sareini: "Things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts, No.61" (Cats and Dragons)
Callie weighs a very solid 3.42 kg. Ideally she should be closer to 3kg, but it's not a big problem as I've just switched up their feeding pattern from one big portion once a day to smaller and more frequent portions which should help with that. She's also got a mystery issue of dry coat and skin and dandruff/bald patches which we originally thought was flea allergy-related but as she's not had fleas for months obviously isn't the case. So she's got a supplement of oil stuff (evening primrose, salmon, omega 3 et al) to go in her food every day for a while. Lily will probably end up getting some too with the way they swap bowls, but it might well do her some good as well all things considered. Other than that, Callie is perfectly healthy and was very good at the vet, although I suspect a lot of that was do do with being slightly overawed and in shock from being outside of her comfort zone (ie. the house).

We also got to see a cat on a leash at the vets, although he had to go back into his carrier when a German Shepherd puppy came in. Apparently he was a Bengal cross so he'd been pretty easy to leash-train. When Callie was small I bought a kitten harness in the hopes of training her in the same way, but she just attacked it and tried to eat it whenever I brought it out.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Right now I'm just downloading Secret World Legends in preparations for the headstart in an hour or two and drinking milk. It's a rocking Friday night.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, Callie will be going to the vets for her yearly vaccinations. Even though both she and Lily are 100% indoor cats (aside from the .5% when she pokes her nose past the front door for a fleeting second) it's important to get the vaccinations because (a) you can never be too careful; and (b) because Lily is on long-term steroids now she can't get her vaccinations, so Callie needs to step up to provide the herd (clowder?) immunity. Callie is significantly easier to get into the carrier than Lily, what with being small enough still to be picked up and held with one arm and her not psychically knowing when it's time to get into the carrier like Lily can somehow sense. Once that part is done it's relatively easy and so routine that even I and my anxiety can't come up with anything to panic about.

Then, later on in the day I will be joining several friends and friends of friends in the headstart for Secret World Legends, the new f2p version of Funcom's The Secret World. It's a new game, so new characters for everyone... and that's been causing me some deep thought and anxiety over the last few days.

You see, I've had a small pool of characters that I play/write about for a very, very long time now - some of them have been around for nearly 30 years at this point. And so with maybe one or two exceptions, I don't like to create new characters; not when I've got these perfectly good characters that I can tweak to that purpose! Over the years I've become aware that these characters are also facets of myself in one way or another - Talia (who over the decades has also been known as Tiffany, Kimberley, Abigail and Rebecca) is how I wish I was; while James is the part of me that identifies as male and (poor thing) gets saddled with my mental illnesses and anxieties (and angst). There's a couple of others, but these are the two that have been with me the longest. When I write, they're the characters who'll turn up in just about everything, carefully shaped to fit the situation. And over the years they've helped me through a lot of things as well - they're not real, of course, but working out what they'd do or say to me in situations when I've had no-one else around to turn to has probably saved my life on at least one occasion.

So it's difficult for me to just create new characters, because to make the cut as a character they really have to have something that makes me attached to them, otherwise I lose interest very quickly. And I feel awkward about this, because in my past I've had people tell me how wrong this is or mock me for it, to the point where now I expect it from people automatically. Even explaining this here is making me feel weird because I never actually talk about this stuff.

On a related note I should probably get back on with the character backgrounds I've been working on for the versions of them in my current original universe brainworm...
sareini: "Did I mention that my nose was on fire? That I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers?" - Babylon 5 (Nose on fire)
28 degrees C! I swear, we British are not equipped to deal with temperatures like this. Well, at the very least *I'm* not.

Lily has come up with the best way to beat the heat - she just climbs into the big cardboard box and goes to sleep in it. It's shady and cool and I wish I could fit in there with her. Callie just lies flat on the upstairs landing, where there are no windows and so it's a little cooler than the rest of the house. Meanwhile I sit and seriously debate the merits of just taking all my clothes off and pulling the blind down in the living room before I remember that still leaves me uncomfortably sticky and I can't go into the kitchen then.

I might have to put ice cubes in the cats' water soon, although whenever I did last year they just looked at me as if to say, "Mummy, why have you made the water lumpy?" Then Callie started trying to play with the floating ice cubes.

I know that others are enjoying the hot weather, and that's great. I just wish air conditioning was a thing in the UK for those of us who don't do well in the heat. If nothing else, it's sapping my concentration for doing stuff as well...

Box Wars

May. 28th, 2017 01:39 pm
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
There are two large cardboard boxes in the office. One is what the cat tree came in; I can't remember what the other one once contained, but it doesn't matter. The boxes now belong to the cats.

When it gets too hot, I often find Lily snoozing in one of them. Callie likes to chew on them (for reasons known only to her; she's a devil for cardboard) or practice shredding things with her claws on them. And today I just got to witness a half-hour game of Box Wars.

The rules of Box Wars seem to be quite simple: there is a box, and both cats want to be in the box. But there is only room for one cat in the box, and so they must fight, beguile, chase and/or trick the cat in the box into coming out of the box. Then they can get into the box, and everything starts again.

Of course, just being a human there's probably a lot of stuff I'm missing (is there a points system? Fouls? Do the rules change depending on the number of cats?), but at the same time there is endless amusement in watching Lily and Callie chasing each other, batting each other, pouncing and rolling and generally having immense fun just so they can sit in a box for a minute or so.
sareini: (cat)
I woke up this morning to find Callie licking my closed eyes. Apparently my role in life now is to be a salt lick for a kitten. It's the hay fever, of course; now that it's May and the weather is grudgingly admitting that it's springtime the pollens are really getting started, and of course I was already allergic to all of them even before the news of "super pollens" (pollens that have mixed with diesel fuels to be extra sticky in the mucous membranes) hit last week. Already my nose is getting runnier, my eyes more sore and prone to sticking closed in the morning (cat licks aside) and most annoyingly, the roof of my mouth itches more and more of the time. At least my life as it currently is minimises my contact with random free-floating pollen in the outside world.

In other news, I managed to be relatively productive around the house today. Did some small amount of tidying, typed up and published a review for the movie blog (The Void, in case you were wondering) and got as far as I currently can with the Shawl of Secrets. I'm now at the point where I have to buy the missing ball of yarn before I can continue, and depending on how things go on Thursday (another vet visit for Lily) will determine whether I can get that this week or at the end of the month. Still, it's a good thing it's not able to distract me right now, as I still have to finish that cardigan for my niece.

Possible Criminal Minds spoilers if you've not seen Season 11 yet )

Knitted shawl in browns, reds, oranges, yellows and greens

On Anxiety

Apr. 25th, 2017 03:40 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
My weekend actually turned out pretty crappy. I ended up spending most of it in the throws of a major anxiety attack, one which left me alternatively just sitting in bed shaking, being physically sick or suffering problems at the other end. Oh, and we can't forget the sleeplessness either. Things didn't really get any better until Monday noontime, when I received something in the mail - but we'll get to that later.

I often find that trying to explain to people what anxiety and/or panic attacks are like is a lot like trying to explain what yellow smells like. The first thing people usually ask is, "Do you know what caused it?" which, on the surface, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. If you know the cause, you can maybe do something about it. Unfortunately for me, my anxiety attacks are often completely random and with no obvious cause - sometimes I actually wonder if they're triggered by something in my subconscious going, "What? We have nothing to panic about? Let's fix that!" and just panicking for the sake of panicking.

The physical symptoms don't help matters either. Much as with any stressful situation, when you have an anxiety or panic attack your body produces more adrenaline than you really need, to prepare for a "fight or flight" response. And one of the other things adrenaline does is slows down or even stops your digestive system as part of this. But of course, it can't stop forever, which is why I end up backing and forthing to the bathroom with disturbing frequency. And if you're being sick, you can't really get your mind off the anxiety, can you? It's a particularly vicious circle.

So I spent the weekend a panicking mess. I could barely even talk to people, which then started a whole new anxiety loop - "What if they get mad at me? I can't face them after this!" - and on and on it went. Because I can't really explain how bad my anxiety makes me feel, I worry that my friends don't or can't really understand the way I am sometimes; why I disappear randomly, stop replying to them, run away from conversations online - I just randomly reach a level of my ability to cope with things, and the moment things go over that level I'm gone.

But like I said, things got better on Monday. I received a package of yarn for a shawl I've had the pattern for for a while now - the Shawl of Secrets made with Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn. I originally got the pattern several months ago when I was "helping" my niece get free shipping on an order of her own (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and last week I decided that I had the excess money to actually buy the yarn - well, most of it anyway, as one colour was out of stock. So I was able to start work on that and finally I had something I could focus on to bring my anxiety down. And it works up really quickly as well - I'm already on the second colour, which makes me slightly bothered that I'll have to stop rather quickly when I reach the part of the shawl that needs the one colour I couldn't get at the time, as I'll have to wait a week and a half before I can get that last colour (I have to put limits on my yarn buying, or the house would be full and we'd be resorting to eating the stuff). But it's very pretty, and it feels very nice - it's 20% cotton, 20% silk, and 60% polyester, which I realised perhaps too late translates to "Bugger to clean, best not get this dirty". But that's something to deal with when it's finished.

***

In other news, I've temporarily renamed Callie to "Bitey McMoglet" after she's spent the last few days on a renewed assault on my feet while I'm in bed. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that she actually responds to it (although to be fair, she also responds to, "Leave your sister alone," and "What are you doing in that bag?").
sareini: A Procrastinator's work is never done! (Procrastination)
Today I have been mostly crocheting. Well, apart from the past hour or so, when I took a break to transfer some inactive icons from lj to here, because after four hours of crochet the little finger on my right hand had seized up rather painfully. My evening will be filled with more of the same.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with my niece and my brother and the topic of her upcoming birthday came up. And, long story short, I volunteered to make her a cardigan.

Let me be clear, it's not that I don't want to make her a cardigan. It's that, at the best of time, my ability to focus on one task for a protracted period of time is somewhat limited, because the depression/anhedonia makes me lose interest because I either get sad, or something else catches my eye and I want to start that instead, thinking at the time that surely this will cheer me up. At the time, I was about three-quarters of the way through a cardigan for myself, with just the sleeves left to do, and the fact that I'd gotten that far was impressive in itself. But of course I've now put that on hold to make my niece's cardigan for her birthday in mid-May. And the focus problem is starting to raise its head. There's a couple of scarves I was working on I'd like to go back to. There's a cross-stitch piece I'd like to go back to. There's a whole bunch of other projects lying about the house that I should get finished at some point that suddenly all want attention. But I have to finish this cardigan before I can touch anything else. I have to.

It helps to watch stuff while I'm working on it. I had planned to watch an episode of the new MST3K this afternoon as I crocheted, but instead I got drawn into a True Crime Lists channel on YouTube that - for the most part - manages to stay away from all the usual cases that nearly every other channel ends up covering, often in inaccurate detail. No doubt I'll end up creeping myself out by the end of the night (possibly ending up watching old Crimewatch episodes as well for added unease) but for now it's okay. Mainly because it's daylight out.

Oh, and Callie is helping with the crochet as well. By "helping" I mean she keeps trying to eat the cotton yarn, then curls up on my legs and goes to sleep, leaving me unable to properly move my legs for hours until the cramping gets too much and I have to tip her off. Then she bites the yarn again in protest and we start all over again.


Cat Talk

Apr. 16th, 2017 02:41 pm
sareini: following my fish (delirium)
When I came back from the local shop a few minutes ago (highlight of the trip: three young boys giggling as I passed and then one of them being dared to shout, "Hi Beard Lady!" at me as I reached my front door; I thought about waving back but I didn't want to give them heart attacks) the cats were waiting for me at the door.

Since the last time I posted about the cats - last year - things have changed somewhat. Lily is still here, minus several teeth and recovering from a bout of cholangiohepatitis that's lasted for about six months now, but sadly Cracker had to be put to sleep last year after suffering a major stroke that left her blind and unable to walk properly. A couple of months after that, my niece called me up and said, basically, "Hey, do you still want a new cat? Because I've found a free one." And that's where Callie - short for Calliope Tulip Shodan - came in.

When Callie arrived here in the first week of June she was a tiny tuxedo kitten who was equal parts fascinated by and terrified of everything. Lily took one look at her and, despite being at least four times bigger than her, immediately developed a case of bottlebrush tail and started growling at her. Callie barely seemed aware of her though, because new smells! and things to climb on! and oh hey, what's this food doing lying unattended on the floor? So after that initial introduction Callie got to spend a few days in a room of her own, where she terrified the life out of me by climbing up onto high objects and leaping about like a mountain goat.

Lily is actually a very easy-going cat, and once she was assured that she wasn't going anywhere she started taking an interest in Callie; sitting outside the door to Callie's room and sniffing; occasionally calling to her through the door. Their first few supervised visits still ended in growls, hissing and at least one cat puffing themselves up, but it actually only took a couple of weeks before the two of them could be trusted to wander the house freely without the risk of fur flying everywhere. There were still spats - while Lily still likes to play despite her senior years (she was always a bit sad that Cracker would always flee rather than play with her), she didn't have the energy or tolerance for the sheer amount of time Callie wanted to play, so there were still growls and paw smackdowns. And while she was at her illest with the cholangiohepatitis, she wanted to play even less, and my feet suffered during that time as Callie would take out her frustrations by biting anything that moved. But now?

Well, yesterday Callie spent over a minute trying to scruff Lily, who was lying on her back in the traditional "cat belly trap" pose", so she could drag her across the room for reasons known only to her. Callie's still not nearly as big as Lily, nor will she ever be, of course, so she was getting absolutely nowhere. Lily put up with this for a while, then reached out and gave a single whap to Callie with a paw, got up and ambled away. Two minutes later they were rolling across the floor together like a furry tumbleweed.

I'd say they're getting on.


A small black and white cat sitting in a slow cooker. (not plugged in)


A large ginger cat lying on a platform of a cat tree after ingesting catnip

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