The Cuckoo Kitten

Her Royal Highness descended upon our humble abode with a freshly shaved belly and small shaved spot on her front leg from her desexing operation. What an impression she has made here already. After a time of great sadness, she is making us laugh again. She is also helping us to remember all the happy times we had with Grumpy when she was a kitten many years ago.

She is mostly black, with one tiny white patch on her chest, and some white on her belly which is currently growing back. She does have some tabby-style stripes which you can see in certain lighting but they are just slightly different shades of black. Personality wise she is very patient and kind, she purrs constantly, she is determined, fearless and brave.

Her name here on the blog will officially be Cuckoo, and to be fair that is the word I most use to describe her regularly.

Happy is not such a fan. We were hopeful that given her 6 years of trying to make Grumpy accept her that she would be accepting and even eager to have a little one to play with. Thus far there is quite a bit of hissing, a lot of staring, and the occasional paw swat if Cuckoo gets too close. We have seen small signs of progress and the occasional bit of play together – it especially tends to happen when we are not watching – it is still early days and we have hope for the future.

Cuckoo has zero fear and like any child believes she is invincible and cannot be hurt. She is incredible at jumping – the nearest thing to the top of this room divider is a metre away. She just leaped and there she was, up on top of it.

She is a great sleeper and has two modes – awake and full pelt, or fast asleep. Sometimes when she wakes it takes her a short while to switch from one mode to the other. She already has several favourite places to sleep throughout the house and she and Happy are swapping sleeping spots which is a positive sign.

Keep a good thought for our kitties, that they will learn to love one another. :)

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The Grumpyless Life

Losing a much loved pet is always hard on everyone in the house. On the one hand life must go on, we’ve had markets we’d committed to attending, we’ve had to keep the business going, The Other Half had to keep going to work and keep studying – the studying probably being the hardest part for him to push on with at this stage..

I’ve been able to throw myself into the business but there is at least one moment every day when it hits me fresh once again. Yesterday two weeks to the day I finally was able to bring myself to wash my lap rug. It was the favourite place for Grumpy to sleep. Washing that was the last piece of the letting her go puzzle for me. The healing can truly begin now that the holding on is complete.

The one it has been hardest on surprisingly is Happy. She’s lived with the tyrant of tortitude Grumpy for over 6 years adoring her from afar, never being allowed to love Grumpy like she wanted to, any advance met with the swipe of a paw. But every day she misses her and she is completely lost without the Big Kitty to keep her in line. Her routines – while we have kept them the same as much as possible – are not the same without Grumpy here.

Every morning when The Other Half would go to the shower, both the cats would go into the bathroom and await their tuna feast, often vocally telling The Other Half to hurry up. Once he was done with the shower, they would walk to the end of the hallway and perform a little play we liked to call Kitty Bookends, where they would sit exactly the same way on opposite corners of the mat there. Once he would appear there would be a lot of meowing and one if not both cats would jump up on the kitchen stools to watch the preparation of their tuna snack.

Now Happy stays on the bed with me for much of The Other Half’s morning shower before wandering in to see what he is up to in there. She still does kitty bookends but she does it alone and every time it breaks my heart.

Worst of all, during the day she is mopey cat now instead of happy cat. She still looks for Grumpy but never finds her. It is almost like she is expecting her to return home from the vet or some kind of kitty vacation. She spends a lot more time sleeping than she used to. We are spending a lot of time trying to encourage her to play – kibble catch is presently her favourite game and she will often get 3 or 4 20 minute sessions of that in the space of the day.

We’ve always been a two cat household and we want to continue to be a two cat household, so this week we will (hopefully) begin the process of introducing a new cat to the house. We did take Happy out to the shelter for a meet and greet but it did not go especially well, Happy was too freaked out by the new surroundings to get comfortable even though we stayed quite some time. But we were able to see which of the kitties was the most interested in Happy and which one reacted the best to her, so we made a choice.

I did not take even one photo while we were out there – we were too focused on Happy and the kitties. But you will certainly see some once the new kitty arrives here. We hope this will begin a new era of Happy Movement – she is definitely in need of exercise and a new cat in the house – one who will actually play with her – might be exactly what she needs.

Please keep a good thought that the introduction will go well, and that Happy will become Big Kitty to a new Little Kitty. A very little kitty – the staff felt the best chance for a good fit with Happy given the situation and her past experiences was a kitten. We usually would have chosen a slightly older cat but in this case we took their advice. We hope Happy will take her under her wing.

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Vale Grumpy

Our Grumpy cat – formerly known on the blog as The Little Kitty, before she got so Grumpy – has joined her many friends waiting at Rainbow Bridge this morning.

She very nearly went there 6 years ago when a careless vet punctured her eardrum while trying to clean it, which made her quite ill and the antibiotics and painkillers she were given sent her into renal failure. Much love and syringe feeding for about two months got her back to a healthy place and we gained a lot of extra time. Though the food she needed was more expensive we didn’t mind that.

While we are so sad to lose her today, we are thankful for all those extra moments we got. Six years of extra moments, that is a lot of lap time and cuddles and many many tins of tuna she got to eat. Tuna was her favourite food.

There were some eye issues during those 6 years, in the end she had surgery to fix the folding in of the eye. While not a complete success, it worked well enough that we did not get any further ulcers developing.

In the last year we’ve felt that she began to lose a bit of her hearing and some of her eyesight particularly night eyesight. Happy could sit right next to her on the bed and Grumpy wouldn’t know unless we turned the lights on. She did not always hear us calling her. But these were small things, not very much of a problem for any of us.

Unfortunately the kidney issues – while they went away for most of those 6 years – returned a couple of months ago and while we’ve all been working hard to fight them, there does come a time when the kindest thing is to say no more. For us that time came this week. We’ve been supplementing with syringe feeding for a couple of weeks and she became unable to keep that down anymore, even with anti-nausea medication.

As Grumpy did not enjoy going to the vet, we organised a mobile vet to come out and assist her in crossing the bridge. It was the best thing we could have done for her, far less stressful. She was surrounded by those who loved her in her own home in her favourite cat bed while sitting on her favourite lounge.

Poor Happy cat is wandering the house meowing and looking for her, exactly as she did when Grumpy last went in for an overnight stay at the vets. While Happy was a big fan of Grumpy, those feelings were not mutual. Grumpy tolerated her up to a point then would give her a good paw swat but would never play with her. We will be trying to find a new cat friend for Happy, one who will like to play with her. We will not be rushing into anything though.

I know I always struggle to find words to say at a time like this, when these things happen to fellow bloggers who I follow and whose pets I feel like I know even though I have never met them.

Please don’t feel like you have to find words – a simple *hugs* as a comment to let us know you saw this post and are keeping a good thought for us is more than enough and will be deeply appreciated. :)

kitties, Vale Pets

I’m not normal, this we know already.

You would have thought after my post last week that Friday would have been a huge day of parcel arrivals here in Snoskredland. Rather sadly it was not. I can’t remember if anything did arrive at all, my feeling is that it didn’t. On Monday a couple of parcels dribbled in but luckily they contained much of what I had been waiting for.

I’ve been in customer service for much of my lifetime. In my experience, most people, when they lodge a complaint, are not especially nice about it. I’ve learned that if you can be polite, friendly, and even funny if possible, the customer service folks will appreciate that and tend to go the extra mile for you. Thus far anytime I have lodged a complaint the package arrives within 24-48 hours.

What does a complaint from me look like? Something like this –

Dear Post People,

Could you possibly extricate my package of 6 lions from wherever they are hiding out and send them home to me as I expect they are getting quite hungry by now.

Alternatively, let me know if they have escaped and eaten all the staff at your facility, though I suspect I would have seen something like that on the news but then again, the media these days a story like that could get ignored in favour of Aldi’s sale item that will change your life.

Thank you very much in advance!

Yes that was an actual article on the day I wrote it – checking back today I saw this article. It makes me wonder how much Aldi are paying for this – or alternatively whether the writers at news sites simply don’t bother to look for actual news anymore.

The customer service agent who received my note about the lions appreciated it so much that he actually called me. He said it made his day and he had to call and speak to the person who wrote it to update me personally. And he gave me bonus points for using the word extricate. We had a lovely chat, which made my day in return. I’d mostly spent it constructing tricky triangle boxes and rolling stuff up to go in them.

What is the point in getting angry and writing angry things when that rarely achieves anything? Much better to do a little creative writing and try to give those poor customer service folks a smile. They really need it, I can vouch for that.

My lions package should arrive today. Fingers crossed anyway. :)

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Dropping It Off

Have you seen this Pakman letterbox out and about in your travels? Probably not because unlike me, you are probably not walking the local streets doing a letterbox drop. It is quite a marvel – allows your postie or couriers to drop in a parcel and only you can retrieve it. But it is an Up Money marvel selling for around $499.

You know it has been years since I did this kind of thing, 28 years to be approximate. I was a Christmas Postie for 2 years when I was 16/17 and only quit after a dog bite. I would have kept doing it because I enjoyed it, but I developed quite a fear of dogs after two attacks.

One was the dog of a friend when I visited which was much more a mauling than a bite. I ended up in hospital after that one and was on crutches for a week. I still have nerve damage and the scars from that attack. The second was while working as a postie and that was the last day I did that job. After that I did have a fear of dogs for a long time. Eventually I mostly got over it thanks to some wonderful dogs I made friends with.

I don’t enjoy letterbox dropping. The thing I really don’t comprehend is how can anyone put a No Junk Mail sticker on their letterbox.

First up I am never lucky enough to get junk mail – we never seem to have someone who delivers it here. Secondly, just how cut off from your local community do you want to be? How do you find out about new things happening if you won’t let any of the folks who take the time to make a flyer and bring it directly to your own house communicate with you? It is your loss.

There should be perhaps another sticker – no commercial catalogues, local flyers accepted. You can always make your own sticker!

We are making our own down money version of the Pakman. I am here most of the time to receive packages but when I have a day off I would like to be able to go out without worrying about possible package deliveries and things being stolen.

Speaking of receiving packages..

Looks like the package deities might be about to smile upon me. I mean some of those things now in Sydney have ONLY been stuck in Melbourne (AKA The Package Black Hole) for an entire week. And those things now in Melbourne will likely arrive around this time next week.

Annoyed Snoskred, work

The New Setup Part 2

Following on from the previous post – Above you see the Kitty Nirvana which has some of their toys and their kitty litter enclosure.

I can use this mobile screen above to block this area off, if I don’t want folks to see it. At the moment it is blocking off the drying area and my private lounge area –

The drying area is a suntrap for the kitties and they have cat towers to recline in and enjoy the sun here. Usually one or the other is in the round basking area – in the next photo you see Happy has made her way there.

My area is screened off from the bright sun area – too much light gives me a headache. I have my recliner, the other half has his Ikea chair, the treadmill is back behind me near the curtains out of the way.

My candle shelf has been moved here from the entryway. I got rid of all the DVD covers of movies, they have all been stored in special bulk dvd storage folios. I kept the DVDs that are series, at least for now. The DVD shelves moved into the studio where they hold arty things now. Looking at this photo I see I still have some cord hiding work to do here.

My much reduced books have a small bookshelf here in the corner – these are the ones I don’t have in digital format. Everything else which I do have in digital format has either been sold or donated.

And now a couple of studio pics. We did a lot of work in this room. There are four tables all of which are fabric covered and I will be getting plastic covering for those arty things we will want to do which are messy. For now the arty stuff we are doing is not messy. There are 14 chairs all of which were re-upholstered in a gorgeous teal and blue fabric.

One of the studio walls is devoted to kits I have in stock or photos of kits on the way, with a couple of posters in between.

This has been a huge effort and I couldn’t have done it without the awesome Other Half, of course. Now we’re all set up and things are going pretty well. I have some dedicated regular students already and the kits sell very fast, oftentimes even before they arrive here. If only Australia Post would get their act together I would have more stuff I could sell. :)

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The New Setup Part 1


– Our new entryway –

When we were creating our home business where people would be coming into the house regularly, we thought carefully about how we could separate our private areas from the “public” areas. We’ve always made use of “door curtains” to keep the heat in the parts of the house we were heating so we thought we could use curtains to do this job quite effectively. It has worked out well thus far with one painful exception – more on that later!

Above you can see the curtain that leads to my lounge area. I don’t go through that one at all, I consider it like a brick wall that cannot be opened. This is partly due to the lamp and coat rack which sits in front of the curtain, and partly because I prefer to go the long way around.

Now it is like you have walked in the front door – here is what you would see if you did. Some art on the walls which I am loving the position of right now but I do have another artwork in mind for this area once I create it. You see the kitchen benchtop and the mat that marks the studio entrance – more on that below.

In this case you see right through to The Other Half’s office area – but if you were coming here to visit the studio you would not see that at all, it is screened off by the curtain you can see –

This curtain screens two ways – when nobody is popping in, we use it to screen off the guest bathroom and toilet – we no longer use them, they are purely for visitors now. When people are visiting, this curtain swings across to block off the hallway – otherwise known as Other Half World. His gaming room and home office are down this hallway as well as the laundry and our bedroom/ensuite etc.

Behind that curtain the toilet and guest bathroom are patiently waiting for their next visitor. I’ve got some lovely reed diffusers in these rooms that smell like coconut and mango, it is heavenly in there.

Also in this area, we have used curtains to “hide” a couple of shelving units. This one above hides all my tupperware containers. We’ve also made signs to let people know these doors are private areas – the spare bedroom and linen closet which actually holds no linen but contains things like the breadmaker and other appliances.

And this shelf curtain which hides our medicine baskets, oven trays and casserole dishes. This sofa can be used by visitors if they want to take a break from the studio and sit down on the lounge to drink their coffee/tea/hot chocolate. We keep rugs on it so the cats can’t fur it up, we can take those off in a second if we need to.

At the studio entrance I have used this mat to remind people to watch their step. The studio was once a garage and there is a small step down into it which we have mitigated with this rubber ramp mat from Bunnings.

We have used another curtain to block off the kitchen from the areas behind it. This is where the painful exception happens – the dishwasher door is right next to the curtain and twice I have unloaded the dishwasher and left the door open intending to return and fill it..

I’ve then gone off to do something else and forget the door is open, when I go back through the curtain I hit the door with a leg or ankle. Two bruises thus far, I am hopeful that will be enough to learn not to do that again. :)

On Wednesday I will show you a little more of what we’ve been up to here. ;)

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Every Waking Moment


My current work in progress. I did not know it would be radioactive! :)

I had absolutely no idea how much my new venture would take over my life. This is crazy time, folks, but I am loving every minute of it. I’ve already got a small group of dedicated regulars and we are having so much fun.

Part of the venture is selling things I am importing from overseas. I can’t keep up with the demand – or I should say, the postal services can’t keep up with the demand.

As I type this I have 18 packages in transit AKA not at my house yet, and I have three packages containing 20 items already reserved for customers seemingly stuck in Melbourne which I have fast begun to comprehend is a black hole for packages – they can spend up to a week there going nowhere. I mean really, is it that hard to put things on the truck to Sydney?

I’ve already sent two poster rolls to customers – one in Canberra, one in Sydney, these get there overnight. I’m paying a pretty penny for that to happen so it darn well should. I make it pretty with this duct tape that Sephyroth sent me some years ago.

Sydney transit is much better – things usually arrive within 24-48 hours of landing in the country. But not this week, apparently Melbourne is contagious and I’ve had a package sitting there since Monday which hasn’t turned up here.

Our package tracking is abysmal in this country. When I’ve had packages stuck before they sometimes don’t update that they are being delivered until they get scanned on my doorstep.

There is no shortage of glamour and sparkle in this household presently, even though I did NOT buy these sprinkles. ;) Things are getting very sparkly up in here.

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Feeding Stations

We created these for two reasons – one far more important than the other. First the less important one –

1. Cosmetic reasons. It isn’t beautiful to have the place cats eat on display all the time. We want to hide their food place away from view when they aren’t using it. Especially as this area will be visible to people using the water closet if they are attending my workshops.

2. The more important reason – Happy is overweight. We’ve been trying to work on this and were quite successful last year but unknown to us over winter she began sneaking food from Grumpy. She put on almost the exact amount of weight that Grumpy lost.

Grumpy is a very slow eater thanks to her health problems with Horners Syndrome – she tends to make a bit of a mess when she eats. Happy inhales her food within seconds, then she goes looking for more. If we aren’t there to supervise, she will annoy Grumpy who will then walk away from her food, enabling the Food Vacuum to snorfle up anything left.

So all mealtimes are now supervised. If Grumpy walks away, we can close her food lid and she can eat it later on. Once Happy walks away, I get her favourite mouse on a stick and provide some exercise while Grumpy finishes eating.

Grumpy also gets secret kibble snacks in The Other Half’s office when Happy is not around to notice. Though the sound of Grumpy eating often attracts her.

The design is pretty simple, though the triangle shape was born from having less material on hand than expected. There is a strut on the side that locks the lid into the upright position.

This improvement plus the wonderful kitty litter enclosure I mentioned recently are so awesome. Happy tends to walk away without burying – well she thinks she buried it but she actually missed it entirely and sometimes it could be quite stinky so I would go and bury it for her. Since The Other Half added the fan to the kitty litter enclosure I have not experienced one stinky at all, and we have a lot less kitty litter escaping the enclosure.

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How Do I Tell You

7 weeks ago, I resigned from that job I really loved. It is a long story how that came to be, best summed up as follows – The owner turned out to be a depressed psycho with whom I rarely had any interactions but when I did see her, she would verbally abuse me for doing the things she had actually asked me to do and then tell me the things I did were not important and not necessary.

Making the decision was very difficult. I wrote my letter of resignation and headed in to work one more Saturday shift. I was still a bit on the fence about it, was I doing the right thing, to quit this job I really loved.

She confirmed for me that I made the right decision when she arrived that morning – she said Hi, I said Hi, then she started yelling at me, accusing me of giving her the silent treatment. I know I said my Hi out loud, it wasn’t silent. I knew then that I would never be able to win with her no matter what I did. When I left that day, I put my letter on the counter.

The people I worked with on a daily basis were great and I loved the job so it should not surprise you when I tell you I spent some time curled in a ball on the floor. I had a full on Aspie meltdown. Even just typing about it now brings tears to my eyes, which is one reason I put off telling you for so long.

Things happen for a reason, I am a firm believer in that. This unhappy adventure is yet another in a string of unhappy adventures where I did everything I could for my employer only to be treated badly. It has convinced me that I need to be the person in charge. So after a while of picking myself back up off the floor, I began to think about next steps.

This coincided with a change in The Other Half’s study plans. The university really stuffed him around and there was so much stress trying to schedule everything, in the end I said it might be worth looking into his original option which was to do the degree online. He’ll have to go to Melbourne twice a year for the in person sessions but that turns out cheaper than travelling back and forth to the “local” university.

So he needs a home office to do this, and we decided to separate his games room and study area, which left us the large space that originally was a garage but was turned into a rumpus by the former owners. What can we do with this space, I thought. Why not turn it into a home business of some kind?

We did a lot of cleaning, decluttering, sorting, tidying. The house is feeling like a great place to be right now. :)

Three weeks ago we began building my own home art studio. One week ago we finished it. I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination but there are things I can offer, things I can teach people to do. I’ll be running home workshops – in fact I’ve already held a few this past weekend. I’m also going to do some markets.

So. That happened. The good news for me is that while I thought I was headed into that dark depression place again, I managed to avoid it this time. The bounce back from the Aspie meltdown was a lot quicker. Now I have a plan and a goal I am working towards – this time it is all for me, not someone else’s vision, not someone else’s business.

Onward and upward, no looking back. :)

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