her meow. I haven’t been able to take her bed out from under mine, still hear her snoring under there as she did so often.

The humane society, who have been wonderful, contacted me to tell me they hoped I’d foster again. A younger cat, they told me. One with fewer health problems. I’m not sure my heart can take it. Not when I can still hear her squeak every time I hear Queen playing on the radio.

But then again…

(Spay or neuter your pets, please! Tilly likely developed cancer from being intact all those years; it’s common. There are low cost spay/neuter clinics in many areas.)

Evaluating…or those artists who self-isolate in the woods – did it work for them?

So here we are, heavily into the pandemic, learning how to talk to ourselves just so we can test our vocal muscles. I am following the advice for keeping a car running, and taking my voice out once a week for a trot around the verbal block. Cat remains unconvinced.

FH021312_003_CABREP_02For my part, I am noticing just now how every single one of my cupboard doors is slightly off-balance, with a wee dip to one side or the other, making all the spaces between the door fronts ever so slightly variable. Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t UNsee it. I know it will drive me crazy over time. It’s making me want to get out the screwdriver except that I know if I do, they will end up even more tilty. And they aren’t my cupboards. Ruining them is not an option.

Messy is the way things are happening lately. Make coffee – spill the coffee and the water, drop the container holding the coffee, sweep that all up, only to miss the garbage as I tip it in, spilling it again all over the place. Make dinner, creating a mess on the counter because – see coffee –  clean that all up, wash pots, put away dishes, only to drop one, shattering it amidst the food still scattered on the floor – see coffee – and trying to clear that up before the cat walks all over it, so rushing so I spill it as I dump the dustpan. Start over.a-messy-kitchen

I suspect this all has something to do with the lack of finger dexterity I conceal in my stitching through pure will, but which means I can’t tie a knot in the floss or pick up a needle without my handy dandy magnet stick. (repurposed from my canning set because  I can too readily imagine the mess that would ensue if I made jam, for example.) Last night I took a full five minutes trying to tie one bit of floss to another. I eventually did but there may have been some language involved.

I was just testing my voice. Honest.

I am surrounded by things I am seemingly too busy to put away, thinking longingly of packing boxes, so help me, and their soothing plain brown sides and healing shutness. I feel certain I would feel better if I could put everything away behind those plain brown wrappings and send it away – but of course, no one wants my things, especially in the pandemic shut down. I imagine charities will be completely overwhelmed once we are let out…

Meanwhile, stories of artists and writers and creatives of all sorts moving out to glorious isolation in the woods or wherever are all over my internet feeds. It all seems like a more glamourous version of the isolation we are all in now, focused isolation, creative isolation. Could this be the way to go to get creative juices flowing?

reflection of trees in lake

Photo by Pixabay on

I am becoming convinced that these folks really did this so they would never have to clean up. Or dress up, or brush their hair. I’m getting into this sweatshirt and pant existence. My hair is growing like a wayward shrub. If I was to never be seen again, except to tumble out into the sun some years hence with a brilliant novel in one hand, well, that seems like a viable idea.

So, my silenced-in-the-isolation brain tells me, ‘you could live in the woods! Never have anyone come by! Never have to account for your clutter or lack of progress or general moodiness! It could be done! Like Thoreau! You could write! Write! Write!”

“Hold on,” my brain says, “Thoreau had a maid and ate regularly in pubs and at friend’s houses. That’s not isolation, that’s just hiding clutter…” and “Internet, remember the internet.” and “But wait, you actually like talking to people, especially the kids whose toys you tidied back when you tidied things. And friends! You have some. You like seeing them.”

Truth is, I am getting out of the habit of communicating. I messenger people and try to connect as I can, but it is all getting more difficult to push myself to do so. Like the clutter around me, it all seems too much to take on. As time goes on, it becomes more comfortable to just not.

But am I writing? Creating?

Um. No.

I have to tidy up first.



images-43“The problem,” says Elizabeth Gilbert, “…is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.”



But then, Neil Gaiman (a person I gush over regularly, unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, who, though okay, is given to bromides) says: “Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

See, I like that philosophy! One of my email names is Dabble, after all. And I DO dabble – trying this, attempting that, fooling about the edges, usually bailing when I start to get good. The last part is where I get cross with myself. It’s like I doom myself to endlessly dabbling without ever seriously contending.


Sometimes it isn’t my fault (except if you believe in the psychogenic source of disease). I really HAVE developed an allergy to wool and it annoys me terribly. How’s a wool sculptor supposed to work if I’m sneezing all the time and scratching my hands? Sheesh.

But then there are all the other things I’ve tried. Like my books. Or solo road trips. Or …

Well, there are lots, and I suspect you, gentle reader, have a bundle of UFOs (Unfinished objects) as well. I have a cowl I started knitting some years ago until the numbers of mistakes I was making made me give up and put the yarn in solitary until it learned to IMG_5678behave. I’m sure by now it has developed a psychosis from too much solitary confinement and will simply tangle itself as soon as I look at it. I have three embroidery tasks on the go. I have a couple of felted animal commissions I should finish or say I can’t. And I have at least two books in the burner, waiting for some love.

Unfortunately, Gilbert is right about there not being time to do everything. Unless I become a complete hermit and stop gaily gadabouting with friends (which I enjoy tremendously) and allow my cat to pine away, I can’t possibly do everything. Plus, where do I fit the pleasures of reading, the joys of a kiss, the enlightenment of a walk on a fall morning?


As my lived life gets longer and my expected left life correspondingly shortens, I wonder, what will I leave behind? In a way, a pile of UFOs would be appropriate, as I’m sure I’ll leave before I am finished with this planet and the people it holds. But I feel I need to pick a horse and ride it.

Then the lazy one on my shoulder whispers, “You’re retired! You should just be having fun!” Alas, for me, fun involves accomplishment.

So I think I shall decide to aggressively schedule myself. Not that that has ever worked, but let’s pretend, shall we? Writing in the morning, when my brain is perky and happy to be in front of the computer, coffee to the right side for thoughtful pauses. Bendicks, my cat, has a long morning nap after breakfast, so that lets me off cat duty. Friends, crafty stuff in the afternoon and evening. With breaks for general foolishness and walkies.

And deadlines…I always do my best work with a deadline. Especially if it is a short one. Otherwise, the following might happen…deadlines-are-approaching-i-am-therefore-leaving-immediately-for-nepal-13331918

(graphics from the incomparable Ashleigh Brilliant and the genius Blackadder)

Now is the Summer of our Discontent

Made impossible torment by this fog of humidity

And all the clouds upon the horizon looming

Lessen not the damp through lightning or storming

Now our brows are laced with gobs of sweat

Our pale-white arms hidden from the sun as we search for coolth

And fierce horns presage the coming of ships

Shrouded in fog – moistness made solid…

Okay, is it just me or would all of you out there like to wrap the climate change skeptics images-33in their bespoke suits and dangle them over the bayou of Louisiana without access to a/c? Or worse still – place them in the scorching hot cities of Europe – Paris, wreathed by concrete; Edinburgh, utterly unprepared for heat; London, on the tube surrounded by anxiety-sweating people suffering in polyester; Rome, in tourist season…again without any access to ice or shade or air conditioning…Or even Toronto. You know the perfect place.



Ideal shape for humid weather

I am melting melting melting, except not really because in order to melt one would require the ability to liquefy of which I can only dream. My cozy fat wrap seems a teensy bit dysfunctional at present.


It has set my MS off, so I am tripping over dust particles and dancing like a drunken soccer fan, looking for a fight like the same. I have fallen, not wisely, but too well, spraining my hand and denting a rib and generally mashing myself up. It’s not getting better, the hand or the MS or anything, and likely won’t until the mind-clearing breezes of fall. FML, as the word-impaired sorts say.



My parents didn’t believe in orthodonture until child #3


Truth be told, I have no right to complain. Life is overall good, and I am blessed with a loving son who has kindly arranged for house cleaning so I can spare my hand for more important things, like making blueberry sorbet or embroidering ridiculously small things. Or brushing my hair and chaining it back so that I don’t frighten young children…



After not doing a THING in the heat…


Today is their first cleaning day, and I only know this because the coordinator called me at ten last night to check if I was going to let the workers in. At the time, I was laying gasping on my chaise courte (in truth a meridienne)  like a beached cod, waving a plastic bag at myself for the breeze (and to keep the cat from eating it).  I looked around myself.

As anyone who has had official house cleaners knows, it ain’t so much the dirt as the clutter that fells us, though I am eternally grateful to said son for the help in scrubbing detail (not possible for me at present) (and truth be told, the idea of tumbling into my tub head first like Father William lacks a certain charm anytime, least of all in my current wounded state) (But I parenth).

085cf2013facbb3c3e02a2bbc017e5f7--alarm-clock-app-storeSo this morning, before all my %^*%$ “get up in a positive mood” alarms went off, screaming at me to ‘drink water’, ‘stretch’, ‘be grateful’, I was dashing about in a polka-like rendition of the IKEA ad ‘The People are Coming” 

As a side comment, who on earth has a kitchen that organized? Well, I do know of one person, but she is a superhero and we can’t all be like her, can we?(CV, you know I mean you…)

Also, note to self: delete said programs and alarms. They are just depressing you in this heat. New goal: breathe without falling over.

So I spin about, trying not to use sprained hand and failing, throwing things in drawers, which, unlike in the IKEA ad, I have very few of so it is likely I shall find the things again. Possibly. I have ordered tracking devices.

images-32Meanwhile, Bendicks, my cat, decides this, yes this, is the time to show how truly gobshite-y he can be – eating all plastic items, thrusting his head into cupboards and extracting feminine supplies on which to chew, pushing things off counters, standing just in front of me so I can step on him and he can look wounded, vanishing who knows where….

Hmm. It’s quiet. Too quiet…just a mo…

<extracts long partially chewed piece of plastic from cat’s intestine>


Yep. Summer. Be kind to one another. Hide your plastic bags.

Reunite the separated immigrant families!!! Oh, and while you are out? Impeach Trump and jail all his cronies, will ya?