Sunday, June 25, 2006

Farewell Portia

Yesterday was a sad day. Finally, reluctantly, I took our old cat Portia to the vet for the last time. We’ve been talking about when would be the right time for so long. Her poor little nose was being eaten away with cancer, she sneezed and sniffed all day. She could barely walk, falling amost every step. She was at least 18. But still she ate heartily, as always. Still she purred.

There have been tears, but I know it was the right thing to do. The end was peaceful. I want to share some of the highs and lows of her life.

She came into our lives as a ragged 18 month old in about 1990. She was escaping from a house of druggies two doors down, had already had one litter, and another was on the way. A little grey tabby with delicate features, a white collar of fur and beige eyeliner. Surely some Siamese in there, from her triangular head, slanted eyes, and very vocal ways. I was home briefly, preparing to go to Utah where my husband was. The housesitter ( a cat person), my daughter (a soon-to-be cat person) and I (a dog person) were sitting outside in the courtyard when she appeared. She was welcomed, and I found myself combing out her matted fur with a flea comb. She seemed very pleased about that.

On our return from the sojourn in Utah, Portia had been named, and de-sexed, the impending litter dealt with. She was ensconced. Julie was delighted, and the two of them bonded. Portia would turn to liquid in Julie’s arms, they would sleep together, Portia upside down and flowing off the bed in delight.

She was a great hunter. One of her triumphs was the night I came home to find her tossing a HUGE male rat over her shoulder (outside, thank God). The rat was dead, Portia looked smug. I waited till Julie got home, we quivered and shook and carried on until I managed to prod the rat corpse onto newspaper, into a plastic bag, and into the bin. She was a birder, and often the back yard was filled with feathers. She and a series of currawongs had a working relationship. Portia would catch the mice and eat the heads, the currawong would perch patiently on the back of a garden chair, retrieving the bodies when she was done.

During our renovations all those years ago Portia loved to explore. She went underneath the house exploring and we were worried she would be immured, but she was always OK. One day she was gone for a while, and when she returned from under the house she was veiled, like Miss Havisham, in grey cobwebs.

Things weren’t always rosy for her, of course. The worst times, twice, was when she was tortured. We don’t know who did it. The first time she came home late with razor slashes down her tummy. Not too bad, not enough for the vet, but bad enough. The next time was far worse, and occasioned a trip to the vet and lots of treatment. After the vet visit she disappeared for what seemed like forever. Finally, late at night, I suddenly heard her bell far in the distance. She tottered home, we burst into tears. We thought she was dead. She recovered, to live another day.

She was the most affectionate cat, and never got as much attention as she wanted. The vets never heard her heart beat – even on a steel table she enjoyed the attention and purred loudly.

Early in her life she must have damaged her tail, and later in life it started to deteriorate. We took her to the vet, who attempted to judge where the tail’s feeling started and stopped by using scissors. This attempt failed when the scissoring reached up behind her ears and she was still purring. The tail was shortened and this was highly successful.

She loved being bonked on the head – a large knitting needle, the flea comb, a biro, she loved it.

Julie left home, Portia stayed. She outlived Benny, the Previous Pug, and filled that gap single handedly for a year before we got Jonty. The two of them got on, but there was some jostling for the best bed in the sunbeams. The two of them were ace lobbyists. I think their dinnertime is 4 pm. They think it is lunchtime, and by 3 pm the chorus rises in intensity.

We thought she would live forever, but in recent months was getting frailer and frailer. She still liked her afters (snacks of leftovers after dinner) so we introduced room service for her.

When is the right time to say goodbye? Even at the vet I asked whether I should/could just take her home again. No, said the vet. This is the time. Her body is breaking down, life is a struggle for her.

So there have been tears today for an elderly cat, from this dog-person. She will be missed.

Friday, June 23, 2006

You can't have too many black pants

I can be quite an organised person, really. Some time ago I decided to be systematic about those reward points you get from Visa and Amex. Instead of wasting them, letting them expire, forgetting about them, I started to trade them in on David Jones vouchers. I set my cap at sheets. Every time I charged something to a card, I thought about trading those points for really expensive sheets - sheets I wouldn't have paid 'real' money for. Eventually I had enough. I used some points for some fabulously fluffy deep rich flanellette sheets. (BTW - never wear flannellette pyjamas with flannellette sheets. There is a velcro effect that prevents any movement at all.) Then I moved on to the wonderful Frette pure white horrendously expensive sheets. Like flying business class, once you have done it, you can never go back. Sheets are like that. Once you have Frettes, you can never sleep on anything less. So again, a couple of years amassing points led to the purchase of another set.

Now we have enough sheets. (I know, some readers will wonder how that might be possible. I know at least one reader has a sheet fetish...).

Somehow, I keep spending enough on my credit cards to accumulate points. I should trade them in for Harvey Norman vouchers, seeing as how we spend enough on electronic gizmos but I am a creature of habit, and for some time now I have had two David Jones gift vouchers burning a hole in my purse. (Where is purse asbestos when we need it?)

Today I walked to town. Yes, I've been feeling I needed some exercise, and town is about an hour's walk. OK, I had lunch with a friend that immediately replaced all the calories used on the walk, but that's a different story. I knew I had a mission. After lunch I went to DJs to spend those vouchers. First, a replacement Lancome lippy. My favourite is almost gone. Did I know if I spent more than a certain amount I would get a free gift? Hell, it was all free - this was POINTS after all! So I bought the lip balm as well, which qualified me for the free gift of FOUR more Lancome things. And STILL they make a profit!!!

What else do I need? Black pants. If I'm honest, the whole trip was to justify the purchase of another pair of black pants. Why? How many pairs do I already have?

Well. There is the one true pair, the pair that I wear almost every day. The Ignazia pair. I used to have two pairs, until I fell one day and ripped a hole in the knee. I had two pairs because I wasn't sure the dry cleaner was going to have Pair 1 back before I went overseas, and I couldn't imagine going overseas without them so bought another. The pants that have the matching jacket. I've had two of those jackets because I left the first one overseas (the same trip..) and had to buy another on my return.

Then there is the wonderful summer pair. The Yoshi Jones thai silk wide leg ones that are cool and swishy. I have a jacket and skirt in the same fabric. My husband bought the fabric in Thailand, my mother made the jacket and skirt. The pants just happen to match and be perfect.

Don't forget the Nitya pair of summer black pants. These are cigar slim, two layers of very light chiffony fabric that feel and look terrific. I've had those for some years and love them.

And then there are the Hedrena black wool pants. I love Hedrena. As well as the black pants I have a long black cardie, and three of the same top with a kind of mandarin neck in light blue, maroon, and (you guessed it) black. Love those pants. When we sang in the Big Sing, my daughter (who doesn't wear black) needed a pair of black pants to wear. Do you have any, Mummy? Umm, yes. These would be best. Oooh, she said, after wearing them on the day. These ARE comfortable. I haven't got them back yet.

Ah, the Mondi (what is it about fashion and these silly Flash websites that want to play music and be atmospheric) black wool pants. They were from a pre-loved shop in Chatswood. Always a bit big and baggy. The zip has a habit of opening on its own, so long tops were obligatory.

Yes. I really need another pair of black pants. I have the vouchers. I try Perri Cutten at DJs. Pair 1: Is this foolish after a big lunch with tummy pooching out? Pair 2: too casual, not quite right. Pair 3: PERFECT! The right fit, the right amount of stretch. Even the right length. Thank you Perri! Thank you Points! I hand over the voucher and only have to pay another $12. What a bargain.

They come home, and one pair has to go. One comes in, one goes out. Which pair will go? In my heart I have already decided. Even though the Ignazias are shiny and thin around the knees, the Mondi pair have to go. It is hard. A good pair of black pants is a friend for a long time. Be strong! Farewell faithful Mondis. Welcome faithful Perris. I hope the Hedrenas come back some time.

And I didn't even mention the black trackies....................

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

waddayamean, too busy to blog???

I know, I know, there are no excuses. I haven't blogged because I'm too lazy, not because I'm too busy. But I haven't been too busy to knit. Oh no, not at all. I finished the Arrow socks, and love the way they turned out. The Arrow pattern was chosen from Charlene Schurch's book because that's the name of the project I work on. Digital repositories...socks... now there's a combination. I was delighted with the way the pattern worked with the yarn. Lorna's Laces, a Christmas present from my daughter. Sometimes those variegated yarns can come up with odd looking outcomes, but these worked really well. I just love wearing the socks with a) a dark red jumper I knitted a few years ago, and b) a black velvet Chinese jacket with hot pink embroidered cuffs and lining. The pink and red goes perfectly. Why haven't I worn lairy socks before, I wonder? Anyway, here is one of the socks. If you look closely you will see the obligatory and unavoidable Pug Fur.

Can you see the way the arrow pattern points down towards the toe?
Very successful.

So what's next on the needles. Much umming. Much pawing through the Harmony Complete Guide to Knitting Stitches. Something different, something exciting. How about a black jumper? Those who know me know I favour black, it looks so charming when covered with a fine patina of Pug Fur. Perhaps a pattern? I go back to my old Paton's Classic Cardigans and Jumpers (for some reason I have two copies, so it must be good.) The blue cardigan I knitted from this pattern years ago is still worn with monotonous regularity. It fits. It must be a good basis. Thinks. Hmmm. How about a nice purl/plain pattern for interesting texture. I choose one. I experiment. Daughter advises that the pattern will be lost in the black, and am I really going to invest all that effort in 'an interesting play of light'. "You know," she says, "that you would only be doing the pattern for yourself." Yes dear. More experimentation. I also experiment with a hem pattern I ripped out of the Daily Telegraph some years ago. OK, more than 20 years ago, most likely.

I knit the hem pattern and it does what it says it will do. It forms a kind of double hem with a casing through which one might, if one wished, put elastic. I won't do that, but the hem looks great. I continue with the pattern experimentation, but a miscounting of the number of cast-on stitches ensures that I will knit this one plain. No pattern. It seems years since I knitted plain stockinette, and it goes like the wind. Patons Bluebell 5 ply on the lovely Boyes needles, and I am whipping along at a great rate. It is going to be good. I think it will be a cowl neck, and I know how I will do that. I am contemplating a lacy sleeve hem. It is so enjoyable to contemplate the complex whilst zipping along with perfectly plain knitting. Here it is on the floor in a photo which doesn't do it justice, but proves that I am still here and still knitting.

Those of you who also read Julie's stuff will know that we briefly attended the Worldwide Knitting in Public Day at the Opera House recently. You'll see some photos at links from her site so I won't repeat them here. Why only briefly? Because we had an absolutely wonderful weekend not knitting, but singing in the Big Sing. Yes, we were choristers in the Mozart Requiem, and it was a wonderful experience. Along with about 90% of the other 1099 singers, I had never sung this before. Indeed, it has been years since I sang anything in public. What a buzz it was. We are now looking for new outlets for our singing. Yes, we do sing in tune, we think.

So there you go. Life goes on in the world of KnitTatPug. Stay tuned for updates on the boring black jumper. And be warned that if you get too close there are still hums going on from the Requiem. If I suddenly burst out singing "ne absorbeat eas tartarus ne cardant in obscurum" it is just an obscure line... hum hum hum....