Comfort Zone

It’s a full moon, it’s dark early and we’re all exhausted after a hectic week. So today I’m cooking this. This recipe transitioned rapidly from ‘trying it out’ to ‘staple’ and for cold, dark days (like today), with the promise of an equally hectic week to come, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Go on, try it.

On my needles…

… right now. It’s a jumper for Skipper and, as you can see, her colour choices are fairly similar to mine 🙂


I’ve also completely broken one of my own knitting rules. That is, I have two projects on the go simultaeneously. I used to be Very Good and finish one project before starting another. And then I started going to a knitting group. It sounds like a lot of special pleading but the plain and simple truth is that it’s practically impossible to knit anything complex whilst also chatting and supping coffee. At least, it is for me.


These, once they’re finished, will be Legwarmers for yours truly. It looks like a fairly crappy kind of yellow in the pic, but it’s actually a little more sunshine-y than that.

And no, I don’t care if legwarmers are a bit of an 80s throwback. Fashion comes around and around, dontcha know?

Happy Birthday, Karl (aka Love Conquers All)

It’s just over a year since I took some fairly drastic action and catnapped a near-feral, slowly-starving-to-death cat. Which sounds terribly dramatic. In truth, it kinda was.

Note: Make yourself some tea or something. Grab a snack. This is kind of a long post.

Soooo… a cat had been hanging around for months. We saw him often enough to name him.

  • Smeagol (grey, skinny, lamplike eyes – you can see where we were coming from, right?)
  • Misty (because Smeagol really isn’t a nice name for anyone)
  • NotMyCat (at this point he was showing up every day and I was struggling to tell myself that he might actually be someone’s pet so I shouldn’t adopt him)

And I really did tell myself a LOT that he probably belonged somewhere, that someone, somewhere was desperately missing their beloved pet. I looked for posters. I actually, deliberately, began taking an evening walk just to look for posters. I checked the Cats Protection site (they have a ‘missing cats’ page).

Nothing. Nada. Zip.



I put food out. He ate it, but only if I didn’t stay in the garden. I put more food out, talking and talking to him. Over a period of months, he began to eat whilst I was in the garden. Sometimes he’d hang around while I pegged out washing. Eventually, I could touch him. But not his head. Never the top of his head. His fur was matted and thin and dull. His age was indeterminate, but I guessed he was pretty old. He was unneutered. His pupils were constant pinpricks and he weaved when he walked, which made me wonder how much sleep he got. Conversations in our house went a lot like this:

Me: I really don’t think he has a home, you know.

Jams: Hmm.

Me: Seriously. Look at him. I really don’t think he has a home. And it’s not really stealing if he’s coming into our garden, is it…?

I learned he liked being talked to. He liked being sung to, too. (even though I sing very, very badly) He began turning up every day. He developed a real liking for cat treats (he would even take them from my hand, but race away quickly to eat them). We realised he’d begun sleeping underneath our car most nights.

And so it went. NotMyCat turned up, I fed him and talked to him and kept on looking for posters for a missing grey cat and worrying about how the weather was slowly getting colder. Conversations in our house shifted a little:

Me: We could get a hutch.

Jams: Hutch?

Me: For NotMyCat. When it gets colder. I mean, he’s so thin. (he wasn’t gaining any weight) 

Jams: Yeah, that could work.

We looked at hutches. We scoured Freecycle and started pricing up little wooden structures in the local pet shop. Nothing seemed right. But we developed a plan – get a hutch, or something to offer some shelter, leave food out, slowly win him over and get him to the vets to check for a microchip. That way, if he was simply missing, he could be reunited with his owner and I wouldn’t be awake at night worrying about him.

That was the plan.

Perhaps I should explain at this point that I’m not the most patient or diplomatic of people. And when it comes to problem-solving I’m a bit ‘Gordian Knot’ – you know, slice it right down the middle, whatever works fastest. I’m willing to admit that’s not always the right way to do things.

One day, in October, I’d sat outside with NotMyCat for about half an hour. By now he was tolerating the slightest of touches to the top of his head, although he didn’t mind having his back rubbed. My hands were blue with cold. And I suddenly realised that if my hands were cold, how the hell did he feel? His body was bunched up, his movements slow and stiff. Leaving him outside whilst I went indoors to a warm house suddenly felt like an absolute cruelty, a kind of betrayal.

And that’s when the catnapping happened. So much for the plan, right?

Jams was brilliant. Surprised, but brilliant. He immediately phoned the vets and arranged to get him checked for a chip. Which left only the task of getting him into a carrier and getting him there. Which was nowhere near as easy as I make it sound.

He remained silent for the whole journey. Utterly terrified, stunned into silence and immobility.

“I hope he’s not microchipped,” Skipper declared. “I want to adopt him.”

Yeah, that was my feeling too. But throughout the journey I steeled myself for the reality of handing NotMyCat over to someone else.

“Oh, he’s a Blue!” The vet exclaimed. “And only a year old.”

A year? This starving, weaving, near-feral creature was only a year old? We couldn’t believe it. We held our breath as the vet checked for a microchip.

“What are you going to do if he’s not chipped?” She asked. “Have you considered homing him yourself?”

I think we were all holding our breath at this point. We looked at each other, and nodded.

“Well,” she smiled. “Happy New Cat Day! Do you want to book an appointment to get him neutered?”

We were all, including NotMyCat, silent on the way home. I don’t think we could really believe it.

“We’ll have to think of a name for him,” Jams said.

Skipper didn’t even hesitate. “Karl.”

“Karl?” We looked at her and she shrugged.

“Karl.” Jams said. He paused, looked into the carrier and said, “Hey, Karl. Is that a good name for you?”

And suddenly, NotMyCat was not silent. He looked straight at Jams and meowed. And that, really, was the beginning of Karl’s new life. It took time, of course. If you’ve ever adopted a cat from a shelter you pretty much know what happened in the following weeks; he was like a secret cat, emerging only at night to feed and use the litter tray. He found a spot beneath Skipper’s bed and stayed there, ignoring us completely. He wasn’t overly keen on indoors to begin with; he destroyed the blind at the window and the wallpaper underneath. He especially hated the vet, even before his op and the cone of shame (which, by the way, lasted about 7 seconds). He wasn’t overly wild about his follow-up appointment, either.

We didn’t despair. He was indoors, and slowly gaining weight and we knew he wasn’t going to freeze to death or get beaten up by any of the toms in our area. Patience we had, in abundance.

And then, one evening, he emerged earlier than usual. He made straight for my lap (!) and made himself comfortable, emitting a low rumbling purr that would rival any V8 engine. Jams and I just grinned at each other, utterly unable to believe it.

Karl’s a very different cat, now. He’s so much a part of our family, it’s hard to imagine he’s only been with us for a year. He and Skipper play for hours, running in the garden (and he’ll chase pretty much any yarn she’ll wave about for him) and he likes to sit with Jams and me every evening. More than anything, he loves Jack.

Karl loves Jack. Jack loves Karl.

Happy Birthday, Karl! And love really does conquer all. Karl’s the proof of that, right?




A small package of happy

Something new and shiny just landed through my letterbox. Well, it’s not all that shiny. But it is completely pony-based and, therefore, awesome.

Skipper has been asking for another twirly skirt for a bit, now. Apparently, mama-made skirts are just so much better than anything the shops have to offer. Well. Who can resist flattery like that? (not that it is just flattery – she’s absolutely right, of course)

This is the fabric she’s chosen.

Unicorns! Look! UNICORNS!!

I think it’s fair to say she’s got good taste in fabrics.

The wings to my mind (at the moment)

There’s always music playing in my workshop. Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes it’s calm and soothing but it’s always there. If there’s no music, I’m not sewing.

plato music quote

Here’s my current 5 albums of choice, in no particular order:

  • Drones, by Muse
  • Hour of the Bewilderbeat, by Badly Drawn Boy
  • How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, by Florence + The Machine
  • Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s Greatest Hits
  • Mirmama, by Eddi Reader

It’s probably not the coolest list in the world, but who cares? Cool is as cool does, right?


Goodbye, 2015

Yeah, so it’s a little late to be doing a ‘new year’ post (I can practically hear the internet screaming at me, ‘it’s almost the middle of January, wtf??’) but whilst I am a quick assimilator, I’m generally the slowest person in the room to put their feelings or even thoughts sometimes, into words.

2015 was…. how can I put this? Actually, I’m not struggling to describe it (like I said, I’m a rapid assimilator); I’m battling not to use any expletives to describe it. But what the heck. We’re all friends here, right?

In short, I didn’t really enjoy last year. Sure, there were some bright shiny spots – a road trip to spend time with some of the best people I know (one of those being a wonderful woman who may not be related to me but loves me enough to voluntarily claim me as a sister, which feels indescribably special); the discovery of some new skills; being adopted by a homeless kitty who’s turned out to be the most loving cat I’ve ever met – but on the whole, 2015 stank.

Like, really fucking stank.

I don’t know if it’s human nature or years of conditioning that leads us to believe that New Year is a fresh new start, a blank page, the chance to remake ourselves and start over, but it’s impossible to deny that feeling, isn’t it? That the world can be ours for the taking, that we can achieve our goals, that we can be better than we were.

My Wheel of the Year describes this time of year thusly:

‘I am the stillness between breathing out and breathing in. Rest in that pause.’*

And I like that, it feels natural. I can look out of my window and see that the trees outside are doing that too, taking a deserved break between shedding their leafy gowns and making new ones ready for the sunshine-y days ahead. Like the beautiful trees William Carlos Williams so eloquently describes, there is a part of me that is ‘sleeping in the cold’.

Empty park with bare trees in winter
‘All the complicated details of the attiring and the disattiring are completed’

After a difficult year, resolutions feel rather like gym memberships; shiny and tempting and full of promise and good intentions right now, but undeniably underpinned with the quietly accepted certainty of failure.

So I have made no resolutions this year, no promises to myself or others. Right now, I’ve yet to buy a calendar or diary.

Instead, I am doing. I have begun my first sewing project of 2016. The fabric is ready and waiting for my second project and whilst I haven’t chosen fabric for my third project, I do at least know what it is. And this… this feels like progress. Much of 2015 had a quicksand-like texture to it, the feeling that I could be pulled down at any minute if I didn’t constantly struggle, the fear that I might be left behind if I so much as hesitated in putting one foot in front of the other.

So, like the trees, right now I’m breathing in and resting. And working on my dreams of beautiful foliage for my year ahead.


* The Goddess Wheel of the Year, by Wendy Andrew, available at painting dreams