Saturday, 28 December 2013

Scary Reflections and Cushion Grenades

Tom is settling in so well with us.  He has been here for just under three weeks, but has made amazing progress, considering how shy and nervous he was when we brought him home.

His current favourite spots are:

Under the Christmas Tree...
Hanging around the dining table...

But his very favourite spot is...
On the sofa with his favourite human!

However, he is still exploring and finding out about his new territory.  A couple of days ago Leo, a local cat happened to wander across the new deck, as Tom was taking a stroll in the living room.  Tom spotted him and froze, then lowered himself to "sneak position" and began to stalk the cat outside the window...  Leo didn't notice him though and strolled on his way across the grass and under the hedge. 

Good thing he didn't hang around - Tom would've sorted him out for sure! Well, at any rate, there would've been a face-off either side of the glass doors!

Tom is still learning which things to be concerned about, and which to take for granted.  He now ignores the dishwasher - though at first he was pretty scared of it; but he still thinks that his reflection in the night-time glass doors must be another cat. 

Today, he was walking into the kitchen, when he spotted "the other cat" reflected in the glass panel of the back door at the end of the kitchen.  He stood totally still for a while, obviously considering whether to rush over and take on the intruder... but finally decided to retreat to the Cat Cave and have a snack. 

He still does a double-take if he sees himself reflected in the big glass doors - daytime or at night - but he's gradually getting used to it and sometimes he barely even glances at the reflection, before deciding it's safe to carry on walking across the room (though sometimes he prefers to take the alternate route, along the back of the little sofa, then in between the sofa-corners, to jump onto the larger sofa - thereby avoiding the windows!).
Some sounds no longer worry him, though they did to begin with.  I mentioned the dishwasher, but he's also learned to "tune out" stuff like chairs sliding on the floor as we sit down at the table, cupboards opening and closing, the tap being turned on and off in the kitchen, the kettle and coffee maker...  All of these seemed very threatening at first, to a small, new and nervous cat, but he is getting much braver and more used to the house-noises. 
Other noises however, he is still learning to cope with - such as the cushion that keeps falling down when someone gets off the sofa.  We sometimes put one cushion above another, to support our back and head; when we stand up, the top cushion tumbles forward with a "flump" sound, which Tom is convinced is a Super-Dangerous Grenade.  It gets him every time... he scuttles off to a safe refuge.  Though he now comes back much more quickly than at first - and he hardly ever hides behind the washing machine nowadays!

We think he's making good progress.  And he's certainly a happy cat! 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013


Merry Christmas to all Friends!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Where's Tom?

Well, Tom has had more adventures this weekend. 

This was Saturday breakfast time...
Tom spent Saturday exploring.  He came out of his "den" and explored the kitchen.  He was very relaxed and wandered about, then came to the table to see if there was any fuss going.  
He then gradually worked his way into the main room and had a good look round.  However, we had builders and visitors in the house during the day, so the hole-behind-the-washing-machine was a favourite choice for the majority of the day.
In the evening, he came in and had a really good sniff around, and persuaded us to share our tea (chicken snacks for cats...). He even discovered the ornaments on the Christmas tree and played with them.  We think he likes to play - he has a toy basket, though he hasn't discovered the toys yet.  Still, there's plenty of time...
* * *

Today, Tom shared our breakfast (or at least, he would have, if we hadn't made him get off the table!).  Then he had more fuss and disappeared behind the washing machine for a while for a rest. 
At lunch time he was out again, hanging around for fuss (he is such a fuss-cat!), then he vanished into his "cat cave". 

We were out for the afternoon, so we left some food for his lunch and shut the laundry room door, so he would be safe in his cave and not get tangled in the fairy-lights, or climb on top of the dresser... 

We got home at around 4:45 and went to check on Tom.  No sign of him, so we thought he was behind the washing machine.  Dave called for him to come out - nothing.  He also hadn't eaten his lunch, which was strange, as he has eaten his food quickly every other time. 

We couldn't find Tom.  He wasn't behind the washing machine. Nor in the downstairs loo (the only room he could have got into while the laundry room door was closed).  We checked all the boxes and tops of stuff - fridge, freezer, shelves etc. No Tom. 
We thought that perhaps he'd been shut Out of the laundry room instead of shut In.  So we searched the living room. Several times. And the kitchen. No Tom. 

We couldn't find Tom anywhere.  We tried the "snug" sitting room and also upstairs, in case he'd sneaked out of the main living room while the door was open (not for long).  We looked behind, under and on top of everywhere. We tried inside and under the wardrobes, under beds, behind desks, in cupboards & boxes & baskets... No Tom.
We wondered whether, in the very brief time the main living room door was open, he had slipped out and hidden in the hallway, then run outside when the front door was open for a while.  We couldn't imagine how this could have happened, as we'd been so careful.  But it seemed that Tom was not in the house.  Dave went out into the garden and searched in the dark.  No Tom. 
He then went round the back of our house, searching the other side of the garden wall and looking under bushes etc. No Tom.
We both searched the garden, the top of the shed & garage, behind the bins, under nearby cars and hedges.  No Tom.
We had tried everywhere.  He wasn't indoors, so he must be outside. But "outside" is very big, isn't it? So he could be Anywhere in the World (well, within a couple of miles of home anyway...). 
So Dave went back out and tried again.  No Tom.
While Dave was outside searching, I was sure I could hear jingling.  Tom has a bell on his collar and we'd both thought we could hear it tinkling in the garden, when we were standing near the back door. 
We decided it was probably wishful thinking.  But this time, I was sure I heard it.  I went to the laundry room, but heard it again - in the kitchen... As I walked into the kitchen, I was sure it was coming from the corner of the room near the sink, kitchen bin and back door.  I moved the bins and looked behind the trolley under the worktop, where we keep a wine rack and stuff.  No cat, but definitely jingling noises. 

Dave came in again and I signed for him to come quietly over.  He also heard the jingling... So I pulled the baseboard out from under the kitchen cupboard....
Tom, sitting comfortably under the cupboard!

The baseboard pulled out - and a bribe to get him out!
So, eventually he came out and ate his (very late) lunch.  Then he went into his cat-cave for a rest.  Where he is now lying comfortably on his mat under the radiator. 

I think we may nominate Tom for the 2013 "Pesky Cat of the Year Award"...
But you have to admit, he's very cute! 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Tom's Progress

An update on Tom, our new cat.  He came to live with us last Saturday and spent most of this week behind the washing machine in the laundry room. 

However, over the last couple of days, he has become progressively braver.  We've been able to approach him and stroke & fuss him.  He will rush out of hiding now, if we pick up his food dish and offer him something to eat. In fact, last night he miaowed loudly, because he was hungry and I'd shut the laundry room door.  When I went in to feed him, he ran out to see me. 

This evening has been lovely.  Dave decided to try and coax him out into the room, for a bit of fuss.  I put some biscuits in his dish and out he came!
Eating a little snack...

 I started stroking him and he was very keen.  Then Dave came in to stroke him too.  Tom was very enthusiastic and ended up having a long fussing session with all of us. 

Tom getting biiiig strokes and fuss!

In the end, he settled down on his bed under the radiator - he's still there now, about an hour later, very relaxed and happy.  
Resting after all that fussing.  Tom is a Happy Cat! 
I suppose he'll go back behind the washing machine at some point, but he's definitely learning to trust us - and he really wants to have love and fuss. 

Just as I was typing the lines above, Tom started to miaow.  He was hungry and asking for his supper.  When I went in to see him, he came up to me, miaowing and looking hopeful - progress indeed!  So, of course I opened a little tin of food and gave it to him - he's currently purring and eating, both at the same time.

Go Tommy!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Whole Christmas Tree!

It's that time of year again... Dave went into the loft and got down all the boxes; this evening we put up our Christmas Tree and started decorating our home. 
A few years ago, I posted about getting ready for Christmas and how we were a bit challenged for space. 
We could only put up part of our tree - the section at the back was left off, so we could push it against the wall in the corner.  We had to weight the back with a brick! But you can't really see that...

But This Year our new extended room allows us a bit more space...
The Whole Christmas Tree!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Where Has Lizzie Been? And a post about Tom.

Well, hello to anyone who sees this post - it's certainly been a while.  The last post I published (I've started several since..) was the 1st July! So, it will serve me right, if I have no blog readers left!

Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why haven't I blogged in such a long time?

I won't answer with a full list of what's been happening - it would take all day.  Suffice it to say that it's been pretty chaotic round here! 

I've been looking after my mum - she's recovered quite well from her stroke, but can't do a lot of things for herself now, including cooking, cleaning, laundry etc.  I go over on four days in the week, to help her with jobs, make her lunch and tea and generally be around.  There are also a lot of appointments with dr, dentist, optician etc etc ets - I am the chauffeuse, so I have to take her to those - often on a Tuesday or Thursday, which should be my "Working Days".  So, that keeps me quite busy and takes a good chunk of my time.

And there's home to look after. And my bookbinding business to (try to ) keep going.  I've had a number of custom orders over the summer and autumn, which have been lovely and kept me well occupied.  I also taught a one-day bookbinding workshop in September, which was really nice.  We made felt-covered journals, with embroidered covers. 

But the thing that has taken up most of my time, since April, has been The Extension Project!  It has been quite a saga - I may go into details later, but not now. 

We have made some major changes to our house, which have just been finished.  Inside, we have remodelled the little sitting room, dining room and hallway.  Outside, we've extended behind the original dining room, making it into a large living room next to the kitchen - a lounge & dining room combined.  There are big, huge glass folding doors, which open onto the nice new deck and the garden.  It's lovely.  But it took ages and was so time-consuming and stressful.  Never Again!!

We went from this:
May 2013 - rear of house, window and patio door.
To this:

December 2013 - new rear extension with bi-fold doors & new deck.
Inside it was like this:
Spring 2013 - cramped dining room
Now we have this:
December 2013 - new Living Room (the back of the small sofa is where the patio doors used to be).

We have loads more room!  We also have the original sitting room, but it's slightly smaller, as we took out the wall between that room & the stairs, then added a partition wall a bit further over, to make a proper "hallway" beside the staircase. 
The little sitting room - "Snug" - doesn't seem much smaller actually, as the old door into the dining room is now blocked up - we have a new way in, via the new hallway.  It's going to make a great place to relax, play music - on the stereo, or our instruments - and generally be peaceful when the rest of the house is busy. 
And it will be our Spare Room, so our guests no longer have to sleep in the dining room. See the sofa bed in the photo from the spring? That is now in the Snug and that room has its own door, so guests can have privacy and peace, instead of being in a sort-of corridor to the kitchen!

Overall, it's working very well.  We "moved in" last week and we're getting used to having the space - especially after pretty much living upstairs for the past eight months!  The kitchen is still filthy - there was So Much Dust! - but a lady is coming tomorrow, to help me scrub it from top to bottom.  We still have no curtains up, but an extra-long curtain rail is in the post and due any day.  The new cast iron stove isn't functional yet, as it needs safety checks and a certificate, but we hope to be able to use it soon.  There are still jobs to do - such as a final coat of paint & varnish on the new banisters, or varnishing the new door to the living room - but on the whole, we're finished and ready to get that Christmas Tree down from the loft!

And the Other News today:
This is Tom.  He came to live with us on Saturday and we're delighted to have him. 

He has had a bit of a sad life, but we hope to improve things for him.   His original family moved house, but left Tom behind them. He was a stray for two years, before he developed a problem with his eye and a lady that was feeding him took him to a vet for treatment.  It turned out to be a thorn in his eye (!), which is now okay.  He was then put into a foster home, in a cat pen - you can see it in the photo - where he stayed for a whole year.  It appears that many people don't want a black cat - they prefer prettier colours; also people are wary of taking on a long-haired cat, that needs grooming regularly.  And also the financial situation means that less people are adopting cats anyway.  But we don't mind that he is black, or fluffy - he appealed to us immediately and we brought him home this weekend. 

Tom has spent his first weekend in the laundry room.  We made him a "den" under a long piece of worktop that has no cupboards beneath.  He has food, then a nice safe cat-carrier for a bed /hidey hole, plus a corner for his litter tray.   He spent the first two days hiding behind the washing machine, but has been eating and coming out when it's quiet, to explore a little. 
When I came home from my mum's after lunch today, I found Tom sitting on the window sill in the downstairs loo - which has a door from the laundry room.  I was even able to walk in there and talk to him, stroke him and brush him a bit.  So progress is being made!

I've sent off for one of the pheromone diffusers you can buy, which gives out a very subtle "happy cat" smell.  It's supposed to be good for calming anxious, nervous cats, so we hope it will help to give Tom a bit more confidence. Perhaps we can entice him out into the main room quite soon. 

Anyway, I will keep you posted - I'm back now, so Watch This Space!


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