Sunday 16 November 2014

The Entropy Gang's November 2014 blog

The Entropy Gang’s November 2014 blog (formerly Conservatory Cats’ Chats)

Now we are two
(top to bottom) Isambard, Jellicoe, Herschel
Herschel: A great deal has happened in the past year, not all of it to our immediate liking. We were perfectly content with our accommodation and our companions, until . . .

Isambard:  . . . one day, Susannah, a servant from one of The MAID’s and The THINKER’s litters, moved in with a very small Servant. Did you know that most Servants only have litters of one? So wasteful – much easier to have five or six or seven at a time though I rather think Servants would not be able to cope. Anyway, Susannah and the small Servant, Frankie, moved in and they brought with them another CAT! We were affronted at first but soon became interested.

Jellicoe: We were irritated that part of the house had now been shut off to us but understood that the Incomers needed room for themselves. We have not been formally introduced to the CAT but understand her name is Cleopatra, though she is usually called Pats or Patricia.

Herschel: We are quite sure we would all be friends. After all, she is an Abyssinian, but the Servants are playing very safe. They say she will be allowed into the rest of the house when the FENCE is erected and we can play in the GARDEN. We are looking forward to that - and have been for some time.

Isambard: We thought we would be able to go and introduce ourselves to Pats. We can all open doors now but the Servants have done something to the door handle into Susannah’s domain, something about UPSIDE DOWN. We shall persevere and discover the secret to opening it.

Jellicoe: We like Susannah and we even like Frankie now that he’s learnt to be gentle with us. Two more even smaller Servants, part of our Servants’ FAMILY, came to visit yesterday so we went upstairs and stayed there until they had gone.
Frankie and Isambard
Herschel: We always make ourselves scarce if things get too noisy or busy but Isambard doesn’t hide under the STAIRS like he used to.

Isambard: I think the thing that has disturbed us most has been the introduction of another DOG, called Lolly. She is a baby dog – I believe the Servants call her a PUPPY. She doesn’t live here all the time.

Jellicoe: No, she belongs to another of The MAID’s and The THINKER’s litters, Bethan. She brings her to visit so that the Servants’ DOGS can get to know her.

Herschel: When she first came into the house she was very small, smaller even than Jellicoe, who is the smallest of us three brothers. I started stalking her. The Servants didn’t seem to like that but I was only doing what comes naturally.

Isambard: The next time she came she was bigger and each time after that she had grown some more.

Jellicoe: Now she’s taller than Jenna but she still hasn’t learnt the correct etiquette for dealing with her superiors. We have been very patient and have not even hissed at her – well, only once or twice.

Herschel: I’m sure eventually she will learn the error of her ways and then we shall be able to snuggle up with her like we do with the Servants’ DOGS.

Isambard: Until then we shall retain the high ground and gaze down on her.

Jellicoe: Christmas will be here soon – we enjoyed it last year and we think this year will be even better. Happy Christmas everyone!
Herschel and Jellicoe leap for the feathers

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller - Loving the Attention

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller – Loving the Attention
Having got back into the rhythm of Visiting the Vet Frodo has had an interesting few weeks. First there was blood in his urine – lots of it! A scan revealed he may have a tumour in his bladder but we decided there would be no invasive surgery. Nadia-the-Vet said he might live for another year. We were very sad but reminded ourselves that he has had and is still having a very good life, despite his problems. More antibiotics were prescribed and there has been no more blood.

Frodo has been subject to epileptic seizures since he was nearly three years old; they are sporadic and don’t last long but recently he had five seizures in less than twenty-four hours and they exhausted him. The following day he had a dramatically upset stomach in the middle of the night (and the middle of our bedroom!) We took him downstairs and watched him carefully. He seemed uncomfortable and we were worried that he might be having another attack of bloat. Our vets were closed so Barry took him to the emergency vets seven miles away and he was put on a drip to rehydrate him. Barry got home at 2.00 a.m. and had to collect him from the emergency vets at 7.30. Frodo then had to spend the day with our vets on a drip and we were told he would stay there overnight. However, he got into a bit of a state and was tangling himself in the feed tube so we brought him home.
All returned to normal for a few weeks until one morning we noticed Bertie licking Frodo’s leg. Blood was trickling down it and we thought it might be in his urine again. When I looked his urine was fine but he had what looked like a gash on his thigh, as though he had caught his leg on a bramble. Another trip to the vet disclosed that he had an abscess that had burst. Again there was a suspicion that it might be more sinister but a course of antibiotics cleared it up. Julie-the-Vet advised that the skin medication was affecting his immune system and that he should stop taking it. Frodo had lost quite a lot of weight in recent weeks – he had been 29 kilos but had dropped a kilo and a half. Although he looked thin he was quite as lively and hungry as ever so I started supplementing his two meat meals with two of cereal, milk and eggs. Within six days he gained two kilos.

A couple of weeks later he had another stomach upset and lost a kilo.  Julie-the-Vet prescribed more antibiotics for him and I fed him just eggs scrambled in water for a couple of days to give his system a chance to recover. He now has cooked food because although he loves raw food his digestive system can’t seem to tolerate it.

It’s a delicate balancing act trying to feed Frodo enough to keep him satisfied and at a good weight without overloading his system. He has just had another cluster of four seizures in twelve hours. He was very disorientated and got lost in our garden in the middle of the night. He slept all day yesterday and ate nothing but is his usual ravenous self today. Each incident knocks him back and each recovery takes a little longer but he is a fighter. Nonetheless, we know his days are numbered and fear that his next adventure may be his final one. Luckily he doesn’t know that and enjoys his food, his walks and the company of those who love him.

Monday 11 August 2014

Blue for Danger?

Blue for Danger?

In an attempt to reduce the number of wild life deaths Luxembourg has installed blue reflectors on its roads. A similar system is in place in Germany.

You can read about the scheme here.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Frankie - August 2014

Frankie - August 2014

Frankie is twenty months old now and full of life. He sleeps well at night – if Pats the Cat doesn’t disturb him – she woke him at 5:00 this morning! Mornings are usually busy times and he has a nap in the afternoon. Well, that’s the theory. Often he experiences a resurgence of energy when he goes to bed and spends the time he should be sleeping practising his songs and words, talking to his toys, shrieking with laughter and romping up and down his cot. How do we know this? Apart from the noise (!) we have a camera focused on him and thus we can see when he has divested himself of his nappy and can rush upstairs to remedy matters. He now has ‘going to bed’ trousers which he has not yet managed to take off though he watches closely when he is dressed in them to see if he can work out the magic formula!

He has great fun with his little cousin Isla (our great-granddaughter) who is four months younger than him. They don’t see each other very often – Isla lives quite a long way away and when they do meet they don’t exactly play together, rather alongside each other with their paths crossing, or more likely colliding! They both love music and dance with enormous energy. Bath time is entertaining for both of them, with the bath full of books and toys. 

Sometimes, Frankie needs a little distraction/relaxation and then he sits on my knee and watches Postman Pat or Thomas the Tank Engine. Postman Pat appears to be outstripping Thomas in the favourites stakes at present.

He had a haircut today. Can you see the difference in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos?

In my kitchen . . .

In my kitchen . . .

Aubergines, avocados and butternut squash
Red and white onions

Words for Wednesday Time to stand and stare

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ‘Under the Porch Light' offers six words as a writing prompt – fragmented, gravel, blistering, mundane, clairvoyant, grasshopper, OR the phrase incidentally yours. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted? 
Time to stand and stare

It was a blistering hot day and Lizzie was bored with the mundane chores of daily life. She paused in her cleaning and gazed out of the window, sighing. The words of a familiar poem came into her mind:
‘What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?’

Acknowledging the truth of this she flung down her duster and hurried out of the house. She would go to the meadow and sit by the stream. The air there would be fresher. She smiled in anticipation.

Gravel from the drive skipped into her sandal, piercing her foot and making her wince. She shook it out and hobbled on. By the time she reached the paddock the pain had passed. She removed her sandals and luxuriated in the feel of the cool grass against her hot flesh. ‘Nature’s carpet,’ she thought and sat down by the stream. The sun glanced off the water, reflections from above fragmented by its tumbling passage over the smooth pebbles below. Dragonflies danced in the air, darting thither and yon in their relentless hunt for prey. Birds sang as if for joy and Lizzie felt herself relaxing.

A movement in the grass caught her eye. A host of newly-minted small frogs scrambled through the stems. She captured one and held it up to examine it. ‘Such perfection in so small a form,’ she thought.  She released it and watched as it clambered away to safety. She wondered how long it would survive. Maybe if she were clairvoyant she would discover the answer. Reason told her that the world would be overrun if all such tiny creatures survived to adulthood and breeding status. As she watched, another small being came into her vision. The grasshopper, so common, so rarely seen and therefore a delight, seemed to study her as closely as she observed it. She held her breath, knowing how quickly it could move away. Seconds passed and still the little creature remained in sight, then in the blink of an eye it was gone.

Lizzie stretched and stood up, refreshed in body and mind, and wandered home. The last lines of the poem came to her:
‘A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.’

She smiled again, glad she had taken the time to stand and stare.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller - Regaining the Limelight

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller – Regaining the Limelight
Cooling his paws
Following what everyone believed to have been a successful conclusion in the case of his atopic dermatitis, resulting in ongoing treatment, Frodo decided to throw another conundrum into the mix.
Bumps beginning to appear . . .
Last week we noticed there were a couple of small bumps on his left flank. They were not ticks; for some reason he doesn’t attract those - they seem to prefer the dense fur of the Labradors. Within a couple of days the bumps had developed into pustules, looking remarkably like dermatitis, though they were not irritating him or causing him to rub himself against any available firm surface (my legs, for example!) The pustules erupted and his fur looked much as the fur on his head had done. I shampooed him and watched as his fur fled the scene. Our beautiful Dalmatian was now a white dog with black and red spots. His skin looked very sore but he was untroubled by it. 

A trip to Phil-the-Vet clarified that this was not a further outbreak of dermatitis but was possibly fox mange. Frodo returned home with another course of antibiotics for himself and pipettes of broad spectrum insecticides to treat all the dogs. Nothing that sucks, bites, burrows or nests in our dogs will survive!

Fox or sarcoptic mange (also known as canine scabies) is highly contagious. It is caused by mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) but is readily treated. Foxes are not usually fortunate enough to receive veterinary treatment and die within four months. Though the mites may transfer to cats or humans they do not survive long away from the host species and will not cause any problems.

The things Frodo does to get himself noticed!!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Friday 18 July 2014

Flower Festival 2014

The Flower Festival is one of the highlights of the biennial Crowthorne Carnival. Susannah, Bethan, Frankie and Lolly (!) came with me on Sunday afternoon. It was held in the church of St John the Baptist and it was packed. Light lunches and refreshments were served throughout the weekend.

Various local organisations took part, among them schools, Women's Institute, toddler groups, flower arrangers and businesses. The theme for the Carnival was ‘Strictly Showtime’.
Detail from 'Fiddler on the Roof' by St Sebastian's Women's Institute 
'Fiddler on the Roof' 
The font provided a platform for 'Carousel'
Every available space was used
'The X Factor', a popular television show
Not sure what was the inspiration behind this - 'Oliver' maybe?
'Swan Lake' by St Sebastian's church
There were musical interludes
'The Tower of Babel'
'The Beautiful City'
'The Cleansing of the Temple'
 'All good gifts'
Joseph and his coat of many colours
'Facets of Faith'
'St John's flower arrangers
'The Miracle of the Burning Bush'
'The Mikado' by Crowthorne Traders' Association
'Elton John'
'Detail from 'Elton John'
'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
'Singin' in the Rain' by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Crowthorne branch.
'Dancing on Ice' by Crowthorne WI. 'Dancing on Ice' is a popular television programme.

The pew ends were decorated. This one was inspired by 'My favourite things' from 'The Sound of Music.'
'Noah's Ark' by The Net, formerly known as St John's Sunday School.
Royal Ascot scene from 'My Fair Lady' by Crowthorne and Sandhurst Flower Arrangers
Crowthorne Gang Show - Scouts
'The Lion King' by Hatch Ride Primary School
This and the following scenes were on floats at the Carnival Procession at the beginning of Carnival Week.
'The Wizard of Oz' by Wildmoor Primary School
'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'
Detail from 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'
The splendid Cedar in the graveyard.