Monday, March 30, 2009

Blank and numb..

We miss Maccy.

We can hear him squikking at the door, wanting more food, demanding access to the bed. I heard him quite distinctly earlier this evening, saying 'you call that DINNER??'.

I ate my dinner on a tray on my lap, unmonstered by a large purring black bucket attempting to nick all the best bits for hisself.

All my little prickly-paw spots have healed up.

We scattered some rose petals on his grave this evening. At the moment it is decorated with five pavers with a rather elegant cat design on them. Later we'll put down some cobblestones to hold everything more firmly in place. Meantime he's at one with the petunias, watching the streetscape and waiting for someone to stop and say hello.

Wendy is very quiet, not actually looking for him, but somewhat subdued and behaving remarkably well. This is quite ominous - we've had her for nearly four years and good behaviour and general manageability have not been elements we associate with her character. More like chomping, ambushing, sleeping in norty places (like on M's desk, or up on the dining table), running away when we call her, charging up trees to show off, etc.

This is horrible. I hope we manage acceptance fairly soon. Meantime I am somewhat soothed by the amazing Indian summer we're having, and the pleasures of immersing myself in a rather silly but absorbing new computer game.

Today brought to you by L'Occitane Almond Oil, Jo Malone Nutmeg and Ginger Cologne, and Jo Malone Red Roses body cream. The best and most delicate of my scents. And I still feel like crap.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Au revoir old friend..

Maccy developed breathing problems during Thursday, and an x-ray confirmed he had significant amounts of fluid in his lungs. At 6.30pm we (M, dorter and me) gathered at the vet's and said our farewells. Maccy was very very tired. He allowed me to hold him, oh so gently. He laid his head on his paws, on my arm, and after we kissed and cuddled him, and surrounded him with warm arms, he sighed softly and left us.

Tomorrow a few members of family and close friends are gathering for a small burial ceremony, and a drink to celebrate a remarkable, loving life. If there was ever a role model for peaceful optimism and purrfect, uncritical love, that was Maccy.

Our other puss has big paws to fill. She's begun by ripping the fly screen off my study window, so she can get in and out without having to use that pesky cat door. It's so far away at the other end of the house!

Today brought to you by ... many messages of love and comfort. A HUGE bouquet of lilies from the vet. Two rather fuddled people, pottering around the house finding it hard to think straight. We can hear him squikking, and see him lying on chairs and sitting near his food bowls. I'm just waiting to find him squeaking at the back door, back from an adventure and starving for cuddles and a big dinner. Waiting til I get mine, and coming to sit helpfully on my lap in case I can't finish my chicken.

My lovely boy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Maccy has lymphoma. This is a very treatable cancer in cats. We have the option, if he's well enough from the peritonitis, to try a dose of chemo on Friday and see if it shrinks the cancer and thereby helps him feel better. The vets are quite keen to give it a go, they are confident that it's a good move. But when we visited our boy today, he was a bit brighter but tired very quickly and just wanted to be left alone. This is not behaviour we see in him unless something is very wrong.

We had to discuss all the possible options, talking frankly about quality of life and when it's right to decide to stop the suffering. It's the last thing we can do for our pets, take away any suffering and let them go to sleep. We've had to make this choice twice before, with Amy and then a year later with her daughter, Petunia. It was to some extent easier both those times, because both old girls had fatal conditions with no hope of reprieve. They had both clearly come to the end of their physical capacity to eat or socialise, leaving only lying around waiting for death. It was pretty horrible but also quite clear that letting them go to sleep was right, and right now.

Maccy might not be well enough for chemo; the peritonitis may not clear up enough. He's on pretty heavy meds, and after 3 days hasn't gained much ground. Without chemo he'll certainly die, and soon. The roll of the dice is whether a dose of chemo (which is administered with steroids) will immediately shrink the tumour and therefore make him feel a lot better. Reduce the pain, let his digestive system work properly, give him back his appetite. If it does, we are then on a merry-go-round of weekly or twice-weekly visits to the vet for monitoring and further chemo. This means lots more of the much-hated car trips. He's never been a happy traveller, and I'm loathe to inflict more of that on him. But is it fair to let him go without trying? I don't know.

He's been such an important part of my life, and my family's life, for 12 years. He's a very gorgeous boy, a loving purrsonality who has roamed the neighbourhood making friends for years. When we started having to keep him inside, and take him for walks on his lead, we began to find all the other homes he'd (easily) made his own. Friends who live a few blocks away who welcomed him as their own. The woman who had morning coffee with him on her porch. Several families whose young children loved his visits. Grandpa up the road who missed Maccy coming for afternoon naps. Neighbours over the road whose grandkids would come to the gate and call him out, then take him over and feed him catnip and pat him til he went all soft and purry - and came home with the munchies!

And there were the people he developed a yen for, and where we could reliably find him in the evening when we wanted him to come home - various group households around the place where the residents could be seen rushing to let him out when they heard us calling! Our next-door neighbours, both families who've lived there; the first who allowed him to live inside and out as he pleased, often bonding with Toby (both boys snoozing on the bed together); later our new neighbours who looked forward to morning coffee with Maccy on the deck. For a while when we first started walking Maccy on his lead, he always went in to see if Mr Nexdor was there, and had a little drink from their fishpond.

Now he has every staff member at the vet practice waiting on him - hand-feeding, serial cuddling, constant checks to see that he's comfortable, every encouragement to get better and carry on being, as St Michael the head vet put it, 'the purrfect cat'. I don't know ... over the last few years he's had a number of very nasty illnesses, the worst being three weeks of hell when he suffered major bowel inflammation, and cat flu. We were lucky to save him that time. Maybe the poor old puss has just done his dash. He's dispensed uncritical love and furriness all his life, provided deep pleasure and comfort to so many people. He's soaked up my tears, gobbled up my catering, decorated our home and our garden, tolerated that pesky Little Miss Wendy when she first moved in and tried to run him off the premises. He's purred and purred, and lolled around in ungainly poses, and squikked and prrpd and mrowed his way through life, and made a damn fine job of it. We're all totally in thrall to him. Messages of love and sorrow for him have come literally from all over the world.

Light a candle for Maccy. Or eat a tin of tuna, or munch on a chicken bone. Sit in the sun and watch butterflies. Come and rub your head against my leg or sit pointedly in front of the fridge. Go to sleep on M's chair on the special blanky I crocheted. Hold him close and feel him purr. I can feel it now....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Looks like it's goodbye, old boy..

Darling Maccy had an ultrasound today. The vet found what are almost certainly cancer cells, and peritonitis. The samples have been rushed off to a lab to confirm the diagnosis, but we're not hopeful of it being something benign. When the vet rang us, her voice said it all; she was sombre, quiet and so regretful.

We went to visit our boy, and he was purry, but eyes dilated and very floppity. He refused food, and was happy just to be held - and sobbed over. I couldn't help myself, that little shaved body, all limp .. he'll stay in hospital on a drip, being treated with antibiotics and pain relief until we know what decisions must be made.

I'm not hopeful that we'll bring him home, except to lie him down somewhere in the front yard where he can rest peacefully and enjoy the passing parade of people going to and from the shops, and the resident wattle birds and rosellas arguing overhead.

Today brought to you by much sadness and many tears. I took his blanky in and just seeing him wrapped in it nearly killed me. It hurts very much to be losing our faithful furry companion.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cardie unravelling...

..our poor boy Maccy (seen here in his famous old black cardie pose) is most unwell. He picked up quickly from being irradiated with an iodine isotope (to kill the cancer causing his hyperthyroidism). He was frisky, hungry and oh so purry. Suddenly last Thursday he started going quiet, going off his food, being very sooky. We knew he was unwell but on the advice of St Libby, his personal veterinarian, we kept him in on the weekend and watched him closely. I was tempting him with bits of mush and sips of nice shower-bucket water, and lots and lots of cuddles. And watching him visibly lose weight, and go all scruffy, and want to sleep ON us not near us...

Today off to the vet. He has a high temp, a mass in his abdomen which wasn't clearly identified by an xray this afternoon. He's staying overnight on a drip for antibiotics, and having a pelvic ultrasound tomorrow to try to find out if it's a mangled kidney, a tumour, a mass of unmoving /ahem/ in the lower intestine, or what.

The vet was very worried, so we are too. After the consultation I distracted myself with three big crosswords, but my trip for a general checkup at my gp was a bit of a muddle, cos I coudn't concentrate on people things. Doc helped me by reading out my (extensive) list of meds so I could try to remember what I might need. I was tempted to say 'just give me a script for all of it' but that would be bloody expensive, apart from anything else! Anyway, I'm fine for now. As long as I have the little pink pill twice a day, I'm essentially ok apart from those dang sinuses playing up.

Please cross your paws and plait your whiskers in hope that darling Maccy gets very better very soon. Today brought to you by eau de puss, a lovely furry earthy smell unlike any other.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Me .. Me Sing .. Me Sing Bach!

Next week the combined forces of about 40 throats and some instruments are presenting Bach's St John Passion at two local churches.  I've been croaking my way through rehearsals for a few weeks now, gradually remembering how it goes (I've sung it before, about 15 years ago).  It's amazing how much CAN be remembered after such a long time - Bach's figured writing helps in that many themes are repeated or reprised throughout his works, so if you can get your head into some of the choral style you have won about half the battle.  The rest is merely notes, music, ensemble, style, watching the dear old conductor, staying in tune and remembering when to sit, stand, and be quiet.  Simple!

I haven't sung in a concert since the year before last, mostly because last year was so interrupted by preparing to travel, travelling, and recovering from such.  Then it was christmas, holiday time, and somehow it was 2009.  I think most of last year was fairly forgettable anyway, including some of the travelling bits, not because the countries were in any way disappointing, but because of my degree of unwellness and/or anxiety levels.  I was terribly homesick for a while, and although I do remember where I was and some of the detail of what we were seeing and experiencing, it's fairly cloudy.  So it's good to be involved with a score, a bunch of stroppy musicians, and immersed in plenty of the usual choir bullshit.

Conductors have this thing about 'Watch me! Watch me!' as if they are the centre of the stage.  The orchestra thinks it's their concert and play too loudly.  The basses go out of tune when they go low, and sopranos are prone to blonde moments.  That only leaves the tenor section, traditionally considered to be all gay, and the mighty forces of the altos.  We are a humble lot, happy to sit in our (enormous) numbers, quietly ignoring proceedings and failing to mark our scores.  We crack excellent jokes amongst ourselves and sneer at everyone else's.  We are the tall, brunette women who sing in sexy deep voices (if you can hear us), and you know you'll get a thrill when you see us stomping on stage.  Not a dry seat in the house - that's our aim!

Scratch a chorister and you'll find an anarchist.  We all know best, certainly better than the composer, the accompanist and the conductor.  ESPECIALLY the conductor.  If you can find an abstruse point of musicology to argue over, all the better.  Other welcome interruptions are the inevitable 'what page are we on?'; 'have we ever sung this chorale before?' (this comes up frequently at dress rehearsals); 'I think the composer intended Italian vowels here' (even though it's written in German and usually sung in English), and 'the sopranos are flat'.  We divide ourselves into two loose groups - the try-hards who sit in the front row, fixing their eyes on the conductor (very bad for their ego problem) and Paying Attention.  The rest of us sit further back, many choosing the back row for preference cos they can stand on risers during the concert and see everything.  This also means they can't hear as much of what's going on, and therefore feel restfully free to come in early, late or on the wrong note, at will.  This position is also very popular with bellowers who don't need those poxy bar lines to keep them in thrall to the mere scratchings of the composer's pen.

It's always remarkable to turn up in concert dress for the final performance.  You've been sitting around for weeks with a group of trackie-dakked, unshaven grumps who mutter, bite their pencils and complain about missing dinner again.  Suddenly you are surrounded by a clean, tidy, well-polished group of people all wearing the same clothes and looking rather competent.  One can be forgiven for thinking, briefly, 'where have all the choristers got to?'.  Then you file on stage, rumble down onto the seats, and wait for proceedings to start.  It can be quite a surprise that you have to keep singing, and that for once the conductor isn't furious, agitated, or stopping every 5 seconds to say something urgently like 'no, that's the A.  If you listen to the cellos they play a third above it in the seventh bar before your entry.  Pitch it from there'; or 'I can't understand why you keep getting that wrong.  It's quite simple, the tenors are singing an augmented 5th against the alto's Gminor 7th'.  Oh, right.  

It's good when someone has a tantrum.  As a chorister one is required to keep a straight face, which can be very challenging.  But when the conductor or the accompanist (or, if you're lucky, a soloist suddenly exposed to the rabble and sounding somewhat unsure of their notes) start swearing in F major, thumping the piano, or shouting about how the concert is only next week and there's no more time for note-bashing, and why doesn't anyone ever practise at home; well you just feel that the elements are aligned in their natural order and you can sit back and be berated, patronised or belittled with a happy heart.   There's nothing quite like a few well-turned insults to finish the evening off on a (sorry) high note.

I do love choirs.  I like the thrill of singing in the concerts, when everyone's concentrating and the music is transformed from thumps and squeaks into something ethereal.  And the post-concert parties are pretty good fun.  Everyone feels they've worked up a mighty thirst, so the pressure must be released!  Then the party songs start and the usual pub patrons start edging for the door.  Magic.

Today brought to you by Bach, quite a lot of Jo Malone 'Amber and Wild Ginger', and the amazing but true fact that I rowed one whole kilometre at the gym this morning, and didn't die.  A-MA-zing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I am not a happy camper.

This makes it harder to write, unless you care for more comparative lists of my attempts to first vent and then attempt counting blessings.

This week? - I'm only putting blessings in, cos I'm sick of feeling whingy.


There's been a LOT of culture - saw 'The Reader' on Saturday, a most compelling and somewhat upsetting film. Saw Teddy Tahu Rhodes and David Hobson perform on Tuesday night, a very most wonderful concert. Quite the thing for making all of us wiggle a little in out seats! Bought the CD, got it signed by both of them, very fabbo. Tonight went to see a satirical performance of '39 Steps'. Very clever, lots of slapstick, very funny. Noisy. We will all be speaking in fake-o German, British, RRRRussian and Scorts accents for weeks.

In between, M took me to Manuka to help me get over a fit of the blues. He achieved this most adeptly by first plonking me in Ironbark, a cafe which specialises in Aussie tucker (and very good coffee); and joining in a visit to Paperchain bookshop before AND after the meal. I gots lovely bookies. I shall list them in a minute. He didn't hold back either. It was good. Easy, shameless spending. We rounded out the day by stopping at the Electric Shadows Bookshop where I found several dvds and a really wonderful card which shows a woman breaking through a barrier labelled 'Self-Doubt'. It says



I've had the deep pleasure of walking back and forth on my new circle path. I've noticed the carnations are STILL flowering, and that I can now enjoy their scent.

I spent a most wonderful two hours with Ness, who inspired (ordered, bossed and bullied) me into digging out bits of upholstery fabric to make two big boofy cushions. AND she fed me home-made bread with good cheese. She is A Goodie.

Today lunch with sis involved the bacon-iest BLT yet, and a gentle garden-viewing (of my place). She's an excellent gardener, and has helped me sort out a lot of garden puzzles with her wisdom and encouragement. She was very impressed with my quince crop - ONE purrfect fruit! Then St Beth arrived for a 'crafty', wherein she sat on the new couch, admiring Maccy as he slept, snored, rolled, squikked and wuffled next to her. She knitted very neat white baby things while I excavated every box, bag, drawer, pile, drawer and bundle of textiles in the room. We threw things onto the floor for inspiration. We stroked silks and unrolled braids and bindings and rattled little tubes of glass beads. We averted our gaze as I 'accidentally' dropped an unwanted knit square firmly in the bin. I enjoyed removing lots of little bits of dead daddy-long-leg legs. Wendy slept on the mat outside the deck door, keeping close to marmy as she does. I felt a mixture of embarressment at the amount of stuff I have, and some energy about how to get started again. We ate dates and apricots and it was GOOD.

Now my M says "if we sleep now we'll get 9 hours before we have to wake up" and that is another thing to be pleased about. So I shall stop packing my fukken pill containers, hunting for scripts to get re-filled, heat up the milk I want to put my bourbon into, and find a cat to squish me into one corner of the bed.

Tomorrow, you know, I might just go nuts. It could be MUCH easier. Today brought to you by fairly large amounts of Jo Malone "Parma Violet" Linen Spray, and also her "Dark Amber and Wild Ginger" Cologne. Both of them luscious. Next? I needs a dorter. Dorter???? I'm-a comin!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Week.

Is Over.

It wasn't very good as weeks go. Here are some comparisons:

- the virus sucks. Like one of those horrid alien things which stick over your face and then hatch thru your guts. IckkkK.
- I missed gym once, swimming once, lunch twice, and was generally of great disorder.
- I wasn't very good at being A Prop And A Stay for my M's week of deth, either.
- two of the iceberg roses are definitely dead.
- I fail to understand the higher purpose of couch grass.
- I still cannot taste or smell ANYTHING. And believe me, I have been tested. Bakeries, cat food, lovely hot Vietnamese food, and gorgeous bright yellow omelettes made from happy eggs. All cardboard.


- it wasn't too hot, and now it's cool at night so you can snuggle with the doona and the velvet pillows.
- Maccy not only survived his radiation therapy, but is home looking as uselessly furry and squikky as ever.
- the deck has been totally repaired, replaced, nailed and lovingly buffed into purrfection, and wowee! we can walk on it safely.
- St Alex the deck-building, paving and path-making person is friendly, hard-working, honest, particular and decent. This is a very welcome and soothing antidote to the cowboy assholes who have worked on our house in the past, necessitating St Alex!
- my garden is deeply, wildly satisfying. Many grand plans have come to naught, but yesterday I discovered I am to be a mother again - I have a baby self-seeded lemon tree. Apparently most unusual.
- I thought I tasted one of our tomatoes. A hint of greater tastes to come when the old nose settles down.
- rehearsing Bach makes up for quite a lot of other things, including the daily grrrind of having faith in the little pink pills even when experience (lately) shows the plan is flawed.

I have many bottles of purrfume waiting for me. Mrs Wendy-puss has enjoyed being an only cat this last week, and has favoured me with her delicate presence lying all over my left leg at night. Many people around me are just plain marvellous. I know that fear can be conquered. Preferably with a steady hand on the Chanel!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

If one sense aint workin...

.. use another. We're off to have a look at the new Portrait Gallery. Feasting for the eyes seeing as the other sort is still tasteless. Nuthin. Nada. Not a single zippo of a shred of flavour. I could be eating (very healthy, well-prepared) cardboard.

So, today brought to you by goddess-only-knows what, cos *I* can't smell it!